Update on Coronavirus Impact in PA
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Update on Coronavirus Impact in PA

Information about the presence and spread of coronavirus here in the Commonwealth is quickly and constantly changing. To help you keep up-to-date on the information that matters most to you, I put together a page of online resources that includes links to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as news about school closures, PennDOT information and more. I encourage you to visit frequently for updates. 

Coronavirus 101 – What is it and how do I protect myself?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

The CDC and PA Department of Health (DOH) suggest some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and others:

  •   Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Do not use your hands
  •   Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  •   Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  •   If you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.
Why did the governor close our schools and businesses?

Information from the World Health Organization, the CDC, DOH and others, clearly shows that Coronavirus has been taking a toll on countries around the globe and is now having wide impact across the United States. Cases have been reported throughout the state with the first death reported in Northampton County on Wednesday. More than 100 people have died across the nation, and more than 8,000 worldwide according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

The vast majority of people afflicted with COVID-19 recover; however, it is especially dangerous for senior citizens and others with compromised immune systems. The closures outlined by the governor are designed to help prevent the spread of the virus to protect those vulnerable populations using the concept of “social distancing” – simply keeping people apart so as not to pass the virus from one person to another. Since a person may be a carrier of the virus for as much as two weeks without displaying any symptoms, simply telling people to stay home if they are not feeling well is not enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With regard to businesses, the governor late announced around 5 p.m. Thursday the mandated closure of all “non-life-sustaining” businesses by 8 p.m. that evening until further notice. The gvernor claims he has the authority to make such orders based on the emergency declaration issued as a result of the spread of COVID-19. A chart from the governor that outlines what must be closed and what may stay open is available here. Any further guidance issued today will also be available at www.PAHouseGOP.com.

The governor’s office has also offered contact information for business owners with questions about the status of their business. Questions about whether a business needs to close should be sent to ra-dcedcs@pa.gov. Businesses seeking a waiver from the order are directed to email RA-dcexemption@pa.gov.

Currently, grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations are among the businesses that may remain open, as well as bars and restaurants offering take-out or delivery services (no dine-in service is permitted). Businesses that must be closed, based on the governor’s guidance, include things like hair and nail salons, gyms, theaters and sports venues. Even before businesses were urged to close temporarily, many had seen a significant drop in traffic, affecting both their bottom line and in many cases, that of their employees.                                   

For more information concerning unemployment compensation for EMPLOYEES, click here.   For more information concerning EMPLOYER unemployment relief, click here.  

What’s Next?
As suggested by the CDC, it is important we all stay calm, limit unnecessary travel and interactions with others, wash our hands, pay attention to how we are feeling and be patient. The House was in session earlier this week to vote on a rules change that will allow us to cast votes on legislation remotely if necessary. We will be looking at legislation to address unemployment needs, business assistance and more.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact my office online at www.RepHeffley.com, or by leaving a phone message at 610-377-6363 (Weissport) or 570-722-8700 (Albrightsville). The offices are closed until the end of next week and my staff is working remotely.
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Email: dheffley@pahousegop.com
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