Special Message from Steve on COVID-19 Response and Resources
It goes without saying that we are facing the toughest public health and, very likely, economic crises in the lifetimes of most of us. To get through them, we will all need to do our part.
For individuals, that means practicing good hygiene, social distancing, and staying home as much as possible. It also means looking out for each other – especially the elderly and others for whom the virus presents the greatest risk – and not giving in to panic.
For so-called non-essential businesses, it means heeding the Governor’s call to close for the next two weeks in an effort to “flatten the curve,” thereby buying our hospitals and treatment centers the time they need to treat everyone who needs critical care.
For those of us in government, it means doing everything we can to make sure that health care providers have the supplies they need, and that relief is provided for businesses who are taking a hit as a result of the crisis, either because they need to shut down for a time or because they are seeing a decrease in income. As I write this, the state is working with the Small Business Administration on a $61 million program to provide up to $100,000 per small business in low to zero interest loans. But we will need to do more. Much of the relief will, by necessity, come from the federal government in a new stimulus package. While the details of that package will be debated in Washington over the coming days, in my view, it must include significant relief for both employers and employees.
These are trying times. But we are all in them together and together we will get through them.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) as of 8:00 am today, the statewide total of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is 133 with 9 of them in Bucks County. There has been one fatality in Pennsylvania as a result of the virus. DOH is updating the numbers regularly. You can find more information about the cases statewide and other health resources here.
I want to reiterate what Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine has emphasized in our daily conference call updates: “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm; stay home and stay safe.”
As we follow the evolution of this pandemic in other countries, it’s clear that thousands of people are already infected whether they display symptoms or not, so we will continue to see the case counts increase, especially as more testing opportunities become available.
According to DOH, statewide, there are 133 cases of COVID-19 reported from commercial, hospital, and state labs. There are 1,187 patients who have tested negative. With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending.
As commercial testing becomes more available, it is still necessary to contact your doctor in order to request a test.
St. Mary Medical Center in Middletown and Doylestown Hospital have both opened drive-up on-site COVID-19 testing sites. These sites are not open to the general public, and require patients to have a prescription and appointment in order to receive a screening.
You can do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by doing the following:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
- Clean surfaces frequently.
- Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
School and Business Closures
This week, Governor Tom Wolf announced mitigation efforts statewide. These include non-essential businesses and all Pennsylvania K-12 schools. Additionally, the governor:
- Called on organizers (whether groups or individuals) to cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 10 people or more for at least the next 8 weeks;
- Encouraged religious leaders to exercise discretion in order to mitigate the spread of illness;
- Initiated a no-visitor policy at all state correctional facilities and nursing homes to ensure the safety of inmates, residents, staff, and visitors;
- Restricted visitors in state centers to ensure health and safety for individuals with an intellectual disability; and
- Restricted visitors in assisted living and personal care homes to minimize exposure to our seniors and individuals with disabilities.
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has a resource page for small businesses that provides guidance for essential and non-essential businesses and how to apply for assistance, such as low interest loans from the Small Business Administration Loan Program.
While state park visitor centers and restrooms are closed and all public programs, events, and trainings are canceled, the public may access trails, lakes, roads, and parking for passive and dispersed recreation, such as hiking, while practicing social distancing and avoiding groups and crowds.
All Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers in Pennsylvania will be closed for two weeks effective close of business on Monday, March 16.
Customers may complete various transactions and access multiple resources at 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.
Driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner's permits including CDL holders, vehicle registration, safety inspection, emissions inspection, and disabilities placard scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended until April 30, 2020.
Driver licenses, photo ID cards, and vehicle registration may also be renewed online at any time.
For more information on PennDOT services available during the COVID-19 response please visit: https://www.penndot.gov/pages/coronavirus.aspx.
The pandemic has created a terrible crisis for all businesses, but especially for our local small businesses who rely on hourly workers. Many of our local restaurants are adhering to social distancing by offering curb takeout. So please consider supporting them during this time. My family and I are doing just that.
In the meantime, I am working with state and federal officials to support our local businesses and employees with needed relief. We hope to have more details on that in the coming days.
L&I COVID-19 UC/WC RESOURCES
Under Unemployment Compensation Law, wages from self-employment or those from the business you own are NOT eligible wages for the purposes of determining financial eligibility. However, they may be used to qualify for a small business loan through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, or for other programs available through the Small Business Administration. Those who are self-employed are considered small businesses. Additionally, if this is a sideline business and the individual has another source of income from an employer, they may have enough wages from that employer to be financially eligible.
Other Things You Can Do
Vote by Mail
Pennsylvania voters can now apply online for mail-in & absentee voting, so you can continue practicing social distancing while making your voice heard. Apply online at https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/OnlineAbsenteeApplication/#/OnlineAbsenteeBegin.
Complete the Census
Be counted in the 2020 census by completing the form online at https://2020census.gov/.
Price gouging during a public emergency is not only wrong, it’s illegal. If you witness price gouging, email the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/ to learn more.
Please visit the district newsroom to view additional stories, videos, and photos from across the district and the commonwealth.
You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more regular updates.
My Office is Here to Serve You. How Can We Help?
Legislation: If you are interested in the status of a certain piece of legislation or obtaining copies of bills, my office will be able to provide that information to you.
Forms and Applications: You can reach out to my office for assistance with any number of forms, including birth and death certificates, grant applications, consumer complaint forms, hunting or fishing licenses, notary public applications, and voter registration.
Notary: A certified notary is available in both my Newtown and Doylestown office. Staffers can provide this service at no charge for most official documents and state forms. Please call ahead to make sure our notary is in the office and can accommodate the work you are requesting.
State Agencies: My office can assist in any dealings with state agencies, including the Department of Corrections, Military and Veterans Affairs, PennDOT, Department of Human Services, and State Police.
Licenses and Motor Vehicles: Help is available through my office or the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver and Vehicle Services website if you need assistance processing motor vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses, learner’s permits, or other Department of Transportation forms.
Visiting the Capitol: You can visit the Pennsylvania Capitol website or contact my office about setting up school or other group trips to the Capitol.
Offices of State Senator Steve Santarsiero
2003 Lower State Road
Building 100, Suite 121
Doylestown, PA 18901
3 Terry Drive
Newtown, PA 18940
184 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203010
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3010
|TULLYTOWN SATELLITE OFFICE
500 Main Street
Tullytown, PA 19007
Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM