WEEKLY E-BLAST (March 20): Latest links and resources related to COVID-19

Dear Friends,

As we work together to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, I wanted to round up some of the news and information from today I hope you will find useful. And, while our office is closed to foot traffic, we are still here to help you as best we can. Contact my office by phone at (610) 277-3230 or by email at RepHanbidge@pahouse.net.

At this time, birth/death certificate applications as well as all PennDOT documents processing, will be on a temporary hold; however, we will be happy to accept your documents and will have them processed as soon as operations resume. Feel free to mail any documents to our office or use our locked drop box by our entrance at 1098 W. Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19044.

Frequent updates from the PA Department of Health

As more testing becomes available, the number of confirmed cases across Pennsylvania continues to rise. The Department of Health website updates regularly and also includes valuable resources on symptoms and testing, slowing the spread, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Income tax deadline extended

The income tax filing deadline was extended today from April 15 until July 15, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced.

The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants confirmed that this automatically extends our state’s individual filing date as well.

Statewide, the Department of Revenue is waiving penalties for businesses that are required to make Accelerated Sales Tax prepayments by today’s deadline. Additionally, for April sales tax payments, the department is waiving the AST prepayment requirement and asking businesses to simply remit the sales tax that they have collected in March.

The right response to our state health crisis

Criticism of Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to use emergency powers to shut down non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania is off base, especially with knowledge of the latest medical guidance for mitigating COVID-19 coronavirus spread.

Every moment matters. This is literally a matter of life and death. Governor Wolf’s decision came in conjunction with top medical professionals, including PA Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.

Taking swift action now will not only save lives, but it will lessen the long-term impact on businesses and help employers and employees return to normal as soon as possible.

Businesses can seek help

The U.S. Small Business Association's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program will make funds available to businesses impacted by COVID-19. As part of the process to access those funds, Governor Wolf, DCED and PEMA are working with local partners and the SBA to identify businesses economically affected.

With Governor Wolf's order that all non-life-sustaining businesses close to mitigate the COVID-19 spread in our state, a list of such businesses is available here. If you are a business seeking a waiver, you should email RA-dcexemption@pa.gov. If you're a business with questions about whether you need to close, email ra-dcedcs@pa.gov.

Using telemedicine technology and focusing on safety

The Department of Human Services issued guidance to Medicaid-enrolled providers and managed care organizations that encourages the use of telemedicine as a way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through reduced person-to-person contact.

Additionally, the DHS has restricted visitation to state-run facilities to protect the health of residents and workers, and it also released COVID-19 operational recommendations for child care providers.

Recommendations for those financially impacted by COVID-19

The Department of Banking and Securities today collaborated with state agencies to develop a resource guide for Pennsylvanians financially impacted by COVID-19.

Understand that you have financial options. Take action now to understand your financial situation.

Cancelation of statewide assessment testing

This week, the Department of Education canceled all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year because of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The DED website includes useful links and resources for schools, students and parents.

PA Supreme Court halts all evictions until at least April 3

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that, in light of the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, people may suffer a loss of income and be unable to make rent payments, mortgage-loan payments or the like, and that evictions, ejectments or other displacement from homes will not be enforced by the courts.

PennDOT extends expiration deadlines

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has closed all driver and photo license centers for at least two weeks.

However, for any driver licenses, ID cards, learner's permits, vehicle registrations, safety and emission inspections, or Persons with Disability Placards set to expire this month, deadline has been extended until April 30.

Regional rail service updates from SEPTA

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, SEPTA has adjusted its regional rail schedule. You can find updates through its website.

State parks and forests facility closures

While state park and forest offices and visitor centers, including restrooms, campgrounds, cabins, public programs and events, have closed or are canceled because of COVID-19, the public can STILL ACCESS trails, lakes, roads and parking for passive and dispersed recreation like hiking.

Please, continue to enjoy the outdoors and our state parks. Just remember to use social distancing and appropriate precautionary measures.

Make sure you are counted

Despite the COVID-19 coronavirus, the 2020 Census is happening now. Fortunately, it has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail. Please, make sure you are counted.

Stay safe. Stay calm. Stay home. And, if you're able, consider donating blood, donating to food banks or calling on seniors in your community to make sure they have what they need.


Liz Hanbidge