Rep. Wild Holds Second COVID-19 Response Call with Local and State Stakeholders
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07) convened her second bipartisan working group call with Pennsylvania officials, as well as representatives from the education, business, emergency, and elderly care sectors. Nearly 40 community and state leaders are part of the working group focused on sector, local, state, and federal collaboration efforts to keep PA-07 citizens healthy and safe.
“In the last week, I have held a telephone town hall with thousands of constituents, introduced critical bipartisan legislation to support our seniors through this crisis, and worked with my colleagues at the federal level to fight for working families in my district,” Wild said. “Right now, information is changing rapidly, and staying on the same page as the leaders and experts in our community is essential. These calls help ensure our response is coordinated and matches the true needs of our community.”
Leaders from each sector provided the following information and updates:
Health Care Sector
While we are continuing, and will continue, to see an increase in patients being treated COVID-19 and positive COVID-19 tests, both St. Luke’s University Health Network and Lehigh Valley Health Network have been able to increase their testing and treatment efforts. Rapid spikes in positive cases are largely attributable to increases in testing capacity.
Both hospitals currently have enough equipment and beds to meet the challenges of rising cases and have been able to establish a surge plan in preparation for a worst-case scenario. Right now, medical experts are emphasizing the importance of social distancing and self-quarantining to help decrease the strain on the health care system and reduce the number of people who need treatment. Both health networks are committed to collaborating and sharing information to combat this outbreak.
State officials are working to holistically address this crisis and increase flexibility in programs to maintain necessary resources. The Pennsylvania state government has removed the one-week gap for unemployment benefits to become effective and will not terminate any SNAP benefits in an effort to help alleviate some of the economic burden on families and workers most impacted by this pandemic.
Last night, Governor Wolf issued state-wide guidance permitting only life-sustaining businesses to maintain in-person services.
Businesses that would like to seek an exemption waiver may email: RAemail@example.com
Information from both the state and federal government is flowing more quickly and freely and school districts are prepared to implement further guidance when it is received.
Conversations are ongoing surrounding the longer-term possibilities of full-closure and remote learning or possible re-openings as the situation progresses. If need be, options do exist to allow some high school seniors to complete their graduation requirements online, and school districts are focused on how to best meet the needs of students with individualized education plans through remote education. Despite state-wide closings, school districts have been able to continue to serve school breakfasts and lunches to the community.
Both the Chamber of Commerce and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) highlighted the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our local economy and businesses, including small businesses, and our cities. Earlier this week, Wild hosted a call with leaders of the local banking community to discuss these concerns and their long-term needs. Wild announced that more support for small businesses and working families were being worked on for the third Congressional stimulus package addressing COVID-19.
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development are currently working with small businesses to help provide emergency loans and federal loans through the Small Business Administration can be applied to here: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela
Senior Care Sector
Yesterday, Wild announced her introduction of the Combatting Hunger for Older Americans During Coronavirus Crisis Act, which would help ensure older individuals and individuals with disabilities receive the meals provided to them under the Older Americans Act through in-home delivery, as opposed to group settings, throughout this pandemic. On the call, she reiterated the importance of ensuring no senior go without food due to this crisis.
As social distancing continues, there has been increasing concern about the impact of social isolation on our seniors. United Way and other senior organizations are working on plans to mitigate these challenges, including potentially organizing a volunteer phone bank to seniors. Through these conversations, it is apparent that increased support for our senior community be a national priority, and that basic needs of the senior community must be met while taking action to prevent further spread of the virus.
Please visit Wild’s Coronavirus Resource Page for information and updates.