Coronavirus Pandemic: Additional $100 million available to Firefighters

Fire service organizations nationwide with membership on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will soon be able to apply for a share of $100 million in funding to purchase personal protective equipment and supplies. The funding is part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act through FEMA Assistance for Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP).

FEMA will begin accepting applications for the Fiscal Year 2020 Assistance to Firefighters Grant – COVID-19 Supplemental Program (AFG-S) on Tuesday, April 28. The deadline for applications is May 15. AFG-S provides direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments, nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations and state fire training academies. Those who would like to start planning their application before the application period can access the Notice of Funding Opportunity and technical assistance tools on the FEMA website. The online AFG-S Grant Program application is available through the AFGP FEMA Grants Outcomes (GO) application portal.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the technical assistance tools, e-mail the AFG Grants Help Desk or call at (866) 274-0960.  The AFG Help Desk is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT, Monday – Friday.

If you have questions regarding this FEMA advisory, please contact FEMA Office of External Affairs, Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Division:

Follow Us

Follow FEMA on social media at: FEMA online, on Twitter @FEMA or @FEMAEspanol, on FEMA Facebook page or FEMA Espanol page, and at FEMA YouTube channel.

Also, follow Administrator Pete Gaynor on Twitter @FEMA_Pete.

FEMA Mission

To help people before, during, and after disasters.

David Thomason

Senior Program Specialist/Tribal Liaison | External Affairs

FEMA Region 3

Office: (215) 931-5706 | Mobile: (215) 356-5780

David.thomason@fema.dhs.gov

fema.gov

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CORRECTION: Wolf Administration Announces Housing and Transportation Funding for Pennsylvania Communities

Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced new funding assistance for community development and affordable housing activities to address the COVID-19 pandemic under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“COVID-19 has had a major impact on communities across Pennsylvania, and this funding will serve as a critical resource for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents,” said Sec. Davin. “By working together with the federal government, we can safeguard the health and wellbeing of individuals across the commonwealth.”

On March 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law the CARES Act to provide immediate and direct relief to individuals struggling as a result of the COVID-19 global health pandemic. The CARES Act includes supplemental allocations of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs where a total of $5 billion will be made available under the Community Development Fund for prevention, preparation, and response to the coronavirus and $4 billion in Homeless Assistance Grants to aid individuals and families who are homeless and to prevent homelessness resulting from impacts created by the coronavirus. 

These funds will be made available from HUD and released in three tranches. DCED received an appropriation of $24,691,407 in the first tranche for distribution using its small cities entitlement allocation formula.  

A full list of distributed funds can be found here.  

Additionally, to combat the effects of homelessness, DCED will receive $19,920,655 million in ESG Cares funding. DCED has released the application and guidelines to accept proposals to subgrant its appropriation under this program. ESG Cares proposals will be accepted from eligible applicants though June 1, 2020.  

DCED continues to update its website with financial and other resources.  

Communities seeking further guidance and clarification from DCED can also contact its customer service resource account at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should follow www.governor.pa.gov and www.doh.pa.govMEDIA CONTACTS: Casey Smith, casesmith@pa.gov

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New Funding Available for Technology-Based Companies

Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced that new funding is available to help technology-based companies impacted by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

“DCED remains committed to identifying new resources that can support Pennsylvania’s businesses during this unprecedented time,” said Sec. Davin. “Our tech companies have been stepping up to provide us with innovative ways to produce personal protective equipment and other supplies, and we must make sure they remain in a position to provide those critical services and ideas in our response to this pandemic.”

The Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA) today approved the disbursement of $1 million in funding to each of the four Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP), which will then match that funding with $1 million. The funds will be delivered to each BFTP through a Technology Development grant. The BFTP will identify eligible projects and will provide capital to existing startup clients experiencing hardships due to the impact of COVID-19.

Additionally, Venture Capital Revolving Loan Account funds can be used to make loans to venture capital funds that invest in technology companies in Pennsylvania. The funds will be delivered through loans to existing venture capital firms in the BFTDA portfolio in amounts ranging from $250,000 to $1 million. To deploy capital quickly, BFTDA venture managers will be required to identify specific COVID-19 impacted companies that, by way of the BFTDA capital infusion, will have an opportunity to remain in operation through this economic downturn. 

Finally, DCED also announced that Manufacturing Innovation Program (MIP) funds are available to encourage and assist university researchers as they work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Through the COVID-19 Challenge program, DCED will engage Pennsylvania colleges and universities in the rapid development and deployment of new technologies, products, and processes with the potential to positively impact the commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. DCED is soliciting proposals from accredited Pennsylvania colleges and universities for projects that fit within the program guidelines and address the commonwealth’s response to COVID-19. This program will be funded through the PA Manufacturing Program.

Resources and information continue to be posted and updated at https://dced.pa.gov/resources as they become available. Businesses seeking guidance from DCED can also contact its customer service resource account at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should follow www.governor.pa.gov and www.doh.pa.govMEDIA CONTACTS: Casey Smith, casesmith@pa.gov

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Wolf Administration Issues Guidance as Construction Industry Prepares to Resume Work May 1

As the construction industry prepares to resume work, the Wolf Administration today issued guidance for all construction businesses and employees to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

All businesses in the construction industry in the commonwealth are permitted to resume in-person operations starting Friday, May 1 – one week earlier than previously announced.

Previously, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine ordered most construction projects to cease unless they were supporting life-sustaining businesses or activities or were granted an exemption to perform or support life-sustaining activities.

“My administration has taken measured, aggressive steps to protect public health and safety, including strictly limiting the types of businesses and projects that may continue to operate during this unprecedented time,” Wolf said. “Thankfully, these actions are working, and we are flattening the curve. As we start to take steps to reopen the state, we recognize that the construction industry is vital to Pennsylvania’s economy and may operate safely with stringent guidance in place that will protect employees and the public.”

The guidance, developed from guidance created by the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania, provides universal protocols for all construction activity, as well as specific additional guidance for residential, commercial and public construction projects.

All business and employees in the construction industry must adhere to the Secretary of Health’s order providing for business safety measures, which requires that every person present at a work site wear masks/face coverings unless they are unable for medical or safety reasons and requires that businesses establish protocols upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.

All construction projects must maintain proper social distancing and provide hand washing and sanitizing stations for workers, as well as cleaning and sanitizing protocols for high risk transmission areas. Businesses must identify a “pandemic safety officer” for each project or work site, or, for large scale construction projects, for each contractor at the site.

Residential construction projects may not permit more than four individuals on the job site at any time, not including individuals who require temporary access to the site and are not directly engaged in the construction activity.

For non-residential or commercial projects, the number of individuals permitted on enclosed portions of a project varies depending on the size of the enclosed site. Commercial construction firms should also strongly consider establishing a written safety plan for each work location containing site specific details for the implementation of this guidance to be shared with all employees and implemented and enforced by the pandemic safety officer.

Contractors performing work at the direction of the commonwealth, municipalities or school districts should defer to those public entities to determine what projects may continue.

Local governments may elect to impose more stringent requirements than those contained in the guidance and in such instances, businesses must adhere to those more stringent requirements. 

Local officials have been tasked with ensuring that construction businesses are aware that this guidance exists and notifying businesses that a complaint of noncompliance was received.

Businesses that have questions about whether this guidance applies to them may email the Department of Labor and Industry at RA-LIBOIS-BUILDINGS@pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov    

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,369 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 37,053

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 23, that there are 1,369 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 37,053. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19.

The department is continuing to work to increase the types of cases that are being added to our death case counts. Today, the state is reporting 1,394 confirmed deaths in Pennsylvania. More information will be provided on probable deaths during the secretary’s press briefing.  County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“As we see the number of new COVID-19 cases continuously change across the state that does not mean we can stop practicing social distancing,” Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families and our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but others. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 142,061 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Nearly 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 6% are aged 19-24; 
  • Nearly 39% are aged 25-49; 
  • Nearly 28% are aged 50-64; and
  • Nearly 25% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 5,679 resident cases of COVID-19, and 673 cases among employees, for a total of 6,352 at 408 distinct facilities in 39 counties. Out of our total deaths, 849 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 22:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts. MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,369 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 37,053

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 23, that there are 1,369 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 37,053. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19.

The department is continuing to work to increase the types of cases that are being added to our death case counts. Today, the state is reporting 1,394 confirmed deaths in Pennsylvania. More information will be provided on probable deaths during the secretary’s press briefing.  County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“As we see the number of new COVID-19 cases continuously change across the state that does not mean we can stop practicing social distancing,” Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families and our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but others. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 142,061 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Nearly 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 6% are aged 19-24; 
  • Nearly 39% are aged 25-49; 
  • Nearly 28% are aged 50-64; and
  • Nearly 25% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 5,679 resident cases of COVID-19, and 673 cases among employees, for a total of 6,352 at 408 distinct facilities in 39 counties. Out of our total deaths, 849 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 22:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,156 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 35,684

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 22, that there are 1,156 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 35,684. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19.

The department is continuing to work to increase the types of cases that are being added to our death case counts. Today, 58 new deaths are reported among positive and probable cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,622. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“As we see the number of new COVID-19 cases continuously change across the state that does not mean we can stop practicing social distancing,” Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families and our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but others. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 136,272 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Nearly 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 6% are aged 19-24; 
  • Nearly 39% are aged 25-49; 
  • Nearly 28% are aged 50-64; and
  • 25% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 5,337 resident cases of COVID-19, and 617 cases among employees, for a total of 5,954 at 407 distinct facilities in 39 counties. Out of our total deaths, 845 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 21:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Gov. Wolf Encourages Voters to Apply for a Mail-in Ballot

As Pennsylvania continues mitigation efforts to fight COVID-19, Governor Tom Wolf is encouraging registered voters to apply for a mail-in ballot for the June 2 primary election. The governor also announced the Department of State has launched an awareness campaign to inform the public about the new primary election date and how to apply for a mail-in ballot, including sending 4.2 million postcards to primary voters. In-person voting at polling places will remain available.

“There is no more important civic duty than voting, but we also want to make sure that every primary voter can cast their vote safely,” said Governor Wolf. “This election is the first time that voters have the option to vote by mail-in ballot and I encourage every Pennsylvania voter to visit votesPA.com to conveniently update their registration or apply for a mail-in ballot.”

Registered voters can apply online for a mail-in or absentee ballot at votespa.com. The deadline is 5 p.m., May 26. So far, 462,085 voters have applied for a mail-in ballot and 139,572 voters have applied for an absentee ballot.

“The 2020 election season is bringing unprecedented changes for Pennsylvania voters,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “We are using every tool available to make sure voters know about the changes in voting while also staying safe, including the new option for all voters to vote by mail from the comfort of their home. Nearly 600,000 voters have already applied to vote by mail or absentee – a secure, convenient method for all voters.”

The Department of State’s voter education outreach includes:

  • A public awareness campaign on radio, television and multiple digital platforms including social channels, streaming services and mobile apps.
  • Mailing 4.2 million postcards and sending weekly emails to registered voters regarding the new primary date and mail-in ballot option, along with important deadlines.
  • Outreach to stakeholders to help spread the word.

The Wolf Administration will provide counties with funding to send informational mailings to voters, purchase equipment and protective supplies, promote and facilitate mail-in voting, increase needed staffing, and take other actions to improve election administration and voting safety and security. The federal CARES Act and state appropriations from election security and technology is providing funding.

The department is also purchasing infection-protection kits for all counties to provide to precincts so poll workers can maintain a safe voting environment at polling locations on June 2. These kits will include masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, floor marking tape and other sanitizing supplies and will be provided to the counties at no cost to them.

Voters and county election officials in Pennsylvania were already preparing for historic change following the passage and signing of Act 77 of 2019. Act 77 was the first major amendment to the state’s Election Code in more than 80 years. It brought the option of mail-in ballots with no excuse needed, along with later deadlines for voter registration and for returning mail and absentee ballots.

With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed, and Governor Wolf signed, Act 12 of 2020, which rescheduled the primary election and made additional changes in the process for voters as well as county election officials.

The new deadline to register to vote or update a voter registration for the primary is May 18. Registered voters have until 5 pm May 26 to sign up to vote by mail ballot and until 8 p.m. on election day to return their voted ballot. Voters who applied for a ballot before the change of election date do not need to apply again, but voters whose address may have changed should contact their county election office.

Act 12 also allows counties to temporarily consolidate polling places more easily as they work to relocate voting sites such as those at senior centers, now closed because of the COVID-19 emergency.

“In coming weeks, voters should pay special attention to their county’s announcements regarding relocation of polling places,” Secretary Boockvar said. “For the primary election, many voters could be voting at different locations than in the past if they cannot or do not wish to vote by mail.”

Once counties have finalized their polling place plans, voters will be able to check their voting location through the Department of State’s polling place locator.

For more information on the new mail-in ballots and all things related to voting in Pennsylvania, call the Department of State’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772) or visit votesPA.com.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Lyndsay Kensinger, Governor’s Office, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov
                                 Wanda Murren, Department of State, 717-783-1621  

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Wolf Administration Announces Business Loan Deferrals

Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced that the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA), Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority (PMBDA), and Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) are deferring loans and that the maturity dates and amortization schedules of all applicable loans are extended by three additional calendar months.

“As we look to the future for a phased reopening of Pennsylvania’s economy, it is imperative that we provide relief to businesses affected by the administration’s stay-at-home order,” said Sec. Davin. “Businesses statewide have been cooperative and made sacrifices for the health and safety of their communities, and we are committed to supporting them through the next steps ahead.”

PIDA borrowers with payments due in April, May, and June of 2020 are deferred. All other terms and conditions of all applicable loans remain unchanged.

PMBDA borrowers with payments due in April, May, and June of 2020, including principal, interest, and any associated feeds are deferred. Accrual of interest that would be included with deferred payments is suspended. All other terms and conditions of all applicable loans remain unchanged.

CFA borrowers except for PENNWORKS loans, with payments due in April, May, and June of 2020, including principal, interest, and any associated fees are deferred. Accrual of interest that would be included with deferred payments is suspended. All other terms of all applicable loans remain unchanged.

DCED continues to update its website with financial and other resources.

Businesses seeking further guidance and clarification from DCED can also contact its customer service resource account at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should follow www.governor.pa.gov and www.doh.pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Casey Smith, casesmith@pa.gov

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Insurance Department Issues Notice to Insurers Highlighting Temporary Licensure Process During COVID-19

Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman announced today that the insurance department submitted to the Pennsylvania Bulletin a notice to all state insurance companies and agencies. The notice outlines the process for the issuance of temporary producer licenses to those qualifying individuals desiring to become Pennsylvania resident insurance producers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the operations of businesses in every industry, which has created an increased need for flexibility, digital options and thoughtful guidance from regulators and state agencies,” said Altman. “All producer examination testing centers are closed in Pennsylvania, creating a hurdle for those seeking an insurance producer license, so the department was tasked with creating a temporary pathway to licensure in order to assure the continuity of certain vital insurance services and address the disruption caused by the virus.”

Temporary licenses will only be permitted for individuals who are sponsored by an insurance company holding an active certificate of authority in Pennsylvania and authorized to write the lines of insurance for which the individual is applying. All applicants are required to complete the 24 credit hours of pre-licensing education before the sponsoring insurer can submit their application and must complete the fingerprinting and background check process through the department. 

Guidance details include:

  • An application fee of $55 must be paid to the department.  If a temporary licensee takes and passes the appropriate producer licensing exam prior to the expiration of the temporary license, the department will waive the application fee to become a fully-licensed resident producer without requiring an additional application or fingerprinting/background check.
  • The temporary license is valid for no more than 180 days from the date of issuance. This temporary license is nontransferable and cannot be renewed.
  • Any active temporary producer license issued by the department may be converted to a regular producer license by completion of all prerequisites of a license for the desired lines of authority, including meeting all examination and fingerprint requirements pursuant to Pennsylvania statute. 
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department is currently working with its examination vendor to make remote electronic testing available and anticipates possible implementation in late summer or early fall.

Last month, a notice was issued to insurance licensees to temporarily suspend all in-person classroom education approved by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department and encourage all classroom courses to be offered via internet-based webinar format instead.

The department has submitted various notices to the Pennsylvania Bulletin to help ease the hardships that are being felt by Pennsylvanians during this crisis and ensure minimum disruption to the department and commonwealth-regulated operations.

The Insurance Department, in partnership with the departments of Health and Human Services, developed an FAQ that provides information and answers to common questions related to insurance coverage and COVID-19.

If a consumer has any questions or concerns related to their insurance coverage, whether COVID-19 related or not, they are encouraged to contact the department at 1-877-881-6388.

Visit the commonwealth’s Responding to COVID-19 guide for the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Thaisa Jones, thajones@pa.gov, 717-214-4781

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Support and Resources for Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault Available

Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today joined representatives from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) to remind Pennsylvanians that resources and assistance are available to victims and survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence during COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

“Even though we are all staying at home to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we know that staying at home is not necessarily the safest place for many victims and survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence. I want to be clear – if you need help, help is available. You are not alone,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “No one should have to face an increased risk to their safety, and help is available thanks to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.”

PCAR is a network that provides sexual assault crisis services. Those resources can be found at www.pcar.org or at 1-888-772-7227 for a 24-hour hotline to be connected to a local sexual assault center

PCADV provides domestic violence services 24-7 via PCADV.org/find-help and the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233 or by texting LOVEIS to 22522.

Domestic violence programs and rape crisis centers are considered life-sustaining businesses under Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order.

“This is a stressful and scary time for many of us as we know that sexual harassment, abuse, and assault continue to occur even through a crisis like COVID-19. We want everyone to know that if you or a loved one feels that you are experiencing any sexual abuse or assault that we are here to help you,” said James Willshier, Chief Public Affairs Officer of PCAR. “We encourage anyone in need of support to contact our hotline to be connected to sexual assault center services in any county for free and confidential information from trained professionals 24 hours a day.  Even though we may be practicing physical distancing, we can still help provide trauma informed care to you.”

“The circumstances of this crisis make this time especially stressful and dangerous for those who experience abuse from an intimate partner or family member. Social distancing measures will likely cause instances of violence to increase but may be under-reported,” said Julie Bancroft, Chief Public Affairs Officer of PCADV. “We want Pennsylvanians experiencing abuse to know that they are not alone and that free, safe, and confidential help is available.”

DHS has previously reminded Pennsylvanians that DHS’ ChildLine, a 24/7 hotline for reporting concerns of child abuse or neglect, is still fully operational and available at 1-800-932-0313 for Pennsylvanians seeking to report potential cases of child abuse or neglect.

Visit pa.gov for a “Responding to COVID-19” guide or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. 

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov.

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,296 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 34,528

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 21, that there are 1,296 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 34,528. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19.

The department is continuing to work to increase the types of cases that are being added to our death case counts. Today, 360 new deaths are reported among positive and probable cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,564. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“As we see the number of new COVID-19 cases continuously change across the state that does not mean we can stop practicing social distancing,” Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families and our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but others. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 132,323 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Nearly 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 6% are aged 19-24; 
  • Nearly 39% are aged 25-49; 
  • Nearly 28% are aged 50-64; and
  • 25% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 5,026 resident cases of COVID-19, and 572 cases among employees, for a total of 5,598 at 396 distinct facilities in 38 counties. Out of our total deaths, 796 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 20:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Gov. Wolf, Sec. of Health Extend Statewide Stay-at-Home Order Until May 8

Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today announced that the statewide stay-at-home orders issued on April 1 to protect Pennsylvanians and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 will be extended until Friday, May 8 at 12:01 AM. The initial order was set to expire on April 30.

“It is clear that our early and aggressive efforts to mitigate this spread of this highly contagious and deadly virus are working. While we begin to seek ways to move forward, it’s imperative that we continue to take strong precautions to protect Pennsylvanians and ensure that our health care system is not overwhelmed,” Wolf said. “I am so proud of this commonwealth and the resilience of my fellow Pennsylvanians, and I urge you to continue to stay calm and stay home so that we can all stay safe.”

“We are starting to see a downward trend in the number of positive cases throughout the state, which is definitely encouraging,” Dr. Levine said. “We need to proceed carefully to make sure the strides we’ve made in combatting this virus continue to move forward. Extending our statewide order until May 8 will ensure that we don’t overwhelm our health system, while helping our economy to recover.”

Non-life-sustaining physical business closures remain in effect and all life-sustaining businesses and state services will continue.  

Individuals are permitted to leave their residences for tasks essential to maintaining health and safety.

Stay-at-home guidance is available as a PDF here.

Wolf recommended that Pennsylvanians continue to wear masks when leaving the house for life-sustaining reasons. Dr. Levine recently signed an order directing protections for critical workers who are employed at businesses that are authorized to maintain in-person operations during the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

At this time, law enforcement will continue to focus on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement.

Read the governor’s amendment as a PDF here.

Read the Secretary of Health’s amendment as a PDF here.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov

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Wolf Administration Encourages Residents To Support Local Restaurants with CarryoutPA.com

 Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) Tourism Office encouraged Pennsylvanians to support local restaurants by visiting the CarryoutPA website, which offers a comprehensive list of restaurants offering takeout, curbside, or delivery services during the state’s stay-at-home order.

“As this public health crisis continues to unfold, it is important that we practice social distancing and adhere to the stay-at-home order when possible,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. “But it’s also critical to remember that we can all still do our part to support the restaurants in our communities as they work to provide safe dine-out options.”

CarryoutPA.com was developed by the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association (PRLA) to serve as a go-to resource for dine-out options in support of the commonwealth’s restaurant industry, which accounts for 10 percent of jobs statewide. Pennsylvania restaurants that would like to be added to the registry can register here.

“Restaurants in Pennsylvania and the nation have been hit hard by the mandated closure of dine-in service due to COVID-19. As the statewide organization for the commonwealth’s restaurant industry, PRLA moved quickly to establish a website for restaurants to let the public know that they were open and ready to serve their communities,” said John Longstreet, PRLA president & CEO. “Any restaurant in Pennsylvania that is open for take out and delivery may add their listing to CarryOutPA.com, at no charge.”

According to the association, 4 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product is spent on eating out, with the restaurant industry generating around $863 billion in 2019. More than 70 percent of restaurants are single-unit operations, many of which are family owned.

“Small business is the backbone of Pennsylvania’s tourism industry, and we are committed to supporting our commonwealth’s business owners as we work through these unprecedented times together,” said DCED Deputy Secretary for Marketing, Tourism, and Film, Carrie Fischer Lepore. “By visiting the CarryoutPA website, Pennsylvanians can treat themselves to a safely-prepared dine-out meal while helping their community on the road to recovery from this pandemic.”

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit: Responding to COVID-19 Guide.

The Pennsylvania Tourism Office, under the Department of Community and Economic Development, is dedicated to inspiring travel to Pennsylvania as the state’s official destination marketing organization. Pennsylvania welcomed 204 million visitors in 2019, generating a $43 billion economic impact which supports 500,000 jobs. For more information, visit the visitPA website or sign up for our Happy Thoughts newsletter, become a fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, check out photos on Instagram, share pins on Pinterest, or watch us on Youtube.MEDIA CONTACT: Casey Smith, casesmith@pa.gov

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Human Services Announces Study to Assess Impact of COVID-19 on Pennsylvania Child Care Providers

Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today announced a partnership between the department’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and Penn State Harrisburg’s Institute of State and Regional Affairs (ISRA) to study the impacts of COVID-19 on child care providers across Pennsylvania.

“COVID-19 has disrupted daily life in Pennsylvania and around the world, and while these mitigation efforts will save lives, we must also prepare for a long-term recovery period ,” said Secretary Miller. “Child care providers are critical to allowing parents go to work knowing their children are safe. Without their service, we cannot have a fully functional economy, and we are committed to helping them weather this tumultuous period.”

OCDEL will work with a team of research specialists at ISRA to identify the specific operational and financial challenges that child care providers must overcome to stay open after statewide business and stay-at-home orders are lifted. The research team will survey a statewide representative sample of 1,000 randomly selected licensed child care providers and conduct interviews with program directors and staff.

The study will seek to answer the following questions:

  • How have child care providers responded to COVID-19, and what are the financial costs?
  • How many child care providers will remain operational without revenue in the next few months?
  • What level of investment is needed to cover provider costs to enable their continued operation after restrictions on public movement are lifted?
  • What level of investment is needed ensure that child care services are accessible to families during a transition period of low demand because of unemployment and fear of infection? 

Researchers will also gather information about the extent to which the interruption of services will impact demand for child care moving forward and what resources and supports are needed to help child care providers navigate the period and provide high-quality child care to Pennsylvania families.

“Pennsylvania has acted swiftly to engage research partners and leverage existing federal grant funds to generate timely information about how child care providers have responded to this public health crisis,” said Secretary Miller. “This study will provide state leaders with critical information about how child care providers are responding, and the impact of lost revenue.”

“We hypothesize an immediate reduction in the demand for child care followed by a gradual increase in both the demand and supply of child care services. We will track both,” said Dr. Philip Sirinides, ISRA Director at Penn State Harrisburg. “There may be a sudden change in the child care workforce as some staff may leave following a period of unemployment and people from other fields look for new work.”

Penn State Harrisburg’s ISRA furthers the university’s public service and applied research mission by using interdisciplinary resources to address challenges facing Pennsylvania’s communities. As a Penn State research and services unit in the state’s capital region, the Institute serves to foster understanding in the areas of public policy analysis, community, regional and state planning, information management, public administration, evaluation, and economic development. ISRA recently released a report to help guide strategic planning in response to the COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.

Visit pa.gov for a “Responding to COVID-19” guide or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

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Gov. Wolf Announces Online Vehicle Sale Process, Construction Restart Date, PLCB Curbside Pick Up

Governor’s Business AmendmentHealth Secretary’s Business Amendment
Online Car Sales Guidance
Updated Industry Operation GuidanceUpdated Industry Operation FAQ

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced three actions including online sales of vehicles, which will be enabled by the signing of SB 841, restart of construction projects statewide starting Friday, May 8, and curbside pickup of wine and spirits at select Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board locations. 

“Over the past six weeks, Pennsylvanians have come together like never before to halt the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Wolf. “It has not been easy, but it has paid off. Today, we are taking small steps toward a degree of normalcy. We are allowing curbside pickup of phone orders at PLCB stores and auto sales will be allowed to take place online. On May 8, construction will resume statewide.

“I want to caution that we will not be resuming operations as they were in February. We’re going to continue to take precautions that limit our physical contact with others, and we will closely monitor this to see if it can be done safely.”

These limited steps forward will be closely observed in the coming days and weeks to ensure that they do not result in a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, in which case the governor will use his authority under the emergency disaster declaration to resume restrictions to protect public health and safety. 

Vehicle Sales May Be Conducted Online 

The governor will sign Senate Bill 841 later today that approves qualified Pennsylvania notaries public to perform remote online notarizations, which will allow auto dealerships to conducted limited car sales and leasing operations through online sales, as a notary is required to complete the transaction. Auto dealerships may continue to remain open for certain activities, such as repairs to passenger and commercial vehicles and sales of auto parts, but in-person car sales or leases are still considered non-life sustaining and remain prohibited at this time.

Construction With Strict Guidelines Resumes Friday, May 8 

Public and private residential and non-residential construction may resume statewide starting Friday, May 8, in accordance with safety guidance that will be issued by the administration shortly. Construction projects already deemed life-sustaining may continue while adhering to social distancing, personnel limits and other guidance as announced by the administration.  

PLCB Begins Limited Curbside Pickup 

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) today began accepting orders by phone for curbside pickup at 176 locations. Phone orders can be placed between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., or until reaching a store’s maximum order capacity each day. Curbside pickups will be scheduled from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. within a few days of order placement. Callers will be guided through each store’s unique inventory. There is a limit of six bottles per order, and credit cards are the only accepted form of payment. At pickup, customers will be required to present identification before the order is delivered. 

The PLCB website lists the stores offering curbside pickup. PLCB anticipates expanding the service at more locations in the future. The PLCB website, FineWineAndGoodSpirits.com, is also increasing order capacity.

Curbside sales at Fine Wine and Good Spirits Shoppes will serve as a guide to determine whether certain other non-life-sustaining businesses may be able to resume limited operations through curbside pickup, which is currently only permitted for life-sustaining businesses that offer food and pharmaceuticals. 

The Administration will monitor the implementation of curbside pickup including the safety of the supply chain to determine if broader curbside pick up can be done safely and effectively to provide goods and services, while still limiting the amount of person to person contact not just at retail locations but throughout the supply chain.  

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/

MEDIA CONTACT:  Lyndsay Kensinger, Governor’s Office, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov  

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Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Begins Limited Curbside Delivery Program

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board today announced it has begun offering limited curbside pickup service at 176 locations across the commonwealth to serve more customers seeking wine and spirits while maintaining social distancing practices in the interest of public health and safety.

“Today, 106 Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection stores and 70 standard stores began accepting orders by phone for curbside pickup,” said PLCB Chairman Tim Holden. “We believe offering curbside pickup service in a controlled, limited manner will allow us to maintain public health best practices while growing our ability to serve customers who want access to wines and spirits.”

The stores offering curbside service are identified in a list published by the PLCB, and these stores will accept calls for curbside pickup orders between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., or until each store reaches the maximum number of orders it can fulfill each day, Monday through Saturday. Each store has its own unique inventory and will guide callers through the products available for purchase before finalizing each order and taking payment by phone.

Curbside pickups will be scheduled between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. within a few days of order placement. At pickup, customers will be required to present identification before the order is delivered.

Curbside pickup orders will be limited to up to six bottles per order, and credit cards are the only accepted form of payment. Orders will also be limited to one order per caller, per store, per day, and all curbside pickup sales are final.

Initially, each store will accept the first 50 to 100 orders placed each day, on a first-come, first-served basis, until fulfillment capacity grows to accept more orders per day. Orders will only be accepted by the store’s published phone number; no orders will be accepted by email or voicemail.

“We’re making strides in expanding service to Fine Wine & Good Spirits customers, but we know we’re facing pent-up demand for wine and spirits,” said Holden. “Once again, we ask customers to remain patient as we embark on this new process, since we expect many who call may not get through right away. We are aware we aren’t meeting the daily volume our network of almost 600 stores provided before this public health crisis, but we are hopeful that the more e-commerce and curbside pickup orders we can process, over time, the better we’ll be able to serve more and more Pennsylvanians through this pandemic.”

As curbside pickup operations stabilize, the PLCB anticipates introducing curbside pickup service to additional Fine Wine & Good Spirits locations in the future.

The PLCB also continues to increase the number of orders it takes at FineWineAndGoodSpirits.com, ramping up to 121 locations picking and packing e-commerce orders. Website access to continues to be randomized to avoid overwhelming the site with high traffic, prevent order abuse, and prolong access throughout the day so that order availability isn’t exhausted in seconds or minutes each day. 

Pennsylvanians are also reminded of the following places and means for obtaining beverage alcohol during the current public health crisis.

  • Nearly 1,000 licensed producers in Pennsylvania – including breweries, wineries, and distilleries – may still sell their own products for off-premises consumption.
  • Restaurant and eating place licensees (bars, taverns, bottle shops, pizza/sub shops, supermarkets, convenience stores, etc.) can sell beer to go, up to 192 ounces (generally two six packs) per transaction. 
  • Restaurant licensees that also have wine expanded permits – including grocery stores and convenience stores – may also sell up to three liters of wine to go, per transaction. 
  • Beer distributors in Pennsylvania may continue sales for off-premises consumption.
  • Residents remain able to purchase wine from more than 1,200 licensed direct wine shippers.

The PLCB is not considering reopening stores to the public at this time, although the agency continues to monitor the situation in consultation with the Wolf Administration and public health officials.

Consumers are reminded that the sale of alcoholic beverages without a license is strictly prohibited under Pennsylvania law.

The PLCB regulates the distribution of beverage alcohol in Pennsylvania, operates nearly 600 wine and spirits stores statewide, and licenses 20,000 alcohol producers, retailers, and handlers. The PLCB also works to reduce and prevent dangerous and underage drinking through partnerships with schools, community groups, and licensees. Taxes and store profits – totaling nearly $18.5 billion since the agency’s inception – are returned to Pennsylvania’s General Fund, which finances Pennsylvania’s schools, health and human services programs, law enforcement, and public safety initiatives, among other important public services. The PLCB also provides financial support for the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, other state agencies, and local municipalities across the state. For more information about the PLCB, visit lcb.pa.gov.
 

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Brassell, 717-919-1905 

EDITOR’S NOTE: No media access will be granted inside Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores while they remain closed to the public. Additionally, media are encouraged to honor the following guidelines to protect Fine Wine & Good Spirits store staff and customers.

  • Follow social distancing guidelines, remaining at least six feet away from any other individual.
  • Respect the wishes of store staff or customers who do not want to be photographed, recorded, or approached.
  • Direct all questions to the PLCB Communications Office, as store staff will be busy assisting customers.
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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 948 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 33,232

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 20, that there are 948 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 33,232. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19.

The department is continuing to work to increase the types of cases that are being added to our death case counts. Today, 92 new deaths are reported among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,204. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“As we start to see the number of new COVID-19 cases decrease across the state that does not mean we can stop practicing social distancing,” Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families and our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but others. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 129,720 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • 6% are aged 19-24; 
  • 39% are aged 25-49; 
  • 28% are aged 50-64; and
  • 24% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 4,689 resident cases of COVID-19, and 504 cases among employees, for a total of 5,193 at 374 distinct facilities in 35 counties. Out of our total deaths, 682 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 19:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Gov. Wolf Signs Senate Bill 841 to Provide Flexibility to Local Governments and Businesses

Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 841 today that helps local communities and businesses respond to the COVID-19 emergency and protect the public. The bill provides flexibility on property tax deadlines, allows remote public meetings and notarization of documents so online vehicle sales can resume.

“This bipartisan legislation gives local governments and businesses additional options to help property taxpayers and address various needs,” said Gov. Wolf. “COVID-19 remains a very real threat and each of us needs to continue doing our part to cut back on physical interactions. This new law is a measured and safe way to provide relief as we continue to monitor the spread of the virus.”

The bill does the following:

  • Reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council and requires it to study the impact of COVID-19 on hospitals and health systems.
  • Allows local governments to conduct remote public meetings.
  • Provides property tax relief by allowing taxing districts to waive late fees and penalties for property taxes paid by December 31, 2020.
  • Allows school districts to renegotiate contracts with service providers to ensure payment of personnel and fixed costs during the school closure.
  • Allows remote notarization of documents.

The governor vetoed Senate Bill 613.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Lyndsay Kensinger, ra-gvgovpress@pa.gov

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Wolf Administration Submits State Plan Request to Support Food Access for Students During COVID-19 Crisis

The departments of Human Services and Education today submitted a state plan to the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to students who are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. This program, known as Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT), is temporary and is designed to bridge the gap left by schools closing due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Schools may be closed for the rest of the year because of COVID-19, but students still need to eat breakfast and lunch,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “The Wolf Administration is committed to doing everything in its power to make sure that families have the resources they need during this public health crisis. I am calling on the USDA to approve this plan quickly so we can get this benefit in into the hands of parents who need it.”

If approved by the USDA, this state plan would allow for DHS to provide P-EBT to households with children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program due to pandemic-related school closures. P-EBT benefits would be issued through EBT cards issued to qualifying families. A family’s benefit would be determined based off the federal reimbursement rate for the daily rate of free school breakfasts and lunches, or approximately $5.70 per child. As requested, this benefit would be calculated for the remainder of the school year, leading to an approximate benefit of $365 per child.

“As families adapt to the commonwealth’s school closures and students adjust to learning at home, parents and guardians shouldn’t have to be concerned about accessing nutritious meals for their children,” Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. “The Department of Education is proud to be able to partner with DHS to ensure that our students continue to be served during the pandemic-related closures.”

This state plan request was developed in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), who administers the National School Lunch Program in Pennsylvania. DHS has determined that approximately 680,000 students who receive free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch throughout the school year are eligible for P-EBT based on current participation in SNAP or Medicaid. Additionally, students who otherwise qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches will qualify for P-EBT if approved. All told, P-EBT will allow DHS to provide funds to cover the cost of breakfast and lunch for approximately 958,000 Pennsylvania school-aged children. 

Governor Wolf previously announced the issuance of emergency SNAP benefits April 16. DHS is continuing to process applications for SNAP and encourages people and families who need assistance to apply online at www.compass.state.pa.us. Emergency applications for SNAP can be expedited in five days, and all Pennsylvanians who are in a difficult financial situation due to the economic challenges of this pandemic should apply to see if they are eligible for assistance.

Pennsylvanians who need help feeding themselves or their family can also find and contact their local food bank or pantry through Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania to access food resources in their community.

Visit pa.gov for a “Responding to COVID-19” guide or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, DHS – ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

    Eric Levis, Education – 717-783-9802, or elevis@pa.gov

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DMVA: Veterans Benefits Continue to be Available During COVID-19

The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) wants to assure veterans that state and federal benefits processing are still on-going. The DMVA and the Federal VA both continue to work remotely to provide veterans’ information, enroll for benefits, and serve other veterans’ needs throughout this difficult pandemic emergency.  

“The COVID-19 life restrictions and family impacts are unlike anything that has happened in our history and has created more hardship and need throughout the Pennsylvania veterans’ community,” said Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the DMVA. “Our Office of Veterans Affairs has reset to comply with the CDC guidelines and is working to make sure our veterans continue to receive the benefits they have earned.” 

The DMVA administers an array of programs and services to meet the needs of veterans. They include: 

  • Veterans Temporary Assistance/Military Family Relief Assistance programs: These programs provide financial assistance to service members, veterans and families who experience unforeseen financial challenges. For questions email: Ra-vta@pa.gov
  • Records Request Program: Provides assistance in requesting military service records to include DD Form 214, DD Form 215, NGB Form 22, NGB Form 23, and other service-related documents. For questions email: Ra-req@pa.gov.
  • Amputee, Paralyzed and Blind Veterans Pension programs: These programs provide a monthly pension to eligible veterans who incurred a service-connected disability. For questions about the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension email: Ra-pvp@pa.gov. For questions about the Blind Veterans Pension email: Ra-bvp@pa.gov.
  • Educational Gratuity Program: The Educational Gratuity Program provides financial assistance to children of honorably discharged veterans who have service-connected disabilities and served during a period of war or armed conflict or children of veterans who die or died in service during a period of war or armed conflict. For questions email: Ra-eg@pa.gov.
  • Disabled Veteran Real Estate Tax Exemption Program: Provides real estate tax exemption for any honorably discharged veteran who is 100 percent disabled, a resident of the commonwealth and has a financial need. For questions email: Ra-retx@pa.gov

Applications for these programs are traditionally initiated with the county director for veterans affairs (CDVA) staff and their contact information can be found here. If a CDVA is not available due to county office closure, the veteran may contact DMVA’s Office of Veterans Affairs directly at 800-547-2838. 

For more information and updates on all of DMVA’s programs and services, visit https://www.dmva.pa.gov/veteransaffairs or follow us at www.facebook.com/padmva or www.twitter.com/padmva.  

Veterans, family members and people who work with veterans can connect with DMVA to request information related to the valuable state benefits, programs and services offered by also signing up on the Veteran’s Registry at www.register.dmva.pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACT: Joseph Butera, 717-903-6791 or jobutera@pa.gov  

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Wolf Administration Reminds Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 to Stay Vigilant Against Scams

 Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin warned Pennsylvania businesses to be cognizant of potential scams related to the administration of Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. DCED has received reports of small businesses contacted by individuals posing as loan agents asking for payment to apply for a loan.

“While this pandemic has showcased some of the very best amongst us in our state stepping up, there are individuals who unfortunately will take advantage of vulnerable citizens,” said Sec. Davin. “The Wolf Administration is committed to the safety, rights, and wellbeing of Pennsylvanians business owners, and reminds everyone that no one needs to pay for services to apply for SBA loans.”

On Friday, March 27, 2020, the president signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which contained $376 billion in relief for American workers and small businesses. In addition to traditional SBA funding programs, the CARES Act established several new temporary programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Loan Advance, SBA Express Bridge Loan, and SBA Debt Relief. The application process is simple and the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) offer application assistance free of charge.

In addition to the free services offered by the PA SBDC, the SBA is also broadcasting at least two free weekly webinars to individuals who may need further assistance.

All 16 SBDCs across the commonwealth have been conducting one-on-one consulting with a multitude of applicants since the SBA loan application opened. Each business is served by a center in the SBDC network, determined by the county in which their business is located.

Resources and information for businesses is regularly updated on the DCED resource website. Businesses seeking guidance or clarification from DCED can receive assistance from the department by reaching out to ra-dcedcs@pa.gov.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should follow the PA Governor’s Office website and PA Department of Health website.

For more information about DCED, visit the DCED website, and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.MEDIA CONTACT: Casey Smith, casesmith@pa.gov

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Access to Food Assistance, Healthcare through Safety-Net Programs Available During COVID-19

Governor Tom Wolf today reminded Pennsylvanians that public benefit programs are available to families and individuals who have lost jobs, income and health insurance as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. These programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“The Department of Human Services held a briefing today to talk about how the department is supporting Pennsylvanians through this public health crisis and in the weeks and months of rebuilding our economy that will follow,” Gov. Wolf said. “These programs are important for so many Pennsylvanians every day, and now more than ever as we face this pandemic together.”

Since this crisis began in early March, the department’s Office of Income Maintenance (OIM) has taken many steps to ensure that Pennsylvanians who need help and who qualify for programs are able to access them as quickly as possible. Examples include lifting requirements for face-to-face interviews and temporarily suspending the closure of Medicaid cases except in certain circumstances.

DHS has also worked with its partners at the state and federal levels to implement policies that are responsive to the exceptional ways that all of our lives have changed in recent weeks, including extending certification periods for public assistance programs so participation can continue through the public health crisis. On Thursday, DHS began issuing emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in line with the federal government’s interpretation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Payments include a supplemental increase for both March and April and will continue to be issued for current SNAP households through April 29. DHS is also advising Pennsylvanians in need of food assistance of local supports that can help meet essential needs during the public health crisis.

“These programs exist to help all of us in the moments we cannot plan for – the times that an injury or an accident changes our life and sense of security as individuals, and the times that a global pandemic alters our daily life as a society,” DHS Sec. Teresa Miller said. “These programs are needed for many in the best of times, and they are critical in the worst. We cannot forget this when this moment passes.”

County assistance offices located in every Pennsylvania county are staffed by OIM caseworkers who are skilled at connecting individuals to benefits they need while also maintaining program integrity and the responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. While CAO offices are currently closed to the public in observance of guidance from public health professionals to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, work processing applications, determining eligibility, and issuing benefits continues.

“At this critical moment, I want Pennsylvanians to know that we are doing everything we can to connect families and individuals who are struggling economically with the programs that, in many cases, they have been supporting with their labor and tax dollars for years,” Sec. Miller said. “The act of submitting an application for SNAP or Medicaid during a time of crisis is an act of advocacy for yourself and your family, and there should be no shame attached to it.”

DHS encourages the public to take advantage of the ability to submit applications for all of these programs online at www.compass.state.pa.us. Individuals with a smartphone can also download the mobile app, MYCOMPASS PA, which is available at the App Store or Google Play Store.

Applications by mail are also acceptable or they can be dropped off at any County Assistance Office, which are closed to the public but equipped with drop boxes for this purpose. Clients in Philadelphia with questions or information to report about their case should call the Philadelphia Customer Service Center at 215-560-7226. Clients in all other counties can call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930.

Pennsylvanians can also apply for Medical Assistance by phone by calling the Consumer Service Center at 1-866-550-4355.

EBT payments are still scheduled to occur during the closure and activated EBT cards can still be used as usual at ATMs and in stores at point-of-sale machines if the client has a balance. Balance and transaction inquiries, as well as EBT card replacement, can be requested from DHS’s EBT contractor, Conduent, at 888-328-7366.MEDIA CONTACT:    Lyndsay Kensinger, ra-gvgovpress@pa.gov
Erin James, ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,215 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 32,284

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 19, that there are 1,215 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 32,284. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19.

The department also announced that electronic and probable-cause deaths are now being reported, causing a reporting increase of 276 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,112.

“We have been working to reconcile our data with information from several different sources, including our NEDSS reporting system and our county and municipal health departments,” Dr. Rachel Levine said. “This is the cause of the increase in deaths we are reporting today. This work takes time and so the increase in deaths today reflects the culmination of that effort, which will continue moving forward. The majority of these deaths did not occur overnight.”

Dr. Levine stressed that mitigation efforts such as social distancing are working and that the goal of the department is to continue to provide as much data as possible in a timely manner.

County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Pennsylvania, so now is not the time to become complacent,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families, our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 126,570 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 13-18;
  • 6% are aged 19-24; 
  • 39% are aged 25-49; 
  • 28% are aged 50-64; and
  • Nearly 24% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 4,450 resident cases of COVID-19, and 479 cases among employees, for a total of 4,929 at 368 distinct facilities in 35 counties. Out of our total deaths, 462 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 18:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Pennsylvania Now Accepting Applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Benefits

Self-employed, others not eligible for regular unemployment compensation may apply

Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak today announced Pennsylvania’s self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others not eligible for regular unemployment compensation (UC) can begin filing claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. PUA is included in the new federal expansion to unemployment benefits provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  

Pennsylvanians who meet PUA eligibility requirements can apply online. L&I anticipates a high volume of applications over the next few days which may temporarily slow the system. The department is continuing to add improvements to make it easier to use. L&I expects to begin making payments to approved claimants within two to four weeks after they submit their initial claim.  

Who Should File for PUA 

Eligible individuals who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 include: 

PUA Benefits 

In general, PUA:  

  • Provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits;
  • May not be more than the state’s maximum weekly benefit rate for regular UC of $572;
  • May not be less than half of the state’s average weekly benefit amount of $195.
  • Payments will be backdated to January 27, 2020 or the first week you were unable to work due to COVID-19 (whichever of the two dates is later); and
  • Benefits will not be payable for weeks of unemployment after December 31, 2020. 

Information Needed for COVID-19-related Employment Disruptions 

Acceptable documentation to verify COVID-19 reasons for being unable to work can include, but is not limited to: 

  • Documentation from medical professionals regarding diagnosis or isolation instructions for you or a person in your home;
  • Notices or emails from school or childcare providers;
  • Notices or emails from county or state government regarding closure of businesses or stay at home orders;
  • Notices or emails from entities for which you were contracting stating that your services are not needed due to COVID-19 related shutdowns; and/or
  • Documentation from a prospective employer that includes start date, hours, and pay of a job offer that was cancelled or delayed.  

Information Needed for Proof of Employment or Self-employment 

Acceptable documentation can include, but is not limited to: 

  • Copies of recent paycheck stubs;
  • Bank receipts showing deposits;
  • 1099s;
  • Billing notices provided to your customers;
  • Recent advertisements for your business or services;
  • Statements from recent customers;
  • Current business licenses, ledgers, contracts, invoices; and/or
  • Building leases. 

Information Needed to Show Previous Income 

Acceptable documentation of wages can include, but is not limited to: 

  • Tax returns;
  • Paycheck stubs;
  • Bank receipts;
  • Ledgers;
  • Contracts;
  • Invoices; and/or
  • Billing statements. 

Additional $600 Per Week  

Anyone collecting PUA benefits is also eligible for the extra $600 per week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program: 

  • Effective from the week ending April 4, 2020 through the week ending July 25, 2020;
  • Payments will be backdated and paid in a lump sum; and
  • You don’t need to do anything to receive the extra $600 – it will be paid automatically. 

The new PUA system is web-based and operates differently than the state’s regular UC mainframe system. This means PUA applicants will receive login information to file their continued claims and do not need a Personal Identification Number (PIN). After opening their initial PUA claim and filing for any retroactive weeks, individuals will file continuing claims on a weekly basis with a one-week grace period if they miss filing for any week. 

A new PUA phone line will soon be available for individuals without internet access or for those who require a translator. In the meantime, please direct questions to UCPUA@pa.gov. This email address is for PUA questions only. 

Learn More  

Additional COVID-19 information from L&I:

Visit the commonwealth’s Responding to COVID-19 guide for the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 MEDIA CONTACT: Penny Ickes, dlipress@pa.gov

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Wolf Administration Announces Business-to-Business Directory for COVID-19-Related Supplies

Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced the creation of the Business-to-Business Interchange Directory to connect organizations and businesses directly to manufacturers producing COVID-19-related products and supplies. 

“Over the past month, the Wolf Administration has been working directly with businesses across the commonwealth to identify their capabilities and needs and move products quickly from the manufacturing floor to the marketplace,” said Sec. Davin. “Through this process, we recognized that we can help foster direct business connections to provide Pennsylvanians access to critical supplies expeditiously without a middleman. The creation of the B2B Interchange Directory reflects our commitment to responding to the needs of Pennsylvania’s businesses in a streamlined, easily accessible manner.” 

This is the third web application developed by the Wolf Administration to serve the critical supply needs for Pennsylvania. 

Recently, Governor Wolf announced the creation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Portal to source the most needed supplies for medical providers, emergency responders, and health care professionals. Following that was the creation of the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Call to Action Portal, which builds on those efforts to help manufacturers produce COVID-19-related supplies or retool their operations to begin creation of those supplies.  

Company and product information provided in the directory were gathered in good faith as a means of connecting Pennsylvania businesses and organizations that are seeking various PPE and other related items to combat the COVID-19 crisis. The information made available is from those entities who voluntarily contacted the commonwealth through the Manufacturing Call to Action Portal or the Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal. 

Currently included in the directory are manufacturers of N95 masks, fabric and other masks, and surgical masks. Additional supplies and materials will be added to the directory as DCED identifies potential manufacturers. Businesses that would like to be added to the directory or those with questions should contact RA-DCEDPAMCTAP@pa.gov

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should

visit: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/MEDIA CONTACT: Casey Smith, casesmith@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,628 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 31,069

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 18, that there are 1,628 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 31,069. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 80 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 836. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Pennsylvania, and even though the daily increases are not exponential, now is not the time to become complacent,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families, our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 122,896 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • 6% are aged 19-24; 
  • 39% are aged 25-49; 
  • 28% are aged 50-64; and
  • Nearly 24% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 4,185 resident cases of COVID-19, and 462 cases among employees, for a total of 4,647 at 347 distinct facilities in 35 counties. Out of our total deaths, 462 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 17:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Gov. Wolf Announces Nearly $16 Million in Funding for Pennsylvania Food Banks

Governor Tom Wolf today announced nearly $16 million in funding for Pennsylvania food banks, which are providing critical assistance to Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 health crisis.

“COVID-19 has caused severe economic stress for many Pennsylvanians, and as a result our food banks have been working in overdrive with unprecedented demand,” Wolf said. “We’re proud of the Pennsylvanians who are sacrificing so much for the greater good. We’ll continue to push hard and advocate on their behalf, because no one should have to go without when they’re doing their part to save lives.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has received $14.9 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in Pennsylvania to provide critical support and food to Pennsylvania’s food banks and emergency food assistance network working to feed the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians. These funds were provided as a result of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which was passed by Congress and enacted into law on March 18, 2020.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will push $3.75 million in TEFAP money directly to 18 food banks in Pennsylvania to cover administrative costs associated with storage, transportation, and distribution of USDA Foods. In addition to this direct funding, the department will distribute $11.15 million in USDA Foods – including meats, vegetables, canned goods, cereal, rice, pasta, eggs, and more – to the state’s food banks to distribute through their network of distribution sites. The food and funding will be disbursed statewide to all 67 counties and distributed according to population and need.

Additionally, through an emergency contract with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is providing Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and their network of members $1 million in emergency funding for food and supplies.

“COVID-19 has turned Pennsylvania upside down and forced thousands out of jobs as we work to flatten the curve, but we’re not willing to accept hunger as our next pandemic,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “We’ll do whatever we can to support our charitable food system, it’s a system that’s supporting hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians doing their part to slow the spread for the health of Pennsylvania.”

Hunger-Free Pennsylvania is the state’s largest nonprofit provider of food resources for hungry Pennsylvanians. The funding will be equitably distributed, based on the population of individuals in need, across their network of 18 food banks in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

“Since this crisis began in early March, our food banks and pantries have been working hard to continue to meet the needs of the more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians who were already facing hunger, while also stepping up to support our neighbors who are newly out of work and need assistance,” said Hunger-Free Pennsylvania Executive Director Sheila Christopher. “At a time when our members are serving more individuals in need than ever before, we are incredibly grateful for the support of Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for identifying resources that will help us continue to meet the critical need.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has provided guidance to food assistance agencies to continue distributing food to those in need and protect both volunteers and clients from COVID-19. Pennsylvanians who have found themselves food insecure as a result of COVID-19 are eligible for state and federal food assistance. Find a pantry near you, then give them a call to make arrangements.

For a complete list of guidance documents and information as it relates to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania visit agriculture.pa.gov/COVID. For the most accurate, timely information related to Health in Pennsylvania, visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger (Governor), RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov; Shannon Powers (Agriculture), shpowers@pa.gov

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Wolf Administration Announces COVID-19 Testing Site for Northeast Pennsylvania

The Wolf Administration today announced a COVID-19 testing site at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, to provide much-needed testing for symptomatic first responders, health care workers and residents 65 or older throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“From 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Monday, the site will be open for 100 first responders and health care workers from Northeastern Pennsylvanian who are having COVID-19 symptoms to get tested,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We are taking every precaution to safely provide this critical public health service and prevent the spread of COVID-19. People are required to stay in their cars to get tested and drive directly back onto the highway to return home.”

The drive-thru testing site will be held in the parking lot of the Mohegan Sun Pocono Arena and pre-registration is required. Beginning Tuesday, April 21, the site will be open from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily to test up to 200 Northeastern Pa. residents over 65, first responders and health care workers each day. Registration is required one day in advance and can be found on the Department of Health’s website, health.pa.gov. No onsite registration is available.

Patients do not need a doctor’s prescription to be tested. Dr. Levine has signed a standing order for anyone who registers to be tested at the site.

For those who are registered, the site can be accessed by taking Exit 168 – Highland Park Boulevard from Interstate 81 (northbound or southbound) and following the signs and directions of local officials. 

“After testing, you are required to return home and self-isolate,” Dr. Levine said. “If your symptoms worsen while you are waiting for your test results, talk to your doctor and if you experience a medical emergency please seek immediate care.”

The Department of Health State Laboratory will process the tests and provide residents with results in two to three business days. Patients will receive an email to log onto the registration site to access their test results.

“The planning and logistical efforts needed to pull together these testing sites in just a matter of days required a significant amount of coordination among state and county personnel,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “It speaks to the professionalism and skills of the teams involved, and their dedication to the health and well-being of their communities.”

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

As of 12:00 a.m., April 18, there were 31,069 positive cases of COVID-19 statewide in 67 counties and 836 deaths.  Most of the patients hospitalized are 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 and older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide indefinitely. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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L&I Soon Launching Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Website, Eligible Pennsylvanians Should Prepare Now

Pennsylvania’s new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) website for self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others not eligible for regular unemployment compensation (UC) will begin accepting applications within the next few days. PUA is included in the new federal unemployment compensation benefits provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) will announce when the PUA website is ready to accept applications. In the meantime, Pennsylvanians who meet eligibility requirements are strongly encouraged to begin gathering the information they will need to file an accurate claim and receive benefits quickly.

Who Should File for PUA

Eligible individuals who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, including:

  • Self-employed;
  • Independent contractors;
  • Gig workers;
  • People without sufficient work history to qualify for regular UC; and
  • People who have exhausted regular UC or extended benefits.

PUA Benefits

In general, PUA:

  • Provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits;
  • May not be more than the state’s maximum weekly benefit rate for regular UC of $572;
  • May not be less than half of the state’s average weekly benefit amount of $195.
  • Payments will be backdated to January 27, 2020 or the first week you were unable to work due to COVID-19 (whichever of the two dates is later); and
  • Benefits will end December 31, 2020.

Information Needed for Proof of Employment or Self-employment

Acceptable documentation can include, but is not limited to:

  • Copies of recent paycheck stubs;
  • Bank receipts showing deposits;
  • 1099s;
  • Billing notices provided to your customers;
  • Recent advertisements for your business or services;
  • Statements from recent customers;
  • Current business licenses, ledgers, contracts, invoices; and/or
  • Building leases.

Information Needed to Show Previous Income

Acceptable documentation of wages can include, but is not limited to:

  • Tax returns;
  • Paycheck stubs;
  • Bank receipts;
  • Ledgers;
  • Contracts;
  • Invoices; and/or
  • Billing statements.

Additional $600 Per Week

Individuals collecting PUA benefits will also eligible for the extra $600 per week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. The additional payments will be:

  • Effective from the week ending April 4, 2020 through the week ending July 25, 2020;
  • Backdated and paid in one lump sum; and
  • Automatic – you don’t need to do anything to receive the extra $600.

Learn More

Additional COVID-19 information from L&I:

Visit the commonwealth’s Responding to COVID-19 guide for the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

MEDIA CONTACT: Penny Ickes, dlipress@pa.gov

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Wolf Administration Offers Guidance to Food Processing Facilities to Ensure Safety of Workforce, Food Supply

Health Secretary Rachel Levine, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, and PEMA Director Randy Padfield today hosted a webinar with food processing facilities across the commonwealth to provide recommendations for reducing COVID-19 outbreaks among employees and maintaining continuity of operations for a secure food supply.

“We are thankful for our essential workers, including Pennsylvanians working in food processing facilities, who are keeping food on our tables,” Dr. Levine said. “We must keep them safe while they are at work and at home. These precautions are designed to do both.”

The webinar was an effort to provide a comprehensive approach to addressing company and employee health and safety concerns amid COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania, while also providing market stability for farmers and continued access to food.

“We cannot afford for our food supply workforce to go down because of COVID-19, or for them to feel unsafe and not show up to work; families across the commonwealth are relying on them for a secure supply of food,” said Redding. “In addition to complying with Dr. Levine’s worker safety order, we hope that processing facilities will strictly adhere to the guidance we provided them with today. Their employees working on the frontlines deserve it, and Pennsylvanians rely on it.”

The guidance included separate recommendations for processing facilities in areas with widespread transmission and limited transmission, as well as steps all facilities should immediately implement, for both management and employees, including:

  • Daily temperature and symptom screening,
  • Paid sick leave without penalty,
  • Encourage frequent self-monitoring,
  • Provide face coverings (not medical-grade masks),
  • Provide gloves where appropriate,
  • Increase frequency of routine cleaning,
  • Enforce 6-foot social distancing for entire workforce or provide plexiglass partitions where social distancing is not possible,
  • Enhance cleaning of common areas and break rooms,
  • Stagger breaks and shifts to decrease number of employees working at same time,
  • Structure break rooms so that seats are fixed to points that are six feet apart,
  • Provide additional handwashing/sanitation stations and mandate hand hygiene,
  • Make clustering of workforce a violation,
  • Prohibit visitors and vendors from having close contact with workforce,
  • Wherever possible, adhere to contactless delivery of goods and product,
  • Translate all appropriate materials into appropriate languages.

The recommendations provided today followed a worker protection order signed by Secretary Levine on Wednesday, April 15, directing protections for critical workers.

“Ensuring food security and availability during emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic is critical to supporting the most basic needs of the citizens of the Commonwealth,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “Taking this opportunity to discuss the unique needs of the meat processors during this unprecedented time is key to making sure they have the information needed to protect the safety of their workers.” 

For a complete list of guidance documents and information as it relates to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania visit agriculture.pa.gov/COVID. For the most accurate, timely information related to Health in Pennsylvania, visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Shannon Powers, Agriculture – 717.783.2628

Ruth Miller, PEMA – ruthmiller@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,706 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 29,441

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 17, that there are 1,706 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 29,441. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 49 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 756. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Pennsylvania, and even though the daily increases are not exponential, now is not the time to become complacent,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families, our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 117,932 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Nearly 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • 6% are aged 19-24; 
  • Nearly 40% are aged 25-49; 
  • Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • 23% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 3,716 resident cases of COVID-19, and 420 cases among employees, for a total of 4,136 at 321 distinct facilities in 35 counties. Out of our total deaths, 398 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 16:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Emergency SNAP Benefit Distribution to Begin Today, Local Feeding Programs Available

Governor Tom Wolf today announced that the Department of Human Services (DHS) will begin an emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit issuance today in line with the federal government’s interpretation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Payments include a supplemental increase for both March and April and will continue to be issued for current SNAP households through April 29. DHS is also advising Pennsylvanians in need of food assistance of local supports that can help meet essential needs during the public health crisis.

“This pandemic is creating economic strains for many Pennsylvanians, and we are doing all we can to help the 1.8 million Pennsylvanians who use SNAP to keep food on the table have a little flexibility to make additional grocery purchases and reduce trips to the grocery store,” Gov. Wolf said. “I hope it will help ease circumstances for Pennsylvanians during this difficult economic period.”

DHS received approval from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to issue emergency payments that will allow DHS to increase a household’s currently monthly payment up to the maximum  benefit amount for each household size. DHS had requested authorization to issue an additional benefit equal to a household’s monthly payment to all SNAP households and was denied.

These emergency payments are for March and April and will be distributed as a one-time issuance distributed on a staggered schedule beginning April 16 and continuing through April 29. This payment is in addition to a household’s normal April benefit issuance that’s made in the first half of the month. These payments will be placed directly onto a recipient’s EBT card. Supplemental payments are in addition to the normal May payment beginning May 1.

DHS has also activated the administration’s Feeding Task Force, which brings together state agencies, charitable food networks, and other local partners to determine where food needs are, how many meals are needed, how food is getting to people, and how supplies and donations can be allocated to meet feeding needs across Pennsylvania. The task force, in partnership with the governor’s office, developed a food access survey to determine areas where individuals or families may have trouble accessing food and to identify areas of high need. If individuals identify in the survey they need food and agree to be contacted, they will receive an email with information on available resources.

The task force has delivered more than 143,616 individual shelf-stable meals to charitable food networks and feeding programs, including home-delivered meal programs for seniors and food pantries around Pennsylvania thus far since it was activated. In total, the task force expects to coordinate delivery of more than 758,000 shelf-stable meals.

Individuals and families in need of assistance should contact their local food bank through Feeding PA or Hunger-Free PA to find a food pantry or other distribution site in their community. The United Way of Pennsylvania and the 211 program can also connect people and families to local resources that can help during the public health crisis.

The Feeding Task Force is also partnering with the Salvation Army and Operation BBQ Relief to distribute 180,000 meals a week for four weeks. Operation BBQ Relief harnesses the power of shuttered restaurants, available restaurant workers, and available commercial-sized food product to produce family style meals to support people in need. People in need will be able to go to any of the 44 local Salvation Army Corps Centers on the distribution day to receive the food. People needing assistance should contact their local Salvation Army Corps Center for information on upcoming distributions.

“As we navigate this challenging and scary time, the partnerships that support the Feeding Task Force represent the best of all of us – people helping people,” said DHS Sec. Teresa Miller said. “This is difficult for everyone, and I hope that those who need assistance will reach out to their local food bank or pantry. Help, support, and resources are available, and although we are focused on staying home, no one is truly alone in this.”

DHS is continuing to process applications and benefit renewals for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) throughout the public health crisis. Emergency SNAP applications can be expedited and issued in five days. Pennsylvanians can apply for SNAP online at https://www.compass.state.pa.us/compass.web/Public/CMPHome.

Visit pa.gov for a “Responding to COVID-19” guide or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov
Erin James, ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,245 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 27,735

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 16, that there are 1,245 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 27,735. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 60 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 707. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Pennsylvania, and even though the daily increases are not exponential, now is not the time to become complacent,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families, our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 113,735 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • 6% are aged 19-24; 
  • Nearly 40% are aged 25-49; 
  • Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • Nearly 23% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 3,290 resident cases of COVID-19, and 394 cases among employees, for a total of 3,684 at 306 distinct facilities in 34 counties. Out of our total deaths, 365 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 15:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Gov. Wolf, Lt. Gov. Fetterman: New Task Force for Health Disparity to Address How COVID-19 Affects Minorities

Amid growing concern for how COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting minority populations in the state and adding to existing health disparity issues, today Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced the creation of a COVID-19 Response Task Force for Health Disparity that will help communicate issues with how the pandemic is affecting the state’s minority and vulnerable populations.

“We know of instances in Pennsylvania where major COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred in vulnerable communities, including ones where people do not speak English,” Gov. Wolf said. “We’re working to improve our data collection so we can get a better statistical understanding of how the virus has affected different groups of people. The Lieutenant Governor will be chairing a new Health Disparity Task Force that will work to identify short- and long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in our vulnerable communities.”

The Task Force is comprised of members of the Wolf Administration, led by Lt. Gov. Fetterman and including the executive directors of each of the governor’s five commissions representing minority populations, members of the Department of Health’s Health Equity Response team and those that serve as the contact for stakeholders, constituents and legislators on issues and concerns surrounding health disparity in Pennsylvania’s vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

In addition to multiple information-gathering meetings each week, this working group will proactively reach out to leaders in these communities to collect feedback, ideas, and general comments on this issue.

The goal of the task force is to prepare recommendations to the governor that will address the short- and long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state’s minority and vulnerable communities.

“It’s unconscionable for Black, Hispanic, and Asian-Pacific Pennsylvanians to be hit harder by this pandemic, which has highlighted the systemwide inequity that already existed in these communities,” said Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman. “It’s our job to keep all Pennsylvanians safe, and we need to reach into these communities and create a line of communication straight to the governor, so we can stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The Department of Health releases daily data on those affected with COVID-19, but data on race has been in short supply.

“Currently we are missing that vital race information from approximately 70% of the data we are receiving from providers,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of the Department of Health. “Yesterday we issued a reminder to hospitals and other providers that it is mandatory to report race data. We need to gather this information for a complete picture of how the virus is affecting black or African-American, Hispanic and other vulnerable communities. An increase in reporting race data means less anecdotal evidence and more facts to rely on for accurately tracking where and how we can best serve our minority populations.”

“By working proactively with leaders of different communities across our commonwealth, we can better ensure nobody gets left out as we start to recover from this crisis,” Gov. Wolf said. “We all need to continue to work together to get through this pandemic. We need to continue to care for one another. We need to continue to support each other. And we need to continue to be mindful of how our actions affect others.”MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov

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Health Secretary Signs Order Providing Worker Safety Measures to Combat COVID-19

Governor Tom Wolf announced today that Dr. Rachel Levine, under her authority as Secretary of the Department of Health to take any disease control measure appropriate to protect the public from the spread of infectious disease, signed an order directing protections for critical workers who are employed at businesses that are authorized to maintain in-person operations during the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

“This order provides critical protections for the workers needed to run and operate these life-sustaining establishments,” Governor Wolf said. “Businesses across the state have already begun to implement many of these protocols on their own, and we applaud their efforts to protect employees and customers.”

“This order will ensure continuity across all life-sustaining businesses and will further our efforts to protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians,” Dr. Levine said. “Together, we can all help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

The order establishes protocols to help employees maintain a social distance during work:

  • Provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business, and make it a mandatory requirement while at the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink, in accordance with the guidance from the Department of Health and the CDC. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with this guidance;
  • Stagger work start and stop times for employees when practical to prevent gatherings of large groups entering or leaving the premises at the same time;
  • Provide sufficient space for employees to have breaks and meals while maintaining a social distance of 6 feet, including limiting the number of employees in common areas and setting up seating to have employees facing forward and not across from each other;
  • Conduct meetings and training virtually. If a meeting must be held in person, limit the meeting to the fewest number of employees possible, not to exceed 10 employees at one time and maintain a social distance of 6 feet.
  • Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of employees to perform all measures listed effectively and in a manner that ensures the safety of the public and employees;
  • Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of personnel to control access, maintain order, and enforce social distancing of at least 6 feet;
  • Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the premises of the business; and
  • Ensure that all employees who do not speak English as their first language are aware of procedures by communicating the procedures, either orally or in writing, in their native or preferred language.

Upon discovery of an exposure to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, businesses are also ordered to implement temperature screenings before employees enter the business prior to the start of work and send any employee home who has an elevated temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Sick employees should follow CDC-recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with the health care providers and state and local health departments. Employers are encouraged to implement liberal paid time off for employees who are on home isolation.

Upon an exposure, businesses are also ordered to do the following:

  • Close off and ventilate areas visited by that individual;
  • Wait a minimum of 24 hours, or as long as practical, before beginning cleaning and disinfection;
  • Clean and disinfect all spaces, especially commonly used rooms and shared electronic equipment;
  • Identify and notify employees who were in close contact with that individual (within about 6 feet for about 10 minutes); and
  • Ensure that the business has a sufficient number of employees to perform these protocols effectively and immediately.

In addition to the social distancing, mitigation and cleaning protocols, businesses that serve the public within a building or defined area are ordered to implement the following, based on the size of the building and number of employees:

  • Require all customers to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of goods, except individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children the age of 2 years) may enter the premises without having to provide medical documentation;
  • Conduct business with the public by appointment only and, to the extent that this is not feasible, limit occupancy to no greater than 50 percent of the number stated on their certificate of occupancy as necessary to reduce crowding in the business and at check-out and counter lines in order to maintain a social distance of 6 feet, and place signage throughout each site to mandate social distancing for both customers and employees;
  • Alter hours of business so that the business has sufficient time to clean or to restock or both;
  • Install shields or other barriers at registers and check-out areas to physically separate cashiers and customers or take other measures to ensure social distancing of customers from check-out personnel, or close lines to maintain a social distance between of 6 feet between lines;
  • Encourage use of online ordering by providing delivery or outside pick-up;
  • Designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly persons to use the business at least once every week if there is a continuing in-person customer-facing component;
  • In businesses with multiple check-out lines, only use every other register, or fewer. After every hour, rotate customers and employees to the previously closed registers. Clean the previously open registers and the surrounding area, including credit card machines, following each rotation;
  • Schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour; and
  • Where carts and handbaskets are available, assign an employee to wipe down carts and handbaskets before they become available to a new customer.

Failure to comply with these requirements will result in enforcement action that could include citations, fines, or license suspensions. Compliance with the order will be enforced beginning Sunday, April 19 at 8:00 PM.

The governor has directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic to the full extent of the law:

  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Labor and Industry
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions

“It is vital that we require businesses to practice these common-sense and scientifically proven safety protocols for the protection of workers and the public at-large. And that is what this order does,” said state Senator Tina Tartaglione, Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee. “Many of the measures included in this order were part of legislation that I proposed. I applaud this swift action by Secretary Levine and Governor Wolf to implement these much needed protocols.”

This order follows another order by Dr. Levine providing direction for maintaining and cleaning buildings for businesses authorized to maintain in-person operations under her and Governor Tom Wolf’s life-sustaining business orders announced March 19.

Governor Tom Wolf also recommends that Pennsylvanians wear a mask any time they leave their homes for life-sustaining reasons.

View Secretary Levine’s order as a PDF here or on Scribd.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Lyndsay Kensinger, Governor’s Office, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov
Nate Wardle, Department of Health, ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,145 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 26,490

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 15, that there are 1,145 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 26,490. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 63 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 647. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Pennsylvania, and even though the daily increases are not exponential, now is not the time to become complacent,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families, our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 111,094 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • 6% are aged 19-24; 
  • 40% are aged 25-49; 
  • Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • 22% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 14:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Purchase and Distribution of Food Eligible for Public Assistance

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be necessary as an emergency protective measure to provide food to meet the immediate needs of those who do not have access to food and to protect the public from the spread of the virus. On April 11, 2020, FEMA issued a new policy that addresses the purchase and distribution of food eligible for Public Assistance funding under emergency and major disaster declarations for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

State, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments with the legal responsibility for protecting life, public health and safety are eligible applicants for assistance related to the purchase and distribution of food.  

SLTT applicants may enter into formal agreements or contracts with private organizations, including private nonprofit organizations such as food banks, to purchase and distribute food when necessary as an emergency protective measure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In these cases, Public Assistance funding is provided to the legally responsible government entity, which would then reimburse the private organization for services under the agreement or contract.

All costs must be reasonable and are subject to standard Public Assistance program eligibility and other federal requirements, as well as the prevailing cost-share requirement for the respective COVID-19 emergency or major disaster declaration. 

This form of assistance is time-limited with additional information outlined in the policy.

FEMA will engage with interagency partners, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to ensure this assistance does not duplicate other available assistance.

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding this FEMA Advisory, please contact FEMA Office of External Affairs, Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Division:

·       Congressional Affairs at (202) 646-4500 or at FEMA-Congressional-Affairs@fema.dhs.gov

·       Intergovernmental Affairs at (202) 646-3444 or at FEMA-IGA@fema.dhs.gov

·       Tribal Affairs at (202) 646-3444 or at FEMA-Tribal@fema.dhs.gov

·        Private Sector Engagement at (202) 646-3444 at nbeoc@max.gov

Follow Us

Follow FEMA on social media at: FEMA online, on Twitter @FEMA or @FEMAEspanol, on FEMA Facebook page or FEMA Espanol page and at FEMA YouTube channel.

Also, follow Administrator Pete Gaynor on Twitter @FEMA_Pete.

FEMA Mission

To help people before, during, and after disasters.

David Thomason

Senior Program Specialist/Tribal Liaison | External Affairs

FEMA Region 3

Office: (215) 931-5706 | Mobile: (215) 356-5780

David.thomason@fema.dhs.gov

fema.gov

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PUC Encourages Awareness of Telephone Discount Lifeline Program to Consumers at Risk of Isolation During Challenging Times

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today encouraged consumers across the state, especially those most vulnerable to social isolation, to understand the resources available through the Lifeline program to help them stay connected to their voice and internet services during these challenging times.

“Lifeline is intended to help make communications more affordable and more accessible for low-income households, helping them stay connected to information about jobs, family, health care, schools, and emergency services,” said PUC Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. “Because of the recent COVID-19 emergency, more consumers whose incomes have been reduced may now be eligible to qualify for this program.”

The PUC is partnering with the Department of Aging and other state agencies and community organizations to increase awareness of Lifeline.

“Older Pennsylvanians risk becoming socially isolated during the COVID-19 outbreak. Staying connected and engaged with family and friends is a great opportunity for them to reduce their likelihood of feeling isolated and dealing with related issues like anxiety and depression,” said Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Robert Torres. “With many older adults living on fixed incomes, programs like Lifeline can help them access technology, whether it’s a phone or the internet, that would allow them to keep in touch with loved ones.”

Lifeline is a federal government benefit that provides eligible low-income consumers a monthly discount on their phone or internet bill. The benefit can be used for voice (telephone), Broadband Internet Access Service (or BIAS, usually called internet service), or a combined telephone/internet service product from a landline or wireless provider.

The program provides a $7.25 per household, per month discount on landline or wireless voice service and a $9.25 per household, per month discount on your wireless or landline internet service. The discount appears in the form of a reduction on the service provider’s bill. A service provider may also offer you the minimum Lifeline Program with no additional charges. The rules and amounts of support can change over time.

A consumer qualifies for Lifeline if they are at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or participate in specific federal programs, including: Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans’ Pension and Survivor Benefit, Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Consumers or households that apply for Lifeline will be checked to see if they are eligible.  After that, they must certify every year that they are eligible for such support. Currently, in response to the public health emergency associated with the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the Lifeline program’s recertification and reverification requirements are waived for 60 days. More information on program eligibility, how to apply and recertify is available on the Commission’s website. More information on the federal government’s suspension of their Lifeline requirements is available at the USAC website.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

Visit the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov for recent news releases and video of select proceedings. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. Search for the “Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission” or “PA PUC” on your favorite social media channel for updates on utility issues and other helpful consumer information.

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Human Services Secretary Encourages All Pennsylvanians to Help Report Child Abuse Amidst COVID-19 Public Health Crisis

Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller and Angela Liddle, President and CEO of the PA Family Support Alliance, today reminded Pennsylvanians that DHS’ ChildLine, a 24/7 hotline for reporting concerns of child abuse or neglect, is still fully operational and available at 1-800-932-0313 for Pennsylvanians seeking to report potential cases of child abuse or neglect. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and as scheduled recognition activities and regular life has shifted due to COVID-19, DHS and child welfare advocates implore all Pennsylvanians to learn signs of potential abuse or neglect and, if they suspect abuse, make the call to ChildLine.

“As we navigate this public health crisis and the necessary disruptions, we cannot lose sight of our obligation to do all we can to keep kids safe and prevent child abuse, and the Wolf Administration is not compromising that duty,” said Secretary Miller. “Life has changed, but we all can still do what we are able to look out for children in and around our lives. Whether it is a neighbor, family member, student, client, or someone you encounter in a store – if you suspect something is wrong, anyone can call ChildLine and make a report.”

ChildLine is available 24/7 to anyone wishing to report child abuse and general child well-being concerns at 1-800-932-0313 and at www.KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov. Mandated reporters should report online. ChildLine supervisors are constantly monitoring calls and assuring proper response and assignment to county agencies for investigation of all incoming reports. ChildLine response will not change because staff are teleworking from their homes, and Pennsylvanians who suspect abuse or neglect should help protect children by making the call to ChildLine.

Since March 19, calls to ChildLine have ranged from a daily low of 287 calls to a high of 365 calls on weekdays. The number of calls on Saturdays and Sundays is lower – ranging from 138 to 169 calls per day. These numbers represent a roughly 50 percent reduction in average daily calls to ChildLine since the commonwealth’s implementation of significant social-distancing measures advised by public-health professionals to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and save lives. 

Decreased calls do not mean that abuse and neglect is not occurring. Rather, one unfortunate effect of school closures is the limited interaction between children, their teachers and other mandated reporters in school settings. Of the 39,040 reports made by mandated reporters to ChildLine in 2018, more than a third were reported by school employees.

Anyone can make a report to ChildLine, and if you are not a mandated reporter, calls made to ChildLine are anonymous. DHS is encouraging all Pennsylvanians to learn more about the signs of potential abuse or neglect and make a report to ChildLine if they begin to suspect abuse or neglect. Reporters do not have to prove abuse and neglect, and reporting to ChildLine allows trained child welfare and law enforcement professionals to properly investigate cases of suspected abuse.

“Each and every one of us can play a role in protecting children from abuse or neglect. You do not have to be a mandated reporter to protect a child by making the call to ChildLine,” said Secretary Miller. “Making the call allows trained child welfare professionals and, if necessary, law enforcement to follow up, collect information, and determine if assistive services or other intervention is necessary.”

Signs of potential abuse or neglect can include:

  • Numerous and/or unexplained injuries or bruises;
  • Chronic, pronounced anxiety and expressed feelings of inadequacy;
  • Flinching or an avoidance to being touched;
  • Poor impulse control;
  • Demonstrating abusive behavior or talk;
  • Cruelty to animals or others; and,
  • Fear of parent or caregiver, among others.

Social distancing measures and closure of schools may cause other behaviors or changes to arise that could indicate a concern. Neighbors, teachers participating in virtual schooling, extended family, and others who interact with families and children should be cognizant of:

  • Changes in a child’s behavior or mood;
  • Noticeable changes in a child’s weight or physical appearance that could suggest concerns with care; and,
  • Significant changes in participation and engagement in school activities.

“Due to social distancing, children are not in school and that extra set of eyes from their teachers, bus drivers, daycare workers just isn’t there,” said Angela Liddle, President and CEO of the Pa Family Support Alliance. “This is a very difficult time for parents, caregivers, and families who are dealing with an enormous amount of stress and that can lead to a higher risk for potential abuse. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and we want to encourage everyone to check-in on the children in your life through virtual means with phone calls and video conferencing during this pandemic. If you suspect that something is wrong, please don’t hesitate and call ChildLine immediately. It’s more important than ever for all of us to come together and protect Pennsylvania’s children.”

DHS also encourages parents and families who are struggling to cope during this time of crisis to reach out for help. Anyone struggling with mental health and in need of referrals to helpful programs can call Pennsylvania’s new Support & Referral Helpline, which is operated 24/7 by skilled caseworkers who can provide emotional support during this difficult period. The number to call is 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600. Another helpful resource is the 2-1-1 hotline operated by the United Way, which can connect people and families to local resources that can help during the public health crisis.

Visit pa.gov for a “Responding to COVID-19” guide or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov.

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Pennsylvania Businesses to Benefit from Waiver for Prepayments of Sales Tax

As part of the effort to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tom Wolf today announced businesses that collect Pennsylvania sales tax will not have to make Accelerated Sales Tax (AST) prepayments over the next three months. That means businesses that normally have a monthly prepayment requirement will not be charged penalties for missing the prepayment deadline during this three-month period.

“The spread of COVID-19 has put a tremendous strain on many businesses throughout the commonwealth that collect Pennsylvania sales tax,” Governor Wolf said. “Waiving this prepayment requirement will provide support to our businesses at a time when they are doing their part to help us prevent the spread of the virus.” 

Under normal circumstances, certain business taxpayers are required to make monthly sales tax prepayments to the commonwealth if their actual tax liability is more than $25,000 during the third quarter of the preceding year. The Department of Revenue is waiving the prepayment requirement in April, May and June of 2020 to help business owners with cash flow during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will continue to work with Governor Wolf and members of his administration to consider other steps that we can take to help the business community,” Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said. “It’s important that we do everything that we can to help businesses during this unprecedented health crisis.” 

Under this new scenario, the department is asking businesses to simply remit the sales tax that they collected during the prior month. The due dates to remit sales tax will be April 20, May 20 and June 22, which follows the standard due dates for monthly filers who have no prepayment requirement. 

Visit the Department of Revenue’s page on Accelerated Sales Tax Prepayments for more information on prepayments.

All businesses are encouraged to remit online using e-TIDES, the department’s online tax system for businesses. Find the REV-819 on the department’s website for a schedule of return and prepayment due dates.

Taxpayer Service and Assistance

In addition to the waiver of Accelerated Sales Tax prepayments, the Department of Revenue also has:

With the department’s call centers closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, taxpayers seeking assistance are encouraged to use the department’s Online Customer Service Center, available at revenue-pa.custhelp.com. You can use this resource to electronically submit a question to a department representative. The department representative will be able to respond through a secure, electronic process that is similar to receiving an email. Additionally, the Online Customer Service Center includes thousands of answers to common tax-related questions.

Find Alerts From Revenue Online

Taxpayers and tax professionals are encouraged to visit the Department of Revenue’s COVID-19 information page on www.revenue.pa.gov for additional guidance and updates on department operations. You can also visit the department’s pages on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn for real time updates.

Visit the commonwealth’s Responding to COVID-19 guide for the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Lyndsay Kensinger, Governor’s Office, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov
Jeffrey Johnson, Revenue, 717-787-6960; ra-press@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,146 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 25,345

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 14, that there are 1,146 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 25,345. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 60 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 584. County-specific information and a statewide map are available hereOpens In A New Window. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Pennsylvania, and even though the daily increases are not exponential, now is not the time to become complacent,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families, our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 108,286 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 7% are aged 19-24; 
  • 40% are aged 25-49; 
  • Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • 22% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available hereOpens In A New Window.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 13:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Dept. of Aging: Essential Court Functions and Legal Assistance Are Available

As Pennsylvanians follow the Governor’s stay-at-home order and social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 emergency, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Office of Elder Justice in the Courts remind older adults and their families that essential court functions and legal assistance remain available.

“The Wolf administration is committed to protecting Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens in every aspect of their lives during this outbreak,” said Aging Secretary Robert Torres. “Situations requiring immediate legal protections don’t stop during this crisis. The courts and legal advocates for older adults are available to provide essential services and assistance.”

“The Pennsylvania Department of Aging and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Office of Elder Justice in the Courts are committed to the protection of older Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Supreme Court Justice Debra Todd. “During these uncertain times, we want all older Pennsylvanians to know that the courts in Pennsylvania remain available for emergencies to ensure you are protected.”

While courts have generally been ordered closed to the public through April 30, there are essential court functions that are still being conducted. These essential functions include:

  • Temporary protection from abuse actions;
  • Civil mental health reviews;
  • Guardianship defense and representation;
  • Any pleadings or motions relating to public health concerns and involving immediate and irreparable harm;
  • Emergency petitions related to protection of abused or neglected children; and
  • Any other function deemed by a president judge to be essential and consistent with constitutional requirements.

Senior-serving organizations available to help with legal assistance during this crisis include: 

  • Pennsylvania SeniorLAW HelpLine: 877-PA SR LAW (877-727-7529)
  • Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE):  800-356-3606
  • PA Pennsylvania Law Help: Help Line 800-274-3258 or www.palawhelp.org

Two essential functions of the Department of Aging are advocating for the rights of older adults and protecting them from abuse, neglect, exploitation and/or abandonment. Anyone suspecting elder abuse can contact their local Area Agency on Aging or call the statewide Elder Abuse Reporting Hotline at 1-800-490-8505 which is operational 24/7, 365 days per year.  

Visit the PA Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. Information about the statewide court response to COVID-19 is available here.
 
Learn more about the various programs offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging at www.aging.pa.gov.MEDIA CONTACTS:  Karen Gray, Aging:  717-705-3702

or karengray@pa.gov
Stacey Witalec, AOPC: 717-877-2997

or Stacey.witalec@pacourts.us

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,366 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 24,199

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 13, that there are 1,366 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 24,199. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania now have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 17 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 524. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Pennsylvania, and even though the daily increases are not exponential, now is not the time to become complacent,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families, our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

There are 105,593 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • 6% are aged 19-24; 
  • Nearly 41% are aged 25-49; 
  • Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • Nearly 21% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 10:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,178 New Positives Bring Statewide Total to 22,833

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 12, that there are 1,178 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 22,833. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania now have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 13 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 507. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Now more than ever, as we continue to see COVID-19 cases and deaths rise in Pennsylvania, we need Pennsylvanians to take action,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Those actions should be to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. If you must go out, please limit it to as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and our healthcare workers and frontline responders.”

There are 102,057 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 2% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 9% are aged 19-24; 
  • Nearly 49% are aged 25-49; 
  • 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • 22% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide indefinitely. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,676 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 21,655

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 11, that there are 1,676 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 21,655. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania now have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 78 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 494. County-specific information and a statewide map are available hereOpens In A New Window. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Now more than ever, as we continue to see COVID-19 cases and deaths rise in Pennsylvania, we need Pennsylvanians to take action,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Those actions should be to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. If you must go out, please limit it to as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and our healthcare workers and frontline responders.”

There are 98,498 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 7% are aged 19-24; 
  • Nearly 41% are aged 25-49; 
  • 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • 21% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available hereOpens In A New Window.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 10:

·        Began implementing new federal unemployment benefits.

·        Announced $450 million loan program for hospitals.

·        Established temporary program to reprieve incarceration sentences.

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Human Services Announces State-Run Facility Admission Protocols for COVID-19 Mitigation Efforts

The Department of Human Services (DHS) today released adjusted operational admissions procedures due to COVID-19 for Pennsylvania’s state centers, state hospitals, youth development centers, and youth forestry camps operated by DHS. 

“DHS is taking every necessary step it can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep staff and people served by our state-run facilities safe and healthy,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “The protocols we are implementing today will help to protect the vulnerable populations in our state facilities and the staff that care for them while ensuring continuity of care and access to these services.”  

DHS has implemented the following protocols for admission to state facilities in order to protect the health of residents and staff:

  1. Individuals are required to be screened for COVID-19 and provide documentation of screening prior to admission to a state facility. Screenings should include taking the individual’s temperature and discussing possible exposure to COVID-19 or related respiratory symptoms such as a new or worsening cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath.
     
  2. A medical clearance attestation from a physician within 72 hours prior to the requested admission date is acceptable for admission if the individual was screened with a negative result. If the screening raises risk of potential infection but the individual does not have a COVID-19 test result, the individual will not be admitted until at least seven days from symptom onset, three days without a fever, and improvement of other symptoms. 
     
  3. If an individual has had close contact with someone suspected to have, or diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual should quarantine for 14 days from the last time they had contact, and admission to a facility should not occur until after the 14-day quarantine is complete and the admission screening outlined is #1 above is completed.

These measures are consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. These procedures will continue until the disaster emergency declared by Governor Tom Wolf is no longer in effect. The level of care needed should be carefully considered before admitting an individual to a state facility to ensure that the services are necessary for the treatment and safety of an individual and that the least restrictive setting is being used.

Pennsylvania’s four state centers, which serve individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism, include Ebensburg Center in Cambria County, Polk Center in Venango County, Selinsgrove Center in Snyder County, and White Haven Center in Luzerne County.

Pennsylvania’s six state hospitals, which provide comprehensive psychiatric treatment and substance use disorder services to people with mental illness, include Clarks Summit State Hospital in Lackawanna County, Danville State Hospital in Montour County, Norristown State Hospital in Montgomery County, Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland County, Warren State Hospital in Warren County, and Wernersville State Hospital in Berks County. This also applies to South Mountain Restoration Center, a state-run long-term care facility operated by DHS’ Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Pennsylvania’s youth development centers and youth forestry camps provide treatment, care, and residential services to Pennsylvania’s most at-risk youth. The three youth development centers are South Mountain Secure Treatment Unit in Franklin County, North Central Secure Treatment Unit in Montour County, and Loysville Youth Development Center in Perry County. The commonwealth’s two youth forestry camps are in Hickory Run State Park in Luzerne County and in Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County.

DHS has previously issued guidance on visitation to these facilities during COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Visit pa.gov for a “Responding to COVID-19” guide or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,751 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 19,979

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 10, that there are 1,751 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 19,979. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania now have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 78 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 416. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Now more than ever, as we continue to see COVID-19 cases and deaths rise in Pennsylvania, we need Pennsylvanians to take action,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Those actions should be to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. If you must go out, please limit it to as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and our healthcare workers and frontline responders.”

There are 93,040 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 7% are aged 19-24; 
  • 41% are aged 25-49; 
  • 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • Nearly 21% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide for the remainder of the academic year. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 9:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,989 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 18,228

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 9, that there are 1,989 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 18,228. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania now have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 29 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 338. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Now more than ever, as we continue to see COVID-19 cases and deaths rise in Pennsylvania, we need Pennsylvanians to take action,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Those actions should be to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. If you must go out, please limit it to as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and our healthcare workers and frontline responders.”

There are 87,374 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 7% are aged 19-24; 
  • 41% are aged 25-49; 
  • Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • Nearly 21% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide indefinitely. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 8:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Governor Wolf Extends School Closure for Remainder of Academic Year

Secretary of Education Implements State-Level Waivers to Ensure Continuity and Flexibility
Governor shares video message to students, parents and educators

Harrisburg, PA – Continuing his efforts to protect the health and safety of students and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tom Wolf today announced that all schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year. The governor made the decision in consultation with Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. Students and families can continue to pick up meals at designated sites.

Although schools are closed, teaching and learning may continue: schools are strongly encouraged to provide continuity of education for all students in the most appropriate and accessible ways possible. PDE has secured resources intended to help all schools that want to use them – including those not currently offering online platforms, those requiring additional technology support, and those that may rely on traditional methods, such as paper lessons, to continue educating students. There is no cost to schools or students for these resources.

“We must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus during this national crisis,” Governor Wolf said. “This was not an easy decision but closing schools until the end of the academic year is in the best interest of our students, school employees and families.”

Secretary Rivera said the administration’s primary consideration has always been to make the best decision in the context of student and community health and safety.

“While the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and its mitigation efforts have created uncertainty in our schools and communities, today’s action to close schools for the remainder of the academic year provides school communities with predictability and understanding of the conditions under which they’ll be operating and serving students,” Rivera said. “As schools and communities adapt to the prolonged school closure, PDE will continue to work with our state, educational, and business and nonprofit partners to meet the needs of students.”

Today’s decision applies to all public K-12 schools, brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers and intermediate units. All Department of Education early learning program classrooms, including those for Pre-K Counts, Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP) and Preschool Early Intervention, will also remain closed.

Colleges and universities may not resume in-person instruction or reopen their physical locations until the governor permits them to open or lifts the closure of non-life-sustaining businesses.

Schools will remain closed though the end of the 2019-2020 academic year as it is defined by the local school calendar.

Under the state’s directive, schools could begin summer programming on the day after their academic year ends.

Secretary Rivera added that all re-openings will be contingent on public health guidance provided by the Secretary of Health and stay-at-home orders issued by the governor.

In addition to the school closure announcement, through his order Secretary Rivera also took action that will ensure crucial stability of education programs. Under Act 13 of 2020, the secretary has exercised his executive authority to adjust requirements for the evaluation of professional employees and waive student teaching requirements that may not be possible in the context of school closures.

“By taking these actions, the department is providing flexibility in the near term, while signaling that core functions of public education can and will continue,” he said.

The department has been providing ongoing guidance to school communities in the form of FAQs. The guidance information is available at education.pa.gov/COVID19.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs please visit the Department of Education’s website or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest

MEDIA CONTACT:    Lyndsay Kensinger, Governor’s Office, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov
                                   Eric Levis, PDE, 717-783-9802, or elevis@pa.gov

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Pennsylvania Issues 30 Licensing Waivers Allowing Professionals to Respond to COVID-19 Emergency

The Pennsylvania Department of State announced today that it has issued 30 licensing waivers since March 17 to allow licensed professionals, facilities and trainees to respond to the COVID-19 disaster declaration.

“During this unprecedented emergency, the Department of State is committed to reducing as many burdens as possible for licensees to practice and serve Pennsylvanians,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said.  “We’ve included a wide spectrum of professionals in these temporary waivers, recognizing that each professional we can empower to help is another critical part of the solution to ending this crisis.”

Among the changes in place during the COVID-19 emergency:

  • Licensed health care practitioners may provide services via telemedicine
  • Temporary licenses for out-of-state health care practitioners will be expedited
  • Extended all upcoming license renewal deadlines including healthcare and non-healthcare professionals
  • Recently retired health care practitioners may temporarily reactivate their licenses more easily and without reactivation fees
  • Suspended certain in-person continuing-education requirements to allow increased use of online or distance learning
  • Authorized the use of electronic notarization and loosened restrictions on in person requirements for notaries handling estate documents such as wills, living wills, and powers of attorney, as well as other types
  • Extended filing deadlines for charitable nonprofit organizations

“The Department of State is working with the governor’s office, the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services to identify additional requirements that can be suspended to give licensed professionals and others the flexibility they need during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Secretary Boockvar said.

The Department of State website will be updated regularly as additional requirement waiver information becomes available. Licensees with questions should contact their state licensing board via the email addresses on the Department of State website.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Wanda Murren, (717) 783-1621

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Wolf Signs Order to Provide Targeted Distribution of COVID-19 PPE and Supplies to Hospitals

Harrisburg, PA – Among myriad actions to support Pennsylvania’s health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tom Wolf today signed an order to provide critical aid to hospitals with targeted PPE and supplies distribution.

“Combatting a pandemic means we all have to work together and that means we need to make the best use of our medical assets to ensure the places that need them most have them,” Gov. Wolf said. “Today, I am signing an order that will allow us to transfer suppliesand information between medical facilities to both high-population, high-impact areas and lower population areas that might not have as many existing medical resources.

“This will also prevent sick Pennsylvanians from having to choose which hospital to go to for fear that some have less access to equipment than others and it will help us make use of every ventilator, every piece of PPE, and every medical worker.”

The order will ensure the efficient allocation and effective use of critical medical resources, such as N95 face masks, ventilators, respirators, face shields, safety goggles, disinfectants and other sanitizing solutions by hospitals in the state.

The order reads, that “despite the voluntary efforts of health care providers and despite the exhaustive work of commonwealth agencies to procure PPE and other medical resources from private industry to support Pennsylvania’s health care workers, facilities and emergency responders, a critical shortage of PPE, pharmaceuticals and other medical resources remains.”

The governor consulted with Sec. of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, and Randy Padfield, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), in developing the order to ensure all commonwealth resources are harnessed to meet the imminent surge of COVID-19 cases and to prevent overwhelming the health care system.

The order mandates that private, public and quasi-public health care providers and facilities, as well as manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of PPE, pharmaceuticals and other medical resources located within the commonwealth, submit current inventory quantities of PPE, pharmaceuticals and other medical resources to PEMA within five days of today’s order. Health care providers and facilities are further ordered to provide written reports detailing facility health care needs and other pertinent information in the form, manner and frequency directed by PEMA.

PEMA will make arrangements with other commonwealth agencies to reimburse facilities for PPE and other supplies and equipment, then arrange for supplies to be allocated to where they are needed most.

“I commend Pennsylvania’s medical facilities for their efforts so far in helping to shift resources toward the fight against COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said. “Many are already working together to shift resources among facilities, both public and private, and many of our medical facilities have shifted resources internally.”

Also today, the Department of Health launched a new hospital preparedness dashboard that provides county-level information, including the number of available beds and ventilators in use at facilities across the state. The dashboard also provides an overview of the capacity of the state’s entire health care system.

“We are working to create more ways to get as much data as possible to the community,” Dr. Levine said.

The dashboard can be found in the COVID-19 section of health.pa.gov.

Read Governor Wolf’s order as a PDF here or on Scribd.MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,680 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 16,239

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 8, that there are 1,680 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 16,239. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania now have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 70 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 310. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Now more than ever, as we continue to see COVID-19 cases and deaths rise in Pennsylvania, we need Pennsylvanians to take action,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Those actions should be to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. If you must go out, please limit it to as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and our healthcare workers and frontline responders.”

There are 82,299 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 7% are aged 19-24; 
  • 41% are aged 25-49; 
  • 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • 20% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide indefinitely. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 7:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Update on COVID-19, 1,579 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 14,559

Harrisburg, PA-The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 7, that there are 1,579 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 14,559. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania now have cases of COVID-19. The department also reported 78 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 240. County-specific information and a statewide map are available hereOpens In A New Window. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Now more than ever, as we continue to see COVID-19 cases and deaths rise in Pennsylvania, we need Pennsylvanians to take action,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Those actions should be to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. If you must go out, please limit it to as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and our healthcare workers and frontline responders.”

There are 76,719 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • 7% are aged 19-24; 
  • Nearly 42% are aged 25-49; 
  • Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • Nearly 20% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available hereOpens In A New Window.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide indefinitely. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 6:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Fraudsters Using New Tactics to Steal Personal Data During COVID-19 Pandemic

Harrisburg, PA — Pennsylvanians should take steps to protect themselves from phishing scams that are targeting people who are expecting a stimulus payment from the federal government following the outbreak of COVID-19, the Department of Revenue and Department of Banking and Securities announced today. 

“As we all work together to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, this unprecedented situation has created new opportunities for criminals to target Pennsylvanians, including those who are vulnerable or struggling,” Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said. “We want to remind everyone that they should not provide their direct deposit or other banking information to anyone who contacts them on the phone, through email or text messages, or on social media.”

The stimulus payments, otherwise known as economic impact payments, are being distributed by the federal government as part of the federal economic stimulus legislation that was signed into law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the IRS, in most cases the payments will be directly deposited into the bank accounts that taxpayers previously listed on their federal tax returns.

However, the IRS has reported seeing a surge of scam artists perpetrating phishing schemes where they pose as government officials to trick people into turning over their banking information. Doing so may allow a criminal to steal your identity, file a fraudulent tax return in your name or use your personal data for other illicit purposes. 

“If you have received an unsolicited email or phone call asking for your personal or financial information, the safest response is to delete the email or hang up the phone,” advised Acting Secretary of Banking and Securities Richard Vague. “Consumers must remain vigilant about protecting their finances, especially if they are being pressured to act quickly.” 

How to Recognize the Scam

According to the IRS, some of the electronic messages associated with these phishing scams say, “In order to receive your stimulus check via direct deposit, you will need to confirm your banking information.” These messages are targeting not only individual citizens, but also tax professionals.   

Pennsylvanians are encouraged to remember several warning signs from the IRS, which says scammers may:

  • Emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
  • Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
  • Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
  • Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
  • Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

Tips to Avoid Scams

·         Look for imposters: Many times, criminals will pose as a government entity or an official business. If you are targeted by a scam artist through the mail, phone or email, do not provide personal information or money until you are sure you are speaking to a legitimate representative.

·         Approach unusual attachments and links with caution: Links to a website or attachments to an email could be infected with malware that download malicious software. Spyware can track the recipient’s keystrokes to obtain passwords, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or other sensitive information.

·         Conduct research online: Using information included in a potentially fraudulent notice or communication, such as email address domain name, company name, address or telephone number, conduct a search online to see if a scam has been reported by other people or government agencies.

Tips to Remember About Stimulus Payments

The U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS announced the stimulus payments will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. Read the IRS press release, Economic Impact Payments: What You Need to Know, for further information. The IRS also said it would post additional information on IRS.gov/coronavirus as it becomes available.

Steps to Follow if You Are a Victim of a Scam

The Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers that it has a Fraud Detection and Analysis Unit dedicated to assisting victims of identity theft and combating tax refund fraud.

If you are a victim of identity theft or discover a fraudulent Pennsylvania personal income tax return was filed using your identity, please contact the Fraud Detection and Analysis Unit by emailing RA-RVPITFRAUD@pa.gov.

For more information on ways to protect yourself, visit Revenue’s Identity Theft Victim Assistance webpage. You can also find further information about protecting yourself online at PA.gov/Cybersecurity.

Find more information on COVID-19-related financial scams. Anyone can contact the Department of Banking and Securities at 1-800-PA-BANKS or 1-800-600-0007 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products. If you believe you have fallen victim to a scam, contact local law enforcement through a non-emergency number.

Visit the commonwealth’s Responding to COVID-19 guide for the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpage  for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Jeffrey Johnson, Revenue, 717-787-6960, ra-press@pa.gov

Virginia Lucy, DoBS, 717-214-6036, ra-bndobscomm@pa.gov

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Governor Wolf Urges Manufacturing Sector to Report Critical COVID-19-Related Supply Capabilities, Needs

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today urged Pennsylvania manufacturers that currently are producing or can pivot to producing COVID-19-related supplies to submit their information to the newly developed Pennsylvania Manufacturing Call to Action Portal.

“We’re asking everyone to do their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including ensuring that our health care system is prepared to care for patients and that there is access to critical personal protective equipment and products as more individuals and businesses take preventive measures,” Wolf said. “Throughout our commonwealth’s history, our manufacturing sector has answered the call to move us forward and contributed tremendously in times of turbulence. I call upon our private sector to be a part of the solution to this crisis.”

The portal will identify businesses’ critical supply chain capabilities, needs, workforce gaps and innovative opportunities. Reporting this important information and identifying both abilities and needs will help facilitate the connections businesses need to get critical COVID-19-related products to market or retrofit their operations to begin production of those products. 

This manufacturing portal builds on the recent creation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal to source the most needed supplies for medical providers, emergency responders, and health care professionals.

“We must take every step to protect our health care workers and frontline responders from COVID-19, and provide them with the necessary equipment to help patients,” Wolf said. “We cannot rely on the federal government alone to provide us with necessary equipment. We must tap our own valuable resources, including our manufacturing sector, to help our health care workers save Pennsylvanians’ lives.”

The portal was a joint effort of DCED, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, IRC Network, Life Sciences PA, Pennsylvania Life Sciences Greenhouses, and the PA Chamber of Business and Industry.

“As we work to protect public health and safety and create a robust supply chain, we know that there are manufacturers across the commonwealth who are willing and able to help,” Wolf said. “The portal will bring these manufacturers together to work as a team to help us get the equipment we need.”

While hospitals have not yet experienced a surge of COVID-19 patients, Pennsylvania is taking additional steps to ensure that our health care system has access to critical equipment, as the number of positive cases of the virus rises daily. 

Pennsylvania has requested 1,000 ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile but at this time the request is on hold due to the current availability of ventilators in Pennsylvania.  

The state has procured and is awaiting receipt of 400 additional ventilators from a private vendor. The commonwealth has also requested N95 masks, ventilators, gowns, gloves, goggles and face shields and have received several shipments from the national stockpile. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health continues to work with federal partners, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Questions about the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Call to Action Portal can be directed to RA-DCEDPAMCTAP@pa.gov.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.MEDIA CONTACTS: Lyndsay Kensinger, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov                                                                    Casey Smith, DCED, RA-DCEDPAMCTAP@pa.gov

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Help families understand the facts of COVID-19

The uncertainty and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 can feel overwhelming to everyone — especially kids. We’ve developed a publication to make talking to children about the virus easier. Including preventive actions families can take to help stop the spread, this pamphlet has the accurate information families need to help them through this pandemic. 

And give families a firmer understanding of the virus with a fact-filled pamphlet of basic information regarding COVID-19!

NEW!
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) A Guide For Talking To Your Children
(CBC1650) helps parents discuss the COVID-19 virus with their children, focusing on providing reassurance while encouraging good hygiene and other germ-prevention habits. In straightforward terms, pamphlet:

  • describes COVID-19
  • offers ways to approach the subject with children of various ages
  • urges parents to answer questions honestly and accurately.

An important resource that families can keep and reference as needed. 8 panels, 3 1/2″ x 8″

New Updates!
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) — Staying Informed And Being Prepared
 (CBC1648) raises awareness of COVID-19 symptoms, explains how to protect oneself from infection, and highlights what’s being done to contain its spread. In clear terms, pamphlet:

  • details the implications of a pandemic
  • urges readers to pay attention to travel warnings and other health alerts
  • promotes staying prepared for any disruptions the emergency may cause
  • encourages those who may be sick to seek help from a medical professional. 

An ideal way to educate community members and ease fears about COVID-19. 8 panels, 3 1/2″ x 8″ 

See pricing and quantity discounts, and place a secure online order!

  • Ordering online is easy — pricing and discounts are automatically calculated for you.
  • Your credit card is welcome but never required!

More ordering options:
Call (800) 477-4776, fax (815) 632-6906, or e-mail your reply to this message (please include your name, title, business name and address, and phone number). When calling, faxing, or replying to this message, please use cust. no. 900127062 and key code F50102 to help us track your order.

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,493 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 11,510

Harrisburg, PA-The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 5, that there are 1,493 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 11,510 in 65 counties. The department also reported14 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 150. County-specific information and a statewide map are availablehere. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“The continued rise in cases combined with our increasing deaths from COVID-19 reflects the seriousness of this situation,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We need everyone to listen to the orders in place and to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We know that these prolonged mitigation effects have been difficult for everyone, but it is essential that everyone follows these orders and does not go out unless they absolutely must.”

There are 66,261 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

·        

·         Nearly 1% are aged 0-4;

·         Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;

·         1% are aged 13-18;

·         Nearly 8% are aged 19-24; 

·         42% are aged 25-49; 

·         Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and

·         Nearly 20% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide indefinitely. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 1:

·         Announced a statewide stay-at-home order, effective 8 p.m., April 1.

·         Announced Pennsylvania State Police non-life-sustaining business closure enforcement numbers.

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” onpa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

·         Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

·         Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.

·         Clean surfaces frequently. 

·         Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

·         Daily COVID-19 Report

·         Press releases regarding coronavirus

·         Latest information on the coronavirus

·         Photos of the state’s lab in Exton (for download and use)

·         Coronavirus and preparedness graphics (located at the bottom of the page)

·         Community preparedness and procedures materials

·         Map with the number of COVID-19 cases

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online atwww.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts

MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 orra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Health Sec. Signs Order Providing Building Safety Measures to Combat COVID-19

Harrisburg, PA – Under her authority as Secretary of the Department of Health to take any disease control measure appropriate to protect the public from the spread of infectious disease, Dr. Rachel Levine today signed an order providing direction for maintaining and cleaning buildings for businesses authorized to maintain in-person operations under her and the governor’s life-sustaining business orders announced March 19.

According to the Building Safety Measures order, “Cleaning, disinfecting, and other maintenance and security services performed by building service employees are critical to protecting the public health by reducing COVID-19 infections in the commonwealth.”

“Based upon the manner of COVID-19’s spread in the commonwealth and in the world, and its danger to Pennsylvanians, I have determined that the appropriate disease control measure is the direction of building safety measures as outlined in this order to prevent and control the spread of disease,” Dr. Levine wrote.

The measures outlined in the order are for owners of buildings of at least 50,000 square feet used for commercial, industrial or other enterprises, including but not limited to facilities for warehousing, manufacturing, commercial offices, airports, grocery stores, universities, colleges, government, hotels, and residential buildings with at least 50 units.

In addition to maintaining pre-existing cleaning protocols, the order outlines these new protocols:

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch areas routinely in accordance with CDC guidelines, in spaces that are accessible to customers, tenants, or other individuals.
  • Maintain pre-existing cleaning protocols established in the facility for all other areas of the building.
  • Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of employees to perform the above protocols effectively and in a manner that ensures the safety of occupants and employees.
  • Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of security employees to control access, maintain order, and enforce social distancing of at least 6 feet, provided the security employees are otherwise responsible for such enforcement.

The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m., April 6.

View the full order as a PDF here or on Scribd.MEDIA CONTACTS: Lyndsay Kensinger, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov
                                  Nate Wardle, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Support & Referral Helpline Created for Pennsylvanians in Need of Behavioral Health Resources and Referrals During COVID-19 Public Health Crisis

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced the launch of a statewide Support & Referral Helpline staffed by skilled and compassionate caseworkers who will be available 24/7 to counsel Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency and refer them to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs. 

“Pennsylvanians will overcome this crisis together by following the guidance of public-health professionals who advise social-distancing to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but physical isolation does not mean social isolation,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “We must support people where they are during this time of crisis.”

The toll-free, round-the-clock support line is officially operational today, Thursday, April 2. The number to call is 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.

To create and staff the support line, DHS has partnered with the Center for Community Resources (CCR), an experienced regional crisis and call center provider based in Butler County and licensed to provide crisis services.

CCR staff are trained to be accessible, culturally competent, and skilled at assisting individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, co-occurring disorders and other special needs. Staff use the principles of trauma-informed care to listen, assess needs, triage calls, and provide appropriate referral to community resources to children, teens, adults and special populations.

CCR will collaborate with individuals, families, police, emergency medical teams, hospitals, schools, and human service providers on the local level to provide quality care to their community members.

“We recognize the significant strain this crisis is putting on families across Pennsylvania, and we want you to know that you do not have to struggle alone. If you need help, reach out,” said Secretary Miller. “The compassionate caseworkers staffing the Support & Referral Helpline will be there to answer your call and be a line of support during this difficult time.”

Many other resources also remain available to Pennsylvanians in need of support, including:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Línea Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “PA” to 741-741
  • Safe2Say: 1-844-723-2729 or www.safe2saypa.org
  • Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
  • Get Help Now Hotline (for substance use disorders): 1-800-662-4357 

Visit the PA Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Additional resources for citizens and DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.  A media call will begin at 1:00 p.m. Members of the media who are interested may contact Brandon Cwalina at bcwalina@pa.gov for call-in information.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

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Department of Agriculture Reassures Pennsylvanians: COVID-19 Not Transmissible through Food, Supply Chain is Secure

Harrisburg, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Department of Agriculture Food Safety Director Jeff Warner today assured Pennsylvanians that there is no evidence that human or animal food or food packaging is associated with transmission of COVID-19. Redding also reviewed the department’s recommendations to retail food and agriculture operations for continuity of business, inhibiting transmission, and maintaining a healthy workforce to ensure continuous access to food during COVID-19.

“I want to assure Pennsylvanians and ease their fear: food is safe,” said Warner. “There is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmissible through food or food packaging.”

Grocery stores, food manufacturers, and distributors have been provided guidance to protect their workforce and consumers from COVID-19. This includes the following CDC and FDA recommendations:

  • Enforce social distancing in lines, separate customers and employees by six feet whenever possible.
  • Implement visual cues, such as tape on the floor every six feet, to help customers keep a six-foot distance from others whenever possible.
  • Install floor markings to require customers to stand behind, until it’s time to complete the transaction.
  • Consider limiting the number of people in the store at one time. Implementing a maximum capacity and assigning staff to manage the number of people entering.
  • Consider setting special hours for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or immuno-compromised. Recommend allowing these populations to enter the store earliest in the day to reduce chances of exposure and ensure access to inventory.

Guidance was also provided for sanitization and employee protection, to further inhibit transmission in manufacturing environments and grocery stores. Some recommendations include:

“Pennsylvania’s grocery stores, food banks and pantries, food manufacturing and agriculture industry have a heavy responsibility right now: to provide continuous access to food, safely, during the most challenging crisis most have ever experienced,” said Secretary Redding. “We’ve worked hard to impress upon these truly life-sustaining businesses that just because they are essential, this is not business as usual. The guidance we’ve provided is what they must implement to protect their workforce; it’s what they must implement to save Pennsylvanians and provide for them at the same time.”

Following a brief pause in support of the national, “15 Days to Slow the Spread” initiative, effective April 1, 2020, the Department of Agriculture re-deployed the state’s food safety inspectors to ensure continued protection of Pennsylvanians and prevent foodborne illness.

“It’s time to put our boots back to the ground and resume food safety inspections and offering in-person guidance to these essential businesses,” added Warner. “We’re going to do our best to help Pennsylvania businesses provide the safest food possible to consumers. Pennsylvanians need to know their food is safe, something we can only ensure through proactive inspections.”

For a complete list of guidance documents and information as it relates to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania visit agriculture.pa.gov/COVID. For the most accurate, timely information related to Health in Pennsylvania, visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers – 717.783.2628

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,211 New Positives Bring Statewide Total to 7,016

Harrisburg, PA- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 2, that there are 1,211 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 7,016 in 62 counties. The department also reported 16 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 90. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“The continued rise in cases combined with our increasing deaths from COVID-19 reflects the seriousness of this situation,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We need everyone to listen to the orders in place and to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We know that these prolonged mitigation effects have been difficult for everyone, but it is essential that everyone follows these orders and does not go out unless they absolutely must.”

There are 47,698 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Nearly 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 9% are aged 19-24;
  • Nearly 41% are aged 25-49;
  • Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • 19% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide indefinitely. Currently the entire state is under a stay-at-home order.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, April 1:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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State Police Reinforces Commitment to Prevent, Investigate Bias-Based Crimes

PSP_logo_PressReleases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 2, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) recently disseminated a letter to local, state, and federal stakeholders to affirm the Department’s continued support of the Asian American communities throughout the commonwealth. Across the country, law enforcement has seen an increasing number of incidents targeting members of this community due to misinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Asian American Community and other minority groups should know that the state police take every allegation of hate/bias crime seriously, and each complaint receives a full investigation,” said Colonel Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “We will not tolerate hate or bias of any kind in Pennsylvania.”

The PSP Heritage Affairs Section is a unit dedicated to the prevention and investigation of hate/bias crimes and incidents. The unit works closely with community organizations, lawmakers, and municipal, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to mitigate issues between law enforcement and historically underserved communities.

Members of the Heritage Affairs Section routinely meet with stakeholders on a proactive basis to address their concerns and maintain open lines of communication between their communities and law enforcement.

To date, the PSP has not investigated any hate/bias crimes related to COVID-19 targeting Asian American communities in Pennsylvania. If you feel you, or someone you know is a victim of a hate/bias crime or incident, contact your local law enforcement agency.

“Victims may be reluctant to come forward for cultural reasons, or because they don’t feel the crime against them rises to the level of law enforcement involvement. We want the community to know that any crime motivated by hate or bias is unacceptable. The Heritage Affairs Section, and our department, supports affected communities during these unprecedented times,” said Colonel Evanchick.

You can find a list of state police stations here. For more information on hate crimes and the Heritage Affairs Section, visit psp.pa.gov.

 MEDIA CONTACT: Trooper Brent Miller or Ryan Tarkowski, 717-783-5556

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Gov. Wolf, Sec. of Health: Pennsylvania on Statewide Stay-at-Home Order Beginning at 8 PM Tonight, “Most Prudent Option to Stop the Spread”

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today announced all 67 Pennsylvania counties will be under stay-at-home orders effective tonight, Wednesday, April 1, at 8 p.m.

“This is the most prudent option to stop the spread of COVID-19 across our commonwealth, where cases continue to grow daily,” Gov. Wolf said. “We appreciate the shared sacrifice of all 12.8 million Pennsylvanians; we are in this together and this statewide stay-at-home order is being made after many discussions with multiple state agencies; Dr. Levine; and state, county and local officials as we continue to monitor the most effective ways to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Previously, there were 33 counties on statewide stay-at-home orders. The first orders were issued on March 23 for seven counties.

The statewide stay-at-home order takes effect at 8 p.m. today, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, and will continue until April 30. All Pennsylvania schools will remain closed until further notice and non-life-sustaining business closures remain in effect. All essential state services will continue.

“This statewide stay-at-home order is not just to protect ourselves from exposure to COVID-19, but it protects those on the front lines,” Dr. Levine said. “Our doctors, nurses, police, fire, EMTs need us to do this. And the CNAs who are taking care of our family in nursing or long-term care facilities need us to do this. Staying at home doesn’t mean making a daily stop at the grocery store because you need to get out of the house. Staying at home means you must stay at home.”

Individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household
  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth
  • Anyone performing life-sustaining travel does not need paperwork to prove the reason for travel.

The following operations are exempt:

  • Life-sustaining business activities
  • Health care or medical services providers
  • Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
  • Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders
  • News media
  • Law enforcement, emergency medical services personnel, firefighters
  • The federal government
  • Religious institutions

Individuals experiencing homelessness are not subject to this order but are strongly urged to find shelter and government agencies are urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for those individuals.

International students, foster youth, and any other students who would otherwise experience displacement or homelessness as a result of campus closures are exempt and may remain in campus housing.

The Department of Education will be providing updated guidance and resources on the continuity of education for students to schools in the coming days.

At this time, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement. To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station. Please do not call 911 or the Department of Community and Economic Development to file reports. Law enforcement officers should refer to Business Closure Order Enforcement Guidance available online.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov

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Wolf Administration Grants Extension to License to Carry Firearm Permits

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania State Police announced today that Governor Tom Wolf has granted an extension to license to carry firearms permits. Permits expired on March 19, 2020 or later have been extended to May 30, 2020. The extension is necessary due to the closure of some county courthouses and sheriff’s offices, as well as other protective measures being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19.

In Pennsylvania, an individual 21-years-old or older may apply for a license to carry firearms by submitting a completed application to the sheriff of the county in which they reside or, if a resident of a city of the first class, with the chief of police of that city. The sheriff has 45 days to investigate and determine an individual’s eligibility to be issued a license, which is valid for five years.

A license to carry firearms is required to carry a firearm concealed on one’s person or in a vehicle. Any person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person except in his place of abode or fixed place of business without a valid and lawfully issued license commits a felony of the third degree.

For more information on carrying a firearm in Pennsylvania, visit psp.pa.gov.

 MEDIA CONTACT: Trooper Brent Miller or Ryan Tarkowski, 717-783-5556

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State Police Refines Response Guidelines for Certain Non-Emergency Incidents

Harrisburg, PA – Colonel Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, announced today a temporary change to the way troopers respond to select non-emergency incidents. With the goal of limiting in-person contact and mitigating the spread of COVID-19, the department has identified certain types of calls that may be resolved with limited or no on-scene response. The change went into effect April 1, 2020 and will remain until further notice.

“To enhance social distancing and keep our personnel and the public safe and healthy, we will begin collecting information via telephone for incidents that do not require an in-person response from a trooper,” said Colonel Evanchick. “This change affects only a limited number of call types, and the public can be confident that the PSP has the personnel, equipment, and plans in place to respond to emergencies and other critical incidents.”

Call types eligible for a modified response include lost and found items, littering, identity theft, and general requests to speak to a trooper. While limiting in-person contact and collecting as much information via telephone is the goal, the actual response will be based on the totality of the circumstances of each unique situation in consultation with a supervisor on duty. State police response protocol to emergencies and crimes in progress remains unchanged.

The department asks the public to be mindful of social distancing if they need to visit their local PSP station. Signs have been posted at each entrance instructing visitors not to enter the facility if they are experiencing symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Instead, they are instructed to contact the station by phone to speak to a trooper who may come outside to resolve the situation one-on-one if needed.

“Our facilities remain open as a public resource 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Colonel Evanchick. “Essential personnel remain ready to assist as needed during this unprecedented public health crisis, and we appreciate the public’s continued support.”

For a list of PSP stations, visit psp.pa.gov.

 MEDIA CONTACT: Trooper Brent Miller or Ryan Tarkowski, 717-783-5556

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Wolf Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians to Respond to the 2020 Census

Harrisburg, PA – Today, on National Census Day, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin reminded all Pennsylvanians to be a good neighbor and respond to the 2020 Census.

“We’re committed to working together to make sure all Pennsylvanians are counted in the Census. said Sec. Davin. “Now more than ever, our representation and billions of dollars of funding for critical resources depend on an accurate count of all Pennsylvanians, no matter who they are or where they live.”

Today marks the 22nd National Census Day, and this year marks the first time in history that responses can be filled out online. It has never been easier for Pennsylvanians to respond online, by phone, or by mail.

The Census questionnaire is simple and confidential, with questions that include your name, address, sex, race, ethnicity, age, and whether you own or rent your home. The Census Bureau will never ask about your citizenship status, or for sensitive information like your social security number, bank accounts, or payments/donations. The Census Bureau will never reach out to you on behalf of a political party. Your responses to the Census are protected by law and cannot be shared with, or used by, any other government agencies. Answers cannot be used for law enforcement purposes or to determine eligibility for government benefits or immigration enforcement.

The United States Constitution requires a Census count once every 10 years and counts every person living in the United States once and only once. The results of the 2020 Census will help provide fair representation when determining congressional districts, policy, decision-making, and distribution of billions of dollars in federal funding that impacts the daily lives of Pennsylvanians over the next 10 years.

For more information about the U.S. Census, visit the PA Census website, and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

MEDIA CONTACT: Casey Smith, DCED, 717.783.1132

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 693 New Positives Bring Statewide Total to 4,087

Harrisburg, PA- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., March 30, that there are 693 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 4,087 in 59 counties. The department also reported 11 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 49. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“The continued rise in cases combined with our increasing deaths from COVID-19 reflects the seriousness of this situation,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We need everyone to listen to the orders in place and to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We know that these prolonged mitigation effects have been difficult for everyone, but it is essential that everyone follows these orders and does not go out unless they absolutely must.”

There are 33,777 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Less than 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • 10% are aged 19-24;
  • 41% are aged 25-49;
  • 28% are aged 50-64; and
  • 19% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide at least through April 6. Currently 22 counties are under stay-at-home orders.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has announced since noon, March 29:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts. MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Business Resources and Risk Assessment Documentation

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PA BEOC Update: Rollup of Resources

Another busy day for all, no doubt. Today, the stay at home order has been expanded to include 3 additional counties, PA received approval to use USDA foods as part of the Disaster Household Distribution program and the PA Department of Health has developed updated Guidance on Business Practices and FAQs. We’ve made every attempt to summarize today’s events and information and provided links to more information.

As you know, this information can also be found on the PABEOC dashboard at https://share.dhs.gov/paboc.

  • The PA Department of Health has updated guidance and FAQs designed for businesses to help your decision-making during this time. (attached). They have also developed a risk assessment tool that you can use as a framework when making decisions about operations. This is designed to be helpful guidance for you. You can also find additional guidance for specific sectors here.
  • Governor Wolf and Health Secretary Levine expanded the ‘Stay at Home’ Order to Beaver, Centre and Washington Counties to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19, Counties bringing the total number of counties to 22. The counties include: Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Centre, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York counties. All orders will continue until April 6, 2020.

There are no travel restrictions on Pennsylvania roads. At this time, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement.
Governor Wolf’s Amended Order
Secretary of Health’s Amended Order
Stay at Home Guidance

  • Today, the PA Department of Agriculture received approval to use USDA Foods as part of a Disaster Household Distribution program being operated through the state’s network of food banks, food pantries, and pop-up distribution sites. Click here to view the letter send to the USDA.
  • We have a need to purchase critical medical supplies. If you have supplies available, please visit the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal is for manufacturers, distributors and other suppliers to inform us of supplies available for purchase. Below is a list of the supplies that are most needed.  Additional portals to address Expansion of Supply Chain Capacity, Manufacturing Innovation and Donations will also be available very soon for those organizations and partners who wish to inform the commonwealth of expanded supply chain and manufacturing capacity or to donate goods and services for distribution across Pennsylvania. 
  • Here’s a reminder to mark your calendars for small business webinars. The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers will be providing webinars covering how a business or non-profit can apply for a federal Small Business Administration disaster loans.  
    • Links to register for each webinar are below:  

March 30th https://pasbdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/26684 

March 31st https://pasbdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/26685 

  • For our small businesses in Western PA, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) today announced that it has resources available for its small business borrowers, as well as small businesses located in the City of Pittsburgh, potentially impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). 
    The URA press release can be found here
  • Unemployment compensation legislation was signed on Friday, House Bill 68.  The bill makes applying for unemployment compensation easier for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill requires the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry to waive the one week waiting period and job search and work registration requirements for claimants under the disaster emergency, provides automatic relief from benefit charges for employers whose account would otherwise be charged during the disaster emergency, increases timeframes and allows for interest-free payment plans, and provides the secretary with the ability to adopt temporary regulations to ensure compliance with federal law. 

For general information and updates about COVID-19, please refer to the Department of Health’s website, www.health.pa.gov, Facebook Page and Twitter account.

Thank you for all of your support and coordination. Pennsylvania has the best Private Sector Integration team ever. Please, be safe.

Take care,

Molly

Molly Dougherty | Director, External Affairs

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Wolf Administration Receives USDA Approval for COVID-19 Disaster Food Distribution

Harrisburg, PA – Just one day after a letter from Governor Tom Wolf to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding received approval for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to operate a Disaster Household Distribution program, through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), to provide critical food supplies to Pennsylvanians adversely affected as a result of statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

“Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have applied for unemployment compensation after just two weeks of COVID-19 mitigation efforts. I’m incredibly grateful for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s acknowledgement of our need to feed Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “This waiver lifts a weight off the shoulders of our food banks and families across the commonwealth.”

On Thursday, March 27, 2020, Governor Wolf sent Secretary Perdue a letter urging him to approve the department’s waiver application that would allow more food to be distributed at hundreds of locations across the state, while temporarily waiving the need to verify household eligibility. Late Friday, March 28, 2020, the department received approval to use USDA Foods as part of a Disaster Household Distribution program being operated through the state’s network of food banks, food pantries, and pop-up distribution sites. The approval allows the department and its partners to more efficiently distribute a variety of foods – including meats, vegetables, fruit, canned goods, cereal, rice, pasta, eggs, and more – to those most affected by the closure of non-life sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania.

“The unified, bipartisan support we saw as we pushed for this waiver is proof that we’re truly all in this together,” added Redding. “We will overcome this trial; and until that day, we will work hand in hand – figuratively, of course – to provide for the Pennsylvanians who are sacrificing so much for the sake of protecting their neighbors.”

Visit the commonwealth’s Responding to COVID-19 guide for the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

View the USDA’s letter here or on Scribd.MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov; Shannon Powers, shpowers@pa.gov

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Wolf Administration Receives USDA Approval for COVID-19 Disaster Food Distribution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2020
View Online

Harrisburg, PA – Just one day after a letter from Governor Tom Wolf to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding received approval for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to operate a Disaster Household Distribution program, through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), to provide critical food supplies to Pennsylvanians adversely affected as a result of statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

“Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have applied for unemployment compensation after just two weeks of COVID-19 mitigation efforts. I’m incredibly grateful for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s acknowledgement of our need to feed Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “This waiver lifts a weight off the shoulders of our food banks and families across the commonwealth.”

On Thursday, March 27, 2020, Governor Wolf sent Secretary Perdue a letter urging him to approve the department’s waiver application that would allow more food to be distributed at hundreds of locations across the state, while temporarily waiving the need to verify household eligibility. Late Friday, March 28, 2020, the department received approval to use USDA Foods as part of a Disaster Household Distribution program being operated through the state’s network of food banks, food pantries, and pop-up distribution sites. The approval allows the department and its partners to more efficiently distribute a variety of foods – including meats, vegetables, fruit, canned goods, cereal, rice, pasta, eggs, and more – to those most affected by the closure of non-life sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania.

“The unified, bipartisan support we saw as we pushed for this waiver is proof that we’re truly all in this together,” added Redding. “We will overcome this trial; and until that day, we will work hand in hand – figuratively, of course – to provide for the Pennsylvanians who are sacrificing so much for the sake of protecting their neighbors.”

Visit the commonwealth’s Responding to COVID-19 guide for the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

View the USDA’s letter here or on Scribd.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov; Shannon Powers, shpowers@pa.gov 

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 533 New Positives Bring Statewide Total to 2,751

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2020

Harrisburg, PA- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., March 28, that there are 533 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 2,751 in 56 counties. The department also reported 12 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 34. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Our notable increase in cases over the past week indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.”

There are 25,254 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Less than 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 11% are aged 19-24;
  • 39% are aged 25-49;
  • Nearly 28% are aged 50-64; and
  • 19% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 25-49, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide at least through April 6. Currently 19 counties are under stay-at-home orders.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has announced since noon, March 27:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Wolf Administration Encourages Use of Telemedicine Access for Centers of Excellence Patients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) has issued guidance to the commonwealth’s opioid use disorder Centers of Excellence (COEs) to provide case management to clients through telemedicine in order for clients throughout COVID-19 mitigation efforts.  

“We know that this time is difficult, especially for those struggling with opioid use disorder, and we want to be sure that we are continuing to safely provide services to the Pennsylvanians who rely on Centers of Excellence,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “Telemedicine will help Pennsylvanians practice social distancing while ensuring that they are able to continue to engage with their COE.”

Under this guidance, opioid use disorder COE care management services do not need to be provided in person face-to-face as long as Governor Wolf’s emergency disaster declaration remains in effect. Sufficient office and clinic hours must remain available to meet the needs of new patients and established patients who either do not choose or cannot use telemedicine or receive services in their homes.

Telemedicine can be delivered through audio-video conferencing hosted by a secure mobile telehealth application or, if a secure telehealth app is not available, apps like FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom can be used. During this state of emergency, telephone-only services may be utilized in situations where video technology is not available. COE providers will be able to bill for payment as if the telemedicine or telephonic encounter had taken place in person.

DHS has previously issued guidance to Medicaid-enrolled providers and managed care organizations that encourages the use of telemedicine as a way of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 through reduced person-to-person contact, which can be read here. Guidance for behavioral health providers is available here

Visit the PA Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, 717-425-7606

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Federal REAL ID Enforcement Deadline Postponed to October 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 26, 2020

Harrisburg, PA –Today the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that the Department of Homeland Security has postponed the enforcement date for REAL ID from October 1, 2020, to October 1, 2021, in response to COVID-19 and the national emergency declaration.

PennDOT closed all driver and photo license centers on March 16 and paused REAL ID issuance in the state out of an abundance of caution and in the interest of public health. Centers will reopen no sooner than April 3. PennDOT also sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, requesting that the agency consider extending the October 1, 2020 REAL ID enforcement deadline.

“We are very pleased that the Department of Homeland Security has listened to our concerns, as well as the concerns from our fellow states regarding the need for a postponement on REAL ID enforcement in the midst of this national emergency,” said PennDOT Acting Secretary Yassmin Gramian.

REAL ID is a federal law that affects how states issue driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes. A federally-acceptable form of identification (whether it’s a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, a valid U.S. Passport/Passport Card, a military ID, etc.) must now be used on and after October 1, 2021, as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building that requires a federally acceptable form of identification ID for access.

REAL ID is optional in Pennsylvania. There is no requirement that any resident obtain a REAL ID; PennDOT will continue to offer standard-issue driver’s licenses and photo IDs once issuance has resumed.

More information about document requirements, including a printable document checklist, can be found on the Document Check page of the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website.

Customers may complete various transactions and access multiple resources via  www.dmv.pa.gov.

Driver and vehicle online services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include driver’s license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; driver license and photo ID duplicates; and driver exam scheduling. There are no additional fees for using online services.

MEDIA CONTACT: Diego Sandino, 717-645-8296

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Pennsylvania Extends License Renewal Deadlines for Nurses and Others During Coronavirus Emergency

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of State is giving nurses, graduate medical trainees, nursing home administrators and other professionals more time to renew their occupational licenses.

April, May and June license renewal deadlines for these professionals — as well as for barbers, navigation pilots and real estate professionals — have been extended to July, August and September.

“The Pennsylvania Department of State is giving many professionals, including nurses, more time to renew their occupational licenses as our commonwealth fights the COVID-19 pandemic,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “We have already waived some regulations for nurses, removed barriers for pharmacies to provide services, enabled retired health care professionals to practice, and announced that in-state and out-of-state health-care practitioners can treat patients via telemedicine during the coronavirus emergency.” 

The following professional and occupational license renewal deadlines will be extended:

  • Under the State Board of Medicine, the Graduate Medical Trainee license renewal deadline has been extended from June 30, 2020, to Sept. 28, 2020.
  • Under the State Board of Nursing, Registered Nurse, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner and Prescriptive Authority license renewal deadlines will be extended from April 30, 2020, to July 29, 2020. The Practical Nurse license renewal will be extended from June 30, 2020, to Sept. 28, 2020.
  • Under the State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators, the nursing home administrator license renewal deadline will be extended from June 30, 2020, to Sept. 28, 2020.
  • Under the State Board of Barber Examiners, Barber license renewal will be extended from April 30, 2020, to July 29, 2020.
  • Under the State Navigation Commission, Navigation Pilot license renewal will be extended from May 1, 2020, to July 30, 2020.
  • Under the State Real Estate Commission, renewal deadlines for all license types will be extended from May 31, 2020, to Aug. 29, 2020. 

The Department of State is working with the governor’s office, the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services to identify regulations and requirements that can be suspended to give medical providers and facilities the flexibility they need to respond to COVID-19. The Department of State website will be updated regularly as additional requirement suspension information becomes available. 

Visit the commonwealth’s Responding to COVID-19 guide for the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpagefor the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Wanda Murren, (717) 783-1621

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Department of Human Services Creates Online Tool for Essential Workers to Find Child Care Providers with Approved Waivers, Reminds Operating Providers of COVID-19 Safety Recommendations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2020 

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced a new tool available on the department’s website designed to help essential workers connect with child-care providers that have been granted a waiver by the department’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) to continue serving the families of essential personnel during the COVID-19 emergency.

“While many Pennsylvanians are responsibly heeding guidance from the Department of Health to stay home, there are still many thousands of essential workers whose jobs require that they go out into the world and do work that makes it possible for the rest of us to stay safe and healthy. For many of these workers, safe and stable child care is an essential need,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “DHS is committed to maintaining options for these families, and that’s why we implemented a waiver process for child care providers to remain open and serving the children of healthcare workers, first responders and other essential personnel.”

On March 16, Governor Wolf recommended that all licensed child care centers and group child care homes operating outside of a residence to temporarily close starting Tuesday, March 17. That request has since changed to a mandated order consistent with the governor’s decision to order all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania closed until further notice.

OCDEL continues to receive and process waiver requests for child care centers and group child care homes seeking to continue to operate during this time with the expectation that providers operating with a waiver serve only the families of essential personnel such as health care providers on the front lines, emergency and first responders, home care workers serving vulnerable populations, grocery and food service employees until the governor’s closure order is lifted. 

OCDEL is processing waiver requests based on the information provided in good faith. If a child-care provider reports that they need to remain open in order to serve the families of essential personnel, OCDEL will grant that request. To date, OCDEL has processed and approved more than 700 requests for waivers.

The public can access information about child care providers that have been granted waivers on the department’s website, which includes a map linked on the citizen resource page of the COVID-19 section. DHS encourages essential workers to use this information as a resource to find child care options available in their community. 

Family child care homes and group child care homes operated inside a residence may continue to operate at their discretion without a waiver. Those provider types are defined in regulations and generally serve fewer children than child care centers operated in a commercial setting. The public can access information about these providers at www.findchildcare.pa.gov.

As the non-life-sustaining business closure order is being enforced around Pennsylvania, DHS is also reminding law enforcement agencies that some child care providers may continue to operate. Child care providers operating with a waiver should be prepared to present this waiver if contacted by law enforcement.

DHS is grateful to child care providers who continue to serve the families of essential personnel, and we recognize there is an inherent risk in continuing these operations while we also focus on mitigating the spread of COVID-19. OCDEL has worked with health professionals to provide guidance to help child care providers maintain the health and safety of their staff and children in care. This guidance was distributed earlier this week and is available in the provider guidance section of the COVID-19 page on the DHS website.

Secretary Miller also reminded families that they must have a back up plan in place should their child care provider need to close with short notice. 

“The COVID-19 situation is evolving quickly, and circumstances for child care providers operating with a waiver may change,” said Secretary Miller. “I urge all families who rely on child care to make a back up plan so if that has to happen, your family will be safe and cared for.” 

Visit pa.gov for a “Responding to COVID-19” guide or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.

A media call on this subject will begin at 11:00 a.m on March 27. Members of the media who are interested may contact Brandon Cwalina at bcwalina@pa.gov for call-in information.MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, 717-425-7606

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 560 New Positives Bring Statewide Total to 1,68

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2020

Harrisburg, PA- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., March 26, that there are 560 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,687 in 48 counties. The department also reported five new deaths, bringing the statewide death total to 16. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Our notable increase in cases over the past few days indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.”

Statewide, there are 1,687 cases of COVID-19 reported from commercial, hospital and state labs. There are 16,441 patients who have tested negative, and 16 total deaths. With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide at least through April 6.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has announced since noon, March 25:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

  • For the daily COVID-19 Report, visit here.
  • For all press releases regarding coronavirus, please visit here.
  • Find the latest information on the coronavirus here.
  • Photos of the state’s lab in Exton are available for download and use here.
  • Coronavirus and preparedness graphics are available here near the bottom of the page: here
  • Community preparedness and procedures materials are available here.
  • For an updated map with the number of cases, visit here.

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Individuals Who Have Recently Traveled to Pike County from the NYC Metro Area Should Self-Quarantine for 14 Days

PA Health Department Urges People Not Under a Stay at Home Order
to Refrain from Non-Essential Travel

Under the latest guidance from The White House Coronavirus Task Force, which cites concern about the high coronavirus (COVID-19) infection rate in the New York City area, the Pike County Commissioners urge everyone who has recently traveled to Pike County from the New York City metropolitan area to self-quarantine for 14 days.

According to Dr. Deborah Birx, Response Coordinator for The White House Coronavirus Task Force, 60% of all new COVID-19 cases in the United States are from the New York City metropolitan area.

“It is critical to the health and safety of everyone that people follow this guidance and take the proper self-quarantine precautions right now,” says Pike County Commissioner Chairman Matthew Osterberg. “We will overcome this public health challenge by working together as a community to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Self-quarantining is intended to separate and restrict the movement of people who were potentially exposed to a contagious disease, such as COVID-19, to determine if they become sick, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. It is an important strategy in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

In Pennsylvania, the current travel guidance from the PA Department of Health urges people to “stay home as much as possible. Try to get groceries once per week instead of daily. Freedom of travel remains, but please refrain from non-essential travel. Essential travel includes things like commuting to an essential job, picking up supplies like groceries and medicine, and checking on family and pets in other households. Do not host or attend gatherings.” This guidance currently applies to counties such as Pike, which are not under Governor Wolf’s Stay at Home Order.

Resources for those Under Self Quarantine

  • Senior Citizens can contact the Pike County Area Agency on Aging at 570-775-5550 regarding nutrition services.
  • PA 211 NE is available to people in need of food, clothing, shelter, drug and alcohol rehab or detox, or crisis intervention. For help, dial 211 or text your zip code to 898211.
  • An updated list of Pike County Government public services and resources available remotely can be found at PikePA.org.
  • Many local restaurants are providing take-out or curbside service, and some supermarkets are offering home delivery. Contact establishments directly for more information.

Follow Proper Protocols

The Pike County Commissioners and the County’s Department of Public Safety are continuing to be in regular contact with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and other involved agencies regarding guidance and protocols related to COVID-19.

The public should continue to follow the proper protocols for COVID-19 prevention.

  • Stay Calm. Stay Home. And Stay Safe.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Do not use your hands!
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  • Contain: if you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.

This is an evolving situation. For the latest local information and updates regarding COVID-19, please visit the Pike County Government website at www.PikePA.org and click on the “Coronavirus COVID-19 Updates” icon.

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 276 New Positives Bring Statewide Total to 1,127

Harrisburg, PA- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., March 25, that there are 276 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,127 in 44 counties. The department also reported four new deaths, bringing the statewide death total to 11. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Our notable increase in cases over the past few days indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.”

Statewide, there are 1,127 cases of COVID-19 reported from commercial, hospital and state labs. There are 11,193 patients who have tested negative, and 11 total deaths. With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide at least through April 6.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has announced since noon, March 24:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

  • For the daily COVID-19 Report, visit here.
  • For all press releases regarding coronavirus, please visit here.
  • Find the latest information on the coronavirus here.
  • Photos of the state’s lab in Exton are available for download and use here.
  • Coronavirus and preparedness graphics are available here near the bottom of the page: here
  • Community preparedness and procedures materials are available here.
  • For an updated map with the number of cases, visit here.

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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Order Amending the Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Directing Individuals to Stay at Home

Governor Wolf’s Amended Order
Secretary of Health’s Amended Order
Stay at Home Guidance 

Harrisburg, PA – As the state seeks relief to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19, today Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine revised the “Stay at Home” order to include Lehigh and Northampton counties, bringing the state total to 10 counties under the stay-at-home order. The order now includes these 10 counties: Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia counties. The amended orders takes effect at 8:00 PM Wednesday, March 25, 2020, and will continue until April 6, 2020.

Individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household
  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth
  • Anyone performing life-sustaining travel does not need paperwork to prove the reason for travel.

The following operations are exempt:

  • Life-sustaining business activities
  • Health care or medical services providers
  • Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
  • Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders
  • News media
  • Law enforcement
  • The federal government
  • Religious institutions

Individuals experiencing homelessness are not subject to this order but are strongly urged to find shelter and government agencies are urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for those individuals.

International students, foster youth, and any other students who would otherwise experience displacement or homelessness as a result of campus closures are exempt and may remain in campus housing.

At this time, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement. To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station. Please do not call 911 or the Department of Community and Economic Development to file reports. Law enforcement officers should refer to Business Closure Order Enforcement Guidance available online.

Read Governor Wolf’s original order here or view on Scribd. Read Governor Wolf’s amended order here or view on Scribd.

Read Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine’s original order here or view on Scribd. Read Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine’s amended order here or view on Scribd.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov

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Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 207 New Positives Bring Statewide Total to 851

03/24/2020

Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 207 New Positives Bring Statewide Total to 851

Harrisburg, PA- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., March 24, that there are 207 additional positive cases of COVID-19, and four new deaths, bringing the statewide total to 851 in 40 counties. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.  

“Our notable increase in cases over the past few days indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.” 

Statewide, there are 851 cases of COVID-19 reported from commercial, hospital and state labs. There are 8,643 patients who have tested negative, and seven total deaths. With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending. 

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has announced since noon, yesterday, March 23: 

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19: 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. 
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands. 
  • Clean surfaces frequently.  
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell. 

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics 

  • For the daily COVID-19 Report, visit here.  
  • For all press releases regarding coronavirus, please visit here.  
  • Find the latest information on the coronavirus here
  • Photos of the state’s lab in Exton are available for download and use hereOpens In A New Window
  • Coronavirus and preparedness graphics are available here near the bottom of the page: here 
  • Community preparedness and procedures materials are available hereOpens In A New Window
  • For an updated map with the number of cases, visit hereOpens In A New Window 

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.  

MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle – 717-787-1783

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Wolf Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians of Food Assistance Programs and Resources, Encourages Volunteerism to Keep Life-Sustaining Food Services Available

Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today reminded Pennsylvanians of food assistance resources available and what actions it is taking to ensure access to food does not stop in spite of the COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

“Life has slowed and it has changed, but it has not stopped for the millions of Pennsylvanians who depend on food assistance programs. We know that this pandemic has caused many people and families to find that they are suddenly food insecure and require assistance,” said Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller. “The Wolf Administration is doing everything it can to ensure that everyone’s food security needs in the commonwealth are met during this uncertain time.” 

Pennsylvanians who need help feeding themselves or their family should find and contact their local food bank or pantry through Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania.

DHS is continuing to process applications and benefit renewals for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  Emergency SNAP applications can be expedited and issued in five days. Pennsylvanians can apply for SNAP online at www.compass.state.pa.us.

DHS will continue to process application and renewal benefits, so people should continue to send in paperwork as usual. But, for anyone currently on SNAP who misses a deadline, who is not able to submit the paperwork or complete an interview or provide verifications for any reason during this emergency, DHS will ensure their SNAP benefit continues. DHS submitted a waiver request to the federal Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to ensure this continuity in benefits. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has provided resources for Pennsylvanians to access emergency food assistance during COVID-19 mitigation, including locations of food banks and food pantries that are assisting individuals and families during this time. And to ensure that food banks and community feeding organizations remain operable with healthy volunteers, the department provided guidance for ways to limit contact while providing their essential services.

“Quite simply, no Pennsylvanian should ever go hungry. Especially during this disruptive time of COVID-19 mitigation efforts,” said Agriculture Secretary Redding. “We’ve worked hard to provide guidance to the agriculture industry to ensure that healthy food continues to flow to grocery stores and food banks; and guidance for those who volunteer their time at banks to do so safely, protecting their health and the health of those who come for assistance.” 

The Wolf Administration also asks that anyone who is healthy and able please consider volunteering with a local food bank or registering for the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Pennsylvania, as this time is creating an incredible strain on charitable organizations’ efforts. United Way of Pennsylvania’s 211 website is also compiling organizations that need volunteers or resources so their work can continue.

Amidst Governor Wolf’s continued, aggressive mitigation efforts – including the state-wide closure of non-life-sustaining businesses and the recent Stay at Home order issued for seven Pennsylvania counties – the work being done by our food banks and their volunteers is life-sustaining and must continue. The orders do not prohibit food banks and their volunteers from offering food services, nor do they prohibit school districts from offering food services to children during the statewide school closure. Schools and school districts may continue to bring in essential employees involved in the preparation and distribution of meals for children. 

The emergency Feeding Taskforce, which consists of state agencies, charitable food networks, food retailers, and other partners and stakeholders, is working to identify available resources and provide food and water to communities in need; including ensuring school age children, older adults and others experiencing food insecurity are provided with nourishing meals.

Businesses who have resources to help feed and shelter Pennsylvanians in need are encouraged to fill out this survey to assist the task force as they look to direct resources. Any Pennsylvanian who is suddenly in need of food should complete this survey so the task force can better understand where resources should be directed.

“We need to be sure our charitable food networks are able to continue their daily operations and meeting the need of their communities, so if you are healthy and able, please contact your local food bank to get involved and help you neighbors and community during this time of great need,” said Secretary Miller. 

Visit the PA Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here. Information and guidance as it relates to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania is available here.

MEDIA CONTACT:    Erin James, DHS – 717-425-7606

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Governor, First Lady Wolf: Pennsylvania’s Food Supply is Reliable, Accessible, and Life-Sustaining

Wolf Administration Provides Information to Prevent Food Insecurity

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf reminded Pennsylvanians that grocery stores, food processors, and food banks remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic and the administration is working to expand resources for those who are food insecure. Pennsylvanians should feel confident in the food supply and shop for food at their normal rate.  

“Even in a pandemic, grocery stores and food banks are life-sustaining and accessible; food production and distribution are continuing,” Governor ​Wolf said. “I urge all Pennsylvanians to have faith in our food system. If each one of us commits to only buy what we need; there will be enough for everyone and their neighbors.

“COVID-19 does not change the need for food production; but rather it highlights the importance of our essential agriculture industry for providing a safe, continuous food supply,” Wolf said. “I’m incredibly proud of and grateful for this dedicated industry. These times will pass; but in the meantime, you can know that they’re working hard and making smart decisions to fill the shelves of your local grocer.”

Earlier this week the department issued guidance for those in the business of food production and distribution to continue their life-sustaining work while also taking every necessary precaution to protect their workforce from COVID-19. In addition to guidance for the agriculture industry and its distribution network, recommendations were issued for grocery stores to protect both their critical employees and the public.

The following guidance was issued to ensure a safe, reliable, and accessible food supply for all Pennsylvanians:

Further, the following guidance is available for those who are food insecure and organizations that provide for the food insecure. 

“Pennsylvania’s charitable food network plays an invaluable role in supporting our communities, and as we all do our part to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, this work is more important than ever,” said First Lady Frances Wolf. “Those of us who are fortunate enough to know where our next meal will come from must consider donating our resources or time to supporting our local food banks to ensure that no Pennsylvanian goes hungry – now or ever.”

For information and guidance as it relates to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania visit agriculture.pa.gov/COVID. For the most accurate, timely information related to Health in Pennsylvania, visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger – RA-GVGOVPRESS@pa.gov
                                Shannon Powers – 717.783.2628

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Department of Aging Releases COVID-19 Guidance on Protective Services for Older Adults

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Aging has released COVID-19 guidance on handling protective services for older adults. This temporary guidance provides operational flexibility to protect older adults and staff during investigative cases while following the ongoing directive from Governor Tom Wolf to stay home and practice social distancing.

“One of our primary responsibilities at the Department of Aging is to protect older adults from abuse, neglect, exploitation and/or abandonment by investigating suspected cases of abuse quickly and thoroughly,” said Aging Secretary Robert Torres. “During the Governor’s COVID-19 mitigation effort, we want to ensure we are reducing the risk of exposure to both the older adult and investigator while ensuring the safety and protection of the older adult.”

The guidance addresses how protective services workers can protect themselves and limit contact during each phase of an investigation, from the intake process, to understanding when face-to-face contact is required under the current circumstances, to preparing for an on-site visit when necessary.”

This guidance will be updated on a recurring basis, as needed, when new information becomes available.

Anyone suspecting elder abuse should call the statewide abuse reporting hotline at
1-800-490-8505 which is operational 24/7, 365 days per year.  

All Department of Aging guidance related to COVID-19 is available here.

Visit the PA Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.
 
Learn more about the various programs offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging here

MEDIA CONTACT: Karen Gray: 717-705-3702 or karengray@pa.gov

Jack Eilber: 717-214-7510 or jeilber@pa.gov

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Pennsylvania Department of Education Extends School Closures through at least April 6

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced today that all schools in the commonwealth will remain closed through at least April 6 as a result of the COVID-19 response efforts. The closure order could be extended beyond April 6 if necessary to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19. When it’s determined that students can return to school, administrators, teachers and other staff will be given two days to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would return on the third day.

Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said his decision to close all schools for the additional period aligns with the governor’s stay-at-home directive announced today for seven counties – Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery and Philadelphia.

“Protecting the health and safety of students, families, teachers and all employees who work in our schools is paramount during this national health crisis and we must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus,” he said. “The number of positive cases increases daily and we’re seeing it spread to more counties. We must adhere to the social distancing guidelines. Extending the closure will help every community in its efforts to mitigate the spread.”

Today’s additional school closure will be for 14 days, beginning Tuesday, March 24.

To assist schools during the extended closure, Secretary Rivera said the state’s 29 intermediate units are ready to provide technical assistance to help develop continuity of education plans for all students.

“We know students are eager to engage with their teachers and return to learning,” he said. “Beginning tomorrow, all schools will be able to work with their local intermediate unit to develop instructional plans for all students, including those with disabilities and English language learners.”

Also today, Secretary Rivera cancelled standardized testing for students in career and technical education (CTE) programs for the 2019-20 school year. These include exams from the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) and National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS).

Last Thursday the department cancelled all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year, as well as the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA). The U.S. Department of Education approved Pennsylvania’s waiver request the following day, and further waived accountability and reporting requirements for the 2019-20 school year.

The department has been providing ongoing guidance to school communities in the form of FAQs. The guidance information is available at