DAILY COVID-19 UPDATES

Daily Update: April 7, 2020 1 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 14,559 confirmed cases, 76,719 tested negative, Deaths 240

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 4/7/2020

                                    Cases                Deaths

Allegheny:                    689                  6
Armstrong:                   18                    0
Beaver:                         116                  9
Butler:                          107                  2
Fayette:                        32                    1
Greene:                        15                    0
Indiana:                        21                    0
Lawrence:                    29                    2
Washington:                 57                    0
Westmoreland:            177                  0

 

State Updates:

  • Fulton Bank Joins ‘PA CARE Package’ Initiative: Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that Fulton Bank has agreed to join the ‘PA CARE Package’, Pennsylvania’s consumer relief initiative. By joining these efforts, Fulton Bank, along with the Office of Attorney General, will ensure Pennsylvania consumers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for additional economic relief. Under the ‘PA CARE Package’ initiative, banks and financial institutions are working with the Office’s Bureau of Consumer Protection to both comply with the recently-passed CARES Act and offer additional important protections for consumers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit: https://dingo.telicon.com/PA/library/2020/2020040790.HTM .

 

Regional Coronavirus Update

City of Pittsburgh

  • As Pittsburgh City Council continues meeting remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, the council today will not broadcast or livestream meetings but instead will replay them later. Council Chambers remain closed as a public health measure.  Both the regular and standing committees meetings will be pre-recorded and replayed on City Channel Pittsburgh. All public comment should be sent via U.S mail or email at cityclerksoffice@pittsburghpa.gov.
  • A Pittsburgh police officer at the bureau’s training academy has tested positive for COVID-19 and a recruit who interacted with him has shown symptoms of the virus, leading to suspend the current 28-member academy class.  It is unclear how many full-time officers besides the infected firearms instructor might have been exposed, and the police bureau refused Monday to disclose how many officers on the force had been asked to self-isolate.  A mixture of recruits and full-time rank-and-file officers were told to quarantine themselves over concerns of potential exposure.

Southwestern Pennsylvania

  • There are now over 1,200+ confirmed coronavirus cases in the southwestern Pennsylvania area.  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s latest numbers, here is the breakdown:  Allegheny County: 689 cases, 6 deaths; Fayette County: 32 cases, 1 death; Washington County: 57 cases; Beaver County: 116 cases, 9 deaths; Butler County: 107 cases, 2 deaths; Lawrence County: 29 cases, 2 deaths; Westmoreland County: 177 cases; Greene County: 15 cases; Armstrong County: 18; cases and Indiana County: 21 cases.

Beaver County

  • The Beaver County nursing home where the number of positive cases and deaths from COVID-19 continues to increase almost daily is now going to presume that all 450 residents and more than 300 staff “may be positive” for the disease. Upon consultation with the Department of Health, and consistent with practices of facilities on the cutting edge of prevention and treatment, it is beginning to shift away from counting test results, and presuming all staff and residents may be positive, according to a press release from Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center.

Federal Coronavirus Update

  • The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce submitted a letter to Senators Toomey and Casey and the Pittsburgh region congressional delegation calling for replenishment of the PPP and EIDL programs without delay given the overwhelming demand. See Attached

 

United States House of Representatives / United State Senate

  • Members of Congress and the White House are looking ahead toward another coronavirus rescue package in addition to the $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed by the president last month.
  • Pennsylvania Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey on Monday jointly sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asking the agency to report back to them within a month about how the federal government is getting the nation’s worst nursing homes to slow the spread of COVID-19 and also stating that it is essential to ensure nursing facilities are prepared to prevent the virus’s spread and treat emerging cases. 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General

  • The president on Monday claimed that an inspector general report finding severe shortages of supplies at hospitals to fight the novel coronavirus is just wrong and provided no evidence for why the conclusions of the 34-page report are wrong.  The inspector general report, released earlier Monday, was based on a survey of 323 randomly selected hospitals across the country, found severe shortages of tests and wait times as long as seven days for hospitals. It also found widespread shortfalls of protective equipment such as masks for health workers, something that doctors and nurses have also noted for weeks.  The full report can be found at: https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-06-20-00300.pdf.

Department of Transportation (DOT)

  • The DOT has given airlines final approval to pare down services back to minimum flights due to the plunging demand.  The decision comes one day after TSA screened 108,300+ passengers at nationwide airports compared to 2.38 million on the same day last year.

National Coronavirus Update

  • The U.S. death toll surpassed 11,000 people. 
  • Wisconsin’s Supreme Court blocked Gov. Tony Evers’ order to postpone the state’s primary election today despite his arguments that in-person voting could endanger poll workers and voters because of the coronavirus pandemic.  The United States Supreme Court allowed the vote with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissenting.
  • Data has begun to show that African Americans comprise a large number of COVID-19 deaths as this population likely works in essential jobs that can’t be done at home, such as grocery jobs and are disproportionately likely to have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart and lung diseases that would make someone more likely to have severe Covid-19 illnesses. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on Monday called for the federal government to release racial and ethnic data relating to the pandemic. The group says it wants to ensure that communities of color receive equitable health care and treatment during this crisis.

 


Daily Update: April 6, 2020 4 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 12,980 confirmed cases, 70,874 tested negative, Deaths 162

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 4/6/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 642 4
Armstrong: 13 0
Beaver: 96 6
Butler: 91 2
Fayette: 29 1
Greene: 12 0
Indiana: 17 0
Lawrence: 24 2
Washington: 53 0
Westmoreland: 189 0

 

State Updates

  • Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 1,470 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 12,980
    • Harrisburg, PA-The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 6, that there are 1,470 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 12,980 in 65 counties. 598 are healthcare workers; 518 are long-term living facilities. 613 have been hospitalized or 12 % of total cases. The department also reported 12 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 162, all of whom are adults. There are 70,874 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:
      • Less than 1% are aged 0-4;
      • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
      • 1% are aged 13-18;
      • 7% are aged 19-24;
      • Nearly 42% are aged 25-49;
      • 29% are aged 50-64; and
      • Nearly 20% are aged 65 or older.
    • As of 12 pm on Monday, April 6, 2020, 51% hospital beds, 40% ICU beds and 70% ventilators are still available
  • 42 warnings were issued Friday, April 3 through Sunday, April 5 to businesses not complying with Governor Tom Wolf’s order to close their physical locations. For more information, visit https://dingo.telicon.com/PA/library/2020/2020040683.HTM

Dr. Levine:

  • Our first responders are asking residents to please stay home.
  • Daily reminders: 
  • wash hands 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers if soap and water is not available; cover coughs and sneezes and don’t touch your face;
  • clean surfaces frequently,
  • if going out for life-sustaining activities, wear a mask
  • Reminder for mental health crisis text line, text “PA” to 741741 or 1-855-284-2494

Gov. Wolf

  • We are continuing to see a growth in the number of cases; the surge is coming and when and how it occurs depends on all of us.
  • On Saturday, April 4, we created the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Call to Action Portal to mobilize manufacturers who do or can provide public health supplies, to form a supply chain of needed equipment. We are asking all manufacturers to go on the dced.pa.gov to report their supply chain capabilities. The portal is a joint effort with DCED, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council, the Pennsylvania Chamber on Business & Industry as well other others

 

Federal Coronavirus Updates:

Federal Reserve Bank:

  • The Federal Reserve will provide a backstop to banks making loans to small businesses via a new lending facility where asset are PPP loans. Effect will be banks will be able to make loans without concern for leverage ratio limits. This is to encourage banks to offer loans to businesses seeking funds.

Daily Update: April 6, 2020 1 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 12,980 confirmed cases, 70,874 tested negative, Deaths 162

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 4/6/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 642 4
Armstrong: 13 0
Beaver: 96 6
Butler: 91 2
Fayette: 29 1
Greene: 12 0
Indiana: 17 0
Lawrence: 24 2
Washington: 53 0
Westmoreland: 189 0

 

State Updates

  • State Launches Manufacturing Call to Action Portal:
    • With the on-going need for PPE and other critical medical supplies, the Wolf administration has launched a Manufacturing Call to Action portal, with the intent to:
      • Match Pennsylvania manufacturers and distributors to fill specific supply chain needs to meet increasing demands for medical supplies and related products.
      • Assist Pennsylvania manufacturers who have workforce needs or gaps and assist them with identifying skilled workers.
      • Identify Pennsylvania manufacturers who can pivot or innovate to fulfill the demand for medical supplies and related products.
    • The administration welcomes manufacturers as described above with a Pennsylvania presence to inform the state of capabilities, needs, gaps or potential innovative solutions. To submit information, visit https://spportal.dot.pa.gov/ppeinventory/pages/mschain.aspx.
  • The PA General Assembly will be in session this week.  Notable highlights from what’s listed in the Senate committee meeting agendas are legislative vehicles for the state budget (introduced in early February), will begin being positioned for future action, and a bill to allow for the remote notarization of documents is to be considered by Senate State Government Committee. Over in the House, the House State Government Committee appears as though it will consider a few bills related to the state’s regulatory review process.
  • Citizens Bank Joins ‘PA CARE Package’ Initiative: Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that Citizens Bank has agreed to join the ‘PA CARE Package’, Pennsylvania’s consumer relief initiative. By joining these efforts, Citizens Bank, along with the Office of Attorney General, will ensure Pennsylvania consumers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for additional economic relief. Under the ‘PA CARE Package’ initiative, banks and financial institutions are working with the Office’s Bureau of Consumer Protection to both comply with the recently-passed CARES Act and offer additional important protections for consumers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit: https://dingo.telicon.com/PA/library/2020/2020040685.HTM.

 

Regional Coronavirus Update

  • Allegheny County: Percentage Increase of New Positives By Date

Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station

  • The 911 Airlift Wing, based out of the Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station at the Pittsburgh International Airport, has mobilized approximately ten airmen in response to COVID-19 efforts in New York City; these airmen will be providing medical assistance to medical providers and first responders.

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

  • The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is holding another emergency drive-up food distribution event on Monday at its Duquesne warehouse.

Port Authority of Allegheny County

Arnold Palmer Regional Airport

  • Commercial flights at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport will stop service beginning on Wednesday and will furlough one-third of its 90 workers. Spirit Airlines will continue to operate its daily schedules through Tuesday but then will stop all air traffic there through at least May 4.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.  CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Instructions on making masks can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/DIY-cloth-face-covering-instructions.pdf.

The White House

  • The president said on Saturday said that he won’t wear a face mask, despite announcing new CDC guidelines suggesting all Americans wear one when in public. He further stated that face mask wearing is a recommendation.

U.S. Surgeon General

  • Surgeon General Jerome Adams stated on Sunday that this week will the hardest and the saddest for Americans, describing that the coronavirus outbreak as Pearl Harbor and 911 moments.  The death toll in the United States is now 9,674.

United States Senate

  • Four U.S. senators, Robert Menendez, Richard Blumenthal, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook on Friday asking questions about the company’s COVID-19 app and how it handles personal data from the app and whether it complies with the healthcare data regulation HIPAA.  The senators also ask for specific terms of any agreement between your company and the federal government and/or state governments.  Apple released a screening app and website called COVID-19 in March in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control, the White House-led coronavirus task force and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The app includes a screening tool for COVID-19 symptoms as well as up-to-date information from trusted sources about the coronavirus outbreak. Apple is not providing any tests.
  • U.S. senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, both from Michigan, co-sponsored bipartisan legislation on Saturday that pushed for more federal relief funding for Michigan families affected by the coronavirus disease 2019.

U.S. Department of Defense

  • The Defense Department is adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic and leaders at all levels are looking at resources, processes and personnel needed to fight the virus:  1. Army field hospitals deployed to New York and Seattle have been cleared to handle COVID-19 patients. Originally, they were going to treat trauma victims; 2. The Army Corps of Engineers is working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, governors and mayors to set up temporary field hospitals in the areas with the greatest need; 3.  The department continues to provide medical supplies to civilian hospitals and the department has turned over 5 million N-95 masks to HHS, and Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper has approved turning over another 5 million masks from the strategic stockpile; and 4. Almost 20,000 National Guardsmen nationwide are working to combat COVID-19.

Daily Update: April 5, 2020 2 PM 

Pennsylvania

  • 11,510 confirmed cases, 66,261 tested negative, 150 deaths 

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 4/5/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 605 4
Armstrong: 12 0
Beaver: 84 6
Butler: 87 2
Fayette: 27 1
Greene: 12 0
Indiana: 13 0
Lawrence: 23 2
Washington: 50 0
Westmoreland: 147 0

 

State Update

  • There are 1,493 additional positive COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania.
  • The statewide total is now 11,510 in 65 counties. The Health Department reported 14 new deaths for a total of 150 deaths.
  • There are a total of 66,261 patients who have tested negative to date.

 

Regional Update

  • Allegheny County reports a total of 605 positive cases. There are 87 hospitalizations and 4 deaths. See additional info here.
  • The Allegheny Conference on Community Development extends our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of all individuals who have passed away.

Daily Update: April 4, 2020 3 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 10,017 confirmed cases, 60,013 tested negative, 136 deaths

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 4/4/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 552 3
Armstrong: 12 0
Beaver: 69 6
Butler: 84 2
Fayette: 23 1
Greene: 12 0
Indiana: 9 0
Lawrence: 22 2
Washington: 46 0
Westmoreland: 135 0

 

State Update

  • There are 1,597 additional positive cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.
  • There are a total of 10,017 cases statewide and 136 total deaths. Hospitalization rate in Pennsylvania is approximately 10%.
  • A total of 60,013 patients have tested negative in Pennsylvania.
  • Reminder: latest guidance is Pennsylvanians should wear cloth masks when they go out in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. More info below.
  • Use of Fabric or Cloth Masks: Homemade masks made out of fabric and cloth are not considered PPE. However, homemade masks can be an effective complement to handwashing, social-distancing and other mitigation measures. Homemade masks limit the spread of infectious droplets in the air by containing coughs and sneezes. When a homemade mask can’t be acquired a scarf or bandana can be utilized. By implementing community use of these homemade fabric or cloth masks, everyone will have a higher degree of protection from this virus.
  • Levine: There is no evidence the virus is slowing down.
  • Levine: Commonwealth has purchased a number of ventilators that will be delivered beginning in April and then distributed to hospitals and health systems.

 

Regional Update

  • Number of new COVID-19 cases in region:
  • Allegheny – 76 (see totals in infographic here)
  • Armstrong – 1
  • Beaver – 4
  • Butler – 9
  • Fayette – 3
  • Greene – 1
  • Indiana – 2
  • Lawrence – 3
  • Washington – 6
  • Westmoreland – 25

 

Federal/National Update

  • Given the immediate and urgent demands on the SBA Payroll Protection Program (the $349B pool), there is now increased discussion at the federal level related to necessity of recapitalizing many of the programs put into place by the CARES Act (Phase 3).
  • Cuomo: New York may be somewhere in the range of 4-7 days away from peak. Today, Gov. Cuomo signed an Executive Order allowing medical students who were slated to graduate this spring to begin practicing now.
  • Federal government will staff and equip 2,500 beds at the Javits Center for COVID-19 patients.
  • DeWine: “For days that I’m in the public, I intend to wear a mask. Not an N95 mask,” but a homemade mask. He continued, “Wearing a mask should be accepted. We won’t require them in Ohio, but I intend on wearing one and you should consider doing so….”

Daily Update: April 3, 2020 4 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 8,420 confirmed cases, 53,695 tested negative, Deaths 102

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 4/3/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 476 2
Armstrong: 11 0
Beaver: 65 2
Butler: 75 2
Fayette: 20 1
Greene: 11 0
Indiana: 7 0
Lawrence: 19 2
Washington: 40 0
Westmoreland: 110 0

 

State Updates

  • Governor Wolf and Dr. Levine both participated in today’s press conference.  Brief notes are below.  The biggest news relayed was that Governor Wolf is now asking all Pennsylvanians to wear a mask.

Dr. Levine

    • As of 12 am today, there are 1,404 new cases; 8,420 cases now statewide in 63 counties
    • 852 required hospitalized since March 6; approximately 10% of the patients
    • 241 of those hospitalized required intensive care, 147 required ventilators
    • 419 of total cases are healthcare workers
    • 12% of 695 have one case from a nursing home
    • 102 deaths are adults
    • There is now discussion in the public health community, in the state and in the country, about wearing masks.  Here are several guidelines and tips to consider:
      • First and foremost, staying home is the most effective way to protect your, your family and your community
      • If must go out, wearing a mask or bandana could be an extra layer of protection
      • There is no need to wear surgical or N95 masks; these should be for healthcare providers
      • There is a guide on how to make your own mask on the website, Health.pa.gov
      • A mask is not a pass to go to work, to socialize; it is another tool in our toolbox to provide protection
      • Your mask protects me and my mask protects you
    • There are many resources on the types of masks you can make on your own; look at the health department’s website and look on the Internet for guidance.
    • Daily reminders:  wash hands 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers; cover coughs and sneezes and don’t touch your face; clean surfaces frequently
    • Reminder crisis text line, text “PA” to 741741
    • Visit Health.pa.gov for most updated info
    • Stay calm, stay home, stay safe

Gov. Wolf

    • This week, I initiated a statewide order; now I am asking all Pennsylvanians to wear a mask.
    • I am asking to reserve the purchase of N95 and paper masks and/or to follow directions for making your own mask on the health department’s website.
    • The CDC will soon be making a statement on universal masking.  In the interim, stay at home unless you cannot; wear a cloth mask.
    • There are several holidays in the next week; I am asking religious leaders that they need to consider alternative way to conduct religious service such streaming or hosting services in a parking lot while worshippers remain in their cars. 
    • Pennsylvania is a commonwealth founded on tolerance, but there is now hatred geared toward the Asian community.  I have instructed the State Police to use its enforcement against anyone who discriminates against the Asian population. If you witness any type of anti-Asian discrimination, report it.

 

Regional Coronavirus Update

City of Pittsburgh

  • Officials from the city held a news conference today: Mayor William Peduto, Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich, EMS Chief Ron Romano, EMS Assistant Chief Mark Pinchalk and City of Pittsburgh Medical Director Dr. Ronald Roth.  They talked about the importance of continuing to practice social distancing and discussed the city’s preparedness during the coronavirus outbreak.

 

National Coronavirus Update

Democratic National Convention

  • In light of the unprecedented health crisis facing our country, the 2020 Democratic National Convention will now be held the week of August 17 in Milwaukee.  Wisconsin has never hosted a political party’s national convention.

Daily Update: April 3, 2020 1 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 8,420 confirmed cases, 53,695 tested negative, Deaths 102

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 4/3/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 476 2
Armstrong: 11 0
Beaver: 65 2
Butler: 75 2
Fayette: 20 1
Greene: 11 0
Indiana: 7 0
Lawrence: 19 2
Washington: 40 0
Westmoreland: 110 0

 

State Updates

  • The PA Department of Education has allocated up to $5 million dollars in state funding for equity grants for schools to purchase computer equipment, such as laptops, tablets, and internet hot spots, or to use towards providing instructional materials, such as paper lessons and coursework.  PDE will also allocate new federal monies to these grants as the federal appropriations become available.  Schools with the highest percentages of students lacking access to resources will be given priority in receiving these grants.  Grant applications will be available on April 6 and must be submitted through PDE’s eGrants system by April 10.  More information can be found here.

 

  • The Wolf Administration announced that it will stop paying about 9,000 state employees, which is more than 10% of its workforce, by the end of next week.  The affected employees have jobs that cannot be completed through teleworking.  Starting April 11, those workers will have to use vacation, sick, or other personal leave time if they want to continue receiving paychecks. Otherwise, they can file for unemployment.  The Administration will continue to provide healthcare benefits.  With about 5,700 individuals affected, PennDOT will be the hardest hit agency.

 

  • The PA Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants across the state when they ordered to extend the moratorium on evictions. Specifically, the Court order extended the statewide judicial emergency and court closures to April 30, prohibiting evictions until after that point. Attorney General Josh Shapiro requested that landlords and mortgage companies extend the moratorium themselves beyond the April 30 timeframe.  Many state legislators had weighed in with support on this issue as well.

 

Regional Coronavirus Update

Allegheny County

  • The judicial emergency declared in March by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will now be extended through May 8 in Allegheny County, according to an order issued Thursday by county President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark.  Judge Clark’s order follows an extension of the statewide judicial emergency through April 30, ordered on Wednesday ordered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

 

  • The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus has jumped to 476 — an increase of 57 new cases in Allegheny County from Thursday, reflecting one of its lowest in recent days.  The Allegheny County Health Department stated that of those 476 cases of the viral disease, a total of 78 people have needed hospitalization.  The number of people in the county who have died as a result of complications from the fast-spreading virus remains at two -— about 10 more deaths from COVID-19 have been reported across Western Pennsylvania.

 

City of Pittsburgh

  • Effective April 7, City Council meetings will be recorded and broadcasted on City Channel Pittsburgh.  City residents may also access the meeting videos online.  Public comments will need to be submitted to the Clerk’s Office email at cityclerksoffice@pittsburghpa.gov by the close of business Monday in order to be included in the official record of Council’s meetings. 

 

  • District 6 Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle has created a survey as a means of getting in touch with his constituents during this time of uncertainty. If you have elderly relatives who are residents of the district and lack internet access, please feel free to fill out the survey on their behalf. CLICK HERE to access the survey.

 

Westmoreland County

  • Nearly 500 Westmoreland County non-essential government will be furloughed by the end of the day on Friday.  Furloughed workers will continue to receive health benefits.

 

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

  • The Pennsylvania National Guard has been asked to help out the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank due to restrictions on volunteers.

 

Federal Coronavirus Update

The White House

  • The White House is expected to announce a new policy which based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that would urge Americans to wear cloth masks in an effort to prevent coronavirus spread.  The CDC recommended that the public use homemade face coverings when in public, reserving higher-grade protective equipment like N95 masks for hospitals and health care workers, who have faced severe shortages in personal protective equipment as the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated through the United States.  However, coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that encouraging mask use might interfere with the prior social distancing guidance which calls for people to stay home, avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and keep a safe distance from those other than family members.

 

  • The president said he does not plan to issue a nationwide stay-at-home order although 40 of the states have implemented this order. The ten that have not are: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

 

U.S. House of Representatives

  • U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that she will form a bipartisan select committee on the coronavirus crisis to oversee the spending of $2.3 trillion that Congress has approved to respond to the pandemic. Speaker Pelosi said lawmakers must ensure aid already approved gets to those who need it most, and a committee was needed to ensure fund are spent wisely and effectively. But Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has raised several objections to the idea of a select committee, including that it could not be created without a vote and Congress is out until April 20. McCarthy said there is already oversight from congressional committees and the new coronavirus laws.

 

U.S. Small Business Administration

  • The Small Business Administration issued guidance for its Paycheck Protection Program—a key part of the economic stimulus package that allocates $349 billion for small businesses to access forgivable loans for payroll and overhead—hours ahead of its launch. American banks warned they wouldn’t be ready to lend. The program will offer loans of up to $10 million at 1% interest to companies and nonprofits with fewer than 500 workers so they can cover two months of payroll and overhead expenses.

 

National Coronavirus Update

  • Target Corporation on Sunday will start limiting the number of shoppers it allows in its stores to enhance social distancing as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the nation.  The retailer also will provide disposable face masks and gloves to 350,000 store and distribution centers workers in the next two weeks as well as to the shoppers Target employs through its Shipt same-day delivery operation. 

Daily Update: April 2, 2020 4 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 7,016 confirmed cases, 47,698 tested negative, Deaths 90

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 4/2/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 419 2
Armstrong: 7 0
Beaver: 55 2
Butler: 69 2
Fayette: 15 1
Greene: 11 0
Indiana: 6 0
Lawrence: 16 2
Washington: 38 0
Westmoreland: 84 0

 

State Updates

  • Secretary Levine gave the Wolf Administration’s press briefing today.
    • At 12 am, there were 1,211 new cases of COVID-19; 7,016 cases statewide in 62 counties
    • 730 have been hospitalized, 216 require intensive care, 130 require a ventilator
    • 345 of total are healthcare workers; 10% of the 695 nursing homes have one case
    • 90 deaths, all of those deaths are adults
    • Children are also dealing with this pandemic, especially the younger children as they don’t truly understand; older children are feeling that their goals are on-hold, they can’t participate in sports, can’t see their friends, etc.
    • As a pediatrician, children and teenagers are important and children take their leads from adults, by our words and by our actions
  • Tips for adults with children and teenagers:
      • Routines are essential, set a normal routine for them which gives them a sense of normalcy.
      • Set a time to get the latest info about COVID-19 from a trusted source. Don’t keep the television tuned to a station that continuously covers this issue.
      • Take your own advice as they are watching our reaction to cues, follow a routine as a parent.
  • Daily reminders: wash hands 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers; cover coughs and sneezes and don’t touch your face; clean surfaces frequently
  • Reminder crisis text line, text “PA” to 741741
  • Visit Health.pa.gov for most updated info
  • Stay calm, stay home, stay safe
  • The PA Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) also held a conference call today to discuss their efforts in assisting counties and local emergency management officials throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Agency Director, Randy Padfield noted PEMA has been working with the Department of Health (DOH) since February to prepare. PEMA’s role is to support county emergency management agencies using state and federal resources that are available to them.

Regional Coronavirus Updates:

Allegheny County

  • Allegheny County Health Department has reported 63 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, an 18% increase from Wednesday, bringing the countywide total to 419.

University of Pittsburgh

  • Promising research by a University of Pittsburgh researcher looking into the SARS coronavirus nearly 20 years ago, and the MERS coronavirus six years ago, has led to a potential COVID-19 vaccine that has shown early promise in tests on mice, according to a scientific paper published today. The findings, which were being discussed in an online press conference at the university, are very early in the process that the research team hopes will lead to a working vaccine — which they have dubbed PittCoVacc.

Carnegie Mellon University

  • Carnegie Mellon University researchers are working on a system to detect signs of COVID-19 using a voice recording of just a couple of coughs, some vowel sounds and the alphabet. The voice detector, which is still in the beginning stages of research, works by running a recording through an algorithm to look for “signatures” of COVID-19, or distinct changes in voice and breathing patterns that could indicate the new coronavirus. It’s still an experimental system.

Federal Coronavirus Update:  

CARES Act:

  • IRS and Treasury officials told House Ways and Means Committee members initial economic stimulus payments to be sent during the week of April 13th .
  • FTA officials reported allocations for the $25 billion in federal coronavirus relief grants for transit agencies. Pittsburgh is due to receive $162 million in relief. Rural Pennsylvania is set to receive $75 million with $4.7 distributed to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

Daily Update: April 2, 2020 1 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 7,016 confirmed cases, 47,698 tested negative, Deaths 90

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 4/2/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 419 2
Armstrong: 7 0
Beaver: 55 2
Butler: 69 2
Fayette: 15 1
Greene: 11 0
Indiana: 6 0
Lawrence: 16 2
Washington: 38 0
Westmoreland: 84 0

State Updates

  • The Wolf Administration announced late yesterday that the application process for a business seeking a waiver to continue operating in the state during the COVID-19 crisis would close on Friday, April 3, 2020 at 5:00 pm. At the end of the day March 31, 2020, DCED had received 32,474 requests for exemptions from state businesses. DCED’s most up-to-date life-sustaining business list is attached, and businesses can apply for a waiver until the deadline here.
  • The PA Department of Revenue announced today it is extending the due date for corporations with tax returns due in May to August 14, 2020. More information can be found here.  

Regional Coronavirus Updates:

Highmark Health Insurance:

  • Highmark will waive deductibles and co-payments for members hospitalized by COVID-19. Information on eligibility can be located through the health care provider’s website below. Highmark will also repurpose space downtown to assemble COVID-19 test-kits, hoping to create 6,000 kits by the end of the week. https://www.highmark.com/hmk2/newsroom/2020/pr04022020COVID19.shtml

Allegheny County:

  • Port Authority of Allegheny County will temporarily suspend its regular lost and found procedures until further notice. Beginning Thursday, April 2, customers will only be permitted to pick up wallets, government IDs or passports, credit cards and checkbooks, personal electronic devices and items valued at more than $300. Customers are asked to arrange for pick up by calling Customer Service so physical distancing can be practiced.

Lawrence County

  • The Ellwood City Medical Center, which has been closed since December, is one of the sites being considered during the covid-19 pandemic. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspected the site and will send its finding to Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to determine if the facility will be designated as treatment center for coronavirus patients.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey:

Federal Coronavirus Updates:

Phase IV Proposals:  

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) held a press conference to discuss policy options for a fourth coronavirus relief package (“Phase IV”). 
  • Speaker Pelosi has noted her hope to act on Phase IV by the end of April, Senator Schumer supports the timeline while Senate Republicans have not noted support.
  • Speaker Pelosi noted that House Democrats’ Phase IV proposal is heavily modeled after the Moving Forward framework House D’s released earlier this year. Pelosi noted the package could include $760 billion for an infrastructure package modeled after the Moving Forward framework released earlier this year, $10 billion for community health centers, and funding for education, housing, and other priorities. Moving Forward Framework: https://transportation.house.gov/imo/media/doc/2020%20Moving%20Forward%20Framework%20Press%20Release.pdf

Department of Labor (DOL)

  • DOL announced a temporary rule implementing the paid sick leave and family and medical leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). DOL will post a recorded webinar on Friday, April 3, to provide stakeholders with an in-depth description of the temporary rule and help them learn more about the requirements under FFCRA. Prior to issuing the temporary rule, DOL released fact sheets for employers and employees, FAQs, and other resources. DOL noted that the rule is pending placement on public inspection at the Office of the Federal Register and publication in the Federal Register.
  • DOL announcement: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20200401

Internal Revenue Service (IRS):

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

  • HHS issued an open letter to the health care community on optimizing ventilator use during the pandemic. HHS noted that “a possible crisis standard-of-care strategy, currently contemplated by several centers, is using one ventilator for two patients,” stressing that “co-venting should only be considered as an absolute last resort and for a limited amount of time.” Other recommendations included adherence to social distancing, following guidelines to optimize the use of ventilators, and data driven requests and usage of the Strategic National Stockpile.

Department of Defense

  • Pentagon officials have ordered military bases and combatant commands to withhold coronavirus case numbers, citing operational security concerns. Defense Secretary Mark Esper stated that he wants the Pentagon to withhold mission-specific information to protect operational security and only give aggregated numbers, further stating that the Pentagon will not disaggregate numbers because it could reveal information about where the locations may be affected at a higher rate than other places.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB):

  • Fourteen House Committee Chairs sent a letter today to OMB Acting Director Russell Vought requesting an immediate extension of public comment periods, hearings, and meetings due to the pandemic. Committee leaders asked OMB to direct agencies to extend public comment periods by at least 45 days beyond the end of the declared national emergency.

 White House:

  • Ambassador-at-Large Deborah Birx, Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, predicted over 200,000 U.S. deaths could be attributable to the coronavirus even with the current mitigation measures in place. President Trump cautioned that “This is going to be a painful two weeks.”

National Coronavirus Update

  • 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment compensation last week.
  • Eleven states still don’t have a stay-at-home order: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
  • COVID-19 Death Toll: 5,148.

Daily Update: April 1, 2020 4 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 5,805 confirmed cases, 42,427 tested negative, Deaths 74

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 4/1/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 356 2
Armstrong: 5 0
Beaver: 54 2
Butler: 64 2
Fayette: 14 1
Greene: 9 0
Indiana: 6 0
Lawrence: 13 2
Washington: 35 0
Westmoreland: 72 0

State Updates

  • Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine confirmed that all 67 PA will be under stay-at-home orders effective tonight, Wednesday, April 1, at 8 pm and will continue until April 30.  Additional details include:
    • All Pennsylvania schools will remain closed until further notice and non-life-sustaining business closures remain in effect.  
    • All essential state services will continue.  International students, foster youth, and any other students who would otherwise experience displacement or homelessness as a result of campus closures are exempt and may remain in campus housing. 
    • The Department of Education will be providing updated guidance and resources on the continuity of education for students to schools in the coming days. 
    • 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.  
    • A reminder that 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 health care 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
      • Anyone performing life-sustaining travel does not need paperwork to prove the reason for travel
    • 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, emergency medical services personnel, firefighters
      • The federal government
      • Religious institutions
      • Individuals experiencing homelessness are not subject to this order but are strongly urged to find shelter and government agencies are urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for those individuals.
  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced that it would accept a controlled number of online purchase and delivery of spirits. (6 bottles per transaction)

Regional Coronavirus Update:

  • City of Pittsburgh
    • Mayor Peduto’s office to include more information, translations into six language, and other features.
  • Allegheny County
    • 356 positive cases
    • 61 hospitalizations
    • 2 deaths
    • Gender Breakdown – 51.1% Female; 48.9% Male

Federal Coronavirus Update:

Surgeon General:

  • Surgeon General Jerome Adams said he believes the federal government’s social distancing guidance will extend past the end of April.

Congressman Mike Doyle:

  • Representative Doyle will host a tele-town hall focused on resources available for Pittsburghers.  The event will be held on Thursday, April 2nd at 5:30pm. More information: house.gov/live

Daily Update: April 1, 2020 1 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 5,805 confirmed cases, 42,427 tested negative, Deaths 74

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 4/1/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 356 2
Armstrong: 5 0
Beaver: 54 2
Butler: 64 2
Fayette: 14 1
Greene: 9 0
Indiana: 6 0
Lawrence: 13 2
Washington: 35 0
Westmoreland: 72 0

State Updates

  • *News outlets reporting that Governor Wolf will extend the stay-at-home order to all PA counties later today. Check back during 4 pm update for more details/confirmation.
  • PA Department of Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell gave a briefing on the state’s revenue situation. Highlights include:
    • Overall, state revenues fell 6% short of estimates in March – a $295 M shortfall, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg.
    • For the current fiscal year, state revenues are 0.2% lower than estimated.
    • The latest numbers do not reflect the full extent of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak because of a lag in when some taxes are collected, and because of the order to close businesses about halfway through the month.
    • It is clear the state will not hit the revenue numbers projected in the governor’s budget – major adjustments will need to be made.
    • Almost every source of tax revenue will be affected by COVID-19.
    • Revenues from sales and income taxes — which is counted on for about three-quarters of general fund revenues — dipped in March and will likely plunge in the coming months.
    • The extended tax deadlines also create a cash flow problem for the state – roughly $2.1 B in PIT were expected to flow into the state during April, May, and June. Now, most of that will not be collected until July.
  • Notes from Dr. Levine’s daily update from yesterday
    • PA has 756 new cases, with the statewide total being 4843 positive cases in 60 counties
    • 5% of total number of cases are health care workers
    • 63 total fatalities related to COVID-19
    • 37,645 Pennsylvanians have tested negative for COVID-19
    • New counties as of today added to “Stay At Home” order: Cameron, Crawford, Forrest, Franklin, Lawrence, Lebanon and Somerset.
    • There are 33 Counties now covered with the order 
  • As of Monday this week, PA State Police have issued 11 warnings, bringing the total to 107 since enforcement of the order started March 23. Business names are not being released.
    • Troop A, which includes Westmoreland, Cambria and Indiana counties, has warned 19 businesses — the most warnings issued by any troop in the state.
    • Troop B, which includes Allegheny, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties, has warned five businesses.
    • Troop D, which includes Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties, has issued seven warnings.

Regional Coronavirus Update

Allegheny County

  • The Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board won’t be having its monthly meeting Thursday — either in-person or virtually. In the past two weeks, the Allegheny County Jail has released 622 inmates as COVID-19 continues to spread across our region. Officials did not identify any of the released inmates, nor did they specify what they had been charged with prior to release.
  • Allegheny County Health Department officials said the county is testing about 500 people per day for the novel coronavirus. In a press conference Tuesday, Dr. Debra Bogen — head of the county health department — said they are also practicing “smart testing,” which means only people who meet specific criteria for COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, underlying health issues, age) are getting tested right now.

Federal Coronavirus Update

The White House

  • At yesterday’s briefing, the president stated that the next two week will be very painful. Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator, projected that 100,000– 240,000 people could die in the coming months in the coronavirus pandemic. This information is based on a modeling and other data and the increased mortality is based on several demographics – the individual’s age and pre-existing conditions.
  • In a letter to the president, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is calling for companies deemed essential during the coronavirus pandemic to pay employees hazard pay. Under Brown’s proposal, doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, home healthcare workers, building cleaners, deliver workers, letter carriers, transit workers and others working in essential businesses would receive the pay.

U.S. House of Representatives

  • House Democrats are crafting a fourth stimulus package that would include resources for water systems, broadband and 5G and more direct payments for individuals and local and state governments. 
  • House Democrats are beginning their review of how the government is implementing the trillions of dollars and are starting to discuss probing what went wrong with the initial federal response. The focus at the moment is to scrutinize whether the federal government is effectively spending the money — and to pressure the White House if there are delays in implementing programs that could amount to roughly $3 trillion in the first three massive bills that were rammed through Congress. To that end, House Democrats are holding a series of conference calls starting Wednesday with key committee chairmen to discuss what they are learning about how the money is being spent — and whether there needs to be additional action taken by Congress to draw attention to lags in implementing the laws. 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

  • Anthony Fauci predicts that a second wave of the COVID-19 will happen in the fall but the country will be better prepared to combat the virus.

Department of Homeland Security

  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security seeking 540 military personnel to support Customs and Border Protection operations on the Mexico border to prevent people infected with covid-19 from entering the U.S.

Daily Update: March 31, 2020 4 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 4,843 confirmed cases, 37,645 tested negative, Deaths 63

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/31/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 325 2
Armstrong: 5 0
Beaver: 52 0
Butler: 60 2
Fayette: 14 0
Greene: 9 0
Indiana: 6 0
Lawrence: 13 2
Washington: 33 0
Westmoreland: 61 0

State Updates

  • Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine updated PA’s stay at home order today to include Cameron, Crawford, Forest, Franklin, Lawrence, Lebanon and Somerset counties.  This brings the state total to 33 counties under the order, which will continue until at least April 30.
  • PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today that First Commonwealth Bank has agreed to join the “PA CARE Package”.  The PA CARE Package is a consumer relief initiative of banks and financial institutions working with the Attorney General’s Office of Bureau of Consumer Protection to both comply with the recently-passed CARES Act to offer protections for consumers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.   To commit to the PA CARE Package program, financial institutions and banks must offer additional assistance to Pennsylvanians facing financial hardship due to impacts of COVID-19. You can find out more about this program here.
  • Today, the PA Supreme Court asked a number of organizations to submit an answer to a petition filed that was seeking the release of people being held in county jails across the state.  County jails hold inmates who are awaiting trial, serving sentences of less than two years, or who have violated terms of probation.  The petition argued that the nearly 40,000 inmates are at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 because they are unable to take the precautions recommended by medical experts to prevent its spread.  The court has not given a time frame for when it might rule.
  • Nearly 200,000 Pennsylvanians have signed up online to vote by mail ballot in the June 2 primary election.

Regional Coronavirus Updates

  • City of Pittsburgh
  • Councilman Corey O’Connor led efforts to enable borrowing to support the city and help prevent further economic downturn during coronavirus.  Councilman O’Connor’s bill authorizes the mayor and directors of the Office of Management and Budget and Department of Finance to pursue lines of credit related to operational needs. The vote tentatively passed council on Tuesday and final approval is expected the first full week of April.
  • Allegheny County
  • Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen confirmed that the David L. Lawrence Convention Center has been assessed by the Army Corps of Engineers for use as a potential field hospital

Federal Coronavirus Updates:

Department of the Interior:

  • Congressional Democrats are asking the Interior Department for additional national park and public land closures, including the Grand Canyon. These are all efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and limit the size of gatherings.

Federal Trade Commission:

  • Over 1,000 Americans have filed complaints with the FTC after being unable to cancel or be refunded on travel and vacation trips.

Congress:

  • Three days after speaking on the House floor and interactions with leadership, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) has been diagnosed with a presumed case of coronavirus.  To date, five members of Congress have tested positive — Reps. Joe Cunningham, D-SC; Mario Diaz-Balart, R-FL.; Mike Kelly, R-PA; and Ben McAdams, D-UT as well as Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY.

Federal Emergency Management Agency

  • 250 ambulances and 500 EMT’s and paramedics are being sent to New York City to help with the overwhelming number of 911 calls and assist with transferring patients from overcrowded medical facilities to facilities with more room.

Daily Update: March 31, 2020 1PM

Pennsylvania

  • 4,843 confirmed cases, 37,645 tested negative, Deaths 63

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/31/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 325 2
Armstrong: 5 0
Beaver: 52 0
Butler: 60 2
Fayette: 14 0
Greene: 9 0
Indiana: 6 0
Lawrence: 13 2
Washington: 33 0
Westmoreland: 61 0

State Updates

  • Secretary Oleksiak from the PA Department of Labor and Industry gave a press conference yesterday. He noted that more than 834,000 unemployment claims have been filed in PA since March 15. It was suggested that this number eclipses anything ever experienced for a weekly total before, and maybe even a yearly total. 
  • Some PA legislators have been highlighting the need for construction to be included in the list of essential business by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. We are closely following this issue, as we know this industry affects many of our members.
    • On Friday, House Speaker Mike Turzai circulated a co-sponsor memo that would allow all public and private construction activities – that can adhere to social distancing practices and other mitigation measures defined by the Centers for Disease Control – to be allowed to operate. 
    • Similarly, earlier today, the PA Senate’s Republican Leaders asked the Governor to immediately reclassify residential construction employers as an essential business. 
  • (Note – this is also be covered in the federal update more broadly) President Trump approved Governor Wolf’s request for disaster assistance for PA. In a statement from the White House it was noted that the federal assistance will bring money to state and eligible local governments as well as certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures.

 

Regional Coronavirus Update

Allegheny County (also: see graphic above)

  • Allegheny County Health Department has reported 35 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the countywide total to 325. 25 new cases were on Monday, 46 on Sunday and 61 on Saturday.
  • The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank provided food to about 4,000 vehicles at three recent events and had to turn away hundreds away; police had to direct traffic, backing up for miles. More than 800 vehicles ended up receiving boxes of groceries. The food bank is planning to hold two or three of these events a week, in addition to serving its 500 pantries, soup kitchens and other meal programs in southwest Pennsylvania.
  • Paramedics, firefighters and other first responders will now know when they are treating or transporting a patient who may have the coronavirus. The Allegheny County Health Department said first responders will know the location of those patients, but will not be given their names. Until now, the health department had cited state privacy laws preventing them from disclosing the patients’ names and addresses.

City of Pittsburgh

  • Pittsburgh Public Schools will move to at-home instruction, all teachers will receive training, and students will begin at-home learning on April 16th. Student orientation and distribution of materials will take place on April 14th and 15th.

Butler County

  • An employee at Concordia at the Orchard – a personal care home- in Butler says a part-time employee has been diagnosed with coronavirus. The employee isn’t a direct caregiver and is currently isolated at home.

Beaver County

  • Two of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 deaths come from a nursing home in Beaver County, Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver. Nineteen other residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

Federal Coronavirus Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The White House

  • The president declared a major disaster in Pennsylvania on Monday night, capping off a day that saw nearly 700 new cases in the state as Gov. Tom Wolf extended the closing as of schools and nonessential businesses indefinitely. The president’s declaration makes federal funding available to eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, for all areas in the state affected by COVID-19.
  • The president has joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi in urging the passage of a $2 trillion infrastructure bill as the next piece of legislation to boost the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, especially, he noted, with interest rates at zero.

U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)

  • USDOT has released service requirements for airlines seeking funds from the CARES Act. Among other requirements, an airline receiving funding must maintain their route networks as serviced on March 1st.
  1. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Last week, the USDA announced its approval of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s (PDA) request to operate a Disaster Household Distribution program in each of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties, after Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) sent a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue in support of PDA’s request, in coordination with the Wolf Administration. This program will allow food banks to provide vital food assistance to all Pennsylvanians who are experiencing significant economic challenges due to the spread of COVID-19 by reducing administrative hurdles they would otherwise face.

Daily Update: March 30, 2020 4PM

Pennsylvania

  • 4,087 confirmed cases, 33,777 tested negative, Deaths 49

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/30/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 290 2
Armstrong: 3 0
Beaver: 44 0
Butler: 49 2
Fayette: 11 0
Greene: 7 0
Indiana: 2 0
Lawrence: 10 1
Washington: 26 0
Westmoreland: 55 0

State Updates

  • Governor Wolf and Dr. Watkins from the PA Department of Health participated in today’s press conference. Notes from their conference are below. 

Governor Wolf:

  • We are doing a phenomenal job. Thank you for staying in and doing what it takes to stop this virus.
  • 700 new cases reported, now in 59 counties.
  • Adding Carbon, Cumberland and Dauphin Counties to stay at home order
  • Expanding orders: businesses and schools are now closed indefinitely – without a date. It is still not safe. 
  • We must continue to distance ourselves. Even as it gets warmer, be sure to maintain distance when outdoors to further eliminate.
  • Keep at it, thank you PA

Dr. Watkins: PA Department of Health

  • 693 new cases – PA now has 4,087 positive cases
  • 4% are with health care workers, 1% in nursing home population
  • 1 in correctional facility
  • 10% of those testing positive are in a hospital, 110 need ICU, 67 need ventilators
  • 48 deaths have been reported in PA

Regional Coronavirus Update:

  • Allegheny County:
  • 25 new cases of COVID-19 reported totaling 290 (44% are 25 to 49 years old) in Allegheny County.
  • Health Department officials are developing an online tool to provide more information on COVID-19 cases within the county.
  • City of Pittsburgh:
  • Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center – a joint effort by the City of Pittsburgh and Neighborhood Allies – will offer free one-on-one video/phone financial counseling to resident 18 and over.
  • Westmoreland County:
  • Eight new cases of COVID-19 reported totaling 55 confirmed cases within the county.

Federal Coronavirus Update:

House of Representatives:

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi reinforced the need for the next phase of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)  

  • Pentagon watchdog Marty Fine has been selected to lead the newly created Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. The committee will oversee the implementation the $2 trillion to be distributed from the CARES Act. The CARES Act requires a special inspector general to oversee the $500 billion in industry relief and a Congressional Oversight Commission both oversight mechanisms have yet to be appointed.

United States Navy:

  • USNS Comfort – a 1,000 bed hospital ship – has arrived in Manhattan to lessen the strain on existing hospital infrastructure. This is part of the attempt to alleviate strain and allow hospitals to treat more coronavirus patients.

National Coronavirus Update:

  • 125,000 employees are to be furloughed by Macy’s due to COVID-19. The national retail cites diminishing sales which have forced it to close stores.
  • Nearly 200,000 Instacart workers plan to strike on Monday citing lack of COVID-19 protections as the reason.
  • Johnson & Johnson stated that human testing of its experimental vaccine for COVID-19 will begin by September and it could be available for emergency use authorization in early 2021.
  • Amazon workers are staging a walkout at the Staten Island, New York, facility on Monday for allegations that the online corporation has mishandled its response to the coronavirus pandemic. Many more employees have tested positive for the virus at the facility than the company has publicly acknowledged.

Daily Update: March 30, 2020 1PM

Pennsylvania

  • 4,087 confirmed cases, 33,777 tested negative, Deaths 49

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/30/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 290 2
Armstrong: 3 0
Beaver: 44 0
Butler: 49 2
Fayette: 11 0
Greene: 7 0
Indiana: 2 0
Lawrence: 10 1
Washington: 26 0
Westmoreland: 55 0

State Update

  • Total of 58 of 67 counties in Pennsylvania have a positive case of COVID-19.
  • Wolf asked President Trump for a major disaster declaration that will assist state efforts.
  • The delay in state tax payments is likely to cause major uncertainty in state tax revenues for FY 19-20.

State Updates

  • On Friday the Wolf Administration laid off about 2,500 part-time and seasonal employees and interns. The affected workers, which include temporary clerical staff and employees who help out in departments across state government during busy periods, were placed on “leave without pay” Friday, and at this point in time there is no timeline to call them back. Employees who work for the state health and labor departments, which are central to the coronavirus response, were not affected. It is anticipated that these layoffs could be the first in a wave within state government.
  • Yesterday Governor Wolf requested a major-disaster declaration from President Donald Trump through the Federal Emergency Management Agency that could bring more funding and programs to support state, county and municipal governments and some nonprofits, as well as struggling individuals during the COVID-19 outbreak. If approved, it would provide the same emergency protective measures available under the nationwide emergency proclamation. The following Individual Assistance programs would be available, as well: Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Community Disaster Loans and the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program and Statewide Hazard Mitigation.
  • Over the weekend, the PA Department of Community and Economic Development issued a reminder and posted an updated guidance and FAQ document on its website for businesses with questions regarding all “non-life-sustaining” businesses. The Department has been regularly updating its FAQ document to provide guidance to employers. Those businesses seeking a waiver to the Governor’s order can do so via the online waiver process here.
  • Total Pennsylvania cases currently 4,087. There were 693 additional positive cases from yesterday – the largest one day increase to date. Total of 48 deaths statewide.
  • Governor Wolf and State Epidemiologist Dr. Sharon Watkins – 2pm press conference.

Regional Coronavirus Update

Lawrence County

  • The county confirmed its first death, a patient hospitalized at UPMC Jameson in New Castle; Details about age or gender have not been released.

Beaver County

  • 15 residents at the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center have tested positive for COVID-19. Five of those residents are at Heritage Valley Hospital because they were having significant symptoms and respiratory problems.

City of Pittsburgh

  • Neighborhood street sweeping by the city’s Department of Public Works, which was due to begin Wednesday, April 1, is postponed due to the COVID-19. Some street cleaning, as well as catch basin cleaning, will still be performed to help with protections against rainfall and weather-related events. 
  • The city is closing its basketball courts and overlooks to further enforce the social distancing rules necessary to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Parks are remaining open, and residents are encouraged to use them to promote physical activity.

Southwestern Pennsylvania (for internal use)

  • Article: Southwest PA Best-Case, Worst-Case Coronavirus Case Projections: An analysis estimates the number of potential coronavirus cases that could hit Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania. https://patch.com/pennsylvania/pittsburgh.

If moderate social distancing measures continue, the five-county region of southwestern Pennsylvania could see 264,000 cases of coronavirus by mid-June, an analysis shows. However, if the most severe control measures are maintained, that number could be limited to 3,200 with a peak in the late summer. That’s the conclusion of Columbia University researchers as reported by the New York Times, which compiled maps showing the estimated spread of the virus in every county in America under varying scenarios for control measures.

Here’s how this projected best case scenario would look at the county level:

  • Allegheny County: 1,800 cases, 0.2 percent infection rate.
  • Westmoreland County: 1,000 cases, 0.3 percent infection fate.
  • Washington County: 700 cases, 0.4 percent infection rate.
  • Butler County: 300 cases, 0.1 percent infection rate.
  • Beaver County: 300 cases, 0.2 percent infection rate.

Federal Coronavirus Update

The White House

  • The federal social distancing guidelines will remain in place until April 30, officials note the peak of the COVID-19  pandemic is expected in two weeks. President Trump said he expected the country to be on its way to recovery by June 1.
  • Coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, said today that she is very worried about every city in the United States and projects 100,000 to 200,000 American deaths as a best case scenario. Without doing any measures, fatalities could reach as high as 1.2 million.

Treasury Department

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday that Americans could expect checks from the historic $2 trillion stimulus bill to be directly deposited in their accounts within three weeks.

United States Navy

  • USNS Navy Comfort arrived in New York City today to relieve pressure on hospitals already overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

Food and Drug Administration

  • The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, decades-old malaria drugs, despite scant evidence. The agency allowed for the drugs to be donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible. 
  • Houston Methodist Hospital will be the first academic medical center, approved by the FDA, in the country to transfuse donated plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient to a critically-ill COVID-19 patient.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately. This Domestic Travel Advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply. The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Connecticut rose by almost 500 Sunday to nearly 2,000.

Department of State

  • The State Department has repatriated more than 18,000 Americans who had been stuck abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.  As of Saturday afternoon, the agency reported it had retrieved 18,406 U.S. citizens aboard more than 178 flights. The department said it had planned more than 60 repatriation flights for this week and would add more as needed.

Daily Update: March 29, 2020 3PM

Pennsylvania

  • 3,394 confirmed cases, 30,061 tested negative, Deaths 38

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/28/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 265 2
Armstrong: 3 0
Beaver: 28 0
Butler: 47 2
Fayette: 10 0
Greene: 6 0
Indiana: 2 0
Lawrence: 8 1
Washington: 24 0
Westmoreland: 47 0

State Update

  • Total of 3,394 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania – an increase of 649 from yesterday. A total of 38 deaths.
  • Total of 58 of 67 counties in Pennsylvania have a positive case of COVID-19.
  • Wolf asked President Trump for a major disaster declaration that will assist state efforts.
  • The delay in state tax payments is likely to cause major uncertainty in state tax revenues for FY 19-20.

Daily Update: March 28, 2020 4 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 2,751 confirmed cases, 25,254 tested negative, Deaths 34

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/28/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 219 2
Armstrong: 2 0
Beaver: 22 0
Butler: 41 2
Fayette: 10 0
Greene: 6 0
Indiana: 2 0
Lawrence: 8 0
Washington: 23 0
Westmoreland: 41 0

State Update

Gov. Wolf/Sec. Levine Briefing

  • Levine – Pa doing a ‘very good job’ of social distancing;
  • Levine – 316 state residents have required hospitalization since March 6 – approx.. 11.5% of people who have tested positive.
    • 65+ — 49%; 50-64 — 27%; 25-49 – 20%; 19-24 – 2%; 13-18 – 1%; 5-12 – 0%; 0-4 – 1%;
  • Total reported cases in Pennsylvania is now 2,751 (56 counties) which is an increase of 533 from yesterday.
  • Wolf announced a series of temporary licensing waivers for health care professionals, including: streamlined the process for retired doctors and nurses, medical students, pharmacists, and other health care workers to practice in PA. Pennsylvania has further allowed more out of state practitioners to practice in Pennsylvania and has extended telemedicine options.
  • Levine – Of the 3,400 ICU beds in Pennsylvania, a total of 40% are available at this time.
  • Levine – Of the 4,000 total ventilators in Pennsylvania, a total of 75% are available at this time.

Federal/National Update

  • President Trump raised the idea of ‘quarantining’ New York, parts of Connecticut, and New Jersey.
  • Abbott Labs has announced a new rapid test for COVID-19 that can diagnose a positive result in 5 minutes and negative result in 13 minutes. Beginning with a delivery of 50,000 tests per day.

Daily Update: March 28, 2020 1 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 2,751 confirmed cases, 25,254 tested negative, Deaths 34

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/28/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 219 2
Armstrong: 2 0
Beaver: 22 0
Butler: 41 2
Fayette: 10 0
Greene: 6 0
Indiana: 2 0
Lawrence: 8 0
Washington: 23 0
Westmoreland: 41 0

Regional Update

  • Allegheny County
    • Allegheny County Health Department reports 61 new cases of COVID-19 for total of 219. There are now 32 total hospitalizations, increase from 25 reported yesterday. Two deaths in Allegheny County.
    • Of 219 positive cases: 50.2% female; 49.8% male; Largest % age group is 25-49 (comprising nearly half of all cases in Allegheny County) followed by 50-64, 65+, 19-24, 13-18, 5-12, and 0-4.
    • The ACHD is still tracing contacts of people who have tested positive and is recommending self-quarantine when needed. Again, strongly urging all Allegheny County residents to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus in the community.
  • Washington County
    • Wolf is expected to issue a stay at home order for Washington County effective later today.
  • Beaver County
    • Wolf is expected to add Beaver County to stay at home order effective later today.

Federal Update

  • The CARES Act was signed by President Trump

State Update

  • Wolf and Sec. Levine press update at 1pm.

Daily Update: March 27, 2020 4 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 2,218 confirmed cases, 21,016 tested negative, Deaths 22

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/27/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 158 2
Armstrong: 1 0
Beaver: 14 0
Butler: 26 1
Fayette: 9 0
Greene: 4 0
Indiana: 2 0
Lawrence: 4 0
Washington: 14 0
Westmoreland: 30 0

Regional Coronavirus Update

  • Additional stay at home order issued by Gov. Wolf for Butler County and Westmoreland County. Effective tonight (3/27/20) at 8pm and to continue to 4/6/20.

Allegheny County

  • 545 discharged from Allegheny County Jail to mitigate spread.
  • According to ACHD officials there are 25 new cases of COVID-19 in the county, bringing the total to 158 active cases.

Westmoreland County:

  • County commissioners announced the furlough of 500 nonessential Westmoreland County government employees on April 3.  This is in response to balancing vital government functions during the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing budgetary concerns complicated by large overtime payments to essential employees who were required to work the past two weeks.
  • Westmoreland County transit officials will further reduce commuter and local bus service starting March 30 as ridership has dropped about 80% over the last two weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic and the commuter service to downtown Pittsburgh has barely any passengers.  The revised bus schedule can be found at https://www.westmorelandtransit.com/.
  • Gov. Wolf’s stay-at-home order has now extended to include Westmoreland County.

Federal Coronavirus Update

House of Representatives:

  • The House of Representatives approved the CARES Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package that passed the Senate earlier this week.
  • Congressman Mike Kelly (R-Butler) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.

The White House

  • Trump Administration officials are working to finalize options to present to the President related to the next phase of national guidelines on coronavirus related to the President’s goals of reopening the economy. 
  1. S. Surgeon General
  • Dr. Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General, warned that some states will still be battling coronavirus by Labor Day. He became the latest expert to discredit the president’s Easter deadline to stamp out the virus. 

Department of Homeland Security

  • The department recently launched and continues to update a new, living document that agency officials can use as a reference tool to inform the choices they must make in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Upon recognizing that there’s a range of knowledge gaps about the novel coronavirus itself that directly impact DHS’ policies and operations—and America’s entire medical emergency response community-at-large—the department created and released a Master Question List, or MQL. According to the latest version published March 26, the document quickly summarizes what is known, what additional information is needed, and who may be working to address” fundamental questions about COVID-19.  The MQL will be updated as needed when new information becomes available.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Apple is launching a new app and website to help inform Americans about how to stay safe and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Apple partnered with the CDC, FEMA and the Coronavirus Task Force to develop the COVID-19 app and website.

State Update

  • State updates on stay at home referenced above.

Daily Update: March 27, 2020 1 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 2,218 confirmed cases, 21,016 tested negative, Deaths 22

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/27/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 158 2
Armstrong: 1 0
Beaver: 14 0
Butler: 26 1
Fayette: 9 0
Greene: 4 0
Indiana: 2 0
Lawrence: 4 0
Washington: 14 0
Westmoreland: 30 0

State Updates

  • Today Governor Wolf signed HB 68, HB 1232, SB 422 and SB 751 into law (all the bills described in yesterday’s updates)
  • The PA Departments of Community and Economic Development, Health, General Services, and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency have developed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal to source the most needed medical supplies. The Portal is for manufacturers, distributors and other suppliers to inform the state government of supplies available for purchase, with the hope that it will allow the state to more quickly and efficiently procure supplies for hospitals and medical facilities across Pennsylvania. More information on which items are most critically needed, as well as more information on how to participate can be found here.
  • The PA Department of Revenue is extending all business tax licenses and certifications that are set to expire until further communication is received from the department.  This extension applies to:
    • Sales, Use and Hotel Occupancy tax licenses
    • Public Transportation Assistance (PTA) Fund taxes and fees
    • Small Games of Chance Manufacturer Certificates
    • Sales Tax Exemption Certificates

For questions or to email a member of their online service center, visit their website.

 

Regional Coronavirus Update

Allegheny County

  • Allegheny County Health Department has released a map that contains geographical information on where positive cases are located in the county, by municipality. http://bit.ly/ACHDcovid-19
  • Allegheny County Health Department has reported that the daily cases of COVID-19 have risen drastically over the past week with 48 of the 133 cases are in Pittsburgh. There is now at least one case in 48 of the state’s 67 counties, with Indiana and Lawrence counties reporting their first cases. Other counties in Western Pennsylvania reporting COVID-19 cases are Westmoreland (24), Butler (19), Beaver (13), Washington (12), Fayette (8), Greene (3) and Armstrong (1).  Other counties in the southwest Pennsylvania corridor include Blair (1), Cambria (1), Crawford (1), Erie (4), Mercer (3), Clearfield (2), Somerset (2) and Warren (1).

Port Authority of Allegheny County

  • Port Authority confirmed an employee tested positive for COVID-19; the employee is a bus operator and is under medical supervision at a local hospital. The employee was exposed outside of work. Upon learning of the employee’s diagnosis, the authority followed the Centers for Disease Control and the Allegheny County Health Department protocols.

Allegheny County Jail

  • The Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas has released nearly 500 inmates from incarceration as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce the at-risk jail population during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to statistics from the county court administrator — and repeated by President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark during a county council public safety committee meeting Thursday afternoon — since March 16, release paperwork has been processed for 485 inmates. As of March 1, the jail population was 2,224. By Wednesday, that number was at 1,725.
  • Attorney visits at the Allegheny County Jail have been temporarily suspended. Attorneys may meet or talk with their clients via telephone. The jail has created a Legal Privacy Request Form which guarantees the confidentiality of these attorney/client phone calls and to ensure that they are not monitored or recorded. Attorneys can obtain the form by sending an email to PrivacyRequest@alleghenycourts.us along with a copy of their attorney license.

Federal Coronavirus Update

The CARES Act information

  • Courtesy of US Senator Bob Casey’s office, we received the attached Small Business Owner’s Guide to The CARES Act.
  • US House of Representatives passed The CARES Act early this afternoon by voice vote.  It heads to President Trump’s desk for signature.

U.S. House of Representatives

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy both stated that they want the $2 trillion stimulus bill, which is the largest emergency aid package in the country’s history, to be approved by their chamber Friday by voice vote, thus, clearing the way for the president’s signature. 

The White House

  • At Thursday’s daily press briefing, President Trump stated that he spoke with G20 leaders, officials from the United Nations and the World Health Organization and others, saying that the United States is working with the country’s international friends and partners to stop the spread of the virus and to coordinate our efforts.  POTUS discussed how vitally important it is for all of our nations to immediately share information and data and continue to do so to fight this pandemic. 

Department of Veterans Affairs


March 26, 2020 – 11pm Supplemental Update (for those on the webinar, you may recall that this came up as a question…)

Federal Update

  • On 3/26/20, the Department of Labor announced additional guidance relating to the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201, known as “Phase II”). The guidance includes a post for employees relating to employer notice requirements, as well as a new set of FAQs and a Field Assistance Bulletin. According to DOL, the guidance “addresses critical issues such as whether employers may post required notice electronically, whether employers must provide notice of this law to recently laid-off individuals, when FFCRA applies to federal workers and when enforcement of the new rules will begin.” The new guidance followed the initial fact sheet for employers, a fact sheet for employees, and FAQs.

Key Provisions of the Federal Stimulus Package (March 26, 2020)


Daily Update: March 26, 2020 4 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 1,687 confirmed cases, 16,441 tested negative, Deaths 16

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/26/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 133 2
Armstrong: 1 0
Beaver: 13 0
Butler: 19 1
Fayette: 8 0
Greene: 3 0
Indiana: 1 0
Lawrence: 1 0
Washington: 12 0
Westmoreland: 24 0

State Updates

  • Notes from 2 pm update by Wolf Administration

Sec. Levine

    • 276 cases yesterday 
    • 560 new cases today
    • 1687 total in PA in 48 counties
    • Exponential rise
    • Positive cases – 46% are ages 50 and older
    • 39% are in the 25-49 year age bracket
    • 16,441 have tested negative
    • 170 have been hospitalized in PA since March 6th (remains ~10% of positive cases)
    • 56 of total hospitalized have required ICU
    • 32 have needed ventilators
    • 46% are over 65 years old
    • 16 deaths in PA
    • 68% of deaths are over age 65 
    • Distribution of supplies to hospitals, health systems professionals, counties, emergency responders:
    • 67,8630 N-95 masks
    • 207,600 procedural masks
    • 36,870 gowns as protective
    • 44,000 goggles and face protection devices
    • Continue to be looking for supplies 
    • STAY HOME as much as possible to present spread
    • Efforts are critical so our health system has time to prepare
    • Wash hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer / do not touch face / clean surfaces frequently
    • Contact health care provider if you have symptoms
    • 741741 is the mental health hotline for texting
    • health.pa.gov for up-to-date information
    • It is most important to stay calm, stay home, and stay safe

Governor Wolf:

    • We do need equipment
    • Our hospitals are going to reach capacity bed / need ventilators and personal care equipment
    • PA legislature did $50 million funding infusion into our health care system
    • Thanked the federal government for support so far
    • We don’t know how bad surge will be / long haul / fighting a war
    • Need to support front line medical workers
    • Need beds for patients
    • Need to flatten the curve / continue to distance socially / do our part in the battle
    • We can thank medical professionals through our actions / staying home is thanking them
    • Virus can hide for 14 days / must act as if we all have it – that’s the only way to reduce burden on medical system
    • Let’s work together to save lives

Federal Coronavirus Update

The White House

  • POTUS is issuing a letter to the country’s governors on new social distancing guidelines based on geographic risk factors.  The letter states that new coronavirus testing capabilities would allow his administration to identify high-risk, medium risk and low-risk counties.  The new guidelines will help governors and other state policymakers decide on maintaining, increasing or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place.

Daily Update: March 26, 2020 1 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 1,687 confirmed cases, 16,441 tested negative, Deaths 16

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/26/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 133 2
Armstrong: 1 0
Beaver: 13 0
Butler: 19 1
Fayette: 8 0
Greene: 3 0
Indiana: 1 0
Lawrence: 1 0
Washington: 12 0
Westmoreland: 24 0

State Updates

  • Yesterday the PA State Police issued 13 warnings against businesses deemed to be non-life-sustaining.  Five of those were issued in our 10-county region.  To date, there have been 57 total warnings, no citations as of yet.
  • Earlier today Governor Tom Wolf asked the US Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue that the USDA waive eligibility requirements for the Emergency Food Assistance Program.  He also asked that the UDSA reconsider Pennsylvania’s request for temporary waivers to allow more food to be distributed at school feeding sites and food banks; and to be flexible and change its interpretation of recent changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The full letter can be read here.
  • The PA legislature sent the following bills to the Governor this week.  The last day for action is April 4.

HB 68 (Ryan, R-Lebanon) – Unemployment Compensation Law

  • Amends the Unemployment Compensation (UC) Law to extend the time period for an employer to request relief from charges from 15 to 21 days and makes changes to the law in response to the COVID-19 emergency in order to comply with Federal law which will allow Pennsylvania to be eligible for Federal UC administration funding as well as Federal emergency UC benefits.

HB 1232 (Dunbar, R-Westmoreland) – Fiscal Code

  • Permanently establishes the Enhanced Revenue Collection Restricted Account. Revenues collected and the amount of refunds avoided as a result of expanded tax return reviews and tax collection activities by the Department of Revenue will be deposited into the account.
  • Provides up to $50 million of additional funding to be made available for the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response efforts within the health care system.
  • Requires available federal funding and any funding made available through the Governor’s disaster proclamation to be used before the transfer of funding can occur.
  • Extends medical marijuana temporary regulations until November 20, 2021, or upon the Department of Health’s publication of the final-form regulations, whichever is sooner.
  • Provides temporary powers and duties for Commonwealth agencies at times when an emergency makes it impossible to comply with law relating to state finance or state tax.

 

SB 422 (Vogel, R-Beaver) – Election Code

  • Changes the date of the general primary election to June 2, 2020.
  • Consolidates polling places.
  • Establishes the Pennsylvania Election Law Advisory Board.
  • Amends sections relating to absentee and mail-in ballots.

SB 751 (Aument, R-Lancaster) – Public School Code

  • Revises the educator evaluation system.
  • Allows the Secretary of Education to order the closure of all school entities until the threat to health and safety caused by the pandemic of 2020 has ended and waive the requirement that school entities be open for at least 180 days of instruction.
  • An employee of a school entity may not receive more or less compensation than the employee would otherwise have been entitled to receive from the school entity had the pandemic of 2020 not occurred.
  • School entities must provide cleaning staff with appropriate cleaning materials.
  • Notice must be given to all parents of special education students of a school entity’s plan for ensuring a free and appropriate public education.
  • School entities must make a good faith effort to develop a plan to offer continuity of education using alternative means during the closure period.
  • No school entity will see any loss in school subsidies or reimbursements from the Commonwealth as a result of actions taken by the Secretary.
  • School entities will be required to keep paying intermediate units and career and technical centers as well as approved private schools and private residential rehabilitative institutions where public schools have placed students.
  • Each school entity may renegotiate a contract for school bus transportation services to ensure contracted personnel and fixed costs, including administration and equipment, are maintained during the period of school closure, and will be eligible to receive reimbursement from the state as if the pandemic of 2020 had not occurred.
  • The Secretary of Education must apply to the United States Department of Education for testing waivers to permit cancellation of assessments for the 2019-20 school year.
  • Standardized testing for home education students is cancelled, as are evaluations of home education programs.
  • A school entity may apply to the Secretary for a waiver of any provision of the School Code, regulation of the State Board of Education or standards of the Department directly related to the school entity’s staffing needs or impacts the school entity’s instructional program or operations as a result of the pandemic of 2020.
  • Each active professional educator’s current continuing professional education compliance period is extended by one year.

Regional Coronavirus Update

City of Pittsburgh

  • The City of Pittsburgh has extended its personal income tax deadline until July 15, in line with similar 90-day extensions announced by the Internal Revenue Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. The city’s finance department will continue real estate billings, but will stop all real estate delinquent billings and late fee charges. The department has already suspended all treasurer’s sales of properties.

Allegheny County Health Department

  • The health department has reported that there are 45 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total now to 133 active cases.

Pittsburgh International Airport

  • Southwest Airlines, one of Pittsburgh International Airports largest carriers (by number of passengers), is cancelling 1,500 of its 4,000 daily flights, effective Friday. 

Federal Coronavirus Update

United States House of Representatives

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today after the Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus package to provide relief to Americans and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.  The speaker anticipates a strong bipartisan vote on Friday to send to the president for his signature.

The Pentagon

  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper has signed an order freezing the movements of all troops overseas for 60 days in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. All service members overseas or currently scheduled to deploy from the states will stay in their current locations for the next 60 days. The freeze-in-place order will affect 90,000 expected scheduled deployments, including both troops scheduled to return home and troops scheduled to deploy overseas.

The State Department

  • The State Department has repatriated 9,300 Americans from 28 countries, an unprecedented evacuation effort that has had to navigate each country’s landing rights and health restrictions and employed a variety of means, including government aircraft, cruise ships and chartered flights. At least 66 more chartered flights are planned over the next nine days, with at least 9,000 people coming home on those. But there are at least 50,000 Americans still stranded, and U.S. embassies and consulates around the world have been overwhelmed by the need.

Department of Education

  • S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that due to the COVID-19 national emergency, the Department will halt collection actions and wage garnishments to provide additional assistance to borrowers. This flexibility will last for a period of at least 60 days from March 13, 2020.
  • Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Education DeVos held a conference call with leaders of several national K-12 education organizations to answer their questions and to provide an update on what the Department of Education has done so far to support students, parents and educators during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Department of Homeland Security

  • The department is extending the REAL ID enforcement deadline beyond the current October 1, 2020 deadline to October 1, 2021.

Daily Update: March 25, 2020 4 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 1,127 confirmed cases, 11,193 tested negative, Deaths 11

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/25/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 88 2
Armstrong: 1 0
Beaver: 7 0
Butler: 12 0
Fayette: 4 0
Greene: 2 0
Indiana: 0 0
Lawrence: 1 0
Washington: 10 0
Westmoreland: 16 0

State Updates

  • Governor Wolf announced today that new funding is available to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19, through a new program under the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s (PIDA) Small Business First Fund. The program is called the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA). The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) recently authorized the transfer of $40 million to the Small Business First Fund for CWCA. PIDA authorized making $60 million available to provide loans of $100,000 or less to for-profit businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees. Funds are expected to become available this week.
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court today canceled the upcoming oral argument session scheduled in Pittsburgh from April 21 through 23. Cases scheduled for argument during that session will be decided on briefs previously submitted.
  • The PA House sent SB 422, a bill to move the state’s April 28 primary election to June 2, to the PA Senate today with a unanimous vote of 198-0. As of 4 pm this afternoon the bill was in Senate Rules and Executive Nominations for consideration and likely concurrence.
  • The PA House and Senate both unanimously voted through SB 751. The bill contains measures to address emergency School Code changes to address various education concerns that have arisen during the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation would address items such as:
      • Elimination of the 180-day instruction requirement on all public and non-public schools
      • Allowing the state Education Secretary to increase the number of allowable flexible instruction days and waive timeline regarding those days
      • Ensuring school districts make a “good faith effort” to develop a plan to offer continuing education during the closure of schools
      • Having the plans be developed locally by each district with guidance from the state Education Department and technical assistance from the districts’ intermediate units
      • Regarding special education, the legislation would ask that notice be given to the parents of all special education students for a plan to ensure the students are receiving “free and appropriate public education”
      • Ensuring there will be no loss of school subsidies, including for charter schools, and no staff member of any public school will see any less or more compensation than would have received without the school closures
      • Addressing school bus contractors to ensure that once the current crisis has ended, school buses will be ready to provide service
  • The PA Senate passed House Bill 68 by a vote of 50-0.  The bill provides updates to the state Unemployment Compensation law, including extending relief to affected employees, and supporting healthcare facilities and workers that are on the front lines of Pennsylvania’s efforts to treat patients affected by the virus.  As of 4 pm this afternoon the bill has been moved to the House Rules Committee for consideration.

Federal Coronavirus Updates:

The White House

  • The Trump Administration has approached European and Asian partners to secure supplies of testing kits and other medical equipment that are in desperately short supply in the U.S.

Department of State

  • The State Department is instructing top diplomats to press governments and businesses in Eastern Europe and Eurasia to ramp up exports and production of life-saving medical equipment and protective gear for the United States, part of a desperate diplomatic campaign to fill major shortcomings in the U.S. medical system amid a rising death toll from the new coronavirus.

Food and Drug Administration

  • The Food and Drug Administration has begun to allow doctors to treat some patients with the blood plasma of patients who have recovered from the coronavirus-caused Covid-19 disease. The treatment must be approved on a case-by-case basis and the patients must meet certain conditions. 

Daily Update: March 25, 2020 1 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 1,127 confirmed cases, 11,193 tested negative, Deaths 11

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/25/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 88 2
Armstrong: 1 0
Beaver: 7 0
Butler: 12 0
Fayette: 4 0
Greene: 2 0
Indiana: 0 0
Lawrence: 1 0
Washington: 10 0
Westmoreland: 16 0

State Updates

  • Governor Wolf added Erie, Lehigh and Northampton Counties to the stay at home order list.
  • The PA State Police issued a guidance document for their enforcement of non-essential businesses. It can be found here.
  • PA’s Independent Fiscal Office released a March 2020 newsletter.
  • We anticipate seeing the PA House move a number of bills today around the primary election date and to address the school closures.
    • SB 422 would move the state’s April 28 primary election until June 2.
    • The House also plans to address emergency School Code changes to address various education concerns that have arisen during the COVID-19 crisis.  The legislation would address items such as:
      • Elimination of the 180-day instruction requirement on all public and non-public schools
      • Allowing the state Education Secretary to increase the number of allowable flexible instruction days and waive timeline regarding those days
      • Ensuring school districts make a “good faith effort” to develop a plan to offer continuing education during the closure of schools
      • Having the plans be developed locally by each district with guidance from the state Education Department and technical assistance from the districts’ intermediate units
      • Regarding special education, the legislation would ask that notice be given to the parents of all special education students for a plan to ensure the students are receiving “free and appropriate public education”
      • Ensuring there will be no loss of school subsidies, including for charter schools, and no staff member of any public school will see any less or more compensation than would have received without the school closures
      • Addressing school bus contractors to ensure that once the current crisis has ended, school buses will be ready to provide service
  • The PA Senate indicated it will be in session soon to consider the election and school code bills acted on by the House, as well as measures to update the state Unemployment Compensation law.  House Bill 68 will extend relief to affected employees, and support healthcare facilities and workers that are on the front lines of Pennsylvania’s efforts to treat patients affected by the virus.

Regional Coronavirus Update

Allegheny County

  • The Health Department confirmed today that there are 88 active cases of COVID-19, 13 were hospitalized. The number of deaths remains at two. The age and gender distribution of cases in the county are provided below.

  • The other counties in southwestern Pennsylvania that are reporting COVID-19 cases are Westmoreland (11), Washington (9), Butler (6), Beaver (3), Fayette (2), Armstrong (1) and Greene (1).

Port Authority of Allegheny County

  • Effective today, the Port Authority will start using new operational procedures for all passengers. Some of the changes include: customers no longer will use the front entrance doors (except for passengers who need the bus to be lowered or for those who need access to priority seating); cash from passengers will not be accepted either and cash customers are welcome to board the bus without having to pay for their trip; and access to the fare box has been restricted and passengers are being asked to simply show their ConnectCard or other fare product to the operator, no charge will be applied to their account.

Pittsburgh International Airport

  • Pittsburgh International Airport is serving as a shelter in the storm for airplanes.  As airlines slash flights to deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the airport is becoming a favored landing spot for unneeded jets. American Airlines, one of Pittsburgh International’s largest carriers, has parked six Airbus A330 planes at the airport, with more on the way. Christina Cassotis, CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, expects more airline carriers to follow suit.

City of Pittsburgh

  • Mayor Bill Peduto is returning to his office today, ending his self-quarantine since March 14. He was notified after attending a conference in Washington, DC that one of the conference participants that the mayor had contact with tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • A statement was released today by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Environmental Services. This was in response to many employees issuing complaints around personal protective equipment, hazard pay, and a series of other issues. Trash pickup in the City was disrupted due to this issue, for more information please read the statement issued by the Mayor of Pittsburgh. https://pittsburghpa.gov/press-releases/press-releases/3808

Federal Coronavirus Update

Early this morning, the Senate passed the nearly $2 trillion economic stimulus package known as Phase III. Details on content is sparse but below is additional information on key parts of the bill.

Phase III

  • The $500 billion industry specific loan fund will be managed by an inspector general and a 5-person panel appointed by Congress. This was a key tenant of Senate Democrats opposition to the Republican led plan. Companies that accept money must agree to halt any stock buybacks for the length of the assistance plus an additional year.
  • $150 billion will be designated for a state and local support
  • $130 billion for hospital support
  • Unemployment benefits have been enhanced and will give Americans four months-worth of their income if they are furloughed or lose their job due to Coronavirus.
  • Direct relief to qualified individuals and families of up to $1,200 and $2,400 based on income.
  • $367 billion in federally guaranteed loans for small businesses

Daily Update: March 24, 2020 4 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 851 confirmed cases, 8,643 tested negative, Deaths 7

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/24/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 58 2
Armstrong: 1 0
Beaver: 3 0
Butler: 6 0
Fayette: 2 0
Greene: 0 0
Indiana: 0 0
Lawrence: 0 0
Washington: 9 0
Westmoreland: 11 0

State Updates

  • The PA Department of Community and Economic Development updated its “essential business” guidelines. As of 2:30 pm today, this list is the most updated. Here are some of the changes:
    • Veneer, Plywood, and Engineered Wood Product Manufacturing (previously not allowed, now allowed)
    • Other Wood Product Manufacturing (previously not allowed, now allowed)
    • Lumber and Other Construction Materials Merchant Wholesalers (previously not allowed, now allowed)
    • Telecommunications resellers (previously not allowed, now allowed; except retailers selling devices at physical locations not permitted)
    • Firearms dealers may operate physical businesses on a limited basis to complete only the portions of a sale/transfer that must be conducted in-person under the law, subject to certain restrictions (see chart).
  • Notes from the Administration’s 2 pm press conference are below.  Only Secretary Levine reported and took questions.
    • As of 12 am, 207 new cases of COVID-19 / state total at 851 cases
    • Yesterday had 165 new cases; ~70 have been hospitalized (hospitalization rate continues at ~10%)
    • Negative cases are ~8,000
    • 7 PA Deaths
    • Unfortunately still continues to see numbers increase each day
    • What can you do to help?
      • Donate blood – contact American Red Cross (donation centers are taking appropriate precautions)
      • Donate to local food banks – contact local food bank (can donate safely while social distancing)
      • Stay home
    • Reminder crisis text line, text “PA” to 741741
    • Visit Health.pa.gov for most updated info

Regional Coronavirus Update:

Allegheny County

  • County Manager McKain has announced that operations across all departments have changed in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. These changes will be reviewed and adjustments will be made as needed.
  • The Elections Division has suspended all poll-worker training through Monday, April 6th as well as voting system demonstrations.
  • The Fire Academy field and classroom operations have been suspended until further notice.
  • Deadline for administrative appeals to the Allegheny County Health Department have been extended to April 6th.
  • All County Parks remain open for use. The County encourages maintaining social distancing practices while recreating.
  • Police Academy training will remain suspended until further notice.
  • Shuman Center has restricted parent and guardian visitation to the center. Residents have been awarded free phone calls and the administration is working to provide alternative technology to facilitate communication.

Federal Coronavirus Update:

The White House

  • President Trump, Vice President Pence and members of the COVID-19 Task Force participated in a virtual town hall hosted by Fox News.  POTUS stated that he is ready to phase out his 15-day, self-isolating guidelines when they expire.  Additionally, his new goal is to have the country back to normal by April 12th

Food and Drug Administration

  • According to principal deputy commissioner Dr. Amy Abernethy, a randomized controlled trial is the most appropriate way to determine whether antimalarial drugs (chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine) fit within a potential treatment program for patients with COVID-19.
  • The State Department has established a task force to assist in bringing over 13,000 Americans back into the country as foreign borders have closed and commercials flights have been suspended or cancelled. 

Federal Emergency Management Agency

  • FEMA as reported that the Defense Production Act is being used for the first time to secure medical equipment, including test kits and face masks.
  • FEMA has launched a website to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts relative to COVID-19.

Department of Defense

  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper upgraded the Pentagon’s health protection level to its second-highest setting, putting more restrictions on entering the building in response to COVID-19.  The health protection level could include some medical screening including temperature testing.
  • The USNS Mercy is being deployed to Los Angeles to help relieve hospitals by helping with non-COVID-19 patients and freeing up bed space.

2020 Tokyo Olympics

  • Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the IOC President Thomas Bach have agreed to postpone the 2020 games by one year; officials are looking for a new date.  This is the first time that the Olympics have been rescheduled during peacetime. 

India

  • India’s Prime Minister announced ‘total lockdown’ of the country’s 1.3B people – the world’s most extensive stay-at-home order.

Daily Update: March 24, 2020 1 PM Update

Pennsylvania

  • 851 confirmed cases, 8,643 tested negative, Deaths 7

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/23/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 58 2
Armstrong: 1 0
Beaver: 3 0
Butler: 6 0
Fayette: 2 0
Greene: 0 0
Indiana: 0 0
Lawrence: 0 0
Washington: 9 0
Westmoreland: 11 0

3/24/20 1pm update:

State Updates

  • PA State Police issued 27 warnings to non-life-sustaining businesses on the first day of enforcement. It was noted that the overwhelming majority of people and businesses across the commonwealth are voluntarily complying with the order and doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. They noted that this process will be phased in using two parts, first with warnings to gain voluntary compliance, followed by enforcement as necessary.
  • Governor Wolf issued a hiring freeze yesterday to those who work under his jurisdiction, and ordered all state agencies to limit spending to essential purchases. Exceptions to the freeze are positions that directly help with battling the coronavirus. Additionally, the Commonwealth has rescinded any job offer as of last Thursday, and has postponed any scheduled transfers from one department to another.
  • The PA House is in session today and expected to move SB 422, which would move the date of the PA primary from April 28th to June 2nd.
  • The Administration will be holding its daily press conference at 2 pm today. Notes from that will be shared on the 4 pm update.

Regional Coronavirus Update:

City of Pittsburgh

  • Pittsburgh Public Schools will remain closed through the district’s scheduled spring break and students and school-based staff will return on April 14th despite Gov. Wolf’s announcement that all schools will be closed for an additional two weeks statewide through at least April 6th.
  • The Department of Parks & Recreation announced that all city parks are now closed.

Allegheny County

  • The county is one of seven counties under a stay-at-home order (effective March 23 at 8:00 p.m.) as announced by Gov. Wolf. However, there is no curfew in place with the order. The other counties are Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery and Philadelphia as they are the hardest hit with COVID-19.
  • The County Treasurer’s office is temporarily closed until further notice. This is in response to Gov. Wolf’s recommendations. The deadline for taxpayers to receive the 2% county real estate tax discount is extended to April 30 and the deadline to pay the face value amount is May 31st.
  • Beginning on March 25th, the Port Authority of Allegheny County will be cutting its bus and rail service by 25% because of the recent decrease in ridership. For the new schedule, visit the agency’s website, https://www.portauthority.org/coronavirus
  • Allegheny County reported 2nd COVID-19 death – individual in 70’s.

Federal Coronavirus Update:

United States Senate

  • All signs point to a final deal being done this afternoon for Phase 3 deal. The plan is to pass in U.S. Senate and ask for unanimous consent passage in the House of Representatives. This requires all House members to support – one member can stop unanimous consent passage.

The White House

  • POTUS issued an executive order to prohibit hoarding and price gouging of medical supplies and equipment.
  • POTUS indicated that the social distance guidelines and other restrictions would be in place for ‘weeks’ and not months.

Department of Justice

  • Scott Brady, U.S. Attorney for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, extends a thank you to all western Pennsylvanians who have reported #COVID19 scams via its hotline to the Western PA COVID19 Fraud Task Force. Scams should be reported by calling the toll-free hotline, 1-888-C19-WDPA (219-9372) or emailing usapaw.covid19@usdoj.gov.

Department of Homeland Security

  • The October 2020 deadline for Real ID compliant program has been postponed indefinitely.

Department of State

  • The State Department has established a task force to assist in bringing over 13,000 Americans back into the country as foreign borders have closed and commercials flights have been suspended or cancelled.

Federal Emergency Management Agency

  • FEMA as reported that the Defense Production Act is being used for the first time to secure medical equipment, including test kits and face masks.
  • FEMA has launched a website to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts relative to COVID-19.

Department of Defense

  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper upgraded the Pentagon’s health protection level to its second-highest setting, putting more restrictions on entering the building in response to COVID-19. The health protection level could include some medical screening including temperature testing.
  • The USNS Mercy is being deployed to Los Angeles to help relieve hospitals by helping with non-COVID-19 patients and freeing up bed space.

2020 Tokyo Olympics

  • Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the IOC President Thomas Bach have agreed to postpone the 2020 games by one year; officials are looking for a new date. This is the first time that the Olympics have been rescheduled during peacetime.

India

  • India’s Prime Minister announced ‘total lockdown’ of the country’s 1.3B people – the world’s most extensive stay-at-home order.

March 24, 2020 9:45 a.m.

Federal Update

  • All signs point to final deal being done this afternoon for phase 3 deal. Plan is to pass in US Senate and ask for unanimous consent passage in the House. Please note that requires all House members to support – one member can stop unanimous consent passage.

Daily Update: March 23, 2020 4 PM Update

Pennsylvania

  • 644 confirmed cases, 6.595 tested negative, Deaths 3

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/23/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 48 1
Armstrong: 0 0
Beaver: 3 0
Butler: 5 0
Fayette: 1 0
Greene: 0 0
Indiana: 0 0
Lawrence: 0 0
Washington: 7 0
Westmoreland: 6 0

State Updates 

  • Notes from the Governor’s 2 pm press conference are below.

Sec. Levine

    • As of 12 am, 165 new cases, new total 644 tested positive in 34 counties
    • ~60 residents have been hospitalized, ~10% of all who tested positive
    • ~6,000 negative tests
    • Had 6 deaths so far in PA
    • Learning daily about new symptoms of COVID-19
    • Have your employees stay home, even if mild symptoms, for all businesses – even first responders, healthcare or food/grocery

Governor Wolf

    • We all need to take this more seriously in order to get back to business as usual
    • Stay-at-home order already issued for Philadelphia
    • Issuing stay at home order for Allegheny, Monroe, Philadelphia and its surrounding counties (Chester, Montgomery, and Bucks)– effective at 8 pm tonight
    • 75% of Pennsylvania cases are in these six counties
    • Governor’s office will be issuing guidance for what this means
    • This order will be issued for at least two weeks
    • Schools closed another two weeks
    • Grocery and other essential businesses will remain open
    • Each person should act as if we have COVID-19
    • Please do not leave home unless you absolutely need to
    • Need to halt the increase so our healthcare and hospital infrastructure can keep up
  • The PA House advanced SB 422, the bill that will likely be the vehicle for changing PA’s primary date, from Committee this afternoon.  Note that the bill passed the Senate in June on a party-line vote of 28-22.
  • The PA House is scheduled to be in session, tomorrow, March 24 at 11 am.  The PA Senate has cancelled session for tomorrow, March 24, and stands in recess until the call of the President Pro Tempore.

Regional Coronavirus Update:

  • Allegheny County
  • Allegheny County Health Department Officials have launched a campaign to combat misinformation related to COVID-19. For more information, individuals are encouraged to visit the Rumor Control page of the County website.
  • Westmoreland County
  • 4 additional COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Westmoreland County.

Federal Coronavirus Update:

  • Senate Democrats have again defeated a key procedural vote for the Senate version of Phase III. Senate Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate the terms of the stimulus with the Trump Administration.
  • House Democrats have started crafting their version of the COVID- 19 “Phase III”. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has proposed billions to ensure digital connectivity, additional funds for schools and universities as well as other measures.

Daily Update: March 23, 2020 1 PM Update

Pennsylvania

  • 644 confirmed cases, 6.595 tested negative, Deaths 3

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/23/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 48 1
Armstrong: 0 0
Beaver: 3 0
Butler: 5 0
Fayette: 1 0
Greene: 0 0
Indiana: 0 0
Lawrence: 0 0
Washington: 7 0
Westmoreland: 6 0

State Update

  • It is likely that PA’s Primary Election will be moved from April 28th to June 2nd.  There is word that Legislative leaders and the Administration came to an agreement over the weekend on the postponement, and it will likely move as an amendment through SB 422, which currently resides in the House State Government Committee. The bill will also consolidate polling locations and allow for absentee ballots to be counted earlier.  It is likely the bill will be passed out of the House State Government Committee today, Monday, March 23, and be amended on the House Floor on Tuesday.
  • Earlier today, the PA Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a gun shop that challenged Governor Wolf’s authority to close “non-life-sustaining” businesses, paving the way for enforcement to begin Monday evening.  In a dissenting statement joined by two other justices, Justice David Wecht said Wolf’s order amounts to “an absolute and indefinite prohibition upon the acquisition of firearms by the citizens of this commonwealth — a result in clear tension with the Second Amendment” and the state constitution. 
  • The PA Department of Labor and Industry reports that we should know more about PA’s unemployment situation by the end of the week.  The agency noted that the federal government embargoed states to release detailed UC claim numbers until the US DOL releases the data on Thursday, March 26. L&I will be able to provide Pennsylvania claims data at that time.
  • **Expected to have further updates after Gov. Wolf 2pm (3/23/20) press conference.**

Local Update

  • Lawrence County and Mercer County have reported their first confirmed case of COVID-19

City of Pittsburgh

  • Pittsburgh police will be responding to 911 and other complaints pertinent to non-essential businesses that are not complying with the Governor’s shutdown order.
  • Five city firefighters are now in self-isolation; three due to recent travel internationally.
  • UPMC will shut down its ambulatory surgery centers and consolidating surgeries and procedures to its hospitals.

Federal Update

  • A key stimulus plan vote is scheduled for today with the U.S. Senate; Senate Democrats objected to the Senate Republican version and argued it was weighted too heavily toward corporations and not enough to working families.
  • S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams stated today that this week will be a bad one.  While many are adhering to the social distancing protocol, there continues to be many who have not practiced this procedure, thus, this is how the disease is spreading.
  • The U.S. National Guard has been deployed to California, New York and Washington as these states are the hardest hit relative to COVID-19.
  • Kentucky senator Rand Paul is the first US Senator to test positive for COVID-19.  Utah senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee have announced that they are now self-isolating.
  • California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey have implemented the stay-at-home order for their respective states, followed by Ohio, Louisiana, and Connecticut issuing a similar mandate effective today.  Five major cities – Kansas City, Nashville, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Chicago – have also issued stay-at-home orders.
  • Canada and Australia announced that their countries will not send their athletes to the Tokyo Olympics.  The International Committee is contemplating postponing the games and the U.S. Olympic Team CEO is weighing options regarding postponement after sending a survey to 4,000 hopefuls about this issue.  USA Swimming and USA Track and Field want the games postponed. 
  • S. Department of Justice (Western District of Texas) announced its first action in federal court to combat fraud relative to COVID-19 against a fraudulent website seeking to profit from widespread fear.  The website claimed to offer consumers to the World Health Organization vaccine kits in exchange for a $4.95 shipping charge that customers would pay be entering their credit card information.

Daily Update: March 22, 2020 2:30 PM

Pennsylvania

  • 479 confirmed cases, 4,964 tested negative, Deaths 2

Cases by county in the 10-county region per Pennsylvania Department of Health
* case count last updated at 12:00 p.m. on 3/20/2020

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 40 1
Armstrong: 0 0
Beaver: 3 0
Butler: 1 0
Fayette: 1 0
Greene: 0 0
Indiana: 0 0
Lawrence: 0 0
Washington: 7 0
Westmoreland: 4 0

State Update

  • Pennsylvania now has 479 cases of COVID-19 spread through 33 counties – up 108 from yesterday. A total of 4,964 have tested negative;
  • DCED has received over 10,000 requests for waiver from Gov. Wolf’s order to close certain operations;
  • DCED hopes to begin sending out waiver notifications this afternoon;
  • Pa Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine conduced 1pm presser;
  • Levine: there are no plans to close takeout/food delivery services in PA; even with shelter-in-place order, grocery stores and food merchants would continue operations;
  • Philadelphia residents required to shelter in place beginning 8am Monday;
  • Pennsylvania primary election likely to be delayed until June 2 – legislation being worked on in the Pa General Assembly with the Wolf Administration;
  • Levine: very healthy to be outside, enjoy the sunshine, ride a bike, take a walk, play in the yard as long as you maintain 6’ social distancing;
  • Levine: @PAHealthDept is a trusted source of information on Twitter; on facebook Pennsylvania Department of Health; visit website at health.pa.gov;
  • Levine: Please do not allow your children to have play dates, sleep overs, or participate in activities with other children.

Local Update

  • MSA is working with Highmark and AHN to distribute 65,000 N95 masks to Pittsburgh hospitals, first responders, and health care community;
  • Fayette County announced first case of positive COVID-19;

Federal Update

  • Negotiations continue on phase 3 legislation. Speaker Pelosi intends to introduce a new House Democratic version of the legislation
  • Latest reports are that phase 3 will include a one-time $3,000 payment for families and $4T of liquidity to support national economy;
  • Expected cloture vote imminent to bring the phase 3 bill to the floor – many objections being raised by Senate Democrats and House leadership;

March 21, 2020 4pm supplemental update

Local Update

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Dr.Debra Bogen, Director Allegheny County Health Department Press Conference – 3:30pm 3/21/20

  • Allegheny County – individual who passed away was in late 60’s
  • 80% will be able to be treated at home; 15% hospital care; 5% acute medical care
  • Email address for donations; do not send materials yet, but those who have donations should send note to this address – covid19donations@alleghenycounty.us – Particular focus on personal protective equipment (PPE), but will evaluate other potential donations via this email address
  • Debra Bogen,
    • CDC launched self-check – how to care for yourself at home – information on the ACHD webpage
    • Rumor control page will be launched on Monday at ACHD webpage
  • Chief of Emergency Services, Matt Brown
    • Critical that all residents follow the guidance of the ACHD – that is the way residents can best assist emergency responders;      
    • Chief indicated that calls on 911 system are similar to an average day at this point;
  • ACHD – 4 hospitalized at the moment in Allegheny County;

March 21, 2020 Update – 3 p.m.

**NOTE THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY UPDATE**

 

State Update

  • Pennsylvania now has 371 confirmed cases;
  • Levine indicated that a shelter in place rule is still a possibility;
  • As noted previously but bears repeating, Gov. Wolf’s order to shutdown certain business operations will be enforced beginning at 8am Monday (3/23/20) morning;
  • Levine noted that “the most patients seem to be middle-age adults, with seniors next, and young adults next”;
  • Levine repeated the message – stay calm, stay home, and stay safe;
  • Levine stated that the increase in COVID-19 cases is driven not only by increased testing, but because more people are becoming infected;

County Update

  • **3:30PM TODAY – Allegheny County will hold a live-streamed (Facebook – @AlleghenyCounty) briefing. Participants County Exec. Fitzgerald, ACHD Director Dr. Bogen and Chief of Emergency Services Matt Brown. If you have questions that you want answered, text them to Amie Downs at 412.327.3700 or email them to her at downs@alleghenycounty.us . Provide your identify in the text or email.
  • Allegheny County – 31
  • The Allegheny County Health Department announced the first death of an Allegheny County resident today. The Allegheny Conference thoughts and prayers go out to the individual’s family and loved ones.
  • Washington County – 5 cases;
  • Butler County – 1 (first announced today) case – patient recovering at home;
  • Westmoreland County – 4 cases
  • Beaver County – 3 cases

Federal Update

  • Phase 3 negotiations continue between Senate Republicans and Democrats, but reports are that it could now top $2T;
  • POTUS ordered immediate cessation of foreclosures and evictions involving homes with federally-issues mortgages;
  • Total US cases of COVID-19 surging to over 21,000;
  • 27 States have called up their National Guard units;

– Enforcement of Gov. Wolf’s order is delayed until Monday morning.


March 20, 2020; 6:00 PM supplemental  

State


March 20, 2020; 4:00 PM

State Updates

  • Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine gave a 2 pm press update this afternoon. Highlights from their comments include:

Sec. Levine

    • 83 new cases / 268 total PA cases
    • 37 new cases in the day yesterday / 83 new cases today
    • 26 in PA needed hospitalization since March 6 (10%)
    • This shows need for aggressive steps by Governor
    • CDC said 20% of hospitalized are between 20-44 years old
    • Seriously concerned that this population of individuals are not staying home and spreading COVID
    • Continues to work with hospitals to add capacity; looking at space consideration, staffing and supplies
    • Reinforcing to stay home and limit interactions with immediate family
    • Daily reminders to stay safe
    • Text “PA” to 741741 for health or mental health issues

Governor Wolf

    • Yesterday made decision to close non-critical businesses
    • Not easy decision and made in conjunction with Sec. Levine
    • Exponentially growing number of cases
    • Limiting exposure means fewer will die
    • We won’t do everything perfectly but working to make updates to what we released yesterday
    • Will be updating policies to use U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidance
    • Any business with a question should consult with DCED on the waiver process – trying to make process as easy as possible
    • Taking these precautions because of cues from other countries around the world
    • Can recover quickly if we adhere to closures
    • Understands small business especially hard hit
    • Need to use every tool
    • Will get more difficult before it gets better
  • The link to the online waiver form for a business through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development is: https://expressforms.pa.gov/apps/pa/DCED/Waiver-process-keeping-physical-locations-open. Please note that likely due to a high traffic volume the link seems to be slow. PDF showing the questions asked on the waiver.
  • The PA Department of Revenue is waiving penalties for businesses that are required to make Accelerated Sales Tax (AST) prepayments by the deadline of Friday, March 20. Additionally, for April sales tax payments, the department is waiving the AST prepayment requirement and asking businesses to simply remit the sales tax that they have collected in March. For more information on this and other tax alerts, visit the Department’s resource site here.

Regional Coronavirus Update:

Allegheny County

  • Office of the County Executive
  • Allegheny County Health Department Clinics
    • Immunization Clinic: Closed until further notice starting Monday, March 23rd
    • Pulmonary Center: Will not perform Tuberculosis skin tests until further notice.
    • Pediatric Dental Clinic: Closed through March 30th. Staff will be available to answer questions and provide guidance. Any inquiries should be referred to 412-687-2243
  • Air Quality complaints will continue to be processed. All planning and permitting meetings will be scheduled by phone. Air Monitoring Network will be maintained as much as possible. Air Advisory Committee and its three subcommittees have been cancelled. For more information call 412-578-8103
  • Food Safety Program will remain coverage and respond to questions from the public,  and food facilities regarding operations Previously submitted will continue to be reviewed as well as previously scheduled appointments. Food Manager testing and seminars have been canceled through March 31st. Food Safety  is providing all restaurants offering take-out to follow guidance issued by ACHD http://bit.ly/2U1ZGUz
  • Housing and Community Environment (HCE) program will maintain facility and emergency complaints: no heat, no electric, or sewage backup.
  • Allegheny County has begun releasing inmates to mitigate COVID-19 concerns.  Staff in the Criminal Court Administration, the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office are continually reviewing cases to determine which inmates are appropriate for release. The review is not limited to inmates with health problems – although those are a priority – all non-violent inmates held only on cash bails will be considered.
    • Inmates releases are sent to the jail and processed as received.
    • Released inmates have access to a free phone call, free bus ticket, free Intranasal Narcan(Inmates are offered and can decline the Narcan), packet of requested community resource info, letter of Incarceration Verification, and information for the Discharge and Release Center.
  • Women Infants and Children (WIC)
    • The WIC program is operating on a modified schedule. M-F, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. in McKeesport, Mt. Oliver, Wilkinsburg and Downtown Pittsburgh.
    • The Springdale WIC office will be open for benefit pickup Thursdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. through March 30th
    • All are encouraged to schedule an appointment and leave children at home to lower exposure risk. More information and questions can be asked by calling 412-350-5801.
  • County Treasurer
    • Treasurer John Weinstein has extended the early payment discount deadline for property owners. The 2% discount will be available until April 30th (previous deadline was March 31st)
    • Treasurer Weinstein will also suspend new court enforcement action to collect delinquent drink, hotel, and car rental taxes.

Federal Coronavirus Update:

  • Department of Defense
    • DoD contractors have been advised to maintain normal work schedules amid COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Senate
  • Democrats have made a counterproposal to Republicans for small business tax aid. Senate Finance Democrats rolled out a version of tax cuts that help smaller business stay afloat. Key features include a tax rebate, tax credit and tax payment relief.
    • Rebate provides $75,000 to smaller-sized companies with no more than $1 million in gross receipts and have less than 50 employees.
    • 50% wage credit to small business to help maintain payroll would apply to the first $7,500 in wages paid per employee over the next four months
  • White House
    • President Trump has demanded Congress put restrictions on stimulus funds, requesting a ban on stock buybacks
    • President Trump has noted he is not considering a nationwide lockdown. Several Governors have suggested this to combat the current pandemic.

March 20, 2020; 1:00 PM

By the Numbers:

Pennsylvania

  • 268 confirmed cases, 2,574 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 3/20/2020

 

  Cases Deaths
Allegheny: 28 0
Armstrong: 0 0
Beaver: 3 0
Butler: 0 0
Fayette: 0 0
Greene: 0 0
Indiana: 0 0
Lawrence: 0 0
Washington: 3 0
Westmoreland: 4 0

State Updates

  • PA CHAMBER, THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE FOR GREATER PHILADELPHIA AND GREATER PITTSBURGH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON GOVERNOR’S COVID-19 EMERGENCY ORDER TO CLOSE “NON-LIFE-SUSTAINING” BUSINESSES – https://www.pachamber.org/media/3040/Joint_Statement_on_Governors_COVID19_order_03202020/
  • Late yesterday, Governor Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations as of 8 pm on March 19. Enforcement actions against businesses that do not close physical locations will begin at 12:01 am on Saturday, March 21. The list of what is considered a life-sustaining business is here. If a business has questions regarding whether or not they are considered to be a “life-sustaining” business. The Department of Community and Economic Development has set up two e-mails regarding this issue. We encourage employers with questions about whether their organization needs to close to contact DCED at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov. The Department has also dedicated the following e-mail, RA-dcexemption@pa.gov, for businesses seeking an exemption to the order.
  • The PA Department of Education announced on March 19 that they will be cancelling all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year as a result of COVID-19. This includes the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA). PSSA testing was scheduled to begin April 20 and Keystone testing was scheduled to begin May 11.  The PASA testing window is open; however, all testing was halted on Monday, March 16, when all public schools closed. The department has been providing ongoing guidance to school communities in the form of FAQs. The guidance information is available at www.education.pa.gov/COVID19.
  • The PA Department of Banking and Securities collaborated with other state agencies to develop resources available for Pennsylvanians financially impacted by COVID-19. The resources, which include links for help with unemployment compensation, emergency loans and utility bills – just to name a few, are available here.
  • The PA Department of Transportation and the PA Turnpike Commission have also created resource pages with FAQs and details on their department updates and changes.
  • Speaker Turzai announced that the PA House will be in voting session on Tuesday, March 24 and Wednesday, March 25. Session for these days will start at 11:00 am. March 23 will remain a non-voting session date. The Senate remains in recess until the call of the President Pro Tempore.

Regional Coronavirus Update

City of Pittsburgh

  • Mayor Bill Peduto is in self-quarantine after attending a conference last week in Washington, DC where two of his colleagues contracted COVID-19. The mayor has no symptoms. The Mayor is in our region’s thoughts and we wish him the best.
  • The city’s first responders won’t be notified if they are exposed to a person later testing positive for COVID-19, and Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said the situation poses a potential public health risk as we rely on them to keep the public safe. If their health and their families’ health is not protected, it diminishes their ability to protect and serve the community.
  • Pittsburgh Public Schools has alerted families with students at Brashear, Carrick, Oliver and South Hills about the potential indirect exposure of three PPS students and one staff member to a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Allegheny County

  • There are 28 confirmed COVID-19 cases, some patients acquired COVID-19 through community spread.

Federal Coronavirus Update:

  • White House
    • President Trump suspends student loan payments for at least 60 days without penalty.
    • President Trump allows states to waive K-12 tests
  • Internal Revenue Service
    • The IRS has extended the tax filing deadline from April 15th to July 15
  • United States Senate
    • Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr is being investigated as he and his wife sold $1.7 million in stock (33 transactions) last month ahead of the market decline that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Department of State
    • U.S., Mexico partially close border, and the State Department further defines essential travel between the U.S. and Canada.

Joint Press Release Issued today by the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia

For more information, contact
Tricia Harris, PA Chamber of Business and Industry
717 720-5447
Liz Ferry, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia
215 790-3794
Cecelia Cagni, Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce
412 281-4783 ext.3110


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 20, 2020

PA Chamber, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce Issue Joint Statement on Governor’s COVID-19 Emergency Order to Close “Non-Life-Sustaining” Businesses

HARRISBURG – Late yesterday, Gov. Tom Wolf issued an order for all “non-life-sustaining businesses” in the Commonwealth to close their physical locations. A list of businesses and industries and their classification can be found here. That order was effective at 8 p.m. last evening with enforcement slated to begin at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, March 21. At the same time, the governor announced enforcement actions against food and liquor establishments that have failed to comply with a previous order. That enforcement began at 8 p.m. last night (March 19). PA Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia President and CEO Rob Wonderling and Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce President Matt Smith issued the following joint statement regarding the governor’s order.
“While we understand the need for strong measures to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, many of the industries listed as “non-life-sustaining businesses” in the governor’s order are in fact part of the supply chain for other businesses listed as being a “life-sustaining” business.

“We understand that there may be confusion among the state’s business community regarding whether or not they are considered to be a “life-sustaining” business. The Department of Community and Economic Development has set up two e-mails regarding this issue. We encourage employers with questions about whether their organization needs to close to contact DCED at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov. The Department has also dedicated the following e-mail, RA-dcexemption@pa.gov, for businesses seeking an exemption to the order.

“We are working with the administration to seek further clarification and modification of the order and will be providing updates to the state’s broad-based business community as we receive them. Updates will be posted on the PA Chamber’s website, www.PAChamber.org.”

# # #

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state’s largest broad-based business association, with its statewide membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of Business™.


*NEW* Any business that would like to seek a waiver utilize this email address: RA-dcexemption@pa.gov.
*NEW* If a business is uncertain if they are included in the order or have specific questions about requirements, please contact the Administration with questions: ra-dcedcs@pa.gov.


URGENT UPDATE
The Governor has ordered all businesses except for those considered life-critical to close at 8 p.m. tonight. For those that do not, the state will begin to take enforcement actions this Saturday, March 21st, at 12:01am.

 

The Governor’s video statement can be seen here. Related documents are linked below:

 

Order of the Governor Regarding Closure of All Businesses That are Not Life-Sustaining
Order of the Secretary of Health Regarding Closure of All Businesses That Are Not Life-Sustaining
State Listing of Businesses with Guidance on Whether They May Continue Physical Operations


March 19, 2020; 4:00 PM

By the Numbers:

Pennsylvania

  • 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 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) granted PA’s request for low-interest loans for small businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania.  The Governor thanked the federal government and PA’s congressional delegation for expediting the process.  Details around the SBA’s program include:
      • Up to $2 million in assistance to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. 
      • The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
      • SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
      • Businesses may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or by e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.
      • Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Completed applications should be returned to the local DLOC or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
      • The deadline to return economic injury disaster loan applications is Dec. 21, 2020.
  • The Governor granted the PA Department of State the ability to suspend several licensing-provisions that create barriers to temporary licensure, in order to expedite the need for increased capacity of the healthcare workforce. So far, these include expansion of licensed health care practitioners’ ability to provide telemedicine services and the expedited issuance of temporary licenses to health care practitioners not licensed in PA.  Approved statutory and regulatory “waivers” (now being called suspensions) are being posted here: https://www.dos.pa.gov/Pages/COVID-19-Waivers.aspx
  • The PA Department of Revenue announced today that the deadline for older adults and Pennsylvania residents with disabilities to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2019 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2020, due to the COVID-19 situation. 
  • Dr. Levine, Secretary of the PA Department of Health, gave the following update at 2 pm this afternoon.
    • New cases are appearing, leading us to believe community spread is happening
    • Stay calm, stay home & stay safe
    • Business participation in our mitigation strategy is critical
    • We are preparing our health systems for an influx of patients
    • We have a real chance to contain spread if we stay home
    • Every business in PA is so important and essential but participation in this mitigation strategy will save lives
    • If a business has questions about staying open/closed call 1-877-PA HEALTH (choose option 1)
    • Getting many questions about where to get masks and personal protection equipment, but it’s important that we preserve these for healthcare personnel
    • Continue with general recommendations: wash hands, cough into arm, clean surfaces, don’t touch face
    • Contact your healthcare provider with any questions
    • Text “PA” to 741741 if you have a mental health issue
    • For general info and updates visit health.pa.gov

Regional Coronavirus Update:

Allegheny County:

  • The University of Pittsburgh is one of a few institutions racing to find a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Regional Biocontainment Lab is one of 13 nationwide funded by the National Institutes of Health.  

Armstrong County:

  • County Commissioners declared a state of emergency for the county.

Westmoreland County:

  • County officials announced the first case of Coronavirus in Westmoreland County.

Federal Coronavirus Update:

  • Senate Republicans and Democrats are continuing discussion of Phase III legislative efforts to combat COVID-19.
  • House Democrats and Republicans continue to weigh in on remote voting options, some issuing letters in support and some in opposition.
  • National Labor Review Board (NLRB)
  • NLRB has suspended all union elections until April 3rd. This decision comes a week after the decision to close its headquarters and many regional offices.
  • Federal Drug Administration (FDA)
  • FDA officials are prepared and committed to  regulatory flexibility to address COVID-19 but emphasize the prioritization of safety as it considers fast-tracking vaccines and other COVID-19 therapies.

March 19, 2020; 1:00 PM

By the Numbers:

Pennsylvania

  • 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.”

Privacy

  • 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.”

Rent

  • 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.”

Schools

  • 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.

Voting

  • 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: https://www.portauthority.org/coronavirus
  • 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.

March 18, 2020; 4:00 PM

By the Numbers:

Pennsylvania

  • 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 Updates

  • This afternoon Governor Wolf officially requested that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) implement an SBA disaster declaration to provide assistance in the form of SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania.  Some additional information on what SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer includes:
    • Up to $2 million in assistance for economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
    • The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
    • The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
    • Loans are offered with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
    • The application process will be facilitated online. Details on how to apply, as well as deadlines, will be established once the governor’s request is granted.
  • The Wolf Administration is also working with the General Assembly to make sure state funding is available for small business assistance too.  A reminder that earlier 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. 
  • As anticipated, the PA Senate adopted temporary emergency rules this afternoon to be able to continue to operate during the current COVID-19 mitigation.  The resolution will ensure the Senate can continue voting even when Senators cannot be physically present at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg due to coronavirus mitigation efforts.  The resolution creates a mechanism for members to file bills electronically and to participate in committee meetings and session through the use of communications technology. The emergency powers are scheduled to expire July 31, 2020 or 10 days following the expiration of the governor’s emergency order, whichever is sooner.

Local:

  • Allegheny County
  • County Council will host regular council meeting at 5pm today, public discouraged to attend and watch via livestream

Federal:

  • **Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed the US Senate – 90-8** Headed to POTUS for signature….next step will be Phase 3 which is the large stimulus package**;
  • U.S. Navy Hospital Ships to deploy to off New York, West Coast
    • 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.

March 18, 2020; 1:00 PM

By the Numbers:

Pennsylvania

  • 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.

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