Gov. Wolf Announces New Real Estate Industry Guidance

Your Update for 5-19-20

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

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Press Conference with Governor Wolf and Treasurer Torsella:

At 11:30 a.m. on May 19, Governor Wolf and State Treasurer Joe Torsella held a press conference in order to make an announcement regarding the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.

Governor Wolf announced that he had signed HB 1076, which authorized the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program to release rebates earlier than July 1. The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program provides rebates to Pennsylvanian’s 65 and older, with individuals with disabilities over the age of 18 on their rent or property taxes .

>> Read about Gov. Wolf’s announcement that the real estate industry can conduct limited business transactions.

Treasurer Torsella discussed the plan for the early distribution. Typically the rebate is released on July 1 in one large batch, however due to the concerns surrounding COVID-19, 111,000 approved applicants will receive their rebate today. Afterwards, they plan on processing and distributing funds to 60,000 applicants a week. The maximum rebate can range from $650 to $975.

You can watch Governor Wolf’s press conferences here.

Press Conference with Secretary Levine:

At 2:00 p.m. on May 19, Secretary Levine held a press conference to provide an update on the COVID-19 situation, additional guidance and to answer questions.

Secretary Levine gave an update on the number of cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth (+63,666), an increase of 610 cases. COVID-19 is in all of the Commonwealth’s counties. There were 119 new deaths associated with COVID-19, bringing the total deaths in Pennsylvania to 4,624.

There are 13,813 residential cases and 2,191 employee cases in 557 long-term care facilities in 44 counties, which includes nursing facilities and personal care facilities. There have been 3,145 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.

>> Read about the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ announcement on a phased reopening of more state park and forest facilities.

Secretary Levine announced that the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services have released data on COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania. You can view the released data. Of note, facilities with less than 5 cases, had its name redacted from the list in order to protect the individual’s privacy. As well, Secretary Levine highlighted that the CDC has sent three teams to assistant in Pennsylvania’s response to COVID-19. Two teams are focusing on long-term care facilities, and one team is focused on food facilities.

According to the Hospital Preparedness Dashboard, 45% of hospital beds, 38% of ICU beds, and ~75% of ventilators in Pennsylvania Hospitals are still available.  A total of 4,600 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:

Future COVID-19 Response Packages

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell today said to reporters about future COVID-19 response efforts: “we need to assess what we have already been doing, take a look at what worked and what didn’t, and we’ll discuss the way forward in the next couple of weeks.”

Senate Banking Committee Hearing

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Chairman of the Fed Powell testified before the Senate Small Business Committee today. At the hearing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he plans to use all of the $500 billion that Congress provided to help the economy through direct lending from his agency and by backstopping Federal Reserve lending programs. Mnuchin said he has pledged to use $195 billion of those funds so far, and will use the rest after determining how best to deploy the money to help losses associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

Powell reiterated his stance that more fiscal aid may be needed, but noted several times that he makes comments on fiscal policy on a general level and wouldn’t discuss specific provisions. He also said “we are committed to using our full range of tools to support the economy in this challenging time even as we recognize that these actions are only a part of a broader public-sector response.”

Deregulation Executive Order

President Trump says he will sign executive order on deregulation shortly. More details will be announced shortly.

Paycheck Protection Program

Yesterday, the Small Business Administration released a Summary of PPP lending to date.

Separately, the Small Business Administration posted guidance for entities with foreign affiliates under the Paycheck Protection Program.

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:

Governor Wolf Announces Real Estate Industry May Conduct Limited Business Transactions Statewide

May 19, 2020             

Governor Amendment to the Business Closure Order
Secretary of Health Amendment to the Business Closure Order

Governor Tom Wolf today announced that starting today, businesses and employees in the real estate industry may conduct limited business-related activities statewide and provided guidance for this industry to operate in red phase and yellow phase counties.

Previously, businesses and employees in the real estate industry were permitted to conduct limited in-person activities in counties in the yellow phase of the commonwealth’s phased reopening plan.

The real estate guidance requires businesses and employees to follow all applicable provisions of the Guidance for Businesses Permitted to Operate During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of Employees and the Public, which includes provisions requiring that every person present at a work site, business location, or property offered for sale, wear masks/face coverings, and provisions requiring the establishment of protocols for execution upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.

All in-person activities should be scheduled and limited to no more than the real estate professional and two people inside a property at any time, exercising appropriate social distancing.

You can read the full press release here.

Wolf Administration Releases Data on COVID-19 Cases by Long-Term Care Facility

May 19, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today released data on the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths at long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania.

The data provides the number of cases, number of employee cases and number of deaths that have occurred at each facility. For facilities with less than five in any of these data points, the information is redacted.

You can read the full press releases here.

Gov. Wolf, Treasurer Torsella Announce Property Tax/Rent Rebates Arriving Early to Help Seniors, Others during COVID-19 Pandemic

May 19, 2020

 Governor Tom Wolf and Treasurer Joe Torsella today announced that many older homeowners, renters and people with disabilities will receive early rebates through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Rebates are typically issued starting July 1, but the governor and treasurer are issuing the rebates starting tomorrow to approved applicants. The governor also signed HB 1076 today, which authorizes the early distribution.

The distribution of rebates by the Department of Revenue and Treasury is different than prior years. Rather than a large distribution of rebates on July 1, rebates will be processed and distributed on a first-in-first-out basis. This gradual process means some claimants will receive their rebates earlier than others.

Steps to follow if You Haven’t Submitted Your Application
For eligible applicants who have yet to file their Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program application, the Department of Revenue is offering help for those who need it. Eligible claimants are encouraged to call 1-888-222-9190 for guidance. Please keep in mind that department staff will work as quickly as possible to help claimants with their applications.

Applicants are encouraged to obtain the Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim form (PA-1000) and related information on the Department of Revenue’s website.

You can read the full press release here.

Gov. Wolf Vetoes SB 327, HB 2388 and HB 2412

May 19, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf today vetoed three bills related to the state’s response to COVID-19 that violate the separation of powers and make other changes that go against the administration’s measured plan for reopening the state safely.

Senate Bill 327 would authorize counties to develop and implement their own mitigation plans and decide when businesses within their county can reopen and includes a provision that prohibits commonwealth agencies from performing an essential governmental operation, the promulgation of regulations, until 90 days after the COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration is terminated unless the legislature grants permission for a regulation to advance.

House Bill 2388 and House Bill 2412 would allow various industries to reopen in red phase counties.

Read the veto message for SB 327 here. Read the veto message for HB 2388 here. Read the veto message for HB 2412 here.

You can read the full press release here.

Governor Wolf: PA Food Distributors Receive $50 Million for Farmers to Families Food Boxes

May 19, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf announced today that Pennsylvania food distributors will receive more than $50 million of $1.2 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box program. Money will fund the purchase of surplus milk and other dairy products, as well as chicken, pork and fresh produce from Pennsylvania farmers who lost markets for their products due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Distributors will work with food banks and other non-profit organizations statewide to get food boxes to PA families who are facing food insecurity.

A complete listing of contracts awarded can be found on the USDA website. Pennsylvania contracts were awarded as follows.

You can read the full press release here.

DCNR Announces Plans to Reopen More State Park, Forest Facilities

​​May 19, 2020

Harrisburg, PA — Today, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced a phased reopening of more state park and forest facilities in keeping with Governor Wolf’s direction to ensure Pennsylvanians have opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor recreation and help maintain positive physical and mental health.

In the latest counties announced as yellow Friday, May 15, as well as earlier additional counties announced as yellow, park and forest offices will open Friday, May 22. Tent and RV camping also will open Friday, May 22. Facilities such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and yurts in most recent rounds of announced yellow counties will open Friday, June 12.

In counties first announced as yellow, park and forest district offices and tent and RV camping reopened Friday, May 15. Facilities such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and yurts will open Friday, June 12.

The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County, also reopened Friday, May 15.

Read the full press release here.

Department of Health Announces CDC Teams to Assist in Pennsylvania COVID-19 Response

May 18, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sent three teams to Pennsylvania to assist with the COVID-19 response. 

These teams arrived in Pennsylvania on Thursday, May 14. Since then, they have been working to become familiar with the situation across the state so they can begin providing assistance to locations in need. There are two teams assisting long-term care facilities and one team assisting food facility outbreaks.

The CDC teams will be onsite in Pennsylvania for two weeks to help in the response using their expertise. These teams will help assess the situation, teach infection control practices, and offer training on personal protective equipment (PPE) and outbreak response at the facilities they visit. They will also assist with developing a testing strategy for the nursing homes they visit and use their expertise to help cohort residents.

Read the full press release here.

Written by

Ridge Policy Group


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