Easton video promoting curbside food pickup

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Tip o’ the hat to a follower for calling this article to Gadfly’s attention as an example of the way the problem pointed to in Councilman Reynolds’ recent resolution can be handled without City involvement.


from Connor Lagore, “Easton restaurants launch #CurbsideFirst to thwart delivery companies taking too much off top.” lehighvalleylive.com, May 16, 2020.

Easton restaurants have worked with the Greater Easton Development Partnership to put together a video calling for #CurbsideFirst, as many of these restaurants have fulfilled orders through third-party delivery apps like UberEats or GrubHub. These companies can take up to 30% of the total bill, forcing restaurants to operate on slimmer margins than the margins the coronavirus pandemic has already brought them.

see complete video

Of course, with the pandemic sweeping the country, food delivery has become much more popular, as local restaurants need support and it’s the easiest way of supporting them. But placing orders on a restaurant’s website or over the phone cuts out the middle man and allows for restaurants to take 100% of the check.

Some restaurants, like Centre Square neighbors Stoke Coal Fire Pizza & Bar and Pearly Baker’s Alehouse, have started doing their own deliveries to mitigate the need for a third-party service at all.

Plus, the GEDP is giving you an incentive. The organization is giving away a $50 Downtown Easton gift card every week until the end of June. To be eligible, pick up a meal from one of Easton’s restaurants, share it on Facebook with the hashtag #CurbsideFirst and tag the GEDP.

Closing lane on Main St. a “fantastic idea”

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Breena Holland is an Associate Professor at Lehigh University in the Department of Political Science and the Environmental Initiative. She is a past director of Lehigh University’s South Side Initiative.

ref: https://thebethlehemgadfly.com/2020/05/20/councilman-callahan-fosters-ideas-for-opening-restaurants-for-outside-service


What a fantastic idea to close off a lane on Main Street to make it possible for restaurants to use the street space to social distance. A cafe in Germany made customers wear caps with pool noodles to ensure social distancing.


I’m sure many people will want to stay home and stay safe, but this pandemic is going to last awhile, and I agree with those who think we have to start to find ways to safely keep our small businesses alive. In my opinion, we have to have a plan for testing and contact-tracing before most people will feel comfortable. Are people willing to provide data on their movements if they get sick, so that others can be warned? What kind of testing capacity do we have locally? I don’t know how we get very far without knowing the answers to these (and other) questions.

Best, Breena

Gadfly wonders if we couldn’t put our noodles together and come up with spacing apparel that relates uniquely to Bethlehem and our historic character (faux I-beams?), apparel that would not only be fun but so distinctive, so representative of our town that we would gain national attention. Gadfly’s mailbox is open for suggestions.

Councilman Callahan fosters ideas for opening restaurants for outside service

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Video: City Council meeting May 19
begin min. 54:05

If Gadfly understood Mr. Evans correctly, the City had ideas of closing streets and using parklets to improve outside accessibility to services by restaurants and other of our small businesses, but these plans have been put on hold for now by state directives.

Councilman Callahan strongly supported this idea, indicating that he had sent a letter to the governor (see below) as well as talking personally with the mayor.

  • Some of our most successful businesses on Main St. and Southside are really struggling.
  • Some might not make it.
  • The Home Depots, etc., are open, and we are allowing curbside for restaurants.BCallahan
  • How about closing the roads one-way — one-way traffic — giving more table space and socially distancing space?
  • Can possibly be done in a safe manner: paper goods, non-reusable utensils, etc.
  •  Only family members that live under the same roof at a table, for instance.
  • Others would have to be 6 feet away.
  • Owners realize the virus might come back in the fall.
  • Just trying to get their sales up a little bit to survive.
  • Encourages the City to talk with the business owners and come up with a plan for the right time.
  • Home Depots, etc., are handling the bathroom cleaning issue — could be done here in our downtowns as well.


Callahan 1

Callahan 2

Mayor’s report on COVID-19 matters at City Council last night

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Video: City Council meeting May 19
begin min. 39:30

Business Administrator Evans gave the Mayor’s report last night at the City Council meeting, providing information on these 10 items, all but one relating to the COVID-19 mess.

Gadfly will return soon with discussion generated by some of the items in the Mayor’s list.

1) Summer recreational programming: closing pools, parks programming closed, some sites closed till further notice after evaluation (skate park, dog park, basketball courts, pavilion rentals, Ice House, Illicks Mill), neighborhood parks themselves open with encouragement to stay off the playground equipment, tennis courts at Clearview, Monocacy, and West Side are open, and trails are open.

2) Developing business plan for northside and southside with outside dining, reaching out to small business merchants so to develop a plan to support them when the time is right, according to state outdoor eating areas and picnic areas are not allowed at this time.

3) Supporting Council and Bethlehem Chamber resolution not to use 3rd parties for pick-up service at restaurants.

4) Taking steps to safely re-open City Hall, new security system will be active

5) Public meetings to begin again virtually in June, special consideration for the needs of Zoning Board.

6) Yard Waste Center operating successfully, mulch coming, recycling center plans for opening still developing.

7) Golf course opened successfully, some changes noted, work done is beautiful.

8) Library is developing plans for providing approved services when the state gives go-ahead.

9) Bethlehem Parking Authority is suffering financially, and the company providing their app has suddenly ceased operation, positive plans already in motion for a new app.

10) Some complaints received on businesses open contrary to state regulations, some warnings issued, will follow directions from the district attorneys of both counties about how to proceed.

City announces summer recreation closings because of you-know-what

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Press Release: Tuesday May 19, 2020 – Bethlehem Pools Will Not Open in 2020

Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez announced today that Bethlehem’s five pools will remain closed this summer. “The State provides significant funding to support our parks and pools programs. As frustrated and disappointed as we all are, we do need to follow Governor Wolf’s guidelines. Currently Lehigh County and Northampton County are still in the red phase. Even in the yellow phase, restrictions do not make it feasible to get the pools opened up. Due to the length of the stay at home policy, we have not been able to get many of our lifeguards certified.” Construction on Memorial Pool, which was shut down for 6 weeks, has restarted and will be completed this summer for opening in 2021.

In addition, Music in the Parks series and Movies in the Parks will be cancelled this summer and Sand Island courts will remain closed. The skateplaza, dog park, basketball courts, pavilion rentals, Charles Brown Ice House, and Illick’s Mill, will remain closed until further notice. Although the neighborhood parks are open, they will not be staffed this summer. The Mayor encourages residents not to use the playground equipment. Tennis courts and walking trails will remain open, as they do allow for proper social distancing and do not involve physical contact. Guidelines are posted at the tennis courts.

As always, please monitor the City’s website at http://www.bethlehem-pa.gov and social media for additional information on City facilities, public meetings and updates on COVID-19

“The lid is about to blow off” as federal government plans to collect and publish coronavirus info from nursing homes

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Gadfly’s latest post obsessing about lack of oversight of nursing homes came May 15.

Steve Thode followed with a strongly worded comment May 16.

And then we have this welcome information from the WP on the 17th.

Gadfly doesn’t think this regulation will cover all the facilities we would like.

from Maria Sacchetti, “Federal government to begin gathering data on covid-19 deaths in nursing homes>” Washington Post, May 17, 2020.

Nursing homes have been directed to report the number of coronavirus infections and deaths to the federal government by midnight Sunday so that health officials can assess the damage the pandemic has inflicted on sick and elderly residents and their caregivers in more than 15,000 homes nationwide.

Federal officials said they will collect the data weekly and publish it online, along with the names of nursing homes, by the end of May. The data will offer a first look at the impact in such states as Texas and Virginia that have declined to identify nursing homes with covid-19 infections.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that regulates the homes, said in an alert Friday that the agency “will be taking swift action and publicly posting this information so all Americans have access to accurate and timely information on COVID-19 in nursing homes.” The Trump administration’s plan capped months of frustration over the lack of information in many states as the death toll in nursing homes soared.

“It’s going to be ugly,” said Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care, a national watchdog group for nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. “The lid is about to blow off.”

Nursing homes already must report infectious disease outbreaks to state and local health officials, and federal and state inspectors visit the homes and routinely publish their findings online. But families and watchdog groups complained early into the pandemic that many homes were not complying with the requirements, and most states initially were not publicly disclosing the names of nursing homes with outbreaks.

Under the new rules, nursing homes must notify residents and their designated family members about infections, and report key indicators to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every week. CMS will publish the data and identify the nursing homes, though the names of residents and staff members are confidential under law.

Redfield acknowledged that the virus’s impact on nursing homes is “one of the great tragedies that we’ve all experienced together” and said the agency was taking steps to quickly gather the information. “This is critical we get in front of this and do comprehensive surveillance of everybody in these nursing homes,” Redfield said.

What would it take for you to trust a loved one to a long-term care facility these days?

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Gadfly has been obsessing about conditions in nursing homes, as you are well aware.

So, this is good news:

Rebecca Moss, “In major reversal, Wolf administration says Pa. will begin widespread testing of nursing home residents, employees.” Spotlight, May 12, 2020.

But maybe you’ve seen this enterprising full-page ad prominently displayed lately.

What would it take for you to trust a loved one to a long-term care facility these days?

A discount?

Morning Call 1

Wow, this is ballsy, isn’t it?

In the City report Friday, May 8, we learned that 7 long-term care facilities in Bethlehem have “outbreaks” of the coronavirus but which 7 we don’t know.

We learned that we know for sure that only 1 of however many long-term care facilities there are in Bethlehem is testing for the virus, and even then there was no detail about the nature and duration of the testing.

Almost no specific information about conditions in individual long-term care facilities has been made public.

As far as Gadfly knows that except for information on Gracedale and Cedarbrook, we are completely in the dark about conditions in individual long-term care facilities.

For the other facilities there are no public reports about where the number of cases are going up, where down, where the outbreak is under control, where not.

It seems almost certain that only a small number of Bethlehem facilities (if any) are significantly interacting with the state consultant over infection-control.

There seems to be no transparency.

How is the public to know where it is safe (or least unsafe) to entrust a loved one?

Gadfly realizes that there may be dire circumstances that dictate finding a facility for a loved one at this damnable moment in time.

But — is he the only one? — Gadfly finds it macabre for a facility to be offering discounts to promote admissions to sites that have in general been referred to as death traps.

Wouldn’t you make the pitch for admissions on your safety policies and record?