Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Health is no longer conducting weekly televised news conferences to update the spread of COVID-19. State Reps. Tommy Sankey (R-Hastings) and Jim Rigby (R-Johnstown) are now calling on the state’s Department of Labor and Industry to begin a similar practice by regularly addressing the Commonwealth’s economic “health” in a public forum.
“In the final days of June, new unemployment claims in Pennsylvania eclipsed the 2 million mark, second only to California,” Sankey said. “For more than three months, our district offices – and those of colleagues from around the state – have been slammed daily with calls from angry constituents in various stages of frustration over their efforts to file for and receive unemployment compensation. My staff has run out of ways to say, ‘We’re trying’ and callers are tired of being told to be patient.”
Sankey and Rigby are asking Gov. Tom Wolf and Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Olesiak to follow the lead of Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and go before the cameras each week to update the unemployment statistics.
“Pennsylvania is an unhealthy state right now, not because of the virus but rather its excruciatingly painful side effects” added Rigby. “This pandemic has seriously impacted our economy by forcing businesses to close or operate at reduced capacity, resulting in elimination of jobs and a strain on personal finances and coping skills.
“The department’s 40- to 50-year-old claims processing technology is finally being upgraded in October. People on unemployment can’t wait that long. Secretary Olesiak needs to go before the public and keep us up to date on the effort to rectify this situation.”
Sankey and Rigby say the report could not only include job statistics but estimates on business closings around the state. They are composing a letter to both Wolf and Olesiak and plan to have it delivered next week.