Gov. Wolf Announces 13 new Counties Moving to Phase Yellow

Daily Update: 5-8-20

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

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Press Conference with Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine:

At 2:00 p.m. on May 8, Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine held a press conference to provide an update on the situation, additional guidance and to answer questions.

Governor Wolf announced that 13 more counties are being moved from Phase Red to Phase Yellow on Friday, May 15. These 13 western counties comprise nearly 2.7 million residents in Pennsylvania.4

The 13 counties announced by Governor Wolf are: Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.

Secretary Levine gave an update on the number of cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth (+54,238), an increase of 1,323 cases. COVID-19 is in all of the Commonwealth’s counties. Due to the continued data reconciliation, the Department of Health has reported an increase of 200 new deaths, which have occurred over the past several weeks. This increase brings the total deaths in Pennsylvania to 3,616.

There are 10,919 residential cases and 1,542 employee cases in 522 long-term care facilities in 44 counties, which includes nursing facilities and personal care facilities. There have been 2,458 reported deaths in long term care facilities due to COVID-19. Deaths in nursing or personal care facilities account for ~68% of the total deaths in Pennsylvania.

Secretary Levine highlighted that 45% of hospital beds, 39% of ICU beds, and ~72% of ventilators in Pennsylvania Hospitals are still available.

A total of 3,553 cases are in Healthcare workers, and another 2,122 are in workers from the Food Industry in 127 facilities in the commonwealth.

County-specific information and a statewide map 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:

Fourth COVID-19 Recovery Package

The House is working on the final touches of another COVID-19 response package. House leadership plans to introduce a package next week, and the House could vote on the package as soon as the end of the next week. The future of this version of a package is unclear, with little negotiation taking place with the Republican-led Senate thus far.

House Schedule

As noted below, the House could meet again next week. There will likely be a vote next week on changing rules to let members cast proxy votes for absent colleagues as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Leaders promised a 72-hour notice before a vote would occur to allow for travel to Washington.

Senate Schedule

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday called for passage — without amendments — next week of House-passed legislation (H.R. 6172) that would restore legal authorities that lapsed March 15 for two different types of surveillance and the collection of relevant business records.

The Senate returns Monday at 3 p.m., with a 5:30 vote to invoke cloture, or limit debate, on the nomination of Brian D. Montgomery to be deputy secretary of the Housing and Urban Development Department.

Appropriations Update

Some House appropriators are wrapping up a first draft of their fiscal 2021 spending bills today, though plenty of issues are still up in the air due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus response, according to a key lawmaker. Subcommittee leaders were given top-line figures for their bills—known as 302(b) allocations after the section of the Congressional Budget Act—about a month ago, when they began drafting spending bills from home. Due to these caps, it is expected that there will not be significant funding increases.

NDAA Update

The fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization bill likely will be among the first measures the House will consider when lawmakers return to Washington, according to Rep. Mac Thornberry (Texas). “I am pretty optimistic at this point that we will have a national defense authorization bill work its way through the House Armed Services Committee and to the floor under a normal process,” Thornberry, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, told reporters yesterday.

COVID-19 Testing

The Food and Drug Administration said on Friday that it had granted emergency authorization for the first at-home saliva collection kit to test for the coronavirus. The test kit was developed by a Rutgers University laboratory, called RUCDR Infinite Biologics, in partnership with Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostic Labs. They will cost about $100 each, Rutgers said, and must be ordered by a physician.

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 Announces 13 Counties will Move to Yellow Phase of Reopening on May 15

May 08, 2020

Today Governor Tom Wolf announced 13 Pennsylvania counties will move to the yellow phase of reopening at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 15. Those counties include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.

On May 1, the governor announced the 24 counties moving into the yellow phase of reopening beginning today. And, last evening, he and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed new orders – one for yellow phase reopening and one to extend the red phase counties’ stay-at-home order, which was set to expire last night, to June 4. The red phase stay-at-home order extension does not mean that other counties won’t move to the yellow phase in advance of June 4.

Read CDC guidance for child care centers here.

Read FAQs here. View the Carnegie Mellon University Risk-Based Decision Support Tool here

You can read the full press release here.

Gov. Wolf, Sec. of Health Take Actions on Stay-at-Home Orders, Issue Yellow Phase Orders

May 07, 2020

The extended stay-at-home order remains the same as the original statewide stay-at-home order announced on April 1, which was set to expire tonight at midnight and is now extended to June 4. The yellow phase order provides guidance for those counties entering the yellow phase of reopening tomorrow.

The yellow phase order applies to these 24 counties: Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren.

The yellow phase order also addresses the limited reopening of businesses in the yellow phase, detailing those businesses previously deemed non-life-sustaining as being permitted to reopen if they follow the guidance for safety for staff, customers, and facility. The guidance for businesses can be found here.

FAQs for businesses in each phase can be found here.

You can read the full press release here.

Department of Health Releases Revised Dental Health Care Guidance for Treating Patients during COVID-19 Pandemic

May 08, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Health today released the revised dental health care guidance as part of Governor Tom Wolf’s strategic, phased COVID-19 reopening plan. Governor Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine have revised their business closure orders issued on March 19 to remove the prohibition on non-urgent and non-emergent, dental procedures. Those orders were issued yesterday , May 7. 

Dental providers must follow protocols outlined by the CDC and OSHA for all procedures. If they are unable to follow protocols, then the procedure should not be done. Providers may perform non-aerosolizing, non-urgent and non-emergent care only if proper personal protective equipment, per OSHA guidance, is available for all dental care practitioners, including dental hygienists. Providers should regularly check CDC guidance when providing care as recommendations and guidance could change frequently.

You can read the full press release here.

Human Services Launches Emergency Assistance Program to Help Low-Income Families amidst COVID-19

May 08, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today announced an Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) to help low-income families who lost wages experiencing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Families who qualify will be eligible for a one-time payment to assist them in meeting basic needs and help them secure more stable financial footing in the future.

The program will use existing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to provide support to low-income families who qualify. The program will be open to families with a child under the age of 18 or a woman who is currently pregnant. In order to qualify, families must have at least one person in the household who was employed as of March 11, 2020 and experienced an hour or wage reduction of at least 50 percent for two weeks or more or lost employment entirely due to the public health crisis.

Families must meet income limits of 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and have no more than $1,000 in a savings or checking account.

You can read the full press release here.

Wolf Administration Provides Guidance for Buildings Closed During COVID-19

May 08, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – As businesses in counties enter the Yellow Phase of the state’s reopening plan, the Pennsylvania departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Health (DOH) are encouraging owners and operators of dormant buildings to flush building water systems prior to reopening. Buildings that have been closed or used less frequently for an extended period of time may experience problems with water quality due to stagnation.  

In the days leading up to reopening, the following recommendations and considerations should be made, and a team of facilities staff or a water management consultant will be needed to prepare the water system.

Buildings that have been closed or used less frequently should consider the following measures:

  • Develop a flushing plan
  • Identify where the water enters the building, all taps (faucets, shower heads, water fountains), and water-using devices (dishwashers, ice machines)
  • Remove any potential cross connections, such as hoses connected to spigots, to prevent backflow into plumbing systems
  • Remove aerators when possible

You can read the entire guidance here.

L&I Provides Update on Appeal Process for Certain UC Claimants

May 08, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is advising that anyone who receives a denial of their unemployment compensation (UC) claim after the time for appeal has expired and believes the denial was incorrect, may still file an appeal.

When the department makes a UC eligibility determination, the claimant and their employer are both sent a copy of that decision. Under the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law, determinations become final unless an appeal is timely filed.

You can read the full press release here.

Written by

Ridge Policy Group


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