Wolf admin: State employees in COVID-19 ‘mitigation’ counties should work from home

    (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

    With the state Legislature set to return to work Monday — and, along with them, tens of thousands of Pennsylvania state employees — the Wolf administration has released some guidance for those workers.

    In a statement released to the Capital-Star on Sunday, the administration said it is instructing state employees who live or work in COVID-19 mitigation counties — Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties — “have been instructed to telework if they have the capability,” administration spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger said.

    The administration’s guidance to state workers is subject to change, Kensinger said.

    She added that “the Administration has encouraged agencies and managers to be flexible as this situation unfolds to make sure all employees are safe.”

    The full text of that statement:

    “As the commonwealth has responded to this crisis, the Administration has taken great strides to communicate with employees to ensure their safety while maintaining services to Pennsylvanians. 
    All state agencies have Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government plans that will be implemented when needed. These plans include telework capabilities for some employees. 
    The Administration has worked closely with the Department of Health, and at this time commonwealth-wide telework guidance has not been issued. 
    Employees who either live in or work in COVID-19 mitigation counties have been instructed to telework if they have the capability. 
    The Administration has encouraged agencies and managers to be flexible as this situation unfolds to make sure all employees are safe. 
    If employees have specific questions, we encourage them to reach out to their HR representatives. 
    This is obviously not a static situation, and our guidance, policies, and recommendations will change as we learn more.” 

    On Sunday, the administration  confirmed 16 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 63 cases.

    Those new cases are: One in Allegheny County; one in Bucks County; two in Cumberland County; one in Delaware County; one in Lehigh County; one in Luzerne County; three in Monroe County; four in Montgomery County; and two in Philadelphia County. All are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital, the agency said in a statement.

    According to the Department of Health, there are 446 patients who have been tested or are in the process of being tested. There also are 205 who have tested negative; 63 confirmed cases; and 183 patient samples are either at the lab for testing or on their way to the lab.

    Schools and Community Centers:

    In a briefing at Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency headquarters on Saturday, Gov. Tom Wolf also announced that, effective Sunday, such non-essential public spaces as community centers and entertainment venues, will be shuttered in Bucks and Chester counties.

    That comes on top of the administration’s request, issued earlier this week, for similar spaces to be closed in Delaware and Montgomery counties.

    The order does not apply to such critical spaces as gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, Wolf said Saturday.

    This approach “will slow the spread of COVID-19 and will keep Pennsylvania safe,” Wolf said. “If we can slow the spread of this virus, we can flatten the curve … this is what we need to do and we need to do it now … stay calm, stay home and stay safe.”

    John L. Micek
    A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press