March 27 updates and latest resources on COVID-19
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Here is another week’s roundup of news and information regarding COVID-19 that has come out since my last email. I hope it proves useful to try to put everything in one place for you to sift through at your convenience.
As we work together to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, I wanted to remind you how important it is to comply with the Governor’s mandate to stay home and safe. And, remember, 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 (215) 517-6800 or by email at RepSanchez@pahouse.net.
News, links and helpful resources
Please take advantage of this information.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12 a.m., March 27, that there are 531 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 2,218 in 50 counties. The department also reported six new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 22. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.
- As the state continues to seek relief to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19, today Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine revised their “Stay at Home” orders to include nine additional counties (the list already included Montgomery County) – Berks, Butler, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne, Westmoreland and York – bringing the state total to 19 counties under a stay-at-home order. Check out what a “Stay at Home” order means.
- Here is a roundup of state services and resources, as well as a link to sign up for PA alerts.
- Gov. Wolf signed four bills today to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania that bolster the health care system, benefit workers and schools, and reschedule the 2020 primary election for June 2.
- Gov. Wolf announced the creation of a new web portal that will expedite the procurement of critical medical supplies for Pennsylvania’s health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Gov. Wolf announced that he will spend up to $50 million in transferred state funding to purchase medical equipment and supplies for hospitals, nursing homes and emergency workers to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania.
- Gov. Wolf this week sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking that USDA waive eligibility requirements for the Emergency Food Assistance Program; reconsider Pennsylvania’s request for temporary waivers to allow more food to be distributed at school feeding sites and food banks; and to be flexible and change its interpretation of recent changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
- This week, Gov. Wolf announced that new funding is available to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19 through a new program under the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s Small Business First Fund, the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Aging released COVID-19 guidance on handling protective services for older adults. This temporary guidance provides operational flexibility to protect older adults and staff during investigative cases while following the ongoing directive from Gov. Wolf to stay home and practice social distancing.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture this week issued guidance for the commonwealth's essential grocery stores to ensure continuation of services to Pennsylvanians while maintaining a healthy workforce.
- The Wolf Administration this week reminded Pennsylvanians of food assistance resources available and what actions it is taking to ensure access to food does not stop in spite of the COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
- In recognition of the critical role boarding kennels, doggie daycares, shelters, sanctuaries, and rescues play in ensuring essential workers and at-risk individuals have a safe place to house dogs and the need for continued care for Pennsylvania's strays, the Department of Agriculture last week issued guidance for protecting staff and volunteers of such facilities. Advice was also offered to pet owners to protect themselves and their furry friends during COVID-19 mitigation.
- The Department of Banking and Securities collaborated with state agencies to develop resources available for Pennsylvanians financially impacted by COVID-19. That includes information on unemployment and workers’ compensation, short term and emergency loans, looking out for financial scams, and advice on various payments owed.
- As the nation continues to respond to the coronavirus, the Department of Banking and Securities is urging Pennsylvanians to be wary of potential financial scams trying to take advantage of the situation.
- This week, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced that all facilities at state parks and forests in Pennsylvania will be closed until April 30 to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The public will still be able to access trails, lakes, forests, roads, and parking areas for passive and dispersed recreation, such as hiking.
- As a result of continued mitigation measures called for by Gov. Wolf and Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, the Department of Corrections is extending inmate visitation suspension through April 10, 2020.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Education announced this week that all schools in the commonwealth will remain closed through at least April 6 as a result of the COVID-19 response efforts. The closure order could be extended beyond April 6 if necessary to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19. When it’s determined that students can return to school, administrators, teachers and other staff will be given two days to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would return on the third day.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Health last week announced that in light of the COVID-19 outbreak in Pennsylvania, the department is taking steps to assist those who require medical marijuana by making temporary changes to the Medical Marijuana Program.
- The Department of Human Services today announced a new tool available on the department’s website designed to help essential workers connect with child-care providers that have been granted a waiver by the department’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning to continue serving the families of essential personnel during the COVID-19 emergency.
- The Wolf Administration submitted a waiver to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to temporarily grant flexibility of requirements for providers of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program to ensure availability and access to health care and public assistance programs for people who need them in light of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
- The Wolf Administration this week submitted a waiver to the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to waive the student eligibility criteria for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
- Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman and Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller this week highlighted health insurance options Pennsylvanians have through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program during the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration is reminding residents that Special Enrollment Periods through the ACA are available to consumers who experience various life changes, including the loss of employer-sponsored health care coverage. CHIP and Medicaid are available to families and individuals that meet eligibility requirements.
- Since the Pennsylvania National Guard began helping Montgomery County administer COVID-19 tests last week, as many as 275 people have been tested each day, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs announced this week.
- The Department of Revenue recently announced the deadline for taxpayers to file their 2019 Pennsylvania personal income tax returns is extended to July 15, 2020. This means taxpayers will have an additional 90 days to file from the original deadline of April 15. The Internal Revenue Service also extended the federal filing deadline to July 15, 2020.
- In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the deadline for older adults and Pennsylvania residents with disabilities to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2019 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2020, the Department of Revenue recently announced.
- In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of State is giving nurses, graduate medical trainees, nursing home administrators and other professionals more time to renew their occupational licenses.
- Pennsylvania is acting to enable retired health care professionals to assist with the COVID-19 response by waiving certain licensing regulations.
- The Wolf administration is removing barriers for pharmacies to provide services for Pennsylvanians in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Gov. Wolf has granted a request from the Pennsylvania Department of State to suspend certain pharmacy regulations to enable more flexible and available services during the coronavirus emergency.
- The Department of State has waived certain administrative requirements for nurses, including temporarily extending license expiration dates and waiving associated fees during the coronavirus emergency.
- Health care professionals licensed under any of the Department of State's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs licensing boards can provide services to patients via telemedicine during the coronavirus emergency.
- This week the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced that the Department of Homeland Security has postponed the enforcement date for REAL ID from October 1, 2020, to October 1, 2021, in response to COVID-19 and the national emergency declaration.
- Montgomery County officials in partnership with local donors announced this week the launch of the MontcoPA COVID-19 Response Fund to support local relief efforts in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Financial contributions will exclusively assist community safety net organizations critically impacted by the current public health crisis.
- State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, this week said she is joining with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to push back on hate crimes and advocate for tolerance during the COVID-19 global pandemic. PHRC representatives can be reached by email at PHRC@pa.gov for complaints of discrimination related to COVID-19.
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.
Pennsylvania State Representative
Serving Abington and Upper Dublin