Pennsylvania lawmakers keep COVID-19 waivers for six more months | News, Sports, Jobs


Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature on Wednesday voted to further extend hundreds of regulatory waivers that Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration had approved under its pandemic disaster emergency authority.

The House and Senate voted unanimously to add another six months to an earlier extension they granted, as the delta variant of the coronavirus causes an increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths across the country. ‘State.

Wolf will sign it, his office said. Lawmakers have approved most of the Wolf administration’s recommendations on extending the pandemic-related waivers that are still in effect, Wolf’s office said.

Most of the waivers extended through March 31, 2022 are designed to help hospitals, clinics and others respond to the pandemic, including making it easier to hire staff, deliver vaccines, or convert space to view. the patients.

Some waivers have been lifted and some are allowed to expire, Wolf’s office said. However, neither Wolf’s office nor lawmakers were able to provide complete lists.

Lawmakers voted in June to end the Wolf Pandemic Disaster Declaration of Emergency, under new authority given to them by voters in the May referendum to change the constitution . At the same time, they voted to extend hundreds of regulatory waivers.

This preliminary extension ends Thursday, at the end of September.

The legislation does not affect Wolf’s statewide mask mandate for schools, which requires students, staff, and visitors to K-12 schools and daycares to wear masks indoors, regardless or the vaccination status.

Lawmakers left the Capitol on Wednesday, 10 days after starting their fall session schedule without voting on legislation drafted by Republicans to block Wolf’s statewide mask mandate for schools. The House was due to return on Monday, but the Senate was to be out of session until October 18.

The power to suspend regulations is the key part of a governor’s authority under a disaster declaration, and the hundreds of regulations the Wolf administration suspended during the pandemic spanned a wide range of functions. government and the economy, including licensing, inspections and training.

Most of the regulations that will remain lifted fall under health agencies, social services and licensing.

In addition to removing some licensing requirements for healthcare workers, the waivers also expand the ability to deliver healthcare services remotely, allow hospitals to tailor their space to handle influxes of patients, and make it easier to obtain vaccines in pharmacies, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania said.

Under the bill, Wolf’s administration has the power to enforce any regulations that have been waived.

Wolf can also declare another disaster if he chooses.

Lawmakers, however, have the newly granted referendum power to end a new declaration with a majority vote, rather than the two-thirds vote required previously.

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