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Governor Wolf: Request for Major Disaster Declaration Approved

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2020
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Governor Wolf: Request for Major Disaster Declaration Approved

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced the approval of part of his request to the President for a major disaster declaration to support state, county and local response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Pennsylvania.

“We are grateful for federal funding that will support all levels of government as we work together to stop the spread, and support those who care for the ill,” said Governor Wolf. “But I remain unwavering in my call for the approval of the rest of my request, which will provide more direct support to our friends and neighbors who are facing financial difficulties that otherwise could be insurmountable.”

Under the major disaster declaration, state, county and municipal governments, as well as eligible private non-profits can receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of eligible expenses related to the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Eligible expenses can include but are not limited to costs associated with paying overtime, or materials and equipment purchases. The declaration also provides direct federal assistance, which provides federal materials and supplies to support state and local response efforts.

In the coming weeks, staff from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency will reach out to potential applicants to view the application process and necessary documentation. As the response period for the COVID-19 outbreak is continuing, the process will take weeks. All reimbursements are handled electronically.

Governor Wolf said his request for other federal aid remains under consideration. His letter to the President included the following Individual Assistance programs: Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Community Disaster Loans and the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program; and Statewide Hazard Mitigation.

It is not known how soon a determination will be made about the rest of his request. Governor Wolf signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 outbreak, which is a required step to request a federal major disaster declaration, on March 6, 2020.

MEDIA CONTACT:    Lyndsay Kensinger, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
                                   
Ruth Miller, PEMA: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Insurance Department Warns Against In-Person Sales After Governor’s Order Closing All Non-Life Sustaining Businesses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 30, 2020

Insurance Department Warns Against In-Person Sales After Governor’s Order Closing All Non-Life Sustaining Businesses

 

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today cautioned Pennsylvania’s insurance licensees that in-person sales and brokerage are prohibited by Governor Wolf’s order closing all non-life sustaining businesses in the Commonwealth to slow the spread COVID-19. The Department intends to pursue disciplinary action against any licensee that violates the order.

“Governor Wolf’s order closing all non-life sustaining businesses has been an important step in the mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Altman. “While insurance is considered a life-sustaining business, especially during the unprecedented health crisis that we’re experiencing today, in-person sales and brokerage are not designated as life-sustaining, and have a detrimental effect on the safety and well-being of all Pennsylvanians.”

Per Governor Wolf’s order, businesses that were non-life sustaining were ordered to close their physical locations on March 19, at 8:00 PM. Enforcement of this action became effective on Monday, March 23, at 8:00 AM.

Any insurance licensees found to be in violation of this order by offering in-person sales and brokerage will receive a letter of violation from the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID), and the violation will be forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Police for further prosecution.

Continued violation of the governor’s order through in-person sales and brokerage may be considered by the Department in evaluating a licensee’s worthiness to hold a license in the Commonwealth and will result in immediate administrative prosecution by PID. Penalties under such prosecution may include revoking insurance licenses, and civil monetary penalties.

“These actions are necessary to ensure the protection and safety of Commonwealth residents,” said Altman. “A quick and effective response will help to stop the spread of the illness in Pennsylvania, and everyone, including insurers and insurance agents, need to be a part of that response. Pennsylvanians are encouraged to immediately contact the department if they receive an unexpected in-person solicitation at their home or life-sustaining business.”

Pursuant to the Emergency Management Services Code, the governor is granted extraordinary powers upon his declaration of a disaster emergency, such as COVID-19. Among these powers, the governor may control the ingress and egress into the disaster area, the movement of persons, and the occupancy of premises within the disaster area, which has been established to be the entire commonwealth for the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, visit the PA Department of Health's dedicated Coronavirus webpage that is updated daily.

If a consumer receives an unexpected bill related to COVID-19 or other healthcare services, they are encouraged to contact the Insurance Department at 1-877-881-6388.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

For the daily COVID-19 Report, visit here.

For all press releases regarding coronavirus, please visit here.

Find the latest information on the coronavirus here.

Photos of the state's lab in Exton are available for download and use here.

Coronavirus and preparedness graphics are available here near the bottom of the page: On.pa.gov/coronavirus

Media contact: Thaisa Jones, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 717-214-4781

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Gov. Wolf and Sec. of Health Expand ‘Stay at Home’ Order to Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin and Schuylkill Counties, Extend School Closures Indefinitely

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2020
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Gov. Wolf and Sec. of Health Expand ‘Stay at Home’ Order to Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin and Schuylkill Counties, Extend School Closures Indefinitely
Governor Wolf’s Amended Order
Secretary of Health’s Amended Order
Stay at Home Guidance  

Harrisburg, PA – As COVID-19 cases continue to grow and the state continues to seek relief to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19, today Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine revised their “Stay at Home” orders to include Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin and Schuylkill counties, bringing the state total to 26 counties under a stay-at-home order. This order takes effect at 8 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020, and will continue until April 30. All stay-at-home orders are now extended through April 30. All Pennsylvania schools will remain closed until further notice. Non-life-sustaining business closures remain in effect.

The order now includes these 26 counties: Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York counties.

Individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household
  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth
  • Anyone performing life-sustaining travel does not need paperwork to prove the reason for travel.

The following operations are exempt:

  • Life-sustaining business activities
  • Health care or medical services providers
  • Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
  • Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders
  • News media
  • Law enforcement, emergency medical services personnel, firefighters
  • The federal government
  • Religious institutions

Individuals experiencing homelessness are not subject to this order but are strongly urged to find shelter and government agencies are urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for those individuals.

International students, foster youth, and any other students who would otherwise experience displacement or homelessness as a result of campus closures are exempt and may remain in campus housing.

The Department of Education will be providing updated guidance and resources on the continuity of education for students to schools in the coming days.

At this time, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement. To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station. Please do not call 911 or the Department of Community and Economic Development to file reports. Law enforcement officers should refer to Business Closure Order Enforcement Guidance available online.

Read Governor Wolf’s original order here or view on Scribd. Read Governor Wolf’s amended order here or view on Scribd.

Read Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine’s original order here or view on Scribd. Read Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine’s amended order here or view on Scribd.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Gov. Wolf Statement on Commitment to Fair and Equitable Treatment of All Pennsylvanians During COVID-19 Pandemic

Gov. Wolf Statement on Commitment to Fair and Equitable Treatment of All Pennsylvanians During COVID-19 Pandemic

March 30, 2020

March 30, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf today released a statement on his commitment to ensuring all Pennsylvanians receive fair and equitable access to lifesaving health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. His full statement is here:

“Pennsylvania’s standards of care – in times of crisis and not – are based on an ethical allocation framework, meaning care is provided equitably across all populations without regard to patient age, race, gender, creed, color, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic status. We follow the provisions set forth in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) and advise any Pennsylvanian who feels they or a loved one have been discriminated against in any way to contact the PHRC.

“I will not tolerate discrimination in allocation of lifesaving resources based on any factor including, but not limited to age, disability and socioeconomic status to Pennsylvanians seeking medical care in our commonwealth. This belief is something I hold and expect at all times, but especially during this public health crisis. William Penn founded our state on tolerance and acceptance and that is a tenet we espouse today and every day. It is especially important in these unprecedented times when we all must work together to support each other.

“I am committed to protecting all Pennsylvanians affected by COVID-19, and we will not discriminate in this fight.”

Disability rights groups and the Medical Assistance Advisory Committee under the Department of Human Services have advocated for a clear policy prohibiting discrimination in the allocation of resources should the pandemic cause healthcare needs to exceed capacity. Governor Wolf and his administration have committed to establishing policy that strictly prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability or socioeconomic status in this fight against COVID-19.

Wolf Administration Receives USDA Approval for COVID-19 Disaster Food Distribution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2020
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Wolf Administration Receives USDA Approval for COVID-19 Disaster Food Distribution 

Harrisburg, PA – Just one day after a letter from Governor Tom Wolf to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding received approval for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to operate a Disaster Household Distribution program, through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), to provide critical food supplies to Pennsylvanians adversely affected as a result of statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

“Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have applied for unemployment compensation after just two weeks of COVID-19 mitigation efforts. I’m incredibly grateful for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s acknowledgement of our need to feed Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “This waiver lifts a weight off the shoulders of our food banks and families across the commonwealth.”

On Thursday, March 27, 2020, Governor Wolf sent Secretary Perdue a letter urging him to approve the department’s waiver application that would allow more food to be distributed at hundreds of locations across the state, while temporarily waiving the need to verify household eligibility. Late Friday, March 28, 2020, the department received approval to use USDA Foods as part of a Disaster Household Distribution program being operated through the state’s network of food banks, food pantries, and pop-up distribution sites. The approval allows the department and its partners to more efficiently distribute a variety of foods – including meats, vegetables, fruit, canned goods, cereal, rice, pasta, eggs, and more – to those most affected by the closure of non-life sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania.

“The unified, bipartisan support we saw as we pushed for this waiver is proof that we’re truly all in this together,” added Redding. “We will overcome this trial; and until that day, we will work hand in hand – figuratively, of course – to provide for the Pennsylvanians who are sacrificing so much for the sake of protecting their neighbors.”

Visit the commonwealth's Responding to COVID-19 guide for the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpagefor the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

View the USDA’s letter here or on Scribd.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndsay Kensinger, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Shannon Powers, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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