COVID-19 update: Latest links and resources

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow marks two weeks since we received the first reports of COVID-19 in Montgomery County. It feels like a lifetime. The flood of information has been relentless.

As we head into the weekend, I wanted to round up some of the news and information from today that you will hopefully find useful. And while my office is still closed to foot traffic, I and my staff are on call to help you as best we can. Contact my office by phone at (215) 572-5210 or by email at RepMcCarter@pahouse.net.

Frequent updates from the PA Department of Health

As more testing becomes available, the number of confirmed cases across Pennsylvania continues to rise, as does the number in Montgomery County, which continues to be the epicenter of COVID-19 activity in Pennsylvania. 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.

UPDATE: This weekend, the PA Department of Revenue announced the deadline for taxpayers to file their 2019 PA personal income tax returns is extended to July 15, 2020 (from April 15).

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

Every moment matters in the mitigation of the COVID-19 coronavirus spread. Gov. Wolf’s decision to mandate closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses as made with advice from 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.

The list of businesses affected by the Governor’s order is available here. If you are a business seeking a waiver, you should email RA-dcexemption@pa.gov. If you are a business with questions about whether you need to close, email ra-dcedcs@pa.gov.

Businesses and individuals 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.

Additionally, the PA 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.

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.

Cancelation of statewide assessment testing

This week, the PA Department of Education canceled all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year because of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The Department of Education 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. It has also extended to April 30 the deadline to renew driver licenses, ID cards, learner's permits, vehicle registrations, safety and emission inspections, or Persons with Disability Placards set to expire this month.

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.

In closing, I will echo our Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine: 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.

Sincerely,
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Steve McCarter
Pennsylvania State Representative

Serving Cheltenham Township, Springfield Township and Jenkintown Borough