Senator Judy Ward E-Newsletter

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March 21, 2020

In this Update:

  • Coronavirus Update: Enforcement of Business Shutdown Order Delayed, List of Life-Sustaining Businesses Expanded
  • New Website Details COVID-19 Resources
  • Recommendations Issued for Employment and Training Programs During Coronavirus Mitigation
  • Precautions Taken to Protect Veterans During COVID-19 Outbreak
  • Be Aware of Scams Related to Coronavirus
  • Guidance Offered for Pet Owners, Animal Shelters, Boarding Facilities
  • UPDATE: Federal Tax Filing Deadline Extended to July 15
  • Telemedicine Services Encouraged for Healthcare Providers
  • Department of Revenue Waives Penalties on Accelerated Sales Tax Prepayments

Coronavirus Update

In response to numerous concerns expressed by business leaders and lawmakers, enforcement of Governor Wolf’s order for all non-life-sustaining businesses to close has been delayed until Monday, and the list of businesses defined as life-sustaining has been expanded to include more critical industries.

The delay in enforcement will provide additional time for the Department of Community and Economic Development to review the high volume of waiver requests that have been submitted by businesses that were ordered to close their physical locations on March 19.

Business owners can get clarification on whether their business is defined as life-sustaining by emailing the Department of Community and Economic Development at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov or calling 1-877-724-3258. An online waiver application for businesses that believe they should be considered life-sustaining is available here.

The list of businesses that are considered to be life-sustaining was also updated to reflect oversights in the initial list provided by the governor’s office. A number of industries that are critical to medical and manufacturing supply chains were initially excluded. The updated list is available here.

The COVID-19 coronavirus has created a great deal of confusion and concern throughout the state and the nation. In order to gather all of the relevant news regarding this public health crisis together in one place, a new website has been created that lists resources and updates as they become available.

Some of the topics include guidance on the governor’s non-life-sustaining business shutdown, a list of impacted businesses, resources for businesses and employers, and much more. Keep up-to-date on the latest news at www.pasenategop.com/covid-19-resources.

Recommendations Issued for Employment and Training Programs During Coronavirus Mitigation

The Department of Human Services has released guidance for employment and training programs while coronavirus mitigation measures are in effect. Individuals who are participating in programs to meet a work participation requirement are encouraged to work remotely or be excused for the period that programs are unable to operate.

No individual will be subject to sanctions associated with COVID-19, and participants should remain enrolled until the program reopens. Full guidance is available here.

A number of measures have been implemented by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) recently to protect the safety of residents in the state’s six veterans’ homes and ensure all Pennsylvania veterans can continue to access vital services.

Normal visitation, admissions and transfers have been placed on hold in veterans’ homes, and screening stations have either been established or are in development at all six homes. Other safety precautions are outlined here.

DMVA is continuing to process applications for all programs as they are received, including Veterans Temporary Assistance, the Military Family Relief and Assistance Program, the Disabled Veteran Real Estate Tax Exemption Program and more.

More information about these programs and future updates on measures to protect Pennsylvania’s veteran population are available here.

Be Aware of Scams Related to Coronavirus

The Pennsylvania State Police is reminding all state residents to be aware of scams related to the coronavirus. Some of the scams include fraudulent fundraising campaigns, fake charities, price gouging on household supplies, phishing emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO, and malicious websites masquerading as legitimate COVID-19 resources.

A full breakdown of frequent scams and recommendations to avoid them are available here.

Animal shelters, boarding facilities, rescues and other organizations that are critical to the care of pets are permitted to stay open, but the decision is voluntary and should be made on a case-by-case basis. The Department of Agriculture has issued guidelines to help minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure for employees, volunteers and Pennsylvanians using their services.

That information is available here.

Pet owners are also encouraged to have plenty of food, medications and supplies on hand for pets and identify a family member or friend who can care for pets in case of illness. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control offers a number of recommendations for pet disaster preparedness on its website here.

UPDATE: Federal Tax Filing Deadline Extended to July 15

The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department have extended the deadline for individuals and businesses to file and pay federal income taxes until July 15. More guidance from the IRS is available here.

Telemedicine Services Encouraged for Healthcare Providers

Medicaid-enrolled providers and managed care organizations are encouraged to use telemedicine in order to reduce person-to-person contact and minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Telemedicine is especially important for patients to receive medically necessary services while quarantined or in isolation due to possible exposure to COVID-19.

Department of Health guidelines on telemedicine are available here.

Department of Revenue Waives Penalties on Accelerated Sales Tax Prepayments

The Department of Revenue is waiving penalties for businesses that were required to make Accelerated Sales Tax (AST) payments by yesterday’s deadline. The department will also waive AST prepayment requirements for April sales tax collected in March.

More information is available here.

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