Department of Health Fixes Data System Issues and Publishes New Data

Your Update for 5-21-20

*This information is changing quickly, so be sure to check for any updated information.

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Press Conference with Secretary Levine:

At 1:30 p.m. on May 21, Secretary Levine held a press conference to provide an update on the COVID-19 situation, additional guidance and to answer questions. The Department of Health released yesterday’s data late last night, after resolving the issues with the state’s surveillance data system.

Secretary Levine gave an update on the number of cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth (+65,392), an increase of 980 cases. COVID-19 is in all of the Commonwealth’s counties. There were 102 new deaths associated with COVID-19, bringing the total deaths in Pennsylvania to 4,869.

There are 14,113 residential cases and 2,306 employee cases in 570 long-term care facilities in 44 counties, which includes nursing facilities and personal care facilities. There have been 3,234 reported deaths in long term care facilities due to COVID-19. Deaths in nursing or personal care facilities account for ~66% of the total deaths in Pennsylvania.

>> Read about DHS’ learning support network for long-term care facilities

According to the Hospital Preparedness Dashboard, 45% of hospital beds, 38% of ICU beds, and ~76% of ventilators in Pennsylvania Hospitals are still available. A total of 4,871 COVID-19 cases are in Healthcare workers.

As the Department of Health continues to reconcile the death records across the commonwealth, they will begin to post additional demographic information here. County-specific information and a statewide maps are available here. You can view the data on infections by COVID-19 in Pennsylvania here.

You can watch the daily press conference here.

An Update from DC:


Additional COVID-19 Response Packages

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Congress will very likely need to pass more stimulus legislation for the U.S. economy, as the nation struggles to recover from the outbreak. “I think there is a strong likelihood we will need another bill,” he said today at an online event hosted by the Hill newspaper, but he also reiterated the administration’s position that more stimulus isn’t needed immediately.

PPP Program Changes

The Senate may vote later today on changes to the Paycheck Protection Program by unanimous consent. The changes would extend the loan-forgiveness period for the program to as many as 16 weeks. The House yesterday announced that they would vote on such a measure next week.

Appropriations Update

The Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby met with President Donald Trump yesterday to discuss funding the government. He described the meeting as positive, but didn’t say there was an agreement on how to move forward. Senate appropriators have discussed exempting some Veterans Affairs funds from the Budget Control Act’s discretionary spending limits, but a senior administration official said earlier this month that executive branch officials are not considering any changes to the caps.

House appropriators have also discussed exempting other programs from the budget caps, saying coronavirus-related measures shouldn’t be limited by those constraints. House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro and Ranking Member Tom Cole have discussed exemptions for programs in their bill, including for the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as for the Food and Drug Administration.

Exempting regular appropriations from the discretionary spending caps would require lawmakers to either amend the Bipartisan Budget Act or include language in the appropriations bill designating it as emergency funds, both of which would need the president’s support.

Infrastructure bill

An infrastructure bill “will be coming soon,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters yesterday. It will include funds for post office modernization, she said. An infrastructure bill is seen as a tool to boost our economy in the aftermath of COVID-19.

PPP Program Guidelines

The SBA provided the attached notice to inform lenders of the reporting process through which PPP lenders will report on PPP loans and collect the processing fee on fully disbursed loans which they are eligible to receive.

Business Community:

Governor Wolf’s Plan to Reopen Pennsylvania:

On April 22, Governor Wolf announced his plan to reopen Pennsylvania, focusing on a regional decision making approach. Along with the previous standards the Governor announced last week, he highlighted that the data-driven decision making process will be done in consultation with Carnegie Mellon University.

Their metrics will focus heavily on a regional approach that is built on a population based incidence rate of 50 new confirmed cases per 100,000 population reported to the department in the previous 14 days.

An example: An area with a population of 800,000 people would need to have fewer than 400 new confirmed cases reported in the past 14 days to meet the target.

The first regions that the administration will target are the north-central and the north-west regions of PA, with a goal of moving them from phase red to phase yellow on May 8.

The three color phases determine when regions are ready to begin easing restrictions on businesses, stay-at-home orders, large gatherings, child care and more. The three phases are red, yellow and green, with the entire state currently in the red phase. Movement between phases will be based on the population incidence rate above.

Red Phase:

The red phase singularly purpose is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, non-life sustaining business and school closures. 30 counties are currently in Phase Red, however 12 additional counties will move to Phase Yellow on May 22.

  • Life Sustaining Businesses Only
  • Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
  • Schools (for in-person instruction) and Most Child Care Facilities Closed

Yellow Phase:

The stated purpose of the yellow phase is begin to power back up the economy, while maintaining social distancing while easing restrictions on certain businesses and travel. However, the Department of Health will maintain strict monitoring over public health data to contain COVID-19. Guidance for businesses in Counties in the Yellow Phase. There are currently 37 counties currently in Phase Yellow, however 12 additional counties will move to Phase Yellow on May 22.

  • Telework Must Continue Where Feasible
  • Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Business and Building Safety Orders
  • Child Care Open with Worker and Building Safety Orders
  • Stay-at-Home Restrictions Lifted in Favor of Aggressive Mitigation
  • Large Gatherings Prohibited
  • In-Person Retail Allowable, Curbside and Delivery Preferable
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities (such as gyms, spas), and all Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) Remain Closed
  • Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only

Green Phase

The green phase should facilitate a return to a “new normal”, by easing most restrictions on stay-at-home orders and business closures. Strict adherence to CDC and Health department guidelines are required, and similar to the yellow phase, monitoring of public health data will continue. There are currently 0 counties in Phase Green.

  • All Businesses Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines
  • Aggressive Mitigation Orders Lifted
  • All Individuals Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines

The standards previously highlighted by Governor Wolf:

  • Our approach will be data driven and reliant upon quantifiable criteria to drive a targeted, evidence-based, regional approach to reopenings in Pennsylvania.
  • We will put forth guidance and recommendations for employers, individuals, and health care facilities for assured accountability as we reopen.
  • Reopening necessitates that adequate personal protective equipment and diagnostic testing are available.
  • Reopening requires a monitoring and surveillance program that allows the commonwealth to be deploy swift actions for containment or mitigation.
  • Protections for vulnerable populations must remain steadfast throughout the reopening process, such as limitations on visitors to congregate care facilities and prisons.
  • Limitations on large gatherings unrelated to occupations should remain in place for the duration of the reopening process.

Industry Guidance:

Critical Needs Portals:

The application for the COVID-19 Working Capital Access program is closed. The program reportedly received roughly 900 applications requesting roughly $75 million. The program’s original appropriation was $60 million. A link to the DCED page can be found here. The first round of funding was announced on April 20, you can find information on the funded projects here.

With the application closed for the CWCA, please look into the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program or the Paycheck Projection Program.

You can find the application for the Paycheck Protection Program here.

You can find the application for the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan, here.

Press Releases:

Gov. Wolf Signs Cocktails-to-Go Bill

May 21, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf today signed House Bill 327, now Act 21 of 2020, allowing the temporary sale of cocktails-to-go from bars, restaurants or hotels with a liquor license. The law takes effect immediately.

The law applies to bars, restaurants and hotels that have lost 25 percent of average monthly total sales during the COVID-19 emergency. The beverages must be sold in containers with a secure lid in quantities from 4 oz. to 64 oz. before 11 p.m. An additional seal is required on the straw opening of a lid. Within 60 days, bars and restaurants must use a transaction scan device to verify a consumer’s age if the person appears to be younger than 35 years of age.

The temporary rule expires after the COVID-19 disaster emergency ends and a business reaches 60 percent capacity.

Pennsylvania’s open container law applies.

You can read the full press release here.

Human Services: Learning and Support Network is Helping Long-Term Care Facilities during COVID-19

May 21, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation today provided an update on the Educational Support and Clinical Coaching Program (ESCCP), a learning network established by DHS and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation in early April and supported by seven health systems around Pennsylvania that provides technical assistance and educational support to long-term care facilities in light of the current pandemic. The ESCCP hosts webinars and provides direct outreach and support to long-term care facilities including personal care homes and assisted living facilities.

More than 45,000 Pennsylvanians live in more than 1,200 personal care homes and assisted living residences throughout the commonwealth, and these residents are some of the most vulnerable and susceptible to COVID-19. These facilities may not have access to the clinical staff that is more typical in nursing facilities, and as such direct care workers in these settings may be less prepared to deal with the challenges raised by COVID-19. To help support these facilities DHS, in partnership with health care systems and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, launched the ESCCP to help these facilities handle COVID-19 and related issues.

DHS’s Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) directly contacted personal care homes and assisted living facilities to conduct preliminary needs assessments. When needs are identified, they are referred to one of the partner health systems: Allegheny Health Network, Geisinger, Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, the Wright Center, or University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. This network can provide real-time support through telehealth networks. 

You can read the full press release here.

Wolf Administration Awards $9.6 million in Grants to Help the Charitable Food System

May 21, 2020

DEP awards will go to 145 projects to help prevent hunger and food waste

The Wolf Administration will be awarding more than $9 million to non-profit entities for projects to fight hunger and prevent food waste. The awards come from the expanded Food Recovery Infrastructure grant program announced in April.

Grants will allow food banks, shelters and soup kitchens to cover the costs of equipment purchases necessary to prepare, transport and store food acquired from retailers, wholesalers, farms, processors and cooperatives. Examples of eligible equipment that will be funded include refrigerated or non-refrigerated box trucks, industrial-sized refrigerators, pallet jacks and/or dollies. Installation and shipping costs were also eligible for support.

The recipients of the 145 awards include food banks, soup kitchens and churches from across the commonwealth.

The full list of recipients is here.

You can read the full press release here.

Limited Services Available at Additional PennDOT Driver License and Photo License Centers in Yellow Phase Counties

May 21, 2020

Also Offering Designated Hours for Customers 60 and Older

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today that beginning Friday, May 22, 2020, additional Driver License and Photo License Centers in yellow phase counties will reopen, adhering to restrictions on work and social interaction set by Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

These re-openings are in addition to those previously announced on May 14, 2020.  

The following driver license centers will reopen with limited services beginning Friday, May 22:

  • Gettysburg Driver and Photo License Center, 37 North 4th Street, Gettysburg;
  • Beaver Falls Driver and Photo License Center, 2580 Constitution Boulevard, Beaver Falls;
  • Carlisle Driver and Photo License Center, 950 Walnut Bottom Road, Suite 13, Carlisle;
  • Summerdale Driver and Photo License Center, 429 North Enola Road, Enola;
  • Lewistown Driver and Photo License Center, 13217 Ferguson Valley Road, Yeagertown; and
  • York Driver and Photo License Center, 2130 South Queen Street, York;

You can review the hours of operations, safety guidelines and more here.

Wolf Administration Grants Second Extension to License to Carry Firearm Permits

May 21, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania State Police announced today that Governor Tom Wolf has granted an additional extension to license to carry firearms permits. Permits, which expired on March 19, 2020 or later, have now been extended to July 31, 2020. The previous extension was set to expire on May 30.

The extension of license to carry permit expiration dates is necessary due to the closure of some county courthouses and sheriff’s offices, as well as other ongoing COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

You can read the full press release here.

Written by

Ridge Policy Group

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