Governor Wolf Announces Three-Phase Plan for Reopening P.a.

Photo courtesy/ governor.pa.gov

Yaasmeen Piper

Editor-in-Chief

Update: As of April 20, at 2 p.m. Governor Tom Wolf announced that the state will have a gradual reopening starting May 8.

Governor Tom Wolf issued his three-phase plan to “reopen” Pennsylvania on Friday. According to his website, the plan outlines the relief, recovery and reopening of the state that will keep Pennsylvanians alive, while also repairing the other damages COVID-19 (coronavirus) have caused.

“I want PA to get back to normal just as much as anyone else does. But it won’t happen magically, and it won’t happen overnight,” Governor Wolf tweeted on April 18. “My first focus is on the health and safety of our people, and I refuse to compromise on that. I’m relying on data and experts to plan ahead.”

Phase one of the plan is relief. According to the Governor’s website, the Wolf administration’s top priority is making sure Pennsylvanians have access to the resources that they need. The website outlines an increase in food assistance programs, including emergency allotments to households who are in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), lifted requirements for the State Food Purchase programs and $2.6 million to be allocated to charitable food programs through the Neighborhood Assistance Program.

The relief plan also includes forbearance for federal student loan borrowers. According to the website, federal student loan borrowers are placed on automatic administrative forbearance until September 30, 2020. People can still make loan payments if they chose to.

Additionally, the relief portion of the plan outlines specifications for students and families amid school closures, those who are uninsured, those who may need unemployment payments and relief for businesses and health care workers.

Phase two is the reopening of the state. According to the website, the Wolf administration will work closely with economic and public health experts to develop a guide for a safe reopening of PA businesses, workplaces, stores, etc.

The Wolf administration included six standards they must follow when reopening the state. 

Graphic courtesy of www.governor.pa.gov

The last phase is recovery. The recovery phase includes more long-term benefits for PA residents. The Wolf administration’s framework for recovery includes:

  • Raising the minimum wage to $12/hr with a path to $15/hr.
  • Expansion of paid sick and family leave policies.
  • Expansion of safe, affordable, and high-quality child care.
  • Accountability and transparency for spending and dispensation of federal, state, and local resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Expansion of student loan forgiveness and repayment programs, particularly focusing on debt relief for individuals who are on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the plan outlines the recovery framework for businesses and health care systems and providers.

Though the number of new COVID-19 cases are declining, Pennsylvania currently has 32,284 confirmed cases with 1,112 deaths. Locally, Monroe county has 943 cases with 34 deaths, Northampton county has 1,396 confirmed cases and 29 deaths and Lehigh county has 2,141 cases and 29 deaths.

The number of confirmed new COVID-19 cases in PA as of noon April 20, 2020,
Graphic courtesy of Wikipedia

“I’ve never been more proud of our commonwealth or more lifted by the spirit of our people,” Governor Wolf tweeted today. “Together we have protected our most vulnerable from illness. And together we will lift Pennsylvania up from #COVID19.”

See the Wolf administration’s full plan at www.governor.pa.gov/plan-for-pennsylvania/

Email Yaasmeen at:

ypiper@live.esu.edu

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