HARRISBURG – More than 1 million Pennsylvania residents have filed claims for unemployment compensation since the corona virus began to take a big toll on the economy in mid-March, according to data released Monday, as the state reports more cases of the virus and deaths.
The state surpassed 283,000 jobless claims last week, pushing Pennsylvania past 1 million in three weeks since businesses began to close to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Swelling accounts that swell in the state for parts of the national toll that are too large.
Even when economic collapse becomes a sharper focus, there is a glimmer of good news in the health sector: The number of new viral cases and deaths reported by the state health department is not established.
Note one day in either category.
Governor Tom Wolf warns that a “A surge will come,” but expressed some optimism that his worst fears could be avoided.
“We are starting to see that an exponential initial increase in cases has given a flatter path (curve), so that the surge may not be as great as we had predicted, that is our sincere hope,” Wolf said at the video conference.
However, he also said that success depended on people who stayed at home – and the state police said Monday that troops had begun to enforce residence orders throughout the governor’s state.
One Pennsylvania mayor became so frustrated by the failure of citizens to adhere to social distance guidelines – and was so worried about the huge increase in virus cases in his area – that he began imposing curfews over the weekend.
Developments related to Monday coronavirus in Pennsylvania:
The state Department of Health reports 1,470 more cases of corona virus, bringing the total of the entire state to 12,980 in 65 of 67 countries. The department also reported 12 more deaths, totaling 162 in the entire state.
Philadelphia reported the death of the first coronavirus related to a police officer, Lieutenant James Walker, who died Sunday. In a statement, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called Walker, 59, “A friend, a family member, a hero.” The Montgomery County coroner confirmed his death at the hospital.
For most people, this virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that go away within a few weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems have a higher risk of developing more severe diseases, including pneumonia, or death.
The state DPR Committee passed a law to force the Wolf administration to allow construction and retail companies to continue limited operations.
Wolf ordered “Does not support life” business was closed indefinitely during the pandemic. Orders prohibit construction, unless there is a health care facility or for emergency repairs. Retail operations are also closed, unless they sell “Sustaining life” products such as food, hardware or prescription drugs.
Committee Chairperson, Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, said the closure threatened Pennsylvania’s economy.
“I believe the balance is too far, and we need to find something in the middle,” Said Everett.
Democrats opposed the GOP-backed bill, saying they would threaten lives and weaken efforts to slow the spread of the virus. Wolf’s administration suggested that letting it now worsen the situation.
The state establishes a waiver process for companies that believe they must be freed from closure orders. About 4% of all businesses in Pennsylvania filed for exceptions, officials said Monday.
The Department of Community and Economic Development said they received 42,380 waiver requests before Friday’s application deadline. It has approved around 7,000 requests so far and has rejected more than 13,000, spokesman Rachel Wrigley said on Monday. The agency is processing the remaining applications.
From March 16 to Sunday, more than 1.1 million Pennsylvania residents filed for unemployment benefits. That’s about one sixth of the nearly 6.6 million people in the Pennsylvania civil work force in February.
Money has begun to flow to about half of the people who filed, State Secretary for Labor and Industry Jerry Oleksiak said Monday.
Wolf apologized for the deposit of claims and said the country was trying to speed up.
Enforcement at home
The Pennsylvania State Police have issued six warnings and one excerpt since orders to stay at home in the entire state of Wolf come into effect at 8 pm. Wednesday, the agency said Monday.
Residents can leave their homes for a number of reasons including working in businesses that are still open, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, visiting doctors, caring for relatives or going out to exercise. If not, they are ordered to remain at home.
The governor’s office said that the police would focus on notifying residents of the order rather than on law enforcement.
Prison release proposal
Pennsylvania prison officials say that the government can act on its own if lawmakers do not approve of measures to release prisoners.
Correction Secretary John Wetzel said on Monday in a letter to lawmakers that if an acceptable law does not pass this week, he would recommend that Wolf, a Democrat, use his reprieve powers to reduce the prisoner population and reduce the risk of a virus outbreak.
A GOP House spokesman said the room had no plans to consider the law sought by Wolf.