As of Sunday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health had reported 3,394 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania, with 19 in Lebanon County.
Lebanon County had no reported fatalities through March 29.
Here are other recent updates on how Lebanon County is responding to the threat of the novel coronavirus.
WellSpan Health, MedExpress providing coronavirus testing in Lebanon County
WellSpan Health and MedExpress are providing coronavirus testing in Lebanon County.
We had previously reported on WellSpan Health’s testing area at WellSpan Cardiology (775 Norman Drive). “These tents are not to be utilized for walk-in screening at this time,” Cindy Stauffer, a senior media relations and communications specialist at WellSpan, said in an email earlier this month. “Patients should call their primary care provider before arriving.”
WellSpan Health also has a screening tent setup outside the WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital at 4th & Locust in the City of Lebanon.
WellSpan Health has also set up a COVID-19 Q&A page on its website, and, for those who don’t have a primary care physician, a toll-free number for questions, 855-851-3641.
WellSpan offered the following guidance for those seeking to get tested:
- Call your primary care physician. If your doctor determines that you should be tested, and is in the WellSpan network, your doctor will call in an order for you to be tested.
- If your primary care physician is not in the WellSpan network, your doctor will have to call the WellSpan testing number, 855-851-3641, to set up a WellSpan evaluation.
- If you do not have a primary care physician, call 855-851-3641 and follow the prompts to get connected to a WellSpan nurse.
MedExpress Urgent Care, located at 1010 West Crestview Drive, is also providing COVID-19 testing. According to clinic manager Cheryl Host, no referral from a physician is needed. Those with symptoms who walk in during normal business hours (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.) and fill out a questionnaire will be evaluated on the spot by a nurse to see if they require testing. With questions you can reach MedExpress Urgent Care by calling 717-272-7469.
Payment for COVID-19 testing and treatment
It’s always necessary to check with your insurance company, and short-term and temporary insurance policies can have significant coverage exclusions, but government and private insurers are responding.
Generally, all major health insurers in Pennsylvania have agreed to cover the cost of testing and treatment and to waive co-pays and deductibles. Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP recipients will receive similar benefits.
Governor seeks federal disaster declaration for Pennsylvania
In a March 28 letter, Governor Tom Wolf asked President Trump to declare a major disaster in Pennsylvania due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Such a declaration would qualify the state for a number of federal emergency assistance programs.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has taxed our commonwealth and our communities in ways that are almost incomprehensible,” said Gov. Wolf. “I am calling on the President and the federal government to make available to us the assistance that will make a tangible difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors, and the dedicated public servants who are working in overdrive to support them.”
The President had not responded to the Governor’s request by publication time.
Lebanon Municipal Building closings extended
In a brief March 27 press release, the Lebanon County Commissioners announced that “[i]n an effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Lebanon County, all non-essential Lebanon County Government Offices were closed beginning Friday March 20th. This decision was reviewed today and will continue until further notice.”
The commissioners had originally announced a limited shutdown through March 30.
The City of Lebanon, which shares the Municipal Building with the county, is following the county’s lead.
Unemployment compensation: self-employed, gig workers, others previously ineligible will be covered.
Pennsylvania leads the country in unemployment claims due to the coronavirus pandemic. The recently enacted federal CARES Act will provide unemployment benefits to those who are self-employed, gig workers, and other individuals who previously were not eligible for unemployment.
Pennsylvania’s Office of Unemployment Compensation has a good explanation of COVID-19 benefits and how to apply for them.
Restrictions at city-owned parks and playgrounds.
City of Lebanon Clerk Cheryl Gibson has announced that “[t]he city-owned parks and playgrounds remain open. However, the playground equipment has been cordoned off in an effort to keep children safe and healthy. The City does not have the staff to continually sanitize the playground equipment throughout the day.”
Gibson said that “[f]olks are welcome to use the open space and walking areas at our parks and playgrounds; however, we want to encourage everyone to practice social distancing and use their best judgment when they are in commonly used areas.”
Lebanon Salvation Army conducting “Bag & Go” food distribution on March 30 and March 31
The Lebanon Salvation Army, 1031 Guilford Street, will be distributing bagged food in its parking lot from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Monday, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31, as part of its Harvest Food Distribution.
Here are the guidelines for those wanting to pick up food:
- The distribution will be outside the building at a table in front of the Gym door on the Guilford street side of the building.
- To insure the safety of clients and volunteers, the number of people in the parking lot at one time will be limited.
- The distribution will not be drive through, and there will be no parking in the lot. Drivers will be able to stop briefly curbside, get out of their cars, grab the bags, and go.
- Clients will be allowed to take up to three bags of groceries.
Giant Foods adds third party security to aid shoppers
In addition to other precautions, Giant Foods Public Relations Manager Ashley Flower said that the grocery store chain is “. . . working with a third-party provider to bring in security personnel to help maintain a safe environment for our team members and customers.”
Flower said that the added personnel will be in stores “to ensure that social distancing is being practiced as well as helping to manage the increased traffic our stores are experiencing. This will also allow our team to spend more time taking care of customers and restocking shelves.”
A very brief summary of the CARES Act
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress recently passed, and President trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act as part of a $2 trillion aid package designed to help the economy.
The new law provides $1,200 payments to qualified individual taxpayers, $2,400 to qualified married couples. Those payments are actually credits against tax that will be owed on 2020 income.
The Washington Post has a calculator to see how much you may be getting.
The CARES Act, in qualifying situations, also gives employers tax credits for retaining employees during the coronavirus crisis, delays payment of some employment taxes, and allows individuals to make penalty-free withdrawals from retirement plans.
Under the act’s “Paycheck Protection Program,” qualifying businesses can get forgivable loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The SBA has an online application process.
Finally, here’s your coronavirus earworm
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