WEATHER: Philadelphia: sunny, high of 61; Harrisburg: mostly sunny, high of 62; Pittsburgh: mostly sunny, high of 67.

NEW THIS MORNING:

* Pennsylvania lawmakers approved $50 million in state funding Wednesday to purchase medical equipment and supplies for hospitals, nursing homes, and emergency workers, though it’s unclear how quickly it can get some of the most in-demand items, Spotlight PA reports.

* The Wolf administration says it’s rolling out a new $60 million loan program to help the scores of small businesses that have been hard hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program or CWCA, would award loans of up to $100,000 to for-profit businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees, Gov. Wolf said Wednesday during an online news conference, the Capital-Star reports.

* A week after the sudden shutdown of the city of Philadelphia, reported crime has dropped to some of the lowest levels seen in years. That’s according to an Inquirer analysis of preliminary incident data published by the city, which showed that the number of reported crimes was down by more than 25% compared with the average week over the last year, the Inquirer reports.

* Pennsylvania lawmakers have passed emergency legislation that shortens the school year and provides financial guarantees to schools and their employees as part of the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak that led to Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to close schools now for at least three weeks, PennLive reports.

* Pennsylvania’s two senators on Wednesday assured constituents that the historic $2 trillion emergency relief package slated for immediate approval by Congress would exclude no eligible state resident or businesses from getting relief from the economic impact of the coronavirus, PennLive reports.

* SEPTA is a step closer to a federal bailout after a week that saw catastrophic ridership drops and financial strain related to the COVID-19 quarantine, thanks to the impending $2 trillion bipartisan COVID-19 stimulus bill that should soon clear the U.S. Congress. The stimulus package includes $114 billion for transportation, with $25 billion earmarked for transit agencies, WHYY reports.

* Pennsylvania businesses have been challenging Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency powers. So far, though, he’s been winning, the PA Post reports.

* Calling out votes via video chat and swapping bills all afternoon, Pennsylvania state lawmakers on Wednesday sent four pieces of legislation to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk that will provide financial and regulatory relief to schools, election officials and workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. All the measures passed unanimously in the Republican-controlled House and Senate. The majority of lawmakers cast votes and deliberated on bills remotely to avoid overcrowding the state Capitol in Harrisburg, the Capital-Star reports.

* With the number of coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania projected to rise sharply in the coming weeks, state officials are looking at all possible solutions to an expected shortage of hospital beds, including making use of hotels and convention centers, Spotlight PA reports.

* The Department of Corrections (DOC) announced Wednesday that it’s extending inmate visitation suspension and more thorough screening of all of its employees through April 10, PennLive reports.

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EDITORIAL PAGES:

* The Inquirer goes into harrowing detail about how the coronavirus crisis is really an educational crisis.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: … belated birthday wishes to PA Rep. Jason Dawkins (3/25) … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email us their name, job title and upcoming birthday to editor@cityandstatepa.com

TODAY’S SKED:

10 a.m. - the Philadelphia City Council will meet. Room 400, City Hall, Philadelphia.

1 p.m. - Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will join Health Commissioner Dr. Farley, Managing Director Brian Abernathy, and other officials to provide an update on the impact of the coronavirus in Philadelphia. Mayor's Reception Room, Room 202, City Hall, Philadelphia. Note: The daily 1:00 p.m. press briefings will be offered on the virtual platform Zoom. Virtual press conferences allow safe social distancing as advised by the CDC and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Members of the media will be able to ask questions through Zoom during the Q&A portion of the briefing. In-person attendance at the press conferences is discontinued until further notice.

To have your events included in Today’s Sked, please email the information to editor@cityandstatepa.com.

KICKER: “Everybody qualifies.” – U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. From PennLive.