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important update from the puc

The PA Public Utilites Commission (PUC) signed an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, watewater & telecomm terminations during the COVID-19 outbreak. This will remain in place as long as the disaster proclamation is in effect.

Visit puc.state.pa.us for more information.

Latest News

Rise in hate crimes leads to warning from state police, lawmakers

Rise in hate crimes leads to warning from state police, lawmakers

Lawmakers, PSP discuss increase in incidents and urge public action PITTSBURGH, April 2, 2020 – Alarmed by disturbing warnings that racist attacks on Asian Americans are increasing in Pennsylvania and across America during the coronavirus crisis, a group of...

Wolf Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians to Respond to the 2020 Census

Harrisburg, PA –  Today, on National Census Day, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin reminded all Pennsylvanians to be a good neighbor and respond to the 2020 Census. “We’re committed to working together to make sure all...

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.

Businesses

On Thursday, March 19, the Governor ordered that all non-life-sustaining businesses across the Commonwealth closeHe mandated that all restaurants and bars close their dine-in facilities but they may continue to offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage services. 

Due to a high volume of business waiver requests received by the Wolf Administration, the enforcement timing will change and become effective on Monday, March 23, at 8:00 AM.

For more information on which businesses are considered life-sustaining vs. non-life-sustaining, see the Governor’s extensive list here.

Please contact Senator Collett’s office with questions or concerns.  

For Business Owners:

DCED offers working capital loans that may be of assistance to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Resources and information will be posted to dced.pa.gov/resources. 

The federal SBA loan application period is OPEN. Pennsylvania was just added to the list of disaster locations (Disaster #: PA-00104) and you can begin the application process here.  

A state working capital loan, or PIDA loan, for COVID-impacted businesses is also available. The Governor made $61 million available for this program. You can begin the application process here

For Consumers: 

If you’re able, please consider supporting local businesses during this difficult time. Consider shopping local online, purchasing gift cards, and taking advantage of contactless carry-out or delivery services. To find operational businesses near you, visit your municipality’s website or social media pages.

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)

COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA)

Administered by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA), the CWCA Program provides critical working capital financing to small businesses located within the Commonwealth that are adversely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

NOTE All CWCA loan applications must be submitted through a Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO). For the list of CEDOs operating within PA, visit https://dced.pa.gov/CEDO/ 

ELIGIBILITY For-profit corporation, limited liability company, partnership, proprietorship or other legal business entity; located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; 100 or fewer full-time employees worldwide at the time of submission of the application.

FUNDING The maximum loan amount is $100,000.

TERMS 3 years w/ a 12-year amortization. 1. No payments due and payable during the first year. 2. Principal and if applicable, interest payments will be due monthly for years two and three. 3. Balloon payment due and payable at end of year 3.

INTEREST 0% (agricultural producers 2%) fixed.

TO APPLY Loan applications are packaged by a CEDO that services the county in which your business is located.

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%.

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).

PIDA Working Capital Loan Highlights

Businesses with less than 100 full-time employees are eligible to apply.

  • Up to a $100,000 loan request to each small business to help them overcome temporary loss of revenue
  • Applicants will need to show a 1:1 match on expenses over the past 3 months they have spent an amount equal to their loan request on direct business expenses (payroll, utilities, rent, debt payments, inventory, etc.) up to the maximum $100,000 loan amount;
  • Retail and certain service-based businesses will need to show a 1:1 match on expenses over the past 6 months, meaning such businesses needed to verify they spent at least $200,000 on direct business expenses in order to maximize the $100,000 loan amount;

TERMS 3 year term; 12 year amortization; no payments for an initial 12 month payment deferral;

INTEREST RATE 0.00% fixed for businesses / 2.00% fixed for production agriculture;

COLLATERAL Subordinate UCC filing on all business assets of the company behind any existing UCC filings;

GUARANTEES Personal or corporate guarantees are required for all 20%+ business owners;

 COST & FEES $750 nonrefundable application fee + 1.5% of loan amount requested

TO APPLY Small businesses can apply for the COVID-19 Working Capital Assistance at https://dced.pa.gov/programs/covid-19-working-capital-access-program-cwca/

Childcare facilities were asked by the Governor to close statewide on March 16. For childcare centers that are serving essential personnel like healthcare and first responders that must go to work during the COVID-19 outbreak, the PA Department of Humans Services (DHS) has established a waiver process. Childcare facilities interested in applying for a waiver should email: RA-PWDRACERT@pa.gov.

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:

Essential Businesses for a Safe Food Supply

Updated March 17

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognizes the critical role production agriculture, agribusinesses, food processors and manufacturers, retailers, and the entire distribution and support network from farm to table play in assuring a safe, reliable food supply. 

The PA Department of Agriculture has developed the following guidelines for essential businesses to help ensure a safe and accessible food supply during the COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Examples of essential businesses for a safe food supply include farms, greenhouses and vegetable plants, orchards, pest management services, feed mills and ag supply businesses, agricultural equipment sales and service, animal feed and supply distribution network, transportation system from farm to retail, food and meat processors and manufacturers, veterinary services and supplies, pet food manufacturers and distributors, distribution and transportation system from processors and manufacturers to retailers, retailers to include grocery stores and farmers markets, grocery delivery services, and laboratories and inspectors that ensure food safety.

We encourage food production and distribution facilities to continue operations but the decision for essential businesses to stay open or voluntarily close during the COVID-19 mitigation phase is a business-by-business decision. All essential businesses that choose to remain open should review and adjust standard operating procedures to minimize risk, take measures to protect their employees, send home sick employees, and minimize or eliminate congregate settings or groups of more than 10 people whenever possible. The PA Department of Agriculture has developed the following voluntary guidance and recommendations for various businesses throughout the food supply chain.

COVID-19 Response Efforts

On March 23, Governor Tom Wolf announced that all K-12 Pennsylvania schools will be closed until at least April 6. This also includes career and technical schools, physical and cyber charter schools, intermediate units, state universities, and childcare centers operating in any of those schools.

You can read more about these guidelines on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s website.

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.

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

 

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION (WC) BENEFITS

Two filing options:

  • If you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 in your workplace, you may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation (WC) by either:
    • Notifying your employer to file a typical “disease-as-injury” WC claim, which requires you to provide medical evidence that you were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace
    • Notifying your employer to file an “occupational disease” WC claim, which requires you to show that COVID-19 is occurring more in your occupation/industry than in the general population

Claims:

Information on Pets

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), other animal welfare organizations, and state government agencies have developed various resources to provide animal care businesses, shelters, rescues, sanctuaries, and private pet owners with access to current information and tools to help manage their situation and make sound decisions.  Please note pet food stores and veterinary centers are also considered life-sustaining services, however, this situation is evolving quickly so pet resources may or may not be available and pet related businesses, organizations, etc. will have to evaluate whether or not to restrict opening to the public 

  • The link here, provides protocol and guidance for animal shelters, rescues, sanctuaries to navigate COVID-19.    
  • This link details important steps to expand foster networks during this critical time.   
  • The HSUS posted FAQs about pet preparedness and what people can do to help animals in need.   
  • The Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team is on standby for emergency services, and their webpage is here.   
  • The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association is working to keep information updated for both veterinarians and pet owners on their homepage. 
  • The Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania will post updates for animal shelters on their website 
  • This blog is for groups that do community outreach and pet owner support work. 

Resources

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.