Your Update for 6-10-20
*This information is changing quickly, so be sure to check for any updated information.
We will be adding our daily updates to our website a week after publication. If you would like to receive RPG’s update as it comes out, please sign up here: eepurl.com/gKVAoP
Press Conference with Governor Wolf:
Today at 1:00 pm, Governor Wolf held a press conference to address the General Assembly’s resolution to terminate the COVID-19 disaster proclamation.
Governor Wolf announced that his administration will take legal action in regards to the General Assembly’s resolution to end the COVID-19 disaster proclamation. He stated that the legislature cannot unilaterally end the proclamation and detailed that the resolution would not end the business guidelines presented by the Department of Health.
Lastly, He outlined a few of the orders that would end, if the emergency proclamation was ended:
- Telehealth and other health care services provided by out-of-state providers for Pennsylvanians would end.
- License renewal and training requirement suspensions for health care professionals, child care workers, direct care workers, direct support professionals.
- Mortgage foreclosure and eviction moratoriums that offer protection to vulnerable Pennsylvanians at risk of losing their homes during the pandemic would end.
Update from the Pennsylvania Department of Health:
Secretary Levine and the Department of Health did not hold a press conference today. However, the Pennsylvania Department to Health did release an update today (June 10) on COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.
The number of cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania has reached 76,846, an increase of 410 cases from yesterday. There were 48 new deaths associated with COVID-19, bringing the total deaths in Pennsylvania to 6,062. There were 631 positive serology tests, which are counted as probable cases of COVID-19, and not confirmed cases.
There are 16,309 residential cases and 2,845 employee cases in 623 long-term care facilities in 45 counties, which includes nursing facilities and personal care facilities. There have been 4,199 reported deaths in long term care facilities due to COVID-19. Deaths in nursing and personal care facilities account for ~69% of the total deaths in Pennsylvania. Long-Term Care Facilities Dashboard.
72% of individuals who have contracted COVID-19 in Pennsylvania have recovered.
According to the Hospital Preparedness Dashboard, 45% of hospital beds, 38% of ICU beds, and ~77% of ventilators in Pennsylvania Hospitals are still available. A total of 5,837 COVID-19 cases are in healthcare workers.
An Update from DC:
Police Reform Package
The House held a hearing today on police reform and is considering a broad slate of proposals that could make it easier to prosecute and sue officers, ban federal officers from using chokeholds, create a national registry for police violations, and require police departments that take in federal funding to conduct bias training and use de-escalation tactics. House Republicans may unveil their proposal by Friday in an effort led by Jim Jordan.
Separately, House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey and others will discuss police and criminal justice policy changes with authorizing committee leaders and discuss ways to incorporate them into Appropriations legislation.
In the Senate, Republicans are studying proposals to improve police practices, including racial bias training, increased usage of body cameras, and finally enacting the first federal anti-lynching law. The task force that will write the Republicans’ proposal will be led by Sen. Tim Scott, the only black Senate Republican.
Meanwhile, Trump has spent the last 10 days working on issues that protesters have raised across the country, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said today. Trump’s response plan is in final edits and the White House hopes to produce it in “coming days,” McEnany said.
Future COVID-19 Response Package
At a Senate Committee today, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. needs additional fiscal relief, particularly for businesses struggling to reopen from coronavirus-related closures, even as he said the economy has started to recover. “There is still significant damage in parts of the economy,” Mnuchin told the Senate Small Business Committee. The next round of relief should include help for travel, retail and leisure businesses, and possibly more cash for households, he said.
In general, unemployment benefits are a key partisan sticking point in negotiations over the next stimulus bill. Republicans have criticized the extra $600 per week provided in the CARES Act. That encourages people to stay home and will weigh on the economic recovery, conservatives have said. Democrats, on the other hand, are hesitant to cut off additional funding at a time when millions are unemployed because of a pandemic.
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said yesterday he opposes an extension of the current $600 per week, and said lawmakers should wait until July to decide what to do.
Separately, Senate Republicans are drafting legislation, likely to be released next month, would allow employers to choose which government coronavirus safety guidelines to follow in order to be shielded from lawsuits if their customers or workers contract the virus, Sen. John Cornyn said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argues such a package is a “red line” for talks on the next big economic stimulus bill.
The Senate voted 79-18 today to move forward on the Great American Outdoors Act. Final passage could be seen early next week. The measure would permanently finance the Land and Water Conservation Fund at its $900 million authorized level per year.
Speaking to a group of biotech executives during a virtual conference for BIO, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was “almost certain” that more than one of the several potential coronavirus vaccines in development will be successful, with Phase 3 trials looming in July for at least one such candidate.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said research into COVID-19 remains “a work in progress,” warning that the pandemic “isn’t over yet.”
Health Care Facilities Recommendations
The Trump administration is recommending health-care facilities provide non-emergency care in areas of the country that are in the second phase of their reopening plans. Its recommendations were published yesterday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and focus on getting care for patients without access to telehealth, with serious underlying health conditions, or those at risk from complications without in-person care.
The CMS also is recommending that patients who are undergoing a procedure or operation, including people giving birth, need to be tested for the coronavirus 24 hours before the procedure or should self-quarantine for 14 days ahead of time.
The Senate voted 79-18 today to move forward on the Great American Outdoors Act, inching closer to passing what many say is the most significant conservation legislation in a generation. McConnell filed for cloture on the bill after today’s vote. Final passage is seen early next week. The measure would permanently finance the Land and Water Conservation Fund at its $900 million authorized level per year.
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.
You can review Governor Wolf’s Plan for Pennsylvania here.
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.
- Contract Tracing Plan
- Testing Strategy Plan
- Universal Testing in Nursing Homes
- Testing Guidance for COVID-19 in Long-Term Care Facilities and Healthcare Personnel
The red phase singularly purpose is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, non-life sustaining business and school closures. There are currently 0 counties in Phase Red
- Life Sustaining Businesses Only
- Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
- Schools (for in-person instruction) and Most Child Care Facilities Closed
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 33 counties in Phase Yellow. On June 12, an additional 12 counties will move into Phase Green.
- 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
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 34 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.
Guidance for Pennsylvania:
- Sports Operation Guidance
- Damaged Business Guidance *New
- School Reopening Guidance
- Childcare FAQs
- Restaurant Industry Guidance
- Business Guidance
- Business FAQs * New
- Real Estate Industry Guidance
- Construction Industry Guidance
- CDC Guidance for child care centers
- Life Sustaining Business FAQs
- Dental Health Care Personnel Guidance
Critical Needs Portals:
- Business-2-Business (B2B) Interchange Directory
- Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal.
- Manufacturing Call to Action Portal
- COVID-19 Job Portal
- Critical Medical Supplies Donations Portal
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.
June 10, 2020
Legislature Cannot End Disaster Declaration Unilaterally
Disaster Declaration is Separate from Secretary of Health Business Guideline Orders
Today, the Wolf Administration outlined the potential impact of ending the March 6 disaster declaration while clarifying that the legislature cannot end it unilaterally. The disaster declaration aids in speeding up the state’s response to the pandemic and provides protections for businesses, workers and residents. Importantly, ending the disaster declaration would not end any orders issued by the Secretary of Health that set guidelines for business operations.
Last night, the General Assembly voted to end the disaster declaration with many members claiming their actions ended the business guideline orders. That is not true. Not only does any concurrent resolution need to come to the Governor for approval or disapproval, but the disaster declaration is separate from the orders signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine under the Disease Prevention Act that include provisions for business reopening and for worker and building safety. Those orders remain in place. The legislature did nothing to end those.
Rather, the legislature chose to attempt to end the disaster declaration – a measure that would ostensibly end protections passed for businesses, workers, and residents.
If the declaration were to end, these protections would go away:
- Burdensome eligibility requirements for more than a million Unemployment Compensation claimants would immediately go back into effect, and employers across the commonwealth would no longer receive relief from charges.
- Certification requirements under the public-school code and child protective services law would end.
- A school meal eligibility waiver, which has allowed more than 300 meal sites to open for distribution of food to school-age children in need, would end.
- Telehealth and other health care services provided by out-of-state providers for Pennsylvanians would end.
June 10, 2020
The Wolf Administration today issued preliminary guidance for high school and recreational sports teams to resume voluntary workouts and other in-person activities in the state’s yellow and green phases. The guidance includes college and professional sports.
The preliminary guidance is a starting point for summer sports teams and the Wolf Administration will continue to work with stakeholders. The guidance for fall, winter and spring sports seasons may be updated.
College sports sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), including intramural and club sports, can resume in-person activity after developing an athletic health and safety plan in alignment with PDE’s Postsecondary Education Institutions and Adult Education Programs guidance.
June 10, 2020
Governor Tom Wolf today released updated guidance regarding the types of outdoor recreation that businesses may offer during the yellow and green phases of reopening, and how they may do so safely, as the commonwealth continues to open its own public recreation facilities across the state.
The new guidance allows outdoor activities like mountain biking, outdoor miniature golf, motorsports venues, go carts, rock climbing, disc golf, paintball, horse riding, tennis, archery or shooting, and other similar facilities that conduct operations outdoors to resume operation in yellow phase counties.
Capacity at beaches and pools will be limited to 50 percent of the normal facility capacity and mitigation measures, including restricting visitor parking, controlling facility access, ensuring social distancing and the wearing of face masks when not in the water, must remain in place. All Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance remains in effect.
This newsletter was prepared by Ridge Policy Group, a lobbying firm that has clients in every industry, including education, health care, and trade.