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Weekly Update - 5.16.20

Good afternoon and welcome to our Week-End Update.

Pennsylvania, like the nation, is dealing with a historic and unprecedented public health and economic crisis. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump has instituted an approach to mitigate the effects of the virus, specifically through partnerships with the private sector. Unfortunately, some governors have deviated from this path in developing plans for their states. This is especially true in Pennsylvania, where Governor Tom Wolf has operated with little transparency and failed to be inclusionary of important industry stakeholders, county commissioners, state legislators and local community leaders as he shut down the state.

After more than eight weeks, several counties citing professional, data-based reasoning began expressing a desire to reopen safely. In response, the Governor publicly called them “cowards,” and threatened to withhold federally-provided coronavirus-related funding. Rather than dismissing them, why not hear them out? County commissioners and state legislators are in constant contact with dozens of their constituents each day - they understand the serious nature of this crisis and the economic ramifications a prolonged shutdown has already had on local livelihoods. The Governor’s response was disturbing and illustrated a lack of understanding of the concerns of hardworking employees and employers who want to safely return to work. Elected officials must have the wisdom to admit that decisions made behind closed doors can be misguided. Fortunately, it is not too late.

Pennsylvania should pivot from its current path towards one that is based upon health and safety and inclusionary of the private sector. Businesses value their employees and have a vested interest in their health and well-being. Why not bring them to the table? Everyone wants to protect public health, but they also want to provide for their families. Pennsylvanians have mainly been confined for eight weeks with no end in sight and are rightly frustrated and anxious. A desire to reopen is not rooted in a rejection of scientists and public health experts but is based on the understanding that if these policies continue, there may be no life to go back to. We cannot let livelihoods die. There is a smarter plan and it must be adopted. Now is the time to change course, be receptive to better ideas and implement a plan that gets the commonwealth safely back to work, before it is too late.

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Weekly Update - 5.9.20

Good evening and welcome to our Week-End Update.

Pennsylvania is slowly beginning to open up counties, but the process for which counties are chosen to relax the stay-at-home restrictions are inconsistent. Again, counties in the 9th Congressional District have largely been left off the list by the Governor.

Yesterday, twenty-four counties moved from the Red to Yellow Phase, including Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren. Next Friday, the Governor announced the following counties will transition to the Yellow phase or partial reopening (counties located in southwestern Pennsylvania): Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.

In the Yellow phase:

  • Telework must continue for businesses when possible.
  • Businesses with in-person operations must follow business and building safety orders
  • Child-care services may reopen following worker and building safety orders
  • Congregate care and prison restrictions will remain in place
  • Schools will remain closed for in-person instruction
  • Stay-at-home orders are lifted.
  • Gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited
  • In-person retail is permitted, but curbside and delivery services are preferred
  • Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities, like gyms, spas, hair and nail salons, and entertainment venues like casinos and theaters will remain closed
  • Restaurants and bars will still be limited to carry-out and delivery services

Unfortunately, as I stated, this process, like the one the Wolf Administration utilized to grant waivers for businesses, is inconsistent and is not being handled appropriately. People across Pennsylvania want to get back to work and enjoy their freedoms in a safe environment. When I say that, I do believe it appropriate to ask businesses to comply with a set of safety standards to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, shutting down large sectors of our economy with no real sign of reopening is having negative effects on hardworking Pennsylvanians.

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Weekly Update - 5.2.20

Good evening. Welcome to our Week-End Update.

I want to begin our update by again thanking the brave men and women, the doctors, nurses, health care providers, police, firefighters, small businesses and countless others putting their lives in jeopardy to support their fellow Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 pandemic. I also want to again express my condolences to the families who have lost family or friends to the virus. The tide is turning, but I realize that is of little comfort to those families who have been directly affected by the loss of a closed loved one due to COVID-19.

This week, our staff and I continued to work with constituents and businesses to navigate the Covid-19 climate and transition as stay-at-home orders are lifted and many begin to return to work. This week, Governor Tom Wolf began the process of reopening Pennsylvania. The Governor announced that on May 8, 2020, twenty-four counties will partially reopen, mostly in northwestern and north-central parts of Pennsylvania. The 24 counties that will are Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren. Click here to read the Governor’s press release. 

I will continue to advocate for Pennsylvania to follow the CDC guidelines and be innovative regarding our Commonwealth's own situation as they begin to reopen. We need to be inclusive with the private sector to establish safe working standards so our economy can begin recovering in a safe manner. There is no question that we have had a very deliberate shutdown of our economy. However, we cannot cause businesses to go bankrupt and for families to go without essential needs. This is why Congress passed the CARES Act, which has proven to be a good comprehensive plan to address the economic issues caused by the virus. Governors throughout the nation must be strategic as they safely open up the economy and create revenue. We cannot afford to see states create budget deficits so large that cause many of our citizens' longterm pain.

 

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Weekly Update - 4.25.20

Good afternoon and welcome to our Week-End Update.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump signed legislation providing $484 billion to replenish a small business lending program and support hospitals and COVID-19 testing amid the coronavirus pandemic. I voted to support the additional funding in Washington on Thursday.

This was a critical package as this funding provides direct assistance to countless small businesses who applied, were approved for loans, but could not get assistance because the program’s funding was exhausted.

The measure includes an additional $310 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $60 billion of which is reserved for community banks and small lenders; $75 billion for hospitals; $25 billion to support testing efforts; and $60 billion for emergency disaster loans and grants.

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Weekly Update - 4.18.20

Good evening and welcome to our Week-End Update.

This week, we have continued to track the positive impact our social distancing has had in our fight against the COVID-19 outbreak, as signs have appeared across Pennsylvania and across the nation that we are beginning to get ahead of the virus. While the number of deaths has increased, some of that has to do with the reclassification of previous cases resulting in death as COVID-19 related. While we must continue to remain vigilant, it appears we are getting closer to being able to reopen our country’s economy and get people back to work in a responsible manner.

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the entire Coronavirus task force continue to do an exemplary job. There is excellent cooperation between the federal government and state governments. It is particularly impressive that this cooperation is taking place during a crisis that requires such urgency.

I, like many, continue to be disappointed by some in the mainstream media who are attempting to use this crisis as a political tool. I wrote a series of tweets on this subject that were retweeted by Donald Trump, Jr. (See below). I get very annoyed when the mainstream media and some Democrat leaders state things that are factually and historically untrue and try to put undue blame on President Trump.

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Weekly Update - 4.11.20

Good afternoon and welcome to our Week-End Update.

First of all, Happy Easter and Happy Passover. Despite these difficult times, we have much to be thankful for as we celebrate our faith, family and friends.

These are difficult times and I again want to thank the brave doctors, nurses, first responders and essential workers who are keeping our society moving. I also want to acknowledge and thank the many businesses who are working to produce and contribute masks, visors and other medical equipment that is needed at this time. For example, congratulations to Adelle Schade from Albright College who put together an initiative to develop face shields. They're looking for companies or people with 3D printers to contact them to learn how they can help. Anyone with a 3D printer who is willing to participate is asked to email Schade at aschade@albright.edu. Click here to read more.

My team and I were able to help coordinate contributions from a few companies who will distribute almost 10,000 masks over this week and next to area hospitals. There are some great acts of kindness taking place.

Most importantly, Shelley and I want to again offer our prayers to the families of the victims of the coronavirus.

We wanted to help families who need a meal, we sponsored take-out for families at Leggio’s in Dallas. I want to thank Brenda & Alan Pugh, my brother Scott and his wife Susan Meuser and Robert Bresnahan, Jr. for joining Shelley and me in sponsoring dinner. We certainly had a big turnout. I also want to thank Sal & Lori Leggio and the staff and Leggio’s for working all day and into the evening to provide as many meals as possible. Those who are helping to keep us fed during this crisis, from the restaurant employee to the grocery clerk and to all those volunteering and helping at food banks, are playing a significant role in helping us to get through this situation. I would like to give a special shoutout to Jane Clements-Smith and her team with Feeding PA for helping to knock down barriers to ensure those who need food have access. You can read about the great work Jane and Feeding PA are doing in this article. (Pictured below with Sal)

 

 

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Weekly Update - 4.5.20

Good afternoon and welcome to our Week-End Update!

I want to begin by thanking those on the frontlines fighting the COVID-19 outbreak… our first responders, including doctors, nurses, police officers, paramedics and firefighters who are selflessly putting their lives in danger to save and protect ours. Additionally, I want to thank those working to sustain your business while maintaining a safe work environment. As well, our grocery clerks, cashiers, farmers, medical equipment providers, truck drivers... I could go on and on. Their work is keeping our country together in a challenging time.

I also want to recognize our Pennsylvania National Guard.

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Weekly Update - 3.29.20

Good evening and welcome to our Week-End Update.

Before I begin this week’s update, I want to ask everyone to offer their prayers and support for Pennsylvania U.S. Congressman Mike Kelly, who has been diagnosed with coronavirus. Mike is a good friend and a great member and leader who I regularly count on for advice. Mike is a true champion for his constituents and we are all praying for his speedy recovery.

On Friday, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. While the bill is not perfect, it is essential that we address this voluntary slowdown of our economy for the purpose of saving lives. It continues to be imperative that we all stay confined and maintain social distancing as we all play a role in mitigating and ending the transmission of this very contagious virus. While these efforts are critical, these actions have led to the shutdown or suspension of many aspects of our economy.

The CARES Act ensures that hardworking Americans and families receive income and increased unemployment benefits during this crisis. It is important for people to know that the entirety of this bill is temporary and focused on defeating this virus as well as keeping our economy afloat during this time of the crisis. For employers, the CARES Act extends emergency loans to small businesses that are forgivable for retaining their employees. It provides much-needed liquidity to our economy and establishes a stabilization fund for struggling businesses. Most importantly, this bill includes support for our hospitals, physicians and first responders by ensuring they have the tools they need to keep us safe. A much more detailed breakdown of the CARES Act can be found on my official website.

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Weekly Update - 3.21.20

Good evening and welcome to our Week-End Update.

We will again be focusing on the latest news regarding the coronavirus. I understand that these are stressful, confusing and frustrating times for all of us. The situation our nation, and the world, find itself are unprecedented. That is why I am continuing to communicate as much information I receive and that is why we must heed the words of President Trump Coronavirus Team, Vice President Mike Pence and the top physicians who are leading our coronavirus response. We must use the next 15 days to slow the spread and flatten the curve. These may be tough times, but our nation, when united, has defeated tougher enemies and I have no doubt we will be successful again.

Please see the below guidelines from the Trump Administration and the CDC on the 15-Day Plan To Slow the Spread.

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Weekly Update - 3.15.20

Good afternoon and welcome to our Week-End Update.

This week's update will be different than our usual political update. Unlike some that are unfortunately attempting to use the coronavirus as a political issue, this is a time for America to stand united and face this common enemy… just as our nation has done throughout history.

Appropriately, much of the activity and news in Washington and the District have centered around the coronavirus. This is a serious issue and something we all must stay vigilant of, especially for those of us who are regularly in contact with our seniors who are particularly vulnerable to this disease.

I conducted an interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal regarding the impact of the coronavirus. I confirmed that the Trump Administration has been on top of this issue and are providing the nation with all available resources to combat the virus. On Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency over coronavirus. President Trump and his administration have taken appropriate actions to contain this disease by implementing travel bans in China and much of Europe. This measure, instituted by the President, has helped to save lives.

The most important actions our government has taken have been effectively working to allow public-private partnerships so we can maximize the innovation of the private sector. That is why our nation is most prepared to contain, mitigate and ameliorate this situation because we have a superior health system and innovation. 

While I think it is important for everyone to take this issue seriously, the reality is that while this virus is contagious, it has not yet impacted the number of people that prior diseases have on this scale, like swine flu. We need to be realistically precautionary. Not overreacting. It is critical that you take proactive measures to protect yourself and I have included some important and informative handouts from CDC below to keep you safe. Here is a link to the CDC. In all the congressional briefings I've received on the coronavirus issue, all of the materials I have been provided have also been offered on the CDC website. The President and his team are being very transparent.

 

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