October 24, 2020 – Department of Health Report

Fourteen (14) new cases added Saturday in Lycoming County now at 928 cases, no new deaths, 31 total deaths, with 15,608 negatives according to DOH report.

Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19,

2,043 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 192,622

Pennsylvanians Urged to Download COVID Alert PA App

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., October 24, that there were 2,043 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 192,622. Daily increases are now comparable with what we saw in April 2020.

The department will no longer be including counties with increases of more than 100 cases in the daily releases. The most accurate daily data is available on the website, with archived data also available.

The number of tests administered within the last 7 days between October 17 and October 23 is 232,253 with 11,679 positive cases. There were 38,088 test results reported to the department through 10 p.m., October 23.

There are 8,654 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 29 new deaths reported. County-specific information and a statewide map are available on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

Mask-wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home. Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

There are 2,395 individuals who have a positive viral antigen test and are considered probable cases and 647 individuals who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure.

There are 2,215,057 individuals who have tested negative to date. Of those who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Approximately 1% are ages 0-4;
  • Nearly 2% are ages 5-12;
  • Approximately 5% are ages 13-18;
  • Nearly 14% are ages 19-24;
  • Nearly 36% are ages 25-49;
  • Approximately 21% are ages 50-64; and
  • Nearly 21% are ages 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. More data is available here.

The department is seeing significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases among younger age groups, particularly 19 to 24-year-olds. An alert was sent to healthcare providers about the changing COVID-19 case demographics, as there are more cases in younger age groups than in those 50-64 and 65+. The following regions saw significant increases among 19 to 24-year-olds in each month from April to present in October:

  • NC – Approximately 7 percent of cases in April to nearly 31 percent of cases so far in October;
  • NE – 6 percent of cases in April to nearly 18 percent of cases so far in October;
  • SE – Nearly 5 percent of cases in April to approximately 15 percent of cases so far in October;
  • SW – Approximately 5 percent of cases in April to approximately 12 percent of cases so far in October;
  • NW – Nearly 7 percent of cases in April to approximately 16 percent of cases so far in October; and
  • SC – Approximately 7 percent of cases in April to 10 percent of cases so far in October.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 25,252 resident cases of COVID-19, and 5,489 cases among employees, for a total of 30,741 at 1,043 distinct facilities in 63 counties. Out of our total deaths, 5,702 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

Approximately 11,971 of our total cases are among health care workers.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, Oct. 23:

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.
  • If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
  • Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa”.

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.

October 23, 2020 – Department of Health Report

Four (4) new cases added Friday in Lycoming County now at 914 cases, no new deaths, 31 total deaths, with 15,585 negatives according to DOH report.

Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19,

2,219 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 190,579

Pennsylvanians Urged to Download COVID Alert PA App

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., October 23, that there were 2,219 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 190,579. Daily increases are now comparable with what we saw in April 2020, with today’s case count the largest one-day total.

The department will no longer be including counties with increases of more than 100 cases in the daily releases. The most accurate daily data is available on the website, with archived data also available.

The number of tests administered within the last 7 days between October 16 and October 22 is 235,737 with 10,840 positive cases. There were 39,757 test results reported to the department through 10 p.m., October 22.

There are 8,625 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 33 new deaths reported. County-specific information and a statewide map are available on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

Mask-wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home. Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

There are 2,273 individuals who have a positive viral antigen test and are considered probable cases and 648 individuals who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure.

There are 2,200,868 individuals who have tested negative to date. Of those who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Approximately 1% are ages 0-4;
  • Nearly 2% are ages 5-12;
  • Approximately 5% are ages 13-18;
  • Nearly 14% are ages 19-24;
  • Nearly 36% are ages 25-49;
  • Approximately 21% are ages 50-64; and
  • Nearly 21% are ages 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. More data is available here.

The department is seeing significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases among younger age groups, particularly 19 to 24-year-olds. An alert was sent to healthcare providers about the changing COVID-19 case demographics, as there are more cases in younger age groups than in those 50-64 and 65+. The following regions saw significant increases among 19 to 24-year-olds in each month from April to present in October:

  • NC – Approximately 7 percent of cases in April to nearly 31 percent of cases so far in October;
  • SE – Nearly 5 percent of cases in April to approximately 12 percent of cases so far in October;
  • NE – 6 percent of cases in April to approximately 18 percent of cases so far in October;
  • SW – Approximately 5 percent of cases in April to nearly 13 percent of cases so far in October;
  • NW – Nearly 7 percent of cases in April to nearly 17 percent of cases so far in October; and
  • SC – Approximately 7 percent of cases in April to nearly 10 percent of cases so far in October.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 25,122 resident cases of COVID-19, and 5,455 cases among employees, for a total of 30,577 at 1,039 distinct facilities in 62 counties. Out of our total deaths, 5,699 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

Approximately 11,906 of our total cases are among health care workers.

Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, Oct. 21:

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.
  • If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
  • Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa”.

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.

Town Hall Budget Meeting

The Lycoming County Commissioners will hold a public outreach meeting to offer county residents the opportunity to ask questions regarding the proposed 2021 Lycoming County Budget.

A chance for public discussion on the proposed 2021 budget will be held via Zoom and in person at the following location from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Commissioners Board Room, First Floor of Executive Plaza, 330 Pine Street, Williamsport PA 17701.

For more information and to obtain the remote meeting information on Monday, please go to www.lyco.org .

PA Sec. of State Reminds Voters About Drop Box Locations Ahead of Nov. 3 Election

Harrisburg, Pa.   Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar today reminded Pennsylvania voters that they can drop off their mail-in or absentee ballots at drop box locations, at their county election office or at another officially designated location until 8 p.m. on election day, Tuesday, November 3.

“Drop boxes are a secure and convenient way for voters to drop off their ballots prior to or on election day,” said Secretary Boockvar. “I urge those who are voting by mail ballot this election to consider dropping off their ballot in person to ensure that it is received by their county on time.”

A list of ballot-return sites is available on votesPA.com.

We urge voters to apply today and not wait, though the last day to apply for a mail ballot is Tuesday, October 27. Voters may apply online or go to their county election office or other officially designated location to apply for, vote and return their ballot all in one visit. After October 27, voters may still return their ballots in person, but can no longer apply for a mail ballot.

Voters planning to vote early in-person or by mail or absentee ballot must make sure that they enclose their ballot first in the white inner secrecy envelope and seal it, then insert the inner envelope into the outer pre-printed return envelope, and sign and complete the voter’s declaration on the outer  envelope. Voters must complete these steps for their ballot to be counted.

Under Pennsylvania law, voters may only return their own ballots. The only exceptions to this are for voters with a disability who have designated someone in writing to deliver their ballot, or need an emergency absentee ballot.

Voters who apply for and receive a mail ballot and then decide they want to vote at the polls must bring their entire mail ballot packet with them to be voided, including both envelopes.

If a voter applies for a mail ballot but does not return it and no longer has the mail ballot and envelopes, they may vote by provisional ballot at the polls on election day. Their county board of elections will then verify that they did not vote by mail before counting their provisional ballot.

“If you are planning to vote by mail ballot and have not applied, apply today. Don’t wait,” said Secretary Boockvar. “If you have your mail ballot, vote it and return it as soon as possible. Make sure that your voice is heard in this election.”

Citizens, officials, and organizations are encouraged to use resources from the state’s Ready to Vote Toolkit at www.votesPA.com/r2vtoolkit to educate every eligible Pennsylvania voter about their options for how to cast their ballot in the Nov. 3 election. The toolkit includes sample social-media posts, web banners, newsletter content, videos, flyers, and more.

For more information on voting and elections in Pennsylvania, call the Department of State’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772) or visit votesPA.com.

Wolf Admin. Encourages Participation in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and the Departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Health (DOH) are encouraging all Pennsylvanians to take advantage of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) 19th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day initiative Saturday, October 24.

“As we continue to combat COVID-19, we can’t forget about the need to protect Pennsylvanians in every way we can and Drug Take-Back Day is a proven initiative to properly dispose of unwanted or unused prescription medications,” Gov. Wolf said. “I encourage every Pennsylvanian to participate in Drug Take-Back Day tomorrow.”

“With more Pennsylvanians home to contain the spread of COVID-19, there has never been a more important time to properly dispose of unused and unwanted medications,” said DDAP Secretary Jennifer Smith. “Your participation could be the difference between keeping a loved one healthy and safe or misusing a prescription and ultimately falling victim to the opioid epidemic. We can all do our part to help fellow Pennsylvanians.”

During the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, individuals may drop off unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medication at any of the hundreds of secure locations throughout the state. The service is free and anonymous.

“Drug Take-Back Day is an important opportunity to get rid of unused prescription drugs and prevent the disease of addiction and overdose deaths,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Prescription drug misuse and abuse plays a large role in the opioid crisis, but each of us can help change that. There are many locations across Pennsylvania where unused prescription drugs can be dropped off, with no questions asked.”

The DEA has offered National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day since 2010 with the goal of fighting prescription drug misuse by creating convenient ways to dispose of medication that would otherwise be at risk of misuse in home medicine cabinets. During last year’s event, approximately 883,000 pounds of prescription medication was relinquished at nearly 6,300 sites nationwide. That day, Pennsylvanians contributed 36,880 pounds from 295 locations throughout the commonwealth.

Additionally, since the inception of Pennsylvania’s drug take-back program in 2014, there has been more than 537,000 pounds of prescription medication destroyed, with more than 800 take-back boxes established in all 67 counties throughout the commonwealth.

Individuals seeking recovery resources for themselves or a loved one can call the toll-free PA Get Help Now helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). A live chat option is also available online or via text message at 717-216-0905 for those seeking help who may not be comfortable speaking to a helpline operator.

For more information on the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day visit www.dea.gov.

Find one of Pennsylvania’s drug take-back locations here.

Find more information on the state’s efforts to battle the opioid crisis here.

Dept. of Aging Highlights Work of Ombudsmen in Supporting Pennsylvania’s Older Adults Living in Long-Term Care 

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Aging is highlighting the work of the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman to focus on the dignity, respect, and rights of skilled nursing facility and personal care home residents.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have been hearing from families who are concerned and frustrated over the safety of their loved ones in long-term care facilities. The residents have been facing the tremendous challenges of isolation, changes in daily routine and interacting with caregivers cloaked in personal protective gear. And it’s been tough for families not being able to fully communicate and know about what’s going on in the facilities.” said the Department of Aging’s State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Margaret Barajas. “Our ombudsmen staff and volunteers have been working diligently to connect these families and check on residents to provide peace of mind and ensure their needs are met.”

During the pandemic, the Office of LTC Ombudsman has responded to instances related and non-related to COVID-19 in personal care and nursing facilities and provided information to staff on COVID-19 and ombudsman services. The office also developed the Virtual Family Council, a resource for families with loved ones in long-term care facilities to connect with experts, get information and ask questions; and partnered with AARP Pennsylvania to provide communication devices to 46 long-term care facilities in 40 counties to help residents increase contact with their family and friends. The work done by the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman was recently recognized by Governor Wolf.

Ombudsmen are trained resident advocates who visit facilities to ensure that residents and their families are being heard, that they are informed of their rights under state and federal law, and to assure residents are receiving the quality care they need and deserve. Pennsylvania Empowered Expert Residents (PEERs) are also trained advocates who, because they live within a long-term care community, are experts in making recommendations on improving the living conditions within their own homes and facilities. The PEER program is the only one of its kind in the country. CO-PEERs launched late last year after one of the Colorado regional ombudsmen came to Pennsylvania for certification as a PEER Trainer.

“As we have seen since March, the advocacy by the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, though limited by the pandemic, has been beneficial for long-term care residents and their families. Ombudsmen and PEERs have been providing helpful, caring support along with resources to help both sides stay connected and ensured the residents’ health and safety are top priorities,” Secretary of Aging Robert Torres said. “I commend the staff and volunteers for their continued support and dedication in working with long-term care facilities, the residents and their families during these times.”

A resident’s long-term care experience should include quality in all aspects — care, life, services, and choices, and one of the most crucial roles for ombudsmen is educating residents about what their rights are. They include, but are not limited to, the right to:

  • be fully informed
  • bring forth complaints or concerns without reprisal
  • participate in their own care
  • privacy and confidentiality
  • dignity, respect, and freedom
  • visits
  • make independent choices
  • safe transfer or discharge

The role of ombudsmen in long-term care settings is crucial in assuring that seniors and individuals with disabilities are advocated for and understand what they are entitled to. Under the federal Older Americans Act, all states have a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office to address complaints and advocate for improvements as needed.

Learn more about Pennsylvania’s Ombudsman Services here.
Learn about volunteer opportunities with Pennsylvania’s Ombudsman Office here.

Reeves and Freed linked through church and WASD

Photo Courtesy: CCWC Facebook page

Pastor Marwyn & First Lady Barbara Reeves in front of their church Christ Community Worship Center, Inc.

Talkwilliamsport.com has learned current WASD school board member Barbara Reeves works alongside WASD high school principal Roger Freed at Christ Community Worship Center, Inc.

Freed is listed as:

NAME: LIFE CAMP

LED BY: Pastor Roger Freed

 

NAME: Women’s Ministry

LED BY: First Lady Barbara Reeves

 

NAME: Youth Ministry

LED BY: Mitchell Floyd & Roger Freed

 

Photo Courtesy: CCWC Facebook page

Roger Freed at Christ Community Worship Center, Inc 6-29-19

 

From the article “Colossal Failure happening in the WASD” published earlier this week:

“According to data presented, the academic courses that are currently being failed at the high school level this marking period total 2,932 or 32%. At the mid-marking period assessment, the total was 2,968.

Remote learning only students accounted for 1,203 or 54% of the total failure number.”

According to WASD superintendent Dr. Timothy Bowers, “Williamsport remains one of only two school districts in the Intermediate Unit that is not back to five day per week in-person learning.”

Prior to the meeting this evening, the WASD sought input from parents in the district by sending out a survey seeking guidance on a possible return to five day per week in-person learning, a hybrid option or remote only learning.

By an overwhelming majority of the 3,044 households surveyed (79.6% response rate) in the WASD, 1,422 or 59.37% supported a return to five day per week in-person learning. Adding in the 135 households that would switch from the current hybrid to in-person learning brought the total to 1,557 respondents or 65%.

The three-day or more absence rate has exploded in the hybrid model.

  • Grades K-4 rate stands at 416 compared to 40 for this same time last year an increase of 900%.
  • Grades 5-8 rate stands at 270 compared to 35 for this same time last year an increase of 600%.
  • Grades 9-12 rate stands at 507 compared to 42 for this same time last year an increase of 1,107%.

 

In the event Freed works with Reeves at a local church, would that cause a conflict of interest for the Williamsport Area School District?

Since Freed is a high school principal in a building that has one-third of the classes being failed this marking period and 507 absences with a growth rate of 1,107% year-to-year; did Reeves cast a vote to provide protection to a known associate?

If this is indeed the case, should Barbara Reeves have recused herself from voting?

That scenario would have created a 4-3 majority to return to 5-day per week in-person learning.

If Reeves and Freed are engaged in an employer/employee or co-worker relationship; would Barbara Reeves need to immediately resign from the WASD school board?

As a footnote to the story, Pastor Roger Freed has previously served as the Camp Director for LIFE Summer Youth Camp at Christ Community Worship Center, Inc.

The same Roger Freed was part of the non-criminal and criminal investigations at WAHS into the 2018 WAHS baseball team trip where “criminal sexual misconduct” occurred.

That case is currently being investigated by PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro and the Myrtle Beach Police Department.

Earlier this year when fellow WASD school board member Adam Welteroth made a motion to launch an independent third party investigation into the Myrtle Beach case, Reeves sat silently by.

WASD school board member Barbara Reeves declined an interview request for this story.

High-speed internet coming to Snow Shoe Township, SEDA-COG awarded $108K grant

 

High-speed internet is coming to the Snow Shoe Township area in Centre County, thanks to a $108,125 grant awarded to SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) and its partnership with Centre County Government.

SEDA-COG will match the U.S. Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) POWER grant with the same amount, offering a $210,000 grant to incentivize internet service providers to provide high-speed internet in the area.

The project will provide 100/100 symmetrical internet speeds for area businesses and 50/10 for homes.

The Centre County Commissioners previously adopted a countywide comprehensive plan which included background studies, inventories of existing conditions, goals, and recommendations for high-speed internet needs. This laid the foundation for SEDA-COG to partner with the Commissioners to further identify the area in and around Snow Shoe Township as underserved with high-speed internet.

Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins said, “The Centre County Commissioners are pleased with the SEDA-COG partnership which expands rural broadband services in Centre County. Our rural broadband public-private partnership in Penns Valley now serves hundreds of families and businesses. We hope this new rural broadband project in the Snow Shoe and the Mountain Top area builds on prior successes.”

The infrastructure will be owned and operated by the internet service provider who is awarded the project through a competitive Request for Proposals process. Internet service providers will be identified around early 2021.

The project builds on other high-speed internet expansion efforts by SEDA-COG and its member counties including Clinton, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, and Union.

Mike Fisher, SEDA-COG assistant executive director, said the method of incentivizing internet service providers works.

“This public-private partnership model that we’re using in more and more of our member counties is a tremendous breakthrough to reach those who need high-speed internet service the most,” Fisher said. “It incentivizes internet service providers to reach where they previously couldn’t afford to.”

Fisher thanked the region’s legislators who helped secure the grant funds and Centre County Government for their leadership on the project.

“We thank our state and federal legislative delegation, including U.S. Reps. Dan Meuser and Fred Keller, and Glenn Thompson for their support of these investments in our community, and we are appreciative to Centre County Government for their dedication to this project,” Fisher said. “This is an effort that is a total partnership and it’s a true testament to how our agency works because of our partners.”

The grant is part of a statewide $1.2 million ARC broadband grant award to the seven Local Development Districts (LDDs) that serve 52 of Pennsylvania’s counties. The LDDs are organizations through which member counties share information, address common concerns, and develop regional responses to critical issues. SEDA-COG is one of the seven LDDs and serves 11 central Pennsylvania counties.

As a community and economic development agency, SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives. SEDA-COG also is an advocate for the interests of its communities at the state and federal levels. For more information, visit www.seda-cog.org.

Lycoming County awards $3 million to school districts for COVID relief

The Lycoming County commissioners awarded $3,010,200 in COVID-19 relief funds at their public meeting on Oct. 13 to 11 school districts. Districts serving Lycoming County students were eligible to receive $200 per student to assist them with COVID-19 expenses.

The county received a $10.2 million COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant (CRBG) grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities Act (CARES Act), through the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

The funds do not have to be repaid. Funds can be used for eligible costs from March 1 to Dec. 30, 2020 to cover costs associated with providing distance learning or for in-person learning associated with meeting Centers for Disease Control guidelines. This can include student laptops for remote learning and personal protective equipment for students for in-person learning, among other items.

County Commissioner Scott Metzger said investing in the county’s youth and education is vital.

“We wanted to ensure our schools can use these funds to keep our students safe while providing an excellent education, as they always have. We know teachers and students alike are facing unprecedented challenges and we hope this can ease the burden,” Metzger said.

Following are the funds for each school district.

School District

No. of Students

Student Allocation @ $200/Student

TOTAL

Canton

81

200

$      16,200

East Lycoming

1,646

200

$    329,200

Jersey Shore

1,643

200

$    328,600

Loyalsock

1,585

200

$    317,000

Montgomery

936

200

$    187,200

Montoursville

1,933

200

$    386,600

Muncy

984

200

$    196,800

South Williamsport

1,244

200

$    248,800

Southern Tioga

147

200

$      29,400

WASD

4,832

200

$    966,400

Wellsboro

20

200

$        4,000

TOTAL

 $ 3,010,200

SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) is assisting the county by providing professional expertise and grant administrative services, as well as activity development and management to ensure accuracy and adherence with federal and state regulations.

As a community and economic development agency, SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives. SEDA-COG also is an advocate for the interests of its communities at the state and federal levels. For more information, visit www.seda-cog.org

For more information, contact the Lycoming County Department of Planning and Community Development at Covidrelief@lyco.org or 570-320-2130.

Gov. Wolf Announces Plan to Waive Liquor License Fees To Provide Financial Relief to Restaurants and Bars

Pittsburgh, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced a plan to waive liquor license fees to provide financial relief to restaurants and bars, which have faced significant financial impacts during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“As we enter the anticipated fall resurgence of COVID-19 cases, the very contagious nature of this virus makes gathering indoors publicly at full capacity dangerous. Still, we know that restaurant and bar owners in Pennsylvania are committed to keeping their employees and customers safe and the vast majority of these businesses have followed safety precautions and invested in new procedures and supplies, but COVID continues to hurt this industry,” Gov. Wolf said. “My administration continues to look for innovative ways that we can support the bar and restaurant industry. Eliminating liquor license fees is an important step toward helping bars and restaurants retain the capital they need to weather the storm of COVID-19.”

Governor Wolf is working with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to waive standard licensing fees through 2021 starting January 1, 2021. More than 16,000 Pennsylvania restaurants and bars, clubs, catering clubs and hotels would see $20 million in relief.

The governor was joined by state Representatives Dan Deasy (D-Allegheny), Ed Gainey (D-Allegheny) and Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny), and Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) at LeMont Restaurant in Pittsburgh.

“I’m glad I could work with Governor Wolf to bring help to our bars, restaurants, taverns and social clubs right now. I know this isn’t a solution to the big problems this pandemic presents, and more help is needed,” said Rep. Deasy. “I’m working hard to enact additional measures that can help keep these vital employers in business.”

“This terrible public health crisis has also stricken our economy and our path to recovery will need to be a well thought out and effective one on several fronts. While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected just about every industry, restaurants and bars have been hit particularly hard and we need to provide relief to these small businesses at the heart of our communities,” said Sen. Fontana. “Over the summer, Senate Democrats introduced a comprehensive proposal to provide emergency relief to Pennsylvania’s restaurants and taverns, which have seen significant financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown. Under our plan, license renewal and permit fees that are paid by restaurants and taverns would be waived for one year along with other administrative changes to help financially benefit these struggling businesses. I’m pleased that the governor is taking steps to implement some of our goals and am encouraged that this will provide meaningful assistance to so many of these establishments that are struggling.”

“This is a step in addressing the concerns that we know that the bars and restaurant community need. I want to thank Governor Wolf for understanding the situation of the bars and restaurants and for offering this plan to waive these fees as we continue to search for solutions to assistance,” Rep. Gainey said. “I know the governor is working hard with our federal officials, as well as our state officials to bring relief to our bars and restaurants.”

“I thank the governor for his constant commitment to help our restaurants and bars,” Rep. Wheatley said. “I look forward to working with our federal legislators and general assembly to get more support for these restaurants.”

“I want to thank the Governor for listening to the concerns of the bar and tavern community,” said Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland). “They’ve been hurting the last seven months, especially here in Western Pennsylvania. Today’s announcement will provide savings that they desperately need to keep their businesses open, and I hope it’s just one step of what we continue to do at the state level to help our small business folks recover.”

“I understand the financial impact that our small business restaurant and tavern owners have endured during this difficult time and their efforts to ensure the safety of their customers and employees, and I’m grateful that the governor has taken this step to ease that financial burden,” said Rep. Mike Driscoll (D-Philadelphia). “This is one step of many steps that we can and will take to help these local businesses and I will continue to support them as we focus on economic recovery efforts.”

“As new cases of the virus have jumped recently, our priority should be to continue to protect the population, and to provide targeted relief to industries most affected,” said Rep. Steve Malagari (D-Montgomery). “Waiving liquor license fees gives some immediate relief to local businesses, while we wait for our colleagues in the General Assembly to take action to release the $1 billion remaining CARES Act funding to our communities.”

As part of his fall legislative agenda, Governor Wolf has called on the General Assembly to provide an additional $225 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding in the form of forgivable loans and grants to small businesses in Pennsylvania through the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program. In addition, the governor proposed $100 million in forgivable loans and grants for the hospitality, leisure and service industries, including restaurants and bars, salons and barber shops.

The governor also supports the federal Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act. The bipartisan bill in Congress provides $120 billion to help independent restaurants with the economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.