The commonwealth is accepting applications from employers to provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining occupations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program would provide funding to pay employees making less than $20 an hour with up to an additional $3 an hour for a maximum of 10 weeks. Applications are due July 31.
Eligible employers include health care and social assistance, food manufacturing, food retail facilities, transit and ground passenger transportation, security services for eligible industries, and janitorial services.
Beginning July 20, 2020, Census Takers will begin visiting households that have not responded online, by phone, or by mail. Please answer the door and provide the answers to the questions the Census Taker asks. By answering, you will help ensure we’ll get our share of funding for the next years. This earlier than plan.
Want to know How to identify a Census Taker? Select here for details.
Speeding and other aggressive driving behaviors are among the leading factors of highway crashes and fatalities in Pennsylvania. To deter aggressive drivers and make Pennsylvania’s highways safer for all who use them, PennDOT partners with Pennsylvania State and local police departments to conduct aggressive driving enforcement. The current enforcement detail is July 6 – August 23, 2020.
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may be an aggressive driver and are putting yourself, your passengers and other people on the road at increased risk of a crash.
Do you speed excessively?
Do you tailgate slower vehicles?
Do you race to beat red lights or run stop signs?
Do you weave in and out of traffic?
Do you pass illegally on the right?
Do you fail to yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles?
If you encounter an aggressive driver, PennDOT offers these tips for what to do:
Get out of their way and don’t challenge them.
Stay relaxed, avoid eye contact and ignore rude gestures.
Don’t block the passing lane if you are driving slower than most of the traffic.
While many people associate aggressive driving with road rage, they are two different behaviors. Road rage, which is a criminal offense, is often the result of aggressive driving behavior that escalates into an assault with a vehicle or other dangerous weapon.
Remember, take care and slow down, for safety’s sake!
Don’t panic if you get a phone call, text message or email from someone who says they’re a public health official warning that you may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
It may be a scam.
Legitimate officials are calling and even visiting people who may have been exposed. That’s called contact tracing, and it’s a key part of Pennsylvania’s plan to limit the spread of the virus as the economy reopens.
But scammers are exploiting that process.
Since we all could be exposed to the virus, we need to be able to recognize when contact tracing is real and when it’s a fraud.
According to the Better Business Bureau, frauds are occurring by text message, email, social media messaging and phone.
Text, email and social media scammers are trying to load malware on phones and computers by duping people into clicking on links that purport to lead to instructions about how to protect yourself from the virus. That malware then can be used to steal your account passwords.
An example of a text scam, according to the Federal Trade Commission: “Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 & recommends you self-isolate/get tested. More at (link).”
Scam robocalls claim to be part of “contact and tracing efforts.” The recorded messages claim you’ve been exposed. They prompt you to stay on the line or enter a number to speak to a representative, who then starts asking you to verify personal information.
The questions may seem innocent at first — name, address, date of birth — but could eventually probe for financial information or data that can be used to commit identity theft.
Legitimate tracers will not request Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers. Financial information and government identification numbers are not needed.
There’s another easy way to tell if you’re dealing with a scammer — if the supposed contact tracer identifies by name the person who may have spread the virus to you.
That information is confidential. Real contact tracers won’t tell you.
The state Department of Health is handling tracing for most of the state, except for the six counties (Bucks, Montgomery, Allegheny, Chester, Erie and Philadelphia) and the four cities (Allentown, Bethlehem, Wilkes-Barre and York) that have their own health departments.
The state will contact people by phone only, spokesman Nate Wardle said. In the northeast part of the state, the department is partnering with Lehigh Valley Health Network on contact tracing.
The hospital system has been doing tracing for people who get a positive test administered in its facilities, Spotlight PA reported, and is coordinating with the Allentown and Bethlehem health departments to minimize duplicate tracing.
In Allentown, contact tracers may call, email or visit, depending on what type of information they were given by the infected person, Health Director Vicky Kistler said.
“We may not be given much,” she told me.
Contact tracers will identify themselves as being from a health department. In Allentown, the health bureau’s name or “city of Allentown” may appear on caller ID. Visits will be done by someone in a city vehicle with a city identification badge.
In some cases, you may be expecting them.
All Pennsylvania residents who test positive for the coronavirus will be asked for the names and contact information of people they’ve interacted closely with, so contact tracing can begin.
People who are infected can help tracers in a big way — by telling friends, family, co-workers and others that they gave health authorities their name and that they should expect to be contacted.
Then those people won’t be surprised to get a phone call or visit, and won’t have to wonder whether they are being scammed.
Tracers will explain the need to stay isolated for 14 days, and ask for contact information so a health official can check with them daily.
The simplest way to do that is to enroll in the state’s Sara Alert system, Kistler said. Anyone who provides a cell phone number or email address will get a daily text message or email asking if they are healthy and staying home. Those who say they have coronavirus symptoms will be directed to get tested.
Recipients only need to check a box on the text or email. They won’t be asked to click on a link to provide that information. If you are prompted to go to a website to answer the questions, that’s a scam.
Be suspicious of unexpected or unsolicited text messages regarding contact tracing. You can only get texts or emails through the state’s Sara Alert system by invitation, which will be set up in the initial phone call or visit from a health official.
People who are unable to receive daily text messages or emails, or choose not to, will receive a phone call daily, Kistler said.
If you get a phone call, text message or email that seems shady, don’t answer any questions.
Contact the state Health Department (877-PA-HEALTH) or your county or local health department if you have one (Allentown 610-437-7760, Bethlehem 610-865-7083). They can tell you if the inquiry was legitimate.
Morning Call columnist Paul Muschick can be reached at 610-820-6582 firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2020 “Click It or Ticket” (CIOT) Municipal Enforcement Mobilization will include a combination of Enforcement and Public Awareness.
The data does not lie, seat belts save lives. Still, many drivers and passengers risk injury and death every day by not buckling up. Proper use of a seat belt can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 45 percent. This is why Buckle Up PA wants you to know that wearing a seat belt can make the difference. We are coordinating with Law Enforcement Agencies and Highway Safety Partners across Pennsylvania to increase Seat Belt use. Our goal is to save lives and reduce injuries by combining public awareness activities with targeted seat belt enforcement.
Buckle Up PA (BUPA) will continue our commitment during the 2020 “Click It or Ticket” Mobilization. The goal is to reduce the number of unbuckled deaths by taking Three Simple Steps.
1. Enforce Occupant Protection Laws 2. Educate Occupants 3. Increase Seat Belt and Child Safety Seat Use
The 2020 “Click It or Ticket” Seat Belt Enforcement Mobilization will take place from May 18 – June 7, 2020. Over 350 Pennsylvania Municipal Law Enforcement Agencies will be taking part in the mobilization. BUPA is asking all law enforcement agencies to focus their time and resources in the areas where we have the best chance to increase seat belt use:
• Nighttime Occupants • Occupants and Drivers between the age of 18-35 • Pick-up Truck Drivers • Roadways experiencing the highest numbers of unbelted crashes/fatalities
BUPA will again partner with PA’s Impaired Driving Projects to plan and coordinate Seat Belt and Impaired Driving enforcement details during the 2020 May/June CIOT Mobilization. The goal of this initiative is to reduce the number of nighttime unbelted and impaired driving crashes and fatalities.
BUPA believes that strong enforcement is the key to success in this “Click It or Ticket” Mobilization and that is why participating departments are being asked to enforce the Pennsylvania Traffic Laws. Traffic Enforcement Zone (TEZ) Details and Roving Patrols will be used to conduct seat belt enforcement. Law Enforcement Agencies will take a “Zero Tolerance” on all safety belt violations and conduct 50% of enforcement at night to persuade the remaining 12% of non-users to buckle up and increase seat belt use.
BUPA will be promoting high-visibility seat belt enforcement efforts around the clock to save more lives on our roadways. Motorists will be urged to fasten their seat belts, day and night … “Click It or Ticket”.
Voters have the option to vote by mail-in ballot rather than going to their polling place for the June 2 primary election.
Mail-in ballot applications must be received by the local county election office by Tuesday, May 26. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the date of the primary election was changed from April 28 to June 2. If you have already applied for an absentee or mail-in ballot, you do not need to reapply.
Beginning April 20, 2020, the Blair County Emergency Management Agency will start setting adult surveillance equipment for the Mosquito Borne Disease Control Program (MBDCP). “Our primary mission is to enhance public health and comfort through providing safe, effective, and economical mosquito control,” stated Autumn Hetrick of the Blair County EMA. If you have a mosquito problem, please call Autumn at (814) 940-5901.
Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19 When Visiting the Park
Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy. In many areas, people can visit parks, trails, and open spaces as a way to relieve stress, some fresh air, and vitamin D, stay active, and safely connect with others.
Know Before You Go: While parks can offer health benefits, it is important that you follow the steps below to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Visit parks that are close to your home. Traveling long distances to visit a park may contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
Prepare before you visit – is the park open, as well as bathroom facilities.
Stay at least 6 feet away from others (“social Distancing”) and take other steps to prevent COVID-19.
Bring hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Visits parks if you are sick or were recently exposed (within 14 days) to COVID-19
Visit crowded parks where you cannot stay at least 6 feet away from others at all times.
Use playgrounds – The virus can spread when young children touch contaminated equipment and then touch their hands to their eyes, nose, or mouth.
Participate in organized activities or sports – In general, most organized activities such as basketball and baseball, involve athletes who are not from the same household to be in close proximity, which increases their potential for exposure to COVID-10.
Please remember to use “social distancing” when you visit the Claysburg Area Community Park. Especially, at the basketball court and pavilions.
The state Departments of Revenue and Banking and Securities are warning Pennsylvanians about phishing scams targeting people who are expecting a stimulus payment from the federal government.
The Internal Revenue Service has reported seeing a surge of scam artists perpetrating phishing schemes in which they pose as government officials to trick people into turning over their banking information.
Pennsylvanians should never give direct deposit or other banking information to anyone who contacts them on the phone, through email or text messages, or on social media. More details about this scam are available here.