Gov. Wolf Discusses Downward Trajectory of COVID-19 Cases

Your Update for 6-17-20

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Press Conference with Governor Wolf and an Update from the Department of Health:

At 3:30 p.m. on June 17, Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine held a press conference to provide an update on COVID-19 in Commonwealth, the decreasing number of cases in the Commonwealth and how Pennsylvanian’s can continue to protect themselves during the reopening.

Governor Wolf discussed that Pennsylvania is one of three states with a continued decrease of COVID-19 cases.  The Governor attributed the continued success to the continued social distancing, and mask policies throughout the commonwealth adopted by the people of Pennsylvania.

>>Four universities received funding for COVID-19 response through the manufacturing innovation challenge

Secretary Levine did not discuss the COVID-19 data today. However, the Pennsylvania Department to Health did release an update today (June 17) on COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania has reached 79,818, an increase of 355 cases from yesterday. There were 43 new deaths associated with COVID-19, bringing the total deaths in Pennsylvania to 6,319. There were 629 positive serology tests, which are counted as probable cases of COVID-19.

There are 16,774 residential cases and 2,966 employee cases in 649 long-term care facilities in 47 counties, which includes nursing facilities and personal care facilities. There have been 4,331 reported deaths in long term care facilities due to COVID-19. Deaths in nursing and personal care facilities account for ~68% of the total deaths in Pennsylvania. Long-Term Care Facilities Dashboard.

75% 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 ~79% of ventilators in Pennsylvania Hospitals are still available. A total of 6,060 COVID-19 cases are in healthcare workers.

An Update from DC:

Police Reform Bill

Republican Senator Tim Scott today released a broad proposal that would revamp policing practices. The bill would require de-escalation training for local police officers, increase the use of body cameras, and make lynching a federal crime. It would also require police departments to provide detailed information to the Justice Department about incidents where officers used excessive force and about their use of “no-knock” search warrants or risk losing up to 25% of their federal funds.

The bill would not make it easier to prosecute and sue law enforcement officers, which is emerging as a significant point of contention between Republicans and Democrats on the issue.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wants the legislation on the chamber’s floor next week. Leader Mitch McConnell also said any police-reform bill must be bipartisan to have any chance of becoming law and calls for amendments from both sides of the aisle.

However, in response to the Senate bill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the GOP plan “does not rise to the moment” and would need “dramatic improvement” to win Democratic support. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress must take “action that is real” and not just require studies on the issue.

House Democrats plan to bring their own plan to the House floor next week.

Appropriations Update

While the Senate had planned to begin markups of FY21 spending bills next week, that is being delayed due to disagreements over coronavirus and criminal justice amendments.

Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee have told Republicans they plan to offer amendments on additional spending for the COVID-19 response and on issues relevant to other legislation on policing. Republicans don’t believe those amendments belong in spending bills.

Paycheck Protection Program

Treasury and the Small Business Administration released two versions of the Paycheck Protection Program forgiveness form on Wednesday, including a shorter, simplified version that requires fewer calculations and less documentation.

Borrowers must meet certain conditions to take advantage of the shorter form, including that their business activity declined as a direct result of Covid-19 restrictions and that they didn’t reduce staff pay by more than 25%.

Along with the forms, the agencies also issued an updated interim final rule reflecting compensation caps for both the 8-week covered period under an earlier version of the program and the new, extended period.

Vaccine Development

The Trump administration is targeting a deadline of January 2021 to have a coronavirus vaccine available to the public, according to two officials, who said the government has worked closely with the pharmaceutical industry to expedite development and have enough supplies available then to begin vaccinating Americans. A potential COVID-19 vaccine would be free to those who are vulnerable to infection but can’t afford it, and insurance companies would not charge members a co-pay.

Pandemic Response Accountability Committee Report

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee released a report on key challenges facing U.S. federal agencies in COVID-19 relief and response efforts. “Areas of concern include both the need for accurate information concerning pandemic-related spending and the significant amount of money federal agencies may lose as the result of improper payments.

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.

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.

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. 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

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. With 12 additional counties moving to Phase Green, there are 21 counties in Phase Yellow. Eight additional Counties will move from Phase Yellow to Phase Green on June 19.

  • 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. 12 new counties moved to Phase Green on June 12, increasing the total count of counties in Phase Green to 46. Eight additional counties moving to Phase Green on June 19.

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:

Critical Needs Portals:

COVID19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Grants:

On June 8, Governor Wolf announced a $225 million grant program for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Today, June 11, the Department of Community and Economic Development released guidelines for the use of funds and additional application information.

  • $100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program
  • $100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program
  • $25 million for the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program

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.

Press Releases:

Gov. Wolf: PA is One of Three States Recognized by CDC for COVID-19 Reduction Success

June 17, 2020

As states across the country begin to reopen and nearly half are seeing COVID-19 cases rise, Governor Tom Wolf announced Friday that Pennsylvania is not one of them.

Today at a daily COVID briefing with Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, he noted another milestone: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proprietary data for states indicates that we are one of just three states that has had a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases for more than 42 days. The other two states are Montana and Hawaii.

According to other data analyses, including those by Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center and The New York Times, Pennsylvania’s steady decline in cases since April put the state among a select few that continue a flattening of the curve. This distinction is particularly important as more counties reopen.

You can read the full press release here.

Gov. Wolf: Four Universities Receive Funding for COVID-19 Response through Manufacturing Innovation Challenge

June 17, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf today announced the seven project awardees of $174,603 in new funding through the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program COVID-19 Challenge to address the commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Manufacturing PA Innovation Program COVID-19 Challenge awardees are: Carnegie Mellon University, Lehigh University, The University of Pittsburgh, and Villanova University.

Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System, USDA Farm to Food Bank Funds Support Local Dairies, Workforce, Food Banks

June 17, 2020

Secretary of Agriculture highlights $20 million CARES Act support and relief for Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers

Mercer, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding visited the Ralph Moore Dairy Farm in Mercer today, one of more than 30 Pennsylvania dairy farms supported by the state’s acquisition of more than 200,000 pounds of Swiss cheese – stranded from COVID-19 supply chain disruptions – to distribute through Pennsylvania’s charitable food system with funds from the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) and the state’s Farm to Food Bank award.

On the farm, Secretary Redding highlighted more than $20 million available in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers, announced yesterday by Governor Tom Wolf, following months of uncertainty and loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any dairy farm that experienced financial losses due to discarded or displaced milk during the COVID-19 emergency disaster may apply for assistance. Each farm with a documented loss will receive a minimum of $1,500 and an additional prorated share of the remaining funds, not to exceed the actual amount assessed by the handler. The deadline to apply for the Dairy Indemnity Program is September 30, 2020.

The department’s Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) program helps to support Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry in all 67 counties and reduce waste of agricultural surplus by making connections between production agriculture and the non-profit sector.

Pennsylvania Capitol Building to Reopen to Public on June 22

June 17, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of General Services announced today the Pennsylvania Capitol building will reopen to the public with modified prevention protocols on June 22. The reopening follows Dauphin County moving to the green phase of the COVID-19 pandemic on June 19.

The Main Capitol, East Wing and North Office Building entrances will be accessible by the public. Visitors to the Capitol will be required to wear a mask to enter the building and adhere to social distancing protocols. Visitors without a mask will be supplied with one at the public entrances. Hand sanitizer stations will also be placed at those entrances.

All scheduled events through the department’s Office of Special Events remain canceled through July 5. The department will work with the requestors to reschedule. Beginning June 19, the Office of Special Events will resume scheduling events for the Capitol’s outdoor venues taking place on or after July 6. These locations include the Front Capitol Steps and Soldiers Grove.

Department of Labor & Industry: L&I Secretary: Gov. Wolf’s disaster declaration needed to help people out of work, reduce employer costs.

Text of June 17 press release.

Harrisburg, PA – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak today highlighted the importance of Governor Tom Wolf’s disaster declaration to help Pennsylvanians who are out of work get the unemployment compensation benefits they deserve and reduce costs for employers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prematurely ending the disaster declaration will increase the burden on workers and the employers who depend on them.

The disaster declaration enables L&I to waive the one-week waiting period and job search and work registration requirements for claimants and provide many contributory and reimbursable employers with automatic relief from benefit charges. Those advantages will be lost when the disaster declaration ends.

This newsletter was prepared by Ridge Policy Group “a lobbying firm that has clients in every industry, including education, health care, and trade.

Written by

Ridge Policy Group


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