In This Edition:
My Offices are Open to Assist You
My offices remain open to provide continuous service to constituents during the COVID-19 outbreak. Some office phone numbers are being forwarded to a staff member at home. However, please be patient and leave a detailed message and wait for a return call if staff is not immediately available.
Governor’s “Stay-At-Home” Order Extended Statewide
Governor Wolf has issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order for all counties in Pennsylvania in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19.
The order directs all state residents to stay home unless they are involved in certain essential activities, such as collecting food and groceries, picking up prescriptions or medical supplies, going to or from work in life-sustaining businesses, caring for a family member or pet in another household, or other essential travel.
Thirty-three counties were already under these restrictions; the order now covers all counties and will remain in place until April 30.
More guidance on life-sustaining activities allowed under the order is available here.
Friday Deadline for Businesses to Apply for Waiver from Closure Order
The Wolf Administration has set a deadline of 5 p.m. Friday for Pennsylvania businesses to apply for a waiver from the governor’s closure order.
Gov. Wolf ordered all businesses not deemed life-sustaining to close their physical locations as of 8 p.m. on March 19 to slow the spread of COVID-19. My Senate colleagues and I have urged Governor Wolf to be more open and transparent about the decision-making process on these waivers.
State Business Loan Program Reaches Maximum; New Loan Program Created to Help Businesses
The COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program created by the Commonwealth Financing Authority last week has reached its maximum level of funding and will no longer accept new applications. However, a new federal program will offer loans that can be forgiven to help affected small businesses and self-employed individuals cover operating costs during the pandemic.
The new Paycheck Protection Program will offer loans to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utility costs over an eight-week period. No more than 25 percent of the loan may cover anything other than payroll costs, and loan payments will be deferred for six months for any amount that is not forgiven. Businesses must maintain their number of staff and level of payroll and quickly rehire any recently displaced employees in order to qualify for loan forgiveness.
The program is open to small businesses, veterans organizations, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals and independent contractors, so long as each entity has 500 or fewer employees.
The application period for small businesses and sole proprietors will open on April 3. Self-employed individuals and contractors can apply starting on April 10. Applications are available here.
More details about the program are available here.
Help is Still Available for Victims of Abuse During COVID-19 Response
Victims of child abuse, domestic abuse and other crimes against vulnerable Pennsylvanians can still receive help during the state’s COVID-19 response.
All of the following resources are still open and available to help people in need:
Beware of COVID-19-Related Investment Schemes
The North American Securities Administrators Association and the state Department of Banking and Securities (DoBS) are warning investors to be on the lookout for investment scams specifically tied to the threat of COVID-19, such as:
For more detailed information related to schemes and tips for protecting yourself, DoBS has developed a guide for investors. More information is also available at COVID-19 information and guidance for financial Institutions and consumers.
Contact DoBS toll-free at (800) PA-BANKS or (800) 722-2657 for more information or to file complaints about financial transactions, companies or products.
Penn State Extension Offers Free Online Courses
More than 50 online courses are available for free through the month of April through Penn State Extension. Some of the courses include food safety and nutrition, environmental stewardship, best agricultural practices and other offerings to promote successful businesses and healthy families.
More information is available in the online course catalog here.
Early Prescription Refills Available for Medicaid Recipients
In order to reduce unnecessary trips out of the home, the Department of Human Services has directed all Medicaid Managed Care Organizations to make early prescription refills available to recipients and be more flexible in issuing authorizations for longer durations.
The direction applies to any prescription that is current with refills remaining. More information is available here.