Thursday, May 20, 2021

Governor Wolf Renews Coronavirus Disaster Declaration in Pennsylvania

On Thursday, Governor Tom Wolf signed a renewal of the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic on the day it was set to expire.
“COVID-19 vaccinations have increased dramatically in recent weeks and we are making significant progress in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Wolf. “As previously announced, we are lifting all mitigation measures on Memorial Day, but we need just a little more time under this current disaster declaration to ensure that we do not risk valuable resources that will help Pennsylvania recover from the pandemic.

The renewal doesn't change any of the state's coronavirus mandates that will lift on Memorial Day.

“The disaster declaration allows more medical professionals to administer vaccines, ensures families harmed financially by the pandemic have access to healthy food through SNAP benefits and ensures Pennsylvania counties and businesses remain eligible for federal disaster recovery dollars.

“We will continue to monitor vaccination rates and adjust mitigation orders accordingly. I have been in touch with the General Assembly regarding this extension, and we will continue to collaborate on the future of this disaster declaration and any future declarations that become necessary to help Pennsylvanians in the midst of an emergency.”

According to the press release from the Governor's office, the emergency disaster declaration renewed on Thursday provides for increased support to state agencies involved in the continued response to the virus and recovery for the state during reopening.

The disaster declaration has allowed for waivers and extensions to continue to provide for Pennsylvanians and businesses under the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic, including the ability to waive the one-week waiting period to receive unemployment compensation and the registration requirement with PA CareerLink for applicants; and allowing the commonwealth to suspend numerous training requirements and certification and licensure renewals for health care professionals, child care workers, direct care workers, direct support professionals, among other professional groups who provide life-sustaining services to our children, seniors, and vulnerable residents. The flexibilities available because of the disaster declaration have allowed many more health care professionals to provide services virtually during the pandemic, expanding opportunities for individuals to seek needed physical and mental health services. It allows the commonwealth to increase the number of vaccine providers and improve vaccine distribution.

Also through the disaster declaration, PEMA has been able to assign the National Guard to provide various types of support for long term care facilities, including providing direct patient care support, ancillary support, and testing, and at community-based testing sites. It also provides PEMA with the ability to leverage continued federal support such as non-congregate sheltering.