Pa. Gov. Offers Civil Liability Immunity for Health Care Workers, Some Say its Impact Falls Short
(photo courtesy of ACN)
Gov. Wolf signs executive order providing immunity from civil liability for state's health care workers.

Earlier this week, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order that provides Pennsylvania's health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic with immunity from civil liability during the outbreak. The executive order looks to protect doctors, nurses and other health care professionals for good faith efforts in responding to the unprecedented health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus.

Gov. Wolf said the order grants immunity to health care professionals who hold a license, certificate, registration or certification to practice in Pennsylvania and providing COVID-19-related treatment during the disaster emergency response. The immunity is also extended to workers in any health care facility as defined by the Health Care Facilities Act, and any nursing facility, personal care home or assisted living facility. The order also extends liability immunity to a community-based testing site or non-congregate care facility used for emergency or disaster services related to the state's disaster emergency response.

The administration said that immunity would not extend to anything that constitutes a crime, gross negligence, fraud or other willful misconduct.

The action taken by the governor on Wednesday was met with some concern that the order did not go far enough to protect all health care professionals in the Commonwealth. The PA Chamber praised the governors decision to provide civil liability immunity protection to health care workers, but said that those protections must also be extended to the entire medical community – including hospitals and health systems. The PA Chamber would also like to see civil liability protections extended to all businesses faced with resuming or sustaining operations amid social distancing and other mitigation efforts, as well as for those companies that have shifted their production to make personal protective equipment for the medical community.

According to the governor, the executive order was prompted by stakeholders concerned about potential lawsuits against medical professionals who are practicing in good faith during difficult and unprecedented times. Gov. Wolf also said the order follows similar actions by neighboring states.
Certain Pa. state-run liquor stores to reopen for limited in-store sales.

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) announced it will reopen 77 of its state-run liquor stores in counties that are in the "yellow" phase of Gov. Tom Wolf's three-phased, color-coded plan to restart the Commonwealth's economy.

The PLCB published a list of stores that will reopen in the 24 counties the governor announced will move into the "yellow" phase on Friday, May 8.

Also on Wednesday, the PLCB were the primary testifiers for a state Senate Law and Justice Committee hearing regarding the agency's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel discussed several issues pertaining to the agency's decisions during the pandemic, which some said created confusion and frustration by the public and restaurants that utilize its services.

The state abruptly closed all of its Fine Wine & Spirits stores on March 17, but did not launch online sales until April 1. The online retail sales system was less than ideal, as customers faced significant issues filing orders or even getting into the system at all. The agency introduced curbside service at some liquor stores on April 20.
Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported nearly 1,100 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 52,915. In addition, 3,416 Pennsylvanians have died from complications from the virus. To date, there have been nearly 210,000 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 . An executive order was issued on April 15 requiring customers entering a place of business to wear a mask.

Daily COVID-19 update for Ohio

The Ohio Department of Health reported 22,131 cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 1,271 deaths, including probable cases, by Thursday afternoon. There have been 4,140 hospitalizations and 1,167 ICU admissions.
Other News...
Federal agency provides guidance on employer testing for COVID-19. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its guidance addressing employer testing for COVID-19 in the workplace. McNees attorney Ursula Siverling provides insight into the updated guidance in the latest post from the McNees Labor and Employment Blog.

Gov. Wolf, AG Shapiro extend foreclosure, eviction protection for two more months. Flanked by the state's top law enforcement officer, Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Thursday that a new executive order will extend foreclosure and eviction protections for Pennsylvanians until July 10. The governor and Attorney General Josh Shaprio said the order extends a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision which closed court eviction proceedings until May 11, extending the protection for renters and homeowners for another 60 days.

Federal funding through Paycheck Protection Program still available. Money set aside to help small business and nonprofits still remains available, according to the federal Small Business Administration. More than $100 billion in potentially forgivable Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funding remains up for grabs to help provide eight weeks of payroll and certain operational costs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some businesses reopen against Gov. Wolf's shutdown orders. Frustrated with the pace at which Gov. Tom Wolf is reopening the Commonwealth's businesses shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many business across the state are opening their doors in defiance to state orders, the Associated Press reports. Pennsylvania has staved off several legal challenges to its business shutdown, including one that was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.
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 and nonprofit consulting 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 .

The Senate stands in recess until the call of the President Pro Tempore

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The House stands adjourned until the call of the chair.

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