COVID-19 Updates, 03/16/2020
There have been several developments concerning the federal response to the Coronavirus.
- CDC urged Americans to cancel or postpone all gatherings of 50 people or more for the next 8 weeks.
- Local officials from around the county are worried that the health system will not handle the surge of patients such as an inadequate supply of critical care beds and ventilators.
- Surgeon General Jerome Adams calls for suspension of all elective surgeries. Hospitals and medical professionals call on him to clarify his call and provide more guidance.
- President Trump during his press conference today outlined the following guidelines for individuals to follow for the next 15 days:
- Avoid groups of more than ten people
- Close all schools in the United States
- He also announced that a vaccine has started clinical trials for the Coronavirus
- National Emergency Declaration speeds Low-Income Health Care
- President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency has given states the authority to help low-income individuals get testing and treatment for the coronavirus. This declaration will allow governors to apply to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for exemptions in enrolling people into Medicaid. In addition, it may allow for reimbursement of telemedicine with fewer restrictions.
Gov. Wolf has ordered a statewide shutdown of all non-essential businesses in PA to close by midnight. This includes restaurants and bars which only may stay open for takeout. Currently, drug stores, grocery stores, and gas stations are among the businesses deemed essential, and which will remain open.
The following guidelines have been issued on what is considered essential and nonessential coverage.
Non-essential: Gyms, yoga, barre, spin facilities, hair salons, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; bars; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls and except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations.
Pennsylvania joins many other states that have taken similar measures such as New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Ohio, Illinois, California, and Massachusetts.
The PA House was in session while the state senate was not in session and was on a teleconference. Today the house voted to allow for remote voting on measures agreed to by both Republicans and Democrats.
Rep. Roni Green (D-Philadelphia, 190th) was sworn in on Monday, March 16. She won a special election last month to replace former state Rep. Motiva Johnson-Harrel.
After it was announced that a staffer for the state senate tested positive for Convid-19, the state senate announced it would not return to the capitol building for a session on Tuesday, March 17.
The General Assembly may take up a multi-million dollar relief package that has been discussed by the governor, with potential money coming from an environmental fund. However, Governor Wolf has yet to request any specific funds from the general assembly.
Potential bill packages that could be discussed include telemedicine legislation and a bill from Sen. Costa to allow the Gov to order a public health emergency. Lastly, Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware) circulated legislation that would take game revenue that normally goes into the General Fund and instead directs those funds to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). The funds would be used for the creation of a small business economic loan program.
- Philly closes all courts, and non-essential business and government offices to be closed at 5 pm.
- The essential business that will be allowed to remain open after 5 p.m include health care facilities, veterinary clinics, supermarkets, and grocery stores, pet stores, big box stores, pharmacies, discount stores, mini markets, daycare centers, hardware stores, gas stations, banks, post offices, and laundromats and dry cleaners.
- Nonessential businesses that do not close will be shut down by the city.
- Individuals can report any business that stays open to 215-685-7495.
- Philadelphia City Council has canceled its meeting for the next two weeks.
- Council is working on a transfer ordinance that would give the Kenney administration $85 million for coronavirus relief efforts.
- City courts will be closed through March 31st.
- During a press conference today, Philadelphia’s Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley urged more people to get tested if they do not feel well.
- Free meals for students are offered between 9 am -12 pm Monday – Friday. The city also opened 50 city-owned facilities, including gyms and recreation centers, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to provide spaces for students and “limited meals” at 3 p.m. The district has a supply of upwards 100,000 meals. This supply is expected to last for two weeks.
- The national council for nonprofits has created this helpful resource hub for dealing with the emergency.
- Organizations looking for financial support from the small business association can find out more information here.
Some good news for the day:
We at Bellevue want to make sure that you are also getting some good news amidst all this uncertainty. Here is something our team found that put a smile on our faces. We hope it puts a smile on yours.
Oliver has hiked 11 of Colorado’s famed “fourteeners” — mountains over 14,000 feet high — and visited eight national parks, including Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and most recently, Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. He’s traveled in six U.S. states.