COVID-19 UPDATE: Resources, information, and helpful tips to protect you and your family!
Senator Santarsiero Hosts Telephone Town Hall on COVID-19
Senator Santarsiero Hosts Telephone Town Hall on COVID-19
Senator Santarsiero Hosts Telephone Town Hall on COVID-19
Senator Santarsiero Hosts Telephone Town Hall on COVID-19
Welcome to my resource page on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19. Understandably, there are many concerns regarding the health and safety of the public as we continue to assess the situation. I hope these resources and the information provided will answer your questions.
I will continue to monitor the situation here in Pennsylvania and remain in contact with health and emergency officials. As always, we will provide additional information as it becomes available. To stay up-to-date with the latest developments here, please sign up for email and text alerts below.
Check out the letters below to see how we have been working to help Pennsylvanians:
Department Of Health: Walmart And Quest Diagnostics COVID-19 Testing Sites To Close After Sept. 25 Tests, Alternate Sites Available
Harrisburg, PA - Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today notified Pennsylvanians that the remaining nine Walmart drive-thru and parking lot COVID-19 testing sites across the state will be closing upon the completion of testing on September 25 due to a low...
Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., September 18, that there were 760 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 148,683. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19. The...
Department Of Health To Collaborate With Centre County, Adds Testing Sites In Centre And Columbia Counties In Effort To Contain Local Spread Of COVID-19
Harrisburg, PA - Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today announced beginning Friday, Sept. 25, testing clinics will be held at locations in Centre and Columbia counties to contain the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in these counties. In addition, the department...
As part of the Wolf Administration’s ongoing efforts to ensure public health and safety and support economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today signed new orders following the recent announcement that...
Harrisburg, PA – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak reminded eligible Pennsylvanians to apply as soon as possible for up to six weeks of assistance through the federal Lost Wages Assistance Program (LWA), which provides up to...
Governor Tom Wolf called on the General Assembly to provide additional funding for the COVID-19 Hazard Pay Program to support front-line workers risking their health to continue working in life-sustaining industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Pennsylvanians who...
Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., September 17, that there were 933 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 147,923. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19....
Wolf Administration Awards $10 Million To Fund Access To Fresh Food, COVID-19 Mitigation Efforts In Low-Income Communities
Chambersburg, PA - At Karimar Grocery in Franklin County today, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin announced that more than 100 projects, funding access for fresh food in low-income communities,...
Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., September 16, that there were 776 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 146,990. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19. The...
State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement September 14-15: 1,031 Compliance Checks; 16 Warnings
Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,031 licensed liquor establishments from Monday, September 14 through Tuesday, September 15 to ensure businesses are abiding by COVID-19 mitigation requirements that include...
Harrisburg, PA - Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today reminded Pennsylvanians that the decision issued in the Butler County case rendered yesterday is not a blanket end to the protection and mitigation orders in place to protect people from the...
Governor Tom Wolf responded to the recent federal court ruling regarding the business closure order and the stay at home orders issued in March, which were later suspended, as well as the 25-person indoor and 250-person outdoor gathering limitations. Watch the...
What You Need to Know About COVID-19
The Coronavirus was first discovered during an outbreak in Wuhan, China. The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms often do not appear in a person until 2 to 14 days after exposure.
Prepare Yourself and Your Family
The best way to avoid contracting COVID-19 is by practicing vital social distancing procedures. It is recommended to work remotely and severely limit contact with others.
If you think you have come into contact with someone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or are exhibiting them yourself, please follow the instructions on the graphic below:
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others circulating among animals, including camels, cats and bats.
The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Symptoms of the COVID-19 can include:
- Shortness of breath
The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
How can the Coronavirus spread?
Human coronaviruses spread just like the flu or a cold:
- Through the air by coughing or sneezing;
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it;
- Occasionally, fecal contamination.
How can I help protect myself?
- Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Do not use your hands!
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
- Contain: if you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.
In addition, it is recommended that Pennsylvanians take time to prepare now. View the PA Emergency Preparedness Guide.
- Coronavirus fact sheet – DOH (PDF)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) fact sheet – CDC (PDF)
- What to do if you are sick with COVID-19 (PDF)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Isolation vs. Quarantine Infographic – NJDOH (PDF)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ
- Preventing COVID-19 From Spreading to Others in Communities
- Stigma Related to COVID-19
- Share Facts About COVID-19
- Interim Guidance: Get Your Household Ready for COVID-19
- Interim Guidance: Get Your Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events Ready for COVID-19
- Pandemic Information
- Insurance Coverage and COVID-19 FAQ
PA’s Response to COVID-19
On March 30th, Gov. Tom Wolf extended the all non-essential businesses statewide closures indefinitely and also extended the stay-at-home order in place for some Pennsylvania counties until at least April 30.
The following types of businesses should temporarily cease regular operations:
- Community and recreation centers
- Gyms, including yoga/spin/barre facilities
- Hair salons, nail salons, and spas
- Casinos, concert venues, and theaters
- Sporting events facilities and golf courses
- Non-essential retail facilities, including shopping malls (except for pharmacy or other health care facilities located therein)
- Restaurants should close for dine-in services, but may stay open for carry-out and delivery only.
- Liquor stores. Individuals may still buy wine and beer at grocery stores with PLCB licenses.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that all branches will be closed effective March 16. Due to the shutdown, Driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner’s permits scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through April 30, 2020, the expiration date is now extended until May 31, 2020. For more information refer to PennDoT’s website.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) announced that cash and credit cards payments are no longer accepted on the PA Turnpike as of March 16 at 8PM to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Customers should not stop at tollbooths. For non-E-ZPass customers, a picture of their license plate will be taken and they will be billed by mail within 30 days until further notice. Invoices can be paid online, by phone, or by mail. For more information on how it works, visit: www.nocashzone.com.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced the closure of all facilities statewide located in Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks and 20 forest districts. These closures took place on March 17 and will last for 14 days. The public will still be able to access opens spaces like trails, lakes, forests, roads, and parking areas for passive and dispersed recreation, such as hiking.
Closed facilities include:
- Park and forest offices and visitor centers
- Campgrounds, cabins and all forms of overnight accommodations
- Public programs, events, and trainings are canceled
To get the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, be sure to check out the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s daily report.
If your job has been affected by COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive unemployment compensation benefits. You can apply online to get started.
Please note that the waiting week has been suspended. Eligible claimants may receive benefits for the first week that they are unemployed. Previously, claimants were not eligible for benefits during their first week of unemployment.
Work search and work registration requirements have been temporarily waived for all claimants. Claimants are not required to prove they have applied or searched for a new job to maintain UC benefits. Claimants are also not required to register with PA Career Link.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides payment to workers not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, workers with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency.
- Diagnosed with COVID-19 or with COVID-19 symptoms and seeking diagnosis
- Member of household has been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Providing care for family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19
- Primary caregiver for child unable to attend school or another facility closed due to COVID-19
- Unable to reach place of employment due to an imposed quarantine or because advised by medical provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19
- Scheduled to commence new employment and cannot reach workplace as direct result of COVID-19
- Became major breadwinner because head of household died from COVID-19
- Quit job as a direct result of COVID-19
- Place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19
- Self-employed / Independent Contractors / 1099 filers / Farmers – and affected by COVID-19
- Seeking part-time employment but affected by COVID-19
- With insufficient work history and affected by COVID-19
- Otherwise not qualified for regular or extended UI benefits and affected by COVID-19
- Individuals that can telework with pay
- Individual receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits (regardless of meeting a category listed above)
Federal CARES Act
On Friday, Governor Wolf announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry is implementing new federal unemployment compensation benefits provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The COVID-19 relief package temporarily provides an additional $600 per week, makes self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers eligible for benefits and extends unemployment compensation (UC) benefits for an additional 13 weeks. The federal benefits are in addition to Pennsylvania’s regular unemployment benefit, which is about half of a person’s full-time weekly income up to $572 per week for 26 weeks.
As part of the CARES Act, unemployment benefits are being expanded to provide an additional $600 per week beginning the week ending April 4, 2020, through the week ending July 25, 2020. This temporary emergency increase in benefits is referred to as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.
On Friday, Labor & Industry issued the first $600 payments. All eligible claimants that filed biweekly claims for the week ending April 4 and who received their regular UC payment should expect to see the additional money either today or Wednesday. For other eligible claimants who have not yet received a regular UC payment, they will receive the extra $600 the week after receiving their first UC payment.
It is very important to note that anyone who currently has federal withholding tax taken out of their benefits will see the same 10% reduction in the FPUC payment, resulting in a $540 payment. For information about changing your withholding election, visit L&I’s Taxes on Benefits page.
The $600 is paid separately from the biweekly UC benefit, and residents do not need to apply.
Visit the department’s FPUC frequently asked questions for more information.
The CARES Act also temporarily makes unemployment compensation available to self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others not normally eligible for the benefit. The program is referred to as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These workers cannot apply through the department’s UC online system at this time. The U.S. Department of Labor requires that PUA be tracked separately from regular UC. For this reason, Pennsylvania must build a new online platform to process PUA benefits.
Eligible individuals should be able to start applying for PUA benefits within the next two weeks. Eligible claimants will receive backdated payments to January 27, 2020, or the first week they were unable to work due to COVID-19, whichever of the two dates is later. The PUA benefit will end December 31, 2020. The department will announce when the PUA benefit application is available. Please visit L&I’s PUA frequently asked questions for more information.
The CARES Act provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation, including for workers who exhaust their regular unemployment benefits. Claimants will be eligible for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) from the week beginning March 29, 2020, through the end of the year. The department is awaiting additional federal guidance about the program and will provide an update when information is available.
Additional Information for workers impacted by COVID-19:
Mitigation efforts related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania have required everyone to work within rapidly changing, complex circumstances which create a variety of unique situations and conditions for workers, businesses, employers and communities. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry is committed to providing workers and business communities with ongoing guidance, resources, and information. This page is updated regularly.
Use our Keep Yourself Safe at Work During a COVID-19 Pandemic one-pager for safety information and resources.
Workers impacted by COVID-19 can also visit our Information for Pennsylvania Employees Impacted by COVID-19 page for the latest updates.
Good news! The IRS & Pennsylvania Department of Revenue have agreed to extend the tax filing deadline for 90 days. The new deadline to submit taxes has been pushed back July 15. The PA Department of Revenue is happy to assist you with any questions you have via their online portal.
Click the graphic below to be taken to their online portal and FAQ page:
PennDOT/Real ID Updates
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has extended expiration dates for driver licenses, identification cards, and learner’s permits in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Effective April 30, expiration dates for driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner’s permits scheduled to expire March 16, 2020 through May 31, 2020, are now extended through June 30, 2020. These extensions are in addition to those announced on March 27.
Additionally, all Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers in Pennsylvania are closed until further notice effective close of business on March 16.
As a reminder, customers may complete various transactions and access multiple resources via the Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov. Driver and vehicle online services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include driver’s license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; driver license and photo ID duplicates; and driver exam scheduling. There are no additional fees for using online services.
Federal REAL ID Enforcement Deadline Postponed to October 2021
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.
PennDOT closed all driver and photo license centers on March 16 and paused REAL ID issuance in the state out of an abundance of caution and in the interest of public health. Centers will reopen no sooner than April 3. PennDOT also sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, requesting that the agency consider extending the October 1, 2020 REAL ID enforcement deadline.
REAL ID is a federal law that affects how states issue driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes. A federally-acceptable form of identification (whether it’s a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, a valid U.S. Passport/Passport Card, a military ID, etc.) must now be used on and after October 1, 2021, as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building that requires a federally acceptable form of identification ID for access.
REAL ID is optional in Pennsylvania. There is no requirement that any resident obtain a REAL ID; PennDOT will continue to offer standard-issue driver’s licenses and photo IDs once issuance has resumed.
More information about document requirements, including a printable document checklist, can be found on the Document Check page of the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website.
COVID-19 Loan Programs Quick Guide
The information provided is not comprehensive of each program or of all programs. At the time of publication it is the most accurate and up-to-date information available. Information and programs are subject to change. (March 27, 2020)
Paycheck Protection Program (CARES Bill)
This program incentivizes small businesses to keep employees on payroll by offering extensive debt relief for small employers, self-employed individuals, and “gig economy” workers. With $350 billion to help prevent workers from losing their jobs and small businesses from going under due to economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Paycheck Protection Program” would provide 8 weeks of cashflow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency.
NOTE Program Details are still being finalized. Borrower cannot claim same loss using multiple programs.
ELIGIBILITY Small businesses, 501(c)(3)’s, 501(c) (19)’s, and 31(b)(2)(c), under 500 employees, including independent contractors, sole proprietors, and the self-employed. Entities must have been operational by 2/15/20, had payroll and paid taxes.
FUNDING Maximum amount via 7(a) set to $10,000,000.
TERMS Covered loan period is 2/25/20–6/30/20. Portion not forgiven or repaid by 12/31/20 will convert to a max 10 year loan at up to max interest rate; loan will remain 100% guaranteed.
- Eligible expenses include payroll, insurance, rent, mortgage and utilities.
- Defers payments on PPP loan for 6-12 months. No prepayment fees.
- Waives borrower and lender fees, credit elsewhere requirements, and collateral and personal guarantee.
INTEREST Maximum interest rate is 4%.
Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
NOTE Entities eligible to apply for EIDL may request an advance in the form of an emergency grant of up to $10,000 which SBA must distribute within 3 days. Applicants are not required to repay emergency grant if they are ultimately denied EIDL.
ELIGIBILITY Expanded to include sole proprietors, tribal businesses, cooperatives, ESOP’s, individual contractors, and private non-profits with fewer than 500 employees.
FUNDING The maximum loan amount is 2,000,000.
TERMS Max 30 year (determined on case-by-case basis)
- May be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills impacted by disaster.
- Defers payments on PPP loan for 6-12 months. No prepayment fees.
- For loans/advances under $200,000, waives credit elsewhere, personal guarantee, and 1-year-inbusiness requirements.
INTEREST Small businesses: 3.75%; non-profits: 2.75%.
TO APPLY https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
For more information, visit:
Small Business Loan
The Federal Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) are working to provide Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Small Business Disaster Loan Assistance (SBA)
The U.S. Small Business Administration, in addition to local funding partners, may also be a source of assistance for affected businesses with funding opportunities up to $2 million. Learn more on how to apply here.
The Small Business Administration has just opened their applications for Disaster Loan Assistance. Small businesses can apply at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
SBA disaster loans offer an affordable way for individuals and businesses to recover from declared disasters. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. As a small business, small agricultural cooperative, small business engaged in aquaculture, or private non-profit organization you may borrow up to $2 million for Economic Injury. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email email@example.com for more information on SBA disaster assistance.
For questions, please call SBA Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail).
Essential Agriculture Businesses
The PA Department of Agriculture has developed the following guidelines and recommendations for essential agricultural businesses to help ensure a safe and accessible food supply during the COVID-19 mitigation efforts:
As of March 9, the Governor announced that all major health insurers in Pennsylvania have agreed to cover “medically appropriate” COVID-19 testing and treatment.
The 10 major insurers are:
- Capital Blue Cross
- Independence BlueCross
- Pennsylvania Health & Wellness
- UPMC Health Plan
For anyone with questions about their insurance policy, please contact your insurer or the Pennsylvania State Insurance Department with questions. They can also be reached at (877) 881-6388.
Remote Medical Attention and Care
Health officials are urging people who have symptoms to stay home and contact their doctor remotely rather than opting for an in-person visit. Nearly all major health systems offer some form of virtual visits and assistance. Some insurers do, too. People interested in a specific virtual visit should check to see what illnesses it can be used for. Be sure to reach out to your insurance provider to verify this service is covered with your plan.
Here’s an brief overview of virtual visit services offered to local residents:
Capital BlueCross – is offering free medical Virtual Care visits for members who currently have the Virtual Care benefit. The waiving of fees will be effective March 13 through April 15, 2020.
Highmark – is providing many of their members with a virtual clinic visit service. Any fees related to COVID-19 will be waived.
UPMC Pinnacle – is welcoming Online Video Visits for those experience flu like symptoms or just in need of a follow-up appointment. Video visits are available through the MyPinnacleHealth portal for $49.
WellSpan Health – WellSpan Online Urgent Care offers a video visits with Teladoc physicians for patients 3 months and older for their standard fee of $49.
CALLING ALL PSYCHOLOGIST! Things may be picking up for you at this time, so we want to make sure you are covered too. Here are some COVID-19 resources on how to best protect yourself and serve your patients from the Pennsylvania Psychologist Association.
Feeding Kids During COVID-19: Emergency Grants and Updated Resources
No Kid Hungry is offering real-time emergency grant funding to schools and community organizations that are making sure kids have access to the meals they need as schools close due to coronavirus. The need is devastating; we received thousands of requests for grants in the first few days, and heard heart-breaking stories. To date, they have awarded more than $3.9 million in grants to 147 organizations across 40 states and DC.
No Kid Hungry is providing millions of dollars in additional grants in the coming weeks for schools and local non-profits in our communities that could benefit from this program to continue providing critical nutrition assistance. For additional information on the program and application process, please CLICK HERE.
No one’s utilities are legally going to be turned off as long as Governor Tom Wolf’s proclamation of disaster related to the coronavirus is in effect. Terminations would only be permitted in the event of a safety emergency.
An emergency order is only ordered when there is a “clear and present danger to life or property or when the relief requested is uncontested and action is required prior to the next scheduled public meeting,” according to the commission’s regulations governing emergency relief.
*Be sure to check with your utilities provider to see how they can best accommodate your needs!
Gov. Wolf closes Pa. schools indefinitely.
**No school district will be penalized if it fails to meet the 180 day or school hours requirements.**
Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Education announced that it received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow eligible schools to serve meals to low income students in a non-congregate setting, such as a drive-through or grab and go, during this closure.
For more guidance and a complete list of resources provided for school communities, be sure to read the information provided on the by the PA Department of Education.
Schools to Begin Planning for Reopening
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) today said elementary and secondary schools in the state’s yellow and green phases may resume in-person instruction and activities beginning July 1 under a phased reopening approach that first requires schools to develop health and safety plans based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state Department of Health (DOH).
PDE also released guidance that allows postsecondary institutions and adult basic education programs, effective June 5, to begin in-person instruction immediately following the development of a health and safety plan outlining strategies for safe operations.
Given the dynamic nature of the pandemic, the preliminary guidance serves as a starting point for school leaders to consider in reopening preparations, and it will continue to evolve as further research, data and resources become available. Later this month, PDE will release additional guidance that outlines steps for school openings while addressing safe operations, teaching and learning and student wellness – with attention to equity throughout.
Elementary and secondary schools that want to begin offering in-person instruction or activities must first develop a health and safety plan, which will serve as a local guideline for all school opening activities. The plans should be tailored to the unique needs of each school and reflect a comprehensive, community approach created in consultation with local health agencies.
Plans must encompass several elements, including identifying a pandemic coordinator or team to lead response efforts; steps to protect high-risk children and staff who may be at higher risk; processes for monitoring students and staff for symptoms; guidelines for hygiene practices; processes for cleaning and disinfecting; guidelines for the use of face masks; protocols for social distancing; and procedures for restricting large gatherings.
The plans must be approved by local boards of directors and posted on the school or district public website before a school reopens. The plans must also be submitted to PDE.
The guidance applies to school districts, charter schools, regional charter schools, cyber charter schools, career and technical centers and intermediate units. Nonpublic schools are strongly encouraged to create plans tailored to their unique needs and post them on their websites.
Finally, postsecondary schools in the yellow and green phases can resume in-person instruction effective June 5 and following the development of a health and safety plan. The guidance applies to colleges, universities, seminaries, trade schools and adult basic education programs. Institutions must adhere to proper physical distancing guidelines and other general public health and safety considerations informed by guidelines released by the CDC and DOH.
Federal Stimulus Package – ‘Putting Workers First‘
A bipartisan, robust third COVID-19 bill that will immediately bolster our health care response and our economy.
Unemployment Insurance: ($260 billion)
A massive investment in the UI program as well as critical reforms to make the program more effective for workers. In the wake of the economic recession caused by the coronavirus the UI program is an essential a long-term lifeline for millions of workers during this crisis.
- Full Paycheck Replacement: $600 increase for every American, which equates to 100 percent of wages for the average American without a paycheck struggling through the Crisis
- Waiving Waiting Weeks: Gets money in people’s pockets sooner by providing federal incentives for states to eliminate waiting weeks.
- Extension of Benefits: An additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits are immediately be made available.
- Expanding Access: Allow part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers to access UI benefits.
Marshall Plan For Our Health System ($150 billion)
An unprecedented and historic investment for our health care system in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The new $150 billion fund is widely available to all types of hospitals and providers most affected by COVID-19, and it will be available to fund whatever is needed to defeat this virus.
- Equipment and Infrastructure: Personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, new construction to house patients, emergency operation centers and more.
- Enhanced Health Investments: Additional funding is also dedicated to delivering Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers to ensure that they receive the funding they need during this crisis, and new investments in our country’s Strategic National Stockpile, surge capacity and medical research into COVID-19.
Robust Worker and Transparency Protections on Government Loans
- No stock buybacks or dividends for the length of any loan provided by the Treasury plus 1 year.
- Restrictions on any increases to executive compensation.
- Protect collective bargaining agreements.
- Real-time public reporting of Treasury transactions under the Act, including terms of loans, investments or other assistance to corporations.
- Prohibition on businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments getting loans or investments from Treasury programs.
- Creation of Treasury Department Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to provide oversight of Treasury loans and investments and a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to protect taxpayer dollars. • Creation of a Congressional Oversight Commission to enhance legislative oversight of pandemic response.
Small Business Rescue Plan ($377 billion)
- $350 billion in loan forgiveness grants to small businesses and non-profits to maintain existing workforce and help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities.
- $10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for small business operating costs. • $17 billion for SBA to cover 6 months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.
Protected Over 2 Million Aviation Industry Jobs
- Democrats secured direct payroll payments to keep millions of airline workers on the job and receiving paychecks.
- Airline companies will be prohibited from stock buybacks and dividends for the entire life of the grant plus one year.
- Collective Bargaining Agreements negotiated by workers will be protected.
Increased Direct Payments to Working Americans
- Democrats fought to double cash payments to the working class Americans from $600 to $1,200
- An additional $500 cash payment is available per child.
- The full payment is available for individuals making up to $75,000 (individual) and $150,000 (married).
- The value begins decreasing and then phases out completely for those making over the full payment income cap.
State and Local Coronavirus Expenditures Fund ($150 billion)
To assist States, Tribes, and local governments that must pay for new expenses related to COVID-19 response.
- $150 billion, with a small-state minimum of $1.25 billion
- Tribal set-aside of $8 billion
Emergency Appropriations ($330 billion, including $100 billion for hospitals and providers mentioned above)
- $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile supplies of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies, which are distributed to State and local health agencies, hospitals and other healthcare entities facing shortages during emergencies.
- $1 billion for the Defense Production Act to bolster domestic supply chains, enabling industry to quickly ramp up production of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other urgently needed medical supplies, and billions dollars more for federal, state, and local health agencies to purchase such equipment.
- $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus, including for the purchase of personal protective equipment; laboratory testing to detect positive cases; infection control and mitigation at the local level to prevent the spread of the virus; and other public health preparedness and response activities.
- $45 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, more than doubling the available funding, to provide for the immediate needs of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as private non-profits performing critical and essential services, to protect citizens and help them recover from the overwhelming effects of COVID-19. Reimbursable activities may include medical response, personal protective equipment, National Guard deployment, coordination of logistics, safety measures, and community services nationwide.
- $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions to continue to provide educational services to their students and support the on-going functionality of school districts and institutions.
- $25 billion in aid to our nation’s transit systems to help protect public health and safety while ensuring access to jobs, medical treatment, food, and other essential services.
- $10 billion in grants to help our nation’s airports as the aviation sector grapples with the most steep and potentially sustained decline in air travel in history.
- $3.5 billion in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant to provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus.
- More than $7 billion for affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs. This funding will help low-income and working class Americans avoid evictions and minimize any impacts caused by loss of employment, and child care, or other unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19, and support additional assistance to prevent eviction and for people experiencing homelessness
- More than $6.5 billion in Federal funding for CDBG, the Economic Development Administration, and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help mitigate the local economic crisis and rebuild impacted industries such as tourism or manufacturing supply chains.
- $400 million in election assistance for the states to help prepare for the 2020 election cycle, including to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration, and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more pollworkers. • $2 billion in funding to strengthen response capacity and support tribal governments: o $1.03 billion to the Indian Health Service to support tribal health care system response efforts; o $100 million more for the USDA Food Distribution Program for Indian Reservations; o $453 million to assist tribes through the Bureau of Indian Affairs; o $69 million to help tribal schools, colleges and universities through for the Bureau of Indian Education; and o $300 million more to the HUD Indian Tribal Block Grant program. • $1 billion to recapitalize Amtrak after steep ridership declines related to the outbreak. This will keep thousands of Amtrak employees employed, and ensure America’s intercity passenger rail stays on track, continuing service in the Northeast and nationwide.
Student Loan Relief
- To alleviate the pressure of student loan costs during this crisis, Senate Democrats fought for the inclusion of tax relief encouraging employers to implement student loan repayment programs. This provision will exclude up to $5,250 in qualifying student loan repayments paid by the employer on behalf of the employee from income for income tax purposes.
Status of Your Check
Singles who have adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 would get $1,200 and married couples who file taxes jointly and earn less than $150,000 would get $2,400. Singles who earn less than $99,000 and married couples who earn less than $198,000 would get a partial benefit.
The checks will be sent based your 2019 or 2018 adjusted gross income on your tax return. If you haven’t filed a tax return, you should file a tax return quickly if you can. The IRS will also access information from Social Security to send the payments.
But what if the IRS can’t track you down to send you a stimulus check?
All is not lost. Just delayed.
If you don’t receive your check, you’ll see the benefit as a tax refund when you file your return in 2020.
That’s because the funds from the stimulus check are actually an advance on a credit you will be able to take on your 2020 tax return.
So while the funds are meant to give relief now, if you don’t get it, you can still take the credit on your 2020 return and you’d get the stimulus amount in the form of a tax refund, said Garrett Watson, senior policy analyst for The Tax Foundation..
Still not sure if you qualify? Use the stimulus check calculator to see what benefit you can expect.
Some helpful links to understand the Federal Stimulus Package:
How to Stay Informed
Below is an extensive list of information, statistics, and resources to ensure you stay up-to-date with any changes happening due to COVID-19.
Pennsylvania Department of Health
- The PA DoH Daily COVID-19 report. Updated regularly throughout the day.
- Follow the PA Health Department on Twitter.
- Follow them on Facebook.
A complete list of information and resources available to you by county:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Track confirmed cases in the US. (This site is updated weekdays at noon and shows numbers that were current as of 4 p.m. the previous day.)
- CDC provided information regarding “What you should know about COVID-19“
- Follow the CDC on Twitter.
- Follow the CDC on Facebook.
- Learn how best to prevent “community transition” with specific details on what to do before, during, and after outbreaks.
World Health Organization
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act)
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provided for the expansion of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This is a federal program administered by the US Department of Labor.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published its first round of implementation guidance pursuant to the FFCRA yesterday.
The following was provided to us as guidance by the USDOL and has been posted on our website. The information can be found at: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/FFCRA.aspx
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Please read the below fact sheets to determine if you are eligible.