Gov. Wolf Urges General Assembly to Support Small Businesses

Gov. Wolf Urges General Assembly to Support Small Businesses

Harrisburg, Pa. – Today, Governor Tom Wolf urged the Pennsylvania General Assembly to act on funding small businesses while the body is in session this week.

“Small businesses have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Wolf. “The Small Business Assistance Program has seen immense success, but further support is needed to support our small businesses and strengthen the economy. I am calling on the General Assembly to approve additional funds to support our small businesses. We cannot let another week go by without addressing this need.”

As part of his fall legislative agenda, Governor Wolf called on the General Assembly to provide an additional $225 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding in the form of forgivable loans and grants to small businesses in Pennsylvania through the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program. In addition, the governor proposed $100 million in forgivable loans and grants for the hospitality, leisure and service industries, including restaurants and bars, salons and barber shops.

The COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance funding was developed in partnership with state lawmakers and allocated through the state budget, which included $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funds through the CARES Act, of which $225 million was earmarked for relief for small businesses, including historically disadvantaged businesses.

To date, more than 10,000 businesses were approved for $192 million in grants through the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program. However, as the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue, it is imperative that further funding be allocated to help small businesses that were not awarded in the first two rounds of funding, or that face ongoing hardship.

“So many of Pennsylvania’s small businesses have taken on additional work and costs to do the right thing and keep their employees and customers safe since reopening,” Gov. Wolf said. “They are doing everything right, and they need our help to continue to make ends meet.

“We held back a portion of Pennsylvania’s CARES Act funding so that we could address the commonwealth’s needs this fall. There is a need for additional funding for Pennsylvania’s small businesses right now, and I implore the General Assembly to take action without delay to support our small business community.”

Wolf Administration: Join the More than 322,000 Pennsylvanians Who Added Their Phone to the Fight by Downloading the COVID Alert PA app

Wolf Administration: Join the More than 322,000 Pennsylvanians Who Added Their Phone to the Fight by Downloading the COVID Alert PA app

Harrisburg, PA – Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today encouraged residents to join the more than 322,000 Pennsylvanians who have added their phones to the fight by downloading the COVID Alert PA mobile app.

“I am encouraging everyone to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer on a regular basis,” Dr. Levine said. “I also urge every Pennsylvanian to download the COVID Alert PA so you can get a notification if you have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19, or anonymously notify other residents if you yourself test positive. We all play a part in stopping the spread of this virus, and by uniting together, we can all make a difference.”

COVID Alert PA is a free and voluntary mobile app developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health in partnership with NearForm, University of Pennsylvania and MIT Lincoln Laboratory using Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification System. The app’s features include an interactive COVID-19 symptom check-in, alerts for potential exposures to the virus, updates on the latest public health data about COVID-19 in PA and public health guidance for what to do if you have a potential exposure to COVID-19.

The app is designed to ensure privacy of the user. It does not use GPS, location services or any movement or geographical information. It will never collect, transmit or store personal information. It is completely anonymous.

Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa.”

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

PA SENATE DEMOCRATS UNVEIL PLAN TO SPEND $1.3 BILLION IN REMAINING CARES FUNDS

PA SENATE DEMOCRATS UNVEIL PLAN TO SPEND $1.3 BILLION IN REMAINING CARES FUNDS

(Harrisburg,Pa.) — Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus today outlined a plan to spend the remaining $1.331 billion in CARES money that Pennsylvania received as part of a federal assistance package earlier this year.

The money must be spent by December 31st on COVID-19 related needs or the state loses the authority to use it at all.

“When we passed our original spending plan for these dollars, we withheld a portion of our allocation to see where what would happen with COVID-19 through the summer and fall. We waited for more assistance from the federal government that never came. Washington has failed but here in PA, we have found that families, small businesses, and many other institutions need additional assistance for recovery,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr. “We’ve been allocated these funds to help with recovery; it’s time to spend them. Folks need help now. I urge our Republican colleagues to add this to the agenda for our session days next week.”

“We are a long way from recovering what has been lost during the pandemic and sitting on $1.3 billion does nothing to help people who are hurting right now,” Sen. Hughes said. “We must drive dollars out to our existing and proven methods of distributing CARES funding immediately. Our families, workers, small businesses owners, and so many others are still struggling to get through this pandemic. They do not have the luxury of a wait-and-see approach, which is why we must act now. Furthermore, we need the federal government to enact a spending plan that helps states do more to help the people through the greatest crisis of our lifetimes.”

The Senate Democratic plan includes:

  • $125 million for individual and family relief with utility bill assistance
  • $575 million for business assistance, specifically for:
    • Nonprofit assistance
    • Main Street and Historically Disadvantaged Businesses
    • Barbers, salons, personal care industry
    • Tourism
    • Bars, taverns, restaurants, private event spaces and hospitality
  • $15 million food security
  • $125 million for high Medicaid hospitals
  • $141 million for higher education
  • $75 million for child care
  • $100 million for hazard pay in existing programs, and expanded programs for pharmacies
  • $150 million for property tax relief
  • $25 million for public safety

For more information on the Senate Democratic proposals for the first or second allocation of CARES funds, please visit https://www.pasenate.com/pacares/

Dr. Fauci criticizes ‘herd immunity’; suggests people rethink Thanksgiving travel

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans should rethink their usual plans for Thanksgiving gatherings, citing increased coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

Fauci told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday that given the rise in cases, “we’ve really got to double down on fundamental public health measures that we talk about every day because they can make a difference.”

As for Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans travel to gather with families and friends, Fauci says this November may need to be different. “We really have to be careful this time that each individual family evaluates the risk-benefit.”

The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert says its especially important because people traveling over the holiday often pass through crowded transportation hubs such as airports.

“If you have vulnerable people, the elderly or people that have underlying conditions, you better consider whether you want to do that now or maybe just forestall it and wait,” Fauci says.

Harris suspends travel after staffer tests COVID-19 positive

Harris suspends travel after staffer tests COVID-19 positive
By BILL BARROW Associated Press
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is suspending in-person events until Monday after two people associated with the campaign tested positive for coronavirus. Joe Biden’s campaign said Thursday Biden had no exposure, though he and Harris spent several hours campaigning together in Arizona on Oct. 8. Biden and Harris have both had multiple negative COVID tests since then. Harris had been scheduled to travel Thursday to North Carolina and Friday to Ohio. The campaign told reporters Thursday morning that Harris’ communications director and a flight crew member tested positive after a recent campaign trip.

US layoffs remain elevated as 898,000 seek jobless aid

US layoffs remain elevated as 898,000 seek jobless aid
By CHRISTOPHER RUGABER AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to 898,000, a historically high number that is evidence that layoffs remain a hindrance to the economy’s recovery from the pandemic recession that erupted seven months ago. Thursday’s report from the Labor Department shows that the job market remans fragile, and it coincides with other recent data that have signaled a slowdown in hiring. The economy is still roughly 10.7 million jobs short of recovering all the 22 million jobs that were lost when the pandemic struck in early spring.

Pennsylvania confirms ‘fall resurgence’ of coronavirus

Pennsylvania confirms ‘fall resurgence’ of coronavirus
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania is “at the start of the fall resurgence” of COVID-19. That’s according to the state health secretary, who is urging residents once more to take steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Wednesday marked the ninth consecutive day that Pennsylvania’s daily case count surpassed 1,000. Though some of the increase caseload is due to expanded testing, hospitalization and test positivity rates are also rising. Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says that indicates increased viral spread.

Mail-in ballot requests pass 2.6M in Pennsylvania

Mail-in ballot requests pass 2.6M in Pennsylvania
By MARC LEVY Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — More than 2.6 million registered Pennsylvania voters have applied for a mail-in ballot as of Tuesday, three weeks before the Nov. 3 presidential election. The battleground state is being hotly contested by President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Of the applicants, more than 1.7 million are registered Democrats and about 641,000 are registered Republicans, according to state data. Another 284,000 ballots were requested by independent or third party voters. More than 437,000 have been returned by voters. Democrats also dominate in that category, with 338,000 ballots returned, versus 64,000 by Republicans.

McConnell slates October revote on GOP COVID relief plan

McConnell slates October revote on GOP COVID relief plan
By ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that he’s scheduling a procedural vote on a GOP COVID-19 relief bill for next week. He says aid to hard-hit businesses shouldn’t be held up by gridlock involving other aid proposals. The Kentucky Republican says in a statement Tuesday that the Senate will take a test vote Oct. 19 when the chamber returns on Monday. Democrats filibustered a GOP-drafted aid bill last month and recent talks on a larger deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., fell apart this past weekend, probably for good. McConnell’s announcement came as President Donald Trump continues to agitate for “stimulus,” saying that Republicans should “go big” rather than the limited approach they’ve been advocating.

PA loosens rent relief rules

PA loosens rent relief rules
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania is extending the application deadline and changing the rules of a key rent and mortgage relief program in an effort to boost participation by landlords and keep more people in their homes during the pandemic. State officials say some landlords have been reluctant to apply because of a $750-per-month cap on payments. Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday that under the new rules, the program will allow landlords and renters to enter into repayment plans for any remaining balance.