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The Latest News from Your State Representative
Please do not reply to this e-mail, as I am unable to respond to messages sent to this address. You can contact me directly at vgaydos@pahousegop.com or here.
To say the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan has been abysmal is a severe understatement. The inconsistencies in communication, logistics and supply chain distribution have had a detrimental impact on our citizens across Pennsylvania. The mismanagement of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan has ranked our Commonwealth the 43rd state out of 50 in the distribution and administration of these critical vaccines. The lack of clarity and consistency regarding the implementation of this plan from the Wolf administration is inexcusable.

Instead of taking responsibility, Gov. Tom Wolf passes blame to the state Legislature and to the federal government, telling the public to look elsewhere for answers, instead of providing the real time data and facts. A waitlist is not practical when we know there are not enough vaccines available to cover a subset of our population. The established phase plan has not been followed, causing disruptions in who can receive a vaccine and those who must wait. Our most vulnerable populations, including older adults, have experienced additional barriers to getting the vaccine due to inaccessibility of transportation and computer use. It is truly disappointing and frustrating to not be able to provide tangible solutions and answers to our community members.

While I recognize there are numerous challenges around the COVID-19 vaccine plan and that the issues are multifaceted, it is clear that more needs to be done. Each day my office receives dozens of phone calls and email inquiries, like many of my colleagues, from people begging and pleading with my staff to help identify when and how they can get a vaccine. The Pennsylvania Department of Health website provides some information; however, a few identified locations on the website do not and have never provided COVID-19 vaccines to the public.

The administration is doing a disservice to our constituents by not getting the vaccines to the designated locations that have the staff and resources prepared and ready to administer the COVID-19 vaccines. I implore the governor, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the local health offices and community partners to work together and administer the vaccines efficiently, safely and effectively to Pennsylvanians.

Valerie Gaydos
Gaydos’ Right-to-Know Request Finally Answered

Rep. Gaydos is truly disappointed and upset that former Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine did not keep any records of correspondence with consultants or advisors. She stated that it is totally unacceptable.

The media should be reporting on the lack of transparency and accountability that has led the Commonwealth to have one of the worst vaccine distribution plans in the nation. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) must take responsibility for its failure.

In August, Gaydos submitted a Right-to-Know request to Dr. Levine to provide the names and credentials for the state’s 18 epidemiologists. She received the following answer:

“The department does not possess records of all CVs and/or resumes for the current epidemiologists.”

When asked for a list of the various experts, consultants and state officials the department seeks for advice, Gaydos received this response:

“Please be aware that the secretary, and the administration at large, have consulted with or received advice, both solicited and unsolicited, from innumerable individuals over the course of the pandemic. The department does not maintain a list of such people and sources.”

The DOH has failed miserably to answer Gaydos’ questions. She felt they were incomplete and insufficient. Because of their ineptness, Pennsylvania is well behind other states on vaccine distribution. According to Gaydos, we must get the vaccines into people’s arms. She has assured her constituents that she will do everything in her power to continue to fight for the health and well-being of everyone in the 44th District. Click here to read her Right-to-Know letter in its entirety.
PA Health Care Association: The Vaccine Rollout Must Be Improved

Without a doubt, we have all been impacted by the coronavirus. But there has not been a group more adversely impacted than our residents in long-term care, including nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living communities, and the brave men and women on the front lines who have continued to care for them, day after day.

This week, the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) hosted a virtual briefing to address the challenges and concerns surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in long-term care, as well as recommendations to ensure our most vulnerable residents are prioritized.

Click here to read the recommendations outlined by PHCA.
Push on Vaccines Prompts Creation of Joint Task Force

After pressing hard for improvements in the state’s poor performance rolling out the coronavirus vaccine, the Wolf administration responded by creating a COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force with the Legislature.

The goal of the task force is to improve communications regarding what we, as lawmakers, are seeing and hearing in our own communities about vaccine issues, getting answers about those issues and ultimately making improvements as a result.

Rep. Tim O’Neal (R-Washington) will be our caucus’ representative on the task force. Rep. O’Neal is the prime sponsor of a measure (House Bill 326) that would get the National Guard involved in the distribution and administration of the vaccine so more people who are clamoring for the shots can get them as soon as possible. The bill was approved unanimously in the House and is awaiting consideration in the Senate.

In addition to the four representatives – one from each caucus in the General Assembly – the task force will be made up of administration officials, including co-chairs Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam and Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Randy Padfield.

Pennsylvania is lagging behind the vast majority of states in its administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, ranking 44th in the nation for the percentage of vaccines administered compared to the amount received according to Becker’s Hospital Review.
Important Vaccine News From Heritage Valley Health System

Heritage Valley Health System (HVHS) is now actively registering individuals in Phase 1A, including ages 65 and above as well as ages 16-64 with underlying health conditions, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

As vaccines become available, those registered will receive a link to electronically schedule the date and time of both their first and second dose of the vaccine. At this time, Heritage Valley is slated to receive additional vaccine for which two doses will need to be administered.

They are currently scheduling ages 74 and above. For those with scheduled appointments, HVHS will offer COVID-19 vaccine administration at the Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) Dome, 1 Campus Drive, Monaca, and a former Heritage Valley location in Robinson Township, on the side of the Staples Building, 6521 Steubenville Pike, Robinson Township.

Additional vaccination clinics are scheduled for Feb. 10, 11, 17, 22, 23 and 24 at the CCBC Dome and Feb. 12, 16 and 18 at the side entrance of the Staples building (former Heritage Valley location) in Robinson Township.

If you would like to register for a COVID-19 vaccine and are eligible in Phase 1A, click on the link.
Gaydos Urges Gov. Wolf Not to Punish Our Small Businesses!

During this global pandemic, small businesses, especially restaurants and bars, have had a tough time making ends meet and some had to close their doors for good because of the shutdowns enacted by the Wolf Administration.

Did you know 50 restaurants and bars that were open over the holiday season were sued by the Department of Health (DOH) and Attorney General's Office?

The governor had imposed a three-week holiday shutdown, and these small businesses owners were merely trying to survive. It is unfair to now punish them with legal action.

That is why I joined 66 of my House colleagues in sending a letter to the DOH, requesting the lawsuits be withdrawn.

We should be providing assistance to these establishments. Instead, the governor is suing small business owners who are simply trying to survive.

I remain committed to standing up for our small businesses and their thousands of employees trying so hard to support their families. Click here to read the letter.
Election Audit Process Reviewed During Hearing

A theme heard from testifiers during previous House State Government Committee hearings on Pennsylvania’s election process continued Thursday as the committee reviewed the election auditing process. The theme of no uniformity among the state’s 67 counties in terms of how elections, and now audits, are conducted was highlighted by local election officials.

Counties are mandated to conduct an audit of randomly selected ballots equal to 2% of the votes cast or 2,000 (whichever is lesser) after each election and prior to certification. But according to one election official, the actual audit method can vary from a hand recount and tally to a simple re-scan of the ballots using a different machine depending on which county is conducting the audit.
Another official said allowing for pre-canvassing of ballots (counting mail-in ballots before election day) would give officials more time to complete post-election audits.

Election audits provide a much-needed double check of the election results. The overall goal of an audit must be that there is confidence in the outcome, confidence in the integrity of the system, and confidence that all laws and procedures were followed.

To watch the summary of Thursday’s hearing, click here.

The committee will investigate voter registration during its next hearing, which will be held Thursday, Feb. 25. The time of the hearing will be announced closer to the date.
Gaydos Alerts Constituents of Fraud!

If you received a 1099-G form (unemployment compensation) mailed to your address, but in someone else’s name, this is fraud.

  •   You should report the suspected fraud to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) through this link
  •   If you received a 1099-G form in your name, but never filed for unemployment benefits, this is identity theft.
  •   Follow the guidance on the L&I website to report it .
  •   Most importantly, complete and submit the identity theft reporting form. 

Once the report is submitted, do not worry – the matter will be corrected by L&I.

L&I also recommends that all victims of identity theft file a police report with the municipality they resided in at the time the unemployment benefits in question were paid.

In addition, suspected cases of fraud or identity theft can be reported to the PA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-692-7469.
House OKs Bill to Help Farmers, Support Agritourism

With Pennsylvania farmers facing ongoing challenges keeping their farms up and running to put food on our tables, the House has approved a bill that would remove barriers to agritourism and help farmers diversify.

House Bill 101 creates the Agritourism Activity Protection Act to provide limited civil liability protections to people who offer agritourism activities on their farms, such as tourism or entertainment activities that allow people to tour, explore, observe, learn about, participate in or be entertained by an aspect of agricultural production, harvesting, husbandry or rural lifestyle that occurs on the farm.

The bill would require the farmer or other activity provider to post specific warning signs and have a signed, written agreement with a participant that they have acknowledged the risk of participating in the activity.

The protections would not apply if the farmer or provider acts in a grossly negligent manner, purposefully causes the participant injury, commits an action or inaction that constitutes criminal conduct and causes the participant injury, or recklessly fails to warn or guard against a dangerous condition that causes injury or damages to a participant.

The bill is now before the state Senate for approval.
Budget Hearings Start Tuesday

The House Appropriations Committee – the committee charged with going over the state budget with a fine-toothed comb – will launch its annual budget hearings on Tuesday, Feb. 16. To best comply with social distancing requirements, the hearings will be held in the chamber of the House of Representatives, rather than the usual location of the House Majority Caucus Room.

State agencies on the schedule for next week include the Departments of Revenue, Aging, State, Corrections, and Community and Economic Development, as well as the Independent Fiscal Office. A full schedule of the three weeks of planned hearings is available here.

Earlier this month, Gov. Tom Wolf outlined a budget proposal that seeks to increase state spending by more than $3 billion, or 8%, over the current fiscal year, as well as increase the state income tax on families and small businesses by 46% and impose a new tax on the energy industry.

The governor’s proposal simply launches the annual state budget process. An actual proposal – one that will better focus on the core functions of government and keep spending under control – will be developed over the next few months. Additional information about the budget is available at www.pahousegop.com.
Gaydos Remembers A Legend!

Rep. Gaydos remembers Bob Bagans, who recently passed away. Bob was a member of the Cochran Hose Company – Sewickley Fire Department for 40 years and president of the Sewickley Kiwanis. He was known as a shining example of leadership, community service and volunteerism.

The community will always remember Bob for his many outstanding characteristics, but his kindness and generosity were at the top of the list.

From leading hundreds of youth through Key Club activities statewide, teaching so many of our students and leading the watermelon cheer at the YMCA day camp, Bob is a shining star who will be missed greatly. Rest in Peace.
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District Office:
1005 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 106, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
Capitol Office:
Room 428, Irvis Office Building, House Box 202044, Harrisburg PA 17120-2044 | Phone: (717) 787-6651 |
Email: vgaydos@pahousegop.com