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News
Bradford County Commissioners seek federal grant

TOWANDA — The Bradford County Commissioners voted to approve an application for $5.4 million in the form of a Community Development Block grant from the federal government.

The commissioners intend to use the money to help the county rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

That includes expenses accrued by the county, according to commissioners.

Other portions of the funds would be allotted to local fire departments that have lost their ability to fundraise through events like carnivals.

Additionally, the grant would be used to provide relief to local businesses that were forced to close during the pandemic, and are currently only able to operate at 50 percent capacity.

A member of the public asked the commissioners if they have received guidance from Harrisburg as to what follows the Green Phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan.

“The answer is a very simple and concise no,” Chairman Daryl Miller said. “We are getting no direction as to what’s next.”

Miller said that he believes businesses in Bradford County can operate safely, and that people should be able to determine how much of a risk they are willing to take.

“Yet we’ve got Harrisburg telling us that we’re stuck in this Green Phase without any path beyond green,” Miller said. “And really, it is painful for the business community. I talk to them all the time, and it is just completely frustrating.”


The Sayre Salvation Army Advisory Board threw a “happy retirement” party for retiring Maj. Debra Stedman at the South Elmer Avenue headquarters in Sayre. The major will officially retire on June 30. Momentarily unmasking for the group photo were Salvation Army Advisory Board members, from left, Jerry Pryslopski, Vice Chairman John Merrick, Stedman, Marjorie Ross, Sandy Campbell, Greg Zyla and Janet Lambert. Absent from the photo were Chairman Justin DeVine, Board Secretary Debi Adams, Jeff Paul and Daniel Polinski, who took the photo. Stedman has been the commander at Sayre since February 14, 2012 and has served as an officer in the Salvation Army for 18 years.


Salvation Army Maj. Debra Stedman is pictured as she begins to dish out slices of her retirement party cake with the assistance of corps food distribution volunteer Sandy Campbell.


AP
As cases surge in US, rural areas seeing increases as well

For many states and counties in the U.S., the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic in April unfolded on their television screens, not on their doorsteps. But now, some places that appeared to have avoided the worst are seeing surges of infections, as worries shift from major cities to rural areas.

While much of the focus of concerns that the United States is entering a dangerous new phase has been on big Sunbelt states that are reporting thousands of new cases a day — like Texas and Florida — the worrying trend is also happening in places like Kansas, where livestock outnumber people.

In early June, Kansas looked to be bringing its outbreak under control, but its daily reported case numbers have more than doubled in recent weeks. On June 5, the seven-day average for daily new cases hovered at around 96; by Friday, that figure was 211. As cases rise, the U.S. Army commander at Fort Riley in the state’s northeast ordered his soldiers to stay out of a popular nearby restaurant and bar district after 10 p.m.

Idaho and Oklahoma have seen similarly large percentage increases over the same three-week period, albeit from low starting points. In Oklahoma, the seven-day average for daily new cases climbed from about 81 to 376; Idaho’s jumped from around 40 to 160.

Many rural counties in states including California, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Florida have seen their confirmed cases more than double in a week, from June 19 to Friday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Lassen County, California, went from just nine cases to 172, and Hot Spring County, Arkansas, went from 46 cases to 415; both spikes were attributed to outbreaks at prisons. Cases in McDonald County, Missouri, more than tripled after Tyson Foods conducted facility-wide testing at a chicken plant there.

Missouri itself is seeing a worrying trend, and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas ordered employees and patrons of businesses to wear masks, when 6 feet (about 2 meters) of separation isn’t possible.

“Case numbers in Kansas City continue to rise, and we are taking all steps we can to ensure public health and safety,” the Democrat said Friday.

Across the state line, Kansas City, Kansas, and the county it’s in also decided to order masks be worn in public starting Tuesday.

But many politicians, even those in place with spiking cases, have been hesitant to issue such orders, as subject has become a political lightning rod, with Democrats more likely than Republicans to use them.

The daily number of confirmed infections in the U.S. surged to an all-time high of 45,300 on Friday, eclipsing the high of 40,000 set the previous day, according to Johns Hopkins.

The biggest spikes have been seen in the West and South. On Saturday, as officials announced that Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Florida would not include a planned bus tour, state health officials reported more than 9,500 new cases. That total eclipsed the previous day’s by more than 600.

Florida and Texas have both recently pulled back on their reopening plans in response to increasing cases. Nevada, meanwhile, reported Saturday that there were nearly 1,100 new confirmed cases in one day, a total that is nearly double the state’s previous single-day record.

While the rise in the U.S. partly reflects expanded testing, experts say there is ample evidence the scourge is making a comeback, including rising deaths and hospitalizations in parts of the country and higher percentages of virus tests coming back positive.

Deaths are running at about 600 per day, down from a peak of around 2,200 in mid-April. Some experts have expressed doubt that deaths will return to that level because of advances in treatment and because many infections are happening in younger adults, who are more likely than older ones to survive.

The virus is blamed for about 125,000 deaths and nearly 2.5 million confirmed infections in the U.S., by Johns Hopkins’ count. But health officials believe the true number of infections is about 10 times higher. Worldwide, the virus has claimed close to a half-million lives with nearly 10 million cases.

The resurgence in the U.S. has drawn concern from abroad. The European Union seems almost certain to bar Americans in the short term from entering the bloc, which is currently drawing up new travel rules, EU diplomats confirmed Saturday.

But the U.S. is not alone. German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned Saturday that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. India reported more than 18,000 new cases, pushing its cumulative total over the half-million mark, the fourth highest globally behind the U.S., Brazil and Russia.

“The risk posed by the virus is still serious,” Merkel said. “It’s easy to forget because Germany has gotten through the crisis well so far, but that doesn’t mean we are protected.”

Elsewhere, Egypt and Britain said they would ease virus controls, while China and South Korea battled smaller outbreaks in their capitals.

Britain was expected to scrap a 14-day quarantine requirement for people returning from abroad in a bid to make summer vacation travel possible. Only travelers from “red’’ zones, places with a high level of COVID-19, will be told to self-isolate.

Egypt on Saturday lifted many restrictions put in place against the coronavirus pandemic, reopening cafes, clubs, gyms and theaters after more than three months of closure, despite a continued upward trend in new infections.

Authorities in other countries were taking a more cautious approach, with the Indian city of Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, announcing a new two-week lockdown starting Monday, with night curfews and weekend lockdowns in the rest of the state.

China saw an uptick in cases, one day after authorities said they expect an outbreak in Beijing to be brought under control in the near future. The National Health Commission reported 17 new cases in the nation’s capital, the most in a week, among 21 nationwide.

South Korea, where a resurgence in the past month threatens to erase the country’s earlier success, reported 51 new cases, including 35 in the Seoul metropolitan area.


News
Troy Fair canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions

TROY — One of the area’s most anticipated events of the year has been canceled as the Troy Fair Board officially pulled the plug on the 2020 Troy Fair on Thursday.

In a post made on the Troy Fair Facebook page Thursday evening, fair officials stated that the 2020 Troy Fair has been canceled — not through a decision of their own but instead by the Troy Borough Municipal Authority, who owns the Alparon Park property.

“We have spent countless hours researching and advocating for the fair, but ultimately the final decision was out of our control as the property is owned by the Troy Borough Municipal Authority,” the Facebook post read. “The Troy Borough Municipal Authority has made the final decision to cancel the Fair under the current (COVID-19 related) restrictions of Governor Wolf.”

The post also stated that details of how tickets and vendor deposits will be refunded are forthcoming.


AP
Trump denies briefing on reported bounties against US troops

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Sunday denied that he had been briefed on reported U.S. intelligence that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing American troops in Afghanistan, and he appeared to minimize the allegations against Moscow.

American intelligence officials concluded months ago that Russian officials offered rewards for successful attacks on American service-members last year, at a time when the U.S. and Taliban were holding talks to end the long-running war, according to The New York Times. A senior administration official said the White House planned to brief select members of Congress on Monday on the subject.

Trump, in a Sunday morning tweet, said that “nobody briefed or told me” or Vice President Mike Pence or chief of staff Mark Meadows about “the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians.”

“Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us,” he said.

The White House had issued a statement Saturday denying that Trump or Pence had been briefed on such intelligence. “This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.

Trump’s director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, also said neither the president nor vice president was “ever briefed on any intelligence alleged” in the Times’ report and he said the White House statement was “accurate.”

Trump’s tweet came a day after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said that the report, if accurate, was a “truly shocking revelation” about the commander in chief and his failure to protect U.S. troops in Afghanistan and stand up to Russia.

Russia called the report “nonsense.”

“This unsophisticated plant clearly illustrates the low intellectual abilities of the propagandists of American intelligence, who instead of inventing something more plausible have to make up this nonsense,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

A Taliban spokesman said the militants “strongly reject this allegation” and are not “indebted to the beneficence of any intelligence organ or foreign country.”

John Bolton, a former national security adviser who was forced out by Trump last September and has now written a tell-all book about his time at the White House, said Sunday that “it is pretty remarkable the president’s going out of his way to say he hasn’t heard anything about it, one asks, why would he do something like that?”

Bolton told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he thinks the answer “may be precisely because active Russian aggression like that against the American service members is a very, very serious matter and nothing’s been done about it, if it’s true, for these past four or five months, so it may look like he was negligent. But of course, he can disown everything if nobody ever told him about it.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a member of the “Gang of Eight” congressional leaders briefed on sensitive intelligence matters, told ABC’s “This Week” that she had not been been informed about the reported bounties and requested a report to Congress on the matter.

“This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score, denies being briefed. Whether he is or not, his administration knows and our allies — some of our allies who work with us in Afghanistan had been briefed and accept this report,” she said.

The Times, citing unnamed officials familiar with the intelligence, said the findings were presented to Trump and discussed by his National Security Council in late March. Officials developed potential responses, starting with a diplomatic complaint to Russia, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the report said.

Trump responded to Biden on Twitter, saying “Russia ate his and Obama’s lunch during their time in office”

But it was the Obama administration, along with international allies, that suspended Russia from the Group of Eight after its unilateral annexation of Crimea from Ukraine — a move that drew widespread condemnation.

Biden criticized Trump for “his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself” before Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Trump tweeted that “nobody’s been tougher” on Russia than his administration.


Denny Hamlin smiles after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Sunday, June 28, 2020, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)