Mar. 18, 2020 / Newspaper Columns

 
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Update on Coronavirus Impact in PA
   
Information about the presence and spread of coronavirus here in the Commonwealth is quickly and constantly changing. To help you keep up-to-date on the information that matters most to you, I put together a page of online resources that includes links to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as news about school closures, PennDOT information and more. I encourage you to visit frequently for updates.

Coronavirus 101 – What is it and how do I protect myself?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

The CDC and PA Department of Health (DOH) suggest some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and others:

  •   Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Do not use your hands!
  •   Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 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.
  •   If you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.

Why did the governor close our schools and businesses?

Information from the World Health Organization, the CDC, DOH and others, clearly show that coronavirus has been taking a toll on countries around the globe and is now having wide impact across the United States. Cases have been reported throughout the state, and while at this moment there have been no reported coronavirus-related deaths in Pennsylvania, more than 100 have died across the nation, and more than 8,000 worldwide according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

The vast majority of people afflicted with COVID-19 recover; however, it is especially dangerous for senior citizens and others with compromised immune systems. The closures outlined by the governor are designed to help prevent the spread of the virus to protect those vulnerable populations using the concept of “social distancing” – simply keeping people apart so as not to pass the virus from one person to another. Since a person may be a carrier of the virus for as much as two weeks without displaying any symptoms, simply telling people to stay home if they are not feeling well is not enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With regard to businesses, the governor has urged nonessential businesses (which he defines as things like hair and nail salons, gyms, theaters and sports venues) to close to help create social distancing, but as yet has not issued an emergency order. He has ordered bars and restaurants to discontinue dine-in services, but they may offer pick-up, take-out or drive through service. Even before businesses were urged to close temporarily, many had seen a significant drop in traffic, affecting both their bottom line and in many cases, that of their employees. For more information concerning unemployment compensation for EMPLOYEES, click here.

For more information concerning EMPLOYER unemployment relief, click here.

What’s Next?

As suggested by the CDC, it is important we all stay calm, limit unnecessary travel and interactions with others, wash our hands, pay attention to how we are feeling and be patient. The House was in session earlier this week to vote on a rules change that will allow us to cast votes on legislation remotely if necessary. We will be looking at legislation to address unemployment needs, business assistance and more.

In-Person Services Paused Until March 30 Due to COVID-19

My offices will remain closed to visitors until at least Monday, March 30, to protect residents and my employees.

The office will continue to serve residents via phone at 724-438-6100 and online at RepDowling.com. Employees will still report to work, but visitors will not be permitted.

Satellite offices will also be closed. Reopening the offices will be considered on Friday, March 27, for the week of March 30.

While no cases were reported in the district as of this morning, it’s clear that this virus moves quickly. Since people can carry it without ever showing symptoms, it’s highly likely that COVID-19 is already in our area. We need to be smart now so what we’re experiencing now doesn’t worsen.

Cancellations of other planned events will be evaluated as the situation develops.
   
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repdowling.com
Office Locations
65 West Main Street/Suite 22, Uniontown PA 15401 (717) 438-6100
53B East Wing, PO Box 202051, Harrisburg PA 17120-2051 | (717) 783-5173
District Offices: Fayette Chamber of Commerce Building, 65 West Main Street, Suite 200, Uniontown, PA 15401
Telephone: 724-438-6100
Meyersdale Community Center, 215 Main Street, Meyersdale, PA 15552. Telephone: 814-634-4390
Confluence Community Center, 711 Logan Place, Confluence, PA 15424, Telephone: 814-634-4390
Ohiopyle Stewart Community Center, 15 Sherman Street, Ohiopyle, PA 15470, Telephone: 814-634-4390
Email Address: MDowling@pahousegop.com
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