Coronavirus-Related Information

The Partnership office at 212 North Jay Street, Lock Haven, is open to the public. Office hours are weekdays 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The front lobby, which displays free brochures on local attractions, maps, and dining & lodging information, is open 24/7.

Please contact us at 570-748-5782 or by email if you feel we can be of help: Mike Flanagan, President – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Julie Brennan, Chamber/Tourism Director – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.April Bittner, Leadership Clinton County and Enterprise Zone Coordinator – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Lisa Engel, Administrative Assistant – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Clinton County Economic Partnership offers the following information and resources for businesses and organizations:


4/16/21

- Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan today provided his weekly update on the local employment picture: Clinton County’s first-time and continued unemployment numbers showed improvement during the week ending April 10, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. There were 69 first-time filers for the week, down from 77 the week before. The new filers included 58% who are males, 17% in the construction field, and more than 27% were in the age bracket 55 to 64 years of age. The continued unemployment insurance claim number was 647, down more than 50 from the week ending April 3. The new continued number is lowest weekly claim figure in the county since February 15, 2020, just prior to the pandemic. Males accounted for 63% of the ongoing continued claims, and 23% were in the construction field. The age bracket of 25 to 34 accounted for 23% of the continued claims. Another 16 county residents had benefits expire during the week, bringing the 2021 total to 443 people who have exhausted unemployment benefits.

At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Labor says the number of seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 576,000, a decrease of 193,000 from the previous week and the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release.

- Meanwhile, PA Labor & Industry today released statewide unemployment figures, saying the March unemployment rate was 7.3 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from February. The U.S. rate declined two-tenths of a percent from February, to 6.0 percent in March. See more: Pennsylvania’s March Unemployment Rate Down to 7.3% (pa.gov)

Clinton County’s February unemployment rate was 7.7%. The March county numbers should be released on April 27.

- Pennsylvania officials are considering reinstating work search requirements for those individuals collecting unemployment benefits, according to recent testimony from acting secretary for the Department of Labor & Industry Jennifer Berrier. Normally, individuals filing for jobless benefits must prove they have applied for or searched for a new job in order to maintain unemployment compensation. State officials temporarily suspended that requirement last spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the department is starting conversations about reimplementing those requirements, Berrier said at a public hearing with the Pennsylvania House Labor and Industry Committee Wednesday. "Our staff has been hard at work identifying what questions need answers and what technical and programmatic requirements we will need to reimplement these provisions and help claimants find work and get back on their feet," Berrier said, adding the department made the decision to start these conversations because it saw a decrease in unemployment claims in recent weeks. It anticipates the decline to continue as the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations continues to ramp up and state officials continue to lift health and safety restrictions on businesses. (Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

- SEDA-COG this week reminded hospitality-related businesses that the second phase of a new COVID-19 relief grant is now open for eligible hospitality industry businesses, and the Clinton County Commissioners are urging more businesses to apply. During the now-closed first phase of the Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP), seven businesses in the county were awarded $185,000. This leaves $252,560 to be allocated for Clinton County-based businesses before the program closes by June 15. Click Here for the SEDA-COG news release for more.

- Employment in the hospitality and the arts and entertainment industries is down 30-40% in the year since the COVID-19 pandemic prompted statewide restrictions on indoor dining and crowd gatherings, the head of the state’s Independent Fiscal Office told lawmakers Tuesday. The number of people employed across the entire economy in the state is only down about 7% from the pre-pandemic numbers, said Matthew Knittel, director of the IFO, saying there is a “disconnect” between the way the shutdowns hammered the hospitality and arts and entertainment industries and the way it impacted other employers. “I knew it would be bad, I didn’t think it would be this bad,” said Mario Scavello, R-Monroe County, the chairman of the Senate majority policy committee, which was holding a hearing on the pandemic’s impact on the tourism and hospitality industries. There were 115,000 fewer people working in hotels and restaurants in February than there were 12 months earlier, Knittel said. The arts and entertainment industry -- which includes bowling alleys, theaters and casinos -- lost 30,000 jobs over the same period, he said. The only major exception was fast-food restaurants, which were able to continue operating with drive-thru and takeout service, he said. Employment in full-service restaurants was down 30% but employment in fast-food restaurants was only down 7%, he said. Fritz Smith, President and CEO of the Happy Valley Visitors Bureau told the panel that Centre County hotel room revenue was down “a staggering 71.6% over the past year, reflecting a revenue loss of nearly $60 million.”  Read More (Source: The Daily Item)

- Other recent statistics indicate more positive trends for restaurants: U.S. restaurants generated $61.2 billion in sales this March, up 13.4% from February according to U.S. Census data released Thursday. Sales are still below where they were pre-pandemic but the surge in sales was across all restaurant types and driven by two things: 1) stimulus and 2) consumers' pandemic fatigue.

On a related note, the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association hosts an April 22, 10:30 a.m. webinar with an employment and labor attorney to address the legal issues and concerns with mandatory vaccination programs and other related topics. Register for this free webinar.

- New cases of the virus continue to run high. The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,650 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,098,502. According to the state, Clinton County reported 20 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 3,344. Centre County saw 63 new cases, bringing their total to 15,591, and Lycoming County was up 47 new cases, to 10.864. Statewide, 2,577 people are hospitalized with the virus, 572 of whom are in intensive care. There were 50 new deaths identified across the state, bringing to 25,622, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 (60 in Clinton County).

To date, the Health Department reports 6,855,169 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered statewide, 4,514,929 of which are first/single doses and 2,370,240 second/full doses. Read more: Department of Health: Over 6.8 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 41.3% of Population, PA Ranks 10th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- Pa. Department of Health vaccination guidance says individuals who are fully vaccinated and exposed to someone with COVID-19 do not need to quarantine after exposure if they received their second dose of a two-dose series or their first dose of a single shot vaccine 2 or more weeks ago AND they have remained asymptomatic since their current exposure.

- The Regional Vaccination Clinic at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center is back open and has pivoted to providing the two-dose Moderna vaccine instead of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which continues to be reviewed by federal health agencies. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and Department of Health announced the Clinic’s reopening Thursday. It will operate Thursdays through Mondays, from noon to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. The clinic is open to any eligible Pennsylvanian, regardless of county of residence. People interested in using the Bryce Jordan Center clinic can make an appointment online or by calling 1-844-545-3450. See more: Regional vaccination clinic in Centre County to resume scheduled operations Thursday - pennlive.com.

The Health Department today also said the pause in administering doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be extended until April 24 or until updated guidance is provided from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration. More here: Department of Health Extends Pause on Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Following FDA/CDC Recommendation.

- During a visit today to the Penn State Health vaccination clinic in Hershey, PA Governor Tom Wolf discussed vaccine progress and encouraged Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated. See more: Gov. Wolf Visits Penn State Health Vaccination Clinic, Discusses Vaccine Rollout Progress, Encourages Everyone to Get Vaccinated (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has announced a national effort to help community partners promote COVID-19 vaccine confidence. Click the following link to learn more: We Can Do This: COVID-19 Public Education Campaign. 

- The PA Department of Aging continues to encourage older adults seeking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment to contact their local Area Agency on Aging for any assistance they may need in scheduling an appointment. In Clinton and Lycoming counties, STEP, Inc. oversees the Agency on Aging. Their number is 570-326-0587. The AAA number in Centre County is 814-355-6716. Read more: Department of Aging Encourages Older Adults to Reach Out if COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment Assistance is Needed, Provides Resources Regarding Vaccines.

- In a COVID-19 update issued today, UPMC noted it has administered more than 400,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to date. Click Here for the UPMC Update.

- Mill Hall Elementary School students were on remote learning status today as the school was on a one-day closure in accordance with state COVID mitigation guidelines, but the school expects to reopen come Monday. In her weekly update today, Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said in addition to the three positive and one presumed positive cases at Mill Hall, there is one active staff case and 10 active cases among students in four different schools. Dr. Martin also encouraged school families to participate in the school’s 2021 Comprehensive Plan Survey. Click Here for the KCSD Update.

- The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, which includes Lock Haven and 13 other state system universities, this week announced a freeze in basic in-state tuition for a third consecutive year, calling it a commitment to keeping public higher education affordable for students during the ongoing pandemic. Click Here for the State University System file for more information.

- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration this week announced the issuance of an Unemployment Insurance Program Letter that provides new guidance to states on identity verification for unemployment insurance claims. The guidance follows unprecedented increases in UI claims amid the pandemic and related surges in fraudulent filings in states’ systems by sophisticated criminal rings using stolen or “synthetic” identities – false identities composed of real and fake information. Read more: US Department of Labor issues guidance to states on identity verification, eligibility for unemployment insurance claims, protecting identity theft victims | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- The U.S. Department of Labor has also announced new guidance for plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, record keepers and plan participants on best practices for maintaining cybersecurity, including tips on how to protect the retirement benefits of America’s workers. This is the first time the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration has issued cybersecurity guidance. This guidance is directed at plan sponsors and fiduciaries regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and plan participants and beneficiaries. Learn more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/ebsa/ebsa20210414.

- Passing along info from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission…a Q&A on what employers should know about COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and other EEO laws. Read more: What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov).

- With the May 18 Municipal Primary Election a month away, Clinton County is looking for a few good poll workers. In an election update today, Clinton County Voter Registration Director Maria Boileau said people interested in ‘working the polls’ on election day should complete a poll worker interest form at www.votesPA.com/getinvolved or contact her office at 570-893-4019 to express their interest. Boileau also noted that sample ballots for the May election are now available on the county website at https://www.clintoncountypa.com/departments/voter-registration. Click Here for the Election Update file for the latest election information.

- An election reminder from 25th District State Senator Cris Dush: There is still time for Pennsylvanians to share their experience from last year’s election with the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform. Election surveys for Pennsylvanians who voted by mail or in person will be accepted through April 30. The committee is expected to use the survey responses and testimony gathered during its series of public hearings to produce a report with recommendations that will be presented to the General Assembly.

- There may be nothing more nerve-wracking for a member of Congress than redistricting, when the once-a-decade redrawing of district boundaries injects a dose of uncertainty into their political careers. In Pennsylvania, redrawing the districts to correspond with population shifts identified by the 2020 census will have a particularly unpredictable effect on congressional districts, since the state is expected to lose a district. That means there will be 17 districts for 18 incumbent U.S. House members from Pennsylvania when next year’s elections roll around, raising the question of whose district will disappear and whose political career could be upended. “I think the first question that everybody asks is, ‘Is anybody retiring?’” said Ryan Costello, a former two-term congressman from Chester County. By the end of April, the U.S. Census Bureau is releasing the first numbers from the 2020 census, including the state population count that determines how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets. If that confirms projections that Pennsylvania will lose a seat, it will be the 10th consecutive decade that the Keystone State has lost clout in Congress and presidential contests as its population growth continues to lag behind the nation’s. A new map of districts must win approval from the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and the districts they draw could have a dramatic effect on the political careers of the state’s 18 U.S. House members. If each of the 18 wants to run for another term in Congress, two of them will have to run against each other.  Read More (Source: The Associated Press)

 

- The PA Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs today announced that $2.7 million in funding is available for entities to deliver employment support services to individuals in recovery from substance use disorder seeking to enter the workforce. Learn more: Wolf Administration Announces Grant Opportunities to Provide Employment Support Services for Individuals with Substance Use Disorder (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Human Services today began to issue emergency allotments for households that currently receive the maximum monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit. The funds are the first part of a $1712 million distribution of federal food assistance for about 700,000 households that either received less than half their monthly SNAP payment in additional assistance or have not received extra SNAP assistance since the pandemic began. Details here: Human Services Secretary: Emergency SNAP Allotments Beginning for Households Receiving Monthly Maximum Benefit.

- Governor Wolf today announced that 43 highway, bridge, rail, and bike and pedestrian projects in 21 counties were selected for $45.9 million in funding through PennDOT’s Multimodal Transportation Fund. In the region, Toftrees Development, LLC will receive $2.44 million to construct the Masters Blvd./Waddle Rd. Extension Project in Patton Township. Read more: Governor Wolf Announces Investments in 43 Multimodal Projects to Improve Safety, Mobility, Local Economies (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection began its 2021 Black Fly Suppression Program this week. The program involves aerial and backpack spraying on roughly 1,700 stream miles in 35 counties of the commonwealth. More here: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- In its March 2021 report, the PA Department of Health said nursing home surveyors conducted 570 inspections – 244 of which were COVID-19-specific – of 396 separate nursing homes. There were 15 new sanctions finalized, resulting in $122,000 in fines. Read more: Department of Health Highlights March 2021 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 599 licensed liquor establishments over the past two weeks (April 5-15), issuing 26 notices of violation and 85 warnings associated with COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 39 licensee checks during the period, issuing no notices of violation and one warning related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More information here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement April 5-15: 599 Compliance Checks; 26 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- Meanwhile, PA State Police today announced that troopers confiscated more than $17.7 million in illegal drugs during the first three months of this year. See more: State Police Seizes More Than $17.7 Million in Illegal Drugs During the First Quarter of 2021 (pa.gov).

- PPL Corporation this week published its annual Sustainability Report, highlighting the company's progress and approach on a wide range of environmental, social and governance initiatives, including climate strategy, electrification goals, COVID-19 response and diversity, equity and inclusion commitments. The report also includes a comprehensive record of PPL's 2020 performance in advancing a transition to a cleaner energy future; supporting communities; attracting and retaining a diverse, talented workforce; and providing long-term value to customers and shareowners. View the report online at www.pplsustainability.com.

- PA CareerLink hosts a May 5, 10:00 a.m. employer seminar via Zoom on Pennsylvania's Shared-Work Program. Shared-Work allows a business to retain its workforce during a temporary slowdown and then quickly ramp up operations without the expense of recruiting, hiring and training new employees. Shared-Work also helps to protect your employees from the financial hardship of a full layoff. Click Here for the PA CareerLink flyer for details and register for the workshop at: https://forms.gle/vFfCkgKJYcAN7KWQ6.

4/14/21

OF NOTE: First Quality Hygienic, one of the First Quality operations in the Sweeney Clinton County Industrial Park in Wayne Township, announced today it will shut down its Hygienic operations later this summer as a result of tough conditions in the feminine hygiene products market. The closure impacts about 150 employees, all of whom will be offered positions at the company’s other McElhattan and Lock Haven/Castanea Township operations. Partnership President Mike Flanagan said First Quality officials emphasized that the company remains committed to its other business operations. First Quality is Clinton County’s leading manufacturer, with some 1,700 employees locally.

- With all Pennsylvanians now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination, Clinton County Government is encouraging those who live and work in Clinton County to schedule and get the vaccination, saying that getting vaccinated is essential as we strive to return to normalcy. To that end, the County provided a COVID-19 vaccination information, which lists contact information for six local vaccine providers.  Click Here

Note that the six local provider sites are administering the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The PA Department of Health Tuesday notified vaccine providers to pause administering doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) single-dose vaccine until at least April 20 following the recommendation of both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Drug Administration. This is a precaution until the CDC and FDA have time to review six incidents of rare blood clots that occurred within two weeks of people receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. See more: Department of Health: Pause on Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations in Pennsylvania, FDA/CDC Announcement Highlights Vaccine Evaluation Process is Working.

- On a related note, Inc. magazine this week featured an opinion piece that speaks to why small businesses – the ones that have the most to lose when mitigation efforts are in place – should be leading efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated. Click Here for the ‘Small Business and the Vaccine’ file for that editorial.

- Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across Pennsylvania, and the statewide percent positivity rate this week rose slightly to 9.5%, compared to 9.4% last week. However, the percent positivity rates in both Clinton and Centre counties dropped this week. Clinton’s rate, according to the state, is 11.0%, compared to 15.7% last week and 12.0% the week before that. Centre County’s percent positivity is 9.6% this week, compared to 10.3% last week. Lycoming County’s percent positivity increased to 8.9% this week, compared to 8.2% last week.

The number of counties the state considers as being in “substantial” level of community transmission increased this week to 50 of the state’s 67 counties, including Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties. Cameron, Forest and Fulton counties are in the low level of transmission, while another 14 counties are in the moderate level transmission status. There is one county reporting over a 20% positivity rate, while seven counties have a positivity rate lower than 5%. Read more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for April 2 – 8 (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,730 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,087,792. The Department did note that a new lab began submitting data to the department on Tuesday and that 1,101 positive test results that were collected more than three days ago and ranging back to mid-January, were uploaded (85% of the newly-identified cases were in Allegheny County). According to the state data, Clinton reported seven new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,294. Centre County saw 50 new cases, bringing their total to 15,431, and Lycoming County was up 30 cases, to 10,766. Statewide, 2,541 people are hospitalized with the virus, 530 of whom are in intensive care.

As of today, Pennsylvania has administered 6,660,130 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 4,351,950 are first/single doses, while 2,488,948 are second/full doses. Read more: Department of Health: Over 6.6 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 40.1% of Population, PA Ranks 10th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 cases in the United States have also been steadily increasing. The CDC says this increase could be driven by more contagious variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. B.1.1.7, the most common variant in the United States, has been reported in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Learn more about these variants in CDC’s COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review: http://bit.ly/CDTweeklyreview

Meanwhile, the CDC is also offering information on post-COVID conditions, saying that although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks to months of the illness, some do not. CDC and experts around the world are working to learn more about the short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19, who gets them, and why. CDC uses the term post-COVID conditions to describe health issues that persist more than four weeks after first being infected. Click here to: Learn more .

- The office of the President at Lock Haven University today issued an update on the proposed integration of Lock Haven, Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities. Click Here for the LHU Integration file for more information.

- The PA Departments of Health and Education today encouraged all students at Pennsylvania colleges and universities to receive their COVID-19 vaccination before the semester ends. They’re encouraging all institutions of higher education to work with local providers to ensure vaccination opportunities are available before students leave for the summer. Read more: Wolf Administration Encourages All College Students to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine Before the Semester Ends (pa.gov).

- Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. is offering business grants of up to $500 on a first-come, first-served basis to for-profit businesses within the City’s central business district. Click Here for the DLH file for guidelines, eligibility criteria and the application. Applications must be submitted to Downtown Lock Haven, Inc., 205 East Main St., Lock Haven, by next Friday, April 23.

- In a weekly update to constituents, 76th District State Representative Stephanie Borowicz, this week provided the following update on House Bill 290, which is aimed at supporting fundraising opportunities for nonprofits: Legislation to improve pandemic fundraising options for fire and ambulance companies, as well as other nonprofit organizations that support community initiatives such as scholarships, youth sports and Scouting, has been approved by the state House. House Bill 290 would specifically authorize Small Games of Chance (SGOC) licensees to conduct online raffles and drawings and use a mobile payment service (not credit cards) for payment. Participants would have to be verified as residing within the Commonwealth and be at least 18 years of age. The bill also would increase individual prize limits to $4,000 and weekly prize limits to $50,000 to further aid fundraising efforts. The changes would expire with the end of the COVID-19 disaster emergency or May 1, 2022, whichever is later. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

- The White House Tuesday released state-by-state fact sheets that highlight the urgent need in every state across the country for the investments proposed by President Biden in the American Jobs Plan. View Pennsylvania Fact Sheet.

- Governor Wolf Tuesday highlighted the achievements of the Wolf Administration to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic during the opening session of the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers’ Growth Conference. Learn more: Gov. Wolf Highlights Support of Small Businesses During COVID-19 at PA Small Business Development Centers Conference.

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from April 4-11 as it relates to regulated boards and commissions. During that period, the Bureau performed 459 inspections and opened 13 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed 11 warning letters and one compliance letter relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, April 4-11.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions for April 5-9, as they relate to businesses not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. To date, the Bureau has assigned 437 cases to its investigators. In the most recent reporting period, the department completed eight investigations that were sent to the Department of Health. More here: Department of Labor & Industry Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, April 5 – April 9.

- The U.S. government’s budget deficit surged to an all-time high of $1.7 trillion for the first six months of this budget year, nearly double the previous record, as another round of economic-support checks added billions of dollars to spending last month. In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Monday that the deficit for the first half of the budget year — from October through March — was up from a shortfall of $743.5 billion for the same period a year ago. The deficit has been driven higher by trillions of dollars in support Congress has passed in successive economic rescue packages since the pandemic struck in March 2020. The latest round came in a $1.9 trillion measure that President Joe Biden pushed through Congress last month. Biden’s package included individual support payments of up to $1,400 and the administration rushed to make those payments as soon Biden signed the measure into law. The Treasury statement showed that the payments in March totaled $339 billion. The budget report showed that the deficit for just March totaled $659.6 billion, the third-highest monthly deficit. For the six month period, the $1.7 trillion deficit total surpassed the previous record of an $829 billion deficit run up for the six month’s ending in March 2011, a period when the government was spending to deal with the adverse effects of the recession caused by the 2008 financial crisis.  Read More (Source: The Associated Press)

- Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service today announced they are disbursing nearly 2 million payments in the fifth batch of Economic Impact Payments from the American Rescue Plan. More here: IRS, Treasury disburse 2 million more Economic Impact Payments under the American Rescue Plan; VA beneficiaries bring total to approximately 159 million as payments continue | Internal Revenue Service

- The U.S. Chamber Foundation hosts a webinar tomorrow, April 15, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. titled Practical Lessons from Employers Who’ve Been Vaccinating Their Workers for Months as part of its Path Forward series. Worksite vaccine clinics make it easy for employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Join this webinar for a conversation with one of the few companies that has already vaccinated its workforce, and important insights from the leader of a senior-living facility who helped overcome high levels of vaccine hesitancy among her workers when doses first became available in December 2019.

Last week, the Path Forward series featured an “Ask Me Anything” panel of five experts answering audience questions on legal issues, COVID-19 testing, personal and public health, and mass vaccination sites. If you missed it, you can check out the full session videos and transcripts below.

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission took a number of actions during its quarterly meeting this week, including proposing new trout fishing and ice fishing regulations, and awarding grants for boating facilities. Locally, Howard Borough is listed as a boat facility grant recipient for a project at F.J. Sayers Lake. Susquehanna Greenway Partnership is also listed as receiving a grant for a Susquehanna River Water Trail Wayfinding Program. Learn more: PFBC AWARDS GRANTS FOR BOATING FACILITY AND ERIE ACCESS IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS, PROPOSES NEW TROUT FISHING AND ICE FISHING REGULATIONS, AND ENCOURAGES BOATING SAFETY DURING QUARTERLY MEETING (pa.gov).

4/12/21

- The state is accelerating the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Governor Tom Wolf and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force today announced that effective tomorrow, April 13, all Pennsylvania adults will be eligible to schedule an appointment for a vaccine. Today, the state entered Phase 1C of the vaccine rollout, but the next phase to include all Pennsylvanians hadn’t been scheduled until next Monday. In announcing the change, Governor Wolf said, “We need to maintain acceleration of the vaccine rollout, especially as case counts and hospitalization rates have increased.” Learn more: Gov. Wolf and COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Announce that All Adults in Pennsylvania are Eligible Tomorrow to Schedule COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments (pa.gov).

As of today, according to the state, 2,961 people in Clinton County have received a first/partial dose of the vaccine and 6,114 have receive the full, two-shot dose. In Centre, 19,879 people have received a partial and 36,615 a full dose; and in Lycoming County, 9,949 have received a partial and 22,200 a full dose of the vaccine. For information on COVID-19 Vaccine Providers, click here.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed 3,088 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,075,424. According to the state, Clinton County reported 7 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,263. Centre County saw 31 new cases, bringing their total to 15,317, and Lycoming County reported 10 new cases, bringing their total to 10,683. Statewide, 2,460 people are hospitalized with the virus, 516 of whom are in intensive care. To date, 25,406 deaths have been attributed to the virus, 60 of them in Clinton County.

Meanwhile, as of this morning, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported that Pennsylvania had administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 38.9% of its eligible population. To date, Pennsylvania has administered 6,411,940 doses – 4,234,191 first/single doses and 2,177,749 second doses – of the vaccine. More here: Department of Health: Over 6.4 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 38.9% of Population, PA Ranks 11th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- The Health Department today also announced a partnership with Latino Connection and Highmark Blue Shield to launch the first statewide COVID-19 Mobile Vaccination Clinic tour to provide vaccinations and education targeting minority and underserved communities. Learn more: Department of Health Partners with Community Groups for Mobile Response on COVID-19 Vaccinations, Education to Minority and Underserved Communities.

- The PA Department of Human Services today announced that the state will partner with Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to staff and residents of congregate care settings licensed by DHS that were not part of the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program. More information here: Pennsylvania Partners with Walgreens to Finalize Vaccination Efforts to Priority Populations in Congregate Care Settings.

- As part of its emphasis on supporting businesses during the pandemic, Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. has announced it is offering one-time Neighborhood Assistance Grants to assist businesses. Through the program, DLH has a total of $12,500 and is providing grants of up to $500 each for businesses in the City’s central business district. The funds must be used for marketing fees, website fees, social media support or signage. Information on the program and grant applications are available at the Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. office at 205 East Main Street or by contacting Manager Marie Vilello at 570-748-1576 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Information is also available on the Downtown Lock Haven Inc. Facebook page. Grant applications must be submitted by April 23 and the funds must be used by June 30, 2021.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration has raised the loan limit for COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to up to 24 months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000. Borrowers were sent an email about the new loan limit. Some borrowers are experiencing a technical issue when clicking on the email address to request a COVID-19 EIDL increase. When submitting the request, make sure to remove any additional characters that may appear in front of the email address so that your request can be delivered. For questions about your application, please contact the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

- The SBA continues to work through system issues with the application portal for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, which is currently unable to accept applications. The portal was launched April 8, but there were technical issues, so the SBA temporarily suspended the portal and says it will re-open it as soon as possible. The SBA has confirmed they did not accept any applications or distribute any funding prior to having to shut down the portal. Applicants can still register in the portal and the SBA will share updates as they are available, including a specific time and date for the re-opening of the portal. For a list of tools and resources to help applicants prepare once the SVOG application portal re-opens, visit www.sba.gov/svogrant.

- The PA Department of Agriculture has announced the opening of a $1 million Farm Vitality Grant program, aimed at enhancing the long-term health and vitality of Pennsylvania’s farms. More here: Secretary of Agriculture Announces $1 Million Farm Vitality Grant Program, Secures Strong Future for Pennsylvania Agriculture (pa.gov).

- The PA Treasury and the Department of Labor & Industry today announced the two agencies have recaptured nearly $800 million of unemployment benefits targeted by fraudsters. See more: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- Updates from the PA Chamber…. 

  • A top PA Chamber priority – critical COVID-19 liability protections – was passed by the House last week. The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration. -> Read More.
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee’s budget hearing with the Department of Labor & Industry last week covered a number of workforce related issues – including challenges the state’s unemployment compensation system is facing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and getting people back to work. -> Read More.
  • Last week, the House unanimously passed H.B. 766, legislation that would change the date of Pennsylvania corporate tax returns from 30 days after due date of the federal return to the 15th day of the month following the due date of the federal return. The PA Chamber supported this proposal – which now awaits Senate consideration – because it will help eliminate confusion regarding state tax due dates for the Commonwealth’s corporate taxpayers.

- The PA Department of State today announced that more than 587,000 voters already have applied for mail-in ballots for the May 18 municipal primary election, and more than 18,000 voters have applied for absentee ballots. Read more: More Than 600K Pennsylvania Voters Apply for Mail Ballots Ahead of May 18 Municipal Primary.

The Clinton County Voter Registration office has so far received a total of 1,149 mail-in/absentee ballot requests (1,130 mail-in ballot requests; 17 absentee ballot requests; and two requests for overseas voters).

- State Senator Cris Dush, in his weekly update to constituents, today encouraged people to learn about several questions that will appear on the May 18 ballot. Click Here for the Senator Dush file for more information.

Meanwhile, the Senator says a bipartisan Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform is inviting Pennsylvania voters to share their experiences from the 2020 election by taking an election survey. The information will be reviewed by the committee and will be considered as part of future election reform measures. The panel held a pair of hearings last month to gather input from local and state election officials, as well as county commissioners on the administration of the 2020 election, and to review best practices in other states that allow mail-in voting. Video and testimony from both hearings is available at https://pasenelectioncommittee.com/.

- Senator Dush is also reminding constituents that revisions to the state’s “Move Over” law go into effect on April 27. The state approved legislation last October to strengthen the law, designed to protect first responders, tow truck operators and other motorists near the scene of an emergency. The new law – which includes greater public awareness efforts and steeper penalties for violations – requires motorists approaching an emergency response area to merge into a lane further away, or to slow down to 20 miles per hour under the posted speed limit if they cannot safely merge. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission reports 46 emergency responders were struck and killed in the U.S. in 2020, and 10 more have lost their lives so far in 2021.

- The PA Board of Game Commissioners Saturday gave final approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2021-22 license year. Details here: FINAL 2021-22 HUNTING/TRAPPING SEASONS APPROVED (pa.gov).

- 12th District Congressman Fred Keller’s office is encouraging local high school students to participate in the annual Artistic Discovery Contest, a nation-wide art competition sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives. The winning artwork is displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol. Submissions are due to Representative Keller’s Williamsport District Office by April 23. Learn more here.

4/9/21

- Partnership President Mike Flanagan today provided his weekly update on the local employment picture: First time and continued unemployment claims were down slightly in Clinton County during the seven day period ending April 3, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The initial unemployment insurance claim number was 77, down from 93 the week prior. Females accounted for 51% of the new filings, and the construction field had 22% file for first time claims. In the continued claim category, there were 736 county residents listed, down from 757. Of the new continued claim number, 65% were males, and 24% were in the construction field.      

During the week ending April 3, the state reported that another 24 county residents had unemployment benefits expire. The number of county residents who have exhausted benefits since January 1 now totals 424.

Clinton County’s February monthly unemployment rate was 7.7%. The March figure is expected to be released by the state at the end of April.

-  Nationwide, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to 744,000, an increase of about 16,000 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Read more: News Release (dol.gov).

- Labor & Industry this week announced that the department’s new Unemployment Compensation system is now slated to launch in June, replacing a 40-year-old system with an easy-to-use system that will streamline the unemployment claim filing process. Programs that will transition to the new system are: Unemployment Compensation (UC); Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC); Extended Benefits (EB); Shared Work or Short-Time Compensation (STC); and Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA). Learn more: L&I Will Transition to New Unemployment Compensation System in June (pa.gov).

- With only 42 student days left in the current school year, Keystone Central School District continues in-the-classroom learning. In her weekly update, Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said there currently are three active cases of COVID-19 among staff and two among students in two different schools. Click Here for the KCSD Update.

- Geisinger this week announced it is partnering with nine local chambers of commerce – including the Clinton County Economic Partnership - to give back to restaurants in the community that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Click Here for the news release regarding the ‘Meals in Spring’ initiative, which will support Partnership member eating establishments.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration Thursday officially opened the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal, but then closed it back down due to system issues. The SBA says the suspension of the application portal is temporary and that it will re-open as soon as possible. The SVOG is a pandemic relief grant program for operators of live venues, live performing arts organizations, museums and movie theatres, as well as live venue promoters, theatrical producers and talent representatives.

- SEDA-COG continues to accept applications for the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Relief Program (CHIRP) that provides pandemic relief for restaurants, bars and hotel businesses. It is our understanding that some grant awards have been made from the first funding round (March 15-28). The current, second window of opportunity runs until April 29. Click on the following link to get to the grant website: https://csgiving.org/chirp/.

- The Clinton County Housing Coalition has received more than 90 applications so far under the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a grant program to support landlords and tenants in covering rent and utility expenses for households impacted by the pandemic. Some initial grant awards have been made, and applications continue to be accepted and reviewed/processed. Applications can be made through www.compass.state.pa.us, and for more information on the program, go to the Housing Coalition’s website at www.cchousingcoalition.org.

- A few weeks ago, Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act which moved the PPP application deadline to May 31, 2021. If you're looking to take advantage of this program, click here to read up on what this means for you and your business. Review the latest PPP information.

- The National Restaurant Association today released a new Restaurant Revitalization Fund FAQ with updated information about applications, eligibility, and figuring out grant amounts. The RRF is funding that was approved as part of the recently-signed American Rescue Plan.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,048 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,064,092. According to the state, Clinton County reported 13 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,216. Centre County saw 77 new cases, bringing their total to 15,136, and Lycoming County was up 35 new cases, to 10,591. Statewide, there are 2,451 people hospitalized with the virus, 517 of whom are in intensive care.

As of today, the state had administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 35.6% of its eligible population. To date, 6,055,844 doses – 4,017,045 first/single doses and 2,038,799 second doses – have been administered. More here: Department of Health: Over 6 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 35.6% of Population, PA Ranks 19th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations

- Health Department Acting Secretary Alison Beam today urged all Pennsylvanians to remember to both attend a scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointment and cancel any unneeded appointments so that all vaccine doses get into the arms of people. See more: Department of Health: Cancel Duplicate Appointments to Help Ensure Vaccine is Available for All.

- The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and Department of Health this week announced the opening of a Regional Vaccination Clinic at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center. Read more: Wolf Administration Announces Opening of Regional Vaccination Clinic in Centre County (pa.gov).

- Phase 1C of the state’s vaccine rollout begins this coming Monday, April 12. Essential workers in that sector include: food service; federal, state, county and local government workers, including county election workers, elected officials and members of the judiciary and their staff; transportation and logistics; water and wastewater; housing construction; finance, including bank tellers; information technology; communications; energy; legal services; media; public safety; and public health workers. On April 19, everyone not in a previous group will be eligible For more on the vaccine rollout plan, go to: Distribution (pa.gov).

- Worksite vaccine clinics make it easy for employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Employers are invited to join the U.S. Chamber Foundation for an April 15, 2:00 p.m. webinar that includes a representative from a company that has already vaccinated its workforce, as well as a senior-living facility rep who helped overcome high levels of vaccine hesitancy among workers. Another speaker will talk about the role employers can have in vaccinating their own employees, and best practices from companies across the country. Learn more and register here: Path Forward: Practical Lessons from Employers Who've Been Vaccinating their Workers for Months (uschamberfoundation.org).

- Several updates from the Internal Revenue Service:

  • The IRS is reminding businesses, corporations, self-employed individuals, retirees, investors and others who pay their taxes quarterly that the payment for the first quarter of 2021 is due Thursday, April 15, 2021. The extension to May 17, 2021 for individuals to file their 2020 federal income taxes does not apply to estimated tax payments. The 2021 Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, can help taxpayers estimate their first quarterly tax payment. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-reminds-taxpayers-to-make-april-15-estimated-tax-payment.
  • The IRS and U.S. Treasury are providing guidance on tax relief for deductions for food or beverages from restaurants, stating that businesses can temporarily deduct 100 percent beginning January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022. Details here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-provide-guidance-on-tax-relief-for-deductions-for-food-or-beverages-from-restaurants. (A point of clarification from the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association: The term "restaurant" means a business that prepares and sells food or beverages to retail customers for immediate consumption, regardless of whether the food or beverages are consumed on the business' premises).

- The PA Department of Education and the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research today announced an initiative to improve access to broadband services in and beyond libraries across the commonwealth’s underserved and unserved communities. More here: Pennsylvania’s Office of Commonwealth Libraries Announces Project to Provide Broadband Internet Access to Underserved Communities (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Department of Labor has issued guidance implementing the American Rescue Plan’s Continuation of Health Coverage premium assistance provisions to provide full COBRA premium assistance to certain individuals who have experienced a reduction in hours or involuntary termination of employment. Read more: US Department of Labor issues guidance, model notices implementing American Rescue Plan’s COBRA premium assistance provisions | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- PennDOT today provided an update on its Local Interchange/Route 26 project in Centre County. The work zone is located along Interstate 80 near the Bellefonte/161 interchange and project activity can affect traffic flow on I-80. More here: News Details (penndot.gov).

- The New Love Center invites people to an Open House Saturday, April 10, at their recently-renovated space at 263 Henry Street, Jersey Shore (South Avis). TNLC operates a weekly food distribution from their pantry there, as well as several other food programs for those in need. Saturday’s Open House runs from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., with small group, 30-minute tours scheduled every half hour. Those interested are asked to sign up for a tour time by going to bit.ly/tnlctours.

- Each year, the U.S. Chamber recognizes the very best in American small business. Through the Dream Big Awards program, they honor achievements and select winners in eight achievement award areas, plus the Small Business of the Year who'll win a $25,000 prize. Read more about the program here and submit your business here.


- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hosts an April 15, noontime webinar on Sales Strategy, as part of their Roadmap for Rebuilding series. Small business experts will cover strategies for turning leads into sales and transitioning to online sales, plus Q&A. Register now.

4/7/21

- Clinton County’s unemployment rate increased for the second consecutive month, according to information released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The February rate for the county was 7.7%, up from the 7.1% reading in January. After eight months of decreases from a pandemic high of 16.6% in April 2020, the rate has increased more than one point over the last two months. The February numbers show an estimated 1,400 people out of work, compared to 1,200 in January. One year ago in February 2020, the unemployment rate was 5.9% and 1,100 were estimated to be out of work in Clinton County.

Clinton County’s February rate of 7.7%  was no. 38 out of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties. Adams, Chester and Montour counties tied for the best rate at 5.1%, while Centre was fifth at 5.6%. Lycoming tied for no. 33 at 7.6%. Philadelphia County’s 11.2% was the highest of the 67 counties. The statewide unemployment rate for February was 7.3%.

In recent weekly information distributed by the state, Clinton County had 93 residents file for unemployment insurance for the week ending March 27, up about 20 from the week before. The continued case number fell more than 100 to 757. Since the beginning of the year, 404 county residents have had unemployment benefits expire.               

“The increased numbers are a bit concerning, but some of the increase is likely due to seasonal layoffs,” said Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan. “We seem to have more than our fair share of open positions at many businesses, so hopefully they can find employees soon, and the unemployment numbers will go down.”

- 25th District State Senator Cris Dush’s office this week issued a Scam Alert related to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Click Here for the PUA Scam Alert for more information.

- The state this week noted the continued upward trend in COVID-19 cases, reporting a statewide percent positivity rate of 9.4%, up from last week’s 7.6%. Clinton County also saw a jump in the percent positivity rate, to 15.7%, compared to 12.0% last week, 8.6% the week before, and 6.0 the week before that. Centre County’s percent positivity rate this week stands at 10.3%, compared to 9.2% last week, and Lycoming County’s current rate is 8.2%, compared to 6.9% the week before. For the week ending April 2, there were five counties – Cameron, Potter, Forest, Fulton and Sullivan – in what the state considers the “low” level of transmission; 17 counties in the moderate level; and 45 counties, including Clinton, Centre and Lycoming, in the substantial level of transmission. 

Meanwhile the PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 4,643 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,054,298. There are 2,384 people hospitalized with the virus, 446 of whom are in intensive care. To date, 25,285 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19, 59 in Clinton County. County-specific information is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

As of this morning, April 7, the Centers for Disease Control reported that Pennsylvania has administered first doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 35.4 percent of its eligible population and the state ranks 11th among all 50 states for first doses administered by percentage of population. Through this Saturday, April 10, a total of 6,580,640 doses of the vaccine have been allocated in Pennsylvania, and, as of today, April 7, a total of 5,797,589 doses – 3,869,275 first/single doses and 1,928,314 second doses - have been administered. According to the state data, as of today, 2,606 people in Clinton County have received a partial/single vaccine dose, while 5,831 have received the full, two-shot dose. In Centre County, 18,966 have received a partial and 30,394 a full dose, while in Lycoming County, 10,677 have received a partial and 19,911 a full dose of the vaccine. More information here: Department of Health: Over 5.7 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 35.4% of Population, PA Ranks 11th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- Governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday visited a Weis Market in Cumberland County to recognize what he called “heroic efforts” of PA’s grocery store workers, who are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more: Gov. Wolf Recognizes Grocery Store Workers, Now Vaccine Eligible, for Heroic Work (pa.gov).

- Pennsylvania is receiving more than $115 million in federal aid to expand the COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the commonwealth. President Joe Biden and Congress approved the money as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that also delivered stimulus checks to millions of Americans. As part of the package, Pennsylvania is getting $101.3 million from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bolster local vaccine distribution programs. Philadelphia is also receiving an additional $14.3 million to support the city’s vaccination efforts. The state’s largest city is handling its own distribution of vaccines and gets its own supply through the federal government. Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf expanded the vaccine rollout to key front-line workers, including law enforcement, grocery workers and food and agricultural employees. On Monday, the state opened up eligibility to all of those in Phase 1B, which includes mass transit employees, manufacturing workers, postal employees and clergy. On April 12, those in Phase 1C can begin scheduling appointments. Phase 1C covers more critical workers including those in the energy sector, legal services, housing construction, federal, state and local government workers, financial services and information technology workers. Beginning April 19, everyone in Pennsylvania will be eligible for the vaccine, Wolf said last week. Earlier Tuesday, Biden said all Americans nationwide will be eligible to get the vaccine April 19. Read More (Source: Harrisburg Patriot News)

- The PA Health Department Tuesday provided an update on the 12-week pop-up COVID-19 testing initiative completed last month, highlighting the total number of patients tested. Clinton County’s testing site occurred in the second week of the program, with people able to drive through the Castanea Fire Company Picnic Grounds for a free test. During that week, 1,150 people received a test. More details here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19 Testing Across Commonwealth.

- The Health Department Tuesday also shared a weekly update on the state’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data. More information here: Department of Health Offers Update On COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, Monitoring Efforts.

- Nearly 80 percent of Pre-K-12 teachers, school staff, and childcare workers received at least their first shot of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March, according to the CDC’s latest estimates and survey data. Read more: Nearly 80 percent of teachers, school staff, and childcare workers receive at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC.

- The PA Departments of Health and Education have announced modifications to their instructional model recommendations for Pre-K to 12 schools in response to updated guidance recently issued by the CDC. More here: Departments of Health, Education Update Instructional Model Recommendations for Schools.

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement & Investigation Tuesday released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from March 28-April 4, as they relate to regulated boards and commissions. During that period, BEI performed 528 inspections and opened five investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed nine warning letters and three compliance letters relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, March 28-April 4.

- Education and outreach staff from the PA Department of Banking and Securities are hosting and participating in a number of virtual presentations for various groups and the general public this month. Learn more: April 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Virtual Events Announced (pa.gov).

- Keystone Central School District this week announced how students and teachers plan to utilize a $50,000 Farm to School Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Click Here for the news release for details.

- The PA State Police announced that the Pennsylvania Instant Check System set a record for activity in the first quarter of 2021. It was the third straight quarter to experience record-breaking volume. The department also released the number of firearms purchase denials, subsequent investigations, and arrests resulting from such investigations for the first-quarter. More here: Pennsylvania's Firearm Background Check System Experiences Record Volume for Third Consecutive Quarter (pa.gov).

- PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro has announced his office has entered into an agreement that will result in the cancellation of about $2.6 million in private PA student loans held by 1,300 students who attended schools operated by the now-defunct Education Corporation of America. See more: AG Shapiro Ensures Cancellation of Debt for PA Student Loan Borrowers – PA Office of Attorney General.

- PennDOT’s Office of Public-Private Partnerships today announced it is accepting proposals for transportation projects from the private sector through April 30. More here: Article (penndot.gov).

- The PA Chapter of the American Planning Association is accepting nominations for its annual “Great Places” program, which recognizes great public spaces, greenways, trails and streets. Click Here for all the details. The deadline for submissions is May 7. (Note: Lock Haven’s Susquehanna Riverfront was recognized by this program in 2018).

- The state is urging people to guard against increased dangers of spring wildfires in Pennsylvania’s 17 million acres of forestlands, a good many of them in Clinton County. Read more: Wolf Administration Warns of Heightened Spring Wildfire Dangers (pa.gov).

- A statewide, 14-day concurrent antlered and antlerless firearms season will be among the most contentious changes in hunting regulations the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners will consider for final approval this Saturday, April 10. Read more: Concurrent deer season among changes facing Pennsylvania game commissioner approval - pennlive.com (Source: PennLive)

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission will hold its quarterly business meeting on Monday, April 12 at 9:30 a.m. The online session can be live-streamed by visiting https://www.facebook.com/PaFishandBoat. Read more: PFBC QUARTERLY MEETING TO BE HELD VIRTUALLY ON APRIL 12 (pa.gov).

- Upcoming webinars….

 

  • PA CareerLink hosts a virtual employer workshop, Disaster Preparation for Your Business, tomorrow, Thursday, April 8, from 9:00- 11:00 a.m. For more information and to register, go to https://forms.gle/mrgQi5y8naNHQsqw8 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a no-cost, online webinar on Creating a Business Plan – The Traditional Approach, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. next Thursday, April 15. Register Now!

4/5/21

- As of today, Pennsylvanians in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan – including manufacturing workers; education and postal service workers; people in congregate settings not otherwise specified as long-term care facilities and persons receiving home and community-based services; clergy and other essential support for houses of worship; and public transit workers – are now eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. Learn more: Pennsylvanians in Phase 1B Now Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine (pa.gov)

- As the vaccination plan rollout continues, next Monday, April 12, eligibility to schedule a vaccine appointment will expand to those in Phase 1C, and all Pennsylvania residents age 16 and older will be able to schedule appointments to receive a COVID-19 vaccine starting on April 19, according to the state Department of Health.  The news came last week as part of a larger announcement that the administration is also accelerating its vaccination strategy for workers in targeted industries in Phases 1B, 1C and 2. The broadening of vaccine eligibility began on March 31 with law enforcement, firefighters, grocery store workers and food and agriculture workers. A complete overview of each phase is available on the PA Chamber’s Bringing PA Back website. Although the state’s vaccine timetable has been accelerated, Department of Health officials asked for patience when attempting to schedule a vaccination appointment. “It is important to remember that eligibility does not guarantee an immediate vaccination appointment,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said in a statement. “Vaccine providers are ready and eager to get a shot in the arm of every person who wants one while we continue to aggressively advocate for more vaccine.” Additional details about the Department of Health’s announcement can be found here. (Source: PA Chamber)

- The PA Health Department today reported that, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Pennsylvania has administered first doses of the vaccine to 34.8 percent of its eligible population, ranking the state 12th among all 50 states. Pennsylvania ranked 5th among all 50 states for total doses administered. According to the Health Department data, vaccine providers have administered 5,632,986 total vaccine doses as of today, including 3,755,602 first/single doses and 1,877,384 second/full doses.

According to the state’s vaccine website, as of today, 2,537 people in Clinton County have received a partial/single dose of the vaccine, while 5,728 people have received the full dose; 19,553 people in Centre County have received a partial/single dose, while 28,413 have received a full dose; and in Lycoming County, 11,710 people have received a single dose and 18,360 a full dose of the vaccine.

- Positive cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Pennsylvania. While the state’s weekly report is not yet available, news sources are reporting the state’s percent positivity rate currently stands at 9.4 percent…up from 7.5 percent last week and 6.5 percent the week before that. PennLIVE this afternoon reports that 45 of the state’s 67 counties are in the substantial level of transmission status, an increase from 35 counties reported last week.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,718 positive cases of COVID-19, in addition to 3,933 new cases reported Sunday, for a two-day total of 6,651 cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,045,400. According to the state, Clinton County reported nine new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 3,174. Centre County reported 25 new cases, bringing their total to 14,873, and Lycoming County saw 34 new cases, bringing their total to 10,435. More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard. See more: Department of Health: Over 5.6 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 34.8% of Population, PA Ranks 12th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- The state today said it’s special initiative to vaccinate Pre-K through 12 teachers and school staff was a success and has been completed ahead of schedule, resulting in the vaccination of more than 112,500 teachers and school staff in about three weeks. More here: Gov. Wolf: Successful Teacher and School Staff Vaccination Initiative is Completed Ahead of Schedule (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today encouraged employers to take advantage of the services of PA CareerLink® to find potential employees who are matches for job openings. The PA CareerLink Site Administrator for both Clinton and Lycoming counties is Rachael Ulmer, who can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 570-893-4022 in Clinton and 570-601-5465 in Lycoming County. The Centre County CareerLink Site Administrator is Judy Fitzgerald, who can be reached at 814-548-7587 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. See more: Businesses Encouraged to Use Free PA CareerLink® Services to Find Qualified Workers for Job Openings.

- Updates from the U.S. Small Business Administration….

  • The SBA is increasing the maximum amount small businesses and non-profit organizations can borrow through its COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Starting this week, the SBA is raising the loan limit for the COVID-19 EIDL program from 6-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $150,000 to up to 24-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000. Learn more
  • On March 30, President Joe Biden signed the PPP Extension Act of 2021 into law, extending the Paycheck Protection Program an additional two months to May 31, 2021, and then providing an additional 30-day period for the SBA to process applications that are still pending. Learn more. 
  • Do you need help with cybersecurity for your small business? The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) created Cyber Essentials, a set of easy to adopt and easy to understand cybersecurity practices. They are designed specifically to be used by leaders of small businesses without any cybersecurity expertise or technical background. Moreover, they can be adapted to a wide range of business types and industries. Click on the following link to start making your people, property and profits more secure online. Download the Cyber Essentials Starter Kit.
  • The SBA begins accepting applications this Thursday, April 8, for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. If you missed the recent informational webinar highlighting the application process for potential eligible entities, you can view it here. For more information about the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, visit www.sba.gov/svogrant.

- The Internal Revenue Service Friday issued guidance for employers claiming the Employee Retention Credit under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) modified by the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Relief Act).

Notice 2021-23 explains the changes to the Employee Retention Credit for the first two calendar quarters of 2021. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-guidance-for-employers-claiming-the-employee-retention-credit-for-first-two-quarters-of-2021.

- Statewide COVID-19 restrictions were loosened as of Sunday, April 4. Click here to see PA Restaurant Industry Guidance and here for Department of Health FAQs.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 341 licensed liquor establishments over the holiday weekend (April 1-4). Effective Easter Sunday, restaurants were permitted to resume bar service and the sale of alcohol without the purchase of food. Additionally, establishments are now permitted to operate at 75 percent of capacity, if they have self-certified and agree to comply with the state’s health and safety guidelines. Targeted restrictions such as mask-wearing and social distancing between patrons remain in effect and will continue to be enforced. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 20 licensee checks during the latest period, issuing no notices of violation and four warnings related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement April 1-4: 341 Compliance Checks; 15 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The hospitality and leisure industry has been the most impacted by the pandemic, accounting for about 37% of jobs lost. But the March jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor showed it gained 280,000 jobs – a step in the right direction.

- The state House is in session this week. The Senate will return to session the week of April 19. In the following report, the PA Chamber says there are a number of items of interest to the business community scheduled for the week. -> Read More

- In response to needs driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, the PA Department of Agriculture today announced it has purchase an additional $12.9 million worth of U.S. Department of Agriculture Foods through The Emergency Food Assistance Program. What amounts to close to eight million pounds of food will be delivered between June and December of this year to provide critical support and food to food banks in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Read more: Department of Agriculture to Distribute 7.9 Million Pounds of Emergency Food to Pennsylvania Food Banks.

- Two questions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic will be among four questions to appear on the ballot in the upcoming May 18 primary election. Voters will be asked to vote on four ballot questions, including three proposed amendments to the state Constitution and one referendum regarding funding for first responders. The first two questions propose constitutional amendments to address the state’s handling of future disaster declarations. Specifically, they propose limiting emergency declarations by a governor to a maximum of 21 days without legislative approval and clarifying that a concurrent resolution terminating or extending a disaster emergency declaration need not be presented to the governor for his signature.

The third question also proposes to amend the Constitution to ensure a person’s rights cannot be denied based on race or ethnicity. The fourth question is a referendum seeking approval to provide loans to paid (rather than volunteer) municipal fire departments and emergency medical services companies to improve those operations.

Learn more about the ballot questions at: www.pahousegop.com/voiceofthepeople. (Source: 76th District State Representative Stephanie Borowicz)

- The PA Department of State today reminded eligible Pennsylvanians that May 3 is the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming election. More here: Pennsylvanians Reminded to Register to Vote by May 3 for Primary Election (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday announced that fully vaccinated Americans can resume domestic and overseas travel as long as they wear masks in public. Read more: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/02/cdc-vaccinated-americans-can-now-travel-478928.

- PPL Corporation today announced that Gregory Dudkin, PPL Electric Utilities president since 2012, has been elected executive vice president and chief operating officer of PPL. Stephanie Raymond, vice president of Distribution Operations, will succeed him as president of PPL Electric Utilities, PPL's Pennsylvania electric utility subsidiary. The changes are effective April 12. Read more: PPL Corporation Promotes Gregory N. Dudkin to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; Stephanie R. Raymond Named PPL Electric Utilities President - Apr 5, 2021 (mediaroom.com).

- The PA Game Commission says the most recent deer season was a good one. The 2020-21 season bettered the previous year by about 12 percent. Clinton County harvests included 7,500 antlered and 6,800 antlerless deer taken in Wildlife Management Unit 2G, which covers the upper two-thirds of the county, and 9,100 antlered and 12,300 antlerless deer taken in WMU 4D in the southern part of the county. Read more: GAME COMMISSION RELEASES DEER HARVEST REPORT (pa.gov). 

- Webinars this Week….

 

  • The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a no-cost webinar, First Steps to Starting a Nonprofit, this Wednesday, April 7, at 3:00 p.m. The two-hour session leads participants through the steps required to plan, create and formalize a new nonprofit organization. Register Now!
  • PA CareerLink hosts a virtual employer workshop, Disaster Preparation for Your Business, this Thursday, April 8, from 9:00- 11:00 a.m. For more information and to register, go to https://forms.gle/mrgQi5y8naNHQsqw8 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

4/1/21

- Wolf Administration today announced updated guidance for the business community, saying that all Pennsylvanians should take continued steps to ensure a safe workspace for employees and customers alike. The updated mitigation measures take effect overnight Saturday into Sunday (April 4) and lift some of the targeted restrictions on restaurants and other businesses:

See more: Wolf Administration Reminds Businesses to Ensure a Safe Workspace for Employees and Customers Alike - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- PA Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today announced the approval of a loss-cost reduction for workers’ comp insurance, which she said should lead to lower premiums for many businesses. Learn more: Insurance Commissioner Approves Loss-Cost Reduction for Workers’ Comp Insurance, Cutting Costs for Many Businesses (pa.gov).

- The PA Revenue Department today announced it collected $4.8 billion in General Fund revenue in March, about 8.5 percent more than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date, the state’s General Fund collections total $28.7 billion, or 4.7 percent above estimate. More here: Revenue Department Releases March 2021 Collections.

- The PA Department of Aging said today that the partnership between COVID-19 vaccine providers and Area Agencies on Aging is resulting in more senior citizens securing appointments to receive vaccine shots. Read more: PA Department of Aging: Partnership Between COVID-19 Vaccine Providers, Area Agencies on Aging Helps More Seniors Secure Vaccine Appointments.

Meanwhile, the Department of Aging’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Wednesday announced dates and topics for upcoming Virtual Family Council meetings in April. The VFC is an online forum for families that haven’t been able to have in-person visits with loved ones living in long-term care facilities. It was established last May in response to restrictions on visits because of the pandemic. Details here: Department of Aging: Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Announces April Dates for Virtual Family Council Meetings.

- The PA Department of Human Services today provided an update on February 2021 public assistance enrollment numbers and reminded Pennsylvanians that safety-net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), cash assistance, Medical Assistance (MA), and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) are available to individuals and families struggling to afford food, cover basic expenses, access health care, and pay for home heating bills. DHS Secretary Teresa Miller also announced that the current LIHEAP season is being extended and will now accept applications through April 30, 2021.

As part of the update, Secretary Miller noted that enrollment statewide for MA has increased by 388,615 people since February of last year, for a total enrollment of 3,220,178 in February 2021, a 13.7 percent increase. Additionally, Enrollment for SNAP has increased by 71,440 people since February 2020, to about 1,808,899 in February of this year…a 4.1 percent increase. Learn more: Department of Human Services Provides Update on Latest Medical Assistance, SNAP Enrollment Data, Announces Extension of 2020-21 LIHEAP Season.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 3,893 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,028,750. According to the data, Clinton County reported 14 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,111. Centre County reported 24 new cases, bringing their total to 14,621, and Lycoming County saw 39 new cases, bringing their total to 10,252. There are 2,075 people hospitalized with the virus, 420 of whom are in intensive care. Twenty-seven new deaths were reported, bringing to 25,120, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19. See more: Department of Health: Over 5.3 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 32% of Population.

- In response to the unveiling Wednesday of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, U.S. Chamber executive vice president/chief policy officer Neil Bradley released a statement, which can be viewed by clicking here. Additionally, the U.S. Chamber issued the following initial reactions to the president’s proposal:

  • This is the beginning of the process not the end. The administration has made clear publicly and privately that they are willing to negotiate with stakeholders and with Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The Chamber expects and demands nothing less.  We cannot afford to let initial differences prevent real negotiations.
  • The proposed tax increases are economically harmful, and we will oppose them. There are better ways to pay for infrastructure. The proposed tax increases on employers would make the U.S. tax code less competitive than it was under President Obama. It would harm economic growth and put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage. This runs directly contrary to the goals of an infrastructure package and could offset the entire economic benefit.  The Chamber will work with lawmakers on a responsible package of pay-fors that are user-based and reflect the long-term nature of infrastructure investments by offsetting the costs over 30 years.
  • The scope of the final bill is likely to be broader than many on the right prefer and less broad than many on the left desire. And that it is appropriate. Our nation’s infrastructure needs do go beyond just roads and bridges, but we must prioritize our investments based economic impact and ability to finance. We fully expect priorities and funding to shift during negotiations.
  • The administration’s plan appears to incorporate other Chamber priorities, including workforce training, energy and climate R&D, and permit streamlining. We will work to ensure those are included in the final bill.
  • The administration’s plan includes support for the PRO Act, which the Chamber opposes and will work to ensure does not become law.

- Both the departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) are accepting applications for paid internship positions. Click Here for available intern positions and deadlines for applying.

- As we enter the spring – a time of year when the threat of wildfires is high – the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources posts daily statewide Wildlife Danger maps to help educate the public to the potential danger from wildfires. There are two maps -- the Observed Wildfire Danger Map which shows wildfire danger today and the Wildfire Danger Forecast Map which shows the expected wildfire danger tomorrow. Both maps currently show a low threat for wildfires in Clinton County due to the recent wet weather. Click Here for the DCNR article for more information.

- In the “Glad to see it” category….

  • The Piper Aviation Museum in Lock Haven is back in business from its winter break. The museum reopened today, April 1, and is open seven days a week for visitors, although they will be closed this Easter Sunday. For more information, visit www.pipermuseum.com.
  • The Roxy Theatre in Lock Haven reopens for business starting Friday, April 2. Movie-goers have their choice of three recently-released movies, with shows at 7:00 p.m. daily, plus matinees at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more, visit www.roxymovies.com.
  • And for golfers, both Belles Springs Golf Course in Mackeyville and the Clinton Country Club Golf Course in Mill Hall are open for the season. The 9-hole course at the Ponderosa Lodge outside of Lock Haven is slated to open on Monday, April 5.

3/31/21

- President Joe Biden Tuesday signed the PPP Extension Act of 2021 into law, extending the Paycheck Protection Program an additional two months to May 31, 2021, and then providing an additional 30-day period for the U.S. Small Business Administration to process applications that are still pending.

- President Biden today issued a fact sheet on what the White House is calling the American Jobs Plan. Click Here for President Biden’s file for that summary.

Meanwhile, PA Governor Tom Wolf joined President Biden in Pittsburgh today and called the measure a “bold infrastructure plan.” Read the Governor’s statement here: Gov. Wolf Praises Biden Administration’s Bold Infrastructure Plan (pa.gov)

- The Internal Revenue Service this week issued several updates…. 

  • The IRS this week announced that individuals have until May 17, 2021 to meet certain deadlines that would normally fall on April 15, such as making IRA contributions and filing certain claims for refund. This follows a previous IRS announcement on March 17, that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year was extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. Notice 2021-21 provides details on the additional tax deadlines which have been postponed until May 17. See more: IRS extends additional tax deadlines for individuals to May 17 | Internal Revenue Service.

- In its latest update, UPMC says it has provided more than 300,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and community members who are 65 and older or at high risk of severe illness and complications from COVID-19. Click Here for the UPMC update for more.

- PennDOT today reminded customers to exercise caution while renewing their driver’s license or vehicle registration online, and to make sure that they’re on PennDOT’s official Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov, for making those transactions. Additionally, the Department said PennDOT will never ask for, nor accept, any identity documents over the internet or over text messages. Learn more: Article (penndot.gov).

- The PA Department of Agriculture today released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from March 22-28. During that time, Bureau of Food Safety personnel performed 720 inspections, 22 of which were complaint-driven. Nine complaints were related to COVID-19 mitigation measures. The department received 51 food facility COVID-19-related complaints, 20 of which were referred to local and county health jurisdictions. No restaurants were closed this week for violating COVID-19 mitigation orders. According to the report, there were three inspections in Clinton County during the period, with no issues reported. Read more: Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, March 22 – 28, 2021.

- The PA Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation Tuesday released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from March 21-28 as they relate to regulated boards and commissions. BEI performed 516 inspections during that period and opened 10 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. The Bureau this week distributed seven warning letters and two compliance letters relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, March 21-28.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from March 22-26 relating to businesses that are not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. To date, the Bureau has assigned 437 cases to its investigators. During the most recent reporting period, the department completed seven investigations that were sent to the Department of Health. More here: Department of Labor & Industry Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, March 22 – March 26.

- The State Museum of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation invite artists and craftspeople to submit an application to exhibit their work in the annual Art of the State exhibit. Potential entries are being accepted through May 28, and the exhibit is slated to open to the public on-site at The State Museum on September 26. Details here: State Museum Invites Artists to Enter Art of the State Juried Exhibition (pa.gov).

3/29/21

- State officials today released a weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 17,811 (3,179 additional new cases across the state compared to the previous week), and a statewide percent positivity of 7.5%, an increase from last week’s 6.5%. The state also noted an upward trend – to 35, compared to 24 last week – in the number of counties with what the state considers substantial transmission status. Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties remain among those in the substantial category. There are six counties classified in the low level of transmission – Cameron, Potter, Forest, Fulton, Sullivan and Venango. Another 26 counties are in the moderate level of transmission.

As was the case last week, Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties continue to see a jump in percent positivity rates: Clinton was reported today at 12.0% compared to 8.6% last week and 6.0% the week before; Centre is currently at 9.2%, compared to 7.0% last week and 4.4% the week before that; and Lycoming County currently is at 6.9% positivity, compared to 6.1% last week and 5.2% the week before. There are now 17 counties that have a positivity rate lower than five percent, and no counties are reporting a positivity rate over 20 percent.

- Department of Health officials today reported a three-day total of 10,101 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,015,268. The state reported technical issues with the case counts over the weekend but today said there were 7,178 new cases reported over Saturday and Sunday combined, plus 2,923 cases reported today. Clinton County’s case counts currently total 3,064; Centre 16,719, and Lycoming 11,412. According to the DOH, 1,856 people are hospitalized with the virus, 366 of whom are in intensive care. The state says the trend in the 14-day moving average number of hospitalized patients per day is about 4,500 lower than it was at the peak in December of last year, however the moving average of number of hospitalized patients has started to increase. The state also reported 62 new deaths over the weekend, bringing to 25,015, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19, 58 of which were in Clinton County. Meanwhile, the Health Department tomorrow begins operation of a long-term, free indoor walk-in COVID-19 testing site in Centre County. Read more on that here: Department of Health Announces Free COVID-19 Testing Site in Centre County, Stresses Need for Continued Testing

The Health Department said that as of today, vaccine providers have administered 4,956,257 doses of the vaccine in the state. First/single doses total 3,323,540, and second/full doses total 1,632,714. In Clinton County, 2,214 people have received a partial/single dose, while 5,279 have been fully vaccinated. In Centre County, 16,719 have received a single and 26,068 a full dose, and in Lycoming County, 11,412 have received a partial and 16,589 a full dose of the vaccine. The state today also reported that, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania currently ranks 12th in the country in terms of percentage of population that has received at least one dose of the vaccine. Learn more: Department of Health: Nearly 5 Million Vaccinations to Date, PA Ranks 12th in the Country for First Doses.

- Governor Tom Wolf today announced that Pennsylvania is expected to receive $4.9 billion in federal relief funds to help Pre-K to 12 schools return students to classroom learning and equitably expand opportunity for students who need it more. At least 90 percent, or $4.5 billion, of the funds will flow to traditional public school districts and charter schools. According to the state’s allocation list, Keystone Central School District is slated to receive $10,677,162; Sugar Valley Rural Charter School, $939,777; and Jersey Shore School District $3,680,456. Details here: Gov. Wolf Announces Nearly $5 Billion in Federal COVID-19 Relief for Pre-K-12 Schools (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Community and Economic Development today announced that the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) is now accepting applications for community revitalization projects across the commonwealth. NAP promotes community participation and collaborations among nonprofits, businesses, and residents while producing outcomes that assist a distressed area or the low-income population in a neighborhood. Applications must be received by May 28. Read more: Support for Pennsylvania Communities Now Available Through Neighborhood Assistance Program - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- PA Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today joined Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman and northcentral PA officials to encourage individuals and families who pay rent and are at risk of eviction or loss of utility service to apply for help through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). A total of $847 million has been distributed among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to help families maintain their housing and utility services. Owners of rental properties can also apply for assistance on behalf of tenants. NOTE: About two-thirds of Pennsylvania counties – including Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties – have partnered with DHS to make applications available online at www.compass.state.pa.us. The Clinton County Housing Coalition is administering the program locally. For more information, go to www.cchousingcoalition.org. More here: Human Services Department, Sen. Corman Urge Families, Landlords in Northcentral Pennsylvania to Apply for Rental and Utility Assistance.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration hosts a 2:30-4:00 p.m. webinar tomorrow, March 30, to provide information and answer questions about the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, which is slated to begin taking applications next week. The seminar will highlight the application process for the grant program and what documentation eligible entities will need in order to apply. Register

The SBA last week launched a splash page for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal in anticipation of opening applications for the economic relief program next Thursday, April 8. Over $16 billion has been allocated for the program, to be administered by the SBA. Shuttered venues include live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, relevant museum operators, motion picture theater operations, and talent representatives.

- Updates from the PA Chamber…. 

  • A measure to extend the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to the end of May is now awaiting the signature of President Biden. The program was originally set to close on March 31. -> Read More
  • PA Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin answered several questions of importance to the state’s business community during a budget hearing last week with the Senate Appropriations Committee. -> Read More
  • Bipartisan dissatisfaction with the Wolf administration’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the Commonwealth led to the State House’s passage of legislation that seeks to address these concerns. -> Read More
  • Pennsylvania employers are being asked to participate in a survey that will provide insight on an issue that is central to post-pandemic economic recovery efforts – the impact of childcare on business and the workforce. -> Read More
  • The PA House Finance Committee advanced a bill last week that would help bring greater predictability and stability to Commonwealth businesses. House Bill 766 would change the due date of Pennsylvania corporate tax returns from 30 days after the due date of the federal return, to the 15th day of the month following the due date of the federal return. The PA Chamber supports this measure as one that will help to eliminate confusion regarding state tax due dates for the state’s corporate taxpayers.

- 12th District U.S. Congressman Fred Keller is hosting his latest Telephone Town Hall tomorrow and is inviting people to participate. The live session will be Tuesday, March 30, at 5:00 p.m. People can dial-in at 866-641-6837 or listen live at www.keller.house.gov/live. Rep. Keller says the town halls are a way for him to communicate directly with constituents and hear about issues important to the community. No pre-registration is necessary.

On a separate note, Congressman Keller is currently accepting summer internship applications for his Washington, D.C. office. Those interested need to apply by this Wednesday, March 31. Visit https://keller.house.gov/services/internships to learn more. 

- PennDOT is reminding people that expiration dates for commercial driver licenses and commercial learner’s permits will end after the current extension expires this Wednesday, March 31, and that there are no plans to implement additional extensions at this time. Details here: Article (penndot.gov).

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officials visited 391 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (March 26-28), issuing 17 notices of violation and 31 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted seven licensee checks during the period, issuing two warnings and one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Read more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement March 26-28: 391 Compliance Checks; 17 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- Businesses in Clinton and 10 other counties in the region have the opportunity to complete a COVID-19 impact survey whose results will help SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) further respond to the needs of businesses during this time. The brief survey has been developed to gauge the impact of the pandemic on overall business operations, as well as if and how businesses have successfully adjusted. Click on the following link to complete the survey before April 15: http://bit.ly/37K4vII.

- A sure sign of spring! The Clinton Country Club golf course in Mill Hall opens for the season tomorrow, March 30 at Noon. For more information, call 570-748-6061 or visit www.clintoncountryclub.com.

3/26/21

- Partnership President Mike Flanagan today provided an update on the local employment picture: Clinton County’s initial unemployment claims inched up slightly and the continued claims saw a slight decrease for the seven-day period ending March 20, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The initial unemployment insurance claims by county residents was 71, up from 56 for the week ending March 13. The continued claims fell from 994 to 937 as of March 20. In both categories, construction workers accounted for about 23% of the claims,  and over 60% were males. Another 24 residents had unemployment benefits expire as of March 20. A total of 364 county residents have had benefits expire in 2021.

Clinton County’s unemployment rate for January was 7.3%, the first monthly increase in eight months. County data for February should be released by the state on or around April 6.     

- PA Labor & Industry today released its employment situation report for February 2021. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was unchanged over the month, remaining at 7.3 percent in February. The U.S. rate declined a tenth of a percentage point from January, t0 6.2 percent. Read more: Pennsylvania’s February Unemployment Rate Unchanged at 7.3 Percent (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Senate this week passed a bill that extends the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application deadline by two months, to May 31, 2021. The PPP had been set to expire next week (March 31). The extension bill also provides an additional 30 days, after May 31, for the U.S. Small Business Administration to process pending applications. The extension bill now goes to President Biden for his signature.

- In a U.S. Senate Small Business Committee hearing this week, the SBA said it expects a "phased launch" of the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Grant program to begin in April. This is the first timeline provided by the SBA, which expects to receive hundreds of thousands of grants. 

- Keystone Central School District students continue in-person learning, with the next two weeks shortened somewhat due to the Easter holiday (no school Good Friday, April 2, or Easter Monday, April 5). In her weekly update, Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said the district currently has three confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 among staff and six among students in three different schools. She commended everyone across the district for doing what she called an “excellent job following the (safety) protocols and allowing us to keep our schools open.” For more, click here for the KCSD Update.  

- The state says efforts to vaccinate Pre-K to 12 educators and school staff with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are ahead of schedule and nearly complete. As of this morning, 104,331 teachers, school staff and contractors from across the state have received the vaccine. Learn more: Vaccinations of Teachers and School Staff Remains Ahead of Schedule (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Human Services today highlighted the state’s ongoing work to facilitate COVID-19 vaccinations for child care providers. See more: Human Services Secretary Highlights Work of Child Care Providers During the Pandemic, Availability of COVID-19 Vaccines for Child Care Professionals.

- Stressing the need for continued COVID-19 testing even as vaccinations accelerate, the Department of Health today announced that beginning Tuesday, March 30, a long-term, free indoor walk-in COVID-19 testing site will open for the general public in Centre County. According to the Department of Health’s map of testing sites in PA, the only testing site in Clinton County continues to be at the Geisinger Jersey Shore Medical Associates facility in Avis. Read more: Department of Health Announces Free COVID-19 Testing Site in Centre County, Stresses Need for Continued Testing.

- Cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania this week topped the one million mark, and the daily case counts have started to trend upward. The Department of Health today confirmed an additional 4,927 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,005,167. Clinton County cases reported today were up by 14, bringing the countywide total to 3,031. Centre County reported 89 new cases today, bringing their total to 14,225, and Lycoming County reported 44 new cases, bringing their total to 9,997. More information here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More Than 4.7 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- PA Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman is reassuring Pennsylvanians that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will not impact their ability to purchase life insurance, or their ability to collect on a policy. In response to contacts from concerned consumers, the Department and the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania are urging consumers to be wary of misinformation circulating the internet. See more: Insurance Department, Insurance Industry Reassure Pennsylvanians COVID-19 Vaccine Does Not Impact Life Insurance.

- The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) this week pledged its continued commitment to investigating COVID-19 fraud. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-criminal-investigation-ci-pledges-continued-commitment-to-investigating-covid-19-fraud-as-cares-act-reaches-one-year-anniversary.

- Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam Thursday signed an amended order indicating that certain vaccine providers must work with local Area Agencies on Aging and Medical Assistance Managed Care Organizations to specifically schedule adults eligible in Phase 1A of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan. Learn more: COVID-19 Vaccine Providers to Partner with Area Agencies on Aging, MCOs to Help Seniors Secure Vaccine Appointments.

- The PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources today announced an upcoming return of outdoors programming at state parks and expansion of occupancy limits within park and state forest buildings, effective next Sunday, April 4. Details here: DCNR Announces Operational Changes at State Parks, Forests

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 630 licensed liquor establishments this week (March 22-25), issuing five notices of violation and 19 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which includes Clinton County, conducted 36 licensee checks during the period, issuing two warnings and one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Read more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement March 22-25: 630 Compliance Checks; Five Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- UPMC this week issued a COVID-19 update that covers topics such as COVID reinfections, after vaccination guidelines and more. Click Here for the UPMC COVID Update.

- Work has begun on finding new ways to raise more money for road and bridge projects and allow Pennsylvania to phase out its gas tax. The Transportation Revenue Options Commission, or T-ROC as it is called, held its inaugural meeting on Thursday to launch its efforts to identify alternative funding sources. Governor Tom Wolf appointed the panel, which is made up of nearly four dozen government officials and representatives from the business, transportation and other sectors. He gave the commission until August 1 to produce a report with its recommendations. Read More (Source: Harrisburg Patriot News)

- More than a dozen participating retailers are inviting shoppers to downtown Lock Haven this weekend for a special, pre-Easter “Shop Hop” event. Specially-filled Easter eggs are located in the various stores containing special discounts and prizes and shoppers have the chance to be entered into a grand prize drawing that will be held next weekend.

- Pennsylvania’s statewide Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day is tomorrow, March 27, a week in advance of the statewide opening day of the 2021 Trout Season. The Mentored Youth Day begins at 8:00 a.m. and is designed to give young anglers a chance to fish and learn fishing skills from their adult mentors ahead of the opening day. Learn more: STATEWIDE MENTORED YOUTH TROUT FISHING DAY IS THIS SATURDAY, MARCH 27! (pa.gov).

3/24/21

- New unemployment information recently released by the state shows some improvement in the Clinton County unemployment numbers. According to the PA Department of Labor & Industry, Clinton County had 56 people file for initial unemployment insurance benefits for the week ending March 13. That number is down from 69 listed for the prior week. Two-thirds of the new filers were male, and 27% of them were in the construction field. Continued claims dropped by approximately 250 to 994. A majority were males, and the construction sector accounted for 23% of the continued claims.        

The county continued to see a rise in residents who have had their benefits expire. In the week ending March 13, 28 residents exhausted benefits. Since the beginning of the year, 344 county residents have had their benefits expire.

Clinton County’s unemployment rate for January was 7.3%, the first time in eight months that the rate increased. The pandemic high was 16.6% in April 2020.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration today announced it is increasing the maximum amount small businesses and nonprofits can borrow through its COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), effective April 6. Click Here for the SBA news release for details.

- The SBA has also announced extended deferment periods for all disaster loans, including the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, until 2022.

  • All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note.
  • All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note.

Existing SBA disaster loans approved prior to 2020 in regular servicing status as of March 1, 2020, received an automatic deferment of principal and interest payments through December 31, 2020. This initial deferment period was subsequently extended through March 31, 2021. An additional 12-month deferment of principal and interest payments will be automatically granted to these borrowers. Borrowers will resume their regular payment schedule with the payment immediately preceding March 31, 2022, unless the borrower voluntarily continues to make payments while on deferment. It is important to note that the interest will continue to accrue on the outstanding balance of the loan throughout the duration of the deferment. Learn more

- For-profit hospitality business hoping to get in under the first window of opportunity for a grant through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Relief Program (CHIRP) need to apply by this Sunday, March 28. SEDA-COG of Lewisburg is administering the grant program for Clinton and several other counties in the region and says applications are being received in four “windows” (March 15-28; March 29-April 18; April 19-May 16; and May 17-June 4). Following is the link to the grant website, https://csgiving.org/chirp/, as well as a link to help determine if your business is eligible, https://www.naics.com/search/.

- The Clinton County Housing Coalition continues to accept applications from both landlords and tenants for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help cover rent and utility expenses for households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinton County received $2.5 million for the program. Apply through www.compass.state.pa.us and get more information on the program through program administrator the Clinton County Housing Coalition’s website, www.cchousingcoalition.org.

- Applications for the $16 billion in Shuttered Venue Operator (SVO) grants will open on April 8. These fund are earmarked for eligible businesses including movie theaters, performing arts organizations, museums and concert spaces. Read more on this new, targeted grant program here: Relief for shuttered venues.

- Private organizations, colleges and universities, private sector firms, nonprofit organizations and state, local or tribal governmental agencies across Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Northern California, and Nevada are eligible to apply for funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide training and counseling to aspiring and existing veteran small business owners as a Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC). Read more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/mar/19/sba-announces-veterans-business-outreach-center-funding-opportunity.

- Pennsylvania’s share of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will equate to billions of dollars in federal money that can be spent for various purposes – a reality that will obviously play a central role in budget negotiations not only this year, but over the next few years as well. -> Read More (Source: PA Chamber)

- Wanting to know what aid is still available for small businesses at the federal level? CO-, an arm of the U.S. Chamber, has established a guide to walk businesses through the various aid programs established during the pandemic, including forgivable PPP loans, new tax credits, grants and more. Click here: An overview of federal small business aid programs.

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection announced it has revamped the Green Energy Loan Fund to make it easier for commercial property owners to get low-interest loans for large-scale, high-impact energy efficiency projects. Approximately $1.8 million is currently available in funding. Local governments, businesses, school districts, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for this low-interest loan program. New equipment must reduce energy use at least 25 percent, and whole building projects must reduce energy use more than 10 percent over current building energy code. For more information, visit the Green Energy Loan Fund webpage.

- Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians have or will reach the end of their state unemployment benefits this month and next, as they approach their one-year anniversaries of the date they first lost work as a result of the pandemic and the government shutdown. Initially, in mid-March, the state said this would mean hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians would need to file new claims to continue receiving benefits. Now, it says only people who worked and earned over a certain amount last year, based on their equation, have to reapply because the amount of benefits has likely changed. Those whose claims expire do not qualify for further state benefits, and will get federal extension benefits without refiling, state officials said. It is unclear how large the wave of new claims will be, how it will delay or impact benefits for claimants, and how it will test the state’s capacity to handle more cases. Read More (Source: Spotlight PA)

- PA Department of Labor and Industry Secretary for Workforce Development Sheila Ireland today announced applications are open for $7 million in grants for the "Near Completer" program and encouraged Local Workforce Development Boards across the state to apply for funding to assist Pennsylvanians with partially completed degrees or credentials in gaining the skills or training they need to get good jobs. Read more: L&I Highlights Need for ‘Back to Work PA,’ Encourages Workforce Development Boards to Apply for ‘Near Completer’ Grants.

- The U.S. Department of Labor this week launched a new website for people to understand unemployment insurance identity theft, and how and where to report stolen benefits if they are victims. Read more: US Department of Labor launches website for victims of unemployment fraud | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- Governor Tom Wolf today announced that a month after ordering providers to administer 80 percent of vaccine doses within seven days of receipt, Pennsylvania is now ranked 17th in the nation for the percent of people who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. The state ranked 30th a month ago. Read more: Gov. Wolf Credits Feb. 24 order to providers for move from 30th to 17th in nation for first dose vaccinations (pa.gov).

Yesterday, the Governor said the special initiative to vaccinate teachers and school staff reached another milestone, with 100,000 educator vaccinations through last weekend. As of Tuesday, 102,161 educators have been vaccinated through 28 Intermediate Units. More on that: Gov. Wolf: 100,000 Milestone Reached for Teacher and School Staff Vaccinations (pa.gov).

- State officials this week noted some concern as they released weekly data updating the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard. Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said the information shows a seven-day case increase of 14,182 (1,380 additional new cases of COVID compared to the previous week), and a statewide percent positivity of 6.5%, an increase from last week’s 5.7%. Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties all saw rises in the percent positivity rates, with Clinton currently at 8.6% (compared to 6.0% last week); Centre at 7.0% (compared to 4.4% last week), and Lycoming at 6.1% (compared to 5.2% a week ago). All three counties are currently classified in what the state considers a substantial level of transmission, along with 21 other counties. Five counties – Cameron, Potter, Forest, Fulton and Sullivan – are in the low level of transmission, while 37 counties are in the moderate level. No counties are reporting over 20 percent positivity rate, and 21 counties have a positivity rate lower than five percent. More information here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for March 12-18: Case Increases at 14,182; Percent Positivity at 6.5% and 25 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- Secretary Beam this week amended the existing Universal Face Coverings order, issued last November, to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People. Details here: Department of Health Amends Universal Face Coverings Order to Align with CDC Guidance.

- Additional COVID updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

  • COVID-19 vaccination helps protect people from getting COVID-19. The CDC says vaccination may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection: Possible Side Effects
  • It’s been over a year since the start of the pandemic and the United States has experienced more than 29 million cases and 530,000 deaths from COVID-19. To date, more than one in five (20%) Americans have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. COVID Data Tracker

- In their most recent report, PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 330 licensed liquor establishments this past weekend (March 19-21), issuing 24 notices of violation and 29 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 17 licensee checks during the period, issuing no notices of violation and six warnings related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Read more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement March 19-21: 330 Compliance Checks; 24 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement & Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from March 14-21 as they relate to regulated boards and commissions. During that period, BEI performed 514 inspections and opened 14 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed three warning letters and two compliance letters relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, March 14-21.

- PA House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, have officially announced the appointees to the Legislative Reapportionment Commission that convenes once every 10 years, after the U.S. Census is conducted, to redraw the maps for every legislative district in the state – accounting for population changes and shifts. The commission will consist of the four legislative leaders – Senator Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland; Senator Jay Costa, D-Allegheny; Representative Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre; and Representative Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia – as well as a fifth member who is to be selected by the commission members to serve as chair. Their work could be slightly delayed this year, as a result of the pandemic and the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent announcement that their final numbers may not be available until the fall. (Source: PA Chamber)

- Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau this week launched a new online map ahead of the 2020 Census apportionment results release. The “Historical Apportionment Data Map” currently displays apportionment results for each census from 1910 to 2010. 2020 Census apportionment results will be added to the map as they become available.

- People in Clinton County now have the option to text 9-1-1 if making a phone call is not a good option. The Clinton County Department of Emergency Services this week issued the flyer (click here) on the expanded emergency service.

- PPL invites interested local businesses to participate in a Supplier Diversity Conference on April 23 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. via Zoom. Diverse suppliers include those that are woman, minority, veteran, LGBTQ+, disabled, service disabled owned as well as disadvantaged and HUD zone businesses. Examples of services PPL could utilize include: Leasing and Servicing of Printers, Conduit, Wood Poles, Switches, Lighting, Janitorial Supplies, Safety equipment, Rubber goods program, Tools and Equipment, Miscellaneous electrical items, AL cable, CU cable, Fiber, Roof Solar Panel Installation, Elevator Maintenance, and Snow Removal and Lawn Maintenance Services. Click Here for the PPL flyer for more information and register by April 15 at www.surveymonkey.com/r/PPLDiversityConference.

- FirstEnergy is now offering scholarships to underrepresented candidates interested in careers as lineworkers and substation electricians with FirstEnergy. Click Here for the FirstEnergy flyer for more information, or call 1-800-829-6801 or visit www.firstenergycorp.com/psi.

- State officials this week commended Pennsylvania’s charitable food network for what they said have been heroic efforts to help Pennsylvanians keep food on the table in the year since COVID-19 was first identified in Pennsylvania. They also took the opportunity to remind people that help continues to be available. See more: Wolf Administration, Anti-Hunger Advocates Recognize Heroic Work of Charitable Food Networks in Last Year, Encourage Pennsylvanians in Need to Use Local Food Resources (pa.gov).

- A scammer claiming to be the CEO called a McDonald's in Centre County last week and directed the manager to buy gift cards from the nearby Sheetz and Rutter's stores, then read the PIN on the back of the cards to the person. Police are reminding people to be aware of this scam and avoid providing someone with a gift card PIN over the phone. 

- Pennsylvania’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits this week announced a spring clearance sale with 20-50 percent savings on more than 3,700 luxury wines, spirits, and accessories. The sale items are available for purchase in stores or online at FWGS.com. More here: Fine Wine & Good Spirits Announces Spring Luxury Clearance Sale with 20-50% Savings on Thousands of Products In-Store and Online (pa.gov).

- The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) today announced that it will begin welcoming visitors to state-owned historic sites and museums on Friday, April 30, with reduced hours of operation and limited capacity.  Read more: PHMC’s Historic Sites and Museums to Reopen April 30 (pa.gov).

- In celebration of Women's History Month, join the U.S. Small Business Administration for a panel discussion at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow, March 25 with women business owners as they share their small business stories and how they pivoted during the pandemic and utilized SBA’s critical financial lifelines. Register

3/19/21

- Clinton County’s unemployment rate increased during the month of January, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The January rate rose to 7.3%, up from the 6.6% reading in December. According to the state, January had an estimated 1,300 county residents without a job, about 100 more than the December number. The increase is the first one for the county since a pandemic high of 16.6% in April 2020. The rate had gone down for eight straight months.    

Clinton County’s January rate of 7.3% was no. 23 out of the state’s 67 counties. Chester County was no. 1 at 5% and Philadelphia was no. 67 at 11.1%. Other regional unemployment rates included Cameron County 9.2%, Centre County 5.7%, Lycoming County 7.6%, Potter County 7.5%, Tioga County 7.7%, Clearfield County 8.0%, and Union County 5.8%. The overall Pennsylvania unemployment rate for January was 7.3%.

“To have an increase in January is not unusual, but the Clinton County  unemployment rate for January 2020 was almost two points lower than the number recorded in January 2021,” said Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan. “We have more than a handful of businesses seeking employees, but we also have the extended benefits in play. The increase from December to January is not surprising since our weekly continued unemployment claims continued to increase during January and into February. We will have to see how things play out once we get into the spring and summer.”

- NFL pro football standout Robbie Gould, kicker for the San Francisco 49ers was our guest for the Partnership’s virtual membership meeting Wednesday. The Clinton County native took the opportunity to announce a $200,000 commitment to the Chestnut Grove Recreation Park project in Castanea. Construction of the youth sports complex and recreation area is ready to get underway. If you missed it, you can view a recording of the meeting by going to the home page of the Partnership’s website, www.ClintonCountyInfo.com. Robbie’s remarks and the Q&A that followed are first on the agenda. To join Robbie in supporting the Chestnut Grove project, go to https://chestnutgrove.eventlify.com to make a donation.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) this week announced extended deferment periods for all disaster loans, including the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, until 2022. Details here: SBA Extends Deferment Period for all COVID-19 EIDL and Other Disaster Loans until 2022.

- Congress is expected to extend Paycheck Protection Program lending by two months under a bill that Senate Majority Leader Schumer has vowed to move quickly. Without the extension, the PPP will officially expire on March 31. READ MORE

- The U.S. Small Business Administration today announced it is launching a splash page for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal in anticipation of opening applications for the program on Thursday, April 8. The SVOG program is aimed at supporting live performance venues, museums, movie theaters and more. Click Here for the SBA file for details.

- The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service has announced that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. Individual taxpayers can also postpone federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This postponement applies to individual taxpayers, including individuals who pay self-employment tax. The IRS will be providing formal guidance in the coming days. Read more: Tax Day for individuals extended to May 17: Treasury, IRS extend filing and payment deadline | Internal Revenue Service.

- Following the federal tax day extension, the PA Department of Revenue announced the deadline for taxpayers to file their 2020 Pennsylvania personal income tax returns and make final 2020 income tax payments is extended to May 17, 2021, also giving taxpayers an additional month to file from the original deadline of April 15. More here: Pennsylvania Extends Personal Income Tax Filing Deadline to May 17, 2021 (pa.gov).

- Meanwhile, the IRS is updating rules which will likely result in a federal tax break for workers who received unemployment benefits in 2020. Read more: Tax-break alert: If you received unemployment compensation in 2020, it might not be taxable after all - pennlive.com. (Source: Penn-LIVE)

- The IRS, Treasury and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service this week announced they disbursed approximately 90 million Economic Impact Payments from the American Rescue Plan. As announced last week, Economic Impact Payments are rolling out in tranches to millions of Americans in the coming weeks. The first batch of payments were mostly sent by direct deposit, which some recipients started receiving this past weekend. See more information here: IRS, Treasury disbursed 90 million Economic Impact Payments from the American Rescue Plan | Internal Revenue Service.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today detailed what they called the “tremendous” progress Pennsylvania has made in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination process. Read more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Vaccination Update for March 19: Pace Accelerating, More Than 4 Million Vaccinations Administered, More Than 1.4 Million People Fully Vaccinated.

According to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, as of today, 1,848 people in Clinton County have received a partial dose (one shot) of the vaccine, while 4,693 have received the full dose (two shots). In Centre County, 13,614 have received a partial and 21,965 the full dose, and in Lycoming County, 10,009 have received a partial and 14,729 a full dose of the vaccine.

- The Governor says nearly 84,000 people have so far received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which has been earmarked for Pre-K to grade 12 educators and school staff. More here: Gov. Wolf: Teacher and School Staff Vaccinations are Ahead of Schedule (pa.gov).

- In her weekly update today, Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin noted that students have now reached their tenth consecutive week of in-school learning. Currently, the District is reporting zero confirmed cases of COVID-1 among staff and only three cases among students in two different schools. Dr. Martin noted a four-day school week next week, with no school on Friday, March 26, due to a planned in-service day for faculty and staff. Click Here for the KCSD update.

- Geisinger this week announced it has opened a waitlist for those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the state’s Phase 1A groups. Phase 1A-eligible community members interested in joining the waitlist can do so at geisinger.org/COVIDVax, on myGeisinger or by calling 570-284-3657. As appointments become available, Geisinger will contact those on the list to schedule an appointment. See more: https://www.geisinger.org/about-geisinger/news-and-media/news-releases/2021/03/18/14/25/geisinger-announces-covid-19-vaccine-waitlist.

Meanwhile, according to news reports, Geisinger plans to open its new medical complex on Spring Street in Lock Haven next week. The 40,000 square foot medical clinic, a collaborative venture between Geisinger and Highmark Health, will offer a wide range of services.

- Health Secretary Beam yesterday issued a new order requiring skilled nursing facilities to complete a COVID-19 Vaccine Needs Assessment Survey as a way to report essential information regarding vaccination uptake and needs in their facility. More information here: Department of Health Issues New Order Requiring Skilled Nursing Facilities to Complete COVID-19 Vaccine Needs Survey.

- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this week announced it plans to provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020. While still working out details on how people will apply for the assistance, FEMA said it begins to start making such reimbursements as soon as next month. Read more: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.

- PA State System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Greenstein delivered an “either – or” message this week during budget hearings before the PA Senate Appropriations Committee: either reorganize (including a proposal that would integrate Lock Haven, Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities) or dissolve the entire state system….a message that was not well received by legislators. Read more in this PennLive article covering the Senate hearing: Leader of Pa. state universities delivers blunt message: Reorganize or ‘dissolve the system’ - pennlive.com

- PennDOT this week issued a courtesy reminder that expiration dates for commercial driver licenses and commercial learner's permits will end after the current extension expires on March 31.

- The PA State Police today announced that Governor Wolf has granted an additional extension to ‘license to carry’ firearms permits. Permits expiring on March 19 or later are now valid through June 30, 2021. The previous extension was set to expire on March 31. Read more: Wolf Administration Grants Sixth Extension to License to Carry Firearm Permits (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance has released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions for March 8-12, as it relates to businesses not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. To date, the Bureau has assigned 427 cases to its investigators. During the most recent period, the department completed five investigations that were sent to the Department of Health. See more: Department of Labor & Industry Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, March 8 – March 12.

- PennDOT is alerting area drivers that work on its Route 144 bridge job near Snow Shoe will resume on Monday, March 22. The bridge spans Interstate 80 about a mile east of Snow Shoe. Crews began working last June to replace the bridge. With work set to resume Monday, temporary signals will return to enforce an alternating traffic pattern. The $2,35 million project is expected to be completed by the end of July. More here: News Details (penndot.gov).

- The Tri-M Group, LLC, based in Kennett Square, PA with local operations in Lock Haven (McElhattan), has received national recognition from an industry group. Tri-M was ranked 44 on Associated Builders and Contractors’ 2021 Top 200 Performers list, 20 on the Top Trade Contractors list, and 14 on the Top Electrical Contractors list, which recognizes ABC member contractors’ achievements in safety, quality, diversity, project excellence and special designations, ranked by work hours. Click Here for the news release for details.

- PPL Corporation announced yesterday it has entered into agreements to sell its U.K. utility business, Western Power Distribution, to National Grid plc, and in a separate transaction, to acquire National Grid’s Rhode Island utility business, The Narragansett Electric Company. The company said the strategic repositioning will transform PPL into a high-growth, purely U.S.-focused energy company. Learn more: https://pplweb.mediaroom.com/2021-03-18-PPL-Corporation-to-sell-U-K-utility-business-to-National-Grid-and-acquire-National-Grids-Rhode-Island-utility-strategically-repositioning-PPL-as-a-high-growth-U-S-focused-energy-company.

- Some welcome news for golfers….Belles Springs Golf Course has announced it will begin scheduling tee times this Monday, March 22, with the season’s opening day slated for Thursday, March 25, at 8:00 a.m. The announcement reminds golfers there will be COVID protocols in place. For more, visit www.bellessprings.com.

- Pennsylvania’s National Archery in the Schools Program continues to help keep student archers safely shooting their bows through the 2020-21 school year, despite all of the changes the pandemic has required. The program, managed by the Game Commission, will now host a virtual state tournament through the end of March, allowing students to compete for awards and scholarships. Read more: PENNSYLVANIA NASP PROGRAM STAYS ON TARGET DURING PANDEMIC.

- During March’s Women’s History Month, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers the following no-cost webinars:

  • How Businesses Survive & Thrive – March 25, 6:00-7:30 p.m. – Learn how to survive and thrive during the pandemic and beyond. The webinar is targeted for small business owners, sole proprietors, and those looking to start a business. Register here: Survive & Thrive Webinar 
  • Women-Owned Certification: What, Why & How – March 30, 2:00-3:00 p.m. – A webinar for those interested in becoming certified as a women-owned business. Register here: Women-Owned Business Certification

3/17/21

- Clinton County native and pro football great Robbie Gould was our guest this afternoon for the Partnership’s quarterly membership meeting, the first-ever virtual membership meeting. The San Francisco 49ers kicker brought things close to home when he announced a $200,000 commitment to the Chestnut Grove Recreation Authority’s plans to build an athletic complex just off Route 220 in Castanea. Robbie also talked about the recent football season and the challenges he and his teammates faced (and overcame) due to the pandemic, and he fielded questions from those participating in the Zoom meeting. The Partnership recorded the session and hopes to make it available to our members in the near future.

Also at today’s meeting, Partnership President Mike Flanagan updated participants on several economic prospects, including a proposed natural gas petro-chemical operation, as well as a solar panel field project, both planned in the Keating area; the Renovo Energy Center project, for which planning continues to move forward; and potential interest in the former BJ Services complex at the Lamar Township Business Park. Flanagan said First Quality plans to add two more paper machines, one at the company’s Anderson, South Carolina facility, and another at an as-yet determined location. He said the Partnership is hopeful the second machine would be located at the company’s Castanea Township complex. Flanagan reported Terrapin Care Station recently completed a large expansion at the South Avis facility and now employs about 100 people. And he said the Partnership continues to keep abreast of the proposed integration of Lock Haven University with Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities and the potential impact to the local community.

Chamber/Tourism Director Julie Brennan spoke of a promotional campaign the Visitors Bureau has undertaken on social media. Paid Facebook advertisements targeted to people in several eastern cities are encouraging people to explore Clinton County’s wide open spaces. April Bittner also updated the group on the current Leadership Clinton County program, which is the largest class in the program’s history.

- There’s continued improvement in Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 statistics. PA Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam today released the state’s weekly status update on mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 12,483, which is 1,059 fewer cases than the previous week. While the statewide percent positivity of 5.7% remained the same as last week, there are now 29 counties with a percent positivity rate lower than 5 percent, and no counties reporting over a 20 percent positivity rate. Clinton County continues to see a decline in the percent positivity rate, this week showing 6.0% compared to 8.4% last week and 11.5% the week before that. Centre County is at 4.4% positivity, also down from last week’s 5.6%, and Lycoming County is reporting a 5.2% positivity this week, compared to 7.0% last week.

According to today’s data, five counties – Cameron, Potter, Forest, Fulton and Sullivan – are in what the state considers the low level of transmission. Clinton County is listed as being in the moderate level of transmission along with 40 other counties, and 21 counties – including Centre and Lycoming – are classified as being in the substantial level of community transmission, the highest level. See more here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for March 5-11: Case Increases at 12,483; Percent Positivity at 5.7% and 21 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- Secretary Beam has signed an updated order making March 31 the date by which all vaccine providers should have Phase 1A-eligible Pennsylvanians’ vaccine appointments scheduled. More here: Department of Health Updates Order to Connect Everyone Currently Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine to Appointments.

Meanwhile, the Governor and Secretary Beam today detailed the state’s vaccination rollout progress as the process accelerates. Read more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Vaccination Update for March 17: Pace Accelerating, More Than 1.3 Million People Fully Vaccinated.

- The PA Department of Human Services has announced that the state will expand its partnership with Rite Aid Pharmacy to vaccinate 9,000 individuals with physical disabilities and older Pennsylvanians participating in the Department’s home and community-based long-term services and supports program during vaccination clinics through March and April. Read more: Wolf Administration Expands Partnership with Rite Aid Pharmacy to Vaccinate Pennsylvanians Enrolled in Long-Term Services and Supports Programs

- In its February 2021 report, the PA Department of Health notes that nursing home surveyors conducted 497 inspections, including 283 complaint investigations, of 377 separate nursing homes. Of these, 162 were COVID-19-specific investigations. There also were three new sanctions finalized against nursing care facilities in the past month resulting in a total of $31,762 in fines. Read more: Department of Health Highlights February 2021 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry announced today $2.6 million in Schools-to-Work program grants is available to support new partnerships between schools, employers, organizations, or associations to create employment and training career paths for students. Grant applications are due by April 14, and the 2021 Schools-to-Work program will run June 1 of this year through the end of 2023. More details here: L&I Announces $2.6 Million Available to Prepare Students for Good Jobs in the Post-Pandemic Economy.

- With the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan, the PA Insurance Commission today stressed the opportunity to expand health insurance coverage due to the increased protections for the uninsured, underinsured and individuals who have lost their employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. See more: Insurance Department Highlights Increased Health Care Protections within the American Rescue Plan.

- The Wolf Administration has received approval from the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue more than $1 billion in federally-funded benefits to the families of nearly one million Pennsylvania children who have attended school remotely due to the pandemic and who otherwise would have had access to free-and-reduced-price meals during the 2020-21 school year. The program, known as Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT), will help families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children would have been eligible to receive for free or at reduced price through the National School Lunch Program. Learn more: Wolf Administration Receives Approval for Plan to Provide Food Assistance to Families of Nearly 1 Million Pennsylvania Children (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from March 7-14 as it relates to regulated boards and commissions. During that time, BEU performed 540 inspections and opened seven investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed 15 warning letters and 10 compliance letters relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Read more: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, March 7-14.

- Baker Tilly hosts a webinar next Thursday, March 25, at 11:00 a.m. to talk about the Employee Retention Tax Credit. New and important guidance on the employee retention credit continues to be released regularly. Join Baker Tilly's Pennsylvania leaders for an informal discussion covering the changes to ERC and what this could mean for your business. A portion of time will be dedicated to answering questions from participants.

(Next week’s event is a follow-up Q&A session to the ERC updates webinar hosted on March 4. In case you missed it, watch on-demand now).

- The PA Department of Transportation is alerting area motorists that work will resume next week on its Local Interchange/Route 26 project in neighboring Centre County. The work zone is located along I-80 near the Bellefonte/161 interchange and work to build the local interchange can affect traffic flow on Interstate 80. Details here: https://www.penndot.gov/regionaloffices/district-2/pages/details.aspx?newsid=1920.

- PennDOT today announced the release of the Pennsylvania State Transportation Innovation Council 2020 STIC Year-End Report, which details innovation deployment successes that benefit the traveling public. More information here: Article (penndot.gov).

- The Pennsylvania Capitol Building is slated to reopen to the public this Monday, March 22, with enhanced security protocols. The Capitol has been closed since early December due to the surge in COVID-19 cases at the time. Read more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/DGS_details.aspx?newsid=153.

- The PA Game Commission today announced it will hold its second virtual meeting of the year on Saturday, April 10. The online-only session will include the final adoption of hunting and trapping seasons for the 2021-22 license year. More information here: GAME COMMISSION MEETING TO BE HELD VIRTUALLY (pa.gov).

- The Game Commission’s virtual wildlife education program, Wildlife on WiFi (WoW), has been named the recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Environmental Education Program Award by the PA Association of Environmental Educators. The virtual learning program was launched last April during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and state school closures. It’s available online at www.pgc.pa.gov/education/virtuallearning. See more: ‘WILDLIFE ON WIFI’ RECEIVES OUTSTANDING ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAM AWARD (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources this week announced the release of Pennsylvania’s new Land and Water Trail Network Strategic Plan (PDF), extending through 2024. DCNR says the plan’s vision is to develop a statewide land and water trail network to facilitate recreation, transportation, and health lifestyles for all. Read more: Wolf Administration Releases Land and Water Trail Network Plan to Ensure Access for All Pennsylvanians (pa.gov).

3/15/21

- Important news for the hospitality industry and event organizers/venues: PA Governor Tom Wolf today announced the lifting of some targeted restrictions on restaurants and other businesses, as well as increased gathering limits and increased limits for indoor and outdoor events, effective April 4. More details here: Gov. Wolf: Effective April 4, More Options for Restaurants and Other Businesses, Mass Gathering Maximums Increase (pa.gov).

- Applications are now being accepted for funding through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Relief Program (CHIRP), aimed at supporting eligible for-profit hospitality industry businesses. SEDA-COG of Lewisburg is administering the grant program for Clinton and several other counties in the region and is encouraging businesses to apply as soon as possible. Click Here for the SEDA-COG news release for details, including the link to the grant website, https://csgiving.org/chirp/, and a link to help determine if your business is eligible, https://www.naics.com/search/.

- The 2021 round of Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants to aid rural areas or communities with populations under 10,000 people opened today, March 15, with applications due by May 13. The program, administered through the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is geared to organizing, training and equipping local forces to prevent, control and suppress fires which threaten human life, livestock, wildlife, crops, pastures, orchards, woodlands and farmsteads. The maximum grant for 2021 is $10,000. To learn more about how to apply for the grant, click here.  Applications will be made through the DCNR Grant portal here. And, read the state’s news release on the program here: Wolf Administration Announces Funding Available for Volunteer Fire Companies to Increase Protection from Wildfires in Rural Areas.

- The Clinton County Housing Coalition is currently accepting applications from both landlords and tenants for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help cover rent and utility expenses for households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinton County received $2.5 million for the program. Click Here for the Clinton Emergency Rental Assistance file for program details and how to apply.

- The PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) has approved a plan that establishes an array of extended payment plan options to help small business and residential utility customers stay connected to service while gradually paying-down past-due balances. More information here: PUC Creates Added 2021 Safeguards to Help Households and Small Businesses Address Past-Due Utility Bills | PA PUC.

- For businesses seeking new employees: The Penn State Career Services office is hosting a virtual career fair next Tuesday, March 23, to help match-up small and start-up businesses with Penn State students looking for jobs. The fair will run from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. March 23, and due to the challenges businesses have been facing because of the pandemic, Penn State this year is waiving the registration fee…so the career fair is free, but you must register before the end of this week to participate. For more information and to register, go to: https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/career/fairs/businesstart.

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration:

  • President Biden last week signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law, which provides additional relief for the nation’s small businesses and hard-hit industries for programs the SBA is currently administering and adds new efforts. Specifically, the new law includes:
  • $7.25 billion additional for the Paycheck Protection Program, including to expand eligibility to additional nonprofits and digital news services
  • Additional funds are allocated for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, and now allows businesses to apply for both a PPP loan after December 27, 2020, and the SVOG
  • $15 billion additional for Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance (EIDL) payments, including (NEW) $5 billion for Supplemental Targeted EIDL Advance payments for those hardest hit
  • NEW: $28.6 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund for industry-focused grants
  • NEW: $100 million to establish a Community Navigator pilot program; grants will go to eligible organizations supporting efforts to improve access to COVID–19 pandemic assistance programs and resources

Learn more 

- Following are several updates from the U.S. Chamber:

  • During a Small Business Update on Friday, representatives from the U.S. Chamber and the National Restaurant Association provided a lot of great information on the new Restaurant Revitalization Fund (part of the recently-passed American Rescue Plan), the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, the Employee Retention Tax Credit and more. If you missed it, you can view the recording here. It’s worth a watch.
  • Get your PPP loan questions answered: U.S. Chamber partner, Oracle NetSuite, outlines what business leaders need to know about the second round of PPP loans in this recent blog post. A significant change this round includes the authorization to spend 40% of the loan on items that facilitate business operations including software, cloud computing service, and more.
  • Learn more about available assistance: The U.S. Chamber, as part of its Save Small Business Initiative, has put together this comprehensive list of guides, resources, and tips available for your small business during the pandemic. Explore here to see how you can get the help you need.

- 76th District State Representative Stephanie Borowicz today lauded testimony given at a state House committee hearing regarding an energy project proposed for Clinton County. Click Here for the attached news release from Rep. Borowicz.

- The Internal Revenue Service Monday announced it will accept applications through April 16 for an 18-month Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) matching grant from all qualified organizations. Clinton and Lycoming counties are part of what the federal government says are the geographic underserved areas in need of LITC services. Read more: Low Income Taxpayer Clinic 2021 supplemental application period now open | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov).

- The IRS announced Friday that the third round of Economic Impact Payments could begin reaching Americans as early as this week. Read more: IRS begins delivering third round of Economic Impact Payments to Americans | Internal Revenue Service.

- Criminals have taken advantage of the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program by using stolen information to get loans in someone else’s name, or in the name of that person’s company. If you or your business is billed for an SBA EIDL you don’t owe, the SBA has new guidance about reporting the fraud, and the FTC has tips to help you clear up any credit problems it may cause. Learn more.

- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has announced it is enhancing COVID-19 worker protections by conducting a COVID-19 national emphasis program focused on high-risk industries and employers that retaliate against employees who complain about workplace hazards.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 407 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (March 12-14), issuing 27 notices of violation and 30 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 23 licensee checks during the period, issuing three warnings and two notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Read more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement March 12-14: 407 Compliance Checks; 27 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity encouraged Pennsylvania residents to explore the Transparency Portal on Treasury’s website during Sunshine Week, an annual event designed to educate the public about the importance of open government initiatives. More here: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- STEP, Inc., the community action agency serving Clinton and Lycoming counties, is asking people to participate in their Community Needs Assessment survey, which helps define areas of opportunity within the community. Click here to take the survey by April 1: https://www.stepcorp.org/cna/.

- PA CareerLink will host a virtual employer webinar, Disaster Preparation for Your Business, on April 8, from 9:00-11:00 a.m. Click Here for the CareerLink flyer for details and to pre-register.

3/12/21

- One year after the nation was brought to a near-standstill by the coronavirus, President Joe Biden pledged in his first prime-time address Thursday night to make all adults eligible for vaccines by May 1 and raised the possibility of beginning to “mark our independence from this virus” by the Fourth of July. The speech came just hours after Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion relief package that he said will help defeat the virus, nurse the economy back to health and deliver direct aid to Americans struggling to make ends meet.  Read More (Source: PennLive)

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force today announced another bi-partisan effort to complete COVID phase 1A vaccinations, set up mass vaccination clinics with regionally supplied plans to inform allocations, and vaccinate frontline workers. Read more: Gov. Wolf and COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Announce Targeted Vaccination Strategies (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, the Vaccine Task Force today announced subcommittees that are to focus on what the state called “key audiences and issues.” The subcommittees include Business/Workforce; Aging; Education; and Racial Equity. See more: COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Announces Subcommittees Focused on Key Audiences and Issues (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today released its employment situation report for January 2021. The state’s unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points from December to 7.3 percent in January and was 2.5 percentage points above the rate a year ago. More here: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate at 7.3 Percent in January (pa.gov).

- Labor & Industry is reminding Pennsylvanians who applied for Unemployment Compensation on or after March 15, 2020, that they may need to reapply and have their financial determination renewed if they are still receiving benefits. See more: L&I Provides Next Steps for Individuals Reaching “Benefit Year End” for Unemployment Programs (pa.gov).

- Keystone Central School District is slated to continue in-person classes next week and has established dates for graduation ceremonies for both Bucktail (June 4) and Central Mountain (June 5) high schools. In her weekly update today, District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said to keep those graduation dates firm, students will use remote learning if there are any more school cancellations due to poor weather. The update also noted there are no confirmed active cases of COVID-19 among staff and only three cases among students in two different schools. Click Here for the KCSD update for more information.

- The PA Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency today provided an update on the special initiative to provide the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for Pre-K-12 teachers, child care workers and other school staff. Learn more: Wolf Administration Provides Update on COVID-19 Vaccine for Teachers, Child Care Workers, School Staff (pa.gov).

- A COVID relief grant program for hospitality related businesses such as restaurants, hotels and bars in Clinton County will begin accepting applications on Monday, March 15. SEDA-COG out of Lewisburg, a certified regional economic development organization, is administering the CHIRP, the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Relief Program, for Clinton, Centre, Lycoming and seven other counties in the region. CHIRP is designed to provide grants of between $5,000 and $50,000 to eligible businesses. Access program guidelines at: https://csgiving.org/chirp/.

- The PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources is currently accepting applications through its C2P2 grant program, designed to assist communities with development of parks, recreation and conservation projects. Applications are due by April 14. See more information here: https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Communities/Grants/Pages/default.aspx.

- The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is accepting applications for folk and traditional arts apprenticeships grants, with applications due by April 19. Access program guidelines here 2021-2022 Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Guidelines (PDF), and the application here 2021-2022 Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Application (PDF).

- The PA Fish and Boat Commission is again accepting applications for grants to support the development and delivery of education programs that contribute to the Commission’s efforts to increase the number of anglers and boaters in Pennsylvania. More details here: PFBC SEEKS APPLICANTS FOR EDUCATION GRANT PROGRAM (pa.gov).

- The PA Departments of Health and Human Services today highlighted the updated nursing home visitation guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and are strongly encouraging all long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania to implement the new guidance immediately. Read more here: Wolf Administration Strongly Encourages Long-Term Care Facilities to Implement Updated Visitation Guidance in Pennsylvania (pa.gov).

- The PA Attorney General’s office today highlighted that the office, during the past year, has saved $293 million for Pennsylvanians related to loans and credit cards, and $1.65 million from resolved COVID-related complaints back into consumers’ pockets during the pandemic. Details here: One Year Later: AG Shapiro Continues to Fight for Pennsylvanians During COVID-19 Pandemic – PA Office of Attorney General.

- Governor Wolf today reiterated his commitment to phase out the state’s gas tax, which he said is becoming an unreliable source for funding Pennsylvania’s vast transportation network. The Governor also signed an executive order establishing the Transportation Revenue Options Commission, which is tasked with developing comprehensive funding recommendations for Pennsylvania’s large and aging infrastructure. Read more: Governor Wolf Commits to Phasing Out Gas Tax, Announces Commission to Develop Funding Solutions (pa.gov).

- The PA State Police today announced the cancellation of upcoming youth camps due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including the Camp Cadet program which has been a popular summertime experience for young boys and girls in Clinton County for many years. More here: State Police Spring and Summer Youth Camps Cancelled for Second Consecutive Year (pa.gov).

- State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 872 licensed liquor establishments this week (March 8-11), issuing 20 notices of violation and 28 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 35 licensee checks this week, issuing no warnings or notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation issues. See more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement March 8-11: 872 Compliance Checks; 20 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

3/11/21

- Landlords and tenants are now able to tap into a new grant program, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to help cover rent and utility expenses for households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Clinton County Commissioners today announced the county has received $2.5 million for the ERAP. The program, which is now open and accepting applications, is being administered locally through the Clinton County Housing Coalition. Click Here for the Clinton Emergency Rental Assistance file for program details and how to apply.

The State Treasury this week announced that $552.7 million has been distributed to counties across Pennsylvania to provide funds for the ERAP. More here: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- A reminder that the Clinton County CHIRP grant program (COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Relief Program) for businesses such as restaurants, hotels and bars will begin accepting applications this Monday, March 15. SEDA-COG is the regional economic development organization that is administering the program for Clinton, Centre, Lycoming and seven other counties in the region. Access program guidelines at: https://csgiving.org/chirp/.

- The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday voted to pass the American Rescue Plan, which is now expected to be signed into law by President Biden. The $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill includes targeted aid dedicated specifically to the restaurant industry, new provisions for small businesses across other industries, and more money for the Paycheck Protection Program.

Businesses are invited to join the U.S. Chamber Friday, March 12, at noon for the next Small Business Update to learn more about the American Rescue Plan and what it means for small businesses and restaurants. Click here to register now for this free session.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Bob Casey this week offered highlights on the Plan. We have compiled that information into one document, Click Here. Topics include information for small business and farmers, vaccines and health care, essential community services and more.

- Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan today offered his weekly update on the local employment picture:  Continued unemployment insurance claims by Clinton County residents showed a considerable increase for the seven-day period ending March 6, 2021, according to information released Thursday by the state Department of Labor and Industry. For the week ending February 27, there were just under 1,000 continued claims. A week later, that number registered 1,257. Males accounted for 68% of the claims, and 22% were in the construction field. Initial claims decreased slightly, from 75 to 69 for the period ending March 6. More than two-thirds of the new cases were filed by males, and 28% of them were in the construction sector.

The state also reported that 19 county residents had their unemployment insurance benefits expire during the same time frame. Since the beginning of the year, 316 county residents have had their benefits expire, according to the Department of Labor and Industry.

Unemployment rates for all 67 counties for the month of January should be released in the next week. Clinton County’s December unemployment  rate was 6.6%.

- PA Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today marked the one-year anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, and recognized the Department of Health’s work in preparing for and responding to the pandemic over the last year. See more: Department of Health Observes One-Year Anniversary of COVID-19 Pandemic; Continues Work to Protect Pennsylvanians.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry is taking action to make it easier for Pennsylvanians with questions or issues to reach the department. L&I says at least 500 new customer service representatives will be added to the UC call center and experienced existing staff will transition to resolving claims full time. More here: L&I Takes Additional Action to Improve Unemployment Compensation Customer Service (pa.gov).

- In a positive step forward, Lock Haven University has announced plans to fully return to face-to-face instruction this fall. Click Here for the LHU news release for details.

- From the U.S. Chamber:

  • New vaccine resources: The Best Ways for Employers to Promote COVID-19 Vaccines:Click here to view a one-pager with helpful tips and tactics for employers to communicate effectively about vaccines. Additional vaccine communication guides can be found in the COVID Vaccines Digital Resources Center.
  • Mask Guides: Recommendations for Wearing and Selecting:Click here to view a comprehensive guide with information about why mask wearing is still critical in reducing the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and what you should look for and avoid when selecting a mask based on the CDC's latest guidance. The information in the guide about selecting a mask is also available as a standalone graphic here.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance has released data on COVID-19 enforcement actions for March 1 – 5. To date, the Bureau has assigned 427 cases to its investigators. Between March 1 and 5, the department completed three investigations that were sent to the Department of Health. More here: Department of Labor & Industry Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, March 1 – March 5.

- The Department of State continues to compliance enforcement as it relates to the regulated boards and commissions. From February 28 through March 7, BEI performed 549 inspections and opened 17 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed 10 warning letters and two compliance letters relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Feb. 28-March 7.

- The PA Department of Agriculture also released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from March 1-7. During that period, the department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 762 inspections. According to the data, five inspections were conducted in Clinton County last week, with no findings. Read more: Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, March 1 – March 7, 2021.

- The PA Department of Human Services announced Pennsylvanians can now apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the phone by calling 1-866-550-4355. The department said the enhancement will benefit the growing number of people participating in the program during times of economic challenges, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more: Department of Human Services Introduces Option for Pennsylvanians to Apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by Phone.

- In advance of the April 3 start of the state’s 2021 trout season, the PA Fish and Boat Commission has announced the availability of a new, discounted fishing license for non-residents students attending Pennsylvania universities. Read more: PFBC OFFERS DISCOUNTED FISHING LICENSE TO NON-RESIDENT STUDENTS ATTENDING PENNSYLVANIA UNIVERSITIES (pa.gov).

Upcoming Webinars/Events:

  • Clinton County native and professional football great Robbie Gould will be our guest this coming Wednesday, March 17, for the Clinton County Economic Partnership’s quarterly (virtual) membership meeting. Robbie will kick-off (pun intended) the 2:30 p.m. Zoom session. The San Francisco 49ers kicker is among the most accurate in the NFL and we look forward to hearing from him. All Partnership members are invited to participate and must pre-register by contacting the CCEP office at 570-748-5782 or emailing April Bittner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Registered participants will receive the link to join the Zoom session. 
  • The Small Business Development Center at Penn State offers weekly Quick Connect Coaching: All About Business Plans, Tuesdays at Noon. Join each week during March (March 16, 23 and 30) as experts share who needs a business plan, how to use it, and the tools available to assist small businesses. Register Here
  • The Penn State SBDC also hosts a virtual webinar, So You Want to Build a Website, March 17 at 1:00 pm. This session breaks down the process of developing a personal or small business website and walks participants through a demo of Wix, the web development tool. Register Here
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, as part of their Path Forward Series, hosts Disease X: Are We Prepared for the Next Pandemic?, March 17 at 2:00 p.m. Click here to learn more and to register.
  •  The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a no-cost webinar, So…You Want to Open a Restaurant, on Thursday, March 18, from 5:30-7:30pm. The session is designed by restaurant veterans to give participants real insights into the issues and opportunities of opening a restaurant, catering business or food specialty business. Register Now!
  • The Pennsylvania National Guard Associations (PNGAS) out of Fort Indiantown Gap hosts a Statewide Virtual Job Fair on March 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. In addition to job seekers, employers are able to participate. Click Here for the PNGAS flyer or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

3/8/21

-A COVID relief grant program for hospitality related businesses such as restaurants, hotels and bars in Clinton County will kick off next Monday, March 15. SEDA-COG, the regional economic development organization that is administering the program for Clinton, Centre, Lycoming and seven other counties in the region, today released information about the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Relief Program (CHIRP), which is designed to provide grants of between $5,000 and $50,000 to eligible businesses. Click Here for the CHIRP information for details or access the program guidelines directly at: https://csgiving.org/chirp/.

- The Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds that are coming to Clinton County to support households that have experienced financial hardship and may be at risk of homelessness and/or are behind on utility costs due to COVID-19, was discussed at today’s Clinton County Commissioners work session. Some $2.5 million has been allocated to Clinton County and the commissioners at their Thursday meeting are expected to formally enter into an agreement with the Clinton County Housing Coalition to administer that program. Coalition representative Jeff Rich said application information for the program will be available soon. Information can be found on the Department of Human Services website at www.compass.state.pa.us/compass.web/RAP/application. The program application is expected to be available in the next day or so and will also be available on that site, as well as through the Clinton Housing Coalition website, www.cchousingcoalition.org. In addition, a paper copy of the application will be available at the Life Center in Lock Haven.

- A reminder that the exclusive window that allows only small mom and pop businesses to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan closes Tuesday, March 9. The program then reopens to all eligible applicants, through the end of the month. Go to www.sba.gov/ppp for more information on the PPP.

- A $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill - the third stimulus bill passed since the pandemic took hold in the U.S. last March - passed the U.S. Senate in a party-line vote over the weekend, and now heads to the U.S. House for a concurrence vote before landing on the desk of President Joe Biden. -> Read More (Source: PA Chamber)

- PA Department of Labor & Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier today highlighted the role Governor Tom Wolf’s Back to Work PA initiative will have in preparing the state’s workforce for a post-pandemic economy. Berrier also announced L&I’s new “Near Completers” program that will assist Pennsylvanians with partially completed degrees or credentials in gaining the skills or training they need to get jobs that pay family sustaining wages. Read more: L&I Highlights Benefits of ‘Back to Work PA’ and Job Training Program for “Near Completers” Unemployed Due to COVID-19.

- In what’s being called a first step to a return to everyday life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today issued its first set of recommendations on activities that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely resume. The new guidance includes recommendation for how and when a fully vaccinated person can visit with other people who are fully vaccinated and with those who are not vaccinated. See more: CDC Issues First Set of Guidelines on How Fully Vaccinated People Can Visit Safely with Others | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC. And view the latest CDC updates here: //m.emailupdates.cdc.gov/rest/head/mirrorPage/@vrNuHRNApYgyYtRDZWm_7P6K7DCvi6S4I5z1A94-hRcMpJEgGzVd-bmkdv9QRDmiW1WJRunjwZ9bXFs51qWtL9cV7FQ_qkywI_ZFmOFHB3PDWikm.html">https://m.emailupdates.cdc.gov/rest/head/mirrorPage/@vrNuHRNApYgyYtRDZWm_7P6K7DCvi6S4I5z1A94-hRcMpJEgGzVd-bmkdv9QRDmiW1WJRunjwZ9bXFs51qWtL9cV7FQ_qkywI_ZFmOFHB3PDWikm.html.

- Governor Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today released the state’s weekly COVID-19 status update detailing mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 13,275 (19 fewer cases than the previous week), and a statewide percent positivity of 5.7% (down from 6.5% last week). According to the date, 29 counties – including Clinton, Centre and Lycoming – have what the state considers substantial transmission status. However, all three local counties did see improvement this week over last: Clinton today has an 8.4% positivity rate, compared to 11.5 last week; Centre is at 5.6% compared to 7.6% last week; and Lycoming County is at 7.0%, compared to 7.2% last week. Five counties – nearby Cameron as well as Forest, Fulton, Potter and Sullivan – are in the low level of transmission, which 33 counties are in what the state considers the moderate level of transmission. More information here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/pennsylvania-covid-19-early-warning-monitoring-dashboard-update-for-feb-26-march-4-case-increases-at-13275-percent-positivity-at-5-7-and-29-counties-with-substantial-transmission/.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 1,658 positive cases of COVID-19 (the lowest case count in some time), bringing the statewide total to 950,161. According to the data, Clinton County reported three new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,863. Both Centre and Lycoming counties reported 17 new cases, bringing their totals to 13,173 and 9,493, respectively. Statewide, 1,587 people are hospitalized with the virus, 314 of whom are in intensive care.

The state noted that 4,179,220 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will have been allocated as of this Saturday, March 13. Of that number, 2,981,190 doses have been administered as of Sunday, March 7 – 2,029,732 of which were first doses and 951,458 of which were second doses. To date, 2,274 people in Clinton County have received a partial (single) dose vaccine while 3,100 have received full (two) doses. In Centre County, 12,997 have received partial and 15,804 full doses. And, 9,060 people in Lycoming County have received partial doses while 10,202 have received full doses. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: Nearly 3 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- According to the Health Department’s vaccine website, https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Vaccine/Pages/Vaccine.aspx, there continues to be eight locations listed as vaccine providers in Clinton County and in nearby Jersey Shore. In addition, UPMC continues to offer weekly vaccinations – by appointment only – for eligible people age 65 and older via a clinic at the Dunnstown Fire Hall (by appointment only).

- The State Board of Medicine today released a statement encouraging Pennsylvanians to stay informed and get vaccinated against COVID-19 when they are eligible. Read more: State Board of Medicine Releases Statement to Pennsylvanians in Support of COVID-19 Vaccination (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf today announced he has nominated Dr. Denise Johnson to serve as Pennsylvania’s physician general. Dr. Johnson will succeed Dr. Wendy Braund, who, in addition to her role as COVID-19 response director, served as interim physician general following the departure of Dr. Rachel Levine. Dr. Johnson will serve in as acting physician general until she is confirmed by the Senate. Learn more: Governor Wolf Nominates Dr. Denise A. Johnson to Serve as Physician General (pa.gov)

- PA Insurance Commission today announced that the department has issued guidance on health insurance-related services to protect consumers, and to call for clarity in insurers’ telehealth policies during the ongoing pandemic. A notice in the March 6 Pennsylvania Bulletin outlines expectations regarding coverage by insurers of testing and vaccine administration in PA, and urges continued telehealth flexibility to make both COVID-related and non-COVID-related services available to consumers. See more: Insurance Department Issues Guidance to Insurers for Consumer Protection, Calls for Clarity in Telehealth Policies.

- Leaders for Lock Haven, Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities Friday shared an update on planning for the proposed integration of the three schools. Click Here for the LHU Integration Update for details.

- Lock Haven University has been selected as one of 55 colleges and universities to partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the PA Department of Health for the MASCUP! Mask Adherence at Colleges and Universities Project, a research initiative on mask use at colleges and universities. Click Here for the LHU news release for details.

- Keystone Central School District continues in-class learning this week at all schools. In an update Friday to the District and community, Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said there currently were six active cases of COVID-19 among staff and six among students in four different schools. Click Here for the KCSD Update for more information.

- The economy added 379,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate was little changed. At 6.2%, it is still 2.7 percentage points higher than it was in February 2020. See more from the U. S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf.

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration:

  • The SBA conducted a series of small business seminars to help businesses better understand key changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In case you weren’t able to participate, the recordings of the sessions are available here.
  • The SBA enacted changes as announced in February that expand eligibility and further promote equitable relief for America’s mom-and-pop businesses. For example, Schedule C filers can now use gross income rather than net income when calculating the PPP loan amount. This change cannot be retroactive. Visit www.sba.gov/ppp or talk to your lender for more.
  • Are you looking to determine if your business is potentially eligible for a Targeted EIDL Advance? A new mapping tool is available to help you determine if your business is in a low-income community, which is a requirement to qualify for a Targeted EIDL Advance. Check the tool to see if your business address meets the low-income community eligibility requirement before applying. As a reminder, the SBA is reaching out to potential applicants to determine eligibility, so no action is needed on your part until you receive an email from the SBA. Learn more here and visit the FAQfor more information. 
  • SBA has added the following new materials on the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant website.

As a reminder, those looking to apply for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant will need to be registered in the U.S. government’s System for Award Management, SAM.gov. Learn more and get registered.

 The SBA only communicates from email addresses ending in @sba.gov. If you are being contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA who is not using an official SBA email address, you should suspect fraud. Learn more.

 More than 1,000 businesses have been certified to participate in the Woman Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program through http://beta.certify.sba.gov. Find out if your small business is eligible for the program and learn how to get certified.

- 12th District U.S. Congressman Fred Keller, as part of his weekly newsletter, reminded constituents that his office has access to federal tax forms. Locally, you can call the Congressman’s District Office in Williamsport at 570-322-3961 to receive a tax form by mail.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 368 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (March 5-7), issuing 32 notices of violation and 40 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 22 licensee checks during the period, issuing four warnings and 3 notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Read more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement March 5-7: 368 Compliance Checks; 32 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- Comcast today announced plans to equip seven different local locations – two in Clinton County and another five in Lycoming County – with WiFi-connected “Lift Zones” over the next few months…part of the company’s ongoing commitment to help connect low-income families to the Internet. Click Here for the Comcast file for details.

- The PA Department of Aging’s Office of Long-term Care Ombudsman today announced dates and topics for upcoming Virtual Family Council meetings, with the first session set for Tuesday, March 9. The VFC began these online forums last year in response to restrictions on visits in long-term care facilities due to the pandemic. Read more: Department of Aging: Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Announces March Dates for Virtual Family Council Meetings.

- The PA Department of Banking and Securities will host and participate in numerous virtual presentations for groups of senior citizens, service providers and the public during March to promote financial capability. See a schedule of events here: March 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Virtual Events Announced (pa.gov).

- Hunters and members of waterfowl organizations are invited to virtually attend the PA Game Commission’s annual Waterfowl Briefing this Wednesday, March 10 at 1:00 p.m., during which the proposed 2021-22 waterfowl hunting seasons, proposed regulations and waterfowl hunter survey results will be discussed. The session will be live streamed and will also be recorded for those who want to view the meeting at a later time. More here: GAME COMMISSION TO HOST ANNUAL WATERFOWL BRIEFING ON FACEBOOK LIVE (pa.gov).

- PA CareerLink will host a virtual employer webinar, Disaster Preparation for Your Business, on April 8, from 9:00-11:00 a.m. Click Here for the CareerLink flyer for details and to pre-register.

3/5/21

- Beginning Monday, March 8, the Clinton County Economic Partnership will change the daily COVID update we have been emailing members for the past year now. Our plan is to move to a two-days-per-week format instead of daily, allowing our small CCEP team more time to focus on other business. We will continue to communicate information of a pressing nature as it becomes available, but the daily email format will be changed to twice-weekly. We’ll continue to post all updates on our www.ClintonCountyInfo website for your reference, and we encourage members to continue to ask questions and reach out to us for information.

- Partnership President Mike Flanagan today offered his weekly employment update: Clinton County’s job picture continues to improve slightly, according to unemployment claim information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The initial unemployment insurance claims for the week ending February 27 were 75, down from 79 listed for the previous week. The construction sector accounted for 28% of the new claims, and 64% were males.  The continued claims fell to 966, down from the 1,010 listed for the week ending February 20. The recent number shows 24% in the construction field, and 64% are male. The 966 number is one of the few times the continued claims have been under 1,000 since the pandemic began. The high mark was 3,219 continued claims in the first week of May 2020.

The state also reported that 49 county residents had their unemployment benefits expire during the week ending February 27. Since the beginning of the year, 297 people have had benefits expire. The February monthly unemployment rates for all 67 counties should be released soon. The January rate in Clinton County was 6.6%.

- The PA Treasurer’s office today warned Pennsylvanians that fraudsters are actively working to steal personal information by creating fake websites that mimic official government unemployment benefit websites. Learn more: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- Clinton County Government today announced that a walk-up window is now available on the outside of the Piper Building in Lock Haven for people who want to do business with the County Treasurer’s office without having to enter the building. Click Here for the Clinton County news release for details.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration continues to host webinars on the Paycheck Protection Program is it relates to small businesses….and they’ve added two sessions for small business owners in general that will be held today and tomorrow (March 5 and 6). Here’s what the sessions cover:

  • What steps you can take now to take advantage of this special opportunity, which closes at 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 9;
  • Additional changes and recent policy announcements made by the Biden-Harris Administration; and
  • Have your questions answered by SBA Leadership

Here’s the webinar Schedule:

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,757 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 944,196. According to the data, Clinton County reported 22 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,853. Centre County was up 43 cases, to 13,093, and Lycoming County saw 29 new cases, bringing their total to 9,430. Statewide, 1,628 people are hospitalized with the virus, 350 of whom are in intensive care. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More Than 2.7 Million Vaccinations to Date.

Meanwhile, the Health Department today announced that beginning Tuesday, March 9, a long-term drive-thru COVID-19 testing site will open in Delaware County…the first of five counties that have requested a long-term testing site. Read more: Department of Health Announces Long-Term COVID-19 Testing Site in Delaware County.

- The PA House Republican Policy Committee is conducting a COVID-19 Economic Recovery Business Survey with a goal of gathering feedback for use by their Economic Recovery Task Force as it works to develop and implement policies to restore the state’s struggling economy. The survey is open to employers in all sectors and businesses of all sizes. It seeks information about your business or industry and invites feedback about the challenges you are facing, the type of assistance that would be most beneficial, the one most impactful thing state government could do to support your future success, and any other ideas to kickstart the Commonwealth’s economic recovery. Click here to take the survey. before next Friday, March 19.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 962 licensed liquor establishments this week (March 1-4), issuing 11 notices of violation and 36 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 32 licensee checks during the period, issuing no warnings or notices of violation. Read more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement March 1-4: 962 Compliance Checks; 11 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The Pennsylvania National Guard Associations will host three virtual job fairs in the coming months to help connect veterans and other job-seekers with employment opportunities in their area. The first event will be held March 24 from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., with additional events scheduled on May 26 and July 28. Interested individuals can register to participate here.

- The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) also recently announced a new online portal to help National Guard members and their families access education benefits, allowing applications for the Military Family Education Program and the Education Assistance Program to be completed online. More details on benefits are available on PHEAA’s website.

- The Penn State PA Technical Assistance Program will host two programs in March to reduce operating costs for businesses of different types:

  • March 18 - PennTAP will hold a webinar from 11:00 to Noon for food processing industries to become more efficient in using energy and water and reduce waste. Click Here to register or for more information.
  • March 25 - PennTAP will host a Northcentral PA Energy Efficiency Roundtable from 11:00 to Noon to help businesses reduce energy costs. This is the first of three free Roundtable virtual events to provide a forum for non-residential energy users to share information and learn from experts on various energy topics, from energy efficiency technologies to energy management strategies.

For more information on assistance available to businesses, visit the Penn State PA Technical Assistance Program website.

- The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission will celebrate the commonwealth’s 340th birthday on Charter Day, this Sunday, March 7, with a virtual display of William Penn’s original 1681 charter and other programming from the Pennsylvania State Archives, State Museum of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Trails of History. Learn more: PA Historical & Museum Commission Celebrates Pennsylvania’s 340th Birthday on Charter Day, Sunday, March 7.

3/4/21

- The PA Departments of Health and Education joined the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency today to provide additional information on the COVID-19 vaccine for Pre-K through grade 12 teachers and other school staff following the state announcement yesterday that that group will be vaccinated using the new Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. The state is working with Intermediate Units and others to equitably vaccinate teachers and staff quickly. Pennsylvania expects to receive an initial allocation of 94,600 doses of the vaccine this week. Read more: Wolf Administration Provides Additional Information on COVID-19 Vaccine for Teachers, Child Care Workers, School Staff (pa.gov).

- The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association this week released their spring sports guidelines to include the most recent guidelines on safe gathering limits released Monday by the Department of Health. The PIAA said spring sports can begin practice Monday, March 8, and teams will need 10 days of practice before being allowed to start competition. The 24-page document covers baseball and softball, boys and girls lacrosse, tennis, track & field, and volleyball. View the guidelines here: Return_to_Competition_Spring_Final.pdf (piaa.org).

- The PA Health Department today confirmed an additional 3,028 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 941,439. According to the data, Clinton County reported seven new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,831. Centre County saw 50 new cases, bringing their total to 13,050 and Lycoming County reported 21 new cases, bringing their total to 9,40. Statewide, 1,648 people are hospitalized with the virus, 357 of whom are in intensive care. More information here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More Than 2.6 Million Vaccinations to Date.

The Health Department today also noted that flu activity continues to be low across the state and the nation. Acting Secretary Alison Beam said last season was higher than usual with more than 11,000 cases of flu this time of year, compared to below 3,000 cases currently, something she attributed in part to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Details here: Department of Health Provides Update on Flu Season, Low Activity Statewide and Nationally.

- Gina M. Raimondo Wednesday was sworn in as the 40th U.S. Secretary of Commerce. “Growing economic opportunity for American businesses and workers is the mission that has driven my career, and as we face overlapping crises that have hurt our economy and robbed too many families of their sense of financial security, that mission is more critical than ever. The Commerce Department will work relentlessly to create good-paying jobs, level the playing field for our workers and businesses, and build an economy that does not leave any communities behind,” said Raimondo, who most recently served as governor of Rhode Island. Read more: Gina M. Raimondo Sworn in as 40th U.S. Secretary of Commerce | U.S. Department of Commerce.

- The PA Department of Banking & Securities is partnering with the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association to provide voluntary training for convenience and grocery store employees to help identify and prevent seniors from being victims of gift card scams, a common scam that has grown in frequency. More here: Wolf Administration Expands Elder Financial Exploitation Prevention Efforts.

- The PA Agriculture Department today announced the opening of the 2020-21 Farm to School Grant Program, aimed at improving access to healthy, local foods and increasing ag education opportunities for children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Any school district, charter school or private school is eligible to apply for a grant of up to $15,000. Learn more: Wolf Administration Announces $500,000 Available to Improve Childhood Access to Healthy, Local Foods (pa.gov).

- The PA Liquor Control Board today announced the return of more than $1.5 million in licensing fees to 687 municipalities in which licensees are located. Two times a year, the PLCB returns liquor license fees paid by PLCB-approved licensees to the municipalities that are home to those licensees. Read more: Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Returns More Than $1.5 Million in Licensing Fees to Local Communities (pa.gov).

- The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board is scheduled to hold a virtual meeting March 16 to consider a final regulation increasing NPDES water quality permit application and annual fees. The agenda also includes a report on the adequacy of fees supporting the Water and Wastewater System Operators Certification Program, and the Board may also hear an update on DEP’s review of a 2019  rulemaking petition that would create a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon pollution from all major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Click Here to register to join the 9:00 a.m. meeting via WebEx or join via conference call 415-655-0003 Access Code: 132 798 7106. For more information, visit the Environmental Quality Board webpage.

- The PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources offers a comprehensive guide that lists funding opportunities, resources, announcements, training activities, and more. Click Here for this nearly 60-page document.

- First Lady Frances Wolf today hosted a virtual conversation on Facebook discussing how tourism and outdoor industries have been impacted during COVID-19, the fifth conversation in a series called, “The Bigger Picture.” The series is an extension of the One Lens initiative that focuses on the various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. See more here: First Lady Frances Wolf Discusses Pennsylvania Tourism and Increase in Outdoor Activities During COVID-19 (pa.gov).

- The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center, in conjunction with UPMC, will host a March 30 webinar to educate business owners on how they can become an approved UPMC vendor. UPMC is currently seeking vendors from all industries to secure unfulfilled contracts. Click Here for the UPMC -SBDC news release or click the following link to participate in the 9:00-10:30 a.m. session: https://entrepreneur.pitt.edu/events/upmc-essentials-pa-am/, or here to participate in the 1:00-2:30 p.m. session: https://entrepreneur.pitt.edu/events/upmc-essentials-pa-pm/.

- The Small Business Development Center at Penn State offers training on a variety of topics in March:

  • The First Step to Small Business Success, March 9 at 5:00 pm. Learn about the process of starting a business. Register Here
  • Quick Connect Coaching: All About Business Plans, Weekly, Tuesdays at Noon. Join each week in March as experts share who needs a business plan, how to use it, and the tools available to assist small businesses. Register Here
  • So You Want to Build a Website, March 17 at 1:00 pm. This session breaks down the process of developing a personal or small business website and walks participants through a demo of Wix, the web development tool. Register Here
  • Going Green: Energy Efficiency in Agriculture, March 18 at 2:00 pm. Attend this event to learn about energy audits and pollution reduction for agriculture businesses. Register Here
  • Check out: All Upcoming SBDC Events

Meanwhile, SBDC’s across the country celebrate the fifth annual SBDC Day on Wednesday, March 17, noting the impact America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) have on the success of small businesses. Learn More. According to a recent newsletter, the SBDC at Penn State – which serves new and existing small businesses in Clinton, Centre, Lycoming and Mifflin counties – last year supported 1,254 clients and 51 business start-ups, representing an overall capital investment of $12.5 million.

3/3/21

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force today announced that Pennsylvania will use the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for PreK-12 teachers and other school staff. Details here: Gov. Wolf and COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Announce Plan to Vaccinate Teachers, Other School Staff (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, the Governor today signed legislation that permits the Pennsylvania National Guard to administer the vaccine. Read more: Gov. Wolf Signs Bill Preparing National Guard to Assist with Vaccination Efforts.

- UPMC plans to include more people as the health care system continues to offer COVID-19 vaccinations locally, by appointment only. Plans this week call for the age of eligible vaccine recipients to be lowered to those 65 and older, down from age 75. Click Here for the UPMC Update for information on scheduling an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination.   

- Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today announced the launch of a new initiative called PA Project Firstline, a project designed to promote foundational knowledge on infection prevention and control for all types of frontline healthcare workers. Learn more: Department of Health Launches PA Project Firstline to Provide Easy, Accessible Infection Prevention and Control Knowledge to Frontline Healthcare Workers.

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 2,577 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 938,411. According to the state data, Clinton County reported 12 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,824. Centre and Lycoming counties both reported 26 new cases, bringing their countywide totals to 12,992 and 9,381, respectively. Statewide, 1,670 people are hospitalized with the virus, 354 of whom are in intensive care.

According to the state data, by this Saturday, March 6, nearly 3.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will have been allocated across Pennsylvania. As of Tuesday, March 2, 1,761,703 first doses and 791,815 second doses had been administered. More information here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More Than 2.5 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- The Wolf Administration today announced an extension of the Regional Congregate Care Assistance Teams to support long-term care facilities as they continue to face COVID-19 and the challenges it creates for congregate care settings. More here: Wolf Administration Extends Regional Congregate Care Assistance Teams to Continue Support to Long-Term Care Facilities Facing COVID-19, Highlights Progress Vaccinating Long-Term Care Residents and Staff (pa.gov).

- Updates from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • Most of the nation’s small businesses do not require employees to get COVID-19 vaccines or tests to return to work, according to the first results of Phase 4 of the U.S. Census Bureau’s recently-released Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS).

SBPS was launched February 15, to measure the effect of changing business conditions during the coronavirus pandemic on small businesses. Read More

  • A Census Bureau Small Business Pulse Survey shows a shift in expectations from Spring to Winter: the Survey shows a majority of businesses face long-term challenges while others experienced little or no effect from the pandemic. Learn More

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions for February 22-26 as it relates to businesses that are not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. To date, the Bureau has assigned 421 cases to its investigators. During the most recent period, the department completed six investigations that were sent to the Department of Health. More here: Department of Labor & Industry Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Feb. 22 – Feb. 26.

- The PA Department of Agriculture today released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from February 22-28. During that period, the Bureau of Food Safety performed 605 inspections, 33 of which were complaint-driven. Thirty complaints were related to COVID-19 mitigation measures. The department received 225 food facility COVID-19 related complaints, 47 of which were referred to local and county health jurisdictions. And, inspectors closed five restaurants for violating the state’s COVID-19 mitigation orders. According to the data, there were five inspections conducted in Clinton County during the period, with no issues reported. See more: Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, February 22 – 28, 2021.

- PA Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans today presented the agency’s annual report to the General Assembly and delivered testimony before the House Game and Fisheries Committee. Burhans said COVID-19 placed increased demands on the Game Commission, noting that more people wanted to hunt and trap, visit state game lands, and purchase Commission products. He said he felt the Commission met those challenges head-on. Read more: GAME COMMISSION DELIVERS ANNUAL REPORT TO LEGISLATURE (pa.gov).

- PA CareerLink will host a virtual employer workshop, UC Suitable Work and Separation Issues, tomorrow, March 4, from 10:00 a.m. until Noon. UC Workforce Development representative  Nancy Smithbauer will address the process the UC Service Center follows when investigating and issuing benefit determinations relating to employees who voluntarily quit or have been discharged from a job. Pre-register at https://forms.gle/bNxbtpTxVWGNKJSC6 or contact Dorie Gilmore at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration hosts a free webinar, Contract Bonds & Surety Bond Guarantees, on March 17 at 10:00 a.m.. Small business owners needing bonding to bid on contracts are encouraged to participate. What you’ll learn is

  • What is the Surety Bond Guarantee (SBG) Program ?
  • What does the SBG guarantee?
  • Who qualifies for SBA bonding?
  • What are the current bonding limits?

Click here to join the meeting or dial 1-202-765-1264 and use conference code: 666256945#

3/2/21

- The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced some key changes to the Paycheck Protection Program which will be available for a limited amount of time to ensure America’s smallest businesses get exclusive access. If you are a small business owner with 20 employees or less, or are self-employed, there is new information for you. Small businesses are invited to participate in a series of webinars hosted by the SBA, Public Private Strategies Institute, & other stakeholders to hear about:

  • What steps you can take now to take advantage of this special opportunity (the exclusive window for small businesses closes at 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 9).
  • Additional changes and recent policy announcements made by Biden-Harris Administration.
  • Have your questions answered by SBA Leadership.

The webinar schedule is as follows:

            - March 3, 12:30 p.m. – Women Business Owners, Click here to register.

            - March 4, 3:00 p.m. – Asian-American + Pacific Islander, Native American + Tribal Small Business Owners, Click here to register.

            - March 5, 1:00 p.m. – Black + African-American Small Business Owners, Click here to register.

            - March 5, 3:00 p.m. – Hispanic Small Business Owners, Click here to register.

            - March 6, 2:00 p.m. – Veterans, Self-Employed Business Owners, Click here to register.

            - March 8, 3:00 pm. – LGTBQ Business Owners, Youth Entrepreneurs, Restaurant Owners, Click here to register.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today announced that the hospitality industry will soon be able to apply for relief through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP), a new grant program established by the state to support local businesses in the hospitality industry that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state is making $145 million available, with each county receiving a portion of the funding as a block grant based on population. Clinton County has received $437,000 and has designated SEDA-COG, a Certified Economic Development Organization in the region, to administer the program for the county. As per state guidelines, grant administrators must begin accepting applications from businesses by March 15. See more: Gov. Wolf Announces $145 Million in Relief Available for Hospitality Industry by March 15 (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf today announced allocation plans for more than $303 million in federal funds received to support child care providers. The funding will be issued beginning April 20, and will be divided to support child care providers through multiple channels. Click here for more information: Wolf Administration Announces Plans for $303 million to Support Child Care Providers Across Pennsylvania (pa.gov).

- PA’s Departments of Human Services and Education today submitted for federal approval, the Wolf Administration’s plan to issue more than $1 billion in federally-funded benefits to the families of Pennsylvania children who have attended school remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and who otherwise would have had access to free-and-reduced-price meals during the 2020-21 school year. The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program will help families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children would have been eligible to receive for free or at reduced price through the National School Lunch Program. If the plan submitted to the federal government is approved, Pennsylvania will distribute the equivalent of about $84 million per month to the families of about 928,000 children – for a total distribution of about $1 billion. Read more: Wolf Administration Submits Pandemic EBT Plan to Help Pennsylvania Families Cover the Cost of Missed School Meals.

- Regarding the announcement Monday from Governor Wolf that the state is slightly relaxing its limitations for indoor and outdoor gatherings, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association says it will discuss the changes at its board of directors March 3 meeting. In a news release from the PIAA, Executive Director, Dr. Robert Lombardi, stated, “PIAA is very appreciative of these changes and will attempt to provide as much in-person attendance at PIAA winter sports’ postseason contests as possible while complying with the new restrictions.” PIAA will review their upcoming winter sports’ post-season events and capacities with site administrators and make all best efforts to accommodate schools’ and their families. These revised restrictions may allow some public sale of tickets based upon occupancy and social distancing restrictions.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,564 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 935,834. According to the state, Clinton County reported 9 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,812. Centre County saw 22 new cases, bringing their total to 12,966, and Lycoming County was up 40 cases, bringing their total to 9,355. Statewide, there are 1,715 people hospitalized with the virus, 366 of whom are in intensive care. More information here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: Nearly 2.5 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- The PA Department of Community and Economic Development has announced the Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career Grant Program, which supports new and innovative training programs focusing on developing the skillsets of entry-level workers to better meet the needs of manufacturers with job openings. DCED is currently accepting grant applications for the program. Nonprofits including workforce development boards, manufacturing associations, business education coalitions and economic development organizations, and training partners such as school districts, technical or trade schools, and post-secondary academic institutions can apply, requesting up to $200,000 to support the creation of short-term work readiness or job placement programs in manufacturing. For program guidelines and to apply, go to the DCED website.

- The Internal Revenue Service today announced that interest rates will remain the same for the calendar quarter beginning April 1, 2021. Details here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/interest-rates-remain-the-same-for-the-second-quarter-of-2021.

- The IRS on Monday issued guidance for employers claiming the Employee Retention Tax Credit under the CARES Act for 2020, including eligibility rules for Paycheck Protection Program borrowers. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-guidance-for-employers-claiming-the-employee-retention-credit-for-2020-including-eligibility-rules-for-ppp-borrowers.

- And, the IRS reminds first-time filers and those who usually don’t have a federal filing requirement to consider filing a 2020 tax return. They may be eligible to claim the  Recovery Rebate Credit, a new refundable credit, authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the COVID-related Tax Relief Act. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-time-guide-didnt-get-economic-impact-payments-check-eligibility-for-recovery-rebate-credit.

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from February 21-28, as it relates to regulated boards and commissions. During that period, BEI performed 459 inspections and opened 12 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed nine warning letters and two compliance letters relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Learn more: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Feb. 21-28.

- A reminder: PA Health Care enrollment through Pennie.com has reopened until May 15.

- The PA Insurance Department today said is reclaimed close to $22 million in 2020 for more than 27,000 consumers who had funds stolen, payments improperly processed, or other forms of restitution or credit due to them as a result of company errors or unethical conduct. More here: Insurance Department Reclaims Over $22 Million in 2020 Restitution Payments for Pennsylvania Consumers.

- The Office of State Inspector General today announced it has filed welfare fraud charges against 44 people during January 2020. The restitution owed the Commonwealth in the cases totals $143,372, and additional cost savings will be realized as the defendants will be temporarily disqualified from receiving public benefits in the programs they allegedly defrauded. More information here: State Inspector General Charges 44 With Welfare Fraud in January 2020 (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the PA Higher Education Assistance Agency have collaborated to create a portal that automates the education benefits application process for Pennsylvania National Guard members and their families. See more: DMVA, PHEAA Launch Portal for Guard Members, Families Applying for Higher Education Benefits (pa.gov).

- PennDOT has announced that Pennsylvanians can view ratings of the state's efforts in transportation safety, mobility, system preservation, and accountability in the PennDOT 2021 Transportation Performance Report (TPR), viewable at TalkPATransportation.com. Read more: Article (penndot.gov).

- A reminder that the SCORE Central Pennsylvania Chapter hosts a no-cost webinar on Nonprofit Strategic Planning tomorrow, March 3, from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. Register HERE!

3/1/21

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today announced the state has revised mitigation restrictions on gatherings and has lifted travel restrictions, effective today. The revised restrictions include a slight increase in the maximum occupancy limits to allow for 15% of maximum occupancy for indoor events and 20 percent of maximum occupancy limits for outdoor events, regardless of venue size, and the elimination of out-of-state travel restrictions. The revised restrictions on gatherings continue to require social distancing and masking. Read more: Gov. Wolf Revises Mitigation Order on Gatherings and Lifts Out-of-State Travel Restrictions (pa.gov).

- In keeping with state mitigation orders, the Lock Haven University Admissions office will host a drive-through decision event next Thursday, March 11 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. If students have already applied online and bring proper paperwork, admissions counselors will review application information and make an on-the-spot admissions decision, without the student having to leave their vehicle. Click Here for the LHU news release for details.

- Governor Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today released a weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 12,967 (2,221 fewer cases than the previous week) and a statewide percent positivity of 6.3% (down from 6.5% last week). While the statewide numbers continue to fall, the news was not as good in Clinton and Centre counties, both of whom saw increased precent positivity rates over the past week. Clinton County’s current positivity is 11.5%, compared to 8.2% last week. Centre County’s rate is 7.6%, up from 4.5% last week. Lycoming County saw a decrease in their percent positivity, which currently is at 7.2%, down from 9.3% the week before. Four counties are in what the state considers a low level of transmission; 37 counties are in the moderate level; and 26 counties, including Clinton, Centre and Lycoming, are in the substantial level of transmission. See more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Feb. 19-25: Case Increases at 12,967; Percent Positivity at 6.3% and 26 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 1,628 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 933,270. According to the data, Clinton County reported five new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,803. Centre County saw six new cases, bringing their total to 12,944, and Lycoming County reported 16 new cases, bringing their total to 9,315. Statewide, 1,720 people are hospitalized with the virus, 374 of whom are in intensive care. With five new deaths reported today, a total of 24,026 deaths in PA have been attributed to COVID-19, 55 in Clinton County. More information here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More Than 2.4 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for the third vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19. The authorization allows the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine – a single-dose vaccine from Janssen Biotech, Inc., a company of Johnson & Johnson - to be distributed in the U.S. for use in individuals 18 years of age and older. Read more: FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization for Third COVID-19 Vaccine | FDA.

- The PA Department of Revenue today announced the state collected $2.7 billion in General Fund revenue in February, 28.4 percent more than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date, General Fund collections total $23.9 billion, or 3.9 percent above estimate. Read more: Revenue Department Releases February 2021 Collections.

- PennDOT today announced it has committed $452.7 million in liquid fuels payments to help certified municipalities maintain their roads and bridges. This year’s allocation is approximately 7 percent less than last year’s, due to reduced gas tax revenues as a result of COVID-19. According to the DOT Allocations Report, the 29 townships and boroughs and the City of Lock Haven in Clinton County will receive a gross allocation of some $1.7 million in liquid fuels funds. More here: Article (penndot.gov), and to see the municipal allocations report (Clinton County municipalities fall under County Code 18), click here: https://www.penndot.gov/Doing-Business/LocalGovernment/LiquidFuels/MunicipalLiquidFuelsProgram/Documents/2021%20MLF%20Allocation.pdf.

- Businesses in the 11-county SEDA-COG service region – which includes Clinton County – are being asked to complete a COVID-19 impact survey whose results will help SEDA-COG further respond to the needs of businesses during this time. The survey has been developed to gauge the impact of the pandemic on overall business operations, as well as if and how businesses have successfully adjusted. Click Here for the SEDA-COG file for more, and complete the survey by April 15 by clicking on the following link: http://bit.ly/37K4vII.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 455 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (February 26-28), issuing 26 notices of violation and 18 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 15 licensee checks during the period, issuing one warning and one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement February 26-28: 455 Compliance Checks; 26 Notices of Violation (pa.gov)

- Updates from the PA Chamber:

  • Over the weekend, the U.S. House approved a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, marking a significant first step in what would be the Biden administration’s first major piece of legislation. -> Read More
  • PA Chamber Government Affairs Director Alex Halper outlined employers’ grave concerns with the impact of proposed legislation on their economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The House Labor and Industry Committee convened the hearing last week to discuss H.B. 262, which would allow employees or job applicants to refuse to comply with employer policies related to vaccination and testing, among other provisions. -> Read More
  • The strain on Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the employer community was highlighted in testimony by PA Chamber Government Affairs Director Alex Halper during a public hearing of the House Labor and Industry Committee last week. -> Read More
  • PA Chamber Government Affairs Director Kevin Sunday testified last week about the positive impact the energy sector has brought to Pennsylvania’s business climate throughout the year-long COVID-19 pandemic and the indispensable role that energy plays in helping with the state and nation’s economic resurgence. -> Read More
  • Business closure orders put in place by the Wolf administration last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were a hot topic of discussion during the second week of House Appropriations Committee budget hearings. -> Read More
  • While in session last week, the state Senate Labor & Industry Committee advanced three PA Chamber-supported bills. Two of the bills would serve the dual purpose of helping address workforce challenges while combatting the cycle of addiction associated with the current drug abuse epidemic. -> Read More

- Updates and reminders from the U.S. Small Business Administration:

  • Small, mom and pop-type businesses have an exclusive window to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The U.S. Small Business Administration established a 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employee that ends on March 9, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Borrowers can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program by downloading the First Draw PPP loan application or Second Draw PPP loan application and working with a participating PPP lender through the SBA Lender Match toolLearn more.
  • Are you looking to determine if your business is potentially eligible for a Targeted EIDL Advance? A new mapping tool is available to help you determine if your business is in a low-income community, which is a requirement to qualify for a Targeted EIDL Advance. Check the tool to see if your business address meets the low-income community eligibility requirement before applying. As a reminder, the SBA is reaching out to potential applicants to determine eligibility, so no action is needed on your part until you receive an email from the SBA. Learn more here and visit the updated FAQfor more information. 
  • Those looking to apply for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant will need to be registered in the U.S. government’s System for Award Management, SAM.gov. SBA has created a video tutorial that guides people through the process, and you can find it on the SVOG’s website at www.sba.gov/svogrant. Learn more and get registered.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced its fiscal year 2021 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I topics. This program encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal research and development that has the potential for commercialization with funding of up to $100,000 per project. Funding is available in areas such as measurement, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity and privacy, advanced communications, infrastructure and resilience. The deadline to apply is April 14. Learn more.
  • The SBA's Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development (IATF) and Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs (ACVBA) will hold virtual public meetings on March 3 and 4. The advisory committees are dedicated to addressing the challenges faced by the military and veteran small business community, especially as businesses work to recover and rebuild in the wake of the pandemic. Learn more.
  • Registration is open through March 12 at beta.SAM.gov for the virtual Mission and Installation Contracting Command Advance Planning Briefing for Industry taking place March 22-26. MICC officials announced in November the virtual APBI event as their single, command-wide effort for 2021 to reach small business and large industry representatives and forecast 2021, 2022 and 2023 contract requirements in support of varied Army mission partners. Learn more.

- The PPL Foundation is accepting applications for the Foundation’s Sustaining Grants, which support a variety of nonprofit organizations in the communities PPL serves in 29 counties of North and Central Pennsylvania, including Clinton. Grants are used to fund organizations and programs focused on:

  • educational programs – such as STEM, college and career readiness, summer learning and literacy;
  • diversity, equity and inclusion – such as racial and social justice programs; minority-led organizations driving change; and empowerment programs for people of color, women, the disabled, LGBTQ and veterans; and
  • sustainable communities – such as access to services such as housing and food access; environmental conservation programs and neighborhood improvement.

Sustaining grants range between $1,000 and $25,000, with the average awarded grant being around $5,000. These competitive grants are awarded to assist organizations with ongoing operational and program expenses for projects that align with the Foundation’s mission. Interested organizations can learn more and apply at www.pplcares.com (click on Sustaining Grants) through March 15.

- The U.S. Economic Development Administration is accepting applications for the Build to Scale program, a $38 million funding opportunity that fuels tech-based economic development in regional economies. The Build to Scale program is comprised of two competitions for grants –– the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge. The deadline to apply is April 29. For more information, visit www.eda.gov/oie/BuildToScale

- The U.S. Chamber’s CO- group, as part of their Roadmap for Rebuilding series for small businesses, hosts a virtual webinar, Planning Your Financial Future, this Thursday, March 4 at noon. Register here: https://events.uschamber.com/planningyourfinancialfuture/991972?ref=3.1&c_923903%5B0%5D=4166609&utm_medium=Email&utm_source=SFMC&utm_campaign=&utm_content=.

- The PA Department of Banking and Securities in March will host and participate in virtual presentations to help consumers understand their rights and make well-informed decisions about money. Click here for more information, including a list of program offerings: Free Virtual Events to Promote Financial Capability Among Consumers.

- The PA Department of Human Services today announced the launch of myCOMPASS PA 5.0, the latest update to the myCOMPASS mobile app. More here: Department of Human Services Announces Updates, Additional Features for the myCOMPASS PA Mobile App.

- AP Auditor General Timothy DeFoor today announced several key staff appointments, including the hiring of Gorden Denlinger, a CPA, former state representative and most recently state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, as Deputy Auditor General. More here: Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General -Auditor General DeFoor Appoints New Deputy Auditors General (paauditor.gov).

- The PA departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs, PA Lottery, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, and the Council on Compulsive Gambling today kicked off March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Read more: Wolf Administration Kicks off Problem Gambling Awareness Month by Highlighting Available Resources and Help (pa.gov).

- The State Library of Pennsylvania invites schools, families and communities to participate in “Read Across America Day” tomorrow, March 2. The annual day serves as an opportunity to spread the joy of reading, celebrate literacy, and recognize the power of diverse and inclusive books. Learn more: State Library Encourages Readers of All Ages to Celebrate Literacy, Participate in Read Across America Day.

2/26/21

- A reminder: Eligible small businesses with fewer than 20 employees right now have an exclusive window of opportunity to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. That window closes March 10 and the program then reopens to all eligible businesses through March 31, which is when this latest (and likely last) round of the PPP is slated to end. In a highly-informative one-hour Small Business Update Thursday, U.S. Chamber representatives and the White House’s national economic council deputy director talked about this exclusive window for small businesses, some important PPP enhancements for sole proprietors/self-employed/independent contractors that likely will be finalized next week, and more, including responding to a number of questions about PPP and other federal loan and grant programs. Definitely worth a watch. Click here to see that presentation: Replay yesterday's Small Business Update.

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity today announced that the Pennsylvania Treasury has made available the $145 million earmarked for the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) to help small businesses in the hospitality industry recover from the effects of the pandemic. The funding, authorized by Act 1 of 2021, has been sent to all 67 counties as block grants. Clinton County’s allocation is some $437,000. Grant guidelines and the application process are being finalized by SEDA-COG, a certified economic development organization that will administer the grant program. According to state guidelines, the application process is to begin by March 15. Read more: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- Local nonprofits and municipalities have until 5:00 p.m. this Monday, March 1, to submit an application for a grant through the Clinton County Tourism/Recreation Grant Program. The purpose of the grant program is to support the development and expansion of tourist and recreational assets and events that promote Clinton County and increase tourism and overnight stays within the county. For program guidelines and the online grant application, visit: https://www.clintoncountypa.com/departments/funding-opportunities.

- Students throughout Keystone Central School District are expected to continue in-class learning next week. In her weekly update, District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin encouraged families to use extra caution and follow safety guidelines, as positive COVID-19 cases were up over the previous week. Dr. Martin noted that planning is underway for graduation ceremonies at both Central Mountain and Bucktail High Schools. Unless there are more snow days, the last day of school is now expected to be June 8. Click Here to see the KCSD Update.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 3,346 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 926,336. According to the data, Clinton County reported 19 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,765. Centre County saw 39 new cases, bringing their total to 12,825, and Lycoming County reported 36 new cases, bringing their total to 9,207. Statewide, 1,962 people are hospitalized with the virus, 421 of whom are in intensive care. More information is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard. Read the full report here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More Than 2.2 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- The Health Department today announced that beginning Monday, March 1, regional drive-thru, outdoor walk-up and indoor walk-in COVID-19 testing clinics will be held in Lycoming (at the Old Lycoming Twp. Volunteer Fire Company in Williamsport), Fayette, Forest, Perry and Susquehanna counties. This is the last of a 12-week testing initiative to offer free COVID-19 pop-up testing sites across the state. More here: Department of Health Announces Week-Twelve of Regional COVID-19 Testing Extension Across the Commonwealth.

- The Health Department also announced today that it has aligned its COVID-19 quarantine guidance for fully vaccinated individuals with that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. See more: Department of Health Aligns Quarantine Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals with CDC COVID-19 Recommendations.

- The PA Senate Wednesday approved legislation allowing members of the Pa. National Guard to aid in the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. The bill expands the Guard's authority in distributing and administering the vaccine. Pennsylvania currently ranks 46th in the nation in terms of the percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered. The state House passed the measure earlier and the bill now goes to the Governor for his signature. 

- Meanwhile, according to a report from the PA Chamber, vaccine manufacturers this week told Congress that they will be able to increase vaccine production next month. Already, Pfizer and Moderna have churned out more than 200 million doses for the U.S. government – although only 75 million have been shipped. The number of available vaccines is expected to grow even more once the one-dose Johnson & Johnson version is approved by regulators.

 - From Partnership President Mike Flanagan, a weekly update of Clinton County’s employment picture: Clinton County’s unemployment situation showed some improvement during the seven-day period ending February 20, with lower initial and continued unemployment claims, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor and Industry. For the week ending February 13, there were 98 initial unemployment insurance claims. One week later, the initial claims fell to 79, with construction related workers accounting for 28 percent of the new number. The continued claims fell by more than 100 to 1,010, with 26 percent of those listed as being in the construction sector.

The state also reported that 248 county residents have had their unemployment benefits expire since January 1.

The January monthly unemployment rates for the Commonwealth’s 67 counties should be released next week. Clinton County had a 6.6% unemployment rate in December.

- The U.S. Senate parliamentarian has determined that a measure to hike the minimum wage cannot be included in a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill currently making its way through Congress. Read More (Source: The Associated Press)

- In response to a directive from President Biden, the U.S. Department of Labor Thursday issued guidance to state unemployment insurance agencies that expands the number of instances in which workers may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Read more here: US Department of Labor guidance to state UI programs expands eligibility for workers who declined work due to pandemic safety concerns | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- The Internal Revenue Service today reminded businesses of their responsibility to file Form 8300, Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000, and encouraged e-filing to help them file accurate, complete forms. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-reminds-businesses-to-report-large-cash-transactions-e-file-encouraged.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,026 licensed liquor establishments this week (February 22-25), issuing 15 notices of violation and 24 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 37 licensee checks during the period, issuing two warnings and no notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement February 22-25: 1,026 Compliance Checks; 15 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf today unveiled a charter school accountability plan that he says would protect all students and taxpayers and hold low-performing charter schools accountable to improve educational quality. Read more: Gov. Wolf Unveils Bipartisan Charter School Accountability Plan.


- The U.S. Chamber’s next episode of Roadmap for Rebuilding, will focus on planning your small business’s financial future, and will be held Thursday, March 4 at noon. Small business experts will cover financial planning for your team, tracking financial trends that matter, and leveraging your relationships. Register to plan your financial future.

2/25/21

- The Clinton County Commissioners today entered into a professional services agreement with SEDA-COG, the regional development organization that will be administering the state’s COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP). The grant program is scheduled to become available March 15 (applications are not yet being accepted), allowing eligible hotels, bars, restaurants and others in the hospitality industry – among the hardest hit during the pandemic – to apply for grants of $5,000 up to $50,000 in pandemic relief. According to the state guidelines, applicants must have no more than 300 employees and a net worth of less than $15 million. Priority will go to businesses that haven’t yet received state or federal aid, had to close as a result of the state’s coronavirus mitigation orders, or can show a 50% loss of income after March 2020. Grant guidelines are being developed and SEDA-COG is expected to announce information as it becomes available.

- The Penn State Small Business Development Center has a pandemic support specialist. Elizabeth Hay stands ready to support small businesses in the SBDC’s coverage area, which includes Clinton, Centre, Lycoming and Mifflin counties. SBDC consulting services are confidential and free of charge.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The SBDC also has a comprehensive list of pandemic resources for entrepreneurs. For information on emergency capital programs, funding opportunities, and pandemic relief resources, visit their COVID-19 Resources page, which is updated regularly.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,356 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 922,990. According to the state, Clinton County reported 12 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,746. Centre County saw 33 new cases, bringing their total to 12,786, and Lycoming County was up 36 cases, bringing their total to 9,171. Statewide, 1,972 people are hospitalized with the virus, 433 of whom are in intensive care. See more: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More Than 2.1 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions for February 15-19, as they relate to businesses that are not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. To date, the Bureau has assigned 420 cases to its investigators. Between February 15-19, the department completed 11 investigations that were sent to the Department of Health. More here: Department of Labor & Industry Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Feb. 15 – Feb. 19.

- The PA Department of Human Services today detailed January 2021 public assistance enrollment numbers and reminded Pennsylvanians that safety-net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid are available to individuals and families who are struggling to afford food or access health care. DHS also reminded people of home energy assistance available through the LIHEAP program. In January, enrollment statewide for Medicaid saw nearly a 13 percent increase and enrollment for SNAP statewide saw a 4.7 percent increase. More information here: Department of Human Services Provides Update on Latest Medicaid, SNAP Enrollment Data.

- The foreclosure protections for federal home loans have been extended to June 30th. The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Agriculture have announced a coordinated extension and expansion of foreclosure and forbearance relief programs. Read more: COVID19 Information and Guidance (pa.gov).

- PA CareerLink will host a virtual employer workshop, UC Suitable Work and Separation Issues, next Thursday, March 4, from 10:00 a.m. until Noon (earlier this week, we incorrectly listed this as a four-hour session). UC Workforce Development representative  Nancy Smithbauer will address the process the UC Service Center follows when investigating and issuing benefit determinations relating to employees who voluntarily quit or have been discharged from a job. Pre-register at https://forms.gle/bNxbtpTxVWGNKJSC6 or contact Dorie Gilmore at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

- SEDA-COG’s Metropolitan Planning Organization is preparing an update to the region’s long-range transportation plan and is seeking public input. People are asked to complete a survey that will be available through Wednesday, March 3. Click here for the survey: https://lrtp-seda-cog.hub.arcgis.com/.  

2/24/21

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,786 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 920,634. According to the state, Clinton County reported 18 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,734. Centre County was up 43 cases, bringing their total to 12,753, and Lycoming County reported 35 new cases, bringing their total to 9,135. Statewide, 1,963 people are hospitalized with the virus, 418 of whom are in intensive care.

Regarding vaccine distribution, Clinton County data as of February 24 shows 3,287 people have received a partial dose and 1,380 have been fully vaccinated. In Centre County, 16,454 people have received a partial and 6,190 have received a full dose. In Lycoming County, 8,978 have received a partial dose while 5,897 have received the full dose. The state reports that by Saturday, February 27, 3,172,900 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will have been allocated. As of February 23, 2,083,277 of those doses had been administered (1,498,265 were first doses and 585,012 were second doses). Learn more: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More Than 2 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- UPMC today issued a COVID Update newsletter, which outlines their vaccination registration process and other COVID-related information. Click Here for the UPMC file for more.

- Pennsylvania System of State Assessments and Keystone Exams will be administered this year but state officials say they are looking to allow schools to delay them to as late as September. In a draft letter to the U.S Department of Education that is open for public comment, state Acting Education Secretary Noe Ortega indicated the idea behind extending the testing window to the fall, when schools are expecting to offer in-person instruction five days a week, is that it will ensure a larger number of students will take the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments and Keystone Exams. Read More (Source: Harrisburg Patriot News)

- The 2021 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is now underway. With a FedEx account, businesses can enter to win up to $50,000. The deadline is March 9. Learn more at: How could a $50K grant better your business?

- The PA Department of Agriculture today released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from February 15-21. The Department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 486 inspections, 28 of which were complaint-driven. Twenty-one complaints were related to COVID-19 mitigation measures. The Department received 502 food facility COVID-19-related complaints, 76 of which were referred to local and county health jurisdictions. Inspectors also closed four restaurants for violating COVID-19 mitigation orders. In Clinton County, there was only one Bureau inspection during the period, which resulted in no issues. More information here: Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, February 15 – 21, 2021.

- A new study finds that consumers are becoming less stressed about getting food in stores and restaurants during the pandemic. More than half of those surveyed admitted that while they avoided in-store pick-ups at the start of the pandemic, they feel comfortable doing so now. READ MORE

- First Lady Frances Wolf – in a virtual conversation hosted on Facebook – highlighted supports that exist for Pennsylvania’s small businesses, actions the administration has taken to support them, and small businesses that have gotten creative to keep their business moving and their employees and communities safe during COVID-19. See more: First Lady Frances Wolf Discusses Resiliency of PA Small Business Community and Highlights Resources for Support.

- PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today notified farmland owners in 25 Pennsylvania counties that they are eligible to receive disaster relief assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to losses caused by drought that occurred during the 2020 crop year. Upon USDA review of Loss Assessment Reports, six PA counties – including Clinton, Centre, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson and Cumberland – were designated as primary natural disaster areas while several other counties were considered as contiguous areas. Read more: Secretary of Agriculture Announces Disaster Relief Funding Available for 25 PA Counties, Encourages Risk Management.

- The PA Game Commission today announced 27 new game wardens have been assigned to districts in Pennsylvania, graduating February 13 after 45 weeks of intensive training. One of the graduates is Shawn Seeley of Lock Haven, who has been assigned to northern Centre County. Seeley was distinguished among the class, receiving an emergency vehicle operator course driving award. See more here: NEW GAME WARDENS ADDED TO THE RANKS (pa.gov).

- Student internship opportunity: Penn State and The American Chestnut Foundation are now accepting applications for spring and summer interns. Interns (age 18+ with a valid driver’s license) with a variety of skills are needed. Applications are due March 5. Click Here for a copy of the announcement.

- Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful kicks off the Pick Up Pennsylvania litter cleanup and beautification program March 1. This annual community improvement initiative, which will run through mid-May, offers registered participants free trash bags, gloves, and safety vests provided by support from the Department of Environmental Protection, PennDOT and Keep America Beautiful, as supplies last. Events can include litter cleanups, illegal dump cleanups, community greening and beautification, special collections and public education events. Events must be registered at Pick Up Pennsylvania to receive free cleanup supplies. For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website.

Upcoming Webinars:

  • Join the U.S. Chamber Thursday, February 25 at 12 Noon for a live discussion on the newly announced changes to PPP loans, which predominately affect businesses with fewer than 20 employees and minority-owned small businesses. Get your questions answered. RSVP here.
  • The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a no-cost webinar, “Strategic Planning for Nonprofits,” next Wednesday, March 3, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. The online seminar is an opportunity to learn how to create an effective, usable nonprofit strategic plan. Register HERE!

2/23/21

- The Biden Administration and the U.S. Small Business Administration announced they are taking steps with the Paycheck Protection Program to further promote equitable relief for America’s smallest businesses. Starting tomorrow, February 24, and running for two weeks (until March 10), companies with fewer than 20 employees will be the only businesses allowed to apply for PPP funding. SBA Prioritizes Smallest of Small Businesses in the Paycheck Protection Program.

- The Biden administration’s most recent changes to the PPP – and other changes that could impact small business’ access to pandemic relief – will be the subject of a U.S. Chamber “Small Business Update” this Thursday, February 25 at noon. Click here to register.

- The Clinton County Commissioners are expected to enter into an agreement with SEDA-COG out of Lewisburg to administer CHIRP, the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program. Clinton County is slated to receive some $437,500 for this hospitality industry grant program, but will serve only as the pass-through entity as the state mandates county’s contract with certified economic development organizations, such as SEDA-COG, to administer the program. At their Monday work session, the Commissioners said SEDA-COG currently is developing an agreement for counties it will be working with and putting together program application procedures and guidelines. According to state guidelines, administrating organizations such as SEDA-COG must begin accepting applications from businesses by March 15. Clinton County Planning Director Katie de Silva said SEDA-COG will be announcing information on the grant application process. We will continue to keep everyone up-to-date as we learn more.

- Clinton County also will be the pass-through entity for pandemic-related funds that will come from the federal government through the state in the form of an Emergency Federal Rental Assistance program for landlords and tenants. Procedures and guidelines are still being developed for this new grant program. The PA Department of Human Services will be responsible for program oversight, and the county will designate the Clinton County Housing Coalition to administer the funds. We will continue to provide more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, Click Here for a DHS summary of the Act that establishes this program.

- SEDA-COG today announced that the SBA 504 loan program that helps small businesses is providing further relief by waiving fees and the first several months of payments on certain loans. Click Here for the SEDA-COG file for details.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,830 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 917,848. According to the data, Clinton County reported 6 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,716. Centre County saw 68 new cases, bringing their total to 12,710, and Lycoming County added 43 new cases, bringing their total to 9,100. Statewide, 1,963 people are hospitalized with the virus, 418 of whom are in the intensive care unit. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More Than 2 Million Vaccinations to Date.

The Health Department also shared its weekly update on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data. Details here: Department of Health Feb. 7-13 Update On COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, Monitoring Efforts: Pennsylvanians Urged To ‘Answer the Call,’ Complete the Connect & Protect Form, and Download the COVID App.

- Governor Tom Wolf today marked a milestone in the implementation of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan with the announcement that more than 600 skilled nursing facilities have received first and second doses of the vaccine, and in total more than 315,000 doses of vaccine have been administered among all long-term care facilities being vaccinated by CVS and Walgreens. See more: Gov. Wolf: Pennsylvania has Reached a Milestone in Its Plan to Vaccinate Seniors in Care (pa.gov).

- UPMC now has a website and phone line for people to sign up to be notified when they can make an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You can access the site here: COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Form (Phase 1a) | UPMC. If you have limited access to online services or technology, or need assistance in registering, you can call 844-UPMCVAC (844-876-2822) between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., seven days a week.

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from February 14-21, as they relate to regulated boards and commissions. BEU personnel performed 294 inspections and opened nine investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed nine warning letters and four compliance letters relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Feb. 14-21.

- During this tax season when many people are trying to stay safe at home, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers about ways to do their taxes for free online or with help from volunteers. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-time-guide-how-to-do-taxes-for-free-and-get-refunds-fast.

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity today announced the PA 529 Investment Plan, a program designed to help families save for education in a tax advantaged way, has reached a new milestone of $4 billion in assets. Learn more: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- According to an update from the PA Chamber,  Governor Tom Wolf’s controversial business closures and waiver program was a big topic of conversation during Monday’s budget hearing for the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development. DCED Secretary Dennis Davin said he takes full ownership of those business closure and waiver decisions, acknowledging they were made with imperfect information at a time when people were dying around the world from what was still a mostly unknown COVID-19 virus. Mr. Davin claimed there was ample communication with affected industries, but his answers during the hearing suggested much of that discourse occurred after the initial business closures were announced, with multiple revisions to that list taking place in response to what they heard from the business community and the legislature, as well as the creation of a waiver process that generated even more complaints and concerns from those affected by the closures. “Those discussions took place day and night, there were a number of folks that were involved in those. Again, there were so many different people that we talked to and discussed this with, and it was a time that we were trying to the right thing,” said Mr. Davin. “You might not agree with it, but the reality is we reviewed 42,000 applications in two weeks and we gave 22,000 businesses the ability to continue to remain open.” But several Republican members of the state House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee countered that while he admitted to his department’s lead role in those decisions, he didn’t seem to be interested in acknowledging that serious mistakes were made that could have been avoided if only there had been communication by him and his department with other agencies along with the legislature and the private sector before the decisions were made, not after the fact.

- North Central Sight Services, Inc., which serves people in Clinton and Lycoming counties, has released a short video that highlights the organizations services, including readying people with sight disabilities for the workforce. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyXRKIogaZM.

- The New Love Center has a tremendous impact on those in need in Clinton and Lycoming counties. Click Here for their February update and highlights nearly 2,000 meals served in January, more than 650 households impacted, and more than a ton of food donated. For more information, visit www.thenewlovecenter.com.

- Lock Haven University today highlighted the institution’s year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary, saying that despite the global pandemic, LHU still found ways to honor and celebrate its sesquicentennial anniversary year. Click Here for the LHU news release for more.

- The PA Association of Conservation Districts recently awarded 38 Nonpoint Source Pollution Prevention Mini-Grants totaling $60,000 to conservation districts across the state. The Clinton County Conservation District is among the grant recipients and will receive a $1,980 grant to conduct two virtual rain barrel workshops (not yet scheduled) to educate county residents on nonpoint source pollution and stormwater management. According to the grant information, 64 rain barrels will be purchased and constructed before the workshops, with workshop participants being able to take a rail barrel home. Click Here for a list of grants awarded and for more information, visit the PA Association of Conservation Districts website.

- A reminder that PA CareerLink will host a virtual employer workshop, UC Suitable Work and Separation Issues, next Thursday, March 4, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. UC Workforce Development representative  Nancy Smithbauer will address the process the UC Service Center follows when investigating and issuing benefit determinations relating to employees who voluntarily quit or have been discharged from a job. Pre-register at https://forms.gle/bNxbtpTxVWGNKJSC6 or contact Dorie Gilmore at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

2/22/21

- PennDOT Update: As of 2:00 p.m. Monday, PennDOT restored normal speed limits to previously restricted roads in the north central region as the winter weather moved out of the area. Along with restoring speed limits, the PennDOT update said commercial vehicles could again use the left lane and are not restricted to right lane only.

- Meanwhile, PennDOT today announced that expiration dates for commercial driver licenses and commercial learner’s permits will be extended for PA residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The press release notes the extension – through March 31 – will be the final extension for permits scheduled to expire from March 16 through March 31. Read more here: Article (penndot.gov).

 - The PA Public Utility Commission today urged consumers or businesses that may be struggling with larger winter utility bills or overdue balances to call their public utilities today to explore all available assistance options – and to take advantage of enhanced winter options before those programs may change or end. Click Here for the PUC file for more information.

- U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s Constituent Services Team is partnering with the IRS and AARP to host two virtual presentations about the 2021 IRS Filing Season. The first of two identical presentations is today, February 22, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and Wednesday, February 24 from noon-1:00 p.m. People must pre-register in advance. Click here for the flyer or to register for today’s event at 5:30, click here: https://sen.gov/O3NW and for Wednesday’s noontime event, use this link: https://sen.gov/P3OJ.

- Lock Haven University today announced that 12 different athletic teams are set to return to competition during the 2021 spring semester, however, no spectators will be permitted at home events. Click Here for the LHU news release.

- There continues to be improvement in the statewide – and local - COVID-19 statistics. Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam today released a weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 14,886 (5,461 fewer cases than the past week); a statewide percent positivity of 6.5% (down from 8.0% last week); and 40 counties with substantial transmission status, but no counties reporting over 20 percent positivity rate. According to the data, Clinton, Centre and Lycoming county’s percent positivity rates all declined this week. Clinton County’s percent positivity is 8.2%, compared to 8.8% last week; Centre County is at 4.5%, compared to 9.2% a week ago; and Lycoming County is at 9.3%, compared to 11.6% the previous week. Read more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Feb. 12-18: Case Increases at 14,886; Percent Positivity at 6.5% and 40 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 1,521 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 915,018. According to the state, Clinton County today reported 9 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 2,710. Centre County saw 13 new cases, bringing their total to 12,642, and Lycoming County reported 18 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 9,058. Statewide, 1,959 people are hospitalized with the virus, 421 of whom are in intensive care. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: Nearly 2 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- Saying the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected Pennsylvania workers, businesses and communities, Governor Wolf today unveiled his “Back to Work PA” plan, which he says will bolster economic recovery efforts and position Pennsylvania for economic growth. See more: Governor Wolf Unveils Workforce and Economic Development Plan to Get Pennsylvania Back to Work (pa.gov)

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 480 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (February 19-21), issuing 28 notices of violation and 18 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 16 licensee checks during the period, issuing one warning and no notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement February 19-21: 480 Compliance Checks; 28 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Small Business Administration offers several updates:

  • The SBA has announced a new, targeted EIDL Advance mapping tool. The Targeted EIDL Advance provides businesses located in low-income communities (some portions of Clinton County fall within this guideline) with additional funds to ensure small business continuity, adaptation, and resiliency. Applicants do not need to take any action at this time. SBA will reach out to those who qualify. To help applicants determine if they are located in a low-income community as defined in section 45D(e) of the Internal Revenue Code, a lookup tool is now available at https://sbaeidl.policymap.com/app. Note that the business address must be located in a low-income community in order to qualify, so SBA encourages potential applicants to check the map to see if they meet the low-income community eligibility requirement before you apply.
  • The SBA has now provided more than 3.7 million small businesses, collectively employing more than 20 million people, with $200 billion through the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Eligible small businesses can apply for an EIDL until December 31, 2021. Learn more and how to apply.
  • While the SBA is not yet accepting applications, those looking to apply for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant will need to be registered in the U.S. government’s System for Award Management, SAM.gov. SBA has created a video tutorial that guides people through the process, and you can find it on the SVOG’s website at www.sba.gov/svogrant. Learn more and get registered.
  • Bad actors are using government logos in phishing emails in an attempt to steal account information. Email image links lead to websites impersonating federal agencies. Any email from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will come from accounts ending in sba.gov. Learn more.
  • The federal government has a goal to award at least 23% of contract dollars to small businesses. Explore the SBA’s contracting guide to learn how your business can compete for and win government contracts. Learn more.

- Updates from the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry:

  • House Appropriations Committee lawmakers focused on the impact that several aspects of Governor Wolf’s 2021-22 budget proposal would have on taxpayers and employers during the first week of budget hearings – particularly with respect to minimum wage increase and Personal Income Tax increase proposals. -> Read More
  • Budget hearings continue this week at the state Capitol, with House Appropriations Committee lawmakers headed into their second week of hearings and the Senate entering their first week with the heads of state agencies, row offices and other entities slated to receive state funding the 2021-22 fiscal year. -> Read More
  • Business owners statewide are being asked to tell state House Republicans what they need to recover from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The caucus’s legislative leadership last week unveiled the “COVID-19 Economic Recovery Business Survey.” Responses will be reviewed by the Policy Committee and Economic Recovery Task Force as they work to develop initiatives to expedite the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and related mitigation orders. The survey is available at www.PAHouseGOP.com through March 19. 
  • Last week, a PA-Chamber led coalition of business advocacy groups issued letters to the Governor and the General Assembly, urging them to reject placing punitive new taxes on the natural gas industry to pay for more state spending. -> Read More
  • The PA Chamber has joined more than 300 organizations nationwide in signing on to a U.S. Chamber-led letter that calls on Congressional lawmakers to enact a comprehensive, bipartisan infrastructure funding package before July 4, 2021. -> Read More

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Climate Change Advisory Committee is scheduled to hold a virtual meeting tomorrow, February 23, to hear a presentation on and discuss the final draft of the 2021 Climate Impacts Assessment and an updated draft of the 2021 PA Climate Action Plan. Key findings of the assessment indicate that flooding is currently the highest-risk hazard facing Pennsylvania, and flood risks are projected to increase with impacts to infrastructure, human health, and agriculture, with ripple effects throughout the economy. At the same time, risks from increasing average temperatures (affecting nearly every aspect of life, from infrastructure design to energy costs, recreational opportunities, agricultural practices and the natural environment) and heat waves (creating particular health and economic risks for vulnerable populations, including low-income populations, the elderly, pregnant women, people with certain mental illnesses, outdoor workers, and those with cardiovascular conditions) could rise to be as high as flooding is today by mid-century. Click here for more information: http://paenvironmentdaily.blogspot.com/2021/02/dep-climate-advisory-committee-meets.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PaEnvironmentDaily+%28PA+Environment+Daily+Blog%29.

- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today said it is now working to set new premiums for flood insurance to more accurately reflect the risk of today’s climate. Click Here for the FEMA file for details.

- 12th District Congressman Fred Keller, in his weekly newsletter, notes that a Social Security Statement is one of the most valuable tools a person can use to learn about their earnings and future Social Security benefits. A convenient way to access the Statement is by using my social security, where you can find a variety of useful tools and information, including new fact sheets. The fact sheets cover:

  • Retirement planning for four different age groups (Ages 18-48, 49-60, 61-69 and 70+).
  • Benefit information for: Workers with non-covered earnings who may be subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision/Government Pension Offset; Workers who are not fully insured; Workers with an intermittent work history; and New workers.
  • Medicare planning.

You can find all of the new fact sheets here.

- As part of American Saves Week, the U.S. Department of Labor is offering a free webcast, Helping Small Business Owners and their Employees Save for Retirement, this Wednesday, February 24, at 2:00 p.m. A retirement plan is a tax efficient way to improve your financial security. And as an employer, offering a retirement plan helps your employees improve their financial wellbeing – and can be a recruitment tool as you continue to grow and expand your business. Starting a retirement savings plan can be easier than you think. This webinar is for small businesses and their CPAs. Register today.

- The PA Fish and Boat Commission today announced it is recruiting the 24th class of Waterways Conservation Officer (WCO) Trainees at hits H.R. Stackhouse School of Fishery Conservation and Watercraft Safety. More information here: PENNSYLVANIA FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION TO RECRUIT NEW CLASS OF WATERWAYS CONSERVATION OFFICER TRAINEES (pa.gov)

2/19/21

- Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan provided a weekly update on the local employment picture: Initial unemployment insurance claims by Clinton County residents decreased during the one-week period ending February 13, but continued claims rose by more than 100, according to information released Thursday by the state Department of Labor & Industry.

The initial claims were 98, with 75% of them male and 30% in the construction field. For the week ending February 6, 232 residents filed for the first time. Meanwhile, there were 1,132 continued claims during the week ending February 13, up from 1,028. The continued claims included 58% who are male, and 22% are in the construction sector.

The state also reported that 30 residents exhausted their unemployment benefits as of February 13. Since the beginning of the year, 232 have had their benefits expire.

Clinton County’s December unemployment rate was 6.6%. The monthly unemployment report for January should be available in early March.

- Keystone Central School District will continue to attempt to bring all students to school next week (those efforts were hampered this week by the weather). Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin, in her weekly update (Click Here) reminded families there is no school Monday, February 22 because of a scheduled staff development day. Weather -permitting, elementary, middle and high school students are slated to report to school Tuesday for in-person learning. Dr. Martin said there currently are three confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 among staff and two among students in four different schools.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today signed a fourth renewal of his 90-day Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic. The first proclamation was signed on March 6 following the announcement of the first two presumptive positive cases of the virus in Pennsylvania. Read more: Governor Wolf Signs Fourth Renewal of COVID-19 Disaster Declaration to Aid in Response and Recovery (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,778 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 908,773. According to the data, Clinton County reported 10 new cases, bringing the countywide case count to 2,681. Centre County saw 50 new case reports, bringing their total to 12,519, and Lycoming County reported 41 new cases, bringing their count to 8,977. Statewide, 2,124 people are hospitalized with the virus, 467 of whom are in intensive care. There were 67 new deaths reported, bringing to 23,480 the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19, including 55 deaths in Clinton County. See more: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: Nearly 1.9 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- The Health Department say it’s been alerted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that recent winter storms across the country will delay deliveries of both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. For Pennsylvanians, the Department says those delays could impact their appointments for the vaccine. Read more: Department of Health Provides Update on Adverse Weather Impacting Vaccine Distribution and Administration, Assures Pennsylvanians will Be Vaccinated as Distribution Resumes.

- The Wolf Administration today provided an update on the state’s progress in administering COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff of long-term and congregate care facilities eligible in Phase 1A of the vaccine distribution schedule. Learn more: Wolf Administration Provides Vaccine Update for Long-Term Care Facilities, Expands Rite Aid Partnership to Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Facilities.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 903 licensed liquor establishments this week (February 15-18), issuing 11 notices of violation and 31 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 20 licensee checks during the period and issued one warning and no notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement February 15-18: 903 Compliance Checks; 11 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- A Special Enrollment Period for the federal Health Insurance Marketplace will run through Saturday, May 15. Explore options at https://HealthCare.gov.

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced its latest actions to help expand electric vehicle use statewide: more than $936,000 in grant funding for projects to install 16 more fast chargers in high-traffic areas, the start of a draft rulemaking to make electric vehicles more readily available to consumers, and the release of a booklet on the benefits and basics of these zero emission vehicles. See more: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of General Services announced the state’s first auction of 2021 will feature 270 vehicles that will be available for purchase. The auction will be held this Tuesday, February 23, at Manheim Keystone Pennsylvania auction house in Grantville, with limited in-person attendance. More here: Pennsylvania's First Vehicle Auction of 2021 to Feature 270 Vehicles for Public Purchase on February 23 (pa.gov).

- STEP, Inc., the community action agency serving Clinton and Lycoming counties, has published its Winter 2021 newsletter, which can be viewed by clicking the following link: https://www.stepcorp.org/news-events/newsletters.html.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources warns that sustained cold temperatures and a string of snowstorms have left many state forestry roads impassable and is urging motorists to stay off forest roads until conditions improve. See more: DCNR Warns of Hazardous Conditions on State Forest Roads (pa.gov).

- About 200 runners will take to Bald Eagle Mountain in Clinton County Saturday morning for the 2021 Frozen Snot trail race. Wintery conditions will require that participants wear traction cleats as they maneuver the 13.5- and 8.3-mile courses. This is the first of more than a dozen trail challenges planned for the area this year.

2/18/21

- The PA House Republican Caucus this week launched a COVID-19 Economic Recovery Business Survey, seeking input from Pennsylvania business owners on what relief and assistance are needed to recover from the devastation of the pandemic. READ MORE.

- The PA Health Department is regrouping to clear up a supply misstep with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The state is now saying up to 60,000 people could have to reschedule vaccine appointments, and up to 55,000 others might be delayed in getting their initial doses. The problem involves only the Moderna COIVD-19 vaccine – people  receiving the Pfizer vaccine won’t be affected. According to the state, patients who have appointments to get the Moderna vaccine will be contacted by the pharmacy or medical practice providing their shot if they need to be rescheduled. Patients who don’t hear from their providers should go in as scheduled for their second dose. Read more: Here's what you need to know about Pa.'s shortage of Moderna vaccines | Pennsylvania Capital-Star (penncapital-star.com).

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 3,345 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 905,995. According to the data, Clinton County reported 11 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 2,671. Centre County saw 73 new cases, bringing their total to 12,469, and Lycoming County was up 19 new cases, bringing their total to 8,936. Statewide, 2,174 people are hospitalized with the virus, 465 of whom are in intensive care. To date, 23,413 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 across the state, 55 in Clinton County. More here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1301

- The Internal Revenue Service today provided greater flexibility, due to the pandemic, to employee benefit plans offering health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) or dependent care assistance programs. Under the COVID-related Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, these plans now have additional discretion in 2021 and 2022 to adjust their programs to help employees better meet the unanticipated consequences of the public health emergency. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/new-law-provides-additional-flexibility-for-health-fsas-and-dependent-care-assistance-programs.

- PA Department of Health nursing home surveyors last month conducted 712 inspections, including 351 complaint investigations, of 472 separate nursing homes, according to a January report. Of those, 222 were COVID-19-specific investigations. According to the report, there were no new sanctions finalized against a nursing care facility in January. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1300.

- The PA Department of Agriculture today released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from February 8-14. The Department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 691 inspections, 36 of which were complaint-driven. Twenty-eight complaints were related to COVID-19 mitigation measures. The Department received 188 food facility COVID-19-related complaints, 10 of which were referred to local and county health jurisdictions. During the period, inspectors closed three restaurants for violating COVID-19 mitigation orders. More here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Agriculture_details.aspx?newsid=1041.

- Local nonprofits and municipalities have until March 1 to submit an application for a grant through the Clinton County Tourism/Recreation Grant Program. The purpose of the grant program is to support the development and expansion of tourist and recreational assets and events that promote Clinton County and increase tourism and overnight stays within the county. For program guidelines and the online grant application, visit: https://www.clintoncountypa.com/departments/funding-opportunities.

- The Wildlife Leadership Academy, a nonprofit whose mission is “to engage and empower high school age youth to become Conservation Ambassadors to ensure a sustained wildlife, fisheries and natural resource legacy for future generations,” is seeking a qualified candidate for a seasonal (7 month) Field School Operations Coordinator at their Lock Haven office. The Coordinator position would be responsible for the administrative and logistical operations of the Academy’s summer field schools. Applications are requested by March 1. Click Here for all the details.  

- The PA Fish and Boat Commission invites the public to participate in its 2021 Virtual Fisheries Summit this Saturday, February 20. The event – which can be seen on the PFBC Facebook page – will feature narrated presentations on the wealth of diverse fishing opportunities in PA and discuss the status of various warm-water, cool-water, and cold-water fisheries. See more here: https://www.media.pa.gov/pages/fish-and-boat-commission-details.aspx?newsid=367.

- PA First Lady Frances Wolf addressed mental health, trauma, and equity during COVID-19 in a virtual conversation hosted on Facebook. Learn more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/first-lady-frances-wolf-hosts-virtual-conversation-addressing-mental-health-trauma-and-equity-during-covid-19/

2/17/21

- The PA Department of Health and the newly-formed joint task force with the state legislature today addressed issues with COVID-19 vaccine distribution that have been uncovered as the task force takes a look at the state’s distribution efforts. Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said the state discovered some vaccine providers have inadvertently administered the Moderna vaccine as second doses, instead of as first doses as they were intended. Beam said the state is committed to ensuring that adequate second doses will be available. Read more: Department of Health and Legislative Joint Task Force Take Action to Ensure Pennsylvanians Get Second Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine.

This PennLIVE article indicates the glitch has the potential to impact thousands of people: Pa. discovers big COVID-19 vaccine glitch — thousands of second doses given out by mistake - pennlive.com.

- Pennsylvania’s case counts for the virus today topped 900,000. The Department of Health today confirmed an additional 3,413 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 902,650. According to the data, Clinton County reported 14 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,660. Centre County saw 73 new cases, bringing their total to 12,394, and Lycoming County reported 34 new cases, bringing their total to 8,917. Statewide, 2,356 people are hospitalized with the virus, 491 of whom are in intensive care.

The Department said another 326,850 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be allocated this week – 183,575 first doses, and 143,275 second doses. To date, 2,766,400 doses will have been allocated as of this Saturday, February 20. As of February 16, 1,749,949 doses have been administered, 82 percent of which were first doses and 38 percent second doses.

Locally, according to the state’s vaccine information, 3,428 people in Clinton County have received a partial (first) dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 912 people have received the full (second) dose. In Centre County, 14,959 people have received a partial and 4,719 people a full dose. In Lycoming County, 9,531 partial and 4,368 full doses have been administered. Read more: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More than 1.7 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- UPMC will host a COVID-19 Vaccine Tele-Town Hall phone update today (Feb. 17) at 5:00 p.m. A UPMC panel will take audience questions and discuss several topics related to COVID-19 and the vaccine. People can call 855-962-0996 to participate.  

- The Health Department today shared its weekly update on the state’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data. More here: Department of Health Jan. 31-Feb. 6 Update On COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, Monitoring Efforts: Pennsylvanians Urged To ‘Answer the Call,’ Complete the Connect & Protect Form, and Download the COVID App.

- The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) is now accepting applications for grants funded by Act 13 drilling impact fees for watershed restoration, abandoned mine drainage abatement, baseline water quality data, orphaned or abandoned well plugging, sewage facilities, flood mitigation programs and recreation. The deadline for applications is May 31. Visit the CFA Act 13 Programs webpage for more information.

- Governor Wolf today proposed a scholarship program that would provide need-based financial assistance for students at the state’s 14-university system, which includes Lock Haven University. The Nellie Bly Scholarship Program would provide scholarships to 44,000 full-time undergraduate students. In exchange, the students would agree to stay in Pennsylvania after graduation for the same number of years for which they receive the benefit or the scholarship becomes a low-interest loan. More information here: Governor Wolf: Nellie Bly Scholarship Program Will Help at Least 44,000 PASSHE Students Afford College.

- The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a no-cost webinar, “Effective Social Media Strategies for your Small Business,” tomorrow, February 18, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. REGISTER NOW!

2/16/21

- Pennsylvania’s – and Clinton County’s – positive test rates for the coronavirus continue to decline. Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam Tuesday released the state’s weekly status update detailing mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 19,621 (1,194 fewer cases than the previous week), a statewide percent positivity of 8.0% (down from 8.6% last week and the ninth consecutive week the rate has dropped after a high of 16.2% in December), and 51 counties with substantial transmission status (also down from 59 counties last week).

This also is the second straight week of no counties reporting over a 20% positivity rate, and three counties – Cameron, Cambria and Washington – now have a positivity rate lower than 5%. At 8.8%, Clinton County’s percent positivity is on the decline this week, compared to 9.6% last week – good news. Centre County also saw a decline, reporting a percent positivity of 9.2% this week compared to 13.0% last week. Lycoming County’s rate went up, reported at 11.6% this week compared to 9.8% last week.

Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties remain in what the state considers a “substantial” level of transmission, along with 48 other counties. Neighboring Cameron County continues to have a “low” level of transmission, 3.6% this week – the only county so-designated. Fifteen counties are in the “moderate” level of transmission. See more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Feb. 5-11: Case Increases at 19,621; Percent Positivity at 8.0% and 51 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- The Department of Health today reported 2,377 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 899,237. Clinton County reported only one new case, bringing the countywide total to 2,646. Centre County reported 14 new cases, bringing their total to 12,321, and Lycoming County reported 45 cases, bringing their total to 8,883. The state also reported seven new deaths, bringing to 23,126, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 (54 in Clinton County).

- The PA Chamber – through its “Bringing PA Back” websitetoday announced additional information on vaccine resources for employers, including a vaccine rollout page that provides key information on the state’s phased vaccine rollout, and a digital resource center where employers can find information on developing a vaccine strategy, communicating about vaccines, vaccine safety and more. Click here for more information: The Sentinel | PA Chamber.

- UPMC today announced they have expanded their COVID-19 vaccinations to include senior citizens age 75 and over, and will begin vaccinating seniors in Clinton County starting tomorrow, February 17. Click Here for the UPMC news release issued Friday says the health system will vaccine people over 85, however, UPMC today said they’ve lowered the age group to 75+. It should be noted that the vaccinations are by appointment only. UPMC has been proactively reaching out to seniors and partnering with local agencies that support seniors to push the vaccinations out. For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations at UPMC, visit UPMC.com/COVIDvaccine.

Meanwhile, UPMC will host a COVID-19 Vaccine Tele-Town Hall phone update Wednesday, February 17, at 5:00 p.m. A UPMC panel will take audience questions and discuss several topics related to COVID-19 and the vaccine. People can call 855-962-0996 to participate in the Tele-Town Hall.  

- U.S. Senator Bob Casey today announced he will host a virtual panel discussion with regional community leaders on Wednesday, February 17, starting at 10:00 a.m., to provide COVID-19 vaccine education, specifically for PA seniors. See the attached flyers – one of which is for those who want to participate via phone and the other for online participation.

- Clinton County will be the recipient of $437,500, part of $145 million in funding to be distributed to all 67 Pennsylvania counties through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP), a grant program to help support the hospitality industry. According to state guidelines, counties must designate a Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO) or a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) to actually administer the grant program. Clinton County is expected to designate SEDA-COG (a CEDO), which will then establish the process to apply (NOTE: this program is not yet accepting applications). The state plans to allocate funding to counties by the end of February, and program administrators are to begin accepting grant applications starting March 15. Grants of between $5,000 up to $50,000 will be available for eligible hospitality businesses.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration Friday said it has reached a milestone in the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which has provided U.S. small businesses, non-profits, and agricultural businesses a total of $200 billion in emergency funding. The SBA is still accepting EIDL loan applications as the deadline to apply has been extended to December 31. See more: SBA Reaches $200 Billion Milestone in Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to Small Businesses and Non-Profits

- If your identity was used, without your knowledge or permission, to obtain a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for which you never received any of the loan proceeds, the U.S. Small Business Administration has recently published a letter with instructions on how resolve this issueRead the letter

- The SBA continues to provide more information on the federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. On Friday, the SBA updated the frequently asked questions which includes information about eligibility, the application, use of funds and more. Learn more here: Shuttered Venue Operators Grants: Frequently Asked Questions, Feb. 12, 2021 (sba.gov).

- Are you hiring? Giving someone the opportunity to work may result in an IRS tax credit for your small business. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a Federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain targeted groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. Read more: Work Opportunity Tax Credit | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov).

- The Pennsylvania House and Senate this week begin the several-month process of hearings on the 2021-22 state budget. Read more from the PA Chamber: https://www.pachamber.org/media/3349/Budget_Hearings_Week_of_Feb_16/

- 12th District Congressman Fred Keller has been named the ranking member for the U.S. House subcommittee on Workforce Protections, one of five subcommittees within the Education and Labor Committee. The Subcommittee is tasked with addressing issues pertaining to wages and hours of workers, workers’ compensation, trade and immigration issues in relation to employers and workers, and workers’ safety and health.

- Today, February 16, is the first day people interested in running for office in the May 18 municipal primary election are able to circulate and file nomination petitions. Those interested can pick up petition packets at the Clinton County Piper Building, 2 Piper Way, Lock Haven. People with questions can contact the County Voter Registration & Elections at 570-893-4019 or visit their website at www.clintoncountypa.com/departments/voter-registration.

The Voter Registration office recently mailed some 3,800 renewal letters and mail-in-ballot application forms to Clinton County registered voters who last year had signed up for a permanent spot on the county’s vote-by-mail list. State law requires these voters to re-apply every year in order to receive a mail-in ballot for the primary and general elections.

Voters can go to www.votespa.com to apply online for an absentee or mail in-ballot or can request an application at the Voter Registration office. The last day to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot before the May 18 election is May 11.

The last day to register to vote or change your voter registration is May 3. Director of Voter Registration Maria Boileau says currently there are 21,888 registered voters in Clinton County including 11,758 registered for the Republican Party, 7,344 registered for the Democratic Party, 131 for the Libertarian Party, 31 for the Green Party and 2,634 registered in other affiliations.

- Voters in Pennsylvania’s May 18 primary election will decide whether future emergency declarations should be limited to 21 days unless an extension is approved by the General Assembly. The question will appear on the ballot, after the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the proposed constitutional amendment  in two consecutive legislative sessions. The proposed amendment is in response to concerns expressed by the state legislature that Governor Wolf has used the emergency declaration during the COVID-19 pandemic, suspending laws, shutting down businesses and spending money without the authorization of the General Assembly. The bill would not impact a governor’s ability to respond quickly to emergencies, nor would it jeopardize federal emergency aid, but instead ensure that the governor and the General Assembly work together to respond to a crisis and ensure all Pennsylvanians are represented during an extended state of emergency. The bill also provides for a constitutional amendment prohibiting the denial of equal rights based on race or ethnicity, bringing the Pennsylvania Constitution in line with the U.S. Constitution.

- The U.S. Census Bureau said Friday it won’t be delivering redistricting data used for redrawing congressional and state legislative districts until the end of September (instead of the end of March), causing headaches for state lawmakers and redistricting commissions facing deadlines to redraw districts this year. Census Bureau officials blamed operational delays during the 2020 census caused by the pandemic. Read More from the Census Bureau, and see lawmakers’ reaction in this article from PennLIVE: Census: No redistricting data until end of September - pennlive.com.

- The IRS announced today that, as required by law, all legally permitted first and second round of Economic Impact Payments have been issued and the IRS now turns its full attention to the 2021 filing season. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/as-required-by-law-all-first-and-second-economic-impact-payments-issued-eligible-people-can-claim-recovery-rebate-credit.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 589 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (February 12-14), issuing 11 notices of violation and 27 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 19 licensee checks during the period, issuing four warnings and one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement February 12-14: 589 Compliance Checks; 11 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from February 7-14 as they relate to regulated boards and commissions. BEI personnel performed 473 inspections and opened 16 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. The Bureau this week distributed one warning letter and no compliance letters relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Feb. 7-14.

- STEP, Inc., the community action agency serving Clinton and Lycoming counties, is asking people to participate in their Community Needs Assessment survey, which helps define areas of opportunity within the community. Click here to take the survey by April 1: https://www.stepcorp.org/cna/.

- The Foundation for Free Enterprise Education has announced plans for in-person Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week sessions this summer. The week-long sessions – during which high school seniors from across the state come together as teams to simulate the creation and operation of a business – will see some alterations in the name of COVID-19, including being hosted solely by Lycoming College instead of sharing the program with Penn College. There will be four, one-week sessions starting July 4, July 11, July 25 and August 1. Should circumstances prevent in-person sessions, PFEW will be held remotely. For more on this unique entrepreneurial experience for students, visit www.pfew.org.

2/12/21

- PA Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam today issued an order – and Governor Tom Wolf signed a concurrent order – directing vaccine providers’ administration of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that Pennsylvanians are vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible. Read more: Department of Health Issues COVID-19 Vaccine Order to Help Expedite Vaccine Administration, Improve Accessibility for Seniors

- As of February 12, 1,167,402 partial coronavirus vaccines and 356,108 full vaccines have been received across Pennsylvania, according to the PA Department of Health. According to the data, 3,195 people in Clinton County have received a partial dose and 751 a full dose of the vaccine. In Centre County, 15,153 have received one dose and 3,358 people have received the two, full doses. And in Lycoming County, 9,030 have received a partial dose and 3,611 a full dose of the vaccine. More details here: Where are Pa.’s vaccines being administered? Feb. 12 map, county-by-county breakdown - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLIVE)

- The Health Department and the department of Human Services today provided an update on Pennsylvania’s progress administering COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff of long-term and congregate care facilities eligible in Phase 1A via the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program. See more: Wolf Administration Updates on Progress of Vaccinations of Long-Term Care Facilities and Staff (pa.gov).

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 3,987 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 888,256. Clinton County reported 10 additional positive cases, bringing the countywide number to 2,621. Centre County saw 40 new case reports, bringing their total to 12,114, and Lycoming County was up an additional 31 cases, bringing their count to 8,706.

Statewide, 2,687 people are hospitalized with the virus, 538 of whom are in intensive care. Additionally, there were 99 new deaths reported, bringing to 22,959, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: Over 1.5 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- Central Mountain High School Students will resume in-school learning next week. Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin, in her weekly Friday update, said CMHS will join all other students in in-the-classroom learning starting Tuesday, February 16 (there is no school Monday, February 15 for President’s Day). Dr. Martin said the District currently has one confirmed active case of the virus among staff and six among students in three different schools. Click Here for the KCSD update for more information.

- The number of initial unemployment insurance claims by Clinton County residents increased significantly during the week ending February 6, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The continued claims number for the county remained relatively steady.

The state reported that 232 county residents filed initial claims during the one-week period ending February 6. The construction field accounted for 29% of the claims, and 60% were male. During the same time period in 2020, 74 people filed initial claims.

Continued claims fell slightly from the 1,045 recorded January 30 to 1,028 listed on February 6. Almost 30% of the continued claims were in the construction sector, and 61% were male. There were 705 continued claims one year ago.               

The state also said 20 county residents had their unemployment insurance benefits expire as of February 6. In the last five weeks, over 200 residents had their benefits exhausted.               

Clinton County’s December unemployment rate was 6.6%, down from a pandemic period  high of 16.6% in April. The January 2021 rates for all 67 counties should be released at the end of February.

- The U.S. Department of Labor said across the country, initial unemployment claims for the week ending February 6 were 793,000, a slight decrease of 19,000 from the previous week, evidence that job cuts remain high despite a substantial decline in new viral infections. Prior to the start of the pandemic last March, weekly applications for jobless aid had never topped 700,000, even during the Great Recession. Read more: https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today announced eligible Pennsylvanians can begin applying for the new Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program starting this Sunday, February 14. The MEUC program was created by Congress as part of the federal Continued Assistance for Unemployment Workers Act of 2020 to assist workers who had multiple sources of income that varied in eligibility for traditional Unemployment Compensation. MEUC provides an additional $100 weekly in extra benefits to eligible claimants. Click here for more information: New Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) Program Available Starting this Sunday (pa.gov).

- The PA Labor & Industry is reminding Pennsylvanians who received a 1099-G tax form for unemployment benefits they did not apply for that they are likely the victim of a widespread national unemployment fraud issue and should take the necessary steps to report the fraud and protect their information. Learn more: As Tax Filing Season Begins, L&I is Reminding Pennsylvania Unemployment Fraud Victims of Important Next Steps (pa.gov).

- With tax filing season now open, the PA Department of Revenue is encouraging taxpayers to electronically file their Pennsylvania personal income tax returns with the department’s new, state-only filing system available at mypath.pa.gov. Read more: Pennsylvanians Encouraged to Use myPATH to File PA Tax Returns.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,064 licensed liquor establishments this week (February 8-11), issuing 13 notices of violation and 32 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 40 licensee checks during the period, issuing one warning and two notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement February 8-11: 1,064 Compliance Checks; 13 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- Based on a recent book authored by several Penn State University professors, Penn State has now established a one-credit course on pandemic safety, believed to be one of the first in the nation. Read more: Penn State offers COVID-19 class to teach students and spread pandemic safety information - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLIVE)

- The PA Department of Health has published the 2020 Pennsylvania State Health Assessment. Titled The State of Our Health: A Statewide Health Assessment of Pennsylvania, the report points to specific health challenges in the state and indicates where the largest improvements can be made. See more: Department of Health Publishes State Health Assessment, Highlights Specific Health Challenges Pennsylvanians are Facing.

- The PA Agriculture Department today called for proposals from nonprofit marketing and promotion organizations for projects aimed at increasing sales, export or consumer awareness of Pennsylvania hemp products. Read more: Agriculture Secretary Seeks Proposals for $253,000 in Matching Grants to Boost Hemp Sales, Exports (pa.gov).

The Ag Department is also accepting concept proposals that will increase visibility and competitiveness of the state’s horticultural specialty crops, including fruit, vegetable, nursery, flower and nut products. Learn more: Ag Department Invites Grant Proposals to Strengthen Market for Vegetable, Fruit, Nut, Nursery Specialty Crops.

- PennDOT has announced that all driver license and photo centers will be closed this Saturday, February 13, through Monday, February 15, in observance of President’s Day. People can still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov. More here: Article (penndot.gov).

- If you’re looking for a reason to get outside this weekend, consider birdwatching. The 2021 Great Backyard Bird Count is underway today through Monday, February 15. You can go out (or simply observe through your window) and see what birds are in your back yard or at your feeder during any one of the four days of the count, then submit your observations. The Great Backyard Bird Count website offers resources to help you get started.

- The PA Game Commission today announced that bluebird nesting boxes built by staff at the Commission’s nearby Howard Nursery are available for sale. Read more: BLUEBIRD NEST BOXES HELP CONNECT WITH WILDLIFE (pa.gov).

- In addition to being Valentine’s Day, this Sunday is National Donor Day. The annual observance focuses on five points of life: organs, tissues, marrow, platelets, and blood. Signing up as an organ donor is the ultimate gift of live and hope to the more than 100,000 people currently on the national transplant waiting list. Donors can potentially save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of 75 more through organ, eye and tissue donation. Learn more about organ donation and register at organdonor.gov.

2/11/21

- Clinton County government will be the recipient of some $437,000 from the state to offer support to local hospitality businesses adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state this week announced the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP), through which a total of $145 million will be distributed to all 67 Pennsylvania counties to provide grants to one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic. The Clinton County Commissioners at their meeting today said the county is slated to receive $437,000 to carry out the grant program. The state is poised to release the funds to the counties by the end of February. The County is in the process of finalizing administrative details for the grant program. According to state guidelines, counties must contract with one or more Certified Economic Development Organizations (CEDO) or Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), which will then disburse the funding through grant agreements with eligible businesses. The grants will be awarded in $5,000 increments with a $50,000 maximum.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 3,978 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 884,269. According to the state, Clinton County reported 13 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 2,611. Centre County saw 74 new cases, bringing their total to 12,074, and Lycoming County reported 60 new cases, bringing their total to 8,675. Statewide, there are 2,789 people hospitalized with the virus, 569 of whom are in intensive care. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: Nearly 1.5 Million Vaccinations to Date

Meanwhile, the Department of Health continues to offer regional drive-thru and walk-in COVID-19 testing clinics around the state. Beginning Saturday, February 13, clinics will be held in Berks, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lawrence and Lebanon counties.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and Aging Secretary Robert Torres today highlighted some of the community-based solutions underway that are aimed at helping senior citizens gain access to the COVID-19 vaccine. See more: Gov. Wolf and Aging Sec. Torres Share Community-Based Solutions Helping Pennsylvanians 65-plus Access the COVID-19 Vaccine (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Chamber Foundation this week hosted a two-session webinar, The Role of Employers: Promoting COVID-19 Vaccines & Overcoming Hesitancy. If you missed it, you can view the sessions here: Day 1:  Public Attitudes about the COVID-19 Vaccines and Day 2:  Effective Messages & the Role of Employers. There’s also recommended reading for employers, including information on:

- Following are updates from the U.S. Chamber’s “CO-“ online information center:

  • Many businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program loans in 2020 can now apply for second-draw PPP loans. Here’s what you need to know about this expanded program: The PPP loan program has expanded.
  • Small business experts predict that changes from the COVID-19 era – including lots of handwashing and virtual doctor visits – will still be around in the post-pandemic world. Read more about The new, new normal.
  • Whether you’re just starting your business or have decades of entrepreneurial experience, you should understand these basic accounting terms to guide your business in the right financial direction (even if you have an accountant): Money matters, and so do these terms .

- Tax filing season opens tomorrow, February 12, and the Internal Revenue Service urging taxpayers to take some simple steps to help ensure they file accurate tax returns and speed their tax refunds to avoid a variety of pandemic-related issues. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/avoid-pandemic-paper-delays-use-e-file-with-direct-deposit-for-faster-refunds-as-irs-prepares-to-open-2020-filing-season.

- The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has released new guidelines used to determine financial eligibility for certain federal programs. Programs using the guidelines include Head Start, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the National School Lunch Program, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines

- The Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture examines trends in COVID-19 case rates and death rates for urban and rural areas. ERS: Rural Residents More Vulnerable to COVID-19.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance Wednesday released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions for February 1 – 5, specific to businesses not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. To date, the Bureau has assigned 410 cases to its investigators, and during the latest report period, the department completed 29 investigations that were sent to the Department of Health. Read more: Department of Labor & Industry Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Feb. 1 – Feb. 5.

- Residents in Clinton and seven other counties served through the SEDA-COG Metropolitan Planning Organization are invited to offer comment on a long range transportation plan. The plan identifies transportation needs, goals, projects and policies for a 20-year period and is updated every five years. To offer input, you can access and complete the survey through March 3 at: https://lrtp-seda-cog.hub.arcgis.com/

- The PA Treasury today said that more than 400,000 state government contracts, purchase orders and amendments are available on Treasury’s Contracts e-Library. Contracts can by viewed any time, giving Pennsylvanians an unprecedented opportunity to see how state tax dollars are spent. Learn more: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- Due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PA Fish & Boat Commission has cancelled all in-person programs through at least the end of March. The Commission today, however, announced it is offering a variety of virtual educational resources for anglers and boaters. Click on the following link for more on the Commission’s Activities & Education Portal and their Calendar of Events: PFBC TO OFFER VIRTUAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources today announced that more campsites at state parks will be open to pets beginning in 2022, including Poe Valley in Centre County and R.B. Winter State Park in Union County (camping areas at state parks in Clinton County already are pet friendly). More here: DCNR Providing More State Park Campsites Allowing Pets in 2022.

Upcoming Webinars:

  • Penn State Extension hosts a February 24, 11:00 a.m. webinar, Mental Wellness during COVID-19: Substance Misuse in Times of Crisis. Learn More
  • The PA Chamber hosts a free webinar, Exploring the Impact of 5G Technology on PA’s Economy and YOUR Business, on Thursday, February 25, from 11:00 a.m. until noon. Hear from a panel of business leaders about how 5G is expected to impact business operations, including: an explanation of 5G technology and why it’s so important that companies embrace it; advantages 5G will bring to company networks; challenges to implementing 5G; top five steps companies should be doing now to prepare and implement their communications systems for 5G; and best practices for monitoring and securing 5G. Register Now 

2/10/21

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today announced that $145 million in funding will be distributed to all 67 Pennsylvania counties through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program to help support the state’s hospitality industry. Funding will be provided in the form of block grants to each county based on population and will be allocated from the state to counties by February 28. Read more: Governor Wolf Announces $145 Million in Hospitality Relief Funding Ready for Distribution to Pennsylvania Counties (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Small Business Administration today said the SBA and lenders are taking more strides to improve the Paycheck Protection Program so that small businesses can access much needed PPP funds to persevere through the pandemic, recover, and build back better. To date, the SBA has approved $103 billion in PPP funds to more than 1.4 million small businesses, with 82 percent of all loans going to businesses requesting less than $100,000. In addition, the SBA says 28 percent of businesses who have received funding in the latest round are in rural communities. See more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/feb/10/sba-lenders-take-more-steps-improve-paycheck-protection-program.

- The Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday announced the second extension of a rule to bolster the effectiveness of the PPP. Like earlier extensions, this one will temporarily modify the Board’s rules so that certain bank directors and shareholders can apply to their banks for PPP loans for their small businesses. Read more: https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/pressreleases/bcreg20210209a.htm.

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity today urged the IRS to take steps to ensure that Pennsylvania taxpayers victimized by identity theft and unemployment compensation fraud are not penalized when it comes to federal taxes. More here: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- The PA Department of Human Services today outlined comprehensive employment and training programs that provide support for people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits to obtain employment skills: SNAP 50/50, Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS), and the Employment, Advancement and Retention Network (EARN) program. Learn more: Department of Human Services Provides Updates on Work Supports System for Public Assistance Recipients.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 3,378 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 880,291. According to the data, Clinton County reported 10 new cases today, bringing cases countywide to 2,598. Centre County saw 109 new cases, bringing their total to12,000, and Lycoming County reported 81 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 8,615.

Statewide, 2890 people are hospitalized with the virus, 574 of whom are in intensive care. There were 125 new deaths reported for a total of 22,745 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Locally, 53 deaths have now been reported in Clinton County. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More than 1.4 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- Redesigning the structure of some of Pennsylvania’s state universities could lower the cost of attending them by 25% in five years. That was one of the ‘stretch’ goals State System of Higher Education Chancellor Dr. Dan Greenstein discussed Tuesday as he met before both the State Senate and House education and appropriations committees to provide a progress report on plans to redesign the system. Included in that effort is a proposal to integrate Lock Haven University with Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities. Read more: Cutting college cost by 25% through redesign of Pa. state universities attracts lawmakers’ attention - pennlive.com. (Source: Harrisburg Patriot News)

- The PA Department of State has launched a survey for new Pennsylvanians to better understand their experiences in gaining professional licensure in the state and to reduce unnecessary roadblocks to licensure in the future. Read more about the New Pennsylvanians Occupational Licensure Survey here: Department of State Asks New Pennsylvanians About Experiences with Professional Licensure

- Governor Wolf Tuesday signed the 13th renewal of his January 2018 opioid disaster declaration to help the state fight the opioid and heroin epidemic. See more: Gov. Wolf Signs 13th Renewal of Opioid Disaster Declaration (pa.gov).

- PennDOT is alerting drivers that winter weather and the potential for snow accumulation are in the forecast for areas across the state over the next several days. More here: Details (penndot.gov).

Upcoming Online Opportunities:

- The U.S. Chamber tomorrow starts a new online series for small businesses called CO— Roadmap for Rebuilding. The first topic takes a look at starting up a small business, and includes two separate events:

- The Center for Rural Pennsylvania will host two different public hearings in February. The sessions will be conducted virtually via Zoom.

For more on the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, visit www.rural.palegislature.us.

- Penn State Extension offers a webinar, Mental Wellness during COVID-19: Grief, Loss and COVID-19, next Wednesday, February 17 at 11am. Learn More

- The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts an online seminar, Effective Social Media Strategies for your Small Business, next Thursday, February 18, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. REGISTER NOW!

- PennDOT’s Local Transportation Assistance Program (LTAP) hosts a number of training and technical assistance programs in February, all of which continue to be offered online. For more information, visit: https://gis.penndot.gov/LTAP/.

2/9/21

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 4,088 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 876,913. The state said there were 2,504 new cases reported Monday, however, those case counts were low as a result of technical maintenance to the state’s data server on Sunday. Tuesday’s case counts include cases as a result of catch-up reporting because of server downtime. According to the state, Clinton County reported three new positive cases today, bringing the number of cases countywide to 2,584. Centre County saw 22 new cases today, bringing their total to 11,891, and Lycoming County reported 33 new cases, bringing their total to 8,531.

Statewide, 2,881 people are hospitalized with the virus, 565 of whom are in intensive care. A total of 22,620 deaths are attributed to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania (52 in Clinton County). More information is available on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- Regarding distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, as of Monday, 1,352,248 doses of the vaccine have been administered to 1,049,609 people in Pennsylvania (74 percent of that number are people who received their first dose of the vaccine). The state is projecting that by Saturday, February 13, 2,439,550 doses of the vaccine will have been allocated/received by providers.

According to the Department of Health’s vaccine data, 2,964 people in Clinton County have received their first dose of the vaccine and 603 have received a full dose. In Centre County, 13,216 have received a partial and 2,961 a full dose; and in Lycoming County, 8,389 people have received a first dose and 3,131 have received a full dose.

A few more vaccine providers in the Clinton County area are now listed on the state’s map. Locally, Keller & Munro Pharmacy, and Pleasant Valley Family Medicine in Lock Haven are listed, as are Weis Pharmacies in Lock Haven, Mill Hall and Jersey Shore. Mill Hall Family Practice Center and Mill Hall Pharmacy in Mill Hall are also listed as vaccine providers, as is Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital. See more vaccine data here: COVID-19 Vaccine (pa.gov).

- Meanwhile, the Department of Health today launched a new tool called Your Turn to help people understand where they fall in the vaccine prioritization effort and to be alerted when it’s their turn to schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more: Department of Health Launches “Your Turn” Vaccine Eligibility Tool to Aid in Vaccination Process Across Commonwealth

- The Wolf Administration today announced it is establishing a COVID-19 vaccine joint task force with members of the state legislature to help share vaccine information and facilitate communication to the overall General Assembly. More here: Wolf Administration Announces Creation of COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force with Legislature (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf today renewed his call to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage. Read more: Gov. Wolf: Minimum Wage Increase and Tax Cut Would Boost Incomes of Many Essential Workers (pa.gov).

- Keystone Central School District will host a virtual Curriculum Showcase tomorrow, February 10, starting at 6:30 p.m. Central Mountain and Bucktail Area High School students in grades 8 – 11 and their families are encouraged to participate as a way to help prepare students for course scheduling for the next school year. The Showcase highlights the district’s course offerings and will also feature a live Question & Answer session on the scheduling process. The Showcase is hosted by the District’s Curriculum Department and people can participate at: https://bit.ly/3rbHCFs. For questions, contact Megan Hull in the Curriculum Department at 570-893-4900 ext. 2115 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

- With some areas seeing mail delays, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers to double-check to make sure they have all of their tax documents, including Forms W-2 and 1099, before filing a tax return. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/double-check-for-missing-or-incorrect-forms-w-2-1099-before-filing-taxes.

- The PA Department of Military and Veteran Affairs has announced that people filing their 2020 PA personal income taxes can help the state’s military personnel and their families by donating any amount of their refund to the state’s Military Family Relief Assistance Program. Learn more: Tax Time Offers Opportunity to Help Pennsylvania’s Military Families Facing Financial Difficulties (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions taken between January 31 and February 7, as it relates to regulated boards and commissions. During that time, the BEI performed 319 inspections and opened 22 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed 15 warning letters and two compliance letters related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Jan. 31-Feb. 7.

- PA CareerLink will host a March 4 employer webinar on the Unemployment Compensation topics of Suitable Work and Separation Issues. The 10:00 a.m. to noon session is free and will feature UC Workforce Development representative Nancy Smithbauer. Register at: https://forms.gle/bNxbtpTxVWGNKJSC6. Click Here for the PA CareerLink flyer for details and for questions, contact Dorie Gilmore at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2/8/21

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today released the state’s weekly status update detailing mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 20,204 (5,781 fewer new cases than reported the previous week), a statewide percent positivity of 8.6 (down from 9.3% last week), and 59 counties with substantial transmission status (also an improvement from the previous week).

All 67 counties reported percent positivity rates lower than 20 percent this week – the first in a while. Clinton County, however, saw a rise in the percent positivity, to 9.6%. This compares to 8.9% last week, but is still lower than two weeks ago, when it was 11.5%. Centre County saw a marked increase in percent positivity, to 13% this week, up from 8.9% last week and 6.6% two weeks ago. Lycoming County continues to see a decline in percent positivity. This week it was 9.8%, compared to 10.4% last week and 12.4% two weeks ago.

Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties remain in what the state considers a “substantial” level of transmission. Neighboring Cameron County continues to have a “low” level of transmission this week – the only county so-designated. Counties considered as having a “moderate” level of transmission are Armstrong, Bedford, Cambria, Elk, Indiana, Westmoreland and Wyoming. Read more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Jan. 29- Feb. 4: Case Increases at 20,204; Percent Positivity at 8.6% and 59 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- As of this report, the Department of Health had not yet released new case information for Monday. Sunday, February 7, the Department reported an additional 4,717 cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide case count to 870,321. Clinton County on Sunday reported 7 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 2,581. Centre County saw 134 new case reports, bringing their total to 11,869, and Lycoming County reported 63 new cases, bringing their total to 8,501. More information is available on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- According to the Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, as of today, 2,769 people in Clinton County have received a single/partial dose of the vaccine, while 596 people have received a full (two) dose. In Centre County, 12,742 have received a partial and 2,863 have received a full dose. In Lycoming County, 7,982 people have received a partial dose and 3,075 have received a full dose of the vaccine. See more here: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Vaccine/Pages/Vaccine.aspx.

- The Health Department today shared its weekly update on the state’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data. More here: Department of Health Jan. 24-30 Update On COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, Monitoring Efforts: Pennsylvanians Urged To ‘Answer the Call’ And Download the COVID App.

- Governor Wolf Friday signed legislation unanimously approved by the state House and Senate that carries $912 million in pandemic-driven aid for hard-hit hospitality businesses, private schools and people struggling to pay rent or utility bills. In addition, the new legislation carries a provision designed to clear up any uncertainty over whether federal pandemic aid, including Paycheck Protection Program loans and direct federal payments to taxpayers, are taxable as income in Pennsylvania. It is not, under the bill. Read more in this article from PennLIVE: Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf signs $912M pandemic relief bill - pennlive.com.

- A constitutional amendment that seeks to limit emergency declaration powers by the governor is set to go before voters at the ballot box. -> Read More in this summary from the PA Chamber.

- The PA Chamber was among more than 580 signatories on a letter organized by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform urging Congress to consider including targeted and temporary liability protections in the next COVID relief package. -> Read More

- The PA Chamber last week filed comments to the Department of Environmental Protection regarding a significant proposed revision to the state's Chapter 105 regulations, which govern permitting and impacts to wetlands and waterways. The PA Chamber's comments seek additional clarification with respect to key definitions and waivers, as well as requesting the final rule provide more clarity and flexibility to the regulated community in terms of alternative analysis and impact analysis requirements. DEP is expected to work on finalizing the rule within the next 18 months.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration has put together a matrix that compares the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) and the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) eligibility. This matrix is designed to help people decide what is best for their small business. Learn more

- The SBA has added a new frequently asked questions (FAQ) which includes information about the application process, eligibility and program criteria for the COVID-19 Targeted EIDL Advance. Learn more

- The SBA also reminds businesses that bad actors are using government logos in phishing emails in an attempt to steal account information. Email image links lead to websites impersonating federal agencies. Any email from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will come from accounts ending in sba.gov. Learn more

- The SBA is encouraging small business owners to take a 15-minute survey from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and share how the pandemic has impacted operations. Take the survey.

- The Internal Revenue Service announced today that a new form is available for eligible self-employed individuals to claim sick and family leave tax credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/new-irs-form-available-for-self-employed-individuals-to-claim-covid-19-sick-and-family-leave-tax-credits-under-ffcra.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 419 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (February 5-7), issuing 26 notices of violation and 47 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 19 licensee checks during the period, issuing two warnings and three notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement February 5-7: 419 Compliance Checks; 26 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that Citibank will refund $1,063,041 to approximately 7,000 Citi credit card accounts in Pennsylvania to resolve allegations that it illegally overcharged credit card interest. More here: AG Shapiro: PA Consumers Get $1 Million Back From Citibank – PA Office of Attorney General.

- The Wolf Administration today announced a temporary change in eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), expanding eligibility to certain college students who qualify based off their families’ income but normally would be ineligible for the program due to being a student. Learn more: Wolf Administration Announces Expansion to SNAP for Qualifying College Students, Provides Update on Latest Medicaid, SNAP Enrollment Data.

- State Treasurer Stacy Garrity today announced that Treasury’s PA ABLE program will cut fees because the National ABLE Alliance – of which PA is a leading member – met a $150 million asset milestone. More here: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- The state’s ‘One Lens’ photo contest starts accepting applications today. First Lady Frances Wolf is asking people to share their photos documenting their COVID-19 experience. See more: First Lady Frances Wolf Announces Submissions Now Being Accepted for Statewide Virtual Photo Exhibit Documenting COVID-19 in Pennsylvania (pa.gov).

2/5/21

- The Clinton County Economic Partnership welcomes Dr. Bashar Hanna as Lock Haven University’s new president. Dr. Hanna, who also serves as president of Bloomsburg University, today adds LHU to his responsibilities as Bloomsburg, Lock Haven and Mansfield universities work toward an integration of the three state system schools. Click Here for Dr. Hanna’s greeting as he takes over the helm at LHU.

- Keystone Central School District has announced that Central Mountain Middle School and Bucktail High School students will return to in-class learning five days a week, beginning Monday, February 8. District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin announced the expansion of in-the-classroom learning today, saying there currently is one confirmed active case of COVID-19 in the District. Elementary school students have been an in-person learning mode for two weeks now. Central Mountain High School students will continue to split their learning, coming to school for two days and learning remotely the other three. Click Here for the KCSD Update for details.

Dr. Martin also encouraged families with students in grades 8 – 11 to visit the District’s Virtual Curriculum Showcase website as a way to help prepare students for course scheduling for the next school year. She said the District plans a live Q&A event on the scheduling process on February 10 at 6:30 p.m.

- The state legislature is working to finalize legislation that would spell out how the state will spend $912 million in COVID relief provided by the federal measure signed into law by former President Donald Trump in December. The measure has undergone changes as it made its way through the House and Senate, but is expected to be finalized today and sent to the Governor. The legislation would allocate $569.8 million for Rental and Utility Assistance, $197 million for education programs, and $145 million to support Pennsylvania’s struggling hospitality industry. The biggest change made by the House is a move to exclude loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program from the state’s personal income tax.

- At the federal level, Congressional Democrats hope to see a $1.9 trillion measure passed through as a new round of COVID relief legislation. This week, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate cast party-line votes on two budget resolution bills that will enable the new Democratic majorities to pass a COVID-related financial rescue package without Republican votes – although President Joe Biden, who continues his call for bipartisan unity, continues to say that he wants Republican support for the plan. Included in the plan are $1,400 direct payments; a $400 per week jobless benefit through September; $350 billion in state and local government relief; a $20 billion national COVID vaccination program; $50 billion for COVID testing; $170 billion for education; and $30 billion in rent and utility assistance, among other provisions. Meanwhile, Republicans had offered the president a $618 billion counter proposal. Democrats hope to get the bill passed before March 14, when supplemental unemployment benefits expire.

- U.S employers added just 49,000 jobs in January, a sign that that the COVID-19 pandemic retains a tight grip on the economy nearly a year after it triggered a painful recession. Read more: US employers add just 49,000 jobs as unemployment falls to 6.3% - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLIVE)

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 4,688 positive case of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 861,674. According to the data, Clinton County reported 29 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,552. Centre County saw 51 new cases, bringing their total to 11,622, and Lycoming County reported 126 new cases, bringing their case count to 8,375. Statewide, there are 3,138 people hospitalized with the virus, 653 of whom are in the intensive care unit. See more: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More than 1.1 Million Vaccinations to Date.

- The Associated Press is reporting that the number of vaccines administered worldwide now exceeds the total number of reported COVID-19 cases worldwide. See more: Administered doses of vaccine exceed the total number of reported COVID-19 cases worldwide - pennlive.com.

- Rural issues such as transportation, internet connections and access to chain pharmacies are part of the frustration the elderly are feeling when they try to schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more in this PennLIVE article: In race for COVID-19 vaccinations, older residents in rural Pa. face tough obstacles - pennlive.com.

- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued a proposed rule to update the agency’s Hazard Communication Standard. OSHA said the update will increase worker protections, and reduce the incidence of chemical-related occupational illnesses and injuries by further improving the information on the labels and Safety Data Sheets for hazardous chemicals. There is a public comment period that runs through April 19, and people can submit comments identified by Docket No. OSHA-2019-0001, electronically at http://www.regulations.gov. Read more: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOL/bulletins/2bfb902.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 756 licensed liquor establishments this week (February 1-4), issuing 20 notices of violation and 30 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 81 licensee checks during the period, issuing one warning and one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement February 1-4: 756 Compliance Checks; 20 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The Pennsylvania Game Commission is expanding opportunities for people to watch wildlife in their natural settings. The Commission today announced that a new, 24-7 livestream from a black bear den in Monroe County was launched this week. This is in addition to the two Bald Eagle nest cameras that have attracted thousands of viewers, and a Snow Goose Cam that got up and running just last month at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster and Lebanon counties. You can access the livestreams through the Game Commission website, www.pgc.pa.gov. Learn more: WATCH WILDLIFE ROUND THE CLOCK FROM HOME (pa.gov).

2/4/21

- Clinton County checked in with a 6.6% unemployment rate for the month of December, the eighth straight month that the figure has decreased since April. The December rate was down slightly from the 6.8% listed in November, according to information released Wednesday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. Both months listed an estimated 1,200 county residents out of work. The county has seen its unemployment rate drop every month since a pandemic high of 16.6% in April.

Adams County saw the lowest unemployment rate in the state’s 67 counties at 4.4% for December, while the highest was 9.7% in Philadelphia County. Clinton County was no. 32 with its 6.6% reading. Centre County was no. 4, with unemployment at 4.8%, and Lycoming County was #48, with a rate of 7.1%. The state had an overall unemployment rate of 6.7% in December.

“We are very glad that the unemployment percentage decreased again in December, and there are positions open at several of our businesses,” said Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan. “However, the January initial and continued unemployment claims continue to be relatively high and the state reported that more than 150 county residents had unemployment insurance benefits expire at some point in January. These numbers bear watching, but we are obviously encouraged that the newest monthly number is 10 percentage points lower than when the April shutdown took place, and only a half point higher than that of December 2019.”

- Dr. Robert Pignatello today extended a farewell message as he wraps up his time as president of Lock Haven University, moving on to a position with Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The Partnership thanks Dr. Pignatello for his service and wishes him all the best in his future endeavors. Click Here for the LHU file to view his farewell message.

Bloomsburg University President Dr. Bashar Hanna today was named interim president of Lock Haven University, effective tomorrow, February 5, by the State System Board of Governors. Hanna will also continue as president at Bloomsburg. Click Here for the PASSHE file for a summary of today’s meeting.

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection today returned to normal status the final counties on drought watch: Clinton, Centre and Clearfield, saying hydrologic conditions are now normal statewide. Drought watch or warning conditions began in mid-August and expanded during the fall, affecting a total of 30 counties. Details here: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 3,370 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 856,986. According to the state, Clinton County reported only one new case today, bringing the countywide case count to 2,523. Centre County saw 59 new cases, bringing their total to 11,571, and Lycoming County reported 36 new cases, bringing their count to 8,249. Statewide, 3,224 people are hospitalized with the virus, 657 of whom are in intensive care.

As of February 3, the state says 1,110,783 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 650,939 people who have received one dose and 229,922 people who have received the full, two doses. According to the state vaccine website, as of today, 2,186 partial doses and 561 full doses have been administered in Clinton County; 8,720 partial and 2,749 full doses have been administered in Centre County; and 6,923 partial and 2,663 full doses of the vaccine have been administered in Lycoming County. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More than 1.1 Million Vaccinations to Date.

Meanwhile, the state’s free COVID-19 drive-thru and indoor walk-in testing clinics continue around the state. Beginning February 5, clinics will be held in Blair, Columbia, Elk/Cameron, Sullivan and York counties.

- A day after his 2021-22 budget address, PA Governor Tom Wolf Thursday held a press conference to push his budget plan. Speaking on education, the Governor said his proposal would make a historic $1.3 billion investment in public schools and create fairness in education funding. Read more: Gov. Wolf’s Education Plan Makes Historic $1.3 Billion Investment in Public Schools (pa.gov).

- The Internal Revenue Service today said eligible educators can deduct unreimbursed expenses for COVID-19 protective items to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom. See more: Educators can now deduct out-of-pocket expenses for COVID-19 protective items | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov).

- Pennsylvania is reopening its online marketplace for government subsidized health insurance on February 15, giving the uninsured another shot at coverage for 2021. Pennie is the state’s new online health insurance marketplace and its directors voted Wednesday to reopen enrollment through May 15 to match the federal government’s special open enrollment period announced last week. For more information, visit https://pennie.com.

- The PA Department of Human Services today outlined the Medicaid Work Supports system, designed to connect people whose health care is covered through Medicaid to local employment and training resources, with a goal of supporting people in finding long-term employment and achieving financial independence. See more: Department of Human Services Provides Updates on Work Supports System for Medicaid Recipients.

 - According to new findings by the U.S. Census Bureau, close to 8 percent of persons in the U.S. are multiple jobholders, and the numbers have been trending upward during the past twenty years. Read more to learn how many people hold two or more jobs, what industries have the most multiple job holders, are men or women more likely to work more than one job, and how much money do individuals earn from multiple jobs: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/02/new-way-to-measure-how-many-americans-work-more-than-one-job.html?utm_campaign=20210203msacos1ccstors&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

- The PPL Foundation is currently accepting applications for their Sustaining Grant Program. The Foundation supports various nonprofit organizations in PPL’s 29-county service territory. Grants are used to fund organizations and programs focused on educational programs; diversity, equity and inclusion; and sustainable communities. Sustaining grants range between $1,000 and $25,000, with the average awarded grant being around $5,000. Grants are awarded to assist organizations with ongoing operational and program expenses for projects that align with the Foundation’s mission. Interested organizations can learn more and apply at www.pplcares.com (click on Sustaining Grants). The application deadline is March 15.

- The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship this week released a new online and print PA Wilds Outdoor Discovery Atlas that showcases the 13-county region’s unique recreation assets. The atlas is designed to help travelers and visitors navigate some of the region’s most popular destinations and points of interest. The PA Wilds region includes Clinton County and the Partnership’s Visitors Bureau has a limited supply of the printed atlases, should anyone want a copy. The new publication retails for $9.95 plus tax.

- PA First Lady Frances Wolf today encouraged Pennsylvanians to document their COVID-19 pandemic experience during a virtual conversation with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and State Library. The conversational series is titled, The Bigger Picture, and is an extension of the virtual photo exhibit, One Lens: Sharing Our Common Views that hones in on the various aspects of the pandemic. More here: First Lady Frances Wolf: “Documenting the COVID-19 pandemic is imperative for the future of Pennsylvania.”.

- PennDOT is reminding motorists to practice safe driving behaviors this Super Bowl Sunday, as snow, low temperatures and impaired drivers may be a factor. More here: Details (penndot.gov).

Upcoming Webinars:

- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosts a two-day meeting on The Role of Employers: Promoting COVID-19 Vaccines & Overcoming Hesitancy, February 8 and 9. The session will cover current trends in public attitudes, how to overcome vaccine hesitancy, the best way to communicate about vaccines, and the role of employers in this important phase of the pandemic response. Learn more or register here: https://events.uschamberfoundation.org/covid19vaccines?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=SFMC&utm_campaign=&utm_content=.

- The Small Business Development Center at Penn State hosts a number of no-cost workshops in February:

  • The First Step To Small Business Success, February 9, 9:00-11:00 a.m. Learn about the process of starting a business. Topics covered include; business structures, how to assess the feasibility of your business idea, legal and tax implications of owning a business, how to develop a business plan, funding options and how to compile a bank-ready financial package, how to market your product or service, health and safety regulations that may apply to your business, and where to find other resources that may help you succeed.
  • Quick Connect: Putting Your Business on TV, February 9, 1:00–2:00 p.m. Join the SBDC and John Jacob of Comcast as they provide insight to TV advertising, affordability, super targeted demographics, ad placement, and more.

   So You Want To Build an App?, February 11, 6:30- 7:30 p.m. This webinar is back by popular demand. Join industry experts Thaddeus Lorenz (creator of Tourney) and Jim Axelsson to learn about the various options for building an app and the associated costs, user experience design (UX), defining your target audience, and what to do once an app is ready to release.

  • Quick Connect: Creating Video Ads , February 16, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Video ads for small business owners is the latest trend across nearly every industry. Jorge Jovel of Black Sheep Media Group has tips for small businesses on design, creativity, and delivery. Join in as he walks through the basics of video ads for small business.  
  • 8 Tips to Secure Funding for your Startup, February 17, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Featured speaker Chris Grover will talk about investor profiles and their associated pros and cons, approaching and networking with potential investors, refining your pitch, the definite "do(s)" and the definite "do not(s)”, and considerations in negotiation of term sheets. 
  • Table Talks: Innovation in Value-Added Production, February 18, 2:00–3:00 pm. The phrase "value-added" is used to describe any addition to your product line that increases the value or how much a customer is willing to pay. But for food and farm businesses, how can valued-added production translate to improved revenue? This Table Talk helps answer that question and provides creative options for exploring production modifications.

 - The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a no-cost webinar, Effective Social Media Strategies for your Small Business, on February 18, 5:30-7:30pm. This seminar is designed to help participants concentrate on those Social Media strategies that will give the best return for their investment of time and/or money. REGISTER NOW!

- The Pittsburgh SCORE chapter hosts a February 25, 5:30-7:30pm seminar, Your Small Business and Best Practices for Selling Online. Register HERE.

2/3/21

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today, via a prerecorded video, delivered his 2021-22 budget address virtually. Click here to view or read the address and details of his proposal: Governor Wolf Delivers 2021 Budget Address (pa.gov).

You can also read HERE theoverview of the Governor’s budget plan that has been put together by Capitolwire, an online subscription-based news service focusing on issues relating to politics and government in Pennsylvania.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 3,128 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 853,616. According to the data, Clinton County reported six new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,572. Centre County saw 82 new cases, bringing their total to 11,512, and Lycoming County reported 53 new cases, for a total of 8,213. Statewide, 3,281 people are hospitalized with the virus, 669 of whom are in intensive care. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More than One Million Vaccinations to Date.

- Meanwhile, the Health Department has changed the statewide COVID-19 vaccine map. Previously, green dots on the map had indicated which health care providers had the vaccine in stock and red dots were for those who did not currently have a supply of the vaccine. But with the heavy demand by some four million Pennsylvanians who currently are eligible for the vaccine, the map was proving ineffective. So the state this week replaced the green and red dots with blue dots, which signify providers that are part of the program to distribute COVID-19 vaccine.

In the Clinton County area, there currently are six blue dots on the state’s map, indicating that Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital, the Weis Markets in Lock Haven, Mill Hall and Jersey Shore, Pleasant Valley Family Medicine in Flemington, and Mill Hall Pharmacy, are vaccine providers. By clicking on a dot, you can typically get contact information for a provider. View the map of vaccine providers here: Distribution (pa.gov).

“The use of blue dots indicates where there are enrolled vaccine providers,” said Health Department spokesman Barry Ciccocioppo. “Because in many cases only the providers know if they have appointments available or not, we felt that this change would be the best representation for the public. Anyone seeking to schedule an appointment should check with the provider to see if they have vaccine and appointments available.”

Still others have said the best way to get as close as possible to the front of the line for vaccine is to stay in close contact with your doctor.

- UPMC this week provided COVID-19-related informational articles:

- The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, chaired by Lycoming County state Senator Gene Yaw, will hold a virtual public hearing tomorrow, February 4, at 10:00 a.m. to examine rural aviation and the decision by American Airlines to drop flights from many smaller U.S. cities, including Williamsport. Presenters include representatives from PennDOT, Williamsport Regional Airport and the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, and Fish Real Estate. The public hearing will be held via Zoom, and people are asked to register in advance:  Register Here

- The PA Department of Aging’s Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman today announced dates and topics for an upcoming meeting of the Virtual Family Council. The VFC was created last May as an online forum for families that, due to the pandemic, were unable to have in-person visits with loved ones living in long-term care facilities. See more: Department of Aging: Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Announces February Dates for Virtual Family Council Meetings.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions for January 25-29, specific to businesses not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. To date, Bureau investigators have been assigned 409 cases. Between January 25-29, the Department completed 13 investigations that were sent to the Department of Health. See more: Department of Labor & Industry Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Jan. 25 – Jan. 29.

- The PA Department of Agriculture today released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from January 25-31. During that time, the department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 669 inspections, 25 of which were complaint-driven. Nineteen complaints were related to COVID-19 mitigation measures. The department received 170 food facility COVID-19-related complaints, 32 of which were referred to local and county health jurisdictions. Inspectors also closed three restaurants for failure to comply with statewide mitigation orders. According to the report, the Bureau conducted 10 inspections in Clinton County during the period. There were no complaint-driven inspections and no COVID-19-related ‘closed by order’ notices issued. More here: Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, January 25 – January 31.

- The Ag Department today called for proposals from nonprofit marketing and promotion organizations for projects aimed at increasing sales, exports or consumer awareness of Pennsylvania agriculture products. Learn more: Agriculture Secretary Seeks Proposals for $300,000 in Matching Grants to Boost Sales, Exports (pa.gov).

- The PA Departments of Environmental Protection, Agriculture, and Conservation & Natural Resources today said state and local partners made record progress last year on the Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan to improve the health of Pennsylvania’s share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. More here: State and Local Partners Made Record Progress in Second Year of Chesapeake Bay Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan.

- PennDOT is partnering with pizzerias in Clinton, Centre, Elk and McKean counties to urge designated driving ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The partnership coincides with a national impaired driving enforcement campaign running today through Sunday, February 7. Click Here for the PennDOT file for more information.

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission is inviting the public to participate in a virtual outdoor expo scheduled for next week, February 8-12. The event will be hosted on the Commission’s Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/PAFishandBoat. The Commission said it is hosting the Expo in light of the fact that many outdoor shows have been cancelled this winter due to the pandemic. For more, including the Expo schedule, click here: PFBC TO HOST VIRTUAL OUTDOOR EXPO FEBRUARY 8-12 (pa.gov).

Upcoming Webinars:

  • Penn State Extension offers a webinar called, Toss Your Hat in the Ring, which is designed to help people learn how to run for public office, such as serving on a local school board, borough council or township board of supervisors. The live, hour-and-a-half online session will be held tomorrow, February 4 at 1:00 p.m., and again at 7:00 p.m., and repeated on February 10 at 7:00 p.m. Learn More
  • Penn State Extension also hosts a ServSafe Food Safety Program February 18 and 25 at Toftrees Resort in State College for individuals serving as managers or who are in a supervisory role requiring certification. Upon successful completion of the course, participants receive the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certificate. Learn More
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration hosts a free Government Contracting Workshop February 17 at 10:00 a.m. CLICK AND REGISTER for this online session.

2/2/21

- The latest winter storm prompted PA Governor Tom Wolf yesterday to issue a statewide disaster emergency declaration, which opens up funds and resources to assist state agencies, as well as local governments, with the storm response. PennDOT issued a number of travel restrictions during the storm, but Tuesday lifted those as conditions improved. Read more: News Details (penndot.gov).

The Governor also signed an executive order Monday extending the annual campaign finance reporting deadline due to weather conditions. The order stipulates the deadline may not be extended beyond February 5. See more: Pennsylvania Extends Deadline for Annual Campaign Finance Reports Due to Severe Winter Storm.

The Governor also postponed his annual budget address – which had been scheduled for today – to Wednesday, due to the snowstorm. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget address will not be given live and in-person to the PA General Assembly, but instead will be a taped video message that legislators will be able to watch in their respective chambers or from home.

- While his budget address is tomorrow, Governor Wolf today outlined his budget proposal, saying his plan would cut taxes for working class families and invest billions in education and workforce development. More here: Governor Wolf Proposes Plan to Cut Taxes for Working Class Families, Invest Billions in Education and Workforce Development (pa.gov).

According to a report from PennLIVE, the Governor’s 2021-22 budget proposal contains the largest increase in education spending Pennsylvania has ever seen along with a sizable increase in the state’s personal income tax rate. Read more: Gov. Tom Wolf to propose tax increase to benefit public schools, give tax breaks to some families - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLIVE)

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 4,410 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 850,488. According to the state, Clinton County reported 10 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,566. Centre County saw 95 new cases, bringing their total to 11,430, and Lycoming County reported 44 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 8,160. Statewide, there are 3,280 people hospitalized with the virus, 650 of whom are in intensive care. See more: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More than One Million Vaccinations to Date.

- The Health Department shared its weekly update on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data. Learn more: Department of Health Jan. 17-23 Update On COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, Monitoring Efforts: Pennsylvanians Urged To ‘Answer the Call’ And Download the COVID App.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry has provided an update on the recent Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) implementations, addressing several issues claimants have been experiencing and providing updated information. Click here for details: L&I Provides Update on PEUC, PUA Programs (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Revenue this week released collection information for January 2021, noting that the state collected $2.7 billion in General Fund revenue in January, 5.8 percent less than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections totaled $21.2 billion, or 1.5 percent above estimate. See more: Revenue Department Releases January 2021 Collections.

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from January 24-31 as it relates to regulated boards and commissions. BEI representatives performed 519 inspections and opened 20 investigations in which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus, and the Bureau has distributed nine warning letters and five compliance letters relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More information here: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Jan. 24-31.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued several COVID-related updates: 

  • As of February 1, there have been 26,034,475 confirmed cases of COVID-19 detected in the U.S. The CDC provides updated case information daily through its COVID Data Tracker, which also now has a Vaccinations tab to track distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by state.
  • According to the CDC, multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating globally. So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway. Read more: New Variants
  • The CDC’s latest COVID-19 resource offers an information Toolkit on pregnancy, breastfeeding, and caring for infants during the pandemic: Resources for New Parents

Upcoming Webinars: 

  • The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a no-cost webinar, Fundraising for Small Nonprofits, Wednesday, February 3, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. CLICK HERE to register.
  • The Penn State Small Business Development Center offers an SBA Emergency Loans Webinar Series, designed to help small business owners understand the process for applying for PPP and EIDL loans. The workshop is held from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. on the following Thursdays: February 4, February 11, February 18, and February 25. Register Here

Non-COVID Items of Interest: 

  • Clinton County ranked sixth in the state in 2020 black bear harvests, with 149 bears killed. The PA Game Commission today announced that hunters took 3,608 black bears during the season, the state’s sixth-best bear harvest ever and about 20 percent lower than 2019’s record harvest of 4,653 bears. Neighboring Potter County finished first, with 188 bears taken, followed by Lycoming County, with 185; Tioga, 184; Clearfield, 157; and Monroe County, with 152. Read more: BEAR HUNTERS POST STATE’S SIXTH-BEST HARVEST (pa.gov).
  • The PA Fish & Boat Commission today made its 2021 adult trout stocking schedule available via the FishBoatPA mobile app and the Commission’s website, www.fishandboat.com. The Commission will begin stocking two weeks earlier than usual this year, beginning the week of February 15, in an effort to ensure most waters will be stocked in advance of the statewide Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day on March 27 and the statewide Opening Day of Trout Season on April 3. More information here: 2021 ADULT TROUT STOCKING SCHEDULE NOW AVAILABLE! (pa.gov).
  • The PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources has published its intent to increase fees for cabins and other overnight accommodations, marina and boat storage fees starting in 2022. Click Here for the State Park news release for details.
  • Lock Haven University recently was one of 37 institutions of higher education to receive an It’s On Us PA grant of $21,000 to help combat sexual assault on campus. Click Here for the LHU file for more information.
  • And, Pennsylvania was in the national spotlight on this Groundhog Day as Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter. Pennsylvania’s new state Treasurer Stacy Garrity jumped on board the groundhog frenzy, tweeting: “No matter how many weeks of winter are left, Treasury is here to help Pennsylvanians claim what is rightfully theirs free of charge. One in ten Pennsylvanians is owed unclaimed property, and the average claim is worth about $2,000.” You can search to see if you are someone who has a claim in some $3.8 billion in unclaimed property being held by the state Treasury by clicking here: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

2/1/21

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today released the weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 25,985 (5,823 fewer cases than the previous week), a statewide percent positivity of 9.3% (down from 10.5 last week), and 63 counties with substantial transmission status.

According to the data, every county in the state continues to have a concerning percent positivity above five percent. However, now only one county – Forest, at 29.8% – has a percent positivity above 20 percent. Clinton County saw its percent positivity decline from 11.5% last week to 8.9% this week. Centre County also has a percent positivity of 8.9%, but that represents an increase from their 6.6% last week. Lycoming County has a 10.4 percent positivity, down from 12.4% last week.

Only neighboring Cameron County has what the state considers a low level of transmission. Tioga, Clarion and Indiana counties have a moderate level, and all other counties – including Clinton, Centre and Lycoming – continue to be in the substantial level of transmission category. More here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Jan. 22-28: Case Increases Near 26,000; Percent Positivity at 9.3% and 63 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- The Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,854 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 846,078. According to the state, Clinton County reported 10 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,506. Centre County saw an additional 43 cases, bringing their total to 11,335, and Lycoming County reported 26 new cases, bringing their total to 8,116. Statewide, there are 3,370 people hospitalized with the virus, 695 of whom are in intensive care. There were 85 new deaths reported across the state over the weekend. Clinton County has 52 deaths that have been attributed to COVID-19.

As part of today’s announcement, the Department said that as of this Saturday, February 6, 2.1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will have been allocated/received by providers. As of January 31, more than a million doses of the vaccine had been administered, with 615,085 people having received one dose, and 196,470 people having received the full coverage of two doses. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More than One Million Vaccinations to Date.

- In response to winter weather conditions across the north central region of the state, PennDOT this afternoon is alerting motorists to  restriction change on Interstate 80 in Clinton and Centre counties. Effective from noon today until they are lifted, Tier 4 vehicle restrictions are in place on I-80 from I-99 at the 161 Bellefonte interchange in Centre County through Clinton County at mile-marker 192. See more: News Details (penndot.gov).

PennDOT’s Montoursville District also announced updated vehicle restrictions are in effect on I-80 between I-99 to the New Jersey border. Read more: Details (penndot.gov).

And the City of Lock Haven has a snow emergency in effect in the downtown through 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 2, prohibiting on-street parking to help facilitate snow removal. Free parking is provided in all city-owned off-street metered parking lots in the downtown during the snow emergency to accommodate people needing to park downtown. When the snow emergency expires, the City will bag meters to prohibit parking in specific areas as snow removal efforts continue.

- Passengers riding on every form of public transportation must wear a face mask when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel, according to an order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The issue was ordered on January 29 and takes effect today, February 1. Masks are being mandated to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, officials said. Read more: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p0130-requires-face-masks.html.

- The CDC Friday issued an order extending the moratorium on evictions through March 31. The order had been set to expire January 31. See more: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0129-extending-eviction-moratorium.html.

- About 8% of American adults reported they had received a COVID-19 vaccination and around half of adults who haven’t (51%) indicated they would definitely get a vaccine, while an additional 26% said they probably would, according to recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Read More

- Several updates from the U.S. Small Business Administration:

  • Looking for more information about the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program? On January 28, 2021, the SBA added a new frequently asked questions which includes information about eligibility, application, use of funds and more. Learn more
  • The SBA is taking steps to improve the First Draw Paycheck Protection Program loan review so that small businesses have as much time as possible to access much needed PPP funds. Learn more
  • The SBA published an interim final rule effective January 13, 2021 allowing 8(a) Program participants to elect a one-year program extension in the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program due to the challenges of COVID-19. Learn more
  • Businesses impacted by the pandemic may be eligible for federal tax credits and other relief. Get up-to-date information on COVID-19 tax and filing requirements and benefits. Learn more

- The U.S. Department of Labor Friday announced the immediate end of its Payroll Audit Independent Determination program launched by the department’s Wage and Hour Division in 2018. The program allowed employers to self-report federal minimum wage and overtime violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act to avoid litigation, penalties or damages, and prohibited affected workers from taking any private action on the identified violations. See more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20210129.

- 12th District U.S. Congressman Fred Keller announced he has received his committee assignments for the new session, and was reappointed to the House Committee on Education and Labor, House Oversight Committee, and the House Energy Action Team. Keller also was selected to serve as a member of the House Whip Team. Read more: https://keller.house.gov/media/press-releases/congressman-fred-keller-announces-committee-assignments-117th-congress.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry says it has become aware of multiple attempts by fraudsters to obtain individuals’ personal and confidential information through fake Facebook pages, and they remind Pennsylvanians to never provide their information to anyone over social media. See more: L&I Urges Vigilance Against Social Media Fraud Attempts (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf this afternoon announced Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar will leave her position as of February 5, part of changes being made within the Department after it failed to advertise a proposed constitutional amendment that would extend retroactively the timeline for victims to file civil actions against their abusers. Because of the error, the process to amend the constitution must now start from the beginning, unless the General Assembly pursues the initiative through the bill process. More here: Gov. Wolf Announces Changes at the Department of State After Failure to Advertise a Constitutional Amendment.

- Governor Tom Wolf’s 2021-22 budget address tomorrow – normally carried out with a lot of fanfare – will be much different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of addressing the General Assembly in person, the Governor plans to deliver his budget address via a prerecorded video. The Governor last week held a press conference during which he outlined his legislative priorities. Today, PA Chamber President Gene Barr responded, warning of the negative impact the Governor’s proposals will have on the business community. Read more here: The Sentinel | PA Chamber.

- While the snow storm has also led to the postponement of some activities in Harrisburg, others will continue. In this overview, the PA Chamber takes a look at the legislative week ahead: The Sentinel | PA Chamber.

- Last week, the state Senate unanimously voted in favor of legislation that contains more than $900 million in financial aid to Pennsylvanians impacted by COVID-19, with most of the funds provided by the federal government’s latest round of COVID-19 relief funding. The measure now goes to the state House for consideration. -> Read More

- The Governor today announced an increase to base rates paid to child care providers participating in Child Care Works, Pennsylvania’s subsidized child care program. More information here: Wolf Administration Announces Increase to Base Payment Rates for Child Care Providers Participating in Subsidized Child Care.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 533 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (January 29-31), issuing 19 notices of violation and 22 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 18 licensee checks during the period, issuing three warnings and one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Read more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement January 29-31: 533 Compliance Checks; 19 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- Education and outreach staff from the PA Department of Banking and Securities in February will host and participate in a number of virtual presentations for groups of senior citizens, service providers and the public. For a list of the events and how to participate, click here: February 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Virtual Events Announced (pa.gov).

- Beginning this Friday, February 5 at 12:15 PM, and repeating each Friday thereafter, The State Museum of Pennsylvania presents its popular Friday speaker’s series online. Virtual visitors will learn about Pennsylvania topics and museum collections during these free, live presentations. A list of February topics and information on how to register is here: The State Museum of Pennsylvania Presents Learn at Lunchtime Virtual Series (pa.gov).

1/29/21

- Partnership President Mike Flanagan today offered his weekly update on the local employment picture: Unemployment claims decreased in Clinton County during the week ending January 23, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The initial unemployment insurance claims were 81 last week, down from 112 for the seven-day reporting period ending January 16. The latest figures included 60% who are male, and 27% who are in the construction sector. The continued claims checked in at 1,139, down about 65 from the prior week. Males accounted for 59% of the 1,139, and 24% were in the construction field.

 The state also reported that 55 county residents had their unemployment benefits expire during the week ending January 23. Of those 55, about 25% are in the food and accommodation sector. In the last three reported weeks, 153 county residents have had their benefits exhausted.

The December unemployment rates for all 67 of the Commonwealth’s counties should be released next week. Clinton County’s November unemployment rate was 6.6%.

- Elementary students in Keystone Central School District will continue with five days of in-the-classroom learning next week, while middle and high school students will continue with the two-days-in, two-days-out hybrid schedule. Click Here for the attached KCSD Update from Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin for the latest.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 9,643 positive cases of COVID-19, noting that today’s counts included more than 4,000 backlogged antigen testing data from urgent care centers (4,052 of today’s newly-identified cases had their specimens collected over a week ago).

According to the state, Clinton County saw 9 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,474. Centre County reported 60 new cases, bringing their count to 10,985, and Lycoming County reported 51 new cases, bringing their count to 8,003. The statewide total of COVID-19 cases now stands at 834,048.

There are 3,691 people hospitalized with the virus, 753 of whom are in intensive care. There were 159 new deaths reported – one in Clinton County for a total of 51 locally – with the statewide total of deaths attributed to COVID-19 now at 21,462. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More than 893,000 Vaccinations to Date.

Following are several COVID-19 informational links:

   - County specific and statewide information is available on the Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

   - Access information on COVID-19 vaccine distribution here: Vaccine dashboard data.

   - A commonwealth COVID-19 vaccination guide explains the current process for getting a vaccination. People with questions about the vaccination process can call the Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258.

- The PA Department of Corrections today announced it will relaunch its COVID-19 dashboard, which had been shut down when the system became overwhelmed. Read more: Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Initiates Relaunch of COVID-19 Dashboard.

- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus protection program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. Last week, President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure. Click here for the specific guidance on OSHA’s website: https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework. Read the OSHA news release here: US Department of Labor issues stronger workplace guidance on coronavirus (govdelivery.com).

Meanwhile, March 2, 2021, is the deadline to submit 2020 Form 300A, summarizing work-related injuries and illnesses, data to OSHA.

- The Internal Revenue Service today posted updated FAQs about recent legislation that extended and amended tax relief to certain small- and mid-sized employers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FAQs are available at COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses FAQs. Read the entire news release here: IRS updates FAQs on paid sick leave credit and family leave credit | Internal Revenue Service.

- The IRS is also urging taxpayers who receive Forms 1099-G for unemployment benefits they did not actually get because of identity theft to contact their appropriate state agency for a corrected form. Learn more: IRS offers guidance to taxpayers on identity theft involving unemployment benefits | Internal Revenue Service.

- The IRS today explained how corporations may qualify for the new 100% limit for disaster relief contributions and offered a temporary waiver of the recordkeeping requirement for corporations otherwise qualifying for the increased limit. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/new-law-increases-deduction-limit-for-corporate-cash-contributions-for-disaster-relief-irs-provides-recordkeeping-relief.

- As a new legislative session begins in the U.S. Congress, Governor Wolf today urged the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation to prioritize critical infrastructure needs for the commonwealth as part of any potential new stimulus package and infrastructure package. In a letter to the delegation, the Governor emphasized that an investment in the state’s infrastructure is critical to address current needs and help move Pennsylvania forward. Read more: Gov. Wolf Urges Congress to Prioritize Critical Infrastructure Needs to Move PA Forward.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,020 licensed liquor establishments this week (January 25-28), issuing 12 notices of violation and 29 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 77 licensee checks during the period, issuing one warning. They issued no notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement January 25-28: 1,020 Compliance Checks; 12 Notices of Violation (pa.gov)

- If you missed Thursday's webinar with the U.S. Small Business Administration about small business funding options, you can watch it on-demand here.


- The PA Public Utility Commission published notice in the January 30 PA Bulletin of the Act 13 drilling impact fees to be applied to unconventional shale gas wells existing during 2020. As a result, there will be an estimated loss of about $56 million in revenue to a record low of $145 million. Read more here: PUC: Act 13 Drilling Impact Fees For Calendar 2020 To Drop; Revenue Falls By $56 Million To Record Low.

- The PA Agriculture Department today announced grants totaling $1,287 million to eight organizations – including a number to Penn State University – for research on issues critical to sustaining and growing the state’s agriculture industry. See more: Wolf Administration Awards $1.3 Million to Fund Research to Grow PA Agriculture Industry.

- The PA Game Commission announced today that the public can begin to view results of the state’s surveillance efforts of Chronic Wasting Disease via a new CWD Surveillance Dashboard available online at https://pgcdatacollection.pa.gov/CWDResultsLookup. Read more: BUSY TIME FOR CWD SURVEILLANCE WINDING DOWN (pa.gov).

- The 2021 Clinton County Tourism/Recreation Grant Program is now accepting applications for projects aimed at increasing the area’s tourism and recreational assets. Click Here for the news release for more on the program, and you can access program guidelines and apply at: https://www.clintoncountypa.com/departments/funding-opportunities.

- River Valley Transit today resumed public transportation services in Clinton County on a limited basis. A bus loop between Williamsport and Lock Haven will run Fridays and Saturdays only, four times a day. For more information, go to www.rideRVT.com.

- The River Valley Regional YMCA is encouraging people to “hit the reset button,” announcing they are offering a free, six-week “Transformation Challenge” to help people re-energize in spirit, mind and body. The challenge kicks off Monday, February 1, and is open to everyone. People can join the challenge by texting RESET to 844-889-6222. For more information visit www.rvrymca.org or contact any of the River Valley Regional YMCAs in Lock Haven, Jersey Shore, Mansfield, Muncy, Williamsport or Towanda.

1/28/21

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 6,036 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 824,405. The Department noted that today’s case counts include backlogged antigen testing data from urgent care centers. They said 1,214 of today’s newly-identified cases had their specimens collected over a week ago. Clinton County today reported 12 new positive cases, bringing the countywide case count to 2,465. Centre County saw 77 additional cases, bringing their total to 10,925, and Lycoming County reported 43 new cases, bringing their total to 7,952. Clinton County also reported another death, bringing the number of deaths attributed to COVID to 50.

Statewide, 3,768 people are hospitalized with the virus, 759 of whom are in the intensive care unit. There were 198 new deaths reported for a total of 21,303 deaths attributed to COVID-19 statewide. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 6,036 New Cases, 3,768 Patients Hospitalized and 759 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- According to the Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine website, as of today, 599 people in Clinton County have received a partial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 248 people have received the full dose. Centre County data shows 5,877 people have received a partial and 1,947 a full dose, and Lycoming County shows 5,479 people have received a partial and 1,867 a full dose of the vaccine. See more here: COVID-19 Vaccine (pa.gov).

- Lock Haven University today offered an update on plans to integrate Lock Haven, Bloomsburg and Mansfield Universities, following recent virtual meetings with stakeholder groups from all three communities. Click Here for the LHU Integration file for more.

- Williamsport-based River Valley Transit today announced it is offering a new, Friday-Saturday-only, bus loop in Clinton County. The new “Lock Haven Link” begins tomorrow, January 29, and will see a bus loop four times a day between Lock Haven and Williamsport, with scheduled stops at the STEP Clinton County Community Center in Lock Haven and the Mill Hall Walmart, as well as the Jersey Shore Weis Market. Those stops had been among the most popular during the public transportation trial that was recently discontinued. Ridership is free for senior citizens, as well as Lock Haven University students with a college ID. As an introduction to the new Lock Haven Link, there is no fee to ride this weekend for the general public. Click Here for River Valley Transit information, and for additional details visit www.rideRVT.com.

- As the Pennsylvania General Assembly convenes for a new legislative session, Governor Tom Wolf today outlined his agenda, in which he continues to prioritize ensuring that businesses and workers have a path toward recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, building on bipartisan progress by removing barriers to help everyday Pennsylvanians succeed, and demanding accountability through government reform. Details here: Governor Wolf 2021 Agenda Prioritizes Economic Recovery, Building on Bipartisan Measures, Government Reform.

- Pennsylvania’s state Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation to distribute just over $900 million to aid schools and hospitality-related businesses hit hard by the coronavirus, as well as people struggling to pay rent or utility bills. The bill still requires approval from the state House of Representatives and Governor Tom Wolf. Most of the $912 million being directed by the bill is from Pennsylvania’s share of federal aid approved by Congress in a coronavirus recovery package it passed last month. Some of it, $145 million, is reserve cash from a worker’s compensation fund that Wolf last month had asked lawmakers to send to businesses hit hard by the pandemic. The money would be available through counties in grants of up to $50,000 for owners of bars, restaurants and hotels. Wolf’s office would not say whether the Governor supports the bill, but said it would continue to work with the Republican-controlled Legislature on it. House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said the House will move quickly on the bill, but did not say whether members there will seek changes. Read More (Source: The Associated Press)

- State lawmakers have made it clear they hold a deep resentment toward Governor Wolf’s unilateral decision-making when it comes to responding to COVID-19 and are fixing to give voters a chance to show how they feel about the governor’s handling of the pandemic at the ballot box this May. Both the state House and Senate this week approved identical bills providing for a constitutional amendment that would limit the length of a governor-declared emergency disaster to 21 days, unless lawmakers agree to extend it. Currently, the governor’s emergency declarations can last up to 90 days and be extended indefinitely. It is the Senate bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland County, that is now moving through the House, which is expected to bring that bill up for a vote as early as Tuesday. That would ensure it would meet the constitutionally required timeframe to be advertised so it can appear on the May 18 primary ballot. Read More (Source: Harrisburg Patriot News)

- The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation received official word Wednesday that the state is eligible for $407.2 million for road and bridge projects under the second federal stimulus package approved in December. As a result, the department no longer is nearly out of funds and has dropped the emergency request it made to the state Legislature late last year to borrow as much as $600 million to continue ongoing projects. The agency also is allowing some projects that have been delayed for lack of funds to go out for bids, spokeswoman Alexis Campbell said Wednesday. “We intend to use these funds primarily to help cover the state revenue gaps in our construction program that we’ve faced as a result of COVID-19,” Ms. Campbell said in a statement. “We don’t intend to continue pursuing bonding authority at this time.” The department has lost several hundred million dollars in revenue from the state gasoline tax as a result of reduced driving during the pandemic. After shifting funds for nearly eight months to cover the shortfall, the agency ran out of options in November and told the state Senate it would have to shut down all road and bridge projects across the state because it was out of money unless it could borrow. Read More (Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

- Following an unpredictable year with many changes and challenges, the Internal Revenue Service is sharing important reminders for taxpayers who are about to file their 2020 federal tax returns. See more here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/important-reminders-before-filing-2020-tax-returns.

- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Pennsylvania announced it has $1.9 in funding available through the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program to help private landowners, land trusts, and other groups wanting to restore and protect critical wetlands, agricultural lands and grasslands. Click Here for the NRCS file for more information.

- The PA Department of Education is asking organizations across the state to consider providing nutritious meals to youth during the summer months (June-September) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program. Read more: Pennsylvania Department of Education Seeks Sponsors for Summer Meals Nutrition Programs.

- The PA Department of Human Services today announced that Pennsylvania was awarded $340,000 for strategic planning and infrastructure development in preparation for the launch of National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s “988” in July 2022. The 988 call number will eventually replace 1-800-TALK (8255) as the direct line for the Lifeline, easing access to life-saving crisis intervention services. The funds will be used to support 13 crisis call centers, including State College-based Centre Helps. More details here: Pennsylvania Awarded Funding to Prepare for Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988 Launch.

- In a joint announcement, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and PA Fish and Boat Commission today announced the launch of HuntFishPA, a new, user-friendly licensing platform for hunters, anglers and boaters. Visitors to www.HuntFish.pa.gov will note convenient features like personalized dashboards, auto-renewal for fishing licenses, and the ability to report game and furbearer harvests as required. See more: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Launches HuntFishPA: New Mobile-Friendly, Outdoor Recreational Licensing Platform.

1/27/21

- The 2021 Clinton County Tourism/Recreation Grant program begins accepting applications tomorrow, January 28. Nonprofit organizations and municipalities are eligible for the program, which is designed increase tourism by supporting the development and expansion of tourist and recreational assets and events. The program is coordinated through the Partnership’s Tourist Promotion Agency, the Clinton County Commissioners and the County Planning Department. New this year, the application is online instead of a paper application. Click here for access to grant guidelines and the online application (the application portal opens tomorrow) on the County Government website: https://www.clintoncountypa.com/departments/funding-opportunities.

- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the availability of approximately $46 million in Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant funds to support projects aimed at reducing emissions from the nation's existing fleet of older diesel engines. School districts, municipalities, counties and nonprofits are among the eligible applicants. The EPA is holding webinars about the grant program on February 3 at 3:00 p.m. (Click Here to Join) and again on February 11 at 2:00 p.m. (Click Here to Join). Applications are due by March 16. Click Here for all the details on how to apply.

- PennDOT and the PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs today announced that a new state law waives the requirement of having to take a Commercial Driver’s License Knowledge Test when applying for a CDL, for residents who are current and former military members and who operated a commercial vehicle as part of their duties. More here: New Law Updates CDL Requirements for PA Veterans, Service Members.

- Amid frustrations at the slow pace of the national COVID-19 vaccination effort, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. is boosting the number of doses sent to states each week and will be giving state officials more certainty on the number of doses they can expect in future shipments. The federal government expects to provide enough doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer or early fall. Read more: Biden administration unveils boost to state COVID-19 vaccine shipments; Wolf says Pa. needs more doses | Pennsylvania Capital-Star (penncapital-star.com).

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,874 positive cases of COVID-19 – the highest case count in several days – bringing the statewide total to 818,369. According to the state, Clinton County reported 8 new cases today, bringing the countywide case count to 2,453. Centre County saw 124 new cases, bringing their total to 10,848, and Lycoming County reported 63 new positive cases, bringing their count to 7,909. Clinton County also saw the report of two more deaths, bringing the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 to 49.

Statewide, there are 3,790 people hospitalized with the virus, 760 of whom are in intensive care. There were 222 new deaths reported for a total of 21,105 deaths attributed to the virus. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 5,874 New Cases, 3,790 Patients Hospitalized and 760 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- A recent article in Modern Retail magazine takes a look at retailers who are trying to get their employees vaccinated quickly. Understanding the many challenges this process presents, companies are fairly and strategically working with their employees to complete the vaccination process in a timely manner to avoid future infections, keep their employees healthy and resume the next kind of ‘new normal.’ Read more: Why Retailers Are Paying Employees to Get the Coronavirus Vaccine.

- New research from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council indicates that the coronavirus is much deadlier than regular flu for Pennsylvania patients. Read more in this PennLive report: COVID-19 much deadlier than regular flu for Pa. patients, new report finds - pennlive.com.

- Here’s a reliable answer to a question we’ve received from a couple of Partnership members:  If you already got a PPP loan, can you also get an Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)? Yes. The December 2020 stimulus bill revised the rules around PPP and ERTC so that businesses can take advantage of both; however, there is one significant limitation, according to Neil Bradley, Chief Policy Officer at the U. S. Chamber of Commerce: “The only limitation is that you can’t claim PPP to pay for the same payroll costs that you are doing for ERTC.” Bradley also said, “you can’t at the same time claim ERTC for the same wages paid with the PPP program….the rule is virtually you can’t get two dollars for the same one dollar of expense.” More Answers Here.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from January 18-22, involving businesses that are not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. To date, the Bureau has assigned 396 cases to its investigators. Between January 18-22, the Department received 121 cases for investigation from the Department of Health and completed 22 investigations. See more: Department of Labor & Industry Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Jan. 18 – Jan. 22.

- The PA Department of Community and Economic Development today highlighted the work of innovaTel Telepsychiatry, a nationwide telepsychiatry company owned and operated by clinicians, for making critical, remote mental health services accessible for those in need. DCED Secretary Dennis Davin said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented everyone with challenges and stresses that we could have never prepared for and innovaTel’s service is designed to help, no matter where you are.” Read more: Wolf Administration Applauds innovaTel for Making Remote Mental Health Support Accessible Amid COVID-19 Pandemic - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources today presented poll results indicating four out of five Pennsylvanians who visited parks and trails believe that time spent outdoors is essential to their physical and mental health during the pandemic. Additional details here: Poll Shows Outdoors Important to Pennsylvanians During Pandemic.

- Penn State Extension hosts a live webinar, Mental Wellness during COVID-19: Emotional Overload, at 11:00 am on February 10.

Learn More

- Despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, women are still vastly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce, according to information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Women made gains – from 8% of STEM workers in 1970 to 27% in 2019 – but men still dominated the field. Men made up 52% of all U.S. workers but 73% of all STEM workers. Read More

- PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced that the PA Preferred Organic Program is partnering with Rodale Institute and Penn State Extension to offer organic farmers and those interested in transitioning to organic, a series of virtual field day sessions to learn about the latest tools, techniques, and research in organic no-till crop production. More information here: Department of Agriculture Offers Free Virtual Organic Field Day Series through Pennsylvania Farm Bill Organic Program.

1/26/21

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today provided an update on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania and the many challenges that are ahead because of limited supply of doses from the federal government. According to the state, vaccine providers have administered vaccine to 605,633 people so far – 473,449 who have received their first dose and 132,184 who have received two doses and are considered fully vaccinated. They say the state is to receive another 143,275 first doses of vaccine and 137,625 second doses this week. You can access the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard here, and read the entire news release here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/wolf-administration-provides-covid-19-vaccine-update-focuses-on-getting-more-doses-to-pennsylvanians-amid-limited-federal-supply/.

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 4,628 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 812,495. According to the state, Clinton County reported eight new cases, bringing the countywide case count to 2,445. Centre County reported 69 new cases, bringing their total to 10,724, and Lycoming County saw 47 new cases, bringing their total to 7,846. Statewide, 3,887 people are hospitalized with the virus, 770 of whom are in intensive care. More here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1271.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, as of January 25, there are 25,018,520 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States. Additionally, 41,418,325 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed across the country, with 22,734,243 doses administered. A total of 19,252,279 people have received one or more dose, and 3,346,390 people have received two doses.

- The Internal Revenue Service is urging employers to take advantage of the newly-extended employee retention credit, designed to make it easier for businesses that, despite challenges posed by COVID-19, choose to keep their employees on the payroll. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/new-law-extends-covid-tax-credit-for-employers-who-keep-workers-on-payroll.

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today it is taking steps to improve the First Draw Paycheck Protection Program loan review so that small businesses have as much time as possible to access much needed PPP funds. See more: The SBA Takes Steps to Improve First Draw Paycheck Protection Program Loan Review.

- The Penn State Small Business Development Center offers an SBA Emergency Loans Webinar Series, designed to help small business owners understand the process for applying for PPP and EIDL loans. The webinars cover who is eligible for a second-round SBA Emergency Loan, documentation required to complete an application, timelines for approval/closing on your loan, and how to estimate your economic loss during the pandemic. The workshop is held from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. on the following Thursdays: January 28 , February 4, February 11, February 18, and February 25. The SBDC takes questions, and participants walk away with screenshots of the SBA emergency loan application, a “Frequently Asked Questions” about COVID-19, and other resources related to the loan application process.

Register Here

- While it’s not yet accepting applications, the U.S. Small Business Administration has published some guidelines for what they are calling the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, established as part of the most recent COVID-19 economic relief bill signed into law in late December. The federal government earmarked $15 billion in grants to shuttered venues, including live performing arts organizations and operators, theatrical producers, motion picture theater operators, and live venue operators or promoters. More information here: Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (sba.gov).

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today provided an update on the recent Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) implementations. Both programs had expired at the end of the year and have now resumed as part of the new federal CARES Act extensions. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Labor-and-Industry-Details.aspx?newsid=529.

Meanwhile, PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced the arrest of two inmates – one from the State Correctional Institution at Rockview in Centre County – and an outside accomplice for their roles as ringleaders who conspired to provide false information on PUA applications. More here: https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/taking-action/covid-19/ag-shapiro-3-more-arrests-in-pandemic-unemployment-assistance-scheme/.

- The U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS) last April began asking businesses when they expect to return to normal levels of operations, an indication of how they are adapting to the pandemic and other public health strategies. From this past spring until now, business expectations of a return to normal have shifted, with many businesses having expectations at opposite extremes – those with expectations of a short-term return to normal and those facing long-term challenges. Read More

- A new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that impacts all international travelers coming into the U.S. takes effect today. As of January 26, all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from a foreign country must be tested for COVID-19 no more than three days before their flight and must present documentation to the airline before boarding the flight. See more: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States | CDC.

- California leads the nation in the number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, while Pennsylvania falls in at eighth highest. See more in this article from PennLive: Which states have the most confirmed coronavirus cases (1/25/2021): Where does Pa. stand? - pennlive.com.

- The PA Department of Agriculture today released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from January 18-24. The Department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 600 inspections during that period, 33 of which were complaints related to COVID-19 mitigation measures such as social distancing, masking and occupancy limits. The Department received 236 food facility COVID-19 related complaints, five of which were referred to local and county health jurisdictions. And, inspectors closed three restaurants that were in violation of state mitigation and enforcement orders. According to the state, there was one inspection in Clinton County during the most recent period, resulting in no complaints or closure orders being issued. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Agriculture_details.aspx?newsid=1029.

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from January 17-24. These are related to regulated boards and commissions. During that period, BEI performed 383 inspections and opened 16 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, but Bureau distributed no warning letters or compliance letters relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/State-details.aspx?newsid=449.

- Governor Wolf is slated to offer his 2021-22 budget address next Tuesday, February 2. But instead of a live speech before the state House and Senate as is normally the case, because of COVID the Governor’s message will be a pre-recorded video address to the General Assembly. No pomp, zero circumstance: Wolf will deliver virtual budget address | Pennsylvania Capital-Star (penncapital-star.com).

- The Wolf Administration today highlighted the latest accomplishments of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and, in an update on prescribing and overdose trends noted that the opioid crisis continues to affect the state. Details here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1269.

- The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts an online webinar, Fundraising for Small Nonprofits, next Wednesday, February 3, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. CLICK HERE to register.

1/25/21

- The Wolf Administration today released their weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard. The data highlighted a seven-day case increase of 31,140 (8,948 fewer new cases than the previous week), a statewide percent positivity of 10.5% (down from 12.7% last week), and 66 of the state’s 67 counties with what is considered substantial transmission status.

Neighboring Cameron County this past week was the lone county to move into the low level transmission category -- a sign of progress. Every county continues to have a concerning percent positivity rate of above 5%, however there are now only two counties (Forest, at 40.4% and Montour at 21.9%) with percent positivity at or above 20% (a decrease of two counties from the week before). Clinton County’s percent positivity declined slightly to 11.5%; Centre County is at a 6.6% positivity, and Lycoming County is at 12.4% positivity. More details here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Jan. 15-21: Case Increases Near 31,100; Percent Positivity at 10.5% and 66 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 3,976 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 807,867. According to the state’s data, Clinton County reported 11 new cases, bringing the countywide case count to 2,437. Centre County reported an additional 83 cases today, bringing their count to 10,655, and Lycoming County reported 39 new cases, bringing their count to 7,799. Statewide, there are 3,910 people hospitalized with the virus, 790 of whom are in intensive care. Read more: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: Two-Day Total of 7,910 New Cases, 3,910 Patients Hospitalized and 790 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- The PA Department of Community & Economic Development today issued a COVID-19 vaccine update, which highlights who is eligible for the vaccine and where people can get vaccinated. Click Here for the DCED Vaccine Update for details.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to offer up-to-date information on the latest developments with the COVID-19 vaccine: 

  • Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions: The CDC recently updated their FAQs page about the vaccines, which answers commonly asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Vaccine Resources: The CDC updated their resource page on COVID-19 vaccines. On this page you can find when and where you can receive the vaccine, receive accurate vaccine information, and more.

- The Health Department today shared its weekly update on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data and continued to encourage people to download the COVID Alert PA app. Read more: Department of Health Jan. 10-16 Update On COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, Monitoring Efforts: Pennsylvanians Urged To ‘Answer the Call’ And Download the COVID App.

- PA Department of Labor & Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier announced over the weekend that payments for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program in the new federal CARES Act extension resumed as of Sunday, January 24. More here: L&I to Begin Issuing Extended PEUC Benefit Payments.

People filing for unemployment claims through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program were able to resume filing for an additional 11 claim weeks this past Friday, January 22.

 - The PA Department of Community & Economic Development today shared several tax resources for employers. More here: Attn Employers: 5 Go-To Tax Tools for a Headache-Free Filing in 2021 (pa.gov).

- As a reminder, the U.S. Small Business Administration has re-opened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to all participating PPP lenders. PPP provides loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis. SBA is currently offering:

  • First Draw PPP loans - for those borrowers who have not received a PPP loan before August 8, 2020.
  • Second Draw PPP loans - for eligible small businesses with 300 employees or less and that previously received a First Draw PPP loan. These borrowers will have to use or had used the full amount of their First Draw loan only for authorized uses and demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020. The maximum amount of a Second Draw PPP loan is $2 million.

The PPP will remain open for loans until March 31, as set forth in the Economic Aid Act, or until Congressionally-appropriated funding is exhausted. Learn more

- Several updates from the PA Chamber: 

  • The state’s Independent Fiscal Office is reporting an improved economic outlook, but cautions there could be difficult times in the coming fiscal year. -> Read More
  • State House and Senate lawmakers are back in Harrisburg this week to kick off the first full week of the 2021-22 legislative session. The PA Chamber takes a look at the week ahead: -> Read More 
  • The National Small Business Exporters Summit for 2021 will be held virtually on Wednesday, February 24 and Wednesday, March 3. Now in its fifth year, the 2021 Summit helps provide a wealth of knowledge specifically for small-to-medium sized companies that are either actively engaged in or interested in exporting. To learn more and register, visit the NASBITE website.

 - Lock Haven University began its Spring 2021 semester today, with all students attending classes remotely. Click Here for University President Dr. Robert Pignatello’s welcome to the campus community, saying he is optimistic that partial in-person learning will begin, as planned, on February 8.  

Meanwhile, elementary school students in Keystone Central School District resumed full in-class instruction today. Middle and high school students continue to use the District’s hybrid instructional model that has students attending two days in the classroom and remotely the rest of the week.

- Older and disabled Pennsylvanians can now apply for rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2020. The Wolf Administration today said the assistance is available through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. In addition to a paper application, new to the program this year is the ability to submit applications electronically via mypath.pa.gov. See more: Pennsylvanians Can Now File Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Applications Online (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced new appointees to lead the agency under the Biden-Harris Administration. See more: U.S. Department of Commerce Announces First Biden-Harris Appointments | U.S. Department of Commerce

- The PA Tourism Office today announced the release of its annual Happy Traveler travel guide, a vacation and travel planning resource. See more: 2021 Happy Traveler Guide Inspires Dreams and Plans for Future Travel - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

Locally, the Clinton County Economic Partnership’s Visitors Bureau has announced the kick-off of a promotional campaign on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – designed to entice people to…Explore Clinton County, PA!

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 470 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (January 22-24), issuing 17 notices of violation and 30 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 60 licensee checks during the period, issuing five warnings and one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement January 22-24: 470 Compliance Checks; 17 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The PA Board of Game Commissioners virtually met for the first time in 2021 today, giving preliminary approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2021-22 license year, as well as a number of other items. Click here for a summary of the Commission’s actions: HIGHLIGHTS FROM TODAY'S COMMISSIONERS MEETING (pa.gov).

- The PA Fish and Boat Commission held their quarterly business meeting Saturday, January 25, announcing several changes to the upcoming 2021 trout season, including opening day dates and stocking operations. More details here: PFBC ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO 2021 TROUT SEASON AND STOCKING OPERATIONS DURING QUARTERLY MEETING (pa.gov).

Upcoming Webinars:  

  • The PA Restaurant & Lodging Association hosts, Small Business Funding Options, presented by the U.S. Small Business Administration, on Thursday, January 28, at 3pm. REGISTER
  • Penn State Extension is offering a 50 percent discount on more than 70 online course offerings if you register before the end of January. Click here to View Courses and click here to Register Now.

1/22/21

- Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan today provided his weekly update on the local employment picture:  First time initial unemployment claims by Clinton County residents decreased during the week ending January 16, but the continued claims showed another increase, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. There were 112 initial claims filed and 19% of them are in the construction field. That number compares to 160 reported initial claims the week before. The continued claims inched up, going from 1,133 to 1,204 in a week’s time. The 1,204 figure included 21% in the construction field, 60% who are male, and 25% who were in the 35 to 44 age group.

The department reported that 42 Clinton County residents had their unemployment benefits exhausted as of the week ending January 16. That is down from the 56 reported the week ending January 9.

Unemployment rates for the month of December should be released by the state on or around February 2 for all 67 counties. Clinton County’s November unemployment rate was 6.6%.  

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today released its statewide employment situation report for December 2020. The state’s December unemployment rate was 6.7 percent, down 0.1 percent over the month and the eighth consecutive monthly decline. The U.S. rate remained unchanged from November at 6.7 percent. Read more: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Declines to 6.7 Percent in December (pa.gov).

- PA Labor & Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier today announced that payments for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in the new federal CARES Act extension are resuming….good news for some 400,000 self-employed workers and other Pennsylvanians such as gig workers and freelancers. People can begin filing for the additional 11 claim weeks as of today, January 22. Details here: L&I Issuing Extended PUA Benefit Payments.

- Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin today announced that the District’s five elementary school students will return to full in-class learning next week, starting Monday, January 25. Dr. Martin’s update said middle and high school students will continue to follow the hybrid learning model. Click Here for the KCSD Update for details.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,338 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 794,172. According to the state, Clinton County reported an additional 12 cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,407. Centre County added 43 new cases, bringing their total to 10,451, and Lycoming County reported 53 new cases, bringing their countywide case count to 7,649.

Statewide, there are 4,758 people hospitalized with the virus, 851 of whom are in intensive care. There were 193 new deaths reported, for a total of 20,321. Clinton County deaths attributed to the virus increased by one, to 46. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 4,758 Patients Hospitalized and 851 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today announced his intention to nominate Alison Beam to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health and named Dr. Wendy Braund as Interim Acting Physician General. Both take over duties held by Dr. Rachel Levine and will assume their new roles as of tomorrow, January 23. See more: Gov. Wolf to Nominate Alison Beam as Secretary of Health, Names Dr. Wendy Braund as Interim Acting Physician General (pa.gov).

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,110 licensed liquor establishments this week (January 18-21), issuing 16 notices of violation and 30 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 92 licensee checks during the period, issuing two warnings and no notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement January 18-21: 1,110 Compliance Checks; 16 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The Department of Environmental Protection published notice in the January 23 PA Bulletin cancelling the 2021 round of Section 902 Recycling Implementation Grants due to a lack of money in the Recycling Fund. DEP doesn't have enough money for grants because the General Assembly took $50 million from the Recycling Fund to balance the state budget adopted in November. Read more here.

- The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a series of state-ordered casino closures, has resulted in a hit to the state’s gaming revenue. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board this week reported that 2020 gaming revenue fell by more than 20 percent, but also said internet gaming and sports betting saw significant increases. Read more in this Associated Press article.

- The pandemic has certainly changed how many people work, but it’s also given many pause to consider where they work and play. Click the following link for a Susquehanna Greenway article that looks at the shifting trend from big-city to small-town living: https://susquehannagreenway.org/small-communities-becoming-more-desirable-covid-19-world.

Non-COVID-Related News of Interest…. 

- The filing season for 2020 Pennsylvania personal income tax returns begins February 12, and the PA Department of Revenue is informing taxpayers that a new, state-only filing option is available at mypath.pa.gov. More here: Pennsylvania Taxpayers Encouraged to Use New Online Filing System for PA Tax Returns.

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection is finalizing development and testing of an electronic permitting (ePermitting) system for Chapter 102 permit applications for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities. The initial release of the Chapter 102 ePermit system will occur on Monday, January 25. More information here: Chapter 102 Electronic Permit System to be Released Monday (pa.gov).

- DEP also announced today that it has awarded about $1 million in grants to support 26 counties (including Clinton County) in the upper half of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in development Countywide Action Plans to improve local water quality. Clinton County is coupled with Clearfield and Cambria counties for the process. Read more: DEP Provides $1 Million in Support as 26 More Counties in Chesapeake Bay Watershed Begin Developing Plans to Improve Local Water Quality (pa.gov).

- The PPL Foundation this week announced the launch of the Powering a Brighter Future scholarship program to advance diversity, equity and inclusion and attract more women and minorities to careers that will help shape our energy future. The new program aims to award $1 million in scholarships over the next decade to qualifying individuals pursuing careers in engineering, information technology, For more information, go to: New PPL Foundation scholarship program to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in energy-focused careers by awarding $1 million over next decade (mediaroom.com).

1/21/21

- A day after being sworn in, President Joe Biden is rolling out a national strategy to fight COVID-19, reopen the nation’s schools and restart the U.S. economy. Read more: President Biden’s COVID-19 plan for the country: Open schools, increase vaccines, wear masks - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLive)

- Part of President Biden’s order involved the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline project. 12th District U.S. Congressman Fred Keller today issued a one-question survey, asking for peoples’ opinion on the Keystone XL pipeline. Click this link to take the survey: Click here to open in a new window

- Patience is the order of the day when it comes to trying to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination. More here: As millions in Pa. seek COVID-19 vaccine, state asks residents ‘to be patient’ - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLive)

Meanwhile, additional vaccination sites have been added in the Clinton County area on the statewide, Department of Health “Vaccine Provider Map,” which indicates locations where COVID-19 vaccinations are or will be given. In addition to a Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital site (which we understand is in fact providing vaccinations by appointment for people 65 and older) and a UPMC site at the Dunnstown Fire Hall (which has been providing vaccinations for front line workers/emergency responders), Weis Markets is now offering the vaccines by appointment at their Lock Haven, Mill Hall and Jersey Shore pharmacies and those locations are now listed on the vaccine provider map, which can be seen here: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Vaccine/Pages/Vaccine.aspx.

Information from Weis Markets says the company is now offering COVID-19 vaccines at limited locations (including Lock Haven, Mill Hall and Jersey Shore) to those 65 and older and those in the 16-65 age group with high-risk conditions. More is available at https://www.weismarkets.com/pharmacy-services.

According to the state’s vaccine dashboard, as of January 21, 839 partial and 144 full COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Clinton County; 2,727 partial and 1,261 full doses have been given in Centre County; and 3,598 partial and 801 full doses have been administered in Lycoming County.

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 5,664 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 788,834. According to the state, Clinton County reported only three new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,395. Centre County reported 51 new cases for a countywide total of 10,408, and Lycoming County saw 63 new cases, bringing their countywide case count to 7,596. The 260 new deaths attributed to COVID-19 pushed the number of deaths statewide to more than 20,000…to 20,128. The number of COVID-related deaths reported from Clinton County remained at 45. Statewide, there are 4,882 people hospitalized with the virus, 889 of whom are in the intensive care unit. See more here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 4,882 Patients Hospitalized and 889 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro today alerted consumers that certain Pennsylvanians may experience delays in receiving their federal stimulus checks. See more: OAG ALERT: Possible Delays In Stimulus Check Deliveries for People Who Used Tax Preparation Companies to File Taxes – PA Office of Attorney General.

- As Pennsylvanians receive a second round of federal stimulus payments as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, the PA Departments of Aging, Human Services, and Insurance, are again reminding consumers living in long-term care facilities that these checks belong to them, not the facilities where they live. Details here: Wolf Administration Reminds Older Adults of Their Rights Regarding Federal Stimulus Checks (pa.gov).

- CO- (a division of the U.S. Chamber) offers a number of great informational resources:

  • When you know where to look, help for your small business is there for the taking. Read thisbreakdown of grant programs available to small businesses, and the qualifying factors.
  • The federal Paycheck Protection Program offers forgivable loans to small businesses, but it has been changed several times. Hereare your answers to the biggest questions about everything from eligibility criteria to amounts of funding provided.
  • Explore thesecommonly missed tax credits to see if there are opportunities to lower your 2020 tax burden.

- The PA Department of Community & Economic Development today highlighted six go-to resources for women-owned businesses in Pennsylvania, recognizing the contributions of the more than 300,000 women-owned businesses in the state. See more: 6 Go-To Resources for PA Women-Owned Businesses in 2020 | PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

1/20/21

- The U.S. Small Business Administration yesterday said it has approved approximately 60,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan applications submitted by nearly 3,000 lenders, for over $5 billion, between the program’s re-opening on January 11, through to January 17. The PPP as of January 19, was open to all participating lenders. Read more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/jan/19/60000-paycheck-protection-program-loans-approved-first-week.

The SBA now has a searchable database for businesses to find eligible Paycheck Protection Program lenders. LOAN DETAILS/APPLICATIONS.  

- Pennsylvania has officially opened COVID-19 vaccination to everyone over 65 and people 16-64 with chronic illnesses. The state also now has listed places where those people can get a shot. According to the map of providers (providers can include hospitals, urgent care centers, doctor's offices and pharmacies), there are two places in the Clinton County area you can contact to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine, and it’s likely more will be added to the list. It should be noted that some locations have not yet received the vaccine.

  • UPMC is slated to operate a vaccine site at 119 Woodward Avenue, Lock Haven (at the Dunnstown Fire Company). Visit https://upmc.com/healthcarevaccine, call 1-833-299-4358, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.
  • Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital is also listed as being a vaccine provider, although no specific address is yet listed. Visit https://www.geisinger.org/covidvax, call 570-284-3657, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

You can view the vaccine provider map here: Getting the COVID Vaccine | PA.GOV, and read more about the process here: Pa. lists locations where people over 65 or chronically-ill can get COVID-19 vaccine, but limited supply will cause some delays - pennlive.com.

- UPDATE: In a COVID-19 Update Newsletter issued just this afternoon, UPMC says that while they continue to push out the vaccine to front line employees and non-employee health care workers, at this time, UPMC hospitals, doctors’ offices, and clinics cannot offer the COVID-19 vaccine, and there is no waiting list for scheduling vaccination. UPMC is working to offer COVID-19 vaccines throughout our communities, but details will not be finalized until the Pennsylvania Department of Health assigns and distributes vaccines to UPMC. Click Here for the UPMC Update for details.

Meanwhile, UPMC doctors will host a Tele-Town Hall at 5:00 p.m., Thursday, January 21, to share up-to-date information of the state of COVID-19 and vaccination. Topics to be covered include who is eligible for vaccination and when; how the vaccines differ; common side effects; and when can people anticipate life returning to normal. Learn More About the Event

- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 23,982,584 confirmed cases of COVID-19 detected through U.S. public health surveillance systems in the U.S. as of January 20. The CDC provides updated case information daily, and in addition to cases, deaths and laboratory testing, the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker now has a Vaccinations tab to track distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by state. Click here for more from the CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,984 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 783,170. According to the state, Clinton County reported 16 new cases, with positive cases now totaling 2,392. Centre County saw 55 new cases, bringing their case total to 10,357, and Lycoming County reported 69 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 7,533. Clinton County also reported another death, bringing the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 to 45. Statewide, 4,593 people are hospitalized with the virus, 918 of whom are in the intensive care unit. More information here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1262.

- The Department of Health today shared its weekly update on the state’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data. Read more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1263.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today announced more than $4,8 million has been awarded in Direct Care Worker Training Grants to improve the quality of care provided by direct care workers while creating opportunities for them to build new careers and earn family-sustaining wages. More here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/governor-wolf-4-8-million-investment-to-train-direct-care-workers-will-improve-quality-of-care-for-patients-across-pennsylvania/.

- Governor Wolf today also announced the opportunity for one-time, $600 pandemic relief grants for eligible child care workers across Pennsylvania. See more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/wolf-administration-announces-600-pandemic-relief-awards-to-eligible-child-care-employees-across-pennsylvania/.

- The PA Department of Agriculture today released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from January 11-17. The Department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 720 inspections, 114 of which were complaint-driven, with 107 of those COVID specific complaints. Inspectors also closed 15 restaurants by order after each was confirmed to be operating in violation of the state’s COVID-19 mitigation orders. Clinton County saw one Bureau inspection during the period, and it was a COVID-19 complaint-driven inspection. More here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Agriculture_details.aspx?newsid=1028.

- Governor Wolf attended today’s inauguration of President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C. Click here to see the Governor’s statement following the event: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-releases-statement-on-inauguration-of-%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8bpresident-joseph-r-biden/.

- Continuing to push for law enforcement reforms, Governor Wolf today announced the members of the Pennsylvania State Law Enforcement Citizen Advisory Committee. He further noted that Sha S. Brown has been appointed to serve as the Deputy State Inspector General for Law Enforcement Oversight and chair of the new commission. Read more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/governor-wolf-continues-push-for-law-enforcement-reform-and-accountability/.

- If you’ve ever thought of running for local office, here’s a chance to learn about that process. Penn State Extension offers a virtual webinar, Toss Your Hat in the Ring, which includes an overview of Pennsylvania local government and the responsibilities of township supervisors, borough council members, and school board directors. The session also provides information on how to run (including filing a petition), statements of financial interests, reporting campaign expenses, and other required information. A panel of local officials will talk about their expectations before running and some of their experiences since being elected. There are three opportunities to participate: a session will be held February 4 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. and again at 7:00 p.m. that same evening; and the seminar will be repeated on February 10 at 7:00 p.m. There is a fee of $25 to participate. Learn more and register here: https://extension.psu.edu/toss-your-hat-in-the-ring-webinar.

- The PA Board of Game Commissioners will hold its first meeting of the new year this Saturday, January 23, and it will be a virtual session. They are expected to discuss the 2021-22 seasons and changes to regulations, among other items. More here, including information on how to submit comments and participate: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Game-Commission-Details.aspx?newsid=443.

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission will host its quarterly business meeting on Monday, January 25. That session will also be a virtual one that can be viewed live at https://www.facebook.com/PAFishandBoat. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/pages/fish-and-boat-commission-details.aspx?newsid=359.

1/19/21

- Some positive progress this week as PA Governor Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today released their weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 40,088 (3,833 fewer cases than the previous week), and a statewide percent positivity of 12.7% (down from 14.4% the past week). The state data indicates all 67 counties continue to be classified as having “substantial” transmission status. All 67 PA counties continue to have a concerning percent positivity above five percent, however there currently are only four counties – Adams, Columbia, Forest and Perry – that have a percent positivity at or above 20%. This is a decrease of 10 counties from the week before and includes Clinton County, whose percent positivity dropped considerably this week to 19% (from 28% the previous week). Centre County this week has a 9.1% positivity, and Lycoming County reported a percent positivity of 16.7% this week. More here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Jan.8-14: Case Increases Near 40,100; Percent Positivity at 12.7% and All 67 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- The daily COVID-19 case counts from the Department of Health seem to also be showing some improvement. DOH today confirmed an additional 5,341 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 777,186. Clinton County saw eight new cases, bringing the countywide case count to 2,376. Centre County reported 67 new cases, bringing their total to 10,302, and Lycoming County reported 60 new cases, bringing their case count to 7,464. Statewide, 4,582 people are hospitalized with the virus, 950 of whom are in the intensive care unit. As of last night, there were 77 new deaths reported for a total of 19,467 deaths attributed to COVID-19. According to the state, the number of deaths in Clinton County attributed to the virus increased by two, to 44. More information here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 4,582 Patients Hospitalized and 950 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- The Department of Health today released the latest revision of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, which now includes people who are 65 and older, and those ages 16-64 with certain underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to the disease. See more: Department of Health Updates COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, Launches Eligibility Tool to Help People Prepare When Vaccine is Available.

- The departments of Human Services and Health today announced a partnership between the commonwealth and Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to staff and residents of certain long-term care facilities and congregate care settings licensed by the Department of Human Services. See more: Pennsylvania Partners with Rite Aid to Vaccinate Priority Populations in Congregate and Long-Term Care Settings.

- PrepMod, a system designed to automate vaccine rollout, has partnered with the PA Department of Health to help the public identify vaccination clinics or pre-register for a vaccine. While the vaccine rollout in PA is still in phase 1A, consider bookmarking this site for when Pennsylvania moves into the other stages.

- President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health. Read more: Biden picks Pa.’s Dr. Rachel Levine to be assistant health secretary - pennlive.com (Source: The Associated Press)

Governor Wolf today congratulated Secretary Levine on the nomination and said he plans to make an announcement later this week regarding her replacement. Read more: Gov. Wolf Congratulates, Thanks Dr. Levine Following Nomination by President-Elect Biden (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from the past week (January 10-17). BEI performed 503 inspections and opened 21 investigations of regulated boards and commissions, during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. The Bureau this week distributed three warning letters related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Details here: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Jan. 10-17.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 617 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (January 15-17), issuing 19 notices of violation and 28 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 19 licensee checks during the period, issuing no warnings but one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement January 15-17: 617 Compliance Checks; 19 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The Internal Revenue Service today released Notice 2021-11 addressing how employers who elected to defer certain employees’ taxes can withhold and pay the deferred taxes throughout 2021 instead of just the first four months of the year. More information here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/employers-can-withhold-make-payments-of-deferred-social-security-taxes-from-2020.

- We’re passing along a couple of updates from the PA Chamber:

  • Last week, Governor Wolf held a news conference with House and Senate Democratic leaders where he reiterated a call he first made in December for the General Assembly to appropriate $145 million from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund to financially assist businesses whose revenue has been negatively impacted by the pandemic. In this article, the PA Chamber responds to that proposal. -> Read More 
  • Despite 2020 being one of the most tumultuous economic years in American history, the nation’s business community is showing its resiliency as we look toward the future and work toward a post-pandemic economic recovery. See this article for the U.S. Chamber’s “State of American Business” report. -> Read More

 - Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul today led a coalition of nine attorneys general in filing a lawsuit to stop an effort by the Trump Administration to allow employers to withhold tips from their employees. See more: AG Shapiro leads Coalition of 9 Attorneys General in Federal Lawsuit to Protect Tipped Workers – PA Office of Attorney General.

Shapiro, meanwhile, today was sworn in for his second term as the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. More here: PHOTOS: Attorney General Josh Shapiro Sworn Into Second Term – PA Office of Attorney General.

- Timothy L. DeFoor was sworn in today as Pennsylvania’s 52nd Auditor General. DeFoor, who becomes the first African American and person of color in Pennsylvania to be elected to a statewide row office, promised taxpayers that he will hold state government accountable for how it spends its citizens’ tax dollars. Read more: Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General -Timothy DeFoor Makes History Taking Oath as Pennsylvania’s 52nd Auditor General, Pledges Transparency and Accountability to Taxpayers (paauditor.gov).

- Stacy Garrity, sworn in today as the 78th treasurer of Pennsylvania, said her job is “to be the steward of taxpayer money and to make certain that government is open, honest, and accountable.” More here: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today announced that grant applications are now being accepted for recreation and conservation projects in communities across Pennsylvania. The application period runs through April 14. Learn more: DCNR Grants Available to Assist Communities with Parks, Recreation, and Conservation.

- PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today offered highlights from the 2021 Pennsylvania Farm Show, which wrapped up Saturday. The first-ever Farm Show held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic reached more than 800,000 people from the Farm Show Facebook page, and more than 300,000 visited the Farm Show website, with repeat visits near two million. More here: Agriculture Secretary Shares 2021 Pennsylvania Farm Show ‘Cultivating Tomorrow’ Highlights (pa.gov).

 - With partisanship in the Pennsylvania legislature at peak levels, lawmakers this year are gearing up for the once-a-decade brawl to redraw political districts — and the stakes couldn’t be much higher. The state is set to lose a congressional seat. The representation of millions of people is on the line. Read More (Source: Spotlight PA)

- Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) pandemic-related resources for small businesses:

  • The Penn State SBDC offers an SBA Emergency Loans Webinar Series, designed to help small business owners understand the process for applying for PPP and EIDL loans:

            1. Who is eligible for a second-round SBA Emergency Loan

            2. Documentation required to complete an application

            3. Timelines for approval/closing on your loan

            4. How to estimate your economic loss during the pandemic

   The workshop will be hosted on Thursdays from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. starting this Thursday, January 21 as well as on January 28 , February 4, February 11, February 18, and February 25. The SBDC will take questions, and participants will walk away with screenshots of the SBA emergency loan application, a “Frequently Asked Questions” about COVID-19, and other resources related to the loan application process. Register Here

  • Free pandemic consulting is available for small businesses. The Penn State SBDC’s pandemic support specialist, Elizabeth Hay, stands ready to support small business owners in Clinton, Centre, Lycoming and Mifflin counties navigate the emergency loan application process. Consulting services are confidential and free of charge. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Access a comprehensive list of COVID-19 resources. For the latest information on emergency capital programs, funding opportunities, and pandemic relief resources, visit the SBDC’s COVID-19 Resources page. The page is updated regularly, so you can check back often for newly-released information. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • The Penn State SBDC and the Pitt SBDC’s Digital Marketing Center of Excellence are co-hosting a free webinar, “Maximizing E-Commerce: Driving Traffic and Sales Through Web and Social Media,” next Tuesday, January 26, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Learn proven strategies to drive e-commerce traffic, recruit new clients, and maximize your e-commerce sales. Representatives from the PASBDC’s Digital Services Center of Excellence/Pitt SBDC will help attendees analyze how their small business’s digital properties are performing versus their competition and what improvements can be made for peak online performance.Sign up in advance to receive the webinar link. 

Following the webinar, attendees will have the opportunity to request a SEO/Website analysis of their business’s website from the Digital Services Center of Excellence staff. The analysis will review the business website’s design, branding assets, accessibility, browser compatibility, search engine optimization, social media optimization, and site speed and security. 

1/18/21

- The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – renewed as part of the federal government’s latest COVID-19 relief package – officially reopens for all participating lenders tomorrow, January 19. The program opened last week for specific participants and eligible small lenders. This latest round of funding authorizes up to $284 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses through March 31. Updated PPP forms, guidance and resources are available through the U.S. Small Business Administration at www.sba.gov/ppp.

- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues its weekly Small Business Update. Tomorrow’s Tuesday, January 19, 2pm session will be dedicated to answering questions from participants. U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President Neil Bradley will field questions from the audience, while examining relief on the way to small businesses. Click here to register for this complimentary event.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 4,045 positive cases of COVID-19, in addition to 7,166 new cases reported Saturday and 6,023 new cases reported Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 771,845. According to the state data, Clinton County reported 21 new cases today, bringing the countywide case count to 2,368. Centre County reported 53 new cases, bringing their total to 10,235, and Lycoming County reported 29 new cases, bringing their total case count to 7,404. Statewide, there are 4,614 people hospitalized with the virus, 945 of whom are in the intensive care unit. There were 202 additional deaths attributed to COVID-19 reported over the weekend. The number of deaths attributed to the virus in Clinton County is 42. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 4,614 Patients Hospitalized and 945 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- According to Health Department data updated today, there have been 870 partial COVID-19 vaccinations administered and 131 full doses of the vaccine administered so far in Clinton County. A total of 3,334 partial and 1,170 vaccinations have been administered to date in Centre County, and 3,801 partial and 616 full doses have been administered in Lycoming County. Statewide as of January 18, there have been 393,557 partial doses and 63,790 full doses of the vaccine administered. More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Vaccine.aspx.

- In honor of the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., PA Governor Tom Wolf today encouraged Pennsylvanians to consider volunteer service. “Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life reminds of the importance of finding ways to be of service to one another, and that reminder rings especially true as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause many of our neighbors – many for the very first time – to struggle to make ends meet or put food on the table,” said Governor Wolf. “I encourage every Pennsylvanian who can to find a way to support a local food or other charitable organization, whether through in-person activities, virtual action, or financial support.” Read more: Gov. Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf: MLK Day of Service Reminds Pennsylvanians of the Importance of Volunteering (pa.gov).


- STEP, Inc., the community action agency serving Clinton and Lycoming counties, is asking for input on the needs facing our community. In 2020, STEP conducted a Community Needs Assessment to determine how the pandemic had affected the community’s needs, and almost a year later, STEP is hoping to find out what has changed. With input from community members, the assessment will help identify the needs and service gaps residents are facing, along with the strengths and resources available to meet those needs. To complete the survey for Clinton County, click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/S7XV2MT.

- Fire companies, emergency medical services and rescue squads are encouraged to apply for the next round of state grants to help support their mission to protect communities. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. next Monday, January 25. Click here for additional information.

- A reminder that Penn State Extension continues to offer a range of online courses on topics from business, to agriculture, to home and self-improvement. And, they’re offering a discount if you register this month. The online courses are accessible anywhere, anytime, online at your own pace. Click here: Penn State Extension Offers 50% Off 75 Online Courses If You Register In January.

1/15/21

- 12th District U.S. Congressman Fred Keller spoke virtually to members of the Clinton County Economic Partnership Friday morning as part of an effort to stay connected to the business community in his district. About 30 members of the CCEP – ranging from business, government, education, emergency services and nonprofit representatives – participated in the Zoom event. Congressman Keller reviewed some of the provisions in the latest federal stimulus package, saying that, as he’s talked with people throughout his district, people want to get back to work and employers want to get their employees back to work. He then talked about economic priorities moving forward, specifically mentioning infrastructure (including building broadband capacity), and the need to build job skills and get people ready for the workforce. He also said government needs to stick up for small businesses. Participants had an opportunity to ask questions and offer input, and the discussion ranged from the proposed integration of Lock Haven University with Bloomsburg and Mansfield University and education funding for school districts, to support for rural hospitals and emergency service providers, broadband availability in rural communities, and the interaction between the federal government and state government regarding the rollout of federal stimulus programs. Pledging to continue to offer opportunities such as today’s event, Congressman Keller also encouraged people who have follow-up questions or who would like to schedule a follow-up meeting to contact his chief of staff, Jon Anzur at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

- As part of an update on the proposed integration of Lock Haven University with Bloomsburg and Mansfield Universities, LHU President Dr. Robert Pignatello today said he will be stepping aside as president as of February 5 and has accepted a role with the State System of Higher Education Chancellor as a senior advisor for integration strategy. President Pignatello said the State System Board of Governors next month is expected to name an interim president for LHU. Click Here for the LHU Integration Update.

- Keystone Central School District had a successful first week back to school using a hybrid learning model, according to an update released today from Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin, who reminded district families that there is no school on Monday, January 18 as teachers participate in a professional development day. Click Here for the KCSD Update.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf is dedicating $2.2 billion in federal stimulus funds to K-12 school districts and charter schools affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to support food programs, technological improvements and other education services. According to the state, Keystone Central School District will receive $5,316,886; Jersey Shore Area School District $1,871,138; and Sugar Valley Rural Charter School $466,393 from the dedicated funding. Read more: Gov. Wolf: $2.2 Billion in COVID-19 Funds Help K-12 Schools Improve Services to Students (pa.gov).

- Partnership President Mike Flanagan today issued a weekly update on unemployment claims in Clinton County:

Initial and continued unemployment insurance claims continued to increase in Clinton County during the week ending January 9, according to information released Thursday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. There were 160 initial unemployment claims during the week, up from 110 for the prior week. Of the 160, 30% are in the construction field, and 65% are male. The continued claims by county residents checked in at 1,133, up from 1,111 for the week ending January 2. The new number showed 21% are in the construction sector, and 56% are male.  For the same time period last year, there were 781 listed in the county’s continued claim category.

The state reported 56 Clinton County residents had unemployment benefits exhausted for the week ending January 9. The week before, 77 were listed as losing benefits. Clinton County’s November unemployment rate was 6.1%. The December rate for all 67 counties should be released at the end of January.

- PA Department of Labor & Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier today reminded individuals who claimed unemployment benefits during 2020 to watch their mailboxes and unemployment system notifications for the 1099 form that is required to file their 2020 taxes. More here: Tax Form Arriving Soon for Unemployment Program Claimants (pa.gov).

- L&I Acting Secretary Berrier today also announced the availability of $4.5 million in Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grants to support programs that enhance literacy skills for job seekers and increase access to family-sustaining jobs. More information here: L&I Announces $4.5 Million Available to Enhance Digital Literacy Skills for Job Seekers, Increase Access to Family-Sustaining Jobs (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Department of Labor, this week said the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims for the week ending January 9 was 965,000, an increase of 181,000 from the previous week's revised level. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said, “Unemployment claims are increasing due to shutdowns and other responses to rising coronavirus cases, and likely due in part to enhanced unemployment benefits. California and New York continue to exhibit particularly high unemployment rates, with the nation’s two highest rates of continuing claims. 

“December’s jobs report showed most recent job losses to be temporary rather than permanent, with employment increasing in many job sectors. Vaccine distribution should facilitate another surge in employment in 2-3 months. Safety protocols remain critical, as does attention to the costs of excessive shutdown strategies.” Read more: News Release (dol.gov)

- President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan Thursday to end “a crisis of deep human suffering” by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and advance his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. On a parallel track, it delivers another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic. “We not only have an economic imperative to act now — I believe we have a moral obligation,” Biden said in a nationwide address. At the same time, he acknowledged that his plan “does not come cheaply.” Biden proposed $1,400 checks for most Americans, which on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Biden has called for. It would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September. And it shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children. The last item would make it easier for women to go back to work, which in turn would help the economy recover. Read More (Source: The Associated Press)

- The Small Business Administration announced that the Paycheck Protection Program opened to small lenders today, Friday, January 15, and will open to all lenders on Tuesday, January 19. Community financial institutions are already accepting applications. Click here for LOAN DETAILS/APPLICATIONS.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 6,047 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 754,611. Clinton County reported 13 new cases today, bringing the countywide case count to 2,307. Centre County reported 37 new cases, bringing their total to 10,041, and Lycoming County reported 52 new cases, bringing their total case count to 7,233 positive cases. Statewide, 4,980 people are hospitalized with the virus, 1,013 of whom are in the intensive care unit. There were 215 new deaths reported, for a total of 18,957 deaths attributed to COVID-19. There were no new deaths reported from Clinton County.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today said regional drive-thru and indoor walk-in COVID-19 testing clinics will be held in Adams, Carbon, McKean, Snyder and Washington counties next week as the state continues to offer free testing opportunities for Pennsylvanians. More information here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 4,980 Patients Hospitalized and 1,013 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- In its most recent report, the PA Health Department noted that nursing home surveyors conducted 624 inspections, including 394 complaint investigations, of 400 nursing homes during December 2020. Of those, 249 were COVID-19-specific investigations. Additionally, one sanction was finalized against a nursing care facility in the last month, which resulted in the issuance of a civil penalty of $6,000. More details here: Department of Health Highlights December 2020 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- The Internal Revenue Service today launched ‘IRS Free File’ – online tax preparation products available at no charge, giving taxpayers an early opportunity to claim credits like the Recovery Rebate Credit and other deductions. More information here: IRS Free File available today; claim Recovery Rebate Credit and other tax credits | Internal Revenue Service.

- The IRS today also announced that the nation's tax season will start on Friday, February 12, when the tax agency will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns. They also outlined steps taxpayers can take to speed refunds in the midst of the pandemic. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/2021-tax-filing-season-begins-feb-12-irs-outlines-steps-to-speed-refunds-during-pandemic.

- Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,135 licensed liquor establishments this week (January 11-14), issuing 17 notices of violation and 21 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 59 licensee checks during the period, issuing one warning and two notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement January 11-14: 1,135 Compliance Checks; 17 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The Environmental Quality Board published notice in the January 16 PA Bulletin of final regulations increasing Air Quality Program permit fees.  The new fees become effective January 16. DEP started development of this fee package in December of 2017. The final regulation would increase fees to generate $13 million annually to support the program -- for the federal Title V and state non-Title V permit fees. The proposal included a new annual maintenance fee for both kinds of permits, a new fee for asbestos notifications and an increase in the existing operating permit fees. There was no proposed increase of the Title V per ton emission fee, beyond the annual increase based on the Consumer Price Index. These are the first general Air Quality fee increases since 2013. Click Here for a summary of the final regulation.

- With the 2021-22 legislative session underway, the Pennsylvania Senate this week named majority and minority chairs of Senate Committees. Senate Democrats today announced the Democratic (minority) chairs for new session (the Republican chairs were announced earlier this week). READ MORE

- Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella announced today a comprehensive plan to address rising prescription drug costs and their effect on state coffers and Pennsylvanians’ wallets. More here: Pennsylvania Treasury, Joe Torsella - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- The Interagency Health Reform Council, established in October by Governor Wolf to address whole person health reform, recently presented its recommendations. More here: Interagency Health Reform Recommendations Provide Path to Healthier Pennsylvania.

- PennDOT reminds Pennsylvanians that all driver license and photo centers will be closed tomorrow, January 16, through Monday, January 18, in observance of Martin Luther Kind Jr. Day on Monday. Customers can still access a variety of services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov. More here: https://www.penndot.gov/pages/all-news-details.aspx?newsid=802.

- Governor Wolf has announced that about 450 Pennsylvania National Guard members have been put on state active duty to support safety and security efforts within Pennsylvania that coincide with the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. See more: Gov. Wolf: 450 PA National Guard Members will Support Safety, Security Efforts Across the Commonwealth. The state capital has been closed to the public due to the pandemic, however, all Capitol offices will be conducting all business remotely beginning Friday, January 15 at 5 p.m. until Thursday, January 21 at 8 a.m.

1/14/21

- The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, will re-open the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications tomorrow, January 15, at 9:00 a.m. The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19, to all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA. Businesses interested in applying for a PPP should be seeking guidance from their lender. Read more: SBA Re-Opening Paycheck Protection Program to Small Lenders on Friday, January 15 and All Lenders on Tuesday, January 19.

The SBA has so far forgiven more than 1.1 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for over $100 billion, providing an extraordinary amount of critical relief to America’s small businesses just three months since the earliest PPP borrowers’ covered periods ended. See more here: 1.1 Million Paycheck Protection Program Loans Forgiven So Far Totaling Over $100 Billion (sba.gov).

- A reminder to all Partnership members to join us tomorrow, January 15, at 11:00 a.m. as U.S. Congressman Fred Keller provides an update on the most recent relief package passed by Congress and other legislative priorities. The event will be a virtual ZoomGov meeting and no pre-registration is needed. You can click on the following link to join the meeting: https://ushr.zoomgov.com/j/1609716674?pwd=USttYjZzbFNXNXpEbjlTSW15SThYQT09, or Click Here for the Fred Keller file for information on how to join the update online or by phone.

- As part of Pennsylvania’s effort to facilitate a safe, effective rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Governor Tom Wolf has approved a temporary waiver allowing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 vaccines without a physician’s order when vaccines are available to the public. Learn more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/State-details.aspx?newsid=445.

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Thursday that “we want to do more and we want to do better” in vaccinating state residents against COVID-19. In a media interview, Levine said she expects to soon announce new tactics toward that goal, including making the vaccine available at retail pharmacies and holding vaccination clinics, including what she called “mass vaccination clinics.” The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency will be involved, she said. Read more: Pa. plans mass clinics, other steps to speed up pace of COVID-19 vaccinations - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLive)

Meanwhile, Secretary Levine also spoke about the vaccine rollout process during a hearing this week hosted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. Click Here for the Vaccine Distribution file for more from that hearing.

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 7,175 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 748,564. Locally, Centre County has exceeded 10,000 total cases as of today’s data, reporting 31, for a total 10,004 positive cases to date. Clinton County reported 16 new cases today, bringing the countywide case count to 2,295, and Lycoming County reported 67 new cases, bringing their total to 7,181 positive cases. Statewide, there are 5,069 people hospitalized with the virus, 1,035 of whom are in intensive care units. There were 313 new deaths reported Wednesday, for a statewide total of 18,742 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Clinton County deaths attributed to the virus remained at 37. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1250.

- As a result of the continued consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Alex Azar II has renewed, effective January 21, his determination that a public health emergency continues to exist. The initial 90-day public health emergency determination was made January 31, 2020, and renewed in April, July and October of last year.

- The Internal Revenue Service today reminded businesses and other payors that the revised Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, and the new Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation, must be furnished to most recipients by February 1, 2021. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/businesses-have-feb-1-deadline-to-provide-forms-1099-misc-and-1099-nec-to-recipients.

- Taxpayers who paid too little tax during 2020 can still avoid a tax-time bill and possible penalties by making a quarterly estimated tax payment now, directly to the IRS. The deadline for making a payment for the fourth quarter of 2020 is tomorrow, January 15, 2021. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-reminds-taxpayers-to-make-final-estimated-tax-payment-for-2020.

- State Senate President Pro Tempore Senator Jake Corman (R-Centre) has announced the chairs for each of the 22 Senate standing committees for the 2021-22 session. As we noted Wednesday, 25th District Senator Cris Dush, who represents Clinton County, was appointed to chair the Senate’s Local Government Committee. READ MORE.

- Governor Wolf today again urged the General Assembly to act now to allocate $145 million that is available to provide support to Pennsylvania businesses that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 health crisis. See more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-democratic-leaders-urge-legislature-to-act-now-to-allocate-145-million-in-financial-support-to-businesses-adversely-affected-by-covid-19/.

- The PA State Police announced that the fourth quarter of 2020 was the busiest in the history of the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) – the state’s firearm background check system – breaking the previous record set in the third quarter of last year. Details here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/PA-State-Police-Details.aspx?newsid=634.

- The Wolf Administration will host “Feeding Pennsylvanians, Reducing Waste,” a panel discussion on food security in Pennsylvania and how commonwealth programs, partners, and residents are taking steps to reduce food waste to protect the environment and the charitable food system, tomorrow, January 15 at 1:00 p.m. Learn more: https://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/NewsRoomPublic/articleviewer.aspx?id=21910&typeid=1.

- Governor Wolf has announced more than $1 million in funding through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to support affordable housing in nearby Centre County. Read more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/wolf-administration-announces-more-than-1-million-in-funding-to-support-affordable-housing-in-centre-county/.

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission is seeking applicants for a new grant program that will provide financial assistance to fisheries operations negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualifying participants include bait and tackle operations, recreational for-hire fishing businesses, and more. Applications are being accepted starting January 28 through February 26. Read more: FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE FOR PENNSYLVANIA MARINE FISHERIES INDUSTRY IMPACTED BY COVID-19.

 - The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts an online workshop, A New Way to Look at Marketing, at 5:30 p.m. next Thursday, January 21. This no-cost Zoom session will focus on brand and trademark development; using a website and controlling SEO; online company listings; how to use email marketing; using social media; and how to use print marketing. Register HERE!

1/13/21

- A group of PA House Republican lawmakers has been tasked with coming up with a strategy to kickstart the state’s economic recovery as it climbs out from under the damage done from the COVID-19 shutdown. At a Tuesday Capitol news conference, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre County, said the members of the Economic Recovery Task Force and other House Republicans have been listening to what their constituents have to say about the challenges they face and hearing their suggestions over the past few months. Now, the group is charged with taking that input and using it to examine how the state got in the shape it’s in and craft legislative policies and ideas to get the economy moving again. “Pennsylvania can be an example for the rest of the country, how to move forward, how to learn what we’ve been through how to build and recovery, how to move past the challenges of a difficult time,” Benninghoff said, standing at a podium bearing a sign that read, “Envy of the East.” Among the ideas they hope to incorporate into the upcoming budget discussions include providing regulatory relief for businesses as well as reining in the governor’s authority in emergency declarations and making some tax structure changes such as lowering the corporate net income tax rate. Representative Aaron Kaufer, R-Luzerne County, has been tapped to lead the task force. Kaufer said pandemic-related shutdowns have caused too many jobs to be lost and too many companies to close. Read More (Source: Harrisburg Patriot News)

- A reminder that all Partnership members are invited to participate in a Legislative Update with 12th District U.S. Congressman Fred Keller this Friday, January 15, at 11:00 a.m. Congressman Keller will provide an update on the most recent relief package passed by Congress and other legislative priorities. No pre-registration is needed. You can click on the following link to join the ZoomGov Meeting: https://ushr.zoomgov.com/j/1609716674?pwd=USttYjZzbFNXNXpEbjlTSW15SThYQT09, or Click Here for the Fred Keller file for information on how to join the update online or by phone.

- 25th District State Senator Cris Dush, who was officially sworn into office this month after being elected to the seat vacated by the now-retired senator Joe Scarnati, made a sweep through Clinton County today as he continues to familiarize himself with people across the District. Senator Dush stopped at the Clinton County Economic Partnership office for a brief meeting with CCEP President Mike Flanagan, who offered the Senator a local economic update. The Senator talked about his first few weeks in office and said he’s been named chair of the Senate’s Local Government committee and vice-chair of the State Government Committee. The Senator’s Clinton County constituents will continue to be served by Chuck Dillon and Deb Rudy (both of whom had worked for Sen. Scarnati) from his Wellsboro field office, (570)724-5231. For more on Senator Dush, visit www.senatorcrisdushpa.com.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 7,960 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 741,389. According to the state, Clinton County reported 30 new cases today, bringing the countywide positive case count to 2,278. Centre County was up 133 cases, to 9,973, and Lycoming County reported 88 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 7,114. Statewide, thee are 5,204 people hospitalized with the virus, 1,060 of whom are in the intensive care unit. The state also reported 349 new deaths attributed to COVID-19, for a total of 18,429. Clinton County has seen 37 deaths attributed to the virus. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 5,204 Patients Hospitalized and 1,060 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- Governor Tom Wolf today reminded Pennsylvanians that this Friday, January 15, is the deadline to enroll at pennie.com for health coverage that includes free testing and treatment for COVID-19. Read more: Gov. Wolf: Friday, Jan. 15 is Deadline to Sign-up for State-based Marketplace Health Coverage (pa.gov).

- The National Restaurant Association today released its 2021 Restaurant Trends, a two-page report on operational services and menu items that most helped restaurants survive 2020 and that will likely continue through 2021. The full State of the Industry report will be released January 26. READ MORE

- The Department of Agriculture today released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from January 4-10, taken during routine food safety inspections and inspections prompted by consumer complaints. During that period, Bureau of Food Safety personnel conducted 729 inspections, 130 of which were following up on COVID-specific complaints. The department received 171 food facility COVID-19 related complaints, and 90 of those were referred to local and county health jurisdictions. Inspectors closed 24 restaurants for violating state COVID mitigation orders. According to the data, there were no Bureau of Food Safety inspections reported in Clinton County last week. More here: Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, January 4 – January 10.

- The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 permits businesses to deduct 100% of business meal expenses in 2021 and 2022. The National Law Review summarized the tax provisions of the Act; however, no further information has been released at this time. 

- During today’s virtual PA Farm Show, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding invited proposals for $460,000 in funding through the state’s Specialty Crop Block Grants. Learn more: Agriculture Secretary Invites Proposals for $460,000 State Specialty Crop Block Grants to ‘Cultivate Tomorrow’ (pa.gov).

Also at the Farm Show, Boom City Brewing Co. in Williamsport received two awards in the Show’s craft beer competition. Boom City was a top placer for their Amber beer under the Amber Lager category, and for their Last Raft Raspberry Wheat beer, under the Fruit, Herb & Vegetable category. A total of 22 craft brews from breweries in 10 Pennsylvania counties were judged. FYI, Pennsylvania ranks No. 2 in the United States for number of barrels produced at 3.6 million, according to the Brewers Association, a trade group. Those interested in sampling the winning brews can visit the Pennsylvania Farm Show Trail, an interactive map featuring commercial exhibitors and PA Preferred members who exhibit at the Farm Show.

- PA Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller today announced the selection of a vendor for Resource Information and Services Enterprise, or RISE PA, an upcoming statewide resource and referral tool. See more: Wolf Administration Announces Vendor Selection for Upcoming RISE PA, Statewide Resources and Referral Tool.

- National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins today released her 2020 Annual Report to Congress, focusing on the unprecedented challenges taxpayers faced in filing their tax returns and receiving refunds and stimulus payments during a year consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/national-taxpayer-advocate-delivers-annual-report-to-congress-focuses-on-taxpayer-impact-of-covid-19-and-irs-funding-needs.

- Younger adults living alone were more likely than older adults living alone to report symptoms of both anxiety and depression in recent weeks, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data. The Census survey provides insight into the mental health and well-being of adults living alone during the Coronavirus pandemic.  Read More.

- First Lady Frances Wolf today announced the launch of a statewide virtual photo exhibit, “One Lens: Sharing Our Common Views,” to document the story of Pennsylvania throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The photo submission period opens February 8 and remains open through March 8, with the exhibit to be released March 19. Details here: First Lady Frances Wolf Announces Statewide Virtual Photo Exhibit to Document Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Experience (pa.gov).

1/12/21

- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has released the updated Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application forms for (new) first draw and second draw loans: 

The PPP officially opened Monday for community financial institutions, such as CDFIs. All other lenders will be eligible to participate starting tomorrow, Wednesday, January 13.  Following are various PPP Guidance and Resources:

- The PA Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA) offers several updates of interest to the business community in general:

  • The Pa. Supreme Court has ruled that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board must share "dead license" information. READ MORE
  • U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule on the status of independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The rule clarifies the standard for employees versus independent contractors and takes effect on March 8, 2021. READ MORE
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the restaurant industry cut 372,000 jobs in December, marking the first decrease since the start of the pandemic when the industry lost roughly 6 million jobs. READ MORE
  • The Pa. Department of Labor and Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier announced last Friday that the extra $300 per week in unemployment payments will be automatically added to each claimants' payment starting on Tuesday, January 12. READ MORE

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 7,275 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 733,429. According to the state, Clinton County reported an additional 23 new cases today, bringing the countywide case count to 2,248. Centre County reported 55 new cases, bringing their total to 9,840, while Lycoming County saw an increase of 117 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 7,026. Statewide, 5,232 people are hospitalized with the virus, 1,070 of whom are in the intensive care unit. There were 227 new deaths reported yesterday for a total of 18,080 deaths attributed to COVID-19. There were two new deaths reported in Clinton County, bringing to 34, the number of deaths attributed to the virus. More information here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1246.

- An orderly, planned distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is a priority in Pennsylvania and today, Governor Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine shared an update on the vaccine, stressing its safety and efficacy. See more: Wolf Administration Provides a COVID-19 Update, Stressing Safety and Efficacy of Vaccine (pa.gov).

Secretary Levine said Monday that the state will “soon” begin offering COVID-19 vaccine to people other than the health care workers and nursing home residents and staff who were given top priority in the state’s vaccine distribution plan. Levine said there are about 1 million people in the state’s Phase 1A of the vaccine distribution plan – health care workers and those living or working in nursing homes. She added though that the state won’t wait until that entire group has been immunized before moving to allow people in Phase 1B to get immunized. The state has been provided 827,300 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and expects to get another 138,000 doses this week, she said. “We are having those discussions now and we anticipate moving statewide into vaccinations of (Phase) 1B soon,” she said. At least 285,671 Pennsylvanians have gotten COVID-19 vaccine doses including 21,291 health care workers who have gotten two doses and are now fully-immunized against the virus, Levine said. She said the number of people who’ve gotten immunized is likely higher than the total being reported by the state because the Department of Health is waiting on a report from the pharmacy chain CVS to update the number of nursing home residents and staff that the pharmacy’s staff have immunized. Pennsylvania unveiled an updated vaccine distribution plan on Friday. Levine said the changes were made to align the state’s plan with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most notable change is the addition of a Phase 1C, including people ages 65-74, and those 16 and older with certain health problems, along with a variety of essential workers – those in construction, banking, transportation, and government. Read More (Source: The Tribune-Democrat)

- The Health Department today shared its weekly update on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data and continued to encourage Pennsylvanians to download the COVID Alert PA app. To date, more than 745,00 have accessed the app, which is designed to aid in contact tracing efforts. See more here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1245.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today announced the approval of 26 rail freight improvement projects – including a $391,461 project in Clinton County to replace ties and raise, line and surface the industrial park tracks at South Avis Realty, Inc. in Pine Creek Township. More details here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/wolf-administration-invests-in-rail-infrastructure-supporting-business-development-and-200-jobs-statewide/.

- We recognize Partnership members, Lock Haven businesses Brite Laundry Center and the Texas Restaurant who are partnering to help local folks in need of a nutritious meal. Starting Monday, January 18 and running weekdays 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., people in need of a good meal can pick up a brown-bag lunch (prepared by the Texas), at Brite Laundry Center, 950 Bellefonte Avenue, Lock Haven. The four-week collaboration in the fight against hunger – called Brite’s Bag Lunch Program – will run through February 12. Click Here for the Brite Laundry flyer for details.

- The impact of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on small business is huge: 7.1 million businesses received some form of aid in 2020 from the agency tasked with supporting U.S. small businesses and entrepreneurs. More than 5.2 million small businesses received a Paycheck Protection Program loan during the first and second tranches of the aid program; 1.8 million businesses received debt relief from the agency and more than 42,300 businesses received a loan through the SBA's flagship 7(a) loan program in 2020. Some of those numbers could keep growing this year. The latest COVID-19 stimulus bill allots $284 billion for PPP loans, which include a second-draw for borrowers who've already received a first PPP loan, as well as additional funding for the SBA's core lending programs. Click here for an Inc. magazine article on what role the SBA will likely play in the new Biden administration: https://www.inc.com/diana-ransom/karen-mills-ppp-small-business-administration-joe-biden.html?utm_source=incthismorning.

- In presenting a summary of 2020 activity by the PA Department of Community & Economic Development, Secretary Dennis Davin this week said the investments made in support of the state’s workforce and economy will help usher in a new year of recovery and promise for Pennsylvania. See more: https://dced.pa.gov/newsroom/2020-investments-represent-commitment-to-pa-workforce-and-a-brighter-economic-future/.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions for January 4-8. During that time, the department completed six investigations that were sent to the Department of Health. The actions are part of 262 case investigations to date that are specific to COVID-19 mitigation efforts related to businesses not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Labor-and-Industry-Details.aspx?newsid=523.

 - The Internal Revenue Service today expanded the Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program to all taxpayers who can verify their identities. The Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit code known only to the taxpayer and to the IRS. It helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns using a taxpayers’ personally identifiable information. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/all-taxpayers-now-eligible-for-identity-protection-pins. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/all-taxpayers-now-eligible-for-identity-protection-pins.

 - The Center for Rural Pennsylvania today released its January/February newsletter. A legislative agency of the PA General Assembly whose board is chaired by Lycoming County State Senator Gene Yaw, the Center offers solid research and data of importance to rural Pennsylvania. The latest newsletter includes information on high-speed broadband service, Pennsylvania bridges, and housing values. View the newsletter here: https://www.rural.palegislature.us/publications_newsletter.html#story1.

- The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention this week issued a number of updates, including:

Click here: COVID-19 for more updates from the CDC.

- The Pennsylvania State Police today announced that the department has initiated a wide-ranging contact data collection program designed to capture demographic and other information related to traffic stops. The data will be analyzed to identify potential patterns of racial/ethnic disparities in policing and, if appropriate, make recommendations on changes to PSP policy or training. Learn more here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/PA-State-Police-Details.aspx?newsid=632.

Meanwhile, PSP also announced today that troopers confiscated more than $15.2 million worth of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and other illicit drugs in the fourth quarter – and more than $45 million total – last year. Read more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/PA-State-Police-Details.aspx?newsid=631.

- During today’s virtual 2021 Pennsylvania Farm Show, state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced the availability of $500,000 through the Ag & Youth Grant Program to fund projects such as ag education and workforce development programs seminars and field trips, agricultural safety training, capital projects or equipment purchases that will help build a strong future workforce for the state’s agriculture industry. Read more here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Agriculture_details.aspx?newsid=1023.

- PennDOT today announced all driver license and photo centers will be closed this Saturday, January 16, through Monday, January 18, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Customers can still obtain a variety of products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov. More here: https://www.penndot.gov/pages/all-news-details.aspx?newsid=802.

- The U.S. Chamber will offer a live webinar, Pandemic Relief Small Business Update, Tuesday January 19 at 2:00 p.m. Click here to register to hear about the coronavirus relief aid that’s now available and what small businesses need to know.

1/11/21

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today released their weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard. The data highlights a seven-day case increase of 42,322 (up by 1,034 cases from the previous week), a statewide percent positivity of 14.4% (a decrease from the 15% positivity rate of a week ago), and all 67 counties continuing to have what the state terms as substantial transmission status.

Every county in the state has a concerning percent positivity above five percent, according to the data. Clinton County has seen a substantial jump, showing a 28.1% positivity rate this week, compared to 20% the previous week. Centre County has a current percent positivity rate of 12.5%, and Lycoming County’s rate is at 18.9%. Clinton is among 14 counties in the state with a percent positivity at or above 20 percent, which is a decrease of seven counties from the week before. Read more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Jan.1-7: Case Increases Near 42,300; Percent Positivity at 14.4% and All 67 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- The Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,335 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 726,154. The department said case counts today are low as a result of technical maintenance to the data server on Sunday. Clinton County reported 19 additional cases of the virus today, bringing the county’s case count total to 2,225. Centre County saw 42 new cases reported today, for a total of 9,785 positive cases, and Lycoming County reported 51 new cases today, bringing their countywide total count to 6,909. Statewide, 5,201 people are hospitalized with the virus, 1,062 of whom are in the intensive care unit. There were 186 additional deaths reported over the weekend, for a total of 17,853 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Clinton County has reported 32 deaths attributed to COVID-19. County-specific information is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard. Also according to the state, 285,671 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Pennsylvania through January 10. A spreadsheet of facilities that have received vaccine can be found here. More information here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 5,201 Patients Hospitalized and 1,062 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, today re-opened the Paycheck Protection Program loan portal. Initially, this week, the program is limited to new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers and the initial draw-down of loan funds will only be made from participating Community Financial Institutions, which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries. Eligible second-draw borrowers include businesses that have already exhausted their first PPP loans or will do so soon, have 300 or fewer employees, and suffered at least a 25 percent drop in quarterly revenue last year, compared to 2019. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter. The PPP loan program provides a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The SBA will forgive the loan if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses. This round of funding, approved by Congress in December, authorizes up to $284 billion through March 31. Get more information here: Paycheck Protection Program (sba.gov).

- Governor Wolf today announced nearly $4.7 million in PAsmart Next Generation Industry Partnership grants were awarded to bolster workforce development across Pennsylvania. Two of the grants are for programs whose coverage area includes Clinton County: a $233,800 grant to Central PA Healthcare Partnership, and a $250,000 grant to Made in Central PA. Learn more: Governor Wolf Announces $4.7 Million for Job Training by Businesses Seeking Skilled Workers (pa.gov).

- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is currently accepting applications for its ‘Assistance to Firefighter’ Grant Program. The program supports firefighters and other first responders by providing critical emergency response resources. Interested departments must apply by 5:00 p.m. on February 12. FEMA is holding a series of live walk-through sessions , starting tomorrow, January 12, to help applicants navigate the grant application process. For more information, click here.

- The PA House of Representatives today appointed members of its standing committees for the 2021-22 legislative session. 76th District State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, who represents Clinton County, was reappointed to four committees: Agriculture and Rural Affairs; Environmental Resources and Energy; Health; and Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness. The state Senate has not yet announced its committee appointments for the new session.

- Some timely information from the U.S. Chamber Foundation….. 

  • Can Employers Mandate Flu Shots? COVID-19 and the arrival of flu season create many unprecedented challenges for employers. It’s important to keep employees safe, healthy, and working. Read more.

  • Business Leaders Can Help Stop the Spread of Disease This Flu Season. Encouraging employees to get the flu vaccine is one of the best ways to help keep workplaces open and communities safe. Read more.

- We also came across some interesting survey statistics compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, which has been tracking both business and household data during the pandemic. Click Here for the U.S. Census Bureau file for more information.

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau has launched a new tool the COVID-19 Data Hub — designed to help guide the nation as it begins recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic by providing economic and demographic data. Version 2.0 is now available!  Read More

 - The SBA today announced it is extending “a crucial lifeline” to borrowers impacted by COVID-19 with debt relief. See more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/jan/10/sba-extends-crucial-lifeline-borrowers-impacted-covid-19-debt-relief.

- Another round of stimulus payments is part of President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to help the U.S. economy recover from damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Biden will unveil a new COVID-19 aid proposal this Thursday with a price tag he said will be in the “trillions of dollars.” “We’re going to be proposing an entire package” to deal with “the whole range of issues,” Biden said. Read More  (Source: Harrisburg Patriot News)

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 529 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (January 8-10), issuing 16 notices of violation and 26 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 59 licensee checks during the period, issuing no warnings or notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. (For last week - January 4-7 - the Williamsport office conducted 49 licensee checks, issuing two warnings and one notice of violation). More here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement January 8-10: 529 Compliance Checks; 16 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- If you’ve got students looking to attend college, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has announced it is providing a variety of virtual webinars, beginning this week. The live, online sessions include an overview of how to apply for all types of financial aid, reviewing financial aid offers, financial aid for non-traditional students, and more. Learn more here: Financial Aid Webinars (pheaa.org).

- Pennsylvania’s first-ever virtual PA Farm Show is underway this week. The show began Saturday and will run through this Saturday, January 16. Click Here for the entire schedule and how to view the events. You can also visit the PA Farm Show Facebook page, Pennsylvania Cable Network and the PA Farm Show webpage.

- PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today launched “Cultivating Tomorrow,” a series of live panel discussions engaging experts from across the agriculture spectrum to delve into the issues challenging Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry. Sessions will be held twice a day – at 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., through Friday, January 15. Viewers can join the virtual conversation on the PA Farm Show Facebook page. More here: Agriculture Secretary Launches ‘Cultivating Tomorrow’ Farm Show Panel Series: Your Invitation to Engage in Issues Challenging Pennsylvania’s Top Industry.

- Ag Secretary Redding and Penn State Dean Rick Roush host a Farm Show 2021 Town Hall Meeting at 10:00 a.m. this Wednesday, January 13. The live meeting will include a discussion and Q&A on agriculture in Pennsylvania. Click here to register: Farm Show Town Hall Meeting with Penn State Dean Rick Roush and Secretary Russell Redding - Farm Show (psu.edu).

- The state Independent Fiscal Office last week issued an estimate that 2020 natural gas industry impact fee collections will total $144.9 million – a $55.9 million decrease from base collections the prior year. The primary reasons cited are a lower fee schedule (due to the price per MMBtu dropping below $2.25); reduced collections from aging natural gas wells, and payments for the prior year that were not received in time for disbursement. The IFO summary is available here. (Source: PA Chamber)

- The U.S. Small Business Administration, today announced the launch of Ascent, a first-of-its-kind, free digital e-learning platform geared to help women entrepreneurs grow and expand their businesses. Click Here for the ‘SBA Launches Ascent’ file for details.

- Governor Wolf today announced his intention to appoint Liz Gerloff Wagenseller to serve a six-year term as Executive Director of the state’s Office of Open Records, effective January 19. See more: Gov. Wolf to Appoint Liz Gerloff Wagenseller to Lead Office of Open Records (pa.gov).

- The PA Board of Game Commissioners will hold its first meeting of 2021 on Saturday, January 23. The online-only, 8:30 a.m. meeting, will include discussion and preliminary approval of hunting and trapping seasons for the 2021-22 license year. More here: COMMISSIONERS TO DISCUSS 2021-22 HUNTING, TRAPPING SEASONS (pa.gov).

1/8/21

- The U.S. Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department today announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make First Draw PPP Loans on Monday, January 11, and Second Draw PPP Loans on Wednesday, January 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter. More here, including the new PPP guidance: SBA and Treasury Announce PPP Re-Opening; Issue New Guidance.

- 12th District U.S. Congressman Fred Keller is inviting all members of the Partnership to participate in a virtual Legislative Update next Friday, January 15, at 11:00 a.m. where he’ll talk about the new federal stimulus package. We encourage your participation either online or via phone. No registration is needed for this free event, simply click here for the Fred Keller file for the online link / call-in number to join in.

- The PA Department of Labor today announced that thousands of Pennsylvanians will begin receiving an extra $300 per week in unemployment payments starting this week. The extension of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program is part of the federal stimulus that Congress passed last month. The $300 is automatically added to each claimants’ payment; they do not need to apply. Approximately 127,000 claimants in the Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits programs will receive the $300 FPUC boost as soon as Tuesday, January 12. The program runs the claim weeks ending January 2 to March 13, 2021.

Labor & Industry is still awaiting additional information from the federal Department of Labor on the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programs. Because of program changes made in the federal CARES Act extension, the state says additional information is necessary to ensure L&I follows the law. When payments resume, the department will backdate eligible claims to the week of January 2 and add on the FPUC to ensure claimants don’t miss out on any eligible weeks. Read more: Unemployment Payment Boost to Begin in Pennsylvania.

- Partnership President Mike Flanagan today offered an overview of the latest unemployment claims information from Pennsylvania: The number of first-time unemployment claims by Clinton County residents decreased during a two-week timeframe, according to information released Thursday by the state Department of Labor and Industry. The number of continued claims increased slightly during the same two week period.

There were 110 initial claims during the week ending January 2, with 40% of the filers in the construction field. That is down from 158 the week prior. Continued claims rose to 1,111, an increase of about 15, with 20% in the construction field.

During the same time frame, there were a total of 77 county residents who had unemployment insurance benefits expire. Approximately 25% of the 77 are in the food and accommodation field, and 21% were in the age group of 45 to 54 years old.

Clinton County’s November unemployment rate was 6.6%, the lowest in seven months since a pandemic high of 16.6% in April. The December unemployment rate for all 67 counties in the Commonwealth should be released at the end of January.

- U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia today issued the following statement regarding the December 2020 Employment Situation Report, saying, “Today’s report shows that the economy generally continues to recover, but that employment in certain sectors and States remains challenged. The 140,000 jobs lost in December were driven principally by the loss of 498,000 jobs in leisure and hospitality. Read more: Statement by U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia on the December Jobs Report | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 10,178 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 703,265. Clinton County reported 30 new cases today, bringing the county’s total case count to 2,138. Centre County reported 94 new positive cases, bringing their total positive cases to 9,538, and Lycoming County saw 155 new case reports today, bringing their countywide total to 6,700. Statewide, there are 5,491 people hospitalized with the virus, 1,113 of whom are in the intensive care unit. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 5,491 Patients Hospitalized and 1,113 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin today said the District expects to move to their new Hybrid learning schedule beginning Monday, January 11. The Hybrid schedule has students returning to the classroom for two days a week and then learning virtually the other days. Click Here for the KCSD Update for details, including the Hybrid learning schedule for January.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today announced a new version of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan, detailing the updates and how the state is working to ensure safe, swift implementation. Read more: Gov. Wolf: COVID-19 Vaccine Gives Us Hope as We Update Plans and Keep Fighting to Stop the Virus (pa.gov).

- Pennsylvania currently is in “Phase 1A” of the COVID-19 Vaccination rollout, during which health care personnel and long-term care facility residents are receiving the vaccine. According to the state’s new COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, 327 people in Clinton County have received a partial (one dose) vaccine, while four people have received the full vaccine (two doses). In Centre County, 2,145 have received a partial vaccine, while 34 have received a full dose; and in Lycoming County, 1,978 people have received a partial dose, while 41 have received a full dose. Click here Vaccine (pa.gov) to see the latest on the vaccine process and access the new Vaccine Dashboard.

- Pennsylvania has begun COVID-19 vaccination of residents and staff at the state’s six veterans homes. More information here: All Six PA Veterans Homes have Begun Vaccinating Residents, Staff for COVID-19.

- UPMC has issued an update on where the health provider stands in COVID-19 vaccine distribution, noting that this week, they began giving the second dose of the two-dose vaccination to their front-line employees. As vaccination of health care workers and seniors continues, UPMC is planning for wider distribution in the coming months. Click Here for the UPMC Vaccine Update for more information.

- The Health Department today said Pennsylvania is above the average national COVID-19 testing rate, as noted in the White House Task Force Weekly Report dated January 3. According to the report, Pennsylvania was at the yellow level (2,000 to 2,999 tests per 100,000 population) for number of tests performed per 100,000 people for the previous week. Pennsylvania’s Director of Testing and Contact Tracing Michael Huff says the department  has so far collected results from 8,466,597 COVID-19 PCR and antigen tests statewide and for the past 30 days has been averaging 69,629 tests each day. Details here: Pennsylvania Surpasses Average National Testing Rate, According to White House Task Force Report.

Meanwhile, Secretary Levine today said regional drive-thru and indoor walk-in testing clinics will be held beginning January 12 in Bradford, Clarion, Fulton, Lancaster and Pike counties as the state works to host the pop-up free testing clinics across Pennsylvania. More here: Department of Health Announces Week-Six of Regional Testing Extension Across the Commonwealth.

- While the temporary COVID-19 mitigation measures put in place in mid-December were lifted this past Monday, January 4, all previous measures are still in place. You can stay up-to-date with Pennsylvania’s latest mitigation efforts using this guide. You can also access the guidelines using this link: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.

- Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Dec. 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations arising from 300 inspections for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling nearly $4 million. More information here: U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Announces $3,930,381 In Coronavirus Violations | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- A reminder: Pennsylvanians have until January 15th to shop for affordable health care coverage using the state-based marketplace, Pennie.com.

- The Pennsylvania State Police today announced that 51 cadets graduated from the State Police Academy in Hershey and have been assigned to troops across the commonwealth. The men and women represent the 160th graduating cadet class. Because of COVID-19 mitigation measures, the ceremony was closed to the public, but people were able to view the event via a live stream on You Tube. See more: Pennsylvania State Police Welcomes 51 New Troopers (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will hold its 22nd annual State of American Business event Tuesday, January 12 at Noon. The forum will explore how a united business community can rally a divided nation around a widespread economic recovery, restore good governance, and rebuild our economy for the future. You can click here to register.

- A webinar, The Impact of the COVID-19 Vaccines on the Hospitality Industry, will be held by Barley Snyder on January 12 at 1:00 p.m. REGISTER

1/7/21

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today announced that about 1,000 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard have been activated to support the January 20 presidential inauguration in the nation’s capital. Read more: Gov. Wolf: PA National Guard Activated to D.C. through Jan. 20 Presidential Inauguration.

- Pennsylvania’s Departments of Health and Education today provided school administrators and school boards with updated recommendations as to which instructional models they should consider using based on the changing levels of community transmission of COVID-19 in their counties. The state is recommending that counties with what’s considered “substantial” levels of transmission consider blended/hybrid learning for elementary school students. Learn more: Wolf Administration Updates Recommendations to Help Schools Safely Navigate COVID-19 During Second Semester (pa.gov).

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 9,698 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 693,087. Clinton County saw 23 additional cases reported today, bringing the county’s total case count to 2,108. Centre County reported 96 new cases, bringing their total to 9,444, and Lycoming County reported 71 new positive cases, bringing their number to 6,545. Statewide, there are 5,613 people hospitalized with the virus, most of them age 65 or older. Of that number, 1,120 people are in the intensive care unit. There were 265 new deaths reported for a total of 17,179 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Clinton County deaths attributed to the virus increased by one, to 30. More information here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 5,613 Patients Hospitalized and 1,120 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today announced the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 variant, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7, in Pennsylvania. The confirmed case is in Dauphin County. This variant is the same as the one first discovered in England last month. More here: Department of Health Confirms First Case with the COVID-19 Variant.

- The Center for Rural Pennsylvania will host a virtual public hearing next week on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in rural Pennsylvania. The Center’s Board of Directors, chaired by State Senator Gene Yaw of Lycoming County, said the hearing will take place Wednesday, January 13, at 9:00 a.m. Scheduled presenters include: Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine; Mr. Steven Johnson, President, UPMC Susquehanna; Dr. George Garrow, Chief Medical Officer, Primary Health Network (Sharon, PA); and Dr. Cary Funk, Director of Science and Society Research, Pew Research Center. Participants are asked to register in advance at: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ZaA2FdhAQjCV4HPcxfXxqA. For more on the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, visit www.rural.palegislature.us.

- With reports of an increase in COVID-19 vaccine scams around the country, Attorney General Josh Shapiro is raising awareness and offering tips to Pennsylvanians regarding these scams as distribution of the vaccine ramps up in PA. See more: OAG SCAM ALERT: AG Shapiro Warns Consumers To Watch Out For COVID-19 Test and Vaccine Scams – PA Office of Attorney General.

 - Starting this week, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are sending approximately 8 million second Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) by prepaid debit card. These EIP Cards follow the millions of payments already made by direct deposit and the ongoing mailing of paper checks that are delivering the second round of Economic Impact Payments as rapidly as possible. More here: Treasury issues millions of second Economic Impact Payments by debit card | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov).

 - The PA Department of Environmental Protection today announced that the drought ‘warning’ status for Clinton County has been upgraded (improved) to drought ‘watch’ status, along with Centre and Clearfield Counties. An additional 20 counties have been removed from drought watch or warning status, returning them to normal status. Those are Bradford, Cameron, Columbia, Cumberland, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Juniata, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Warren, and Wyoming counties. DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell says recent rainfall brought good news for many counties, but the three counties still under drought watch “have a little ways to go to return to normal conditions.” He asked all water consumers on drought watch to continue to reduce their water usage. See more: DEP Lifts Drought Watch or Warning for 20 Counties; Three Counties Remain on Watch (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Aging today announced it has awarded $2 million in grants equally among 405 Area Agency on Aging-affiliated Senior Community Centers for the fiscal year 2020-2021. Due to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Senior Community Centers across the state and the resulting needs, the Department of Aging deviated from a traditional competitive grant process and disbursed the funding to the 52 Area Agencies on Aging to allocate among all of its eligible centers. Each AAA will receive nearly $5,000 for each eligible Senior Community Center. The funding was appropriated by the General Assembly from Pennsylvania Lottery funds. The Area Agency on Aging for Clinton and Lycoming counties falls under the umbrella of STEP, Inc. and operates a number of Senior Centers in both counties. More here: Department of Aging Awards $2 Million in Grants.

 - PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, in a message highlighting the department’s challenges and accomplishments last year, said DCNR’s work has never been more important to people than “during the darkness and uncertainty brought on almost 10 months ago by the pandemic.” Read more: PA Environment Digest Blog: DCNR Faced Never Imagined Challenges In 2020, And Helped 45.3 Million People Use Outdoor Recreation As Refuge From A Global Pandemic (paenvironmentdaily.blogspot.com).

- The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service yesterday issued final regulations regarding the credit for qualified carbon oxide captured using carbon capture equipment placed in service on or after February 9, 2018. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-provide-final-regulations-to-help-businesses-claim-credits-for-carbon-capture.

- With the first-ever virtual Pennsylvania Farm Show slated to begin this Saturday, January 9, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today highlighted the various ways to experience the 105th show. Learn more: Secretary of Agriculture Highlights Ways to Experience the 2021 Virtual Pennsylvania Farm Show (pa.gov).

Upcoming Webinars:

 The PA Restaurant and Lodging Association and the PA Bankers host a webinar, Getting Ready for the next Paycheck Protection Program, tomorrow, January 8, at 11:00 a.m. REGISTER

  • The Penn State Small Business Development Center hosts a number of webinars in January, including:
  • The First Step to Small Business Success – Tuesday, January 12, at 9:00 a.m. - Learn More
  • Quick Connect Coaching Sessions – Tuesdays at Noon - Learn More
  • Hiring & HR Legal Compliance for Small Business – Thursday, January 14 at Noon - Learn More
  • QuickBooks Online (a 3-Part Series) – January 15, 22, and 29 - Register for the First Workshop
  • Click here to see: All Upcoming SBDC Events.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) hosts a free webinar/information session on the SBA Surety Bond Guarantee Program, Tuesday, January 12 from 10am to noon. Surety bonds help small businesses win contracts by providing your customer with a guarantee that the work you’re contracted to do will be completed. This webinar covers the eligibility criteria, identifies participating Surety Agencies, and explains in detail how a small business can obtain a surety bond. Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/us-small-business-administration-14061335130.

1/6/21

- The Partnership is pleased to announced that U.S. Congressman Fred Keller, whose 12th District includes Clinton County, is inviting all members of the Partnership to participate in a virtual Legislative Update next Friday, January 15, at 11:00 a.m. We encourage your participation either online or via phone. No registration is needed for this free event, simply Click Here for the Fred Keller file for the online link / call-in number to join in.

Congressman Keller on Monday was sworn-in for his second term in office in the U.S. House of Representatives. He said, “It has been the honor of my life to come to Washington and represent the hardworking people of Pennsylvania’s 12th District. Since our first day in office, we have worked hard to support small businesses and workers; back our agriculture community and farming families; ensure our rural hospitals have the resources they need to deliver high-quality health care; protect our home-grown energy industry; bridge the digital divide with broadband development; and take care of our veterans who fought for our freedoms. I am proud of the work our team has been able to accomplish and look forward to building on those successes heading into the new session.”

- Lock Haven University President Dr. Robert Pignatello today said the University will begin the spring semester on January 25 in a fully-remote learning format, after which, it’s hoped that some in-person classes can be held starting February 8. Click Here for the LHU Spring Semester Update for details.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 9,474 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 683,389. According to the state data, Clinton County reported 19 new cases, bring the county’s positive case count to 2,085. Clinton County also reported three COVID-related deaths, bringing to 29, the number of deaths that have been attributed to the virus. Centre County reported 77 new cases today, bringing their total to 9,348, while Lycoming County saw 101 new cases, bringing their total case count to 6,474. Statewide, 5,684 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 1,148 of whom are in the intensive care unit. There were 368 new deaths reported as of midnight, for a total of 16,914 deaths attributed to COVID-19. This was the highest single-day report since the pandemic began, although officials cautioned that the number likely includes reports from a several-day period. Read more: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 5,684 Patients Hospitalized and 1,148 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today issued guidance allowing deductions for the payments of eligible expenses when such payments would result (or be expected to result) in the forgiveness of a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/eligible-paycheck-protection-program-expenses-now-deductible.

- PA State Police Commissioner Colonel Robert Evanchick today said that troopers and motor carrier enforcement officers are now distributing flyers with important COVID-19 mitigation information to travelers they encounter while on patrol. The information includes the latest from the Department of Health regarding testing, quarantine and masking requirements. See more: State Police Personnel to Provide Updated COVID-19 Health, Safety Information to Travelers (pa.gov).

- State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced that the Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center will offer ag businesses and aspiring ag entrepreneurs a series of free business planning and marketing workshops through a partnership with the PA Small Business Development Centers during the virtual 2021 PA Farm Show. Details here: Department of Agriculture Offers Free Agribusiness Planning Workshops through PA Farm Bill Ag Business Development Center.

- Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller today reminded Pennsylvanians that safety-net programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid are available to individuals and families who are struggling to afford food or access to health care. She also highlighted recent SNAP changes that will help people amidst the continuing public health crisis and heightened unemployment. More here: Department of Human Services Provides Update on Latest Medicaid, SNAP Enrollment Data, Announces Recent Changes to SNAP Benefits and Eligibility.

- The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, in conjunction with the PA Bankers Association, will host a webinar this Friday, January 8, at 11:00 a.m. on preparing for the latest round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Register today for this complimentary and interactive session. 

- CO-, the U.S. Chamber’s news magazine, Tuesday hosted a Small Business Update webinar during which Chamber executive Neil Bradley provided an excellent overview of the new federal stimulus package and answered questions from participants. The one-hour session is worth watching. Click here to view the recording: Re-watch today's event.

The next U.S. Chamber Small Business Update with Neil Bradley is scheduled for January 19 and is open to all. Bradley is expected to offer updates to the PPP, new tax credits, EIDL grants and more. To register to participate, click here.

And, the U.S. Chamber has also published an article to help businesses understand the latest changes in the Paycheck Protection Program, including expanded qualifying expenses, loan forgiveness, and more. Read up on the details.

- The PA House of Representatives this week took care of some beginning-of-session business. Majority Republican leaders announced who will serve as chairs of the House standing committees for the 2021-22 legislative session, and House Democrats announced minority chairs for all committees. Click Here for the PA House Committee file for details.

- PennDOT today said a new state law will improve peoples’ ability to obtain ID and update CDL license requirements. More here: Article (penndot.gov).

1/5/21

- Clinton County’s unemployment rate improved for the seventh straight month, according to information released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The unemployment rate in November was 6.6%, the lowest since the pandemic began. The October rate was 7.0%. The November 2020 number is up from the 6.0% recorded one year ago. Clinton County’s November rate ranked at no. 40 in the state’s 67 counties. Centre County checked in at 4.5%, which is ranked sixth. Adams County had the lowest number at 4.3% and Philadelphia County had the highest at 9.8%.

“We are glad to see that numbers are continuing to come down from the 16.6% reached in April,” said Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan. “We know that most of our manufacturers did well and remained open during the shutdown period. These recent numbers seem to show an increase in the return of hotels, retail, and food and accommodation sectors, which were hit hard. However, we still have some 1,200 people listed as being unemployed and the new unemployment insurance claim information increased slightly during the month of December. Plus, we have those who drop off the rolls when their benefits expire.”

The state’s unemployment rate for November was 7.3%. The December monthly unemployment figures are expected to be released in late January.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 8,818 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 673,915. Due to technical maintenance to the state’s data server on Sunday, case counts today include data from the time the server was down on Sunday. Clinton County reported 12 new cases today, bringing the county’s total case count to 2,066. Centre County saw 66 new cases today, for a total of 9,271 positive cases to-date; and Lycoming County reported 92 new cases today, bringing their total case count to 6,373. Statewide, there are 5,630 people hospitalized with the virus, 1,182 of whom are in the intensive care unit. More here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1233.

- The Wolf Administration today presented an update on the state’s COVID-19 testing and contact tracing efforts, emphasizing the need for continued testing as Pennsylvania begins vaccine rollout. Director of Testing and Contact Tracing Michael Huff said over 8.3 million test results have been received in Pennsylvania so far, and the state’s COVID-19 testing provider continues to offer regional testing in five counties each week. Read more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/wolf-administration-provides-2020-testing-and-contact-tracing-update-reinforces-the-importance-of-testing-supports-for-those-contacted/.

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from December 27 through January 3, as the Department continues with compliance enforcement as it relates to regulated boards and commissions. Details here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/State-details.aspx?newsid=443.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions for December 28 – January 1, as it relates to businesses that are not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Labor-and-Industry-Details.aspx?newsid=521.

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection continues to issue permits, conduct inspections and respond to environmental emergencies while using COVID-19 mitigation measures. Click here for the department’s most recent update: http://paenvironmentdaily.blogspot.com/2021/01/dep-works-thru-pandemic-553-more.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PaEnvironmentDaily+%28PA+Environment+Daily+Blog%29.

- Pennsylvania lawmakers returned to the Capitol today to be sworn in for the new, two-year legislative term. Republicans hold large majorities in both the House and Senate. The 203-member state House begins the session with 113 Republican seats and 90 Democratic, although one of the GOP districts is vacant following the death Saturday of Westmoreland County State Representative Mike Reese. Republicans hold at least 28 seats in the 50-member State Senate, although there is continuing litigation over the close reelection margin for Democratic Senator Jim Brewster of Allegheny County. There is also one independent, Luzerne Senator John Yudichak, a former Democrat who caucuses with Republicans. Four separate swearing in ceremonies – an effort to limit potential COVID-19 exposure – were held this afternoon. The House is expected to elect Lancaster County Republican Representative Bryan Cutler as speaker, and the Senate is poised to make Centre County Republican Senator Jake Corman its presiding officer, president pro tempore (now-retired Senator Joe Scarnati, who represented Clinton County, had served as president pro tempore). Along with a pandemic-driven, multibillion-dollar budget gap, legislators this year will also have to figure out how to redraw congressional district lines based on new census results that are expected to cut one member of Congress from Pennsylvania’s 18-member delegation. Later this year, the four caucus leaders will also begin redrawing General Assembly lines with participation from a fifth member they can select. If they remain deadlocked on the fifth member, a Democratic-majority state Supreme Court will choose the tie-breaking member for them. (Source: The Associated Press)

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources offers the attached DCNR document, which highlights funding opportunities, and a wide range of resources, development and training information. The comprehensive, 60-page document was passed along by Rick Vilello, former Lock Haven mayor who now serves as Deputy Secretary of Community Affairs & Development with the PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

 - Penn State Extension is now offering 50 percent off 75 online courses if you register in January. Click Here for the news release for course information and how to access the discount.

- The U.S. Chamber hosts a 2pm webinar tomorrow, January 6, on Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s initiative to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines with the initial doses available by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Retired Lieutenant General Paul Ostrowski, Operation Warp Speed’s head of supply, production and distribution will discuss where things stand with the vaccine rollout, the power of public-private partnerships, and how long it will take to get most of the country vaccinated against the coronavirus.  Register Now

- U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza hosts a live webinar this Thursday, January 7 at 1:00 p.m. to announce the launch of Ascent. Ascent is a first-of-its-kind digital online learning platform geared to help women-owned small businesses grow and scale their existing business. With Ascent, female entrepreneurs will be able to utilize this platform that brings a modern, e-learning experience specifically targeted for women business owners. Click here to register

- Non-COVID Items of Interest….

   • The State Game Commission is encouraging those who haven’t purchased their 2020-21 PA hunting or furtaker licenses to do so this week. PA’s Automated Licensing System (PALS) will be unavailable for a week beginning at midnight on January 12 to complete an upgrade to a new licensing system. PA Fishing licenses and permits also will not be sold during the system downtime. More information here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Game-Commission-Details.aspx?newsid=441.

1/4/21

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today released their weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 40,407 (which is 8,476 fewer new cases than the previous week), a statewide percent positivity of 15.0% (down slightly from 15.1% last week), and all 67 counties with substantial transmission status. According to the state, every county has a concerning percent positivity above five percent, and there are 21 counties – including Clinton (currently at 20%) and Lycoming County (currently at 20.2%) with a percent positivity at or above 20%. Centre County’s most recent percent positivity rate is 12.1%. More here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Dec. 25 – Dec. 31: Case Increases Near 40,400; Percent Positivity at 15.0% and All 67 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, the Health Department today confirmed an additional 3,226 positive cases of COVID-19, in addition to 4,579 new cases reported Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 665,097. Over the long holiday weekend, 8,992 cases were reported December 31; 7,714 new cases January 1; and 9,253 new cases January 2. Clinton County reported 17 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,054. Centre County saw an additional 34 new cases, bringing their total to 9,205; and Lycoming County added 42 cases, bringing their countywide case count to 6,281. Secretary Levine cautioned that today’s case counts are atypically low as a result of technical maintenance to the state’s data server on Sunday. To date, 3,301,186 people have tested negative for the virus. Regional drive-thru and indoor walk-in testing clinics are being held this week in Crawford, Dauphin, Lehigh, Somerset and Union counties. The counties with testing sites change each week as the Department of Health works to provide these free testing clinics across the state.

Statewide, there are 5,529 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 1,149 of whom are in the intensive care unit. There were 122 new deaths reported over the two-day weekend, bringing the total of deaths attributed to COVID-19 to 16,361. December saw more COVID-19-related deaths than any previous month during the pandemic.  

Pennsylvania hospitals began receiving shipments of the Pfiser-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December, and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine a week later. To date, 135,044 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Pennsylvania. A spreadsheet of facilities that have received vaccine can be found here. More information: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 5,529 Patients Hospitalized and 1,149 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- Residents and staff at the County-owned Susque-View Home in Lock Haven are slated to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this week. In his most recent update, Home Administrator Jamie Aurand said CVS Pharmacy will administer the vaccine to Susque-View residents and employees this Friday, January 8. To date, six residents and 19 staff members have tested positive for the virus. The Home continues to prohibit face-to-face and window visits and is following all recommended COVID-19 guidelines and protocols. Click Here for the Susque-View Home update for more information.

- The PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) has provided an overview of the COVID-19 mitigation requirements that continue to be in-place now that the limited-time mitigation orders have expired. Click Here for the DCED file for details.

- Like many other businesses and organizations, the River Valley Regional YMCA today reopened its facilities – including the Lock Haven and Jersey Shore Branch YMCAs – after closing for three weeks as per the statewide limited-time COVID-19 mitigation orders. Click Here for the YMCA flyer for more information.

- The PA Department of Revenue today said Pennsylvania collected $3.7 billion in General Fund revenue in December, or 14.5 percent more than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $18.5 billion, which is $467.1 million, or 2.6 percent, above estimate. More here: Revenue Department Releases December 2020 Collections.

- Newly-elected and reelected members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and State Senate will take their oaths of office tomorrow, January 5, at the state capitol, although there will be several smaller swearing-in ceremonies and guests will be limited due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. For Clinton County, 76th District State Representative Stephanie Borowicz will be sworn in for her second, two-year term in office. In the Senate, former state representative and now newly-elected senator Cris Dush will take the oath of office for his first, four-year term representing the 25th Senatorial District that had been served by now-retired Joe Scarnati.

- The Pa Chamber of Business & Industry today offered a quick update as the State House and Senate begin the 2021-2022 legislative session. Read more: https://www.pachamber.org/media/3317/A_Look_Ahead_Week_of_January_4/.


- The PA Chamber also weighed in on the recently-approved federal COVID-19 relief package. More here: https://www.pachamber.org/media/3316/Second_Coronavirus_Financial_Aid_Package_Approved/.

- CO-, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce online news magazine, will host another virtual Small Business Update tomorrow, January 5, at 2pm. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley will talk about the latest federal COVID-19 relief package and take questions from the audience. Gain insider knowledge on the new relief provisions for small businesses; hear insights that will help you navigate this new round of funding; and ask the pressing questions most important to you. Click here to register for this complimentary event.

- The PA Chamber hosts a free webinar, COVID-19 Relief Bill: What PA Businesses Need to Know About the Latest Round of PPP, this Thursday, January 7, at 11:00 a.m. for the business community at large. The recently approved COVID-19 relief and stimulus package includes $284 billion in forgivable, federally backed loans for hard-hit small businesses, non-profits, and live venues across the nation – including those in Pennsylvania. The PA Chamber invites businesses statewide to hear directly from U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley as they share key insights into the latest round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, including important changes to PPP guidelines, eligibility, forgiveness and more.  Register Now 

- The Internal Revenue Service today urged people to visit IRS.gov for the most current information on the second round of Economic Impact Payments rather than calling the agency or their financial institutions or tax software providers. More here: Economic Impact Payments on their way, visit IRS.gov instead of calling | Internal Revenue Service.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced that the deadline to apply for a COVID-19 pandemic Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) has been extended to December 31, 2021. To date, SBA has approved $197 billion in low-interest loans, which provide U.S. small businesses, non-profits, and agricultural businesses working capital funds. Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications will continue to be accepted through December 2021, pending the availability of funds. Loans are offered at affordable terms, including a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profit organizations, a 30-year maturity, and an automatic deferment of one year before monthly payments begin. Click here to Learn more and apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

- In their most recent inspections, PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,019 licensed liquor establishments last week (December 31- January 3), issuing 46 notices of violation and 37 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 33 licensee checks during the period, issuing two warnings and three notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Details here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement December 31, 2020 - January 3, 2021: 1,091 Compliance Checks; 46 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Banking and Securities will host and participate in a number of virtual presentations for groups of senior citizens, service providers and the public during January to promote financial capability as part of Governor Wolf’s Consumer Financial Protection Initiative. Details here: January 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Virtual Events Announced (pa.gov).

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today issued updated information surrounding COVID-19. See more: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC.

- Governor Wolf today announced the availability of $5 million in funding for security enhancement projects for nonprofit organizations serving diverse communities throughout the commonwealth. Read more: Gov. Wolf: 2021 Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program Now Open (pa.gov).

- Disrupted last year by the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual sale of tree and shrub seedlings from the State Game Commission’s Howard Nursery in nearby Centre County returns in 2021, starting today, January 4. More, including an order form, here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Game-Commission-Details.aspx?newsid=440.

- In response to the recent deaths of two Pennsylvania government leaders, one current and one former, Governor Wolf has ordered flags on all state buildings and grounds to fly at half-staff. Commonwealth flags were ordered to fly at half-staff on January 2, following the death of State Representative Mike Reese, who served the 59th legislative district representing portions of Somerset and Westmoreland counties. And all U.S. and Commonwealth flags were ordered to fly at half-staff last Thursday, December 31, following the passing of former Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh. The Commonwealth flag has flown at half-staff since March 11, 2020, in honor of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to fly at half-staff until further notice.

Posted 12/30/20

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine this afternoon announced that the state will allow the time-limited mitigation orders imposed nearly three weeks ago, to expire as planned, at 8:00 a.m. this coming Monday, January 4, 2021. The Governor was quick to note that previous COVID-19 mitigation orders – such as those that require mask wearing, limits on gatherings, occupancy limits for businesses, and restaurant seating capacity limitations and self-certifications – remain in place moving forward as the state continues to ask for cooperation in flattening the curve of the coronavirus pandemic. See full details here: Gov. Wolf Announces Lifting of Time Limited Mitigation on Jan. 4, Dashboard to Track Progress of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution (pa.gov).

- Health Secretary Levine today also announced the launch of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, now available on the department’s website. The dashboard includes information on the number of vaccinations administered by county, as well as demographic information about the people being vaccinated. According to the information, 162 partial vaccinations (meaning only the first dose has been given) have so far been administered in Clinton County. A total of 1,442 partial vaccinations have been administered in Centre County, and 825 partial vaccinations have been administered to date in Lycoming County. More here: Department of Health Launches COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard to Provide Updates on Distribution Process.

Secretary Levine also announced she has signed a new order that goes into effect on January 6, directing that a percentage of all vaccine distributions to hospitals, health, systems, federal qualified health centers and pharmacies be designated for health care personnel within Phase 1A, including those health care personnel working in Emergency Medical Services, that are not affiliated with a hospital or health system. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1225.

And, Secretary Levine announced the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program has begun vaccinating residents and staff at 126 Pennsylvania skilled nursing facilities using the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1226.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed 8,984 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 631,333. Clinton County reported 19 new positive cases, bringing the countywide total to 1,897. Centre County’s case count was up 76, to 8,910, and Lycoming County reported 116 new positive cases, bringing the countywide case count to 5,913. Statewide, there are 6,022 people hospitalized with the virus, 1,174 of whom are in the intensive care unit. An additional 319 deaths were reported today, bringing to 15,672, the number of deaths statewide that have been attributed to the virus. Clinton County reported two new deaths, bringing the county total to 24. More information here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1224.

- The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department have announced that the federal government has begun delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 to millions of Americans who received the first round of payments earlier this year. The government said initial direct deposit payments could begin arriving as early as last night for some and will continue into next week. Paper checks will begin to be mailed today, Wednesday, December 30. Read more: Treasury and IRS begin delivering second round of Economic Impact Payments to millions of Americans | Internal Revenue Service.

- “CO-“, which is a publication of the U.S. Chamber, today released an overview of the new Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA), which was signed into law on December 27. The new stimulus package, part of a larger government appropriations bill, provides more assistance to individuals and businesses harmed by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The CRRSAA provides direct payments to individuals, revised key aspects of the CARES Act to provide more flexibility to businesses and offers enhanced federal unemployment benefits. Among many provisions, the CRRSAA includes:

  • Reopening and revisions for the Paycheck Protection Program:The PPP has been reopened so more businesses can apply for the first time, and some companies can apply for a “second-draw” PPP loan. On top of this, the bill expands what types of expenses can be paid for with PPP funds and makes forgiveness easier to obtain for businesses that took out loans worth less than $150,000. Applications for new and second-draw PPP loans are open until March 31, 2021, or until funds are exhausted.
  • Changes to business taxes:The CRRSAA makes PPP loans non-taxable and ensures that the majority of business expenses paid for with PPP loans are also not taxable. The legislation also makes businesses eligible to receive both PPP loans and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), whereas they were not eligible under the original CARES Act.
  • Reopening of the EIDL grant program:The bill allocates more money for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grant program that had been expanded in the CARES Act. This will allow some businesses to receive up to $10,000 in EIDL grants.
  • New grant program for live venues:The bill allocates $15 billion in grants for small venues like independent movie theaters and concert halls that have been financially harmed by the pandemic, with grants maxing out at $10 million. Grants must be used on expenses such as payroll, rent, utilities and personal protective equipment.
  • Enhanced federal unemployment benefits:The bill extends the amount of time people can collect federal unemployment benefits (pandemic unemployment assistance), and it restarts a supplemental federal benefit on top of state benefits. The extra benefit totals $300 per week and lasts through March 14, 2021.
  • Payments for individuals: Those who make less than $75,000 a year will receive direct payments of $600 per individual ($1,200 per joint return for couples making less than $150,000 annually) plus $600 per child.

 

To learn more:

- The U.S. Chamber provides a breakdown of all the federal programs and aid for small business coronavirus assistance here.

In addition, the U.S. Chamber offers the following resources for those applying for forgiveness for a Paycheck Protection Loan: Forgiveness for PPP loans

And, the U.S. Chamber recently established an information sheet on the COVID-19 vaccine, which highlights vaccine allocation, prioritization and timelines. Click Here for the U.S. Chamber file for that information.

- The Governor and Health Secretary’s announcement today lifting the limited mitigation orders on January 6 means youth and high school sports and extracurricular activities can restart next week. See more in this news report from PennLive: Pa. high school, youth sports get green light to start back up again on Jan. 4; here’s when games could start - pennlive.com.

- The PA Department of Agriculture today announced a new opportunity for Pennsylvanians to bring the 2021 PA Farm Show (scheduled to be held virtually January 9-16) into their homes, by inviting them to craft their own butter sculpture creations and enter them into the Butter Up! Contest for a chance to win a gift card from members of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association. Read more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Agriculture_details.aspx?newsid=1019.

- As we turn our attention to a new year, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and Department of Health are urging people to “Resolve to be Ready” in 2021 by creating family emergency plans and emergency kits. Details here: Wolf Administration Urges Pennsylvanians to “Resolve to be Ready” for Emergencies as Year Draws to a Close (pa.gov).

Posted 12/29/20

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 8,545 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 622,349. Clinton County saw 28 new cases reported today, bringing the countywide total to 1,878 positive cases. Centre County added 63 cases, bringing their total to 8,834; and Lycoming County reported 123 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 5,797 positive cases. Statewide, there are 5,996 people hospitalized with the virus, 1,174 of whom are in the intensive care unit. Additionally, the Health Department reported 267 new coronavirus deaths today, bringing the number of deaths associated with COVID-19 to 15,353. More than 82,000 health care workers have so far received COVID-19 vaccines, with many more slated to receive the vaccine this week. Vaccines are also being given to residents and staff in nursing homes. More here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1223.

- PA Department of Labor & Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier has announced that Pennsylvania is preparing for the new CARES Act extensions for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs, while cautioning that delays by the federal government in approving the legislation will cause a gap in these benefits for more than 509,000 workers. Read more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Labor-and-Industry-Details.aspx?newsid=520.

- The U.S. House voted overwhelmingly Monday to increase COVID-19 relief checks to $2,000, meeting President Donald Trump’s demand for bigger payments. The bill was to the GOP-controlled Senate, where the outcome is uncertain. Read more: House approves Trump’s $2K checks, sending to GOP-led Senate - pennlive.com. (Source: The Associated Press)

- The PA Department of Agriculture today released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from last week (December 21-27). During that period, Bureau of Food Safety personnel performed 381 inspections, 54 of which were complaint-driven. Of those, 50 were COVID-19 specific complaints. The department received 42 food facility COVID-19 related complaints, and 20 of those were referred to local and county health jurisdictions. Inspectors closed 33 restaurants by order after confirming that each was open for dine-in service and refused to comply with the state’s order. According to the state information, there were two Bureau of Food Safety inspections in Clinton County last week, with no warnings, citations or closures ordered. More here: Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, December 21 – December 27.

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from December 20-27, as they relate to regulated boards and commissions. During that period, BEI personnel performed 269 inspections and opened 13 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed two warning letters and one compliance letter related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Details here: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Dec. 20-27.

- The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention this week issued a number of updates:

  • As of Monday, there have been 19,055,869 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. In addition to cases, deaths, and laboratory testing, CDC’s COVID Data Tracker now has a County View to help make decisions about everyday activities. U.S. Cases 

- STEP, Inc., the community action agency serving Clinton and Lycoming counties, this week issued its annual report, highlighting how the agency has continued to serve people in our community during challenging times. Click Here for the STEP Annual Report.

Posted 12/28/20

- President Donald Trump Sunday night signed$900 billion pandemic relief package that will deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals. It also averts a government shutdown. Read more: Second stimulus check update: Trump signs massive funding bill that includes $600 payments - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLive Patriot News)

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today thanked Congress for passing the COVID-19 Emergency Relief package, but said further relief is needed. More here: Gov. Wolf Thanks Congress, Urges Lawmakers to Provide Further Relief (pa.gov).

- Partnership member Baker Tilly US, LLP, today issued the following update on the federal relief package: After several days of uncertainty, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which included a fourth round of COVID-19 stimulus and tax extender provisions, has been signed into law as it passed both chambers of Congress, which, among many other items, allows deductions for expenses funded by forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans. Read more: President signs stimulus act into law - Baker Tilly.

- Governor Wolf and PA Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today released their weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 46,777 (10,321 fewer cases than last week), a statewide percent positivity of 15.1% (down from 15.82% last week), and all 67 counties with substantial transmission status. Clinton County’s percent positivity rate also declined over the past week to below 20% and is currently at 19.8%. Centre County has a percent positivity rate of 11.3%. Lycoming County is at 21.4% positivity and is among 19 counties that currently have a percent positivity at or above 20 percent. Learn more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Dec. 18 – Dec. 25: Case Increases Near 46,800; Percent Positivity at 15.1% and All 67 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 3,779 positive cases of COVID-19, one of the smallest daily increases in a while. There were 4,884 new cases reported Sunday, 7,174 on Saturday and 7,581 on Christmas Day. The statewide case total surpassed 600,000 over the holidays and today stands at 613,804. Clinton County today also saw fewer cases, with 15 new cases reported (compared to 34 new cases reported Christmas Day, 27 on Saturday and 33 on Sunday). The County currently has 1,702 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 148 probable cases, and there have been 7,321 negative tests reported. Clinton County has also reported 22 COVID-related deaths. Centre County reported 26 new positive cases today, bringing their total to 8,771; and Lycoming County reported 74 new cases today, bringing their number of positive cases to 5,674. Statewide, there are 5,905 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 1,145 of whom are in the intensive care unit. More information here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 5,905 Patients Hospitalized and 1,145 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

Meanwhile, Health Department-sponsored COVID-19 drive-thru and indoor walk-in testing clinics continue this week in nearby Clearfield and Potter Counties, as well as in Beaver, Juniata and Schuylkill counties. The counties with testing sites change each week over the next nine weeks so that 62 counties will eventually be covered by pop-up testing sites over a 12-week period.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,187 licensed liquor establishments in the past week (December 21-28), issuing 31 notices of violation and 47 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 74 licensee checks during that period and issued no warnings and one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement December 24-28: 454 Compliance Checks; 16 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration….

  •  Top Business Trends in 2021: For small businesses across America, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years in history. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, small business owners have been resilient, pivoting, and adapting their business models to navigate continually changing conditions. With the new year on the horizon, there are potential new opportunities to take advantage of and ways to adapt to challenges you may face. Here are a few business trends that are likely to dominate in 2021, along with tips on how to position your business for growth. Learn more
  •  If you are looking for ways to grow your clientele in 2021, consider doing business with the federal government. The federal government aims to award at least 23% of all federal contracting dollars to small businesses each fiscal year. The federal government exceeded this goal in fiscal year 2019, awarding 26.5% or $132.9 billion in federal contract dollars to small businesses. Learn more
  • SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza hosts a live webinar on Thursday, January 7 at 1:00 p.m. to announce the launch of Ascent, a first-of-its-kind digital online learning platform geared to help women-owned small businesses grow and scale their existing business. With Ascent, female entrepreneurs will be able to utilize this platform that brings a modern, e-learning experience specifically targeted for women business owners. Click here to register

Posted 12/23/20

- At a news conference Wednesday morning, PA Governor Tom Wolf announced he is moving $145 million into the state’s general fund and is calling on the legislature to appropriate those monies to industries hardest hit by the coronavirus. Read more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-initiates-transfer-of-145-million-in-funds-to-support-businesses-adversely-affected-by-covid-19-pandemic/

- President Donald Trump Tuesday night asked Congress to amend the nearly $900 billion stimulus and spending bill passed by the Senate just one day before, describing the groundbreaking legislation as “a disgrace” and suggesting he would not immediately sign off on aid for millions of Americans. In a video posted to Twitter, Trump called on Congress to increase the “ridiculously low” $600 stimulus checks to $2,000, and outlined a list of provisions in the final legislation that he described as “wasteful spending and much more.” He did not mention that the $600 stimulus check idea came from his own Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin. “I am also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation, and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package, and maybe that administration will be me,” Trump said. The 5,593-page bill was introduced Monday afternoon and then passed the House and Senate later in the evening. It passed Congress with broad bipartisan support, clearing the Senate by a 92-6 margin. Trump’s aides had made positive comments about it but Trump had largely stayed out of negotiations. Last week, he had complained to some aides that he thought the $600 stimulus checks were too low and wanted them raised to $1,200 or $2,000, but aides had convinced him not to intervene, saying it could scuttle the whole package. Some aides were stunned that Trump weighed in the way he did after his economic team had publicly praised the bill. But administration officials had negotiated the bill with lawmakers in the final days without explicitly securing Trump’s approval, aides said. (Source: Washington Post)

- 12th District Congressman Fred Keller was among those to vote against the federal relief package. Today, he issued a statement on his reasons for opposing the measure. Click Here for the file for details.

- U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President Neil Bradley Tuesday provided a good overview of the business aspects included in the new federal COVID-19 Relief Package that is awaiting the President’s signature. If you didn’t see it, it’s worth a watch. Click here to see the recorded one-hour program.

- For our Partnership members in the restaurant industry, the National Restaurant Association has provided a breakdown of how the new federal COVID-19 Relief Package will impact restaurants.

- In the nine months since testing for covid-19 became available, the number of tests performed in one day across Pennsylvania has increased exponentially, and the state’s testing director said Tuesday he hopes testing capacity will continue to improve and turnaround time will continue to decrease. In early March, when the state’s Department of Health began performing its own testing rather than relying on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state lab in Chester County could test about six samples per day. Since then, nearly 7.4 million tests have been done across Pennsylvania, and the department receives around 70,000 test results per day, according to state health officials. The hope is to continue increasing testing capacity and decrease the turnaround time for results, said Michael Huff, the state’s director of testing and contact tracing. He pointed to the increased use of rapid antigen tests, which give results in hours rather than days, albeit they are not considered to be as accurate as the “gold standard” PCR tests. “More often than not, you’re doing a rapid antigen test and you may have to follow it up with a PCR test,” which can create delays and confusion, Huff said. He estimated that more accurate antigen tests could be on the horizon — possibly within the next six months — meaning test results that are accurate and quick, rather than trading one of those for the other. Read More (Source: Pittsburgh Tribune Review)

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) this week released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from December 13-20. DOS is continuing with compliance enforcement as it relates to state-regulated boards and commissions. During the most recent period, BEI performed 372 inspections and opened two investigations during with COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed four warning letters and five compliance letters related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Learn more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/State-details.aspx?newsid=441.

- The Departments of Labor & Industry and Human Services and the United Way of Pennsylvania want Pennsylvanians to know there are state and local programs and resources available for those who are unemployed. Read more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/DHS_details.aspx?newsid=642.

- While the state is encouraging people to celebrate the holiday at home this year due to the pandemic, with rain and snow in the forecast for this week, PennDOT is reminding drivers to be alert for changing roadway conditions. More information here: https://www.penndot.gov/regionaloffices/district-1/pages/details.aspx?newsid=1351.

- The PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED)’s Pennsylvania Tourism Office today announced a new virtual experienceHoli-stay PA, to encourage Pennsylvanians to stay home and stay safe this holiday season by taking advantage of virtual activities to explore Pennsylvania safely. These activities include live demonstrations, interactive learning sessions, holiday recipes, weekly dinner and movie pairings, activity sheets, and a calendar of other virtual events. See more: https://dced.pa.gov/newsroom/new-virtual-campaign-encourages-pennsylvanians-to-celebrate-the-holidays-at-home/.

- If one of the pastimes you enjoy is watching nesting Bald Eagles, the PA Game Commission today announced that its popular Eagle Cam from a bald-eagle nest near Codorus State Park in Hanover, PA, is now up and running. More here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Game-Commission-Details.aspx?newsid=439.

The Partnership team will take a few days off for the holidays. We thank you for putting your trust in us through this very challenging year and commit our ongoing support as we move forward together to get to the other side of this pandemic in 2021. Please reach out to the Partnership if you feel we can be of help to you. From our team to yours, we wish you a safe and healthy Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Posted 12/22/20

- Congress voted overwhelmingly Monday night to approve a $2.3 trillion spending package that delivers $908 billion in COVID-19 relief to Americans struggling with the pandemic and funds federal agencies through September 30. The COVID-19 relief measure provides another round of forgivable small business loans, $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefits, and $600 checks to people making up to $75,000 and couples making up to $150,000 per year — with $600 additional payments per dependent child. The text of the 5,593-page legislation was distributed to lawmakers Monday after congressional leaders reached a deal over the weekend. In the early evening, the U.S. House approved the $1.4 trillion government spending bill by a 327-85 vote, then voted 359-53 to approve the COVID-19 relief package. The U.S. Senate, with less than an hour to spare before a government shutdown, approved both measures along with a one-week government funding bill to keep the government open while the paperwork heads to the White House. The Senate vote on the spending bills was 91-7. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the legislation soon. Read more: Congress approves COVID relief bill; $600 individual payments included - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLive/Associated Press)

- The U.S. Chamber this afternoon released a new ‘Guide to Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Loans’ to provide the latest information and answers to FAQs about the changes that have been made to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) Program as part of the end-of-year pandemic relief package Congress has just passed. Click here to view the new Guide, which will be updated as more information becomes available.

- Partnership member Baker Tilly US, LLP, offers a summary of the new stimulus legislation, now known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Click here to read their insights: https://www.bakertilly.com/insights/alert-congress-agrees-to-additional-stimulus.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today thanked congressional lawmakers for passing a second federal COVID-19 Emergency Relief Package. Read more: Gov. Wolf Issues Statement on COVID Relief Package, Reminds Lawmakers Some Needs Remain Unmet.

- The Wolf Administration says 22 additional hospitals have received 30,255 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and will begin distributing it to health care workers as outlined in the state’s interim vaccine distribution plan. To date, 109 hospitals in the state have received the vaccine. In addition, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is slated to be received by at least 51 hospitals throughout the state this week. See more: Department of Health: 22 More Hospitals Receive Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Moderna Doses to be Shipped to 51 Hospitals This Week.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 7,962 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 571,551. According to the state, Clinton County saw a jump of 133 new cases reported today, bring the countywide total to 1,674. Centre County was up 36 cases, bringing their total to 8,369, and Lycoming County saw 85 new positive cases, bringing their total case count to 5,059. Statewide, there are 6,090 people hospitalized with the virus, 1,217 of whom are in the intensive care unit. In addition, the state said 109 hospitals have so far received 127,755 vaccine doses and 26,563 doses of the vaccine have been administered. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 6,090 Patients Hospitalized and 1,217 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- Pennsylvania today announced it will extend the license renewal deadline for healthcare professionals licensed under the State Board of Medicine, it will extend emergency temporary licenses granted to licensed practitioners in other states and jurisdictions, and it will extend reactivated licenses for retired and inactive Pennsylvania-licensed practitioners. Read more: Pennsylvania Cuts Red Tape Again to Help Health Care Professionals Fight COVID-19 (pa.gov).

- The PA Departments of Labor & Industry and the PA Public Utility Commission want Pennsylvanians to know there are utility related assistance programs available. More information here: Wolf Administration Reminds Out-of-Work Pennsylvanians of Utility Related Assistance and Consumer Safeguards (pa.gov).

- Partnership member Intrada Technologies, Inc., is encouraging fellow members of the business community to watch for phishing scams. Intrada says it continues to see a huge increase in email scams designed to steal individual identity, access online accounts or control computers. To help people not get caught in a phishing scam, they’ve created the attached “Watch for Phishing Emails – 6 Red Flags” file to let you know what to be aware of before opening an email or clicking on any email links. Click Here for the Intrada flyer or click here to download the file.

- The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2021 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Details here: IRS issues standard mileage rates for 2021 | Internal Revenue Service.

- The IRS also explained how expanded tax benefits can help both individuals and businesses give to charity before the end of this year. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted last spring, includes four temporary tax changes that are designed to help people and businesses who give to charity this year. Here is a rundown of these key changes. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/year-end-reminder-expanded-tax-benefits-help-individuals-and-businesses-give-to-charity-during-2020.

Posted 12/21/20

- Late Sunday, federal lawmakers released the details on a second round of COVID-19 related financial relief for American taxpayers that is expected to be passed by Congress today and signed into law by President Donald Trump. Read more about the proposed package from the PA Chamber: The Sentinel | PA Chamber.

- The U.S. Chamber will host a webinar, Pandemic Relief Small Business Update, tomorrow, December 22, at 2pm, to offer the latest on what the pandemic relief bill could mean for the small business community. Click here to register for the free briefing.

- A U.S. Chamber update says economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on a "K-Shape" with some industries doing well (top of the K) and others, mostly service-based businesses that require close personal contact, struggling to make it through until vaccines are widely distributed (bottom of the K). The U.S. Chamber has compiled employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which demonstrates the varying conditions of the industries and how different industries' workers are faring. Click here to view that information.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today released a weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 57,098 cases (4,371 fewer new cases than the previous week), a statewide percent positivity of 15.8% (down from 16.2% last week), and all 67 counties (as was the case last week) with substantial transmission status. Every county except Sullivan County has what the state considers a concerning percent positivity rate above five percent, and 20 counties - including Clinton at 24.3% and Lycoming at 22.4% - have a rate above 20 percent. Centre County’s current percent positivity rate is at 14.5%. See more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Dec. 11 – Dec. 17: Case Increases Close to 57,100; Percent Positivity at 15.8% and All 67 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, the Health Department today confirmed an additional 7,887 new cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, in addition to the 7,213 cases reported Sunday and 9,834 new cases reported Saturday, bringing the statewide total to 563,589. Clinton County saw 110 new cases, bringing the county total to 1,541. In addition, Clinton saw nearly 300 negative tests reported today, possibly indicating some of the results from the testing clinic held locally last week. Centre County reported 54 new cases today, bringing its total to 8,333, and Lycoming County reported an additional 228 new cases today, bringing their total to 4,974. Statewide, 6,074 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 1,230 of whom are in the intensive care unit. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 6,074 Patients Hospitalized and 1,230 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- The Department of Health today unveiled a new digital case investigation tool, called the Connect & Protect Form, for Pennsylvanians age 19 through 64 who reside (like Clinton) in a county without its own county or municipal health department. Learn more: Department of Health Unveils New Digital Case Investigation Tool: Connect & Protect Form.

- The Health Department today also shared its weekly update on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data and encouraged Pennsylvanians to download the COVID Alert PA app to aid in contact tracing efforts. More here: Department of Health Dec. 6-12 Update on COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, Monitoring Efforts: Pennsylvanians Urged to “Answer the Call” and Download the COVID App.

- An expert panel that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that adults aged 75 and older, as well as frontline essential workers, be designated as the second priority group to be vaccinated against Covid-19. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also voted to recommend that the third stage of the national vaccination program should focus on adults 65 to 74, people 16 to 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not included in the second phase of vaccination. The committee defined frontline essential workers as first responders, teachers and other education workers including day care workers, food and agriculture workers, correctional facility staff, postal workers, public transit workers, and people who work in manufacturing and in grocery stores. Read More (Source: Stat News)

- Geisinger employees last week were among the first in Pennsylvania to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Within 24 hours of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arriving at Geisinger facilities, front-line health care workers received their first of two doses. Read more here: https://www.geisinger.org/about-geisinger/news-and-media/news-releases/2020/12/16/23/50/geisinger-begins-providing-covid-19-vaccines-to-front-line-health-care-heroes.

Geisinger has established an online resource hub to help address questions about the vaccine. Available at Geisinger.org/COVIDvax, information includes details about the vaccine safety information, who Geisinger should vaccinate according to state guidance, and answers to frequently asked questions.

- UPMC has also issued an update on COVID-19 vaccine availability. Click Here for the UPMC file for more information.

- As the first round of vaccines began to be distributed across the Commonwealth, the PA Chamber sent a letter to Governor Wolf urging prioritization of the state’s critical infrastructure workers as it relates to the administration of the vaccine. -> Read More

- The Wolf Administration has released its update on Pennsylvania’s financial situation, following reaching the midway point last week of the state’s 2020-21 Fiscal Year. -> Read More

- The PA Department of Banking and Securities has responded to nearly 5,000 complaints and inquiries about financial transactions, companies, or products in fiscal year 2019-2020, according to its recently released Consumer Services Annual Report. The Department saw an 18% increase in inquiries over last year, largely a result of consumers impacted by COVID-19, including questions about mortgage forbearance, payment deferrals, and scams. Of the 4,970 inquiries, the most common (28%) was related to bank account/services, and the second most prevalent complaint (20%) was mortgage issues. Learn more: Department Aids Nearly 5,000 Consumers Amid COVID-19 Pandemic.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 799 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (December 18-20), issuing 28 notices of violation and 41 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 31 licensee checks during that time, issuing two warnings and one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement December 18-20: 799 Compliance Checks; 28 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, in response to the state-ordered shutdown of indoor dining through January 4, 2021, says the PA Department of Revenue is willing to work with businesses struggling to make their sales tax payments due to the shutdown. According to PRLA, for assistance, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Additionally, the Department is reminding businesses that due to the decrease in sales in 2020, many businesses will go from a monthly to a quarterly payment in 2021.

- PA Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin today highlighted the new resources available to support the future of manufacturing in Pennsylvania through the “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” program, hosted by the Manufacturers Resource Center. More information here: DCED Highlights New “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” Video Library to Support the Future of Manufacturing in Pennsylvania - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- The PA Department of Education is reminding individuals and school communities that there are mental health and well-being resources available to help navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19. Read more: Mental Health and Well-Being Resources Available for Pennsylvania School Communities (pa.gov).

- With today marking the official start of winter, the Wolf Administration is urging Pennsylvanians to prepare for the health impacts that winter weather and extreme cold temperatures can have on their bodies. Health Secretary Levine said, “As the weather trends colder and we move to more indoor activities, we can expect an increase in the number of people with respiratory illnesses. Historically, we see increased cases of the flu in the winter, but this year, we remain concerned about the continued increase of COVID-19 cases.” Learn more: Wolf Administration Urges Pennsylvanians to Prepare for Health Impacts from Winter Weather and Extreme Cold Temperatures.

Posted 12/18/20

- The final westbound lane of Interstate 80 in Clinton County is expected to be reopened late this afternoon or early evening, following a multiple-vehicle accident Wednesday afternoon during the snow storm. The accident involved 55 commercial vehicles and 11 passenger vehicles and occurred in multiple crashes along about a one-mile stretch of I-80 West in Green and Lamar Townships. State Police this afternoon a 24-year-old female from Hollidaysburg was killed in the accident, and another person, a 56-year-old male from North Carolina, suffered a non-traffic related medical issue and died. State Police say all of the other crash victims are currently known to be in stable condition with varying degrees of injuries.

- Meanwhile, PennDOT is advising motorists who travel Route 414 in Brown Township, Lycoming County (Pine Creek Valley) that the road remains closed this afternoon due to a snow slide between Cedar Run and Slate Run that occurred yesterday, December 17. More information here: Details (penndot.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 9,320 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 538,655. According to the state, Clinton County reported 10 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 1,457. Centre County reported 56 new cases, to 8,078; and Lycoming County saw 84 new cases, bringing their total case count to 4,524. Statewide, 6,209 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 1,246 of whom are in the intensive care unit. There were an additional 216 new deaths reported, for a total of 13,608 deaths attributed to COVID-19. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 6,209 Patients Hospitalized and 1,246 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- From the PA Chamber…..Today will prove to be a crucial day of negotiations as Congressional leaders inch closer to securing agreement on a $900 billion pandemic relief package. According to multiple sources, all sides have coalesced around the broad outline of a deal – which would include $325 billion in aid for small businesses, additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as an additional $300 in weekly unemployment payments and $600 stimulus checks for many individuals. However, finalizing the details has proven to be a challenge. Following last week’s bump in the road in which talks seemed to be at a standstill, movement on a deal began in earnest again earlier this week after two of the major sticking points – additional funding for state and local governments (an issue pushed by Democrats) and COVID liability protections (a cause championed by Republicans) – were moved to a separate bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, has said the Senate will not adjourn until an agreement on a pandemic relief package and a government spending bill can be reached (side note: a deal on a spending bill must be reached by midnight in order to avoid a government shutdown).

As Congress zeroes in on a new coronavirus relief deal that will include a new round of funds for small businesses across the country, businesses are invited to join U.S. Chamber representatives Tuesday, December 22 at 2:00 p.m. for a Small Business Update as they discuss what the new bill could mean for business.

  • Gain insider knowledge on the new relief provisions for small businesses.
  • Hear advice on how to take advantage of federal aid funds.
  • Ask the pressing questions most important to you.

Click here to register for this complimentary event.

- From Partnership President Mike Flanagan….The weekly unemployment claim information for the week ending December 12 presented a mixed bag for Clinton County, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry. The continued unemployment claims increased slightly to 923 as compared to 904 for the week ending December 5, according to department numbers that were issued Friday afternoon. The December 12 continued claim numbers showed 20% were in the construction field and 56% were male.

In initial or first-time claims, that number decreased. The December 12 number showed 161 new claims, and there were 187 new filings the week prior. The 161 includes 72% who are male, and 31% are in the construction field.

The department did not list any Clinton County residents exhausting their benefits during the week of December 12. The prior week, 43 had their benefits expire.

The November unemployment rate for counties is expected to be released by the state around January 5. The October rate for Clinton County was 6.9%.

- Meanwhile, the Department of Labor & Industry today released the statewide employment situation report for November 2020. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was down 0.8 percentage points over the month to 6.6 percent in November. Pennsylvania’s rate fell below the U.S. rate (6.7 percent in November) for the first time since May 2015. The commonwealth’s unemployment rate was 2 percentage points above its November 2019 level, while the national rate was up 3.2 points over the year. Details here: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Declines to 6.6 Percent in November (pa.gov).

- With two federal pandemic unemployment programs set to expire at the end of this month, the Departments of Labor & Industry and Agriculture want Pennsylvanians to know there are additional state programs available, including food assistance. Both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs will end December 31 if Congress fails to pass an extension. More here: Food Assistance Available for Out-of-Work Pennsylvanians with Federal Unemployment Programs Ending Soon (pa.gov)

- Keystone Central School District students have two more days – Monday and Tuesday of next week – of remote learning before their winter holiday. In a letter Friday to families, staff and the community, superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said remote learning will continue January 4 – 8, 2021, after which, the District plans to move to a new Hybrid Schedule starting January 8. Click Here for the KCSD Update for details.

- Continuing to help students with remote learning during the pandemic, the state Department of Education today announced $500,000 in funding to support affordability and equity in higher education. The funds will be offered through a new Open Educational Resources Grant Program funded by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, established by the CARES Act of 2020. The grant program will provide a series of mini-grants and stipends to encourage and support faculty in creating, adapting, and adopting Open Educational Resources and other zero-cost materials in postsecondary and high education institutions across the state. Read more: Pennsylvania Department of Education Announces $500,000 to Support Equity in Higher Education.

- About 1,200 Pennsylvania health care workers received Covid-19 vaccinations over the past three days as more shipments continue to arrive at dozens of hospitals statewide, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Thursday. Of the 1,205 vaccinations, no adverse effects have been reported, Levine said. Sixteen of the initial 87 hospitals chosen to receive the first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine have received those shipments. The remaining 71 hospitals will receive them by Friday’s end. “Things are moving smoothly in Pennsylvania,” Levine said. “Vaccine delivery has not been delayed because of snow so far, and hospitals are working as quickly as possible to administer the vaccine.” Health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities are the priority for the first round of vaccinations. Long-term care facilities could begin receiving the vaccine December 28. Read More

- Small businesses anticipate the worst of the pandemic is still ahead and half (50%) of small businesses see their operations continuing for a year or less in the current business climate before having to permanently close according to a new poll taken October 30 – November 10 and released this week by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife. See more: Small Business Owners Still Feel Pain of Pandemic and Fear More to Come | U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The survey also found that small businesses in the Northeast are particularly pessimistic about their own business health and the economy. Click here for Northeast region survey findings: Small Business Owners Still Feel Pain of Pandemic and Fear More to Come | U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

- Merchants in downtown Lock Haven are hoping for one final successful shopping push this Saturday as the Christmas holiday is fast approaching. The last of four ‘Small Business Saturday’ celebrations is tomorrow, December 19, with close to 40 downtown stores offering special savings and sales. Click Here for the “12.19.20 Specials” flyer for information from participating businesses.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,324 licensed liquor establishments this week (December 14-17), issuing 11 notices of violation and 17 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements, including the suspension of in-person service that began last Friday, December 12 and will run through January 4, 2021. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 36 licensee checks during the period, issuing one warning and two notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement December 14-17: 1,324 Compliance Checks; 11 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The Internal Revenue Service today explained how expanded tax benefits can help both individuals and businesses give to charity before the end of this year. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted last spring, includes four temporary tax changes that are designed to help people and businesses who give to charity this year. Click here for a rundown of the key changes: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/year-end-reminder-expanded-tax-benefits-help-individuals-and-businesses-give-to-charity-during-2020.

- The Penn State Small Business Development Center continues to offer it’s Tuesday, noontime “Quick Connect” coaching sessions. The last two of the year will be December 22 and 29. The SBDC also has a number of online training sessions scheduled in January, including Hiring & HR: Legal Compliance for Small Business on January 14 and Intro to QuickBooks Online on January 15. See the full list of SBDC events here: Events | Penn State Small Business Development Center (psu.edu).

- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a number of recovery resources that can be of assistance as businesses work to pivot to a new economy. Learn more

- We’re just catching up to this post by the U.S. SBA, which offers advice on how to prepare and have a plan in place in the event of a winter storm, including steps to take to protect your business, your employees and your customers. Learn more

- PennDOT has announced that the deadline for the annual Innovations Challenge has been extended through January 15. Students in grades 9-12 regardless of their school’s learning model are invited to participate in the fourth annual Innovations Challenge, which encourages students to use their problem-solving, creative and strategic-thinking abilities to solve real-world transportation challenges in a competition among their peers. More information here: Article (penndot.gov).

- Pennsylvania pheasant hunters have one last opportunity this season to hunt newly-released birds. The PA Game Commission says the seventh and final pheasant releases of 2020 are scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday, December 22 and 23. Statewide, more than 23,000 pheasants will be stocked for the late season. See more: PHEASANTS TO BE RELEASED STATEWIDE (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Agriculture today shared the schedule for the 2021 Pennsylvania Farm Show, which will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The full schedule of events is available at farmshow.pa.gov. More here: Department of Agriculture Reveals Virtual 2021 Pennsylvania Farm Show Schedule of Events.

Posted 12/17/20

- As Clinton County homes and businesses continue to dig out from one of the heaviest snow storms the area has seen in some time, PA State Police and PennDOT, as well as local emergency responders are still working to reopen a stretch of Interstate 80 that was closed yesterday afternoon following a multiple-vehicle accident that has claimed several lives. While storm-related vehicle restrictions have been lifted along the Interstate, the westbound section between Loganton and Lock Haven remained closed as of the last PennDOT report around 11am today.

PA Governor Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, PennDOT  and State Police officials this afternoon provided an update on the winter storm yesterday and overnight. Read more: Gov. Wolf, Administration Officials Provide Update on Winter Storm (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 9,966 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 529,335. According to the state, Clinton County reported an additional 44 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 1,447. Centre County was up 103 cases, for a total of 8,022, and Lycoming County reported an additional 167 positive cases, bringing their case count to 4,440. Statewide, 6,346 people are hospitalized with the virus, which the state says is double the peak in the spring. Of that number, 1,238 COVID-19 patients are in the intensive care unit. The state today also reported an additional 224 new COVID-related deaths, bringing the number of deaths now attributed to COVID-19 to 13,392. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 6,346 Patients Hospitalized and 1,238 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- With COVID-19-related hospitalizations projected to peak in January and February, the PA Departments of Health and Education are urging colleges, universities and other institutions of higher education to use virtual instruction to the maximum extent feasible and consider the delay of students returning to their campuses for the traditional start date for the spring semester. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Education-Details.aspx?newsid=1009.

- The Clinton County Commissioners today announced the approval of $91,000 in Clinton County CARES grant funds to 19 “food serving establishments” in the county. The Commissioners initially had earmarked $50,000 in funds, but today said they were able to allocate an additional $41,000 to support a business segment that has been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Kari Kepler in the County Planning Department said the county received 25 grant applications, however, six applicants did not qualify because, according to CARES grant guidelines, franchise establishments were not eligible for the grant funds, nor were businesses that had received a CARES grant during the County’s first round of funding a few months ago.  

- In response to contact tracing data released by the state of New York that showed the bulk of COVID-19 case spread occurred in private gatherings, the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA) is calling on PA Governor Wolf to reverse his decision to ban indoor dining. The New York data, which is more robust than Pennsylvania's, shows restaurants account for only 1.4% of COVID-19 cases while 73.84% of COVID cases were spread at private gatherings. READ MORE

PRLA president John Longstreet says the COVID-19 pandemic could force nearly half of Pennsylvania restaurants to close permanently in 2021 if business owners don’t get more relief soon. “Most of these are going to be the independent, beloved restaurants that are the heartbeat of many of our downtown areas. They don’t have the resources, or they don’t have restaurants in other states that are still operating at reasonable levels to help carry them through,” said Longstreet. According to PRLA survey data, roughly 12,000 restaurants – 45% of all the restaurants in the state – were in dire need of financial support, with the situation only being made worse by the state’s most recent mandate banning indoor activity at bars and restaurants until at least January 4.

- The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose again last week to 885,000, the highest weekly total since September. The U.S. Department of Labor today said the number of applications increased from 862,000 the previous week. Read more: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/OPA/newsreleases/ui-claims/20202292.pdf.

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement & Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from December 6–13. DOS is continuing with compliance enforcement as it relates to the regulated boards and commissions. During the most recent period, BEI performed 496 inspections and opened 16 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed three warning letters and one compliance letter related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Dec. 6 – Dec. 13.

- The Wolf Administration has issued recommendations to help individuals and families stay safe during the holiday season, encouraging families to hold virtual gatherings to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention indicates that small household gatherings are a large contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases, and exposure at these events can follow and spread after the holidays. See more: Wolf Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians Experiencing Anxiety, Loneliness, Stress Amidst Holiday Season That They Are Not Alone (pa.gov).

Posted 12/16/20

- With snow already falling throughout the region, PennDOT is alerting drivers that winter weather and challenging driving conditions are expected through tomorrow morning (Thursday, December 17) for areas covered by PennDOT District 2, which includes Clinton County. See more: News Details (penndot.gov).

- Clinton is among the counties named in a proclamation of disaster emergency signed yesterday by PA Governor Tom Wolf in anticipation of the major winter storm, which could bring as much as two feet of snow to parts of the state. The proclamation itself doesn’t restrict vehicular travel, but PennDOT can announce speed and travel restrictions, which will be communicated via variable message boards, the 511PA traveler information website at sss.511pa.com and smartphone apps. PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are advising motorists to avoid all unnecessary travel during the storm and are anticipating that restrictions on trucks and other vehicles will be imposed on certain roadways around the state. Read more: Gov. Wolf Signs Winter Weather Emergency Proclamation, Advises State is Prepared for the Storm and Vaccine Distribution.

- FirstEnergy is also offering safety information and tips for dealing with the winter storm. Click Here for the FirstEnergy flyer for details.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 10,049 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 519,369. According to the state, Clinton County reported another 38 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 1,403. Centre County was up 105 new cases, to 7,919; and Lycoming County reported 165 new cases, bringing their total case count to 4,273. Statewide, 6,295 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 1,264 patients in the intensive care unit. The state also reported 278 additional deaths today due to COVID-19, the highest one-day total to date. A total 13,168 deaths in Pennsylvania have been attributed to the coronavirus. Details here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 6,295 Patients Hospitalized and 1,264 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- As the state continues to contract workers to conduct free COVID-19 testing, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today announced that beginning this Friday, December 18, COVID-19 testing clinics will be held in Cambria, Franklin, Mercer, Montour, and Luzerne counties. The testing site in Clinton County ended this past Monday. The counties with testing sites will change each week over the next 10 weeks so that 61 counties will eventually be covered by dedicated pop-up testing sites over a 12-week period. See more: Department of Health Announces Week-Three of Regional Testing Extension Across the Commonwealth.

- The PA Department of Banking and Securities and PA Housing Finance Agency are urging homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages to take advantage of options to lower or pause payments before some federal protections end of December 31. More information here: State Agencies Offer Tips to Homeowners Before Some Federal Mortgage Relief Ends (pa.gov).

- A November PA Department of Health nursing home report said surveyors conducted 395 inspections of 236 unique nursing homes, including 312 complaint investigations. Six sanctions were finalized against nursing care facilities in the last month, including the issuance of civil penalties. More here: Department of Health Highlights November 2020 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- Governor Wolf today announced that the 2020-21 Veterans’ Trust Fund is accepting grant applications for programs and services benefitting Pennsylvania veterans. The Department of Military Affairs will aware up to $800,000 in VTF grants to nonprofit organizations, veteran service organizations and county directors of veteran affairs across the state. Grant applications are due by January 27, 2021. See more: Governor Wolf Announces Veterans’ Trust Fund Grant Opportunities (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Agriculture today reminded private pesticide applicators whose licenses expire on March 31, 2021, that they will need to complete recertification credit requirements and pay a $10 renewal fee by the deadline. Expanded virtual and correspondence training options are now available for completing requirements without attending in-person training. Learn more: Agriculture Department Reminds Private Pesticide Licensees of March Deadline, Renewal Requirements.

- A Centre County woman is among the winners of the Ag Department’s “Oh Say, Can You Sing” contest and will have the video of her singing the national anthem played as part of the 2021 virtual PA Farm Show. Kara Eckert of Centre County is listed as one of the eight winners. The video submissions of the winners will debut at 7:00 a.m. daily, January 9-14 on the Pennsylvania Farm Show Facebook page and the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Read more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Agriculture_details.aspx?newsid=1012.

Posted 12/15/20

- The state’s distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is underway. Following distribution yesterday of the vaccine to two hospitals, the Wolf Administration today announced that seven additional hospitals – including Evangelical Community in Lewisburg and Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital in our region – have received shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and will begin distributing it to health care workers as outlined in the state’s interim vaccine distribution plan. The initial 97,500 doses have been slated for 87 hospitals across the state – including UPMC Williamsport Hospital – identified to receive vaccine directly from Pfizer by this coming Monday, December 21. Details here: Department of Health: Seven More Hospitals Receive COVID-19 Vaccine.

- Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania have topped a half-a-million. The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 9,556 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 509,320. According to the state, Clinton County reported another 59 new cases today, bring the county total to 1,365. Centre County cases were up 77, to 7,814; and Lycoming County reported 156 new cases today, to bring their total case count to 4,108. Statewide, there are 6,026 people hospitalized with the virus, 1,249 of whom are in the intensive care unit. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 6,026 Patients Hospitalized and 1,249 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today urged Pennsylvanians to take COVID-19 and food safety precautions as they plan household celebrations this holiday season. More here: Department of Health Encourages Food Safety, COVID-19 Precautions for Upcoming Holidays.

- Governor Wolf this week held a virtual press conference to highlight Pennsylvania’s new state-based health insurance marketplace, known as Pennie, and to encourage Pennsylvanians to visit pennie.com for affordable coverage options. See more: Gov. Wolf Encourages Health Care Coverage Enrollment on Pennie.com, the State-Based Marketplace (pa.gov).

- The SEDA-Council of Governments today announced a new executive director in Kim Wheeler, who most recently has served as special projects coordinator and grants manager for the Borough of Lewisburg. Wheeler will begin her new role next month. Click Here for the SEDA-COG news release for details.

- In light of the predicted snowstorm this week, the PA Public Utility Commission is offering some safety advice for winter weather conditions. Click Here for the PUC file for details.

- The PA Game Commission today released a report detailing coordinated efforts of state and federal agencies and Pennsylvania research institutions to combat Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a contagious, fatal disease that threatens deer. Learn more: WOLF ADMINISTRATION REPORT DETAILS COORDINATED EFFORT TO COMBAT CWD (pa.gov).

Posted 12/14/20

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today released a weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 60,412 cases, a statewide percent positivity of 16.2 percent, and all 67 counties with substantial transmission status. According to the state data, Bedford and Crawford counties have a percent positivity above 30 percent, and 15 counties – including Clinton at a 28.3 percent and Lycoming County at 20.9 percent positivity – are above 20 percent. Centre County’s latest percent positivity rate stands at 12.9 percent. See more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Dec. 4 – Dec. 10: Case Increases Above 60,400; Percent Positivity at 16.2% and All 67 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

The Department of Health today confirmed an additional 7,962 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 499,763. The state reported 10,684 new cases on Sunday, and 11,084 on Saturday. According to the state, Clinton County reported an additional 39 new COVID-19 cases today, bring the total to 1,306. Centre County was up 49 cases, to 7,737; and Lycoming County jumped up 135 new cases, bring the case count there to 3,952. Statewide, there are 5,970 people hospitalized with the virus, 1,227 of whom are in the intensive care unit. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 5,970 Patients Hospitalized and 1,227 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- Today (December 14) marks the last of a five-day, free COVID-19 testing clinic in Clinton County. The state Health Department-sponsored clinic at the Castanea Fire Company Picnic Grounds is open until 6:00 tonight to anyone over age three, whether they have symptoms of the virus or not. About 185 people took advantage of the no-cost test yesterday, putting the four-day total at just shy of 900 people receiving tests, according to Andrew Kremser, director of the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services.

- Final Reminder: Food serving establishments throughout Clinton County have until 5:00 p.m. today (December 14) to apply for a CARES grant from Clinton County government. The County Commissioners have earmarked approximately $50,000 in grant funds for local restaurants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click on the following link for the online grant application: https://www.clintoncountypa.com/departments/funding-opportunities. For information or assistance, contact Kari Kepler in the County Planning Department at 570-893-4080, ext. 2, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

- Governor Wolf today participated in a media call with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and others to make the case for immediate passage of a much-needed state and local bipartisan Congressional COVID relief package. Read more: Gov. Wolf, NJ Gov. Murphy, Protect Our Care Coronavirus War Room Call on Congress to Provide COVID-19 Relief Package Now.

- 12th District Congressman Fred Keller, whose district includes Clinton County, is also stressing the need for COVID relief from the federal level. On Friday, he said, “I stood with my fellow House Republicans to demand Speaker Pelosi take immediate action to reauthorize the Paycheck Protection Program and support our efforts to release the $138 billion in already-appropriated funds and provide much-needed relief to small businesses, workers, and families. Across our country, businesses are closing because of Speaker Pelosi’s blanket refusal to put their needs above her own political motivations. Enough is enough. It’s time Nancy Pelosi remembers who she works for—Congress must come together to benefit the American people.”

While Congressman Keller and Governor Wolf agree on the need for another federal COVID relief package, Congressman Keller has strong words for the Governor’s most recent COVID-19 mitigation orders, which went into effect over the weekend. “Since the start of the pandemic, small businesses and workers across Pennsylvania have suffered due to Governor Wolf’s chronic mismanagement and heavy-handed shutdown mandates. Now, two weeks before Christmas, the governor is once again taking unilateral action that will further devastate our economy and threaten the livelihoods of countless Pennsylvanians simply trying to earn a living,” said Keller, adding, “Shutdowns do not work. As with his previous order, the governor’s latest shutdown will advantage big box stores, destroy countless small businesses and restaurants, and cause more harm than it solves. The governor’s announcement Thursday showed a stunning lack of confidence in the people of Pennsylvania who have been living and learning through this pandemic for nearly a year. Pennsylvanians are smart, hardworking people capable of following common-sense guidance from healthcare professionals. The last thing Pennsylvania needs are more mandates and a one-size-fits-all shutdown order.”

- Meanwhile, Congressman Keller has introduced the Nurses CARE Act, bipartisan legislation designed to strengthen the healthcare workforce in nursing homes, long-term and skilled care facilities. This legislation recognizes the efforts of temporary nurse aides during the COVID-19 pandemic and would ensure their experience and hours spent serving the community count toward certification after the emergency declaration is ended. For more, visit Congressman Keller’s website at https://keller.house.gov/.

- Several Updates from the U.S. Small Business Administration:

  • Regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)….if you received a PPP loan, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness. To apply for loan forgiveness, contact your lender and complete the correct form; compile documentation; submit the forgiveness form and documentation to your lender; and communicate with your lender throughout the process. Learn more

     In all, 5.2 million businesses received a PPP loan. The vast majority - 87 percent of the loans – were for $150,000 or less; 68 percent were for $50,000 or less. The average loan size was $101,000, and 75 percent of all PPP loans went to firms with nine or fewer employees.  

     The SBA is actively engaged in working with lenders across the country to forgive the PPP loans. So far, the SBA has remitted $50 billion in loan forgiveness payments and the organization is ramping up the process daily to forgive as many PPP loans as possible, while assuring compliance with program requirements and adequate oversight of taxpayer dollars.

     When the PPP program ended in August, there was more than $133 billion in funding still available. The SBA has encouraged the federal government to reinstate the program as part of another CARES relief package.

  • If your COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) was declined, you can request reconsideration within six months of the date of the decline letter. Include your application number and information required to overcome the reason for decline. You can send this information via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mail to the U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, Texas, 76155. Learn more
  • The SBA encourages businesses to beware of malicious COVID-19 phishing. To protect yourself from identity theft and fraud during pandemic recovery, confirm any SBA disaster assistance emails by contacting (800)659-2955 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To avoid scams and fraud, visit www.sba.gov/COVIDfraudalert.

- Weekly information released Friday afternoon by the state Department of Labor and Industry continued to show an increase in unemployment claim categories for Clinton County residents. For the week ending December 5, there were 187 initial unemployment claims, up from 121 the week before. The new numbers showed 76% were male, and 30% were in the construction field. 

The continued claims were at 904 people, up from 766 registered in the week ending November 28. The 904 number included 55% who are male and 18% in the construction field.

Also, the state numbers showed that 43 residents had benefits expire during the week, up from the 35 who had exhausted benefits the last full week of November.

The monthly unemployment rate for November should be released in late December. The October rate for Clinton County was 6.9%.

- The Health Department has announced staffing adjustment to fulfill current needs to ensure long-term case investigations and contact tracing efforts. About 100 contact tracers have been promoted to case investigators, while the hours for about 500 contact tracers are being scaled back. More here: Department of Health Adjusts Supports to Fulfill Current Needs to Ensure Long-Term Case Investigations, Contact Tracing Efforts.

- Health Secretary Levine last week testified in front of a U.S. senate committee regarding transport logistics of the COVID-19 vaccine. More here: Secretary of Health Testifies on COVID-19 Vaccine in Front of Congress (pa.gov).

- Shipping of the first batches of the COVID-19 vaccine is underway, an unprecedented undertaking as the country confronts a winter of surging cases of the deadly virus. According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, complicating the matter in Pennsylvania is the fact that the state has not disclosed how many doses are anticipated or how the vaccine will be allocated once it gets here. The state released an interim vaccine plan Friday (COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan (pa.gov)), but it doesn’t detail which regions or facilities will get the initial doses, making Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico the only places that haven’t released that information, according to a New York Times survey. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration late Friday approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the highly contagious disease, following the recommendation the day before of an independent committee of experts. Hospitals and nursing homes will be first in line to get the shots. In Pennsylvania, nursing home residents accounted for 40,541 or 9.2% of COVID-19 cases, according to the state. Health care workers made up 3.6% of the total number of cases, or 15,766 people. The vaccine will arrive while Pennsylvania restaurants, bars and many other businesses have been ordered to close until Jan. 4 and hospitals are curtailing non-emergency medical procedures due to spiking COVID-19 cases. The government has hired FedEx Corp. and UPS Inc. to deliver the vaccine to hospitals and nursing homes from airports around the country. (Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

- A study from Penn State Harrisburg shows that the financial impact of COVID-19 on child care providers is more than $325 million across Pennsylvania. On Friday, Dr. Philip M. Sirinides, the Director of the Institute of State and Regional Affairs (ISRA) and an associate professor in the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education at PSU Harrisburg, discussed the statewide financial impacts of the pandemic on child care providers between June 19 and September 7. He was speaking at a Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce's virtual briefing. "The pandemic has emphasized how essential child care is to working families and employers in addition to highlighting the fragility of the entire child care system," said Sirindes. "It is also critical to keep providers informed about policy changes and opportunities for assistance." The study determined that facilities expenses during the state shutdown totaled $56,645,443; the two-week floating payroll to rehire and pay staff totaled $63,405,309; implementing COVID-19 guidelines totaled $89,335,752; and slow reopening, assuming 83.3 percent enrollment, totaled $115,731,403. The total of four areas was $325,117,907. Another study shows that the estimated weekly cost of childcare is $290 per child. To date, Sirinides said 90 percent of child care providers closed at some point and 423 never reopened. "We certainly have a concern here," he said. The study recommends financial assistant to resume operations, additional support in reopening to offset reduced enrollment and increased public awareness about the importance of child care. Read More (Source: The Daily Item, Sunbury)

- State Treasurer Joe Torsella is recommending exploring the use of pension obligation bonds to ease state pension burdens, saying this and other measures could help alleviate the state’s COVID-19 budget strain. Learn more: Pennsylvania Treasury, Joe Torsella - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 526 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (December 11-13), issuing 14 notices of violation and 24 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 12 licensee checks over the weekend, issuing one warning and three notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More information here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement December 11-13: 526 Compliance Checks; 14 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The PA State Police today announced that Governor Wolf has granted an additional extension to license to carry firearms permits. Permits expiring on March 19, 2020 or later are now valid through March 31, 2021. The previous extension was set to expire on December 31. See more: Wolf Administration Grants Fifth Extension to License to Carry Firearm Permits (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today said the state’s Medical Marijuana Program has operationalized its 100th dispensary. Of the 101 operational dispensaries, 99 of them are open and dispensing products to patients. 27 grower/processors (including the Terrapin Care Station operation in South Avis, Clinton County) are operational, with 22 shipping product to dispensaries. According to the state, many of the grower/processors are either expanding their locations (as is the case at Terrapin), or already have. In addition to the tremendous growth in the program, Pennsylvania early on in the pandemic made provisions to ensure the continued availability of product to certified medicinal users of medical marijuana. More here: Medical Marijuana Program Operationalizes 100th Dispensary (pa.gov).

- The Wolf Administration today shared resources for people struggling with anxiety, depression, loneliness, isolation, and other stressors this holiday season. Learn more: Wolf Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians Experiencing Anxiety, Loneliness, Stress Amidst Holiday Season That They Are Not Alone, Encourages Farmers and Rural Communities to Use Support Resources and Networks (pa.gov).

- Older adults and people with disabilities have until December 31 to apply for rebates on property taxes and rent paid in 2019. The departments of Revenue and Aging are reminding Pennsylvanians that the rebates are available through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Details here: Reminder: Deadline for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is December 31 (pa.gov).

Upcoming Webinars:

  • Deepening Customer Relationships Through Technology – Tuesday, 12/15 at 2pm. The U.S. Chamber’s CO-, in partnership with Chase for Business and Salesforce, covers tactics and technologies you can adopt now to build an efficient and personalized customer experience, including tips on ensuring premier customer service; insights for how to integrate customer relationship management technologies with your business; and strategies for maximizing your engagement with customers and clients. Click here to register.

   Plus a bonus virtual session from Salesforce, How to Simplify Digital Transformation for Your Small Business – Thursday, 12/17 at 2pm. RSVP here

    • Learn How to Sell to the GSA - Wednesday, 12/16 at 10am. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a one-hour, no-cost webinar on how to sell to the General Services Administration, the acquisition arm of the federal government. Takeaways include: how to become a GSA vendor; the different types of GSA contracts; and how to get on the GSA schedule. CLICK AND REGISTER

Posted 12/11/20

- The PA Health Department’s free COVID-19 testing clinic in Clinton County is into its second day of operation today. The drive-thru/walk-in testing site – open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily at the Castanea Fire Company Picnic Grounds, 859 Lower Creek Road, Lock Haven, through this coming Monday, December 14  – saw about 280 people receive a test yesterday, according to the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services, which is working with the state to facilitate the clinic. The state has the ability to offer up to 450 tests a day, and county officials are encouraging people to get a test. Individuals three years and older qualify to be tested. You do not need to have COVID symptoms and you do not need to make an appointment to be tested.

- PA Department of Health officials today confirmed another record day of new COVID-19 positive cases – 12,745, bringing the statewide total to 470,034. According to the state numbers, Clinton County’s case count was also at a high, 114 new cases, bringing the total to 1,203 positive cases. Centre County was up 262 cases, to 7,456; and Lycoming County’s case count rose another 248, to 3,532. Statewide, there are 5,852 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 1,191 of whom are in the intensive care unit. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 5,852 Patients Hospitalized and 1,191 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- Keystone Central School District has announced it will remain in full remote learning through January 8, 2021, and all athletics and co-curricular activities are suspended through January 4. In a letter today to school district families, staff and the community, Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said the district will plan to move to a new hybrid instructional model on January 11. Click Here for the KCSD Update for details.

- Keystone Central’s Career and Technology Center (CTC) is looking to partner with local employers to provide paid work experiences to 12th grade students. If your business currently has an employee shortage and you're looking to hire, contact Daci Killinger, Cooperative Education Coordinator for Keystone Central CTC, at 570-893-4900 ext. 4511 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Daci will answer any questions and share more information about the work experience program to assist businesses with new hires.

- Reaction to Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement yesterday of new, statewide COVID-19 mitigation orders was swift from the PA Chamber of Business & Industry. President Gene Barr said the Governor’s orders – which he said were announced without any consultation or feedback from the state’s business community – “will certainly wreak economic devastation upon numerous businesses.” Read Barr’s full statement here: PA Chamber Statement

- The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association’s reaction to the Governor’s new orders was equally critical, with PRLA President John Longstreet saying, “This order will have a considerable impact - hopefully, one of them will be to lower case counts, though there is no data to support that. The short notice of the shutdown and timing could not be worse as employers will be forced to lay off thousands of more workers as we head into the holiday season.” See Longstreet’s full statement here: PRLA's Statement (pdf)

PRLA is conducting an impact survey, collecting data from the restaurant industry on how the indoor dining/private event shutdown will impact their business and their employees. TAKE SURVEY

Longstreet also said the hospitality industry is urging those in support of the restaurant and hotel industries to lobby for federal relief. Both the National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association have issued action alerts on the bipartisan $908 billion relief package. With Congress nearing the end of their session, Longstreet said time is of the essence; if this package does not pass now, the next chance for a relief package would be March.

- A REMINDER:  Food serving businesses in Clinton County have until 5:00 p.m. this coming Monday, December 14, to apply for a Clinton County CARES grant to help offset pandemic-related losses. The Clinton County Commissioners specifically targeted support for the hard-hit restaurant related industry and have earmarked approximately $50,000 in grant funds. Click on the following link for the online grant application on the county website https://www.clintoncountypa.com/departments/funding-opportunities. The County Planning Department is coordinating the grant program. For questions or assistance with the application process, contact Kari Kepler in Planning at 570-893-4080, ext. 2, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

- The PA Department of Community & Economic Development has issued an overview of the state’s new, temporary COVID-19 mitigation orders. Click Here for the DCED file for that information.

- The impact of the Governor’s new orders, which take effect this Saturday, December 12, is being felt across Clinton County nonprofit groups as well. A number of local organizations have announced changes to their regular operating schedules in light of the orders, which will be in place for the next three weeks, until 8:00 a.m., January 4, 2021:

  • From the River Valley Regional YMCA, which includes the Lock Haven and Jersey Shore Branch Y’s: All River Valley Regional YMCA facilities will be closed starting Saturday, December 12 to Monday, January 4, 2021. Childcare Programs will still continue at all locations for those families who need to remain in the workforce. Facebook, www.rvrymca.org.
  • From Central Mountains ATV Association regarding a couple of upcoming events, including their planned gathering this Sunday, December 13, to deliver toys to the Mark the Shark Toy Drive. The ATV group will be delivering the toys and checks to the Toy Drive, but they ask that no members come to help. A select few members who have been storing the toys will take care of delivering them. Unfortunately, the new state orders have forced the cancellation of the group’s annual New Year’s Eve ATV ride in the Kettle Creek area. www.cmatva.org.

- Passing along a couple of updates from the PA Chamber: 

  • Negotiations on another federal COVID relief package broke down this week, with tons of finger pointing and blame to go around. There have been a number of sticking points on a proposed $900 billion bill – including funding for state and local governments (an issue pushed by Democrats) and targeted liability protections for businesses that are following public health guidelines (a Republican and Chamber priority). Earlier this week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, offered to remove these two hotly debated provisions from the bill in order to move forward – a move that Democrats rejected. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, has continued to attack the inclusion of safe harbor protections. Talks took a further turn when it was reported that McConnell’s staff told House leaders that the Senate GOP would “likely not support a $908 billion bipartisan proposal.” Adding another dynamic to the mix is yet another $916 billion package championed by the Trump administration. House and Senate Democrats have balked at the lack of a federal jobless benefit supplement in that plan. Given the state of negotiations, the House is adjourned until at least Tuesday.
  • There is light at the end of the tunnel as we head toward the New Year. This morning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it plans to move forward with a COVID-19 vaccine created by Pfizer. According to US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the FDA is quickly working toward “finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization” of the vaccine and that “we could be seeing people get vaccinated by Monday, Tuesday of next week.” As noted in this CNN report, “Operation Warp Speed” – the name of the federal government’s initiative to develop a vaccine – will begin distributing the vaccine to states once the final authorizations and approvals are granted. Earlier this week, the United Kingdom became the first country to begin distributing doses of a vaccine to the general public. You can read more about this landmark move here.

 - The PA Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions for the period of November 29 through December 6. The enforcement involves regulated boards and commissions in the state. During the period, BEI performed 450 inspections and 86 investigations in which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus, distributing three warning letters related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More information here: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Nov. 29 – Dec. 6.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Officers visited 766 licensed liquor establishments between Monday and Thursday of this week (December 7-10), issuing 10 notices of violation and 26 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 33 licensee checks during that time, and issued one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Read more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement December 7-10: 766 Compliance Checks; 10 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- American consumers spent an estimated $19.8 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday (December 5), according to data recently released by American Express, up from $19.6 billion from last year. Click Here for information from the U.S. Small Business Administration for more.

- Business has been brisk at small businesses across Clinton County this holiday season. Shops in downtown Lock Haven extended the December 5 Small Business Saturday celebration over three more weeks. Close to 40 downtown businesses are offering special sales and savings this Saturday, December 12 and next Saturday, December 19, so shoppers have the option of continuing to Shop Small and support friends and neighbors in the local business community. Click Here for the Small Business Saturday flyer for a listing of special offerings for tomorrow, Saturday, December 12.

- The U.S. Department of Labor announced that unemployment claims rose significantly last week. Some 853,000 people applied for unemployment, the biggest jump since September, as cases of COVID-19 continue to surge. Read more: News Release (dol.gov).

- UPMC this week provided a COVID-19 update, highlighting the health system’s preparedness, holiday guidance, and outlining how UPMC is preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Click Here for the UPMC file for more information.

- Governor Wolf yesterday announced that more than 327,000 Pennsylvanians will gain access to high-speed internet service through the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction. Thirteen providers in the state successfully bid in the auction and will provide high-speed internet access in locations that are underserved or do not have access to broadband that meets the current federal standard. Two providers bid for projects that will impact people in Clinton County. Learn more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-announces-327000-pennsylvanians-will-gain-access-to-high-speed-internet-through-federal-auction/.

- The PA Department of Corrections has announced it is reorganizing the state prison system to continue and improve its COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: Department of Corrections Reorganizes System for Continued Improvement Efforts to Mitigate COVID-19.

- PennDOT today said it has issued its one millionth REAL ID product, a major milestone in its work to issue REAL ID-compliant products to customers. More here: Article (penndot.gov).

Posted 12/10/20

- Calling the situation dire, PA Governor Tom Wolf and Health Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today announced new, limited-time mitigation efforts to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The temporary orders announced this afternoon take effect at 12:01 a.m. this Saturday, December 12 and will be in effect through 8:00 a.m. on January 4, 2021. Details here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-sec-of-health-announce-new-protective-mitigation-efforts-to-put-pennsylvania-on-pause-through-early-january/.

Following are links to the new orders, as well as a frequently asked questions document from the state (files of the latest orders are also attached):

 

- As part of today’s announcement, Governor Wolf noted that, since his positive COVID-19 test result earlier this week, he has since tested negative for the virus. He said he will continue to quarantine at home for the required period of time. Meanwhile, First Lady Frances Wolf announced today that she has tested negative for COVID-19.

- Clinton County Government is encouraging county residents to take advantage of the opportunity to receive a free COVID-19 test locally. Contractors for the state Department of Health have set up a COVID-19 testing clinic at the Castanea Fire Company Picnic Grounds and saw drive-thru and walk-in patients starting at 9:00 o’clock this morning. The clinic will run daily, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. through Monday, December 14. Reports are that testing activity at the clinic was brisk this morning, then leveled off later this afternoon.

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 11,972 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 457,289. According to the state, Clinton County saw an additional 54 positive cases, bringing the county total to 1,089. Centre County was up 118 cases, bringing their total to 7,194; and Lycoming County’s case count was up 227, to 3,284. Statewide, 5,852 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 1,191 of whom are in the intensive care unit. https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1187.

- The Governor has proclaimed today, December 10, as Get Covered 2021 Pennsylvania Day, to encourage all citizens to support efforts to increase access to affordable, meaningful health care coverage. See the proclamation here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/get-covered-pennsylvania-day-2020/.

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