Wolf Orders Shutdown of Non-Life-Sustaining Businesses; Appeals Process Established
On Thursday evening, Governor Wolf ordered the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania. A list of business types that would be affected by this order is available at www.pasenategop.com/covid-19-resources.
I joined Senate leaders in raising concerns about some of the unforeseen problems that could arise from his order and how this measure could impact small businesses. The response from Senate Republican leaders is available here.
As a result of these concerns, the Wolf Administration announced a waiver process for any company that believes they should be considered a life-sustaining-business. Business owners can apply for a waiver at this email address: RAfirstname.lastname@example.org. Business owners can address questions about whether they need to close by emailing email@example.com.
Businesses and non-profits who have suffered economic losses during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak can consider applying for low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Additional information is available by contacting SBA’s disaster assistance customer service center by calling 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will continue to work with my colleagues in the General Assembly and the Wolf Administration to find ways to help businesses and employees who have been impacted by coronavirus mitigation measures.
Assistance Available for Employees Affected by COVID-19
Pennsylvanians who are unable to work because of the COVID-19 coronavirus may be eligible for Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Unemployment Compensation is available for employees whose employer temporarily closes, goes out of business due to COVID-19 or reduces hours due to COVID-19. Eligibility is also extended to employees who are told not to work, have been told to self-isolate or quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus.
Employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 in their workplace could also be eligible for Workers’ Compensation.
More details about benefits for affected employees are available here.
Emergency Food Assistance Available During Coronavirus Mitigation
Individuals who are out of work due to the coronavirus can seek emergency food assistance at local food banks. Many food banks, pantries, shelters and soup kitchens are offering special drive-through services to limit close personal contact.
A list of food banks and additional guidance from the Department of Agriculture is available here.
Many schools are continuing to offer meals for students. More information on how schools are adjusting to mitigation efforts is available here.
Guidance Offered to Help Older Pennsylvanians; PACE Requirements Relaxed; PTRR Deadline Extended
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging recently issued guidance to help older adult day centers, adult protective services, and senior centers continue to meet the needs of older adults while coronavirus mitigation measures remain in effect. These guidelines are available here.
The department is also relaxing restrictions in the PACE program that require a person to use 75 percent of their medication before seeking a refill. Enrollees who wish to receive that exception must have their pharmacy provider contact PACE at 1-800-835-8040.
All enrollees should be able to receive free home delivery of medications from their pharmacy. Enrollees who have difficulty obtaining their refills can call Cardholder Services at 1-800-225-7223.
In addition, the deadline for older Pennsylvanians and disabled state residents to apply for the Property Tax Rent Rebate Program has been extended from June 30 until December 31. The Online Customer Service Center remains open for applicants who have questions about the program.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is continuing to provide guidance to healthcare providers regarding measures to prevent exposure and transmission of the coronavirus, reporting, testing, specimen collection and more.
Guidance for healthcare professionals, facilities, nursing homes, first responders and more are available here.
In addition, the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs recently announced that licensing boards can provide telemedicine services to patients during the coronavirus emergency. More information on the announcement is available here.
PUC Prohibits Utility Terminations During Public Health Emergency; Evictions, Foreclosures Delayed
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has announced that utility terminations would be prohibited while the governor’s Proclamation of Disaster is in effect. This applies to all electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunications and steam utilities.
More details about this decision is available here.
Also, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled this week that no landlord or bank is permitted to evict a tenant due to failing to pay rent or a mortgage for at least the next two weeks.
Federal Tax Payment Deadline Extended; Filing Deadline Remains April 15
Although federal taxes must still be filed with the Internal Revenue Service by April 15, the IRS and the Treasury Department has extended the deadline for individuals and businesses to pay federal income taxes until July 15. Individual taxpayers who cannot file by the April 15 deadline can request a six-month extension to file their return.
More guidance from the IRS is available here.
Vital Records Requests Delayed, Online Services Remain Open
The closure of the Capitol Complex and surrounding offices has affected the ability of the Department of Health to fulfill requests for birth certificates, death certificates and other vital records. Individual who need these documents are strongly encouraged to file requests online at www.vitalchek.com.
In cases where online processing is not an option and the situation is an emergency, paper applications can be mailed to the address below. No paper applications should be sent Health & Welfare or Forum Place through the statewide closure.
Department of Health