Mar. 20, 2020 / Weekly Roundup

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Information about the presence and spread of coronavirus here in the Commonwealth is quickly and constantly changing. To help you keep up-to-date on the information that matters most to you, I put together a page of online resources  that includes links to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as news about school closures, PennDOT information and more.
 
I encourage you to check back frequently for the latest updates and to keep up with me on Facebook.

Statewide Efforts to Combat COVID-19

Gov. Wolf announced late Thursday the mandated closure of all “non-life-sustaining” businesses by 8 p.m. that evening until further notice.

The governor claims he has the authority to make such orders based on the emergency declaration issued as a result of the spread of COVID-19. A chart from the governor that outlines what must be closed and what may stay open is available here.

Any further guidance issued today will also be available at www.PAHouseGOP.com.

The governor’s office has also offered contact information for business owners with questions about the status of their business. Questions about whether a business needs to close shouldbe sent to ra-dcedcs@pa.gov. Businesses seeking a waiver from the order are directed to email RA-dcexemption@pa.gov.

Currently, grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations are among the businesses that may remain open, as well as bars and restaurants offering take-outor delivery services (no dine-in service is permitted). Businesses that must be closed, based on the governor’s guidance, include things like hair and nail salons, gyms, theaters and sports venues

During these unprecedented times, I want to reassure you that I, along with all members of Pennsylvania government, are doing all we can to help curtail the COVID-19 pandemic and assist residents. It is my hope everyone stays calm but continues to follow essentialguidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To stay up-to-date on this very fluid situation, please go to health.pa.gov.

Changes to Unemployment Compensation

At this time, work search and work registration requirements are temporarily waived for all UC claimants. Claimants are not required to prove they have applied or searched for a new job to maintain their UC benefits. Claimants are also not required to register with www.PACareerLink.gov. At this time, benefits are not being extended beyond 26 weeks.

For more information concerning unemployment compensation for EMPLOYEES, visit https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/covid19.aspx.

For more information concerning EMPLOYER unemployment relief, visit https://www.uc.pa.gov/employers-uc-services-uc-tax/uc-benefit-information/Pages/Relief-from-Charges.aspx.

Office Closed to In-Person Visits

Please be advised that my district offices in Coopersburg, Emmaus and Red Hill are temporarily closed to walk-in visitors due to health concerns.

My staff and I are still prepared to help you. Should you need any assistance, please call my district offices at the numbers listed below.

Coopersburg: 610-282-0160
Emmaus: 610-965-5830
Red Hill: 215-679-3152

Construction to begin on Blue Church Road bridge

A bid was awarded for construction to begin on the bridge near Blue Church Road South and Mill Road in Upper Saucon Township. Barring any more developments with regard to the Coronavirus, construction will begin around April 6. If everything goes according to plan, the bridge should be open by early September.

PennDOT Closures

All PennDOT Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers in Pennsylvania will be closed for two weeks effective close of business on Monday, March 16.

Expiration dates for driver licenses, identification cards, vehicle registrations, and safety and emission inspections will also be extended:

  •   Driver’s licenses, photo ID cards and learner’s permits scheduled to expire from March 16, through March 31, the expiration date is now extended until April 30.
  •   Vehicle registrations, safety inspections and emissions inspections scheduled to expire from March 16 through March 31, the expiration date is now extended until April 30.
  •   Persons with Disabilities Parking Placards scheduled to expire from March 16 through March 31, the expiration date is now extended until April 30.

All PennDOT district and county maintenance offices are closed. Construction projects have been suspended until further notice; however, PennDOT crews are available to perform critical functions and emergency maintenance as needed.

All PennDOT rest areas and welcome centers statewide are closed to the public.

PennDOT will be reopening select rest areas across Pennsylvania for truck parking starting March 19.                                    

Each location will have five portable toilets (one of which is ADA-accessible) that will be cleaned once a day. Electronic message signs will be used near the applicable centers to notify drivers near the opened areas. To prevent further spread of COVID-19, PennDOT does not plan to open any of the indoor facilities due to staff availability to keep facilities clean and properly sanitized.

These are the locations that will be reopened for truck parking:
  •   Interstate 79: Crawford County NB/SB
  •   Interstate 79: Allegheny NB only
  •   Interstate 80: Venango County EB/WB
  •   Interstate 80: Centre County EB/WB
  •   Interstate 80: Montour County EB/WB
  •   Interstate 81: Luzerne County NB/SB
  •   Interstate 81: Cumberland County NB/SB

The department will continue to evaluate and will determine whether additional rest areas can be reopened.

School Lunch Information

With the school closings, there have been many questions about whether students will receive lunches. Here is what I have received from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE):

  •   Pennsylvania sought and received approval from the federal government to allow schools the option to distribute meals at no cost while schools are closed. Districts/schools that want to act on this federal approval must apply to PDE.
  •   PDE has begun and continues to expedite approvals.
  •   Districts/schools may utilize essential staff to ensure students have access to meals.
  •   PDE is partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, other state agencies, the American Red Cross, and public and private partners to expand these efforts.

East Penn School District: District buildings will be open Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for medication and other critical item pickup, and the district will provide meals for students from noon to 1 p.m. at Lincoln and Alburtis elementary schools and at Lower Macungie Middle School.

Salisbury School District: Free Grab-and-Go meal service is available to all Salisbury students regardless of free/reduced status at any of the Allentown School District school sites from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. throughout the school closure period. Students must be present for the meal pick-up and may receive one meal per day. Grab-and-go bags include one breakfast item, one lunch item, milk and a fruit or vegetable.

Saucon Valley School District: Families and caregivers can pick up free meals for their children Mondays through Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the middle school bus loop at 2095 Polk Valley Rd, Hellertown. Families should stay in their cars and meals will be given based on the number of children in the car. Thursday meals will include breakfast and lunch for Friday.

Southern Lehigh School District: Grab-and-go meals will be provided starting Tuesday at Southern Lehigh High School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pick up will be at the front of the high school, in the visitor lot, and students must be in the vehicle to receive a meal.

Upper Perkiomen School District: While the district is unable to provide meals during this mandatory closure, they recommend local families contact The Open Link,  which is prepared to assist any families in need through its regular food distribution processes. Any UPSD family in need of assistance with meals during this school closure (or beyond) should contact The Open Link directly at its Penn Street location at 452 Penn Street Pennsburg, PA 18073 or call 215-679-4112.

Wash Your Hands

I want to remind everyone that there are simple steps that you can take to help prevent this virus from spreading. Please adhere to these measures:

  •   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.
  •   Remain in your home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you feel sick.
                                                  
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Office Locations
21 N. Main Street, Unit 9, Coopersburg, PA 18036 | Phone: (610) 282-0160
191 Main St., Suite 104, Emmaus, PA 18049 I Phone: (610) 965-5830
56 W. Fourth St., Second Floor, Red Hill, PA 18076 I Phone: (215) 679-3152
5 East Wing, PO Box 202131, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2131 | (717) 783-1673
Email: jsimmons@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614 
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