Gov. Wolf Announces Reception of $523 Emergency Funding to Support Schools

Your Update for 5-13-20

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

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Press Conference with Secretary Levine:

At 2:00 p.m. on May 13, 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 (+58,698), an increase of 707 cases. COVID-19 is in all of the Commonwealth’s counties. There were 137 new deaths associated with COVID-19, bringing the total deaths in Pennsylvania to 3,943.

There are 12,408 residential cases and 1,806 employee cases in 543 long-term care facilities in 44 counties, which includes nursing facilities and personal care facilities. There have been 2,705 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 also announced that the commonwealth has received and distributed 1,200 doses of remdesivir. This drug was approved by the FDA, and “may help decrease the amount of coronavirus in your body, which may help you get better faster.” Doses were distributed to 51 hospitals throughout the commonwealth, based on the number and severity of cases.

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 4,066 COVID-19 cases are in Healthcare workers.

County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. You can view the data on infections by COVID-19 in Pennsylvania here.

>> Check out Gov. Wolf’s Announcement of the Emergency Federal Funding for Schools.

You can watch the daily press conference here.

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.

Real Estate Industry Guidance

On April 28, Secretary Kathy Boockvar of the Pennsylvania Department of State issued a revised guidance for Real Estate Professionals, Appraisers, Notaries, Titles Companies and Home Inspectors.

The guidance includes instructions and limitations on in-person authorized activities, virtual/telework appraisals, and compliance with orders from the Department of Health. According to the guidance:

“Failure to strictly adhere to the requirements of this guidance may result in disciplinary actions up to and including suspension of licensure.”

Construction Industry Guidance

On April 23, Governor Wolf announced that beginning on May 1, 2020, all businesses in the construction industry are permitted to maintain in-person operations. This announcement was issued in the Construction Industry Guidance

Businesses that have questions about whether this guidance applies to them may email the Department of Labor and Industry at RA-LIBOIS-BUILDINGS@pa.gov.

Critical Medical Supplies Donations Portal:

On April 23, Governor Wolf & the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency announced the launch of the PA Critical Donation Portal.

The portal is designed for individuals, corporations or community organizations to inform the commonwealth of critical medical supplies available for donation. Donations will be distributed to hospitals, medical facilities and emergency management services.

Additional Critical Needs Portals:

Accelerated Sales Tax (AST) Prepayments:

Governor Wolf announced on April 14 that businesses that collect PA sales tax will not have to make Accelerated Sales Tax (AST) prepayments over the next three months.

Please visit the Department of Revenue’s page on Accelerated Sales Tax Prepayments for more information on prepayments.

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:

Pennsylvania Receives $523 Million in One-Time Federal Emergency Funds to Support Schools

May 13, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf announced today that the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has approved Pennsylvania’s application for $523.8 million in one-time federal emergency funds to help schools respond to COVID-19 impacts.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) submitted its Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund application to USDE last week.

Beginning today, local education agencies (LEAs) can apply to PDE to receive their allocation of the funding and can expect to start receiving funds within the next several weeks.

View a list of what each school district and charter school will receive in ESSER funds.

You can read the full press release here.

COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program Provides Funding Assistance to Additional Pennsylvania Businesses

May 13, 2020

$12 Million in New Funds Awarded to Businesses in 37 Counties

Harrisburg, PA – Today, on behalf of Governor Tom Wolf, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced that 148 companies in 37 counties have received $12 million in funding in the fourth disbursement of the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA). The latest cohort of businesses to receive funding includes restaurants, athletic facilities, caterers, childcare facilities, dental practices, and more. To date, nearly $50 million was awarded to a number of diverse businesses across Pennsylvania.

View the list of approved projects. New projects are highlighted in yellow.

On March 25, 2020, Governor Wolf announced that the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) authorized the transfer of $40 million to the Small Business First Fund for CWCA. PIDA authorized making $61 million available to provide loans of $100,000 or less to for-profit businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees.

You can read the full press release here.

155 More Fine Wine & Good Spirits to Begin Limited In-Store Public Access in Yellow Phase Counties on May 15

May 13, 2020

Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board today announced that 155 more Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores in counties designated in the yellow phase of COVID-19 mitigation efforts will resume limited in-store public access beginning Friday, May 15, abiding by guidance for businesses issued by the Wolf Administration detailing social distancing requirements and other best practices in the interest of public health and safety. 

Effective Friday, a total of 232 Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores in 36 counties will allow limited in-store public access.

The following mitigation efforts will be in place as these stores resume limited in-store public access: 

  • Stores will limit the number of customers in a store at any time, allowing no more than 25 people (employees and customers) in any location and further restricting numbers of customers in smaller stores. 
  • The first hour each store is open each day will be reserved for customers at high risk for COVID-19, including those 65 years of age and older. Voluntary compliance from all customers is encouraged in the interest of protecting the health and safety of our most vulnerable community members.
  •  Customers and employees will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing, guided by signage throughout the stores.  

You can review the full list of mitigation efforts here.

Department of Human Services Reminds Pennsylvanians Online Services are Available

May 13, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) is reminding Pennsylvanians that while all county assistance offices (CAOs) statewide remain closed to the public, online services remain available.

CAOs in counties moving to the yellow phase will reopen following adjustments to facilities necessary to keep staff and clients safe. Pennsylvanians are encouraged to use DHS’ online applications and resources to apply for benefits or submit paperwork as necessary.

The following key services can be accessed online through COMPASS and the myCOMPASS PA mobile app without going into the CAO:

  • Apply for Medical Assistance, cash assistance, SNAP or LIHEAP (only on COMPASS)
  • Submit benefit renewal information
  • Review benefits and case record information
  • Report a change in case information
  • Upload verification documents

You can read the full press release here.

Secretary of Agriculture Urges Congressional Support of Pennsylvania’s Vital Agriculture, Food Industries through Federal Stimulus

May 13, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding this week wrote to Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation asking for urgent support of Pennsylvania’s agriculture and food industries that have continued to operate and sustain life in the commonwealth despite the great risk, stress, uncertainty, and disruption brought by COVID-19.

Below are some of the suggested supports Redding outlined in the letter:

Workforce support and protections:

  • To include funding for Personal Protective Equipment for the entire agriculture industry and food supply chain, from farmers to grocery store workers;
  • Funding for infrastructure investments for enhanced worker safety in food processing facilities, grocery stores, farmers markets, restaurants, on-farms, and seasonal farm labor camp housing;
  • And support for a federal tax holiday for grocery and convenience store employees from February 15 through June 15 for individuals making less than $75,000 annually.

You can read the full press release here.

Department of Health Distributes Drug to Help Treat COVID-19 Patients in Hospitals

May 12, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Health today distributed the investigational antiviral medication, remdesivir, to treat patients in the hospital with COVID-19. The federal government distributed the first shipment of 1,200 doses to the department on Tuesday, May 12, and this entire allotment has been shipped to Pennsylvania hospitals.

Fifty-one hospitals across Pennsylvania will be receiving the first shipment over the next few days. The hospitals that will receive the first shipments were determined based on the number of COVID-19 patients at the hospital over a recent seven-day period, and the severity of the illness of those patients, based on whether they are on a ventilator. The department will continue to work with our federal partners to acquire more doses of this medication to serve more patients across Pennsylvania.

Remdesivir is given to a patient through an IV once per day for up to 10 days, depending on how critically ill the patient is. According to the FDA, remdesivir may help decrease the amount of coronavirus in your body, which may help you get better faster.

You can read the full press release here.

Written by

Ridge Policy Group

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