In This Update:
Honoring the Life and Service of Senator Dave Arnold
I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing this week of my friend and colleague Senator Dave Arnold, who served residents of Dauphin, Lebanon and York counties. Although his time both in the Senate and in this world were much too short, he earned an incredible reputation as a leader and a fighter for the causes he believed in.
His legacy will live on for years to come based on his dedicated work on behalf of his constituents, especially the progress he made toward protecting Pennsylvania’s children from being abused and exploited. Dave’s character, advocacy and professionalism will be sorely missed in Harrisburg.
Our Commonwealth is a better place today because of his efforts. Please join me in praying for all those who knew and loved him, including his wife, Alicia, and his daughter, Reese.
Department of Health Updates Vaccine Distribution Plan
My offices have received many questions about the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Department of Health recently updated its vaccine distribution plan to include older Pennsylvanians and individuals with medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
The new plan expands vaccine eligibility to include Pennsylvanians age 65 or older, as well as state residents who have conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), cancer, sickle cell disease, chronic kidney disease or other specific medical concerns. An FAQ webpage on the new updated plan can be found on the Department of Health’s website here.
Further, residents can determine if they are currently eligible to receive the vaccine in Pennsylvania by taking the Department of Health’s COVID Vaccine Eligibility Quiz here.
Vaccine supplies are currently limited. Once eligibility is determined using the quiz above, residents can use a map of vaccine providers available here to find a location near them.
The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory, but it is recommended by public health officials. The Pennsylvania Department of Health offers information to help state residents make an informed choice on whether to get the vaccine, including a special section on its website regarding vaccine safety.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Extension Update
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the department is now prepared to resume payments for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in the new federal CARES Act extension. PUA assists workers who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and are not typically eligible for other unemployment compensation programs.
Existing PUA claimants can begin filing for the 11-week benefit extension by logging in to their PUA Dashboard to claim the additional weeks. Claims must be filed by Jan. 29. Eligible PUA claimants will be able to file for the weeks of January 2nd, 9th, 16th, and 23rd. Important details from the department can be found here.
Hearing Explores Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccine in Rural Areas
Last week, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania held a hearing to gather more information on the challenges facing the state in terms of delivering and administering the vaccine in rural areas.
The hearing focused on the need to build trust around the safety and necessity of vaccines; communicating how, where and when residents can get vaccines; and making sure there are sufficient staff and funding to administer and distribute vaccines.
Schools Set to Receive Federal COVID-19 Relief Funding
The COVID-19 relief bill approved by Congress in December included more than $2.2 billion in funding to Pennsylvania school districts and charter schools affected by the pandemic. Local education agencies can apply through the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to receive their share of funding.
Senate Returns to Session Next Week
The Senate will return to session next week beginning on Monday. A complete schedule of committee hearings and meetings is available here, and all of the meetings and floor activity will be streamed live at www.pasenategop.com.
Applications Available for Recreation and Conservation Grants
Local governments and conservation organizations can apply now for grants to support parks, recreation and conservation projects. The grants are funded through the Community Conservation Partnerships Program administered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Fish and Boat Commission Announces Photo Contest
Have a special fishing or boating moment captured on camera? The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) recently announced its 2021 photography contest that showcases the state’s anglers, boaters, waterways and aquatic resources.
The deadline for entries is August 31. Contest rules, prize information and entry details are available on the PFBC website.