of Agriculture: Opportunity for Dairy Farmer COVID-19 Relief Closes September
Harrisburg, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding
today reminded Pennsylvania dairy farmers that the deadline to apply for the CARES Act-funded Dairy
Indemnity Program, which provides financial relief for losses due to
discarded or displaced milk during the COVID-19 pandemic, is September 30,
“Early in the pandemic, our
dairy industry was in a complete free-fall with no certainty,” said Secretary
Redding. “This program is providing much-needed relief to our farmers. If you
know a dairy farmer that faced the hardship of dumping milk down the drain,
urge them to apply for the Dairy Indemnity Program. This is not a hand out,
it’s a hand up.”
The following are encouraged to
apply for direct relief payments, losses must have occurred between March 6,
2020 and September 30, 2020:
dairy farmer that experienced financial losses due to discarded or
displaced milk and has not previously applied;
dairy farmer who was assessed a fee by their cooperative for discarded
milk and has not previously applied;
dairy farmer who previously applied in the above categories, but only
applied for $1,500 in losses or has incurred additional losses since their
that experienced a loss due to discarded milk on behalf of their
member-producers and who have not yet assessed their member-producers
for these losses may be eligible for reimbursement for those losses if
funding is still available after all other claims have been paid.
Producers or cooperatives
with questions about eligibility should contact Morgan Sheffield at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Those ready to apply can do so online, by visiting the Resources tab found at agriculture.pa.gov/covid.
More than 1,300 applications
have been submitted for the first round of $1,500 in direct relief. Losses
above $1,500 will be paid with what remains from the $15 million that was
allocated for this program at a pro-rated rate after the September 30
deadline, once all initial $1,500 payments are made.
Pennsylvania is home to
nearly 7,000 dairy farms with an economic impact of $12 billion and more than
52,000 jobs. The commonwealth’s more than 500,000 cows produce more than 10.2
billion pounds of milk annually, ranking Pennsylvania seventh in the nation
for total milk production.
For information as it relates
to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania visit agriculture.pa.gov/COVID. For the most accurate, timely
information related to Health in Pennsylvania, visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.
Powers – 717.783.2628
September 23, 2020
Launches UC Chatbot and New Employer Live Chat Capabilities, Giving Greater
Accessibility to UC Claimants and Employers
PA – The
Department of Labor & Industry’s (L&I) Office of Unemployment Compensation (UC) has updated its UC Live Chat feature to include a
virtual assistant to provide immediate assistance in general questions and
guidance on UC-related information. In addition, UC has expanded access so
that employers can now ask questions related to their business accounts.
upgrades to the UC Live Chat and the introduction of the new chatbot provide
added convenience and communication options between UC claimants and staff,”
said Secretary Oleksiak. “The addition and upgrades to the chat feature
provides better customer service to claimants, expedites claims processing,
and helps reduce call volume to UC Service Centers (UCSC). We are proud to
unveil these new resources, which we hope will have a significant positive
impact for UC claimants and employers.
The UC Live Chat capability was launched to assist
claimants last summer. The feature provides a virtual means of communication
for claimants to ask questions, provide information, and have claims concerns
addressed by UC staff. Since its launch, the feature has hosted more than
300,000 UC Live Chats with claimants.
virtual assistant can provide responses for nearly 450 questions regarding UC
claims and will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If the
chatbot is unable to assist with general UC queries, users can request being
transferred to an agent for additional assistance.
staff has also created two additional chat options specifically geared toward
assisting business customers. Employers can now use UC Live Chat to engage
with the Unemployment Compensation Resource Center (UCRC), which handles
employer issues. Employers can now get answers to UC-related questions
regarding their business accounts, including Monthly Notice of Compensation
Charges, Relief from Charges, the Shared Work program, and more.
The new employer chat option will be
available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. UC Chat Live will be
available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. The new UC
chatbot will be available 24/7 to provide virtual assistance.
www.uc.pa.gov and select “UC Live Chat” on the icon
bar to start a chat.
DeSantis, 717-787-7530 or email@example.com
# # #
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2020
Wolf Administration Promotes Programs
and Resources Available to Pennsylvania Families with Children During
COVID-19 Crisis and 2020-21 Back-to-School Season
Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania’s secretaries of the
departments of Health, Education and Human Services today assured
Pennsylvania families that the Wolf Administration is committed to helping
families with children overcome challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Human Services announced that
it is creating flexibilities in child care options, including temporarily
suspending some regulatory policies on school-age child care to give families
options on learning pods, and providing assistance to families struggling
financially. Health promoted healthy habits to protect children and
communities, and Education focused on how to nurture every child’s
As schools begin the new
school year – one that will be unprecedented in many ways – administration
officials encouraged parents and guardians of school-age children to
reinforce routines and practice habits that prioritize a child’s mental,
physical, social and emotional health.
“This school year may look
different for Pennsylvanians, but ensuring students have everything they need
to succeed in education has never been a more important task on the
back-to-school to-do list,” Secretary of Health Dr. Levine said.
“Back-to-school essentials like teaching healthy habits, wearing a mask and
staying up-to-date on all recommended immunizations must be done to help
protect your student and others around them, like those who cannot wear masks
or get vaccinated. It is essential that everyone take proper steps to protect
against COVID-19 and a number of other serious, life-threatening diseases as
students resume learning.”
As they consider a mountain
of scientific information that grows daily, the resulting guidance of
public-health professionals and the wide-ranging spectrum of opinions among
their community members, school boards and educators across Pennsylvania are
demonstrating an unwavering commitment to two important priorities: the
health and safety of everyone and the rights of our children to continue
their educational journeys.
“As the school year
progresses, the Wolf Administration will continue to offer resources to
school communities to help them make decisions and meet the needs of their
students,” Department of Education (PDE) Secretary Pedro Rivera said. “The
department, school leaders and families are all focused on the health and
safety of children and staff, and to ensuring our students can continue to
engage in educational opportunities and grow.”
Throughout the summer, PDE
worked with partners inside and outside of state government to create
resources to help school leaders make difficult decisions about the return to
school, including public health guidance, instructional model
recommendations, and distributing $87.5 million in Governor's Emergency
Education Relief (GEER) Funds. Knowing that schools are more than classrooms,
PDE has also developed resources for aiding in student social and emotional
learning, as well as supporting student and
staff wellness. PDE
has also provided resources to parents of
children with special needs
to help them engage with schools in adapting their children’s educational
Before the pandemic,
Pennsylvania’s public-assistance system administered by the Department of
Human Services (DHS) served approximately 3.3 million people. The numbers of
Pennsylvanians enrolled in safety-net programs like Medicaid and the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have steadily increased
since March, and DHS anticipates that trend to continue as economic
instability takes hold nationwide.
“This has been an extremely
difficult time for families, particularly those with children. This virus has
been cruel, and its effects only compound the longer this crisis drags on.
But we are going to beat this virus. Things will get better,” Department of
Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller said. “I want you to know that
your family is not alone. There are resources available to help you, and you
have every right to reach out and ask for help when you need it.”
DHS has announced the
temporary suspension of some regulatory policies on school-age child care,
with the goal of providing flexibilities for families who need safe child
care options during traditional school hours for children who are distance
“We want children to be in
situations where they are safe and supervised by trusted adults; where they
are able to focus on their education; and where their interactions with other
people are limited so as to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” Secretary
Miller said. “What we don’t want are parents quitting their jobs to stay home
with their school-age children.”
Families may create
collectives – or learning pods – of other trusted families in their community
who can depend on each other for supervised child care during school hours
without needing a licensed child care certification. Guidance for families
interested in establishing learning pods is available online here.
DHS is also collaborating
with organizations across Pennsylvania, including the United Way and YMCA, to
establish part-day child care programs for school-age children. These
programs are required to develop Health and Safety plans for COVID-19
mitigation and to comply with requirements under Pennsylvania’s Child
Protective Services Law for all adults working with children to have
background clearance checks. Soon, DHS will launch a tool on its website
where families can go for information about these programs.
When possible, DHS recommends
that families choose licensed child care providers, which have routine
oversight and must comply with statewide child care regulations.
Accommodations for school-age children engaged in distance learning will
depend on the individual provider, so families should have that discussion
with the provider before enrolling their school-age child. To find licensed
providers in your community, visit www.findchildcare.pa.gov or contact your Early Learning
Resource Center (ELRC). Find your ELRC at www.raiseyourstar.org.
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP helps more than 1.9
million Pennsylvanians expand purchasing power by providing money each month
to spend on groceries, helping households have resources to purchase enough
food to avoid going hungry. Inadequate food and chronic nutrient deficiencies
have profound effects on a person’s life and health, including increased
risks for chronic diseases, higher chances of hospitalization, poorer overall
health, and increased health care costs.
Families struggling to afford
food should consider applying for SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.
Pennsylvanians can apply any time at www.compass.state.pa.us.
Those who prefer to submit
paper documentation can print from the website or request an application by
phone at 1-800-692-7462 and mail it to their local County Assistance Office (CAO) or place it in a CAO’s secure
drop box, if available. While CAOs remain closed to the public, the work
continues to process applications, determine eligibility and issue benefits.
Applications are processed within six days on average for SNAP and once a
benefit is approved, it can be immediately accessed. All Pennsylvanians who
are in a difficult financial situation due to the economic challenges of this
pandemic should apply to see if they are eligible for assistance.
Pennsylvanians who have lost
health coverage or are currently uninsured and need coverage for themselves
or their children may qualify for coverage through Medicaid and the
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Medicaid and CHIP provide
coverage for routine and emergency health services, tests and screenings, and
prescriptions. COVID-19 testing and treatment are also covered by both
Medicaid and CHIP.
Medicaid and CHIP enroll
individuals throughout the year and do not have a limited or special
enrollment time, so people needing health coverage can apply for these
programs at any time. There are income limits for Medicaid, but all children
qualify for coverage through CHIP regardless of family income. Families can
apply for Medicaid or CHIP at www.compass.state.pa.us.
Women, Infants and
Children Program (WIC)
The Pennsylvania Special
Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has
improved the nutrition and health of families in Pennsylvania since 1974 by
providing nutrition services, breastfeeding support, health care and social
service referrals, and healthy foods. Through WIC, pregnant women, mothers,
and caregivers of infants and young children learn about good nutrition to
keep themselves and their families healthy.
WIC serves pregnant women,
breastfeeding women for up to one year postpartum, women up to six months
postpartum who are not breastfeeding, and infants and children under 5 years
old. Furthermore, these individuals must also meet WIC income guidelines and a medical or nutritional risk, which
is determined at the WIC certification appointment. To apply for WIC, call
the toll-free WIC Hotline 1-800-WIC-WINS to be connected to WIC office staff
who will answer your questions and schedule your appointment, or get started online.
DHS administers ChildLine,
which is a 24/7 hotline available to anyone concerned for the safety or
well-being of a child. To report a concern, call 1-800-932-0313.
Anyone can make a report to
ChildLine. Anyone who is not a mandated reporter can make a report to
ChildLine anonymously. DHS is encouraging all Pennsylvanians to learn more
about the signs of potential abuse or neglect and make a report to ChildLine
if they suspect abuse or neglect. Pennsylvanians can learn more about
potential signs of abuse at www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov.
The Department of Health
(DOH) provides vaccines for specific diseases that affect infants, children,
adolescents and adults. These vaccines are available through both public and
private health care providers. In addition to providing vaccines, DOH offers educational
programs, ongoing disease surveillance systems, disease investigations,
assessment of immunization coverage, immunization registry and tracking
systems, outbreak control interventions, and special efforts directed toward
the prevention of hepatitis B disease.
It is important to note that
due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DOH has temporarily suspended the regulation regarding requirements
for children’s immunization for a two-month period after the beginning of the
school year or the beginning of enrollment in an early childhood education
program. As a recommendation, caregivers should schedule immunization appointments
early since many health care providers may have delays in scheduling and
decreased appointment windows.
Anyone looking to visit a
local immunization clinic to receive vaccinations should call 1-877-PA-HEALTH
(1-877-724-3258) to schedule an appointment. Pennsylvanians should have their
vaccination records available when they call to make an appointment. A parent
or legal guardian must accompany a child receiving vaccinations.
Support and Referral
Anyone struggling with mental
health and in need of referrals to helpful programs can call Pennsylvania’s
new Support & Referral Helpline, which is operated 24/7 by skilled
caseworkers who can provide emotional support during this difficult period.
The number to call is 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.
Another helpful resource is
the 2-1-1 hotline operated by the United Way, which can
connect people and families to local resources that can help during the
public health crisis.
The Wolf Administration
recently launched an online Mental Health Resources
Guide to provide
Pennsylvanians with a full complement of resources available to help everyone
with their mental health needs.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Erin James, DHS -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Nate Wardle, DOH – email@example.com
Eric Levis, PDE -- firstname.lastname@example.org
for Extra $300 Per Week to Eligible Unemployed Workers
PA – Department
of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak today announced
Pennsylvania will get nearly $1.5 billion to provide an extra $300 per week
to eligible unemployed workers through the temporary federal Lost Wages
Assistance (LWA) program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management
“The recently ended $600
weekly federal benefit was a true lifeline to many Pennsylvanians and I know
you are anxious for these new payments to begin,” said Secretary Oleksiak.
“L&I is working as quickly as possible to evaluate what it will take to
implement this program and begin paying the $300 weekly supplement in
Pennsylvania, while awaiting final program guidance from the federal
government. We will get this money into the pockets of the eligible
Pennsylvanians who need it and will be sure to keep everyone updated
throughout this complex process.”
qualify for the extra $300, the program requires that eligible individuals
must receive at least $100 per week in benefits from:
Unemployment Compensation (UC);
Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC);
Unemployment Assistance (PUA);
Compensation (STC) or Shared Work; and
Readjustment Allowance (TRA).
Individuals must also
self-certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to
disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Payments will be made to
eligible claimants retroactively from August 1, 2020.
Pennsylvania applied to the
temporary program on Friday. The grant will provide the extra $300 weekly
payment until the FEMA funding is exhausted, the federal government enacts a
new law, or extends the recently ended Federal Pandemic Unemployment
Compensation program. LWA will run for a minimum of three weeks and will end
no later than December 27, 2020.
The LWA program is not a true
unemployment insurance program and is funded by $44 billion from FEMA that is
intended for storm disaster relief. For this reason, payments to eligible
workers will be delayed as states, including Pennsylvania, create new systems
Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, funded entirely by the federal
government, ended on July 25. Although the U.S. House of Representatives
voted to continue the benefit, Senate Republicans have yet to approve its
extension. On August 8, President
Trump authorized the Lost Wages Assistance plan.
CONTACT: Penny Ickes, email@example.com
# # #
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2020
Gov. Wolf Announces Protections from Foreclosures and Evictions Through Aug. 31
Harrisburg, PA - Governor Tom Wolf today signed a new executive order that protects homeowners and renters from eviction or foreclosure until Aug. 31, if they have not received assistance from a new program administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) or are not already receiving relief through one of several federal foreclosure moratorium programs or judicial orders. Lenders and property owners that receive funds through the PHFA program agree not pursue foreclosure or eviction actions as a condition of participation in the program.
“I am taking this action to help families know they will have a roof over their heads and a place to live while all of us fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Wolf. “It takes one more burden off of people who are struggling and ensures that families can remain in their homes so they can protect their health and wellbeing.”
The governor signed legislation in May providing $150 million for rental assistance and $25 million for mortgage assistance through PHFA with CARES Act funds. PHFA began accepting applications July 6.
Eligibility information and applications for renters and homeowners is available on the PHFA website.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Housing Finance Agency, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have each extended eviction and foreclosure protections for housing under their authority to Aug. 31.
In almost all circumstances, renters and homeowners are required to continue making monthly payments if they can. Pennsylvanians struggling to make monthly payments should contact their landlord or mortgage servicer immediately. The governor’s executive order does not apply to proceedings regarding property damage or illegal activity.
The governor previously signed an executive order suspending evictions and foreclosures, which expires Friday. That action followed a Pennsylvania Supreme Court order which closed court eviction proceedings until May 11.
MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, firstname.lastname@example.org
# # #
Masks are Mandatory in PA Businesses
Gov. Wolf: Masks are Mandatory in Pennsylvania Businesses
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today reminded all Pennsylvania residents and businesses that masks are mandatory when visiting a business.
“The importance of mask-wearing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect people and businesses cannot be overstated,” Gov. Wolf said. “Masks are required in businesses, for the entire time someone is visiting a business. It’s that simple and that important to continue to safely reopen the state and keep our case counts on the decline.”
Multiple state government agencies sent a communication to Pennsylvania businesses this week outlining mask requirements:
- Everyone must wear a mask, unless they have a medical reason not to or are under the age of 2. That includes workers and customers. Remember, my mask protects you and your mask protects me.
- No mask, no shirt, no shoes, no service. If a worker or customer attempts to enter your business without a mask on, ask them to leave and return when they have a mask. A fabric mask is fine.
- Find PPE to protect your workers. Masks and other PPE can be hard to find given the high demand. But we’ve got you covered. Check out our online directory of PPE manufacturers and suppliers in Pennsylvania.
- Have good mask hygiene. Don’t touch the front of your mask. Make sure it covers both your nose and mouth. Don’t lift it up when talking to someone. Remember, the virus travels in the droplets we breath out when talking or laughing, not just when we cough or sneeze. If wearing a fabric mask, make sure you wash it and let it fully dry between uses.
“Wearing masks in a business or when in a public space where social distancing can’t be maintained is a required, vital practice to stopping the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said. “It’s also a sign of respect for others because your mask is protecting them. Let’s continue to get through this together.”
# # #
As of June 19, these 54 counties are in the green phase: Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Elk, Fayette, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, Luzerne, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, Wyoming, and York.
After a county transitions to the yellow phase, it is closely monitored for increased risk, such as significant outbreaks. If overall risk remains mitigated for 14 days, the county will transition to the green phase.
The green phase eases most restrictions by lifting the stay-at-home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health. Some restrictions, such as mask-wearing, do remain in place.
It is important to continue to monitor public health indicators and adjust orders and restrictions as necessary to ensure the spread of disease remains at a minimum.
Work and Congregate Settings Restrictions
- Continued Telework Strongly Encouraged
- Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Updated Business and Building Safety Requirements
- All Businesses Operating at 50% Occupancy in the Yellow Phase May Increase to 75% Occupancy
- Child Care May Open Complying with Guidance
- Congregate Care Restrictions in Place
- Prison and Hospital Restrictions Determined by Individual Facilities
- Schools Subject to CDC and Commonwealth Guidance
- Large Gatherings of More Than 250 Prohibited
- Masks are Required When Entering a Business
- Restaurants and Bars Open at 50% Occupancy
- Personal Care Services (including hair salons and barbershops) Open at 50% Occupancy and by Appointment Only
- Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities, and Personal Care Services (such as gyms and spas) Open at 50% Occupancy with Appointments Strongly Encouraged
- All Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) Open at 50% Occupancy
- Construction Activity May Return to Full Capacity with Continued Implementation of Protocols
The state continues to use risk-based metrics from Carnegie Mellon University and the Department of Health and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency data dashboard available here.
The state continues to increase testing and ramp up contact-tracing efforts. As of June 18, there are a total of 518 contact tracers, and a total of 4,161 contacts being monitored.
The Department of Health received a total of 89,350 test results in the past seven days, an average of 12,764 a day. The 30-day average of test results received is more than 13,934.
There were 2,763 total cases added to investigations for the week of June 12 through 18.
The latest business guidance, including outdoor recreation guidance, can be found here.
Preliminary sports guidance can be found here.
The Susquehanna County Recycling Center’s public drop-off for cans, bottles, paper and cardboard is currently available to Susquehanna County residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please, make sure your cans and bottles are rinsed clean. And your paper and cardboard should remain clean and dry with no paper plates, cups, tissues, paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, diapers, Q-tips, photographs, milk/juice cartons, wrappers, or Styrofoam. For more information, please contact the Recycling Center at 570-278-3589.
SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY REMAINS IN STATE OF EMERGENCY
The Susquehanna County Commissioners have signed a Declaration of Disaster Emergency effective March 19, 2020 in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
The declaration directs the Susquehanna County Emergency Management Agency to coordinate the activities of the emergency response, to take all appropriate action needed to alleviate the effects of this disaster, to aid in the restoration of essential public services, and to take any other emergency response actions deemed necessary. As of Monday, March 23, 2020 all County buildings are open for emergency and essential functions by appointment only. Appointments can be requested by calling the Department directly or by calling 570-278-4600.
In an effort to further restrict potential COVID-19 exposure within the courts, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced that all Pennsylvania courts – including trial and intermediate appellate courts – are closed to the public for non-essential functions through at least April 3, 2020. The Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County will remain open for essential judicial functions. If you have any questions, please contact Court Administration at 570-278-6673.
The County Commissioners strongly encourage all residents to follow the information released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health ( https://www.health.pa.gov ) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( https://www.cdc.gov ). The most recent information, recommendations, and resources can be found on their websites. A page dedicated to Covid-19 has been placed on the Susquehanna County Website ( http://www.susqco.com ) . Information regarding items such as the blood shortage, food pantries and food distribution plans are being updated here as well.
Declaration of Emergency.03.19.20220.pdf
The dashboard can be found in the COVID-19 section of health.pa.gov.
We encourage those in need to connect to 211 for assistance. It is free, confidential and available 24/7. PA 2-1-1 Northeast is part of the national 2-1-1 Call Centers initiative designed to provide and easy-to-remember telephone number, chat, text, and a web resource for finding health and human services information for everyday needs and crisis situations. People can get help simply by calling 211, texting 211 or logging onto nepa211.org.
Local service center info for farmers...(click below)
COVID-19 RESOURCE GUIDE FOR OLDER AMERICANS.
COVID-19 RESOURCE FOR OLDER ADULTS
B / S / S / T Area On Aging
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS THE SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE IS OPEN. CALL 570-278-5955
The Montrose Weekender has stopped its weekly publication which was a primary means of communication to our veterans and their families using the monthly “Veterans Corner” articles. The weekender was sent to over 12,700 homes. In order to help fill this void these monthly articles will now be posted and changed each month on the Susquehanna County Veterans Affairs web site at susqco.com. You may also be able to get this information by listening to the broadcasts of the WPEL radio station at 96.5 FW. As always you may call the VA office at (570) 278-5955 for any assistance needed.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2020
Wolf Administration Provides Guidance to Resume High School and Other Summer Sports
Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today issued preliminary guidance for high school and recreational sports teams to resume voluntary workouts and other in-person activities in the state’s yellow and green phases. The guidance includes college and professional sports.
“Pennsylvania has some of the best athletes and teams in the country and they can now begin to safely return to organized sports,” said Gov. Wolf. This guidance balances keeping student athletes safe from COVID-19 while allowing them to participate in an important part of their lives.
“This is another step toward reopening our state and getting things back on track. As students and teammates get ready to train and compete, it’s important that they follow precautions to protect each other and their community from the risk of COVID-19.”
The preliminary guidance is a starting point for summer sports teams and the Wolf Administration will continue to work with stakeholders. The guidance for fall, winter and spring sports seasons may be updated.
Public and private K-12 schools under the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) and the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PISAA) in the yellow and green phase can resume voluntary sports-related workouts. Schools must first develop an athletic health and safety plan in alignment with the Department of Education's Preliminary Guidance for Phased Reopening of Schools guidance, that is approved by the local board of directors and posted on the school’s website.
Recreational and amateur sports teams in the green phase that are not affiliated with a K-12 school can hold in-person activities, including games and practices. Examples include basketball, hockey, field hockey, football, soccer, swimming, baseball, softball, lacrosse, gymnastics and kickball. Youth sports organizations should follow CDC guidelines.
Gatherings of all participants, including players, athletic staff, officials and spectators are limited to 25 in the yellow phase and 250, or 50 percent capacity, in the green phase, as outlined in the Process to Reopen Pennsylvania.
League and team staff must review CDC guidance for youth sports. Coaches and other adult personnel should wear face coverings and screen athletes for symptoms before practices and games. All participants must follow safe hygiene and social distancing practices, avoid unnecessary physical contact, and clean and disinfect equipment and facilities. Teams are encouraged to stagger drop-off and pick-up times at outdoor locations and designate entrances and exits to facilities.
Parents and other spectators should practice social distancing, wear face coverings and not enter the field or bench areas. Parents should monitor children for COVID-19 symptoms and evaluate children at higher risk for severe illnesses.
College sports sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), including intramural and club sports, can resume in-person activity after developing an athletic health and safety plan in alignment with PDE’s Postsecondary Education Institutions and Adult Education Programs guidance.
Professional sports can resume immediately. Teams or leagues in the yellow phase, or if more than 250 people are on site in the green phase, must have a COVID-19 safety plan approved by the Department of Health.
The guidance released today provides additional information.
The Wolf Administration also updated guidance on outdoor recreation today and previously released summer guidance for camps, pools, and child care.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION PLANS ARE ON SCHOOL DISTRICT WEBSITES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2020
Gov. Wolf: Updated Business Guidance on Outdoor Recreation Available for Yellow and Green Phases of Reopening
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today released updated guidance regarding the types of outdoor recreation that businesses may offer during the yellow and green phases of reopening, and how they may do so safely, as the commonwealth continues to open its own public recreation facilities across the state.
“As summer quickly approaches and all 67 counties are in either yellow or green phases of reopening, it was important to provide businesses with the guidance necessary to safely reopen or plan for reopening as they reach the green phase,” Gov. Wolf said. “I want all Pennsylvanians to remain active and to enjoy all the recreation the commonwealth has to offer, but we must do so safely and with social distancing top of mind.”
The new guidance allows outdoor activities like mountain biking, outdoor miniature golf, motorsports venues, go carts, rock climbing, disc golf, paintball, horse riding, tennis, archery or shooting, and other similar facilities that conduct operations outdoors to resume operation in yellow phase counties.
Businesses that operate these outdoor recreational activities may resume operations but may not operate indoor spaces for public or visitor use other than restrooms and ticketing and entry locations.
Online ticketing and timed or staged entry are strongly encouraged to manage occupancy rates and physical distancing.
These businesses must ensure that visitors practice social distancing and do not congregate at entry gates, kiosks, concession stands, or similar locations.
The announcement comes as Pennsylvania's own recreational facilities are reopening to the public, with facilities in state parks and forests such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and yurts opening statewide on Friday, June 12, and most state park swimming pools in yellow phase and green phase counties reopening as of Saturday, June 13. As of Saturday, June 6, all 58 state park beaches are open to swimming.
Capacity at beaches and pools will be limited to 50 percent of the normal facility capacity and mitigation measures, including restricting visitor parking, controlling facility access, ensuring social distancing and the wearing of face masks when not in the water, must remain in place. All Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance remains in effect.
The updated guidance can be found here.
More information on Governor Wolf’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania can be found here.
Keep up with state park and forest facility reopenings using the DCNR Reopening Map.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2020
Gov. Wolf Announces $225 Million Grant Program for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
Harrisburg, PA — Governor Tom Wolf today announced a $225 million statewide grant program to support small businesses that were impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis and subsequent business closure order.
“As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and shift our focus toward reopening our commonwealth, we need to help all Pennsylvanians recover. We need to provide assistance for those who were hurt by the pandemic and the resulting economic downturn,” Gov. Wolf said. “This new program will provide direct support to impacted businesses to cover operating expenses during the shutdown and the transition to reopening.”
The funding was developed in partnership with state lawmakers and allocated through the recently enacted state budget, which included $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, of which $225 million was earmarked for relief for small businesses.
The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will distribute the funds to the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which will then administer the funding in the form of grants.
Eligible businesses will be able to use the grants to cover operating expenses during the shutdown and transition to re-opening, and for technical assistance including training and guidance for business owners as they stabilize and relaunch their businesses.
The funds will be available through three programs:
- $100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the governor’s March 19, 2020 order relating to the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses and have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19;
- $100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the business closure order, have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19, and in which socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51 percent interest and also control management and daily business operations.
- $25 million for the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program, which will allow the CDFIs the opportunity to offer forbearance and payment relief for existing portfolio businesses that are struggling due to the impact of COVID, as well as shore up the financial position of the CDFIs that are experiencing significant increased defaults in their existing loan portfolios.
“I want to thank Governor Wolf for engaging leadership in the General Assembly to inform the process of moving federal aid out to those who have been most harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I also want to thank the leadership of the Senate Democratic caucus who worked with our members to formulate a strategic plan for the deployment of nearly $4 billion in federal assistance,” said state Senator John Blake (D-Lackawanna). “The Main Street Business Revitalization program is a reflection of that cooperation and leadership and it will meet Pennsylvania’s small business owners where they are, on Main Street, after nearly three months of lost or no sales. It will enable small business owners throughout the commonwealth to meet their insurance payments, rents, health insurance premiums, local taxes and other expenses that they otherwise could not meet due to lost sales. Finally, I want to thank the 17 CDFIs throughout the state as well as DCED for their professionalism, agility, urgency and dedication to getting this federal funding to the small businesses that need it most as quickly as possible.”
“The Main Street Business and Historically Disadvantaged Revitalization Programs will provide welcomed relief for mom and pop businesses in neighborhoods across the commonwealth. Since this pandemic began, we have heard the needs of the auto body shops, the barbershops, the beauticians, the pizza shop owners, the soul food establishments and other businesses in our communities. The needs of these businesses that were unable to get much needed help from other state and federal programs were a priority in our Senate Democratic Caucus’ April 29 PA CARES Program announcement,” said state Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery). “For months, my office has worked with a network of trusted community organizations that have a proven track record of working with our small businesses, the CDFIs, to find a solution to assist our neighborhood businesses. I believe these programs are that solution. There is still more work to be done, but these programs are a win for Pennsylvania and its small businesses.”
“Small businesses bore the brunt of the economic impacts of the pandemic. This investment is a good first step toward their recovery and the recovery of communities across the commonwealth,” said House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. “This program will benefit multiple diverse industries, brought forward from many partners in the legislature, including Reps. Jared Solomon, Morgan Cephas, Jake Wheatley, Ryan Bizzarro, Chris Sappey and Melissa Shusterman.”
The PA CDFI Network is a group of 17 PA-based community development financial institutions that primarily provide financing options for small businesses.
"We are pleased to work with the governor on the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance program to provide economic opportunities for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic," said James Burnett, vice chairman of the PA CDFI Network. "We know how important it is to support the smallest, most vulnerable businesses throughout the commonwealth, including historically disadvantaged and main street businesses.”
UPDATED May 1, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions for Business on Mitigation
Benefits Available Soon for Contractors, Self-Employed Workers
The CARES Act temporarily makes benefits available to other individuals who are not normally eligible, such as people who are self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers. However, these individuals cannot apply through the current unemployment system; the federal government requires the state to create a new platform to provide these benefits.
The Department of Labor and Industry expects to have the new system up and running within the next two weeks. Claimants will be able to receive backdated payments to January 27 or the first week that they were unable to work due to the coronavirus, whichever is later. More information about the new program is available on the department’s frequently asked questions page.
Governor Wolf Urges Manufacturing Sector to Report Critical COVID-19-Related Supply Capabilities, Needs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2020
Pennsylvania Extends Unemployment Compensation Benefits for 13 More Weeks
Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak today announced that people who exhaust their regular unemployment compensation (UC) and federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) may now qualify for 13 additional weeks of payments through the state’s Unemployment Compensation Extended Benefits program.
Extended Benefits (EB) are additional UC benefits payable to qualified workers whenever the state’s unemployment rate reaches a certain level determined by law. The last time the EB program was triggered in Pennsylvania was 2009.
The current EB period began May 3, 2020, but benefits are not payable until an individual has exhausted PEUC benefits. EB payments will begin with the week ending July 4, 2020 and are payable only for weeks of unemployment during an EB period.
Important information about the EB program follows and will be sent by mail to all individuals who potentially qualify for the additional benefits.
You may be eligible for EB if:
- You are totally or partially unemployed;
- You have exhausted your regular state benefits on your most recent UC claim, or your most recent UC benefit year has ended; and
- You have received the maximum amount of PEUC that you were eligible to receive.
Additional eligibility information is available here.
If you collect the maximum amount of PEUC that you are eligible to receive, an EB Notice of Financial Determination will be mailed to you.
- You must complete your weekly EB online certification in order to claim EB for weeks that you are totally or partially unemployed.
- Each EB online certification corresponds to one specific week, as indicated on the web form. Individuals who opt to use paper claim forms should only use the form that is specifically dated for the week of unemployment you are claiming.
- If you do not receive your Financial Determination within two weeks after you receive your final PEUC payment, call the UC Service Center at 1-888-313-7284.
EB Weekly Benefit Amount
- EB weekly benefit payments are the same as regular UC.
- The total amount of EB that you may receive is 50 percent of the amount of regular UC you were financially eligible to receive on your most recent claim. Example:
- If you were financially eligible for 26 weeks of regular UC, you may receive up to 13 weeks of EB.
- There is an additional wage test for EB eligibility, so not all individuals will financially qualify.
- EB may only be paid for weeks ending during an EB period.
- If you are entitled to Trade Readjustment Allowances, you may receive fewer weeks of EB.
Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits Payment Information
Since March 15, more than $21.5 billion in benefits has been paid:
- $9.6 billion from regular UC
- $9.6 billion from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program (extra $600 per week)
- $2.2 billion issued so far to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants (self-employed, gig workers, independent contractors)
- $129 million through Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program (extended benefits)
Important Resources and Links
COVID-19 Unemployment Compensation Guidance from Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2020
Gov. Wolf: $50 Million in Grants Available to Support Fire and EMS Companies Negatively Affected by COVID-19
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that the Office of State Fire Commissioner will be working to enact recent legislation to provide $50 million in direct financial relief to fire and emergency medical service (EMS) companies negatively impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
“Since we began taking action to curtail the spread of COVID-19, our state’s fire and EMS companies have seen record-breaking call volume and fewer opportunities to raise funds,” Gov. Wolf said. “These grants will go a long way to support their heroic efforts amid a very difficult public health crisis that has created a financial burden for many of these companies.”
“It has become a struggle just to keep the lights on for far too many of the companies that protect our communities,” State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego said. “I am pleased that our office can help get these funds out to the companies most in need.”
Of the $50 million in funding set aside for this new program, $44 million will be made available to fire and rescue companies and the remaining $6 million will go to EMS companies. Though the legislation took immediate effect, the Office of State Fire Commissioner must now establish the protocols for application, review and disbursement of grant funds.
In the coming weeks, detailed information about the program and instructions on how to apply will be available online at the Office of the State Fire Commissioner’s website. Companies are advised to check back regularly for updated information.
MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, email@example.com
L. Paul Vezzetti, 717-651-2169; firstname.lastname@example.org
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Interim NIOSH Training for Emergency Responders: Reducing Risks Associated with Long Work Hours
PEMA (PA EMERGENCY MGMT AND GOVT)
This guidance was just published yesterday by CDC and gives us some options for consideration if faced with reusing PPE because of supply shortages.
Per our Tech Hazards Chief, it is very thorough and not only has detailed instructions, it also provides details on the types of peroxides and other solutions (ultraviolet light and microwave) which will provide adequate decontamination of COVID-19.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) launched a statewide Support & Referral Helpline staffed by skilled and compassionate staff who will be available 24/7 to assist Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency and refer them to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs.
The toll-free, round-the-clock support line is officially operational.
The number to call is 1-855-284-2494.
For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.
To create and staff the support line, DHS has partnered with the Center for Community Resources (CCR), an experienced regional crisis and call center provider based in Butler County and licensed to provide crisis services.
CCR staff are trained to be accessible, culturally competent, and skilled at assisting individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, co-occurring disorders and other special needs. Staff use the principles of trauma-informed care to listen, assess needs, triage calls, and provide appropriate referral to community resources to children, teens, adults and special populations.
CCR will collaborate with individuals, families, police, emergency medical teams, hospitals, schools, and human service providers on the local level to provide quality care to their community members.
Many other resources also remain available to Pennsylvanians in need of support, including:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454
- Crisis Text Line: Text “PA” to 741-741
- Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
- Get Help Now Hotline (for substance use disorders): 1-800-662-4357
- Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Helpline: 1-888-772-7227
- National Domestic Violence Helpline: 1-800-799-7233
Text "PA" to 741741
Free, 24/7, Confidential
Pennsylvania Care Partnership
303 Walnut Street
Harrisburg, PA. 17101