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Lawmakers suspend visits to offices

To help contain the spread of the coronavirus and protect the health and safety of local residents and office staff, local lawmakers are suspending walk-in visits from constituents and the rest of the public.

State Sen. Gene Yaw, Loyalsock Township, announced that his Williamsport and Harrisburg offices will be temporarily closed for meetings until further notice.

Yaw explained that although in-person meetings will not take place in his Senate offices, he and his staff are prepared to serve the residents of district remotely.

Residents who need assistance with any state-related issue are encouraged to call 570-322-6457 or 800-443-5772.

“The coronavirus is a serious situation that changes daily,” Yaw said. “It remains our top priority to do what is in the best interest of protecting public health.”

State Reps. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, and Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township also have suspended visits to their offices.

“We get so many people because of our (downtown Williamsport) location,” Wheeland said. “We will continue to have staff there to answer phones. We just need to keep people away from each other.”

Everett said staff at his office will see people at the Pennsdale location, but by appointment only at this time.

State Rep. Clint Owlett, R-Wellsboro, has halted walk-in services at his district offices in Wellsboro and Troy.

“The health of our residents and our communities is the top priority. I apologize for the inconvenience, but we need to err on the side of caution during his time of uncertainty,” he said. “I anticipate having the offices closed to visitors for at least two weeks. We will reassess later in the month if it is necessary to extend the prohibition on visitors.”

Owlett’s offices are still available to serve constituents by phone or internet.

State Reps. David Rowe, R-Lewisburg; Kurt Masser, R-Elysburg; and Linda Schlegel, R-Sunbury have each chosen to keep their district offices open to serve constituents, while encouraging residents to exercise discretion and use phone and email in lieu of walk-in services whenever possible.

Everett and Wheeland have announced cancellation of the gun law seminar they were to host set for March 26 at the Clinton Township Fire Hall.

The event has not been rescheduled at this time.

A further step to contain COVID-19 was taken by the state House Monday. Under new rules, members can vote on bills before the House and in committees without leaving their districts.

Wheeland said while no votes are scheduled to come before the House this week, all lawmakers are on 12-hour call to be ready to vote.

“I think we’ll go back into session on Monday. I plan to go to Harrisburg,” he said. “Obviously, if I come down with something, I do have the option to stay and vote. There could be votes this week. So much depends on what flows from the federal government.”

Everett said the House decision to allow members to vote from their districts is a good idea to help contain the coronavirus

“It will only be in effect as long as the disaster declaration is in effect,” he said.

Yaw urged anyone with questions regarding COVID-19 to call the state Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH.

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