$51 million in CARES Act Funding Distributed to Pa. Child Care Centers to Prepare for Reopening
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Gov. Wolf distributes half of Pennsylvania's CARES Act funding meant for child care providers to help centers prepare to reopen.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the state provided an initial distribution of federal funding for child care services across Pennsylvania to help eligible, licensed child care providers prepare to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $51 million in funding provided on Wednesday is only a portion of the $106 million in total child care funding allocated to Pennsylvania through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The governor said the initial $51 million distribution was done in partnership with the state's General Assembly, and will reach nearly 7,000 child care centers.

The remaining $55 million will be held by the state and handed out after the completion of a study by the administration and Penn State Harrisburg’s Institute of State and Regional Affairs. The study will look to assess the economic impact of the pandemic on Pennsylvania’s child care providers.

According to the administration, the initial funding will be distributed to eligible, certified child care providers through regional Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs). The state determined eligibility and amount funding based on the type and size of provider, number of active enrollments in Child Care Works (CCW) subsidized child care, capacity, and licensure status.

Many child care centers across the Commonwealth have been closed due to the Wolf administration's stay-at-home and business shutdown orders, or are working to adhere to state guidelines on how to operate in order to slow the spread of the virus. For centers in counties that the governor has moved to "yellow," demand for services will be a test of how the pandemic has impacted the state's economy.
Pa. Gaming Control Board issues safety, mitigation protocols for when casinos reopen.

Also on Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) released its minimum safety and mitigation requirements for when the Commonwealth's casino industry is allowed to reopen.

The 10-page document outlines the PCGB's new operational requirements that are based on industry best-practices, and took into consideration the various plans provided to the Board by gaming companies operating in Pennsylvania. The PGCB said that as casinos are permitted to reopen, facilities need to follow guidelines that promote the safety of casino patrons and employees, as well as assure an environment conducive to proper regulatory oversight.

Earlier this week, the PGCB released its latest revenue numbers that highlight the grim reality facing the Commonwealth. With casinos shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tax revenue from Pennsylvania's casino industry fell 84 percent from April of 2019. Even as internet-based games saw an uptick in activity, the bulk of revenue generated for the state comes from the land-based casinos. Sports betting also took a massive hit, as all of the professional sports in the U.S. are currently inactive.

The state's casino industry has provided an average of $1.5 billion in tax revenue a year, and accounts for more than 33,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Commonwealth.
Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 746 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 64,412. In addition, 4,767 Pennsylvanians have died from complications from the virus. To date, there have been more than 293,000 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 29,436 cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 1,781 deaths, including probable cases, by Wednesday afternoon. There have been 5,198 hospitalizations and 1,369 ICU admissions.
Other News...
When will professional sports return to Pa.? We may soon know. In a call with reporters on Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf said his administration will provide more details and guidance in “the next few days” on the fate of professional sports in the Commonwealth. The governor added that, ultimately, the success of professional sports will be up to whether individuals want to take part or be spectators, a level of confidence he said may not happen without a vaccine.

Legislators ask Gov. Wolf to allow for retail 'curbside' pickup sales. A growing number of legislators, including several Democratic members, are asking Gov. Tom Wolf to allow retail businesses to offer curbside sales statewide. In a letter to the governor, the legislators pointed to neighboring New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy began loosening regulations Monday to allow nonessential retail to open for online phone ordering and curbside pickup.

Pa's plan for counties to go 'green' not yet decided. Pennsylvania's Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said earlier this week that the state has not yet established its plan for counties to enter the "green" phase of Gov. Tom Wolf's proposal to reopen the Commonwealth. Dr. Levine said the details for "green" have not been determined and are still being worked on by the administration.

Gov. Wolf signs 'cocktails-to-go' bill allowing bars to sell pre-made drinks. Legislation to allow bars and restaurants to sell prepared mixed drinks and cocktails for take-out purchase was signed into law by the governor on Wednesday. "Cocktails-to-go" will be permitted for sale for as long as the state remains under the COVID-19 declaration of emergency order.

Fairs, festivals feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These cancellations are impacting many rural communities across Pennsylvania, as local fairs and festivals are often social epicenters during the summer and early fall months. So far, 16 of Pennsylvania's 106 fairs have been canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
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 www.health.pa.gov .
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