Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

View this email in a browser

COVID-19 Update for the 24th Senatorial District

My staff and I are following the recommendations of the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health by limiting their face-to-face contact with constituents as we continue our mitigation efforts on COVID-19. For the protection of the community and my staff, my offices in Harrisburg, Red Hill, and Lansdale will remain open through phone and email contact ONLY until further notice.  Constituents can call or email if they have any concerns, questions other requests on state matters. For assistance, please email bmensch@pasen.gov or call 215-541-2388.  I encourage you to read the updates below from our state agencies and partners regarding their efforts to respond to mitigation efforts. These updates are very important and could pertain to you or someone you know.  Please note that these updates are subject to change as new information is given out daily. 

Mitigation Guidance for Counties in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf announced that mitigation efforts put into effect over the past few days in Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester and Allegheny counties will now be in effect statewide, beginning at 12:01 a.m., Tuesday, March 17.

Guidance previously announced for Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester and Allegheny counties will now expand statewide as of 12:01 a.m., Tuesday, March 17, continuing for 14 days. This guidance applies to all 67 counties in the commonwealth.

Gov. Wolf is permitted under law to enforce closures; however, the governor’s approach is to reinforce that it is incumbent on all of us to help mitigate the spread, knowing that compliance can help to protect customers, employees, and the community. The administration supports local law enforcement, permitting entities, and local officials to enforce if needed. The governor does not want to expend valuable resources from the state police and PA National Guard because irresponsible people choose not to do the right thing.

Statewide Mitigation Efforts beginning at 12:01 a.m., Tuesday, March 17 include:

  • All restaurants and bars close their dine-in facilities to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Businesses that offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is temporarily prohibited. These businesses offering carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage should employ social distancing best practices and be aware of the Trump Administration’s guidance to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • Non-essential businesses have been urged to close. Non-essential businesses include public-facing industries such as entertainment, hospitality, and recreation facilities, including but not limited to community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons and barber shops, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations.
    • Essential services and sectors include but are not limited to food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, feed mills, construction, trash collection, grocery and household goods (including convenience stores), home repair/hardware and auto repair, pharmacy and other medical facilities, biomedical and healthcare, post offices and shipping outlets, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and pet stores, warehousing, storage, and distribution, public transportation, and hotel and commercial lodging.
  • A no-visitor policy for correctional facilities and nursing homes has been implemented and will be evaluated for other facilities.
  • Freedom of travel will remain, but all Pennsylvanians are asked to refrain from non-essential travel.
  • All child care centers licensed by the commonwealth close as of Tuesday, March 17 and will be re-evaluated at the conclusion of the 14-day statewide closures. Philadelphia County families should check with their child care facilities to determine status of business operations.
  • Adult day care centers, adult training facilities, Provocations facilities, LIFE centers and Senior Community Centers close beginning Tuesday, March 17 and will be re-evaluated at the conclusion of the 14-day statewide closures.
  • Essential State, County, and Municipal services will be open: police, fire, emergency medical services, sanitation, and essential services for vulnerable populations.
  • Supermarkets, pharmacies, and gas stations will remain open. The administration issued guidance for non-essential businesses, such as gyms, movie theaters and shopping malls during county-specific mitigation periods to protect employees, customers, and suppliers and limit the spread of the virus through personal contact and surfaces. Additional statewide business guidance is forthcoming.
  • Governor Tom Wolf announced on March 13 that all K-12 Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced on March 13 that all K-12 Pennsylvania schools will be closed for 10 business days effective Monday, March 16. 
  • The Wolf Administration strongly encourages the suspension of large gatherings, events, conferences of more than 10 people, and per White House guidelines, ask that individuals and groups cancel any gatherings planned over the next eight weeks.
  • The Wolf Administration encourages religious leaders to exercise discretion in order to mitigate the spread of illness.
  • Restricted visitors in state centers to ensure health and safety for individuals with an intellectual disability.
  • Restricted visitors in assisted living and personal care homes to minimize exposure to our seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Commonwealth Employees

  • The Office of Administration will provide a message to all commonwealth employees regarding telework.
  • Individuals will be instructed to work from home if feasible.
  • The commonwealth is authorizing a 10 workday paid absence for individuals who don’t have telework capabilities.
  • Commonwealth facilities that provide essential services will remain open.
  • County-administered facilities will follow the same procedures as those of the state.

COVID-19 Case Information Update

The Department of Health stressed 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.
  • If you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.

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.

Coronavirus and preparedness graphics are available here near the bottom of the page: On.pa.gov/coronavirus

Community preparedness and procedures materials are available here.

Pennsylvania Department of Aging Update

The Department of Aging (PDA) understands there are concerns about the 2019-novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In light of rapidly evolving circumstances and actions taken to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, PDA is providing temporary guidance and flexibility in operations regarding Aging Services programs, including Senior Community Centers that are affiliated with Area Agencies on Aging. Temporary Closings: The Area Agency on Aging (AAA) will make the determination to temporarily close a senior community center in their planning and service area due to COVID-19 unless specifically directed by the Governor’s Office.  For more information, visit https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/aging_details.aspx?newsid=248.

Pennsylvania Attorney General

Attorney General Shapiro alerted Pennsylvania consumers and businesses about price gouging protections under Governor Wolf’s COVID-19 disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In addition, the Office of Attorney General has created a specialized resource (pricegouging@attorneygeneral.gov) for consumers to email and report malfeasance.  For additional information, visit https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/taking-action/press-releases/ag-shapiro-creates-consumer-tool-to-combat-coronavirus-price-gouging/

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel announced that, effective March 13, and for a period of 14 days, inmate visits at all state correctional institutions are cancelled. In addition, all state correctional institutions will perform enhanced screening of all staff, vendors and contracted providers, including contracted chaplains. For more information, visit https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/corrections_details.aspx?newsid=450.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced that all facilities at state park and forests in Pennsylvania will be closed for 14 days effective March 17 to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The public will still be able to access trails, lakes, forests, roads, and parking areas for passive and dispersed recreation, such as hiking.

Closed facilities include:

  • Park and forest offices and visitor centers
  • Restrooms
  • Campgrounds, cabins and all forms of overnight accommodations
  • Public programs, events, and trainings are canceled

While travel isn’t restricted, the best advice to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.

To help avoid exposure to COVID-19 and still enjoy the outdoors:

  • Adhere to the social spacing guide (minimum 6 feet) between people and don’t recreate in groups
  • Take hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow
  • If you are sick, stay home

In addition, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today announced that effective Friday, March 13, all public programs, events and trainings in state parks and forests will be canceled for the remainder of March, and the month of April.

For more information on state park closures and events cancellations, visit https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx.

Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol

The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jennifer Smith urged drug and alcohol treatment providers to review and update continuity plans in preparation for additional COVID-19 cases across the commonwealth.  In addition, southeast drug and alcohol treatment providers are being encouraged to develop partnerships with providers outside of their region to accommodate capacity, as needed.  Providers should contact their local Single County Authority (SCA) who can help facilitate partnerships in other counties. For a listing of SCAs, visit DDAP’s website here.  For more information, visit https://www.ddap.pa.gov/pages/default.aspx. 

Pennsylvania Department of Education

Governor Tom Wolf announced that all K-12 Pennsylvania schools will be closed for 10 business days effective Monday, March 16. The administration has been working with school districts as well as state and local officials to gather input on this decision. The Wolf Administration will continue to monitor Covid-19 in the commonwealth, and at the end of 10 days will reevaluate and decide whether continued closure is needed.

The additional information is as follows:

What Schools Are Closed Statewide:

  • All public K-12 schools, including brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, career and technical centers (CTCs), and intermediate units (IUs)
  • Childcare centers operating within any of the above schools
  • All universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
  • All other schools (including private, parochial, and institutions of higher education) should be consulted directly for the most current closure information

Within counties under aggressive social distancing guidelines:

  • All schools – including private, parochial, and institutions of higher education – are required to close.

What staff may schools deem essential?

  • These decisions should be made locally, in the context of school and community needs.
  • Examples of essential responsibilities may include, but are not limited to, school administration, food preparation and distribution, information technology, and continuity of operations (e.g., payroll, and building operations).

What are the consequences for districts/schools that don’t meet the 180-day/hours (990/900/450) requirements?

  • PDE will not penalize districts/schools that fail to meet the minimum 180-day/hours (990/900/450) requirements as a result of COVID-19 response efforts.
  • PDE will provide a simplified form that districts/schools can use to report any shortfall in days or hours.

How will students access meals while schools are closed?

  • Pennsylvania sought and received approval from the Federal government to allow schools the option to distribute meals at no cost while schools are closed.
  • Districts/schools that want to act on this Federal approval must apply to PDE.
  • PDE has begun and continues to expedite approvals.
  • Districts/schools may utilize essential staff to ensure students have access to meals.
  • PDE is partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, other state agencies, the American Red Cross, and public and private partners to expand these efforts.

Are schools required to provide any type of instruction during the closure of schools due to COVID-19 response efforts?

  • No. PDE recognizes that the rapidly evolving pandemic may make it impossible to implement continuity of education plans.
  • Although not required, many schools have plans, or are creating plans, to provide continuity of education. 
  • Intermediate units are preparing to offer technical assistance for schools interested in developing such plans; that support will be available by Friday, March 20.

For school entities considering continuity of education, what options are available?

  • Educational services may continue in a variety of ways, including: 
    • Flexible Instruction Days for districts/schools with approved plans
    • Online/digital learning opportunities
    • Non-digital learning opportunities (e.g., materials sent home with students)
  • The decision to employ one or more of the above methods of continuity of education is to be made at the local level based on feasibility, availability of resources, access and equity considerations, and the Commonwealth’s social distancing recommendations. 
  • Whatever decision is made, LEAs must ensure full access to learning for all students, with particular attention to free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities and English as a second language (ESL) services for English Learners.

Is a school required to continue to provide FAPE to students with disabilities during a school closure caused by COVID-19 response efforts?

  • When a school is closed because of COVID-19 response efforts and does not provide any educational services to the general student population, the school is not required to provide services to students with disabilities during that closure period.  Once school resumes, the district/school must provide special education and related services to the child in accordance with the child’s individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan.
  • When a school is closed because of COVID-19 response efforts and does provide educational services to the general student population, the school must ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of FAPE.  In addition, districts/schools must ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability can be provided the special education and related services identified in the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan.  Once school resumes, a child’s IEP team (or appropriate personnel under Section 504) must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed, consistent with applicable requirements, including to make up for any skills that may have been lost during the closure within a reasonable timeframe.

Will Early Intervention services be offered while schools are closed?

  • Preschool Early Intervention programs should suspend all services to children and families in alignment with public K-12 closures. 
  • If the Preschool Early Intervention administrative offices are open while Preschool Early Intervention services are suspended, referrals to Early Intervention should continue to be managed by the program; once services resume, referrals can proceed.

Are PA Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Programs expected to close?

  • PA Pre-K Counts (PKC) and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP) Grantees operating within a K-12 building should close in alignment with the closure of all public schools. 
  • Those grantees operating PKC or HSSAP in community-based settings have the discretion to continue to operate unless the county is under aggressive social distancing guidelines (Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, and Chester counties as of March 14).
  • In order to track program impacts, closures must be reported to both the Preschool Program Specialist assigned to each grant and to the Office of Child Development and Early Learning: RA-PWOCDELFacilclose@pa.gov.

The most recent COVID-19 School Closure Guidance and additional resources are available on PDE’s website: education.pa.gov/COVID19.

Their school guidance page includes information previously released on March 14 and March 15, as well as information on new topics.

Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education

No in-person instruction will occur at PASSHE’s 14 universities from March 16 to March 29.  Students attending one of the universities are encouraged to contact their school directly for information on their contingency plan, online class information, and more.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

The PFBC will operate under a consolidated statewide schedule for all counties during the 2020 trout season. Under this revised plan, a single Mentored Youth Trout Day will occur on April 11, and a Statewide Opening Day of trout season will take place on April 18.

The earlier regional mentored youth and opening days will not occur in 2020 in 18 southeastern counties, including: Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York. Anglers in these areas should revise their plans as necessary to adjust to the statewide schedule.

Trout Stocking 

2020 trout stocking will be conducted on an accelerated schedule. To ensure public safety, volunteers will NOT be permitted to assist with stocking activities.

To complete trout stocking operations without the assistance of the public, the PFBC will modify stocking methods for this year. Many PFBC staff are being reassigned from their normal work duties to assist with stocking fish into lakes and streams. In some cases, pre-season and in-season allocations of trout will be combined into single stocking events to increase the efficiency of stocking trips. Initially, stockings will be prioritized to deliver trout to regions of the Commonwealth that are predicted to be affected most severely by COVID-19 that could result in restrictions on travel.

Displaying your License, Launch Permit or Boat Registration 

To reduce unnecessary travel and social contact amid health concerns, Commission Executive Director Tim Schaeffer signed an emergency order that allows anglers and boaters to display their fishing license, launch permit, or boat registration digitally on a phone or other mobile device as proof of possession.

For more information, visit https://www.fishandboat.com/Pages/covid-19.aspx.

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is closing county assistance offices (CAOs) in coordination with Governor Wolf’s mitigation guidance regarding COVID-19.

While the CAOs are closed, eligibility determinations, application processing, and benefit issuance will continue for Pennsylvanians in all counties. Applications for benefits and renewals can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us or through the myCOMPASS PA mobile app. Clients who prefer to submit paper documentation can mail the documents.

Medicaid and CHIP Recipients

The state’s Medicaid program, Medical Assistance (MA) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), will cover COVID-19 testing and treatment for recipients and is lifting some prior authorization requirements to ease access to necessary testing and treatment. There are no MA or CHIP copayments for laboratory tests for COVID-19. For those services that do have copayments, MA providers may not deny services if a beneficiary is unable to pay the copayment.  For more information, visit https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/DHS_details.aspx?newsid=491.

Office of Long-Term Living

The Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) today released operational recommendations for long-term service and support (LTSS) providers in Pennsylvania in response to COVID-19. OLTL and DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) have also submitted applications for emergency modifications to their respective waiver programs to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  For more information, visit https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/DHS_details.aspx?newsid=494.

Child Welfare, Intellectual Disability and Autism Providers

The Department of Human Services’ (DHS) offices of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF) and Developmental Programs (ODP) today released operational recommendations for providers of child welfare services as well as intellectual disability and autism services in Pennsylvania in response to COVID-19.  For more information, visit https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/DHS_details.aspx?newsid=492

Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) is taking extra precaution to safeguard the health of its residents and staff against COVID-19 by restricting visitors to its six veterans homes for the foreseeable future. The only exceptions will be in compassionate cases, when a resident’s heath becomes severely critical. In those cases, visitors will be subjected to a brief health assessment and will only have access to their specific resident’s room.

Family members and other loved ones are still welcome to communicate with residents through electronic or digital means. Additionally, families are encouraged to contact the clinical treatment teams at each home should they have any questions or concerns.

For more information, visit https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Military-and-Veteran-Affairs-Details.aspx?newsid=446.

Pennsylvania Department of Health

The most up to date information on the coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania can be found at https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx.  Additionally, information on the virus, how to mitigate its spread, travel restrictions, and more can also be found on this website.  Daily press conferences and briefings are also provided by Dr. Rachel Levine and constituents are encouraged to visit this website frequently for updated information.

Pennsylvania Department of Insurance

All major health insurers providing comprehensive medical coverage in the commonwealth will cover medically appropriate COVID-19 diagnostic testing and associated treatment for consumers and have committed to waive any cost-sharing for the testing.

The Department of Insurance encourages patients to be aware of steps their insurance company is taking to increase access to necessary care related to COVID-19.

Pennsylvania’s major health insurers, all of whom have committed to take this critical step, are Highmark, UPMC Health Plan, Geisinger, Independence BlueCross, Capital Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, Pennsylvania Health & Wellness, and Oscar. This increased access to testing is especially critical as multiple commercial medical labs are in the process of implementing testing capabilities and some have begun to perform tests. This means labs will begin billing insurance for the COVID-19 test as they would for any other diagnostic test. For more details, visit https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Insurance-Details.aspx?newsid=418.

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry

If you are employed in Pennsylvania and are unable to work because of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), you may be eligible for Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation benefits. The Department of Labor & Industry will continue to provide important employment benefit updates as the situation evolves.

Please note that the UC waiting week has been suspended. Eligible claimants may receive benefits for the first week that they are unemployed.  In addition, work search and work registration requirements have been temporarily waived for all UC claimants.

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION (UC) BENEFITS 

You may be eligible if:

  • Your employer temporarily closes or goes out of business because of COVID-19
  • Your employer reduces your hours because of COVID-19
  • You have been told not to work because your employer feels you might get or spread COVID-19
  • You have been told to quarantine or self-isolate, or live/work in a county under government-recommended mitigation efforts

 Apply:

  • Online – it’s the fastest and easiest way to get started

 Important info:

  • If you are eligible for UC, you will receive two approval letters and a four-digit PIN
  • Your PIN will arrive in the U.S. mail – keep it in a safe, easy to remember place
  • If approved, your first benefit payment should arrive within four weeks of filing for UC
  • Continue filing your bi-weekly claim (every two weeks) – even while waiting for approval
  • Find call center hours and other vital info at www.uc.pa.gov; learn all UC benefit requirements by visiting the self-service guide; or use UC LiveChat

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION (WC) BENEFITS 

Two filing options:

  • If you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 in your workplace, you may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation (WC) by either:
    • Notifying your employer to file a typical “disease-as-injury” WC claim, which requires you to provide medical evidence that you were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace
    • Notifying your employer to file an “occupational disease” WC claim, which requires you to show that COVID-19 is occurring more in your occupation/industry than in the general population

Claims:

  • All WC claims (including COVID-19) are thoroughly reviewed, and decisions are made based on the facts and merits of each claim and the law

You can also access this information as a printable PDF

Additional information can be found at https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/covid19.aspx.

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

After consultation with the Wolf Administration and Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced the indefinite closure of all Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores and licensee service centers, effective at 9:00 PM Tuesday, March 17, to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Additionally, sales at www.FineWineAndGoodSpirits.com will cease at 5:00 PM March 16, 2020.

All stores in counties other than Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties will remain open March 16, 2020 and Tuesday, March 17 at regular opening times. Stores not normally open on Tuesdays will remain closed tomorrow. All stores and licensee service centers across Pennsylvania will close Tuesday, March 17 at 9:00 PM and will remain closed until further notice.

All stores and licensee service centers in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties, areas previously designated for aggressive COVID-19 mitigation efforts, are closed after Monday, March 16.Additional information can be viewed at https://www.lcb.pa.gov/Consumers/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx.

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille signed an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication and steam utility terminations.  The moratorium will remain in place for as long as the Proclamation of Disaster, issued by Gov. Tom Wolf on March 6 related to the Coronavirus, is in effect. 

Under the unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, establishing a termination moratorium for utility services under the PUC’s jurisdiction is consistent with the Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency and the requirements of the Public Utility Code.  Under the order, terminations would be permitted in the event of a safety emergency.  For additional details, visit http://www.puc.pa.gov/about_puc/press_releases.aspx?ShowPR=4326.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

All Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers in Pennsylvania will be closed for two weeks effective close of business on Monday, March 16.

These closures are in addition to those previously announced in MontgomeryDelawareDauphinBucks and Chester counties.

Additionally, expiration dates for driver licenses, identification cards, vehicle registrations, and safety and emission inspections will be extended:

  • Driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner’s permits scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended until April 30, 2020.
  • Vehicle registrations, safety inspections and emissions inspections scheduled to expire from March 16 through March 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended until April 30, 2020.
  • Persons with Disabilities Parking Placards scheduled to expire from March 16 through March 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended until April 30, 2020.

These extensions are in addition to those announced in MontgomeryDelaware and Bucks and Chester counties.

All PennDOT District and County maintenance offices are closed. Additionally, construction projects have been suspended in all counties until further notice, however PennDOT crews are available to perform critical functions and emergency maintenance as needed.

All PennDOT rest areas and welcome centers statewide will be closed to the public effective 12:01 AM Tuesday, March 17, 2020. These rest area and welcome center closures are in addition to those previously announced in Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks and Chester counties. 

REAL ID 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security asking them to consider extending the October 1, 2020 REAL ID enforcement deadline.

For more information, visit https://www.penndot.gov/Pages/default.aspx.

SEPTA

To accommodate changing ridership levels, weekday Regional Rail service will operate on a Severe Weather Service Plan beginning on Tuesday, March 17 until further notice. Regional Rail Airport service will operate on a normal Saturday schedule with service every 30 minutes. Following Governor Wolf’s announcement regarding COVID-19 concerns in Pennsylvania, the SEPTA Key Senior & Reduced Fare Card processing programs at 1234 Market Street, Concourse Level and the Accessible Travel Center at Suburban Station are now closed until further notice. For more information, visit www.septa.org.

TransNet

Considering the reported presumptive positive cases of the Coronavirus in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, TransNet is implementing measures to keep our partners, employees, and passengers safe, including enhanced vehicle cleaning procedures. TransNet will continue to evaluate the severity of any developments in our service area and will make every effort to minimize disruption of services to our customers, while balancing the continued provision of services with everyone’s safety. As a proactive measure, we encourage our consumers, partners and staff to practice the recommended general precautions to reduce the spread of germs and the potential impact of COVID-19. https://www.suburbantransit.org/

BARTA

As of this date, neither the CDC, nor the PA Department of Health have placed any restrictions on the use of public transit.

Currently BARTA’s cleaning practices are as follows:

All BARTA fixed-route buses and BARTA Special Services vans are cleaned every night with a Lysol cleansing product (EPA approved) throughout the vehicle and driver’s seat/work area

The BTC waiting area is cleaned with bleach cleansing products.

BARTA will continue to monitor the situation and will update customers of any changes to our efforts as they occur.

For more information, visit http://www.bartabus.com/.

Pennsylvania Treasury

In response to COVID-19, some bureaus within the Pennsylvania State Treasury are currently closed or are following modified operational procedures.  Please anticipate delays in Treasury services.  This is a precautionary measure and prioritizes the health and safety of Treasury employees and those they serve.  

During these modified operational procedures, essential Treasury functions will be maintained.  This includes the on-time processing of Commonwealth payments; the stewardship, investment and access to Commonwealth funds; and the care and stewardship of funds entrusted to us through programs like PA ABLE and the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program.

Unclaimed Property

Please be aware that the Bureau of Unclaimed Property is currently closed.  If you need assistance with a claim, please contact my office and your inquiry will be addressed once the Treasury staff return per the Governor’s orders.

For more information, visit https://www.patreasury.gov/.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) is alerting motorists that cash will not be accepted at any interchange statewide beginning tonight at 8 p.m. This is a temporary safety measure to keep travelers moving with no need to stop at tollbooths or interact with tolling personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During this time, cash and credit cards will not be accepted anywhere on the PA Turnpike’s ticket system. All tolls will be assessed electronically via E-ZPass or the PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE program as vehicles travel at posted speed limits through tolling points.

Customers who do not have an E-ZPass account should continue to use lanes marked “Tickets” on entry and “Cash” on exit, however they should keep moving through the lane at the posted speed without stopping. Instead of paying their toll on the roadway, they will receive a PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE invoice through the mail.

With the PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE option, high-speed cameras capture license-plate images as vehicles pass by. The registered owner receives an invoice within 30 days for trips made through the tolling point. Invoices can be paid online, by phone or by mail.

Customers who receive a TOLL BY PLATE invoice will be charged the “cash” toll rate. However, when paying their invoice, they will have the option to open an E-ZPass account to receive the discounted rate at time of payment.

Customers have 20 days to pay invoices before a second invoice is issued. If the first invoice is not paid, the second invoice will include an additional fee of $5 or the equivalent of 1.5% of the total amount owed, whichever is higher.

Cash tolls will still be in place on the Mon-Fayette Expressway (PA Turnpike 43) via the current Automated Payment Machines.

All customers should be prepared for possible confusion around the toll plaza areas as drivers adjust to the temporary measure. Drivers should slow down when approaching a tolling point or interchange, pay attention and proceed with caution.

For more information on how all-electronic tolling works, visit nocashzone.com.

For additional information, visit https://www.paturnpike.com/press/2020/20200316132828.htm or https://www.paturnpike.com/.

Facebook Twitter Instagram

If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.

2020 © Senate of Pennsylvania | https://www.senatormensch.com | Privacy Policy