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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

District Offices Closed – Telephone & Email Service Available

ContactI want constituents to know that I continue to closely monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as it unfolds here in Pennsylvania. In line with the best practices put forward by the governor and state health officials, I must take precautionary measures as it relates to my district offices to ensure the safety of constituents and my staff. Recommendations have been made by officials to practice social distancing, limiting personal interactions, to reduce the spread of infection.

To that end, effective immediately, my district offices will be closed to the public. I strongly encourage constituents that need personal assistance with a state-related matter to call either my Brookline office (412-344-2551) or Kennedy office (412-331-1208) or email fontana@pasenate.com.

Moving forward I will continue monitoring the situation and make any changes to this policy as needed.

Coronavirus Resources

Coronavirus Information Sheet - click to download.I want to remind everyone that the Pennsylvania Department of Health has put together a page on their website dedicated to COVID-19.  The page can be viewed by clicking here or visiting www.health.pa.gov and clicking on the “Coronavirus Information” tab. The page provides more detailed information on the virus, symptoms, how it can spread, and how you can protect yourself. You can also get up-to-date information by calling 1-877-PAHEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

The Allegheny County Health Department has also put together a resource page on COVID-19 that includes links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and PA Department of Health website. You can access the ACHD's resource page by clicking here.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication and steam utility terminations for as long as the Proclamation of Disaster, issued by the governor, is in effect.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office wants consumers and businesses to be aware of price gouging protections under Governor Wolf’s COVID-19 disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In addition, the Office of Attorney General has created a specialized resource (pricegouging@attorneygeneral.gov for consumers to email and report malfeasance.

Governor Wolf’s declaration triggered protections under state law against price gouging for consumers and businesses. Under rules governing a disaster emergency, companies and vendors are prohibited from charging a price for consumer goods or services that exceeds 20 percent of the average price to which those goods or services were sold for in the 7 days preceding the date of declaration.

The Office of Attorney General’s new tool is available to everyone in the Commonwealth, effective immediately. Any instance of price gouging should be reported to pricegouging@attorneygeneral.gov.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Banking & Securities (DOBS) is urging Pennsylvanians to be wary of potential financial scams trying to take advantage of the situation as the nation responds to the coronavirus.

Consumers should be vigilant about protecting their finances and should not share financial or other sensitive information with anyone contacting you unsolicited. Consumers and businesses cannot afford to take every financial opportunity or transaction at face value.

Frequent characteristics of scams include:

  • Sense of urgency and limited time offers. Scammers will attempt to prompt you into immediate action and catch you off guard. No government agency will call you asking for payment or take punitive action against you if you don’t act quickly.
  • Payment with wire transfer or gift cards. Once information is provided, the money is essentially gone and you cannot get it back.
  • Secrecy and the need to not tell anyone. Never make a decision without consulting a credible and trustworthy source.  
  • Low or minimal risks with guaranteed high returns. Be cautious of any offer that guarantees a high rate of return with little or no risk or does not disclose risk.
  • Unsolicited offers, including social media avenues. A new post on your Facebook wall, a tweet mentioning you, a direct message, an email, a text, a phone call, or any other unsolicited communication regarding an investment “opportunity” related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Pennsylvanians can protect themselves by actively exercising caution. If you have received an unsolicited phone call, when in doubt, hang up. Never provide credit card or other financial or personal information as part of an unsolicited phone call and think twice if you’re being pressured to act now.

Pennsylvanians should know the red flags of potential fraud and scams:

  • Has someone contacted you unexpectedly? If you weren’t expecting a phone call or didn’t initiate the contact, it should be a red flag.
  • Have they promised you something? If they’re offering you something that seems too good to be true, it’s a red flag.
  • Have they asked you to do something? Are they asking you for money or account information? If you didn’t initiate the conversation, don’t provide it.

Anyone can contact DOBS at 1-800-PA-BANKS or 1-800-722-2657 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products. If you believe you have fallen victim to a scam, contact local law enforcement.

Grants to Improve Safety and Security for Pittsburgh Nonprofits

Last week, three non-profits in the 42nd Senatorial District were awarded grants through the new Non-Profit Security Grant Program. These grants, administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency (PCCD) are aimed at strengthening safety and security measures.  Organizations qualify for the grants based on a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) classification of their history and vulnerability to hate crimes.

The non-profit security grants approved last week include:

$90,000 for Beth El Congregation/United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism;
$35,080 for Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, Inc.; and 
$24,000 for the Center that CARES.

It is in our community’s interest to help protect any individual or organization targeted due to their race/ethnicity/ancestry; religion; sexual orientation; disability; gender; and gender identity. That’s why I was proud to serve as a co-sponsor to the legislation that established this grant program. I will continue to stand with these organizations and speak out against hatred and advocate on behalf of the non-profits who can benefit from this grant program.

Problem Gambling Website

Problem Gambling WebsiteThe Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board  is recognizing March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month in order to promote resources intended to help individuals with a gambling problem. As part of the agency’s efforts to raise awareness of problem and compulsive gambling and provide both professionals and individuals with information, the Gaming Control Board has launched an updated user-friendly website that provides information on how to recognize the warning signs of a gambling problem and to find treatment options that are available in Pennsylvania.

The new website address is www.ResponsiblePlay.pa.gov and can also be accessed via a link on the homepage of the Gaming Control Board’s website, www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov. For more information on problem gambling treatment and other resources, individuals can also call 1-800-GAMBLER.

Did You Know…

Did you know that the likelihood of developing a gambling addiction increases 23-fold for people affected by alcohol use disorders?

Northside Leadership Conference Scholarship Program

The Northside Leadership Conference is accepting applications for their annual Scholarship Program. The program is open to any Northside resident in the 12th grade who performs volunteer service in their community and is planning to attend a college or university or training program after high school. Scholarships for $1,000 will be awarded. Individuals must reside on the Northside, but they need not attend a Northside high school.

Students are required to prepare an essay of 500 words or less, which describe his or her volunteer activities and future educational plans. On the application form, the applicant should include their name, address, phone number, school, and neighborhood in which they reside.  The student’s name, gender or reference to race should not appear on the essay.  Applicants should include a copy of their high school academic records. More information on the criteria for selection is available at www.pittsburghnorthside.com.

Applications can be downloaded by clicking here or by visiting www.pittsburghnorthside.com and are due no later than Friday, March 27.

Applications can be mailed to:

Northside Leadership Conference Scholarship Committee
ATTN: Kelly MacKay
1319 Allegheny Avenue, 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15233

An electronic version of the essay should also be submitted via email to kelly@pittsburghnorthside.com. Any questions regarding the scholarship program can be directed to Kelly at the Northside Leadership Conference office at 412-231-4714, ext. 201.

Fontana Fact

More than 32 million people in the United States claim Irish ancestry, nearly seven times the current population of Ireland.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
1039 Brookline Boulevard
Suite 2
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
Harrisburg
543 Main Capitol | Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plaza
524 Pine Hollow Road
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
By appointment