Wolf Administration Outlines Relief, Reopening, Recovery 'Plan for Pennsylvania'
On Friday afternoon, Gov. Tom Wolf discussed his administration's plan to reopen the state's economy and recover from the health and economic crisis caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor outlined his "Plan for Pennsylvania," which provides steps to keep Pennsylvanians alive and repair the damage caused by the virus. The announcement on Friday provided a three-phased approach on how the Commonwealth will restart its economy, focused on relief, reopening and recovery efforts. More details and additional guidance of the extensive plan, according to the governor, will be provided next week.

The administration’s plan comes a day after President Donald Trump offered federal guidance to governors on how to begin the economic recovery. The White House has been focused on providing a roadmap for states to reopen, as the nation's unemployment rate continues to skyrocket. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate has risen to nearly 6 percent, up from 4.7 percent back in February. The state also faces a projected $5 billion budget shortfall as revenues coming into the state continue to fall.

During his remarks on Friday, Gov. Wolf said the state's aggressive mitigation efforts have been successful in flattening the curve in Pennsylvania. This success has allowed the administration to establish the reopening plan that will stabilize the economy while protecting all Pennsylvanians. Wolf said the plan to reopen will be data-driven, and the administration will work with economic and public health experts to utilize local, regional and federal resources.
READ: Click here for Gov. Tom Wolf's
"Plan for Pennsylvania: Relief, Reopening and Recovery"
Highlights from the governor's address:

Standards were provided by the governor's office that will be used to develop guidance for businesses, local governments, workers, customers and others for a safe reopening process. These standards include ensuring the state has adequate personal protection equipment and diagnostic testing available, as well as requiring a monitoring and surveillance program that allows the Commonwealth to act swiftly to contain and mitigate spikes in new COVID-19 cases. Also, maintaining protections for vulnerable populations and limitations on large gatherings unrelated to the workforce should remain for the entire reopening process.

The administration said that while the plan for long-term recovery for businesses throughout the state will take time, the Commonwealth has learned some valuable lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The governor said that while the state is unsure of when all businesses can reopen safely, the disaster has allowed the state to "put markers down" for future economic success once the disaster subsides.

Gov. Wolf also recounted relief efforts the Commonwealth and the federal government have accomplished since the start of the pandemic. This includes extending tax filing deadlines, allocating $60 million for small businesses through the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program, instituting foreclosure and eviction moratoriums, and offering forbearance options for federally-backed loans.

The governor also outlined relief efforts provided to the state's health care systems and hospitals. Wolf said that while hospitals and health systems wait for federal assistance, his administration established the Pennsylvania Hospital Emergency Loan Program (HELP) to provide up to $450 million in funding to Pennsylvania’s hospitals, as well as worked closely with the General Assembly to transfer $50 million in state funds to purchase medical equipment and supplies for hospitals, nursing homes, and emergency workers to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the governor closed his remarks, he mentioned that his administration is developing a recovery framework that includes programs and policies to help Pennsylvanians returning to the workforce. That framework includes expanding fair, family-sustaining wages, worker protections, paid sick and family and medical leave policies, and affordable and high-quality child care to all Pennsylvania workers. He also said the state must strengthen its Unemployment and Workers Compensation system.

The governor's relief, reopening and recovery plan comes as the Pennsylvania General Assembly approved legislation to reopen businesses throughout the Commonwealth based primarily on federal guidelines and recommendations. The legislation was strongly opposed by the governor 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.

It is not yet clear how the General Assembly will respond to the governor's "Plan for Pennsylvania" announced on Friday.
Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

The state Department of Health reported more than 1,700 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 29,441. In addition, 756 Pennsylvanians have died directly from complications from the virus. To date, there have been nearly 118,000 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 requires 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 .
Other News...
Pennsylvania casino revenue falls sharply after weeks of shutdown. Revenues from the state's 12 operating casinos fell by nearly 51 percent in March, underlying a significant concern for operators, employees and state officials. With the state being the majority shareholder of the state's licensed casinos, retaining 55 percent of all casino revenue, the sharp reduction in revenue is cause for concern.

Sanofi and Luminostics join forces for smartphone-based coronavirus self-testing. Sanofi Pasteur, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer in the world with a major operation in the Pocono region of Pennsylvania, has joined forces with Luminostics for a mobile-based coronavirus self-testing program . Luminostics, a California-based startup with a mission to increase healthcare accessibility and efficiency, would contribute its proprietary technology for consumer-diagnostics for COVID-19 testing while Sanofi would bring its clinical research testing experience and capabilities. The goal is to provide a smartphone-based solution that eliminates the current need for healthcare professional administration or laboratory tests.

Pennsylvanians still hitting border states for alcohol amid state store shutdown. Pennsylvania residents continue to make trips across the borders to purchase alcohol due to the shutdown of state-run liquor stores. Earlier this week, Ohio banned the sale of liquor to customers without proper Ohio IDs to hep curb the influx of Pennsylvanians entering the state. In the meantime, Pennsylvania will soon be using its shuttered state stores to help process online liquor sales, which have been extremely popular and often inaccessible due to demand.

Commonwealth not ready to extend 'stay-at-home' orders...yet. Gov. Tom Wolf said on Thursday that Pennsylvania is not yet ready to follow New York State's example and extend its quarantine efforts beyond April 30. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday New York's plans to extend its 'stay-at-home' order and business closures until May 15.
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 .

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

4, 5, 6, 18, 19, 20
1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30

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

20, 21, 27, 28, 29
4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18(NV)
1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30
15, 16, 17, 29, 30
1, 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21
Capital Associates
To share on your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn - click the buttons below!
100 Pine Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101