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Pennsylvania halting pay for 9,000 state workers

Nancy Gilbert, Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church worship assistant, offers communion to parishioners during a drive-thru worship service held at the church on Elknud Lane in the Westmont section of Johnstown, Pa. Sunday, March 22, 2020. (Thomas Slusser/The Tribune-Democrat via AP)

Pennsylvania will stop paying about 9,000 state workers whose offices have been closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Friday.

Paid leave for state employees whose work locations are closed and who are unable to work remotely will end April 10, according to Gov. Tom Wolf’s Office of Administration.

About 5,700 of the impacted workers are employed by the state Department of Transportation. About 900 work for the Department of Labor & Industry, about 850 work for the Department of Revenue, and the remainder are scattered across other agencies.

The frozen Labor & Industry positions are not associated with the state’s unemployment compensation program, which has been overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of claims, officials said.

State workers can use paid vacation days, sick leave or compensatory time to continue to receive a paycheck. Otherwise they will be eligible to apply for unemployment, officials said.

In other coronavirus developments Friday:

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MEEK MILL’S MASKS

Philadelphia-based rapper Meek Mill’s criminal justice reform group is donating 100,000 face masks to some of the nation’s most notorious jails and prisons.

The celebrity-backed REFORM Alliance announced the donation Friday. It said 50,000 masks will go to the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City, 40,000 will be sent to the Tennessee Department of Correction, and 5,000 are headed to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

The group, whose founding members include Jay-Z, has been pressing the nation’s jails and prisons to thin their inmate populations, improve sanitation, protect prison workers and take other precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Hundreds of inmates and staff at U.S. correctional facilities have tested positive for the virus. Health experts say people inside prisons and jails are at heightened risk because of tight inmate quarters, a lack of sanitation and substandard medical care.

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BOEING SHUTDOWN

Boeing is suspending production at its helicopter plant outside Philadelphia but will continue to pay workers.

Boeing said the shutdown will begin Friday afternoon and last until April 20. The company said it will deep-clean buildings at the site in Ridley Township, Delaware County, and come up with a plan to safeguard workers from the virus.

Employees who cannot work from home will be paid for the next two weeks, the company said.

Boeing, which employs about 4,500 at the plant, produces military helicopters there including the H-47 Chinook and V-22 Osprey.

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