In this update:
How to get state-related assistance during the coronavirus shutdown
I really appreciate everyone’s patience during this time. While our offices are still not able to accept in-person office visits or take in-person meetings, my staff and I are still handling constituent-related issues during this time.
Here are the various ways you can contact me:
District Office – 717-741-4648 (leave a voicemail)
Capitol Office – 717-787-7085 (leave a voicemail)
Email – SenatorKristin@pasen.gov
Contact Form – SenatorKristin.com/contact-me.
Resource guides for employers, employees, and other individuals affected by COVID-19 are also posted at SenatorKristin.com.
Please note: You and your concerns are very important to me! Our office continues to receive a high volume of inquiries. Please only contact our office one way as this will ensure we handle your matter and can assist others in a timely manner. Again, I really appreciate everyone’s patience during this time.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania over 26,000; York County has 381 cases
The Department of Health released their latest data this morning that show York County has 381 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Pennsylvania currently has 26,490 confirmed cases.
More information from the Department of Health can be found here. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the most up-to-date information.
Below are a few charts that I think you may find to be of interest.
Are you interested in hearing how our local health system is adapting to this pandemic? Listen to my recent podcast here. I’ve also had discussions with Kevin Schreiber, YCEA President & CEO, and earlier today, I sat down with our county’s top prosecutor – District Attorney Dave Sunday.
I am interviewing Dr. Pamela Gunter-Smith, President of York College, tomorrow on the podcast. Subscribe to my podcast here to never miss an update.
Senate approves common sense measures to create an improved, transparent process for COVID-19 mitigation
The Senate approved two bills today that would provide some much-needed clarity and common sense to the process of deciding which businesses can safely operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), who spoke in support of the effort during session.
Governor Wolf ordered the closure of all businesses not deemed “life-sustaining” within three hours on March 16 in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
Although a haphazard waiver system was eventually created for businesses that wished to remain open, that process was riddled with inconsistencies and lacked any sense of transparency or accountability to the public.
Earlier this week, I had to plead with the administration to get a waiver denial rescinded that would have led to the reincarceration of approximately 500 individuals. York County’s primary vendor for electronic monitoring of defendants, both pretrial and post-conviction, who would otherwise be incarcerated, was deemed “non-life sustaining” and had their waiver rejected.
Defendants include: repeat DUI offenders on alcohol monitors, those who were paroled early from jail onto monitors due to COVID-19 in the jail, violent youth with GPS monitors who are on the street because we have no detention beds and domestic violence offenders who wear GPS monitors as well.
The bills approved by the Senate today would create a better process for determining which businesses can continue to remain open, provide clarity on mitigation strategies necessary to protect the health and safety of both customers and employees, and give county leaders a stronger voice in which mitigation measures should be implemented locally.
Senate Bill 613 would require the governor to create clear guidelines for businesses to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses that are able to operate safely under the new guidelines would be permitted to re-open as long as they comply with mitigation strategies.
The bill would require COVID-19 mitigation plans to be developed by the Wolf Administration based on guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
To restore local control, Senate Bill 327 would give county governments the option to develop and implement their own plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, following CISA guidelines. Under the bill, businesses already identified as essential could continue to operate. However, counties would also be given the authority to develop plans to allow other industries to operate if it is safe to do so.
The bill also creates a COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force made up of representatives of all three branches of government to identify and address issues related to the COVID-19 public health emergency together. The panel would be responsible for developing a recovery plan to restore public services and economic activity when it is safe to do so.
I argued that instead of working with Pennsylvania employees and employers along with lawmakers to develop a recovery plan for Pennsylvania’s economy, Governor Wolf recently joined other northeastern governors in an agreement to open selected industries on a shared schedule. The plan would essentially give unelected bureaucrats in other states more power over Pennsylvania businesses than state lawmakers and local elected leaders.
In the end, the current process has created more confusion and that is leading to chaos. And that is why we are here today, to say we want to collaborate with the people of Pennsylvania, the governor and the General Assembly.
New guidance and training available for personal care home and assisted living facilities
Educational support and new guidelines will help Pennsylvania’s more than 1,200 personal care homes and assisted living residences better protect patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Human Services offers guidance to keep residents and staff safe, including measures to address dining and scheduled activities, visitation, health screenings for staff, infection control procedures and more. Full guidance from the department is available here.
The Jewish Healthcare Foundation also offers weekly webinars on timely topics like infection control best practices and proper use of personal protective equipment. More information on these and other educational materials are available at www.tomorrowshealthcare.org.
COVID-19 crisis line available for first responders, healthcare workers
The increased stress caused by COVID-19 affects all Pennsylvanians, but our first responders and healthcare workers face even greater pressures in helping the state respond to this public health emergency. Magellan Health recently opened a free national crisis line for all first responders and healthcare professionals who are serving on the front lines of the pandemic.
The hotline is open 24 hours a day and connects callers directly to licensed mental health clinicians for support. The toll-free number is 1-800-327-7451 (TTY 711).
Local and state web portals feature info on employment opportunities during COVID-19 business closures
Although many businesses across the state remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, other employers in life-sustaining industries are hiring workers immediately for thousands of critical roles. A new web portal has been created to help connect displaced workers with new employment opportunities in home health care, shipping, distribution, manufacturing and other industries.
People seeking employment immediately can learn more about available job opportunities through the York County Economic Alliance’s web portal and/or PA CareerLink’s new online COVID-19 job portal. Life-sustaining businesses can feature job openings by submitting an online form here.
COVID-19 resource guide for senior citizens now online
An online COVID-19 resource guide to help older adults find useful information related to their health, safety and well-being is now available.
The guide is available on the state Department of Aging’s website under “COVID-19 Resource Guide for Older Adults” and provides older adults, their families and caregivers with information on a variety of subjects, including meals, prescriptions, protective services, scams, and how to stay active and connected.
Accelerated sales tax prepayments waived for three months
Businesses will not need to make accelerated Sales Tax prepayments over the next three months. Instead, businesses will only need to remit the sales tax they collected in the prior month.
More information on this requirement is available here.
Stay safe – follow these tips