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.
I was interviewed by Newsmax TV this week where I discussed how the Governor’s process for reopening the Commonwealth is flawed and the importance of working with the private sector to layout safety standards for businesses so they can reopen. President Trump is already leading on this issue as he started a Workforce Health and Safety Task Force that will work with the private sector to open the economy and protect workers. Click here or on the image below to watch our interview.
Thankfully, our local elected officials are leading. In Lebanon County, State Senator Dave Arnold, State Representatives Frank Ryan, Russ Diamond and Sue Helm, County Commissioners Bob Phillips and Bob Ames, District Attorney Pier Hess Graf, Coroner Dr. Jeffery Yocum and Sheriff Bruce Klingler sent a joint letter to Governor Tom Wolf announcing their decision to move Lebanon County to the Yellow phase effective on May 15, 2020. Click here to read their letter. As their letter states, it is possible to allow people to go back to work and ensure the safety of our communities. After their bold action, other counties have followed, including Dauphin County and Beaver County. I joined Schuylkill County officials in sending a letter to the Governor asking him to reconsider opening that county. Even a Democratic State Senator has asked the Governor to move Lehigh and Northampton counties to begin relaxing the stay-at-home orders. I think other elected officials and counties will continue to join this effort.
We must remember… The intent is to save lives, but the result is destroying livelihoods.
IN NEWS YOU WON’T READ IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA: This week, Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai noted that Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, M.D. conveyed an update regarding those who sadly passed away from COVID-19 in the Commonwealth. However, the report was very revealing and highlighted some key statistics regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 3,106 deaths that have occurred in Pennsylvania:
- 79 years old was the average age of those who passed away
- 9% or 2,108 lived in nursing homes
- 9% had the presence of four chronic diseases or conditions
- 7% had the presence of three chronic diseases or conditions
- 2% had the presence of two chronic diseases or conditions
- 6% had the presence of one chronic disease or condition
- 11% had the presence of zero chronic diseases or conditions
- Note these statistics were provided to Speaker Turzai verbally and do only add up to 95.4%
- 61% had hypertension
- 54% had heart disease
- 37% had diabetes
- 30% had chronic pulmonary disease
According to the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania, citing the Pennsylvania Department of State statistics, there are 37,000 beds in Pennsylvania hospitals. As of May 6, 2,572 of these beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients, which is 6.95%.
I share this not to minimize the dangers of COVID-19. As we have seen, it is a highly contagious disease that is very deadly. However, due to the work of President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, the Coronavirus Task Force and all of you who have stayed at home and practiced proper social distancing, we have flattened the curve and now it is time to reopen our economy in a safe manner.
Additionally, I would note that the United States has increased the number of available tests and that our testing far outpaces the rest of the world. Testing is an essential component of getting America back to work. See the graphic below.
As the statistics regarding COVID-19 cases and deaths illustrate, the battle that our senior homes and assisted living facilities are fighting is serious. That is why, under the direction of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, FEMA is coordinating two shipments totaling a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to more than 15,000 nursing homes across the nation. The first shipment is being sent this week, while the second is expected to begin in early June. Due to a large number of nursing homes, facilities are not likely to receive notification prior to their shipment arriving.
This week, our staff and I continued to work with small businesses and constituents as we work to navigate the COVID-19 virus. We held conference calls with small business leaders across the District, the employees of major job creators, the Chair of the Federal Reserve Jay Powell, the Treasury Department to discuss the FAQ sheet regarding PPP loans (Note: The Paycheck Protection Program has processed 140,000 loans for PA small businesses, providing over 21 billion dollars), Pennsylvania Adjutant General Anthony Carrelli regarding the work our brave national guard members are doing to assist our Commonwealth, a Congressional Coal Caucus zoom meeting to hear the latest on that important industry, a GRCA Business and Community Advocacy call to review the CARES Act and a briefing from the Trump Administration on the latest with their response to COVID-19.
The CARES Act and the PPP loan program have been a tremendous success. The Paycheck Protection Program has processed 140,000 loans for PA small business and provided over $21 billion dollars in funding. Click here to read my recent oped on that success in The Daily Item.
Additionally, I conducted an interview on the Volpe Report on the latest regarding the COVID-19 virus for Fox56 news. Stay tuned for clips of my most recent appearance.
Yesterday, we recognized the 75thAnniversary of VE Day. We humbly and gratefully thank the great Americans that defeated tyranny and evil and delivered democracy and freedom to their future generations!
This week we also recognized our brave nurses for Nurses Appreciation Week. I am not sure this week ever had greater meaning than this week after their heroic service during the pandemic.
On Thursday, Shelley and I joined with elected officials in Lebanon County to host another Take Out on Us event for those on the frontlines and others that needed a hot meal. I had a blast with our Lebanon County team, including Senator Dave Arnold, Representatives Frank Ryan and Russ Diamond, County Commissioner Bob Phillips, District Attorney Pier Hess Graf and Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello. We delivered over 650 meals. I also want to thank the owners and staff at Mannino’s in Lebanon for their work to provide these great meals. (All pictured below)
Later that evening, our campaign held a conference call with the county chairs in the District. I delivered an update on our efforts in Washington and we had a great conversation surrounding the importance of electing President Trump and the GOP ticket up and down the ballot.
Last but not least, the turkey hunting adventure I took with my son last week generated a lot of comments. I want you to know that my son, Danny and his friend and teammate Lenny bagged a nice gobbler. Danny and Lenny have proven to be a good team as they formed the all-state backfield of the Dallas Mountaineers football team. (Pictured below)
I hope you have a great weekend, stay safe and we will see you soon.