No new COVID-19 cases added Friday in Lycoming County

No new COVID-19 cases added Friday in Lycoming County remaining at 176 cases and 19 deaths according to DOH report.

Gov. Wolf: Last PA County will Move to Green on July 3

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that Lebanon County is slated to move to the green phase of reopening on July 3, putting all 67 counties in green. Twelve counties moved to green today, joining 54 already in the least restrictive phase of reopening.

“We will soon have all of our counties in green,” Gov. Wolf said. “A milestone worth a cautious celebration of the hard work and collaborative spirit of Pennsylvanians. But we must remember that the restrictions that remain in the green phase will help us continue to enjoy the freedoms this phase allows for.”

Green phase restrictions include:

Work and Congregate Settings Restrictions

  • Continued Telework Strongly Encouraged
  • Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Updated Business and Building Safety Requirements
  • All Businesses Operating at 50% Occupancy in the Yellow Phase May Increase to 75% Occupancy
  • Child Care May Open Complying with Guidance
  • Congregate Care Restrictions in Place
  • Prison and Hospital Restrictions Determined by Individual Facilities
  • Schools Subject to CDC and Commonwealth Guidance

Social Restrictions

  • Large Gatherings of More Than 250 Prohibited
  • Masks Are Required in Businesses
  • Restaurants and Bars Open at 50% Occupancy
  • Personal Care Services (including hair salons and barbershops) Open at 50% Occupancy and by Appointment Only
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities, and Personal Care Services (such as gyms and spas) Open at 50% Occupancy with Appointments Strongly Encouraged
  • All Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) Open at 50% Occupancy
  • Construction Activity May Return to Full Capacity with Continued Implementation of Protocols

The data dashboard of county cases and criteria for reopening consideration can be found here.

Gov. Wolf’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania outlines remaining restrictions for counties in yellow or green. Effective today, there are 66 counties in green and one in yellow. Philadelphia County is in green beginning today based on the state’s metrics; however, local officials will maintain some additional restrictions until July 3.

As counties reopen, Pennsylvania continues to see a steady decline in cases, a positive indicator that its phased, measured reopening plan is working to balance public health with economic recovery.

The CDC’s analysis of proprietary state case data puts Pennsylvania among states with a 42-day steady decline in cases. Pennsylvania has maintained this distinction for three weeks to date.

Research indicates that mask-wearing is a vital strategy to help stop the spread of the virus, especially as we plan for a possible surge in the fall. Gov. Wolf continues to remind Pennsylvanians of the mask-wearing requirement and was joined yesterday by business owners endorsing this measure to protect customers, employees and communities.

The state continues to use risk-based metrics from Carnegie Mellon University and the Department of Health and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency data dashboard available here.

The state is increasing testing and contact-tracing efforts. The Department of Health received a total of 106,076 test results in the past seven days, an average of 15,154 a day. The 30-day average of test results received is more than 13,000.

There were 3,524 COVID-19 total cases added to investigations for the week of June 19 through 25. There are currently 521 contact tracers with the Department of Health.

The latest business guidance, including outdoor recreation guidance, can be found here.

Preliminary sports guidance can be found here.

Secretary of Agriculture Implores USDA to Continue Waiver to Safeguard Food Bank Employees, Volunteers, Clients

Harrisburg, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue pleading for his continuance of Pennsylvania’s waiver for the need to collect client names and addresses and verify income eligibility for those receiving USDA Foods through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) through the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2020.

“While we are working to reopen Pennsylvania amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we are one of just a handful of states reopening not experiencing a steady increase in our COVID cases,” said Secretary Redding. “We must continue every effort possible to continue protecting Pennsylvanians, as they do their part to save lives. This waiver is one way to continue protecting Pennsylvanians by not requiring both volunteers and clients of food banks to break social distancing simply to complete forms.”

Redding’s letter outlines that older adults overwhelmingly comprise those who work in or volunteer with our state’s more than 3,000 local food assistance agencies. Those working on the front lines to feed those in need, are at a disproportionately higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19. The reality is, that if this waiver is dropped our intake workers, volunteers, and clients will not be able to maintain a 6-foot social distance.

“While we have a responsibility to do everything in our power to protect Pennsylvanians and make it easy for them to social distance, we also have a responsibility to feed those in need,” added Redding.

As a direct result of COVID-19, Pennsylvania’s charitable food system continues to experience stress from unprecedented demand. A survey of Feeding American member food banks in Pennsylvania revealed that they are seeing an average increase in demand of more than 50 percent since the pandemic began. In a state that normally serves approximately two million people annually through our emergency food response in all 67 counties, data collected since the end of March shows that Pennsylvania’s charitable food system has served more than 5.5 million people in just three months. Allowing Pennsylvania’s food banks to forgo data collection for providing USDA Foods can help to alleviate further bottlenecks at food distributions, where lines are already long.

“I’m hopeful that Secretary Perdue will acknowledge the importance of this waiver to Pennsylvania’s overall health and well-being, as he has done before when we were in need, and we’ll have swift response and approval,” said Redding. “Throughout this pandemic, I continue to be grateful for our partners at the federal level who continue to support Pennsylvania’s work to combat COVID-19 and adjacent concerns, like hunger.”

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.

Congressman Keller joins letter to PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro asking for a review of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 nursing home policy

Letter argues thousands of preventable deaths occurred due to failed state mandate

WASHINGTON – Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) this week joined a letter with House Select Subcommittee on Coronavirus Republicans and the Republican members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro asking for a formal review of the impact of Gov. Tom Wolf’s and Health Secretary Rachel Levine’s deadly nursing home COVID-19 policy.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the elderly, especially those living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. On May 12, 2020, you announced that your office has been investigating several Pennsylvania nursing homes for alleged inadequacies and negligence during the coronavirus pandemic. We understand that your investigation will not cover Governor Wolf’s March 18, 2020 guidance for nursing homes to readmit COVID-19 positive residents, thereby recklessly reintroducing the disease into the most vulnerable population,” the letter states.

“Therefore, we write requesting that you formally review the impact of this deadly policy and make your findings available to the citizens of Pennsylvania and the families of those who lost loved ones as a result of this deadly policy.”

In addition, Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) made the following statement:

“The COVID-19 nursing home policy instituted by Pennsylvania Health Sec. Rachel Levine with the approval of Gov. Tom Wolf has resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths from a virus that disproportionately affects the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.

“However, instead of working to fix the problem, the Wolf administration has shifted blame and refused to change their ill-advised policy.

“It is my hope that a formal review from Pennsylvania’s chief law enforcement officer will unveil the extent of the incompetency that led to this harmful policy that has caused the devastating loss of so many Pennsylvanians.”

You can read the letter in full HERE.

Gov. Wolf: CARES Act Funding Now Available to Museums and Cultural Organizations

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced the availability of $20 million in grant funding for cultural organizations and museums to offset lost revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown order.

The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) today approved the program guidelines for the COVID-19 Cultural and Museum Preservation Grant Program, which is funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program will be administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

“As Pennsylvanians stayed home to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth, our museums and cultural centers lost not just patronage, but revenue,” said Gov. Wolf. “As these organizations are so critical to maintaining community culture and safeguarding our history, it is imperative that we allocate the funding they need to continue their operations.”

Eligible cultural organizations or museums must be one of the following categories to be eligible for funding through the COVID-19 Cultural and Museum Preservation Grant Program:

  • Children’s Museum
  • General Museum with at least two equally significant disciplines
  • History Museum or Historical Site
  • Military or Maritime Museum
  • Natural History Museum
  • Accredited Zoo
  • Planetarium
  • Science and Technology Center
  • Orchestra
  • Art Museum
  • Performing Arts Organization

The minimum amount of grant funding will be $25,000 to a maximum of $500,000. Funds may be used to offset lost revenue for eligible cultural organizations and museums that were subject to closure by the proclamation of disaster emergency issued by the Governor on March 6, 2020, and any renewal of the state of disaster emergency and that experienced a loss of revenue related to the closure. Funds cannot be used to offset revenue which has already been offset from other sources, including philanthropic and federal, state and local government sources.  Additional eligibility requirements and program details can be found in the program guidelines.

Applications will be accepted between June 29, 2020, and July 31, 2020, through the online Electronic Single Application for Assistance, www.esa.dced.state.pa.us.

More information about the Commonwealth Financing Authority can be found on the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) website. To stay up-to-date on all Pennsylvania economic development news, follow DCED on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn, and be sure to sign up for the department’s monthly e-newsletter.

Congressman Fred Keller votes against Speaker Pelosi’s partisan police reform bill


Notes Speaker refused to work with Republicans on needed improvements to law enforcement practices

WASHINGTON – Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) on Thursday voted against the Justice in Policing Act, a partisan messaging bill crafted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her allies without Republican input that would result in local police departments being run from Washington, D.C., make police officers personally liable for doing their jobs by the book, and undermine law enforcement’s ability to keep communities safe.

On the Justice in Policing Act, Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) made the following statement:

“During the listening sessions I held with law enforcement and community leaders throughout Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District over the past several weeks, it became clear from all sides—even law enforcement—that some form of legislation is needed to help bring about a mutual respect between law enforcement and the communities they serve and root out bad actors within our police forces. However, the Justice in Policing Act is the wrong approach.

“The Justice in Policing Act, crafted by Speaker Pelosi and her allies in secret without any Republican input, makes it more difficult for police officers to do their jobs safely, forces unworkable national standards on local police departments, and opens police up to personal liability for doing their jobs by the book.

“While Republicans put up significant and meaningful law enforcement improvement measures in the JUSTICE Act, which I co-sponsored, Democrats refused to even debate it or offer amendments to it. By proceeding in a partisan manner with legislation that will continue the divide in this country over police practices, Congressional Democrats are once again behaving in a shamefully political manner on a serious topic of national importance. The American people deserve better.”

Reopening Phase Orders Updated to Include 12 Additional Counties Moving to Green on June 26

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today signed amended green phase orders for the 12 counties moving to green at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, June 26. The counties include Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Susquehanna.

With these orders effective at 12:01 a.m., tomorrow there will be 66 counties in green and one county in yellow.

Philadelphia County met the criteria and will move to the state’s green phase tomorrow; however, local officials will maintain some additional restrictions until July 3. The Wolf Administration has supported specific county requests for more restrictions throughout the phased reopening process.

Gov. Wolf’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania includes details of each phase of reopening.

Green Phase
After a county transitions to the yellow phase, we closely monitor for increased risk, such as significant outbreaks. If overall risk remains mitigated for 14 days, we transition the county to the green phase.

The green phase eases most restrictions by lifting the stay-at-home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health.

While this phase facilitates a return to a “new normal,” it is equally important to continue to monitor public health indicators and adjust orders and restrictions as necessary to ensure the spread of disease remains at a minimum. It is also imperative that people wear masks when leaving home and in settings where social distancing is not feasible.

Work and Congregate Settings Restrictions

  • Continued Telework Strongly Encouraged
  • Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Updated Business and Building Safety Requirements
  • All Businesses Operating at 50% Occupancy in the Yellow Phase May Increase to 75% Occupancy
  • Child Care May Open Complying with Guidance
  • Congregate Care Restrictions in Place
  • Prison and Hospital Restrictions Determined by Individual Facilities
  • Schools Subject to CDC and Commonwealth Guidance

Social Restrictions

  • Large Gatherings of More Than 250 Prohibited
  • Masks Are Required When Entering a Business
  • Restaurants and Bars Open at 50% Occupancy
  • Personal Care Services (including hair salons and barbershops) Open at 50% Occupancy and by Appointment Only
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities, and Personal Care Services (such as gyms and spas) Open at 50% Occupancy with Appointments Strongly Encouraged
  • All Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) Open at 50% Occupancy
  • Construction Activity May Return to Full Capacity with Continued Implementation of Protocols

The latest business guidance, including outdoor recreation guidance, can be found here.

Preliminary sports guidance can be found here.

Summer camp guidance can be found here.

The Governor’s amended green phase order can be found here.

The Secretary of Health’s amended green phase order can be found here.

HHS Secretary: Medicaid Providers Cannot Charge Patients for PPE 

Secretary of Human Services Teresa Miller answers questions from the press.Governor Tom Wolf announced that people with intellectual disabilities and autism and the providers of support services for these vulnerable Pennsylvanians will receive $260 million in CARES Act funding to help continue to provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Wolf was joined by Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller, who outlined to details of funding allocations. JUNE 15, 2020 – HARRISBURG, PA

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) today advised Medicaid providers that Medicaid recipients may not be charged for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used in connection with medical or dental services.

“While we are moving in the right direction in managing the COVID-19 public health crisis, people still need to be able to access health care coverage to protect themselves and their family,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “No one should go without seeking health care because they cannot afford an extra charge. That’s why we are reminding providers of their responsibility in continuing to provide access to health care, and that they are prohibited from seeking or receiving any additional payments for PPE they may use.”

While not a widespread issue, DHS had heard that a small number of providers were considering billing patients for PPE used during care. DHS has determined that PPE is a supply and is part of the provider’s overhead and cost of doing business. Providers cannot charge Medicaid beneficiaries for any PPE that is used in connection with a Medicaid-covered medical or dental service. More information for providers can be found here.

Medicaid and CHIP enroll individuals throughout the year and do not have a limited or special enrollment time, so people needing health coverage can apply for these programs at any time. There are income limits for Medicaid, but all children qualify for coverage through CHIP.

To apply for Medicaid or CHIP, visit www.compass.state.pa.us or, if preferred, paper documentation can be mailed to their local County Assistance Office (CAO) or left in a CAO’s secure drop box, if available. While CAOs remain closed, work processing applications, determining eligibility, and issuing benefits continues.

Visit pa.gov for a “Responding to COVID-19” guide or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.

Gov. Wolf: PA Businesses Endorse Mask-Wearing to Protect Employees, Customers, Communities

Governor Tom Wolf speaks during a press conference addressing the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania, inside PEMA headquarters on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

Harrisburg, PA – Multiple research studies indicate the efficacy of mask-wearing to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Mask-wearing also has been called altruistic, a way to increase our freedoms, and a simple kindness. Today, Governor Tom Wolf’s call to wear masks has been endorsed by Pennsylvania businesses that see mask-wearing as vital to protecting customers, employees, communities and their bottom lines.

“The COVID-19 guidance we provided to Pennsylvania businesses includes required mask-wearing by all who enter a business – employees and customers – because we know owners want to do all they can to protect those who help them maintain their bottom line,” Gov. Wolf said. “I’m pleased that employers both large and small have taken this guidance seriously and are joining me in a call to protect against the spread of COVID-19.”

“The GIANT Company continues to take the necessary steps to keep our customers and team members safe in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus – from requiring team members to wear masks to checkstand partitions at registers, plus other social distancing and strict sanitation protocols,” said president Nicholas Bertram. “Everyone should continue to do their part as good neighbors to follow the mask-wearing guidance put forth by Governor Wolf to protect each other and help stop the spread of the virus.”

“Businesses should model the importance of safety and precaution through their practices — including masks — to build customer trust and ultimately keep everyone safe,” Mallory Fix Lopez, owner, On Point Bistro in South Philadelphia said. “This also leads to more sustainable business. Safe employees mean a secure workforce. Additionally, customers have faith they are safe when patronizing the business. The use of masks is key to public health and business sustainability, and it’s essential that businesses are actively supporting the use of masks.”

“As a hair salon owner, the safety of my customers is important to me,” said Georgeanne Huff-Labovitz, owner of Marie Huff Hairdressing in Tacony in NE Philadelphia. “I am taking every effort to ensure their safety. Wearing a face covering protects everyone and prevents the spread of COVID-19 and is a key part of safely reopening my business and serving my customers.”

Gov. Wolf and Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine made mask-wearing a requirement of businesses with in-person operations via the secretary’s order that grants her this authority granted by law.

The governor and secretary of Health’s business guidance centered around reopening includes the mask-wearing requirement. The guidance states that businesses must “Require all customers to wear masks while on the premises. Businesses that provide medication, medical supplies or groceries must provide an alternate, no contact, means of delivering goods for customers who cannot wear a mask. However, individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years per CDC guidance) may enter the premises and are not required to provide documentation of such medical condition.”

Read more on Gov. Wolf’s Process to Reopen PA here.

Gov. Wolf Leads Bipartisan Effort in Calling on President, Congressional Leaders to Invest in Broadband Internet Access


Eleven governors send letter calling for significant investments to bridge digital divide 

Harrisburg, PA – As states continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including economic recovery efforts, Governor Tom Wolf and a bipartisan coalition of 11 governors today sent a letter urging the president and Congressional leaders to make critical investments to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband internet connectivity, which they say is critical infrastructure that’s vitally important to our economic future and national security.

“An investment in broadband internet connectivity is an investment in our commonwealth’s future and prosperity. The critical need for high-speed internet has become clear in light of our efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as more families work and learn from home, businesses operate online services and patients access medical care through telehealth,” Gov. Wolf said. “Now, as Pennsylvania focuses on our economic recovery, it’s critical that broadband internet access becomes a reality for every community, and especially our rural areas.

“It’s clear that this is more than a Pennsylvania issue – the digital divide exists in communities across the country,” Gov. Wolf said. “It’s in everyone’s best interest, especially as technology continues to evolve and advance, that we make a significant infrastructural investment.”

Some 18 million Americans, including nearly a million Pennsylvanians, lack access to broadband internet connectivity. Businesses and families without adequate access are left behind, and the consequences are staggering from an economic, health, education, and social standpoint, the governors said. A significant investment in broadband connectivity, the governors added, will unleash economic potential, promote stable job growth that’s resilient in times like these, and ensure all businesses and families can participate in the digital economy.

Governor Wolf has made access to high-speed internet a top priority. He led this bipartisan call to address the issue following a discussion with Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford. The farmer owned cooperative is working with organizations across industries including agriculture, healthcare, finance, and tech to address connectivity.

“We commend Governor Wolf and his fellow leaders for making this bipartisan call to action and for recognizing that our country simply cannot afford to allow the digital divide to widen,” Ford said. “Land O’Lakes, and many of our partners who understand the economic, educational and quality of life impacts that digital technology can have for individuals and for communities, look forward to working together with these governors and other policy makers as we advocate for high-speed internet access to become a reality for all Americans.”

Broadband internet access is also a key component of Restore Pennsylvania, a statewide plan to aggressively address the commonwealth’s vital infrastructure needs, including installation of infrastructure to bring high speed internet to every corner of the commonwealth. Funded through a commonsense severance tax, Restore Pennsylvania is the only plan that will help make Pennsylvania a leader in the 21st century.