COVID-19 FAQs


Allegheny County DHS Operations & Guidance FAQs

DHS is now partnering with Global Links for supply requests. Keep in mind that the global supply chain is disrupted for all PPE, so quantities are limited.

Available supplies include

  • Disposable facemasks (NOT N95 respirator masks)
  • Emergency facemasks (reusable, not intended for clinical use)
  • Full-face shields
  • Gloves
  • Incontinence supplies

To submit a request, use Global Links’ online ordering form, which is available at https://www.tfaforms.com/4813339.

  • Please limit requests to no more than what is needed for a two-week period.
  • The form requests specific information about how the PPE will be used, such as # of clinical staff, # of clients seen daily, # of clients living in your facility and plans for appropriate use of the PPE.
  • After submission, Global Links will contact you within 1-2 days for confirmation.
  • DHS will help prioritize supply requests and will step in if supplies are needed that Global Links cannot source.
  • Delivery of approved requests will occur 3-5 days after confirmation.
    • All deliveries should be contactless.
    • Deliveries must be made to a dock or curbside. Drivers cannot enter a building or facility.
    • Drivers are expected to wear PPE while delivering materials and to practice social distancing (maintaining at least 6' of distance from another person).
    • Signature on the Global Links delivery order is only required for the driver, not from the receiving organization.

Additionally, PA Department of Community and Economic Development has released a directory of PPE suppliers which is available at https://dced.pa.gov/pennsylvania-covid-19-ppe-supplies-business-2-business-b2b-interchange-directory.

  • Please note, DHS has not vetted this directory and does not endorse any specific organization.
  • Watch out for signs of a scam: Avoid pre-payment and check where the materials are currently located (make sure they are in the United States).

Governor Wolf recently announced that all schools statewide will be closed through the remainder of the school year. We will provide additional information when it becomes available.

DHS is unable to complete fingerprints. Clearances that can be conducted include State Police, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Common Pleas Case Management System (CPCMS) and Pennsylvania Child Abuse.

We haven’t received any guidance from the state at this time. We will post the answer in the FAQs when it is available.

These meetings are open to all, but we are asking providers to think about which key staff to send in order to limit the total number of callers to the extent possible. High numbers of callers diminish the audio quality of the call.

The Allegheny County Health Department is coordinating the contract tracing efforts in our region.

Cleaning services are considered essential and advanced measures are being taken at all DHS office locations. At this time, please follow the published safety guidelines from the CDC and the Allegheny County Health Department.

Per ACHD update on ACDHS’s Provider Briefing call from 3/18/20:

  1. If a person had contact with a known case of COVID-19, they should quarantine and avoid exposure or contact with others. ACHD defines “contact” as being within 6 feet of a person with a known case of COVID-19, for 2 or more minutes.
  2. If a person is quarantined due to contact with a known COVID-19 case, the other household members do not need to quarantine unless/until the quarantined individual starts presenting with symptoms.
  3. If/when a person in quarantine begins to show symptoms of COVID-19, they then need to enter isolation. ACHD defines “isolation” as not having any contact with others, including household members.
  4. If an individual had contact with a building or location that has since been closed or shut down due to potential virus exposure, they do not need to quarantine.

Yes, the governor’s order allows people to volunteer for essential services. Here is the wording from his March 23 stay at home order: “Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operations.”

Allegheny County DHS is sending a letter to essential services providers, which they can use to show law enforcement/others. For providers who deliver non-life saving services, you can apply to the state for a waiver. Here’s the link to the state waiver request form: https://expressforms.pa.gov/apps/pa/DCED/Waiver-process-keeping-physical-locations-open

The only businesses staying open are essential services, e.g., health and human services, grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants (only for takeout and delivery). More details can be found on Slide 4 of the 3-23-2020 presentation.

CareerLinks’ offices are closed but they are conducting business remotely, as is Partner4Work, which lists opportunities on its FaceBook page (https://www.facebook.com/Partner4WorkPgh/). Partner4Work also has specific employment resources related to the current crisis at https://www.partner4work.org/news/covid-19-resources/. The Mon Valley Initiative is also available to assist displaced workers and is currently conducting intakes and assisting individuals remotely. Contact Dr. T. Charles Howell IV at 412-464-4000 x4027 or at chowell@monvalleyinitiative.com.

Currently, Allegheny County is not testing asymptomatic children. Please consider the following factors for placing young children:

  • Avoid placing children in homes with much older individuals or individuals with complex medical needs in the household.
  • Limit any changes in placement that are not critical.

DHS will work with the Allegheny County Health Department to identify key contacts, which will include the provider.

For client illnesses or exposures that have not been reported through another mechanism, please follow the process below.

  • If a client you serve has tested positive for COVID-19, including presumptive positive, or has been exposed to a confirmed case, notify DHS by emailing DHS-PrivacyOfficer@alleghenycounty.us (preferred method).
    • Alternatively, you may report via phone to Brian Bell, Allegheny County privacy officer, at 412-350-2887.
    • “Presumptive positive” is when a patient has tested positive by a public health laboratory, but results are pending confirmation by the CDC.
  • Your report should indicate your provider name, the service you provide, and the name of the affected client(s) to facilitate identification of other individuals who may have had close contact with the affected client.
    • HIPAA permits the disclosure of the individual’s name and diagnosis to DHS to prevent the spread of the disease
    • Consistent with HIPAA’s minimum necessary disclosure rule, DHS will share the client’s name internally only as needed for identification of contacts (in most cases, DHS staff will not need to know the client’s name, only that they may have had contact with a client who tested positive).
  • There is not an explicit need or obligation for providers to report ill clients to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD). Where a client has tested positive, ACHD will have been notified by the healthcare provider and/or lab.
  • DHS will work with ACHD as appropriate to identify any DHS staff, staff from other providers, and other clients who may have had contact with the affected client.

Please note: this document only covers reporting an ill client to DHS so that DHS can work to identify others who may have had contact with the client. In addition to reporting the incident to DHS, please be sure to follow all appropriate guidance from public health authorities regarding provision of services.

ACHD Guidance for Specific Groups: https://www.alleghenycounty.us/Health-Department/Resources/COVID-19/Information-for-Specific-Groups/Information-for-Specific-Groups.aspx

If you have already reported the staff illness or exposure through another process, such as the incident reporting form for changes in operations, you do not also need to report through this process.

For staff illnesses and exposures that have not been reported through another mechanism, please follow the process below.

  • If a member of your staff has tested positive for COVID-19, including presumptive positive, or has been exposed to a confirmed case, notify DHS by emailing DHS-PrivacyOfficer@alleghenycounty.us (preferred method).
    • Alternatively, you may report via phone to Brian Bell, Allegheny County Privacy Officer, at 412-350-2887.
    • “Presumptive positive” is when a patient has tested positive by a public health laboratory, but results are pending confirmation by the CDC.
  • To ensure compliance with the confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), do not identify the name of the affected staff member in your report.
  • Your report should include your provider name and the essential service you provide. Please also describe steps you’ve taken in response to the staff member’s illness or exposure, including whether you’ve been able to identify and notify other staff and/or clients the affected staff had contact with in the past 14 days; any quarantine requirements you have instituted for the affected staff member; what work locations (if any) the staff member has visited in the past 14 days; any requirements in place for the staff member to return to work if taking illness-related leave; and any other critical information.
  • There is not an explicit need or obligation for you to report the staff member’s illness/exposure to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD); however, you should be prepared to coordinate with DHS and ACHD as needed to identify individuals the affected staff member may have had contact with.

Please note: this only covers requirements for reporting a staff member who is positive for or has been exposed to COVID-19 to DHS. In addition to reporting the incident to DHS, please be sure to follow all appropriate guidance from public health authorities regarding provision of services and ensuring a safe workplace.

CDC Guidance for Employers: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

ACHD Guidance for Specific Groups: https://www.alleghenycounty.us/Health-Department/Resources/COVID-19/Information-for-Specific-Groups/Information-for-Specific-Groups.aspx

An agency can make that determination depending on how they are structured. If you feel unsure, consider them clients.

If you have used all of your staff resources and invoked all of your contingency plans, please notify your deputy director or email DHS-COVID19planning@alleghenycounty.us for assistance with staffing issues.

The Warmline is available at 1-855-284-2494 for anyone who just needs someone to talk to or is experiencing anxiety and stress around COVID-19. For helpful recommendations around managing stress related to the pandemic, please consult this CDC guidance.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has posted information about universal masking as well as tips to create homemade masks at https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/#UniversalMasking. If you are unable to make a mask, a scarf or bandanna may be used.

The University of Pittsburgh is providing free technology support to staff, including help connecting to the internet, accessing email, using computers and computer applications, setting up mobile technology and troubleshooting software problems. To request assistance, call 412-624-6007, Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Back to Top


PA and U.S. Health and Human Services FAQs

Placeholder content


Back to Top


Specialized Resources FAQs

Placeholder content


Back to Top


Behavioral Health FAQs

Therapy should be done by phone or at an outpatient site whenever possible.

DDAP and OMHSAS has approved telehealth for group therapy.

Attestation forms are only required if a provider needs to deliver a service in a manner that is not typically allowed. If you are providing a service within your normal standards, an attestation is not necessary. If you have more specific questions, please contact Denise Macerelli.

DHS offers the following guidance, based on our reading of the Department of Labor guidance found at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions; however, we encourage you to discuss compliance with this law with an employment law attorney before making a final determination of how you will proceed.

The paid leave requirements from FFCRA apply to all public employers, and all private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Exemptions from this mandate are allowable for "health care providers" and those that contract with health care providers, as well as small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Exemption for health care providers 

The DOL guidance defines "health care provider" as the following: "anyone employed at any doctor’s office, hospital, health care center, clinic, post-secondary educational institution offering health care instruction, medical school, local health department or agency, nursing facility, retirement facility, nursing home, home health care provider, any facility that performs laboratory or medical testing, pharmacy, or any similar institution, employer, or entity. This includes any permanent or temporary institution, facility, location, or site where medical services are provided that are similar to such institutions. This definition includes any individual employed by an entity that contracts with any of the above institutions, employers, or entities or institutions to provide services or to maintain the operation of the facility."

DHS reads this exemption to indicate that any entity that has a contract with a hospital, health care center, clinic or "any similar institution, employer, or entity" to provide services can exempt themselves from the requirements. This could mean, for example, that any BH provider that has a contract with UPMC, CCBHO, AHN, or any other medical institution or health entity would be allowed to exempt employees from the leave requirement.

Exemption for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees 

A small business is exempt from mandated paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave requirements outlined in FFCRA only if the:

  •  employer employs fewer than 50 employees;
  •   leave is requested because the child’s school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons; and
  •  an authorized officer of the business has determined that at least one of these three conditions are satisfied:
    1. The provision of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity;
    2. The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or
    3. There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.

DHS reads this exemption to mean that leave does not have to be given to employees of a business with under 50 employees as long as the leave would have been based on school closures or child care reasons, and an officer of the business has determined that one of the above three conditions has been met. It does appear that a small business with fewer than 50 employees must give additional paid leave if the leave is to deal with a COVID-19 illness.

DHS offers the following guidance, based on our reading of the Internal Review Service guidance found at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-and-labor-announce-plan-to-implement-coronavirus-related-paid-leave-for-workers-and-tax-credits-for-small-and-midsize-businesses-to-swiftly-recover-the-cost-of-providing-coronavirus; however, we encourage you to discuss compliance with this law with an employment law or tax law attorney, before making a final determination of how you will proceed.

According to the CARES Act, which was passed to supplement the FFCRA, tax credits are available to businesses for paid sick leave and child care leave. Additionally, to ensure prompt reimbursement, eligible employers who pay qualifying sick or child care leave will be able to retain an amount of the payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and child care leave that they paid, rather than deposit them with the IRS.

Paid Sick Leave Credit

For an employee who is unable to work because of Coronavirus quarantine or self-quarantine or has Coronavirus symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis, eligible employers may receive a refundable sick leave credit for sick leave at the employee's regular rate of pay, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate, for a total of 10 days.

For an employee who is caring for someone with Coronavirus, or is caring for a child because the child's school or child care facility is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable due to the Coronavirus, eligible employers may claim a credit for two-thirds of the employee's regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate, for up to 10 days. Eligible employers are entitled to an additional tax credit determined based on costs to maintain health insurance coverage for the eligible employee during the leave period.

Child Care Leave Credit

In addition to the sick leave credit, for an employee who is unable to work because of a need to care for a child whose school or child care facility is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable due to the Coronavirus, eligible employers may receive a refundable child care leave credit. This credit is equal to two-thirds of the employee's regular pay, capped at $200 per day or $10,000 in the aggregate. Up to 10 weeks of qualifying leave can be counted towards the child care leave credit. Eligible employers are entitled to an additional tax credit determined based on costs to maintain health insurance coverage for the eligible employee during the leave period.

Prompt Payment for the Cost of Providing Leave

When employers pay their employees, they are required to withhold from their employees' paychecks federal income taxes and the employees' share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. The employers then are required to deposit these federal taxes, along with their share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, with the IRS and file quarterly payroll tax returns (Form 941 series) with the IRS. Under guidance that will be released next week, eligible employers who pay qualifying sick or child care leave will be able to retain an amount of the payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and child care leave that they paid, rather than deposit them with the IRS.

The payroll taxes that are available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees.

If there are not sufficient payroll taxes to cover the cost of qualified sick and child care leave paid, employers will be able file a request for an accelerated payment from the IRS. The IRS expects to process these requests in two weeks or less. The details of this new, expedited procedure will be announced next week.

Non-Enforcement Period

Labor will be issuing a temporary non-enforcement policy that provides a period of time for employers to come into compliance with the Act. Under this policy, Labor will not bring an enforcement action against any employer for violations of the Act so long as the employer has acted reasonably and in good faith to comply with the Act. Labor will instead focus on compliance assistance during the 30-day period.

Many IdentoGO locations are beginning to reopen and/or expand their hours of operation. Anyone needing fingerprinting should call the closest location for operating hours (a map of locations is available at https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1kGttZ58aMpeqPK2zBh8NmgdjQhYO7quq&ll=40.531513912564776%2C-79.1431180955679&z=8). DHS is not able to broadly waive this requirement from the state level because it is contained in numerous federal laws: the Family First Prevention Services Act, Adam Walsh Act and Child Care Development Block Grant Act.


Back to Top


Child Care and Family Centers FAQs

We have not received guidance around this yet, but will update the FAQ when more information is available.

Staff members at provider agencies may contact the ELRC directly at elrc5@alleghenycounty.us or 412-350-3577.

  • Consistent with Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order, it is critical that child care services be available for essential service workers who require child care to fulfill essential service job duties.
  • Per Governor Wolf's stay-at-home order, essential services include: life-sustaining business activities, health care or medical services providers, life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks, child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under Governor Wolf's express authority, notwithstanding the stay-at-home order.
  • Please verify that the parent or caregiver seeking your care requires care as a result of their employment in one of the essential services listed above.

For additional information or support, please email wendy.elrc@alleghenycounty.us.


Back to Top


Child Welfare FAQs

Placeholder text


Back to Top


Courts and Jail FAQs

As this information is ever-changing, please visit alleghenycourts.us to view the latest emergency order.


Back to Top


Employment and Financial Assistance FAQs

CareerLinks’ offices are closed but they are conducting business remotely, as is Partner4Work, which lists opportunities on its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Partner4WorkPgh/) and specific employment resources related to the current crisis at https://www.partner4work.org/news/covid-19-resources. The Mon Valley Initiative is also available to assist displaced workers and is currently conducting intakes and assisting individuals remotely. Contact Dr. T. Charles Howell IV at 412-464-4000 x4027 or at chowell@monvalleyinitiative.com.

Essential Health and Human Service organizations across Southwestern Pennsylvania are looking for willing and able staff to help meet the needs of vulnerable populations.  Positions are available now. Submit your application to be potentially matched with work that meets your preferences and fits your schedule.  Employers will review submissions periodically and contact you to further screen for available positions.

http://bit.ly/SWPA_HHSjobs

 

Over the coming weeks, the IRS will be distributing the Economic Impact Payment as part of the government stimulus package that was recently signed into law. The best way to find answers to questions around this payment is to visit the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know.


Back to Top


Food and Supplies FAQs

DHS is now partnering with Global Links for supply requests. Keep in mind that the global supply chain is disrupted for all PPE, so quantities are limited.

Available supplies include

  • Disposable facemasks (NOT N95 respirator masks)
  • Emergency facemasks (reusable, not intended for clinical use)
  • Full-face shields
  • Gloves
  • Incontinence supplies

To submit a request, use Global Links’ online ordering form, which is available at https://www.tfaforms.com/4813339.

  • Please limit requests to no more than what is needed for a two-week period.
  • The form requests specific information about how the PPE will be used, such as # of clinical staff, # of clients seen daily, # of clients living in your facility and plans for appropriate use of the PPE.
  • After submission, Global Links will contact you within 1-2 days for confirmation.
  • DHS will help prioritize supply requests and will step in if supplies are needed that Global Links cannot source.
  • Delivery of approved requests will occur 3-5 days after confirmation.
    • All deliveries should be contactless.
    • Deliveries must be made to a dock or curbside. Drivers cannot enter a building or facility.
    • Drivers are expected to wear PPE while delivering materials and to practice social distancing (maintaining at least 6' of distance from another person).
    • Signature on the Global Links delivery order is only required for the driver, not from the receiving organization.

Additionally, PA Department of Community and Economic Development has released a directory of PPE suppliers which is available at https://dced.pa.gov/pennsylvania-covid-19-ppe-supplies-business-2-business-b2b-interchange-directory.

  • Please note, DHS has not vetted this directory and does not endorse any specific organization.
  • Watch out for signs of a scam: Avoid pre-payment and check where the materials are currently located (make sure they are in the United States).

Soon, volunteers will be activated at United Way. 412 Food Rescue will also begin delivering to individual homes. For the most up-to-date information, go to http://pa211sw.org. If additional support is needed, providers may contact Amy Malen (amy.malen@alleghenycounty.us).

Yes, they are currently accepting new clients. New applications are often initiated by the client’s doctor, but new clients can also contact WIC at 412-350-5801 and someone will help them complete the application. All applications are sent to the state for processing. Current WIC recipients with questions should contact their local WIC office. Providers may direct questions to Kyle Craig at the Health Department (kyle.craig@alleghenycounty.us).

Food is a priority, as well as diapers and formula. United Way is pulling together a report on where need is increasing and we will share that with you when it’s available.

Food Bank distribution sites and activities are ever-changing. Visit their website, https://www.pittsburghfoodbank.org, for the most up-to-date information. Please do not use hard copy fliers as this information may be outdated.

An emergency “last resort” food access procedure is available for these families. Please call 2-1-1 to schedule a delivery.

There are many different program types available and eligibilities vary, from “grab and go” school lunches for students to meals-on-wheels programs for seniors or those with a disability. The most common program is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

SNAP is an income-based eligibility program. Complete guidelines and income list can be found on the PA Department of Human Services website.

Individuals and families can fill out a SNAP application online through the COMPASS benefits system or print one from the website and mail it. The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Just Harvest both offer support for filling out the application. Once approved, you will receive a SNAP debit card.

SNAP cards cannot currently be used for online payment. While a grocery order may be placed online (if a certain store has that option), the SNAP card must be presented at the store location by a trusted person who has the appropriate PIN.

You can always call 2-1-1 (pa211sw.org) or contact The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank for help finding the food options that best match your needs. A food map, available here, maintained in partnership with the Food Bank, provides an updated listing of food pantries and other emergency food options around the county. The map is searchable for specific food needs (such as “grab and go” school meals or senior meals) and lists site addresses, hours of operation and contact information if available.

The Community Food Bank holds food distributions at specific times and locations around the county. These tend to be large-scale events with long wait times, and are best suited for families with no other options. Distribution times and locations are available on the food bank’s website.

The food map includes locations of Family Centers throughout the county that are able to provide some grab-and-go formula for families. Use the contact information in the map to call ahead to arrange a pick-up, as these spaces are not open to the public.

A friend or relative may pick up food boxes for you, but many sites have guidelines around what documentation they need to show. Use the contact information on the food map to call ahead to find out what your site requires.

If there is no one who can pick food up for you, there are some community groups that do organized home delivery of food. Call 2-1-1 (or visit pa211sw.org) or contact the Food Bank to find out what home delivery options are available.

Yes, the HDM program is fully operational and new referrals for HDM are being taken through Allegheny County Department of Human Services Area Agency on Aging SeniorLine at 412-350-5460. Currently, the Home delivered Meal program is delivering frozen meals. Delivery days of those meals varies based on Provider.

Yes, all senior centers are making “grab and go” meals available to regular center senior meal participants that are in need. Contact your center to find what their pick-up process is. If you are not registered at a senior center and over 60, call the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Area Agency on Aging SeniorLine at 412-350-5460 for information and assistance.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently signed into law included the creation of a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefit. Eligibility information for the PUA can be found here. A listing of unemployment rights and resources for Pennsylvania can be found at attorneygeneral.gov/covid-rights. If you are in need of diapers or hygiene products (items not covered by SNAP), locations to get these items are identified on the food map.


Back to Top


Homelessness and Housing FAQs

We have reached out to all local colleges and universities to inquire about dormitories. We are currently in conversation with at least one potential partner from that sector.

To access county homeless resources, please contact the Allegheny Link at 1-866-730-2368 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Back to Top


Intellectual Disability & Autism FAQs

Placeholder content


Back to Top


Transportation FAQs

We do not know of any existing procedures at this time. Please visit the Allegheny County Health Department’s site  (https://www.alleghenycounty.us/healthdepartment/index.aspx) for the most up-to-date information.

The use of MATP will be limited, but ACCESS continues to operate as normal at this time. You can view the most recent MATP guidance at http://www.paproviders.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/MATP-Consumer-Notice.pdf. Stay up-to-date on ACCESS by visiting http://myaccessride.com/home/coronavirus-covid-19-information.

Staff may consider using Uber, Lyft or another form of transportation.


Back to Top