Please note that our April newsletter was designed and printed prior to Westmoreland County's "non-life sustaining business closure" and "stay at home" orders. At this time, all Chamber events have been cancelled through the end of April. In the event that Governor Wolf's orders are lifted prior to April 30, we will alert you to our calendar changes. Please continue to check our website for details regarding future events.
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Westmoreland County Chamber, IDC and EGC announce joint effort to maintain webpage with COVID-19 business resources
To provide the most complete and clear information while eliminating redundancies, the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce, Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation and Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland are coordinating with Westmoreland County to add business-specific news to the county’s COVID-19 online resources.
In addition to being updated with business-specific COVID-19 news as it breaks, this page features contact information for our three organizations as our staffs work from home. We anticipate that as new information is added, we'll migrate some of the older announcements to a Frequently Asked Questions file.
We ask that you bookmark this website and check it often. Additionally, please consider subscribing to the county’s COVID-19 alerts; doing so will ensure that you will be emailed or texted with all COVID-19 content — not just business-specific updates — that we and other county officials and agencies add to the site. You can subscribe by clicking here.
When the directors of our three organizations feel the news is sufficiently important or time-sensitive, we will send individual e-blasts to keep you informed. Otherwise, any COVID-19 business news that we post will be promoted on our social media channels (see the business resource page for links to all three organizations' social media accounts) and bundled in newsletters, as needed. To ensure that as many in the county see important updates, we ask that you consider sharing our posts with your colleagues.
PA Chamber Statement on Governor’s COVID-19 Emergency Order to Close “Non-Life-Sustaining” Businesses
HARRISBURG - Late yesterday, Gov. Tom Wolf issued an order for all “non-life-sustaining businesses” in the Commonwealth to close their physical locations. A list of businesses and industries and their classification can be found here. That order was effective at 8 p.m. last evening with enforcement slated to begin at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, March 21. At the same time, the governor announced enforcement actions against food and liquor establishments that have failed to comply with a previous order. That enforcement began at 8 p.m. last night (March 19). PA Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement regarding the governor’s order.
“While we understand the need for strong measures to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, many of the industries listed as “non-life-sustaining businesses” in the governor’s order are in fact part of the supply chain for other businesses listed as being a “life-sustaining” business.
“We understand that there may be confusion among the state’s business community regarding whether or not they are considered to be a “life-sustaining” business. The Department of Community and Economic Development has set up two e-mails regarding this issue. We encourage employers with questions about whether
their organization needs to close to contact DCED at email@example.com. The Department has also dedicated the following e-mail, RAfirstname.lastname@example.org, for businesses seeking an exemption to the order.y email marketing for free today!
Westmoreland County COVID-19 Leadership Team urges small businesses and nonprofits to immediately begin application process for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
The Westmoreland County COVID-19 Leadership Team strongly recommends that managers of small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the ongoing public-health emergency promptly begin the application process for just-approved emergency funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“If your business has suffered during this emergency, don’t delay; you should file as soon as possible,” said Sean Kertes, chairman of the county commissioners. “At this point, it’s unclear how much funding the SBA will earmark for Pennsylvania, so we urge our local businesses not to wait. We want the county economy to be well-positioned to emerge strong once this passes.”
The SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance this afternoon approved the statewide disaster declaration application submitted by Gov. Tom Wolf’s office. Small businesses and nonprofits that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus now can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan via https://sba.gov/disaster . These low-interest loans can be for up to $2 million.
To prepare applicants, the SBA has provided three documents:
For information concerning SBA’s disaster funding, see https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance.
Businesses with questions about the funding should contact the SBA Pittsburgh District Office at email@example.com
The health and safety of our patients and visitors is a top priority at Excela Health. We understand how important the support of loved ones and friends is to patients during their hospital stay. At the same time, the new coronavirus requires us to temporarily adjust our visiting policy in order to keep our patients and visitors safe from infection.
• If you have a cough or show other signs of illness, please do not enter the building. If there is an emergent need for you to visit and you are ill, please see a health care worker to obtain a mask.
• Visitors are limited to one adult in Emergency Department patient areas
• In other areas of hospital operation, one visitor is permitted per patient.
• For obstetric patients (new or laboring mothers), one visitor is permitted and must be the only visitor throughout the course of the admission.
• One person is allowed to accompany each patient to an appointment, unless an aide or assistant is required.
Excela Health provides free Wi-Fi service and encourages those visitors to connect with loved ones to do so remotely through digital channels such as Facetime instead of an in-person visit.
For the most up-to-date information, please visit ExcelaHealth.org.
Out of an abundance of caution and in order to protect our patients and staff, we are asking our employees and visitors who are placing food orders meet their vendors in the lobby of our Excela Heath facilities to obtain their orders. For floral shops that deliver gifts to patients, please bring flowers to the front desk at any of our locations and we will ensure that the patient receives them. Thank you for your consideration and cooperation during this time as we work together as a community to care for one another.
Employers have expressed concern about employees who are ill and are seeking testing for COVID-19. It is important that individuals who are ill contact their PCP for guidance. It is ONLY appropriate for individuals to present to the Emergency Department if they believe are having acute life threatening conditions. Presenting to the emergency room with mild symptoms taxes our resources and only serves to expose yourself and others to multiple types of infectious conditions. Please contact your PCP for advice. Cover your cough/sneeze; avoid touching your face; practice great hand washing; practice social distancing (maintaining at least 6 feet between yourself and others); and frequently clean high touch surfaces.
To our valued Occupational Medicine Clients:
I am sure that you are aware of the intense media attention to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Excela Health has been focusing efforts on preparedness for the potential of widespread illness related to COVID-19. We recently shared information with the public via the Tribune Review. A copy of that article can be found in a separate blog post here at westmorelandchamber.com.
We would like to take this opportunity to make some suggestions for consideration in advance of any disease in our community:
• Please encourage frequent hand washing. Vigorous use of soap and water for at least 20 seconds is preferred. Alcohol based hand sanitizers are an acceptable alternative if soap and water are not easily accessible.
• You may want to consider limiting or suspending any non-essential business travel outside of the continental United States
• You should strongly encourage employees who are ill to stay home. Individuals with fevers (> 100 F) should be fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever medications.
• Take the opportunity now to identify resources that might be needed that would allow employees to work from home in the event that recommendation is made by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) or the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
• Familiarize yourself with the CDC website. Identify an individual within your company that can monitor the site daily as information does change:
Specific questions related to the Department of Health plan should be addressed to the PA Department of Health at 724-832-5315. You can also reach out to Excela WORKS by calling 724-454-6695.
Thank you for placing your trust in us!
Carol J. Fox, MD, Senior Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer, Excela Health
Dr. Carol J. Fox, EXCELA HEALTH: How to prevent the spread and protect our community against coronavirus
Coronavirus — specifically the strain known as COVID-19 — has dominated our news cycles in recent days. We learn daily of increasing numbers of individuals who have been infected. At this writing, there are no confirmed cases in Pennsylvania, but we do need to be prepared for any eventuality.
The good news is that we have the best offense in each and every one of our homes, schools and place of business: SOAP AND WATER. Washing our hands vigorously with soap and water is the best means of protecting ourselves and others against any infectious disease.
However, there is other important information that you should be aware of.
Excela Health has a number of response mechanisms in place. In addition to our standard infectious disease protocols, Excela Health is following Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and has instituted a number of measures to identify and screen patients with potential COVID-19.
For the past several years, we have been screening individuals for transmissible travel-related diseases who seek testing or treatment at our facilities. We have done this under the guidance of the CDC in order to help prevent the human-to-human spread of illnesses such as COVID-19 and others you may have heard of, such as Ebola and MERS. You may have experienced being asked the following questions:
• In the last 21 days, have you traveled to any foreign countries or have you been exposed to anyone who has traveled and is under investigation by the state Health Department for illness? If yes, which locations?
• Do you have a fever or any lower respiratory illness (severe productive cough, shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing)?
In the event an individual responds affirmatively to the above questions, our staff will contact our Infection Prevention and Control experts, who will provide further guidance. These experts are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This guidance is provided in direct collaboration with the state Health Department and the CDC.
We want to emphasize that Excela Health does not make the decision to test a patient for COVID-19. Testing is only performed at this time at the discretion of the state Health Department or the CDC.
Excela Health has an action plan in place should any patient meet criteria for COVID-19. Our providers are working as a team with internal, local, regional and national resources to evaluate possible cases to ensure everyone’s safety.
As updates from the state Health Department and CDC become available to us, we provide them to our physicians. Your providers will use this information to assist you in the event you contact them if you are ill and have had recent travel or have been exposed to someone who has.
If you have had recent travel and are experiencing symptoms, we encourage you to contact your provider via phone. Contacting your provider via phone, before you present to a facility to seek care can dramatically reduce the risk of exposure to others. Your provider can seek assistance from our Infection Control team to determine the best course of action for you.
However, should you be experiencing severe symptoms — feeling like you are unable to breathe — please call 911. If you are able, please notify them of your travel or exposure history when you call.
It’s important for the public to be familiar with key facts about COVID-19. Similar to other respiratory illnesses like influenza, coronavirus generally spreads from an infected person to others via:
• Droplet by coughing and sneezing.
• Close personal contact (within about six feet), such as touching or shaking hands.
• Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hand.
There is currently no vaccine available that would prevent COVID-19 infection. Treatment for COVID-19 infection is supportive. There is no specific anti-viral treatment.
The CDC notes that the risk of death from COVID-19 is low at this time. Vulnerable populations in our community are at higher risk for death from influenza due to the prevalence of this infection. That is why it is so important to follow the following preventive actions to help prevent the spread of any respiratory disease:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Stay home from work or school when you are sick. Individuals who are ill with high body temperature (known as febrile illnesses) should be fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever medicines before resuming regular activities or attending work/school. We must each monitor ourselves in order to protect those around us from illness.
• If you are elderly or have chronic conditions that either predispose you to infectious diseases or could result in more severe illness during an infection, you should limit your exposure to large gatherings where individuals with illness may be present.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
• Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. It’s always important to wash your hands after going to the bathroom — and especially important now.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
We will post information on our website as a reference point to keep the community updated as new information is available from the state Health Department and the CDC. We want to ensure that you have quick and easy access to information.
It is the mission of Excela Health to improve the health and well-being of every life we touch. Our physicians, nurses and staff are committed to providing you, our community, with the best care possible.
Dr. Carol J. Fox, a family physician and Greensburg resident, is senior vice president and chief medical officer of Excela Health.
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