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COVID-19

Senate Democrats introduce legislative solutions for working families during the COVID-19 outbreak and business closures.

Continue below to view legislation, stay up-to-date on the latest news, find important resources and more.

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PA Senate Democrats & CDFI Network Announce $96 Million in Small Business Grants

Statewide, Pa. – August 10, 2020 – The Pennsylvania CDFI Network and the PA State Senator Democrats today announced $96 million in grant awards under the COVID-19 Relief Pennsylvania Statewide Small Business Assistance program. The small businesses that have been approved for awards span all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

Restaurant & Tavern COVID-19 Assistance

Senators Jim Brewster & Pam Iovino Propose $100 Million COVID-19 Grant Program & Financial Relief Package for PA Restaurants & Taverns

Allegheny County, PA – July 23, 2020 – Today, State Senators Jim Brewster and Pam Iovino announced a comprehensive proposal to provide emergency relief to Pennsylvania’s restaurants and taverns, which have seen significant financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown. The seven-point plan includes a $100 million grant program to retail liquor licensees using federal CARES Act funds, as well as a suite of policy changes to financially benefit these struggling businesses.

“Restaurants and taverns are not only favorite neighborhood destinations and community staples, they are the job creators and the cornerstone of vibrant main streets across Pennsylvania, representing the third-largest sector of the state’s economy – and they are in dire need of assistance,” said Senator Iovino (D – Allegheny & Washington). “As these small business owners struggle to determine if they can hang on, they need to know that there are lifelines available to them. This plan would direct financial relief to this specific retail sector and will help position our Commonwealth for a full and lasting economic recovery.”

“Restaurants, bars and the hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and we have to provide relief,” said Senator Brewster (D – Allegheny & Westmoreland). “Too many bars and restaurants are imperiled, cannot survive under strict mitigation, or have closed their doors putting men and women out of work. We have an obligation and responsibility to move aggressively and provide help now.  The assistance package we are offering today is critical for bars and restaurants and their employees.”

Restaurant & Tavern COVID-19 Assistance Seven Point Plan

Pennsylvania Needs a Just Recovery

pa house dems
pa house dems

The Pennsylvania Senate & House Democratic Caucuses  joined workers for virtual press events “based” across the state to highlight that Pennsylvania needs a just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and justice for black lives. These events were able to bring together members of both legislative chambers to discuss the issues that constituents in their regions have brought to them as the major areas that they want to see change and assistance in as we create our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the events below.

Southeastern PA

Hosted by Senator Muth, Senator Santarsiero, Representative Bradford, Representative Comitta and Representative Otten

 Allegheny

Hosted by Senator Costa, Represenative Dermody, Represenative Gainey, Represenative Davis and Represenative Miller

Lehigh / Northeastern PA

Hosted by Represenative Madden, Represenative Pashinski and Represenative Schlossberg

Southeastern PA (Delco)

Hosted by Senator Kearney, Represenative McClinton and Represenative Krueger

June 18 • 10 am

Location: Southeastern PA

Hosted by Senator Muth, Senator Santarsiero, Representative Bradford, Representative Comitta and Representative Otten

Meeting ID: 819 3979 1362
Password: 264672489

Watch Live Stream

June 18 • 11:00 AM

Location: Philadelphia

Hosted by Represenative Harris, Represenative Dawkins and Represenative Rabb

Meeting ID: 976 0394 1503
Password: 075347

June 18 • 2:00 PM

Location: Allegheny

Hosted by Senator Costa, Represenative Dermody, Represenative Gainey, Represenative Davis and Represenative Miller

Meeting ID: 868 9581 3709
Password: 664954553

Watch Live Stream

June 18 • 2:00 PM

Location: Lehigh / Northeastern PA

Hosted by Represenative Madden, Represenative Pashinski and Represenative Schlossberg

Meeting ID: 824 5670 0008
Password: 026015692

June 18 • 3:00 PM

Location: Southeastern PA (Delco)

Hosted by Senator Kearney, Represenative McClinton and Represenative Krueger

Meeting ID: 846 2996 9103
Password: 917287918

Watch Live Stream

COVID-19 Response Priorities

Healthcare System and Protecting Front Line Workers

We are facing unprecedented challenges as we fight the spread of COVID-19. As the country and the world institute policies and procedures on how to keep our communities safe, our front-line workers continue to operate in dangerous working conditions on a daily basis.  Workers in healthcare facilities, public assistance workers and other direct support professionals, first responders and public safety personnel, transportation employees, and other essential retail staff such as grocery store workers, face increased risk to their health as we rely on them to provide life-sustaining services to our communities.

We must provide front-line workers with the tools necessary for maintaining strong mental and physical health and to mitigate the spread of coronavirus on work sites that are still in physical operation.

Our legislation would do so in several ways:

  • Provide emergency funding for safety equipment, including personal protective equipment such as N95 masks, and mental health supports for front line employees;
  • Create clear standards for the implementation of containment control plans in healthcare facilities, including emergency standards and accountability;
  • Prioritize front-line workers in COVID-19 testing;
  • Suspend, or limit, in-person services to the greatest extent possible by shifting to virtual assistance working standards and requiring telemedicine coverage by insurers for public workers classified as essential;
  • Require cleaning standards for workplaces that remain open during this crisis to meet or exceed state and federal standards for COVID-19 prevention.
  • Require employers to adopt social distancing policies by making available more spaces for employees to take their breaks and meal periods.
  • Create the COVID-19 Crisis Fire and EMS grant program to provide an additional, one-time grant to each fire and EMS company agency that has been approved by the PA Emergency Management Agency and the Office of State Fire Commissioner for an annual grant for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Assistance for Working People and Families

As protective measures are implemented statewide to protect our constituents from Covid-19 we must also act to protect all working people them from economic fallout as a result of this crisis. All working people and families deserve to be protected during this time of crisis.

Our legislation would do so in several ways:

  • Emergency paid sick leave for all employees not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • Extending paid sick leave for an additional 4 days to cover the full two-week quarantine period as the federal bill only covers 10 days.
  • The state will cover the additional 1/3 pay rate for those who must take leave to care for a child whose school has closed so employees receive 100% of pay.
  • Extend family medical leave to all employees at 100% wage rate starting immediately upon starting leave to cover the unpaid time under the federal bill and then the additional 1/3 pay to fill the gap for 100% pay rate though the term covered by the Family Medical Leave Act.
  • Requiring employers to reinstate workers returning from leave.
  • Provide a presumption that all workers are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits if they contract the Coronavirus in the workplace.
  • Ensure that all workers can not be fired for any reason related to the Coronavirus.
  • Require protocols for sterilizing workplaces where known cases of COVID-19 have been identified
  • Ensure that all contract employees of public agencies, including school districts, are compensated for time off during the emergency order.
  • Make it illegal to evict or foreclose on a family suffering unemployment due to an emergency disaster declaration.
  • Ensure that students that are not in school receive continuity of education service and are provided online education opportunities.
  • Ensure receipt of a stimulus check from the Federal government is not included in consideration of an individuals income for purposes of qualifying for social safety nets.
  • Exempt stimulus checks from the Federal government from State and local taxation, making those payments exempt from all levels of taxation.

Economic Stimulus

  • Provide additional working capital availability under the newly created COVID Working Capital Program – access to the current program can be found at https://dced.pa.gov/
  • Making sure that school districts have the resources necessary to educate and fee students in a safe environment, including address toxic buildings
  • Providing resources through PennVest for water utilities, and other utilities, to make infrastructure improvements
  • Provide $100 million to childcare centers to cover administrative expenses, including payroll, and fill the loss of tuition payments from families.
  • Provide $17 million for Pre-K and Head Start to cover administrative expenses, including payroll to compensate for lost co-payments that would otherwise have been collected.
  • Appropriate $50 million to extend Pre-K and Head Start programs into the summer to mitigate early childhood learning losses for students.
  • Create a Common Wealth Fund to all for citizens and businesses to make donations to provide essential services to those in need.

PA Senate Democrats Protecting Pennsylvanians During COVID-19

PA Senate Dems COVID-19 Response Legislation

American Working Family Relief Action Plan – Front-line Worker Protections

American Working Family Relief Action Plan – Front-line Worker Protections

Posted: March 31, 2020 04:47 PM
From: Senator Maria Collett and Sen. Lindsey M. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: American Working Family Relief Action Plan – Front-line Worker Protections

We are facing unprecedented challenges as we fight the spread of COVID-19. As the country and the world institute policies and procedures on how to keep our communities safe, our front-line workers continue to operate in dangerous working conditions on a daily basis.  Workers in healthcare facilities, public assistance workers and other direct support professionals, and our first responders, face increased risk to their health as we rely on them to provide life-sustaining services to our communities. 

We must provide front-line workers with the tools necessary for maintaining strong mental and physical health and to mitigate the spread of coronavirus on work sites that are still in physical operation.    

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SB 1104 – Exempting Stimulus Checks from the Federal Government from State and Local Taxation

SB 1104 – Exempting Stimulus Checks from the Federal Government from State and Local Taxation

Posted: March 31, 2020 08:53 AM
From: Senator James R. Brewster
To: All Senate members
Subject: Exempt funding to individuals under CARES Act from state and local taxation

In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation to except funding that individuals receive from the U.S. Government as a result of the recently enacted federal CARES Act from state and local taxation. 

The U.S. Congress took sweeping action last week to provide the U.S. economy a shit in the arm during these difficult times. Included in that action were provisions that would provide a cash payment for those making $98,000 or less. While Congress exempted the payments from federal taxes, it is up to Pennsylvania to decide whether the stimulus payments are taxed under our law. 

My proposal would ensure that these payments are exempt from both state and local taxes. In these trying times, individuals should be able to use their payment to buy food, pay for medication or rent or mortgages, not worrying about saving a portion to pay taxes. 

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Crisis grants for volunteer fire and EMS companies due to COVID-19

Crisis grants for volunteer fire and EMS companies due to COVID-19

Posted: March 31, 2020 11:12 AM
From: Senator James R. Brewster
To: All Senate members
Subject: Crisis grant for Volunteer Fire and EMS Companies due to COVID-19

In the near future, I will introduce legislation for a one-time crisis grant program for volunteer fire and EMS companies. Fire and EMS need immediate financial assistance during this pandemic.

This bill will be a COVID-19 Crisis Fire and EMS grant program to provide an additional, one-time grant to each fire and EMS company agency that has been approved by the PA Emergency Management Agency and the Office of State Fire Commissioner for an annual grant for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

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Exempting CARES Act payments from Certain Income Definitions

Exempting CARES Act payments from Certain Income Definitions

Posted: March 30, 2020 01:34 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Exempting CARES Act payments from certain Income Definitions

In the near future I plan on introducing a bill that would exempt money received by individuals from the CARES Act from certain definitions of “income.”

As we all know, Americans who pay taxes will receive a one-time direct deposit of up to $1,200, and married couples will receive $2,400, plus an additional $500 per child. The payments will be available for incomes up to $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for married couples.

I applaud the action by Congress last week to give individuals making under $99,000 a onetime cash payment.  However, with this payment individuals, particular seniors, who rely on a variety of state programs that include a verification of income could lose these benefits when their income is re-certified.

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Creating a Common Wealth Fund to Collect Donations to Provide for Essential Needs of those in Need

Creating a Common Wealth Fund to Collect Donations to Provide for Essential Needs of those in Need

Posted: March 30, 2020 03:25 PM
From: Senator Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Creating the “Pennsylvania Common Wealth Fund”

In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to create a “Pennsylvania Common Wealth Fund” restricted account overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. This legislation will provide an additional option to Pennsylvanians who wish to voluntarily give back all or part of the federal stimulus money they receive to help those less fortunate.

While many working Pennsylvanians are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, facing lost hours or even complete unemployment, others who find themselves in more fortunate circumstances have expressed a desire to help their fellow citizens by either donating to a local charity or patronizing local businesses. By establishing the “Pennsylvania Common Wealth Fund” restricted account, taxpayers could redirect all or a portion of their stimulus check to the state, which in turn would be authorized to direct those funds into programs which help the neediest Pennsylvanians – property tax & rent rebates, temporary assistance for needy families, CHIP or medical assistance.

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Child Care Assistance

Child Care Assistance

Posted: March 27, 2020 03:18 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank and Sen. Lindsey M. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Child Care Assistance

In the near future we will be introducing legislation to support childcare centers, pre-K, and Head Start programs and their hard-working employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout Pennsylvania, non-essential businesses have been ordered to close, including many childcare centers. As we fight the spread of COVID-19, we must institute polices to help working families and small businesses and the people that work for them. During this pandemic, it is critical for Pennsylvania to support childcare for essential workers.

Key, but often neglected components of workforce development are early childhood learning and childcare. At this critical juncture, while our economy is teetering on the edge of disaster, we must invest in early learning programs like Pre-K Counts, Head Start and subsidized childcare. These programs are critical to enabling parents to return to work confident that their children are being properly cared for and are receiving the education they will need to succeed in life.

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Payment of Contract Services in Schools during the Pandemic of 2020

Payment of Contract Services in Schools during the Pandemic of 2020

Posted: March 27, 2020 04:19 PM
From: Senator Pam Iovino
To: All Senate members
Subject: Payment of Contract Services in Schools during the Pandemic of 2020

In the near future I plan on introducing legislation that would amend the recently passed Pandemic of 2020 section of the Public School Code to provide all school contractors with the same protections given to school bus transportation services.

We are in unprecedented times. In the flurry to address outstanding issues that arose in schools throughout the Commonwealth since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees who provide services to schools through contracts were left out. Thousands of workers across the Commonwealth are no longer getting paychecks for services school districts have budgeted for. Compounding their circumstances, many of these individuals have lost their healthcare coverage.

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Eviction Protection for All Disaster Emergencies

Eviction Protection for All Disaster Emergencies

Posted: March 27, 2020 05:53 PM
From: Senator Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Eviction protection for all disaster emergencies

As we take all possible protective measures to prevent the spread of Covid 19 we must begin to mitigate the economic impacts of the shutdown on our constituents.

With my colleague Representative Mary Isaacson, I am introducing legislation which will make it illegal to evict someone suffering unemployment due to an emergency disaster declaration.

Nothing in this legislation prevents any penalties from occurring or incentivizes tenants who are able to pay through unemployment or workman’s compensation to fail to pay rent, however, it does encourage landlords to work with tenants to get through these emergencies and prevents compounding the issue by increasing homelessness.

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Covid-19 Food Worker Safety Act

Covid-19 Food Worker Safety Act

Posted: March 25, 2020 02:37 PM
From: Senator Christine M. Tartaglione
To: All Senate members
Subject: Covid-19 Food Worker Safety Act

In the near future, I will be introducing legislation that would designate workers at food processing/protein facilities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as “essential employees” and/or “front line employees” for all matters/circumstances, including but not limited to childcare, safety measures and paid leave to be made available to these workers.

These workers are vital to the food supply chain that nourish and feed our communities. It is imperative that Employers should take the following necessary, preventative actions to protect these workers:

Social Distancing: Employers should make available more space(s) for employees to take their breaks and meal periods. This includes opening up any conference or training rooms as well as temporary accommodations, such as a heated tent. Break times should be adjusted to reduce the number of employees on break at any given time. Table configurations should be changed so that the employees are always facing forward and not across from each other.

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Providing a Presumption of Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation benefits for Workers that Get Sick in the Workplace

Providing a Presumption of Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation benefits for Workers that Get Sick in the Workplace

Posted: March 25, 2020 03:00 PM
From: Senator Christine M. Tartaglione
To: All Senate members
Subject: COVID-19 Presumed Disease for Essential Employees under Workers Compensation

I invite you to join me in sponsoring important legislation that will assist our nurses, doctors, EMS, police, firefighters, pharmacists, grocery store employees and so many others are on the frontlines right now. These essential employees are protecting our well-being by keeping our health facilities operating, transporting our vulnerable family members and neighbors to get care, and making sure emergency services available and ensure that we have access to food and necessary goods for our families.

Workers compensation benefits are currently available to them if they get Coronavirus; however, they’re still required to prove that COVID-19 is occurring more in their occupation than in the general population.

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SB 1102 – Covid-19 Grocery Store Worker Safety Act

SB 1102 – Covid-19 Grocery Store Worker Safety Act

Posted: March 25, 2020 02:29 PM From: Senator Christine M. Tartaglione To: All Senate members Subject: Covid-19 Grocery Store Worker Safety Act Grocery stores and drug stores have been designated as essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grocery store...

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Require business interruption insurance to cover COVID-19 related business closures

Posted: March 19, 2020 02:46 PM
From: Senator Vincent J. Hughes
To: All Senate members
Subject: Temporary change for Business Interruption Insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic

In the near future I plan on introducing legislation to address the concerns around business interruption insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic set in, it has come to my attention that a provision included in many business insurance policies prohibit payments on claims if a loss is to do an outbreak during a public health emergency.

This provision has potential to harm businesses which are already facing uncertain times.

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Emergency expansion of FMLA

Emergency expansion of FMLA

Posted: March 17, 2020 03:16 PM
From: Senator Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Emergency expansion of FMLA

As protective measures are implemented statewide to protect our constituents from Covid-19 we must also act to protect them from economic fallout as a result of this crisis.

Hopefully, congress will soon pass relief legislation, but the proposed Families First Coronavirus Response Act leaves several holes which my legislation will fill, including the following provisions:

  • Emergency paid sick leave for all employees not covered by the federal bill.
  • Extending paid sick leave for an additional 4 days to cover the full two-week quarantine period as the federal bill only covers 10 days.
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Coronavirus Disease and Schools: Allowing for Online Instruction

Coronavirus Disease and Schools: Allowing for Online Instruction

Posted: March 11, 2020 05:55 PM
From: Senator Andrew E. Dinniman
To: All Senate members
Subject: Coronavirus Disease and Schools: Allowing for Online Instruction

Let’s face facts. Today, the World Health Organization formally declared COVID-19 a pandemic. All you have to do is read the news from Italy and, in our own nation New Rochelle NY, to see the situation which we in Pennsylvania will be faced with in the weeks ahead. The school districts in my area are already calling me, asking for specific direction from the state and reporting concerns with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) guidance to view the need for extended school closures on a “case-by-case basis”. During this health crisis, school districts need the authority to act in a quick and efficient manner.

My proposal would allow each district to deliver online instruction until the end of the 2019-20 school year. While I realize that many districts in the Commonwealth are not equipped to provide online instruction to all students, we have a responsibility to those that can to be allowed to do so. In districts that do not have the capability to offer online instruction, PDE shall, within two weeks of enactment of this legislation, work with those districts to develop a plan for online/alternate instruction.

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Protecting Workers During Public Health Emergencies

Posted: March 9, 2020 10:35 AM
From: Senator Steven J. Santarsiero
To: All Senate members
Subject: Protecting Workers During Public Health Emergencies

No one should have to fear losing their job, through no fault of their own, during a public health emergency. In the United States, the power to isolate and quarantine exists at both the federal and state level. Unfortunately, most states, including Pennsylvania, do not address whether an employer can fire an employee while under quarantine or in isolation. That’s why I’ll be introducing legislation to protect workers from retaliation when they take leave during public health emergencies, like the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

On March 6, 2020, Governor Wolf signed an emergency disaster declaration to provide increased support to state agencies involved in the response to the virus. The state has already sent legal quarantine notices to the individuals with presumed positive cases of the virus. Fortunately, the individuals in the state with presumed positive cases of the virus have voluntarily quarantined themselves at home, which will end when they’ve been without symptoms for 14 days.

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Our Members at Work

Senate Committee Unanimously Advances Tartaglione-Costa Legislation to Fund PA Higher Education Institutions

Philadelphia, PA – September 9, 2020 − The Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by State Senator Christine Tartaglione and Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa that would allocate $130 million in federal CARES Act funding to help higher education institutions in the Commonwealth manage financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Senators Jim Brewster & Pam Iovino Propose $100 Million COVID-19 Grant Program & Financial Relief Package for PA Restaurants & Taverns  

Senators Jim Brewster & Pam Iovino Propose $100 Million COVID-19 Grant Program & Financial Relief Package for PA Restaurants & Taverns  

Allegheny County, PA – July 23, 2020 – Today, State Senators Jim Brewster and Pam Iovino announced a comprehensive proposal to provide emergency relief to Pennsylvania’s restaurants and taverns, which have seen significant financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown. The seven-point plan includes a $100 million grant program to retail liquor licensees using federal CARES Act funds, as well as a suite of policy changes to financially benefit these struggling businesses.

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COVID-19 Resources

Department of Health Resources

LIVE daily briefings from the PA Department of Health:
pacast.com/live/doh or www.governor.pa.gov/live/ or watch on Facebook

Symptoms & Testing

Stop the Spread

Social Media Resources

FAQs

Fact Sheets & Resources

Global Map

Dept. of Health News

En Español

Below, please find links to state and federal sites that can help you navigate health recommendations, closures, and resources.

Latest State News & Updates

Gov. Wolf: Pennsylvania is COVID-19 Prepared with PPE

Governor Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania is prepared with a stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) now and should it be needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming months. PPE includes protective clothing, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles,...

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Gov. Wolf Thanks House Democrats for Protecting Pennsylvanians

oday, Governor Tom Wolf thanked House Democrats for upholding COVID-19 mitigation measures that protect the health and safety of Pennsylvanians. The governor released the following statement: “I am thankful to the House Democrats for continuing to stand with me and...

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SCI Camp Hill Provides COVID-19 Update

Camp Hill, PA -- State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Camp Hill Superintendent Laurel Harry reported today that a total of 24 employees have reported testing positive for COVID-19, with seven cases remaining active. The prison also reports 22 inmate cases,...

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FAQ’s

During the past few weeks, the PA Senate Democrats have hosted dozens of virtual town halls to provide information, build community and answer question. We wanted to share a few of the most frequently asked questions related to COVID-19.

STAY CALM. STAY SAFE. STAY HOME.