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Senate Returns for Second Remote Session 

Senate ChamberThe Pennsylvania Senate convened in Harrisburg this week for our second remote session. We have had many issues brought to our attention by constituents that needed to be addressed during the Covid-19 outbreak. On Tuesday, we voted for legislation that would enable local municipalities to hold their meetings remotely, permitted e-notary use; lengthen the time period a property tax payer can receive an early payment discount and delay penalties for late payments to Dec. 31st; and allow businesses to make delayed payments on EITC. Another important amendment our caucus offered is to allow school districts to renegotiate contracts to ensure contracted school workers are able to get paid and continue benefits. Under previous legislation, most contract employees were left out. Our legislation will help to make sure all school employees get paid and receive benefits. 

Those bills will go to the PA House for their consideration.

Wearing Masks 

Last week, the Department of Health updated their guidance to recommend that folks wear a mask if they must leave their homes. N-95 masks should be saved for health care professionals, but you can make a mask to protect yourself with things you already have at home.

Use of Fabric or Cloth Masks  

Homemade masks made out of fabric and cloth are not considered PPE. However, homemade masks can be an effective complement to handwashing, social-distancing and other mitigation measures. Homemade masks limit the spread of infectious droplets in the air by containing coughs and sneezes. When a homemade mask can’t be acquired a scarf or bandana can be utilized. By implementing community use of these homemade fabric or cloth masks, everyone will have a higher degree of protection from this virus.

Homemade Mask

My Mask Protects You, Your Mask Protects Me  

Woman wearing face mask buying in supermarket.Those who are staying home and have no close contacts who are infected with COIVID-19 don’t need a mask most of the time. However, wearing a nonmedical or homemade mask may be helpful in certain situations or for certain populations*. 

  • Shopping at essential businesses, like grocery stores or pharmacies; 
  • While visiting your health care provider; 
  • Traveling on public transportation; 
  • Interacting with customers/clients at essential businesses; 
  • When feeling sick, coughing, or sneezing;

Because homemade masks protect everyone else from the droplets created by the wearer, it is important that as many people as possible wear these masks when leaving their homes. This helps prevent those who may be infectious but are only mildly symptomatic or not symptomatic from spreading the virus to others in the community. Everyone should remember the phrase “my mask protects you, your mask protects me.” By increasing the overall number of people who are containing their coughs, sneezes, and other droplets, it will help us control the overall spread of the virus.

Mental Health Resources – Coping with the Coronavirus Pandemic 

To assist all Pennsylvanian’s in coping with mental health challenges brought on or made worse by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the PA Dept. of Human Services (DHS) announced the launch of the Support & Referral Helpline.

COVID-19 Help Hotline 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.The Helpline will be staffed by skilled and compassionate caseworkers who will be available 24/7 to counsel Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions as they adapt to possible job losses, family and personal issues, and all other mental health challenges that may arise in these uncertain times. Caseworkers can also refer callers to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs.

The toll-free, round-the-clock support line officially went live on Thursday, April 2. The number to call is 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.

There are many different challenges that each Pennsylvanian is facing as we all face rapid adjustments to our lives. Whatever you are facing, if you need help, reach out to the resources and support that are available to you. 

Additional mental health resources include:

  • Safe2SayNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Línea Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “PA” to 741-741
  • Safe2Say (for PA school students): 1-844-723-2729 or
  • Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
  • Get Help Now Hotline (for substance use disorders): 1-800-662-4357

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Offices to Serve You

  Forest Hills
1501 Ardmore Blvd. | Suite 403
Pittsburgh, PA 15221
Phone: (412) 241-6690
Fax: (412) 731-2332
8:30 am – 4:30 pm
2306 Brownsville Rd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15210
Phone: (412) 884-8308
Fax: (412) 886-2080
8:30 am – 4:30 pm
314 E. Eighth Ave.
Homestead, PA 15120
Phone: (412) 462-4204
Fax: (412) 462-4543
8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Harrisburg Office
Senate Box 203043
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: (717) 787-7683
Fax: (717) 783-5976
8:30 am – 5:00 pm