COVID-19 Information & Resources

State Senators Lindsey Williams and Judy Schwank joined State Representatives Joanna McClinton and Sara Innamorato for a telephone town hall hosted by the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) to discuss COVID-19 legislation.

April 22, 2020

Senator Lindsey Williams Hosted a Telephone Town Hall on COVID-19

March 17, 2020

Department of Health Resources

LIVE daily briefings from the PA Department of Health:
pacast.com/live/doh or www.governor.pa.gov/live/ or watch on Facebook

Symptoms & Testing

Stop the Spread

Social Media Resources

FAQs

Fact Sheets & Resources

Global Map

Dept. of Health News

Translated Materials

Translated Materials

COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation statewide and in Allegheny County. Below, please find links to local, regional and state sites that can help you navigate health recommendations, closures, and resources. 

Economic Assistance:

Federal Information

Seniors

State Information

Regional Information

Education Resources

Social Services

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provided for the expansion of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This is a federal program administered by the US Department of Labor.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published its first round of implementation guidance pursuant to the FFCRA yesterday.

The following was provided to us as guidance by the USDOL and has been posted on our website.  The  information can be found at: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/FFCRA.aspx

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.  The United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.  Please read the below fact sheets to determine if you are eligible.

Latest News

Federal Stimulus Package – ‘Putting Workers First’

Federal COVID-19 Stimulus PackageA bipartisan, robust third COVID-19 bill that will immediately bolster our health care response and our economy.

Unemployment Insurance: ($260 billion)

A massive investment in the UI program as well as critical reforms to make the program more effective for workers. In the wake of the economic recession caused by the coronavirus the UI program is an essential a long-term lifeline for millions of workers during this crisis.

  • Full Paycheck Replacement: $600 increase for every American, which equates to 100 percent of wages for the average American without a paycheck struggling through the Crisis
  • Waiving Waiting Weeks: Gets money in people’s pockets sooner by providing federal incentives for states to eliminate waiting weeks.
  • Extension of Benefits: An additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits are immediately be made available.
  • Expanding Access: Allow part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers to access UI benefits.

Marshall Plan For Our Health System ($150 billion)

An unprecedented and historic investment for our health care system in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The new $150 billion fund is widely available to all types of hospitals and providers most affected by COVID-19, and it will be available to fund whatever is needed to defeat this virus.

This includes:

  • Equipment and Infrastructure: Personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, new construction to house patients, emergency operation centers and more.
  • Enhanced Health Investments: Additional funding is also dedicated to delivering Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers to ensure that they receive the funding they need during this crisis, and new investments in our country’s Strategic National Stockpile, surge capacity and medical research into COVID-19.

Robust Worker and Transparency Protections on Government Loans

  • No stock buybacks or dividends for the length of any loan provided by the Treasury plus 1 year.
  • Restrictions on any increases to executive compensation.
  • Protect collective bargaining agreements.
  • Real-time public reporting of Treasury transactions under the Act, including terms of loans, investments or other assistance to corporations.
  • Prohibition on businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments getting loans or investments from Treasury programs.
  • Creation of Treasury Department Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to provide oversight of Treasury loans and investments and a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to protect taxpayer dollars. • Creation of a Congressional Oversight Commission to enhance legislative oversight of pandemic response.

 

Small Business Rescue Plan ($377 billion)

  • $350 billion in loan forgiveness grants to small businesses and non-profits to maintain existing workforce and help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities.
  • $10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for small business operating costs. • $17 billion for SBA to cover 6 months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.


Protected Over 2 Million Aviation Industry Jobs

  • Democrats secured direct payroll payments to keep millions of airline workers on the job and receiving paychecks.
  • Airline companies will be prohibited from stock buybacks and dividends for the entire life of the grant plus one year.
  • Collective Bargaining Agreements negotiated by workers will be protected.


Increased Direct Payments to Working Americans

  • Democrats fought to double cash payments to the working class Americans from $600 to $1,200
  • An additional $500 cash payment is available per child.
  • The full payment is available for individuals making up to $75,000 (individual) and $150,000 (married).
  • The value begins decreasing and then phases out completely for those making over the full payment income cap.

State and Local Coronavirus Expenditures Fund ($150 billion)

To assist States, Tribes, and local governments that must pay for new expenses related to COVID-19 response.

  • $150 billion, with a small-state minimum of $1.25 billion
  • Tribal set-aside of $8 billion

Emergency Appropriations ($330 billion, including $100 billion for hospitals and providers mentioned above)

  • $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile supplies of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies, which are distributed to State and local health agencies, hospitals and other healthcare entities facing shortages during emergencies.
  • $1 billion for the Defense Production Act to bolster domestic supply chains, enabling industry to quickly ramp up production of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other urgently needed medical supplies, and billions dollars more for federal, state, and local health agencies to purchase such equipment.
  • $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus, including for the purchase of personal protective equipment; laboratory testing to detect positive cases; infection control and mitigation at the local level to prevent the spread of the virus; and other public health preparedness and response activities.
  • $45 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, more than doubling the available funding, to provide for the immediate needs of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as private non-profits performing critical and essential services, to protect citizens and help them recover from the overwhelming effects of COVID-19. Reimbursable activities may include medical response, personal protective equipment, National Guard deployment, coordination of logistics, safety measures, and community services nationwide.
  • $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions to continue to provide educational services to their students and support the on-going functionality of school districts and institutions.
  • $25 billion in aid to our nation’s transit systems to help protect public health and safety while ensuring access to jobs, medical treatment, food, and other essential services.
  • $10 billion in grants to help our nation’s airports as the aviation sector grapples with the most steep and potentially sustained decline in air travel in history.
  • $3.5 billion in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant to provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus.
  • More than $7 billion for affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs. This funding will help low-income and working class Americans avoid evictions and minimize any impacts caused by loss of employment, and child care, or other unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19, and support additional assistance to prevent eviction and for people experiencing homelessness
  • More than $6.5 billion in Federal funding for CDBG, the Economic Development Administration, and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help mitigate the local economic crisis and rebuild impacted industries such as tourism or manufacturing supply chains.
  • $400 million in election assistance for the states to help prepare for the 2020 election cycle, including to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration, and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more pollworkers. • $2 billion in funding to strengthen response capacity and support tribal governments: o $1.03 billion to the Indian Health Service to support tribal health care system response efforts; o $100 million more for the USDA Food Distribution Program for Indian Reservations; o $453 million to assist tribes through the Bureau of Indian Affairs; o $69 million to help tribal schools, colleges and universities through for the Bureau of Indian Education; and o $300 million more to the HUD Indian Tribal Block Grant program. • $1 billion to recapitalize Amtrak after steep ridership declines related to the outbreak. This will keep thousands of Amtrak employees employed, and ensure America’s intercity passenger rail stays on track, continuing service in the Northeast and nationwide.

Student Loan Relief

  • To alleviate the pressure of student loan costs during this crisis, Senate Democrats fought for the inclusion of tax relief encouraging employers to implement student loan repayment programs. This provision will exclude up to $5,250 in qualifying student loan repayments paid by the employer on behalf of the employee from income for income tax purposes.

Some helpful links to understand the Federal Stimulus Package:

Status of your stimulus check

Most Americans can expect to start seeing their stimulus checks from the coronavirus relief bill in about three weeks, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Singles who have adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 would get $1,200 and married couples who file taxes jointly and earn less than $150,000 would get $2,400. Singles who earn less than $99,000 and married couples who earn less than $198,000 would get a partial benefit.

The checks will be sent based your 2019 or 2018 adjusted gross income on your tax return. If you haven’t filed a tax return, you should file a tax return quickly if you can. The IRS will also access information from Social Security to send the payments.

But what if the IRS can’t track you down to send you a stimulus check?

All is not lost. Just delayed.

If you don’t receive your check, you’ll see the benefit as a tax refund when you file your return in 2020.

That’s because the funds from the stimulus check are actually an advance on a credit you will be able to take on your 2020 tax return.

So while the funds are meant to give relief now, if you don’t get it, you can still take the credit on your 2020 return and you’d get the stimulus amount in the form of a tax refund, said Garrett Watson, senior policy analyst for The Tax Foundation..

Still not sure if you qualify? Use the stimulus check calculator to see what benefit you can expect.

(Source:  https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/heres-what-you-need-to-know-if-your-stimulus-check-doesnt-arrive.html)

 Some helpful links to understand the Federal Stimulus Package:

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provided for the expansion of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This is a federal program administered by the US Department of Labor.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published its first round of implementation guidance pursuant to the FFCRA yesterday.

The following was provided to us as guidance by the USDOL and has been posted on our website.  The  information can be found at: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/FFCRA.aspx

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.  The United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.  Please read the below fact sheets to determine if you are eligible.

Business Assistance

COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Grants

The Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) last week announced that program guidelines and additional details for the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Grants are now available on DCED’s website.

Small Business GrantsUnder the program, $225 million is available for COVID-19 relief to small businesses through a distribution to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) for loan payment deferment and portfolio loan loss reserves, main street business revitalization grants, and historically disadvantaged business revitalization grants.

The funds will be available through three programs:

  • $100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the governor’s March 19, 2020 order relating to the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses and have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19;
  • $100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the business closure order, have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19, and in which socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51 percent interest and also control management and daily business operations.
  • $25 million for the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program, which will allow the CDFIs the opportunity to offer forbearance and payment relief for existing portfolio businesses that are struggling due to the impact of COVID, as well as shore up the financial position of the CDFIs that are experiencing significant increased defaults in their existing loan portfolios.

Eligible businesses with 25 or fewer employees may receive a maximum grant of $50,000 so long as the business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and, if required, paid income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual or business tax returns; COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact and makes this grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant; the grant will be used cover COVID-19 related costs; and during the period beginning on June 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, the applicant has not and will not receive another grant under this state program.

For more information about the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), visit the DCED website.

COVID-19 Loan Programs Quick Guide

The information provided is not comprehensive of each program or of all programs. At the time of publication it is the most accurate and up-to-date information available. Information and programs are subject to change. (March 27, 2020)

Bridgeway Capital Loans

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bridgeway’s patient, flexible capital and free technical assistance is available to help small businesses stay resilient when facing business disruptions and changing cashflows. Financing solutions and loan modifications are tailored to the needs of your small business. Bridgeway’s financing is designed to work with credit challenges, collateral gaps, and complex transactions in need of creative funding solutions.

ELIGIBILITY Minority-, woman-, immigrant- or veteran-owned businesses, businesses in economically distressed urban and rural areas, and businesses unable to access traditional bank financing, real estate developers with affordable residential or commercial projects in low-income communities, or nonprofits in need of capital for real estate projects or refinancing.

FUNDING $5,000–$3,000,000. Average loan is $250,000.

TERMS Flexible terms on short- and long-term loans. Loans can be used for: Working capital to start-up or expand your business, purchase equipment, or real estate acquisition or renovation.

INTEREST Competitive fixed rates.

TO APPLY bridgewaycapital.org/apply/apply-now/

Paycheck Protection Program (CARES Bill)

This program incentivizes small businesses to keep employees on payroll by offering extensive debt relief for small employers, self-employed individuals, and “gig economy” workers. With $350 billion to help prevent workers from losing their jobs and small businesses from going under due to economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Paycheck Protection Program” would provide 8 weeks of cashflow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency.

NOTE Program Details are still being finalized. Borrower cannot claim same loss using multiple programs.

ELIGIBILITY Small businesses, 501(c)(3)’s, 501(c) (19)’s, and 31(b)(2)(c), under 500 employees, including independent contractors, sole proprietors, and the self-employed. Entities must have been operational by 2/15/20, had payroll and paid taxes.

FUNDING Maximum amount via 7(a) set to $10,000,000.

TERMS Covered loan period is 2/25/20–6/30/20. Portion not forgiven or repaid by 12/31/20 will convert to a max 10 year loan at up to max interest rate; loan will remain 100% guaranteed.

  1. Eligible expenses include payroll, insurance, rent, mortgage and utilities.
  2. Defers payments on PPP loan for 6-12 months. No prepayment fees.
  3. Waives borrower and lender fees, credit elsewhere requirements, and collateral and personal guarantee.

INTEREST Maximum interest rate is 4%.

TO APPLY https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program-ppp

Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

NOTE Entities eligible to apply for EIDL may request an advance in the form of an emergency grant of up to $10,000 which SBA must distribute within 3 days. Applicants are not required to repay emergency grant if they are ultimately denied EIDL.

ELIGIBILITY Expanded to include sole proprietors, tribal businesses, cooperatives, ESOP’s, individual contractors, and private non-profits with fewer than 500 employees.

FUNDING The maximum loan amount is 2,000,000.

TERMS Max 30 year (determined on case-by-case basis)

  1. May be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills impacted by disaster.
  2. Defers payments on PPP loan for 6-12 months. No prepayment fees.
  3. For loans/advances under $200,000, waives credit elsewhere, personal guarantee, and 1-year-inbusiness requirements.

INTEREST Small businesses: 3.75%; non-profits: 2.75%.

TO APPLY https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/

Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)

For Current URA Borrowers

The URA recognizes the potential hardships and needs small businesses are facing and may face due to COVID-19. We want to reassure our small business borrowers that we are here to work with you.

NOTE The URA is taking steps to help mitigate the unprecedented potential ramifications of COVID-19. The URA is halting ALL loan payments for URA small business borrowers, including automatic loan payment withdraws from borrower’s accounts, for the month of April 2020. The URA is taking steps to help mitigate the unprecedented potential ramifications of COVID-19. The URA is halting ALL loan payments for URA small business borrowers, including automatic loan payment withdraws from borrower’s accounts, for the month of April 2020.

The URA is offering to its existing small business borrowers Emergency Extended Credit to help ease potential cash flow issues over the next several weeks.

ELIGIBILITY Available to existing URA small business borrowers ONLY.

FUNDING Up to an additional $15,000. TERMS 3-year term, 6 months no payments, 2 ½-year full amortization.

INTEREST 0% interest rate, no fees.

TO APPLY https://tinyurl.com/uracovidloan

  • Provide a Statement of Need for additional credit.
  • Provide previous 1-month cash flow statement.

For Non-URA Borrowers

The URA is temporarily easing and streamlining its Micro-Enterprise Loan Program to support up to thirty 0% loans for small businesses that are not currently URA borrowers.

NOTE Given potential high demand for this program, the URA will make every effort to underwrite and approve applications as quickly as possible.

COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Loan Program

ELIGIBILITY For existing small businesses (not startups) located in the City of Pittsburgh.

FUNDING Up to an additional $15,000.

TERMS 3-year term, 6 months no payments, 2 ½-year full amortization. • Loan proceeds may be used for rent, payroll, and other approved fixed monthly business expenses

INTEREST 0% interest rate, no fees

TO APPLY https://tinyurl.com/uracovidloan

  • Provide a Statement of Need for additional credit.
  • Provide previous 1-month cash flow statement.

For more information, visit:
https://www.ura.org/pages/covid-19

Small Business Loan

The Federal Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) are working to provide Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Small Business Disaster Loan Assistance (SBA)

The U.S. Small Business Administration, in addition to local funding partners, may also be a source of assistance for affected businesses with funding opportunities up to $2 million. Learn more on how to apply here.

The Small Business Administration has just opened their applications for Disaster Loan Assistance. Small businesses can apply at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

SBA disaster loans offer an affordable way for individuals and businesses to recover from declared disasters. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.  As a small business, small agricultural cooperative, small business engaged in aquaculture, or private non-profit organization you may borrow up to $2 million for Economic Injury. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

For questions, please call SBA Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov (link sends e-mail).

Essential Agriculture Businesses

The PA Department of Agriculture has developed the following guidelines and recommendations for essential agricultural businesses to help ensure a safe and accessible food supply during the COVID-19 mitigation efforts:

COVID-19 Response, Guidance, and Actions

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

UPDATED: March 17, 2020

Governor Wolf, Dr. Levine, and local leaders across the commonwealth have taken unprecedented actions to protect the health and safety of Pennsylvanians. These measures, based on the guidance of public health professionals, are necessary to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Life has slowed and it has changed, but it has not stopped for the millions of Pennsylvanians who depend on the Department of Human Services. The essential functions of this department cannot stop. DHS has an obligation to do everything we can to ensure continuity of services and programs for people who need them. Many of these services are critical now more than ever, and we are working internally and with providers and partners around the commonwealth to make adjustments as necessary. We are putting processes in place to ensure continuity of coverage so individuals do not lose their health care, cash assistance or food assistance during this uncertain time.

Medicaid and CHIP Programs

Our offices that oversee and administer Medicaid access for the millions of Pennsylvanians who rely on it – the offices of Developmental Programs (ODP), Long-Term Living (OLTL), Medical Assistance Programs (OMAP), and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) – are working closely together to get guidance out to providers to support operational changes while aiming for continuity of services.

COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing and Treatment

OMAP is also working with CHIP and Medical Assistance program-enrolled providers and managed care organizations to ensure that people needing testing and treatment related to COVID-19 are able to get this without copays or prior authorizations.

Home and Community-Based Services

ODP and the OLTL have submitted waiver requests to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services allowing for flexibility around staffing for direct care and direct support workers. We are working to create flexibility given the evolving situation but are communicating with participants in these programs to ensure that services are still being rendered when needed. The Appendix K waivers OLTL and ODP submitted were approved on March 18, and we are in the process of drafting guidance to providers pursuant to this.

OLTL has also directed the Community HealthChoices managed care organizations (CHC-MCOs) to not reduce or terminate any personal assistance services or reassess long-term services and supports for at least the next three months. The three CHC-MCOs will also verify service continuity with all long-term care and HCBS participants and to ensure all HCBS participants have an executable back-up plan in place to guard against potential disruptions in service with personal assistance providers and direct care workers.

Telehealth Services

OMAP and OMHSAS issued guidance around telehealth to ease this option for providers around Pennsylvania and Pennsylvanians seeking services while observing social distancing and mitigation guidelines.

County Assistance Offices and Public Assistance Programs

We are also doing everything we can to ensure continuity of benefits and application processing for new applications for benefits that come in during this period. This uncertain time is undoubtedly going to create difficult situations for people around Pennsylvania, and we need to continue to administer these vital programs for those who need it most. We also recognize that there may be changes based on federal action that will affect these programs, and we continue to monitor and will adapt if necessary.

CAO Operations

On March 16, the decision was made to continue to operate county assistance offices but close them to the public. This is necessary to ensure continuity of program operations so we may continue to process applications and maintain existing cases.

I recognize the frustration and concern that this decision has prompted. However, these job functions are essential and cannot be performed off-site with existing technological capacity. We continue to monitor this on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis. If additional adjustments become necessary, decisions will be made and communicated, but this work is essential and we cannot abandon the people who need or may need these programs when they need them most.

Medicaid

We continue to accept and process Medical Assistance applications. Individuals can notate on the application if they have a health emergency including COVID-19. We will continue to prioritize Medical Assistance applications where there is an immediate health concern. Self-attestations will be accepted.

SNAP

SNAP certification periods will be extended at least for the next three months so SNAP cases will not be terminated during this period. We have submitted a waiver request to the federal Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) for this extension.

When processing changes to hours worked, we are exercising flexibility as we recognize that this may be difficult to verify as business operations shift across the private sector as well. We are also closely monitoring developments related to the Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) rule at the federal level. Last week, we submitted a waiver request to FNS to delay implementation of this rule. On Friday night, the DC Federal District Court issued an injunction for the rule. The Commonwealth is exploring ways to ensure ABAWDs do not lose benefits due to the time limits.

We also submitted a request for a SNAP Issuance Waiver that would allow us to issue a payment of 50 percent of a household’s maximum SNAP grant to ensure food security and the ability of SNAP recipients to comply with CDC guidelines calling for households to have two weeks’ worth of food available. If this is granted, we will communicate this broadly.

TANF

We are encouraging employment and training providers to provide remote services where possible and, if not, exercise flexibility for participants. We are also suspending face-to-face interviews and will not terminate or sanction recipients based on RESET requirements.

LIHEAP

We are evaluating the best possible way to support the needs of the LIHEAP eligible population with the limited federal funds available.

Protective Services

Protective services also continue to be administered by DHS. The Office of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF) and OLTL continue to operate both ChildLine and Adult Protective Services and will continue to work with our partners at the county level to ensure these vulnerable populations are protected and referrals are investigated.

State-Run Facilities

The offices that oversee our state-run facilities – ODP, OMHSAS, and OCYF – are restricting access to these facilities, exercising increased cleaning and sanitation efforts, and screening staff to protect the health of people we serve. We recognize that this may create challenges for individuals under the care of these facilities and their loved ones, and we are working to facilitate visiting and interactions through programs like FaceTime and Skype.

Licensing Operations

DHS’ routine annual licensing visits are on hold at this time. DHS’ licensing offices will continue to monitor facilities and are prepared to respond to and investigate complaints as they are received.

Child Care Operations

Child care facilities were closed statewide on March 16 to support COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Exceptions to this policy are family child care homes and group child care homes operating inside a residence. All child care providers will continue to receive Child Care Works payments through April. Closures and operational guidance are communicated directly to child care providers and other early education and early intervention providers through the child care certification listserv and the Pennsylvania early education listserv.

This temporary closure of child care facilities may be a burden for Pennsylvania families who depend on this service. Because it is especially burdensome for essential personnel such as health care workers and first responders who must have safe and stable care options for their children in order to report to work, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has implemented a waiver process for child care centers and group child care homes that serve these families. Operators of these facilities who seek a waiver from the Governor’s temporary closure order should contact OCDEL at RAPWDRACERT@pa.gov. Waiver requests will be processed as quickly as possible.

Coordinated State Response

The Office of Administration’s Division of Emergency Preparedness and Safety Operations (DEPSO) team has been working closely with state agencies and partners around the state to support the COVID-19 response across Pennsylvania since the beginning of February. DEPSO has provided ongoing support to DOH and PEMA at the CRCC through coordination and communications as needed. We have responsibility for Emergency Support Function #6, which is to provide for mass care, shelter and human services including food distribution.

Currently, the Mass Task Force is coordinating multiple food distribution programs to ensure appropriate food availability to our children, older Pennsylvanians and families. The Sheltering Task Force is supporting quarantining and sheltering coordination. The Disabilities Integration Task Force is working to ensure that those with access or functional needs are supported during these trying times.

Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)

UPDATED: March 15, 2020

Pennsylvania’s top priority is keeping students and school communities safe. On March 13, Governor Tom Wolf announced all public schools in Pennsylvania will be closed for the next two weeks.

The spread of the Coronavirus has required everyone to work within rapidly changing circumstances. We are incredibly proud of the education leaders who’ve been navigating this extraordinary situation for weeks – the work that has been done helped inform the decision that was made by Governor Tom Wolf today.

The following will help provide greater clarity specific to today’s announcements.

1. What schools are closed?

Statewide:

  • All public K-12 schools, including brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, career and technical centers (CTCs), and intermediate units (IUs)
  • Childcare centers operating within any of the above schools
  • All universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
  • All other schools (including private, parochial, and institutions of higher education) should be consulted directly for the most current closure information

Within counties under aggressive social distancing guidelines: • All schools – including private, parochial, and institutions of higher education – are required to close.

2. What staff may schools deem essential?

  • These decisions should be made locally, in the context of school and community needs.
  • Examples of essential responsibilities may include, but are not limited to, school administration, food preparation and distribution, information technology, and continuity of operations (e.g., payroll, and building operations).

3. What are the consequences for districts/schools that don’t meet the 180-day/hours (990/900/450) requirements?

  • PDE will not penalize districts/schools that fail to meet the minimum 180-day/hours (990/900/450) requirements as a result of COVID-19 response efforts.
  • PDE will provide a simplified form that districts/schools can use to report any shortfall in days or hours.

4. How will students access meals while schools are closed?

  • Pennsylvania sought and received approval from the Federal government to allow schools the option to distribute meals at no cost while schools are closed.
  • Districts/schools that want to act on this Federal approval must apply to PDE.
  • PDE has begun and continues to expedite approvals.
  • Districts/schools may utilize essential staff to ensure students have access to meals.
  • PDE is partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, other state agencies, the American Red Cross, and public and private partners to expand these efforts.

5. Are schools required to provide any type of instruction during the closure of schools due to COVID-19 response efforts?

  • No. PDE recognizes that the rapidly evolving pandemic may make it impossible to implement continuity
    of education plans.
  • Although not required, many schools have plans, or are creating plans, to provide continuity of
    education.
  • Intermediate units are preparing to offer technical assistance for schools interested in developing such
    plans; that support will be available by Friday, March 20.

6. For school entities considering continuity of education, what options are available?

  • Educational services may continue in a variety of ways, including:
    • Flexible Instruction Days for districts/schools with approved plans
    • Online/digital learning opportunities
    • Non-digital learning opportunities (e.g., materials sent home with students)
  • The decision to employ one or more of the above methods of continuity of education is to be made at the local level based on feasibility, availability of resources, access and equity considerations, and the Commonwealth’s social distancing recommendations.
  • Whatever decision is made, LEAs must ensure full access to learning for all students, with particular attention to free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities and English as a second language (ESL) services for English Learners.

7. Is a school required to continue to provide FAPE to students with disabilities during a school closure caused by COVID-19 response efforts?

  • When a school is closed because of COVID-19 response efforts and does not provide any educational services to the general student population, the school is not required to provide services to students with disabilities during that closure period. Once school resumes, the district/school must provide special education and related services to the child in accordance with the child’s individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan.
  • When a school is closed because of COVID-19 response efforts and does provide educational services to the general student population, the school must ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of FAPE. In addition, districts/schools must ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability can be provided the special education and related services identified in the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan. Once school resumes, a child’s IEP team (or appropriate personnel under Section 504) must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed, consistent with applicable requirements, including to make up for any skills that may have been lost during the closure within a reasonable timeframe.

8. Will Early Intervention services be offered while schools are closed?

  • Preschool Early Intervention programs should suspend all services to children and families in alignment with public K-12 closures.
  • If the Preschool Early Intervention administrative offices are open while Preschool Early Intervention services are suspended, referrals to Early Intervention should continue to be managed by the program; once services resume, referrals can proceed.

9. Are PA Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Programs expected to close?

  • PA Pre-K Counts (PKC) and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP) Grantees operating within a K-12 building should close in alignment with the closure of all public schools.
  • Those grantees operating PKC or HSSAP in community-based settings have the discretion to continue to operate unless the county is under aggressive social distancing guidelines (Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, and Chester counties as of March 14).
  • In order to track program impacts, closures must be reported to both the Preschool Program Specialist assigned to each grant and to the Office of Child Development and Early Learning: RAPWOCDELFacilclose@pa.gov.

Unemployment Compensation Temporary Changes & Updates

Workers in Pennsylvania who are impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation benefits – Unemployment compensation claims should be submitted online for faster processing.

The following information that has been provided by the Department of Labor and Industry regarding Unemployment Compensation:

  • Governor Wolf has temporarily suspended the waiting-week requirement in Section 401(e) of the UC Law.   With this suspension, a claimant can immediately file for benefits, and the first week of unemployment will be a compensable week. The suspension of this section will also be in effect for the length of the emergency declaration.
  • The provisions of the emergency declaration allow the Governor to immediately suspend the work registration and work search requirements in Unemployment Compensation Law and adopted Regulations and the Governor has temporarily suspended these requirements for the length of the emergency declaration.
  • The PA UC Law allows for employers to be relieved of charges for compensation once there has been a federal disaster declaration under the Stafford Act and the individuals would have been eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Therefore, an employer may be relieved from charges for compensation paid to an individual with respect to any week of unemployment occurring due to COVID-19.

Applying online is the fastest and easiest way to get started. You can find call center hours and other vital info at www.uc.pa.gov; learn all UC benefit requirements by visiting the self-service guide; or use UC LiveChat.

If you are having difficulty filing a claim or not being able to through to someone if you need direct assistance from Unemployment Compensation, please contact my office.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides payment to workers not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, workers with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency.

Covered:

  • Diagnosed with COVID-19 or with COVID-19 symptoms and seeking diagnosis
  • Member of household has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Providing care for family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Primary caregiver for child unable to attend school or another facility closed due to COVID-19
  • Unable to reach place of employment due to an imposed quarantine or because advised by medical provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19
  • Scheduled to commence new employment and cannot reach workplace as direct result of COVID-19
  • Became major breadwinner because head of household died from COVID-19
  • Quit job as a direct result of COVID-19
  • Place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19
  • Self-employed / Independent Contractors / 1099 filers / Farmers – and affected by COVID-19
  • Seeking part-time employment but affected by COVID-19
  • With insufficient work history and affected by COVID-19
  • Otherwise not qualified for regular or extended UI benefits and affected by COVID-19

Not Covered:

  • Individuals that can telework with pay
  • Individual receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits (regardless of meeting a category listed above)

Important Links:

Federal CARES Act

On Friday, Governor Wolf announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry is implementing new federal unemployment compensation benefits provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The COVID-19 relief package temporarily provides an additional $600 per week, makes self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers eligible for benefits and extends unemployment compensation (UC) benefits for an additional 13 weeks. The federal benefits are in addition to Pennsylvania’s regular unemployment benefit, which is about half of a person’s full-time weekly income up to $572 per week for 26 weeks.

Federal CARES ActAs part of the CARES Act, unemployment benefits are being expanded to provide an additional $600 per week beginning the week ending April 4, 2020, through the week ending July 25, 2020. This temporary emergency increase in benefits is referred to as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.

On Friday, Labor & Industry issued the first $600 payments. All eligible claimants that filed biweekly claims for the week ending April 4 and who received their regular UC payment should expect to see the additional money either today or Wednesday. For other eligible claimants who have not yet received a regular UC payment, they will receive the extra $600 the week after receiving their first UC payment.

It is very important to note that anyone who currently has federal withholding tax taken out of their benefits will see the same 10% reduction in the FPUC payment, resulting in a $540 payment. For information about changing your withholding election, visit L&I’s Taxes on Benefits page.
The $600 is paid separately from the biweekly UC benefit, and residents do not need to apply.
Visit the department’s FPUC frequently asked questions for more information.

The CARES Act also temporarily makes unemployment compensation available to self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others not normally eligible for the benefit. The program is referred to as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These workers cannot apply through the department’s UC online system at this time. The U.S. Department of Labor requires that PUA be tracked separately from regular UC. For this reason, Pennsylvania must build a new online platform to process PUA benefits.

Eligible individuals should be able to start applying for PUA benefits within the next two weeks. Eligible claimants will receive backdated payments to January 27, 2020, or the first week they were unable to work due to COVID-19, whichever of the two dates is later. The PUA benefit will end December 31, 2020. The department will announce when the PUA benefit application is available. Please visit L&I’s PUA frequently asked questions for more information.

The CARES Act provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation, including for workers who exhaust their regular unemployment benefits. Claimants will be eligible for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) from the week beginning March 29, 2020, through the end of the year. The department is awaiting additional federal guidance about the program and will provide an update when information is available.

Additional Information for workers impacted by COVID-19:

Scenarios & Benefits

Mitigation efforts related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania have required everyone to work within rapidly changing, complex circumstances which create a variety of unique situations and conditions for workers, businesses, employers and communities. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry is committed to providing workers and business communities with ongoing guidance, resources, and information. This page is updated regularly.

Use our Keep Yourself Safe at Work During a COVID-19 Pandemic one-pager for safety information and resources.

Workers impacted by COVID-19 can also visit our Information for Pennsylvania Employees Impacted by COVID-19 page for the latest updates.

COVID-19 Guide: Scenarios & Benefits Available Chart (PDF)

Income Support for Workers Impacted by COVID-19: Unemployment Compensation

Workers that are unable to work because of COVID-19 may be eligible for UC ​​benefits or WC benefits. The following information is now available on the department’s website​:

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION (UC) BENEFITS

You may be eligible if:

  • Your employer temporarily closes or goes out of business because of COVID-19
  • Your employer reduces your hours because of COVID-19
  • You have been told not to work because your employer feels you might get or spread COVID-19
  • You have been told to quarantine or self-isolate, or live/work in a county under government-recommended mitigation efforts

Apply:

  • Onl​​ine – it’s the fastest and easiest way to get started

Important info:

  • If you are eligible for UC, you will receive two approval letters and a four-digit PIN
  • Your PIN will arrive in the U.S. mail – keep it in a safe, easy to remember place
  • If approved, your first benefit payment should arrive within four weeks of filing for UC
  • Continue filing your bi-weekly claim (every two weeks) – even while waiting for approval
  • Find call center hours and other vital info at uc.pa.gov; learn all UC benefit requirements by visiting the self-service guide; or use UC LiveChat

Resources

Economic Assistance:

Federal Information

Seniors

State Information

Regional Information

Education Resources

Social Services

Medical

Testing services for COVID-19

  • You will need a prescription from your doctor, and some providers are able to offer services virtually/over the phone.
  • If you’re going to any medical facility in person, call before you go.
  • If you don’t have a fever, you’re not eligible for a screening… even if you’ve been traveling internationally, had a known exposure, etc.
  • For testing:
  • Allegheny County Health Department
  • State Hotline for COVID-19
  • No provider? Call: 1-877-PA-HEALTH
  • Have clinical questions? Call: 1-877-PA-HEALTH

Insurance Questions

  • All Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP recipients will have testing and treatment covered.’
  • UPMC, Highmark, and Aetna will waive applicable deductibles, copayments, or other cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing when ordered by a member’s treating medical provider.
  • Uninsured: refer to Metro Health Clinic (sliding scale); iHealth Clinic in East Liberty ($35 flat fee)

Democracy:

Local Community Resources

Community Org Contact Services and resources
Lawrenceville United 412-802-7220; Dave@LUnited.org or info@LUnited.org ●      Lawrenceville “buddy system” for older adults or high-risk population sign-up

 

●      Food box available for pick-up on Fridays (donations from Whole Foods Market and 412 Food Rescue)–call before noon to arrange a pickup

 

●      Housing assistance

Bloomfield Development Corp. (412) 681-8800;  sam@bloomfieldpgh.org ●      Assistance getting groceries or prescriptions to neighbors in need
Bloomfield Mutual Aid ●      Bloomfield Mutual Aid Facebook Group

 

●      Providing neighbor-to-neighbor services and support
City of Pittsburgh – all neighborhoods ●      Pittsburgh Mutual Aid Spreadsheet ●      Providing neighbor-to-neighbor services and support
Sharpsburg Neighborhood Org ●      Sharpsburg Urgent Needs Assessment Survey ●      Providing neighbor-to-neighbor services and support
North Hills Community Outreach (412) 408-3830 ; 412-487-6316 ●      Emergency food services

 

Service Industry and Small Businesses

 

Organization Contact Details
USBG Emergency Fund https://www.usbgfoundation.org/beap Grants available for all FOH staff
Children of Restaurant Employees  (CORE) https://coregives.org/ Provides emergency assistance to service industry employees who are parents
Urban Redevelopment Authority of PIttsburgh  https://www.ura.org/news/ura-offering-resources-to-help-small-businesses-potentially-impacted-by-coronavirus Small business resources for those impacted by COVID-19
Kiva Loan   0% interest up to $15,000 crowd-sourced loan; look

 

Childcare

 

Organization Contact Details
Circles – Greater Pittsburgh Tammy Thompson If you need a babysitter in order to go to work, please contact Tammy Thompson via email: tthompson@Circlespgh.org

Please provide the following:

1. Number of children you need care for

2. Age of child/children

3. The hours that you need care for them

4. Name of Employer

5. Community that you live in

 

 

 

 

Older Adults

Organization Contact Services
SeniorLine of Allegheny County 412-350-5460 SeniorLine staff members are highly-skilled care managers who will answer your questions, or help you begin the process of receiving services.
Meals On Wheels of Greater Pittsburgh 412-350-5460 or 412-350-4234 (after hours, weekends and holidays). You must first call the Allegheny County Senior Line to determine your eligibility and get your meals started. This is your single point of entry. Be prepared to complete a short assessment over the phone.

 

Food/Nutrition

Organization Contact Information
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank (412) 460-3663  
Pittsburgh Public Schools Students   For Pittsburgh students that depend on our school breakfast & lunch program, Grab & Go meals will be available at all 54 PPS school locations from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM Monday through Friday. Students are instructed to go to the school location closest to their home.
412 Food Rescue 412.407.5287  
Just Harvest (9am-5pm) at (412) 431-8960 x602. Assistance with SNAP and WIC benefit processing and applications

 College Students

Organization Contact Details
Pitt Mutual Aid Society   Request housing, storage of belongings, etc
CMU Mutual Aid   To help our students and peers cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, this form allows students to identify needs and other members of the CMU community to offer support.  This is not an official CMU program — it is a mutual-aid project of CMU community members. 

  

Freelance/Artists

Financial Support

Organization Contact Details
Hebrew Free Loan Association – Pittsburgh http://hflapgh.org/ Providing interest-free loans for those in need of a financial “bridge” to cover lost wages, childcare costs, businesses losses, and other challenges.
Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HUD) +1 877-350-4777 The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program will provide financial assistance and services to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless and help those who are experiencing homelessness to be quickly re-housed and stabilized. The funds under this program are intended to target individuals and families who would be homeless but for this assistance
Pittsburgh Presbyterian Lazarus 412-323-1400 Can offer at most $250 in one time assistance to help with rental evictions, pay utility bills, and even such expenses as medical bills
Veterans Leadership Program – Western PA (412) 481-8200 Administers the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF). Veterans and their families can receive government grants to pay rent and information on permanent housing placement. Other programs include funds for security deposits for the homeless, transportation, shelter, and more.

 

Education

Organization Link/Contact Details
Scholastic Learn-from-home https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html Subscriptions offering free educational programming for students home from school
Harm Reduction – Vital Strategies https://www.vitalstrategies.org/resources/practicing-harm-reduction-in-the-covid-19-outbreak/ Practicing harm reduction strategies during outbreak
National Domestic Violence Hotline https://www.thehotline.org/; For any victims and survivors who need support, we are here for you, 24/7. Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
AA Live Phone Meetings http://aaphonemeetings.org/ Meetings are being held by conference call.