Your Update for 6-11-20
*This information is changing quickly, so be sure to check for any updated information.
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Update from the Pennsylvania 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 11) on COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.
The number of cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania has reached 77,313, an increase of 467 cases from yesterday. There were 51 new deaths associated with COVID-19, bringing the total deaths in Pennsylvania to 6,113. There were 630 positive serology tests, which are counted as probable cases of COVID-19, and not confirmed cases.
There are 16,357 residential cases and 2,871 employee cases in 627 long-term care facilities in 45 counties, which includes nursing facilities and personal care facilities. There have been 4,215 reported deaths in long term care facilities due to COVID-19. Deaths in nursing and personal care facilities account for ~69% of the total deaths in Pennsylvania. Long-Term Care Facilities Dashboard.
72% 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 ~78% of ventilators in Pennsylvania Hospitals are still available. A total of 5,888 COVID-19 cases are in healthcare workers.
An Update from DC:
Future COVID-19 Response Package
White House, Republicans plan to postpone formal talks over more stimulus to late July, when Congress returns from a break. Lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington on July 21.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a Senate Small Business Committee hearing that Trump Administration officials want to work on another economic aid package, which could include tax credits and changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, but that it should be narrowly tailored to small businesses and certain hard-hit industries, such as the travel, leisure and restaurant industries. Mnuchin also said officials are considering whether to issue additional direct payments to boost the economy.
While there seems to be agreement that another COVID-19 response package will be needed, Ridge Policy Group has heard that a response package may not come together fully until right before August recess or even after they return. This could be especially true with a focus on a police reform package by Congressional leaders.
Police Reform Package
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Senate Republicans plan to introduce a serious law enforcement bill that would take “smart steps” without undermining police officers who do their jobs properly. Sen. Tim Scott, who’s leading work by Senate Republicans, said he’ll probably release his bill next Tuesday. Leader Schumer said the GOP’s law enforcement bill must be comprehensive and not just “cherry pick” a few items.
Separately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she hopes Democrats can work with the White House on action to improve police practices. However, she said some proposals floated by Senate Republicans so far are too weak.
Small Business Committee Ranking Member Ben Cardin, Senator Chris Coons, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen announced plans for legislation that would authorize new lending under the PPP to small businesses with 100 employees or less, including sole proprietorships and self-employed individuals. Eligible businesses must have already expended an initial PPP loan, or be on pace to exhaust the funding, and must demonstrate a revenue loss of 50 percent or more due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Security Stimulus Funding
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he’s considering easing rules for a $17 billion chunk of the federal government’s pandemic relief intended for national security-related companies that’s gone untapped. Mnuchin told reporters today that that he and lawmakers had designed the loan program for Boeing and General Electric, but that it turns out neither firm needed federal support. He said he might expand the definition of companies seen critical to national security.
Millions of workers will struggle to find a job for months, if not years, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell said in a press conference yesterday. The figure will likely be “well into the millions of people who don’t get to go back into their old job,” he said. The median unemployment projection from Federal Reserve Board members was 9.3% on average in 2020, 6.5% in 2021, and 5.5% in 2022, according to projections released yesterday. Powell also emphasized that Congress controls fiscal policy, which still bears some of the responsibility for recovering from the economic slump.
On the other hand, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the U.S. economy is poised for a “strong” economic revival from coronavirus-related closings and credited the Paycheck Protection Program for saving 50 million jobs at small businesses. Mnuchin’s remarks described high personal savings rates of Americans and easing of credit conditions as signs of a strong economic rebound driven by consumers.
On another occasion, Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. shouldn’t shut down the economy again even if there is another surge in coronavirus cases.
After the Federal Reserve held its two-day policy meeting, all 17 officials participating in the interest rate-setting meetings said they expect to keep rates near zero next year and 15 of them predicted that rates would stay near zero through 2022. Most officials expect the unemployment rate to hit averages of 9 percent to 10 percent in the last three months of the year and projected that the economy could shrink between 4 percent and 10 percent this year.
Phase 3 trials for three experimental COVID-19 vaccines will be conducted and funded by the federal government beginning this summer, according to John Mascola, director of the vaccine research center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The final stage of testing, in which a verdict is rendered on a vaccine’s safety and efficacy, will begin in July with Moderna Inc.’s vaccine, followed by the Oxford University-AstraZeneca PLC collaboration in August and Johnson & Johnson’s candidate in September.
Coronavirus Testing Guidance
FDA Commissioner Steve Hahn says CDC and the White House task force will be issuing guidance that “will have a lot of specificity” around how to use coronavirus tests. The agency has developed a diagnostic testing and serology testing calculator.
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.
- Contract Tracing Plan
- Testing Strategy Plan
- Universal Testing in Nursing Homes
- Testing Guidance for COVID-19 in Long-Term Care Facilities and Healthcare Personnel
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
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 33 counties in Phase Yellow. On June 12, an additional 12 counties will move into Phase Green.
- 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
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 34 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.
Guidance for Pennsylvania:
- Sports Operation Guidance
- Damaged Business Guidance *New
- School Reopening Guidance
- Childcare FAQs
- Restaurant Industry Guidance
- Business Guidance
- Business FAQs * New
- Real Estate Industry Guidance
- Construction Industry Guidance
- CDC Guidance for child care centers
- Life Sustaining Business FAQs
- Dental Health Care Personnel Guidance
Critical Needs Portals:
- Business-2-Business (B2B) Interchange Directory
- Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal
- Manufacturing Call to Action Portal
- COVID-19 Job Portal
- Critical Medical Supplies Donations Portal
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.
June 11, 2020
Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today signed amended green phase orders for the 12 counties moving to green at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, June 12. The counties include Adams, Beaver, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Mifflin, Northumberland, Union, Wayne, Wyoming and York.
With these orders effective at 12:01 a.m., tomorrow there will be 46 counties in green and 21 counties in yellow.
June 11, 2020
Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced that program guidelines and additional details for the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Grants are now available on DCED’s website.
Governor Wolf announced the program’s creation earlier this week. Under the program, $225 million is available for COVID-19 relief to small businesses through a distribution to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) for loan payment deferment and portfolio loan loss reserves, main street business revitalization grants, and historically disadvantaged business revitalization grants.
Eligible businesses with 25 or fewer employees may receive a maximum grant of $50,000 so long as the business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and, if required, paid income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual or business tax returns; COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact and makes this grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant; the grant will be used cover COVID-19 related costs; and during the period beginning on June 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, the applicant has not and will not receive another grant under this state program.
June 11, 2020
Counties Can Apply for Community Block Grant Funding
Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced that new funding is available to 60 Pennsylvania counties under the COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant.
Under the program, $625 million was made available to Pennsylvania counties in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding in the form of block grants administered by DCED. This funding may be used to offset the cost of direct county COVID-19 response, assist municipalities with COVID-19 response and planning efforts, fund nonprofit assistance programs, and deploy broadband to unserved or underserved areas.
Eligible expenditures must have been incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020. Formula-driven funding will be made available to the 60 counties that did not previously receive direct assistance via the CARES Act, with a minimum allocation of $1 million. The counties that have already received direct assistance are Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and Philadelphia.
June 11, 2020
Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced a Request for Applications (RFA) for its new Regional Response Health Collaboration Program (RRHCP). The RRHCP is designed to directly support COVID-19 readiness and response in long-term residential care facilities, improve infection prevention, and facilitate continuity of care and other services provided by long-term care facilities in a manner that mitigates risk of spread of COVID-19 to staff or residents.
The RHCCP will provide operations, management, and administrative support to protect residents in long-term care facilities from COVID-19. It will help those facilities implement best practices in infection control, implement contact tracing programs in facilities, support clinical care through on-site and telemedicine services, provide remote monitoring and consultation with physicians, and enhance testing capability for both individuals in care and staff at facilities. The RRHCP will assist in identifying alternate care arrangements for hospitalized COVID-19 patients until they are considered no longer infectious and can be safely returned to their long-term care facilities.
June 11, 2020
Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced a one-month extension of the temporary Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) and reminded Pennsylvanians of other assistance programs that remain available as the commonwealth reopens and Pennsylvanians recover from economic challenges caused by COVID-19.
Pennsylvanians who have experienced a change in income or job loss, regardless of its relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, can apply for benefits online at any time at www.compass.state.pa.us Those who prefer to submit paper applications can mail documents to their local County Assistance Office (CAO) or leave documents in a CAO’s secure drop box, if available. CAOs remain closed to the public, but mail and drop boxes are being monitored so applications can be processed.
This newsletter was prepared by Ridge Policy Group a top Harrisburg Lobbying firm.