Senator Judy Ward E-Newsletter

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COVID-19 Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a highly contagious disease that can create life-threatening health problems in some patients. This email update includes information and resources to help keep you and your family up to date on the latest news regarding this new virus.

To date, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has reported that dozens of Pennsylvanians in at least 14 counties have tested presumptive positive for the disease, and hundreds of others have undergone testing and are awaiting results.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Department of Health have created webpages to keep the public informed about how to contain the spread of the disease. I encourage you to visit these sites for additional information:

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

PA Department of Health: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx

Governor Wolf and officials from the Department of Health are also providing daily updates to the public. The updates are available at https://governor.pa.gov/live.

Check back on my website at www.senatorjudyward.com and follow me on social media at the links below for additional information as the situation continues to develop.

Facebook: @SenJudyWard

Twitter: @SenatorJWard

Signs and Symptoms, Preventative Measures, and Testing

According to the Department of Health, symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever.
  • Coughing.
  • Shortness of breath.

The CDC recommends the following steps to help minimize the risk of infection:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

The Department of Health outlines these preventative measures in a video below:

6 Ways to Protect Yourself from COVID-19

The Department of Health advises people who have mild symptoms to stay home to avoid contact with others. State residents who have severe symptoms, including a fever over 100 degrees or shortness of breath, are encouraged to call their healthcare provider. Individuals without a healthcare provider can contact their local health department or call 1‐877‐724‐3258.

More guidance for state residents and healthcare providers is available in the graphic below.

Governor Orders Closure of Bars, Restaurants, Other Venues for Two Weeks

To limit the number of in-person contacts that could spread the coronavirus, Governor Wolf has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, including bars, dine-in restaurants, gyms and other entertainment venues for two weeks. Essential businesses like healthcare providers, grocery stores and gas stations will remain open.

Businesses that offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so. More details about these measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is available in the video below:

3/16/20 - Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Information for employees who may be affected by the shutdown is available from the Department of Labor and Industry here.

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) offered guidance on which businesses are essential or nonessential here. Any questions pertaining to whether the governor’s order affects a particular business should be directed to DCED.

Additional Guidance for Businesses

According to the Governor, nonessential businesses that are strongly encouraged to close include entertainment, hospitality, and recreation facilities. This includes community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons and barber shops, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations.

All restaurants, bars and private club licensees are mandated to close their dine-in facilities, but may continue to offer carry-out, delivery and drive-through services.

Essential industries that should continue to operate include food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, feed mills, construction, trash collection, grocery and household goods (including convenience stores), home repair/hardware and auto repair, pharmacy and other medical facilities, biomedical and healthcare, post offices and shipping outlets, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and pet stores, warehousing, storage, and distribution, public transportation, beer distributors and hotel and commercial lodging.

Other businesses are encouraged to allow employees to work remotely or telecommute if possible.

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) is expected to offer loans that could assist businesses affected by COVID-19. Information will be posted to www.dced.pa.gov/resources as it becomes available.

The Strategic Early Warning Network, administered by the Department of Labor and Industry, offers resources to help small and medium-sized business, including business planning resources and contingency planning, at www.steelvalley.org/coronavirus.

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry also has a webpage dedicated to helping businesses deal with coronavirus concerns at www.pachamber.org/coronavirus. 

Unemployment Compensation Information

Information for employees who may be affected by the shutdown is available from the Department of Labor and Industry here.

Pennsylvania Schools Remain Closed Through March 27

Governor Wolf has ordered all K-12 schools to remain closed through at least Friday, March 27. The Administration will reevaluate when it is safe for schools to reopen. No school will be penalized for failing to meet the mandated 180 days of instructional time for the 2019-2020 school year.

A number of school districts are developing alternative education plans and continuing to offer lunches for students. Parents and guardians of students are encouraged to learn more about how their school district is responding to the school shutdown by visiting their school district’s website or calling the school.

Secretary of Health Provides Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and PEMA Director Randy Padfield will provide an update on the coronavirus known as COVID-19 and outline ongoing efforts to mitigate the virus in Pennsylvania.

3/17/20 – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Legislative Offices Temporarily Closed to the Public

In order to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and protect the health and safety of local residents and office staff, my offices will be temporarily closed to the public until further notice.

My staff will still be available to respond to emails and phone messages during this time.  Community residents who need help with any problem related to state government are encouraged to visit my website at www.senatorjudyward.com or email jward@pasen.gov.

I will continue to keep you updated as we get more information.

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