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Early Warning Monitoring System update shows continued statewide progress with COVID-19 (free to read)

Bradford County remains in Pa.’s highest category for COVID-19 transmission

Despite some improvement in percent positivity, Bradford County still remains in Pennsylvania’s highest category for COVID-19 transmission along with 39 other counties.

The latest Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard data revealed Monday and reflecting the period between Feb. 12 to Feb. 18 shows Bradford County at 7.6% positivity, with a rate of 112.7 per 100,000 residents over the seven-day period. This represents 12 fewer residents than the previous week, or a decrease of 1.8%.

Out of the 40 counties ranked in the substantial transmission category, Bradford County is ranked 23rd. Forest County had the highest rate with 15.5% positivity.

Sixty-three counties were in the substantial category with first reporting of the month.

Statewide, Department of Health officials reported a decrease from 8% to 6.5% positivity, with 16 counties now posting positivity rates below 5%.

“Following these proven public health practices, our mitigation orders, and most importantly, the resilience of our fellow Pennsylvanians to unite against COVID-19, Pennsylvania is seeing encouraging data relating to less COVID-19 spread within the community as we report lowered statewide positivity rates as well as lowered case counts,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “While we know there is reduced community spread, it is still important to continue public health efforts across the state. We ask Pennsylvanians to continue to course – wash your hands, practice social distancing, and wear mask.”

“As we continue our COVID-19 response, the Department of health is working with vaccine providers to get vaccine into arms across the commonwealth,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “While we do have access to limited vaccine allotments from the federal government, the importance of the proven health practices and mitigation efforts remain important.“

The Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard update for Monday showed Bradford County gaining 12 confirmed cases since Saturday’s reporting and an additional death.

Salsman maintains innocence with formal arraignment plea

Bradford County District Attorney Chad Salsman formalized his innocence by entering a “not guilty” plea as part of a virtual formal arraignment early Monday morning before Lycoming Court Judge Marc F. Lovecchio.

On Feb. 3, Pennsylvania Attorney General charged Salsman with 24 felony and misdemeanor charges including sexual assault, intimidating a witness or victim, and encouraging prostitution. These charges were recommended by the 45th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury after reviewing testimony and documents focused on when Salsman operated his private law office at 12 Park St. in Towanda Borough.

“It was determined that while he was engaged in private practice, Salsman repeatedly used his position to pressure vulnerable female clients into sexual contact at the law office,” according to the criminal complaint.

The charges reflect the testimony of five women who Shapiro said have the “same pattern of advances, coercion, and assault at the hands of Mr. Salsman.” Shapiro said he was aware of additional assaults, but they fell outside of Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations.

Salsman has previously declared his innocence, stating, “I am committed to going to trial and vigorously defending myself against these false allegations. I categorically deny the allegations. Anyone who knows me knows that the picture the Attorney General is painting is not Chad Salsman. My attorney and I will present evidence of my innocence at the trial.”

Salsman is currently free on $500,000 bail. He is continuing to serve in his elected position, but has turned over trial and courtroom work to his assistants, Salsman and other county officials previously reported.

He is being represented by attorney Samuel C. Stretton of West Chester, according to court documents.

Ulster man dead after Saturday morning crash

LITCHFIELD TOWNSHIP – An Ulster man was killed in a Litchfield Township crash Saturday morning.

Pennsylvania State Police reported that around 8:26 a.m., Christopher James Bishop, 31, had lost control of his 2002 Ford Escape while traveling around a right hand curve on Cotton Hollow Road.

Bishop crashed into an embankment and his car flipped upside down, overturned onto the driver’s side and came to a final rest after crashing into a tree, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Early Sunday morning fatal crash leaves one dead

WARREN TOWNSHIP – A Rome man is dead following a single-car crash early Sunday morning in Warren Township.

Pennsylvania State Police said that Earl Wendela, 56, was traveling north on Cadis Road around 3:30 a.m. when his white 2010 GMC Sierra veered left across both lanes and hit a tree. The vehicle then traveled down a roadside embankment and stopped in a ditch area, causing heavy front end damage. Wendela was pronounced dead at the scene by the Bradford County Coroner.

Police said that Wendela was the only occupant of the car and the crash is currently under further investigation.

The Warren Center Fire Department, Little Meadows EMS, and Greater Valley EMS assisted at the scene.