TOWANDA BOROUGH – The Towanda Fire Department has cancelled its annual Halloween Parade due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in Bradford County.
Officials announced the cancellation Thursday evening, saying “we felt we needed to take the safety of the community into consideration of this decision. With the increasing rates of COVID-19 in our community and that of surrounding communities, we did not feel we could do the parade safely for all involved.”
Facing the inability to hold the parade along Main Street as it has been for many decades due to restrictions from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, borough officials announced in September the parade would be held on the Merrill Parkway instead since it is a local roadway and not subject to state permitting.
It was set to kick off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, with the theme “A good old fashioned Halloween!”
“We are saddened by this decision, but feel this is best for the community and our way to do our part as we don’t want to willingly increase the number of cases,” the fire department continued in its statement. “We hope you understand our decision and hope that next year will be different and the parade will be even bigger and better than ever.”
Bradford County has seen 36 new confirmed COVID-19 cases since Tuesday (12 Wednesday and 24 Thursday), although other statistics – including the number of infected at nursing homes and personal care facilities – have remained steady.
Thursday’s statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Health mark an increase of 117 positives from this time last week while the state has recorded more than 1,000 new cases each day.
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Pennsylvania is starting a fall resurgence, but that the state was working to expand testing and prevent outbreaks as it waits for a vaccine.
On Wednesday, the department announced Bradford County as one of seven counties included in an initial distribution of 250,000 antigen test kids due to its high rate of new cases.
A report published Tuesday showed Bradford County had the third-highest percentage of new cases, at 7.4%, based on data from Oct. 2 to Oct. 8.
“Antigen test cards are a timely, quick and easy-to-use tool for communities to receive rapid COVID-19 testing,” Levine said. “These test kits, provided by the federal government and being distributed to areas in need by the Wolf Administration, will further help communities struggling with the spread of COVID-19. Antigen tests look for pieces of proteins that make up the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, and are another tool in our testing toolkit to help quickly identify cases.”
These tests are being provided to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified sites such as long-term care facilities; drug, alcohol, and behavioral health treatment centers; correctional facilities; health care providers; and higher education.
“With the increase in testing and cases, the department is continuing efforts to conduct case investigations and contact tracing,” she said. “However, for these efforts to be successful, it is important for Pennsylvanians to participate in the process. If you are contacted by a case investigator or contact tracer, it is essential that you answer the phone and participate in the interview.”
Levine also reiterated that success is dependent on people wearing face coverings, washing their hands regularly and practicing social distancing.
TOWANDA — While porch lights have gone blue to honor local police in Towanda this week, 9-year-old Jaelyn Oakley has honored officers another way — through art.
By the time Jaelyn’s grandmother Angela Oakley heard about the “Towanda Goes Blue” initiative that encouraged Towanda residents to use a blue porch light from Oct. 11 until Oct. 17 to support local law enforcement she realized there was no way to order a bulb through the mail and receive it in time.
When Angela approached Jaelyn for ideas for another way to show gratitude to police, Jaelyn decided to use chalk to write “Thank You” in large letters in front of the Towanda Borough Police Station.
Jaelyn explained that she has been very encouraged in her love of art by Towanda Elementary School art teacher Donald Barto and was excited to use her gift to show appreciation to law enforcement.
“It makes me feel awesome,” she said, adding that she feels it’s important to thank police officers because “they’re the reason that we’re still alive and not struggling.”
Angela stated that with “craziness in the world” and negative opinions of law enforcement being made public recently she and Jaelyn were proud to support those who protect them.
“She’s very proud that she did it,” Angela said, noting that she is proud of her granddaughter as well.
Jaelyn drew a paw print to honor Towanda’s K9 officers as well, as she remembered meeting Officer John Hennessey and a K9 officer in school two years ago.
The Oakley’s also painted three pumpkins blue, white and black and left them near the entrance of the Towanda Borough Police Department to represent the law enforcement flag.
Stacy Garrity, Republican nominee for Pennsylvania State Treasurer and Bradford County resident, announced Wednesday evening on her campaign’s Facebook page that she had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Thank God I feel 100% well so far and am asymptomatic,” she said in the announcement, “but am following CDC guidelines and staying home.”
Garrity, a Sayre High School graduate who had risen through the ranks at Global Tungsten and Powders Corp., was getting ready to face incumbent Democrat Joe Torsella in November. Torsella wished her a “full and speedy recovery” on Twitter.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Garrity’s test was a normal precaution for speakers at a rally for President Donald Trump in Johnstown Tuesday.
“I am making sure to reach out to everyone I came in contact with recently and urge you to take precautions if we were together recently,” she said. “It’s easy to get caught up in campaign life, but the most important thing is for everyone to be healthy.”