COVID-19 Impact on Pittsburgh
The Phases of Reopening and What It Means for Businesses
Pennsylvania: As the COVID-19 situation begins to stabilize, the process to reopen Pennsylvania will begin. Gov. Tom Wolf has implemented a strategic three-phase approach in hopes of allowing Pennsylvanians to return to work while preventing a resurgence of the coronavirus.
This three-phase matrix (red phase, yellow phase, and green phase) will be used to determine when counties and/or regions are ready to begin easing up on some restrictions.
To read more about this process and the necessary benchmarks to meet each phase’s requirements, click here.
Ohio: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has announced his “Responsible Restart Ohio” plan, which allowed businesses to begin reopening on April 27. This plan is balance between keeping people safe and regenerating the economy.
To get the exact list of dates each type of business will be allowed to reopen, visit the Ohio Valley Resource Page, and to learn more about the changes that will apply to the reopening of restaurants, bars, and personal care services, click here.
Borne from the COVID-19 Pandemic, 10k Sandwiches was created to help feed those in need during national and regional crises.
Our goal is to engage other businesses and nonprofits to work cooperatively with the general public to do the particular good deeds that are needed, and empower people to create hope for the future. Starting with a food drive in Pittsburgh, PA, distributing meals to those in need in the Greater Pittsburgh area For more information, click here.
Allegheny County Health Department
For specific local information on the COVID-19 outbreak, the Allegheny County Health Department as launched a dedicated resource page, as well as a “rumor control” webpage dedicated to controlling misinformation about the virus.
Business Interruption Insurance Claims
With business closings due to COVID-19 in the U.S, business owners are facing claims for business interruptions, whether voluntary or involuntary. If you are a business owner or having trouble filing a claim with your business insurance provider, please contact us.
CDC Information Center
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has an information center, including guidelines on protecting yourself and steps to take if you are sick, available online here.
Coronavirus Resource Center
The ACBA partners at Thomson Reuters Practical Law have assembled a collection of resources across jurisdictions focused on pandemics and business interruptions. To access the Coronavirus toolkit, click here.
Common Misconceptions About the Virus
There are many misconceptions about COVID-19, so if you would like to read more about the facts, check out the World Health Organization’s page designated to addressing the public’s questions and misconceptions about the coronavirus.
COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) is offering working capital for the purposes of assisting with operations, excluding fixed assets, and the production of machinery and equipment. There will be a limit of $100,000 for each loan and interest rates could vary from 0-2 percent. The PIDA partners with a network of nonprofit organizations called Certified Economic Development Organizations (CEDOs) to administer the CWCA loan program. The loan application will need to be submitted to the PIDA Office by the CEDO for final approval. To determine which CEDO(s) serve your business’s county and to receive additional information about the CWCA Program click here. Additional information provided on the DCED website as it becomes available.
Unfortunately may scam artists are using the Coronavirus crisis as a way to execute cyberscams. USI Affinity has published an article on how to avoid these sophisticated scams.
Financial Assistance Available to Small Businesses
Gov. Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania is offering financial assistance to small businesses through the state’s Working Capital Access Program. Click here for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answered During a Webinar with Chaffin Luhana Former Client Namvar Zohoori
With news about COVID-19 constantly being produced and shared, it is hard to know what information is current and accurate. In order to help provide some clarity on what is fact and what is fiction, Chaffin Luhana LLP hosted a webinar for attendees to have their questions answered by Namvar Zohoori, M.D., a former client and the Chief of Science Officer for the Arkansas Department of Health.
If you are interested in watching or reading a recap of each question and answer, click on the webinar link, Ask the Doctor: COVID-19.
Food Bank Resources
Pennsylvania: If you or someone you know needs food assistance, Feeding Pennsylvania and their nine participating member food banks can help.
Their food banks are located throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and serve all 67 counties in the state. They are responsible for distributing more than 164 million pounds of food to soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and child feeding programs in Pennsylvania every year.
To locate food assistance in your community, simply click here, and then click on your county, they can help connect you with the food resources you need.
Residents in the Greater Pittsburgh area can also find resources on the Big Burgh website, click here to enter in your information to see what is available near you.
Ohio: Ohio Association of Foodbanks is Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger. If you or a loved one requires food assistance, they can help. Click here, to be taken to the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, and then click on your county to visit the foodbank website for your region.
Helping Clients Prepare for Public Health Emergencies
The ACBA’s Insurance Partner, USI Affinity, has prepared an informational booklet regarding the coronavirus and how lawyers can help clients prepare for public health emergencies. The guide can be accessed here.
Help Working Remotely
Need help working remotely? The ACBA Partners at SimpleLaw are offering two free months of their practice management software and unlimited training as a way to help attorneys transition to a virtual office. Click here for more.
Mental Health Resources
Fear and anxiety about contracting COVID-19, as well as worry about loved ones who are particularly vulnerable, can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both children and adults.
Additionally, adapting to sudden lifestyle changes such as working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling, and isolation from family and friends can be challenging for everyone, but especially those with mental health conditions.
Fortunately, there are many resources for those dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression. Reference the CDC resources for help or share to help others who may require some extra support.
Click here for additional tips and advice from the World Health Organization.
Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA)
PIDA is currently putting together the Small Business First Fund to make $61,000,000 available for business assistance. Funds can be used for working capital loans of up to $100,000 given to small businesses who employ 100 or fewer people. Currently, the interest rates are set at 3 percent but the PIDA board can adjust the interest rates as low as 0 percent. More information will be available in the coming days. To get additional information about what is offered in your county and to apply, click here.
Realtime Coronavirus Spread Map
Looking for an accurate representation of the real-time spread of COVID-19? Click here to check out the map provided by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
Stay Safe, Make Your Own Mask
The CDC recommends all individuals over 2 years of age wear a mask, or homemade cloth face covering, in public settings where appropriate social distancing is difficult to sustain.
If you are unable to obtain a mask, there are many ways an individual can fashion their own homemade cloth face covering. Whether you prefer to use a sew or no-sew method, we have a tutorial to help you. Click here, for a DIY mask tutorial from the CDC.
Talking to Your Kids About COVID-19
If you are experiencing stress or anxiousness about COVID-19, your kids may feel it too. The loss of daily routine, isolation, and overall uncertainty can lead to anxiety, depression, and fear, and, as a source of daily conversation, rumors and misinformation about COVID-19 can amplify these feelings.
Therefore, it is essential to have an honest and accurate discussion with your child about COVID-19 to help them understand what is happening, calm their fears, and make them feel safe.
We understand that talking to them about what is going on can be challenging, so click here, for some strategies on how to talk with your children and help them cope during this rapidly changing and unknown time.
PA Breakdown of Telehealthcare and Resources: Healthcare centers in Pennsylvania are increasing the use of “telehealth” or digital healthcare services to better meet the needs of their patients. Telehealth more efficiently addresses and overcomes the challenges presented by geographic, linguistic, economic, and transportation, issues encountered by some patients.
To learn more about Telehealthcare, visit the NACHC resource page.
If your source of income has been lost or reduced due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment compensation.
Circumstances that typically qualify individuals to receive unemployment compensation include, an employer has temporarily, or permanently, closed their business, reduced employee working hours to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, or required an employee to quarantine or self-isolate.
To learn more about filing or managing unemployment benefits, click here.
What is the COVID-19 Antibody Test?
The antibody test, or serology test, is a laboratory blood test designed to detect antibodies indicating whether a person has been exposed to COVID-19.
Antibodies are specific proteins that are created in direct response to infections. The CDC’s serologic test for COVID-19 is designed to detect antibodies produced solely in response to COVID-19 and avoid the detection of other less severe illnesses, like the common cold.
To learn more about the antibody test for COVID-19, click here.
Where to Get the COVID-19 Antibody Test Locally?
Interested in determining if you have been infected by COVID-19?
Both ARCpoint Labs and Quest Diagnostics are currently offering antibody testing using blood samples. ARCpoint Labs uses a network of trustworthy third-party labs to help conduct their antibody tests.
Go to this page, and click on the “Find Your Location” button to locate a testing center near you.
Attorney Visits to County Jail Suspended
Due to Coronavirus pandemic, and for protection of those incarcerated, the Allegheny County Jail, with the approval of Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark, has temporarily suspended all attorney visits to the jail. Attorneys may meet and confer with their clients by telephone.
In order to guarantee the confidentiality of these attorney/client phone calls and to ensure that they are not monitored or recorded, the jail has created a “Legal Privacy Request Form” which can be accessed here. Attorneys should fill out the form and email it to the jail as per the instructions to ensure that their calls are not recorded. For additional information, or with questions, attorneys can call 412-350-2207 or 412-350-2247.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark has ordered that all of the court’s custody orders that were entered before the court entered emergency status remain in effect, unaffected by Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order, unless otherwise modified by the court. To read the full order, click here.
Supreme Court of Pa. Updates ‘Essential Functions’
On March 24, the Supreme Court of Pa. updated its list of essential functions for Courts of Common Pleas in the Commonwealth to include the commencement of a civil action, by praecipe for a writ of summons, for purposes of tolling a statute of limitations. To read the full order, click here.
Some Law Offices Open on Restricted Basis
Amid the order for “non-life-sustaining businesses” in Pennsylvania to close physical offices, some law offices may stay open on a restricted basis. Law firms seeking an exemption can get more information and formally request a waiver here. For a list explaining what is a life-sustaining business and what is not, click here.
CLE Deadline Extended Aug. 31
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has extended the April 30 compliance period deadline to Aug. 31, 2020. All other compliance period requirements remain at this time. More information is available in this order from the Supreme Court.
Swear In Witnesses Remotely
Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered that court reporters can swear in witnesses remotely and without an affidavit signed by counsel. To read the whole order, click here.
Pennsylvania Courts Closed Due to Coronavirus
After restricting and/or postponing numerous court processes and procedures earlier in the week, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has closed all courts to the public for all nonessential functions through at least April 3 due to the COVID-19 crisis, at the urging of Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health. This includes the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, which will be closed through at least April 14, and all intermediate and appellate courts.
To read the news release on the closing – including details regarding what the court views as essential functions – click here. To read the full order from the Supreme Court, click here. For the March 23 order from President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark regarding the latest, updated specifics of the closing of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, click here. To read the letter from Dr. Levine, click here.
Procedures for Teleconference Hearings
Due to the Coronavirus crisis, the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas is holding many proceedings via teleconference. To view the protocol, as outlined by President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark, click here. This protocol applies only to those judges who have indicated they’re ready to hold teleconference hearings. Presently this includes Juvenile Court judges; additional information will be shared as additional judges move to this protocol.
Procedures for Judge Cathleen Bubash
For updated operating procedures for The Hon. Cathleen Bubash in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Family Division during the judicial emergency, click here.
ACBA In-Person Events Postponed
All in-person ACBA events and CLEs scheduled through April 14 have been postponed indefinitely. The status of in-person ACBA and ACBF events scheduled after April 14 will be reevaluated in the days and weeks ahead.
Committee, Division and Section Meetings – Conference Calls
ACBA Committee, Division and Section meetings will continue to be held – at the chair’s discretion – via conference call. Staff liaisons will circulate agendas, minutes and other materials for these meetings. View the ACBA calendar for a full upcoming meeting schedule.
The ACBA has more than 50 online CLEs in dozens of practice areas available to be viewed for credit 24/7 at cle.acba.org.
Pittsburgh Legal Journal
The ACBA will continue online publishing of the Pittsburgh Legal Journal, the official legal journal of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, but has moved to a twice-per-week schedule (Wednesdays and Fridays) through at least April 14. The Journal is available online at www.PittsburghLegalJournal.org. The latest edition is available here.
President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark has ordered these changes. You already created the link in the interest of public health. Judge Clark also specified in her order that proofs of publication for legal ads in the Pittsburgh Legal Journal may be verified and signed by a notary public only, instead of a notary public and affiant as is typically required. In addition, the proofs of publication may be mailed or emailed.
Please do not send hard copy mail to the ACBA’s Koppers Building address. As the ACBA adheres to social distancing guidelines, no employees are working in the office. The ACBA has three convenient ways to submit legal notices.
The Lawyers Journal newspaper – the ACBA’s flagship publication containing news on the legal community, ACBA happenings and substantive legal articles – will continue to be published as normal, every-other Friday and delivered to members through the mail. The March 27 edition of the Lawyers Journal is available here. Note that this electronic edition contains a completely updated cover story – “What you need to know about coronavirus in the workplace” – as rules and regulations in this area are changing almost daily. Many of the changes were put into place after the hard copy edition of the March 27 Lawyers Journal was printed, so the hard copy edition members receive in the mail will not contain this updated version of the article. This story will continue to be updated in the electronic version of the March 27 Lawyers Journal as rules and regulations continue to evolve on this topic.
U.S. District Court Adjusting Procedures
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania is adjusting procedures, including changing the protocol for initial criminal procedures, changing the procedures regarding jury trials and certain other proceedings and adjusting the process for the computation of time for filing of informations and indictments. For additional information, visit the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania website.
Sheriff’s Sales Suspended until June 1
The Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas announced that all cases listed for the regularly scheduled April Allegheny County Sherriff’s Sale shall be postponed until the June 1 Sheriff’s Sale. For additional information, click here.