COVID-19 FAQs

SUBMIT A QUESTION

If you have a question about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts you, your loved ones, or your community, please use the link below to submit your question. As more information becomes available, we will provide answers on this page. 


 

    

   

    

 BASIC NEEDS STUDENTS VETERANS

Economic Impact Payments

 

Travel                                                                                           Personal Protective Equipment
Pregnant Women & COVID-19                                                                       Community Events
Water Transmission                                                                              Retirement Communities
Health Care Professionals                                       K-12 Schools & Childcare Administrators                                                                                                                                     

 


Coronavirus 2019 Basics

What is a novel coronavirus? 

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 is not the same as a COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.

Why is the disease being called Coronavirus Disease 2019, COVID-19? 

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practiceexternal icon for naming of new human infectious diseases.

How can people stop stigma related to COVID-19? 

People can fight stigma and help, not hurt, others by providing social support. Counter stigma by learning and sharing facts. Communicating the facts that viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups and how COVID-19 actually spreads can help stop stigma.


HEALTH

What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?

There is information for people who have had close contact with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19 available here.

Who is at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19? 

Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19. The people who may be at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness, includes:

  • Older adults
  • People who have serious underlying medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease

What should people at higher risk do? 

If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should: stock up on supplies; take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others; when you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick; limit close contact and wash your hands often; and avoid crowds, cruise travel, and non-essential travel. If there is an outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible. Watch for symptoms and emergency signs. If you get sick, stay home and call your doctor. More information on how to prepare, what to do if you get sick, and how communities and caregivers can support those at higher risk is available on People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19.

Should I be tested for COVID-19? 

If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider. Older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild. If you have severe symptoms, such as persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips of face, contact your healthcare provider or emergency room and seek care immediately. Your doctor will determine if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and whether you should be tested.

MONEY

How does unemployment insurance work?

The stimulus plan would include a significant expansion of unemployment benefits that would extend jobless insurance by 13 weeks and include a four-month enhancement of benefits. The program has also been broadened to include freelancers, furloughed employees and gig workers.

States have set their own rules for eligibility and benefits, which are generally calculated as a percentage of your income over the past year, up to a certain maximum. See the Pennsylvania guide for unemployment benefits and apply here.

One important note: You might not have to lose your job to qualify. If you’re quarantined or have been furloughed — and you’re not being paid but expect to return to your job eventually — you may be able to get unemployment benefits.

For tons of other FAQs on who is eligible for unemployment compensation and how it all works, check out this page.

Are self-employed workers and workers in the gig economy eligible for COVID-19 related unemployment compensation?

Under the CARES Act, self-employed workers whose states make an agreement with the Department of Labor will receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance based on their recent earnings and will also be able to receive the $600/week FPUC supplement on top of that benefit. States will be reimbursed for 100 percent of the cost of administering the benefits, as well as the benefits themselves. 

For tons of other FAQs on who is eligible for unemployment compensation and how it all works, check out this page.

What about tipped workers? Does their tip income count for unemployment compensation?

Under the CARES Act, tipped workers who qualify for unemployment compensation will all receive the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, and additional $600/week payment, on top of their state UC payment like any other worker receiving UC benefits. Unemployed workers who do not have enough reported income to qualify for state UC payments, but are able and available to work, but for COVID-19, would likely be eligible for a smaller federal payment, depending on their state's implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

For tons of other FAQs on who is eligible for unemployment compensation and how it all works, check out this page.

I'm having trouble paying my bills. What can I do?

Student loans: The Department of Education has granted a payment waiver of at least 60 days to many people. But it’s not necessarily automatic. In general, you have to call your loan servicer to request a waiver and to make sure that your loan is eligible. The waiver does not apply to private student loans. Some private lenders are offering suspension of payment for up to three months with no damage to a borrower’s credit.

Utility bills: Some utility providers are offering to stop cutting people off for nonpayment. A number of large internet companies have agreed not to terminate residential or small-business customers who can’t pay their bills. Exact policies and requirements vary, though, so if you need help, you should call and ask.

Housing: There’s also a good chance you can delay your mortgage payment if the outbreak has left you short of money. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has instructed mortgage servicers to allow borrowers whose mortgages are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to delay payments. 

Get credit, mortgage, and rent advice here

What can I do about my taxes?

The United States has moved the tax filing deadline to July 15, giving Americans an additional three months to file their income tax returns. Pennsylvania has done the same, extending their filing deadline to July 15, as well.

Will I be paid if I'm told to stay home?

Passed by Congress in mid-March, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking a diagnosis or preventive care for the coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus.

Many workers at small and midsize companies and nonprofits can get the paid leave, as can government employees, as long as they’ve been employed at least 30 days. The law includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. 

GOVERNMENT

Is the PA primary election still on April 28?

No! Pennsylvania has moved the 2020 primary election to June 2. You can also request a vote by mail ballot here

What has the federal government done to help? 

Since early March, Congress has passed 4 legislative packages intended to provide relief to those who need it most and help stimulate the economy. Read all about these bills and what they mean for you, your family, your small business, or your hospital on my COVID-19 Legislation page. 

Learn more about the major COVID-19 relief and stimulus pacakges passed by Congress.

ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS (STIMULUS CHECKS)

For all FAQs on Economic Impact Payments, check out the IRS FAQ resource page.

I heard people will be getting checks from the government. Is this true? How does it work? 

This is true. The public health and economic consequences of COVID-19 are significant and in the CARES Act signed into law on March 27, the government allocated money for direct checks to the working American people. These rebates help Americans afford what they need during this public health crisis, as many are experiencing a significant cash crunch. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will work to deliver rebates quickly in the form of advance payments. For people who filed a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019, payment processing will be based on payment or address information already on file with the IRS. Electronic distributions will be automatic to an account the payee authorized January 1, 2018 or later.

The amount of the rebate depends on family size. The payment is $1,200 for each adult individual ($2,400 for joint filers), and $500 per qualifying child under age 17. The advance payment of rebates is reduced by $5 for every $100 of income to the extent a taxpayer’s income exceeds $150,000 for a joint filer, $112,500 for a head of household filer, and $75,000 for anyone else (including single filers).

I know there are so many questions on how these payments will work. For more info and Q&As, click here.

Do I have to pay back the stimulus check money from the government? 

No, rebates do not need to be repaid. If an individual expereienced an income loss in 2020 or if they have an increase in family size, they may be able to claim an additional credit of the difference when the individual files their 2020 federal income tax return in 2021. 

For more FAQs on these federal rebate checks, check out this page.

How will these rebates be delivered? 

It depends. Rebates will be delivered automatically - by the IRS - to most Americans who file individual federal income tax returns. When available, electronic direct deposit will be used in place of mailing a physical check. 

For more FAQs on these federal rebate checks, check out this page.

I receive Social Security and do not file taxes. Do I have to file a return to receive my government stimulus check? 

If you are a Pennsylvanian who receives Social Security you will NOT need to file a tax return to get your direct payment. On April 1, the IRS announced that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an Economic Impact Payment. Instead, payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts. 

For more information on this check out the most recent updates from the IRS. 

I receive a Form SSA-1099 or RRB-1099. Can I use Get My Payment to check my payment status? 

Yes, you will be able to use the IRS Get My Payment to check the status of your payment after you verify your identity by answering the required security questions.

I receive a Form SSA-1099 or RRB-1099 and do not file a tax return because I don’t meet the income requirement to file. Can I use Get My Payment to provide my bank information to receive my EIP by direct deposit? 

You will not be able to use Get My Payment to provide your bank account information because you did not file tax returns for 2018 or 2019. The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099 to generate your payment. You will receive your payment as a direct deposit or by mail, just as you would normally receive your benefits.
For example, if your benefits are currently deposited to a Direct Express card, your EIP will also be deposited to that card. If your benefits are currently deposited to your bank account, your EIP will also be deposit to that account.

Why am I getting "Payment Status Not Available" with the IRS "Get My Payment" tool?

The Get My Payment application will return "Payment Status Not Available" for several reasons, including:
  • You are required to file a tax return, but: 
    • The IRS hasn't finished processing your 2019 return
    • The application doesn't yet have your data; the IRS is working on adding more data to allow more people to use it.
  • You don't usually file a return, and: 
    • You used Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here but we haven’t processed your entry yet
    • You receive SSI or VA benefits; information has not been loaded onto our systems yet for people who don’t normally file a tax return.
  • You’re not eligible for a payment (see Eligibility).

If you receive “Payment Status Not Available”, you will not be able to provide direct deposit information at this time.  The IRS is working on updates to allow more people to use this feature.
The IRS updates Get My Payment data once per day, overnight so there is no need to check more often. If you are eligible for a payment and have provided your information either through a recent tax return or the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here application, please check back for updates.

Where did the IRS get my bank information, and what if I need to change it? 

Your bank account information for your economic impact payment is usually captured from:
If Get My Payment indicates your payment is pending or has been processed, you cannot change your bank account information. 
 

My bank account information has changed since I filed. Can I update it using the tool? 

To help protect against potential fraud, the tool also does not allow people to change direct deposit bank account information already on file with the IRS. 
If the IRS issues a direct deposit and the bank information is invalid or the bank account has been closed, the bank will reject the deposit. They will then mail your payment as soon as possible to the address we have on file for you. Get My Payment will be updated to reflect the date your payment will be mailed. Typically, once the payment is mailed, it will take up to 14 days to receive the payment, standard mailing time.

What does it mean when Get My Payment says, "Please Try Again Later"?

Your account has been locked.
  • Information you entered does not match IRS records – for security reasons the IRS limits each user to three failed attempts per 24-hour period; or
  • You have already accessed the system the maximum number of times within 24 hours – the IRS limits each user to five logins per day to manage system capacity.
You will able to access the application after 24 hours have passed. 
 

Why am I receiving an error message when entering my personal information or tax information? 

To ensure the information is entered correctly, please use the help tips provided when entering the information requested to verify your identity. If the information you enter does not match IRS records, you will receive an error message. Check the information requested to ensure you entered it accurately. 


You may want to check your most recent tax return or consider if there is a different way to enter your street address (for example, 123 N Main St vs 123 North Main St).  You may also verify how your address is formatted with the US Postal Service (USPS) by entering your address in the USPS ZIP Lookup tool, and then enter your address into Get My Payment exactly as it appears on file with USPS.


If you receive an error when entering your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), refund amount, or amount you owed, make sure you are entering the numbers exactly as they appear on your Form 1040 or tax transcript. If the numbers from your 2019 tax return are not accepted, try the numbers from your 2018 tax return instead. If the information you enter does not match IRS records three times within 24 hours, you will be locked out of Get My Payment for 24 hours for security reasons. You will be able to access the application again after 24 hours. There is no need to contact the IRS.

 

My address is different from the last tax return I filed. Can I change it using Get My Payment?

No. Get My Payment will not allow you to change your address. To change your address:
  • If you have not filed your 2019 tax return, enter your new address on your return when you file. The IRS updates their records when your return is processed. File electronically to ensure your return will be processed more quickly.
  • If you have filed your 2019 tax return and you did not receive a refund via direct deposit, your payment will be mailed to the address the IRS has on file for you. This is generally the address on your most recent return or as updated through the United States Postal Service (USPS).
If you are required to file a tax return, you can go to IRS Free File to file your return electronically.
 
If you are not required to file, go to our IRS Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info Here application to electronically submit your information to receive the Economic Impact Payment (EIP).
 
Note: Due to efforts to protect IRS employees, taxpayers and our stakeholders, extremely limited services are currently available. The IRS is unable to process paper tax returns, respond to paper correspondence or staff toll-free live service lines. Please use all electronic options available to you on IRS.gov or through your tax software provider.
 

I requested a direct deposit of my payment. Why is the IRS mailing it to me? 

It is possible that the IRS does not have the correct bank account information for you, or your financial institution rejected the direct deposit. In either case, your payment will be mailed to the address the IRS has on file for you.


Note: Get My Payment will not allow you to change your bank information once your payment has been processed. No action is needed to contact the IRS as phone assistors won’t be able to change your bank information either.

When will Get My Payment provide a payment date after adding bank information?

If you enter your bank information in Get My Payment any day until noon on Tuesday, your payment date will be available beginning the following Saturday in Get My Payment. If you enter your bank information after noon on Tuesday, your payment date should be available beginning the Saturday after next in Get My Payment.

There may be times when your payment may be sent by mail because the payment was already in process before the bank information was entered. If this is the case, then typically it will take up to 14 days to receive the payment (standard mailing time).

 

I neither owed nor received a refund on my tax return. What should I enter to submit my bank information?

You can select either “I received a refund” or “I owed money” and enter 0 for the “Refund Amount or Amount You Owed.”

I applied my 2019 refund toward my 2020 estimated tax (or 2018 refund toward my 2019 estimated tax if based on your 2018 return). What should I enter for the refund amount?

If you requested that all or part of your refund be applied toward your estimated tax, you should enter the total amount of your refund from line 21a of your 2019 tax return (or line 20a of your 2018 tax return).

I don’t recognize the bank information shown on my Payment Status. What can I do? What will happen to my payment? 

If you received your refund via a prepaid card or through your tax preparer, you may not recognize the information shown. In some cases, your preparer may have used an account number similar to your Social Security number.
 
Your bank account information for your Economic Impact Payment is captured from:
  • the most recently filed tax return if you received a refund by direct deposit in 2018 or 2019, or
  • the bank information you provided on our Get My Payment application, or
  • the bank information you provided on the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool.
If the IRS issues a direct deposit and the bank information is invalid or the bank account has been closed, the bank will reject the deposit. The IRS will then mail your payment as soon as possible to the address we have on file for you. Get My Payment will be updated to reflect the date your payment will be mailed. Typically, it will take up to 14 days to receive the payment, standard mailing time. No action is needed on your part to ensure the payment will be re-issued.

 

 

 

BASIC NEEDS

Do I qualify for SNAP if I am getting unemployment insurance?

Your household must meet certain requirements to be eligible for SNAP and receive benefits, even if you are getting unemployment insurance. If the PA state agency determines that you are eligible to receive SNAP benefits, you will receive benefits back to the date you submitted your application. 

Check your eligibility and apply for SNAP here.

How much will I receive from SNAP benefits?

States calculate monthly SNAP benefit amounts for each household, based on the household's net income, up to the maximum monthly allotment amount for the household's size. Current maximum allotment amounts are available here.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives USDA the authority to allow states to provide temporary emergency CR-SNAP benefits so all participating households receive up to the maximum monthly allotment for the household's size. Additional info available here

 

STAYING IN

What does Governor Wolf's Stay at Home order mean for me? 

The virus that causes Coronavirus 2019 Disease (COVID-19) is easily transmitted, especially in group settings, and it is essential that the spread of the virus be slowed to protect the ability of public and private health care providers to handel the influx of new patients and safeguard public health and safety. The intent of the Governor's Stay at Home order is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling life-sustaining services to continue. 

Click here for full information on the Stay at Home order. 

When people need to leave their places of residence in conjunction with allowable individual activities, allowable essential travel, or by virtue of exemption from this order, the Pennsylvania Department of Health strongly encourages individuals to abide by the following social distancing requirements to greatest extent reasonably possible: 

 Maintain at least six feet from other individuals. 

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible, or use hand sanitizer. 
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a sleeve or elbow, not hands. 
  • Do not shake hands. 
  • Regularly clean high-contact surface areas. 

How can my family and I prepare for COVID-19? 

Create a household plan of action to help protect your health and the health of those you care about in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community:

  • Talk with the people who need to be included in your plan, and discuss what to do if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community.
  • Plan ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications, particularly older adults and those with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.
    • Make sure they have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time.
  • Get to know your neighbors and find out if your neighborhood has a website or social media page to stay connected.
  • Create a list of local organizations that you and your household can contact in the event you need access to information, healthcare services, support, and resources.
  • Create an emergency contact list of family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.

What should I do if someone in my house gets sick with COVID-19? 

Most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. CDC has directions for people who are recovering at home and their caregivers, including:

  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
    • Trouble breathing
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

  • Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible).
  • Clean hands regularly by handwashing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Provide your sick household member with clean disposable facemasks to wear at home, if available, to help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others.
  • Clean the sick room and bathroom, as needed, to avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person.
  • Avoid sharing personal items like utensils, food, and drinks.

What cleaning products should I use to protect against COVID-19? 

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.  If surfaces are dirty, clean them using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. To disinfect, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. See CDC’s recommendations for household cleaning and disinfection.

Should I stock up on groceries?

Experts say people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty appearance of store shelves, food suppliers and retailers say the supply chain remains strong. In the meantime, plan two weeks of meals, if possible. 

I'm stuck inside. Help?

Staying home is the most important thing we can all do to help flatten the curve. Be sure to get up and stretch, because exercise can help burn off pent up energy. Social distancing doesn’t mean disconnecting from those you care about, so check in with your loved ones frequently. 

If you or a loved one would like to access mental health care, text PA to 741-741.

Can I exercise outside?

Yes, getting exercise outside is a great alternative to going to the gym, where touching high-contact equipment can pose a risk. 

Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals? 

There is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States.

Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene. For more information on the many benefits of pet ownership, as well as staying safe and healthy around animals including pets, livestock, and wildlife, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick with COVID-19? 

You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the new coronavirus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets.

 

STUDENTS

For all FAQs on student aid please visit the FAQ page provided by the Department of Education.

My campus is closed or offering only online instruction, will I still get paid for the hours I am unable to work for my Federal Work-Study job?

If you're unable to work your scheduled hours because of coronavirus-related disruptions (such as school or employer closures or student quarantines), your school may pay for any scheduled hours or allow you to work by another means - for example, completing work online or remotely, depending on the job. Contact your school for more info. 

I heard interest on federal student loans is being temporarily set at 0%. Which loans does the 0% rate apply to? 

From March 13, 2020 through September 30, 2020, the interest rate is 0% on the following types of fedearl student loans owned by the Department of Education: 

  • Defauled and nondefaulted Direct Loans 
  • Defaulted and nondefaulted FFEL Program loans
  • Federak Perkins Loans 

Please note that some FFEL Program loans are owned by commercial lenders, and some Perkins Loans are owned by the institution you attended. These loans are not eligible for this benefit at this time. 

If my student loans are owned by the Department of Education, do I need to do anything for the interest on my loans to be set at 0%?

No, the Department of Education will automatically adjust your account so that interest doesn't accrue. The account adjustment will be effective March 13, 2020. 

Will suspended federal student loan payments count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness? 

If you have a Direct Loan, were on a qualifying repayment plan prior to the suspension, and work full-time for a qualifying employer during the suspension, wthen you will receive credit toward PSLF for the period of suspension as though you made on-time payments.

 

JUST FOR KIDS

How can I protect my child from COVID-19 infection? 

You can encourage your child to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by teaching them to do the same things everyone should do to stay healthy.

  • Clean hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid people who are sick (coughing and sneezing)
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks)
  • Launder items including washable plush toys as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.

Are the symptoms of COVID-19 different in children than adults? 

No. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms. Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported. It’s not known yet whether some children may be at higher risk for severe illness, for example, children with underlying medical conditions and special healthcare needs. There is much more to be learned about how the disease impacts children.

While school is out, can my child hang out with their friends?

The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit social interactions as much as possible. Parents should minimize play dates, and if held, parents should keep the groups small. Advise older children to hang out in a small group and to meet up outside rather than inside. It’s easier to keep and maintain space between others in outdoor settings, like parks.

If you have small meetups, consider hanging out with another family or friend who is also taking extra measures to put distance between themselves and others (i.e. social distancing). Make sure children practice everyday preventive behaviors, such as cleaning and then disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. Remember, if children meet outside of school in bigger groups, it can put everyone at risk. This includes spring break and other group travel. Parents should help their older children revise spring break plans that included non-essential travel to crowded areas.

Information about COVID-19 in children is somewhat limited, but current data suggest children with COVID-19 may show only mild symptoms. However, they can still pass this virus onto others who may be at higher risk, including older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions.

 

TRAVEL

My loved one is stuck in another country, what can I do? 

Reach out/notify the State Department of your situation via the 24 hour hotline the Department has set up to help stranded American citizens:

  • Callers located in U.S. and Canada: 1-888-407-4747
  • Callers located overseas: 1-202-501-4444

You should also register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to get updates. 

 

BUSINESS

I'm a small business owner - where can I get help to keep my business alive? 

We know the toll the COVID-19 crisis is taking on our small businesses and local economies. To apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, see government contracting options, and explore local assistance, please visit the resources below. 

 
Visit my COVID-19 Business Resources page and download my full COVID-19 Business Guide for more detailed information.
 

How does the expanded paid sick leave and family and medical leave through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act impact my business?

Check out this fact sheet for employers and this frequently asked questions page provided by the Department of Labor for information on how this expansion will impact your business and implementation guidance.

With Governor Wolf's order to close all non-life-sustaining businesses, how can I request a waiver to keep my business open?

Pennsylvania businesses requesting clarification on whether they are defined as life-sustaining should check this list, email the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) customer service resource account at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov, or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH and select option 1 to reach DCED staff. For businesses that determine from the list that they are non-life sustaining, but would like to seek a waiver, there is an online waiver application.

The deadline to apply for a waiver is APRIL 3.

When a business completes a waiver form, a team of professionals at DCED will review each request and respond based on the guiding principle of balancing public safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical infrastructure services and functions. Those requesting a waiver will be notified via email if their operations may re-open. Businesses applying for a waiver must remain closed until a decision is made about their application.

DCED offers working capital loans that could be of assistance to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Resources and information will be posted to http://dced.pa.gov/resources as they become available. On March 19, Governor Wolf announced the availability of low-interest loans for small businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

 

SPREAD

How does the virus spread? 

This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses.

Can someone who has been quarantined for COVID-19 spread the illness to others? 

Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease, which is the span of time during which people have developed illness after exposure. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.

Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be spread through food, including refrigerated or frozen food? 

Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Share