Rep. Wild Holds Fourth COVID-19 Response Call with Local and State Stakeholders
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07) convened her fourth bipartisan working group call with Pennsylvania officials, as well as representatives from the health care, education, business, emergency, and elderly care sectors. Nearly 40 community and state leaders are part of the working group focused on continued communication and collaboration between federal, state, and local officials and stakeholders.
“I know this crisis is impacting all of us, in every aspect of our lives,” Wild said. “I want to know what everyone is hearing on the ground, what their priorities are, what they need, and how we can address those needs on the federal level.”
Leaders from each sector provided the following information and updates:
Health Care Sector
As reported by the local health care officials on the call, the backlog of COVID-19 testing at the local level has substantially decreased in the past week and they expect the gap to continue closing in the coming weeks. While health officials are starting to see the effects of community spread, the Greater Lehigh Valley community has taken measures to reduce this. Health care professionals are seeing growing success with tele-health video screenings, screening hundreds of individuals per day to determine who needs to be tested and help maintain social distancing. They also reported increased use of telehealth across the state for regularly scheduled appointments.
Regarding the recent White House estimates of 100,000-200,000 COVID-19 related deaths, the implications for PA-07 are dependent upon how well individuals are able to maintain social distancing. Proper social distancing remains the top priority to limit the spread. Local health care professionals are seeing trends consistent with national reports, with individuals with underlying health conditions being the most likely to suffer more severe symptoms.
Local elected officials expressed the need for clarification on the timelines for the relief and stimulus supplied by the CARES Act is the top concern from local elected officials. As families and individuals begin to miss more paychecks, there are concerns about when the direct payments to individuals will be coming and how quickly unemployment can be processed. Wild will continue to work with the administration and her colleagues in Congress to ensure this process is quick and accurate. Additionally, local communities are experiencing homelessness concerns, because while shelters are operational, their ability to stay open is subject to staffers not testing positive for COVID-19.
Most school districts in our community have successfully rolled out their online learning this week. As school districts continue to provide their school meals every week, their primary concern is protection for staff at meal distribution sites, keeping up with the proper gear as recommendations continue to change, and being able to provide the protective gear as it is needed.
As can be expected, this crisis continues to deeply impact our local businesses. Businesses are straddling the line between continuing operations for those that are deemed “life sustaining” or reopening after getting waivers, while still keeping their employees safe. The Small Business Administration applications have opened and questions and concerns about eligibility and process are at the forefront for banks and businesses. This week, Wild has participated in several county-wide telephone town halls with businesses and will continue to do so in the coming weeks. Available on Wild’s website is a regularly updated small business resource guide available for download here.
Senior Care Sector
At present, Meals on Wheels is able to maintain their meal delivery and the CARES Act specifically provides resources for daily operating costs. As this crisis continues, our senior care providers are trying to generate volunteers to help with grocery shopping and letting seniors know these services are available to them.
Please visit Wild’s Coronavirus Resource Page for information and updates.