Gov. Wolf Signs Law Requiring a Report on the Primary Election

Your Update for 6-18-20

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

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An Update from the 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 18) on COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania has reached 80,236, an increase of 418 cases from yesterday. There were 42 new deaths associated with COVID-19, bringing the total deaths in Pennsylvania to 6,361. There were 630 positive serology tests, which are counted as probable cases of COVID-19.

>>Governor Wolf signed into law a bill that requires a report on Primary election, and how Pennsylvania can better prepare for the general election

There are 16,850 residential cases and 2,986 employee cases in 649 long-term care facilities in 47 counties, which includes nursing facilities and personal care facilities. There have been 4,332 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.

 The reopening guidance documents from the Department of Aging can be found by clicking here and scrolling to “COVID-19 Reopening Provider Guidance.”

76% 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 6,092 COVID-19 cases are in healthcare workers.

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.

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:

Governor Wolf Signs Law to Help Prepare for the General Election

June 18, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf signed into law House Bill 2502, now Act 35 of 2020 that requires the Department of State to publish a report on the June 2, 2020, primary election. The report will help identify any necessary changes to the Pennsylvania Election Code before the general election in November.

The report will include a series of data points for each county relating to the reforms of Act 77 of 2019 and Act 12 of 2020, including the numbers of mail-in ballots that were applied for and received, the number of new voter registrations received, and what time each county began to pre-canvass and canvass absentee and mail-in ballots.

The primary election was the first time Pennsylvanians could vote by mail-in ballot without having to provide an excuse. Nearly 1.5 million mail-in or absentee ballot were cast, 17 times the number that voted absentee in the 2016 primary, when approximately 84,000 absentee ballots were cast.

Gov. Wolf Honors Juneteenth National Freedom Day

June 18, 2020

This Friday is the first anniversary of Pennsylvania declaring June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf is encouraging Pennsylvanians to reflect on the importance of the state holiday and the continued need for a fair and just society.

On June 19, 2019, Governor Wolf signed legislation which designates June 19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in Pennsylvania. Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, marks June 19, 1865, when union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas, the furthest point in the south, with news of the end of the Civil War. Slaves were previously unaware they had been freed more than two years earlier when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, or that Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered in Virginia two months earlier.

Gov. Wolf: Mask-Wearing is Required, Critical to Stop COVID-19 Spread

June 18, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf today reminded Pennsylvanians that mask-wearing is required when entering any business in all counties in the state in both yellow and green phases of reopening. Masks are considered critical in stopping the spread of COVID, now and in preparation for a possible resurgence of the virus in the fall.

The mask requirement is part of Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel’s Levine’s order, “Directing Public Health Safety Measures for Businesses Permitted to Maintain In-person Operations,” which pertains to all counties regardless of the phase of reopening.

A recent study from Cambridge and Greenwich universities in the United Kingdom found that cloth masks, “even homemade masks with limited effectiveness can dramatically reduce transmission rates if worn by enough people, regardless of whether they show symptoms.”

Peer-reviewed studies published in scientific journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine corroborate the need for masks and the U.S. Surgeon General said that wearing a mask doesn’t impinge on our freedom – it gives us more freedom from unknowingly spreading COVID-19.

The state’s business guidance outlines mask-wearing requirements and additional safety parameters for both employees and customers.

The Ridge Policy Group, a top Government Affairs firm, prepared this newsletter.

Written by

Ridge Policy Group

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