March 19, 2020; 1:00 PM

By the Numbers:


  • 185 confirmed cases, 1,608 tested negative, Deaths 1

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/19/2020


Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 16 0
Armstrong: 0 0
Beaver: 2 0
Butler: 0 0
Fayette: 0 0
Greene: 0 0
Indiana: 0 0
Lawrence: 0 0
Washington: 3 0
Westmoreland: 2 0

State Updates

  • The Governor will be giving a 2pm press conference to update the public on COVID-19.  We will have updates on that for the 4 pm update.
  • An initial contingent of 50 Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers are on active duty to help various state agencies respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Their first assignment was to individually drive 38 Pennsylvania residents released from quarantine after being on an infected cruise ship to their homes. The Guard is prepared to do additional missions to respond to this pandemic.  Pennsylvania has the second-largest National Guard in the nation with more than 18,000 members. Currently ninety-five percent of the Pennsylvania National Guard budget is supported with federal dollars, with the remaining five percent coming from state dollars.
  • All PA courts will be closing for two weeks.  Facilities in all districts, Commonwealth and Supreme courts will be closed to the public until at least April 3. Jurors are not to report for duty before or on April 3.
  • PA legislators continue to propose legislation remotely.  Here is some of what they’ve proposed so far:

Limiting disaster powers

  • When Gov. Tom Wolf declared a disaster emergency on March 6, he was able to claim expansive powers. Rep. Russ Diamond (R., Lebanon) plans to issue a resolution to terminate Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency declaration “if the need arises.”


  • Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) is drafting a resolution that would call on the federal government to suspend privacy regulations for people who have tested positive for COVID-19. There should be “full disclosure of anyone who came within immediate contact of any contaminated citizen,” Mastriano said in a statement, “until the COVID-19 crisis passes.”


  • Lawmakers are drafting a bill to limit landlords’ right to evict tenants when a governor declares a state of emergency. The measure, from Rep. Mary Isaacson (D., Philadelphia) and Rep. Summer Lee (D., Allegheny), would “provide an exemption from eviction for workers who are unemployed, separated from their employment, or unable to find employment.”


  • Andy Dinniman (D., Chester) and Sen. Scott Martin (R., Lancaster) are drafting a bill that would cancel the state PSSA and Keystone exams for the remainder of this school year. The measure would also require the state Department of Education to waive federal testing requirements.
  • Dinniman is also drafting a measure that would give school districts authority to deliver online instruction until the end of the academic year.
  • Martin has proposed a bill that would require colleges and universities closed because of COVID-19 to refund all fees paid in advance, including room and board. The prorated refund would only apply from the date the institution shuttered through the end of the semester.

Sick leave

  • Joe Hohenstein (D., Philadelphia) and Sen. Larry Farnese (D., Philadelphia) want to require paid sick leave for any workers left out by a federal bill on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk, which is limited to workers who need to care for their children. The legislation could leave 19.3 million workers without any sick pay, the Washington Post reported.  The state legislation would also require employers to reinstate workers when they return from leave.

Small businesses

  • To lessen the impact on small businesses, Sen. Tom Killion (R., Chester) plans to introduce legislation that would direct table game revenue to the Department of Community and Economic Development to create zero-interest loans.
  • Valerie Gaydos (R., Allegheny) and Jared Solomon (D., Philadelphia) also plan to introduce legislation to create low-to-no interest loans to help small businesses survive. The bill will outline two types of loans: one will be short-term funding to meet payroll and overhead expenses; the other will be for “long-term resiliency” to help businesses recover over time.

Student loans

  • A measure by Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D., Philadelphia) would allow a 60-day grace period for repayment of student loans issued by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.

Taxes and filing

  • David Rowe (R., Union) and Rep. Frank Ryan (R., Lebanon) are writing a measure that would suspend sales and personal income tax collection until the disaster declaration is lifted.  The IRS will keep its tax-filing deadline as April 15, but the U.S. Treasury announced Tuesday it will waive interest and penalties for 90 days after that date.
  • Joe Ciresi (D., Montgomery) plans to introduce legislation that would apply a 60-day extension for Pennsylvanians to file state income taxes when the state is under a disaster declaration.


  • All Pennsylvanians are now eligible to vote by mail. Rep. Kevin Boyle (D., Philadelphia) wants to encourage that by mailing all voters that kind of ballot ahead of the April 28 primary.
  • Dan Williams (D., Chester) plans to introduce legislation to allow elections officials to open votes submitted by mail before the polls close. House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) previously said this is a part of discussions with Gov. Tom Wolf to “clean-up” a comprehensive voting reform bill passed last year.

Workers’ rights

  • A proposed state Senate bill would support workers while quarantined or in isolation during a public health emergency. Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D., Bucks) said in a memo to his colleagues that Pennsylvania does not have a law that addresses whether an employer can fire a worker under these conditions during a state of emergency.
  • A measure by Rep. Ed Neilson (D., Philadelphia) would provide unemployment compensation for people who have been ordered to quarantine or isolate because of the coronavirus. His bill would not offer extended benefits to people who used paid time off or paid sick days during quarantine or isolation.

Regional Coronavirus Update:

Allegheny County

  • City of Pittsburgh – Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)
  • The URA is offering COVID-19 Small Business Assistance for City of Pittsburgh small businesses. Funds can be used for rent, insurance, payroll, and other fixed assets.
  • Pittsburgh Foundation
  • The Pittsburgh Foundation has established an Emergency Action Fund to “lessen the damaging effect of COVID-19. In partnership with the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation, and the Hillman Family Foundations. The fund will act as a rapid response to the crisis by providing grants to essential human service providers, health care support, and economic assistance.
  • Port Authority of Allegheny County
  • Reimbursement will be offered to riders who purchased weekly or monthly passes and were ordered to stay home; riders are encouraged to contact Port Authority as soon as possible.
  • Riders have been advised to remain six feet away from drivers and other passengers during their commute. Signage on all vehicles has been posted. For more information riders are encouraged to visit:
  • Allegheny Health Network (AHN)
  • AHN has opened four drive-through COVID-19 testing in Wexford, Bethel Park, Monroeville and Erie.
  • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC)
  • UPMC continuing to perform elective surgeries

Fayette County:

  • Fayette County Commissioners have declared a state of emergency and are developing a plan for operations.

Westmoreland County:

  • Excela Health, the county’s largest employer, is in the process of developing a COVID-19 testing center.

Federal Coronavirus Update:

Senate Response:

  • Phase II Completion:
  • On March 18th the Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in a 90-8 vote with no changes to the House version. President Trump signed H.R. 6201, enacting it into law. The Families First Coronavirus Response act provides paid sick leave, family and medical leave, food assistance, funding to help states provide unemployment insurance, financial assistance for testing, and tax credits for sick and family leave.
  • Phase III Proposals:
  • Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) would like the Senate to consider an economic relief package this week and repeatedly noted his desire to keep the Senate in session until Phase III is complete. The package would provide relief to industries most impacted by COVID-19.  Senate Majority Leader McConnell is working with the White House and Senate Republicans to release a proposal as early as March 20th.
    • Relief to be focused on following:
      • Small Businesses
      • Airline Industry
      • General financial assistance for Americans
    • Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) has released an outline of Senate Democratic policy priorities which includes certain conditions on airline industry relief. It is expected that both Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Schumer will begin negotiating both proposals as soon as today.

House Response:

  • Phase III
  • As several members of the House test positive for Coronavirus, the third relief package has become more urgent.
  • House Democratic leaders have announced that lawmakers will not return to Washington until the Senate has drafted their Phase III response. A bipartisan group of Congress members has called for remote voting. It is unclear if this will happen. House Majority Leader Hoyer has stated that it is his intention to comply with the social distancing guidance should the House return to Washington for votes.

Federal Agency Response:

  • Housing and Urban Development
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
    • HUD Secretary Ben Carson has authorized an immediate 60 day foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages.
  • Department of State
  • A Level 4 Travel Advisory will be issued for Americans abroad encouraging their return and for Americans to not travel abroad.

White House Response:

  • President Trump issued an Executive Order invoking the Defense Production Act of 1950 giving the federal government increased authorities regarding the production and distribution of health and medical resources.
  • The White House will host another conference call for Governors tonight.