Senator Judy Ward E-Newsletter

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New Website Offers Guidance on Responding to Coronavirus

Statewide efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus have raised a number of questions and concerns throughout our local communities. A new website has been established to provide guidance for Pennsylvania families, businesses and schools as the situation develops.

Information on symptoms and prevention, travel, mitigation, scams, emergency food assistance, mitigation guidance, social distancing and much more is available at www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/. I will also continue to share helpful information on my website.

Resources Available to Help Businesses, Employees Affected by Coronavirus Mitigation

On Tuesday, Governor Wolf strongly urged nonessential businesses to close in an effort to mitigate the spread for the COVID-19 coronavirus. A number of resources are available to help businesses and employees who are affected by the governor’s coronavirus mitigation measures.

At the request of legislators and business leaders, Governor Wolf has clarified which businesses are considered to be nonessential and would be strongly urged or mandated to close for the next two weeks as a result of his order. That information is available here.

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.

Employees who are unable to work because of COVID-19 may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation or workers’ Compensation. The Department of Labor and Industry offers guidance to employees on this issue at www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx.

Governor Wolf has asked the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans for eligible Pennsylvania businesses and non-profits. Details on how to apply will be established once the governor’s request is granted. For more information, call the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or email them at disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

Franklin County Resources can be found at  www.fcadc.com

Blair County resources can be found at www.Abcd.corp.org

and www.blairchamber.com

Fulton County Resources can be found at https://www.fultoncountypa.com/links/

Huntingdon County Resources can be found at https://www.huntingdonchamber.com/resources

Cumberland County Resources can be found at https://cumberlandbusiness.com/news/covid-19-updates-resources

Senior Services Resources

The Department of Aging has more information here:  https://www.aging.pa.gov/service-provider-quicklinks/covid-19-provider-guidance/Pages/default.aspx

PACE is making an allowance to the rule that enrollees use 75% of their supply before refilling will be reimbursed; However, this allowance will not apply for opioids or other controlled substances. Those request will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Enrollees wishing to receive an exception to the refill requirement must have their pharmacy provider contact PACE. Enrollees who have difficulty obtaining their refills can call Cardholder Services at 1-800-225-7223.

PennDOT Photo and License Centers Closed; Expiration Dates Extended

All PennDOT Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers will be closed for at least two weeks, effective March 16. Customers are encouraged to complete all photo ID and vehicle registration renewals, address changes and other PennDOT services online at www.dmv.pa.gov. Mailed products will be delayed until normal operations resume.

As a result of the closures, expiration dates for driver licenses, identification cards, vehicle registrations, and safety and emission inspections scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020 will be extended until April 30, 2020.

The Transportation Safety Administration recently announced that they would continue to accept driver licenses and ID cards that expired after March 1 as a valid form of identification at airport security checkpoints. More details are available at www.tsa.gov/coronavirus.

More information on PennDOT services is available here.

Penndot Reopens Select Rest Areas for Truck Parking

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will be reopening select rest areas across Pennsylvania for truck parking. PennDOT rest areas were closed at midnight Tuesday in response to Governor Tom Wolf’s mitigation guidance regarding COVID-19.

To address safety concerns raised, PennDOT has identified 13 of its 30 rest areas in critical locations that will be available for truck parking starting March 19.

Each location will have five portable toilets (one of which is ADA-accessible) that will be cleaned once a day. Electronic message signs will be used near the applicable centers to notify drivers near the opened areas. To prevent further spread of COVID-19, PennDOT does not plan to open any of the indoor facilities due to staff availability to keep facilities clean and properly sanitized.

These are the locations that will be reopened for truck parking:

  • Interstate 79: Crawford County NB/SB;
  • Interstate 79: Allegheny NB only; 
  • Interstate 80: Venango County EB/WB;
  • Interstate 80: Centre County EB/WB;
  • Interstate 80: Montour County EB/WB;
  • Interstate 81: Luzerne County NB/SB;
  • Interstate 81: Cumberland County NB/SB;

The department will continue to evaluate and will determine whether additional rest areas can be reopened.

More COVID-19 information is available at www.health.pa.gov. For more information, visit www.dmv.pa.gov or www.PennDOT.gov.

Liquor Control Board

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has announced that the agency will begin enforcing that licensees under their purview must cease the sale of food and alcohol for on-premises consumption or will risk being cited and possible suspension of their liquor license.

Additional information can be found at https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Liquor-Control-Board.aspx 

Senate Resolution Allows Members to Vote Remotely

The Senate took an important step to continue its operations safely by passing a resolution allowing members to vote remotely. The temporary emergency rules will ensure the Senate can continue voting even when members cannot be physically present due to coronavirus mitigation efforts that are ongoing statewide.

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.

In order to ensure transparency, session was announced well in advance and streamed live for the public at www.PAsenateGOP.com. Video of session is available below:

3/18/20 - Senate Session

Vote-By-Mail Option Available for Upcoming Primary Election

In order to limit in-person contact during the upcoming Primary Election currently scheduled on April 28, more voters may be interested in voting by mail. Voters will have this option as part of a new law that was approved last year that included some of the most significant changes to the state’s election laws in decades.

Voters can learn more about how to vote by mail at VotesPA.com/ApplyMailBallot.

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