PA Waives Spay/Neuter Requirement for Adoptions, Conserves PPE for Human Healthcare Professionals

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced today that in an effort to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for human healthcare workers, the Pennsylvania Dog Law that requires shelters and rescues to spay/neuter dogs and cats prior to adoption would be waived for pets adopted during active COVID-19 mitigation efforts in Pennsylvania.

“This waiver is not something we take lightly; but it’s a matter of weighing the costs,” said Agriculture Secretary Redding. “Waiving the requirement to spay or neuter prior to adoption allows us to conserve critical PPE supplies and also limit the risk of exposure for veterinarians.”

The waiver comes with a contingency: shelters must keep a list of adopters to follow up with post-pandemic and provide a copy of all contracts to the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. Once the pandemic is in the past, shelters would be required to follow up on all pets adopted during COVID-19 mitigation. Adoptive pet owners will have up to 120 days from the time of adoption – timeframe to be re-evaluated as necessary – to have the procedure completed and come into compliance.

With approval from the department, shelters and rescues can continue adopting pets out to Pennsylvanians even during Stay at Home orders. This is essential in order to ensure that shelters are not overly full of animals with short staff numbers. Shelters and rescues continuing to operate and adopt pets are advised to follow guidance for virtual, limited contact adoptions from the Humane Society of the United States. Rescues and shelters should also follow guidance issued from the department to protect their workforce and continue operations.

“The Humane Society of the United States has been monitoring state laws that impact the ability for shelters and rescues to adjust to COVID-19 and provide services to pet and their families,” said Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania State Director for The Humane Society of the United States. “We thank the Department of Agriculture for extending the timeframe to comply with spay/neuter laws to maximize social distancing and decrease the risks to animal shelter and veterinary staff, while reducing the use of PPE in non-essential procedures.”

Before adopting, Pennsylvanians should consider if they’re able to provide for all the pets’ needs during COVID-19 mitigation and follow the department’s Guidance to Pet Owners.

For information as it relates to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania visit agriculture.pa.gov/COVID. For the most accurate, timely information related to Health in Pennsylvania, visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.

EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Wolf responds to News Talk 104.1 on Senate Letter regarding business closure order

Governor Wolf on Wednesday evening responded to News Talk 104.1 on the letter he received from a number of Pennsylvania State Senators (including Senator Yaw) earlier today regarding the business closure “Order.”

During a 3 p.m. press conference with Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, Governor Wolf announced a statewide “Stay-at-Home Order” beginning at 8 p.m. tonight.

During that press conference News Talk 104.1 posed a number of questions to Governor Wolf including the following:

Question: Gov. Wolf, any response to the letter you received today from PA Senators requesting you “start working with business leaders and health experts to develop appropriate guidelines for addressing current business closures.”

Lyndsay Kensinger, Press Secretary for Governor Wolf offered the following response Wednesday evening:

“The governor is not considering reopening nonessential businesses at this time. The Surgeon General is recommending Stay at Home across the nation, and the states surrounding Pennsylvania have put into place similar orders. The statewide stay at home order is not just to protect ourselves from exposure to covid-19, but it protects our health care professionals as well. We want to get through this as quickly and safely as possible so we can restart our economy and get back to work.”

The issue of the closing of non-life sustaining businesses is currently being litigated as reported by News Talk 104.1 last evening, EXCLUSIVE: Legal Battle Over Gov. Wolf Business Closure Order Heats Up.”

Governor Wolf now has little more than 36 hours until he must file a brief with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in defense of his “Executive Order” of March 19, 2020.

On background, the business closure “Executive Order” of March 19, 2020 was met with immediate and broad push  back at nearly every level of government and private enterprise.

Congressman Fred Keller representing PA-12 weighed in the same day the “Executive Order” was issued and offered the following in opposition:

 

March 19, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Rep. Keller calls for greater clarity of Gov. Wolf order

The following day, March 20, 2020 Keller called upon Governor Wolf to rescind the “Executive Order”.

That same day, March 20, 2020,  Keller provided information on Gov. Wolf business closures.

During a press conference Wolf was asked the following by News Talk 104.1:

Question: Congressman Fred Keller (PA-12) earlier today sent a letter to Governor Wolf including the following; “Therefore, I am requesting that you immediately rescind your order until such time that you can formulate a cogent plan to Pennsylvanians…”

The response from Governor Wolf is available in the provided audio link, and in short he refused that day to amend the “Executive Order”:

The full story of the response is available here March 20, 2020.

For further clarification of the “Executive Order”, News Talk 104.1 posed a written question to Governor Wolf during his 2 p.m. press conference that afternoon.

The question was as follows:

Question: Does the Governor believe his order is a violation of law?

If not, what law is being cited as the justification for this order?

Deputy Press Secretary for Governor Wolf, Sara J. Goulet, provided this response to News talk 104.1 that day.

“No, he does not (believe his order is a violation of law). 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. The secretary of health separately is authorized under the law to employ measures necessary for the prevention and suppression of disease.”

The order in its entirety is available here.

20200319-TWW-COVID 19-business-closure-order

Later that day, Governor Wolf issued an extension of the business closure “Order” enforcement to Monday at 8 a.m.

 

As of this publication the entire state of Pennsylvania has been ordered to stay at home with few travel exceptions and all non-life sustaining businesses currently on the list are not able to operate their physical locations.

URGENT: Gov. Wolf, Sec. of Health: PA Stay-at-Home Order Begins 8 PM Tonight

Gov. Wolf, Sec. of Health: Pennsylvania on Statewide Stay-at-Home Order Beginning at 8 PM Tonight, “Most Prudent Option to Stop the Spread”

Governor Wolf’s Order
Secretary of Health’s Order
Stay at Home Guidance
Industry Operation Guidance

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today announced all 67 Pennsylvania counties will be under stay-at-home orders effective tonight, Wednesday, April 1, at 8 p.m.

“This is the most prudent option to stop the spread of COVID-19 across our commonwealth, where cases continue to grow daily,” Gov. Wolf said. “We appreciate the shared sacrifice of all 12.8 million Pennsylvanians; we are in this together and this statewide stay-at-home order is being made after many discussions with multiple state agencies; Dr. Levine; and state, county and local officials as we continue to monitor the most effective ways to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Previously, there were 33 counties on statewide stay-at-home orders. The first orders were issued on March 23 for seven counties.

The statewide stay-at-home order takes effect at 8 p.m. today, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, and will continue until April 30. All Pennsylvania schools will remain closed until further notice and non-life-sustaining business closures remain in effect. All essential state services will continue.

“This statewide stay-at-home order is not just to protect ourselves from exposure to COVID-19, but it protects those on the front lines,” Dr. Levine said. “Our doctors, nurses, police, fire, EMTs need us to do this. And the CNAs who are taking care of our family in nursing or long-term care facilities need us to do this. Staying at home doesn’t mean making a daily stop at the grocery store because you need to get out of the house. Staying at home means you must stay at home.”

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.

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

HAPPENING NOW: Governor Wolf Announces“Stay at Home” Order

Governor Wolf Announces a “Stay at Home” Order for all Pennsylvanians.

PA State Senators send Gov. Wolf letter on business closures

Pennsylvania State Senator Gene Yaw shared on social media moments ago a letter multiple Senators sent to Governor Tom Wolf today urging him to “start working with business leaders and health experts to develop appropriate guidelines for addressing current business closures.”

The letter from Pennsylvania State Senators can be found below.

 

BREAKING NEWS: Governor Wolf puts PA under “Stay at Home” Order

At a 3 p.m. press conference this afternoon Governor Tom Wolf will announce a Stay at Home Order for all of Pennsylvania.

Clinton and Sullivan Counties have remained COVID-19 case free to date according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The “Order” will be in effect until at least April 30, 2020 following the federal guidelines outlined yesterday.

News Talk 104.1 will carry the press conference live at 3 p.m.

BREAKING NEWS: Lycoming County adds a seventh COVID-19 case

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 case update on Wednesday, Lycoming County now has a seventh confirmed positive case of COVID-19.

Local counties as noted below that have at least one positive COVID-19 case confirmed.

Tioga County – 2

Potter County – 2

Northumberland County – 6 (added 5 cases on Wednesday)

Lycoming County – 7 (added a case on Wednesday)

Columbia County – 8 (added a case on Wednesday)

Bradford County – 8 (added a case on Wednesday)

Montour County – 13 (added 4 cases on Wednesday)

Neighboring counties of Clinton and Sullivan remain as the only COVID-19 case free counties in Pennsylvania.

Stay tuned to News talk 104.1 & 1600 WEJS and talkwilliamsport.com for developments on this story.

URGENT: 962 New Positives Bring PA Total to 5,805 and 74 deaths

Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 962 New Positives Bring Statewide Total to 5,805

Harrisburg, PA- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., April 1, that there are 962 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 5,805 in 60 counties. The department also reported 11 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 74. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“The continued rise in cases combined with our increasing deaths from COVID-19 reflects the seriousness of this situation,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We need everyone to listen to the orders in place and to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We know that these prolonged mitigation effects have been difficult for everyone, but it is essential that everyone follows these orders and does not go out unless they absolutely must.”

There are 42,427 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Nearly 1% are aged 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
  • 1% are aged 13-18;
  • Nearly 9% are aged 19-24;
  • 40% are aged 25-49;
  • Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and
  • 19% are aged 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.

All non-life-sustaining businesses are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide indefinitely. Currently 33 counties are under stay-at-home orders.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has announced since noon, March 31:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.

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

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

EXCLUSIVE: Legal Battle Over Gov. Wolf Business Closure Order Heats Up

On Tuesday morning, attorneys representing six Petitioners filed a brief in the Middle District of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a case challenging the Executive Order issued by Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine on March 19, 2020 closing “the physical operations of all Pennsylvania businesses that are not life-sustaining.”

The “Executive Order” was extended yesterday by Governor Wolf “until further notice.”

The “Brief” was filed by Harrisburg area attorneys, Marc A. Scaringi, Esq. and Brian C. Caffrey, Esq. on behalf of Petitioners Kathy Gregory, B&J Laundry, LLC, Blueberry Hill Public Golf Course & Lounge, and Caledonia Land Company.

According to attorney Scaringi, “Scaringi Law filed suit in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on March 24, 2020 requesting that the Court exercise its King’s Bench or extraordinary jurisdiction to vacate and strike down Governor Tom Wolf’s business closure Executive Order. Scaringi Law represents a diverse group of business owners from a cross section of Pennsylvania, including a real estate agent, golf course and a political candidate among others.”

Has anything changed since the original Executive Order was issued or the date your case the was filed?

Scaringi: “Since filing our original claim in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on March 20, 2020, the Governor transferred two other Scaringi Law clients, a timber company and a laundromat, from the non-life-sustaining to the life-sustaining list.”

Why did Scaringi Law bring the litigation against Governor Wolf in the first place?

Scaringi: “In our lawsuit, we claim the Governor lacks the legal grounds in Pennsylvania’s statutes for his statewide business closure Order, his Order violates the separation of powers doctrine and has caused a deprivation and unjust taking of the private property rights of Pennsylvania business owners without due process of law and just compensation.”

What legal steps have been taken since the filing of the case on March 24, 2020?

Scaringi: “After filing the case, we requested that the case be briefed. The Governor opposed our request. The Court ruled in our favor. We submitted our Brief today at 11:20 AM.”

What happens next in the case?

Scaringi: “The Governor has until this Friday at 12 Noon to file his Brief.”

With time being of the essence do you anticipate a ruling in the near future?

Scaringi: We anticipate the Court will make a decision shortly thereafter, perhaps as early as Monday.”

 

 

The “Brief” filed in the case today by Scaringi Law can be found here Petitioners’ Brief (2).

The potential fate of businesses that remain on the non-life sustaining list and their respective livelihoods may rest on the decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in this case.

Congressman Keller reacts to Bureau of Prisons’ Updated Action Plan

Says mitigation changes are significant, but must stop all inmate movement

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) Tuesday responded to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) release of its Phase 5 Action Plan, which will further reduce inmate movement within BOP facilities and significantly reduce inmate movement. The BOP’s updated Action Plan comes amid continued pressure from Congressman Keller to immediately halt all inmate movement in the BOP system until the COVID-19 national emergency ends.

While the updated Action Plan takes significant steps to reduce inmate movement, it does not halt all inmate movement.

In response, Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) made the following comment:

“While I am glad to see the Bureau of Prisons take additional and necessary steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within its own facilities and potentially surrounding communities, the updated Action Plan Phase 5 falls short of immediately halting all inmate movements.

“That is why today I introduced the PANDEMIC Act, bipartisan legislation that would immediately halt all inmate movements within the BOP system. We all need to do our part to flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19, and that includes the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“Tonight, I held a telephone town hall with nearly 4,000 constituents, corrections officers, and their families. Their message to me was clear: The movement of inmates must stop now.

Audio of the telephone town hall will be posted here.

“I hope that in taking these additional steps, the Federal Bureau of Prisons can find a way to work with other government agencies in stopping the movement of inmates across the country immediately until COVID-19 is defeated.”

Fred Keller BOP Phase 5 plan statement