Thank you everyone who joined me for my Telephone Town Hall yesterday. For those of you who weren’t able to listen in, you can find a recording of the entire event archived on my website. I did my best to provide an update and answer any questions about COVID-19, or the coronavirus. Tomorrow it’ll be two weeks since I decided to close my senate office. The office remains closed until further notice to assure that my staff, our constituents and service personnel wouldn’t be exposed to COVID-19. In the meantime, if you call our office your call will be re-routed to me or my staff, and we are available to help you in any way we can. We will be answering calls, and addressing constituent needs as effectively and expeditiously as possible.
Governor Tom Wolf yesterday issued “Stay at Home” orders to Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, as we continue to fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. This order took effect at 8:00 p.m. yesterday, Monday, March 23, 2020, and will continue until April 6. All Pennsylvania schools will remain closed through at least April 6.
Individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel:
- Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a healthcare professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
- Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
- Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
- To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
- To care for a family member or pet in another household
- Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
- Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
- Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
- Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
- Travel required by law enforcement or court order.
- Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth
The following operations are exempt:
- Life-sustaining business activities
- Health care or medical services providers
- Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
- Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders.
- News media
- Law enforcement
- The federal government
- Religious institutions
It’s important to note that at this time, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement. To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station. Please do not call 911 or the Department of Community and Economic Development to file reports. Law enforcement officers should refer to Business Closure Order Enforcement Guidance available online.
We’ve now seen this virus outbreak spread to all 50 states in the United States. As of this email, we’ve been notified of 644 positive cases and 6 deaths of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Pennsylvania; as of this morning, there have been 43,925 cases that have been reported in the United States, with 547 deaths. We anticipate that there will continue to be more Pennsylvanians with COVID-19 in the coming weeks. As new details come in, my office and I will do our best to communicate as much information as possible. Please consider reviewing the rest of this email for prevention tips and more information on this ongoing situation. You can always feel free to contact me at email@example.com or 610.768.4200 with questions and/or concerns.
Upcoming Facebook Live Q&A
Join me on my Facebook page for a live Q&A TOMORROW, Wednesday, March 25. At 6:00 p.m., we'll start a thread on my Facebook page for this event. On that thread, feel free to ask any question you might have about the coronavirus, and my staff and I will do our best to answer. I’ll be providing an update on the coronavirus and the mitigating efforts the state and our community have taken, and will try to address any questions you might have. I hope you’ll join me Wednesday for our discussion.
To ask a question, comment directly on that thread once we go live or email us ahead of time at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be going through as many as we can get to.
The Latest News
Gov. Wolf issues stay at home order for several Pennsylvania counties; school closures extended
Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday ordered residents of Pennsylvania's hardest-hit areas to stay home for at least two weeks to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus that has already sickened hundreds and caused six deaths statewide.
Pennsylvania reports 644 cases of coronavirus; Montgomery County leads the state with 129
The number of coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania surpassed 600, according to new figures released by the state Department of Health on Monday. As of noon, there were 644 positive cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, up from 512 on Sunday.
Montco officials support governor's stay-at-home order
As Montgomery County continues to see an increase in positive coronavirus cases, evidence of community spread, officials said they support the governor’s stay-at-home order issued on Monday for county residents.
Delco officials in support of guv's 'stay at home' order
Local officials by and large said they agreed with Gov. Tom Wolf’s issuance of a “stay at home” order Monday for Alleghany, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe and Montgomery counties, which requires residents to remain inside unless a life is at stake.
King of Prussia Town Center stores adjust hours during crisis
Like all of the stores at King of Prussia Town Center, even “essential” store Wegmans has temporarily changed its operation during the Coronavirus pandemic. As noted on its website, wegmans.com, current hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Pa. personal income tax deadline pushed to July 15
Pennsylvania taxpayers were given an additional 90 days to pay their personal income tax returns due to the coronavirus.
Pennsylvania relaxes medical marijuana rules, allowing for curbside pickup and de facto home delivery for the first time
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Gov. Wolf has temporarily suspended regulations that require all dispensing to occur inside a dispensary. Patients may now go to a cannabis retailer and have their product brought to their cars by a budtender.
Lower Merion 4th grader tests positive for COVID-19
Main Line Times
Days after it was announced that a fourth-grade teacher at Cynwyd Elementary tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, a fourth-grade student at the school has now tested positive. School officials reported the information publicly Saturday.
Pennsylvania state parks and forests to stay closed until April 30
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced all facilities at state parks and forests in Pennsylvania will be closed until April 30 to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Delco needs citizen volunteers of all kinds to battle COVID-19
Delaware County wants you to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. In this time of crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic grows, Delaware County is turning to its citizens for many varieties of help by participating in the Delco Citizen Corps. "We are looking for any type of volunteer that can provide assistance - medical and non-medical," said Edwin Kline of Delaware County Emergency Services. "We're still trying to ramp things up so we're really prepared."
School Testing Canceled In PA Due To Coronavirus
PA Secretary of Education says supporting students and families should be the current focus, not standardized tests.
Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide
Whether you managed to stock your fridge and pantry, or were left staring at empty supermarket shelves, there’s good news: you can still eat safely, even from restaurants, provided you follow a few basic guidelines.
Grocery Stores Are Changing Their Hours And Policies Amid The Coronavirus Outbreak
Here's what you need to know.
Lower Merion Schools Changing 'Grab-And-Go' Lunch Program
Families seeking the meals are asked to register online so the district can prepare the necessary number of meals.
Want To Help Out Your Neighbors During Coronavirus? Here Are The Do's And Don'ts
It turns out, many of us are concerned about our neighbors and the most vulnerable members of our community and are seeking ways to help out while keeping others safe.
Life Sustaining Businesses
On March 19, 2020, Governor Wolf issued a new order requiring all “non-life-sustaining” businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations as of 8 AM on Monday, March 23rd in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. You can view a list of all “life-sustaining” and “non-life-sustaining” businesses here.
Due to the ongoing public health crisis, Governor Wolf has the power to determine which businesses are “life-sustaining” and which are “non-life-sustaining.” Further, he has the power to require closure of business by utilizing the state police and national guard. He is also empowered to penalize non-compliant businesses by, among other things, levying fines against them, rejecting state grants, withholding disaster relief, and revoking licensure.
If you want to ask the Wolf Administration whether or not your business qualifies as “life-sustaining” or “non-life-sustaining,” you should email email@example.com. If your business has been listed for closure but you believe it could help mitigate this crisis by providing a life sustaining service, you may apply for a waiver through the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) website. You may also contact DCED at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-877-PA-HEALTH and selecting option 1.
If you find that your business must remain closed, you should consider applying for a working capital loan through DCED. You should also consider applying for a low-interest disaster assistance loan for small businesses through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Coalition Against Hunger
In an effort to help provide information for our region - and stay on top of sometimes rapidly changing details - The Coalition Against Hunger has created a Google Sheet with information on the availability of school meals during school closures in the 4-counties outside of Philadelphia (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery county school districts are listed).
- The information was updated on Thursday, March 19.
- Please share this broadly - the link is "public" so anyone who has it can view the information.
- If you find out new/different information, please let them know so they can update it (send an email with "School Meals Update" in the subject line to: email@example.com)
- Some school districts may, understandably, be behind on posting updates. That information is highlighted in gray and will be a high priority for them while updating.
- They will update the sheet on a weekly basis. BIG thanks go to our intern, Cassidy Tarullo who is doing all the work on this.
Additional Philadelphia information:
Free meals are being provided at 80 locations. All children and youth are eligible and no ID is required. Check out this map to find sites in your neighborhood.
- School District meal sites (mornings): Open Monday (March 23) and Thursday (March 26) from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Six grab-and-go meals will be available (three breakfast and three lunch meals per child).
- Philadelphia Housing Authority (mornings): Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. breakfast and lunch
- Charter schools (mornings): Open from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on varying days. Visit each charter school’s website for their specific schedule.
- If you are employed in PA and are unable to work because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation benefits, The Department of Labor & Industry will continue to provide important employment benefit updates as the situation evolves. Click here to learn more.
- Sellers of goods and services in Pennsylvania are prohibited from charging a price that exceeds 20% of the average price of those items during a Governor-issued Emergency Declaration. You can report price gouging to the Attorney General’s Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Office of the Attorney General also continues to investigate consumer complaints and health care related complaints. Both require a form to be submitted. The consumer complaint form is available here and the health care complaint form is accessible here.
- Participating in the census is required by law. A complete and accurate count is critical for you and your community because the results of the 2020 Census will affect community funding, congressional representation, and more. Consider taking the census now by going online or by calling 844-330-2020.
- You can apply for your mail-in voting ballots today! As opposed to the absentee ballot, which can only be applied for if you have a reason such as an illness or plans to be out of the municipality, a mail-in ballot can be applied for without reason. Registered voters can easily apply for a mail-in ballot online between now and 5:00 p.m. on April 21, 2020. After you’ve applied, you’ll receive a ballot in the mail, which you should fill out and return. The deadline to return your voted mail-in ballot is 8:00 p.m. on election day. Learn more and apply today at votespa.com!
- Governor Wolf recently announced that all major health insurers providing comprehensive medical coverage in PA will cover medically appropriate COVID-19 diagnostic testing and associated treatment for consumers and have committed to waive any cost-sharing for the testing. Pennsylvania’s major health insurers include: Highmark, UPMC Health Plan, Geisinger, Independence BlueCross, Capital Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, Pennsylvania Health & Wellness, and Oscar. The Insurance Department, in partnership with the departments of Health and Human Services, also developed an FAQ that provides information and answers to common questions related to insurance coverage and COVID-19.
- If you are feeling depressed, sad, or going through any kind of emotional crisis, text HOME to 741741 and a crisis worker will text you back!
- PennDOT has announced that vehicle registrations, safety inspections, and emissions inspections scheduled to expire from March 16 through March 31, 2020 are extended until April 30, 2020.
- Delaware County residents or organizations who would like to donate protective and medical supplies and equipment can call 1-800-253-3102 or email: EOC@DelcoDES.org
- NEW! FEMA’s Coronavirus Rumor Control helps people distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to coronavirus pandemic.
- Coronavirus Live Updates
- World Health Organization
- Center for Disease Control
- CDC’s Map of Confirmed Cases
- CDC’s Information for Travelers
- PA Department of Health
- Montgomery County Office of Public Health
- Delaware County COVID-19 Updates
- Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline: 1 (800) 722-7112
- If you become sick, call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) and the doctor's office or emergency room before visiting.
- Feel free to call our office at (610) 768-4200 or email@example.com with any questions or concerns.