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Gov. Wolf Announces 13 Counties will Move to Yellow Phase of Reopening on May 15

Today Governor Tom Wolf announced 13 Pennsylvania counties will move to the yellow phase of reopening at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 15. Those counties include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.

On May 1, the governor announced the 24 counties moving into the yellow phase of reopening beginning today. And, last evening, he and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed new orders – one for yellow phase reopening and one to extend the red phase counties’ stay-at-home order, which was set to expire last night, to June 4. The red phase stay-at-home order extension does not mean that other counties won’t move to the yellow phase in advance of June 4.

“The reopening plan prioritizes the health and welfare of Pennsylvanians by using a combination of factors to gauge how much movement a location can tolerate before the 2019 novel coronavirus becomes a threat,” Gov. Wolf said. “I’d like to emphasize that this plan is not a one-way route. We are closely monitoring the 24 counties in the yellow phase and will re-impose restrictions if danger arises.”

Gov. Wolf reminded residents and business owners that yellow means caution and that everyone needs to continue to be mindful of their actions and how they affect not only themselves, but their families, friends and community.

“Every contact between two people is a new link in the chain of potential transmission,” Wolf said. “And if the new case count begins to climb in one area, restrictions will need to be imposed to prevent local medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed. So, Pennsylvanians should continue to make good choices.”

Law enforcement remains focused on achieving voluntary compliance through education, but citations are possible for violators depending on the specific circumstances of an investigation.

In addition to the possible criminal penalties levied by law enforcement, there may be additional licensing consequences for violators, in part, through complaints filed by employees on the Department of Health portal that allows any employee who feels their employer is not providing a safe work environment to fill out an online form.

The Department of Health vets the complaints and investigates internally or sends the complaint to the appropriate state agency for investigation. For example, restaurant complaints are handled by the Department of Agriculture, which inspects those facilities; complaints about nursing homes are handled by the Department of Health, which inspects and licenses those facilities. Other involved agencies are the departments of State and Labor & Industry.

Concerns about a business reopening that may be in violation of stay-at-home or yellow phase orders should be made to local law enforcement non-emergency numbers or a local elected official.

Read Gov. Wolf’s Plan for PA here.

Read business guidance here.

Read CDC guidance for child care centers here.

Read FAQs here.

View the Carnegie Mellon University Risk-Based Decision Support Tool here.

Gov. Wolf, Attorney General Shapiro Announce Protections from Foreclosures and Evictions Through July 10

Gov. Wolf, Attorney General Shapiro Announce Protections from Foreclosures and Evictions Through July 10

May 07, 2020

May 7, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf was joined by Attorney General Josh Shapiro today to announce that he signed an executive order that protects Pennsylvanians from foreclosures or evictions through July 10. The action builds on a Pennsylvania Supreme Court order which closed court eviction proceedings until May 11 and ensures no renter or homeowner will be removed from their home for 60 more days.

“At a time when people need to stay home to protect their heath, they should not have to worry about losing their homes,” said Governor Wolf. “Ensuring that people can remain in their homes will help them to better protect their loved ones. It gives families the comfort of knowing they will have a place to live while all of us work together to fight COVID-19 and prepare to move Pennsylvania forward.”

“I commend the Governor for his decision to delay eviction and foreclosure proceedings. We know it’s critical for public health, and for our economic recovery, that people stay in their homes during this emergency,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “This order gives people struggling with lost income something they can count on — a roof over their heads.”

In almost all circumstances, renters and homeowners are required to continue making monthly payments. If you are a Pennsylvanian struggling to make your monthly payments, you should contact your landlord or mortgage servicer immediately.

The Wolf Administration provided recommendations last week to stem foreclosures, evictions and help people experiencing homelessness. The Department of Human Services activated the commonwealth’s Sheltering Taskforce and is working with local and state partners to coordinate resources for people without housing. The Department of Community and Economic Development is also accepting applications for Emergency Solutions Grants to assist with the rapid rehousing of people experiencing homelessness, street outreach, homelessness prevention, and emergency shelter activities.

PHFA is also taking action to help homeowners and renters. The agency has stopped foreclosures and evictions and is offering forbearances with late fee waivers to homeowners with a PHFA mortgage who are experiencing a financial hardship because of COVID-19. PHFA also developed a list of renters’ rights and responsibilities to clarify the situation for apartment residents and is working with landlords and property managers to distribute it to renters. PHFA is also encouraging Low-Income Housing Tax Credit building managers to be flexible on rent payments and to waive late fees for tenants whose employment has been affected by the crisis.

“During the past few weeks, we’ve had great cooperation from Pennsylvanians who understand that staying home is not just about protecting themselves, it’s about protecting everyone in the community,” said Gov. Wolf. This executive order takes one more burden off people who are struggling and gives them more time to get back on their feet.”

More helpful information is available from the following:

 

Gov. Wolf Announces Reopening of 24 Counties Beginning May 8

Gov. Wolf Announces Reopening of 24 Counties Beginning May 8

May 1, 2020

Balancing economic benefits and public health risks, Governor Tom Wolf today announced the reopening of 24 counties in the northwest and north-central regions of the state, moving them from red to yellow beginning at 12:01 a.m., Friday, May 8.

“Over the past two months, Pennsylvanians in every corner of our commonwealth have acted collectively to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said. “We have seen our new case numbers stabilize statewide and while we still have areas where outbreaks are occurring, we also have many areas that have few or no new cases.”

Counties Moving to Yellow Reopening
The 24 counties that will move from red to yellow on May 8 are: Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren.

These counties were deemed ready to move to a reopening – or yellow phase – because of low per-capita case counts, the ability to conduct contact tracing and testing, and appropriate population density to contain community spread.

Decision Process
The administration partnered with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to create a Risk-Based Decision Support Tool that enables decision makers to strike a balance between maximizing the results of our economy while minimizing public health risks.

The CMU tool looked at the impacts of risk factors such as reported number of COVID cases per population of an area; ICU and medical/surgical bed capacity; population density; population over age 60; re-opening contact risk, such as the number of workers employed in a currently closed industry sector.

The CMU metrics were considered along with the county’s or region’s ability to conduct testing and contact-tracing to first and foremost maintain robust public health.

The Department of Health developed testing and contact-tracing plans that informed today’s decisions and will be used in making decisions moving forward. Factors include: having enough testing available for individuals with symptoms and target populations such as those at high risk, health care personnel, and first responders, and the ability to perform robust case investigation and have in place a contact-tracing infrastructure that can quickly identify a cluster of outbreaks to issue any necessary isolation and quarantine orders.

All reopening decisions follow the six standards outlined in the governor’s plan to reopen Pennsylvania. These include adhering to:

  • Data-driven and quantifiable criteria to drive a targeted, evidence-based, regional approach to reopening.
  • Clear guidance and recommendations for employers, individuals, and health care facilities and providers for assured accountability.
  • Adequate and available personal protective equipment and diagnostic testing.
  • A monitoring and surveillance program that allows the commonwealth to deploy swift actions for containment or mitigation.
  • Protections for vulnerable populations such as limitations on visitors to congregate care facilities and prisons.
  • Limitations on large gatherings unrelated to occupations.

“Our goal since this pandemic was first identified in Pennsylvania has been to save lives while ensuring that the public health system does not become overwhelmed with people suffering from COVID-19,” Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Our contact tracing and testing plans will ensure that as we begin to resume our daily activities, we can do so safely and without fear.”

While both Gov. Wolf and Dr. Levine cautioned that we cannot be certain of the path of the virus, all decisions on partial reopening are driven first by prioritizing the health and safety of Pennsylvanians.

Defining the Yellow Phase
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, hair and nail salons, as well as limitations around large gatherings, remain in place.

On Monday, May 4, the administration will release guidance for businesses permitted to reopen on May 8 in these 24 counties. The guidance is being developed through collaboration with the affected counties, Team PA, the Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Department of Labor & Industry, among others. Guidance will build on existing safety and building safety orders released in April.

Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions

  • Telework Must Continue Where Feasible
  • Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Business and Building Safety Orders
  • Child Care Open Complying with Guidance
  • Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
  • Schools Remain Closed for In-Person Instruction

Social Restrictions

  • Stay at Home Order Lifted for Aggressive Mitigation
  • Large Gatherings of More than 25 Prohibited
  • In-Person Retail Allowable, Curbside and Delivery Preferable
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities and Personal Care Services (such as gyms, spas, hair salons, nail salons and other entities that provide massage therapy), and all Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) Remain Closed
  • Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only

All businesses not specifically mentioned as restricted from reopening may reopen if they follow the forthcoming guidance.

Moving Forward
Gov. Wolf stressed the need for all Pennsylvanians to now, more than ever, take personal responsibility for their actions.

“Every human-to-human contact is a chance for the virus to spread, so more contacts mean a higher likelihood of an outbreak,” Wolf said. “If we see an outbreak occur in one of the communities that has been moved to yellow, we will need to take swift action, and revert to the red category until the new case count falls again. So, Pennsylvanians living in a county that has been moved to the yellow category should continue to strongly consider the impact of their actions.”

Counties that will remain under the stay-at-home order will be considered for reopening in the next several weeks as the state continues to closely monitor metrics and collaborate with CMU, health experts and counties.

The full reopening plan is available here.

Governor Announces May 1 Statewide Reopening of Limited Outdoor Recreational Activities to Help Pennsylvanians Maintain Positive Physical, Mental Health

Governor Announces May 1 Statewide Reopening of Limited Outdoor Recreational Activities to Help Pennsylvanians Maintain Positive Physical, Mental Health

April 27, 2020

To ensure that Pennsylvanians have opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor recreation as a way to maintain positive physical and mental health, and in keeping with the commonwealth’s stay-at-home orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Governor Tom Wolf today announced that the Wolf Administration is lifting some restrictions on businesses related to certain outdoor activities.

Starting Friday, May 1, golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds may reopen statewide and are required to follow updated life-sustaining business guidance and FAQ issued by the Wolf Administration to include specifics for how these outdoor recreational industries can resume activities while prioritizing public health and safety. Campgrounds in state parks will remain closed through Thursday, May 14.

“Pennsylvanians have remained resilient throughout this COVID-19 crisis, and as we successfully continue to flatten the curve to protect our physical health, it is critical that we also focus on our physical and mental health during these extraordinary times. As the weather warms and daylight lengthens, enjoying time outdoors is an important way to manage stress,” Wolf said. “As we start to take measured, limited steps to reopen our commonwealth, reopening these industries will help to rebuild our economy and strengthen our mental health.”

According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half (45 percent) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over COVID-19 with the burden likely to continue even as the pandemic’s threat diminishes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance on visiting parks and recreational facilities. These guidelines must be followed statewide by businesses and when engaging in outdoor activity while the state disaster declaration remains in effect. The guidelines will ensure the safety of individuals and families engaging in outdoor activities and adherence will help slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Stay close to home: Pennsylvanians are encouraged to enjoy permitted outdoor recreational activities within their community and avoid crowding popular destinations.
  • Practice social distancing: Maintain the recommended minimum 6 feet apart from fellow recreationists. Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to wear a mask or protective garment that covers the nose and mouth any time they go outside. If a parking lot at a park is full or there are too many people on the same trail, find an alternate place to recreate. Cross the street to avoid running directly past another runner or wait longer at a golf hole for a fellow golfer to move forward.
  • Minimize risk to others: Individuals should only go out if they feel healthy and have not been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs and handrails.
  • Have a plan: Create a safety plan before heading outdoors. Explain to children the need to keep their distance from others, even if they happen to see a friend while outside. Discuss with partners, social distancing while on the golf course. Think through how to avoid other runners when waiting to safely cross a street at the same time.

“Practicing social distancing takes a little planning and patience but it is necessary if we want to continue to flatten the curve while ensuring that Pennsylvanians have opportunities to de-stress and get exercise,” Wolf said. “Finding the balance between enjoying the outdoors and staying safe is only possible when all Pennsylvanians are abiding by the same precautions. It’s critical that all Pennsylvanians adhere to the safety guidelines to allow for these outdoor activities to remain available to the public.”

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.

Wolf Administration Issues Guidance as Construction Industry Prepares to Resume Work May 1

As the construction industry prepares to resume work, the Wolf Administration today issued guidance for all construction businesses and employees to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

All businesses in the construction industry in the commonwealth are permitted to resume in-person operations starting Friday, May 1 – one week earlier than previously announced.

Previously, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine ordered most construction projects to cease unless they were supporting life-sustaining businesses or activities or were granted an exemption to perform or support life-sustaining activities.

“My administration has taken measured, aggressive steps to protect public health and safety, including strictly limiting the types of businesses and projects that may continue to operate during this unprecedented time,” Wolf said. “Thankfully, these actions are working, and we are flattening the curve. As we start to take steps to reopen the state, we recognize that the construction industry is vital to Pennsylvania’s economy and may operate safely with stringent guidance in place that will protect employees and the public.”

The guidance, developed from guidance created by the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania, provides universal protocols for all construction activity, as well as specific additional guidance for residential, commercial and public construction projects.

All business and employees in the construction industry must adhere to the Secretary of Health’s order providing for business safety measures, which requires that every person present at a work site wear masks/face coverings unless they are unable for medical or safety reasons and requires that businesses establish protocols upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.

All construction projects must maintain proper social distancing and provide hand washing and sanitizing stations for workers, as well as cleaning and sanitizing protocols for high risk transmission areas. Businesses must identify a “pandemic safety officer” for each project or work site, or, for large scale construction projects, for each contractor at the site.

Residential construction projects may not permit more than four individuals on the job site at any time, not including individuals who require temporary access to the site and are not directly engaged in the construction activity.

For non-residential or commercial projects, the number of individuals permitted on enclosed portions of a project varies depending on the size of the enclosed site. Commercial construction firms should also strongly consider establishing a written safety plan for each work location containing site specific details for the implementation of this guidance to be shared with all employees and implemented and enforced by the pandemic safety officer.

Contractors performing work at the direction of the commonwealth, municipalities or school districts should defer to those public entities to determine what projects may continue.

Local governments may elect to impose more stringent requirements than those contained in the guidance and in such instances, businesses must adhere to those more stringent requirements.

Local officials have been tasked with ensuring that construction businesses are aware that this guidance exists and notifying businesses that a complaint of noncompliance was received.

Businesses that have questions about whether this guidance applies to them may email the Department of Labor and Industry at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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