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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
COVID-19 Case Information Update
The Department of Health stressed the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:
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 (email@example.com) 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:
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:
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:
Within counties under aggressive social distancing guidelines:
What staff may schools deem essential?
What are the consequences for districts/schools that don’t meet the 180-day/hours (990/900/450) requirements?
How will students access meals while schools are closed?
Are schools required to provide any type of instruction during the closure of schools due to COVID-19 response efforts?
For school entities considering continuity of education, what options are available?
Is a school required to continue to provide FAPE to students with disabilities during a school closure caused by COVID-19 response efforts?
Will Early Intervention services be offered while schools are closed?
Are PA Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Programs expected to close?
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.
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:
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION (WC) BENEFITS
Two filing options:
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.
Additionally, expiration dates for driver licenses, identification cards, vehicle registrations, and safety and emission inspections will be extended:
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.
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.
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.
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/
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/.
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.
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/.
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