Mar. 19, 2020 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampShort# The latest news from the State Capitol
 
 
Walk-In Service at District Offices Suspended Due to Coronavirus

My district offices in Tamaqua and Hamburg will not be providing walk-in service to residents until further notice.

My staff will still be available to assist residents over the telephone or online with any state government-related matter. There is a mail slot in the lobby of my offices where paperwork can be dropped off.

We are dealing with a nationwide epidemic. We have to fight this battle together. My advice is to stay at home where it is safe until directed otherwise.

The phone number for my Tamaqua office is 570-668-1240, which is open Monday through Friday. Leave a voicemail if needed. In addition, my staff and I can also be reached via email at jknowles@pahousegop.com or through his website at www.RepKnowles.com.

Update on Coronavirus Impact in PA

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 visit frequently for updates.

Coronavirus 101 – What is it and how do I protect myself?

According to the CDC, the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

The CDC and PA Department of Health (DOH) suggest some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and others:
  •   Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Do not use your hands!
  •   Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  •   Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  •   If you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.

Why did the governor close our schools and businesses?

Information from the World Health Organization, the CDC, DOH and others, clearly shows that Coronavirus has been taking a toll on countries around the globe and is now having wide impact across the United States. Cases have been reported throughout the state with the first death reported in Northampton County on Wednesday. More than 100 people have died across the nation, and more than 8,000 worldwide according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
                                   
The vast majority of people afflicted with COVID-19 recover; however, it is especially dangerous for senior citizens and others with compromised immune systems. The closures outlined by the governor are designed to help prevent the spread of the virus to protect those vulnerable populations using the concept of “social distancing” – simply keeping people apart so as not to pass the virus from one person to another. Since a person may be a carrier of the virus for as much as two weeks without displaying any symptoms, simply telling people to stay home if they are not feeling well is not enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With regard to businesses, the governor has urged nonessential businesses (which he defines as things like hair and nail salons, gyms, theaters and sports venues) to close to help create social distancing, but as yet has not issued an emergency order. He has ordered bars and restaurants to discontinue dine-in services, but they may offer pick-up, take-out or drive through service. Even before businesses were urged to close temporarily, many had seen a significant drop in traffic, affecting both their bottom line and in many cases, that of their employees. For more information concerning unemployment compensation for EMPLOYEES, click here.  For more information concerning EMPLOYER unemployment relief, click here.

What’s Next?
                                                                       
As suggested by the CDC, it is important we all stay calm, limit unnecessary travel and interactions with others, wash our hands, pay attention to how we are feeling and be patient. The House was in session earlier this week to vote on a rules change that will allow us to cast votes on legislation remotely if necessary. We will be looking at legislation to address unemployment needs, business assistance and more.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact my office online at www.RepKnowles.com or by phone at 570-668-1240.

PennDOT Closed

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 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.

PennDOT Reopens Select Rest Areas for Truck Parking

Wednesday, PennDOT reopened select rest areas across Pennsylvania for truck parking The rest areas were closed at midnight Tuesday in response to Governor Tom Wolf’s mitigation guidance regarding COVID-19.

To address safety concerns raised, PennDOT has identified 13 of its 30 rest areas in critical locations that will be available for truck parking.

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.

Information for Impacted Workers

Workers in Pennsylvania who are impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for Unemployment and Workers' Compensation benefits. Unemployment compensation claims should be submitted online for faster processing. You may be eligible if:

  •   Your employer temporarily closes or goes out of business because of COVID-19;
  •   Your employer reduces your hours because of COVID-19;
  •   You have been told not to work because your employer feels you might get or spread VOVID-19; or
  •   You have been told to quarantine or self-isolate, or live/work in a county under government-recommended mitigation efforts.

Applying online is the fastest and easiest way to get started. You can find call center hours and other vital info at www.uc.pa.gov; learn all UC benefit requirements by visiting the self-service guide; or use UC LiveChat.
                                     
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RepKnowles.com
Office Locations
202 East Broad Street, Tamaqua, PA 18252 | Phone: 570-668-1240
61 North Third Street, Hamburg, PA 19526-1501 | Phone: 610-562-3411
314C Main Capitol, PO Box 202124, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2124 | Phone: 717-787-9029
Email: jknowles@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614 
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