March 18, 2020; 1:00 PM

By the Numbers:


  • 133 confirmed cases, 1,187 tested negative

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health

Allegheny: 11
Armstrong: 0
Beaver: 2
Butler: 0
Fayette: 0
Greene: 0
Indiana: 0
Lawrence: 0
Washington: 2
Westmoreland: 0


State update

  • The PA Senate will be in session today to change its rules to allow for remote voting.  According to a short statement by Republican leaders, the sole purpose of session is to make changes to the chamber’s rules, like the state House of Representatives did on Monday, to “allow the Senate to remotely pass legislation, should it become necessary.”
  • Today the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) authorized the transfer of $40 million to the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA), as a first step in providing relief to Pennsylvania small businesses impacted by COVID-19.  Detailed guidelines for the program are still being developed at this time, but it is anticipated that PIDA will have the ability to launch the expanded loan program as early as next week.  Additional information that we do know includes:
    • The transfer will ultimately be combined with existing funds in PIDA’s Small Business First Program, and will be used to provide zero interest loans to small businesses.
    • Over $60 million for loans will be available to businesses with 100 or fewer full time employees.
    • Loans of up to $100,000 will be available to small businesses to use as working capital.
    • Interest rates are being dropped from approximately 3% to 0%. In addition to a 0% interest rate, there will be no application fees and the terms will include no payments and no interest during the first year of the loan.
  • The PA Department of Labor & Industry is streamlining the process of unemployment claims to deal with the influx in Pennsylvania due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  State officials will for the time being, due to the crisis, not require a “wait week” or proof of a job search before they can get benefits, according to the agency. Eligible workers are being encouraged to file online and unemployment benefits, if you qualify, will arrive within four weeks of filing, officials said.  State officials said that workers may be eligible if an employer either temporarily closes or goes out of business due to the pandemic, a worker’s hours are reduced or they’re told not to work due to COVID-19 or you have been either quarantined or self-isolated or in a county with mitigation efforts.
  • Late last week Yassmin Gramian, acting secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation made a request to federal officials to delay implementation of the REAL ID program, which is scheduled to begin Oct. 1.  Today, the National Governor’s Association joined the request – asking the federal Department of Homeland Security for a one-year delay in the program. In addition to states concentrating time and resources on fighting the COVID-19 virus, the governors said they believe there should be changes to the 2005 law requiring the change because of technology improvements since then.

Local update

  • City of Pittsburgh
    • The City has moved to Level 2 Emergency Operations in response to COVID-19. Several city departments are impacted by this measure and all City employee that are able to telework are encouraged to do so. More Information
  • Lawrence County
    • Commissioners have declared a state of emergency
  • Pittsburgh Public Schools
    • District officials are planning for the school district to be closed past the originally mentioned date.

Federal update

  • United States and Canada border is temporarily closed to all non-essential travel.
  • Department of Treasury Proposal sent to Lawmakers
    • $250 billion proposal for direct payments to Americans starting April 6th, another $250 billion round will occur on May 18th.
    • Proposal includes $200 billion in industry aid, $50 billion will be distributed in loans with executive pay and service requirement conditions.
  • White House
    • POTUS will invoke the Defense Production Act to expedite and expand the supply of critical healthcare equipment.
    • POTUS will host videoconference call with all governors with updates from FEMA. This came in response to several governors addressing national news networks calling for better coordination with the federal government.
  • United States Senate
    • Despite differences Leader McConnell believes the Senate will vote on H.R. 6201 today.
    • Leader McConnell intends to introduce additional legislation in the Senate to provide additional aide, this legislation would serve as Leader McConnell’s opportunity to address issues he has with H.R. 6201.
    • Minority Leader Schumer has introduced a framework on behalf of the Democrats that will serve as a starting point from that caucus.