Pa. Health Department Orders Additional Workplace Safety Measures During COVID-19 Pandemic
As was reported in yesterday's Capitol Buzz , Pennsylvania's Health Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, signed an executive order requiring additional workplace safety measures to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The order, which went into effect on Tuesday and will be enforced beginning on April 19, sets additional mandatory mitigation protocols for businesses authorized to maintain in-person operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Dr. Levine, t he or der was given to ensure continuity across all businesses that remain open during the pandemic, and further protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians.

Specifically, the new executive order expands on the Department of Health’s prior order r equi ring building safety and cleaning measures for certain businesses, and includes a new requirement that employers must mandate employees to wear masks while on the work site . The order will also require customers to wear masks if they enter a place of business that is open during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a detailed summary of the new order , McNees attorneys S teve Matzura, Andrew Levy and Austin Wolfe discuss all of the new requirements in the administration's latest order. They also talk about how employers must now provide masks or approve use of masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with Department of Health guidance .

Matzura, Levy and Wolfe encourage employers to carefully review the order and adjust operations quickly to ensure compliance by April 19, including with written policies, instructions, and training where appropriate. For more information about this issue, visit www.mcneeslaw.com .

The administration's new executive order came as the Pennsylvania General Assembly approved legislation to reopen businesses throughout the Commonwealth based on federal guidelines and recommendations. The legislation was strongly opposed by Gov. Tom Wolf and Democratic legislators, who believe reopening "non-life-sustaining" businesses in Pennsylvania is premature and could jeopardize the gains the state has seen in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Wolf said on Wednesday evening that he will veto the proposal, continuing a showdown between the the legislative and executive branches of government on how to best move Pennsylvania forward during the COVID-19 pandemic. The House is scheduled to return to session next Monday and Tuesday, April 20 and 21.
Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

The state Department of Health reported 1,245 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 27,735 . In addition, 707 Pennsylvanians have died directly from complications from the virus. To date, there have been nearly 114,000 negative cases across the state.

Gov. Tom Wolf is still asking all Pennsylvanians who must leave their homes for life-essential reasons to wear a mask to help stop the spread of the virus . A new executive order issued on Tuesday, April 15 will require customers entering a place of business to wear a mask.

The state Department of Health has provided guidance on how individuals can create homemade masks for their use in order to preserve high quality personal protection equipment for health care workers. The Centers for Disease Control also announced recommendations for people to wear face masks in public .

The CDC even provides a video tutorial on how to make a homemade cloth mask:
Other News...
As harvest season approaches, Pa. farmers are facing difficult questions amid COVID-19 pandemic. Pennsylvania's farmers are facing new questions about the availability of workers and how to keep them safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent restrictions regarding international workers in light of COVID-19 and fears about what to do if too many employees get sick are hitting farmers hard across the state as a shortage of workers could affect a farmer's ability to pick their produce to sell, and mean fewer options available for customers in stores.

State Task Force to address disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minorities. Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced the creation of a task force assigned to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority communities.
The COVID-19 Response Task Force for Health Disparity will help communicate issues about how the pandemic is impacting the state’s minority and vulnerable populations.

Small businesses in Pa. received almost $10 billion in PPP loans. The federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorized by the CARES Act doled out nearly $10 billion in aid to small businesses across Pennsylvania. The Small Business Administration (SBA) released a report late Tuesday showing that the program has approved more than one million loans for a total of more than $247 billion nationwide.

COVID-19 pandemic could cost hospitals billions in revenue. With the shutdown of elective surgeries and other medical procedures amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania said hospitals across the state could lose more than $2 billion per month. The group said that elective medical procedures alone are estimated to cost up $1.5 billion in collective monthly hospital losses.
Unprecedented times, but McNees is here to help
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing by the hour. Capitol Buzz will do its best to keep our readers as up-to-date as possible as to local, state and federal actions relating to the virus.

As we have stated in previous editions, for those businesses seeking guidance or assistance on how to proceed during this unprecedented time, please contact the McNees Labor and Employment Practice Group , or for government relations assistance please contact the McNees Strategic Solutions Group (MSSG) . You can also visit the McNees COVID-19 Article & Resource Page for more information on various legal and political issues created by the novel coronavirus.

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and others, check out the CDC's coronavirus information page or visit www.health.pa.gov .
2020 SENATE SESSION SCHEDULE

Senate is in recess until the call of the President Pro Tempore.

May
4, 5, 6, 18, 19, 20
June
1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30
2020 HOUSE SESSION SCHEDULE

House is in recess until the 12-hour call of the Chair.

April
20, 21
May
4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18(NV)
June
1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30
September
15, 16, 17, 29, 30
October
1, 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21
November
10
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