Pennsylvania Takes Steps to Combat Coronavirus
3/13/2020
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Pennsylvania Takes Steps to Combat Coronavirus

With the first cases of coronavirus appearing in Pennsylvania late last week, officials are continuing their work to protect public health and limit spread of the virus.

To ensure potential cases are identified promptly, the Wolf administration announced this week the state’s major health insurers have all agreed to cover medically appropriate COVID-19 diagnostic testing and associated treatment for consumers and have committed to waive any cost-sharing for the testing. The insurers include Highmark, UPMC Health Plan, Geisinger, Independence BlueCross, Capital Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, Pennsylvania Health and Wellness, and Oscar.

Much like the flu, symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some will suffer mild symptoms while others may experience severe illness or death. It is important to seek testing and treatment if you think you may have been exposed to the virus.

Human coronaviruses spread just like the flu or a cold, including through the air by coughing or sneezing; close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; touching an object or surface with the virus on it; or occasionally, fecal contamination.

Help protect yourself and others by covering coughs or sneezes with your elbow instead of your hands; wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available; clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remotes and other frequently touched items; and be sure to stay at home if you are sick.

The state Department of Health offers a wealth of resources about coronavirus to help you better understand the potential risk and how to mitigate it for yourself and your loved ones. Click here to review the information. Resources are also available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.

Also, the COVID-19 disaster declaration for the Commonwealth triggers protections under state law against price gouging for consumers and businesses. Under rules governing a disaster emergency, companies and vendors are prohibited from charging a price for consumer goods or services that exceeds 20% of the average price for which those goods or services were sold for in the seven days preceding the date of declaration. If you believe you experienced price gouging, send the details in an email to pricegouging@attorneygeneral.gov.
 
 
Sign the Jobs Bill!

Continuing our focus on ensuring #GoodJobs4PA, a bipartisan group of lawmakers joined organized labor and business leaders in both Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre this week to call on Gov. Tom Wolf to sign legislation creating an Energy and Fertilizer Manufacturing Tax Credit.

Passed last month by significant bipartisan majorities in both the House and the Senate, House Bill 1100 was designed to encourage good-paying job and career opportunities – without the need of mandates, taxes or fees. Instead, the measure would provide tax credits for building petrochemical manufacturing facilities in the northeast region of Pennsylvania. These facilities would then spur further investment in related businesses.

The bill mirrors a law that created the Pennsylvania Resource Manufacturing tax credit, which led to the Shell Cracker Plant investment in western Pennsylvania, a $6 billion investment and the largest construction site in North America employing roughly 7,000 people daily.

If enacted, this tax credit would focus on large manufacturers using Pennsylvania methane in the production of ammonia, urea and methanol.
 
 
Effort to Boost EMS Ranks

It’s no secret that many ambulance companies in the Commonwealth, and particularly those in rural areas, are struggling to recruit and retain enough emergency responders to keep their doors open.

To help address the problem, the Department of Health Bureau of Emergency Medical Services recently outlined regulatory exceptions that would allow individuals with lapsed certifications to more easily be reinstated.

From now through September 2021, any EMS provider whose certification expired on or after Feb. 1, 2010, may reinstate their EMS provider certification by completing one certification cycle worth of EMS continuing education, regardless of how many cycles their certification has been expired. Specific requirements for each type of certification are available here.

A second exception being made by the bureau says any EMS provider whose certifications have expired but have not been expired for more than one year will not be required to take the written examination previously required.

To read the full bulletin issued by the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, click here.
 
 
Final Farmers Breakfast Draws a Crowd


Special thanks to the hundreds of farmers who came to my annual Farmers Breakfast last Friday. It will be my final one before retirement. Speakers included Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture; Gary Swan, who retired from the PA Farm Bureau and is a former National FFA President; and Dave Swartz, who is Assistant Director of Programs for Animal Systems at Penn State Extension.
 
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