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*COVID-19 UPDATE - MARCH 16, 2020*
Allegheny County Calls Upon Non-Essential Business to Close Voluntarily
Additional Social Distancing Measures to Slow the Spread of COVID-19
PITTSBURGH – County Executive Rich Fitzgerald andHealth Director Dr. Debra Bogen today released avideo statement to the community regarding concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic in this region. In it, they called upon non-essential businesses in Allegheny County to close or implement alternative work strategies for at least 14 days – beginning tomorrow – to limit the spread of the virus through personal contact and surfaces.
“This is an unprecedent challenge that our community is facing,” said Fitzgerald. “This is an unprecedented time in our community. Our region has always been at its best when we work together, and this challenge is no exception. We need everyone to step up and play a part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our region. We understand that this may cause hardship for some, and frustration for others, but it’s imperative that we work together to do what’s best for our community.”
As has been reported, there are now four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Allegheny County. As testing increases drastically in the coming days, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) expects that many more cases will be identified.
“There is still much unknown about this virus and the illness it causes. But there are some things we know already,” said Bogen. “We know the virus is or will soon be spreading in virtually every community in the US and indeed in the world. Given the contagiousness of this virus, we know that it will not slow downon its own until it has infected most people in every community. The best hope we have for averting this catastrophic outcome is to take aggressive action to dramatically slow down the spread of the virus in our community.”
The goal with this recommendation is to further emphasize social distancing. Of particular concern are those areas where people congregate together. Specific locations that would fall under this recommendation include:
· child care centers
· senior centers
· community and recreation centers
· gyms – including yoga, spin, barre and other similar facilities
· hair salons, nail salons and spas
· concert venues
· sporting event facilities
· golf clubs
· social clubs
· non-essential retail facilities including shopping malls (except for pharmacy or other health care facilities located therein)
While restaurants are included in this recommendation, businesses are encouraged to stay open for carry-out and delivery only. Churches and other religious institutions are asked to refrain from social gatherings but should remain open for social services and support of their communities. Gatherings should be of 20 people or less during this time.
This recommendation does not impact supermarkets, pharmacies, and gas stations.
People are still free to travel.For healthy people, this simply means making certain that they are practicing social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other people. It also means using good judgement – people that work in smaller group settings can certainly continue to work, provided that there is space to remain separated from each other.
People who are ill should not go out. They should not go to grocery stores, but instead have food delivered or ask friends or family to pick up what they need. They should remain semi-isolated so as not to further spread any virus or disease. If they need to seek further medical care, they should contact their medical provider by phone and, if an emergency, contact 9-1-1.
“We fully recognize the impact that these recommendations will have on our community – their livelihoods, their mental health, their day-to-day needs. We are working collaboratively to put the systems in place that can meet those challenges,” said Fitzgerald. “We will also be calling on those of you who are healthy and able to assist those of our community who are not. We hope to have additional announcements regarding those plans in the coming days.”
Allegheny County will continue to communicate with the public as more information is gathered. For the latest information on COVID-19, visit www.alleghenycounty.us/coronavirus. If you are not yet a subscriber to Allegheny Alerts, we encourage you to create an account atwww.alleghenycounty.us/alerts and to subscribe for COVID-19 alerts under the categories of Health Department/Health & Environment. ACHD provides a daily update at 11 a.m. via Allegheny Alerts and additional notifications as information becomes available.
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The primary “Investors/Insurers” have issued guidance to loan servicers (banks) on possible forbearance for homeowners who are experiencing financial hardships as a result of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Additionally the OCC has issued guidance addressing mortgages and banking/
Please see the following links:
General Guidance for Natural Disasters (provides general insight into policies and procedures regarding assisting homeowners with foreclosure avoidance
Avoiding Scams - Housing Counseling
Calling a loan servicer directly to discuss forebearnce options can generally be done without assistance (ensure you receive written confirmation of any agreement), however any discussions regarding loan modifications should be done with assistance.
HUD provides counseling assistance at no-cost.
Beware of scams offering to assist in reducing loan payments, avoiding foreclosure etc that charge a fee!!
For information on HUD Counseling Agencies including how to locate the nearest office, please see following link https://www.hud.gov/i_want_to/talk_to_a_housing_counselor
Additionally you can contact http://www.hopenow.com/about-us.php - HOPENOW also has additional information of value including this from the Dept/ of Labor http://www.hopenow.com/pdf/DUA_Pamphlet_0414.pdf
Allegheny County Announces Additional Operational Changes
PITTSBURGH – The COVID-19 pandemic and its corresponding response from the federal, state, and county government has resulted in a number of operational changes impacting Allegheny County government. The following operational changes are the most recent announced in the county:
Currently, outdoor areas and restrooms in all nine county parks are open to the public. However, park users should practice social distancing by staying at least six feet apart from each other. If residents choose to use restrooms, playground equipment, exercise equipment, park benches or other outdoor items with touch surfaces, proper handwashing and/or use of hand sanitizer is strongly encouraged before and afterward.
Hartwood Acres Mansion, Boyce Park Nature Center and North Park Latodami Nature Center are closed through Monday, March 30. Park offices are open regular business hours with skeleton staffs to answer phones and email, but officials ask the public not to visit park offices in person. All park business may be conducted by emailing email@example.com or calling 412-350-2455, Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-4:00 pm.
Under guidance from the Allegheny County Health Department, all facility rentals are being canceled through Monday, March 30, and all customers are receiving full refunds. All recreational programs, as well as park ranger and naturalist activities, are canceled through Monday, March 30, and all paid registrants are receiving full refunds. Cookies with Cottontail events are also canceled in South Park (March 22), Boyce Park (March 28), and North Park (March 29). In addition, star parties scheduled for April 3 and April 4 at Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes Park are canceled.
Park users who wish to cancel facility rentals or paid program registrations beyond March 30 will receive full refunds. Customers should email name, permit/activity number and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-350-2455, Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-4:00 pm. This policy will remain in effect until further notice.
North Park and South Park golf courses are currently closed for annual maintenance and aeration.
Parks officials join the Allegheny County Health Department in encouraging the most vulnerable groups, which include the elderly, those with underlying medical conditions, and those who are currently sick, to avoid large events and mass gatherings, as well as other settings where there is close contact with a large group of people.
Confined areas at the Allegheny County Jail undoubtedly present challenges, but through experience and defined policies, jail staff are adept at taking precautions to mitigate and eliminate the spread of illness or disease. The jail faces hurdles each year in dealing with influenza and other infectious illnesses between inmates and staff, and, through infection control procedures, the facility has been able to curb these conditions.
With COVID-19, jail administration has taken additional steps, including:
All stakeholders are actively engaged and are motivated to consider any viable solutions to reduce or mitigate possible risks related to COVID-19, including the possible reduction of the inmate population. Ongoing discussions are occurring with the Office of the Public Defender, Court Administration, Probation and other affiliated parties to determine if there are any individuals that may be eligible for review.
With the exception of the temporary suspension of social and professional visits, inmates have had little change to their daily routines. Presently, there are no restrictions for out-of-cell time due to COVID-19 concerns. In order to mitigate the effects of no outside contact, jail administration began working with the facility’s telephone provider last week. Beginning in the next 24 hours, alterations to the service will allow inmates two free phone calls a week. When further changes are made to the system, that availability may also expand.
Allegheny County Jail staff will actively monitor the situation and continue to revisit any operational changes moving forward.
The Elections Division reminds voters that voting by mail is now an option in Pennsylvania. It’s an easy, convenient and secure way to cast your ballot. Apply by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, April 21, and return your ballot by 8:00 pm on Tuesday, April 28. To learn more about voting by mail and to apply, visit www.votespa.com.
All public voting system demonstrations have now been canceled through Tuesday, March 31, including those at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh branches, suburban libraries and Monroeville Mall. In addition, demonstrations at Mt. Lebanon Public Library on April 5 and the Mall at Robinson on April 18 and April 19 are canceled.
The Elections Division reminds poll workers that all training classes have been postponed through Friday, March 27.
Allegheny County Law Library
The Allegheny County Law Library located in Room 921 of the City-County Building is closed until further notice.
For a full list of impacted departments and changes, visit www.alleghenycounty.us/coronavirus.