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Gov. Wolf: Reopening Targeted for May 8 in North-Central, Northwest

Phased Approach Relies on Safety and Science

Governor Tom Wolf today presented his detailed plan for reopening the commonwealth with a targeted May 8 start. The administration will categorize reopening into three phases: red, yellow, green. Phases will be assigned based on conditions in a county, counties or region.

The administration will first study conditions in the north-central and northwest regions with a target of moving from red to yellow on May 8. Additional monitoring will take place and direction will be provided in the next week.

To decide when to move to a new phase, the administration will use Department of Health metrics and a data tool developed by Carnegie Mellon University. The full plan is available here.

The red phase, which currently applies to the whole state, has the sole purpose of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, non-life sustaining business and school closures, and building safety protocols.

Red Phase
Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions
  • Life Sustaining Businesses Only
  • Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
  • Schools (for in-person instruction) and Most Child Care Facilities Closed
Social Restrictions
  • Stay at Home Orders in Place
  • Large Gatherings Prohibited
  • Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only
  • Only Travel for Life-Sustaining Purposes Encouraged
  • Reiterate and reinforce safety guidance for businesses, workers, individuals, facilities, update if necessary
  • Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

As regions or counties move into the yellow phase, some restrictions on work and social interaction will ease while others, such as closures of schools, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers, as well as limitations around large gatherings, remain in place. The purpose of this phase is to begin to power back up the economy while keeping a close eye on the public health data to ensure the spread of disease remains contained to the greatest extent possible.

Yellow Phase
Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions
  • Telework Must Continue Where Feasible
  • Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Business and Building Safety Orders
  • Child Care Open with Worker and Building Safety Orders
  • Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
  • Schools Remain Closed for In-Person Instruction
Social Restrictions
  • Stay at Home Restrictions Lifted in Favor of Aggressive Mitigation
  • Large Gatherings of More than 25 Prohibited
  • In-Person Retail Allowable, Curbside and Delivery Preferable
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities (such as gyms, spas), and all Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) Remain Closed
  • Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only
  • All businesses must follow CDC and DOH guidance for social distancing and cleaning
  • Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

The green phase eases most restrictions by lifting the stay-at-home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health. While this phase will facilitate a return to a “new normal,” it will be equally important to continue to monitor public health indicators and adjust orders and restrictions as necessary to ensure the spread of disease remains at a minimum.

Green Phase
Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions
  • All Businesses Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines
Social Restrictions
  • Aggressive Mitigation Orders Lifted
  • All Individuals Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines
  • Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

Just as the administration took a measured, county-by-county approach to the stay-at-home order before expanding statewide, it will do the same to ease restrictions and reopen the state.The governor first announced the standards for reopening last week and they remain the focal point for the comprehensive plans announced today:

  • The approach will be data driven and reliant upon quantifiable criteria to drive a targeted, evidence-based, regional approach to reopenings in Pennsylvania.
  • There will be guidance and recommendations for employers, individuals, and health care facilities and providers for assured accountability as we reopen.
  • Reopening necessitates that adequate personal protective equipment and diagnostic testing are available.
  • Reopening requires a monitoring and surveillance program that allows the commonwealth to deploy swift actions for containment or mitigation.
  • Protections for vulnerable populations must remain steadfast throughout the reopening process, such as limitations on visitors to congregate care facilities and prisons.
  • Limitations on large gatherings unrelated to occupations should remain in place for the duration of the reopening process.

The commonwealth is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to create a data-driven decision support tool that will enable a balance between maximizing the strengthening of the economy while minimizing public health risks. This tool will help officials better understand the current health and economic status, as well as the inherent risks and benefits to easing restrictions by sector and region.

There is no single tool or model that can determine easing of restrictions or reopening, but the commonwealth, through partnerships with Carnegie Mellon University and other institutions of higher education, and the criteria set by the Department of Health, will make informed decisions based on data and science.

To determine when a region is ready to reopen and return to work, the state will evaluate the incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per capita, relying upon existing regional health districts used by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. A regional assessment will measure the COVID-19 cases to determine if the target goals of an average of less than 50 cases per 100,000 individuals over the course of 14 days is met. The administration will work closely with county and local governments to enable the communities to reopen and transition back to work.

Throughout this process, the administration will have guidance in place to support best public health practices to avoid these negative impacts. This guidance will reinforce and build on existing business and building safety orders and will adapt to the changing nature of the pandemic, even as we learn from the first communities to reopen.

Gov. Wolf Encourages Voters to Apply for a Mail-in Ballot

As Pennsylvania continues mitigation efforts to fight COVID-19, Governor Tom Wolf is encouraging registered voters to apply for a mail-in ballot for the June 2 primary election. The governor also announced the Department of State has launched an awareness campaign to inform the public about the new primary election date and how to apply for a mail-in ballot, including sending 4.2 million postcards to primary voters. In-person voting at polling places will remain available.

“There is no more important civic duty than voting, but we also want to make sure that every primary voter can cast their vote safely,” said Governor Wolf. “This election is the first time that voters have the option to vote by mail-in ballot and I encourage every Pennsylvania voter to visit votesPA.com to conveniently update their registration or apply for a mail-in ballot.”

Registered voters can apply online for a mail-in or absentee ballot at votespa.com. The deadline is 5 p.m., May 26. So far, 462,085 voters have applied for a mail-in ballot and 139,572 voters have applied for an absentee ballot.

“The 2020 election season is bringing unprecedented changes for Pennsylvania voters,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “We are using every tool available to make sure voters know about the changes in voting while also staying safe, including the new option for all voters to vote by mail from the comfort of their home. Nearly 600,000 voters have already applied to vote by mail or absentee – a secure, convenient method for all voters.”

The Department of State’s voter education outreach includes:

  • A public awareness campaign on radio, television and multiple digital platforms including social channels, streaming services and mobile apps.
  • Mailing 4.2 million postcards and sending weekly emails to registered voters regarding the new primary date and mail-in ballot option, along with important deadlines.
  • Outreach to stakeholders to help spread the word.

The Wolf Administration will provide counties with funding to send informational mailings to voters, purchase equipment and protective supplies, promote and facilitate mail-in voting, increase needed staffing, and take other actions to improve election administration and voting safety and security. The federal CARES Act and state appropriations from election security and technology is providing funding.

The department is also purchasing infection-protection kits for all counties to provide to precincts so poll workers can maintain a safe voting environment at polling locations on June 2. These kits will include masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, floor marking tape and other sanitizing supplies and will be provided to the counties at no cost to them.

Voters and county election officials in Pennsylvania were already preparing for historic change following the passage and signing of Act 77 of 2019. Act 77 was the first major amendment to the state’s Election Code in more than 80 years. It brought the option of mail-in ballots with no excuse needed, along with later deadlines for voter registration and for returning mail and absentee ballots.

With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed, and Governor Wolf signed, Act 12 of 2020, which rescheduled the primary election and made additional changes in the process for voters as well as county election officials.

The new deadline to register to vote or update a voter registration for the primary is May 18. Registered voters have until 5 pm May 26 to sign up to vote by mail ballot and until 8 p.m. on election day to return their voted ballot. Voters who applied for a ballot before the change of election date do not need to apply again, but voters whose address may have changed should contact their county election office.

Act 12 also allows counties to temporarily consolidate polling places more easily as they work to relocate voting sites such as those at senior centers, now closed because of the COVID-19 emergency.

“In coming weeks, voters should pay special attention to their county’s announcements regarding relocation of polling places,” Secretary Boockvar said. “For the primary election, many voters could be voting at different locations than in the past if they cannot or do not wish to vote by mail.”

Once counties have finalized their polling place plans, voters will be able to check their voting location through the Department of State’s polling place locator.

For more information on the new mail-in ballots and all things related to voting in Pennsylvania, call the Department of State’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772) or visit votesPA.com.

Gov. Wolf, Sec. of Health Extend Statewide Stay-at-Home Order Until May 8

Governor’s Stay-at-Home Amendment
Health Secretary’s Stay-at-Home Amendment
Stay-at-Home Guidance

Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced that the statewide stay-at-home orders issued on April 1 to protect Pennsylvanians and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 will be extended until Friday, May 8 at 12:01 AM. The initial order was set to expire on April 30.

“It is clear that our early and aggressive efforts to mitigate this spread of this highly contagious and deadly virus are working. While we begin to seek ways to move forward, it’s imperative that we continue to take strong precautions to protect Pennsylvanians and ensure that our health care system is not overwhelmed,” Wolf said. “I am so proud of this commonwealth and the resilience of my fellow Pennsylvanians, and I urge you to continue to stay calm and stay home so that we can all stay safe.”

“We are starting to see a downward trend in the number of positive cases throughout the state, which is definitely encouraging,” Dr. Levine said. “We need to proceed carefully to make sure the strides we’ve made in combatting this virus continue to move forward. Extending our statewide order until May 8 will ensure that we don’t overwhelm our health system, while helping our economy to recover.”

Non-life-sustaining physical business closures remain in effect and all life-sustaining businesses and state services will continue.
Individuals are permitted to leave their residences for tasks essential to maintaining health and safety.

Stay-at-home guidance is available as a PDF here.

Wolf recommended that Pennsylvanians continue to wear masks when leaving the house for life-sustaining reasons. Dr. Levine recently signed an order directing protections for critical workers who are employed at businesses that are authorized to maintain in-person operations during the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

At this time, law enforcement will continue to focus on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement.

Read the governor’s amendment as a PDF here.

Read the Secretary of Health’s amendment as a PDF here.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.

Gov. Wolf Announces Online Vehicle Sale Process, Construction Restart Date, PLCB Curbside Pick Up

Gov. Wolf Announces Online Vehicle Sale Process, Construction Restart Date, PLCB Curbside Pick Up

April 20, 2020

April 20, 2020

Governor’s Business Amendment

Health Secretary’s Business Amendment
Online Car Sales Guidance
Updated Industry Operation Guidance
Updated Industry Operation FAQ

Governor Tom Wolf announced three actions including online sales of vehicles, which will be enabled by the signing of SB 841, restart of construction projects statewide starting Friday, May 8, and curbside pickup of wine and spirits at select Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board locations.

“Over the past six weeks, Pennsylvanians have come together like never before to halt the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Wolf. “It has not been easy, but it has paid off. Today, we are taking small steps toward a degree of normalcy. We are allowing curbside pickup of phone orders at PLCB stores and auto sales will be allowed to take place online. On May 8, construction will resume statewide.

“I want to caution that we will not be resuming operations as they were in February. We’re going to continue to take precautions that limit our physical contact with others, and we will closely monitor this to see if it can be done safely.”

These limited steps forward will be closely observed in the coming days and weeks to ensure that they do not result in a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, in which case the governor will use his authority under the emergency disaster declaration to resume restrictions to protect public health and safety.

Vehicle Sales May Be Conducted Online
The governor will sign Senate Bill 841 later today that approves qualified Pennsylvania notaries public to perform remote online notarizations, which will allow auto dealerships to conducted limited car sales and leasing operations through online sales, as a notary is required to complete the transaction. Auto dealerships may continue to remain open for certain activities, such as repairs to passenger and commercial vehicles and sales of auto parts, but in-person car sales or leases are still considered non-life sustaining and remain prohibited at this time.

Construction With Strict Guidelines Resumes Friday, May 8
Public and private residential and non-residential construction may resume statewide starting Friday, May 8, in accordance with safety guidance that will be issued by the administration shortly. Construction projects already deemed life-sustaining may continue while adhering to social distancing, personnel limits and other guidance as announced by the administration.

PLCB Begins Limited Curbside Pickup
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) today began accepting orders by phone for curbside pickup at 176 locations. Phone orders can be placed between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., or until reaching a store’s maximum order capacity each day. Curbside pickups will be scheduled from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. within a few days of order placement. Callers will be guided through each store’s unique inventory. There is a limit of six bottles per order, and credit cards are the only accepted form of payment. At pickup, customers will be required to present identification before the order is delivered.

The PLCB website lists the stores offering curbside pickup. PLCB anticipates expanding the service at more locations in the future. The PLCB website, FineWineAndGoodSpirits.com, is also increasing order capacity.

Curbside sales at Fine Wine and Good Spirits Shoppes will serve as a guide to determine whether certain other non-life-sustaining businesses may be able to resume limited operations through curbside pickup, which is currently only permitted for life-sustaining businesses that offer food and pharmaceuticals.

The Administration will monitor the implementation of curbside pickup including the safety of the supply chain to determine if broader curbside pick up can be done safely and effectively to provide goods and services, while still limiting the amount of person to person contact not just at retail locations but throughout the supply chain.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.

Gov. Wolf Unveils Plan for Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Recovery

Press Release

Gov. Wolf Unveils Plan for Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Recovery

April 17, 2020

Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced a Plan for Pennsylvania that will provide citizens and businesses relief, allow for a safe and expedient reopening, and lay a road to recovery from the challenges and hardships created by the 2019 novel coronavirus.

“I asked for you to close schools and businesses, cancel large events, stay at home, all in an effort to simply keep our friends, our neighbors, our families, our coworkers, alive,” said Gov. Wolf. “I will be forever grateful for your courage, compassion, and speed. Despite uncertainty, Pennsylvanians acted collectively, not because of any order, but because we care deeply for each other. Now I am asking again for you to believe in our Commonwealth.”

Relief for Pennsylvanians

The Wolf Administration has taken broad and far-reaching actions to help meet the short- and long-term needs of individual Pennsylvanians in the face of this unprecedented pandemic. Ensuring that Pennsylvanians from all walks of life have access to the resources they need has been and will continue to be a top priority of the governor.

Food Insecurity

  • Worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that individuals in need of food no longer need to complete cumbersome paperwork and income verification to prove they are eligible for or in need.
  • Extended Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) certification periods for six months to prevent SNAP case closures.
  • Begun to issue emergency allotments to all SNAP households for March and April 2020, increasing the current monthly allotment.
  • Lifted burdensome requirements for the State Food Purchase Program to provide flexibility in determining eligibility.
  • Partnered with United Way PA 211 to make available a comprehensive list of COVID-19-specific food resources.
  • Launched a partnership with Operation BBQ Relief and the Salvation Army to deliver more than 700,000 meals to all corners of the commonwealth.
  • Boosted food bank supplies by directing $2.6 million to charitable food programs through the Neighborhood Assistance Program.
  • Procured 750,000 shelf-stable meals through the Defense Logistics Agency to food banks and senior home-delivered meal programs.
  • Worked to ensure that free school meal programs are transitioned into take-home or community distribution programs to meet food and nutrition needs of students.
  • The PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has repurposed staff to provide additional workforce capacity for food banks across the state struggling to attract volunteers.

Student Loan Debt

  • Federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, temporarily stopping monthly payments through September 30, 2020. Payments can still be made if borrowers choose.
  • The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is notifying borrowers that forbearance for the American Education Services (AES) and commercial loan portfolio is available upon request through September 30, 2020.

Individuals Who Have Been Furloughed, Laid Off, or Have Reduced Hours

In addition to regular state Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits, which provide roughly half of an individual’s full-time weekly income up to $572 per week, the federal CARES Act expanded UC benefits through several new programs:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) expands benefits to gig-economy workers, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals who are otherwise ineligible for UC.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (FPUC) provides an additional $600 per week, on top of regular UC benefits, to all UC recipients.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides an additional 13 weeks of UC benefits to individuals who exhaust their regular 26 weeks of benefits, for a total of 39 weeks of coverage.

Individuals Who Are Uninsured or Underinsured

  • Announced all major health insurers providing comprehensive medical coverage in the commonwealth will cover medically appropriate COVID-19 diagnostic testing and associated treatment for consumers and have committed to waive any cost-sharing for the testing.
  • In addition, many auto and homeowners insurers are giving money back to drivers who are spending less time on the road and placing moratoriums on canceling policies amid financial hardships.
  • Made telehealth the preferred delivery method for medically necessary health care services for physical health, behavioral health, and substance use disorder services and explained that telephone only services may be used where video technology is not available. All Medical Assistance services delivered via telehealth are being reimbursed at the same level as in-person services.
  • Established a 24/7 mental health crisis line that received more than 1,300 calls in the first 10 days.

Students and Families

In this time of unprecedented school closures, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has worked with Intermediate Units (IUs) throughout the commonwealth to develop and implement continuity of education plans to ensure seniors graduate, students can be promoted to the next grade, and all students continue to have access to remote learning through the remainder of the academic year. The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has:

  • Coordinated with rural communities to provide access to roving wifi buses to meet the internet and remote learning needs of students without internet access.
  • Partnered with the statewide leads for PBS to offer communities with limited internet access use of free instructional programming that is being broadcast by all of Pennsylvania’s PBS affiliates.
  • The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has worked with local communities to identify and stand up child care facilities for children of health care workers, first responders, and other essential employees to ensure they can continue to respond to the COVID-19 disaster while knowing their children are being cared for.

Relief for Businesses

Pennsylvania’s businesses are in an unprecedented position, many shuttered across the state to protect against the spread of the deadly coronavirus, others changing their entire business plans around to help meet the many needs of people across the state.

Many businesses have had to furlough or lay off employees, and others that have relied on in-person transactions have had to move to remote platforms overnight. While the needs are varied among the business community, the severity of the impact of the coronavirus on the overall economy is, and will remain, unforeseen for some time.

The Wolf Administration has worked diligently with federal, state, and local government partners, the business community, and other critical external partners to ensure businesses can avail themselves of all the tools available to offer a modicum of relief in the face of this crisis.

Department of Revenue

The Department of Revenue (DOR) has extended tax filing deadlines to assist with short-term liquidity for businesses. DOR has also worked to reduce or suspend enforcement actions, including liens filed will be reduced; bank attachment actions will not be taken; license inspections, revocations, and citations will be limited; and tax clearance requirements will be the more lenient debt collector standards. DOR is also providing flexible terms for new payment plans allowing up to $12,000 for up to one year.

Department of Community and Economic Development

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) made more than $60 million available for small businesses through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program.

Although the funds were depleted in four days and the department received more than 900 applications, we are looking at ways to recapitalize the program given its need as a bridge to federal stimulus funds.

DCED has also allowed for three-month loan payment deferrals for loans administered by the department.

Banks and Mortgage Servicers

In alignment with federal CARES Act, Pennsylvania banks and mortgage servicers are implementing 60-day foreclosure moratoriums and 180-day forbearances on all federally backed loans. In addition, there is now a 120-day moratorium on evictions from properties with federally backed loans.

The PA State Treasury, the PA Department of Banking and Securities, and the PA Housing and Finance Agency have come together to develop a series of relief recommendations and are working collaboratively with banks and other creditors to push for broad flexibilities and relief actions to assist businesses and consumers across the state.

Federal CARES Act

With the passage of the federal CARES Act, businesses of all shapes and sizes will be able to access billions of dollars in federal resources to assist with everything from payroll support, more favorable loan terms, and fully refundable tax credits for businesses that are trying to keep workers employed while keeping their doors are shut to the public.

Relief for Health Care Systems and Providers

The Wolf Administration has undertaken every possible effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and ensure our health care system, and the providers that make up its fabric, can withstand the ramp-up, surge, and aftermath of this deadly pandemic.

While hospitals and health systems have been promised significant financial aid from the federal government, many are facing financial strain now and need relief before those dollars become fully available. The Wolf Administration has taken steps to provide that immediate relief.

  • Established the Pennsylvania Hospital Emergency Loan Program (HELP) to provide up to $450 million from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PennVEST) in critical working capital bridge funding at a very low interest rate to Pennsylvania’s hospitals.
  • Spreading the word about the federal government’s expansion of the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program for Providers and Suppliers, which provides necessary funds when there is a disruption in claims submission or processing. The expansion of this program extends to a broader group of Medicare Part A providers and Part B suppliers. The federal government announced that they have approved over $51 billion for providers across the country in the first week of the expansion program.
  • Worked closely with the General Assembly to transfer $50 million in state funds to purchase medical equipment and supplies for hospitals, nursing homes, and emergency workers to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Worked with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to allow for payments for direct-support providers to assist people with disabilities in hospital settings where they may need support beyond that provided by hospital staff.
  • Signed an Executive Order that allows the state to transfer personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies between health care facilities should it become necessary as the coronavirus pandemic worsens to ensure that all health care providers have access to PPE and critical supplies and that if supplies need to be redistributed to meet the needs of communities hardest hit by the virus, it can be done efficiently and as quickly as possible.
  • Supplied over 1.8 million N95 masks, 136,000 gowns, 912,000 procedure masks, 730,000 gloves, 990 goggles, and 147,000 face shields to health care workers.
  • Waived requirements to allow for retired medical professionals to quickly reactivate their licenses in order to bolster the capacity of the health care workforce.
  • Worked with medical schools across the commonwealth to allow Graduate Medical Trainees (GMTs) to obtain their GMT licenses upon graduation.
  • Extended license renewal deadlines, and waived additional administrative requirements for new and temporary health care licensees, so that practitioners do not have to worry about their license status during the emergency.
  • Working to limit the scope of potential liability for health care providers resulting from the care of patients during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Contracted with ECRI, an independent, nonprofit health services research organization, to enlist experts in the field of infection control to help protect those in the state’s long-term care facilities.
  • Collaborating with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation to support personal care homes and assisted living residences to provide information about infectious disease management protocols and resident care requirements.
  • Partnering with university health systems to staff a phone line designed to answer specific COVID-19 related questions for these facilities and to provide real time support.

Businesses across the commonwealth have pivoted from current business models to manufacture or produce personal protective equipment (PPE), gowns, masks, and other critical supplies meant to assist individuals and communities in responding to COVID-19.

Reopening Pennsylvania

With new case counts showing that these aggressive efforts have flattened the curve, the governor and his administration will begin to plan for a reopening process that protects Pennsylvanians and helps to stabilize the economy. The administration will work with economic and public health experts to determine the metrics used for safe reopening by taking a regional, sector-based approach.

In consultation with Team PA, the Department of Health, the Department of Community and Economic Development, the Department of Labor and Industry, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, and others, the administration will develop guidance for businesses, local governments, workers, customers, and others and guide a safe reopening process.

Standards

  • Our approach will be data driven and reliant upon quantifiable criteria to drive a targeted, evidence-based, regional approach to reopenings in Pennsylvania.
  • We will put forth guidance and recommendations for employers, individuals, and health care facilities for assured accountability as we reopen.
  • Reopening necessitates that adequate personal protective equipment and diagnostic testing are available.
  • Reopening requires a monitoring and surveillance program that allows the commonwealth to be deploy swift actions for containment or mitigation.
  • Protections for vulnerable populations must remain steadfast throughout the reopening process, such as limitations on visitors to congregate care facilities and prisons.
  • Limitations on large gatherings unrelated to occupations should remain in place for the duration of the reopening process.

Recovery for Pennsylvanians

Developing a recovery framework and programs that make a difference for the people of Pennsylvania is paramount. That framework must include, at a minimum:

  • Fair, family-sustaining wages for all Pennsylvanians.
  • Expand worker protection for workers following Department of Health orders or guidance from health care providers to isolate and quarantine.
  • Expand paid sick and family and medical leave policies.
  • Expansion of safe, affordable, and high-quality child care.
  • Strengthen the Unemployment and Workers Compensation Insurance systems.
  • Funding and flexibility to support continuity of education and continued active distance learning (including planned instruction and enrichment) for all students, including a focus on equity and students with special needs.
  • Accountability and transparency for spending and dispensation of federal, state, and local resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Expand student loan forgiveness and repayment programs, particularly focusing on debt relief for individuals who are the front lines of responding the COVID-19 disaster.
  • Expand rapid re-employment programs to support laid off workers and businesses impacted by COVID-19-related business closures.

Accountability and transparency for spending and dispensation of federal, state, and local resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recovery for Businesses

While the plan for long-term recovery still lies ahead, there are already lessons learned from this disaster that allow us to put markers down for where we need to go once the disaster subsides. There is still much we do not know, including when businesses can begin to reopen safely. But the broad contours of a policy agenda in the future must include the following:

  • Developing an evidence-based state innovation strategy that allows Pennsylvania to attract the best and brightest people and companies.
  • Vigorous financial support for small businesses, both short term to limit the number of businesses that would otherwise have to close their doors for good while we shelter in place, and long term as small businesses restructure and recover in a post-COVID-19 economy.
  • Economic development incentives to attract companies willing to create and retain good-paying jobs.
  • Investments in our manufacturing industry who has risen to the challenge of meeting some of our most pressing and immediate needs, including tax credits for manufacturers who convert or retrofit their facilities or operations in order to produce personal protective equipment to help with the COVID-19 response.
  • Investment, upgrade, and extension of Pennsylvania’s broadband network to ensure all Pennsylvanians have access to the internet. This includes resources for students/families/workers and/or incentivizing businesses to expand access to broadband to support remote learning and job search activities.
  • Investments in our diverse agriculture industry, robust food processing sector, farmers markets, and the many industries that support a safe food supply. While this industry is life-sustaining, it has suffered a severe disruption in its supply chain, and recovery must ensure the certainty and future of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry to continue to produce a safe, secure food supply.
  • Support for non-profit organizations.

Recovery for Health Care Systems and Providers

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the fragmentations within our health systems. Pennsylvania has banned together to support and equip our hospitals and medical professionals with the tools they need to respond, but our recovery is dependent upon long-term policy change. A policy agenda to support the health and recovery of Pennsylvania’s residents must include:

  • Health care coverage for all Pennsylvanians that is affordable and transparent, and a system that allows for choice in coverage.
  • Ensuring the protections of the Affordable Care Act are in place at the state level, to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions, including Pennsylvanians recovered from COVID-19, can obtain full coverage and not worry about lifetime or annual caps on coverage should they need further care.
  • Making sure that patients who seek out in-network care aren’t surprised with a bill for treatment by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility.
  • Requiring transparency in short-term limited duration insurance products and protecting consumers who need to fill an unexpected gap in coverage.
  • Continue to cut bureaucratic red tape and make it easier for new Pennsylvanians, including military spouses, with an out-of-state occupational license to work. Greater flexibility is needed in licensure requirements for a broad set of out of state practitioners interested in providing care in Pennsylvania.
  • Continued telehealth expansion and adoption of telehealth as a primary mode of health care delivery for physical and mental health services as well as substance use disorder treatment. New telehealth policy should be inclusive of accessible modes of communication such as telephonic delivery when other means are unavailable. Additionally, telehealth services should be reimbursed at the same rates as if the services were delivered in person.
  • Significant increases in housing services and investment in low-income housing development to reduce the number of Pennsylvanians unable to be safely discharged due to lack of shelter and to promote health and wellness in community settings.
  • Continued prioritization of home and community-based services to reduce congregate placements for children, individuals with disabilities, and seniors.
  • Increased and more formalized role for community-based organizations in health and wellness activities and health care delivery. This pandemic has made clear that health does not begin and end in the doctor’s office, let alone in a hospital, and Pennsylvania’s community-based organizations have an important role to play.

For more information on the Governor’s Plan for Pennsylvania visit www.governor.pa.gov/plan-for-pennsylvania/.

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