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Coronavirus

LAST UPDATED: May 26, 2020, 11:32 a.m. ET
 

Quick Links to Outside Information

Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Information Webpage
How to get tested for COVID-19 in Pennsylvania
CDC COVID-19 mitigation plans for community locations
Pennsylvania Department of Education school closings FAQ

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) FAQ from the U.S. Small Business Administration
Guidance for non-essential businesses in Pennsylvania
Mental health resources
Information on arrival restrictions to the U.S. from abroad

Overview

As the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread in Pennsylvania and around the country, I want to make sure you have the latest information to help you keep yourself and your family safe and healthy, all in one place.

To date, there are 68,186 total COVID-19 cases and 5,139 deaths in Pennsylvania. There are 6,045 total cases and 412 deaths in the Eighth Congressional District:

  • 1,494 total cases in Lackawanna County (153 deaths)
  • 2,651 total cases in Luzerne County (135 deaths)
  • 1,305 total cases in Monroe County (99 deaths)
  • 477 total cases in Pike County (18 deaths)
  • 118 total cases in Wayne County (7 deaths)

I am monitoring this situation closely, and I remain in contact with Pennsylvania health officials as we address these confirmed cases. More information on the current situation in Pennsylvania is available on the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) website. You can also follow DOH on Facebook and Twitter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are monitoring cases nationally, and they are keeping their website up-to-date with the latest information as it becomes available.

As we continue to learn about this disease, the most important thing we can do is take steps to prevent it from spreading further in our communities.

Below, I’ve compiled some information about the spread of COVID-19 so far, state- and local-level resources, and action we’ve taken at the federal level to address the outbreak. 

I've also made my office available via phone for extended hours to help answer any questions you may have about how the federal government can help you during this time. You can call any time between 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and a member of my staff will be able to assist you.

570-341-1050

Mitigation and Prevention in Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf has issued statewide social distancing guidance to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout Pennsylvania. The Wolf Administration has:

  • Issued “Stay at Home” orders covering all 67 Pennsylvania counties beginning at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1. Individuals may leave their residence only to perform the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel:
    • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
    • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
    • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
    • To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
    • To care for a family member or pet in another household
    • Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
    • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
    • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
    • Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
    • Travel required by law enforcement or court order
    • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth
    • Anyone performing life-sustaining travel does not need paperwork to prove the reason for travel.
  • The following operations are exempt:
    • Life-sustaining business activities
    • Health care or medical services providers
    • Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
    • Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure prders
    • News media
    • Law enforcement, emergency medical services personnel, firefighters
    • The federal government
    • Religious institutions

In addition, the Wolf Administration has:

  • Recommended that all Pennsylvanians wear homemade cloth or fabric masks any time they leave their homes.
  • Closed all Pennsylvania K-12 schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. 
  • Closed all non-life-sustaining busineses as of 8 p.m. March 19 in order to “flatten the curve” and protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians. (A list of life-sustaining businesses may be found here.)
  • Encouraged religious leaders to find alternatives to in-person gatherings.
  • Initiated a no-visitor policy at all State correctional facilities and nursing homes to ensure the safety of inmates, residents, staff and visitors.
  • Restricted visitors in state centers to ensure health and safety for individuals with an intellectual disability.
  • Restricted visitors in assisted living and personal care homes to minimize exposure to our seniors and individuals with disabilities.

State resources for affected businesses and individuals

Programs to help those who have lost jobs, income, and health insurance as a result of COVID-19 include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The state Department of Human Services urges the public to submit applications for all of these programs at www.compass.state.pa.us. Indviduals with a smartphone can download the mobile app MYCOMPASS PA through the App Store or Google Play Store. Clients outside of Philadelphia can call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930.

For small businesses, please note that the DCED offers working capital loans that could be of assistance. Resources and information will be posted to dced.pa.gov/resources as they become available.

On March 6, 2020, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Chairman signed an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication and steam utility terminations by utilities that are under the PUC's jurisdiction. The moratorium will remain in place as long as the coronavirus-related Proclamation of Disaster issued by Governor Tom Wolf remains in effect. If you are struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your service provider for possible emergency assistance programs.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has resources and information available for consumers who have insurance related questions and developed a Frequently Asked Questions page that provides information and answers to common questions related to insurance coverage and COVID-19.

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Federal Government Response

On Friday, March 27, Congress passed and the president signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a sweeping $2.2 trillion relief package that makes major investments in the U.S. health system and quickly provides relief for our nation’s workers, families, and seniors as much of the economy remains shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak. A few highlights:

  • Immediate Direct Cash Payments to Lower- and Middle-Income Americans: Provides for immediate, direct cash payments to lower-and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a household. 
  • State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund: Creates a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund, nearly $5 billion of which will go to Pennsylvania to bolster our statewide efforts to fight this pandemic.
  • $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits: Provides an additional $600 per week for the next four months as well as an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits; expands eligibility to include self-employed and “gig” economy workers.
  • More Than $375 Billion in Small Business Relief: Provides more than $375 billion in small business relief, including $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll; $17 billion for debt relief for current and new Small Business Administration (SBA) borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants.
  • Approximately $150 Billion for Our Hospitals, Health Care Workers, and Health Research: Provides an investment of about $150 billion in our hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment (PPE) desperately needed by our health care workers, including ventilators, n95 masks, gowns and gloves, among other essential equipment.

Like any compromise, this bill isn’t perfect. But it bolsters our public health response and delivers swift, meaningful relief to Americans during this challenging time. Find out more about what the CARES Act means for you here.

This third package builds on two House-led bills Cartwright helped craft as a member of the House Appropriations Committee: An $8.3 billion emergency funding package (H.R. 6074) for preparedness, prevention and more, and The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), to help families stay healthy and make ends meet during the crisis. H.R. 6201 established free coronavirus testing (including for the uninsured); provides paid sick leave to those least likely to have it, offers up to three months of paid family and medical leave and strong unemployment benefits; expands food assistance for vulnerable children, families and seniors; boosts Medicaid; protects health workers; and provides additional funding to states for the ongoing economic consequences of the pandemic, among other provisions.

Many constituents have been asking about eligibility for the direct cash payments (particularly seniors who rely on Social Security), unemployment benefits and small business relief. There are more details on these topics in the sections below.

Click here to learn more about this emergency funding package. If you are a health official or small business owner in the Eighth Congressional District and have questions about how to access these funds, please contact my office and we would be happy to assist you.

Going forward, Congress will continue to take all necessary steps to fight this outbreak.

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Direct Cash Payments and Social Security

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients are eligible for the rebate payments provided by the CARES Act:

  • Everyone is eligible for the full rebate payments as long as they have an SSN and their household income is not too high. Rebate payments start to phase out at the thresholds of $75,000 single, $112,500 head of household, and $150,000 married. This includes Social Security beneficiaries (retirement, disability, survivor) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients.
  • The full rebate amounts are $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.
  • Many people will be paid automatically by IRS: everyone who filed a 2019 or 2018 tax return, and all Social Security beneficiaries (whether or not they filed a return). Thanks to a bipartisan effort of both Democrats and Republicans, seniors on social security will not have to take any extra steps or complete a tax return to receive the stimulus checks. After we pressed the IRS this week to make this process as easy as possible for our seniors, the IRS eliminated unnecessary requirements and will use the information they already have on file.  
  • Like other tax credits, these payments do not count as income or resources for meanstested programs. So receiving a rebate will not interfere with someone’s eligibility for SSI, SNAP, Medicaid, ACA premium credits, TANF, housing assistance, or other income-related federal programs.
  • These rebates do not affect receipt of state or federal unemployment compensation.
  • The bill also requires Treasury, in conjunction with SSA and other federal agencies, to conduct a “public awareness campaign” about the rebates, especially targeting those who do not file tax returns.
  • The bill gives the Social Security Administration $38 million for its role in helping carry out the rebates, in addition to $300 million to bolster its overall service delivery in light of the significant challenges posed by COVID-19.

The Act’s payroll tax provisions have no effect on Social Security’s trust funds:

  • The bill lets employers temporarily delay payment of their share of Social Security payroll taxes. This does not mean they don’t owe those taxes, but rather that they will make the payments in 2021 and 2022. This effectively allows the Federal government to loan these businesses funds to ensure they can continue operating during this crisis.
  • Additionally, certain provisions in the CARES Act, and the recently-enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act, rely on payroll tax credits to provide much-needed support for businesses during this time.
  • None of these provisions change the amount or timing of money deposited into the Social Security trust funds, as the bill replenishes the trust funds from general revenues.
  • They also do not alter the fundamental nature of Social Security as a contributory system where individuals earn their benefits with each paycheck.

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Assistance for Small Businesses

The CARES Act provides more than $375 billion in relief for struggling small businesses, which falls into two main categories: Access to Capital and Small Business Support.

Access to capital:

  • $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay employees and keep them on the payroll.
    • These loans are open to most businesses under 500 employees, non-profits, the selfemployed, startups, and cooperatives.
  • $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers. SBA will pay the principal and interest for the next 6-months on SBA-backed loans.
  • $10 billion in immediate disaster grants. Using the current economic injury disaster loan program, SBA can provide up to $10,000 to applicants within 3 days of applicants self-certifying they are eligible.

Small business support:

  • Requires SBA to provide additional language resources to ensure small business owners can access the resources they need as easily as possible.
  • $265 million in funding for resource partners, including Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers to provide training and counseling to businesses impacted by Coronavirus.
  • A waiver of the WBC matching requirement to alleviate the need to fundraise during the emergency.
  • $10 million for Minority Business Development Agency grants to train and counsel minority owned firms impacted by Coronavirus.
  • $675 million to provide SBA with the resources it needs to staff up and administer these new and enhanced programs.
  • Finally, this will increase the number of small businesses that qualify for streamlined bankruptcy process, by nearly tripling the debt cap to $7.5 million to help American small businesses that will need to reorganized due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information about eligibility, loan forgiveness and more can be found here.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is now offering Pennsylvania low-interest federal disaster loans to small businesses that have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. These loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses or 2.75% for non-profits. For questions, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or email (disastercustomerservice@sba.gov).

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Unemployment Compensation

The federal and state government are working together to provide additional unemployment resources for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. More information and frequently asked questions about unemployment programs in general can be found here. Specific information about Pennsylvania's programs follows below. More specific information can be found at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry unemployment office Frequently Asked Questions page.

$600 extra weekly benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

Through July 31, 2020, the federal government will provide a temporary Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) of $600 per week for any worker eligible for state or federal unemployment compensation (UC) benefits. The FPUC would be paid in addition to and at the same time (but not necessarily in the same check) as regular state or federal UC benefits. The FPUC, combined with the underlying state unemployment benefit, would replace 100 percent of wages for the average U.S. worker. The federal supplement would not affect eligibility for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. State UC programs will be fully reimbursed for the cost of administering the supplement and for the cost of the supplement itself. Individuals receiving undemployment benefits do not need to do anything else to receive FPUC.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for self-employed, independent contractors, and others

Applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) are now available through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. PUA provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment compensation. This includes

  • the self-employed (independent contractors, gig economy workers, and workers for some religious entities)
  • those seeking part-time employment
  • those who lack sufficient work history
  • those who otherwise do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits, including those who have exhausted normal unemployment benefits

The application for PUA is available here. Please note that the Department of Labor & Industry expects long wait times for applications given the intense interest in these programs. 

Presidential declarations

On March 13, the president invoked the Stafford Act and declared an infectious disease emergency, making available billions of dollars of additional emergency funding for state and local governments, as well as federal agencies managing the response to the pandemic. In addition, the administration says it is working to accelerate the production of coronavirus tests and set up “drive-thru” testing locations in certain areas. The administration also said it is working with private companies to develop an online screening tool in order to identify where the need for more tests is most critical. Regarding hospitals, certain rules will be relaxed to increase the number of beds and doctors available to treat coronavirus patients. Lastly, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will take measures to expand the use of telehealth technologies to support health professionals and officials in areas where additional medical help is needed, and to limit the travel of people infected with the virus.

On March 18, the president issued an executive order under the Defense Production Act of 1950 to obtain health and medical resources needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19, including personal protective equipment and ventilators. The executive order requires production and orders from certain industries to prioritize the response to the national health emergency. This will be used to ramp up production of medical supplies needed to treat coronavirus patients.

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Information About COVID-19

How COVID-19 spreads

Based on what is known about similar coronaviruses, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but it is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. People are likely most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest), but some spread might be possible before symptoms are apparent. There have been reports of this with COVID-19, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. More information from the CDC here.

Symptoms of COVID-19

For confirmed COVID-19 cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. The CDC believes that symptoms could appear between 2-14 days after exposure.

COVID-19 symptoms

What to do if you believe you have been infected

The CDC instructs those who believe they have been infected with COVID-19 to call their primary health care provider. If you do not have a primary care doctor, Pennsylvanians who have potential exposure and symptoms should call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.

Often, people are able to isolate at home while experiencing these symptoms during illness, as long as they are minor. While your doctor or the DOH helps determine next steps, the CDC recommends people who experience symptoms to stay home and keep distance from other members of your household, including pets. When around other people, it is recommended that the symptomatic person wear a facemask. And, of course, people who experience symptoms and other members of the household should be diligent about washing their hands frequently, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and cleaning high-touch surfaces often.

Preventing COVID-19

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, over 70 vaccines are under development around the world, but it is expected to be over a year before any are proven effective and ready for widespread use. At this time, the best way to prevent this disease is to avoid being exposed. In general, the CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases not only like the novel coronavirus, but also the flu and the common cold. Preventive actions include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:

  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and care takers.

Wash your hands often and vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

It is currently flu season, so please get your flu vaccine if you haven't already. These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.

The CDC maintains a webpage with more information on how to prepare and take action for COVID-19 in your home, workplace, school, etc.

COVID-19 and Mental Health

On Friday, April 3, the Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the launch of a statewide Support & Referral Helpline staffed by skilled and compassionate caseworkers who will be available 24/7 to counsel Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency and refer them to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs. Pennsylvanians should simply call: 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.

Many other resources remain available to Pennsylvanians in need of support, including:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Línea Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “PA” to 741-741
  • Safe2Say: 1-844-723-2729 or www.safe2saypa.org
  • Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
  • Get Help Now Hotline (for substance use disorders): 1-800-662-4357 

Additionally, the CDC has helpful information on ways to manage stress and anxiety on its website, including for parents, first responders and health care professionals. Find out more here.

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Travel Warnings and Restrictions

On March 19, 2020, the State Department announced a Global Level 4 Health Advisory.  The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.  U.S. citizens who live in the United States and are currently abroad should arrange for immediate return, unless they are prepared to remain abroad indefinitely.  U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.  Please visit travel.state.gov for the most updated information.

As of Saturday, March 14, the Trump administration has restricted travel from the following countries to the U.S. for at least the next 30 days: Austria, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. As of midnight on March 16, they will be extended to the United Kingdom and Ireland. The following are exempt from the restrictions:

  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders)
  • Members of the U.S. armed forces, their spouses and children
  • Foreign spouses and children of citizens and lawful permanent residents
  • Foreign parents and legal guardians of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is unmarried and under the age of 21
  • Unmarried foreign siblings of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents under the age of 21
  • Foster children or ward of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and prospective adoptees entering under IR-4 or IH-4 visas
  • Air and sea crew members traveling as nonimmigrants on C-1, D or C-1/D visas
  • Diplomats and other foreign government officials, their spouses and children
  • Foreigners traveling to the U.S. at the invitation of the government for a purpose related to the containment of the virus

Anyone returning to the U.S. from these countries will be expected to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Only certain airports are receiving passengers coming into the U.S. They are the following:

  • Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan
  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
  • Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California
  • Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia

The limitation on points of entry to the U.S. is causing a slowdown in screening at these airports, so travelers may face long wait times upon their return.

Other travel advisories can be viewed on the State Department’s website here.

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The Census and COVID-19

The 2020 census is underway. Between March 12-20, the U.S. Census Bureau sent mailers to households inviting them to respond to the census, which can be filled out by mail, phone, or, for the first time ever, by the internet. The mailers will have instructions on how to do that. It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail – all without having to meet a census taker.

A complete and accurate census count in northeastern Pennsylvania is crucial to ensuring we get our fair share of federal dollars in northeastern Pennsylvania. In the event that census takers won't be able to go door-to-door in hard-to-reach communities by this summer, fill out your census form online, over the phone or by mail – and then remind a friend to do it, too!

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Federal Income Taxes and COVID-19

The US. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have announced that Americans who owe up to $1 million in federal income tax and businesses that owe up to $10 million in federal income tax will have an additional 90 days (until July 15, 2020) to make their tax payments without penalty or interest. On March 20, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the filing deadline would be extended until July 15 as well, giving all taxpayers and businesses additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.

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For Veterans Receiving Care at VA Facilities

If you are a veteran receiving care through the VA, please consult the VA's website www.va.gov/coronavirus for the most up-to-date information. Guidance from local VA medical facilities about their current operating status is available on each facility’s website, which can be found through VA’s facility locator tool: https://www.va.gov/find-locations.

What should veterans do if they think they have COVID-19?

Before visiting local VA medical facilities, community providers, urgent care centers, or emergency departments in their communities, veterans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms—such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath—are encouraged to call their VA medical facility or call MyVA311 (844-698-2311, press #3 to be connected). Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet, VA’s online patient portal. VA clinicians will evaluate veterans’ symptoms and direct them to the most appropriate providers for further evaluation and treatment. This may include referral to state or local health departments for COVID-19 testing.

What about routine appointments and previously scheduled procedures?

VA is encouraging all veterans to call their VA facility before seeking any care—even previously scheduled medical visits, mental health appointments, or surgical procedures. Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet and find out whether they should still come in for their scheduled appointments. VA providers may arrange to convert appointments to video visits, where possible.

Can visitors still access VA medical facilities?

Many VA medical facilities have cancelled public events for the time being, and VA is urging all visitors who do not feel well to postpone their visits to local VA medical facilities. Facilities have also been directed to limit the number of entrances through which visitors can enter. Upon arrival, all patients, visitors, and employees will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposure.

What about VA nursing homes and spinal cord injury units?

On March 10, 2020, VA announced that its 134 nursing homes (also called VA community living centers) and 24 spinal cord injury and disorder centers would be closed to all outside visitors. All clinical staff will be screened for COVID-19 daily before entering the nursing home or spinal cord injury units, and staff will work only within those units to limit possible transmission of the virus. Exceptions to the visitor policy will only be made for cases when veterans are in their last stages of life on hospice units or inpatient spinal cord injury units.

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Additional Information

Experts in the U.S. and around the world have been working hard to understand COVID-19. The CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) provide updates on the virus and safety information for the public and health care professionals. You can sign up for the CDC's email updates here. You can sign up for the WHO's email updates here.

As we continue to learn more and work to contain this novel disease, your health and safety is my top priority. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call my office at 570-341-1050.

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More on Coronavirus

May 29, 2020 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today called on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to include senior living communities in future distributions of CARES Act coronavirus relief funding.

May 28, 2020 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today voted to pass critical legislation in the U.S. House to deliver further relief for northeastern Pennsylvania’s small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act address urgent issues with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) facing small business owners who are struggling the most as a result of the coronavirus. It now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

May 22, 2020 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) and Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young (AK-At Large) introduced the Rural Hospital Sustainability Act to provide financial stability to struggling rural hospitals, and maintain access to quality health care for rural Americans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 22, 2020 Press Release

Scranton, PA – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today announced the release of $7,760,096 to the Luzerne County Transportation Authority (LCTA) from the Federal Transit Administration through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act provides $25 billion to transit agencies to help navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 21, 2020 Press Release

Scranton, PA – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today announced the release of $150,000 in new federal funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s Centers of Excellence COVID-19 program.

May 20, 2020 Press Release

Hazle Township, PA – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today demanded that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) take additional, on-the-ground steps in response to health and safety concerns he and workers raised in April at Amazon’s “AVP1” distribution center and its continued failure to protect workers from COVID-19.

May 13, 2020 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Co-chair Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today held a virtual press conference with U.S. Senator Bob Casey (PA) to highlight their support for essential workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak, where they discussed their efforts to fight for hazard pay and worker protections in the next coronavirus response package.

May 12, 2020 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today welcomed the inclusion of several of his priorities for northeastern Pennsylvanians in the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion House-led coronavirus response package to meet the ongoing challenge COVID-19 poses to our nation.

May 12, 2020 Press Release

Scranton, PA – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today announced the release of $629,051 to The Wright Center for Community Health as part of the newly created Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program through the Federal Communications Commission.

May 11, 2020 Press Release

Scranton, PA – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today announced the release of $1,338,297 to three northeastern Pennsylvania health centers as part of the newly created Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Expanding Coronavirus Testing (ECT) Program.

The following centers in northeastern Pennsylvania have received awards: