State Sen. Tina Tartaglione on Thursday afternoon held a telephone town hall with Jerry Oleksiak, secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry, and Dr. Whitney Cabey, of Temple University.
Tartaglione invited constituents on the call to ask questions about health and employment in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawmaker urged constituents to stay home, wash their hands, not touch their faces and keep a social distance.
“It is no longer optional,” she said.
Tartaglione said the virus has been “devastating” for employment. In response to a question, she said the city Departments of Public Health and Licenses and Inspections have been going to businesses that remain open to make sure they are adhering to policies that make it safe for employees and customers.
Cabey noted that there is no vaccine yet for the virus. She explained that people who are asymptomatic can spread the virus. No one is immune.
“That’s one of the reasons social distancing is so important,” she said. “Stay away from each other.”
Cabey said people who believe they have symptoms of the virus can call their primary doctor or 911 or go to the hospital, depending on the severity. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing and dehydration. Information is available 24 hours at the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline. The number is 800-722-7112.
The doctor stressed that washing your hands with soap and water is better than using hand sanitizer. She also said people who wear gloves sometimes feel invincible, adding that they and everyone else should refrain from touching their faces.
Cabey works for Temple Health, whose affiliates include Jeanes Hospital. Testing is available by appointment. Call 215-707-6999. A nurse will triage the caller, review criteria and, if the individual meets the criteria, a same-day appointment will be scheduled. Triage hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Testing sites are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Oleksiak said he understands people’s frustration with call times when they are trying to apply for unemployment. He urged people to apply online at uc.pa.gov, a website that also offers answers to frequently asked questions. Information is also available by calling 888-313-7824 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oleksiak said some of his employees are working double shifts, and some retirees have been called back.
“We’re doing all we can and responding as well as we can,” Oleksiak said.
In response to a question from a woman whose husband is a self-employed contractor, Oleksiak said the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and. Economic Security (CARES) Act allows self-employed people to apply for unemployment.
Small businesses experiencing a shutdown can visit dced.pa.gov/resources/ for a list of resources, including from the federal Small Business Administration.
Oleksiak said the traditional one-week wait and work search are being waived to expedite unemployment claims. Still, because of the unprecedented number of claims, it could take four weeks to receive compensation.
Constituents who didn’t get a chance to ask a question to Cabey and Oleksiak were permitted to ask Tartaglione’s staff, and employees will relay answers.
“We are planning to hold another telephone town hall,” Tartaglione said.
Follow senatortartaglione.com to learn the date and time of the next telephone town hall.
To request an application for a mail-in ballot for the June 2 primary election, call Tartaglione’s office at 215-533-0440. ••