As part of his administration’s new efforts to stymie the spread of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will ban the sale of alcohol just for the duration of Wednesday night, CBS News 2 Pittsburgh (KDKA) reports.
Restaurants and bars are ordered to stop the sale of alcohol on Wednesday at 5 pm until 8 am on Thursday, with Wolf saying that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the “biggest day for drinking,” according to KDKA. While he recognizes that the pandemic has taken a massive toll on bars and restaurants, he says this one-night ban is necessary. This is coupled with a stay-at-home advisory.
“The thing that we can’t do is ignore reality and say ‘yeah you folks, for no fault of your own, have been hit hardest by this virus.’ But the virus is what’s doing this. It’s not me. It’s not the administration. It’s not the government,” Wolf said.
Coronavirus cases have been spiking across the country—and the world—in recent months, which has led to many states bringing back tougher restrictions to combat the spread.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is projecting 22,000 new coronavirus cases per day in the state and more than 32,000 deaths by February 23. According to Wolf’s office, this number could be halved with if everybody wore masks, KDKA writes.
Furthermore, Wolf said, while citing models’ projections, that if no action is taken, the state will run out of ICU beds in December, per KDKA.
The state’s health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said that alongside these new restrictions are “targeted protections for businesses and gatherings,” an advisory for Pennsylvanians to remain in their homes, and enforcements on public health orders like the recently strengthened mask mandate, according to KDKA.
“Orders already in place and those announced today will be enforced, and law enforcement and state agencies will be stepping up enforcement efforts, issuing citations and fines and possible regulatory actions for repeat offenders,” Levine said.
“It has to be our collective responsibility to protect our communities, our healthcare workers and our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians from COVID-19,” she added.
For Wolf’s full announcement of the new restrictions on Monday on Twitter and more info on these new measures, read his thread below:
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
NY Lawmakers want to tax tech giants to get $500M to fund unemployment benefits for illegal migrants
New York lawmakers are debating over a proposed Democratic initiative that would pave the way for a multibillion-dollar fund designed to provide unemployment benefits for illegal immigrants. Spearheaded by state Senator Jessica Ramos, a Queens Democrat, the proposal has ignited passionate discussions within the Senate Finance Committee, where it currently awaits further deliberation.
The Center Square reports the proposal would utilize a $500 million trust fund earmarked specifically to offer jobless benefits for individuals who find themselves ineligible for traditional unemployment payments and other public assistance programs. To finance this ambitious endeavor, proponents of the plan are advocating for the imposition of a novel tax targeting tech behemoths like Google and Amazon. This tax, aimed at digital advertising revenue, is projected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars to sustain the fund.
Ramos has alluded to her belief that migrants are a fundamental contribution to the state’s economy. Despite their authorization to work, payment of taxes, and active involvement in the labor force, undocumented immigrants face a glaring disparity—they are excluded from accessing vital safety nets like unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs.
In a social media post, Ramos cited the expiration of federal unemployment insurance for freelancers and the depletion of the Excluded Workers Fund. She argues vehemently for a safety net aligned with the evolving dynamics of the labor market, one that extends support to all workers, regardless of their immigration status.
The proposed fund, aptly named the Unemployment Bridge Program, outlines comprehensive eligibility criteria encompassing a spectrum of marginalized workers—from undocumented migrants to freelancers and individuals recently released from incarceration or immigrant detention. By establishing clear guidelines and procedures, the program endeavors to streamline the application process, ensuring equitable access to unemployment benefits for those in need.
The initiative comes in the wake of prolonged deliberations regarding jobless benefits for undocumented immigrants and nontraditional workers in New York. Amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state previously allocated $2.1 billion to the Excluded Workers Fund, offering a lifeline to those excluded from conventional unemployment benefits.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2025 underscores a commitment to supporting asylum seekers, with significant allocations directed towards housing and legal assistance. The proposal has met with opposition from Republicans, who argue for prioritizing legal residents and taxpayers in the allocation of state resources. Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt contends that limited resources should be reserved exclusively for those who have contributed to the state’s tax base.
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