Metzger calls for dairy relief, senators call for local journalism support

What's new from April 16 to April 22

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Congressman call for halt in federal prison movements

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an editorial published in The Hill, U.S. Congressman Fred Keller called on the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to halt the movement of federal prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The editorial reads, “Despite calls from a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and House members for all movement of inmates within the BOP system to stop during the COVID-19 national emergency, the agency has continued to move inmates between prison facilities nationwide.

“In doing so, the BOP is ignoring public health guidelines and putting at risk the health and safety of inmates, corrections officers, their families and the broader community.
“Amid the many difficult stories over the past several weeks related to the COVID-19 pandemic, outbreaks in prisons across the country have been particularly alarming.

“To varying degrees, states have addressed the issue more swiftly than others. Pennsylvania, for instance, immediately put all state-run prisons on quarantine after the first inmate was diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, the BOP has been reluctant to take decisive and preventative measures.
“The Pausing All New Detention and Ending the Movement of Inmates for Coronavirus (PANDEMIC) Act of 2020 would stop the movement of inmates to and across the bureau of prisons system during the COVID-19 national emergency’” Keller said.

Calling for a mask brigade

MONTICELLO, NY — Sullivan County’s team responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is asking all those who are handy with a sewing needle to join the “Mask Brigade” this week.

“I know we have many talented people who sew, knit, quilt and stitch, and I’m putting out the call for them to join our Mask Brigade,” said community resources commissioner Laura Quigley, who’s leading the county’s Emergency Community Assistance Center. “There’s a deep and immediate need for masks for our essential workers who are not first responders or healthcare workers and thus don’t necessarily have organizational access to face coverings.”

Hundreds of masks are needed so that those who still must work can be outfitted with protective coverings while going about their duties. A variety of designs are available online, and the county recommends accessing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s instructions at www.bit.ly/cdcmakeamask.

A collection box has been set up at the entrance to the government center, but Quigley promises that if mask-makers cannot bring the masks to the county, the county will find a way to pick them up.

“Please let the Emergency Community Assistance Center know how many masks you think you can provide, and whether or not you need us to come get them,” Quigley said. 

“You can call us at 845-807-0925. Thank you so very much!”

Masks added to Pike safety protocols 

HARRISBURG, PA — As the Pike County Commissioners continue to implement health and safety protocols due to the COVID-19 crisis, members of the public are now encouraged to wear masks, to cover their mouths and noses, at all times while transacting essential business within county facilities.

County employees are also encouraged to wear masks while interacting with the public and while moving through county facilities.

These proactive measures are based on recommendations from the PA Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

Social distancing, hygiene, and disinfection measures remain in place.

Metzger calls for dairy relief 

ALBANY, NY — Sen. Jen Metzger who serves as chair of the state Senate’s agriculture committee, on April 10 sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to swiftly aid New York’s dairy farms, which have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The joint letter with the state Senate’s Rural Resources Commission, signed by six senators, requests that the USDA immediately direct to the New York dairy industry a portion of the $9.5 billion set aside for agriculture in the $2.2 trillion federal relief package, known as the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27. 

“With the widening economic impact of COVID-19, the dairy industry faces decreased demand from restaurants and food service vendors, disruptions in global trade, and school closures,” the letter said. 

“Prices for milk have drastically declined, making it even harder for farms to break even. Many of the state’s small family-operated dairy farms simply do not have the slack to weather this unprecedented crisis.”

The letter urges the federal government “to use all available resources to assist the dairy industry during this unprecedented crisis” to aid farmers and protect the state’s and the nation’s food security.

Senators call for support for local journalism

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey joined a group of 19 senators on April 9 calling for funding to support local journalism and media in any future COVID-19 relief package. In a letter to senate leadership, the senators warn that the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic—including plummeting advertising revenue—could decimate local and regional news outlets even as communities have become increasingly reliant on their reporting amidst the public health crisis. Already news outlets have laid off or furloughed staff, and some newspapers have reduced or eliminated print editions.

“The current public health crisis has made the already vital role of local news even more critical,” the senators wrote. “Some of the most important guidance for families and businesses during this crisis has been highly localized. Local journalism has been providing communities answers to critical questions, including information on where to get locally tested, hospital capacity, road closures, essential business hours of operation, and shelter-in-place orders. During this unprecedented public health crisis, people need to have access to their trusted local news outlets.” 

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