What new COVID-19 relief laws mean for you and your family
As we work to overcome the ongoing challenges associated with COVID-19, I am committed to bringing you up-to-date information about the virus and connecting you with the available resources aimed at helping you overcome this public health crisis.
Here's new information you need to know from this week.
Taking action to provide COVID-19 relief for Pennsylvanians
I'm working to protect myself, my colleagues and you by working from home, while still working to make sure you have a voice in Harrisburg.
In our fight against COVID-19 this week, we passed bills to:
- Reschedule Pennsylvania’s Primary Election from April 28 to June 2, 2020.
- Provide $50 million in emergency funding to assist hospitals, nursing homes and emergency medical services in acquiring the supplies needed to care for the influx of patients and protect health care workers.
- Support education by guaranteeing that teachers, bus drivers and other school employees don't lose their salaries or benefits while schools are closed. It also waives the requirement that schools provide 180 days of instruction this school year.
- Assist employees/employers by easing eligibility requirements for workers applying for unemployment benefits if they lost their job due to the coronavirus. It also does not charge businesses for unemployment claims against them due to COVID-19.
Philadelphia reports first COVID-19 death, what a stay-at-home order means
I was saddened to learn about the first COVID-19 death in Philadelphia. City officials said the person was a man in his 50s with an underlying medical condition.
As of March 27, the number of reported cases of COVID-19 climbed to 530 in Philadelphia, which has contributed to Pennsylvania's overall count of 2,218.
On Monday, Mayor Jim Kenney's new stay-at-home order took effect that implemented new business restrictions aimed at helping protect the city from COVID-19.
Under this order, you must stay home unless you are performing what have been deemed essential activities, including:
- Buying food
- Seeking medical attention
- Exercising outdoors while maintaining social distancing
- Going to a job classified as essential
You can read more about what's allowed and what's not here.
On the same day, Gov. Tom Wolf announced a stay-at-home order for several other counties, including Delaware, Montgomery and Chester.
All schools remain closed
Schools across the commonwealth will now be closed until at least April 6.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, this closure could be extended longer if necessary.
You can read about the assistance being offered to schools and the process to get our young people back in the classroom here.
Updated pick-up locations for free student meals
This is the most up-to-date list of distribution sites for free student meals in our area:
- Overbrook Education Center: 6722 Lansdowne Ave. (19151)
- John Barry Elementary School: 5900 Race St. (19139)
- Universal Charter School: 5720 Media St. (19131)
The Philadelphia Housing Authority has six community centers open for “grab-and-go” meals for breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until noon.
However, Parks and Recreation sites are no longer open or distributing meals.
You can find a full list of distribution sites along with days/times of operation here.
New business relief funds announced
Small businesses are the backbone of our communities, and I'm proud to report that the Philadelphia Commerce Department and the Philadelphia Development Corporation have launched a new resource to help local entrepreneurs survive this crisis.
The Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund offers grants or zero-interest loans to small businesses in the city that are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can read more about how to apply here.
Gov. Tom Wolf also announced a new program under the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s (PIDA) Small Business First Fund, the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA).
You can find more information about that here.
Employer & employee resources
If you are one of the non-life-sustaining business that was forced to close your physical location, you can apply for a waiver to stay open here.
Businesses can find other assistance opportunities here.
If your job has been impacted by COVID-19, find out if you're eligible for unemployment compensation if here.
Evictions prohibited, new options to help domestic violence victims during public health crisis
With Philadelphia courts closed through at least April 3, 2020, the city says no legal evictions will proceed until they reopen. You can also call the Tenant Hotline at 267-443-2500.
Also, if you want to file for a Protection From Abuse Order, or a PFA, you now have the option to do it by email or by phone, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You can find more information concerning both of these issues and other important COVID-19 resources announced this week by Mayor Kenney here.
COVID-19 testing sites
Rite Aid now has a drive-through COVID-19 testing site in its parking lot for health care workers and first responders at its store on Ogontz Ave. in the city's West Oak Lane neighborhood.
The site is open form 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.
There is also a drive-through testing site at Citizens Bank Park that's open daily from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., but it has strict requirements.
You can read about those requirements are here.
In the meantime, you should continue practicing good hygiene measures to help stop the spread of germs. It's also important to clean highly touched surfaces and objects frequently.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath, please stay at home and contact your primary-care provider to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
You can call the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline at 1-800-722-7112. It's free and staffed by trained professionals to answer your questions.
Make sure to visit health.pa.gov for constant COVID-19 updates from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Help protect those fighting to protect us
Healthcare providers are experiencing serious shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), putting them in danger of becoming sick themselves and transmitting the COVID-19 coronavirus infection to patients and family members.
If you or someone you know are able to donate these critical items, please click here.
- SEPTA has announced changes to its service schedule. It will be operating the Severe Weather Plan for Regional Rail. Click here for more info.
- The PA Turnpike Commission (PTC) has announced that to keep travelers from interacting with tolling personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic, cash and credit cards will NOT be accepted at any interchange statewide until further notice. Click here for more info.
- PennDOT has issued an announcement about expiration dates for driver licenses, ID cards, vehicle registrations and safety and emission inspections. Those dates have been extended. Click here for more info.
My office is closed, but my staff is still here to help
I know that you may be feeling scared, frustrated, or angry. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you can always call or email us for help.
Just know you are not alone, and we will get through this together. Please stay calm, stay home and most importantly stay safe.