Senator Collett hosted a Telephone Town Hall event to discuss COVID-19 and its impact on our community

March 23, 2020

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

The spread of COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation statewide and in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Below are some of the local, regional and state resources that can help you navigate health recommendations, closures, and other important information.

Symptoms & Prevention

COVID-19 spreads like the flu or a cold through the air by coughing or sneezing, though close personal contact, or by touching a surface or an object with the virus on it.

There are steps we can all take to prevent the virus:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Any soap will do with cold or warm water.
    • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow or a tissue – not your hands!
  • Clean surfaces frequently: countertops, cell phones, light switches, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  • If you’re feeling sick, please stay home and call your healthcare provider.

Learn more about the virus and personal prevention methods on the PA Department of Health’s dashboard.

COVID-19 Testing Services

Testing services are continuing to develop, but they are currently limited.

Montgomery County’s drive-thru testing site at Temple University Ambler will be closing on Friday, April 10. The testing site is by appointment only, and patients must meet certain criteria. For more information and to make an appointment, please visit Montgomery County’s website or call (610) 631-3000. 

To determine if you need to be tested, follow the guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health:

  • Stay home if:
    • You are feeling mostly fine
    • You are worried
  • Stay home and call your doctor for advice if:
    • You are feeling sick, but would not have sought care under normal circumstances
  • Call your doctor or seek medical care if:
    • You feel sick and believe you have an emergency
    • If you do not have a provider call your local health department or 1-877-PA-HEALTH.

For more information on the department’s guidance for testing, click here.

Commercial and private testing sites are also becoming available:

To get tested at these locations, you must be a patient in their health network and receive an order from a physician in that network.

Stay at Home Order

On April 1, Governor Tom Wolf announced a statewide Stay at Home order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. This order will continue to at least April 30. 

Under this order, residents should only leave their home for essential tasks to maintain the health and safety of themselves and the members of their household.  This includes trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, medical centers, gas station, and work at life-sustaining businesses. You may continue outdoor activities like walking, hiking, and running as long as you can maintain social distance while doing so. For more information on the stay at home order, please read Governor Wolf’s statement

Please limit trips outside of your home as much as you can. Staying home is the best thing you can do to protect yourself, your family, and our community. 

Schools & Child Care

On March 30, Governor Tom Wolf announced that all K-12 Pennsylvania schools will be closed until further notice. This also includes career and technical schools, physical and cyber charter schools, intermediate units, state universities, and childcare centers operating in any of those schools. 

You can read more about these guidelines on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s website.

For additional details, including information on free meal distribution, visit your district’s website: 

 

Child Care for Essential Workers 

Our essential workers are on the frontlines making sure our communities can stay healthy, safe, and fed. This week, the PA Department of Human Services announced a new online tool to help essential workers connect with child care providers that have been granted a waiver and continue to serve families. 

To find an open child care center near you, visit the DHS website 

 

Businesses

On Thursday, March 19, the Governor ordered that all non-life-sustaining businesses across the Commonwealth closeHe mandated that all restaurants and bars close their dine-in facilities but they may continue to offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage services. 

For more information on which businesses are considered life-sustaining vs. non-life-sustaining, see the Governor’s extensive list here. 

Please contact Senator Collett’s office with questions or concerns.   

For Business Owners:

County Programs

Montgomery County’s MontcoStrong Small Business Grant Program will provide $1 million in economic development funds to eligible small businesses.  Eligible applicants can apply for up to $25,000. Businesses must employ no more than 50 individuals total. Learn more and apply here

State Programs 

Governor Wolf announced the COVID-19 Working Capital Access program, a no-interest working capital loan that will be administered through the county Economic Development programs
  • The Bucks County application can be found here.
  • The Montgomery County application can be found here

Federal Programs

The federal SBA loan application period is OPEN. Pennsylvania was just added to the list of disaster locations (Disaster #: PA-00104) and you can begin the application process here.  

The newly-passed CARES ACT also established the Paycheck Protection Program. This loan is forgivable in many instances — learn more here.

For Consumers: 

If you’re able, please consider supporting local businesses during this difficult time. Consider shopping local online, purchasing gift cards, and taking advantage of contactless carry-out or delivery services. To find operational businesses near you, visit your municipality’s website or social media pages.

 

Unemployment Compensation

Workers who are unable to work because of COVID-19 may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation benefits or Workers Compensation benefits. The following information is now available on the department’s website:

You may be eligible if:

  • Your employer temporarily closes or goes out of business because of COVID-19
  • Your employer reduces your hours because of COVID-19
  • You have been told not to work because your employer feels you might get or spread COVID-19
  • You have been told to quarantine or self-isolate, or live/work in a county under government-recommended mitigation efforts

To help streamline the process during the COVID-19 pandemic, the following changes have been made to UC:

  • The Waiting Week is suspended. Previously, claimants were not eligible for benefits during their first week of unemployment (the “waiting week”). This has been suspended. Eligible claimants can receive benefits for the first week they are unemployed.
  • Work Search and Work Registration requirements are temporarily waived for all UC claimants. Claimants are not required to prove they have applied or searched for a new job to maintain UC benefits. Claimants are also not required to register with https://www.pacareerlink.pa.gov/jponline/.

Food Assistance

If you need assistance feeding yourself and your family, know that there are resources that can help. To apply for SNAP and other benefits, use Pennsylvania’s COMPASS system. For help navigating benefits, contact Senator Collett’s office at senatorcollett@pasenate.com or leave a message at 215-368-1429.

To find a food pantry near you, visit bit.ly/PAfoodmap. Many of our local cupboards and food services are listed below. For student meals, please see the Schools section above for information on your local district’s distribution plan.

Local Cupboards

Meals on Wheels for Seniors

Utility Services

Many Pennsylvanians have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines. Utility services in our area have instituted policies to help ease this burden. If your utility services are not listed below, visit their website for the latest information.

PECO

PECO has suspended service disconnections and is waiving new late payment charges though at least May 1, 2020. They also want to remind customers of their existing bill assistance resources and energy assistance programs. Learn more here.

PPL Electric Utilities

PPL will not cut off services to customers for unpaid bills until further notice, and they will reconnect service for customers who have been recently disconnected. PPL will also waive late bill fees for all customers until further notice. For more info, visit their website. 

Comcast

Comcast will not disconnect service or issue late fees during the pandemic. They will pause data plans for 60 days so customers can use unlimited data without additional charges. Comcast has made their WiFi hot spots free for all Americans over the same period.

Effective Monday, March 16, customers who sign up for Internet Essentials, Comcast’s low-income broadband program, will receive 60 days of free service. The service will cost $9.95 each month following.

For more information, visit their site.

Verizon

Verizon is waiving late fees for residential and small business customers impacted by COVID-19. They will be waiving activation fees on new lines of service and upgrade fees and offer free international calling to countries identified by the CDC as level 3 impacted by the coronavirus through the end of April. Find more details here.

Transportation & Driver Services

Effective Tuesday, March 17, all Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers in Pennsylvania will be closed. For the latest updates from PennDOT, visit their website.

*Driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner’s permits scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through April 30, 2020, the expiration date is now extended until May 31, 2020.

You can still access driver and vehicle services online. Services include license, ID, and vehicle registration renewals; address changes; driver-history services; driver exam scheduling; driver license and vehicle registration letters; driver license and photo ID duplicates, and ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fees.

Pennsylvania Turnpike

The Pennsylvania Turnpike has temporarily suspended cash payments. Find out more about accepted forms of payment and stay up-to-date with any changes here.

Public Transportation & Shared Rides

  • For the latest information on SEPTA schedules and safety procedures, visit Septa.org
  • Transnet will be providing limited rides to essential destinations only. Learn more on their website or call (215) 542-RIDE.
  • Bucks County Transport is taking extensive measures to maintain health and safety. For the latest information, visit their website or call 888-795-0740.

Mental Health & Emergency Resources

The news around coronavirus can be overwhelming. Anxiety, fear, and uncertainty are normal, but it’s important to take care of your mental health – as well as your physical health. See below for local and national resources to help you in a mental health crisis; if you are experiencing abuse; or if you are struggling with substance abuse.

Mental Health

  • Bucks Crisis Hotline: 1-800-499-7455 (24/7 Availability)
  • Montgomery Crisis Hotline: 1-855-634-HOPE (4673) (24/7 Availability)
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
  • NAMI Bucks County
  • NAMI Montgomery County

Domestic Abuse Resources

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
  • 24 Hour Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-800-490-8505 

Alzheimer & Dementia Resources

Substance Abuse & Recovery