In This Update:
Aument: “Pennsylvania Doesn’t Need to Choose Between Saving Lives and Saving the Economy”
“Pennsylvania doesn’t need to choose between saving lives and saving the economy – the COVID-19 Cost & Recovery Task Force will allow us to develop a plan to do BOTH. Thanks to the PA House for passing the language to establish this task force, and a special thanks to Majority Leader Bryan Cutler for championing the idea and working to get the bill to the Senate for consideration. I am now urging my colleagues in the Senate to approve this bill and get it to the Governor for his signature so we can ensure that Pennsylvania is positioned to recover and reopen in a data-informed manner.
“Let me be clear: Republicans and Democrats have the same goal – protect lives and livelihoods. The purpose of the Task Force is not to usurp power, but to work together. Now is not the time for partisanship. Pennsylvanians need us to cooperate and coordinate now more than ever – anything less is merely a distraction from finding solutions that will save lives and get our economy back on track. I’ve always believed that challenging each other’s ideas, more often than not, results in a better product. So let’s confront this challenge together. Let’s establish the COVID-19 Cost & Recovery Task Force to identify a path forward that will not sacrifice public health for economic prosperity or vice versa, because we need both to build a stronger Pennsylvania.”
New Loan Program Created to Help Hospitals During COVID-19
A new loan program offered by the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority will provide critical funding to hospitals during the coronavirus public health emergency.
The Hospital Emergency Loan Program (HELP) will allow eligible hospitals to apply for up to $10 million in short-term funding to deal with the surge in patients from COVID-19. Some of the eligible uses of funding include building or constructing temporary structures, retrofitting facilities, and leasing property, equipment and supplies.
Loan applications will be accepted April 13 through 20. Applications will be available here.
Governor Wolf Orders All Schools Closed for Remainder of Academic Year
All K-12 public and private schools in Pennsylvania will now remain closed through the end of the 2019-20 school year, as ordered by Governor Wolf.
The governor’s order also applies to all Pre-K Counts, Head Start Supplemental Assistance Programs and Preschool Early Intervention programs. Institutions of higher education are also prohibited from meeting for in-person classes for the remainder of the school year.
In order to help school districts manage extended closures during the current public health emergency, I supported passage of a law last month that waives the requirement for schools to provide 180 days of instructional time for the 2019-20 school year. The Department of Education is encouraging schools to provide instruction to students through continuity of education plans through the remainder of the academic year.
More information is available here about resources to help schools continue to educate students.
Aument to Host Telephone Town Hall on April 16th with Guest Panelists to Answer Coronavirus Questions
Senator Ryan Aument will answer questions and gather feedback from community residents during a live telephone town hall specifically to discuss coronavirus-related issues on April 16 from 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Community residents can register to participate in the tele-town hall by visiting www.senatoraument.com/tele-town-hall. This link can also be used for audio streaming, which will be available immediately prior to the event. Additionally, a link to the event page is available on Aument’s website at www.senatoraument.com.
The tele-town hall format encourages community residents to participate in a discussion while practicing social distancing to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Participants can ask questions or simply remain on the line to listen to the discussion.
Guest panelists for the discussion will include a physician to answer medical questions, an unemployment compensation expert to respond to inquiries about the UC system, and a representative from a local economic development board to address questions about the state of our economy in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hospital Preparedness Dashboard Offers Critical COVID-19 Info
Hospitals throughout the state are gearing up to address new cases of COVID-19 in the days and weeks ahead. A hospital preparedness dashboard is maintained and updated regularly by the Department of Health, and the department reports it is working to create a system to ensure all available resources like personal protection equipment, ventilators and medical supplies can be allocated where they are needed most.
A detailed breakdown of the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, available hospital and ICU beds, total ventilators available or in use, and much more is available on the hospital preparedness dashboard here. Both statewide and county data are available on the webpage.
Reminder: Utility Customer Assistance Programs Available During COVID-19 Emergency
Major utility providers throughout the state are offering a number of special programs to help customers who are struggling to pay bills due to the coronavirus public health emergency. Payment plans, hardship funds, budget billing and other options are available to help individuals and families during these unprecedented times.
A number of these programs are time-sensitive, so customers should contact their utility providers as soon as possible to find out what assistance programs are available. More information about the different kinds of programs and services to help utility customers is available on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s website.
Series of Waivers Aimed at Supporting Pennsylvania’s Coronavirus Response Efforts
More than 30 waivers were issued by the Department of State in response to the coronavirus emergency. The links below offer information on some of the waivers that have been announced over the past several weeks.
Waivers that have been granted to healthcare practitioners include:
A number of license renewal deadlines have also been extended and other requirements relaxed due to coronavirus mitigation, including:
Lancaster Chamber of Commerce Hosts Coronavirus Webinars for Businesses
The Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce continues to offer a series of FREE, informative business webinars to assist businesses during this difficult time. Here is a list of this week’s webinars:
US Chamber CARES Act & More – Tuesday, April 14th – 11:30am-12:30pm
Join Kevin Curtois, from the US Chamber, to get valuable updates and information on the CARES act for all businesses – small, midsize, large as well as self-employed individuals and non-profits. In addition, he can provide insights into what is being discussed and debated for the next round of aid.
Non-Profit Peer Group – Friday, April 17th, from 1:30-2:30pm