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Boscola Bulletin

Thank you to Our Health Care Workers (and Frontline Employees)

Thanking the tireless and selfless heathcare workers fighting COVID-19Yesterday was #WorldHealthDay – I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to thank & commend the healthcare workers who are taking care of our residents that need critical care on a daily basis as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of people are working every day to make sure the essential goods and services that are needed for survival are available during these difficult days.  These “front line” employees include, but are not limited to, supermarket clerks, mass transit workers, mail and delivery carriers, communication workers, people providing cleaning services, restaurant and food preparation workers, and sanitation and waste management operators to name a few. 

Right now, it is extremely important that we draw attention to needed safeguards to better protect these front-line workers. These essential services are being provided by employees of low-wage industries who can’t work remotely.

We must take preventative measures to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and come together to demand front-line workers are afforded commonsense protections.
Industries that are still open and operating need to have the best care of these front-line employees and at the minimum, I am continuing my advocacy to expand the distribution personal-protective equipment to Industries that were not included in the original listing of essential recipients. 

Self-Employed & Unemployment

Self-Employed The recently enacted CARES Act has created a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program through December 31, 2020 to provide unemployment benefits to those workers not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (such as the self-employed and independent contractors) who are unable to work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The PUA program is a new program and the U.S. Department of Labor just released guidance on how the Commonwealth should implement it on April 5. As a result, Pennsylvania is in the process of creating a whole new system that will allow the processing of PUA claims.  My recommendation to you at this time is to continue checking the website of the PA Office of Unemployment Compensation for any updates. At this time, you should NOT file a claim through the existing online system or phone number if you are not currently eligible for unemployment benefits.

I will be distributing all pertinent information regarding this issue as soon as I have official word as to when and how independent contractors will be able to file unemployment benefit claims.

Update: PA Department of Education

Continuity of Education Equity Grant (CEEG) application is now live in eGrants

Applicants may apply for one of two types of grants:

  • Dept of educationSystemic Continuity of Education Equity Grant – LEAs eligible for systemic grants are those where more than 10% of students across the LEA are unable to participate in continuity of education. LEAs that do not currently have a continuity of education plan are highly encouraged to apply for a systemic grant.
  • Student Group Continuity of Education Equity Grant – LEAs eligible for student group grants are those where more than 5% of students in a student group are unable to participate in continuity of education. 

The following entities are eligible for a CEEG:

  • Pennsylvania school districts, comprehensive Career & Technical Centers (CTCs), charter schools, and student programs run by Intermediate Units are eligible to apply individual applicants or as a consortium.
  • Part-time CTCs are eligible to apply as part of a consortium with their local districts.
  • If applying as a consortium, all consortium members must be eligible entities as defined above and meet the established threshold for the type of grant for which the consortium is applying. The consortium lead may be an Intermediate Unit. 

Grant funding may be used for any of the following:

  • Digital technology purchases, such as laptops, tablets, or hot spots;
  • Non-digital purchases, such as paper, postage, or transportation of materials;
  • Low technology, high technology, and no technology accommodations that increase student access and participation in continuity of education. 

Continuity of Education Equity Grant (CEEG) Request for Application (RFA) Guidelines  can be found HERE

The CEEG application closes Friday, April 10 at 11:59 p.m.  

PASSHE provide the following information in response to inquiries about commencement.  

Decision for how to handle PASSHE university commencement are an institution by institution decision, not a system determination. Universities continue to determine what’s best for each of their university communities. Most, if not all, have asked their students which option they prefer. For example, West Chester is looking for alternate dates, while Bloomsburg is looking to hold commencement the weekend of August 7-9. Below is the latest compilation of announcements: 

University Commencement
Bloomsburg Spring commencement postponed to Summer commencement, Aug. 7-9.
California Postponed. No rescheduled date announced
Cheyeny Postponed. No rescheduled date announced
Clarion Postponed. No rescheduled date announced
East Stroudsburg Commencement canceled. May graduates may join the Winter commencement in December.
Edinboro Commencement postponed. An in-person ceremony will be scheduled at a date to be determined.
Indiana Commencement postponed. Spring 2020 graduates given option to participate in ceremony during the Fall 2020 semester (either a September ceremony or participate in the December ceremony)
Kutztown Postponed. No rescheduled date announced
Lock Haven No announcement
Mansfield Postponed. No rescheduled date announced
Millersville Postponed. No rescheduled date announced
Shippensburg Postponed. Planning a virtual senior week and a virtual celebration
Slippery Rock Postponed indefinitely. Intend to host an in-person ceremony later this year.
West Chester Postponed. No rescheduled date announced

Guidance on Blood Drives During COVID-19

AAs you are aware, on March 19, 2020, after Governor Wolf issued a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency in response to the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and on March 6, 2020, the Governor and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine issued Orders directing all non-life sustaining businesses to cease in-person operations. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (Department) recognizes the importance of blood donation during public health crises and pandemics. The Department has received inquiries requesting additional guidance and clarification regarding blood donation during the COVID-19 outbreak. As life-sustaining businesses, blood banks are eligible to continue operating certain activities under the current “stay at home” Orders and other mitigation efforts ordered by the Governor and Secretary of Health so long as these organizations are open for the sole purpose of blood donation. The Department is providing the below guidance in response.

Use of Space and Eligibility for Blood Drive

Give BloodBlood banks are authorized to hold blood drives and blood donation events in both life-sustaining and non-life sustaining business locations.  Non-life sustaining businesses that allow blood drives at their locations must limit activities to those required to conduct the blood drive and shall not conduct non-life sustaining business.  All other business activities of the blood bank must adhere to the Governor’s order for life-sustaining business.

Blood banks should screen potential donors for symptoms of illness, including COVID-19, and consider only healthy individuals for blood donation. 

The below guidelines should be followed by the blood bank to ensure safety.  This information reinforces routine measures that are currently followed by blood centers, provides additional public health measures, and complements Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Interim Infection Control Guidance on COVID-19 for Personnel at Blood and Plasma Collection Facilities. These measures will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Infection Control and Environmental Management

  • Adhere to routine infection control procedures, including appropriate respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette and sharps handling precautions for preventing the transmission of infectious agents;
  • Follow hand hygiene guidance to help prevent person-to-person spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses; o Staff and volunteers should regularly wash their hands, including in-between contact with different donors, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; o If gloves are used, change gloves and cleanse hands between contact with different blood donors;
  • Clean and disinfect environmental surfaces in accordance with standard facility protocols after each donor has vacated the station and before setting up for arrival of a new donor at that station;
  • Regularly clean and sanitize surfaces and equipment that are in high traffic areas, high touch areas and donation spaces.

Screening Staff/Donors and Stay Home When Sick
Educate staff, volunteers, and donors about recognizing symptoms of COVID-19 and infection control measures. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. 

  • Screen all donors, staff, and volunteers before they enter the facility;
  • The screening process should include asking the individual if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or may have been exposed to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, in addition to regular screening practices;
  • A staff person who develops symptoms while at work must cease collection facility activities, notify supervisor, minimize contact with others in facility, and go home promptly;
  • Implement and reinforce sick leave policies that are non-punitive, flexible, and consistent with public health guidance. 

Educate Staff and Maintain Social Distancing  
Maintain social distancing practices by ensuring that all donor spaces are a minimum of six feet apart; this includes beds, waiting areas, and screening areas.

  • Adjust the physical configuration of the donor cots during blood collection so that donors are at least 6 feet apart;
  • Ensure that those in the facility are able to keep at least a 6-foot space between individuals, including limiting access to the facility to smaller numbers if required.

Other Information
This guidance will become effective immediately and continue in effect through the duration of the Governor’s COVID-19 Disaster Emergency Declaration. The Department may update or supplement this guidance as needed. With the Governor’s authorization as conferred in the Disaster Emergency Declaration, all statutory and regulatory provisions that would impose an impediment to implementing the guidance outlined in this letter are suspended. Those suspensions will remain in place while the proclamation of disaster emergency remains in effect.

Immediate Needs of our Community

Please check out the list from our LV family network and agencies & what their current needs are - please help if you are able!

Donate Supplies

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

www.senatorboscola.com

BETHLEHEM OFFICE
One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
EASTON OFFICE
1701 Washington Blvd.
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
HARRISBURG OFFICE
458 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
(717) 787-4236
Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
1-800-364-158 (TTY)