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:


1/21/22

The PA Department of Labor & Industry today released its preliminary employment situation report for December 2021, noting that the state’s unemployment rate was down three-tenths of a percentage point, to 5.4 percent in December. During that same time, the U.S. unemployment rate also fell three-tenths of a percentage point, to 3.9 percent. More here: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Falls To 5.4 Percent in December (pa.gov).

- Meanwhile, Partnership President Mike Flanagan today provided the following update on local employment statistics: There were 87 Clinton County residents who applied for initial unemployment benefits for the week ending January 8. One year ago, that number was 160. The continued unemployment claim number was 466 for the first week of January 2022. Approximately one year ago, the continued claim number in the county was 1,133.

- The Internal Revenue Service is urging employers to be aware of the January 31 deadline to file Forms W-2 and other wage statements. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/january-31-wage-statement-deadline-reminder-for-employers.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf this week announced $2 million in grants among 400 Area Agency on Aging-affiliated Senior Community Centers and 99 satellite centers for the fiscal year 2021-2022. Due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PA Department of Aging again did not require centers to apply for the grants, but instead disbursed the funding to all of the centers. Learn more: Gov. Wolf Awards $2 Million in Grants to Help Senior Community Centers and Satellite Centers (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources today announced that grant applications are now being accepted for recreation and conservation projects in communities across the state. DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn said, “DCNR grants have a tremendous impact in helping communities with local park acquisition and improvements, trails and river access each year and we expect them to have a greater impact as a result of the increased use of the outdoors during the pandemic.” The 2022 grant application round will be open through April 6. More information here: DCNR Grant Application Round Now Open to Assist Communities with Parks, Recreation, and Conservation Projects

- PA Department of Health officials today provided an update on the flu season and encouraged Pennsylvanians to get a flu vaccine as soon as possible. PA Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said flu activity is high across the commonwealth. As of Tuesday, there had been 28,475 laboratory-confirmed flu cases in all of the state’s 67 counties. Read more: Department of Health Provides Update on Flu Season, Urges Pennsylvanians to Get Flu Vaccine As Soon As Possible.

- The Health Department, as part of this week’s COVID-19 update, said Pennsylvania is tracking post-vaccination, often called breakthrough, data, which continues to show that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the most effective way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death. Post-vaccination data from over the past year (January 1, 2021 - January 4, 2022) shows that unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated individuals accounted for 78 percent of reported COVID-19 cases; 85 percent of reported COVID-19 hospitalizations; and 84 percent of reported COVID-19 deaths.

As of Monday, the Centers for Disease Control reported 74.9 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older were fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the Health Department’s COVID-19 trends over the past seven days showed:

  • The daily average number of cases was 25,417.
  • The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday was 3.8 percent higher than on January 10. Approximately 31.8 percent of all intensive care unit beds are COVID-19 patients, and 32.4 percent of all ventilators statewide are in use.

See more: Department of Health Provides Weekly Update on COVID-19 Trends in Vaccinations, Cases and Hospitalizations.

- The Biden administration will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free to Americans starting next week, now that federal officials are emphasizing their better protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19 over cloth face coverings. The White House announced Wednesday that the masks will come from the government's Strategic National Stockpile, which has more than 750 million of the highly protective masks on hand. The masks will be available for pickup at pharmacies and community health centers across the country. They will begin shipping this week for distribution starting late next week, the White House said. This will be the largest distribution of free masks by the federal government to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

- The U.S. Postal Service this week launched its site for ordering free COVID-19 test kits. Residential households in the U.S. can order one set of 4 free at-home tests from USPS.com. The orders will ship free starting in late January. 

- Free, walk-in COVID-19 testing sites continue to be available in both Clinton and Centre counties through next Saturday, January 29. The Clinton County site is located at Lock Haven University’s East Campus Gym (former Lock Haven High School gym) at 340 West Main Street in Lock Haven. Hours are Tuesdays-Fridays 10am to 6pm, and Saturdays 8am-2pm. The Centre County site is at the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority, 253 Transfer Road in Bellefonte.

- In its December 2021 report, the PA Department of Health noted that nursing home surveyors conducted 571 inspections of 384 separate nursing homes. Of those inspections, there were 325 complaint investigations and 102 were COVID-19-specific investigations. More here: Department of Health Highlights December 2021 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- The Omicron variant now accounts for 98 percent of COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, which, along with the Wolf Administration in Pennsylvania, continues to urge people to get vaccinated; get boosted; wear masks in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status; and consider taking a COVID-19 at-home test prior to gathering with others.

All Pennsylvanians age five and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and everyone age 12 and older is eligible for COVID-19 boosters. There are booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines:

   - If you are age 18 or older, you are eligible for a booster shot if it has been:

  • 5 months or longer since you received your second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
  • 2 months or longer since you received your Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

Eligible individuals 18 years and older may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may prefer the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.  
   - If you are age 12-17, you are eligible for a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot if it has been 5 months or longer since you received your second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 12- and 17-year-olds are only eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech booster. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC and the state encourage people to get tested for the virus – especially if you have been in contact with someone who has been infected. For those who are fully vaccinated, the CDC guidance only recommends you get tested if you’ve had a known exposure to someone with COVID-19.
   
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. For more about COVID-19 symptoms and to find testing sites near you, visit PA.GOV/COVID. To locate a vaccination site, use the state’s Vaccine Finder.

- Other items of interest: 

  • The latest issue of the Center for Rural Development’s Rural Perspectivesnewsletter is now available. In the January/February issue, the Center offers a demographic profile of Pennsylvania local municipal officials; announces 2022 Research Grant awards; and highlights its latest publication, Your Agritourism Business in Pennsylvania: A Resource Handbook.
  • The PA Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management has announced a new director. David Gustafson, who has worked for the agency since 2003, in his new position is responsible for overseeing and directing wildlife habitat management practices on the Game Commission’s more than 1.5 million acres of state game lands and work on private lands enrolled in the Hunter Access Program. He’ll oversee gas, oil, coal and timber operations on game lands and the nearby Howard Nursery, which grows tree and shrub seedlings for planting on game lands and Hunter Access properties. More here: GAME COMMISSION ANNOUNCES NEW WILDLIFE HABITAT MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR (pa.gov).
  • The PA Fish and Boat Commission will hold its January 24 quarterly business meeting virtually. The meeting begins at 10:00 a.m., with Commissioners and PFBC staff participating remotely. People can view a live stream of the meeting on the Commission’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/PaFishandBoat.

1/14/22

- The Supreme Court has stopped a major push by the Biden administration to boost the nation's COVID-19 vaccination rate, a requirement that employees at large businesses get a vaccine or test regularly and wear a mask on the job. At the same time, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the U.S.

The Court Thursday issued a stay of OSHA’s emergency temporary standard (ETS) on COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masking, with a 6-3 decision. The high court sent the case back to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a hearing on the merits of the ETS. That decision could lead to another appeal to the Supreme Court. In re-issuing a stay, the Supreme Court’s majority contends that although COVID-19 “is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most.” The justices continue: “COVID-19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events and everywhere else that people gather. That universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution or any number of communicable diseases.” Read more: https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/22113-supreme-court-blocks-oshas-ets-on-covid-19.

In a statement, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh called the court’s ruling “a major setback to the health and safety of workers across the country.” He said OSHA will do everything in its authority to held businesses accountable for protecting workers, and urged employers to require workers get vaccinated or tested weekly to fight the virus in the workplace. See Secretary Walsh’s statement here: Statement from Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh on Supreme Court ruling on OSHA emergency temporary standard on vaccination, testing | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- The Clinton County State Health Center in Lock Haven today said it has exhausted its limited supply of COVID-19 test kits. The community health nurse said she would announce if the Center, located at 215 East Church Street, receives another supply of the test kits.

- The state-sponsored COVID-19 testing site in Lock Haven continues to offer free, walk-in testing six days a week. The site, at Lock Haven University’s East Campus Gym (former Lock Haven High School gym), is open Tuesdays through Fridays 10am-6pm, and Saturdays 8am-2pm.

- Some updated information and resources from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy:

  • Coverage Available for At-Home COVID-19 Tests. Beginning Saturday, January 15, individuals with private health insurance coverage or covered by a group health plan who purchase an over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized, cleared, or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be able to have those test costs covered by their plan or insurance. Insurance companies and health plans are required to cover eight (8) free over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month. There is no limit on the number of tests (including at-home tests) that are covered if ordered or administered by a health care provider following an individualized clinical assessment. This policy comes in addition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ effort to provide up to 50 million free, at-home tests to community health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics for distribution at no cost to patients and community members.

- The PA Department of Labor today reminded Pennsylvanians who claimed unemployment benefits in 2021 that the 1099 tax form they’ll need to file their taxes will be arriving soon in the mail. See more: Tax Form Arriving Soon for Pennsylvanians Who Claimed Unemployment Benefits in 2021 (pa.gov).

- In the week ending January 8, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 230,000, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 207,000. Read the full news release.

- The Clinton County Housing Coalition this week said it has processed more than 340 applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), designed to support people who have fallen behind on rent or utilities due to the pandemic. Clinton County received $2.5 million toward the program from the federal government, with the Housing Coalition processing the applications at the local level. Jeff Rich with the Coalition said some 200 additional applications are still being processed. He noted that this program is for renters, but a separate program is now available for mortgage holders. Rich said the ERAP program runs through September of this year, with another round of funding still to come. Click here for a link to the ERAP online application.

- Meanwhile, Governor Wolf has announced a statewide launch of the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund (PAHAF), administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. This funding will aid mortgage holders facing COVID-19-related financial hardships. PAHAF applications will open to eligible Pennsylvania homeowners beginning February 1. Learn more: Wolf Administration Launches $350 Million Pa. Homeowner Assistance Fund.

- The Wolf Administration today highlighted benefits to Pennsylvania from the passage of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), specifically for PA’s bridges. The state is poised to receive an estimated $4 billion in new federal highway and bridge dollars over five years, including an estimated $1.6 billion from a new bridge program established by the BIL. More here: Gov. Wolf, DOT Secretary Buttigieg Announce Pennsylvania to Receive $1.6 Billion to Fix Bridges Across the Commonwealth (pa.gov).

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected January 3 through January 9, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • U.S. small businesses requiring employee COVID-19 vaccination (14.4%) and a negative COVID-19 test (13.1%) before physically coming to work in the last week were both at all-time highs.
  • 33.0% of U.S small businesses experienced a decrease in revenues in the last week. For responses collected 12/27/21-1/2/22, this statistic was 30.4%.
  • 21.7% of U.S small businesses experienced a moderate decrease in demand for their goods or services compared to what was normal pre-3/13/20. For responses collected 12/27/21-1/2/22, this statistic was 20.7%.
  • 42.4% of U.S small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays and 17.4% experienced foreign supplier delays in the last week. For responses collected 12/27/21-1/2/22, these statistics were 43.3% and 18.4% respectively.
  • 29.6% of U.S. manufacturing small businesses expect to make a capital expenditure in the next 6 months. The national average for this statistic was 16.4%.
  • 14.6% of U.S. health care and social assistance small businesses experienced a decrease in the number of paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 12/27/21-1/2/22, this statistic was 12.8%.

- The American Red Cross is urging people to donate blood as the organization faces its worst national blood shortage in over a decade. The shortage has forced health care providers to decide which patients will get life-saving transfusions and which have to wait for the supply to be replenished. The Red Cross has had to limit blood supplies to hospitals, and there have been periods with less than a one-day supply of critical blood types in recent weeks, the agency said. Read more: Red Cross Declares First-ever Blood Crisis amid Omicron Surge.

1/12/22

- Keystone Central School District today announced a five-day return to remote learning for Central Mountain Middle and High School students and Bucktail High School students, due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said remote learning for secondary school students begins tomorrow, Thursday, January 13, with an anticipated return to the classroom on Tuesday, January 18. Click Here for the KCSD announcement for more information.

- Lock Haven University today announced its plan for the start of the spring 2022 semester on Monday, January 24. Interim President Dr. Bashar Hanna said the first week of classes will be delivered online, with plans to be back to a regular schedule as of Monday, January 31. See the full news release here: http://lockhaven.meritpages.com/news/lock-haven-university-announces-spring-2022-semester-return-plan/24121

- The PA Department of Health today reported 31,739 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,940,963. Clinton County reported 68 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 7,452 positive COVID cases, up 335 cases since Friday’s report. Centre County saw 353 new cases, bringing their total to 29,269, up 1,521 since Friday. And Lycoming County reported 241 new cases, bringing their count to 23,579, up 928 since Friday. The number of deaths attributed to the virus in Clinton County stands at 113 (up three since Friday); in Centre, 301 (up six in the past five days); and Lycoming County, 461 (up seven since Friday). More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

- Pennsylvania’s Acting Health Secretary says “initial data suggest that fewer patients are being admitted to hospitals specifically for COVID-19.” The hospitalization number includes people who tested positive after being admitted, but aren’t necessarily severely ill with the virus. However, Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter said PA hospitals are facing a record-setting surge of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. Read more: Pa. official says data ‘suggest’ fewer people are being hospitalized with COVID-19 as main cause - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLive)

Klinepeter continued to emphasize that vaccinations are the best way for people to help themselves, as well as the healthcare workers who are overwhelmed by the number of patients. “That is why we continue to urge every Pennsylvanian to continue to take public health measures that we know will help to preserve inpatient capacity for those who need it most,” she said. “Please get vaccinated or boosted, wear a mask, social distance, get tested, and follow all applicable isolation and quarantine guidelines.”

- In the state’s weekly COVID-19 update Tuesday, Department of Health officials said the daily average number of cases over the past week (January 3-9) was 27,545. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of January 10 was 18.3% higher than on January 3. The report also indicated that 313,260 vaccine doses were administered in the past week – including 154,179 booster shots and 48,395 pediatric doses of the vaccine – a 16.2% increase in vaccines administered from the previous week. More here: Department of Health Provides Weekly Update on COVID-19 Trends in Vaccinations, Cases and Hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, the Wolf administration said Tuesday it has no plans to pursue another COVID-19 emergency declaration or attempt to impose new statewide restrictions or vaccine mandates in response to the highly contagious omicron variant that is spreading quickly and overloading Pennsylvania’s hospitals.

- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday shortened the timing of Moderna booster to five months rather than six.  

- The PA Health Department’s Clinton County office in Lock Haven today noted the available of a limited supply of COVID rapid test kits for people age 15 and up. The office is located at 215 East Church Street. Call 570-893-2437 for more information.

- The Wolf Administration this week announced a new initiative to help long-term care facilities respond to COVID-19. See more: Wolf Administration Announces New Support for Long-Term Care Facilities (pa.gov).

- Some key components of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine or test mandate went into effect Monday. The Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the mandate last week and could ultimately issue an order on the rule sometime this week.

- The U.S. Chamber’s economic policy division recently issued an informative January update on economic conditions. You can click here to see the report.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber continues to create and update various guides and resources. We encourage you to look at this helpful information:

- The U.S. Census Bureau estimates indicate that Pennsylvania’s population figures have slightly reversed themselves starting in the new decade. From July 2020 to July 2021, Pennsylvania’s population dropped by about 25,000 to a total of approximately 12.9 million citizens. Also, according to a recent article in Pittsburgh City Paper, the coronavirus has impacted population. Read more: Pennsylvania loses population in first half of 2021, says census estimates | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper (pghcitypaper.com).

1/7/22

- New cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported at a record pace. The PA Department of Health today reported 32,053 new cases, a record high. Cases are also up substantially at the local level, with Clinton County surpassing 7,000 cases, today reporting a countywide total of 7,117, which is up 123 cases since Tuesday. The state also reported three additional deaths for Clinton County since Tuesday, bringing to 110, the number of deaths that have been attributed to the virus. In Centre County, case counts increased by 811 since Tuesday, bringing the countywide total to 27,748. Centre County also reported three new COVID-attributed deaths, bringing their total to 295. And in Lycoming County, new COVID cases increased by 522 since Tuesday, to 22,651, with eight new deaths attributed to the virus, bringing the total deaths there to 454. Close to 7,000 people are hospitalized statewide with the virus, the highest numbers since January of last year. Of those 6,680 people, 1,071 are in intensive care.

- A cases of COVID-19 continue to strain healthcare systems, Governor Wolf today announced that Pennsylvania is organizing, in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, regional support sites for both hospitals and long-term care facilities, as well as strike teams to support hospitals facing staffing shortages. Read more: Gov. Wolf Announces Efforts to Increase Statewide Hospital, Long-Term Care Capacity through Regional Support Sites, Strike Teams.

In support of the PA Health Department and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania National Guard is supporting the federal COVID-19 response teams who arrived in the state earlier this week. More here: Pa. National Guard Supports Federal COVID-19 Response Teams.

- PA Department of Health Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson this week led a discussion about COVID-19 treatment options available for Pennsylvanians. More here: Physician General, Medical Professionals Discuss COVID-19 Treatment Options Available for Pennsylvanians (pa.gov).

- Following approval by the federal government, the PA Health Department this week confirmed that children ages 12 and older are now eligible for a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster dose five months after completing the primary series. Learn more: Department of Health recommends Pfizer Booster Dose for Children Ages 12 and Older Following Federal Approval.

- The Federal Trade Commission this week warned consumers about buying phony COVID tests online. The agency sent out the following guidelines on avoiding a scam, preventing waste of money, and potential misdiagnosis from fraudulent or faulty testing kits:

  • Make sure the test you are buying is authorized by the FDA.
  • Check the FDA’s lists of approved antigen and molecular diagnostic tests to find an authorized at-home kit.
  • Vet vendors by searching online for combinations of the website, company, digital storefront, or seller’s username with words like “scam,” “complaint,” or “review.”
  • Compare online reviews from distinct sources - including experts, organizations and individuals - across different websites.
  • Pay by credit card so you can dispute a bogus charge.
  • Report scam sellers or fake tests to the FTC at: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/.

- Free COVID-19 testing continues to be available in Clinton and Centre counties. PA Department of Health contractors are conducting the walk-in testing sites. In Clinton County, testing is available Tuesdays through Fridays from 10am-6pm and Saturdays from 8am-2pm at Lock Haven University’s East Campus Gymnasium (the former Lock Haven High School Gym), 340 West Main Street, Lock Haven. The clinic is slated to be available through at least January 29. In Centre County, testing is also available through January 29 from 10am-7pm at the County Recycling and Refuse Authority, 253 Transfer Road, Bellefonte. Other testing sites are open across the state in Mifflin, Blair, Berks, Cambria, Delaware and Luzerne counties.

- As employers continue to need additional workers, PA CareerLink Clinton County announced today that UPMC is having a Hiring Event January 20 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the CareerLink office in Lock Haven. Click Here for details.

- An update on the local employment situation from Partnership President Mike Flanagan: Initial and continued unemployment claims by Clinton County residents remained about the same for the week ending December 25, as compared to the week ending December 18. According to the PA Department of Labor & Industry, the new initial claims were 51, with most of them male and a good portion from the construction field. The continued claims numbered 377. Approximately one year ago, the continued claim figure was 1,035.

- Meanwhile, PA L&I says it has detected an escalation in fraudsters’ attempts to steal unemployment compensation benefits through increasingly aggressive and sophisticated schemes. L&I says an examination is underway to determine the source of the attacks and the methods fraudsters are using to intercept legitimate UC payments. Read more: L&I Detects Escalation in Unemployment Compensation Fraud, Examination Continues (pa.gov).

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending January 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 207,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release

- According to new federal statistics, nearly 7% of the restaurant and hotel workforce quit in November, generating 920,000 job vacancies that month alone. No other sector of the U.S. labor market came close to those figures, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found. In total, 4.3 million workers in the private sector quit their jobs—meaning the hospitality industry accounted for roughly 1 of every 5 worker resignations. (Source: PA Restaurant & Lodging Association) 

- The U.S. Supreme Court today was slated to hear two oral arguments on four cases challenging the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard, one of which deals exclusively with the challenges to the mandate on large employers. It could take several weeks or months for the Supreme Court to issue a ruling.

In the meantime, Pennsylvania has prepared a readiness guide to help employers with 100 or more employees be prepared to implement the ETS for COVID-19 vaccination or testing. Click here: Readiness Guide for Pennsylvania Employers.

- On Thursday, Governor Wolf announced that a Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund, to help homeowners facing pandemic-related financial hardships, will be launched February 1. See more: Wolf Administration Launches $350 Million Pa. Homeowner Assistance Fund.

- The Internal Revenue Service today released its 2021 annual report describing the agency’s work delivering taxpayer service and compliance efforts during the pandemic. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-releases-its-2021-progress-update-detailing-challenging-year.

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected December 27, 2021 through January 2, 2022, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 13.1% of U.S. small businesses required employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination & 11.1% required a negative COVID19 test before physically coming to work in the last week
  • 30.4% of U.S small businesses experienced a decrease in revenues in the last week. For responses collected December 20-26, this statistic was 25.4%
  • 22.5% of U.S small businesses experienced a decrease in the number of hours worked by paid employees in the last week. For responses collected December 20-26, this statistic was 14.8%
  • 10.6% of U.S small businesses think they will need to develop online sales or websites in the next 6 months. For responses collected the previous week, this statistic was 9.7%
  • 33.9% of NY-NJ-PA Metro Area small businesses required employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination before physically coming to work in the last week
  • 33.9% of U.S. retail trade small businesses experienced moderate increase in demand for their goods or services compared to the norm pre-3/13/20. For responses collected the previous week, this statistic was 34.9%
  • 39.3% of U.S. retail trade small businesses experienced delays in delivery & shipping to customers in the last week. For responses collected the previous week, this statistic was 37.6%

- Keystone Central School District today announced that the Future Farmers Club at Central Mountain High School restored a 1952 McCormick Farmall Cub tractor and will have it on display at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, which begins Saturday in Harrisburg. Click Here for more on their project. You can support the students, who also have an opportunity to win $250 for Best Video contest. To view and vote for the Central Mountain High School video, visit lancasterfarming.com. Awards will be presented at 1pm Saturday, January 15 at the Farm Show.

1/4/22

- “Pennsylvania, like the rest of the nation, is experiencing a steep increase in the number of COVID-19 cases,” said State Acting Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter. The PA Department of Health today reported 24,850 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,748,207. Over the past seven days (December 27-January 2) the daily average number of cases was 18,344. The number of people hospitalized with the virus is 5,976 – approaching the numbers seen at the height of the pandemic almost a year ago. Of those hospitalized, 1,034 are in intensive care and 621 are on ventilators. In it’s weekly update today, the state said the number of people currently hospitalized with the virus is 22.6% higher than a week ago. In addition, 169 new deaths were reported statewide, bringing the total deaths attributed to COVID-19 to 36,968.

Clinton County today reported 13 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 6,924 positive cases of COVID-19, with 107 deaths attributed to the virus. Centre County reported 174 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 26,937, with 292 deaths. Lycoming County reported 92 new cases, for a total of 22,129, with 446 deaths.

The state says 269,488 vaccine doses were administered in the past week, including 131,793 booster doses and 12,270 pediatric doses. The vaccinations represented a 3.8% decrease in vaccines administered from the previous week, largely attributed to the New Year holiday. According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of December 30, 74.1% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Read more: Vaccinations, Cases and Hospitalizations (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, at the state’s request, the federal government this week is deploying strike teams to York and Scranton based hospitals and emergency medical services to support their health care systems in the wake of the COVID-19 surge. The teams are setting up at Scranton Regional Hospital and WellSpan York to increase acute care capacity by opening approximately 30 additional acute care beds between the two locations.

In addition, the PA Health Department has contracted AMI Expeditionary Healthcare (AMI) to provide free, community-based COVID-19 testing in several counties across the state, including Clinton, Centre, Mifflin, Blair, Berks and Luzerne counties. The Clinton County walk-in testing site is located at Lock Haven University’s East Campus Gymnasium (the former Lock Haven High School Gym), 340 West Main Street in Lock Haven. Testing resumed there today and will run through at least January 29. Testing is available Tuesdays through Fridays 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8am-2pm for anyone age 3 and older.

- An employment update from Partnership President Mike Flanagan: The state released monthly unemployment numbers for the Commonwealth’s counties last week, and Clinton checked in at 5.1% in November, the lowest since the pandemic (March 2020). Clinton ranks 38th out of PA’s 67 counties. Chester County was no. 1 at 3.1%, Centre no. 9 at 3.0% and Lycoming no. 55 at 5.7%. Both initial and continued unemployment claim numbers for Clinton were down for the week ending December 18 as compared to the previous week.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry is reminding job seekers of the free services available through SkillUp® PA, a virtual learning platform offering more than 5,000 unique training modules to help people gain new skills, polish their resume and advance their careers. Learn more: Wolf Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians of Free Online Job Skills Training Programs Available Through SkillUp® PA.

- According to the PA Department of Revenue, the state collected $3.8 billion in General Fund revenue in December, or 13.7% more than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $22.6 billion, or 7% above estimate. More here: Revenue Department Releases December 2021 Collections.

- Keystone Central School District students were back in the classroom today following the holiday break. Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin Sunday issued an update, noting the District continues to use “layered mitigation strategies to keep our schools open for learning.”  Click Here for the update

- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week has taken several actions to expand the use of the Pifzer COVID-19 vaccine. Read more: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-takes-multiple-actions-expand-use-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine.

- The Centers for Disease Control has updated isolation and quarantine recommendations for the public. The CDC also updated recommendations for people who are exposed to COVID-19. Learn More

As of year-end, there were 53,795,407 cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States.

- From U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s office:

  • Senator Casey and his staff have developed a Community Guide to funding resources available through the federal Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. Click Here for the Community Guide.
  • Senator Casey is encouraging Pennsylvania non-profit organizations, educational and medical institutions, local governments, and Local Development Districts within Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Regional Commission Counties to join a January 26, 1:00 – 2:30pm webinar on federal funding opportunities. Click Here for more information.

- The Small Business Development Center at Penn State has several upcoming workshops for small businesses:

  • An Introduction to QuickBooks webinar is scheduled for January 10 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. This is the first of a three-part course on how to use one of the most powerful bookkeeping tools for small business owners. Pre-registration is required at: http://ow.ly/3BFY50Hcxqk.
  • A First Steps to Small Business Success webinar will be held January 11 from 9:00 to 11:00 .a.m. This free session is designed for people who are thinking about starting a business or who are in the early stages of starting. Pre-register at: http://ow.ly/2kWj50HcxBY.
  • A Business Plan Bootcamp online series begins January 24. This free, eight-week accelerator program takes participants through the entire journey of writing a full business plan. Applications are due by January 14 and applicants will be notified of their acceptance on January 17th. If accepted, participants receive free access to LivePlan software for 3 months and have a chance to win up to $500 in funding during a final pitch competition. The sessions are held from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on the following dates:

            - January 25, 6-8 pm: 1st group coaching session

- February 8, 6-8 pm: 2nd group coaching session

- February 22, 6-8 pm: 3rd group coaching session

- March 8, 6-8 pm: 4th group coaching session

- March 15, 6:00-8:30 pm: Final pitch competition

On off-weeks, participants will schedule a 1:1 coaching session with a program coach. Click here to get to the program application: https://forms.office.com/r/JzrKbuGv9B.

- The Ben Franklin Learning Center offers the following online workshops:

  • Building Your Brand & Recruiting Penn State Talent - Wednesday, January 12, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Presenting your company to today's emerging talent isn't easy. Learn how to pitch your company's culture as a "best fit" for them so you can attract more and better candidates.

Reserve Your Spot

  • Manage and Grow Your Business using Financial Statements & Ratios, Part I - Tuesday, January 18, 12:00 - 1:15 p.m. This two-part virtual workshop series is for founders, managers and executives of startups and small- and medium-sized businesses. Reserve Your Spot

- The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a webinar on Basic Fundraising for Small Nonprofits, on January 12, online, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. The session is designed to help small nonprofits create a strategy that meets the organization’s fundraising goals while keeping limited budgets and personnel in mind. $10. Register at: https://score.tfaforms.net/17?EventID=a105a000005qNo1.

- The PA Department of Banking and Securities has several outreach events planned in January to promote financial capability. Details here: Department of Banking and Securities Announces January 2022 Outreach Events.

- The 106th Pennsylvania Farm Show is set to begin this Saturday, January 8, at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, and with the continued rise in COVID-19 cases, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding is urging visitors to use discretion when deciding whether to attend. At a Monday press briefing, Redding said while proven tools to mitigate risk including masks, sanitizer and vaccines all will available throughout the show, he cautioned those who feel uncomfortable about attending this year to stay home.

This year’s Farm Show theme is “Harvesting More.” The pandemic resulted in the show being held virtually in 2021. While this year’s event returns to the traditional in-person format, there will be some virtual experiences offered. For a full rundown of new foods and features this year, click here. The show runs through January 15. More information is available at www.farmshow.pa.gov.

12/23/21

- The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Biden Administration could proceed with its COVID-19 vaccine or testing requirement for employers with 100 or more employees, reversing a previous decision. The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is enforcing what is known as the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which the Administration says is needed to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. -> Read More (Source: PA Chamber)

According to information from the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association, OSHA is exercising enforcement discretion with respect to ETS compliance dates. OSHA will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the ETS before January 10 and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before February 9, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.

Some related information:

- The PA Department of Education has awarded nearly $1.5 million in grants to 39 Career and Technical Centers and three school districts to train students for high-demand jobs. According to the news release, Keystone Central School District’s Career & Technology Center is to receive a $3,303 grant, while the Central PA Institute of Science & Technology in Centre County is the recipient of a $50,000 grant. The funds are geared toward purchasing new equipment aligned to train students for high-demand jobs. Learn more: Gov. Wolf Announces Nearly $1.5 Million to Upgrade Equipment at 39 Career and Technical Centers (pa.gov).

- The Internal Revenue Service has announced it will issue information letters to Advance Child Tax Credit recipients starting in December and to recipients of the third round of the Economic Impact Payments at the end of January. Using this information when preparing a tax return can reduce errors and delays in processing. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-issues-information-letters-to-advance-child-tax-credit-recipients-and-recipients-of-the-third-round-of-economic-impact-payments-taxpayers-should-hold-onto-letters-to-help-the-2022-filing-season.

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration, a reminder that the deadline to apply for the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) is December 31. See below for further details.

  • EIDL loan and Targeted Advance applications will be accepted until December 31 and will continue to be processed after this date until funds are exhausted. 
  • Supplemental Targeted Advance applications will be accepted until December 31; however, the SBA may be unable to process some Supplemental Targeted Advance applications submitted near the December 31 deadline due to legal requirements. The SBA cannot continue to process Supplemental Targeted Advance applications after December 31. 
  • Borrowers can request increases up to their maximum eligible loan amount for up to two years after their loan origination date, or until the funds are exhausted, whichever is soonest. 
  • The SBA will accept and review reconsideration and appeal requests for COVID EIDL applications received on or before December 31 if the reconsideration/appeal is received within the timeframes in the regulation. This means six months from the date of decline for reconsiderations and 30 days from the date of reconsideration decline for appeals – unless funding is no longer available.

The SBA recently held a COVID EIDL Application Completion webinar to help answer questions. A recording of the webinar is available here.

- According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in the week ending December 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 205,000, unchanged from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry has released its preliminary employment situation report for November 2021. The state’s unemployment rate was down three-tenths of a percentage point over the month, to 5.7 percent in November. The U.S. rate fell four-tenths of a percentage point from its October level, to 4.2 percent. See more: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Down To 5.7 Percent in November (pa.gov).

- Legislation that would help to streamline workers’ compensation claims settlements passed the General Assembly last week and is expected to be signed by Governor Wolf. The PA Chamber sent a memo in support of the H.B. 1837 to Senate lawmakers last week. The bill streamlines a number of WC processes including allowing for a claimant to provide sworn testimony that he or she fully understands the terms of a compromise and release agreement, rather than requiring the agreement to be signed in front of two witnesses or a notary. These compromise and release agreements have led to a faster claims adjudication by avoiding litigation and allowing parties to resolve contested issues without overburdening the workers’ compensation system.  

- In a new report by the U.S. Travel Association, a staggering 65% of all jobs lost in 2020 were travel-supported jobs. The leisure and hospitality sector accounted for 11% of pre-pandemic employment in the U.S. yet represents 34% of all jobs still lost as of November 2021. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced information updates on the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, and the authorization of two oral antivirals (pills) for the treatment of COVID-19 on certain patients. Pfizer’s Paxlovid drug was authorized on Wednesday, and Merck’s molnupiravir antiviral pill was authorized by the FDA just today. While health experts agree that vaccination remains the best way to protect against COVID-19, roughly 40 million American adults are still unvaccinated, so effective drugs will be critical to blunting current and future waves of infection. Read more: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-december-23-2021.

- In it’s weekly COVID-19 update, the PA Department of Health said trends over the past seven days (December 13-19) put the daily average number of new positive cases at 7,252. During that same period, there were 800 deaths attributed to COVID-19 identified in the state, with 59 percent occurring in people age 70 and older. As of Monday, the number of people hospitalized with the virus was 0.3 percent lower than on December 13. The weekly update also noted that 406,243 vaccine doses were administered in the past week, a decrease of 2.8 percent from the previous week. More here: Department of Health Provides Weekly Update on COVID-19 Trends in Vaccinations, Cases, Hospitalizations and Deaths.

According to the Health Department, Clinton County’s case count currently stands at 6,575 (up 96 cases since Friday), with 102 deaths attributed to the virus (up three from last week). In all, 43.9 percent of the Clinton County population age five and above are fully vaccinated, and 6,327 people have received a booster shot since mid-August. Centre County has a total COVID-19 case count of 24,917 (up 616 since Friday), with 281 deaths. 58.8 percent of Centre’s population age five and above are fully vaccinated, with 34,522 having received a booster shot. And the current case count in Lycoming County is 21,202 (an increase of 295 since Friday), with 436 deaths. Overall, 51.4 percent of the Lycoming population is fully vaccinated, with 21,490 people having received a COVID-19 booster.

The Centers for Disease Control says all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties remain in the high level of community transmission. Clinton County currently has a percent positivity of 12.3% (down from 13.82 last Friday); Centre is at 12.71% (down from 15.67% nearly a week ago); and Lycoming County is at 11.85%, down from 13.89% last Friday. 

- The CDC this week also said the Omicron variant of COVID has overtaken Delta as the most dominant variant in the U.S. Last week, it accounted for 73 percent of the new cases. Read more here: Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know | CDC. 

The CDC is further emphasizing the importance of full vaccinations, including the COVID-19 booster shot, to protect against COVID-19 and especially in light of the emergence of the Omicron variant. More here: COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots | CDC.

As of Monday, more than 50.7 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States. According to the CDC, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have all increased in recent weeks, with many parts of the country experiencing substantial or high levels of community transmission. As people travel and gather this holiday season, the CDC is encouraging people to take steps – including vaccines and booster shots, masking and physical distancing – to protect themselves and others. See more: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html. 

- The free, walk-up COVID-19 testing clinic continues locally, December 27, 28 and 29 (10am-6pm), and it’s been announced that the clinic will continue into the new year, through Saturday, January 29. The clinic is being held at Lock Haven University’s East Campus Gym (the former Lock Haven High School Gym) at 340 West Main Street in Lock Haven. Beginning in January, testing is available Tuesdays through Fridays 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8am-2pm. PA Department of Health contractors conduct the clinic, with COVID-19 tests available to anyone age 3 and older. The clinic is being supported locally by the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services and Lock Haven University. Click Here for the Clinton County COVID Testing file for details. 

- Geisinger this week began limiting visitors for patients at their facilities to help protect against the spread of COVID-19. Effective Monday, only one visitor is permitted per hospitalized adult patient. Read more: Geisinger limits visitors, sets restrictions to help protect against COVID spread.

- UPMC issued their latest COVID update newsletter, which highlights information on the Omicron variant. Click Here for UPMC file for more.

- Meanwhile, UPMC has created UPMC Travel Staffing, a new in-house travel staffing agency as a solution to the nationwide nursing shortage and to attract and retain highly skilled nurses and surgical technologists to its workforce. UPMC is believed to be the first health system in the country to launch its own staffing agency—initially for registered nurses and surgical technologists, with the potential to evolve to include additional job roles. Learn more: https://www.upmc.com/media/news/121721-upmc-travel-staffing.

- The PA Department of Human Services this week outlined the state’s spending plan for approximately $1.2 billion in enhanced federal Medicaid funding made available to states through the American Rescue Plan Act. Read more: Department of Human Services Discusses Spending Plan for Home and Community-Based Services Enhanced Federal Funding to Support Mental Health Services, Children.

- Governor Wolf Wednesday signed a number of bills into law, and also vetoed one measure. The various legislation impacts businesses, senior citizens, municipalities, health care and education. More here: Gov. Wolf Signs Bills to Protect Prescription Savings for Seniors, Expand Broadband Access.

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: The U.S. population grew at a slower rate in 2021 than in any other year since the founding of the nation. The Census Bureau’s Population Estimates show that population grew only 0.1% and that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the slower growth the country has experienced in recent years. The year 2021 is the first time since 1937 that the U.S. population grew by fewer than one million people, featuring the lowest numeric growth since at least 1900, when the Census Bureau began annual population estimates. Read More

- The independent news agency, Spotlight PA, has announced they’ll host a January 6, noon, virtual event offering a breakdown of the recently releases state House and Senate maps, how the maps could shift political power, and their potential impact on Pennsylvanians. RSVP here to participate in the free session.

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission will conduct a January 5, 10:00 a.m. meeting of the Fisheries and Hatcheries Committee at its Centre Region Office in Bellefonte. The meeting is open to the public. View the meeting agenda, and for information on how to provide public comment, visit the PFBC website (www.fishandboat.com).

- The Small Business Development Center at Penn State has a number of upcoming webinars:

  • Business Goal Setting for 2022, January 6 at 12:00 p.m. In this webinar, SBDC representatives discuss the economic forecast, how to make goals based on fluctuating pandemic circumstances, and how to turn your goals into an actionable strategy. Come ready to develop specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound business goals for 2022. Register Here
  • QuickBooks Online (3-Part Series), January 10, 17, and 24 at 9:00 a.m. This series of three workshops will help small business owners quickly adopt QuickBooks Online.
  • The introductory workshopwill review software benefits, choosing the right subscription, and transitioning from desktop to online.
  • The second sessionwill cover sales & revenue transactions, expense & purchase transactions, and reporting.
  • The final sessionwill focus on payments, payroll, and the Intuit app center.  Register for the First Workshop
  • The First Steps to Small Business Success, January 11 at 9:00 a.m. A monthly webinar for people thinking about starting a business or those in the early stages of starting up. SBDC small business experts share the key aspects of starting a business and help participants determine if launching a new endeavor is the right move. Register Here
  • Business Plan Bootcamp, January 24 - March 14, 2022. This 8-week accelerator program takes participants through the entire journey of writing a full business plan. If accepted into the program, participants receive free access to the LivePlan software for 3 months and have a chance to win up to $500 in funding during a final pitch competition. Throughout the program, participants attend four mandatory teaching sessions and receive four one-on-one coaching sessions, all conducted virtually via Zoom. Interested entrepreneurs must apply by January 14. Accepted participants will be notified of their status by on January 17. Apply Here

- A reminder from PennDOT that all driver license and photo centers will be closed this Saturday, December 25, in observance of the Christmas holiday, and next Saturday, January 1, for the New Year’s holiday. Customers can still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.

12/17/21

- From Partnership President Mike Flanagan via the PA Department of Labor & Industry: Initial and continued unemployment claims by Clinton County residents were down slightly for the week ending December 11. The initial claims dropped from 70 for the week ending December 4, to 61, and continued claims were 374, down from 398. Approximately one year ago, there were 923 continued unemployment claims by county residents. A majority of the initial and continued claims for the week ending December 11 were filed by males, and a fairly large majority were in the construction field.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending December 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 206,000, an increase of 18,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today signed House Bill 412, which amends the Public School Code of 1949, by addressing the immediate need for substitute teachers due to the pandemic. Read more: Gov. Wolf Signs Bill to Support Schools, Teachers Staffing to Keep Children in Classrooms During Pandemic.

- Governor Wolf this week also asked the federal government to send health care workers to facilities that are increasingly under stress from persistent staffing shortages and the latest COVID-19 surge. The Governor specifically requested critical staffing support for hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and ambulance organizations, as well as continued pandemic response support. More here: Wolf Administration Asks Feds to Support Health Care System in Battling Pandemic.

- Meanwhile, Pennsylvania today reported a total case count of 1,541,057 new positive cases of COVID-19. According to the PA Department of Health, Clinton County has a total case count of 6,479, up 73 cases since Tuesday. Centre County’s case count totals 24,301, up 276 cases since Tuesday, and Lycoming County currently has a total of 20,907 positive cases, up 196 since Tuesday. The number of Clinton County deaths attributed to the virus now totals 99, up three from a week ago. In Centre County, the death of 273 people has been attributed to COVID, up six from last Friday; and in Lycoming County, 431 deaths have been attributed to the virus, up 22 from a week ago.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID Data Tracker database, 41.7% of Clinton County’s population age 5 and up is fully vaccinated. The county currently has a percent positivity rate of 13.82%, down from 14.93% on December 7. In Centre County, 57% of the population age 5 and up is fully vaccinated, and the county has a 15.67% positivity rate (down from 15.67% on Dec. 7). In Lycoming County, 49.2% of the population above age 5 is fully vaccinated, and the county currently has a 13.89% positivity rate (down from 21.74% 10 days ago).

- The free, walk-up COVID-19 testing clinic continues to be available in Clinton County. The Clinton County Department of Emergency Services and Lock Haven University are supporting the PA Department of Health testing clinic at LHU’s East Campus Gym (old LH High School gym) on West Main Street in Lock Haven. The clinic will offer free testing through this coming Wednesday, December 22, and again December 27-29. Clinic hours are 10am-6pm weekdays and 8am-2pm on Saturdays. Click Here for the Local COVID-19 Testing file for more information.

- Governor Wolf on Wednesday announced $2.5 million in state funding – in the form of grants to 65 different organizations – that will help grassroots organizations encourage hesitant Pennsylvanians to get the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the news release from the state, the American Lung Association will receive a $70,000 grant for a vaccine outreach program covering a 12-county area that includes Clinton County. More information here: Governor Wolf Announces $2.5 Million to Support Grassroots COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach Efforts Across Pennsylvania (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf announced today that Pennsylvanians will not have to pay state income tax on the student loan debt relief they get from the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and the Pennsylvania Student Loan Relief for Nurses Program. The state says the decision will save people eligible for those programs potentially thousands of dollars in state tax. Read more: Gov. Wolf: State to Provide Big Savings to Many Workers by Not Taxing Student Loan Forgiveness (pa.gov).

- The Governor today announced that Pennsylvania has been awarded $240 million from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to ensure Pennsylvanians have access to clean water. More here: Gov. Wolf Announces $240 Million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Ensure Clean Water.

- The 13-county rural Pennsylvania Wilds region, of which Clinton County is a part, is a finalist for up to $100 million in investment to grow its outdoor recreation industry. A total of 529 communities across the country, representing all 50 states and five territories, submitted applications to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)’s ‘Build Back Better Regional Challenge’ program to compete for the transformative investments, which aim to advance regional industry clusters and aid in pandemic recovery. Only 60 applicants – including the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship application – were selected to move on to Phase II. More information here. Read the U.S. EDA release here: https://eda.gov/news/press-releases/2021/12/13/build-back-better-regional-challenge-finalists.htm.

- The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, in partnership with Bridgeway Capital and Community First Fund, recently announced the launch of the Creative Business Loan Fund. This fund makes available $2.2 million in the form of affordable, flexible financing to small, creative businesses across the commonwealth. Learn more!

- From the PA Chamber: On Tuesday, a federal judge in Georgia temporarily halted the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors across the country. Federal contractors were facing a January 18 deadline to be fully vaccinated. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker, said the challengers were likely to prevail on their claim that Biden exceeded his authority with the public health measure. Late last month, a Kentucky-based federal judge issued a narrower ruling blocking the federal contractor mandate in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. Tuesday’s ruling effectively extended the freeze nationwide. 

- On Thursday, Governor Wolf announced $17.4 million in grant funding for projects in 33 counties across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, highlighting their path-breaking work to improve the health of local streams, rivers, and lakes by reducing nutrient and sediment pollution. According to the announcement, Clinton County received $344,505; Centre County $590,500; and Lycoming County $527,391, to coordinate and implement Countywide Action Plan projects. Learn more: Gov. Wolf Announces $17.4 Million to Improve Local Water Quality for Chesapeake Bay Watershed - Governor Tom Wolf (pa.gov).

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected December 6 - 12, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 34.3% of U.S. small businesses experienced a large increase in the prices they pay for goods & services compared to the norm pre-3/13/20. For responses collected 11/29/21-12/5/21, this statistic was 33.5%
  • 45.2% of U.S. small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays in the last week. For responses collected 11/29-12/5, this statistic was 43.9%
  • 22.9% of U.S small businesses experienced a decrease in revenues in the last week. For responses collected 11/29-12/5, this statistic was 24.1%
  • 13.2% of U.S. small businesses experienced a decrease in the number of hours worked by paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 11/29-12/5, this statistic was 15.6%
  • 8.6% of U.S. Accommodation & Food Services small businesses experienced an increase in the number of paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 11/29-12/5, this statistic was 7.5%
  • 31.5% of U.S. Retail Trade small businesses experienced difficulties hiring paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 11/29-12/5, this statistic was 34.2%
  • 25.8% of U.S. Transportation & Warehousing small businesses experienced delays in delivery & shipping to customers in the last week. For responses collected 11/29-12/5, this statistic was 24.7%
  • 46.7% of U.S. Wholesale Trade small businesses experienced foreign supplier delays in the last week. The national average for this statistic was 20.1%

- The PA Department of Banking and Securities responded to more than 4,900 complaints and inquiries about financial transactions, companies, and products in fiscal year 2020-21, according to its recently released Consumer Services Annual Report. See more: Department of Banking and Securities Helps 4,900 Consumers Resolve Financial Complaints.

- It’s the final shopping week before Christmas and we continue to invite you to Shop Local! Retailers across the county are promoting special savings for the holidays, including downtown Lock Haven retailers who are continuing their Small Business Saturday specials this Saturday, December 18.

12/14/21

- The PA Department of Health today provided its weekly COVID-19 update (as of Monday, December 13). According to the data, the number of new positive cases of COVID averaged 8,199 cases per day over the past seven days (December 6-12). More information here: Department of Health Provides Weekly Update on COVID-19 Trends in Vaccinations, Cases, Hospitalizations and Deaths.

According to the Department, there were 7,442 new cases reported today. Across the state, 4,694 people are hospitalized with the virus, 962 of whom are in intensive care. Clinton County reported 7 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 6,406. Centre County reported 52 new cases, bringing their total to 24,025, and Lycoming County reported 67 new cases, bringing their countywide case count to 20,711.

- A state-sponsored COVID-19 walk-up testing clinic continues to be available locally. The Clinton County Department of Emergency Services and Lock Haven University are working with the state to offer the clinic six days a week through December (with a couple of exceptions over the Christmas holiday) at LHU’s East Campus Gymnasium on Main Street in Lock Haven (the old Lock Haven High School Gym). Anyone age three and above is eligible to receive a free COVID-19 test. Click Here for the Local COVID-19 Testing Clinic file.

- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled late Friday that an order that has kept the state’s schoolchildren masked for months must be voided. The decision upholds a Commonwealth Court ruling that found the masking order issued in August by Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam is unenforceable. Beam lacked authority to require that students wear face masks while in school in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, the two state courts concluded. 

- In light of the PA Supreme Court ruling, Keystone Central School District this week transitioned to voluntary masking. Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin Sunday issued the change from mandatory to voluntary, but still encouraged masking in close contact situations. She noted masking is still required on school busses. Click Here for the KCSD file for more information.

- Governor Tom Wolf Monday announced that Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam will resign her position at the end of the year. No reason was provided for her departure. The governor also announced his intention to name DOH Executive Deputy Secretary Keara Klinepeter to serve as Acting Secretary. See more: Gov. Wolf Announces Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam to Depart Wolf Administration, Names Keara Klinepeter as New Acting Secretary.

- Governor Wolf announced today that the commonwealth will receive a $17 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to buoy the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors as part of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. More here: Governor Wolf Announces Unprecedented Investment to Boost the Tourism Industry (pa.gov).

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected November 20 through December 5, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 43.9% of U.S. small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays & 19.3% experienced foreign supplier delays in the last week. For responses collected 11/22-11/28, these were 45.8% & 20.7% respectively
  • 31.0% of U.S. small businesses experienced large or moderate increase in demand for their business’s goods or services compared to the norm pre-3/13/20. For responses collected 11/22-11/28/21, this was 32.8%
  • 15.6% of U.S. small businesses experienced a decrease in number of hours worked by paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 11/22-11/28, this was 12.8%
  • 32.5% of U.S. construction small businesses experienced a moderate increase in prices compared to the norm pre-3/13/20. For responses collected 11/22-11/28/21, this statistic was 26.2%
  • 36.5% of U.S. Accommodation & Food Services small businesses experienced a decrease in revenues in the last week. For responses collected 11/22-11/28, this statistic was 31.4%
  • 51.5% of U.S. Manufacturing & 38.4% of Retail small businesses expect to identify and hire new employees in the next 6 months. The national average for this statistic was 40.2%

- The Internal Revenue Service and National Council of Nonprofits this week highlighted a special tax provision that allows more people to deduct donations to qualifying charities on their 2021 federal income tax return. As part of this pandemic-related provision, married couples filing jointly can deduct up to $600 in cash donations and individual taxpayers can deduct up to $300 in donations. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-joins-leading-nonprofit-groups-to-highlight-special-charitable-tax-benefit-available-through-dec-31.

- The PA Departments of Revenue and Aging today issued a reminder that older adults and people with disabilities have until December 31, 2021 to apply for rebates on property taxes and rent paid in 2020. More about the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program here: Reminder: Deadline for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is December 31 (pa.gov).

12/10/21

- Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case count continues to grow. The PA Department of Health today reported 11,628 new positive cases of the virus, with more than 4,502 people hospitalized, including 560 in intensive care. According to the state, Clinton County reported 38 new cases, bringing the countywide case count to 6,327. Centre County saw 68 new cases, bringing their total to 23,732, and Lycoming County reported 91 new cases, bringing their countywide case count to 20,457.

Statewide, 134 new deaths attributed to COVID-19 were reported. Clinton County has 96 deaths attributed to the virus; Centre County 267; and Lycoming County 409.

In a report today, the Health Department said there have been 34,415 deaths – 17,798 men and 16,617 women – attributed to the virus to-date. More than 5,000 people aged age 85-89 make up the population most impacted by COVID-19. View the report here: Weekly Report of Deaths Attributed to COVID-19 -- 2021-12-10.pdf (pa.gov).

- A free, walk-up COVID-19 testing clinic will continue to be available in Clinton County for much of December. The Clinton County Department of Emergency Services this week announced that the clinic has been extended and will continue to offer free testing through December 22, and again for several days after Christmas (December 27-29). The PA Department of Health clinic, held in cooperation with the DES and Lock Haven University, was to have ended December 11. The walk-up clinic is being held at LHU’s East Campus Gymnasium (the old Lock Haven High School gym) on West Main Street in Lock Haven. Clinic hours are 10am-6pm weekdays and 8am-2pm on Saturdays. Click here for the Local COVID-19 Testing file.

In addition to announcing the continuation of the testing site in Clinton County, the PA Department of Health today said free COVID-19 testing clinics are also available in Centre, Berks, Jefferson, Luzerne and McKean counties. See more: Department of Health Announces Additional Free COVID-19 Testing Sites Across the Commonwealth.

- A federal judge this week blocked President Joe Biden’s administration from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors. Read more: https://www.pennlive.com/coronavirus/2021/12/judge-blocks-bidens-vaccine-mandate-for-federal-contractors.html?e=1a2598713c24f3b9b618fcff2a4a0f97&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GMPA%20-%20120821&utm_term=Newsletter_good_morning_pa (Source: PennLive)

- Following the approval process Thursday by the federal government, the Department of Health confirmed that Pennsylvanians 16 and 17 years old are now eligible for a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster dose after six months of being fully vaccinated. More here: Department of Health Encourages Newly Eligible 16 and 17 Year Olds to Receive Booster Dose Following Federal Approval.

- Click Here for the UPMC COVID Resources newsletter, UPMC provides information on the COVID-19 vaccine card and long-term effects of the virus.

- PA Health Department officials today announced that, as of December 7, there were 5,036 lab-confirmed flu cases and two flu-associated deaths in the state, and the department is urging Pennsylvanians to get their flu shot if they have not already done so. Read more: Department of Health Urges Residents to Get Flu Vaccine as the Season Intensifies.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry reported 70 new initial unemployment claims for the week ending December 4. That is a jump of about 15 from two weeks ago, according to Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan. Most of the new claims were males and in the manufacturing sector. The continued claims remained almost stable, coming in 398, compared to 395 two weeks ago. Approximately one year ago, there were 904 Clinton County residents on continued unemployment benefits.

- In the week ending December 4, the U.S. Department of Labor’s advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 184,000, a decrease of 43,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since September 6, 1969 when it was 182,000. Read the full news release. 

- SEDA-COG announced today it has assisted more than 300 restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality industry – including 20 businesses in Clinton County – helping them obtain CHIRP (COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program) funding totaling more than $7.1 million. Click Here for the SEDA-COG news release.  

- PA First Lady Frances Wolf Thursday announced an $11.4 million investment in cold storage infrastructure for food banks serving every county of Pennsylvania – including a $2,585,000 grant to the Central PA Food Bank which serves Clinton, Centre, Lycoming and a number of other counties in the region. The COVID-19 Food Bank Cold Storage Infrastructure Grant Program, funded by the American Rescue Plan, will allow food banks to purchase, expand, or upgrade cold storage facilities to ensure that they can deliver fresh food to struggling families. Read more: Wolf Administration, General Assembly Announce $11.4 Million Investment in Cold Storage Infrastructure for Food Banks (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Human Services Thursday highlighted Pennsylvania’s spending plan for approximately $1.2 billion in enhanced federal Medicaid funding made available to states through the American Rescue Plan Act. See more: Department of Human Services Discusses Spending Plan for Home and Community-Based Services.

- The Department of Human Services this week also released quarterly licensing and enforcement activity data for the Department’s five licensing offices that oversee providers of long-term care, child care, behavioral health care, as well as day activity programs and residential care for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. For the period July, August and September, DHS licensing staff completed 2,326 annual inspections and 1,536 complaint investigations, issued 52 provisional licenses, and revoked 11 licenses. See more: Department of Human Services Releases Quarterly Licensing and Enforcement Activity Report.

- Updates/resources from the U.S. Chamber:

  • Start dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s for tax season: Through the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), companies can get a maximum of $21,000 for keeping workers employed through September 30, 2021, and that credit is higher if you started your business during a certain time period. It’s time to start prepping for tax season. These are the planning stepsyou should take now.
  • The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) is a new $100 billion lending program that is available to eligible small businesses. You can apply with your local lender, and, you can use the funding to cover anything from equipment costs to hiring fees. Learn more and see if you’re eligible, here.
  • What businesses need to know about the Omicron variant: Wondering what the Omicron variant of COVID-19 might mean for you as an individual or as a business owner? These two resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation may help: Watch (or read) this Q&Awith epidemiologist Dr. Katelyn Jetelina to get answers to your most pressing questions about vaccine efficacy, common Omicron symptoms and more. Then tune in to this interview with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Suzanne Clark, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Murthy breaks down what experts know so far about the variant and discusses best practices for stopping the spread in your community and at your business.

12/7/21

- High COVID-19 case counts continue to be reported locally and across the state. The PA Department of Health today reported 7,912 new positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,791,030, an increase of more than 37,000 cases since Friday’s report. Clinton County’s case numbers today total 6,240, up 123 cases since Friday’s report. Centre County has gained 326 new cases since Friday, bringing their countywide total to 23,464. And Lycoming County reported a countywide total of 20,179 cases, up 349 cases since Friday. More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health today provided a weekly COVID-19 update, noting that the daily average number of new cases last week (November 29-December 5) was 7,338. Additionally, the number of people hospitalized with the virus as of Monday was 9% higher than a week ago. Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said Pennsylvania continues to make critical strides in getting people vaccinated. As of Monday, the Centers for Disease Control reports 69.8% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. See more: Department of Health Provides Weekly Update on COVID-19 Trends in Vaccinations, Cases, Hospitalizations and Deaths.

According to the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard, 15,930 people in Clinton County are fully vaccinated, with 5,158 of them having received an additional shot (vaccine booster) since August, 13 (the CDC says 44.6% of Clinton County residents age 12 and older are fully vaccinated). A total of 89,121 people in Centre County are fully vaccinated and 25,470 have received a COVID-19 booster shot (CDC data says 58.5% of those 12 and older in Centre are fully vaccinated). In Lycoming County, 54,084 are fully vaccinated, with 16,558 having received a booster shot since mid-August (the CDC lists 52.7% of Lycoming residents age 12 and older as being fully vaccinated).

Additionally, today’s data from the CDC’s Covid Data Tracker system puts Clinton County’s percent positivity at 14.93% (nearly three times the level considered as evidence of significant spread). Centre County is at 15.67% positivity and Lycoming County is at 21.74% positivity.

- Walk-up COVID-19 testing continues to be available in Clinton County through this Saturday. The free PA Health Department testing clinic is being held at Lock Haven University’s East Campus Gymnasium (the old Lock Haven High School Gym) on West Main Street in collaboration with LHU and the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services. No appointment is necessary and people to not have to have symptoms in order to receive a test. Clinic hours are 10am to 6pm today through Friday, and 8am until 2pm on Saturday. During the first five days of the clinic last week (through Saturday), 334 people were tested. People age three and up are able to get a COVID-19 test. Click Here for the COVID Testing Clinic file for more information.

- The Internal Revenue Service Monday issued guidance for employers regarding the retroactive termination of the Employee Retention Credit. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-issues-guidance-regarding-the-retroactive-termination-of-the-employee-retention-credit.

- PA Chamber Updates: 

  • The PA Department of Labor & Industry last week announced that it was refusing a request from the PA Chamber of Business and Industry and other statewide business organizations to extend the public comment period on a proposed rule that would overhaul the regulations governing tipped employees and clarifies how the base hourly rate for overtime of salaried employees is calculated. -> Read More. 
  • Businesses are still struggling to hire workers, according to findings released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Friday. Results show that there is no end in sight for America’s workforce crisis, and that since May, it has only worsened. -> Read More. 
  • Recent court rulings have, at least temporarily, halted federal pandemic-related mandates for some healthcare and government workers. On November 30, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction to halt the start of the national vaccine mandate for health care workers, which was to start on December 6. As previously reported, the courts have further enjoined OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard requiring vaccination or testing policies for employers with 100 or more employees. Additionally, the mask mandate in PA schools was reinstated on November 30. The rulings come as the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been found in several states across the country, including Pennsylvania. 

12/3/21

- COVID cases continue to surge, with Pennsylvania this week seeing the highest single-day new case numbers since this past January. The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 9,143 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,753,669. Clinton County reported 40 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 6,117, with 94 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Centre County reported 141 new cases, bringing their total to 23,138, with 261 COVID-related deaths. Lycoming County reported 137 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 19,830, with 398 deaths attributed to COVID.

Statewide, there are 3,939 people hospitalized with the virus, 858 of whom are in intensive care. And the state’s percent positivity for the week of November 19-25 stood at 12.1%. More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

 - There is an opportunity to receive a free COVID-19 test locally, and since Tuesday, close to 300 people have so far taken advantage of that. The PA Department of Health is hosting a free, walk-up COVID-19 testing site in Clinton County through next Saturday, December 11. The Clinton County Department of Emergency Services says no appointment is necessary for the clinic at Lock Haven University’s East Campus Gym (old Lock Haven High School Gym) on Main Street. Clinic hours are Saturdays 8am-2pm and Tuesday through Friday from 10am until 6pm. Click Here for the COVID Testing Clinic file for additional information.

- President Biden Thursday announced new actions he says are designed to combat COVID-19 as the U.S. heads into the winter months and with the emergence of a new variant, Omicron. The President noted five key actions to help curb the spread: expand booster access, expand vaccine access for kids, free at-home rapid tests, extend public transit mask requirement, and testing for international travelers. Read the White House fact sheet.

- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration this week extended the comment period for the COVID-19 vaccination and testing Emergency Temporary Standard to January 19, 2022. The standard covers employers with 100 or more employees, requiring employers to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work. OSHA extended the comment period to allow stakeholders additional time to review the ETS and collect information and data necessary for comment. See more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/osha/osha20211130-0.

- The CDC this week said it is strengthening its recommendation on booster doses for individuals who are 18 years and older. According to the CDC, everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are 6 months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or 2 months after their initial J&J vaccine. See more: CDC Expands COVID-19 Booster Recommendations | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released new resources – posters, flyers, videos, and talking points – to help promote the extra protection from COVID-19 boosters. More here: Spread the Word About Vaccine BoostersYou can search by zip code to find nearby locations providing adult and pediatric vaccines and boosters for COVID-19 and the flu at vaccines.gov.

- The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on Tuesday reinstated the Wolf administration mandate requiring K-12 school students, teachers and staff to wear face masks. The action is temporary, with the court scheduled to hear arguments on the matter this coming Wednesday, December 8 and decides its fate. Acting state Secretary of Health Alison Beam, at the direction of the governor, had imposed the state-wide mandate at the start of the school year.

- Following this week’s state court determination, Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said KCSD will continue to follow the statewide masking in schools order. In the latest Superintendent Newsletter, Dr. Martin notes that when the mask order is lifted, masking will be voluntary in accordance with the District’s health and safety plan. Dr. Martin further said, “We are closely monitoring cases of COVID-19 among our staff and students. If we reach the CDC threshold of 5% of positive cases, we may need to close our schools or the district and move to a full remote model. Current case numbers are between 1% and 3% across the district.” The full KCSD Superintendent Newsletter can be found by clicking here.

- In a move brought on as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has announced a new program with Amazon Web Services (AWS) that it says will expand e-commerce opportunities for Pennsylvania small businesses and help residents buy local while shopping online. Through an innovative new online marketplace of Pennsylvania small businesses and expanded technical assistance offerings through the PA Business One-Stop Shop, small businesses will be able to expand their visibility online – and brick-and-mortar retailers who are not currently selling products online will have the opportunity to expand into the online space for the first time. Learn more: Wolf Administration Working with Amazon Web Services to Help Small Retailers - PA Department of Community & Economic Development

- Partnership President Mike Flanagan provides the following updated employment stats from the state: Clinton County’s unemployment figures improved slightly during the month of October, although first-time and continued unemployment claims showed an uptick in November. According to figures released Tuesday by the PA Department of Labor & Industry, the county jobless rate in October was 5.9%, down from the 6.2% registered in September. One year ago, the rate was 6.7%. The October 2021 rate matches the “pre-covid” number of 5.9% set in February 2020. The county’s unemployment percentage high during the pandemic was 16.6% in April 2020.

The most recent weekly figures as of November 20, 2021, showed initial and continued claims on the rise in the Clinton County. Initial jobless claims were 54, up from 44 the week prior. Continued unemployment claims were listed at 395, up from 265 the week ending November 13.               

The county tied for 45th out of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties in October with the 5.9% monthly unemployment mark. Chester County was no. 1 with 3.4%, and Centre was no. 4 at 4.0%. Lycoming tied for 40th with a 5.8% reading, and the highest unemployment rate in the state for the month was Fayette County at 7.5%.

- Jobless claims across the country also rose last week - by 28,000 - to 222,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, even though the job market has been rebounding. Read the full news release.

- Pennsylvania collected $6.6 billion in General Fund revenue in November. The $217.9 million collected was 3.4 percent more than anticipated, according to the PA Department of Revenue, which said fiscal year-to-date collections are about 5.7 percent above estimate. More here: Revenue Department Releases November 2021 Collections.

- Fine Wine and Good Spirits sales in PA continue to grow. The PA Liquor Control Board this week released its 2020-21 fiscal year annual report, which highlighted sales trends and financial results. 2020-21 sales totaled $2.3 billion, a 13.6 percent increase over 2019-20. Details here: Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Releases Annual Report (pa.gov)

- Natural gas production and prices in Pennsylvania are on the rise, according to the state’s Independent Fiscal Office’s latest Natural Gas Production report, which shows Pennsylvania drillers are producing more natural gas, even though the rate of new wells drilled has slowed. Read more: State report shows strong natural gas production growth in 2021 | StateImpact Pennsylvania (npr.org).

- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, based on responses collected November 22 - 28, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 32.6% of U.S. small businesses experienced difficulties in hiring paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 11/15-11/21, this statistic was 33.7%
  • 11.7% of U.S. small businesses required employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination before physically coming to work in the last week. For responses collected 11/15-11/21, this was 12.8%
  • 20.5% of U.S. small businesses have returned to their normal level of operations. For responses collected 11/15-11/21, this statistic was 19.7%
  • 23.4% of U.S. small businesses think they need to identify new supply chain options in the next six months. For responses collected 11/15-11/21, this statistic was 24.4%
  • 35.2% of U.S. small businesses experienced large increases in prices they pay for goods and services compared to the norm pre-3/13/20. For responses collected 11/15/21-11/21/21, this statistic was 34.3%
  • 72.2% of U.S. manufacturing & 69.8% of retail trade small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays in the last week. The national average was 45.8%
  • 41.8% of U.S. health care and social assistance small businesses experienced difficulties hiring paid employees & 11.9% experienced a decrease in the number of paid employees in the last week

- Clinton County retailers are inviting your business this holiday season and beyond. Shops in Lock Haven, for example have extended Small Business Saturday sales over the next three Saturdays leading up to Christmas. Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. hosts a Scavenger Hunt tomorrow, December 4, and the City offers free parking in City lots through the holidays. Santa sets up shop starting tonight at Triangle Park (Fridays 5-8pm and Saturdays 1-4pm through December 18).

- For the angler on your holiday shopping list, the PA Fish & Boat Commission announced that 2022 season fishing license, permits, and vouchers can now be purchased through the HuntFishPA online portal on the PFBC website, via your smartphone using the FishBoatPA mobile app, or by visiting one of nearly 700 retail license issuing agents. Read more: 2022 PENNSYLVANIA FISHING LICENSES, PERMITS, AND GIFT VOUCHERS ARE ON SALE BEGINNING DECEMBER 1! (pa.gov).

- With the holiday shopping season underway, the PA Department of Revenue is encouraging people to take the appropriate steps to protect their personal information from identity thieves and cybercriminals. Learn more: Pennsylvanians Encouraged to Protect Sensitive Information During Holiday Season (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Chamber offers the following small business resources:

  • Communicate your supply chain woes: If you can’t avoid supply chain problems during the holiday selling season, you can take a few steps to preserve your relationship with your customers. These tacticswill help you maintain trust with your customers and make it right when there’s an unavoidable delay.
  • Lowering prices requires strategy: If you’re considering pricing adjustments to products or services during the holiday season, you should also consider why and how you’re changing prices. The right strategiescan help you attract customers, move inventory and achieve other goals to make the 2021 holiday selling season a success.
  • How to prevent shoplifting at your business: In 2020, retailers reported an average loss of $461.86 per incident. The good news is that you can prevent it with effective methodsthat are inexpensive — often free — and integrate into a holistic approach that also supports a positive store environment and company culture.

- PennDOT Updates of general interest:

  • PennDOT today announced the wrap-up of the 2021 construction season in District 2, which includes Clinton, Centre, Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Juniata, McKean, Mifflin and Potter counties. Highlights included about 70 miles of paving, 34 bridge repair/replacement projects, and approximately 428 miles of roadway seal coated. Among the projects to continue next year is the work to upgrade traffic signals along Route 150 in Lock Haven, a $2.8 million project. See more: News Details (penndot.gov).
  • PennDOT today also announced their winter preparedness plans, noting that a Regional Traffic Management Center at the District 2 office in Clearfield will provide winter coverage services to 26 counties in the region, including Clinton, Centre and Lycoming. Details here: Details (penndot.gov).
  • PennDOT has announced it will hold a public meeting December 14 at 5pm at the Dunnstown Fire Hall to highlight planned improvements to the Farrandsville Road, including construction of a pedestrian walkway from the Woodward Township side of Veterans Bridge to Riverview Park. More here: News Details (penndot.gov).

- The U.S. Small Business Administration is hosting free “Team Talks” about updated guidance on the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). One-hour sessions are scheduled for this Wednesday, December 1, at 9:30 a.m. and again on December 9 at 12:30 p.m. The EIDL program is slated to close as of December 31. The SBA says, “Funding remains available for this federal disaster loan designed to help and support our small businesses and communities still reeling from the pandemic – especially hard-hit sectors such as restaurants, gyms, and hotels. This hands-on conversation is specifically designed to provide you with the most current EIDL information available.” The sessions will include an EIDL program overview, information on the application process, upcoming deadlines, and a Q&A Session. Click here for the Dec. 1  Registration Link, and here for the Dec. 9  Registration Link.

- The SBA invites businesses to participate in their Money Smart virtual business training program for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. All classes are offered from 12-1:00 p.m. Topics are:

  • Financial Management  - Tuesday, December 7 - The Financial Management for a Small Business module provides an overview of business financial management and is designed to help participants to understand how financial management can benefit their business. Register Here
  • Recordkeeping - Wednesday, December 8 - The Record Keeping for a Small Business module provides an overview of record keeping and is designed to help participants to understand how record keeping can benefit their business. Register Here
  • Risk Management  - Tuesday, December 14 - The Risk Management for a Small Business module provides an overview of risk management and is designed to help participants to understand how risk management can benefit their business. Register Here
  • Managing Cash Flow - Thursday, December 16 - The Managing Cash Flow module encourages the participants to focus on cash flow management as an essential competency of business ownership. Register Here

Participants can register for one or all of these no-cost Money Smart Programs. For more information, contact Sonia Smith, SBA Public Information Officer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

11/29/21

- A PA Department of Health free, walk-up COVID-19 testing site in Clinton County opens tomorrow, Tuesday, November 30 and will be open through Saturday, December 11. The Clinton County Department of Emergency Services says the walk-in, no appointment necessary clinic at Lock Haven University’s East Campus Gym (old Lock Haven High School Gym) on Main Street in Lock Haven will operate Tuesdays through Fridays from 10am until 6pm, and Saturdays 8am to 2pm. Clinton County Commissioner Angela Harding says testing is available for people age three and up. She said people do not need to have COVID symptoms in order to get a test. Click Here for the COVID Testing news release for additional information.

The Department of Health today also announced that the Centre County walk-up testing site at the Nittany Mall is being extended, and that drive-up sites are being established in four other counties. Learn more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1679.

- The Health Department today confirmed that over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday, a daily average of 5,325 new cases of COVID-19 were reported. As of Sunday, the statewide case count totaled 1,731,154. There are currently 3,593 people hospitalized with the virus, 816 of whom are in intensive care. The statewide percent positivity for the week of November 19 - 25 stood at 12.1%. Clinton County’s total case count stands at 5,986 positive cases, with 88 deaths attributed to COVID; Centre County has a total of 22,736 positive cases (258 deaths); and Lycoming County stands at 19,349 total cases (390 deaths). More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

The Centers for Disease Control continue to rank all Pennsylvania counties in the “high” level of community transmission. According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker data, Clinton County has a percent positive rate of 14.57%; Centre is at 10.13%; and Lycoming County is at 17.85% positivity.

- Governor Tom Wolf today announced that 5,860 businesses received funding support this year through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Relief Program (CHIRP). A total of $145 million was distributed in all 67 counties in 2021. Read more: Governor Wolf: Nearly 6,000 Businesses Received Support Through Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Relief Program (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Small Business Administration is hosting free “Team Talks” about updated guidance on the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). One-hour sessions are scheduled for this Wednesday, December 1, at 9:30 a.m. and again on December 9 at 12:30 p.m. The EIDL program is slated to close as of December 31. The SBA says, “Funding remains available for this federal disaster loan designed to help and support our small businesses and communities still reeling from the pandemic – especially hard-hit sectors such as restaurants, gyms, and hotels. This hands-on conversation is specifically designed to provide you with the most current EIDL information available.” The sessions will include an EIDL program overview, information on the application process, upcoming deadlines, and a Q&A Session. Click here for the Dec. 1  Registration Link, and here for the Dec. 9  Registration Link.

 - In the week ending November 20, the U.S. Department of Labor reported the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 199,000, a decrease of 71,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since November 15, 1969 when it was 197,000. Read the full news release.

11/23/21

- From the office of U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Click Here for the fact sheet on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that President Biden signed into law last week. The summary highlights what the IIJA does for Pennsylvanians.

- The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a final rule that implements Executive Order 14026 to increase the hourly minimum wage for employees on federal contracts beginning January 30, 2022. President Biden signed the order in April of this year. The rule applies in all 50 states. Read more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20211122.

- The U.S. Labor Department is also issuing reminders to employers regarding steps to control/prevent the spread of COVID-19; proper pay practices during upcoming holidays; and worker rights to a safe, healthy workplace. More here: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/osha/osha20211122.

- The Internal Revenue Service today announced that interest rates will remain the same for the calendar quarter beginning January 1, 2022. Learn more: Interest rates remain the same for the first quarter of 2022 | Internal Revenue Service.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,186 positive cases of COVID-19 (in addition to 17,445 new cases between Thursday and Sunday), bringing the statewide total to 1,696,959. While lower than the 6,000+ cases reported a couple days last week, the case counts continue to be high. Clinton County today reported 20 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 5,844. Centre County saw 61 new cases, bringing their total to 22,296, and Lycoming County reported 45 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 18,844.

According to the state, there are 3,147 people hospitalized with the virus, 751 of whom are in intensive care….both numbers continuing to trend higher. The statewide percent positivity for the week of November 12-18 stood at 11.7%, up from 10.3% the week before. More data can be found on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all of Pennsylvania continues to be in the “high” range of community transmission. Clinton County currently has a percent positivity rate of 18.2% (down slightly from last week’s 18.79%); Centre 8.4% (down from last week’s 9.21%); and Lycoming County 17.65% (up from last week’s 16.19%).

As of Monday, the CDC reports that 73.7% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Clinton County has a 47% vaccination rate in the age 12 and older population; Centre County is at 61.9%; and 57.9% of the age 12 and older population in Lycoming County is vaccinated. As a reminder, anyone age five and older is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Pennsylvania, and all adults in the state (age 18 and older) are now eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. To find a vaccine provider, visit www.vaccines.gov.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry reports that the state’s unemployment rate was down two-tenths of a percentage point over the month, to 6% in October. The U.S. rate also fell two-tenths of a percentage point from its September level, down to 4.6%. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 1% below its October 2020 level, and the national rate was down 2.3% points over last year’s rate. More here: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Down To 6.0 Percent in October (pa.gov).

For the week ending November 13, the state reported that Clinton County had 34 people file for initial unemployment claims, with more than two-thirds of them male. The continued benefits claim number for the same time frame was 265, which is almost evenly split among males and females. Approximately one year ago, there were 793 continued claims in the county.

- PA Labor and Industry has announced new proposed regulations to update decades-old rules about how employers pay tipped workers. The proposed regs were to be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Saturday, starting a 30-day public comment period. Learn more: Wolf Administration Proposes Updates to Minimum Wage Regulations to Benefit Tipped Workers (pa.gov).

- From 25th District State Senator Cris Dush: The recent National Apprenticeship Week is a reminder apprenticeships play a critical role in producing a skilled workforce by connecting aspiring workers with employers in need, and that resources are available to make that connection happen. According to state Labor and Industry Department estimates, nearly nine out of 10 apprentices are employed after they complete their apprenticeship, and the majority take jobs with a starting salary of $60,000 a year or more. Apprenticeships also allow Pennsylvanians to graduate with little to no student debt. There are 1,585 apprenticeships registered with the state, along with 74 pre-apprenticeships. Learn about the different kinds of apprenticeships, how to secure one and more here.

- The Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s latest edition of Rural Perspectives is now available. The newsletter highlights a range of valuable information, including the increase in residential property sales in rural counties, rural healthcare providers and facilities, vehicle crash statistics, and more. View the November/December issue online at www.rural.pa.gov.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf Monday announced a spending plan for about $1.2 billion in American Rescue Plan Act federal funding to support Medicaid’s home and community-based services system through the state. Read more: Wolf Administration Announces $1.2 Billion American Rescue Act-Funded Plan to Better Serve Pennsylvanians in Their Communities (pa.gov).

- Fire departments and nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations are eligible to seek grant funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. Click Here for the FEMA file for more information, and click here, Assistance to Firefighters Grants, for application information. Applications are due December 15.

- The PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has announced the availability of $10 million in grant funding for stabilization payments to substance use disorder treatment providers to assist with pandemic-related expenses. Details here: Wolf Administration Announces Grant Funding for Substance Use Treatment Providers in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic.

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection will hold a live public webinar, “DEP Grants 101,” on December 2 to introduce small businesses, nonprofit organizations, farmers, and municipal offices in communities around the state to the array of DEP grant funding available and how to apply for it. Details here: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- A reminder from PennDOT that all driver license and photo centers will be closed this Thursday, November 25, and Friday, November 26, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Customers can still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.   

- And a reminder to support your fellow businessmen and women – your friends and neighbors – this weekend during Small Business Saturday (and every day)! According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 32.5 million small businesses in the United States. About half of all American workers are either employed by a small business or own a small business, and two out of three net new jobs are created by small businesses.

From the Partnership team, we wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving Holiday!

11/19/21

- Congratulations to two Clinton County recipients - Commissioner Angela Harding and Lock Haven University’s COVID-19 Institutional Response Team – who this week received statewide awards from the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health. Director Lisa Davis presented Commissioner Harding with the Rural Health ‘Legislator of the Year’ Award in recognition of her work and support of rural health initiatives. Commissioner Harding was lauded in particular for spearheading the County’s Community Emergency Coalition that continues to address COVID-19, engaging community leaders and institutions in information-sharing, encouraging partnerships, and creating a unified front in addressing community needs associated with the pandemic. LHU’s COVID-19 Institutional Response Team received the Rural Health ‘Program of the Year’ Award for continued efforts to protect the LHU community and mitigate transmission of the virus on campus through regular testing, offering vaccination clinics o the LHU family and the greater Lock Haven community. Click Here for the LHU file for more on the LHU award.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration today announced updated guidance regarding applicant deadlines for the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). Click Here for the SBA news release for details.

- COVID-19 booster shots are now authorized for people age 18 and older across the U.S. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today amended the emergency use authorizations for both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, authorizing the expanded use of a single booster dose for all individuals 18 years of age and older. Read more: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-expands-eligibility-covid-19-vaccine-boosters.

- The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is suspending enforcement of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large private businesses after a federal appeals court upheld a stay on it last week. In a statement on its website, OSHA said that while it is confident in its power to protect workers amid the pandemic, it is suspending activities related to the mandate, citing the pending litigation. More here:  https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/ets2.

Challenges to COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers with more than 100 employees will be consolidated in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Cincinnati-based court was selected on Tuesday in a random drawing, a process used when challenges to certain federal agency actions are filed in multiple courts. Eleven of the 16 full-time judges on the panel were appointed by Republican presidents.

From a legislative standpoint, 12th District Congressman Fred Keller and dozens of his fellow Republicans in the U.S. House are pushing an effort to overturn the Biden White House’s vaccine mandate for private employers. Rep. Keller on Wednesday introduced a resolution nullifying the administration’s order that companies with more than 100 employees require those workers to be fully vaccinated, or show a negative test at least once a week. See more: https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/pa-rep-keller-indiana-lawmaker-push-effort-to-nullify-bidens-covid-19-vaccine-mandate-for-business/.

- A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge on Tuesday said an order that requires masks in K-12 schools and child care facilities to contain the coronavirus must expire on December 4, although the determination is unlikely to be the final legal development in the case. Governor Tom Wolf had said he would let his current school mask mandate expire in mid-January, but not before. See more: https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-pennsylvania-tom-wolf-75eb2eed7db1898f920d29900f237960.

- COVID-19 cases continue to rise, exceeding 6,000 cases per day for the past several days. The PA Department of Health Thursday confirmed an additional 6,637 positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,666,724. There are 3,016 people hospitalized with the virus, 657 of whom are in intensive care. Statewide percent positivity for the week of November 5-11 took an upward turn at 10.3% (one percentage point more than the previous week and more than double the 5% rate considered the threshold for significant spread of COVID-19).

Clinton County’s COVID-19 case count currently stands at 5,676, with 86 deaths attributed to the virus. Centre County currently has a total of 21,928 positive cases, with 253 deaths; and Lycoming County’s case count stands at 18,278, with 376 deaths attributed to COVID-19. More data can be found on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

About nine in ten COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Pennsylvania have involved people who are less than fully vaccinated against the virus, according to the health department. The data regarding deaths is based on 8,949 deaths attributed to COVID-19 between January 1 and November 2 of this year. The state said only 954 of the deaths, or 11%, involved people who were fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all Pennsylvania counties continue to be in the “high” level of community transmission. Among Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties, CDC statistics place Clinton at the highest level of community transmission, at 18.79%. Centre County is at 9.21%, and Lycoming County has a community transmission rate of 16.19%. View more CDC data here: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home.

- Governor Wolf joined several fellow governors and President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday as the president signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. According to Governor Wolf, the new law will provide, over the next five years, more than $13 billion to address roads and bridges, $2.8 billion for public transportation, $100 million to expand high-speed internet access, and more, to Pennsylvania.

- In its October 2021 report, the PA Department of Health noted that nursing home surveyors conducted 504 inspections and 345 separate nursing homes. Of those inspections, there were 306 complaint investigations and 67 were COVID-19 specific investigations. There were three new sanctions finalized against nursing care facilities in the past month resulting in a total of $16,500 in fines. Read more: Department of Health Highlights October 2021 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- Over 2,500 criminal investigations, the identification of more than $10 billion from tax fraud and financial crimes, and a nearly 90% conviction rate are just a few highlights from the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report. The report, released Thursday, details statistics, important partnerships and significant criminal enforcement actions from IRS-CI, the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, for the past fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2020 and ended Sept. 30, 2021. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-criminal-investigation-releases-annual-report-highlighting-2500-plus-investigations-law-enforcement-partnerships.

- The Internal Revenue Service this week provided answers regarding Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFR Funds). These funds give eligible state and local governments a substantial infusion of  resources to meet pandemic response needs. See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-answers-to-states-and-local-governments-on-taxability-and-reporting-of-payments-from-coronavirus-state-and-local-fiscal-recovery-funds.

- Unemployment claims across the country continue to decline, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In the week ending November 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 268,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry has announced the availability of $800,000 in grant funding through the Veterans Employment Program to connect veterans with job opportunities. Eligible workforce development entities across the commonwealth, particularly in locations with the highest need for these services, are encouraged to apply for the funding. Read more: L&I Announces $800,000 to Help Veterans Get Good Jobs (pa.gov).

- While the country’s unemployment rate in October was 4.6% (only 1.1 percentage points higher than it was prior to the pandemic) the supply of workers remains low. Across the U.S., there is at least one open job for every American seeking work. Business Insider is reporting that Goldman Sachs researchers have found that 3.4 million of the people who left the labor force are over 55. Roughly 2.5 million of them are retirements (early or normal) and likely won't reverse. 

- Clinton and surrounding Cameron, Potter, Tioga, Elk, and McKean counties – part of the Pennsylvania Wilds region – are in the crosshairs of a proposal from the Maryland Air National Guard (ANG), which is proposing to conduct low-altitude military training in the region. The PA Wilds Center, as well as the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, is requesting that the ANG do a deeper study of the impact of the proposal and conduct public meetings in each of the affected counties. Learn More! Details on the Duke Military Operations Area (MOA) proposal can be found here: www.175wg.ang.af.mil/Duke-MOA-low/. And to comment on the proposal, go to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

- The PA Department of Banking and Securities this week announced the launch of a new online DoBS Portal to serve the professionals, institutions, and businesses regulated by the agency. The department is implementing a phased rollout of the new system. Learn more: Department of Banking and Securities Launches New Web Portal for Professionals, Businesses.

- The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, in partnership with Bridgeway Capital and Community First Fund, recently announced the launch of the Creative Business Loan Fund. This fund makes available $2.2 million in the form of affordable, flexible financing to small, creative businesses across the commonwealth. Inspiration for creation of this fund stemmed from the PCA’s awareness of a growing need for financial support for creative small businesses, which are important drivers of employment and economic vibrancy. Learn more!

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) this week announced that the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) approved its proposed rule to set maximum contaminant levels (MCL) of two forms of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to be protective of adverse developmental and immune system effects. The board approved the rulemaking with a vote of 17 to 2. More here: Article Viewer (pa.gov)

- DEP has released a simple guide to help residents and businesses understand recycling in Pennsylvania called “Guidelines for Recycling in Your Community.” The booklet helps Pennsylvanians to recycle correctly by finding recycling programs in their local area, learning their local rules, and following them to maximize the social, environmental, and economic benefits of recycling. The booklet is available to download at dep.pa.gov/recycling.  See more: DEP Releases “Guidelines for Recycling in Your Community” Booklet on America Recycles Day to Assist Pennsylvanians and Support Local Recycling Programs (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Small Business Administration hosts a virtual business training program for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs on the financial basics of starting and growing a business to get Financially Fit. All classes are offered from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Topics are:

  • Banking Services - Tuesday, November 30 -The Banking Services Available for a Small Business module provides an overview of business banking services. Register Here
  • Time Management - Thursday, December 2 - The Time Management for a Small Business module provides an overview of time management and is designed to help participants to understand how time management can benefit their business. Register Here
  • Financial Management  - Tuesday, December 7 - The Financial Management for a Small Business module provides an overview of business financial management and is designed to help participants to understand how financial management can benefit their business. Register Here
  • Recordkeeping - Wednesday, December 8 - The Record Keeping for a Small Business module provides an overview of record keeping and is designed to help participants to understand how record keeping can benefit their business. Register Here
  • Risk Management  - Tuesday, December 14 - The Risk Management for a Small Business module provides an overview of risk management and is designed to help participants to understand how risk management can benefit their business. Register Here
  • Managing Cash Flow - Thursday, December 16 - The Managing Cash Flow module encourages the participants to focus on cash flow management as an essential competency of business ownership. Register Here

11/12/21

- As the back and forth battle of mandatory masks in schools continues at the state level, Keystone Central School District is trying to keep things on an even keel. The School Board and Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin say the district will continue to follow the current masking procedures. Click Here for the KCSD file for Dr. Martin’s Health & Safety Update issued this afternoon.

- The number of new COVID-19 cases across the state continues to see an uptick, with more than 5,000 cases reported for the past couple of days. The PA Department of Health today reported a two-day case count of 10,848 new cases of the virus, bringing the statewide total to 1,618,870. Today’s report also saw 47 new cases from Clinton County, bringing the countywide total to 5,428. Centre County reported 70 new cases, bringing their total to 21,189, and Lycoming County reported 112 new cases, bringing their total to 17,492. Statewide, there are 2,609 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 600 of whom are in intensive care. More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a new pandemic low last week as the job market continues to recover from last year’s sharp coronavirus downturn. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in the week ending November 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 267,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release.

- The U.S. Department of Labor this week announced the newly redesigned Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion web site. The EARN site offers resources to help employers of all sizes and industries recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities and develop disability-inclusive workplace cultures. More here: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/odep/odep20211109.

- Prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.2% in October compared with a year earlier as surging costs for food, gas and housing left families facing the highest inflation rate since 1990. Read more: https://apnews.com/article/business-consumer-prices-inflation-economy-prices-10e00ba16f8fb94f45ced724f2ea2e45?utm_medium=AP&utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Twitter. (Source: AP News)

- Soaring food and labor costs have turned inflation into the top concern of restaurants and other small businesses for a second consecutive month, with 90% reporting their pandemic recoveries have been impaired by galloping prices, according to new research from Alignable.

- While rising vaccination rates against COVID-19 have increased travelers’ comfort levels, most Americans are still opting to stay home this holiday season, according to a new national survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) conducted by Morning Consult. The survey found that:

  • Just 29% of Americans are likely to travel for Thanksgiving and 33% are likely to travel for Christmas—an increase from 21% and 24%, respectively, compared to 2020.
  • Those who do plan to travel over the holidays expect to drive, but rising gas prices may dampen those plans.

Find out more: https://www.ahla.com/press-release/survey-nearly-60-americans-unlikely-travel-thanksgiving-or-christmas.

- U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s office today provided a Fact Sheet on the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better initiative.

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity toured Lock Haven University today, along with Senator Cris Dush and Representative Stephanie Borowicz to promote the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program. See more: News Release (patreasury.gov). 

- Senator Cris Dush today issued an update, which highlights a number of business-related initiatives.

- PA Department of Health Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson today led a discussion about the COVID-19 vaccine available for children ages 5 through 11. The “Vax Facts: Facts About Pediatric Vaccines” event is the latest in a series aimed at providing information about COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more: Physician General, Pediatric Professionals Discuss COVID-19 Vaccinations for Children Ages 5 through 11 (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of State today ordered a recount in the Commonwealth Court race for two open seats on the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. Stacy Wallace finished with 26.61 percent of the total votes, securing one of the open seats. However, Loria Dumas and Drew Compton, the second- and third-place finishers respectively, have vote totals within the one-half of one percent margin that triggers a mandatory recount under state law. The recount is set to begin November 17. More here: Acting Secretary of State Degraffenreid Orders Mandatory Automatic Recount in Commonwealth Court Race (pa.gov).

11/10/21

- The PA Chamber of Business & Industry will host a briefing on OSHA’s new COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate tomorrow, Wednesday, November 10, at 11:00 a.m. The virtual session is free and open to all interested members of the business community. The program is designed to brief Pennsylvania businesses on the mandate. Specifically:

  • OSHA Harrisburg Area Director Kevin Chambers will explain the mandate; how OSHA will enforce this and take questions from the audience
  • Top OSHA attorneys will outline the challenges employers face in complying; discuss major “red flags” that employers must be sure they don’t miss; and provide best practices for complying

Last week, the Biden administration published the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) mandating employers with 100 or more employees to require their workers be vaccinated or allow employees to choose either vaccination or masking and weekly testing. Employers will be required to provide paid time off for employees to receive vaccinations and in the event an employee requests recovery time for any reactions or side effects. The rule does not require employers to cover the cost of testing. Register Here

- The U.S. Chamber hosts two upcoming sessions covering the new OSHA mandate:

  • The Chamber’s Wednesday, November 10, 3:00 p.m. Small Business Update will cover changes to the employee vaccine mandate and how the policy will impact small businesses. Register here for this free program.
  • The U.S. Chamber Foundation will host a November 15 virtual program, The Role of Employers: Promoting  COVID-19 Vaccines and Implementing Mandates. The 2:00 p.m. session is free. Register and save your spot here.

- The U.S. Chamber has also prepared a fact sheet covering key provisions of OSHA’s Vaccine Mandate Emergency Temporary Standard.

- Meanwhile, a federal court in Louisiana has blocked the Biden administration's mandate that millions of workers get vaccinated against Covid-19 or be tested weekly, ruling in a suit filed by several states, companies, and conservative religious groups. More than two dozen states have filed multiple legal challenges in federal court against the Biden administration’s vaccinate-or-test mandate for private businesses, arguing that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t have the authority to issue the requirements.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 4,021 positive cases of COVID-19 (in addition to the 11,589 cases reported Monday from over the weekend), bringing the statewide total to 1,601,086.  There currently are 2,559 people hospitalized with the virus, 591 of whom are in intensive care.

Clinton County reported 25 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 5,271. Centre County saw 29 new cases, bringing their total to 20,997, and Lycoming County reported 57 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 17,136. To date, 81 deaths have been attributed to COVID in Clinton County; 247 in Centre, and 368 in Lycoming.

The statewide percent positivity for the week of October 29-November 4 stood at 9.3%. More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker, all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties continue to be in the “high” level of community transmission. As of today, Clinton County’s percent positivity stands at 16.89%. Centre County’s is at 6.13%, and Lycoming County is at 14.9%. More data is available at: CDC COVID Data Tracker.

- Treasurer Stacy Garrity today warned Pennsylvanians that scammers are using fraudulent text messages to target recipients of unemployment compensation benefits – potentially including normal unemployment compensation (UC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). See more: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- Governor Wolf today announced the approval of nearly $36 million to 220 community revitalization projects across the state. The funding through the Neighborhood Assistance Program supports nonprofits, businesses, and resident projects in distressed areas or low-income neighborhoods. Among the projects to receive funding is The New Love Center near Avis, which is to receive $37,500 to support their plan to construct a new food hub serving those in need in Clinton and Lycoming counties. Details here: Governor Wolf Announces Nearly $36 Million for Community Revitalization Projects (pa.gov)

- Governor Tom Wolf today shared an overview of enhancements Pennsylvania anticipates receiving through the passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Learn more: Wolf Administration Highlights Anticipated Funding Through Federal Infrastructure Plan.

- Pfizer today asked U.S. regulators to allow boosters of its COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 18 or older, a step that comes amid concern about increased spread of the coronavirus with holiday travel and gatherings. More here: https://www.pennlive.com/coronavirus/2021/11/pfizer-seeks-fda-approval-to-give-covid-19-booster-shots-to-all-adults.html. (Source: PennLIVE)

- Geisinger announced Friday that 100 percent of its staff “have chosen to protect their communities, patients, and each other by meeting its COVID-19 vaccine policy that was announced in late August.” Geisinger had required that all employees receive the vaccine or an approved exemption by November 1. Geisinger President and Chief Executive Officer Jaewon Ryu said the vaccine requirement has already led to a 50 percent decline in both the number of employees testing positive and those out on quarantine. About 150 employees – less than one percent of Geisinger’s workforce – were terminated last week after they did not meet the vaccine requirement. Read more: 100 percent of Geisingers staff has met COVID-19 vaccine policy.

- UPMC Lock Haven hosts its annual public meeting tomorrow and, among a number of agenda items, will provide a COVID update. The 4:00 p.m. session on November 10 will take place via the virtual platform Teams. Click here to join the meeting.

- The Governor Monday announced the intention to return the commonwealth’s K-12 school mask requirement to local leaders on January 17, 2022. Upon the expiration of the statewide mandate, local school officials will again be able to implement mitigation efforts at the local level. Read more: Gov. Wolf: State Anticipates Returning K-12 School Mask Requirement to Local Leaders January 17, 2022.

- Following CED guidance on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for people who work in high-risk settings, the PA Department of Corrections has begun offering COVID-19 boosters to staff and the incarcerated populations at its facilities. More here: PA Department of Corrections Offers COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters to Incarcerated Population and Staff

- Governor Wolf has signed into law House Bill 425, which extends flexibility for certain licensees, including restaurants by allowing them to extend the area in which they are licensed to serve alcohol to include a seating area within 1,000 feet of their main location, gives the PA Liquor Control Board the ability to issue eligible licensees unlimited off-premise catering permits and an additional year of safekeeping, and allows a licensee that closes permanently to sell their liquor and wine to another licensee.

- From the PA Department of Health’s weekly COVID-19 Update:

  • COVID-19 Booster Shots:

For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:

For people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

  
There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others, may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots. 

  • What to Bring to Your Booster Appointment

At your first vaccination appointment, you should have received a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it. Bring this vaccination card to your booster shot vaccination appointment.

   
If you lost or did not receive a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card at your first appointment, contact the vaccination site where you got your first shot to find out how you can get a card. You can also contact the PA Department of Health to request your immunization records

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration:

  • The SBA and Public Private Strategies Institute have teamed up to provide small business owners with a series of webinars that will cover resources to help small businesses grow and thrive. Join us for the next session on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 2:00 p.m.: Community Navigators and COVID EIDL Programs. During this webinar, you will:
  • Learn more about COVID EIDL and how you can take advantage before December 31, 2021
  • Discover tools and resources you can use to start and grow your business
  • Have your questions answered by SBA leadership and small business experts
  • Learn how you can become a vaccine leader in your community
  • Get an update regarding programs and recent policy announcements made by the Biden-Harris Administration

Register

  • COVID EIDL Applicants: Join SBA's COVID EIDL Application Completion Office Hours on Wednesday, November 10, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., for information about the application process and get your questions answered to apply for COVID EIDL funds. Join here. For more information about COVID EIDL, visit the SBA website.
  • Did you know that nearly 96% of consumers live outside the U.S.? Export your goods to increase your profits, reduce market dependence, and stabilize seasonal sales. Connect with SBA resources and partners to get help exporting. Learn more.

- A Keystone Central School District elementary school teacher is one of 50 grant recipients of funding from the PPL Foundation’s Empowering Educators grants to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities. Manda Mosier, a teacher at Robb Elementary will use her $1,000 grant for a project that introduces students to STEM concepts through Lego kits. Learn more: https://pplweb.mediaroom.com/PPL-Foundation-grants-empower-STEM-teachers-and-their-students.

- PA CareerLink will host a virtual presentation on the WednetPA program on December 9 at 10:00 a.m. WednetPA can provide funding for employee skill building training to eligible businesses. The program offers up to $2,000 per eligible employee ($100,000 per company), and can be used for training ranging from customer service to software engineering, to first aid and CPR. Click Here for the PA CareerLink file for more information and register at: https://forms.gle/L9DkvmW9j7ome5Jo7

- A reminder from PennDOT that all driver license and photo centers will be closed this Thursday, November 11, in observance of Veterans Day. Customers can still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT's Driver and Vehicle Services website. 

According to the state, there are nearly 800,000 veterans across the commonwealth who served our nation with honor and distinction. On Veterans Day this Thursday, and every day, we salute all veterans for their service to our country.

11/5/21

- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Thursday announced a new Emergency Temporary Standard on Vaccination and Testing. The OSHA statement said “The nation’s unvaccinated workers face grave danger from workplace exposure to coronavirus, and immediate action is necessary to protect them.” The new temporary standard covers employers having 100 or more employees. Covered businesses have until January 4 to get their workers vaccinated. Employees who refuse will have to wear masks at work starting December 5. Read more: https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/national/11042021. 

Here are four things large employers need to know:

  1. Employers with at least 100 employees will be required to adopt a mandatory vaccination policy unless they adopt a policy requiring unvaccinated workers to undergo weekly testing and wear a face covering at work.
  2. Covered employers must provide paid time for workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine and ensure workers have paid sick leave to recover from any side effects that prevent them from working.
  3. Employers must comply with most provisions by 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register, and comply with the testing requirement by 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. Learn more about compliance dates here
  4. Businesses that don’t comply may face significant OSHA fines.

NOTE: The U.S. Chamber will host a special briefing on the new vaccine mandate TODAY, November 5, at 2:30 p.m. to help businesses navigate the details of the new regulation. Click here to register.

- While today’s numbers have not yet been released, the PA Department of Health Thursday reported 5,162 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,580,346. A three-day total of 10,245 new cases were reported Sunday through Tuesday.

- Clinton County Commissioner Angela Harding this week expressed concern with a number of COVID-19 associated matters. As part of Thursday’s county commissioners meeting, she said there have been 305 positive COVID cases reported in the county within the past 14 days, and 11 deaths attributed to the virus within the past couple of weeks. She also noted a rise in domestic calls, overdoses and mental health issues, as well as labor shortages across all businesses large and small. She emphasized the need to come together and focus on mitigating the spread of the virus.

- UPMC is offering third (booster) doses of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines and second doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Click Here for the ‘UPMC Offers’ file for details.

- The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention this week endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation that children 5 to 11 years old be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine. CDC now expands vaccine recommendations to about 28 million children in the United States in this age group and allows providers to begin vaccinating them as soon as possible. Read more: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1102-PediatricCOVID-19Vaccine.html.

- UPMC is now offering COVID-19 vaccinations to children ages 5 and older at community vaccination clinics as well as in primary care and pediatric provider offices. Vaccinations are available by appointment only. The next UPMC community vaccination clinic is scheduled for this Tuesday, November 9, at Hope Enterprises, 2401 Reach Road in Williamsport. Appointments for children are available and start at 5:00 p.m. Parents can schedule an appointment by calling their primary care or pediatric provider office, visiting Vaccine.UPMC.com, or calling 844-UPMCVAC (844-876-2822) between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., seven days a week.

Meanwhile, UPMC’s latest newsletter highlights the COVID-19 booster vaccine, as well as vaccines for children ages 5 to 11. Click Here for the ‘UPMC Leaders’ file for more.

- Geisinger is ready to provide COVID-19 vaccines to those ages 5 to 11 years old beginning November 6. The first vaccine clinic at Geisinger’s Jersey Shore Hospital is slated for this coming Wednesday, November 10. Click Here for the Geisinger release for more information.

- The Wolf Administration applauded the CDC’s approval of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine for youth ages 5-11 and confirmed that vaccine providers are ready to administer shots as soon as possible. More here: Gov. Wolf Applauds CDC Approval of COVID-19 Vaccines for Children Ages 5 through 11 (pa.gov).

- An employment update from Partnership President Mike Flanagan: Initial unemployment claims by Clinton County residents increased for the week ending October 30, 2021, but continued claims fell, according to information released by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The initial claims for benefits were 34 for the week, as compared to 24 one week ago. The new figure included 21% who were in the manufacturing field, and 59% of them were males. The continued claims were down more than 50, to 284, last week. The new continued claim number was almost evenly split among males and females, and 18% were in manufacturing, slightly above the health care field number of 17%. Approximately one year ago, the continued claim benefits totaled 546 county residents.

- According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in the week ending October 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 269,000, a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release.

- As the unofficial results from Tuesday’s election continued to come in around the state, Clinton County today begins the vote canvas – the process of making the vote count official. Unofficially, 32.19% of Clinton County voters turned out to vote in this week’s election, considered a low voter turnout but slightly higher than neighboring Centre County, which had a voter turnout of 31.24%, and Lycoming County, at 32.09%. Neighboring Cameron County saw the highest voter turnout at 40.3%, while Monroe County was lowest at 16.88%. See more: MAP: Here's an (unofficial) look at the 2021 Election Day turnout rates in Pa. counties - Pennsylvania Capital-Star (penncapital-star.com).

- The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the amount individuals can contribute to their 401(k) plans in 2022 has increased to $20,500, up from $19,500 for 2021 and 2020. The IRS also issued technical guidance regarding all of the cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2022 in Notice 2021-61, posted on IRS.gov. More here: IRS announces 401(k) limit increases to $20,500 | Internal Revenue Service.

- The IRS this week reminded taxpayers that a special tax provision will allow more Americans to easily deduct up to $600 in donations to qualifying charities on their 2021 federal income tax return. Learn more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/year-end-giving-reminder-special-tax-deduction-helps-most-people-give-up-to-600-to-charity-even-if-they-dont-itemize.

- From the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association:

  • The Morning Consult Return to Normal tracker found that 70% of U.S. adults said they feel comfortable going out to eat at a restaurant, up 4 points from last week and just 1 point shy of the record high first reached on July 4. 
  • The Pennsylvania Conference for Women has announced $200,000 in new funding to support women-owned restaurants. The 2021 initiative will provide $2,500 grants to more than 80 women-owned restaurants in the Commonwealth. Visit this websitefor more information or to apply.  

- A REMINDER: Daylight Saving Time ends this Sunday, November 7, as we turn clocks back one hour. Daylight saving time will spring back into action on Sunday, March 13, 2022.

11/2/21

- From Partnership President Mike Flanagan: Clinton County’s unemployment picture showed slight improvement during the month of September, according to information released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. Clinton County’s jobless rate was 6.3% in September, down from the 6.7% reading in August. The September numbers showed an estimated 1,100 people out of work in the county, while the number was 1,200 in August. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was 6.9% with an estimated 1,200 people out of work. For the week ending October 23, the county had 348 continued unemployment claims, down from the 737 listed approximately one year ago.                 

The county’s 6.3% reading was good for no. 40 out of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties. Chester County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.8%. Centre County was no. 3 at 4.0% and Lycoming checked in at 6.5%, good for no. 49. Fayette County had the highest unemployment rate at 8.3%.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today announced Pennsylvania’s selection among five other states for the second phase of the National Governors Association’s Workforce Innovation Network. To combat the effects of accelerated trends in automation and the pandemic-fueled digital transformation on workers, the NGA will award Pennsylvania up to $100,000 and provide technical assistance to ensure job seekers have the digital skills needed to participate in work, education or training. Read more: Pennsylvania Receives National Governors Association Grant to Boost Digital Literacy (pa.gov).

- Pennsylvania collected $2.8 billion in General Fund revenue in October, which was $159.9 million, or 6 percent, more than anticipated, according to the state Department of Revenue. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $12.1 billion, which is 7 percent above estimate. More information here: Revenue Department Releases October 2021 Collections.

- The PA Department of Health today said a technical issue delayed today’s COVID-19 case report. Tomorrow, the state plans to provide a three-day update of cases reported between Sunday through Tuesday. The Health Department did note that the statewide percent positivity for the week of October 22-28 stood at 8.8 percent, a decrease from the 9.2 percent positivity rate the week before. Statewide, 2,639 people are hospitalized with the virus, 630 of whom are in intensive care. More information is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin this week said there currently are 16 known positive cases of COVID-19 among students throughout the district – less than 1% of the student population. As part of a monthly newsletter, Dr. Martin said seven of the known cases are among elementary students in grades K-4, while nine cases are among students in 5th-12th grades. In addition, there currently are eight positive cases among school district staff. She said the district’s layered mitigation efforts have been successful in keeping all schools open for in-person instruction and asked for continued support to keep everyone healthy.

With the anticipated federal approval of the COVID-19 vaccines for children ages five to 11, Keystone Central is recommending parents consult their child’s doctor for guidance on whether a vaccine is recommended.

Also in the newsletter, the district is planning a “Meet & Greet” session as it looks to fill positions among support and professional staff. The “Meet & Greet” is scheduled for November 18, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Library at Central Mountain Middle School, 200 BEN Avenue, Mill Hall. Click Here for the KCSD file for the entire newsletter.

- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 to include children 5 through 11 years of age. Learn more: FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use in Children 5 through 11 Years of Age | FDA.

The PA Health Department says it is ready to meet the demand to vaccinate children aged 5-11 when final approval is given by the Centers for Disease Control, which is anticipated this week.

- Governor Tom Wolf’s administration this week put a new incentive on the table to encourage state employees to get their COVID-19 vaccination. The 72,000 employees who work under the governor’s jurisdiction are now eligible for up to five days paid leave if they are or become fully vaccinated by December 31. More here: https://www.pennlive.com/news/2021/11/pa-state-employees-offered-up-to-five-paid-days-off-or-lump-sum-value-to-get-covid-19-vaccination.html. (Source: PennLIVE)

PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity, meanwhile, says the Governor should abandon the vaccine incentive plan, which she claims could cost taxpayers more than $100 million. Read more: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- The Internal Revenue Service recently sent approximately 430,000 refunds totaling more than $510 million to taxpayers who paid taxes on unemployment compensation excluded from income for tax year 2020. The IRS efforts to correct unemployment compensation overpayments will help most of the affected taxpayers avoid filing an amended tax return. So far, the IRS has identified over 16 million taxpayers who may be eligible for the adjustment. Some will receive refunds, while others will have the overpayment applied to taxes due or other debts. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-issues-another-430000-refunds-for-adjustments-related-to-unemployment-compensation.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration Friday announced the agency reached $44.8 billion in funding to small businesses through more than 61,000 traditional loans for fiscal year 2021 (that’s in addition to more than $1.1 trillion in COVID-related relief since the start of the pandemic). Learn more.

- The SBA's free online learning programs are designed to empower and educate small business owners. Learn more.

- Paycheck Protection Program borrowers: If your loan is $150,000 or less, you may be eligible to apply for direct forgiveness through SBA using the online portal. Follow the steps below.

  1. Find out if your lender is participating. 
  2. Watch a video about how to use the portal.
  3. Apply for forgiveness.

For additional information, visit the SBA website.

- A reminder to head to the polls today to vote in the 2021 municipal election. Voting precincts throughout Clinton County are open until 8:00 p.m. In addition, people with mail-in/absentee ballots must return those ballots to the drop-off box in the Parking Lot of the County Piper Building in Lock Haven by 8:00 p.m. tonight. Clinton County Voter Registration Director Maria Boileau says 21,910 Clinton Countians are registered to vote, 11,862 of whom are registered Republicans and 7,215 registered Democrats.

In addition to local election results being posted on the Clinton County government website, www.ClintonCountyPA.com, the PA Department of State collaborates with all 67 county election offices to consolidate results as soon as they are able, so the state’s election night returns website offers up-to-the-minute results from across the Commonwealth.

- The state Monday began the 2022 Open Enrollment Period for health care coverage through Pennie, Pennsylvania’s state-based health insurance marketplace. Individuals should visit www.pennie.com or call customer care at 1-844-844-8040 to learn more about Pennie. See more: Gov. Wolf: State Insurance Exchange Opens Today for 2022 Health Care Coverage (pa.gov).

- Pennsylvania’s Redistricting Advisory Council will hold an online listening session Monday, November 8 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Governor Wolf is inviting the public to join the virtual session to share their feedback on congressional redistricting. The public can view the virtual session at https://pacast.com/live/redistricting. More here: Gov. Wolf Announces Virtual Listening Session of the Pennsylvania Redistricting Advisory Council (pa.gov).

- Education and outreach staff from the PA Department of Banking and Securities will host and participate in a number of virtual and in-person presentations for groups of senior citizens, service providers, and the public during November. Details here: Department of Banking and Securities Announces November 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Events.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources looking for ideas on how it can improve information about its trails for trail users. DCNR has launched an online survey to gather feedback about the kind of information trail users want before using a trail and while on a trail. Click Here to take the survey by November 30.

10/29/21

- From Partnership President Mike Flanagan: The PA Department of Labor & Industry reports that 24 Clinton County residents filed initial unemployment claims for the week ending October 23. Two-thirds of them were male, and 21% were in the food/accommodation field. There were 348 continued claims for the same one-week period, up from the 288 the week prior. The new continued figures showed 56% were female, and 18.5% were in the health care field. Approximately one year ago, 737 county residents were on the continued unemployment claim list. New county-by-county unemployment information for September is expected to be released by the state next week. Clinton County’s August unemployment rate was 6.7%.

- According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in the week ending October 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 281,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release.

- The PA House of Representatives this week passed a bill, by a vote of 176-23, to make clear unemployment benefits will be denied to people who discourage their own hiring. The measure now goes to the State Senate for consideration. 

- PA CareerLink Clinton County continues to highlight area employers, giving job seekers an informal, face-to-face opportunity to learn about local companies and current job openings. The PA CareerLink office in Lock Haven is hosting what they’re calling “Mid-Week Meet & Greet”, with the next session set for this coming Wednesday, November 3, from 10am to noon, featuring representatives from First Quality, STEP, Inc., and the Pennsylvania State Police. Click Here for the PA CareerLink flyer for more information.    

- Hampered by rising COVID-19 cases and persistent supply shortages, the U.S. economy slowed sharply to a 2% annual growth rate in the July-September period, the weakest quarterly expansion since the recovery from the pandemic recession began last year. Thursday’s report from the Commerce Department estimated that the nation’s gross domestic product — its total output of goods and services — declined from robust growth rates of 6.7% in the second quarter and 6.3% in the first quarter, gains that had been fueled by vast infusions of federal rescue aid. The 2% annual growth last quarter fell below expectations and would have been even weaker if not for an increase in restocking by businesses, which added whatever supplies they could obtain. Such inventory rebuilding added 2.1 percentage points to the quarter’s modest expansion. By contrast, consumer spending, which fuels about 70% of overall economic activity, slowed to an annual growth rate of just 1.6% after having surged at a 12% rate in the previous quarter. Economists remain hopeful for a bounce-back in the current October-December period, with confirmed COVID cases declining, vaccination rates rising and more Americans venturing out to spend money. Read More (Source: The Associated Press)

- Supply chain issues: There really are problems everywhere, even for small companies. (Source: PA Restaurant & Lodging Association)  

- Following unanimous approval this week by the PA Senate, the State House unanimously concurred on House Bill 425 (which contained an amendment that extends outdoor seating and the off-premise catering provisions until December 31, 2024). The bill now heads to the Governor's desk, and the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association says it expects him to sign it sometime next week. Briefly, HB 425 contains:

    • Allows a licensee that goes out of business to sell their liquor and wine to another licensee
    • Streamlines outdoor seating provisions
    • Eliminates the $500 fee for off-premise catering permits, allows an unlimited number of permits, and eliminates the 5-hour cap for events 
    • Takes effect immediately 

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 4,506 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,557,459. Clinton County today reported 21 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 4,975. Centre County saw 46 new case reports today, bringing their total to 20,613, and Lycoming County reported 64 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 16,441. While case counts continue to trend on the high side, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today reported lower percent positivity rates from earlier this week:  Clinton County currently has a 9.43% positivity (compared to 11.28% reported on Tuesday of this week); Centre County is at 6.52%, down slightly from the 6.59% reported Tuesday; and Lycoming County currently is at 13.63% positivity, compared to 14.7% earlier this week.

The Health Department today said 2,742 people are hospitalized with the virus, 678 of whom are in intensive care. In addition, 85 deaths were reported, bringing to 31,377, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. In Clinton County, 77 deaths have been attributed to the virus to date; 244 in Centre County; and 358 in Lycoming County. More information is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- The Health Department today also announced that free outdoor drive-up COVID-19 testing sites are open for the public in Bradford, Fayette, Susquehanna and Somerset counties, and COVID-19 testing sites in Centre and Warren counties are being extended. In Centre County, testing is available Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Nittany Mall, Sears Auto Center along Shiloh Road in State College. Learn more: Department of Health Announces Additional Free COVID-19 Testing Sites Across the Commonwealth.

- Also today, the Health Department launched a new dashboard to provide a comprehensive view of the COVID-19 impact on residents and staff in 688 nursing homes across the state. The new Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) data dashboard is available on the state’s long-term care COVID-19 data page. Read more: Department of Health Launches New Dashboard for Comprehensive View of COVID-19 Impact on Skilled Nursing Facilities.

- Vaccine advisers with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week voted to recommend Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

- Who can get a Third Dose of the COVID-19 vaccine? This recent article from UPMC says your eligibility depends on factors such as your age, health, and your living and work conditions. Learn more: https://share.upmc.com/2021/10/covid-19-vaccine-third-dose/?et_cid=1063331&et_rid=1472996&utm_medium=email&utm_source=salesforce&utm_campaign=healthbeat-biweekly&utm_content=biweeklyhb&em_id=HealthBeat-BiweeklyNewsletter-102821_NEWS_Oct-21_e1. 

- This coming Monday, November 1, is the application deadline for Clinton County municipalities, public authorities and 501c3 nonprofits to seek grant funding from Clinton County government via funds received through the federal American Rescue Plan. Eligible projects include water or sewer infrastructure improvements, and Coronavirus-related recreation projects. Program guidelines are posted here. And, click here for the online application. People with questions or those needing assistance in completing an application can call County grants administrator Kari Kepler in the Clinton County Planning Office at (570)893-4080, ext. 2. 

- The business world saw a surge of new entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, the U.S. Chamber breaks down some entrepreneurship growth statistics and examines key takeaways of this year’s startup trends. 

- The U.S. Small Business Administration celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit and resilience of veteran small business owners during National Veterans Small Business Week, November 1-5. More here: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/oct/27/sba-host-national-veterans-small-business-week-nov-1-5.

- Emergency rail repairs are scheduled for this coming Monday, November 1, at the railroad crossing along Route 64 in Mill Hall, and a detour will be in place while the work occurs. More here: News Details (penndot.gov).

- In preparation for PA’s municipal general election this coming Tuesday, November 2, the PA Department of State is reminding Pennsylvanians that they can find comprehensive voting information at vote.pa.gov. See more: One-Stop Voter Information Is Available at vote.pa.gov.

The DOS also encourages people to educate themselves about their rights before they vote in person on Tuesday and offers tips regarding voter rights in Pennsylvania. Learn more: Department of State Urges Voters to Know Their Rights at the Polls.

10/26/21

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 3,742 positive cases of COVID-19 – following a three-day weekend case count total of 10,412 new cases -- bringing the statewide total to 1,544,463. Statewide, 2,786 people are hospitalized with the virus, 683 of whom are in intensive care. Clinton County reported 14 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 4,889. Centre County saw 32 new cases, bringing their total to 20,474; and Lycoming County reported 56 new cases, bringing their total to 16,209. More information is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- While the overall COVID-19 case count in Pennsylvania is on a slight downward trend, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker notes that all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties continue to be in what’s categorized as the “high” level of community transmission. Clinton County currently has a percent positivity rate of 11.28% (a decline from the rate of 12.41% on October 15). Centre is at 6.59%, also down from 7.15% on Oct. 15. Lycoming County, however, is at 14.7%, an increase from the rate of 13.85% in mid-month. The CDC also notes that 45.6% of Clinton County’s eligible population is fully vaccinated. In Centre County, 60.4% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated; and 56% of the eligible population in Lycoming County is fully vaccinated. See more county-level data from the CDC here: CDC COVID Data Tracker.

- UPMC today announced it is celebrating the 50,000th administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in north central PA communities. Leaders celebrated and acknowledged this achievement by hosting a breakfast for UPMC COVID-19 clinic staff and presented staff with special vaccine challenge coins recognizing them for their service to the community. “Reaching this vaccination milestone is definitely a reason to celebrate, both as a system and as a community,” says Heather Stafford, clinical director of Infection Prevention and Control, UPMC in North Central PA. “We wouldn’t be here without our staff who volunteered their time to make the clinics a success. Our communities are safer thanks to their efforts, and it’s been such a rewarding experience as I see our teams instilling confidence in the process by being on the frontlines and delivering these life-saving vaccines.” For more information on COVID-19, visit UPMC.com/Coronavirus.

Click Here for today’s UPMC informational piece on COVID-19, noting treatments and prevention have come a long way and advising people when they should seek care.

- Worried that President Joe Biden’s Covid vaccine mandate for private companies could cause a mass exodus of employees, business groups are pleading with the White House to delay the rule until after the holiday season. White House officials at the Office of Management and Budget held dozens of meetings with labor unions, industry lobbyists and private individuals last week as the administration conducts its final review of the mandate, which will require businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure they are vaccinated against Covid or tested weekly for the virus. It is estimated to cover roughly two-thirds of the private sector workforce. OMB officials had several meetings lined up Monday and Tuesday with groups representing dentists, trucking companies, staffing companies and realtors, among others. The American Trucking Associations, which was to meet with the OMB on Tuesday, warned the administration last week that many drivers will likely quit rather than get vaccinated, further disrupting the national supply chain at time when the industry is already short 80,000 drivers. The trucking association estimates companies covered by the mandate could lose 37% of drivers through retirements, resignations and workers switching to smaller companies not covered by the requirements. Read More

- PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement in response to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announcing a series of executive orders impacting employers and the workplace. "We appreciate the governor’s intent and urge his administration to solicit input from employers to help avoid unintended consequences. For example, requiring strict wage and benefit standards for employers to qualify for state aid may not impact larger corporations but could pull critical lifelines from small businesses already struggling through pandemic and workforce crises.” Read More

- PA CareerLink Clinton County continues to highlight area employers, giving job seekers an informal, face-to-face opportunity to learn about local companies and current job openings. The PA CareerLink office in Lock Haven is hosting what they’re calling “Mid-Week Meet & Greet”, with the next session set for tomorrow, Wednesday, October 27 from 10am to noon, featuring representatives from Avery Dennison Performance Polymers, Susque-View Home Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, and VETFORCE, Inc. Next Wednesday, November 3, the Mid-Week Meet & Greet will feature representatives from First Quality, as well as the Pennsylvania State Police. Click Here for the Oct 27 PA CareerLink flyer; Click Here for the Nov 3 PA CareerLink flyer.    

- Add the state of Pennsylvania to the already full list of entities looking for employees. The PA Department of Agriculture this week announced that the state’s Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg hopes to hire up to 150 new employees, and that positions are also available within PennDOT and the state’s Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores. Details here: PA Farm Show Complex Hiring 150 Positions to Support Events, Local Community.

- The CDC this week issued orders to implement the new travel policy announced by the Biden Administration to safely resume global travel to the United States. On November 8, non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status to fly to the United States. 

- This coming Monday, November 1, is the application deadline for Clinton County municipalities, public authorities and 501c3 nonprofits to seek grant funding from Clinton County government via funds received through the federal American Rescue Plan. Eligible projects include water or sewer infrastructure improvements, and Coronavirus-related recreation projects. Program guidelines are posted here. And, click here for the online application. People with questions or those needing assistance in completing an application can call County grants administrator Kari Kepler in the Clinton County Planning Office at (570)893-4080, ext. 2. 

- The Clinton County Community Foundation is now accepting 2022 grant applications from local nonprofits. For more information, call 570-748-2481 or visit the Foundation’s website at https://clintoncountyfoundation.org/grants/. The application deadline is December 15.

- The PA Chamber this week highlighted the importance of the judicial races on the ballot in the upcoming November 2 election. -> Read More

- PA CareerLink and the American Red Cross host a virtual Disaster Preparation workshop tomorrow, Wednesday, October 27, from 10-11am. The session highlights the Red Cross’s Ready Rating program, which can guide businesses, organizations and schools with simple, measurable steps to become better prepared for emergencies. The session is free. Register at https://forms.gle/jtHJDsvTvWG1voDHA (this is the second of a series, however, you don’t need to have attended Part 1 to participate).

- During its quarterly business meeting Monday, the PA Fish & Boat Commission established a single, statewide Opening Day of Trout Season that will occur annually on the first Saturday in April beginning in 2022. That means the first day of trout season next year is anticipated on April 2, with a statewide mentored youth trout day slated for March 26, 2022. The Commission also reminded anglers and boaters of the upcoming mandatory cold weather life jacket requirement (effective annually from November 1 through April 30), when those in boats under 16 feet in length – including all canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards – are required to wear a life jacket. More information here: https://www.media.pa.gov/pages/fish-and-boat-commission-details.aspx?newsid=412.

10/22/21

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today released its preliminary employment situation report for September, saying the state’s unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point over the month to 6.2 percent in September. See more: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Down To 6.2 Percent in September (pa.gov).

- From Partnership President Mike Flanagan: According to information from the PA Labor & Industry, for the week ending October 16, there were 25 new unemployment claims by Clinton County residents with 60% of them male and 32% in the construction field. The continued unemployment claims numbered 288, with 53% female and 20% in health care. Approximately one year ago, the continued claim number in the county was 784 people.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending October 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 290,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release.

- PA CareerLink Clinton County continues to highlight area employers, giving job seekers an informal, face-to-face opportunity to learn about local companies and current job openings. The PA CareerLink office in Lock Haven is hosting what they’re calling “Mid-Week Meet & Greet”, with the next session set for Wednesday, October 27 from 10am to noon, featuring representatives from Avery Dennison Performance Polymers, Susque-View Home Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, and VETFORCE, Inc. On Wednesday, November 3, the Mid-Week Meet & Greet will feature First Quality, Clinton County’s largest employer, as well as the PA State Police. Click Here for the Oct 27 PA CareerLink flyer; Click Here for the Nov 3 PA CareerLink flyer.    

- In a press conference Thursday, Governor Tom Wolf unveiled his agenda for Pennsylvania workers that he says will create safer workplaces, guarantee paid leave, and increase worker pay. The paid leave and increase to minimum wage aspects of his agenda would need to be passed through the Legislature; however, he signed an executive order that:

  1. Directed the Department of Labor & Industry to study the feasibility of implementing OSHA standards in state government offices.
  2. Directed the DCED or any other agency that provides financial assistance to for-profit businesses to require those companies to have paid sick leave and pay a minimum wage that meets or exceeds the minimum wage outlined in Executive Order 2016-02 As Amended. 

- PennDOT Deputy Secretary Kurt Myers and PA Department of Education Secretary Dr. Noe Ortega this week joined the Pennsylvania School Bus Association to encourage interested individuals to obtain Commercial Driver’s License to address the bus driver shortage in Pennsylvania. The state is at its lowest number of bus drivers in five years — with about 42,000. PennDOT reached out to more than 375,000 commercial driver’s license holders across the state to let them know. So far, about 1,300 are expressing interest. PennDOT is holding additional CDL skills testing at 23 locations for the next three Mondays. People who want to schedule an appointment can visit PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, or call 717-412-5300. According to reports, the state estimates at least 2,000 drivers are needed to relieve the problem. Learn more: Wolf Administration Continues Work to Address Bus Driver Shortage; Encourages Drivers to Apply (pa.gov).

- To help address COVID-related labor shortages, the Internal Revenue Service today reminded employers that they generally will not jeopardize the tax status of their pension plans if they rehire retirees or permit distributions of retirement benefits to current employees who have reached age 59 ½ or the plan’s normal retirement age. More information here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/covid-relief-irs-helps-employers-wanting-to-rehire-retirees-or-retain-employees-after-retirement-age.

- From the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association: With the introduction of the new PA Unemployment Compensation System, employers may be searching for a way to report refusals of work. Learn how to handle refusals of work with this helpful info from PRLA Preferred Partner, Focus HRO.

- While the state’s COVID-19 case count continues to rise, the numbers of people hospitalized with the virus has seen a slight downward trend. The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 4,496 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,530,306. There are 2,929 people hospitalized with COVID, 668 of whom are in intensive care. Clinton County today reported 20 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 4,809. Centre County saw 37 new cases, bringing their total to 20,328; and Lycoming County reported 98 new cases, bringing their total to 15,950. More information is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- Following an in-depth approval process by the federal government, booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be available to certain adults. The CDC also endorsed the mixing and matching of vaccines. The CDC plans to release guidance early next week about who might benefit from choosing one booster over another, as its advisory panel requested. CDC advisers and agency officials are still working out whether to recommend that some people stick to their original vaccine if possible. Details here: Department of Health: FDA and CDC Authorize Booster Dose of Moderna, Johnson & Johnson Vaccines to Certain Adults.

Meanwhile, PA Governor Tom Wolf says Pennsylvania is ready for the CDC to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. More here: Gov. Wolf: Pennsylvania is Ready for Federal Authorization of COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11 (pa.gov).

- Geisinger this afternoon announced that COVID-19 vaccine booster doses are available at Geisinger health care facilities. Click Here for the Geisinger file for details.

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected October 11 - 17, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 11.9% of U.S. small businesses required employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination before physically coming to work in the last week. For responses collected 10/4-10/10, this statistic was 12.1%
  • U.S. small businesses in Manufacturing (70.1%), Retail Trade (68.4%), & Accommodation & Food Services (64.7%) experienced domestic supplier delays in the last week. The national average for this statistic was 45.0%
  • 63.2% of U.S. Accommodation & Food Services small businesses experienced difficulties hiring paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 10/4-10/10, this statistic was 66.3%
  • 52.0% of U.S. Construction small businesses experienced a large increase in prices they pay for goods and services compared to what was normal before 3/13/2020. For responses collected 10/4-10/10, this statistic was 55.4%
  • U.S. small businesses in Companies & Enterprises Management (80.0%), Finance & Insurance (56.9%), & Information (53.0%) experienced little or no change in prices they pay for goods and services compared to what was normal before 3/13/2020
  • 23.3% of U.S. #SmallBusinesses report a large negative effect by the Coronavirus pandemic & 43.2% report a moderate negative effect, based on responses collected 10/11-10/17 from #SBPS. #CensusEconData #COVID
  • 70.8% of U.S. small businesses experienced a large or moderate increase in prices they pay for goods or services compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020
  • 28.6% of U.S. small businesses experienced a large or moderate decrease in the number of paid employees compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020
  • 24.8% of U.S. small businesses experienced a moderate increase in demand for their goods or services compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020
  • 8.5% of U.S. small businesses experienced a moderate increase in the number of hours paid employees worked from home compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020

- The PA Department of State today encouraged people voting by mail ballot in the November 2 election to hand-deliver their ballots to their county election office as soon as possible. More here: Mail Ballot Voters Encouraged to Hand-Deliver Ballots Immediately (pa.gov).

People wanting to vote by mail ballot in the upcoming election need to apply now before the Tuesday, October 26 deadline.

- The curtain opens tonight on a new production at Millbrook Playhouse. The Mill Hall-based barn theatre extended their traditional summer performance season into fall and winter this year due to pandemic-related concerns. The play DEATHTRAP – which holds the record for the longest-running comedy-thriller on Broadway – opens tonight and runs through October 30. The comedy Nunsense II: The Second Coming will run November 12-20, and then a holiday performance of Frozen, Jr. runs December 16-19 at the Playhouse. For more, visit www.millbrookplayhouse.org.

10/19/21

- The PA Department of Health continues to report high new case counts of COVID-19. More than 11,000 positive cases were reported between Saturday and Monday, bringing the statewide total to more than 1.5 million cases since the start of the pandemic. More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- As of this past Friday, Geisinger reported throughout its health system that COVID-19 admissions currently make up about 1 in 6 of all those hospitalized at Geisinger, and noted that 90 percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated. Read more from a recent press briefing from Geisinger President & CEO Dr. Jaewon Ryu: Percent positivity up 10% from mid summer at Geisinger; resources are challenged | Covid-19 | northcentralpa.com. (Source: NorthcentralPA.com)

- The PA Department of Human Services today announced the launch of a live hotline to assist families with the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program. Pennsylvanians who have not received their child’s P-EBT benefits or who have an issue with P-EBT can dial 484-363-2137 for assistance. The hotline is open weekdays from 8:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m. More here: Department of Human Services Launches Hotline to Assist Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) Recipients.

- Meanwhile, the Department of Human Services and PA Public Utility Commission this week announced the start of the annual Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) application process for the 2021-22 season. Learn more: Wolf Administration Announces Start of Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Season (pa.gov).

- The Internal Revenue Service announced that, as of Monday, October 18, the IRS’s large business division is accepting all taxpayer requests to meet with IRS employees using secure videoconferencing. This step extends the practice used during the pandemic to accommodate taxpayers who sought more than meeting with an IRS employee over telephone calls. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-extends-videoconferencing-to-large-business-taxpayers.

- U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg this week acknowledged that some of the ongoing supply chain strains will persist into 2022. He said that the Administration is working to alleviate the squeeze but it is limited in some aspects in how it can intervene given the multifaceted nature of the global supply chain that is mostly in private hands. 

- Restaurants brace for a future with fewer workersMore industry executives believe restaurants may never get all their workers back and should focus on improving overall productivity.

- The PA State Police today announced troopers confiscated more than $25 million worth of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamines, and other illicit drugs during the recently-completed third quarter of 2021. See more: State Police Seizes More Than $25 Million in Illegal Drugs During the Third Quarter of 2021 (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of State today urged Pennsylvanians planning to vote by mail ballot in the upcoming November 2 municipal election to apply now before the Tuesday, October 26 deadline. Learn more: Deadline to Apply for a Mail Ballot for the November Election Is Oct. 26 (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is accepting nominations for Pennsylvania’s 2022 Trail of the Year. Go to the Pennsylvania Trail of the Year web page for more on where to submit the nomination form and supporting materials. Nominations are being accepted until November 12. Read more: DCNR: Nominate Your Favorite Trail to be the 2022 Pennsylvania Trail of the Year (pa.gov)  

- The PA Fish and Boat Commission will hold an in-person quarterly meeting this coming Monday, October 25 in Harrisburg, but a live stream of the meeting will also be available at https://www.facebook.com/PaFishandBoat.

10/15/21

- The trend in new COVID-19 case reports continues to rise. The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,725 new positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,502,124. Clinton County reported 26 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 4,673. Centre County saw 35 new cases, bringing their total to 20,098; and Lycoming County reported 72 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 15,481. Statewide, 2,946 people are hospitalized with the virus, 687 of whom are in intensive care. Also statewide, 82 new deaths were reported, bringing to 30,418, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 (71 of those deaths were Clinton County residents; 241 in Centre County; and 340 in Lycoming County). More state data is available on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

Meanwhile, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to report that all 67 Pennsylvania counties continue to be in the “high” level of community transmission. As of today, Clinton County’s percent positivity stands at 12.41%; Centre is at 7.15%; and Lycoming County is at 13.85% positivity. More data here: CDC COVID Data Tracker.

- Unemployment claims dropped 36,000 to 293,000 last week, the second straight drop, the Labor Department said Thursday. In the week ending October 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 293,000, a decrease of 36,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release.

- One reason America’s employers are having trouble filling jobs was starkly illustrated in a report Tuesday: Americans are quitting in droves. The U.S. Labor Department said that quits jumped to 4.3 million in August, the highest on records dating back to December 2000, and up from 4 million in July. Hiring also slowed in August, the report showed, and the number of jobs available fell to 10.4 million, from a record high of 11.1 million the previous month. Read more: Workers quit their jobs at record pace in August, especially in hard-hit COVID-19 areas - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLIVE)

- State Labor and Industry officials this week said the agency is continuing to fight fraud that has plagued Pennsylvania’s unemployment system, as well as making progress on whittling down a backlog of unemployment claims. “While this caseload is still higher than normal times, it is much more manageable, and we are actually beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Labor and Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier told state House members in a hearing. Lawmakers wanted to hear from the department to get an update on its efforts to fight fraudulent claims, the ongoing rollout of a new benefits system, the wind down of major federal unemployment programs last month, and other issues, said state Rep. Jim Cox, the Republican who chairs the House Labor and Industry committee. Since the department launched Pennsylvania’s new unemployment compensation system in June, more than 525,000 claimants have been paid nearly $3 billion in benefits, Berrier told lawmakers. With the expiration of temporary federal programs last month, roughly 572,000 people in Pennsylvania were no longer eligible for any unemployment aid, Berrier said. The state’s unemployment system struggled last year with a massive surge in jobless claims due to COVID-related shutdowns, and this year with a backlog of thousands of Pennsylvanians continuing to wait for payments and constantly busy phone signals when claimants called the department for assistance. Read More (Source: WESA)

- Penn State has joined the growing ranks of colleges and universities - and employers generally - in requiring all employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. In a release issued Wednesday, the university said it will require all faculty and staff at its University Park campus in State College to submit proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or face potential sanctions by December 8. More here: https://www.pennlive.com/news/2021/10/penn-state-to-require-proof-of-vaccination-of-faculty-and-staff-at-university-park.html. (Source: PennLIVE)

- A panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday unanimously recommended that the agency authorize a booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after completion of the initial two-dose regimen. The recommendation applies to people 65 years and older, those 18 to 64 who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 and those people in the same age group whose work or institutional exposure puts them at high COVID-19 risk. The recommendation mirrors the authorization that the FDA gave to Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster doses in September. Read More (Source: NPR)

- The White House coronavirus task force this week urged state leaders to be ready to begin rolling out COVID-19 vaccination efforts for kids as early as the start of next month. Administration officials told governors on a regularly scheduled call that school-aged kids could be eligible for the shots by early November and encouraged states to have plans in place to get them vaccinated. Pfizer last week said it had submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11. An FDA advisory committee is meeting to discuss the application on October 26. Read More (Source: The Hill)

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today announced that 70 percent of Pennsylvanians aged 18 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. More here: Gov. Wolf: 70 Percent of Pennsylvanians Aged 18 and Older are Fully Vaccinated (pa.gov).

- In its September 2021 report, the PA Department of Health notes that nursing home surveyors conducted 501 inspections (24 of which were COVID-19-specific), including 308 complaint investigations, of 347 separate nursing homes. There were three new sanctions finalized against nursing care facilities in the past month, resulting in a total of $25,500 in fines. More here: Department of Health Highlights September 2021 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- Officials with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education made it official Thursday: one of the two mergers currently underway – this one between California, Clarion and Edinboro universities – will sport a new name beginning in July 2022. The three merged schools will be known as Pennsylvania Western University, or PennWest for short, and more specifically as PennWest Cal; PennWest Clarion and PennWest Edinboro. Lock Haven, Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities are undergoing a similar merger process, although no name has yet been selected. See more: Pennsylvania Western University name adopted for merged state campuses | TribLIVE.com.

Meanwhile, the PASSHE board of governors this week approved a historic funding request, voting to request $550 million in state funding for the next fiscal year to help meet the state’s workforce and economic development goals, while reducing the cost of a degree. Learn more: Press Releases | PA State System of Higher Education (passhe.edu).

- The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which promotes funding for mitigation measures that reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property for future disasters, will open on Monday, October 18. State agencies, local governments/communities and private nonprofit organizations are eligible to develop mitigation project sub-applications to submit to their state. States are then responsible for selecting the sub-applications that align with their mitigation priorities and submit them in an application to FEMA. FEMA will conduct a final eligibility review of all sub-applications to ensure compliance with federal regulations. Click here for more information.

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and PA State Police are assisting in the search for a missing portable nuclear gauge containing sealed sources of radioactive material that belongs to Pennsylvania-based CMT Laboratories. The gauge was reported missing by the company on Wednesday from a job site near East Valley Road in Logan Township, Clinton County. The company is offering a $1,000 reward for its safe return. Details here: Article Viewer (pa.gov)

- From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: 

  • Join the U.S. Chamber next week, October 20-21 for two days of free, virtual workshops, led by small business owners and experts looking to share their best tips on everything from hiring to social media marketing. At The Big Week for Small Business, there are interactive workshops, discussions and advice on today’s most pressing small business topics. Get practical advice from experts and other business owners for strategic hiring, effective marketing, scaling your business, modernizing operations and much more. RSVP here
  • A catastrophe doesn't have to spell the end of your business, as long as you make a plan to recover from the disaster. Learnthe five steps you need to take to build an effective recovery plan for your business.
  • If you’re finding it difficult to keep up with your business’s social media needs, it may be time to outsource. Consider thesefactors so you make the most of hiring an individual or agency to manage your social media presence.
  • So. Much. Paper. When is it ok to toss business documents in the trash? What should you keep? Understandingbusiness record retention guidelines can help you answer these questions. (And when you’re ready to dispose of documents, here are safe ways to do so.)

- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week announced that President Biden will appoint Adam Ortiz to become EPA’s Regional Administrator for Region 3, which includes Pennsylvania. Learn more: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-appointment-adam-ortiz-regional-administrator-epa-region-3.

- Air quality in Pennsylvania – and the nation – has gotten significantly better in the recent years, and industry is leading the way, according to the PA Chamber. Read More in this editorial from the PA Chamber.

- In the second of the series CNRAC Conversations, the Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council will hold a webinar Wednesday, October 27, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m., focusing on the economic value of Pennsylvania’s public outdoor spaces and the need to invest in their protection and growth. A panel of economic development, tourism, and business leaders will address the impact public assets like parks, forests, rivers, and trails have on economic and community health and vitality. Discussion also will include the increased growth in outdoor use and visitor expectations and the concern with aging infrastructure. Register for the webinar online.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has announced grant workshops will be held in November for those seeking to fund recreation and conservation projects. Learn more: DCNR to Offer Free Virtual Workshops for Community Conservation Grant Program (pa.gov).

- The PA State Police announced the Pennsylvania Instant Check System continues to see a decline following the record-breaking quarters earlier during the pandemic. More information here: State Police Announce Quarterly Firearms Purchase Denial Investigations (pa.gov).

- The State’s October auction will be held Thursday, October 21 through Sunday, October 24 and will feature more than 300 vehicles available for public purchase. Read more: Commonwealth’s October Auction Offers up Some “Scary Good” Deals on more than 300 Vehicles Available for Public Purchase (pa.gov).

- The SCORE Central PA Chapter will host a no-cost webinar, Creating a Business Plan – The Traditional Approach, Thursday, October 21, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Register Now!

10/12/21

- The COVID-19 case counts across the state continue to be high. The PA Department of Health today confirmed, between Saturday and Tuesday, an additional 16,287 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,486,134. There are 2,967 people hospitalized with the virus, 670 of whom are in intensive care, and the trend in the 14-day moving average number of hospitalized patients continues to increase. There were also 151 new deaths identified between Friday and Monday, for a total of 30, 058 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Clinton County deaths attributed to the virus remain at 71; in Centre County, deaths are at 237, and COVID-related deaths in Lycoming County stand at 334. Statewide, the percent positivity for the week of October 1 – 7 stood at 9.6%.

Clinton County today reported a total case count of 4,588 positive cases, up 70 since Friday’s report. Over the same period, Centre County saw 155 new cases, bringing their total to 19,924; and Lycoming County reported 215 new cases since Friday, bringing their total to 15,258. Also according to the state data, Clinton County is listed as having 1,322 people partially vaccinated, 14,981 people fully vaccinated…and 520 people have received an additional dose of the vaccine (a booster shot) since August 13. In Centre County, 6,516 people are partially vaccinated, 83,847 people are fully vaccinated, and 4,523 have received an additional dose of the vaccine since mid-August. In Lycoming County, 4,383 people are partially vaccinated, 50,872 people are fully vaccinated, and 1,551 people have received an additional dose since August 13.

More information is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- The PA Health Department Friday released a report on COVID-19 post-vaccination events (known as “breakthrough”), showing that the vaccines continue to save lives and keep more people out of the hospital. In the past month, 74 percent of the 4,989 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 were among unvaccinated Pennsylvanians. Learn more: COVID-19 Vaccines Continue Saving Lives, Keeping More Pennsylvanians Out of Hospital (pa.gov).

- All Pennsylvanians 12 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Use the state’s Vaccine Finder find an appointment.

- Drugmaker Merck asked U.S. regulators Monday to authorize its pill against COVID-19. If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. All other FDA-backed treatments against the disease require an IV or injection. See more: https://www.pennlive.com/coronavirus/2021/10/merck-asks-fda-to-authorize-promising-anti-covid-pill.html. Source (PennLIVE)

- The SBA and Public Private Strategies Institute have teamed up for a series of webinars to help business get back on track, with the next session set for tomorrow, Wednesday, October 13, at 2:00 p.m. The session, Resources and Relief for Your Small Business - Supporting Women Business Owners and Women’s Programs, will help participants:

  • Learn more about COVID EIDL and how you can take advantage before December 31, 2021
  • Discover tools and resources you can use to start and grow your business
  • Have your questions answered by SBA leadership and small business experts
  • Learn how you can become a vaccine leader in your community
  • Get an update regarding programs and recent policy announcements made by the Biden-Harris Administration

REGISTER HERE

- Total enrollment at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities has declined to the lowest level in decades, according to data released Monday. The State System of Higher Education figures indicate loss of another 5,000-plus students this fall, dropping the universities’ total enrollment below 89,000 students — a level not seen in more than three decades. State System officials had predicted the 2021-22 year would be challenging, due in part to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Read More (Source: Associated Press)

- PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian today recognized 32 PennDOT employees across the state – including one from Clinton County – for their outstanding performance with the Star of Excellence Award, PennDOT’s highest recognition. Adam Bechdel, Assistant Highway Maintenance Manager in Clinton County, was among two employees from PennDOT’s District 2, which represents Clinton and eight surrounding counties, to be honored. See more: News Details (penndot.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today provided an update on the second package of proposed nursing home regulations that includes updates to align with federal regulations, and addresses new construction, alterations and renovations of skilled nursing facilities. It’s the second of five packages of proposed regulations that are based on the latest research, input from subject matter experts and industry stakeholders, and informed by lessons learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. More here: Department of Health Announces Public Comment Period for Additional Proposed Regulations to Improve Nursing Home Care. 

- Clinton County and PA Department of State officials both are reminding Pennsylvanians that they have until this coming Monday, October 18, to register to vote in the upcoming election. During a recent Clinton County Commissioners meeting, Maria Boileau with the County Voter Registration office said the last day to register to vote in the November 2 election is October 18, and the deadline to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot is October 26. She said 21,885 Clinton County residents are currently registered to vote, 11,829 of whom are Republicans, and 7,233 of whom are Democrats (with much smaller numbers for lesser affiliations). People wanting to register or apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot can contact the Voter Registration office located at the County Piper Building at One Piper Way in Lock Haven, at 570-893-4019. You can also register online at www.vote.pa.gov.

Read more from the Department of State: Deadline to Register to Vote in Nov. 2 Election Quickly Approaching (pa.gov).

- Pennsylvania’s statewide bear season gets underway this Saturday, October 16. More here: STATEWIDE BEAR SEASONS KICK OFF OCT. 16 (pa.gov).

10/8/21

- U.S. employers added 194,000 jobs in September, according to the latest U.S. Department of Labor report….a second straight tepid gain and evidence the pandemic still has a grip on the economy with many companies struggling to fill millions of open jobs. The Labor Department today also said the nationwide unemployment rate declined from 5.2% in August to 4.8% in September.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,583 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,469,847. There are 2,930 people hospitalized with the virus, 680 of whom are in intensive care. Clinton County currently has a total of 4,518 cases; Centre 19,769; and Lycoming 15,043. More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- As employee vaccination policies continue to roll out, it’s important to stay up to date on a number of questions: Is it legal to require employee vaccinations? What if an employee got a vaccine other than the big three (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson)? What is self-attestation? How do you document a legitimate vaccination exemption? How can you spot a fake vaccine card? Read more: Employee vaccine questions, answered. (Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

- Pfizer Thursday asked the U.S. government to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for youngsters ages 5 to 11. If regulators give the go-ahead, reduced-dose kids’ shots could begin within a matter of weeks. Read More (Source: Associated Press)

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today urged eligible local workforce development boards to apply for $3.3 million in new Business-Education Partnership grants that will connect businesses and school districts and expand career opportunities. Additional details and the grant application can be found on L&I's website. The deadline for applications is November 18. Learn more: Wolf Administration Announces $3.3 Million Available to Connect Businesses and Schools, Boost Job Training Opportunities (pa.gov).

- Health care providers can apply for $25.5 billion in provider relief funds through the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). The package includes $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) resources for those who serve rural patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and $17 billion for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 for a broad range of providers experiencing changes in operating revenues and expenses. Providers may apply for both programs with a single application, and applications must be completed and submitted by October 26. HRSA is hosting a technical assistance webinar next Wednesday, October 13. Read more: New COVID-19 Provider Funding Application Portal Open through October 26.  

- The Clinton County Community Foundation will begin accepting 2022 grant applications from local nonprofits next Friday, October 15. Starting next Friday, grant applications can be obtained through December 15, 2021 by calling (570)748-2481 or visiting the Foundation’s website at https://clintoncountyfoundation.org/grants/.

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected September 27 through October 3, the Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 11.6% of U.S. small businesses required employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination before physically coming to work last week
  • 9.4% of U.S. small businesses required employees to test negative for COVID-19 before physically coming to work in the last week
  • 23.2% of U.S. small businesses experienced decreased operating revenues/sales/receipts not including financial assistance or loans last week. For responses collected 9/20-9/26, it was 24.2%
  • 23.0% of U.S. small businesses reported a large negative effect from the coronavirus pandemic last week. For responses collected 9/20-9/26, it was 24.1%
  • 87.1% of U.S. manufacturing small businesses experienced a large or moderate increase in prices they pay for goods or services compared to what was normal before 3/13/20. The national average was 69.7%
  • 29.0% of U.S. manufacturing small businesses experienced a moderate increase in demand for their goods or services compared to what was normal before 3/13/20. The national average was 23.9%
  • 25.9% of U.S. manufacturing small businesses experienced a moderate decrease in the number of paid employees compared to what was normal before 3/13/20. The national average was 21.5%

Explore Data

- The community of Renovo this weekend rolls out the red carpet for the 72nd annual Pennsylvania State Flaming Foliage Festival. The 3-day fall foliage event runs today through Sunday, with a 150+ vendor craft show each day. Saturday boasts one of the largest parades around, as well as the crowning Saturday evening of a 2021 Flaming Foliage Queen from among a field of some 20 high school seniors from across the region. Because of the pandemic, the Queens contest has been condensed to one day this year, breaking the long-standing tradition of the queen contestants and their escorts being hosted for the weekend in private homes. 

- A reminder that all PennDOT driver license and photo centers will be closed tomorrow, Saturday, October 9, through Monday, October 11, in observance of Columbus Day. 

10/5/21

- The PA Department of Health today reported 4,019 additional positive cases of COVID-19 (following a four-day report of 14,076 additional coronavirus cases Friday through Monday), bringing the statewide total to 1,453,387. The seven-day moving average of newly reported cases was 4,903 cases per day, up 7% from a week ago, and up 39% over the last 30 days. Statewide, there are 2,882 people hospitalized with the virus, 682 of whom are in intensive care. The statewide percent positivity for the week of September 24-30 was at 9.1%. In addition, 80 new deaths were reported Monday, bringing to 29,611, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 (71 in Clinton County). Read more: Department of Health: Over 12.9 Million Vaccinations to Date, 69.1% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated

Clinton County today reported 11 new COVID cases, bringing the countywide total to 4,446. Centre County saw 24 new case reports, bringing their total to 19,578, and Lycoming County reported 65 new cases, bringing their total to 14,794. All three counties continue to be listed in the “high” level of community transmission, according to the latest information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Clinton County’s percent positivity for the period of September 28-October 4 stands at 10.33%. Also according to the CDC, 44.4% of the eligible county population is fully vaccinated. Centre County’s current percent positivity is at 6.9%, with 59.3% of the eligible population fully vaccinated. Lycoming County’s current percent positivity is 15.91%, with 54.5% of the eligible population fully vaccinated.

In all, 66 of the state’s 67 counties continue to be rated in the “high” level of community transmission for the virus – the highest rating. Only Sullivan County, which currently has a percent positivity of 6.4%, has been down-graded to the “substantial” level. Click on the following link for more data from the CDC: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view.

- Anywhere from one to two million Pennsylvania adults are now eligible for a COVID-19 booster. People 65 and older, those with certain medical conditions, and workers in high-risk jobs who received a second Pfizer dose more than six months ago are now eligible to receive a booster. (Get more eligibility details from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.) Search the CDC’s website at vaccines.gov for locations offering vaccines.

- Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson today announced it is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for use of a booster shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in individuals 18 years of age and older. Read more: https://www.pennlive.com/coronavirus/2021/10/johnson-johnson-submits-data-to-the-fda-seeking-approval-for-its-covid-19-booster.html. (Source: PennLIVE)

- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, State officials are urging Pennsylvanians to get their flu vaccine now. See more: Health Department Urges Residents to Get Flu Vaccine Before November as COVID-19 Pandemic Continues

- With businesses across all sectors looking for employees, PA CareerLink Clinton County is trying something different to connect employers and job seekers. The local CareerLink office at 8 North Grove, Street, Lock Haven will host two “Meet & Greet” sessions in October, each featuring three employers. The “Meet & Greets” are an opportunity for people looking for work to learn about the companies and current employment opportunities. The first session is scheduled for Wednesday, October 20, from 10am-Noon. Representatives from UPMC, Clinton County Community Connections, and ESS will be available at the CareerLink office to meet with prospective employees. The second “Meet & Greet” on October 27 will feature Avery Dennison, Susque-View Home, and VetFORCE. Click Here for Oct 20 Meet and Greet.  Click Here for Oct 27 Meet and Greet.

- From the PA Chamber: 

  • While the General Assembly was in session last week and holding several committee meetings, the PA Chamber sent communications to lawmakers on the House and Senate Labor and Industry Committees, expressing its position on a number of labor-related bills that were scheduled for committee votes. -> Read More
  • The General Assembly sent Governor Tom Wolf House Bill 1861 last week, which extends regulation waivers initially put in place by the Wolf administration to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The waivers are mostly designed to help hospitals, clinics and others during the pandemic, making it easier for them to hire staff, distribute vaccines and convert space to see patients. The unanimous vote in both chambers sets the new expiration date at March 31, 2022. The governor has signed the bill as Act 73 of 2021

- From 12th District Congressman Fred Keller: Throughout the year, the IRS provides resources and information to help small business owners and the self-employed comply with their tax filing and payment requirements. As part of the effort to help small business owners, the IRS is an active participant in the Small Business Administration’s annual Small Business Week events. Here's a recap of key topics covered in IRS messages during National Small Business Week 2021:

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration: 

  • Cyber-attacks are a growing threat for small businesses and the U.S. economy. According to theFBI’s Internet Crime Report, the cost of cybercrimes reached $2.7 billion in 2020 alone. Small businesses are attractive targets because they have information that cybercriminals want, and they typically lack the security infrastructure of larger businesses. Get tips on how to keep your small business safe from cyber-attacks. Learn more 
  • COVID EIDL Applicants: Join SBA's COVID EIDL Application Completion ‘Office Hours’ webinar for information about the application process and get your questions answered to apply for COVID EIDL funds.

- Wednesday, October 6 at 12:30 – 1:30 PM ET Join here

- Wednesday, October 13 at 12:30 – 1:30 PM ET Join here

   For more information about COVID EIDL, visit the SBA website. 

  • Paycheck Protection Program borrowers: If your loan is $150,000 or less, you may be eligible to apply for direct forgiveness through SBA using theironline portal. Follow the steps below.
  1. Find out if your lender is participating. 
  2. Watch a video about how to use the portal.
  3. Apply for forgiveness.

   For additional information, visit the SBA website.

  • Is your small business prepared in the event of a fire? During this week’s Fire Prevention Week (October 3-9), the SBA encourages owners to take the time to create a disaster preparedness plan for their small business. Learn more

- The U.S. Census Bureau and Zillow this week presented data showing the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the housing market. That market came to a screeching halt in March 2020 when much of the nation shut down in response to the pandemic, but rebounded this summer. The ensuing data shows that Americans, many now used to working remotely, began buying farther away from some cities and traditional job centers. Read More

- PennDOT this week outlined the commonwealth’s plans for services in the coming winter season and how the public can prepare. Read more: Article (penndot.gov).

- PA CareerLink Clinton County hosts a Resume Review session next Thursday, October 14 at 10:00 a.m. at the CareerLink Office on North Grove St. in Lock Haven for those interested in enhancing their resume. The session will be conducted by the director of Lock Haven University’s Center for Career and Professional Development. Click Here for the Resume Review flyer for details.

10/1/21

- Clinton County registered a slight increase in its unemployment numbers during the month of August, according to information released this week by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The August rate was 6.7%, up from the 6.3% reading in July. There were an estimated 1,200 county residents out of work during the month, as compared to 1,100 in July.  One year ago, the August unemployment rate for Clinton County was 8.7%. An estimated 1,500 county residents were out of work in August 2020.

Out of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties, Clinton ranked no. 36 with its 6.7% reading in August. Centre County was no. 8 at 5.1%, and Lycoming County was tied for no. 30 at 6.5%. Chester County had the lowest unemployment reading in the state during the month at 4.3%, and Forest County was the highest at 9.0%.               

The September unemployment data should be released by state officials on or about October 26.

- From the U. S. Department of Labor: In the week ending September 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 362,000, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 351,000. Read the full news release.

- The U.S. Department of Labor announced the recent awards of $195.7 million in grant funding to states and territories to help them detect and combat fraud in their unemployment insurance programs. Pennsylvania is slated to receive a UC Fraud Prevention Grant of nearly $3.7 million. More here: US Department of Labor awards $195.7M in grants to 58 states, territories, District of Columbia to strengthen fraud detection, prevention efforts | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- Pennsylvania collected $40 billion in General Fund revenue in September, 14.1% more than anticipated, according to reports today from the PA Department of Revenue. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $9.3 billion, or 7.3 percent above estimate. Sales tax, corporation tax revenue, realty transfer tax collections and others are also running above estimates. Details here: Revenue Department Releases September 2021 Collections.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,352 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,435,292. There are 2,816 people hospitalized with the virus, 692 of whom are in intensive care. Locally, Clinton County reported 25 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 4,370. Centre County saw 69 new case reports today, bringing their total to 19,389, and Lycoming County reported 103 new cases, bringing their total to 14,256. More information is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- There currently are 27 known positive cases of COVID-19 in Keystone Central School District. Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin today, in a newsletter-style update, said there are four cases in the elementary grades and 11 known cases among high school students (representing less than one percent of the district’s 3,637 students), and 8 cases among district staff. Click Here for the KCSD Superintendent Newsletter for additional updates.

- On a related note, Keystone Central this week announced it is accepting applications through next Friday, October 8 for the Fall Session of its After School Academy which is slated to begin October 25. Click Here for the KCSD Keystone Academy file for details.

- The state this week discussed Pennsylvania’s strategy to address a shortage of school bus drivers, and provided updates on the anticipated rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, and COVID testing in schools. More here: Wolf Administration Provides Update On Strategy To Protect In-Person Instruction At Schools (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf today announced that $20.57 million has been awarded to 126 school entities and libraries – including a $6,925 grant to Jersey Shore Area School District – in the first wave of funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund to help close the digital divide. The second round of funding is now open, with some $2 billion available. Learn more: Gov. Wolf Announces $20 Million to Help Schools and Libraries Close Digital Divide (pa.gov).

- Pennsylvania Apprenticeship and Training Office Director Tara Loew was in Lycoming County yesterday to highlight a local industry and a program spearheaded by Keystone Central School District’s Career & Technology Center. Read more: Wolf Administration Highlights Pennsylvania’s “Earn While You Learn” Opportunities During Visit to Lycoming County Manufacturer (pa.gov).

- PA Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today announced Pennsylvania’s 2022 Individual and Small Group Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance rates, highlighting increased marketplace competition for several counties and a low, nearly flat, statewide average rate change in the individual market. She said Pennsylvanians can expect more options and greater competition while shopping for health insurance plans for 2022. More here: Insurance Department Announces 2022 Health Insurance Rates; Highlights More Plan Options and Increased Affordability.

- From the U.S. Office of Health: New COVID-19 Provider Funding Application Portal Open through October 26.   As of September 29, health care providers can apply for $25.5 billion in provider relief funds. The package includes $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) resources for those who serve rural patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and $17 billion for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 for a broad range of providers experiencing changes in operating revenues and expenses. Providers may apply for both programs with a single application, and applications must be completed and submitted by October 26. HRSA is hosting technical assistance webinars for applicants.

- SEDA-COG this week announced it is offering American Rescue Plan revenue loss calculation assistance to local municipalities. Click Here for the SEDA-COG news release for more information.

- From the office of State Senator Cris Dush: The Senate voted to extend waivers of an array of regulatory statutes, rules and regulations to aid in Pennsylvania’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives and signed into law. Click Here for the Senator Dush Update file for more.

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity this week announced that $2.6 billion has been added to Pennsylvania’s Rainy Day Fund. The funds were authorized earlier this year as part of the state budget. See more: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- A project to improve traffic signals and a pedestrian crossing in Lock Haven is scheduled to get underway this coming Monday, October 4, according to PennDOT. Read their news release here: News Details (penndot.gov).

Meanwhile, City of Lock Haven Public Works Director Tony Stopper provided additional details on the upcoming work: In all, work at 10 traffic signals will take place over the next year. The work starting next week at Main and Mill Streets involves the installation of a Rapid Response Flashing Beacon system near Triangle Park to enhance the safety for pedestrians crossing the street – the system alerts motorists that a pedestrian is in the walkway. Also as part of the overall project, traffic signal improvements are planned at:

            - the 5-way intersection at the Civil War Monument at Bellefonte Avenue/Church & Corning Streets

- Bellefonte Avenue/Commerce Street

- Church/Henderson Streets

- Church/Vesper Streets

            - Jay/Church Streets

            - Jay/Main Streets

            - Water/Grove Streets

            - Main/Hanna Streets

            - Main/Grove Streets

            - Main/Vesper Streets

- The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission today announced it is now accepting applications from qualified museums and official county historical societies for nearly $2 million in Cultural and Historical Support Grants. Applications are due by November 4. Read more: Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission Accepting Applications for Cultural and Historical Support Grants to Museums, County Historical Societies (pa.gov).

- Education and outreach staff from the PA Department of Banking and Securities will host and participate in a number of virtual and in-person presentations for groups of senior citizens, service providers, and the public during October to promote financial capability. See the schedule of programs here: Department of Banking and Securities Announces October 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Events.

- The American Red Cross is putting out an urgent call for blood donors, as officials say they are experiencing the lowest blood supply in six years. Donors of all blood types, but especially type O, are needed. Make an appointment to donate at a blood drive in your community today.   

- According to the PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources’ Fall Foliage Report, Clinton County is still holding on to summer, with no change in the foliage so far, although some of our surrounding counties are starting to see some change. Click Here for the DCNR report for more.

9/28/21

- A REMINDER: PA CareerLink Clinton County and Schlesinger Communications, Inc. host a local Career Fair this Thursday, September 30, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Lock Haven Branch YMCA. Businesses looking to grow their business or fill job vacancies are invited to participate. Click Here for the Career Fair flyer for more information. 

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,429 positive cases of COVID-19…following more than 12,000 new cases reported Saturday through Monday….bringing the statewide total to 1,420,478. There are 2,778 people hospitalized with the virus, 666 of whom are in intensive care, and the statewide percent positivity for the week of September 17-23 stood at 8.9 percent.

Locally, 11 new cases were reported today for Clinton County, bringing the countywide total to date to 4,300. Centre County saw 58 new cases reported today, bringing their total to 19,247, and Lycoming County reported 72 new cases, bringing their total to 14,234.

Additional data, including county-specific information, is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- Governor Tom Wolf Monday sent a letter to the PA General Assembly announcing the availability of COVID-19 vaccination rates by legislative district. According to that information:

  • 38.4% of the people in State Senator Cris Dush’s 25th Senatorial District (which includes Clinton County) are vaccinated – the second lowest percentage from among the senate districts. Of the 241,794 people in the 25th District, 92,903 are fully vaccinated, with another 10,380 partially vaccinated. Among the senate districts, the percentages of people fully vaccinated ranged from a low of 36% to a high of 65.9%.
  • 40.7% of the people in State Representative Stephanie Borowicz’s 76th State House District are vaccinated. Of the 66,090 people in the district, 26,929 are fully vaccinated, with another 2,108 partially vaccinated. Among the State House districts, the percentages of people fully vaccinated ranged from 29.3% to 69.1%.
  • 40.2% of the people in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Representative Fred Keller’s 12th Congressional District are vaccinated – that’s 280,813 out of 699,352 people in the district (another 26,351 are partially vaccinated). The 12th District was the second lowest in the state, where vaccination percentages in the congressional districts ranged from 39.4% to 59.2%.

Read more here: Department of Health Releases Vaccination Dashboard by Legislative Districts and view the legislative district data here: COVID-19 Vaccine Rates by Legislative District | PA Open Data Portal.

On Friday, the Governor announced that 85 percent of Pennsylvanians aged 18 and older had received their first COVID-19 vaccination. See more: Gov. Wolf: Pennsylvania Hits COVID-19 Vaccination Milestone (pa.gov).

- The PA Departments of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and Health today announced a new $5 million grant program to help grassroots organizations with encouraging vaccine-hesitant populations to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach Grant Program will provide grants up to $100,000 to non-profit organizations and childcare and educational institutions and will support grassroots outreach efforts including local media buys, creation of outreach and training materials, sponsorship of vaccine-related community events, equipment rental to assist with setting vaccine appointments, and more. Applications will be accepted through November 1. Learn more: Wolf Administration Announces New Grant Program to Promote Grassroots Vaccine Outreach - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- Using a graphic chart of statistics from within their own health care system, Geisinger today said unvaccinated people by far represent the majority of those hospitalized with COVID-19, those in intensive care and those on ventilators. Click Here for the Geisinger Vaccine infographic.

- Following U.S. Food & Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control authorization last week, the PA Department of Health Monday announced the booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is immediately available for certain adults who were fully vaccinated by Pfizer at least six months ago. More here: Department of Health: FDA and CDC Authorize Booster Dose of Pfizer Vaccine to Certain Adults

- Business groups are growing increasingly frustrated as U.S. Labor Department officials move forward with President Biden’s vaccine requirement without seeking their input. While lobbying groups that represent some of the country’s biggest corporations don’t oppose the rule, which will require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing, those same organizations have presented Biden officials with lengthy lists of questions about the rule that have so far gone unanswered. “The administration has refused to engage in any substantive dialogue about their plan,” said Ed Egee, vice president of government relations and workforce development at the National Retail Federation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is tasked with implementing the vaccine-or-test requirement, is not taking meetings with business groups or labor unions that are seeking to influence the process or glean more information about the rule, according to business lobbyists. OSHA is developing the requirement under an emergency temporary standard (ETS), which allows the agency to bypass the typical public comment period used in the rulemaking process. Business groups say that without getting input from private employers, OSHA risks releasing a rule that will be ineffective at increasing vaccination rates and difficult to comply with. Read More (Source: The Hill)

- Geisinger is urging people to use convenient care locations, doctor’s offices and designated testing locations for COVID-19 testing – and to avoid using their hospital emergency rooms. Click Here for the Geisinger file for more information.

- The Clinton County Commissioners are accepting applications from municipalities, public authorities and 501c3 nonprofits as part of a grant program established with funds recently received through the federal American Rescue Plan. Eligible projects include water or sewer infrastructure improvements, and Coronavirus-related recreation projects. Online applications are being accepted through November 1, at 5:00 p.m.

People with questions about the program, questions about eligibility, or those needing assistance in completing an application, should call County grants administrator Kari Kepler in the Clinton County Planning Office at (570)893-4080, ext. 2.

- The PA Department of Human Services Monday announced the Wolf Administration’s plan to distribute $655 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to stabilize Pennsylvania’s child care industry. Licensed child care providers are invited to submit applications for one-time grant funding that can be used to cover expenses and provide stabilization to what the state called a ‘critical industry.’ Learn more: Wolf Administration Announces Plan to Distribute $655 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds to Pennsylvania Child Care Providers (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Small Business Administration and Public Private Strategies Institute are teaming up to provide a series of webinars covering resources to help small businesses grow and thrive. They are hosting a session tomorrow, Wednesday, September 29, at 2:00 p.m. titled Small Business Resources for Preparedness, Relief, Recovery, and Resiliency. During this webinar, participants will:

  • Learn more about COVID EIDL and how businesses can take advantage before December 31
  • Discover tools and resources to start and grow your business
  • Have your questions answered by SBA leadership and small business experts
  • Learn how you can become a vaccine leader in your community
  • Get an update regarding programs and recent policy announcements made by the Biden-Harris Administration

Note: These sessions take place every two weeks, through December 2021. Register

- Restaurant sales growth stalled in August, as many consumers changed their behavior due to the delta variant.

- The U.S. Postal Service took action in March that is going to start having an impact on mail beginning October 1. Mail traveling within a local area (within a 3-hour drive) will still be delivered within 2 days. However, mail traveling the greatest distances will be most affected, with one to two days of transit time added.

- PennDOT is accepting construction and maintenance services feedback through an online survey. The public can take the survey through October 26 at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2021PDConstruction. Learn more here: Article (penndot.gov).

9/24/21

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans, opening a major new phase in the U.S vaccination drive against COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p0924-booster-recommendations-.html.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this week signed off on the targeted use of extra shots. Read more: FDA Authorizes Booster Dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Certain Populations | FDA.

- Following the recent guidance from the CDC and FDA, Geisinger announced today it is offering booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people who are eligible. Click Here for the Geisinger Announcement file for more information.

- Geisinger this week also announced updates to its visitation policy due to the continued increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Click Here for the Geisinger Visitation Policy file.

- The upward trend in new cases of COVID-19 continues. The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,071 positive cases of the virus, bringing the statewide total to 1,204,826. Clinton County reported 11 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 4,215. Centre County saw a jump of 73 new cases, bringing their total to 19,024, and Lycoming County reported 66 new cases, bringing their total to 14,001.

There are 2,641 people hospitalized with COVID-19 (also an upward trend), 662 of whom are in intensive care. More COVID-related data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- Storm-related matters, not COVID-19 issues, resulted in Keystone Central School District taking a remote learning day today. Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said the District consulted with the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services and it was determined there were too many unknowns about flood levels and damage in the area to hold in-person classes. Athletic contests remain on schedule for today (including tonight’s Central Mountain and Bucktail football games) and after-school athletic practices were to take place at the discretion of coaches. Keystone Central saw an early dismissal Thursday due to flash flooding in many areas in Clinton County, and all Thursday after-school activities were cancelled.

- The Clinton County Commissioners this week announced that a portion of funds recently received through the federal American Rescue Plan are now available as grants for municipalities, public authorities, and 501c3 nonprofits. Specifically, eligible projects would include water or sewer infrastructure improvements, and Coronavirus-related recreation projects. Online applications will be accepted through November 1, at 5:00 p.m..

The current ARP grant program represents Phase One of a two-phased program. People with questions about the program, questions about eligibility, or those needing assistance in completing an application, should call County grants administrator Kari Kepler in the Clinton County Planning Office at (570)893-4080, ext. 2. 

- The U.S. Small Business Administration this week announced enhancements to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for new and existing borrowers. Click Here for the SBA file for details. 

- The SBA this week began supplemental award notifications to eligible applicants, through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program. So far, over $10 billion in economic relief has been awarded to nearly 12,000 venues, providing a critical lifeline for theaters, live venues, and other entertainment and cultural hubs as they recover from the pandemic, re-open and continue contributing to local economies. Read more: SBA Administrator Announces New Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Milestone: Supplemental Awards Begin.

- The SBA this week reached a major milestone as its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Direct Borrower Forgiveness Portal recorded its one millionth PPP loan forgiveness application for borrowers seeking forgiveness for loans of $150,000 or less. More here: SBA Administrator Announces New Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Milestone: In Less Than Two Months, One Million Borrowers Apply for Direct Forgiveness through Agency’s PPP Portal.

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection announced today that $750,000 in grant funds is available for environmental education projects. DEP will hold a free webinar on October 5, from 12:30 - 2:00 p.m. regarding the Environmental Education Grant program and staff will review the application process, offer tips, and answer questions. Registration is required. See more: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- The U.S. federal government announced that it will open travel for vaccinated international travelers in early November, including those that are currently impacted by the U.S. travel ban. Travelers will need to show proof that they’re vaccinated prior to boarding any US-bound plane. A COVID-19 test will also still be required within three days of departure and proof of negative results must be shown. 

- U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Rose for a Second Week. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in the week ending September 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 351,000, an increase of 16,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- A reminder for those seeking employees: PA CareerLink Clinton County and Schlesinger Communications, Inc. host a Career Fair this coming Thursday, September 30, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Lock Haven Branch YMCA on Water Street, Lock Haven. A number of Partnership members will be on hand, including Avery Dennison; Clinton County’s Correctional Facility and Department of Emergency Services; First Quality Products; Glenn O. Hawbaker; J.C. Watson’s Construction, Inc.; Keystone Central School District; Lock Haven Branch YMCA; Schlesinger Communications, Inc.; Susquehanna Transit; and UPMC, as well as several other employers from throughout the region. Click Here for the Fall Career Fair flyer for details.

- The Wage & Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for ensuring compliance with various regulations relating to topics such as minimum wage, record keeping, and child labor laws—just to name a few. The Division offers news resources for employers, such as posters, fact sheets, compliance toolkits, and more. WORKPLACE POSTERS | FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT POSTER. (Source: PA Restaurant & Lodging Association)

- Pennsylvanians bought more wine and liquor during the pandemic than ever before, according to financial numbers released by the PA Liquor Control Board. Details here: Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Reports Record Net Income in Fiscal Year 2020-21 (pa.gov).

9/21/21

- The Clinton County Commissioners this week announced they are making a portion of funds recently received through the federal American Rescue Plan available as grants for municipalities, public authorities, and 501c3 nonprofits. Specifically, eligible projects would include water or sewer infrastructure improvements, and Coronavirus-related recreation projects. The online application portal on the county’s website opened today and applications will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. on November 1, 2021.

The current ARP grant program represents Phase One of a two-phased program. People with questions about the program, questions about eligibility, or those needing assistance in completing an application, should call County grants administrator Kari Kepler in the Clinton County Planning Office at (570)893-4080, ext. 2. Click Here for the Clinton County file for more on the program.

- The Clinton County Housing Coalition continues to accept applications for grant support for landlords and tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The County Commissioners earlier this year received some $2.5 million in Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds, which the Housing Coalition is administering. The program will remain in effect until December 31, 2022 or until the funds are exhausted.

  • Click herefor the full program announcement.
  • Click herefor the ERAP Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Click herefor a link to the ERAP online application.


- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 4,939 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,387,872. Statewide, 2,386 people are hospitalized with the virus, 602 of whom are in intensive care.

Clinton County today reported six new cases, bringing the total case count to-date to 4,160. The number of local deaths attributed to COVID-19 is 71, a jump of two since last week. Centre County reported 40 new cases today, bringing their total to 18,831, with the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at 233. Lycoming County reported 49 new cases today, bringing their total to 13,781 cases and 315 deaths. The number of deaths statewide attributed to COVID-19 now stands at 28,932.

Clinton County’s percent positivity currently stands at 7.09%; Centre at 8.19% and Lycoming County at 14.58%, according to data today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC continues to rate all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in the “high” level of community transmission. The PA Health Department said the statewide percent positivity for the week of September 10-16 stood at 8.9%. More information can be found on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

- Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today signed an order to ensure that vaccine providers are prepared to start COVID-19 booster shots as soon as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues the necessary federal guidance. Read more: Pennsylvania Ready to Provide COVID-19 Booster Shots Upon CDC Authorization (pa.gov).

- Starting today, Geisinger is now requiring appointments for COVID-19 testing and will not be accepting walk-ins. The change is due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. Click Here for the Geisinger news release for details.

- The U.S. Chamber Monday issued a response to the Biden Administration’s tax hike proposal. According to a chief economist for the U.S. Chamber, a $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending bill being considered would greatly weaken the economy, reduce job creation and slow wage growth for American families. -> Read More

- The Pennsylvania General Assembly returns to session this week. The state House was back in session Monday, and the Senate returned today. -> Read More (Source: PA Chamber)

- The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board last week emailed licensees to announce a 2-bottle purchase limit on 43 items, which took effect last Friday, September 17. The limits were instituted due to sustained supply chain disruptions and apply to online and in-person sales at state stores, bars, restaurants and other license holders. BOTTLE LIMIT LIST

- The Wolf Administration will hold a virtual media briefing tomorrow, Wednesday, September 22, at 1pm to announce the state’s 2021 Climate Action Plan. The state says the plan is a “Call for Statewide Action” on climate change involving government, industry, business, and community organizations. Learn more: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- PennDOT today announced the launch of a Public Comment Period for the draft 2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and Freight Movement Plan (FMP). The plans are available for review through October 19, 2021. The LRTP sets an overall strategic direction for Pennsylvania’s transportation system for twenty years and the FMP reviews current and future trends in freight transportation to improve multimodal freight movement for five years. See more: https://www.penndot.gov/pages/all-news-details.aspx?newsid=876.

- From the U.S. Census Bureau….The COVID-19 pandemic has affected both the beginning and end of the life cycle for the U.S. population: Births declined and mortality went up. Provisional monthly data show a downturn in births in winter 2020-2021 but there were signs of a possible rebound by March. Read More

- The Ben Franklin Technology Partners Learning Center hosts a no-cost webinar, Take Advantage of PA Business Tax Credits, this Thursday, September 23, from 10-11am. This session involves a review of the programs the Commonwealth offers businesses and organizations. Participants will learn which tax programs are available to them, understand how to use the programs to benefit your business, and receive information on how to apply. Reserve Your Spot

9/17/21

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,198 positive cases of COVID-19, a continued upward trend, bringing the statewide total to 1,370,247. There are 2,337 people hospitalized with the virus, 589 of whom are in intensive care. The statewide percent positivity for the week of September 3-9 stood at 9.1%.

Clinton County reported 30 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 4,101. Centre County saw 49 new cases, bringing their total to 18,626; and Lycoming County reported 73 new cases, totaling 13,507. You can see more information on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all Pennsylvania counties continue to be at the high level of community transmission. Clinton County’s percent positivity, for the period of September 10-16, is 5.19 percent; Centre is 8.56%; and Lycoming is 12.39 percent. That information is available on the CDC COVID Data Tracker.

Clinton County has 69 deaths that have been attributed to COVID-19. Online newspaper PennLive this week provided an analysis of the nearly 30,000 Pennsylvanians whose deaths have been attributed to COVID-19. Details here: https://www.pennlive.com/news/2021/09/as-pa-nears-30000-covid-19-deaths-heres-what-we-know-about-the-people-who-died.html?e=1a2598713c24f3b9b618fcff2a4a0f97&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_coronavirus%202021-09-17&utm_term=Newsletter_coronavirus. (Source: PennLive)

- A PA Department of Health report on COVID-19 post-vaccination cases, commonly known as “breakthrough cases,” shows the overwhelming majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the state are among the unvaccinated. More here: Vaccines Work: 97% of COVID Deaths, 95% of Hospitalizations and 94% of Cases are Among Unvaccinated Pennsylvanians (pa.gov).

- In response to a request from state legislative leaders for data on COVID-19, Governor Tom Wolf says he plans to provide the General Assembly with additional COVID-19 data, including vaccination data by legislative district. See more: Gov. Wolf Responds to Requests from Legislature, Administration to Begin Providing Vaccination Rates by Legislative District to General Assembly (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today announced expectations for all of Pennsylvania’s skilled nursing facilities to have at least 80 percent of staff vaccinated for COVID-19 by October 1. Learn more: Department of Health Encouraging More Nursing Home Staff Vaccinations to Protect Vulnerable Residents from COVID-19.

- The Health Department’s August report notes that nursing home surveyors conducted 500 inspections, including 315 complaint investigations (16 of which were COVID-19-specific investigations), of 352 separate nursing homes, issuing one new sanction resulting in $7,000 in fines. See more: Department of Health Highlights August 2021 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- Unemployment in Pennsylvania decreased  for the sixth straight month, according to PA Department of Labor information released today. PA’s August unemployment rate was 6.4 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. See more: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Down to 6.4 Percent in August (pa.gov). 

- Geisinger today announced it is raising its minimum pay rate to $15 per hour for current and future employees, effective September 26. Click Here for the Geisinger file for details.

- The U.S. Department of Labor this week reported that, in the week ending September 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 332,000, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- As employers await more details on how the Biden administration will carry out its latest workplace vaccine mandates, pro-business groups in Pennsylvania have yet to take a stance on the issue. Read More (Source: WESA)

- With many businesses facing a tight job market, the Internal Revenue Service is reminding employers to check out a tax credit available to them for hiring long-term unemployment recipients and other groups of workers facing significant barriers to employment. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/renewed-tax-credit-can-help-employers-hire-workers-key-certification-requirement-applies.

- The IRS wants small business owners to know that information and resources to help them understand and meet their tax obligations are available free at IRS.gov. The IRS resources can help employers meet their tax responsibilities as well as help their employees. IRS online resources can also help employers with things like how to determine if workers should be classified as employees or independent contractors, when employment taxes are due and what forms they need to file. See more: IRS recognizes Small Business Week: Resources available to help employers | Internal Revenue Service.

- The Internal Revenue Service also explained how expanded tax benefits can help both individuals and businesses give to charity before the end of this year. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/expanded-tax-benefits-help-individuals-and-businesses-give-to-charity-during-2021-deductions-up-to-600-available-for-cash-donations-by-non-itemizers.

- Industrial production increased 0.4 percent in August after moving up 0.8 percent in July, according to a release issued this week from the Federal Reserve. See more: https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g17/current/default.htm.

- DCED's annual export event, Bringing the World to Pennsylvania (BTW2PA), started this week, running through September 24. The DCED Office of International Business Development hosts a series of online webinars and panels covering hot topics in international business and trade. View the virtual events calendar.

- The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has released its September/October newsletter. The latest issue includes information on rural police departments, Pennsylvania’s population change, and more. View the newsletter online here: https://www.rural.palegislature.us/publications_newsletter.html.

- From the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • The Census Bureau this week said that median household income in 2020 decreased 2.9% between 2019 and 2020, and the official poverty rate increased 1.0 percentage point. Meanwhile the percentage of people with health insurance coverage for all or part of 2020 was 91.4%. An estimated 8.6% of people, or 28.0 million, did not have health insurance at any point during 2020, according to the 2021 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). Read More

   • Unemployment insurance benefits lowered the overall poverty rate by 1.4 percentage points to 11.4 percent in 2020 and decreased poverty across all racial groups and all age groups, according to the Census Bureau data. Without unemployment insurance, 4.7 million more people would have been in poverty and the overall poverty rate would have been 12.9 percent in 2020. Read More

  • Based on responses collected August 30 through September 5, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:
  • 68.8% of U.S. Manufacturing small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays in the last week. The national average for this statistic is 42.4%
  • 18.2% of U.S. Health Care and Social Assistance small businesses required employees to test negative for COVID-19 before physically coming to work in the last week. The national average for this statistic was 9.5%
  • 21.4% of U.S. Educational Services small businesses report a decrease in the total number of hours worked by paid employees in the last week. The national average for this statistic is 14.4%
  • 47.4% of U.S. Accommodation and Food Services small businesses experienced a large negative effect from the coronavirus pandemic. The national average for this statistic was 23.9%
  • 10.1% of U.S. small businesses required employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination before physically coming to work in the last week. For responses collected 8/23-8/29, this statistic was 9.3%
  • 28.2% of U.S. small businesses experienced a large increase in prices they pay for goods and services compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020. For responses collected 8/23-8/29, this statistic was 29.4%
  • 21.1% of U.S. small businesses experienced a moderate decrease in demand for their business’s goods or services compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020. For responses collected 8/23-8/29, this statistic was 21.9%

- Auditor General Timothy L. DeFoor this week released a performance audit criticizing the Wolf Administration’s waiver process for businesses that asked to remain open early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more: Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General -Auditor General DeFoor: DCED Waiver Process for COVID Business Shutdown Flawed; Urges Transparency, Accountability Reforms (paauditor.gov).

- The PA Department of Banking and Securities and PA Department of Education are warning consumers of a surge in student loan forgiveness scams. Learn more: Wolf Administration Warns of Student Loan Forgiveness Scams (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Health and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have developed a video resource to help answer questions about vaccine safety. You can access the video on Facebook or PAcast. See more: Department of Health: Physicians Answer Questions on COVID-19 Vaccine in New Educational Video Resource

- The state announced Thursday that $278 million in American Rescue Plan funds appropriated by the General Assembly will be distributed to nursing facilities, personal care homes, and assisted living residences. An additional $5 million is dedicated to grants for long-term care facilities to improve indoor air quality. More here: Department of Human Services Announces Federal, Grant Funding Opportunities For Long-Term Living System.

- The PA Department of Agriculture this week announced that the 106th Pennsylvania Farm Show will be held in-person January 8-15, 2022 at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. Read more: Secretary of Agriculture Reveals 2022 PA Farm Show Theme: Harvesting More.

9/10/21

- President Joe Biden on Thursday announced sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation’s economic recovery. The White House released this document summarizing the Executive Orders, which can be found here.

According to information from the U.S. Chamber, the Emergency Orders include:

  • Department of Labor Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring employers with more than 100 people to require vaccination or weekly testing
  • Department of Labor rule requiring employers with more than 100 people to provide paid time off for vaccinations
  • Require federal employees to get vaccinated within 75 days or risk termination (which would remove the option for weekly testing in lieu of vaccination)
  • Extend the federal employee vaccination requirement to federal contractors
  • Require Medicare and Medicaid funding recipients to fully vaccinate their staff 
  • Urge schools to set up regular testing based on community spread
  • Expand free COVID testing

PA Governor Tom Wolf praised the President’s announcement, saying it will further Pennsylvania’s efforts to protect the public from COVID-19. The Governor said two-thirds of Pennsylvanians ages 18 and older are fully vaccinated and the state ranks fifth in the nation for total doses administered. He continued to urge all eligible Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and this afternoon announced that COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be held over the next three weekends at five high-visitation state parks in the state. Read more: Gov. Wolf Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics at Five PA State Parks in September.

- Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s daily COVID-19 case count, for the first in many months, today exceeded 5,000. According to the PA Department of Health, there were 5,005 additional positive cases of the virus, bringing the statewide total to 1,338,313. Clinton County’s case count is nearing 4,000 (reported today at 3,997). Centre County has a case count of 18,230; and Lycoming County’s case count stands at 13,068. Statewide, there are 2,118 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 523 of whom are in intensive care. More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard. Read more here: Department of Health: Over 12.3 Million Vaccinations to Date, 66.8% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties are currently in the “high” level of community transmission. Statistics from the CDC for the most recent seven-day period (September 2-8) show Clinton County with a 9.92% positivity rate; Centre County at 12.35% positivity; and Lycoming County is at 12.95% positivity. Access the CDC information here: CDC COVID Data Tracker.

- Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin today, in an update to KCSD families, asked for continued cooperation as “we continue to work together to keep our schools open and our entire community safe.” Martin said there currently are 20 known positive cases of COVID-19 among students, adding that the Delta variant is proving to be highly contagious and spreading quickly among children. Click Here for the attached KCSD Update for more information.

- The PA Department of Health and the United Way of Pennsylvania Thursday announced an expansion of the Local Innovations in Vaccine Equity in Pennsylvania project (LIVE PA), which aims to reduce vaccine hesitancy and ensure an equitable vaccine distribution throughout the state. The United Way will administer an additional $630,000 in grants to support the efforts of local faith-based organizations. See more: Department of Health Announces Local Grant Opportunities for Faith-Based Organizations to Reduce Vaccine Hesitancy.

 

- The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced major enhancements to the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, a federal disaster relief loan designed to support small business communities still reeling from the pandemic, especially hard-hit sectors such as restaurants, gyms, and hotels. The SBA says it is ready to receive new applications immediately from small businesses looking to take advantage of these new policy changes. Read more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/sep/09/sba-administrator-guzman-enhances-covid-economic-injury-disaster-loan-program-aid-small-businesses.

- The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service this week issued Notice 2021-53, which provides guidance to employers about reporting on Form W-2 the amount of qualified sick and family leave wages paid to employees for leave taken in 2021. The notice provides guidance under recent legislation, including:  the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), as amended by the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020, and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-issue-guidance-for-2021-on-reporting-qualified-sick-and-family-leave-wages.

- In the week ending September 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 310,000, a decrease of 35,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) today announced that it will hold its virtual Bringing the World to PA Tour September 13-24. This series of webinars and virtual presentations from around the world is designed to help Pennsylvania companies interested in exporting their products and services learn more about export markets and industry potential and meet one‐on‐one virtually with the commonwealth’s international Authorized Trade Representatives. Interested participants can register and participate at on the “World to PA” webpage. Learn more: DCED ‘Bringing the World to PA’ with Two Weeks of Virtual Events to Foster Export Opportunities - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new moratorium on evictions. The order will expire on October 3 and applies in United States counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission levels of the COVID-19 virus. More here: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0803-cdc-eviction-order.html.

- PennDOT today announced that applications will be accepted to fund new transportation improvement projects under the Multimodal Transportation Fund through November 5. More information here: Article (penndot.gov).

- PennDOT is providing a roadwork update for drivers bound for Beaver Stadium this weekend. The Nittany Lions home opener against Ball State takes place Saturday, September 11, at 3:30 PM. Drivers may use the updated travel information when planning their trip(s) to the remaining slate of home games scheduled for September 18 and 25, October 2 and 23, and November 13 and 20. More here: News Details (penndot.gov).

- As the nation observes the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., Governor Wolf has ordered all U.S. and Commonwealth flags at Commonwealth facilities across the state to be lowered to half-staff at sunrise tomorrow, Saturday, September 11 and remain at half-staff until sunset.

Locally, the community is encouraged to participate in several commemorative events tomorrow, September 11, including:

  • 9-11 Moving Tribute – On Saturday, the Clinton County Veterans Affairs office and veterans organization VETS+ host an annual tribute during which American Flags are kept in motion from dawn to dusk (5:45am-8:30pm). Volunteers walk, run or ride their bicycles holding a flag, taking various routes throughout downtown Lock Haven. People of all ages are welcome to participate. The event is organized out of Triangle Park, at Bellefonte Avenue & Main Street, Lock Haven.
  • Saturday morning at 8:40am, Lock Haven University will host a memorial event to commemorate the anniversary of the attacks. The event, hosted by the LHU Student Veteran Alliance at the LHU Poorman Commons & Amphitheater along North Fairview Street, will honor those who lost their lives during the attacks 20 years ago by placing flags on the lawn to represent each of the victims. The ceremony will include several speakers from the LHU community. Afterward, the Fredericks Family Carillon in front of Stevenson Library on campus will chime 20 times to represent the years that have passed since the attacks, and the LHU community will participate in a campus-wide moment of silence.
  • The Ross Library in Lock Haven hosts a “Memories of 9-11” program Saturday at 1pm. Lock Haven Mayor Joel Long and Jeff Croak with the Clinton County Veterans Affairs Office will speak, and others will have an opportunity to share their thoughts and memories of 9-11.
  • The Rotary Club of Downtown Lock Haven hosts their annual “Angel Lights” memorial event Saturday afternoon at Triangle Park, Lock Haven. Community members have purchased luminaries in memory of 9-11, in memory of loved ones, or just because. Starting around 5pm Saturday, the luminaries are set up around the Park and Rotarians watch over them until the candles burn out.

- This weekend also marks the last of the Pedestrian Mall street closure along a two-block section of Main Street in downtown Lock Haven through Saturday evening. The closure of the street to vehicle traffic allows restaurants and retailers to expand their business offerings outside and onto the sidewalks and streets. As a way to end the season with a bang, Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. and a number of businesses have engaged live bands to play both Friday and Saturday evenings, starting at 6:30 p.m., and various games and activities are planned for Friday night along the street.

9/3/21

- The PA Department of Health today reported an additional 3,438 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,311,722. Today’s report has Clinton County’s case totals at 3,929, up 21 since Tuesday’s report. Centre County today reported a total of 17,814 cases (152 more since Tuesday), and Lycoming County is at 12,779 cases, up 121 since Tuesday. Statewide, 1,928 people are hospitalized with the virus, 493 of whom are in intensive care.

Yesterday was the first in many months that the state’s single-day case count exceeded 4,000 (it was reported at 4,816), although the numbers continue to grow. The statewide percent positivity for the week of August 20-26 stood at 7.8 percent. More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard. More here: Department of Health: Over 12.2 Million Vaccinations to Date, 66.1% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

- The Health Department Thursday announced that a free indoor walk-in COVID-19 testing site will open for the general public at the Sears Auto Center at the Nittany Mall. Testing will be available Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. through October 31. People can find testing sites on a locator map here. In Clinton County, the only site listed on the COVID-19 testing site map is at the Geisinger Jersey Shore Medical Associates office at 104 East Central Avenue in Avis. More information here: Department of Health Extends Free COVID-19 Testing in Centre County at New Location.

- The committee that oversees the Clinton County Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) recently voted to continue the availability of a 1% loan interest rate through December 31, 2021. The committee had lowered the rate from 3% to 1% in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Revolving Loan Fund is available to eligible new and existing businesses looking to expand, and loans are based on job creation and/or retention. The RLF currently has approximately $700,000 in available funding. Anyone interested in more information can contact Partnership President Mike Flanagan at 570-748-5782 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry issued a reminder today that federal unemployment benefits, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), will end tomorrow, Sept. 4. Non-unemployment program resources are available to assist people affected by the federal benefit end. Read more: Reminder: Help Available as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefit Programs End Saturday.

- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 340,000, a pandemic low (the lowest since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000). Jobless claims dropped by 14,000, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday. Read the full news release.

- Pennsylvania collected $2.6 billion in General Fund revenue in August, 5.6 percent more than anticipated, according to information this week from the Department of Revenue. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $5.3 billion, or 2.6 percent above estimate. More here: ​Revenue Department Releases August 2021 Collections. 

- In a letter today to Keystone Central School District families, Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin asked for support and cooperation with the state’s new order that everyone wear masks in schools in an effort to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The new order is effective this coming Tuesday, September 7. Click Here for the KCSD file for details.

Meanwhile, on behalf of the KCSD School Board, president Tracy Smith issued the following statement: “The KCSD Board of Directors realizes that the recent mask mandate from the Department of Health has caused confusion and anger for many of our families. We are asking that everyone please follow the procedures laid out by the administration in regards to exemptions if your student qualifies. We also ask our students and families to realize that the district must follow these mandates, as our “punishments” would be much harsher than for individuals. Until there is clarification from our local legal experts and/or legislatures, please respect the administration and staff of the district, as their goal is as little disruption in learning as possible. The most important thing is that our children are in school, learning.”  

- A number of medical and education experts have come out in support of the state order requiring masking in schools and early learning and child care facilities. Read more: Medical and Education Experts Support Secretary of Health Order Requiring Masking in Schools, Early Learning and Child Care Settings (pa.gov).

- Lock Haven University this week announced that spectators attending sporting events are required to wear masks when they are indoors, and are encouraged to social distance at both indoor and outdoor events. Click Here for the LHU Athletics file for more information.

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected August 23 through August 29, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 33.6% of U.S. small businesses reported difficulties in hiring paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 8/16-8/22, this was 34.7%
  • 14.0% of U.S. small businesses experienced a decrease in the total number of hours worked by paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 8/16-8/22, this was 13.6%
  • 42.4% of U.S. small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays in the last week. For responses collected 8/16-8/22, this was 42.6%
  • 20.2% of U.S. Accommodation and Food Services small businesses experienced a decrease in the number of paid employees in the last week. The national average for this statistic was 12.3%
  • 47.5% of U.S. Manufacturing small businesses are currently experiencing large increases in the prices they pay for goods and services compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020. The national average is 29.4%
  • 18.3% of U.S. Arts Entertainment Recreation small businesses are currently experiencing a large decrease in demand of their goods or services compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020. The national average is 10.3%
  • 15.8% of U.S. Health Care and Social Assistance small businesses required employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination before physically coming to work in the last week. The national average was 9.3%

- 76th District State Representative Stephanie Borowicz today said she is postponing the Senior Expo that had been scheduled for next Friday, September 10, at the Lock Haven University East Campus Gym. “My staff and I have been planning and looking forward to bringing back this annual Senior Expo for quite some time,” said Borowicz. “However, due to circumstances beyond our control, we have decided to temporarily postpone and will be rescheduling this highly informative event in the very near future.” 

- The Penn State Small Business Development Center, which serves Clinton, Centre, Lycoming and Mifflin counties, continues to be a resource for small business, including offering pandemic related resources. Click here: Pandemic Support Resources

The SBDC also offers low- and no-cost webinars. Click here for information on: All Upcoming SBDC Events

- Education and outreach staff with the PA Department of Banking and Securities will host and participate in numerous virtual and in-person presentations throughout September to promote financial capability. Details here: Department of Banking and Securities Announces September 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Events.

- For those interested in the ongoing Interchange/Route 26 project near Bellefonte, PennDOT today said the work zone along Interstate 80 near the Bellefonte/161 interchange may affect traffic flow, starting Tuesday, September 7. Read more: News Details (penndot.gov).

- The Lock Haven Area Jaycees kick off the 50th Labor Day Regatta and festival tonight at 6:00 p.m. along Water Street and the Susquehanna River. Power boat races begin Saturday morning following a 10:00 a.m. opening ceremony that will feature remarks from U.S. Congressman Fred Keller. Live music, food, games, amusement rides, arts and crafts are festival highlights all four days, as is a fireworks show slated for Sunday night at 10:30.

8/31/21

- Governor Wolf this afternoon announced that masking will be required in K-12 schools, early learning and child care settings, starting Tuesday, September 7, saying the PA Health Department order is necessary to keep students safe from the Delta variant. Read more: Wolf Administration Requires Masking in Schools, Early Learning and Child Care Settings to Keep Students Safely in Classrooms and Delta Variant Out | Governor Tom Wolf (pa.gov).

- The Department of Health today reported an additional 3,249 positive cases of COVID-19 - including more than 9,000 new cases over the weekend - bringing the statewide total to 1,300,368. According to the state data, Clinton County currently has 3,908 total cases; Centre County has 17,662 total cases; and Lycoming County 12,658 cases. Statewide, there are 1,850 people hospitalized with the virus, 474 of whom are in intensive care. As of Monday, there were 21 new deaths identified, for a total of 28,235 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Clinton County has 69 deaths attributed to the virus; Centre 231, and Lycoming County 303 deaths attributed to COVID-19. More here: Department of Health: Over 12.1 Million Vaccinations to Date, 65.8% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 66 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties are now listed as being in the substantial level of community transmission, with only Snyder County being listed as having “high” community transmission (a step lower than substantial). Clinton County’s percent positivity, from August 24-30, stands at 7.97%; Centre – 7.47%, and Lycoming – 11.8%.

- As of Monday, the CDC reported 38,852,582 cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Click here for more information: U.S. Cases

- Meanwhile, the CDC is telling people to plan for a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. The CDC Monday said COVID-19 vaccines are working very well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death, even against the widely spreading Delta variant. However, with the Delta variant, public health experts are starting to see a reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is planning for a booster shot so vaccinated people maintain protection over the coming months. The goal is for people to start receiving a COVID-19 booster shot beginning in the fall, with individuals being eligible starting eight months after they received their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The CDC says this plan is subject to authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommendation by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Learn More

- CDC released updated guidance earlier this month on the need for urgently increasing COVID-19 vaccination coverage and a recommendation for everyone in areas of substantial or high transmission to wear a mask in public indoor places, even if fully vaccinated. This new guidance is in response to a rapid and alarming rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations around the country, reversing a steady decline since January 2021. New data has also emerged showing that the Delta variant is more infectious and spreads more easily than other variants, even among some vaccinated individuals. Learn More

- The pandemic continues to impact the business community in many ways. Based on responses collected August 16 through August 22, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 24.4% of U.S. small businesses report a decrease in revenues in the last week. For responses collected 7/12-7/18, this statistic was 20.3%
  • 13.6% of U.S. small businesses experienced a decrease in the total number of hours worked by paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 7/12-7/18, this statistic was 10.3%
  • 9.1% of U.S. small businesses required employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination before coming to work in the last week. For responses collected 7/12-7/18, this statistic was 5.5%
  • 69.0% of U.S. accommodation and food services small businesses experienced difficulties hiring paid employees in the last week. The national average for this statistic was 34.7%
  • 57.7% of U.S. construction small businesses are currently experiencing large increases in the prices they pay for goods and services compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020. The national average for this statistic is 29.2%
  • 23.9% of U.S. educational services small businesses are currently experiencing a large decrease in demand of their goods or services compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020. The national average for this statistic is 10.8%
  • 67.9% of U.S. manufacturing small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays in the last week. The national average for this statistic was 42.6%

- Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians will lose federal pandemic unemployment benefits after this week, including an extra $300 per week, an extra 13 weeks of benefits and benefits for the self-employed. Federal jobless assistance was first approved last year when the pandemic hit and jobless claims skyrocketed in Pennsylvania to record highs amid COVID 19-related shutdowns. In the first week of August, roughly 640,000 people were receiving the extra $300, according to figures from the state Department of Labor and Industry. About 388,000 of them were in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for freelancers or the self-employed and almost 175,000 were receiving an extra 13 weeks of assistance through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. About 78,000 people were receiving benefits through the state’s regular 26-week unemployment compensation program, which will continue running, but without the extra $300 federal benefit on top. The American Rescue Plan Act, signed by President Joe Biden in March, extended those federal benefits and set them to expire after this week. (Source: The Association Press)

With federal unemployment benefits ending for 558,000 Pennsylvanians this Saturday, September 4, the PA Departments of Labor & Industry and Human Services Monday detailed other forms of assistance for which people may be eligible, including federal rental assistance through counties, Medicaid, food stamps and temporary cash-assistance for low-income families. See more: Help Available as Federal Unemployment Benefits End Saturday.

- Penn State Extension hosts a live webinar via Zoom highlighting Simple Solutions for Finding and Hiring New Employees, this Thursday, September 1, from 11:00-11:30 a.m. When the federal unemployment benefit programs expire September 4, many businesses have hopes this will enable them to find and hire new employees they need to keep their business going and growing. This no-cost webinar will review simple solutions for marketing your business’s job opportunities to the right candidates and  interview tactics to give you the best chance of hiring a good fit for your business. Register here: https://extension.psu.edu/simple-solutions-for-finding-and-hiring-new-employees. 

- For those businesses and organizations looking for employees: PA CareerLink Clinton County and WSQV Radio/Schlesinger Communications are hosting a Fall Career Fair on Thursday, September 30, from 1-5pm at the Lock Haven Branch YMCA. If your business is interested in participating in the Career Fair, Click Here for the flyer for more information.

- Pennsylvania employers have increasingly reported difficulty with job applicants manipulating the unemployment compensation system and work search requirement in order to continue receiving benefits. Current law requires most UC claimants to demonstrate they are actively looking for work, including registering on CareerLink and applying for jobs comparable to the claimant’s previous employment. -> Read More (Source: PA Chamber)

- Paycheck Protection Program borrowers: If your loan is $150,000 or less, you may be eligible to apply for direct forgiveness through SBA using the new online portalFind out if your lender is participating. Watch a video about how to use the portal or tune in to an SBA training session on Thursday, September 2 at 2:30 p.m. ETLearn more

- Last week, SBA announced a moratorium on the requirement that participants in the 8(a) Business Development Program must establish a bona fide place of business in a specific geographic area in order to be awarded any construction contract through the 8(a) Program due to the ongoing challenges of COVID-19. The moratorium is effective August 25, and applies to all 8(a) construction contracts offered to the 8(a) Program between August 25 of this year and September 30, 2022. Learn more

- The SBA will begin sending invitations for supplemental awards for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program. SVOG supplemental awards are to be provided to those who received an initial grant and have illustrated a 70% loss when comparing 2021’s first-quarter revenues to the same in 2019. Supplemental award applicants can choose to apply for any amount up to 50% of their original SVOG amount, with a $10 million cap of the initial and supplemental awards combined, according to the law. The supplemental awards also allow SVOG recipients to extend the time to use their grant funds for expenses accrued through June 30, 2022 and lengthen their budget period to 18 months from the initial grant’s disbursement date. Learn more

- Non-COVID-related updates from PennDOT:

  • PennDOT announced today that students in grades 9-12 are invited to participate in the annual PennDOT 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. Learn more: Article (penndot.gov).
  • PennDOT also announced today that all driver license and photo centers will be closed this Saturday, September 4, through Monday, September 6, in observance of Labor Day. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov
  • And a reminder that PennDOT will begin work Tuesday, September 7, to replace a bridge along Big Plum Run Road near Swissdale, which will necessitate a detour. Details here: News Details (penndot.gov).

8/27/21

The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 3,509 positive cases of COVID-19, making several days this week that the daily case count exceeded 3,000 in number. Cases are on the rise in our area: the state today reported Clinton County at 3,466 cases, up 15 since Tuesday’s report and 33 since last Friday. Centre County currently stands at 17,556 total cases – 101 new cases since Tuesday, and 180 in the past seven days; and Lycoming County currently has 12,502 cases, 102 new ones since Tuesday’s report and 198 in the past week.

Statewide, there are 1,722 people hospitalized with the virus, 476 of whom are in intensive care. The statewide percent positivity for the week of August 13-19 stood at 6.9%. More here: Department of Health: Over 12.1 Million Vaccinations to Date, 65.3% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

All Pennsylvania counties this week transitioned into either substantial or high levels of community transmission for COVID-19, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control Data Tracker statistics. With no remaining counties listed in the moderate phase for community transmission state COVID numbers have continued to rise with 27,914 new confirmed cases in the past 12 days. Clinton County actually transitioned from a “high” level of community transmission down one level to the “substantial” range, according to the CDC data from August 20 – 26, with a 7.3 percent positivity. Centre and Lycoming counties are now in the “high” level of community transmission, with Centre having a 7.06 percent positivity, and Lycoming having a 10.12 percent positivity. More information here: CDC COVID Data Tracker.

Meanwhile, in a report to members this week the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association said statewide COVID-19 case counts are up 62 percent compared to just two weeks ago, and hospitalizations are up 34 percent. PRLA said it supports the state’s focus on getting as many people vaccinated as possible, versus instituting mitigation efforts that would negatively impact the business community…and in particular the hospitality industry.

- Geisinger this week announced that all employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 15. Click here for details.

 - The PA Department of Labor & Industry has announced the availability of $4 million in Industry Partnership grants. The funding encourages collaboration among businesses to upskill workers to meet the growing demand for goods and services amidst the pandemic economic recovery. See more: L&I Announces $4 Million in Industry Partnership Grants Available for Job Training.

- The PA Public Utility Commission Thursday strongly encouraged consumers and small businesses who may still be experiencing financial difficulty to #CallUtilitiesNow to discuss the options to remain connected to vital utility services before some extended payment plan options expire at the end of September. More here: https://www.puc.pa.gov/press-release/2021/callutilitiesnow-puc-strongly-encourages-consumers-small-businesses-to-contact-utilities-about-affordability-options.

- Late last night, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that allows evictions to resume across the United States. The court said that the Centers for Disease Control lacked the authority to reimpose the eviction moratorium without congressional authorization.

Today, following the ruling, the PA Department of Human Services issued a statement encouraging residential renters and landlords not to wait to pursue assistance that is available through Pennsylvania’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Learn more: Human Services Acting Secretary to Pennsylvanians At Risk of Eviction: Apply for Rental Assistance Now (pa.gov).

Locally, the Clinton County Housing Coalition is coordinating the Emergency Rental Assistance Program for renters and landlords. We’ve attached two files (Clinton County ERAP Announcement and CC ERAP FAQ) that provide information on seeking that assistance. Click here for more information

- The PA Department of Community & Economic Development is seeking input from businesses to evaluate the accessibility and equity of the state’s funding programs. By completing the following survey, your input will help the state identify specific barriers and/or challenges you may experience and opportunities to improve the application process. Businesses are asked to complete the 15-20-minute survey by September 3.

If you have questions about the survey or would like to be part of future surveys or focus groups, DCED asks that you email your name, email address and your organization name to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending August 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 353,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- From the U.S. Chamber: Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to advance the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by requiring a stand-alone vote to pass the Senate-passed bill by no later than September 27. Achieving a stand-alone vote by a date certain is a major step forward in efforts to enact an infrastructure bill and separate it from the proposed $3.5 trillion tax and spend reconciliation bill the U.S. Chamber is working to defeat.  In response to these legislative developments, U.S. Chamber president and CEO Suzanne Clark released a statement vowing to defeat reconciliation, while applauding the voting deadline for the bipartisan infrastructure deal. Click Here to View the Full Statement

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity this week reported that the ninth batch of payments under the American Rescue Plan Act’s (ARPA) Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery program has been sent to qualifying Pennsylvania municipalities. Disbursements made this week to 69 municipalities total $4.8 million. Combined with previous payments, that means 2,373 Pennsylvania municipalities have received more than $484.7 million. Current payment information can be found on this interactive map on Treasury’s website. The American Rescue Plan Act gave states the responsibility to disburse these federal funds to municipalities with fewer than 50,000 residents. Pennsylvania has more than 2,500 municipalities that qualify for these payments.

- The U.S. Census Bureau this week released 52 individual data profiles on America Counts highlighting the recent 2020 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File release. These sharable data-rich state profiles are available for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and feature data visualizations that include population, housing, race, ethnicity, diversity and age data. Each profile provides key demographic characteristics of each state and county on one page. See more here: State Profiles

And here: PENNSYLVANIA: 2020 Census.

- Due to the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, the U.S. Small Business Administration this week announced a moratorium on the requirement that participants in SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program must establish a bona fide place of business in a specific geographic area in order to be awarded any construction contract through the 8(a) Program.  The moratorium was effective August 25, and applies to all 8(a) construction contracts offered to the 8(a) Program between August 25, 2021, and September 30, 2022. See more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/aug/26/sba-announces-moratorium-bona-fide-place-business-requirements-8a-business-development-program.

- The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released a non-peer-reviewed study that found the kind of deer appearing in people’s backyards is being exposed to COVID-19. According to the study, 40% of white-tailed deer across 4 states - Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Illinois - had tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies in 2021. While these findings do not prove white-tailed deer actually had infections, the study suggests they at least have been exposed to COVID-19. (Source: PennLIVE) 


8/24/21

- The state Independent Fiscal Office today released its monthly update that tracks the state labor market, noting the labor market continued to improve in July as pandemic-related job losses declined from the prior month. See the August report here: IFO - File Download (state.pa.us).

- For those businesses and organizations looking for employees: PA CareerLink Clinton County and WSQV Radio/Schlesinger Communications are hosting a Fall Career Fair on Thursday, September 30, from 1-5pm at the Lock Haven Branch YMCA. If your business is interested in participating in the Career Fair. Click here for more information.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,795 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,272,350. The state data indicates Clinton County currently has 3,862 cases to date, an increase of 18 cases since Friday’s report. Centre County today reported 17,455 cases, up 79 cases since Friday, and Lycoming County reported 12,400 cases to date, up 96 cases since Friday. Statewide, 1,498 people are hospitalized with the virus, 410 of whom are in intensive care. On Monday, there were 22 new deaths identified across the state for a total of 28,098 deaths attributed to COVID-19. More here: Department of Health: Over 12 Million Vaccinations to Date, 65.1% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Monday granted full authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 16 and older, which was previously being administered under an emergency authorization. Following the approval, Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock released a statement, noting that “the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product.” -> Read More  (Source: PA Chamber of Business & Industry)

Note: The FDA licensure doesn't cover booster doses as the agency will decide that separately.

PA Governor Tom Wolf Monday issued a statement on the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval, calling it “great news” in the battle against COVID-19 and its variants. See more: Gov. Wolf: FDA Approval Solidifies Safety and Efficacy of COVID-19 Pfizer BioNTech Vaccine (pa.gov).

- Since the opening of the Paycheck Protection Program Direct Borrower Forgiveness Portal on August 4, the U.S. Small Business Administration has received more than 340,000 submissions from borrowers with PPP loans of $150,000 or less. For help submitting a forgiveness application through the portal, watch this training videoLearn more

- As part of their ‘Elevating Small Business Series’ the SBA will host an online panel discussion from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. this Thursday, August 26, with rural-owned small businesses as they share their small business stories and how they utilized SBA and USDA economic aid to pivot during the pandemic. Participants will also learn about resources available from the SBA and USDA to help rural entrepreneurs compete in the marketplace: launch or expand businesses; receive counseling; funding opportunities; and help to recover or rebuild from disasters. Register

 - The SBA also invites businesses to join in September 13 - 15, for the National Small Business Week Virtual Summit to learn new business strategies, meet other business owners, and chat with industry experts. This free online event will include educational webinars, updates on resources for small businesses and a networking chat room for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Register

- The SBA's Lender Match program connects small businesses with SBA-approved lenders, community development organizations and micro-lending institutions. Learn more

 - The PA Department of Labor & Industry says it has settled a 2017 lawsuit the department filed against IBM related to the project to upgrade the state’s outdated unemployment compensation computer system. View the brief news release here: Dept. of Labor & Industry Announces Settlement with IBM (pa.gov).

- L&I’s Bureau of Workers' Compensation Health & Safety Division has released a schedule of free safety training webinars through the end of this year. CLICK HERE for a calendar outlining the webinars.

- The Independent Fiscal Office today issued a report on second-quarter natural gas production in PA, which increased 7.8 percent from the second-quarter in 2020, the strongest year-over-year growth for a quarter in nearly two years. The growth was largely driven by June production, which grew by 10 percent from June 2020. There were 10,569 total producing wells in the second-quarter of 2021, an increase of 4.9 percent from the prior year. Click Here for a copy of the report.

- The PA Departments of Education and Health are welcoming students across the commonwealth back to school, reminding parents to ensure their children’s immunizations are up to date and reminding schools about newly available public health safety initiatives. Learn more: Wolf Administration Welcomes Pennsylvania Students Back to School, Provides Health and Safety Reminders (pa.gov).

- UPMC and Weis Markets have teamed up to launch “Healthy Susquehanna,” a regional educational campaign aimed at raising health awareness in the five-county region of north central Pennsylvania through social media. The campaign focuses on addressing chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, in Clinton, Lycoming, Northumberland, Potter, and Tioga counties. Click here for details of the new venture.

- Governor Wolf today unveiled a State Forest Action Plan, which assesses the condition of Pennsylvania forests and sets a framework for strategies for long-term forest sustainability. See more: Gov. Wolf Unveils State Forest Action Plan to Address Next 10 Years of Strategic Initiatives in PA Forests.

- PA CareerLink Clinton County hosts a Resume Review session on September 9 at 10:00 a.m. at their 8 North Grove St., Lock Haven office for job seekers looking for suggestions about their resume. The free session will be conducted by the Human Resources Manager for the Wayne Township Landfill. Pre-registration is required by calling 570-893-4022. Click here for more information.

- The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a free webinar, Money from Home – Considerations for Home Based Businesses, on September 16, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The seminar will help point out the considerations in starting and operating a home-based business selling goods and services online. Register Now!


8/20/21

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,128 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,261,903. Thursday’s report saw cases exceed 3,400, the highest single-day case count since early May. Today’s data shows 1,307 people hospitalized with the virus, 338 of whom are in intensive care.

According to the state, Clinton County’s positive cases now total 3,844, with 68 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Centre County’s cases total 16,376, with 230 deaths, and Lycoming County has reported a total of 12,304 cases, with 300 deaths attributed to the virus.

To date, 13,846 people in Clinton County are fully vaccinated (40%); in Centre County, 53.2% are vaccinated, and in Lycoming County, 46.5% are fully vaccinated. See more: Department of Health: Over 11.9 Million Vaccinations to Date, 64.7% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Governor Tom Wolf is reinstating a mask mandate for all state employees and contracted staff working under his jurisdiction, regardless of their vaccination status, starting on Monday, August 23. The administration had lifted its mask mandate at the end of June for most commonwealth employees unless they worked in health care settings and correctional facilities where they have been required to comply with the Centers for Disease Control recommendations. Wearing masks will continue to be optional for visitors to state office buildings.

Earlier this month, the Governor said Pennsylvania state workers who are employed in health care facilities or other “high-risk” settings will be required to get vaccinated or be tested weekly for COVID-19. The requirement covers 25,000 state employees, including those working in state hospitals, state homes for people with intellectual disabilities, veterans homes, community health centers and state correction institutions.

- Representatives from the Health Department today joined officials from five major blood banks across the state to highlight the importance of donating blood, as the number of volunteers who regularly donate has dramatically decreased due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. More here: Department of Health Stresses Statewide Need for Blood Donations.

- Keystone Central School District today issued information on the District’s planned pandemic response for the upcoming school year. Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin says the District is committed to keeping schools open for in-person learning and is using what she called ‘layered prevention strategies’ to help prevent transmission of COVID-19 in schools. However, she cautioned that school closures could happen so she strongly recommends that families prepare for remote learning. Click here for more information.

- Following recent guidance from the Food and Drug Administration, Geisinger is now offering third-dose COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised people. Click here for details.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today said the state’s unemployment rate dropped for the fifth consecutive month. The July rate was 6.6%, with leisure and hospitality jobs seeing the biggest gain. More here: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Drops for Fifth Consecutive Month To 6.6 Percent in July (pa.gov).

- Across the country, the U.S. Department of Labor this week said that in the week ending August 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 348,000, a decrease of 29,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release.

- Since the opening of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Direct Borrower Forgiveness Portal on August 4, the U.S. Small Business Administration has received more than 340,000 submissions from borrowers with PPP loans of $150,000 or less. Borrowers who are interested in starting their applications can access the PPP Direct Forgiveness Portal. The SBA also encourages interested borrowers to attend an upcoming live webinar and Q&A sessions:

- The U.S. Department of Labor this week announced that $90 million in grants are available to support training and employment services for the workers most impacted by the pandemic. Learn more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20210819-0.

- Governor Wolf today announced that the state will use $20 million in federal pandemic relief funds to help image and hair care professionals recover from the pandemic. More here: Wolf Administration Joins Legislators to Announce $20 Million In Pandemic Relief Available to Salon Industry.

- The Department of Environmental Protection announced $1 million in 2021 Small Business Advantage Grant funding is available to small businesses and farmers who want to improve their operations through energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and natural resource protection.

- The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, in partnership with Bridgeway Capital and Community First Fund, recently announced the launch of the “Creative Business Loan Fund.” This fund makes available $2.2 million in the form of affordable, flexible financing to small, creative businesses across the commonwealth. Click here for program details.

- The state this week announced it has awarded more than $600,000 in grants to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities increase protection from wildfires. The grants were awarded o qualifying local firefighting forces in rural areas and communities with fewer than 10,000 people and can be used for training and equipment purchases related to fighting brush and forest fires. In Clinton County, Renovo Fire Department is listed as receiving a $3,000 grant, and the Avis Fire Company is listed as receiving a $1,410 grant. See more: Gov. Wolf Announces More Than $600K in Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants Awarded to 109 Departments.

- PPL Electric Utilities reached an agreement today that, if approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, will reduce the company's transmission rates and lower customer bills. According to the company, savings are expected to hit customer bills starting in December. Read more: PPL Electric Utilities Reaches Agreement to Lower Transmission Rates - Aug 20, 2021 (mediaroom.com).

- PennDOT is advising motorists to anticipate delays and consider alternate routes to avoid the bridge replacement work zone along Route 477 over Fishing Creek in Loganton the week of August 23. The contractor plans to complete approach paving, shoulder work and guide rail installation, which will require flaggers in the roadway to provide traffic control while drivers take turns crossing the bridge via the open lane. The contractor will begin flagging at 7:00 a.m. Monday, August 23, and continue until approximately 5:00 p.m. Thursday, August 26. Upon completion, the contractor will reactivate the temporary signals that have provided traffic control to this point and begin work on the opposite lane. See the full news release here: News Details (penndot.gov).

 - PennDOT also announced that paving along Route 4001 (Kettle Creek Road) in western Clinton County is scheduled to begin on Tuesday (Aug. 24) and that the road will be closed to traffic during the work. A detour using Route 144 and Route 120 will be in place while paving operations are ongoing, but the contractor will lift the closure at the close of each workday. Click here for more: News Details (penndot.gov).

- The Center for Rural Pennsylvania will hold a virtual public hearing on Tuesday, August 24, at 10:00 a.m., to examine the impacts of invasive species (including the Spotted Lanternfly, Gypsy Moth, Emerald Ash Borer, Hydrilla, and Reed Canarygrass) to Pennsylvania’s economy, agriculture, and natural resources. DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn will be joined as a panelist by Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director Timothy Schaeffer, and others. The Zoom hearing also will review policy approaches to manage these invasive threats. Please register in advance if you would like to watch the hearing.

- The PA Department of General Services announced the state will host an auction this Tuesday, August 24, during which 270 vehicles will be available for public purchase. Read more: 270 Vehicles Available for Public Purchase at Commonwealth's August 24 Auction (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will host an informational public webinar from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 25, on the recently-announced ATV Regional Trail Connector pilot program (the pilot involves opening more roads in Potter and Tioga counties to ATVs). People can Register online to attend. Learn more: DCNR to Hold Informational Public Webinar on ATV Regional Trail Connector Pilot Area Aug. 25 (pa.gov).

- State Representative Stephanie Borowicz will host a dedication and sign unveiling ceremony Saturday, August 28, designating the First Island Bridge (State Route 1002 over the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Castanea Township), as the Petty Officer Stephen “Turbo” Toboz Jr. Bridge. Click here for details


8/17/21

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,027 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,253,992. There are 1,196 people hospitalized with the virus, 316 of whom are in intensive care. The statewide percent positivity for the week of August 6-12 stood at 6.0%.

Clinton, as well as Cameron, Potter and Clearfield counties are among the 24 PA counties considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have a “high” level of community transmission. Thirty-nine counties, including Lycoming, Centre and Union, are considered to be in the ‘substantial’ range; Tioga, Warren and Forest counties are in the ‘moderate’ range; and only Sullivan County is considered by the CDC as having a ‘low’ level of community transmission. Click here for more CDC data: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view. County-specific information and a statewide map are available on the state’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

 - Governor Tom Wolf Monday announced that 80 percent of Pennsylvania’s 18 and older population have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, and, to date, 64.3 percent of that same population are fully vaccinated. Pennsylvanians aged 12 and older are eligible to get vaccinated. People can located a COVID-19 vaccine provider at vaccines.gov. For more information, see the state’s vaccination efforts and data dashboard.

- As Pennsylvania reached the 80% partial vaccination milestone, the state announced two new initiatives Monday for COVID vaccines and testing in schools:

  • The Department of Health is directing vaccine providers to support COVID-19 vaccination clinics at both K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning.
  • Additionally, both the departments of Health and Education announced an initiative to provide free COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools across the state to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and outbreaks during the upcoming school year.

More here: Wolf Administration Directs Vaccine Providers to Support COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics and Unveils Free COVID-19 Testing Program for Schools Across Pennsylvania (pa.gov).

 Meanwhile, the Department of Health last week set the expectation for all of Pennsylvania’s nursing homes to have at least 80 percent of staff vaccinated for COVID-19 by October 1. Currently, 12.5 percent of facilities have achieved a staff vaccination rate of at least 80 percent, which the state says is not enough from a public health perspective to prevent future outbreaks of the virus.

- The CDC is recommending that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC says that population group is especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness. The CDC is not recommending additional dosses or booster shots for any other population at this time. Read more: COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People | CDC.

Based on the CDC recommendation, the PA Department of Health has notified all COVID-19 vaccine providers that immunocompromised individuals who are fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna are able to receive an additional dose. See more: Department of Health: Feds Approve Additional Dose of Pfizer, Moderna Vaccine for Immunocompromised People.

- In its July 2021 report, the PA Health Department notes that nursing home surveyors conducted 466 inspections, including 289 complaint investigations, of 329 separate nursing homes. Of those inspections, 30 were COVID-19 specific. Additionally, there were five new sanctions finalized against nursing care facilities in the past month resulting in more than $40,000 in fines. Learn more: Department of Health Highlights July 2021 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- In response to the rise of positive COVID-19 cases in the region and the state, Lock Haven University Saturday began requiring masks indoors on campus, regardless of vaccination status. Mask wearing is not required in outdoors spaces on campus. Click Here for the LHU file for details.

- In the week ending August 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 375,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry is reminding Pennsylvanians that the federal pandemic unemployment benefit programs will end the week ending September 4. A breakdown of those programs can be found here. The state’s regular Unemployment Compensation program is not affected. More information here: Reminder: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefit Programs Ending Sept. 4.

- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued updated guidance to help employers protect workers from the coronavirus. The updated guidance reflects developments in science and data, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated COVID-19 guidance issued July 27. Read more: U.S. Department of Labor issues updated guidance on protecting unvaccinated and other at-risk workers from the coronavirus (govdelivery.com).

- The PA Department of State has created one-page Occupational Licensure Snapshots with descriptions of licensing requirements for nearly 100 occupations regulated by Pennsylvania’s 29 professional licensing boards and commissions. Learn more: Department of State Releases One-Page “Snapshots” Providing Simple Descriptions of Professional Licensing Requirements.

- The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday delivered the population data needed to redraw Pennsylvania’s political maps, officially setting off a process that will help determine the balance of power in Harrisburg and Washington. The state’s population topped 13 million people in 2020, but because it did not grow as much as other states over the past decade, Pennsylvania will lose one of its 18 congressional seats. In all, 44 counties in the west, central, and northern parts of the state saw declines in population, while the southeast continued to grow.

According to the data, Clinton County saw a population decline of 4.6%, showing 37,450 residents in 2020 versus 39,238 in 2010. Lycoming County saw a decline of 1.7% (114,188 2020 population vs. 116.111 10 years ago). Centre was the only county in the region to show a population increase, growing 2.7%, with 158,172 people in 2020 versus 153-990 in the 2010 census. Additionally, Potter County saw a 6.1% population decline; Cameron, a 10.6% decline; Clearfield, a 1.3% decline; and Union a 5% decline. Only one county in Pennsylvania saw more than a 10% growth – Cumberland, at 10.2%. For more Census data, go to: https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/2020-population-and-housing-state-data.html.

- Updates from the U.S. Chamber:

  • With the current threat of the Delta variant and the ramifications it could have for business, many organizations are choosing to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine among employees. Here’s what you need to knowabout how your business can communicate and enforce your vaccination policy with compassion and fairness.
  • A number of changes were recently announced related to PPP loan forgiveness and the Vaccine Tax Credit.  We have put together a webinar explaining these changes, and have also updated our PPP Loan Forgiveness Guide.  See PPP/Vaccine Tax Credit below to watch the webinar and download the guide.

PPP / Vaccine Tax Credit:

  • The Senate last week voted 69-30 to advance the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which makes many of the investments we need now to repair and modernize our nation’s infrastructure. This legislation now moves to the House. You can read our statement here

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

  • The SBA has announced updates to the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program. Eligible applicants can seek economic aid for live entertainment small businesses, nonprofits, and venues through this Friday, August 20. The SVOG program has so far awarded $8.4 billion in grants to more than 10,800 businesses. After August 20, the SBA plans to open a supplemental award program of about $8 billion as part of the SVOG. Read more: SBA Announces Plan to Open Supplemental Grants for Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Applicants.
  • The SBA will host an online panel discussion on August 26, with rural-owned small businesses as they share their small business stories and how they utilized SBA and USDA economic aid to pivot during the pandemic. Participants will also learn about resources available from the SBA and USDA to help rural entrepreneurs compete in the marketplace: launch or expand businesses; receive counseling; funding opportunities; and help to recover or rebuild from disasters. Register
  • The SBA is currently accepting applications through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Forgiveness Portal which is a streamlined application portal that allows borrowers with PPP loans $150,000 or less through participating lenders to apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA. Learn more.

- The Wolf Administration today commemorated the two-year anniversary of Pennie, Pennsylvania’s state-based health exchange. To date, more than 335,000 consumers have enrolled for coverage through Pennie, and, because of the American Rescue Plan, average premiums after subsidies have dropped by half since the beginning of the year, down to $86 a month. See more: Wolf Administration Commemorates Pennie’s Two-Year Anniversary; Encourages Pennsylvanians to Enroll in Health Coverage (pa.gov).

- UPMC is having a Hiring Event next Tuesday, August 24, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at the PA CareerLink Clinton County office at 8 North Grove Street in Lock Haven. The health care system is seeking full-time, part-time and per diem positions. Click Here for the  CareerLink file for more information.

 - PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity today announced that more than $142 million has been disbursed to Pennsylvanians who applied for Property Tax/Rent Rebate payments so far this year. Read more: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a webinar, “Creating a Business Plan – The Lean Canvas”, this Thursday, August 19, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Register HERE!

8/10/21

- Cases of COVID-19 continue to grow in Pennsylvania and over the weekend creeped to more than 2,000 new cases a day for the first time in many months. The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,076 positive cases of the virus, bringing the statewide total to 1,240,032. There are 847 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 204 of whom are in intensive care. Statewide percent positivity for the week of July 30-August 5 stood at 5.4%. Read more: Department of Health: Over 11.7 Million Vaccinations to Date, 63.8% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Clinton County, as well as neighboring Potter County, is listed in the “high” level of community transmission. Centre and Lycoming counties are at the “substantial” level, and neighboring Cameron County is the only county in the state currently listed as being in the “low” level of community transmission. The CDC’s Covid Data Tracker database lists Clinton County as currently having 3,776 positive COVID cases, and 68 deaths attributed to the virus. The number of people in Clinton County over the age of 12 who are fully vaccinated currently stands at 13,564 (40.3%). In Lycoming County, 40,080 people over age 12 are fully vaccinated (49%), and Centre County has 80,999 people over age 12 who are fully vaccinated (55.2%). More data is available here: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf this afternoon announced a “vaccine or test” requirement for Commonwealth employees in health care and high-risk congregate facilities, and unveiled an incentive program designed to encourage all state employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Read more: Governor Wolf Announces ‘Vaccine or Test’ Requirement for ​Commonwealth Employees in Health Care and High-Risk Congregate Facilities (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf continues to urge Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated to stop the spread of COVID-19. See more: Gov. Wolf Continues to Urge Pennsylvanians to Get Vaccinated to Stop Spread of COVID-19 (pa.gov).

- Geisinger continues to offer walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations at facilities locally and throughout the region, including a free clinic this Thursday, August 12, at Jersey Shore Hospital, and by-appointment vaccinations at the Geisinger Pharmacy in Lock Haven. Click Here for the Geisinger news release for details.

- People attending Ag Progress Days this week at Penn State can receive a free COVID-19 vaccination. The PA Department of Agriculture today announced that the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be distributed Tuesday (Aug. 11) from 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., and Wednesday (Aug. 12) from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Details here: Secretary of Agriculture: Free COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Ag Progress Days (pa.gov).

- PA Education Secretary Dr. Noe Ortega today joined U.S. Department of Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona to highlight plans for a safe return of school-age students to the classrooms, including encouraging students and school communities to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more: State Education Secretary Highlights Safe Return to Schools During U.S. Education Secretary Tour (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania will receive an additional $1.6 billion in one-time pandemic relief to support the safe return to in-person learning, bringing to $5 billion in federal funding earmarked for students impacted by the pandemic. See more: Wolf Administration Announces Additional $1.6 Billion in Federal Relief for Schools (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Corrections today began assigning incarcerated individuals to housing units based on their vaccination status. Also part of an effort to protect inmates against COVID-19, in-person visitation is suspended until further notice for un-vaccinated inmate populations only. More here: Department of Corrections Announces Proactive Mitigation Efforts to Protect Against COVID-19.

- Penn State University is requiring students, staff and visitors at all its campuses to wear masks while indoors, the school announced Wednesday, responding to a statewide surge in coronavirus cases. The masking rule, effective immediately, will apply to everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Read more: Penn State requiring everyone to wear masks at all its campuses - pennlive.com.

- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the American economy added 943,000 jobs in the month of July, and the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent, down from 5.9 percent in June. Statement by US Secretary of Labor Walsh on the July Jobs Report | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

The Bureau also reported that the number of unemployed people fell by 782,000, to 8.7 million. In the week ending July 31, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 385,000, a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- Pennsylvania this Thursday, August 12, will launch “PA CareerLink Day” in an effort to connect workers with businesses looking to hire. In Clinton County, the local PA CareerLink office at 8 North Grove Street in Lock Haven will conduct a resume workshop to help job seekers strengthen their resume. A human resources representative from UPMC will conduct the free workshop. Click Here for the PA CareerLink flyer for details, and click here to read more on PA CareerLink Day happenings around the state: Pennsylvania to Launch “PA CareerLink® Day” on Aug. 12 to Connect Workers with Businesses Looking to Hire.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry this week announced plans to launch a new statewide program this Saturday, August 14, to help PA job seekers gain skills they need to join the workforce or advance their career. Learn more: L&I Announces Free Statewide Virtual Job Training Program for Pennsylvanians (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of State has announced that its professional licensing waivers issued under the COVID-19 disaster declaration will begin to expire in several phases starting next Tuesday, August 17. More information here: Pennsylvania Announces Upcoming End to Pandemic-Related Licensing Waivers.

- The Internal Revenue Service today announced it is providing transition relief to certain employers claiming the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).  The WOTC is a federal income tax credit available to employers that hire certified members of certain groups specified in the Internal Revenue Code who face significant barriers to employment, including Designated Community Residents or Qualified Summer Youth Employees. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-relief-for-certain-employers-claiming-the-work-opportunity-tax-credit.

- The Department of the Treasury and the IRS today also issued a safe harbor allowing employers to exclude certain items from their gross receipts solely for determining eligibility for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). See more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-provide-gross-receipts-safe-harbor-for-employers-claiming-the-employee-retention-credit.

- The Treasury and IRS have issued further guidance on the employee retention credit, including guidance for employers who pay qualified wages after June 30, 2021, and before January 1, 2022, and additional guidance on miscellaneous issues that apply to the employee retention credit in both 2020 and 2021. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-provide-additional-guidance-to-employers-claiming-the-employee-retention-credit-including-for-the-third-and-fourth-quarters-of-2021.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry is reminding Pennsylvanians that federal unemployment benefit programs, including Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), will end September 4. More here: Reminder: Federal Temporary Unemployment Benefit Programs to End Sept. 4 (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf last week announced that West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc., will expand and modernize its Williamsport manufacturing plant, investing over $18 million and retaining 1,110 jobs statewide and creating more than 200 new jobs at the company’s Williamsport and Jersey Shore facilities and at the company’s headquarters in Exton, PA. More here: Wolf Administration: Global Pharmaceutical Supply Manufacturer Expands at Lycoming County Site, Brings Over 200 Jobs to Region and Chester County.

- Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senator Bob Casey today issued a news release regarding what he says are “key infrastructure wins for Pennsylvania” that are included in the newly-passed Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. Click Here for the Senator Casey file for more information.

- The SBA is currently accepting applications through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Forgiveness Portal which is a streamlined application portal that allows borrowers with PPP loans $150,000 or less through participating lenders to apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA. Learn more

- If you are appealing your Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness decision, you won’t have to start paying back your loan just yet. In its latest interim final rule (IFR), the Small Business Administration announced that anyone appealing a forgiveness decision, now or in the future, can defer loan repayments. Prior to the ruling, borrowers were expected to begin making loan payments as originally scheduled (10 months after the eight- or 24-week covered period ends), regardless of the status of their loan appeal. Going forward, you’ll no longer need to make principal and interest payments on the loan until after your appeal is resolved. If your loan ends up being fully forgiven, you may not need to pay anything at all. 

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week issued a new moratorium on evictions that would last until October 3. Learn more: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0803-cdc-eviction-order.html

- The PA State System of Higher Education recently appointed Dr. Bashar Hanna as interim president of Mansfield University. Dr. Hanna, the president of Bloomsburg University, also holds interim president status at Lock Haven University. LHU, Bloomsburg and Mansfield make up the three universities that are working toward integration. Read more: Dr. Bashar Hanna begins appointment as Mansfield University Interim President – Mansfield University News

- Updates/resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration: 

  • Small business owners: If your company is located in a designated historically underutilized business zone, it may be eligible for set-aside government contracts.Learn more
  • The American Rescue Plan extends a number of critical tax benefits, particularly the Employee Retention Credit and Paid Leave Credit, to small businesses. Learn more
  • Nearly 96% of consumers live outside the United States. If you’re considering exporting, the SBA can help. Learn more 

- Updates and resources from the U.S. Chamber:

 - Some additional resources from the U.S. Chamber’s CO- education arm: 

  • Grant applications are just that – an application, not a promise. Fortunately, with these tips, you can better position your grant application to stand out among the crowd so you get the funds you need now.
  • Maybe the pandemic has caused you to rethink your business’s sales strategy. Or maybe you see the opportunity in selling more products online than you did before. Either way, this guide will help strengthen your online sales strategy.

- To help our members combat the growing instances of fraud and cyber security attacks, we offer the following resources:

  • Partnership member Cloud Mania, LLC, is offering a free report, “7 Urgent Security Protections Every Business Should Have In Place Now,” that offers ways to avoid cybercrime. See the attached Cloud Mania flyer for that report.
  • Cyber-attacks are a growing concern for small businesses. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has created a cybersecurity guide to help small businesses implement organizational cybersecurity practices. Learn more 

- The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is seeking motorists’ input on traffic safety and driving behaviors through its annual online Highway Safety Survey. The survey is available through August 23 and should take about five minutes to complete. All responses, including the “comments” fields, are anonymous.

Nearly 8,000 people responded to last year’s survey, answering questions about safety habits such as seat belt use, impaired driving, speeding and distracted driving. Notably, nearly 91% of respondents said they always wear a seat belt and approximately 88% said they never drive while impaired. When asked how often they choose to exceed the posted speed limit, nearly 84% said they speed at least some of the time. 

- The U.S. Census Bureau by August 16 is set to release in-depth demographic statistics from the 2020 Census that will be used to redraw legislative voting districts. More here: Upcoming Release of 2020 Census Redistricting Data Will Paint a Clearer Portrait of America.

- Upcoming Webinars from the Penn State Small Business Development Center:

  • The First Step to Small Business Success, August 10 at 9:30 am - Register Here
  • Cultivating the Soil: Storytelling for Agritourism, August 11 at 6:00 pm - Register Here
  • Crisis Management with 360° Planning: A GrowthWheel Event, September 2 at 12:00 pm - Register Here
  • Getting a 360ºPerspective on your Business, Weekly September 7 - October 5 - Learn more 

Check out: All Upcoming SBDC Events. And, click here for SBDC Pandemic Support Resources.

- The SBA hosts a noontime webinar, Thinking of Starting or Growing Your Small Business?, Wednesday, August 11. Learn how the SBA helps both entrepreneurs and small business owners grown their companies with free, hands-on assistance. Click and Register

8/3/21

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released new data showing an escalation in the number of Pennsylvania counties that have substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission. As of today, there are 25 counties – mostly in the higher population areas in the western and eastern ends of the state – that are showing a “substantial” transmission rate. This is in contrast to information from the CDC just Monday that showed only nine counties with high or substantial transmission rates.

Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties continue to be in the moderate level of transmission; however, neighboring Clearfield County is among the counties listed as substantial. There are only two counties – Tioga and Fulton – that have what the CDC considers as a low rate of community transmission. For more information, go to: CDC COVID Data Tracker.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 1,442 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,228,961. There are 563 people hospitalized with the virus, 110 of whom are in intensive care. The statewide percent positivity for the week of July 23-29 stood at 3.9%, up from last week and the week before that.

As of today, vaccine providers have administered 11,667,152 total vaccine doses; 5,727,429 people are fully vaccinated, with 14,038 vaccinations administered Monday and a seven-day moving average of more than 12,900 people per day receiving vaccinations. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.6 Million Vaccinations to Date, 63.2% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

- Geisinger continues to offer walk-in and by appointment COVID-19 vaccines to anyone age 12 and older. In a news release issued today, Geisinger said vaccinations are available at its four vaccine centers (one of which is Jersey Shore Hospital) and at select Geisinger Pharmacy locations (including the Pharmacy at Geisinger’s Spring Street location in Lock Haven). Walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations will be available this Thursday, Aug. 5, at Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital, 1020 Thompson St., Jersey Shore, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In addition to appointments and walk-in times at vaccine centers, by-appointment COVID-19 vaccines are available at select Geisinger Pharmacy locations, including Lock Haven.

Geisinger is offering the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at all locations, which is a two-dose vaccine administered 21 days apart. The vaccines are available to anyone age 12 and over, but those under 18 years old must have a parent or legal guardian with them during vaccination. Appointments for a vaccine at one of the vaccine centers or a Geisinger Pharmacy can be made through myGeisinger or by calling 570-284-3657. To check on additional walk-in vaccine days and times, and for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit geisinger.org/COVIDVax.

Masks are required for all patients and visitors (regardless of vaccination status) in all Geisinger buildings.

- Governor Tom Wolf and members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force last week sent a letter to the PA General Assembly, the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, and county and local officials asking them to support vaccination efforts in PA and encourage their constituents to get vaccinated. More here: Gov. Wolf, Vaccine Task Force Ask Elected Officials to Support Lifesaving Vaccination Efforts (pa.gov).

- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Delta COVID-19 variant has caused over 75 percent of recent COVID cases in the U.S., according to estimates, and will likely cause more. The CDC has released a new video, The Delta Variant: What You Should Know, that provides information on the Delta variant and what people can do to help slow the spread. Watch the Video.

In all, 34,972,532 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States. The CDC says cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are increasing in nearly all states, fueled by the Delta variant. According to the CDC, the biggest increases in cases are happening in places with low vaccination rates and among unvaccinated people. Read more about COVID-19 trends, variants, and vaccination in the COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review.

- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers with loans of up to $150,000 are eligible to submit their forgiveness application directly to the U.S. Small Business Administration rather than with their banks through the new PPP Forgiveness Portal. The portal will begin accepting applications tomorrow, Wednesday, August 4, and the application process should take about 10 minutes.

- The SBA also announced that the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program has awarded over $7.5 billion in total funding to more than 10,000 live venues and related businesses across America and U.S. territories. The SVOG portal remains open and funding is still available for all eligible applicants. Learn more.

- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration collaborated with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to revise a handbook on workplace safety and health information for small business employers. The Small Business Safety and Health Handbook highlights the benefits of implementing an effective safety and health program, provides self-inspection checklists for employers to identify workplace hazards and review important workplace safety and health resources for small businesses. Read more: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOL/bulletins/2eb32e9.

- Pennsylvania collected $2.7 billion in General Fund revenue in July, the first month of the 2021-22 fiscal year, Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell reported Monday. See more: Revenue Department Releases July 2021 Collections.

- PA Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today announced that Pennsylvania’s insurance market expects to offer more options and greater competition than ever before based on the proposed health insurance plans for 2022. With eight insurers planning to offer plans in the commonwealth and multiple insurers in all 67 counties, Pennsylvanians will have more health insurance choices than ever before. Learn more: Insurance Department Releases ACA Plans; Pennsylvanians to See More Plans, Insurers, and Stable Premiums in 2022.

- PPL this week opened its major grant cycle, for nonprofit organizations seeking funding of $25,000 and above. These capacity-building grants support nonprofit organizations working to improve the lives and well-being of residents through:

  • 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
  • Sustainable communitiessuch as access to services such as housing and food access; environmental conservation programs and neighborhood improvement.

The grants are competitive; all applications undergo a review by a regional committee before being considered by the PPL Foundation board of directors. Applicants must operate within the PPL service territory. Interested organizations can learn more and apply at www.pplcares.com (click on Major Grants). Applications will be accepted through September 15.

- The Western PA Conservancy is now accepting applications for Watershed Mini Grants from organizations within a 28-county region of PA that includes Clinton County. Funding for this grant program is provided by BHE GT&S, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy. The Watershed Mini Grants can be used to cover expenses in three areas:

   - Water Quality Monitoring ($3,500 limit)

   - Restoration Projects ($3,500 limit)

   - Organizational Promotion and Outreach ($2,500 limit)

The deadline for applications is October 1. Click Here for all the details.

- The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is encouraging state partners, qualified non-profit entities, and academic institutions to apply for Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program grants that fund not-for-profit acid mine drainage reclamation projects. The deadline for applications is September 7. Click Here for all the details.

- PennDOT is alerting area drivers that a new box culvert on Marsh Creek Road in Centre County will open by the end of the day tomorrow, August 4. The box culvert spans an unnamed tributary of Marsh Creek on Marsh Creek Road (Route 1002) northwest of Howard. More information here: News Details (penndot.gov).

- PennDOT is seeking motorists’ input on traffic safety and driving behaviors through its annual online Highway Safety Survey found at www.PennDOT.gov/Safety. People can take the brief survey through August 23. See more: Details (penndot.gov).

- And, PennDOT’s annual report, highlighting accomplishments from 2020, is now available on the department website.  Read More

7/30/21

- For the second day in a row, the state is reporting more than a thousand new cases of COVID-19. The PA Department of Health today reported an additional 1,110 positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,224,500 (the Department reported 1,088 new cases on Thursday). Statewide, there are 473 people hospitalized with the virus – also a growing number – with 101 people in intensive care. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.6 Million Vaccinations to Date, 62.8% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

- On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that counties showing substantial or high rates of COVID-19 transmission return to masking indoors, regardless of vaccination status. In Pennsylvania, most of the state is considered to be in either low or moderate transmission status as of July 25, with two counties showing high rates of transmission and five counties with substantial transmission. The high-rate counties are Crawford and Cameron counties, and the substantial-rate counties are Adams, Lawrence, Wyoming, Monroe and Northampton. (NOTE: Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties are considered as being in the “moderate” level of transmission status). Read more: These 7 Pennsylvania counties should mask indoors regardless of vaccination status, per CDC guidance - pennlive.com. (Source: PennLive)

- Pennsylvania this week announced a new initiative to get more people fully vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus. Starting next week, the PA Health Department will send “second dose reminder” text messages to more than 250,000 people who got their first dose but missed their second appointment. Read more: Department of Health Launches Text Messaging Initiative to Get More Pennsylvanians Fully Vaccinated.

- Geisinger continues to offer walk-in and by-appointment COVID-19 vaccine events at its four vaccine centers, one of which is the Jersey Shore Hospital. Geisinger is offering the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at all locations, which is a two-dose vaccine administered 21 days apart. The vaccines are available to anyone age 12 and over, but those under 18 years old must have a parent or legal guardian with them during vaccination. Appointments for a vaccine at one of the vaccine centers can be made through myGeisinger or by calling (570) 284-3657. To check on walk-in vaccine days and times, and for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit geisinger.org/COVIDVax.

- A case of COVID has resulted in the cancellation of a production at Millbrook Playhouse in Mill Hall. The Playhouse Thursday issued notice that the Grand Legends performance, which was to start tonight (July 30) and run through August 7, has been cancelled. The notification read, “Unfortunately, despite diligent safety procedures, including full company vaccination, one of our company members has tested positive for the coronavirus. Due to this situation, and for the safety of our patrons, performers, and staff, we will be canceling our production of Grand Legends. We hope that we can reschedule it in the future.”

The Playhouse will move forward with the production of the children’s performance, Snow White, which opens Saturday, July 31, on the open-air courtyard stage, as well as the Millbrook youth camps beginning Monday, August 2. The notification added, “Please know that the well-being of our company and patrons is paramount to us, and going forward with the fall season, we will continue to take all precautions to ensure the health and safety of our staff, which includes vaccinations and regular covid testing.”

- Governor Tom Wolf this week helped mark the 56th anniversary of Medicaid and the 2nd anniversary of Pennsylvania’s new state-based health insurance marketplace, known as Pennie, and to encourage people to visit pennie.com for affordable coverage options. Pennie replaced healthcare.gov as PA’s official destination for shopping for health insurance plans. Currently, there are more than 336,000 Pennie customers throughout the state. Since the COVID-19 enrollment period opened in mid-February, Pennie has seen over 55,000 enrollments. More information here: Gov. Wolf Celebrates Pennie and Medicaid Anniversaries; Reinforces Importance of Affordable, Quality Health Care for Pennsylvanians (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Small Business Administration is launching a streamlined application portal to allow borrowers with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans $150,000 or less through participating lenders to apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA. The new portal is expected to streamline the loan forgiveness process for over 6.5 million businesses. Read more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/jul/28/sba-announces-opening-paycheck-protection-program-direct-forgiveness-portal.

- According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly employment information….In the week ending July 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 400,000, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous week's revised level. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4 percent for the week ending July 17, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending July 17 was 3,269,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read more: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/OPA/newsreleases/ui-claims/20211419.pdf.

- A workforce update from 25th District State Senator Cris Dush: The economic impact of the workforce shortage facing Pennsylvania employers was the topic of a public hearing Wednesday by the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee. Pennsylvania is facing a serious workforce crisis that is threatening our employers and slowing our economic recovery. Businesses across the Commonwealth have been forced to curtail their hours of operation or even close because of a workforce shortage. The panel heard from the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, local employers and the PA Restaurant and Lodging Association in order to fully identify the employers’ needs and the role the General Assembly can play in creating an environment for economic growth and job creation. You can view hearing video and more here.

- Governor Wolf Wednesday joined President Joe Biden at Mack Trucks in Lehigh County, to highlight the President’s plan to Buy American and support jobs for American workers. See more: Gov. Wolf Joins President Biden for Announcement to ‘Buy American,’ Support American Workers (pa.gov).

- U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, in a guest editorial this week, cited child care as the number one reason many Americans do not want to get a job. Click Here for the U.S. Commerce Secretary file for the full article. 

- PBS News Hour reportsIn the year ending in June, wages and salaries jumped 3.5% for workers in the private sector, the largest increase in more than 14 years. That increase was driven by sharp rise in pay for restaurant and hotel workers of more than 6%.

- The U.S. Economic Development Administration is hosting a series of webinars in August about the newly announced EDA funding opportunities through the American Rescue Plan. The application process is now open. Deadlines vary based on program. An initial webinar to provide an overview of the new programs was held this week, and a second “EDA 101 and American Rescue Plan webinar will be held this coming Wednesday, August 4 at 2 p.m. EDT.

For those interested in one of the specific programs, following is a list of upcoming webinars. Click on the webinar topic to register:

 For a full list of webinars or learn more about the EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs, visit www.eda.gov/ARPA

- PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today encouraged farmers to apply for funding to strengthen the long-term health and vitality of PA’s farms. Nearly $763,000 of the $1 million Farm Vitality Grant Program remains available. The program opened in mid-April and will remain open until all funds are exhausted. See more: Secretary of Agriculture Encourages Farmers to Take Advantage of Grant Program to Pay for Business Planning Services.

- State officials and the State Police Thursday issued a reminder to PA residents to be wary of fraudsters who are using information stolen from private-sector data leaks to apply for unemployment compensation. They urge people to be vigilant of fraud and to take action if they become a victim. Learn more: PSP Warns Fraudsters are Using Information Stolen from Private-Sector Data Leaks to Apply for Unemployment Compensation Benefits (pa.gov).

- The federal eviction moratorium ends on July 31. But if you know of someone struggling to make rent or pay utility bills due to the pandemic, help is available via the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Funds through the ERAP can also be available for landlords. In Clinton County, the Clinton County Housing Coalition is administering the program. Initially set to run through the end of this year, the program has now been extended into September of 2022. Learn more: https://www.dhs.pa.gov/ERAP/Pages/ERAP.aspx.

- PA House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) sent a letter to state agencies Monday telling them to prepare to have the nearly 500 waived and suspended regulations reinstated on September 30, while also working with House standing committees on reviewing which regulations should be permanently repealed or reformed. 

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced Thursday that the fifth batch of payments under the American Rescue Plan Act’s (ARPA) Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery program has been sent to qualifying Pennsylvania municipalities. Disbursements made this week include payments to 233 municipalities totaling $22.6 million. Combined with the 1,885 payments made previously, which totaled $441 million, that means 2,118 Pennsylvania municipalities have received more than $463 million. See more: https://www.patreasury.gov/newsroom/archive/2021/07-29-ARPA-Funding.html.

- Calling it a key security issue, the Internal Revenue Service today urged those entities with Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) to update their applications if there has been a change in the responsible party or contact information. Learn more: IRS: Businesses, charities, others with Employer Identification Numbers must update responsible party information within 60 days of any change | Internal Revenue Service.

- The IRS reports that another 1.5 million taxpayers will receive refunds averaging more than $1,600 as it continues to adjust unemployment compensation from previously filed income tax returns. See more: IRS continues unemployment compensation adjustments, prepares another 1.5 million refunds | Internal Revenue Service

- The IRS Thursday updated frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the paid sick and family leave tax credits under the American Rescue Plan Act. The updates clarify that eligible employers can claim the credits for providing leave to employees to accompany a family or household member or certain other individuals to obtain immunization relating to COVID-19 or to care for a family or household member or certain other individuals recovering from the immunization. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/paid-leave-credit-available-for-providing-leave-to-employees-caring-for-individuals-obtaining-or-recovering-from-a-covid-19-immunization.

- FirstEnergy customers: FirstEnergy Corporation this week announced the implementation of a new phase of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EE&C) programs offered to their customers – including businesses and industrial users – as part of Pa legislation known as ACT 129, which was designed to reduce energy consumption and demand. Click Here for the two-page FirstEnergy flyer for details or pass the info on to those in your business engaged in facility maintenance, physical plant or building and grounds.

- UPMC this week announced that its Board of Directors selected Leslie Davis to succeed the retiring Jeffrey Romoff as President & CEO, effective August 1. Board chair Nicholas Beckwith said, “During her 17 years at UPMC, Ms. Davis has demonstrated a commitment to both clinical excellence and building relationships with patients, doctors, employees, leaders, and communities. This experience leaves her exceptionally well-qualified to lead a large organization like UPMC to future success and growth at such a critical time for the health care and insurance industries. We are thrilled to announce Leslie as UPMC’s next leader. She brings a stellar track record built over three decades of leadership in health care with the background and expertise to propel UPMC into the next phase of growth.

- PennDOT announced today that the Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC) has submitted its report to Governor Wolf and the General Assembly. The TROC report presents an overview of transportation funding in Pennsylvania and outlines the commission’s review of several potential revenue sources including road user charges, tolling, redirection of funding, fees, and taxes. Analysis of each option includes potential revenue that a given solution could bring the commonwealth, concerns raised by commission members relating to each option, and suggested next steps. Read more: Article (penndot.gov).

- PennDOT is alerting regional drivers to traffic impacts on Route 4001 (Kettle Creek Road) in Clinton County. Work got underway this week to remove guide rail along a 4-mile stretch of the road. The work zone starts in Noyes Township about 4 miles northwest of Route 120 and stretches north for about four miles in Leidy Township. Once the guiderail is removed, installation of new guiderail will be delayed until paving takes place in mid-to-late August. Without guide rail along the road, drivers are advised to use caution and slow their speed while traveling Kettle Creek Road.

Meanwhile, work to place gabion baskets along this same stretch will occur from August 2 through August 20. Roadway flagging will be in place as needed for the guide rail and gabion basket work. Once gabion baskets are complete, paving will take place and new guide rail will be installed. More here: News Details (penndot.gov)

- Governor Wolf today highlighted the importance of outdoor spaces to peoples’ well-being during the pandemic as he announced Penn’s Parks for All – A Plan for Pennsylvania’s State Parks of Tomorrow. Read more: Gov. Wolf Says All People Need State Parks, Launches Effort to Sustain Them, Make Them Welcoming to All.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced the department will soon begin accepting applications for grants aiding snowmobile- and ATV-related projects. Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, August 2 through September 30 through DCNR's online grant application system. More information here: Wolf Administration Announces Grants to be Available (pa.gov).

- For those interested in applying for an elk hunting permit in Pennsylvania’s annual elk-license drawing, the deadline to enter is tomorrow, July 31. More here: TIME RUNNING OUT FOR PROSPECTIVE ELK HUNTERS (pa.gov).

- The PA Fish and Boat Commission today announced nearly $380,000 in grants to develop and implement projects that benefit fishing, boating and aquatic resources in nearby Cameron, Potter, Elk and McKean counties. More here: GRANTS AWARDED FOR SINNEMAHONING WATERSHED RESTORATION PROJECTS (pa.gov).

- PA CareerLink hosts a Zoom presentation on Unemployment Compensation on Thursday, August 5, from 10:00 a.m. until noon. Learn the latest about UC for your business from UC Workforce Development rep Nancy Smithbauer. Register to participate at: https://forms.gle/kPg7Zbf2cqqN4AE67.

- From the U.S. Chamber: Discover creative ways to tailor your social media content at our next CO— Roadmap for Rebuilding on Thursday, August 5 at 12:00 pm. Register now to learn more about choosing the right platform for you and building a marketing plan from our panel of small business leaders, and then ask your questions live.

- PA CareerLink hosts a Resume Review on Thursday, August 12, at 10:00 a.m. at their Clinton County office at 8 North Grove St., Lock Haven. The session will be conducted by a member of the UPMC Talent Acquisition Team and is open to anyone who would like to receive suggestions on their resume. Pre-registration is required by calling 570-893-4022.

7/27/21

- There continues to be an up-tick in COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania. The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 986 positive cases of the virus, bringing the statewide total to 1,221,657. The state has recorded 3,722 cases of COVID-19 in Clinton County since the pandemic began; 17,020 cases in Centre County; and 12,009 cases in Lycoming County. Statewide, there currently are 430 people hospitalized with the virus, 97 of whom are in intensive care, and the trend in the 14-day moving average number of hospitalized patients continues to increase. The statewide percent positivity for the week of July 16-22 stood at 2.6%. More data here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1537.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today reversed course on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.

Meanwhile, Gov. Wolf was quoted in news outlets around the commonwealth as saying "I'm not considering any statewide [mask] mandate." He has made it clear the Administration's strategy for fighting the virus is through vaccines. The Administration released an expanded statement late this afternoon, which read, "The administration is not considering reinstating a statewide mandate; however, we recommend Pennsylvanians, including schools, follow CDC guidance. Further, businesses and local governments may adopt stricter COVID prevention strategies, including mask requirements."

- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to mandate coronavirus vaccination for employees Monday when its leaders gave heath care workers eight weeks to get inoculated. Read more: https://www.pennlive.com/nation-world/2021/07/veterans-affairs-tell-workers-they-have-8-weeks-to-get-the-covid-19-vaccine.html?e=1a2598713c24f3b9b618fcff2a4a0f97&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_coronavirus%202021-07-27&utm_term=Newsletter_coronavirus (Source: PennLive)

Meanwhile, the U.S. has decided not to lift existing travel restrictions “at this point” because of the alarming surge of new COVID-19 cases nationwide and spread of the highly contagious delta variant. See more: https://www.pennlive.com/nation-world/2021/07/citing-the-delta-variant-us-reportedly-decides-not-to-lift-travel-restrictions.html?e=1a2598713c24f3b9b618fcff2a4a0f97&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_coronavirus%202021-07-27&utm_term=Newsletter_coronavirus. (Source: PennLive)

- With Delta variant COVID-19 cases rising, click here for information on the symptoms to look for: https://www.pennlive.com/coronavirus/2021/07/with-delta-variant-covid-19-cases-rising-here-are-the-symptoms-to-look-for.html?e=1a2598713c24f3b9b618fcff2a4a0f97&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_coronavirus%202021-07-27&utm_term=Newsletter_coronavirus.

- With the start of the 2021-22 school year about a month away, the PA Departments of Health and Education are offering recommendations to families and schools as they safely prepare for in-person teaching and learning. Vaccinations, school guidance, and face coverings/masks are highlighted. Learn more: Preparing for a Safe New School Year. 

- The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has unveiled Pennsylvania: Work Smart, Live Happy, to help market the state, attract and retain top talent, and assist with business attraction and development. Learn more: Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Releases New Magazine to Help Promote the State - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- Responding to skyrocketing claims of Unemployment Insurance Fraud, the PA Department of Labor and Industry this week provided employers with helpful tips for reporting fraudulent claims. -> Read More (Source: PA Chamber)

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

  • The SBA Office of Capital Access will host a webinar series for small business owners to discuss the COVID EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) program’s small business loans. The EIDL program is a Federal small business loan program designed to support small businesses to recover from the COVID-19 economic recession by providing accessible and borrower-friendly capital. Information at each webinar will be the same. The webinar schedule includes:
  • Cyber attacks are a growing concern for small businesses. The types of threats include malware, ransomware and phishing. The SBA has tools and resources to help you protect your small business. Learn more. 
  • The SBA today reached a new milestone of successfully awarding over $7.5 billion in Shuttered Venue Operators Grants to more than 10,000 hard-hit live entertainment small businesses, nonprofits, and venues. The SVOG program is designed to assist in getting the nation’s cultural institutions back on track after being shuttered due to the pandemic. The SBA continues to accept applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. To submit an application, visit sba.gov/svogrant.
  • As a reminderSBA directly communicates from email addresses ending in @sba.gov. SBA also communicates via email updates/notifications using an email marketing platform. Those emails end in @updates.sba.gov. One exception is noted: If you applied for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and emailed the SVOG Support Center, you may receive an email back from a zendesk.com account. This is an authorized SBA contractor. 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. To report potential fraud, visit sba.gov/covidfraudalert.
  • The American Rescue Plan extends a number of critical tax benefits, particularly the Employee Retention Credit and Paid Leave Credit, to small businesses. Learn more.

- From the PA Chamber: 

  • A report released last week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that states and territories overpaid billions in unemployment benefits during the pandemic.Reporting shows that GAO identified $12.9B in overpayments made between March 2020 and April 2021 and noted the final total would be higher as several states had yet to report numbers for the period.
  • Amid discussions on plans for nearly $5T in federal spending, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week reminded lawmakersthat the 2019 suspension of the federal government’s statutory debt limit—the debt ceiling—was set to expire on July 31.  Without further Congressional intervention to raise or suspend the limit, the CBO expects the U.S. to be unable to meet its obligations in October or November.

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for up to $1 million Small Business Advantage Grants on a first-come, first-served basis. The Program assists small businesses undertaking energy efficiency, pollution prevention or natural resource conservation projects. For more information, visit DEP’s Small Business Advantage Grants webpage.

- DEP is also accepting applications for two Driving PA Forward funding programs-- the Truck and Bus Fleet Grants and Onroad Rebates to reduce diesel emissions. Details here: PA Environment Digest Blog: DEP Now Accepting Applications For Driving PA Forward Truck & Bus Fleet Grants, Onroad Rebates To Reduce Diesel Emissions (paenvironmentdaily.blogspot.com)

These other cleaner fuels funding opportunities are also open:

- In his latest weekly newsletter, 12th District Congressman Fred Keller notes that the IRS provides free interactive online training to help officers, board members, and volunteers maintain their organization’s tax-exempt status at StayExempt.irs.gov. The Maintaining 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status course discusses what responsibilities organizations have and what activities can jeopardize an organization’s 501(c)(3) status. The Tax-Exempt Organization Workshop provides additional information on the benefits, limitations and expectations of tax-exempt organizations.

- The PA Department of Human Services today discussed the upcoming July 31 end of the federal eviction moratorium and urged Pennsylvanians at risk of eviction or utility shutoffs because of COVID-19 to apply for assistance available through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Read more: Department of Human Services, York City and County Officials Urge Pennsylvanians to Apply for Rental Assistance Ahead of Federal Eviction Moratorium Expiring.

ERAP program assistance is available in Clinton County. Applications are being administered through the Clinton County Housing Coalition. Click here for a link to the ERAP online application.

- PennDOT today announced that the application period for grants under the Rail Transportation Assistance Program and the Rail Freight Assistance Program is now open. See more: Article (penndot.gov).

- The Wolf Administration this week announced that it will soon require all Pennsylvania landfills – including those that accept unconventional oil and gas waste – to conduct quarterly testing of leachate for radiological contaminants. More information here: Wolf Administration to Move Forward with Radiological Testing of Leachate at Landfills (pa.gov).

- The PA Board of Game Commissioners met Saturday in Harrisburg, the first in-person meeting in more than a year. Read about their actions here: HIGHLIGHTS FROM TODAY'S COMMISSIONERS MEETING (pa.gov)

Meanwhile, a former director of the Game Commission’s Northcentral Regional Office in Antes Fort has been named deputy executive director of the Game Commission’s field operations. David Mitchell, who had most recently served as director of the Southeast Region Office, will now be responsible for coordinating and advancing the wildlife management program in the Commission’s six regions. See more: GAME COMMISSION WELCOMES NEW DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR (pa.gov).

- During its quarterly business meeting Monday, the PA Fish & Boat Commission gave preliminary approval to a proposal to establish a single, statewide Opening Day of Trout Season beginning annually in 2022. More details here: PFBC BOARD PROPOSES SINGLE OPENING DAY OF TROUT SEASON, ANNOUNCES FISHING LICENSE FEES WILL REMAIN THE SAME IN 2022, EXPANDS USE OF ICE FISHING EQUIPMENT, AND ELECTS NEW OFFICERS AT QUARTERLY MEETING.

- PA Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell, and DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today highlighted the prevalence of ticks in the state. More here: Prevalence of Ticks in Pennsylvania is High, Take Steps to Prevent Tick Bites and Tick-borne Diseases (pa.gov).

7/23/21

- Reports have cases of COVID-19 trending upward slightly. The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 557 positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,218,975. Across the state, 347 people are hospitalized with the virus, 75 of whom are in intensive care. The statewide percent positivity rate for the week of July 9 – 15 stood at 1.7 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 62.2 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.4 Million Vaccinations to Date, 62.2% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

- The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Tuesday renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration for another 90 days. The declaration was first issued in late January of 2020. See more: https://www.phe.gov/emergency/news/healthactions/phe/Pages/COVID-19July2021.aspx

Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that the more that SARS-CoV-2 spreads, the greater the chance that its genetic material will change or mutate, and create new variants or strains. As it passes from person to person, the virus builds up mutations. Currently, there are four known mutations, known as variants of concern, with the highly transmissible Delta variant dominant across the country. The COVID-19 data hub created last year by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services indicates that, as of July 15, new cases across the country were up nearly 70 percent over the previous week; deaths were up 26.3 percent.

- Geisinger continues to offer free, walk-in and scheduled COVID-19 vaccinations at various locations, including at their community vaccination center at Jersey Shore Hospital as well as through the pharmacy at the new Geisinger facility on Spring Street in Lock Haven. Click here for the latest information or to schedule a vaccination: COVID-19 Vaccine | Frequently Asked Questions | Geisinger.

- The U.S. Economic Development Administration this week announced six programs, collectively called Investing in America’s Communities, that the EDA will execute to equitably invest the $3 billion it received from the American Rescue Plan. Read more: EDA Announces American Rescue Plan Programs (govdelivery.com)

The EDA will host a webinar to provide more information on the American Rescue Plan Funding Opportunities at 3:00 p.m. this coming Tuesday, July 27 and again at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 29.

- Keystone Central School District this week began communicating information about the District’s revised Health and Safety Plan and Learning Choices for the upcoming school year. Click Here for the KCSD file for the information released by Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin. 

- In a recent update, UPMC is encouraging people to stay diligent, take care of your health while traveling, and be mindful of others. Click Here for the UPMC Safe Travel Checklist highlights what to talk about with your doctor before traveling, immunization suggestions, and pandemic considerations.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor:  In the week ending July 17, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 419,000, an increase of 51,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- The U.S. Census Bureau today posted results from its latest Small Business Pulse Survey. Based on responses collected July 12 through July 18, the Survey estimates that:

  • 25.2% of U.S. small businesses report a large negative effect from the Coronavirus pandemic in the last week. For responses collected 6/21/20 – 6/27/20, this statistic was 37.7% 
  • 20.3% U.S. small businesses report a decrease in revenues in the last week. For responses collected 7/5-7/11, this statistic was 19.6%
  • 15.8% of U.S. small businesses expect to make a capital expenditure in the next 6 months. For responses collected 7/5-7/11, this statistic was 16.2% 
  • 15.0% of U.S. small businesses report operating capacity to be affected by availability of supplies or inputs in the last week. For responses collected 7/5-7/11, this statistic was 14.4% 
  • 17.7% of U.S. small businesses expect to identify new supply chain options in the next 6 months 
  • 55.3% of U.S. Health Care and Social Assistance small businesses report a moderate negative effect from the coronavirus pandemic, higher than the national average of 42.4% 
  • 56.9% of U.S. Accommodation and Food Services small businesses expect to identify and hire new employees in the next 6 months.
  • The Overall Sentiment Index, which assesses the overall average effect of the pandemic on businesses, decreased to -0.41 from the prior week, indicating a more negative sentiment for SBPS responses collected 7/12 – 7/18

- In his weekly update today, 25th District State Senator Cris Dush highlighted a number of pandemic-related matters, including: Help for renters and homeowners; a legislative review regarding education; a new law that increases access to 5G; an update on the proposed integration of state universities; and information on a recent hearing on COVID-19 contact tracing. Click Here for the Senator Dush file for details.

- The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration this week announced funding opportunities for more than $21 million in training grants to help non-profit organizations. Read more: Apply Today for Department of Labor Funding Training on Workplace Hazards and Infectious Diseases (govdelivery.com)

- From the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA):

  • PRLA Thursday was invited to attend a stakeholders' briefing by the Wolf Administration on proposed changes to existing regulations relating to Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage Act. The Administration is currently finalizing the proposed regulatory changes and will submit them to the Attorney General for review. After that, they will submit the proposal to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) where there will be an opportunity for public comment.
  • The PA Department of Labor & Industry is warning employers: unemployment compensation fraud attempts are on the rise across the nation and in Pennsylvania. Watch out for these warning signs of fraudulent unemployment claims filed involving you or your company.
    • Employers who can access the new UC system can use this guide to help you report fraudulent claims: https://bit.ly/3zhbqED
    • Employers who cannot access the new UC system can use the SIDE E-Response system to report fraudulent claims: https://bit.ly/3BnGp3A.
  • The Independent Fiscal Office recently released its July Labor Market Update showing an improvement in payroll job creation in the month of June. 23,100 part or full-time jobs were added in June. The Leisure and Hospitality industry saw an increase of 26,800 jobs, while healthcare saw 8,600 added jobs, retail 5,700 added jobs, manufacturing 4,800 added jobs, and construction 1,300 added jobs. Pennsylvania also saw a decrease in average weekly unemployment compensation (UC) claims, with 767,300 UC recipients receiving an average of $2,059, which is a 144,500 person drop from the number of UC recipients in May.
  • CBRE Hotels Research forecasts U.S. lodging demand will return to pre-pandemic levels by the fourth quarter of 2023. READ MORE
  • Lodging Magazine predicts that economy hotels and those within the limited-service segment are poised to outperform the rest of the industry this summer travel season. Click here for three reasons why.
  • FSR Magazine suggests five ways restaurant owners can entice workers to apply.

- The PA Department of Community and Economic Development and the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority today announced that $14 million in Challenge grant funding has been approved for the Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Each of the four Ben Franklin partners (including the Central & Northern PA region, which provides support for businesses in Clinton County), will receive $3.5 million in funding. The partners provide access to capital, business expertise, technology commercialization services and a network of resources to advance the development of new technologies. More here: Wolf Administration: $14 Million in Challenge Grant Funding Approved for Ben Franklin Technology Partner Projects - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources this week announced new conservation measures in certain state forests – including Sproul, Bald Eagle, Tiadaghton and others in the region – where federally threatened and endangered bats are found. The new conservation measures address traditional firewood collection and cutting of standing dead trees and will limit firewood cutting and harvesting on designated roads in the impacted forests now through August 31. There will also be limited cutting enforced on designated roads in Bald Eagle State Forest September 1 – November 1, 2021, and between April 1 and May 14 of 2022. Read more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/DCNR_details.aspx?newsid=763.

- Students attending any of Pennsylvania’s six state universities slated for consolidation next year won’t notice much change any time soon, according to the leader of the state university system. State System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Greenstein spoke with state senators on Tuesday about the plans to consolidate six universities into two institutions, including Lock Haven University, which will merge with Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities. Read more: Read More (Source: Harrisburg Patriot-News)

- UPMC Williamsport has been granted Level II Trauma Center accreditation, which goes into effect on September 1. Click Here for the UPMC Williamsport file for more information.

- Wolf Administration officials this week shared proposed nursing home regulations focused on increasing the quality of care received by residents by increasing the minimum direct care hours by 1.4 more hours each day. The current skilled nursing facility regulations have not been updated since 1999. Read more: Wolf Administration Announces Proposed Nursing Home Regulations Focused on Increased Quality of Care for Residents and Workers (pa.gov)

7/20/21

- New COVID-19 case numbers in Pennsylvania are mirroring those at the national level. The state reported nearly 1,500 new coronavirus cases over the past seven days. That's a big jump from the 907 reported the week before. It's the first time new cases have trended upward in Pennsylvania since the early spring, but the daily numbers are still a fraction of what they were during the winter-time peak. Read More (Source: WFMZ Radio)

- PA Labor & Industry on Friday released its employment situation report for June 2021, noting the state’s unemployment rate was down one-tenth of a percent over the month, to 6.9 percent in June. That rate was 6.4 percentage points below the June 2020 level. The U.S. unemployment rate rose a tenth of a percentage point from May, to 5.9 percent in June. More here: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Down To 6.9 Percent in June (pa.gov). 

- Instances of Unemployment Compensation fraud are on the rise. 25th District State Senator Cris Dush, as part of his weekly newsletter, has offered some good information on how people should handle Unemployment Compensation Fraud and Identity Theft. Click Here for the UC Fraud file for details. 

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry has announced the department’s partnership with virtual identity verification vendor ID.me has been extended to provide identity verification for all new UC Claims. For more, including an overview from L&I on how to deal with fraudulent claims, click here: L&I Extends Partnership with Identity Verification Vendor ID.me to Reduce Unemployment Compensation Claim Fraud Attempts.

- PA CareerLink hosts a Zoom presentation on Unemployment Compensation Thursday, August 5, from 10:00 a.m. until noon. Learn the latest about UC for your business. The session will be presented by Nancy Smithbauer, Unemployment Compensation Workforce Development Representative. Click Here for the CareerLink file for more information, and register at: https://forms.gle/kPg7Zbf2cqqN4AE67. 

- The PA Attorney General’s office has filed suit against a Florida business for scamming Pennsylvania business owners. The scammers sent letters to businesses, acting as the Commonwealth’s Department of State, claiming that business owners needed to apply for a certificate of good standing in order to lawfully do business in Pennsylvania (certificates are optional, not necessary). Business owners were sent legitimate certificates of good standing, but the scammers charged double the cost of receiving a real certificate from the Commonwealth. Anyone who received a letter from “PA Certificate Service” should file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General by visiting https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint/consumer-complaint/. Read more: AG Shapiro Files Lawsuit To Shut Down Business Certificate Scam – PA Office of Attorney General.

- A new report shows Pennsylvania is showing signs of a strong economic recovery in one key area. Researchers at the left-leaning Tax Policy Center found that the Keystone State had one of the steepest drops in sales taxes in the nation last year. But now, forecasters predict Pennsylvania will collect nearly 15 percent more this year than last. That would be the largest increase of any state. Read More (Source: WESA Public Radio)

- We’re passing along the following resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: 

  • Grants and loans can help you endure tough times and expand as you scale your business. Thisguide differentiates between the two and outlines options to get you through both thick and thin.
  • More grant & program information can be foundhere.
  • Every small business should have business insurance, but it can be hard to sort through the options. See the different typesof insurance and learn what might work for your business.
  • Ransomware attacks are on the rise and can be hard to detect. This guideexplains what exactly ransomware is and provides strategies to protect your business.
  • Growing your business starts with finding the right people to help you reach your goals. Get ideas on which business operations to outsource, learn how to find the best freelancers, and get complimentary access to Fiverr Business’s new freelance management tool. Need talented freelancers? Here’s how to find them (for free).

 

- Resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration: 

  • If you own a small business in the construction or service industry, there's a good chance you'll need a surety bond. SBA-backed surety bonds can help you compete for larger contracts. Click here to Learn more about the SBA Surety Bond Guarantee Program.
  • Interested in government contracting? There are many opportunities available in the federal procurement market. Developing a marketing and sales strategy can help you achieve success. Join the General Services Administration for a webinar on July 20 at 2:00 p.m. to learn how to develop a targeted approach to contracting with the federal government. Register 
  • Attention, women in business: Register for upcoming webinars to learn how to get certified for the Women-Owned Small Business federal contracting program, what to do after you're certified and more. The webinars will be held from July-December 2021. Register
  • The SBA and Public Private Strategies Institute are hosting several webinars from July to August to help businesses get back on track. Join the next webinar this Thursday, July 22, at 2:00 p.m. to:
  • Hear about what steps you can take now to learn and take advantage of new and existing programs that are available at the SBA
  • Get an update regarding programs and recent policy announcements made by the Biden-Harris Administration
  • Have your questions answered by SBA Leadership and small business experts
  • Learn how you can become a vaccine leader in your community
  • Discover tools and resources you can use to take your business digital

Register

- From the PA Chamber of Business & Industry: 

  • Over the last 18 months, Pennsylvania employers and workers adapted to unprecedented challenges as shuttered schools and childcare facilities required typically full-time staff to care for their families on short notice. -> Read More
  • President Biden recently signed a sweeping executive order that could have profound impacts on employers, including policies that target specific industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, banking and telecommunications. -> Read More

- For those in the food industry: 

  • The National Restaurant Association will host a complimentary educational session, Maximizing Employee Retention Credit to Put Money Back into your Business, on July 22 at 2:00 p.m. The session will cover how to identify if your business is eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) and what to expect from the application process. REGISTER
  • ServSafe recently released the 6th edition of its COVID-19 Operating Guidance, which incorporates the latest recommendations and best practices from the CDC, FDA, and OSHA. DOWNLOAD
  • The National Restaurant Association is reporting that eating and drinking places added 194,300 jobs in June, marking the sixth consecutive month of staffing growth. Despite the growth, this segment is still nearly 10% below pre-pandemic employment levels. 

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced last week that the third batch of payments under the American Rescue Plan Act’s (ARPA) Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery program has been sent to qualifying Pennsylvania municipalities. More here: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- The Keystone Communities (KC) program encourages partnerships between public and private sectors that jointly support local revitalization initiatives for the growth and stability of neighborhoods and communities, social and economic diversity, and a strong and secure quality of life. Now through August 31, 2021, eligible organizations can apply for the KC program for the 2021 fiscal year competitive funding round. For program guidelines and to apply, visit the DCED website at https://dced.pa.gov/programs/keystone-communities-program-kcp/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=KC%20program&utm_campaign=KCP.

- The Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program still has billions of dollars left. The program, which first opened in April, has received around 15,000 applications for about $11.7 billion in funding—billions short of the $16 billion allocation by Congress.

- The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has released their latest newsletter. Among other topics, this issue includes an article on projected changes for Pennsylvania employment between 2018 and 2028, showing an increase for Clinton County, with a greater increase for Centre and a lesser increase for Lycoming county.. The July/August edition of Rural Perspectives is now available online at www.rural.pa.gov.

- The PA Department of Health shared its monthly update on PA’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data, and continued to encourage people to download the COVID Alert PA app. Learn more: Department of Health Offers Monthly Update On COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, and Monitoring Efforts.

- In its June report, the PA Department of Health notes that nursing home surveyors conducted 453 inspections, including 293 complaint investigations, of 322 separate nursing homes. Of those inspections, 55 were COVID-19-specific investigations. There were five new sanctions finalized against nursing care facilities resulting in $44,500 in fines. More here: Department of Health Highlights June 2021 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- As part of the American Rescue Plan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, is providing $398 million in funding through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program to 1,540 small rural hospitals for COVID-19 testing and mitigation. Of that funding, $6,459,400 is earmarked for 25 small rural hospitals in Pennsylvania.

- The PA State System of Higher Education last week unanimously approved the proposed plans to integrate Lock Haven, Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities. In case you missed it, Click Here for the LHU news release for details.

For donors, friends and Lock Haven University alumni, Vice President of University Advancement Joe Fiochetta assured supporters that the foundations and alumni associations for each university will remain independent. Click Here for the LHU Advancement file for more.

While the integration process is slated to occur over the next few years, some pandemic-related funds will be used to support the process. The PASSHE board also last week laid the groundwork for spending $75 million in one-time funds the system will receive through the American Rescue Plan ($50 million) and the state employees retirement system ($25.1 million). The Pa. State System of Higher Ed. has $75M in one-time funds. Here's the preliminary spending plan | Pennsylvania Capital-Star (penncapital-star.com).

 - The personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpile currently being stored at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg will be moved to another site over the next few months, allowing the site to resume holding large events by mid-September. Read more: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- The PA Board of Game Commissioners will meet in-person this Friday and Saturday (July 23 and 24) for the first time in more than a year. During the height of the pandemic, the meetings were held virtually. More information here: BOARD OF GAME COMMISSIONERS TO MEET IN HARRISBURG (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, the Game Commission says the new system for using hunting licenses, has experienced slowdowns during peak sales periods. The Commission is working with the system vendor that operates the new HuntFishPA licensing system, hoping to find a solution that will speed up the sales process and improve system performance. See more: GAME COMMISSION ALERTS HUNTERS OF SLOWER-THAN-USUAL LICENSE FULFILLMENT (pa.gov).

- The PA Fish and Boat Commission will hold its quarterly business meeting next Monday, July 26, at the Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters. It will be an in-person meeting that will also be live-streamed. More here: PFBC QUARTERLY MEETING TO BE HELD ON JULY 26 (pa.gov).

- 25th District State Senator Cris Dush reports that legislation merging the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole was recently signed into law. The new law transfers supervision of offenders and certain administrative functions from the Board to the Department, but preserves parole decision–making responsibilities within the Board. The merger is projected to save taxpayers $29.6 million through 2023 when fully implemented by eliminating redundant procedures and sharing of resources and personnel.

- The DOC today announced that four more facilities have finalized plans to resume in-person visitation, including the State Correctional Institution in Benner Township, Centre County. SCI Benner is slated to reopen to in-person visits July 29. The DOC last week announced that Rockview State Prison would resume in-person visitation beginning August 2. See more: In-Person Visitation to Resume at Coal Township, Benner Township, Pine Grove, Greene State Correctional Institutions (pa.gov).

7/13/21

- The Internal Revenue Service announced today it will issue another round of refunds this week to nearly 4 million taxpayers who overpaid their taxes on unemployment compensation received last year. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-readies-nearly-4-million-refunds-for-unemployment-compensation-overpayments.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry is reminding people receiving unemployment compensation benefits that the state’s work search requirements resumed as of Monday (yesterday). That means people must attest that they applied for two jobs and completed a “work search activity” like attending a job fair or posting a resume on a recruiting site, the week prior. Because claimants always file for benefits the week after they are unemployed, individuals will start certifying they looked for work beginning July 18. The requirement also applies to those in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which expanded benefit eligibility to business owners, freelancers, and independent contractors. See more: Reminder: Work Search Requirements Resume Next Week (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 334 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,214,654. Statewide, 256 people are hospitalized with the virus, 49 of whom are in intensive care. The statewide percent positivity for the week of July 2 through July 8 stood at 1.2 percent. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.3 Million Vaccinations to Date, 61.3% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

- The PA Department of Corrections announced today that three additional facilities have finalized plans to reimplement in-person visitation, including SCI Rockview, which is slated to resume in-person visits August 2. On-site visits to DOC facilities were suspended on March 13, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More here: In-Person Visitation to Resume at Mahanoy, Rockview, Huntingdon State Correctional Institutions (pa.gov).

- Members of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) today voted to adopt the final-form rulemaking of the multistate CO2 budget trading program, also known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional CO2 Budget Trading Program. Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI would establish a program to limit CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric power plants located in Pennsylvania. See more: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- The PA State Police today announced that troopers confiscated more than $19.6 million worth of illegal drugs during the past three months. Read more: State Police Seizes More Than $19.6 Million in Illegal Drugs During the Second Quarter of 2021 (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, the State Police Monday announced two new community-based initiatives, the creation of an Office of Community Engagement, and the Community Access to Information Dashboard. More here: State Police Strengthens Community Engagement, Develops Public Dashboard (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of  Education this week announced that K-12 schools will have the option to continue offering free school meals during the 2021-22 school year. Learn more: Free School Meals to Continue in Upcoming School Year (pa.gov).

PDE and NextGenScience meanwhile today announced the launch of the Pennsylvania Science Education Leaders Network (PennSEL), a cohort of leadership teams representing 19 regions across the state with a goal of improving science learning for all students. Read more: Department of Education Announces Launch of Science Education Leadership Network.

- Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity today announced the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program (PA 529) had its best year ever in fiscal year 2020-21, adding 25,004 new accounts while bringing in more than $732 million in total contributions. These numbers are the largest in the nearly 30-year history of PA 529. Read more: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- From 12th District Congressman Fred Keller: 

  • All Department of Veterans Affairs facilities and clinics that administer COVID-19 vaccines are accepting walk-ins for eligible Veterans, spouses and caregivers. The VA encourages those who wish to get their COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment to check the walk-in hours and requirements at their local facility. Individuals taking advantage of walk-in vaccinations may need to wait for the vaccine to be prepared and will be screened when entering the facility. For more information about COVID-19 vaccinations at the VA, click here.
  • A Veteran ID Card (VIC) is a form of photo ID you can use to get discounts offered to Veterans at many restaurants, hotels, stores and other businesses. Find out if you’re eligible for a Veteran ID Card—and how to apply. VA Veteran ID Cards do not permit access to bases or commissaries. Learn more here.

- 76th State Representative Stephanie Borowicz this week announced that 20 volunteer fire and ambulance companies in Clinton County and another eight in Centre County qualified to receive approximately $328,612 from a grant program administered by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Office of the State Fire Commissioner. Following is a list of grant awards for Clinton County emergency responders:

  • Avis Volunteer Fire Company, $11,876.
  • Beech Creek Blanchard Volunteer Fire Company, $12,589.
  • Beech Creek Blanchard Volunteer Fire Company, EMS, $8,993.
  • Castanea Volunteer Fire Company, $11,520.
  • Chapman Township Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, $11,520.
  • Citizens Hose Company No. 5, $14,550.
  • Citizens Hose Company of South Renovo, $11,520.
  • Dunnstown Fire Company, $12,411.
  • Goodwill Hose Company Ambulance Association, $8,993.
  • Goodwill Hose Company No. 3, $11,876.
  • Hand In Hand Hose Company, $13,659.
  • Haneyville Volunteer Fire Company, $11,520.
  • Hope Hose Company No. 2, $12,411.
  • Lamar Township Volunteer Fire Company, $12,504.
  • Lockhaven Emergency Medical Service, $8,993.
  • Nittany Valley Volunteer Fire Company, $11,876.
  • Renovo Fire Department Inc., $12,767.
  • Sugar Valley Community Volunteer Fire Company Inc., $11,520.
  • Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Company, $9,350.
  • Woolrich Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, $12,589.

All funding comes from proceeds from slot machine gaming.

- The U.S. Census Bureau by August 16 is set to release in-depth demographic statistics from the 2020 Census that will be used to redraw legislative voting districts. These follow the April 26 release of the first results from the 2020 Census, which showed that the total population was 331.4 million. The first release determined each state’s share of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Read More

The August data release will provide the first look at the demographic characteristics of the nation by state, county and city, including:

  • Race and ethnicity
  • Voting-age population
  • Occupied and vacant housing units
  • People living in group quarters like nursing homes, prisons, military barracks and college dorms

For more about redistricting or redrawing political districts and/or a detailed demographic portrait of the nation’s population, Continue reading.

7/9/21

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity says the state has distributed more than $300 million of American Rescue Plan Act COVID funds to qualifying municipalities in the past two weeks, including some to Clinton County municipalities. Municipalities can use the funds to address negative economic impacts due to the pandemic, replace lost public sector revenue, support public health, assist essential works, and invest in infrastructure improvements such as water, sewer or broadband services. See more: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- The PA Department of Education this week provided information on a new law that permits parents, guardians, and students over the age of 18 to elect to have their children or themselves repeat their grade because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools and school districts will accept completed forms only through this coming Thursday, July 15. More here: Department of Education Provides Information on New Law That Allows Grade Level Retainment.

- Lock Haven University this week announced plans for a full return to the classroom for the upcoming fall semester but noted that some of the University’s COVID-19 modifications will remain in place. Click Here for the LHU news release for details.

Meanwhile, the State System of Higher Education has published a final version of proposed integration plans for six of the universities in the 14-university system. One of the proposals, called the Northeast Plan, would integrate Lock Haven, Bloomsburg, and Mansfield universities. The State System says the changes published Wednesday follow several weeks of public comment on the proposed integrations. The System Board of Governors is slated to act on the integration plans at their meeting next week. Click here to see highlights of revisions to the integration plan based on public input: https://www.passhe.edu/SystemRedesign/Documents/Guide%20to%20Plan%20Changes.pdf; and here for the Final Northeast Implementation Plan: https://www.passhe.edu/SystemRedesign/Documents/Northeast Plan 07.07.2021__CLEAN.pdf.

- The PA Department of Human Services today announced that all County Assistance Offices will resume in-person operations for clients this coming Monday, July 12. The Assistance Offices had been closed to in-person services throughout the pandemic. Read more: Department of Human Services to Reopen County Assistance Offices to the Public, Encourages Continued Use of Online Services.

- The Department of Human Services also announced that the Wolf Administration has reached an agreement with the Biden Administration that allows DHS to continue issuing about $150 million monthly in emergency food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to more than 1.8 million low-income Pennsylvanians. More information here: Wolf Administration Secures Agreement to Continue Issuing Emergency Food Assistance (pa.gov).

- As of early June, PPL Electric Utilities customers received more than $1 million in utility payments through the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, representing 55 percent of the total utility assistance funds paid throughout the entire state. According to PPL Regional Affairs Director Tracie Witter, “PPL Electric Utilities is the front runner in the state as we help our customers utilize this new program. Our success is attributed to proactively embracing the program, strategic partnerships with the 29 counties throughout our service territory and our effective communications strategy.”

Witter notes that in Clinton County, 35 customers were assisted for a total of $30,759.

ERAP assistance continues to be available to both landlords and tenants. The Clinton County Housing Coalition is the agency accepting applications, determining eligibility, and making program payments on behalf of the County Commissioners. The ERAP program is to remain in effect until December 31, or until funds are exhausted. Click here for a link to the ERAP online application.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week said it is monitoring multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, including four in the United States that seem to spread more easily than others. So far, studies suggest that current authorized vaccines work on these variants. The CDC is encouraging everyone ages 12 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. More Information.

- UPMC this week offered information on the COVID-19 Delta variant in their “Health Beat” newsletter. Click Here for the UPMC file for more.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration this week released updated Restaurant Revitalization Fund data for individual states. Pennsylvania ranked 6th in total applications submitted, with 9,944 applications requesting nearly $2.5 billion in relief. The SBA approved 3,530 applications in Pennsylvania (or about 35% of submitted applications), totaling just under $950 million in aid. View the complete report here.

The SBA officially announced the closure of the RRF portal on July 14. According to the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association, the only way to get more funds into the RRF is for Congress to allocate additional funding.

- Recently, the IRS issued its "dirty dozen" list for 2021 with a warning for taxpayers, tax professionals, and financial institutions to be on the lookout for 12 schemes and scams. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said scam artists continue to use the pandemic to steal money and information from honest taxpayers in a time of crisis.

Non-COVID Items of Note: 

- The Ben Franklin $50,000 Big Idea Contest – hosted by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA - is looking for tech entrepreneurs or small manufacturers who are developing innovative, new products, processes, or software applications. Businesses in Clinton County are in the Ben Franklin coverage area. The deadline to submit your big idea is August 23. Learn More!

- SEDA-COG continues to encourage contractors to take advantage of project opportunities through their housing rehabilitation program. Click Here for the SEDA-COG news release for more information.

- The PPL Foundation this week announced the awarding of more than $450,000 in grants to 115 nonprofit organizations. Funds will be used to inspire students to explore career opportunities, facilitate community conversations on diversity and inclusion, encourage environmental conservation in the next generation and more. A complete list of grant recipients is available online.

PPL Foundation’s next grant cycle, which awards grants focused on major new initiatives and expansions of programs that align with the foundation’s focus areas, will begin in August. Applications for grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 will be accepted Aug. 1 through Sept. 15. Read the full news release here: PPL Newsroom - News Releases (mediaroom.com)

- The PA Department of Agriculture is calling for proposals for projects designed to increase consumer awareness of Pennsylvania agriculture products and increase sales and exports. The department will award up to $303,000 in matching funds to PA nonprofits to reimburse up to 50 percent of costs for promotional and educational projects. See more: Secretary of Agriculture: $300,000 Available to Promote Pennsylvania Agriculture Sales, Export Markets (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today announced it is taking steps to correct overcharges for some Unemployment Compensation fault overpayments during the years 2006 through 2016. L&I said 65 percent of those affected are owed less than five dollars, and 80 percent are owed less than $50. See more: L&I: Interest Refunds Coming for Certain Claimants (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Corrections this week announced the creation of a specialized unit at nearby Rockview State Correctional Institution that is designed to serve the needs of incarcerated individuals diagnosed with dementia and other memory loss diseases. Learn more: Department of Corrections to Launch Innovative Neuro-Cognitive CARE Unit at SCI Rockview.

- The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board will hold a meeting on Tuesday, July 13, to consider the final form rulemaking for Pennsylvania to take part in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The 9:00 a.m. meeting will be streamed at pacast.com/live/dep. More here: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- The PA State Police this week announced second-quarter 2021 firearms purchase statistics. The April through June 2021 activity was not record-breaking, unlike the previous three quarters. More here:  https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/PA-State-Police-Details.aspx?newsid=710.

- PennDOT is alerting regional drivers to traffic impacts that are expected to begin Wednesday, July 14, along Route 64 from Zion to Hublersburg in Centre County as paving work occurs throughout July. Drivers should plan for short to moderate travel delays. See more: News Details (penndot.gov).

7/6/21

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed a four-day total (July 3-6) of an additional 547 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,213, 135. Across Pennsylvania, there are 293 people hospitalized with the virus, 53 of whom are in intensive care. The current COVID-19 positive case count for Clinton County is 3,717; 16,930 in Centre; and 11,970 positive cases to date in Lycoming County. There have been 67 deaths attributed to the virus in Clinton County, 228 in Centre and 296 in Lycoming County.

To date, vaccine providers have administered 11,759,994 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 6,760,882 of which are first/single doses and 4,999,112 of which are second/full doses. According to the data, 2,669 people in Clinton County have received a partial dose, while 12,892 are fully vaccinated. In Centre, 10,296 are partially vaccinated and 76,753 are fully vaccinated. And in Lycoming County, 8,231 people are partially vaccinated while 45,154 are fully vaccinated.

The Health Department continues to urge Pennsylvanians to follow CDC guidance for wearing a mask where required by law, rule and regulations, including healthcare, local business and workplace guidance. They also encourage people who have not yet been vaccinated to wear a mask in public. Read more: Department of Health: Over 11.7 Million Vaccinations to Date, 63.0% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 60.5% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- Following are several updates from the U.S. Small Business Administration:

  • If you received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness. Follow the four steps below.
  1. Contact your lender and complete the correct form
  2. Compile documentation
  3. Submit the forgiveness form and documentation to your lender
  4. Communicate with your lender throughout the process    (Learn more)
  • Small business owners who are finding it hard to fill job openings may be eligible to petition the government for help. There are still 6,000 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services H-2B visas for people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who are exempt from the returning worker requirement. The supplemental visas address the needs of U.S. employers at risk of permanent and severe financial loss and supports the Biden-Harris Administration goal to expand legal pathways for hard-working individuals. Interested qualified businesses can petition for these visas before July 8, 2021. Learn more
  • The American Rescue Plan extends a number of critical tax benefits, particularly the Employee Retention Credit and Paid Leave Credit, to small businesses. Learn more
  • The SBA continues to accept applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. To submit an application, visit sba.gov/svogrant.
  • For women in business: Tune in to SBA’s upcoming webinars and learn how to get certified for the Women-Owned Small Business federal contracting program, what to do after you're certified and more. Learn more
  • The SBA has extended the application date for the Community Navigator Pilot Program from July 12 to July 23, 2021, and anticipates making award decisions by September 2021. Established by the American Rescue Plan, the community navigator approach is designed reach the nation’s smallest businesses, with a priority focus on those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as women and veterans. Learn more
  • The SBA and Public Private Strategies Institute are hosting several webinars through August to help businesses get back on track. The next webinar is this Thursday, July 8 at 2:00 p.m. As part of the webinar, participants will: hear about what steps to take now to learn and take advantage of new and existing programs that are available at the SBA; get an update regarding programs and recent policy announcements made by the Biden-Harris Administration; have questions answered by SBA Leadership and small business experts; learn how to become a vaccine leader in your community; and discover tools and resources you can use to take your business digital Register

 - A reminder that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has postponed the enforcement date for REAL ID, extending the current deadline of October 1 of this year, to May 3, 2023. The department cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in extending the deadline. Learn more at PennDOT.gov/REALID. Read More

- 25th District State Senator Cris Dush holds Open Houses at his Brookville District Office tomorrow, Wednesday, July 7, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and at his Wellsboro District Office on Thursday, July 8, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Contact information for those offices is:

Brookville Office                               Wellsboro Office
73 South White Street, Suite 5           5 Main Street
Brookville, PA 15825                         Wellsboro, PA 16901
814-646-7272                                     570-724-5231

 The Senator will also host a Virtual Town Hall next Tuesday, July 13, at 5:30 p.m. People can access the event via live audio stream at https://senatorcrisdushpa.com/access-live/ or join in via Facebook Live at www.facebook.com/SenatorCrisDushPA. Sign Up Here.

- The Small Business Development Center at Penn State hosts a number of upcoming webinars on topics ranging from: the first steps to small business success, QuickBooks Online, Crisis Management with 360º Planning, and more. Click the following link to see All Upcoming SBDC Events.

- The PA State Police today announced enforcement statistics from the just-ended, four-day Fourth of July holiday weekend, including 503 arrests for driving under the influence, 8,935 speeding citations, and the investigation of 680 crashes which resulted in the death of nine people and injuries to 195 others. See more: State Police Announces Independence Day Holiday Enforcement Results (pa.gov).

- The PA Game Commission today said this coming Monday, July 12 is the first day for Pennsylvania hunters to apply for a doe license. Nonresidents can submit their first antlerless application a week later, beginning July 19. The Commission noted a slight fee increase (not in the license fee, but in the fee for a the vendor that operates the state’s licensing system) means the doe licenses now cost $6.97 for residents and $26.97 for nonresidents (an increase of .09 cents). The Commission said the change is an important one to remember, as checks or money orders written for an improper amount will result in the application being rejected. Details here: WHAT HUNTERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT 2021-22 ANTLERLESS DEER LICENSES (pa.gov).

7/2/21

- Clinton County’s jobless picture continued to show improvement based on monthly information released this week by the PA Department of Labor and Industry. The county’s May unemployment rate was 5.8%, down from the 6.9% reading in April. A year ago, near the beginning of the pandemic, the county’s May jobless rate was 12.2%. Clinton ranked no. 24 out of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties with its 5.8% reading. Centre County was no. 11 at 4.8%. Chester and Montour counties tied for first at 3.9%. Philadelphia County was last at 8.9%. The state unemployment rate checked in at 6.9% and the United States was 5.8% for May.

“These numbers indicate some signs of a return to normalcy,” said Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan. “But we know that many of our businesses, including the service sector, are struggling for employees and that continues to be a major issue. We still have an estimated 1,000 people out of work, which is almost the number we were at prior to the pandemic in March 2020.”

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In June 2021, the nation’s unemployment rate was 5.9% and 850,000 jobs were added to the economy, including 343,000 jobs in leisure and hospitality. The economy is growing faster than at any time in 40 years. Read the Bureau of Labor Statistics report and Read Secretary Walsh's statement.

Meanwhile, in the week ending June 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 364,000, a decrease of 51,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 4,000 from 411,000 to 415,000. The 4-week moving average was 392,750, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,000 from 397,750 to 398,750. Read the full news release.

- The U.S. Department of Labor this week also announced the funding availability of approximately $43 million in grants to help reemploy dislocated workers most affected by the economic and employment fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. See more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20210629.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration will officially shut down the RRF portal on July 14 (the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, funded through the American Rescue Plan), unless Congress replenishes the fund (a possibility looking increasingly unlikely, according to the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association). The SBA will hold onto all applications if additional dollars are allocated to the fund. In a letter to RRF applicants, the SBA said it was able to provide grants to 105,000 restaurant operators before depleting the $28.6 billion fund. However, another 265,000 applicants were left disappointed. 

- Tourism and hospitality operations across the country are feeling the crunch from labor shortages, and many are turning to teenagers (Generation Z) to help fill their openings. Check out these tips on what zoomers are looking for in a job.

- The PA Department of Community and Economic Development this week announced that due to an extension granted by the U.S. Department of Treasury, local governments still have time to request their portion of federal Local Fiscal Recovery funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act. DCED Secretary Dennis Davin said, “This federal funding can be used to help support COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost revenue, and support economic stabilization for businesses and households. As our communities plan for long-term economic recovery, it’s important that every municipality utilizes the resources available to them.” More here: Wolf Administration: Not Too Late for Local Governments to Request American Rescue Plan Local Funding Allocations - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- Pennsylvania ended the 2020-21 fiscal year on June 30 with $40.4 billion in General Fund Collections, about 9.3 percent above estimate, according to the Department of Revenue. Read more: Revenue Department Releases Fiscal Year 2020-21 Collections.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf this week signed the state’s new $40.8 billion budget. Read more: https://www.pennlive.com/news/2021/06/pa-gov-tom-wolf-signs-408-billion-budget-with-more-money-for-public-schools.html?e=1a2598713c24f3b9b618fcff2a4a0f97&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_coronavirus%202021-07-01&utm_term=Newsletter_coronavirus.

- Governor Wolf says the new budget makes an historic investment in the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). He announced distribution of the first $50 million of a $200 million three-year commitment for all PASSHE schools, which include Lock Haven University. The Governor said PASSHE is also working with system faculty and staff unions to use a portion of the state’s investment to support its workforce, including extending the time faculty at any of the 14 universities who are facing “role elimination” have to work to find alternatives to their retrenchment. There is also an effort being made to ensure no functions are outsourced that would impact current AFSCME employees within the state system. Learn more: Wolf Administration Announces Historic Investment in PASSHE.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 304 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,212,561. Statewide, there are 310 people hospitalized with the virus, 59 of whom are in intensive care. The Health Department said vaccine providers have administered 11,711,557 total vaccine doses as of today, July 2, with 6,738,627 of those being single/first doses and 4,972,930 being second/full doses. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.7 Million Vaccinations to Date, 62.9% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 60.3% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- More than one million Pennsylvanians have missed their second coronavirus shots, a no-show rate among the nation’s highest and a gap that could prove critical as the country braces for the spread of the newer, more transmissible Delta variant, according to a report this week in the Philadelphia Inquirer. By June’s end, 70% of Pennsylvania adults should have been fully vaccinated. Instead, the state had only reached 60%, meaning many who got their first doses in May skipped the second shots. With both doses likely needed to protect against the Delta variant — a single shot is only about 33% effective against Delta, one study found — getting the second shot has become more urgent than ever. Yet the share of Pennsylvanians not completing their immunizations has been rising over the last two months, reaching nearly 17% this week, according to an Inquirer analysis of CDC vaccination data. The reasons so many are skipping or delaying second shots are unclear — particularly since Pennsylvanians have done better than many in other states at showing up for their first shots. And understanding why could prove difficult: The Pennsylvania Department of Health is not tracking missed second doses, meaning state officials don’t know who skipped the shots or what demographic groups they belong to, information that could be critical for addressing the problem. Read More (Source: Philadelphia Inquirer)

- Employee vaccinations have been a widely discussed and contested issue regarding the return to the physical workplace. If you’re requiring the vaccine for your staff, here’s how to discuss and promote your policy without potentially alienating any employees: Communicating about vaccine requirements. Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

- Governor Wolf Thursday vetoed Senate Bill 618, which would have prohibited local, county, and state offices, as well as public schools and publicly funded universities from requiring Pennsylvanians to prove that they’ve been vaccinated. Details here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-vetoes-anti-vaccination-legislation/.

- Starting on Tuesday, July 6, it’s back to the office for some state government employees who have been working from home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More (Source: Harrisburg Patriot-News)

- The PA Department of Agriculture is seeking projects that strengthen the state’s competitiveness of horticultural specialty crops and combat food system shortfalls associated with COVID-19. Proposals are due July 30. Details here: Department of Agriculture: $1.4 Million Available to Strengthen Specialty Crop Market, Combat COVID-19 Food System Impacts.

- The Ag Department is also calling for research proposals on issues critical to sustaining and growing the state’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry. A total of $1.29 million is available to support eligible projects. More here: Agriculture Secretary Calls for Innovative Research to Grow Pennsylvania Ag Industry (pa.gov).

- Natural gas production in Pennsylvania increased while new well drilling decreased in 2020, according to the 2020 Oil and Gas Annual Report released today by the PA Department of Environmental Protection. See more: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- In addition to being Independence Day, this Sunday, July 4, is “Fish-for-Free Day” in Pennsylvania, a day when people of any age can fish on waterways without a license (all other fishing regulations still apply). Read more: SUNDAY, JULY 4 IS A "FISH-FOR-FREE DAY" IN PENNSYLVANIA! (pa.gov).

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission says it will enhance boating under the influence enforcement over the July 4th Holiday Weekend. More information here: "OPERATION DRY WATER" ENHANCED BOATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE ENFORCEMENT SET FOR 4TH OF JULY WEEKEND (pa.gov).

- The PA Game Commission announced that completing the National Rifle Association’s free hunter-education online course will satisfy the prerequisite for obtaining a hunter or furtaker license in the state, giving prospective hunters who need to become certified before getting their license yet another option to do so. The NRA course will be offered free of charge in addition to the in-person and online courses currently offered by the Game Commission. In-person courses are now back up and running after a year of being available on a limited basis during the pandemic. People can find course information on the Commission’s hunter-education page at www.pgc.pa.gov.

- 25th District State Senator Cris Dush will host a Virtual Town Hall on Tuesday, July 13, at 5:30 p.m. People can access the event via live audio stream at https://senatorcrisdushpa.com/access-live/ or join in via Facebook Live at www.facebook.com/SenatorCrisDushPA. Sign Up Here.

Senator Dush is also holding Open Houses at his Brookville District Office on Wednesday, July 7, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and at his Wellsboro District Office on Thursday, July 8, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Contact information for those offices is:

Brookville Office                               Wellsboro Office
73 South White Street, Suite 5           5 Main Street
Brookville, PA 15825                         Wellsboro, PA 16901
814-646-7272                                      570-724-5231
FAX: 814-646-7275                            FAX: 570-723-5119

 

- Penn State Extension is offering 25 percent off enrollment in over 75 online courses, but only if you enroll before July 6. View the online course catalog and register for courses here: VIEW COURSES

- The PA Department of Banking will host and participate in a number of virtual presentations during July to promote financial capability. Find out more – including presentation topics – here: July 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Virtual Events Announced (pa.gov).

6/29/21

- Cases of COVID-19 continue to decline across the state as well as locally. Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today issued the weekly status update on Pennsylvania’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 995 (389 fewer new cases across the state over the past week compared to the previous week) and a statewide percent positivity of 1.2%, down slightly from 1.4% percent last week. Clinton County this week has a percent positivity of 1.6%, down from 1.9% a week ago. The percent positivity rate for Centre County also declined, from 1.7% last week to 0.7% this week, and Lycoming County’s percent positivity is 2.8% this week compared to 3.0% last week. In all, 65 of the state’s 67 counties have a positivity rate lower than 5 percent, and there are no counties reporting over a 10 percent positivity rate. 

Clinton and Centre counties continue to be among the 55 counties in what the state considers a “low” level of community transmission. Twelve counties – including Lycoming – are in the “moderate” level, and no counties are in the “substantial” level of community transmission – the second consecutive week without any counties in the substantial range. 

The Governor said 75 percent of Pennsylvanians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of early Monday, the Health Department said 59.8% of Pennsylvanians 18 or older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 75.2% have received at least a first dose. The mask-wearing order tied to the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer in effect (as of Monday), but businesses are permitted to require masks should be so choose. 

With the continued decline in cases, the state said today’s update is the last that will be issued via a news release, although the COVID dashboard will continue to be updated every Friday. More information here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for June 18 – June 24 (pa.gov).

- The Health Department today reported 162 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,211,869. Statewide, there are 341 people hospitalized with the virus, 57 of whom are in intensive care. Across the state, vaccine providers have administered 11,635,434 total vaccine doses, 6,704,974 of which are first/single doses and 4,930,460 of which are second/full doses. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.6 Million Vaccinations to Date, 62.6% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 60% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 7th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- Updates from the PA Chamber:

  • Ahead of the June 30 Constitutional deadline, the General Assembly and Wolf administration reached agreement on a $39.78 billion budget for the 2021-22 Fiscal Year. The final budget does not impose any new or additional tax increases on employers. -> Read More.
  • Among the numerous policies included in budget-related legislation passed last week was a one-sentence provision that has significant implications for many Pennsylvania employers. -> Read More. 
  • In the rush to finalize the state budget, legislation that would have provided restaurants with more flexibility and revenue options failed to get to the governor’s desk.  House Bill 1154would have allowed restaurants to continue selling cocktails-to-go and utilizing outdoor space. -> Read More. (Update: It’s being reported today that State Senator Scott Martin of Lancaster County has sent a letter to Senate leadership urging it to call senators into session (before a rule permitting them to vote remotely expires on June 30) to consider the cocktails-to-go legislation. There has been no formal response as of yet to that request).

- From the U.S. Census Bureau….Based on responses collected June 14 through June 20, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  •  22.7% of U.S. small businesses have experienced little or no effect from the coronavirus pandemic. For responses collected 5/24/20 – 5/30/20, this statistic was 11.4%
  • 13.2% of U.S. small businesses experienced an increase in operating revenues in the last week. For responses collected 6/7 – 6/13, this statistic was 12.1%
  • 35.8% of U.S. small businesses believe they will need to identify and hire new employees in the next 6 months
  • 61.8% of U.S. Manufacturing Small Businesses experienced domestic supplier delays in the last week. The national average for this statistic was 36.7%
  • 39.1% of U.S. Wholesale Trade Small Businesses experienced foreign supplier delays in the last week.  For responses collected 6/7 – 6/13, this statistic was 40.2%
  • The Operational Challenges Index, which assesses the overall effect of the pandemic on business operations increased to -0.09, indicating fewer challenges
  • 5.9% of U.S. Small Businesses have experienced a large negative effect from the coronavirus pandemic. For responses collected 5/17/20 – 5/23/20, this statistic was 45.0%

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today said jobs in public safety and emergency response are in high demand. More here: L&I Highlights Fast-Growing Careers in Public Safety and Emergency Response During Tour of HACC’s Senator John J. Shumaker Public Safety Center (pa.gov).

- The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department released information today detailing how many people in each state received the third round of Economic Impact Payments through early June. The new details, available on IRS.gov, are through June 3 and provide a look at the number of payments by state, income category, filing status and other features. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-treasury-release-state-by-state-data-on-third-round-of-economic-impact-payments.

- Treasury and the IRS today also issued guidance for taxpayers developing renewable energy projects to address delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-extend-safe-harbor-for-renewable-energy-projects.

- According to UPMC’s latest COVID Update today, more than 140 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, with UPMC having distributed more than 595,000 doses of vaccine to-date. For those wanting to schedule a vaccine appointment, visit Vaccine.UPMC.com. To schedule an appointment for a child between the ages of 12 and 17, call 844-UPMCVAC (844-876-2822) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., 7 days a week. Click Here for the UPMC file for the full newsletter.

- The PA Department of Education today announced the availability of the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a program that will help eligible schools and libraries close the digital divide and homework gap. Learn more: Department of Education Encourages Schools and Libraries to Apply for Federal Assistance to Help Close the Digital Divide.

- PennDOT today announced that the application site for the 2021 Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside of the Federal Highway Administration’s Surface Block Grant Program is now open, and applications will be accepted through October 15. Some $18 million is available statewide for eligible projects. See more: Article (penndot.gov).

- PennDOT also announced today that work to place a new box culvert along Marsh Creek Road in Centre County will begin next Thursday, July 8. The box culvert will replace a large cross pipe on an unnamed tributary of Marsh Creek on Route 1002 (Marsh Creek Road) northwest of Howard. Work is expected to last through August 6. Beginning July 8, the road will be closed at the work site and a detour will be in place using Route SR1001(Howard Divide Road), Route 150 (Bald Eagle Valley Road), Route 4007 (Moose Run Road), and Route 1002 (Marsh Creek Road). This detour will be used for the duration of the project, which is a joint effort between Centre County PennDOT Maintenance and Nestlerode Contracting, Inc. of Lock Haven. PennDOT will perform excavation, removal of the pipe, and back-filling. The contractor will set the new box culvert, pave the roadway approaches and install guide rail. 

- In advance of the upcoming holiday, PennDOT today said all driver license and photo centers will be closed Saturday, July 3, through Monday, July 5, in observance of Independence Day. People can still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources today announced the opening of an ATV Regional Trail Connector pilot program in neighboring Potter and Tioga counties that will provide opportunities for riding enthusiasts to travel on more miles of roadways opened to ATVs. Read more: DCNR Set to Open ATV Regional Trail Connector Pilot Area July 16 (pa.gov).

6/25/21

- The PA Department of Health today announced that the order requiring universal face coverings will be lifted statewide this coming Monday, June 28. Read more: Department of Health Lifting Universal Masking Order on June 28, Urging Pennsylvanians to Follow Mask-Wearing Guidance Where Required.

While the mask mandate in Pennsylvania ends on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, and other federal agencies still require a mask for unvaccinated individuals. The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association is among those groups suggesting businesses consider having unvaccinated employees continue to wear a mask until the federal guidance changes.

- A reminder that Lock Haven University, in collaboration with UPMC and Clinton County Government will host a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Monday, June 28, from 12:00 noon – 4:00 p.m. The drive-thru clinic – open to anyone age 12 and older – will be held at the LHU Student Recreation Center parking lot, 550 Railroad Street, Lock Haven. No registration is required.

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 258 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,211,299. There are 380 people hospitalized with the virus, 75 of whom are in intensive care. To date, vaccine providers have administered 11,555,953 total vaccine doses, 6,672,317 of which are first/single doses, and 4,883,636 of which are second/full doses. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.5 Million Vaccinations to Date, 62.2% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 59.4% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 8th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- The PA Senate this week confirmed the nominations of Jennifer Berrier as Secretary for the Department of Labor & Industry, and Noe Ortega has the state’s Education Secretary. Both had been nominated by Governor Tom Wolf. Berrier had been the acting Labor & Industry secretary since December 4, when her predecessor Jerry Oleksiak resigned. While senators voiced concerns about the delays and problems their constituents encountered in applying for unemployment compensation benefits during the height of the pandemic, the Senate Labor & Industry Committee voted to support Berrier’s nomination with a favorable recommendation. Ortega had been serving as acting education secretary since October 1 when his predecessor Pedro Rivera resigned to become president of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster. Ortega’s nomination, however, was advanced out of the Senate Education Committee with no recommendation, as some on the committee were critical of the department’s COVID-19 mitigation guidance to school districts and what they called a lack of communication with them about it.

- The Governor this week announced the resignations of his Chief of Staff Mike Brunelle and Budget Secretary Jen Swails, both of whom have accepted jobs in the private sector. Elena Cross, Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor (who hails from State College and attended Penn State), assumes the role of Chief of Staff effective June 26. Gregory Thall, Special Advisor to the Budget Secretary, will assume the role of Budget Secretary on July 31. Read more: Governor Wolf Announces Staffing Changes (pa.gov).

- In the week ending June 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 411,000, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week's revised level, according to information released by the U.S. Department of Labor. More here: News Release (dol.gov).

- The U.S. Department of Labor this week announced funding opportunities for more than $21 million in Occupational Safety and Health Administration training grants for non-profit organizations. Details here: US Department of Labor announces availability of more than $21M in grants for training on workplace hazards, infectious diseases | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- 12th District Congressman Fred Keller will host a Telephone Town Hall on Monday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m. He is inviting constituents to dial-in at 866-641-6837 or listen in live at keller.house.gov/live.

- Businesses interested in exploring the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program have an opportunity to support Keystone Central School District students via the Keystone Central Foundation. The EITC provides companies with a 75% tax credit for donations to nonprofit educational improvement organizations, such as the Keystone Central Foundation. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 570-660-1306.

- PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Dunn – who was in Clinton County this afternoon – said the crush of people using state parks and other public spaces during the pandemic is a trend that continues today. Dunn joined the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, Clinton County Commissioners, Clinton County Tourist Promotion Agency and others in a dedication ceremony at the Phelps Mill Canoe Launch along Pine Creek (known as the Avis canoe launch), which is now overseen by the Tiadaghton State Forestry Office. A $4,300 Clinton County Tourism/Recreation Grant was among the funding that helped establish what had previously been private property into a public canoe/kayak launch. Read more: DCNR Joins Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy to Dedicate Canoe Launch at Pine Creek in Tiadaghton State Forest (pa.gov).

- The Wolf Administration this week recognized the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of State Parks staff for ongoing efforts to keep Pennsylvania’s 121 parks open and safe for visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for finding new ways to engage the public through virtual programming. Read more: Profiles in Service: DCNR Staff Recognized for Keeping State Parks Accessible, Safe for Visitors During Pandemic.

- The PA Department of Health this week commended Pennsylvania skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes) for their ongoing efforts to report information on the vaccination status of residents and staff. Because more than 90 percent of the nursing homes in the state are reporting vaccination status data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network system, the state this week lifted its order for vaccine data reporting. Read more: Department of Health: PA Nursing Homes Providing Prompt Information on Vaccination Status of Residents and Staff, Vaccine Needs Assessment Survey Order Lifted Today.

- The PA Department of Human Services has announced the start of distribution of $224 million in federally funded food assistance to low-income Pennsylvania families of about 223,000 young children. The funding is designed to help eligible families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children might have otherwise received in child care or school settings that were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More here: Department of Human Services Announces Distribution of $224 Million in Food Assistance for Families with Young Children.

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission today held a graduation ceremony in Bellefonte for the six members of the 23rd Class of Waterways Conservation Officers. The officers begin their duties next week. See more: NEW WATERWAYS CONSERVATION OFFICERS GRADUATE, PREPARE TO REPORT TO REGIONS FOR DUTY.

- Governor Wolf announced that, for the first time ever, Pennsylvania was named one of the best employers in the nation for new graduates in a survey conducted by Forbes and market research company Statista. Learn more: Gov. Wolf: Forbes Survey Ranks Commonwealth of PA Among the Best Employers for New Grads.

- Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell announced yesterday that 1,000 Level 2 electric vehicle chargers have been installed statewide with funding from the DEP Driving PA Forward program. See more: DEP Celebrates 1,000 Electric Vehicle Chargers Installed Statewide with ‘Driving PA Forward’ Funding.

- A section of Main Street in Lock Haven is again closed to vehicle traffic through Saturday (June 26) at 10:00 p.m. for the downtown Pedestrian Mall, which allows restaurants and retailers to bring their business out onto the sidewalks and street. This weekend also marks the start of the City of Lock Haven’s 2021 Free Summer Outdoor Concert Series. The popular Lindy Sisters trio perform from the Main & Grove Streets stage Friday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., and American Idol star Aaron Kelly will be the first this season to perform on the floating stage at the Corman Amphitheater Saturday evening from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Also on Saturday, Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. hosts the annual Best of Clinton County summer festival along Main Street, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The day includes a street festival, street bingo, and a 1:00 p.m. parade up Main Street. Saturday also marks the conclusion of a successful 35th Sentimental Journey to Cub Haven Fly-In at the Piper Memorial Airport and Castanea Fire Company Picnic Grounds.

6/22/21

- Cases of COVID-19 continue to decline statewide, and Clinton County today saw a much improved percent positivity rate compared to a week ago. The state today provided its weekly update, noting a seven-day case increase of 1,370 cases (858 fewer new cases across the state compared to the previous week), and a percent positivity at 1.4%, compared to last week’s 1.9%. According to the data from the state’s COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, Clinton County this week has a percent positivity of 1.9%, compared to 8.2% a week ago and 4.6% two weeks ago. The percent positivity rates for Centre and Lycoming counties saw little change: Centre this week was at 1.7% compared to 1.6% last week and 1.8% two weeks ago, and Lycoming County this week has a percent positivity of 3.0% compared to 2.8% last week and 4.9% the week before that. In all, 64 of the state’s 67 counties have a positivity rate lower than 5 percent, and there are no counties reporting over 20 percent positivity rate.

Governor Tom Wolf said no counties have what the state considers “substantial” transmission status this week. Clinton is among 37 counties in the “low” level of community transmission, while Centre and Lycoming counties are among 30 counties listed in the “moderate” level of transmission. See more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/pennsylvania-covid-19-early-warning-monitoring-dashboard-update-for-june-11-june-17/.

- The PA Health Department today confirmed an additional 177 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,210,646. Clinton County’s current case count stands at 3,711, Centre at 16,907, and Lycoming at 11,948. Statewide, 406 people are hospitalized with the virus, 93 of whom are in intensive care. To date, vaccine providers have administered 11,456,968 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania, 6,628,924 of which are first/single doses and 4,828,044 of which are second/full doses. More information here: Department of Health: Over 11.4 Million Vaccinations to Date, 61.9% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 59% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 8th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- Area residents have two opportunities to receive a COVID-19 vaccination this Friday, June 25 or Monday, June 28. Lock Haven University, in collaboration with UPMC and Clinton County Government will host the vaccination clinics from 12:00 noon – 4:00 p.m. both days. The clinics are drive-thru, they are free and are open to anyone age 12 and older. They will be held at the LHU Student Recreation Center parking lot, 550 Railroad Street, Lock Haven. No registration is required.

- The 35th Sentimental Journey to Cub Haven Fly-In is back after a year off because of the pandemic. The tribute to the area’s Piper Aviation heritage got underway this morning at Piper Memorial Airport and the Castanea Fire Company Picnic Grounds. On Wednesday, June 23, Sentimental Journey and the Piper Aviation Museum co-host a Partnership “Time Out.” More than 100 people are expected to participate in the networking event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Piper Museum. Following a museum tour, Time Out participants are then invited to the Fly-In for food and drink and a chance to walk the flight line and mingle. The Fly-In runs through Saturday. 

- STEP, Inc. has announced its Centers for Health Aging (senior centers) are reopening, with limited hours, beginning tomorrow, June 23. The local Centers, which include the Clinton County Community Center in Lock Haven, the Mill Hall Center at the Mill Hall Fire Company, the Renovo Area Center at the South Renovo Fire Company, and the Jersey Shore Center at Tiadaghton Gardens, will be open Tuesdays through Fridays initially, as they work to fully reopen starting July 6. Between now and July 6, the Mill Hall Center will be open 9:00 a.m.-noon Tuesdays through Fridays, while the other centers will be open from Noon-3:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.stepcorp.org.

- Lock Haven University hosts the first of five in-person new student orientation sessions on campus this Friday, June 25, as the university prepares for a full return to in-person classes when the fall semester begins in August. For more, visit www.lockhaven.edu/admissions. 

- As part of a collaboration with other schools, businesses and workforce development organizations, Keystone Central School District Career & Technology Center this week announced it plans to enhance its Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machinist pre-apprenticeship offering. Click Here for the KCSD news release for details.

- Penn State Extension is offering 25% off enrollment in over 75 online courses if you enroll between now and July 6. VIEW COURSES

- The PA Department of Agriculture and several partners today provided an update on the state of spotted lanternfly in Pennsylvania and the path to beating this invasive species. While no sightings of this pest have been reported in Clinton County, neighboring Cameron County recently was added to the state’s quarantine area. Read more: Managing Spotted Lanternfly in Pennsylvania: A Collective Responsibility, an Opportunity to Capitalize on for PA Businesses.

- PennDOT, along with Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital, West Branch Drug & Alcohol Abuse Commission and several other partners this week announced a statewide Independence Day impaired driving enforcement campaign that runs through July 4. Learn more: Details (penndot.gov).

6/18/21

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today released its employment situation report for May. The state’s unemployment rate was down two-tenths of a percentage point over the month, to 6.9% in May. (6.6 percentage points below the unemployment level in May of last year). The U.S. unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point from April, to 5.8% in May. See more: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Down To 6.9 Percent in May (pa.gov).

- From the U.S. Department of Labor….in the week ending June 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 412,000, an increase of 37,000 from the previous week's revised level. The 4-week moving average was 395,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. Read the full news release.

- The PA Department of Health is not issuing a COVID-19 update today as state agencies are closed in observance of Juneteenth. On Thursday, the Health Department confirmed an additional 277 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,209,725. The data noted 465 people hospitalized with the virus, 114 of whom are in intensive care. As of Thursday, vaccine providers had administered 11,330,117 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 6,758,049 of which were first/single doses and 4,752,068 of which were second/full doses.

Meanwhile, the Health Department announced the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard is now updated to better reflect the race and ethnicity of Pennsylvanians receiving the vaccine. Read more: Department of Health Updates Vaccine Dashboard to Better Reflect Race, Ethnicity Data in 66 Counties.

- The Health Department shared its monthly update on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data. See more here: Department of Health Offers Monthly Update On COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, Monitoring Efforts.

- Attention restaurants/PLCB-licensed establishments: With the end of the pandemic emergency declaration, so ends the cocktails to-go and expanded premises outdoor seating. According to the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association, if you applied for the temporary expanded premises outdoor seating last year (which meant you didn't pay a fee or get inspected) and you wish to continue, you can apply for a permanent extension at PLCB+. Log in, click on "Other License Changes/Amendments" and select "Extension of Premise" from the drop-down menu. There is a $220 fee and an inspection will be required if you pursue this option. Once you apply and pay the fee, you can continue operating while you wait for inspection and final approval. 

- The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy has announced the availability of a Customizable COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit for Rural Communities. This toolkit from the FORHP-supported National Rural Health Resource Center helps rural community- and faith-based organizations, businesses, public health, schools, and health care organizations with internal and external COVID-19 vaccine communication materials. Organizations have easy access to customizable communication templates that include print ads, poster, brochure, social media posts, and an online resource guide. 

- The U.S. Department of Labor today announced funding opportunities for more than $21 million in Occupational Safety and Health Administration training grants for non-profit organizations. The first availability will provide $10 million under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021for Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, including the Coronavirus grants. More here: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/osha/osha20210617.

- The PA Insurance Commission has announced a new program that will encourage the insurance industry to deliver innovative new insurance solutions and products. The Commission says Keystone Smart Launch will help to reduce barriers and speed up the regulatory process so Pennsylvania can offer cutting-edge services to its consumers and industry professionals. More here: Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Announces New Program to Support Innovative Insurance Products (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a new publicly available digital map that displays key indicators of broadband needs across the country. This is the first interactive, public map that allows users to explore different datasets about where people do not have quality Internet access. See more: NTIA Creates First Interactive Map to Help Public See the Digital Divide Across the Country | U.S. Department of Commerce.

- Clinton County welcomes two national-level events to the area over the next several days: 

  • The Durty Dabbers Motorcycle Club hosts the 2021 PA National Series American Motorcyclists Association-National Observed Trials Championship – AMA-NATC MotoTrials – this weekend in Farrandsville, featuring some of the top riders from across the country. Trials get underway from the Farrandsville Community Park at 9:00 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday, June 19 and 20.
  • The Short Wing Piper Club is hosting its national convention in Lock Haven June 21-25. The event is being held – for the first time – in conjunction with the annual Sentimental Journey to Cub Haven Fly-In June 22-26 at the Castanea Fire Company Picnic Grounds and Piper Memorial Airport.

- Effective Monday, June 21, PennDOT will post a 10-ton Gross Weight limit on a section of Route 1010 – the Jacksonville Road – in Centre County. The weight restriction will be on the section of road from the intersection of State Route 26, in Marion Township, to the Centre/Clinton County line, also in Marion Township. Questions concerning the use of this section of Route 1010 should be addressed to the Department of Transportation Clearfield District Office at (814) 765-0495. 

6/15/21

- Cases of COVID-19 continue to drop statewide, but Clinton County has seen an uptick. The state today provided its weekly COVID-19 statistics report, indicating a seven-day case increase of 2,044 (1,006 fewer cases across the state compared to the previous week) and a statewide percent positivity of 1.9%, compared to 2.9% a week ago. Clinton County’s percent positivity currently stands at 8.2%, a jump from the 4.6% last week and 4.0% the week before that. Centre County’s rate stands at 1.6%, down from 1.8% last week and 3.9% two weeks ago. And Lycoming County currently has a positivity rate of 2.8%, also down from 4.9% last week and 6.0% two weeks ago.

With the increase in positivity rate, Clinton this week moved back into the “moderate” level of community transmission, according to the state (it had been in the “low” level last week). Centre and Lycoming counties continue in the moderate level as well, along with 41 other counties. Only one county, neighboring Potter County, now has what the state terms a “substantial” level of community transmission. In all, 22 counties are now in the low level of transmission, and 44 are in the moderate level. More here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for June 4 – June 10 (pa.gov).

- The PA Health Department today confirmed an additional 453 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,209, 136. There are 512 people hospitalized with the virus, 130 of whom are in intensive care. To date, the state says 11,244,192 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, 6,546,417 of which are first/single doses and 4,697,775 of which are second/full doses. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.2 Million Vaccinations to Date, 60.9% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 57.5% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- If you haven’t been vaccinated: Lock Haven University, in collaboration with UPMC and Clinton County Government will host two COVID-19 vaccination clinics this month that are free and open to anyone age 12 and older. The drive-thru clinics will be held June 25 and again on June 28 at the LHU Student Recreation Center parking lot, 550 Railroad Street, Lock Haven, from Noon to 4:00 p.m. both days. No registration is required.

- Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson today discussed COVID-19 treatments and vaccine available to Pennsylvanians. Learn more: Department of Health Provides Information on Available COVID-19 Treatments and Vaccines for Pennsylvanians.

- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a resource guide to help rural community leaders start and expand employment opportunities and access resources for training, recruiting, and creating a sustainable rural workforce. Click here to download the guide: https://www.rd.usda.gov/sites/default/files/060721-ic-ruralworkforceguide-final508.pdf.

- As Pennsylvania continues to ease pandemic guidelines, Governor Wolf today urged the state Senate to pass legislation allowing the pandemic-driven “cocktails-to-go” measure to remain in place. Read more: Gov. Wolf Urges Senate to Keep Cocktails-to-Go in Place (pa.gov).

- The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission and the State Historical Records Advisory Board are now accepting applications for the Historical & Archival Records Care grant program. Funding is available to historical records repositories, such as: historical societies; libraries; universities; local governments; and school districts for collections care, including surveying; inventorying; preserving; arranging; and describing historical records significant to Pennsylvania, as well as for records reformatting and equipment. The application deadline is August 2. More information here: PHMC and Historical Records Advisory Board Announce Grant Opportunity for Archival Records (pa.gov).

- PA Auditor General Timothy DeFoor today released audits showing the City of Chester owes its pension plans more than $34 million in back payments, while reminding municipalities across Pennsylvania facing similar situations that federal COVID relief funds cannot be used for that purpose. See more: Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General -Auditor General DeFoor: Audits Show City of Chester Owes More than $34 Million to its Pension Plans; Municipalities Warned Against Using Federal ARP Aid for Past Pension Debts (paauditor.gov).

- The PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs today warned veterans of people trying to poach their pension, saying Pension Poaching is a financial scam targeting veterans, survivors, and their families who are potentially eligible for VA benefits. Learn more: DMVA Warns Veterans Should be Aware of Pension Poaching Scams (pa.gov).

- PennDOT announced that all driver license and photo centers will be closed this Friday, June 18, in observance of Juneteenth. Customers can still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through the Driver & Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov. More here: Article (penndot.gov).

- 12th District Congressman Fred Keller’s Washington, D.C. office is currently accepting fall student internship applications. The deadline to submit applications is June 30, 2021. Visit Congressman Keller’s website to learn how to apply: https://keller.house.gov/services/internships.

- Upcoming Webinars: 

  • For employers looking for training support: A virtual employer workshop, Training Funds: WEDnetPA, will be held tomorrow, June 16 at 10:00 a.m. The one-hour, no-cost session is hosted by PA CareerLink, the Lock Haven University Office of Workforce Development, and the Workforce & Economic Development Network. Click Here for the PA CareerLink flyer for details, or contact Dorie Gilmore at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • The SBA hosts a free Government Contracting Workshop on Wednesday, June 16, at 10:00 a.m. The session offers a general overview of what it takes to enter and succeed in the federal marketplace. CLICK AND REGISTER
  • The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a free webinar, 21st Century Customer Service, on Thursday, June 17, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Register Now!

6/11/21

- For the first time in 15 months, Pennsylvania is no longer operating under a COVID-19 emergency declaration. Using its newly expanded emergency powers, the state Legislature this week voted to end Governor Tom Wolf’s pandemic disaster declaration. See more: Pa. General Assembly votes to terminate Wolf's COVID-19 emergency declaration | Pennsylvania Capital-Star (penncapital-star.com)

Meanwhile, Governor Wolf today signed legislation that extends the most critical components of the COVID-19 disaster declaration emergency. More here: Gov. Wolf Signs Bills Extending COVID-19 Emergency Regulation Suspensions, Expanding Family Caregiver Supports.

- The PA Health Department today confirmed an additional 380 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,207,875. There are 630 people hospitalized with the virus, 159 of whom are in intensive care. The Health Department reports the state has administered 11,106,526 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 6,498,244 of which are first/single doses and 4,608,282 of which are second/full doses. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.1 Million Vaccinations to Date, 60.1% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 56.6% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- Lock Haven University, in collaboration with UPMC and Clinton County Government will host two COVID-19 vaccination clinics later this month that will be free and open to anyone age 12 and older. The drive-thru clinics will be held June 25 and again on June 28 at the LHU Student Recreation Center parking lot, 550 Railroad Street, Lock Haven, from Noon to 4:00 p.m. both days. No registration is required.

- The Wolf Administration and the United Way of Pennsylvania today launched the Local Innovations in Vaccine Equity in Pennsylvania project (LIVE PA) to administer $4 million in mini-grants to local organizations aimed to reduce vaccine hesitancy and ensure an equitable vaccine distribution throughout the state. Learn more: Wolf Administration Partners with United Way of Pennsylvania to Offer Local Grant Opportunities to Reduce Vaccine Hesitancy.

- The Internal Revenue Service today posted two new, separate sets of frequently-asked-questions (FAQs), one to assist small and mid-sized employers in claiming sick and family leave credits, and the other to assist families in claiming child and dependent care tax credits under the American Rescue Plan. Details here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/new-faqs-available-to-aid-families-and-small-business-under-the-american-rescue-plan.

- The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration this week issued both an emergency temporary standard to protect healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19, as well as updated guidance for all industries to protect workers who are still not vaccinated. Read more: US Department of Labor’s OSHA issues emergency temporary standard to protect health care workers from the coronavirus (govdelivery.com) and Read the new general industry COVID-19 guidance.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today said more than 247,000 people have successfully filed claims on the state’s new Unemployment Compensation system since it was launched on Tuesday, and nearly $115 million in payments have been issued by L&I for those claims. More here: More Than 247,000 Individuals Have Successfully Filed for Benefits Since Launch of New UC System (pa.gov).

As part of the new system, L&I Thursday announced that the new version of the Pennsylvania Teleclaims system (PAT), which allows individuals to file for unemployment benefits by phone, is now online. Details here: L&I Announces Filing for UC Benefits by Phone Now Available (pa.gov).

- According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment claims in the U.S. this past week dropped for the sixth week in a row. In the week ending June 5, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial UC claims was 376,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 385,000. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release.

- From the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association….The restaurant industry added 186,000 jobs in May, according to recently released federal data. One out of every three jobs the economy added in May was in the restaurant industry, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. However, the industry remains 1.5 million workers short of its pre-pandemic highs. 

- A section of Main Street in downtown Lock Haven is open to foot traffic only this weekend, the first downtown “pedestrian mall” of June. Main Street between Jay and Vesper is closed to vehicle traffic from 3:00 p.m. Friday until 10:00 p.m. Saturday, allowing restaurants and retailers to bring their business outside onto the street and sidewalks. The popular pedestrian mall concept was established during the height of the pandemic last summer. This year, street closings will occur the second and fourth weekends during June, July and August, and every weekend during September. Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. oversees the pedestrian mall initiative.

- Some interesting small business statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau:  Based on responses collected May 31 through June 6, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 10.1% of U.S. small businesses experienced a decrease in the total number of hours worked by paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 5/10/20 – 5/16/20, this statistic was 36.6%
  • 32.1% of U.S. small businesses believe that more than 6 months will pass before their business is back to normal. For responses collected 5/24 – 5/30, this statistic was 33.0%
  • 11.1% of U.S. small businesses experienced production delays at their business in the last week. For responses collected 5/24 – 5/30, this statistic was 12.0%
  • 11.8% of U.S. Accommodation and Food Services small businesses received financial assistance from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund since December 27, 2020
  • 61.4% of U.S. Manufacturing small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays in the last week. The national average for this statistic was 36.3%

 - The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency this week approved nearly $45 million in grants to be used for creating, rehabilitating and supporting affordable housing initiatives in communities across the state. The grants will cover 223 projects impacting all 67 Pennsylvania counties, including 13 regional and five statewide awards. Read more: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- Pennsylvania has extended the deadline for older and disabled Pennsylvanians to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2020. The Revenue Department today said the June 30 deadline has been extended until December 31, 2021. More here: Application Deadline Extended to Dec. 31, 2021 for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program (pa.gov).

- The PA State Police this week announced that troopers made 18,412 driving under the influence arrests in 2020, a 17 percent decrease from the total number of DUI arrests in 2019. More information here: State Police Releases 2020 DUI Arrest Totals (pa.gov).

- The Center for Rural Pennsylvania this week released new research on Suicide Trends and Prevention in rural Pennsylvania counties and schools. The study examined overall trends in suicide across Pennsylvania’s 67 counties from 1990 to 2018, and surveyed counties and school districts to learn more about suicide prevention programs currently being used. Some key findings were: suicide rates in PA increased substantially from 1999 to 218; in 2018, the suicide rate in rural counties was 25 percent higher than in urban counties; and that higher number of handgun sales per 1,000 residents, lower levels of education, lower incomes, larger populations over age 65, and higher levels of unemployment correlated with higher county suicide rates. View the study results here: Suicide Trends and Prevention in Rural Pennsylvania Counties and Schools.

- The PA Game Commission has announced that hunting and furtaker licenses for 2021-22 will go on sale this coming Monday, June 14. The new license year begins July 1. More here: HUNTING LICENSES TO GO ON SALE JUNE 14 (pa.gov).

- Upcoming Webinars:

  • A virtual employer workshop, Training Funds: WEDnetPA, is scheduled for Wednesday, June 16 at 10:00 a.m. The one-hour, no-cost session is hosted by PA CareerLink, the Lock Haven University Office of Workforce Development, and the Workforce & Economic Development Network. Click Here for the PA CareerLink flyer for details, or contact Dorie Gilmore at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Established, for-profit small businesses hoping to grow through partnering and subcontracting opportunities with large corporations are invited to participate in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Virtual Contracting Conference, Tuesday, June 15, at 10:00 a.m. Register Today!
  • The SBA hosts a free Government Contracting Workshop on Wednesday, June 16, at 10:00 a.m. The session offers a general overview of what it takes to enter and succeed in the federal marketplace. CLICK AND REGISTER
  • The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a free webinar, 21st Century Customer Service, on Thursday, June 17, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Register Now!

6/8/21

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today announced that the state’s new unemployment benefits system is now online and accepting claims at benefits.uc.pa.gov. Read more: New Unemployment System Now Online (pa.gov).

- Two COVID-related local grant programs come to a close over the next week and we encourage businesses to take advantage of these local opportunities: 

  • This Friday, June 11 at 5:00 p.m., is the deadline for small businesses in Clinton County to apply for grant funds from the COVID-Community Development Block Grant program. The county still has about $81,000 available through this program and businesses throughout Clinton County can apply (businesses located in the City of Lock Haven are not eligible, as the city receives separate CDBG funding). If you have COVID-related losses that have not been covered by other grants or loans, we encourage you to apply for this locally-administered grant program. Click here for the program guidelines and FAQ. Click here to register and apply. Note: Make sure you have received verification that your online application has been submitted. People having difficulty with the online application can contact Kari Kepler at the County Planning Department at 570-893-4080, ext. 2. Interested businesses can also pick up a paper application at the Planning Department in the County Piper Building, 2 Piper Way, Lock Haven. 
  • The final phase of the County’s COVID Hospitality Industry Relief Program (CHIRP) – a grant program offering pandemic-related support to local restaurants, hotels, bars and the like – is slated to close as of next Tuesday, June 15. SEDA-COG is administering the program for the County and will accept applications until June 15. Those with questions should contact SEDA-COG Grants Manager Betsy Lockwood at 570-522-7265 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To apply, go to: https://csgiving.org/chirp/.
  • The Clinton County Housing Coalition continues to accept applications for funding through the federal pandemic-related Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The County received $2.5 million in funding that may be used to support both landlords and tenants to cover rental arrears up to 12 months; prospective rent payments up to three months; utility and home energy arrears; and some other housing related expenses. The Housing Coalition is accepting applications, determining eligibility, and making program payments on behalf of the County. The program will remain in effect until December 31, 2022 or until the funding is exhausted. Click herefor the ERAP Frequently Asked Questions, and Click here for a link to the ERAP online application.

- The statewide COVID statistics continue to improve. Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today released the weekly COVID status update based on the state’s COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 2,899 (2,108 fewer cases across the state over the past week than compared to the previous week), and a statewide percent-positivity of 2.9% compared to 3.8% last week. Clinton County’s percent positivity was up this week, at 4.6% compared to 4.0% last week but better than 5.8% the week before. Centre County’s rate dropped to 1.8% this week compared to 3.9% last week and 3.7% the week before that. Lycoming County this week has a percent-positivity of 4.9%, a drop from 6.0% last week but higher than the 3.7% reported two weeks ago.

Clinton County this week moved into the “low” level of community transmission along with 12 other counties, while Centre and Lycoming continue to be among 53 counties listed as having “moderate” levels of community transmission. Only McKean county is listed as being in the “substantial” transmission range this week. More information here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/pennsylvania-covid-19-early-warning-monitoring-dashboard-update-for-may-28-june-3/.

- Meanwhile, the Health Department today reported an additional 450 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,206,439. There are 754 people hospitalized with the virus, 173 of whom are in intensive care. Regarding vaccine distribution, as of June 7, vaccine providers have administered 10,925,445 doses, 6,416,126 of which are first/single doses and 4,509,317 of which are second/full doses. More data here: Department of Health: Over 10.9 Million Vaccinations to Date, 59.6% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 55.9% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- The PA Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Health Department announced that the Regional Vaccination Clinic at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center will be open every day through June 14 for its final week of operations. Center hours are noon to 8:00 p.m. weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 12 and 13. Vaccines will be available on a walk-in basis – no appointment is needed, and the clinic is open to anyone regardless of county of residence. Read more: Regional Vaccination Clinic in Centre County Open Daily for Final Week of Operations (pa.gov).

- The Wolf Administration today outlined guidance to keep families safe while children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. More here: Wolf Administration Outlines Guidance for Children Not Yet Eligible to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine and their Families (pa.gov).

- UPMC today issued a COVID-19 update, offering thoughts on the pandemic’s impact on mental health, the vaccine and children, and more. Click Here for the UPMC Update for details.

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

  • Eligible small businesses, nonprofits, sole proprietors and independent contractors can still apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Learn more about EIDL, the Targeted EIDL Advance and Supplemental Targeted Advance: Learn more.
  • SBA is currently accepting applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. To submit an application, visit sba.gov/svogrant. 
  • The American Rescue Plan extends a number of critical tax benefits, particularly the Employee Retention Credit and Paid Leave Credit, to small businesses. Learn more.
  • SBA and Public Private Strategies Institute are hosting several webinars from June to August to help businesses get back on track:

- Hear about what steps you can take now to learn and take advantage of new and existing programs that are available at the SBA

- Get an update regarding programs and recent policy announcements made by the Biden-Harris Administration

- Have your questions answered by SBA Leadership and small business experts

- Learn how you can become a vaccine leader in your community

- Discover tools and resources you can use to take your business digital

These sessions are open to any small business owner and leader. They are divided geographically by SBA regions and feature guest speakers from the corresponding areas. However, the majority of the information pertains to a national audience, so people register for a webinar outside their location. Register.

  • SBA's new Community Navigator Pilot Program will help connect underserved small businesses with critical resources they need through trusted organizations in their communities. Learn more.

- The Internal Revenue Service has started sending letters to more than 36 million American families who, based on tax returns filed with the agency, may be eligible to receive monthly Child Tax Credit payments starting in July. The expanded and newly-advanceable Child Tax Credit was authorized by March enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-sending-letters-to-more-than-36-million-families-who-may-qualify-for-monthly-child-tax-credits-payments-start-july-15.

- PennDOT is alerting area drivers that a 10-ton Gross Weight limit will be posted soon on a section of Route 1010, the Jacksonville Road, in Centre County. Effective Monday, June 21, PennDOT will place the weight restriction on Route 1010 from the intersection of Route 26, in Marion Township, to the Centre/Clinton County line, also in Marion Township. Read more: News Details (penndot.gov).

- The PA State System of Higher Education's plan to integrate six state-owned universities into two universities will be the subject of public hearings scheduled for this Thursday and Friday, June 9 and 10. The West Plan (which involves the merger of California, Clarion and Edinboro universities), will be discussed during Thursday 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Zoom sessions, while the public hearings surrounding the Northeast Plan, (Lock Haven, Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities), are slated for 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Friday, June 10. The Zoom link for all four sessions is https://passhe.zoom.us/j/98944636652#success. The public also can view the hearings live through the PASSHE channel on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/statesystem. Public comment can also be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.​​ or sent via U.S. mail to University Integrations Public Comment, Dixon University Center, 2986 N. Second St., Harrisburg, PA 17110. The public comment period is open until June 30.

6/4/21

We offer Congratulations and Best Wishes as more of our local students receive their diplomas this weekend. Bucktail High School graduation is tonight at 7:00, and Central Mountain seniors graduate tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.. Both are outdoor ceremonies, with people needing a ticket to attend. Sugar Valley Rural Charter School graduation ceremonies are scheduled for Wednesday, June 9, and Jersey Shore seniors will graduate next Saturday, June 12.

- Keystone Central School District is reporting no active cases of COVID-19 among staff or students – the first “zero” case report in some time. In her weekly update this afternoon, Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said the community spread data within School District territory continues to be in the moderate range. Dr. Martin also congratulated soon-to-graduate seniors, and noted that this will be her final weekly update for the 2021 school year, saying, “I am sure we will all be happy to put this one in the rearview mirror as the pandemic related challenges were extraordinary. I am so proud of our staff and students for their efforts and cooperation in keeping our schools open and as safe as possible.” The last day of school for KCSD students is Tuesday, June 8. Click Here for the KCSD Update for the full report.

- The Clinton County Commissioners have extended the deadline for small businesses in Clinton County to apply for grant funds from the COVID-Community Development Block Grant program. The Commissioners said Thursday that the June 4 application deadline is extended another week, until June 11. The county still has about $81,000 available through this program. Businesses throughout Clinton County can apply, except those located within the City of Lock Haven (the city receives separate CDBG funding). If you have COVID-related losses that have not been covered by other grants or loans, we encourage you to apply for this locally-administered grant program. Following are more details and a link to the online application:

  • CLINTON COUNTY CDBG-CV CASH GRANTS TO SMALL BUSINESSES - The purpose of this grant program is to promote re-hiring, retaining existing jobs, and further stabilizing local businesses of all types. The County has $81,000 remaining in this program, which is funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support local businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. All businesses with fewer than 100 employees and less than $1,000,000 in annual gross revenue may apply. If you have already been awarded CDBG Covid-Relief funds, or relief funds from any other source, you may still be eligible for this grant if your total losses are higher than the funding received. Program closes on June 11 at 5:00 pm. Click here for the program guidelines and FAQ. Click here to register and apply.

People having difficulty with the online application can pick up a paper application at the Clinton County Planning Department in the County Piper Building, 2 Piper Way, Lock Haven. For questions, contact the Planning Office at 570-893-4080.

- After $800 billion in loans, the federal Paycheck Protection Program, PPP comes to an end. The program stopped accepting applications on Monday but is still processing requests in hand.

- While the deadline to apply for a PPP has passed, there are other loan and grant opportunities. From the U.S. Chamber…. This guide outlines small business loans and alternative funding options, while this one lists more than 30 grants, loans and programs. And, the U.S. Small Business Association offers these seven SBA loan programs, which you may qualify for, as well.

- A couple of other good resources from the U.S. Chamber…. 

  • Check out the COVID-19 vaccine resource centerfor information, tools and templates your business can use during the current phase of the pandemic response, including vaccine messaging that works and state-by-state vaccine guidance.
  • Setting prices for your services is a delicate dance that can determine the success of your business. Price them too high and you’ll get pushback from clients. Price them too low and you’ll curb your cash flow. These four stepswill help you pinpoint the right price for your expertise and services.

- The Restaurant Revitalization Fund continues to be a topic of discussion. More than 360,000 businesses requested $75 billion in funding from the program. The PA Restaurant & Lodging Association and National Restaurant Association are urging policymakers in Washington to replenish the fund.

- The PA Department of Community and Economic Development this week announced that counties, metropolitan cities, and local governments are now able to request their portion of federal Local Fiscal Recovery funding provided by the American Rescue Plan. See more: Wolf Administration: Counties, Cities, Local Governments Should Request American Rescue Plan Local Funding Allocations - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- The Internal Revenue Service today said it is sending more than 2.8 million refunds this week to taxpayers who paid taxes on unemployment compensation that new legislation now excludes as income. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-sending-more-than-2-point-8-million-refunds-to-those-who-already-paid-taxes-on-2020-unemployment-compensation.

- Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan today provided an update on the local employment picture: Initial unemployment claims by Clinton County residents rose during the week ending May 29, but continued claims dropped during the same time period, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The initial claims increased from 26 to 66. Of the new claims, 60% were male and 20% were in the construction field. The continued unemployment insurance claims fell 34 to 526 as of May 29. The new figure included 53% who were male, and 18% in manufacturing. Another nine county residents had their unemployment insurance expire during the one week time frame, bringing the total to 501 for 2021.               

The state released April monthly unemployment rates for all 67 counties earlier this week. Clinton County checked in at 6.8%, down from 7.1% in March. Clinton County’s highest unemployment rate during the pandemic was 16.6% in April 2020.

- U.S. employers added 559,000 new jobs in May, and the unemployment rate declined to 5.8% (down from 6.1% in April), the first time the unemployment rate dropped below 6% since the pandemic started. The number of long-term unemployed dropped by 431,000, the biggest monthly decline since 2011. Read more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/osec/osec20210604. You can also Read the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, and Read Secretary Walsh’s statement.

- The Independent Fiscal Office today issued a new monthly publication that tracks Pennsylvania's labor market. The latest payroll jobs data show that Pennsylvania employment gains have stagnated. 

- Pa.'s unemployment compensation system is currently down. The system went off-line Wednesday night and is expected to be down through Monday, June 7, as the state prepares to roll out its new UC system.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 703 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,204,802. There are 900 people hospitalized with the virus, 212 of whom are in intensive care. The state reported that vaccine providers have administered 10,763,516 total vaccine doses as of Thursday, 6,350,034 of which are first/single doses and 4,413,482 of which are second/full doses. More information here: Department of Health: Over 10.7 Million Vaccinations to Date, 58.7% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 54.7% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- UPMC today issued a COVID-19 update, highlighting, among other things, the health care system’s efforts to offer COVID-19 vaccinations at this Saturday’s Williamsport Crosscutters baseball game. Click Here for the UPMC COVID Update for more. 

Non-COVID Items of Interest: 

- As part of an executive order to address Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water, the Wolf Administration today released the complete and final list of results of samples collected from public water systems. The state says the results do not indicate widespread PFAS contamination. Read more: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf reminded nongovernmental entities to apply for funding for projects that facilitate the deployment of high-speed broadband service infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of the state through the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program. More here: Wolf Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians: $5 Million in Funding Now Available for Broadband Projects (pa.gov).

- Beginning around 9:00 p.m. Sunday, June 6, the PA Treasury’s unclaimed property website will be temporarily unavailable as upgrades are made. The site is scheduled to be back online by June 9. See more: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).

- Education and outreach staff from the PA Department of Banking and Securities will host and participate in a number of virtual presentations during June to promote financial capability. See more here: June 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Virtual Events Announced (pa.gov). 

Upcoming Webinars: 

  • The PA Restaurant & Lodging Association hosts a June 8 webinar, Covid-19 Vaccinations & Employees: Navigating the Legal ChallengesREGISTER 
  • PRLA also hosts a June 9, 11:00 a.m. webinar on, The impact of PA's new salary threshold, presented by Post & Schell. REGISTER
  • A virtual employer workshop, Training Funds: WEDnetPA, is scheduled for June 16 at 10:00 a.m. The one-hour, no-cost session is hosted by PA CareerLink, the Lock Haven University Office of Workforce Development, and the Workforce & Economic Development Network. Click Here for the PA CareerLink flyer for details, or contact Dorie Gilmore at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

   • The U.S. Small Business Administration presents a virtual “Boots to Business Reboot” entrepreneurship training program for veterans, National Guard and Reserve, and military spouses, June 17 and 18, from 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. both days. This no-cost workshop will introduce participants to the skills, knowledge and resources needed to launch a business. REGISTER HERE

  • Advance Central PA hosts a June 25, 9:00 a.m.-Noon webinar, Recovery Friendly Workforce Training, to help businesses understand the science and legal aspects of hiring individuals in recovery from a substance use disorder. Click Here for the flyer for more information and to register.

6/1/21

- Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and gatherings (with the exception of masking) ended yesterday, Memorial Day. Businesses can now operate at full capacity and there are no state-imposed limits on gatherings, including sporting events. The state’s mask order remains in effect, but state officials have said they plan to lift the mask order on June 28 or when 70 percent of the state’s adults are fully vaccinated, whichever comes first. More information here: Wolf Administration: Pennsylvania Businesses, Events, Venues Return to 100% Capacity on Memorial Day; Masking Order Remains Until 70% of Adults Fully Vaccinated or June 28.

- Clinton County’s monthly unemployment scene continued to show slight improvement, according to information released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The April unemployment rate for Clinton County was 6.8%, down from 7.1% in March. The county’s unemployment rate was 16.0% in April 2020, which was the high point during the pandemic. The state estimated that 1,200 county residents were jobless during April, which was the same number as March. A year ago, 2,800 people were estimated to be unemployed. Clinton’s 6.8% for April ranked no. 36 among the Commonwealth’s 67 counties. Montour County had the lowest unemployment rate at 4.1% and Philadelphia County was the highest at 9.9%.

The weekly initial and continued unemployment claims in Clinton County during the month of May were steady or slightly decreasing. For the week ending May 22, 40 people filed for initial unemployment insurance, one of the lowest weekly numbers since the pandemic began. The continued claims were in the 550 to 600 range for May. Almost 500 county residents have had jobless benefits expire during the first five months of 2021.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry is reminding Unemployment Compensation (UC) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) claimants to file for weekly benefits before 9:00 p.m. tomorrow, June 2, to ensure their claim is processed prior to the system being taken offline on Thursday, June 3. The system will be offline to allow for the conversion to a new, modern and, according to the state, more efficient UC system. The transition actually began Sunday, and the new system is expected to go “live” next Tuesday, June 8. More here: Reminder: Unemployment Compensation Claimants Should File By 9 PM Wednesday Before System is Offline (pa.gov).

- According to 25th District State Senator Cris Dush, the major upgrade to the new UC system will require changes in the way claimants file for benefits. In the Senator’s weekly newsletter, he said: It is critical for claimants to understand the timeline and new process to file for benefits to avoid any interruption in payments. The Unemployment Compensation system will be offline from May 30 through June 7 to allow data to be moved from the old system to the new one. No new claims will be processed during this time, and some services will not be accessible during this time. Beginning on June 8, claimants must file for benefits and initial claims at www.benefits.uc.pa.gov following the same schedule as before. There will no longer be paper forms available; claimants will be required to create a Keystone ID to log into the new UC system. Claimants will still be able to file by phone starting June 10. More information is available on the Department of Labor and Industry’s FAQ page.

- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosts a Workforce: A Call to Action Summit tomorrow, June 2, at 3:00 p.m. Part of the Chamber's newly announced America Works Initiative, this special event will bring together leaders from government and industry to discuss how – together – we can close the people-jobs gap, unleash economic opportunity, and fuel America's long-term competitiveness. Click here to register today.

- The PA Chamber last week highlighted the negative impact a workforce shortage is having on the state’s economic recovery. -> Read More

Meanwhile, starting on July 11, the state Department of Labor & Industry will no longer waive the work search requirement for individuals receiving unemployment compensation benefits. The PA Chamber says reestablishing the work search requirement sooner would be better. -> Read More

- Several regulatory reform bills that fall under the umbrella of the PA Chamber’s ‘Bringing PA Back’ policy recommendations have been approved by the Pennsylvania Senate and now await further consideration in the state House. -> Read More

- Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today released a weekly COVID-19 status update based on the state’s Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 4,811 (2,429 fewer new cases across the state compared to the previous week), and a statewide percent positivity of 3.8%, down from 4.5% last week. Clinton County’s percent positivity also continues to drop; currently, it’s at 4.0% compared to 5.8% last week and 6.0% the week before that. Centre County saw a slight increase – to 3.9% this week compared to 3.7% last week. Lycoming County saw a larger increase this week – their percent positivity currently is at 6.0% compared to 3.7% last week. All three counties continue to be in what the state considers a “moderate” level of community transmission, along with 53 other counties. Another 10 counties are in the low level of transmission, while only Wyoming County remains at a substantial level of transmission. More data here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for May 21 – May 27 (pa.gov).

The Health Department today confirmed an additional 684 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,202,863. To date, the state says it has administered 10,581,876 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 6,273,769 of which are first/single doses and 4,308,107 of which are second/full doses. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 54.2% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated, while 71% have received their first dose. Read more: Department of Health: Over 10.5 Million Vaccinations to Date, 57.8% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 54.2% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- Pennsylvania collected $3.9 billion in General Fund revenue in May, about 65.4% more than anticipated, according to PA Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell. The Secretary said fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $36.6 billion, or 8.5 percent above average. See more: Revenue Department Releases May 2021 Collections. 

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: The Bureau’s most recent Small Business Pulse Survey indicates businesses are seeing more positive trends as the nation works to move past the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on responses collected May 17 through May 23, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 20.1% of U.S. small businesses experienced a decrease in operating revenues/sales/receipts in the last week. For responses collected 4/26/20 – 5/2/20, this statistic was 74.0%
  • 35.0% of U.S. small businesses believe they will have business travel expenditures in the next six months. For responses collected 4/12 – 4/18, this statistic was 31.5%
  • 10.1% of U.S. small businesses experienced an increase in the number of paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 4/12 – 4/18, this statistic was 8.5%
  • 35.8% of U.S. small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays in the last week. For responses collected 4/12 – 4/18, this statistic was 30.9%
  • 31.5% of U.S. Accommodation and Food Services small businesses have requested financial assistance from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund since December 27, 2020
  • 40.0% of U.S. Wholesale Trade small businesses experienced foreign supplier delays. The national average for all sectors for this statistic is 14.5%
  • The Expected Recovery Index, which summarizes the length of the expected recovery of businesses, increased to -0.48, indicating shorter expected recoveries

Explore Data

Non-COVID items of interest….

- PA Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today urged property owners to consider purchasing flood insurance to protect their homes, businesses, and possessions. For many, she said extreme weather, including flooding caused by hurricanes and severe thunderstorms, can be a common occurrence during the summer months. See more: Insurance Department Urges Pennsylvanians to Consider Purchasing Flood Insurance.

- Ticks are prevalent in the PA Wilds region, and with temperatures warming and people spending more time outdoors, the state today is reminding people to be aware of ticks and to seek treatment if they are bitten by a tick. They also issued tips on how to prevent tick bites. Read more: Wolf Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians to Be Aware of Ticks, Contact Health Care Provider if Showing Symptoms of Tick-Borne Disease (pa.gov).

5/28/21

- Pennsylvania will lift all COVID-19 mitigation orders, with the exception of masking, Effective Monday, Memorial Day, May 31 at 12:01 a.m. Governor Tom Wolf this week said he would not lift the orders sooner, despite efforts by many who requested the orders be lifted at the start of the holiday weekend.

The Governor this week announced that 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s 18 and older population have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination and 52.7 percent of that population is fully vaccinated. The Governor had previously said he would lift the mask mandate when 70 percent of the 18 and older population is fully vaccinated, but the PA Health Department this week announced that the mask order will be lifted by June 28 or when the 70 percent vaccination number is met, whichever comes first. More here: Department of Health: Adult Vaccinations on Track; Mask Order to be Lifted by June 28.

- This week’s COVID-19 statistics continue to show a positive improvement. As stated earlier, Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties continue to see declining percent positivity rates and Clinton and Centre were joined this week by Lycoming County in the “moderate” status of community transmission along with 55 of the state’s 67 counties. Four counties - Cameron, Forest, Montour and Sullivan - are in the low level of transmission, while only five counties – Potter, Bradford, McKean, Venango and Wyoming – are listed as being in the substantial level of transmission. More data here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for May 14 – May 20 (pa.gov).

- COVID statistics in Keystone Central School District continue to improve. In her weekly update, District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said there currently are no active cases of COVID-19 among staff and only one student case. Click Here for the KCSD update for more.

- Following the requirement being suspended during the pandemic, Pennsylvanians collecting unemployment compensation will once again have to look for work starting in July, state acting Labor & Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier said during a legislative committee meeting on Monday. The requirement would be "turned on" July 18, Berrier told the House Labor & Industry Committee, which means claimants would have to begin looking for work the previous week of July 11. Berrier said her department timed the re-implementation of the work search requirement so it would not conflict with the new online unemployment compensation system being installed next month. Labor & Industry staff is preparing for "the historic flow of workers who will be looking for services to help find employment," Berrier said. Pennsylvania's unemployment rate rose slightly from 7.3% in March to 7.4% in April as the nation's rate also increased a tenth of a percentage point to 6.1%. There are now 466,000 Pennsylvanians out of work. The Labor & Industry Department reported that the state's number of residents working or looking for work increased by 2,000 as unemployment ticked up. Republicans and business groups have said the work search requirement ban and extended employment benefits are keeping people from reentering the workforce and sending businesses into freefall as they struggle to fill jobs.  Read More

- The U.S. Small Business Administration this week launched a ‘Community Navigator Pilot’ Program, a $100 million grant program enacted through the American Rescue Plan Act, which will provide counseling, networking and the assistance needed during this time of economic recovery to the nation’s smallest businesses. The program will target small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as women and veterans. The SBA will engage with states, local governments, SBA resource partners, and other organizations in targeted outreach efforts. These partners and people in the community are key to this pilot program as they will serve as a two-way information stream, enabling enterprising business owners to receive the help needed from the SBA. The SBA is accepting applications through July 12, with award decisions expected by August. Learn more

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending May 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 406,000, a decrease of 38,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 444,000. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release.

- Clinton County unemployment claim numbers remained essentially the same during the week ending May 22 as compared to the prior week. There were 40 new initial claims made during the time frame; 62% of them were females, and 23% were in the health care/social assistance sector. That number is down slightly from 46 the week before. Continued claims were 560, with 55% of them male and 21%  in the construction field. The new number is up four from the week ending May 15. Seven more Clinton County residents had unemployment insurance benefits expire as of May 22, bringing the yearly total to 492.

The April unemployment rates for all 67 counties should be released June 1. Clinton County’s March figure was 7.2%.

- From the U.S. Centers for Disease Control….

  • With summer approaching, CDC’s Toolkit for Summer Camps provides guidance and planning documents, posters, and other key resources to help camp administrators and parents navigate summer camp. More information
  • The CDC is recommending people delay travel until they are fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, take the following steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:
  • Get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your trip. Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth, avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet from anyone who is not traveling with you.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Wearing a mask is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Read More

  • COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are going down, and vaccination rates are climbing. These trends are encouraging. As summer approaches, consider how COVID-19 is spreading in your community when making travel plans and choosing activities. Read more about these trends in the COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review.
  • US states, territories, and District of Columbia have reported 32,947,548 cases of COVID-19 in the United States. CDC provides updated U.S. case information online daily. In addition to cases, deaths, and laboratory testing, CDC’s COVID Data Tracker now has a Vaccinations tab to track distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by state.

 - UPMC and the Williamsport Crosscutters will partner to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to fans at baseball games on Wednesday, June 2 and Saturday, June 5 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Muncy Bank Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. Fans who receive their shot at the ballpark will receive a coupon for a free hot dog and soft drink to enjoy during the game. Crosscutters fans will be greeted by UPMC’s mobile bus outside the gate. Fans will have the chance to receive the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine before the game. Those who receive the Pfizer vaccine will be scheduled for their second dose three weeks later at the UPMC vaccination clinic at 2401 Reach Rd., Williamsport. For fans who are still on the fence about the vaccine, UPMC staff will be available and happy to have informed conversations about the benefits of vaccination. Those who decide to get the vaccine during the game will be allowed to exit the ballpark and reenter without issue. To learn more about the vaccine or to schedule an appointment, go to Vaccine.UPMC.com.

- First Lady Frances Wolf and Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson this week led a discussion about the COVID-19 vaccines and reproductive health during a Facebook Live event hosted by the Pennsylvania Commission for Women. The event, entitled Vax Facts for Pregnancy and Reproductive Health, is the second in a series aimed at providing relevant and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more: Wolf Administration, Medical Professionals Hold Discussion on COVID-19 Vaccinations and Reproductive Health (pa.gov).

- The Department of Health has amended the skilled nursing facilities COVID-19 case and death data reporting order transitioning from daily reporting requirements to weekly. More here: Department of Health Updates Nursing Home Data Reporting Order to Support Facilities, Improve COVID-19 Data Integrity.

- PennDOT has announced that a recently enacted state law, Act 131 of 2020, extends the validity period of a commercial learner’s permit and helps address the issue of human trafficking through severe penalties levied on commercial drivers or those who wish to obtain a commercial driver’s license. Click Here for the “New Law” file for details.

- The threat of inclement weather has prompted Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. to cancel this weekend’s downtown pedestrian mall, which means Main Street will remain open to vehicle traffic this weekend. The next street closure is slated for the weekend of June 11 & 12. For June, July and August, the pedestrian mall street closures will be held the second and fourth weekends of the month. Come September, the closures are planned for every weekend.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says Pennsylvania state parks and forests are open for the unofficial start of the summer season; and reminded Pennsylvanians of the guidelines in place so that all visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience. More here: DCNR Announces State Parks, Forests Expect High Visitation for the Summer Season.

And while the weather and temperatures might not be cooperating, DCNR also notes that state park swimming pools and beaches are open this holiday weekend. Read more: DCNR Preparing for Start of Swimming Season on Memorial Day Weekend.

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission hosts its first of two 2021 “Fish-for-Free” days this Sunday, May 30. No fishing license is needed to fish that day on public waterways across the state. The second Fish-for-Free day will be Sunday, July 4. More here: SUNDAY, MAY 30 IS A "FISH-FOR-FREE DAY" IN PENNSYLVANIA (pa.gov).

5/24/21

- Pennsylvania will resume work search requirements in July for people receiving unemployment compensation, a top Wolf administration official said Monday. According to a report this afternoon on PennLive, acting Labor & Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier told a state House of Representatives committee hearing that the requirement will resume July 18, meaning that people claiming jobless benefits will have to search for work during the previous week. She also said that a work registration requirement will resume in September. The requirements have been waived by Wolf under his emergency disaster authority invoked during COVID-19 pandemic. Read more: https://www.pennlive.com/news/2021/05/pennsylvania-to-resume-work-search-rule-for-unemployment-benefits.html. (Source: PennLive)

- Businesses are telling state government leaders that PA’s unemployment policies must change, to incentivize people to return to the workforce. As if “help wanted” signs around every turn are not enough proof, a recent National Federation of Independent Business jobs report indicates a record 44 percent of all small business owners report having job openings they could not fill in April, the third consecutive month with a record-high reading of unfilled job openings.  Click Here for the “State Encouraged” file for more details.

- The PA Chamber is seeking input from employers on the challenges businesses are facing when it comes to finding employees. Click here to -> Read More and  Click here to access the Chamber’s online input form. 

- As students explore their options for the next school year, the PA Department of Education is encouraging them to consider pursuing a career and technical education. Learn more: Department of Education Encourages Students to Consider a Career and Technical Education.

- Last week, Pennsylvania became the first state to put limits on gubernatorial emergency powers in order to restore checks and balances between the branches of government. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, state legislatures across the country have been considering restricting the scope and reach of gubernatorial powers during states of emergency. -> Read More

- With voters shifting major new responsibilities to them, Pennsylvania’s state lawmakers are now tasked with deciding whether hundreds of state government regulations waived during the COVID-19 pandemic should be reinstated. This massive review is fueled by Tuesday’s referendum in which voters became the first in the nation to curb their governor’s emergency powers, approving constitutional amendments that will give lawmakers much more power over disaster declarations. On Thursday, Governor Wolf renewed the disaster declaration, his fifth straight in response to the coronavirus. If the provisions of the constitutional amendments approved Tuesday apply to it, Wolf’s new disaster declaration will expire in three weeks. Before Tuesday, an emergency declaration by a governor could last for up to 90 days and be extended without limit. That could leave lawmakers in charge of deciding whether to extend the whole declaration past its expiration on June 9. “The decision that we face now is, ‘do we extend and renew the disaster declaration in whole, in part or not at all,’” said Jason Gottesman, a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre. Wolf on Wednesday spoke with the Legislature’s top Republicans and Democrats on how to chart a way forward with the Legislature’s new powers over disaster declarations. Even though Wolf opposed the constitutional amendment, he pledged to work together with lawmakers. Lawmakers were still getting information Thursday from state agencies about which regulations were waived and why. Read More (Source: PennLive)

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

  • The SBA will soon launch the Community Navigator Pilot Program, a $100 million grant program enacted through the American Rescue Plan Act, which will provide counseling, networking and the assistance needed during this time of economic recovery to the nation’s smallest businesses. The program will target small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as women and veterans. The SBA will engage with states, local governments, SBA resource partners, Community Financial Institutions (CFIs), and other organizations in directed outreach efforts. These partners and people in the community are key to this pilot program as they will serve as a two-way information stream, enabling enterprising business owners to receive the help needed from the SBA. Learn more
  • Eligible eating establishments have until 8:00 p.m. tonight (May 24) to submit an application to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Learn more
  • The SBA is currently offering PPP loans originated only by participating community financial institutions including Certified Development Companies (CDCs), SBA Microlenders, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) until May 31, or until remaining funds are exhausted. Note that not all community financial institutions are participating in PPP. Learn more
  • SBA recently posted FAQs about funds returned by banks for Targeted EIDL Advance and Supplemental Targeted Advance. When a bank returns Targeted EIDL Advance or Supplemental Targeted Advance funds to SBA, the funds cannot be immediately re-disbursed. SBA is working to mitigate this issue. Read the FAQs
  •   A reminder: The SBA continues to accept applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. To submit an application, visit sba.gov/svogrant.

   • The SBA hosts, Learn E-Commerce Basics and Create Your Own Online Shop, a free Lunch & Learn virtual session via Zoom tomorrow, Tuesday, May 25, at noon. Takeaways include: How the SBA Helps in Your Neighborhood, Why small businesses should consider E-commerce, Domain Names, User-friendly sites discussion, Building Pages, and How to draw and retain customers. Click and Register.

- The statewide – and local – percent positivity rates for COVID-19 continue to decline. The PA Department of Health today reports the latest percent positivity, covering the week of May 14-20, stood at 4.5%. That’s a drop from the previous week’s 5.3%, 6.6% the week before that, and 7.6% a week before that. Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties also continue to see improved rates, with Clinton currently at 5.8% positivity compared to 6.0% last week, and Centre and Lycoming counties both currently at 3.7% positivity (compared to 5.6% and 7.3% the previous week, respectively).

The Department of Health also confirmed an additional 693 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,196,562. There are 1,261 people hospitalized with the virus, 293 of whom are in intensive care. To date, 10,212,401 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Pennsylvania, 6,096,952 of which are first/single doses, and 4,115,449 of which are second/full doses. More here: Department of Health: Over 10.2 Million Vaccinations to Date, 56.7% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 51.8% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- UPMC today issued a COVID update newsletter, covering topics such as: what activities are safe after being vaccinated, the possibility of a COVID booster shot, and how to talk to those who are hesitant about getting a vaccination. Click Here for the UPMC file for more.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry will hold three virtual workshops this week to help Pennsylvanians prepare for next month’s transition to a new Unemployment Compensation system. That transition is expected to begin May 30. This week’s workshops are scheduled for:

A full list of scheduled workshops and the links to connect to them are available here. Workshops are also available to watch on-demand any time. More here: Three Virtual Workshops This Week to Help Pennsylvanians Prepare for June 8 Launch of New Unemployment Compensation System.

- Starting today, May 24 through June 22, those living or working in Clinton and seven other local counties have the opportunity to comment on a draft plan that prioritizes transportation investments in the region from now until 2045. The SEDA-COG Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has created the draft 2021-2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan on behalf of its eight member counties: Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, and Union. Through SEDA-COG, counties and municipalities in central Pennsylvania have a voice in the state’s transportation plans. Working together with SEDA-COG, groups and individuals representing local government (in Clinton County, the County Planning Department), the business community (the Partnership’s Transportation Committee), and non-profit organizations help to establish the region’s transportation priorities. Click Here for the SEDA-COG news release.

- Meanwhile, residents can use a PennDOT telephone town hall scheduled for tomorrow, May 25, beginning at 6:00 p.m., to voice their opinion on PennDOT’s efforts to explore sustainable transportation funding options, including plans to toll bridges on Pennsylvania interstate highways. To join the town hall, register here to receive a phone call to join at the start of the meeting or call (855) 756-7520, Entry Code Extension 73539#. In addition to the telephone town hall, citizens can comment:

  • Online at: www.penndot.gov/funding. (The public comment period for this virtual meeting closes on June 1.)
  • Via email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • By phone at: 717-325-6129

- The U.S. Chamber’s May 27, noontime, CO— Roadmap for Rebuilding webinar, in partnership with Dell Technologies, will cover using technology to automate business processes. A panel of small business leaders will share lessons learned on digitizing a small business, and then take live Q&A. Register now to learn new strategies.

- Geisinger will host a June 8, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 Noon virtual town hall to highlight its recently completed 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment. The health care provider will share key research findings related to some of the region’s most pressing needs, and Geisinger’s plans for engaging with residents and community partners over the next three years to improve health and wellbeing. Please register here

 

- PennDOT announced today that all driver license and photo centers will be closed this Saturday, May 29, through Monday, May 31, in observance of Memorial Day. Customers can still obtain driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov. More here: Details (penndot.gov).

5/21/21

- Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan this afternoon offered a weekly update on the local employment picture, noting that Clinton County’s unemployment claims numbers continued to show improvement in the first half of May, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The initial claim figure for the week ending May 12 was 46, which is believed to be the lowest number since the pandemic began in March 2020. The 46 included 52% who are female, and 22% who are in retail trade. The continued claim number for unemployment insurance was 556, down about 30 from the week before. Males constituted 51% of the continued claims, and 20% were in construction. Another eight county residents had benefits expire during the timeframe, bringing the yearly 2021 total to 485 county residents who have had benefits exhausted.               

The April unemployment rates for all of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties should be released on June 1. Clinton County’s March figure was 7.2%.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today released its employment situation report for April 2021, noting that the statewide unemployment rate was up one-tenth of a percentage point over the month, to 7.4% in April. That rate, however, was still 8.8 percentage points below its April 2020 level, and the national rate was down 8.7 points over the year. More here: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate at 7.4 Percent in April (pa.gov).

- And this update from the U.S. Department of Labor & Industry: In the week ending May 15, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 444,000, a decrease of 34,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release.

- Governor Tom Wolf Thursday extended the COVID-19 disaster declaration. The previous declaration expired May 20. The governor announced the renewal Thursday afternoon, just two days after voters approved two measures to curb his powers in disasters. The earliest the Legislature could begin the process of ending Wolf's disaster declaration is after the primary election results are certified, which is not expected to happen until June 7. “COVID-19 vaccinations have increased dramatically in recent weeks and we are making significant progress in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said the Governor in a statement. “As previously announced, we are lifting all mitigation measures on Memorial Day, but we need just a little more time under this current disaster declaration to ensure that we do not risk valuable resources that will help Pennsylvania recover from the pandemic. “The disaster declaration allows more medical professionals to administer vaccines, ensures families harmed financially by the pandemic have access to healthy food through SNAP benefits and ensures Pennsylvania counties and businesses remain eligible for federal disaster recovery dollars.” Read more on the renewal of the disaster declaration: Gov. Wolf Signs Renewal of COVID-19 Disaster Declaration to Aid in Recovery (pa.gov).

- To date, the state has administered 10,066,220 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 6,031,816 of which are first/single doses and 4,034,404 of which are second doses. In addition, the PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 1,823 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,193,355. According to the data, Clinton County reported four new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,659. Centre County saw 11 new cases, bringing their total to 16,747, and Lycoming County reported 16 new cases, bringing their total to 11,755. Statewide, 1,309 people are hospitalized with the virus, 310 of whom are in intensive care. More data here: Department of Health: Over 10 Million Vaccinations to Date, 55.7% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 50.5% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- The second round of $5,000 grants to local small businesses opened today, May 21. The federal pandemic relief monies channeled through Clinton County government are designed to promote re-hiring, retaining existing jobs, and further stabilizing for local businesses of all types (Note: the grant program is for businesses throughout Clinton County with the exception of those in the city of Lock Haven, because the city has separate funding). Eligible businesses include those with fewer than 100 employees and less than $1 million in annual gross revenue. Businesses are encouraged to apply now as the program closes on June 4. Click here for the program guidelines and FAQ, and Click here to register and apply 

 - Clinton County, via the Clinton County Housing Coalition, continues to accept applications for funding through the federal pandemic-related Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The County received $2.5 million in funding that may be used to support both landlords and tenants to cover rental arrears up to 12 months; prospective rent payments up to three months; utility and home energy arrears; and some other housing related expenses. The Clinton County Housing Coalition is the agency accepting applications, determining eligibility, and making program payments on behalf of the Commissioners. The program will remain in effect until December 31, 2022 or until the funding is exhausted. Click here for the full program announcement; Click here for the ERAP Frequently Asked Questions; and Click here for a link to the ERAP online application.

- The final phase of the County’s COVID Hospitality Industry Relief Program (CHIRP) – a grant program to offer pandemic-related support to local restaurants, hotels, bars and the like – has about $20,000 remaining in funds. SEDA-COG is administering the program for the County and will accept applications until June 15 or until funds are exhausted. Those with questions should contact SEDA-COG Grants Manager Betsy Lockwood at 570-522-7265 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To apply, go to: https://csgiving.org/chirp/.

- Keystone Central School District this week reports just two active cases of the virus among students at two different schools. In her weekly update, Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin said there currently are no active cases among staff. She did note that the district, as per the PA Departments of Education and Health, will continue to require masking and enforce social distancing through the remainder of the school year. Click Here for the KCSD file for Dr. Martin’s full update.

- Lock Haven University recently completed an eight-week study to observe mask use on campus as part of the CDC’s Mask Adherence Surveillance at Colleges and Universities Project (MASCUP). More than 50 colleges and universities across the country participated in the study during the spring semester. Click Here for the LHU news release for more information.

- In the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) collected data on vaccine doses administered across the rural-urban continuum and found that coverage was lower overall, among all age groups, and among men and women in rural compared with urban counties. What does this mean? Residents of rural communities are at increased risk for severe COVID-19-associated morbidity and mortality. Read more: Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Between Urban and Rural Counties — United States, December 14, 2020–April 10, 2021 | MMWR (cdc.gov).

- Today, May 21, is GetVax Digital Day of Action -- one of the efforts from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services We Can Do This campaign. The public education campaign is focused on increasing vaccine confidence and helping communities get access to the COVID-19 vaccines. View the Social Media Toolkit.

- Pennsylvania is due to receive the largest influx of federal dollars it has ever received through the American Rescue Plan and the state’s fiscal watchdog doesn’t want to see any of it become the subject of waste, fraud or abuse. Auditor General Timothy DeFoor is urging the PA General Assembly to give him authority to hire private accounting firms that are accustomed to performing government audits to help keep tabs on the $13.5 billion that state and local governments will be receiving. Read more: Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General -Auditor General DeFoor Calls for State-Level Safeguards to Prevent Fraud or Abuse of Federal COVID Relief Funding (paauditor.gov).

- Governor Wolf has announced that $5 million is available for projects that expand high-speed broadband service infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas through the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program (UHSB). The application period opens June 1. See more: Wolf Administration: $5 Million Available to Expand Broadband in Unserved and Underserved Communities.

- Governor Wolf also announced more than $7 million through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to support affordable housing in 13 PA counties, including Clinton. Locally, the City of Lock Haven was awarded $500,000 to rehabilitate nine owner-occupied homes, with the program to be administered by third-party provider SEDA-COG. More here: Wolf Administration Announces More Than $7 Million for Affordable Housing in 13 Counties (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources announced that its Wild Resource Conservation Program is accepting applications for grants to protect the state’s native biodiversity. Grant applications will be accepted through July 16 in three areas: species surveys, conservation, and management. Click here for more on the Wild Resource Conservation Program.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration and the non-profit Public Private Strategies Institute announced today they will launch a new regional webinar series, “Getting Back on Track: Help is Here,” to provide Main Street entrepreneurs with the information and resources they need to continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The educational webinars will feature speakers from The White House, the SBA, Members of Congress, and small business leaders, and will provide updates on the American Rescue Plan. The regional webinar for Pennsylvania businesses is scheduled for August 5, at 2:00 p.m. Register at Getting Back on Track: Help is Here! Read more: SBA Launches “Getting Back on Track: Help Is Here” Webinar Series to Help America’s Small Business Owners & Entrepreneurs.

- It’s perfect weather for the start tonight of Lock Haven’s Pedestrian Mall – the opening of a two-block section of Main Street to pedestrian-only traffic. Main Street, between Jay and Vesper Streets, and a section of Grove Street, was closed to vehicles as of 3:00 p.m. today and will remain closed until 10:00 p.m. Saturday, allowing restaurants and retailers to bring their activities outdoors onto the sidewalks and streets. The Pedestrian Mall was extremely popular last season and was a shot in the arm during a time when indoor activities were extremely limited due to the pandemic. While restrictions have eased somewhat, there are still limitations, and, many simply enjoy outdoor eating and browsing. The street closure is also to take place next weekend for the Memorial Holiday weekend, then every second and fourth weekend during June, July and August, followed by every weekend closures in September. Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. is coordinating this year’s Pedestrian Mall initiative, with support from the City.  

5/19/21

- Just in….Pennsylvania voters passed the constitutional amendments that limit the governor's emergency powers, according to information just released from the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association. The Allentown Morning Call is reporting that Governor Wolf is now ready to talk to Republicans about the COVID-19 disaster declaration. PRLA says, please note: Even though the referendums passed, it doesn't mean the emergency declaration/mitigation is over. Business owners should continue to operate under the current guidelines and mitigation. 

- Stating that business owners can have a huge impact and influence on others who may be hesitant about getting their COVID-19 vaccine, the PA Department of Community & Economic Development today released information businesses can use to inform others about the vaccine. The newly published Vaccine Outreach Toolkit includes key messages, best practices for approaching vaccine conversations, and a round-up of print and digital marketing materials, including:

 All print materials can be ordered free of charge through DCED’s COVID Resources Order Form (printed and shipped at no cost to you). Updates and new materials are added frequently to DCED’s Community Resources page, so check back often. For questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, see DCED’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or call the PA Health Hotline at 1-877-724-3258.

- Despite the lows of the pandemic, there’s a lot of positive effort locally to promote the area and our business community. One recent example….with the help of the Partnership and CCEP members the PA Wilds Center, Downtown Lock Haven, Inc., retailer Momoyo Otsu, the Clinton County Arts Council and the Clinton County Planning Office, online magazine Keystone Edge, this week published an upbeat story on Lock Haven and all that’s happening locally. Read the article here: On the banks of the Susquehanna, Lock Haven rides a tide of optimism - Keystone Edge - What's Next & Best in Pennsylvania - Growth, Innovation, and Community News.

Meanwhile, the City of Lock Haven and Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. this week end kick off the summertime downtown Lock Haven Pedestrian Mall initiative – which sees the closure of Main Street between Jay and Vesper Streets – starting Friday at 3:00 p.m. through Saturday at 10:00 p.m., allowing restaurants and retailers to bring their business out into the streets and sidewalks. Established in 2020 in response to pandemic-associated limits on indoor activities, the pedestrian mall was a popular destination last summer.

- SEDA-COG announced today that Clinton County has just over $21,000 still available in the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Grant Program (CHIRP). Applications will be accepted until June 15, or until funds are exhausted. Click Here for the SEDA-COG news release for details.

- Last Call for RRF funds: The U.S. Small Business Administration is making a final push for Restaurant Revitalization Fund applications. Eligible eating establishments have until this coming Monday, May 24, at 8:00 p.m., to submit applications to the RRF. Read more: Last Call: Administrator Guzman Announces Final Push for Restaurant Revitalization Fund Applications (sba.gov)

- The following COVID-19 updates come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did before the pandemic without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations. That includes local business and workplace guidance. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others. More information
  • The CDC is recommending schools continue to use the COVID-19 prevention strategies outlined in the current version of the CDC’s Operational Strategy for K-12 students for at least the remainder of this school year. The CDC says students will not be fully vaccinated by the end of the school year; children under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination, while youth ages 12-15 became eligible on May 12. Because people are not fully vaccinated until two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, students in this age group will not be fully vaccinated before the end of the current school year. The CDC says it will update its guidance in the coming weeks, and that guidance can inform school planning for the 2021-22 school year. Read More

- Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 statistics continue to improve. Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam this week updated the state’s COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a statewide percent positivity of 5.3%, compared to 6.6% last week and 7.6% two weeks ago. Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties all saw improved positivity rates: Clinton County currently is at 6.0%, compared to 6.9% the week before. Centre County is at 5.6% this week, compared to 6.8% last week; and Lycoming County is at 7.3%, slightly better than last week’s 7.4%. Clinton and Centre counties continue to be among 41 counties in the moderate level of transmission, while Lycoming continues to be among 22 counties in the substantial level of community transmission. Four counties – Cameron, Forest, Fulton and Sullivan – are in what the state considers a low level of transmission. More data here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/pennsylvania-covid-19-early-warning-monitoring-dashboard-update-for-may-7-may-13/.

The number of new cases of the virus also continues to decline. As of May 13, the state had seen a seven-day case increase of 9,522 cases, indicating 4,878 fewer cases across the state over the previous week. Clinton County today reported 5 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,652. Centre County saw 4 new cases, for a total of 16,730; and Lycoming County reported 8 new cases, bringing their total to 11,719. The state today reported 1,257 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,190,102. There are 1,427 people hospitalized with the virus, 320 of whom are in intensive care.

The PA Department of Health today reported 9,876,905 COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered to date, 5,938,355 of which are first/single doses and 3,938,550 of which are full doses. The report noted that 55% of the state’s entire population has received a first dose, and 49.4% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. According to the state, 2,553 people in Clinton County have received a partial vaccination, while 10,667 are fully vaccinated. In Centre County, 15,188 are partially vaccinated and 64,077 are fully vaccinated. In Lycoming County, 10,141 people are partially vaccinated, while 36,361 are fully vaccinated. More details here: Department of Health: Over 9.8 Million Vaccinations to Date, 55% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 49.4% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- UPMC says it has vaccinated more than 550,000 people to date. In a COVID newsletter issued today, the health care system offered updates on its vaccination efforts, new masking guidelines, vaccines and children, and more. Click Here for the UPMC file for more.

- The Department of Health today shared an update on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data, and they encouraged people to download the COVID Alert PA app. Details here: Department of Health Offers Biweekly Update On COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, Monitoring Efforts.

- The PA Restaurant & Lodging Association has provided several updates: 

  • The National Restaurant Association this week released the newly revised COVID-19 Operating Guidance. New to this update: the CDC's newest guidance for vaccinated people. OSHA, however, still requires that employers protect employees from the risk of virus transmission.
  • The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center is hosting a webinar on Monday, May 24 at noon on marketing and social media for restaurant operators. REGISTER
  • The U.S. Department of Labor's Pennsylvania Bureau of Labor Law Compliance will be holding a webinar on May 27 at 9 a.m. to review federal and state regulations regarding youth employment. If you are planning on hiring teens this summer to fill some of your open positions, this webinar is recommended. Topics covered include work permits, recordkeeping requirements, hours/occupations standards for 14 & 15-year-olds, and the Hazardous Occupation Orders. REGISTER

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry reminds people that the Unemployment Compensation program and its extensions, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and the Extended Benefits programs, will transition to a new system on June 8. The current system is scheduled to go offline to users on May 30 through June 7, to allow for data migration from the old system to the new one. The new system is anticipated to be “live” June 8. Read more: Reminder: L&I Transitioning to New Unemployment Compensation System June 8 (pa.gov).

- Nearly 75 alumni from the Lock Haven University Class of 2020, who were unable to enjoy their traditional in-person commencement last year because of COVID-19, returned to Hubert Jack Stadium on Saturday (May 15) to celebrate their graduation. The Class of 2020 was able to experience a virtual commencement last year, but for many of the attending graduates, Saturday marked their first return to The Haven since students were asked to leave campus and shift to remote learning in March of 2020, following the outbreak of COVID-19.

- PPL Corporation says it continues to deliver electricity and gas safely and reliably during the COVID-19 pandemic. That statement was among the key messages to investors Tuesday during the company’s annual meeting. Click Here for the PPL file for more information. 

- The PA Department of Human Services today encouraged older youth previously served through the foster care system to contact their county child welfare agency for help accessing aftercare services, including an option for some youth to re-enter foster care, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. See more: Department of Human Services Highlights COVID-19 Law Giving Older Youth Option to Re-Enter Foster Care, Access Aftercare Services.

- The PA Department of Corrections announced today that in-person inmate visitation will be phased in at select DOC facilities in the coming days, with remaining facilities to follow. On-site visits were suspended on March 13 of last year in response to the pandemic. More here: In-Person Visitation to Resume at State Correctional Institutions (pa.gov).

- Non-COVID Items of Interest…. 

  • A City of Lock Haven road paving job at the lower end of Water Street, between Jay Street and Clarks Barn Road, is expected to be completed tomorrow, Thursday, May 20. The work began Monday and was slated to wrap up today, but was delayed a day due to a problem at the plant supplying the asphalt for the job.
  • The PA Department of Health this week highlighted the state’s medical marijuana program following the quarterly meeting of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board. To date, more than 582,000 patients and caregivers are registered for PA’s medical marijuana program; there are 119 dispensaries open and dispensing products to patients; and there are 30 grower/processors – including Terrapin Pennsylvania’s recently-expanded facility in Pine Creek Township (at the Henry Street Partnership site in South Avis) – who are operational, with 25 of them shipping medical marijuana product to dispensaries. Read more: Department of Health Highlights Medical Marijuana Program Following Quarterly Board Meeting.
  • The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA this week announced their “Big Idea” Contest. The $50,000 Big Idea Contest is looking for tech entrepreneurs or small manufacturers who are developing innovative, new products, processes or software applications. You are eligible to apply if:

In addition, other prizes available are:

  • A free consult on accessing federal R&D grant money from the Innovation Partnership (IPART)
  • Free passes to seminars offered by Ben Franklin’s eMarketing Learning Center
  • Priority access to a seat in Ben Franklin’s Startup Boot Camp or the Harrisburg LaunchBox’s Idea TestLab
  • A $2,500 “Peoples’ Choice” Award

Apply

  • The PA Treasury today announced it has started processing payments for the annual Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Eligible Pennsylvanians can still apply through June 30, 2021, to receive a rebate this year. Direct deposit payments are scheduled to be sent to recipients on July 1, while check payments are scheduled to be mailed on June 30. The program benefits about 550,000 Pennsylvanians each year with approximately $250 million in rebate payments. See more: Pennsylvania Treasury, Stacy Garrity - State Treasurer (patreasury.gov).
  • The PA Department of Agriculture has developed the Spotted Lanternfly Business Toolkit to help businesses understand the threats of the Spotted Lanternfly, and to help slow its spread in the commonwealth. As Spotted Lanternfly season approaches, the department says it is critical that businesses know their responsibilities when it comes to the quarantine and permitting. Visit the Department of Agriculture's website at this linkfor more information.

- Upcoming Webinars: 

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a free Zoom Lunch & Learn session on E-Commerce Basics and Creating Your Own Online Shop, Tuesday, May 25 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Click and Register
  • The Penn State Small Business Development Center in June begins a three-month series, R3: Strategic Design and Planning for Small Business (R3 stands for reevaluate, redefine, and remodel). Small businesses are invited to spend 90 days on a strategic design journey for their business. The R3 program is designed to give small business owners insight into strategic planning by identifying business capabilities and designing a road map to launch future initiatives. Learn more about the R3 program here: https://pasbdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/28167.

5/17/21

- Beginning today, the Wolf administration has amended its COVID-19 mitigation orders for events and gatherings to increase capacity limits from 25 to 50 percent for indoor events and from 50 to 75 percent for outdoor events. -> Read More (Source: PA Chamber) 

- UPMC today announced it is now offering COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 12-15. Last week, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for that age group. UPMC said it welcomes this update and is accepting appointments for this age group at its existing COVID-19 vaccination clinics, including the local clinic at the Fire Hall in Dunnstown. “Pfizer’s clinical trial of more than 2,000 adolescents found that the vaccine was 100% effective in protecting children from COVID-19,” said Heather Stafford, clinical director of Infection Prevention and Control for UPMC in the North Central PA region. “The studies that have been conducted show that the vaccine is extremely safe for this population.” Vaccine side effects may still occur, but they have mirrored those reported in clinical trial participants 16 years of age and older. They could include fever, chills, injection-site soreness, and other flu-like symptoms. To schedule an appointment for someone under the age of 18, call 844-UPMCVAC (844-876-2822) between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., seven days a week. A parent or legal guardian will need to accompany the minor to their vaccine appointment and sign a consent form allowing the child to be vaccinated.

- From 12th District Congressman Fred Keller’s weekly newsletter:  All U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities and clinics that administer COVID-19 vaccines are accepting walk-ins for eligible Veterans, spouses and caregivers. “VA encourages those who wish to get their COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment to check the walk-in hours and requirements at their local facility,” said Acting VA Under Secretary for Health Richard Stone, M.D. “ Individuals taking advantage of walk-in vaccinations may need to wait for the vaccine to be prepared and will be screened when entering the facility.” For more information about COVID-19 vaccinations at VA, click here.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today received his second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a health center in York. He took the opportunity to thank health care professionals throughout Pennsylvania who have been on the frontline through the pandemic and continue to serve their communities by administering vaccines. He also urged anyone considering getting a vaccine to make an appointment. People can use the state’s Vaccine Finder to find a vaccine provider nearest them.

- According to the PA Department of Health, to date, more than 9 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Pennsylvania. The state ranks 9th among all 50 states for first doses administered. Overall, vaccine providers have administered 9,723,128 doses, 5,868,348 of which are first/single doses and 3,854,780 of which are second/full doses.

Meanwhile, the Health Department today confirmed an additional 872 cases of COVID-19, one of the lowest totals in recent memory. According to the data, Clinton County reported 3 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,638. Centre County was up only 2 cases, to 16,689; and Lycoming County reported only 1 new case, bringing their countywide total to 11,683. The statewide total of COVID-19 cases now stands at 1,187,115. Statewide, there are 1,499 people hospitalized with the virus, 330 of whom are in intensive care. More information here: Department of Health: Over 9.7 Million Vaccinations to Date, 54.6% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 48.8% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations. 

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry will host more virtual workshops this week to help employers, individuals and third-party administrators prepare for next month’s transition to a new Unemployment Compensation computer system. The transition is expected to begin May 30. A list of scheduled workshops and the links to connect to them is available here. Questions about the new UC system can be submitted here, and L&I will address the most frequently asked questions in future workshops. For more, including helpful resources, video tutorials, and user guides, click here: Four Virtual Workshops This Week to Prepare Pennsylvanians for Transition to New Unemployment Compensation System. 

- 25th District State Senator Cris Dush is requesting feedback on issues people may encounter when the state converts to the new Unemployment Compensation system next month. The PA Department of Labor and Industry’s UC system is scheduled to transition to a new system May 30-June 7, with the new system going “live” June 8. In his weekly newsletter, Senator Dush said, “If any of you have issues with the new system once the roll-out takes place, as always, please reach out to my offices and let us know what you are experiencing. We expect there to be bugs that have to be worked out and if you let us know quickly it is my hope they can be worked out quickly.” The Senator’s Wellsboro district office at 570-724-5231, can accept calls regarding UC issues. 

- Federal Unemployment Compensation assistance is increasingly coming under scrutiny as more and more employers report challenges in filling open positions. According to the PA Chamber, as states across the country begin the process of fully re-opening their economies, employers are encountering serious workforce shortages. Recent news coverage has highlighted the challenges employers are facing with having available jobs go unfilled, and the consequences this has for their businesses. In a bid to attract job applicants, many companies have increased starting wages and instituted signing bonuses, while others – particularly in the hard-hit hospitality industry – have been forced to reduce operating hours while they work to fill open positions. Many are pointing to the expansion of federal unemployment benefits – which include an additional $300 in weekly federal benefit payments – as exacerbating the problem, since many claimants are making as much or more in benefits as they were in wages. As noted in this Associated Press article, 12 states have now announced their intentions to stop paying the additional federal UC benefit and will also end their participation in two federal benefit programs that extended the length of time individuals can receive unemployment benefits; and also provided benefits for gig workers and the self-employed. In Pennsylvania, legislation is being introduced by House Labor and Industry Committee Chair Jim Cox, R-Berks, for the Commonwealth to join the ranks of those states scaling back participation in the federal programs in an effort to get more individuals back to work. 

- The Federal Reserve Board today issued their annual report, Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2020. According to the report, in the fourth quarter of 2020, nearly one-fourth of adults said that they were worse off financially compared to a year earlier, reflecting the economic fallout and distress resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic. Read more: https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/pressreleases/other20210517a.htm.

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

  • If you received a first-round Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to cover payroll, mortgage interests, rent payments, and utility payments, you can now also tax deduct the corresponding expenses.Learn more
  • The Restaurant Revitalization Fund has received more than 147,000 applications from women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged business owners, requesting a total of $29 billion in relief funds. To date, a total of $2.7 billion of relief funds have been distributed to 21,000 restaurants since the Restaurant Revitalization Fund opened on May 3.

In addition to a $5 billion set-aside established by Congress for applicants with gross receipts not more than $500,000, two additional funding allocations were created to ensure the smallest of the small restaurants and other eating establishments such as food trucks and carts get the aid needed: 1) $500 million for applicants with 2019 gross receipts less than $50,000; and 2) $4 billion for applicants with 2019 gross receipts between $500,000 and $1,500,000. In the first days of the RRF program, SBA has received:

  • 13,114 applications from businesses with under $50,000 in pre-pandemic revenue requesting $330 million in funds
  • 100,410 applications from businesses with under $500,000 in annual pre-pandemic revenue requesting $8.14 billion in funds
  • 61,535 applicants from businesses with $500,000 - $1,500,000 in annual pre-pandemic revenue requesting $15.1 billion in funds

Because SBA still has potential funding available for eligible establishments with 2019 annual revenue of not more than $50,000, the application portal will remain open. Eligible establishments that meet this revenue standard are encouraged to apply through SBA-recognized point-of-sale vendors or directly via the SBA online application portalLearn more

  • The SBA is currently accepting applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. To submit an application, visit sba.gov/svogrant.
  • With the launch of programs such as the RRF and the SVOG program, the SBA reminds businesses that bad actors may take this opportunity to impersonate lenders or government officials in emails, robocalls, social media accounts and phony websites. Their goal is to attract victims and commit fraud, scams and schemes. The result is financial or personally identifiable information (PII) loss for the victims. As a reminderthe SBA directly communicates from email addresses ending in @sba.gov.

If you applied for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and emailed the SVOG Support Center, you may receive an email back from a zendesk.com account. This is an authorized SBA contractor.

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. To report potential fraud, visit sba.gov/covidfraudalert.

  • May is World Trade Month and the SBA has teamed up with partnering organizations to offer webinars all month to help small business owners gain valuable insights on strategies for international sales success. All webinars begin at 2:00 p.m. EDT.
  • May 18 | Going Global with Trade Agreements | Register here
  • May 20 | Utilizing eCommerce Tools to Drive Global Sales | Register here
  • May 25 | Business Beyond Borders: Commemorating World Trade Month | Register here
  • May 27 | Logistics of Growing Global eCommerce | Register here

- In its April 2021 report, the PA Department of Health notes that nursing home surveyors conducted 427 inspections, including 281 complaint investigations, of 307 separate nursing homes. Of those, 90 were COVID-19-specific investigations. There were eight new sanctions finalized against nursing care facilities in the past month resulting in a total of $37,200 in fines. See more: Department of Health Highlights April 2021 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- Last week the Senate unanimously passed S.B. 147. This PA Chamber-supported legislation aims to encourage employers to educate their workforce on the serious and life-threatening ramifications of opioid addiction. Under this proposal, employers who have a certified safety committee as part of their workers’ compensation program would be required to include information about the risks associated with opioid use.

- Congratulations to Central Mountain Middle School student Mason Frantz, who was the top finisher in Pennsylvania Regional Stock Market Challenge middle school division competition. An 8th grader, Frantz competed under the leadership of Middle School teacher Michael Fry. Partnership member Woodlands Bank sponsored the regional challenge, which is organized through nonprofit PennCFL (Pennsylvania Council on Financial Literacy). PennCFL makes its world-class, web-based stock simulation platform and curriculum available to all Pennsylvania students in grades K-12. Students can learn how to trade all year long by using curriculum, lessons and assignments and then are able to compete in the cutting-edge, real-time Stock Market Challenge.

- Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 18 is primary election day and we encourage you to exercise your right to vote. Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. If you are voting with a mail or absentee ballot, it must be returned to the Clinton County Piper Building by 8:00 p.m. May 18 (there is a curb-side ballot return box at the building). In the primary election in Pennsylvania, you can only vote for the candidates in the same political party you have named in your voter registration. However, all voters, regardless of affiliation, will be able to cast their vote on the four questions that appear on the ballot. You can see county election results on the Clinton County Government Facebook page or on the county website, www.clintoncountypa.com.

The PA Department of State also reminded Pennsylvanians that the state’s election night returns website offers up-to-the-minute results. See more: Election Returns Website Will Provide First Look at Tuesday’s Primary Election Results (pa.gov).

- With Memorial Day weekend and the summer travel season approaching, PennDOT and the PA State Police are urging drivers to keep traffic safety top of mind when behind the wheel. The agencies today said they will work with municipal police departments and other safety partners across the commonwealth to participate in the national "Click It or Ticket" seat belt education and enforcement initiative from May 17 through June 6, 2021. More here: Article (penndot.gov).

5/14/21

- Clinton County restaurants, bars, hotels and other for-profit businesses in the hospitality industry have until this Monday, May 17, to apply for grant funding through the COVID Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP). SEDA-COG is administering the program for the county and recently announced that third-round funding for the grant program closes May 17. Currently, $170,160 remains in Clinton County’s overall $437,560 allocation; to date, 10 businesses have received grants, with $185,000 being awarded in the first round and another $70,000 in the second round. Funding must be completed by July 15, so if your business is considering applying for a CHIRP grant, do so now. Go to https://csgiving.org/chirp/ to apply for a grant. For more information, contact Betsy Lockwood at SEDA-COG at 570-522-7265 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  NOTE: There is one more funding round scheduled, which will run until June 15 if there is still funding available after Round 3 grants are awarded.

Meanwhile, Governor Tom Wolf today encouraged businesses to apply for the CHIRP hospitality industry recovery funding, saying the state has already announced $50 million in CHIRP grants, including $1.2 million in Lycoming County (to 56 businesses) and $1.8 million in Centre County (to 86 businesses). Both of those counties have exhausted their funding allocation from the state’s overall $145 million allocated among all 67 counties. Read more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/wolf-administration-awards-millions-of-dollars-in-pandemic-relief-to-restaurants-and-hospitality-industry/.

- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 473,000, a new pandemic low, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the latest evidence that fewer employers are cutting jobs as consumers ramp up spending and more businesses reopen. Thursday’s report showed that applications declined 34,000 from a revised 507,000 a week earlier. The number of weekly jobless claims — a rough measure of the pace of layoffs — has fallen significantly from a peak of 900,000 in January. Instead of cutting jobs, many employers are struggling to attract enough applicants for open positions.

- The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry today announced that the state’s unemployment rate has fallen low enough to automatically conclude the Extended Benefits (EB) program effective the claim week ending Saturday, May 15. Individuals on the EB program will be moved to the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which will be in place until the week ending September 4. See more: Unemployment Rate Drop Triggers Off Extended Benefits; Individuals Can Continue Filing on Federal PEUC Program (pa.gov).

- At the Clinton County level, Partnership President Mike Flanagan today offered his weekly update on the local employment picture:  Clinton County residents showed an increase in initial and continued unemployment claims for the week ending May 8, according to information released Thursday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. Initial claims were 84, up from the 68 filings for the week ending May 1. A majority of the new filers were male, and 18% were in the construction field. The continued claims were 589, up slightly from a week ago. Males accounted for 52% of the continued claims, and 18% were in the construction field. The most recent claim numbers are still well below figures from early April. The state reports that eight county residents had jobless benefits expire as of May 8. That brings the yearly total to 477 people who have exhausted their benefits.

April unemployment rates listed by county should be available around June 1. Clinton County had a 7.2% unemployment rate in March.

- The Internal Revenue Service said today it will begin issuing refunds this week to eligible taxpayers who paid taxes on 2020 unemployment compensation that the recently-enacted American Rescue Plan later excluded from taxable income. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-begins-correcting-tax-returns-for-unemployment-compensation-income-exclusion-periodic-payments-to-be-made-may-through-summer.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that fully vaccinated people can resume activities they did prior to the pandemic (When does the CDC consider someone fully vaccinated? Two weeks after receiving the full vaccine). The CDC update highlights what people can start doing as well as what they should keep doing. For example, the guidance says fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart, except where required by federal, state and local laws, including local business and workplace guidance. Read more here: When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated | CDC.

Meanwhile, in an article from The Associated Press, Zeke Miller and Michael Balsamo from the AP said the easing guidance is likely to open the door to confusion since there is no surefire way for businesses or others to distinguish between those fully vaccinated and those who are not.

- Pennsylvania is following the CDC’s latest guidance: PA Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam has amended the commonwealth’s mask order to reflect yesterday’s CDC announcement. That means the CDC guidelines automatically go into effect in Pennsylvania. But remember, masking requirements are still in place for unvaccinated individuals until 70 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Read more: Department of Health Mask Order Reflects Latest CDC Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals.

- The PA Department of Health today reiterated that fully vaccinated individuals may choose note to wear a mask, unless a business or organization, such as a school, requires that added layer of protection. More here: Department of Health: Businesses Continue to Maintain Option to Require Individuals to Wear Masks.

The PA Restaurant & Lodging Association today also offered clarification, saying the updated masking guidelines do not prevent any individual business from requiring employees or guests, even those who are fully vaccinated, to wear a mask. Additionally, PRLA says, it is not the business’s responsibility to enforce the guidelines; individual businesses must make the best decision for their operation. PRLA has prepared a simple sign reflecting these new guidelines that businesses can post on their door to replace the sign from the original mask mandate.

- The River Valley Regional YMCA is among the first organizations locally to react to the new masking guidance. In an announcement today, RVR said it now allows fully vaccinated members to not wear a mask if they choose. Those that have not yet received the vaccine will still be required to wear their masks in RVR’s YMCAs, including the Lock Haven Branch YMCA. The announcement reminds Y users that fully vaccinated is defined as 2 weeks after receiving the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or 2 weeks after receiving the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 1,643 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,182,922. According to the data, Clinton County reported 7 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,626. Centre County reported 11 new cases, bringing their total to 16,666, and Lycoming County saw 21 new cases, bringing their total to 11,656. Statewide, there are 1,652 people hospitalized with the virus, 390 of whom are in intensive care.

To date, the state has administered 9,534,664 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 5,781,561 of which are first/single doses and 3,753,103 of which are second/full doses. In Clinton County, 2,527 people have received their first dose of the vaccine so far, while 10,499 are fully vaccinated. In Centre County, 16,591 have received a first dose and 60,748 a full dose, and in Lycoming County, 10,270 people have received a single dose while 35,479 are fully vaccinated. Read more: Department of Health: Over 9.5 Million Vaccinations to Date, 53.6% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 47.3% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- In an effort to get employees back to work and keep them at work, some companies are hosting their own COVID-19 shot clinics. An article from Inc. Magazine notes that doing so isn’t simple, or even possible for many businesses. Read more to learn how to launch an in-office vaccine clinic for your company.

- The Partnership congratulates the 18-member class of Leadership Clinton County following their graduation Thursday evening from the nine-month leadership development program. This was the 21st graduating class, and, because of the pandemic, the group (successfully) faced challenges like no other in the program’s 21-year history. More than 280 people have now completed the Partnership-hosted program. LCC is accepting applicants for the 2021-22 class, which will get underway in September. To learn more about Leadership Clinton County, visit the Partnership’s website at www.ClintonCountyInfo.com or contact LCC coordinator April Bittner at 570-748-5782 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

- Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin today issued her weekly update, noting only two active cases of Covid-19 among staff and two among students across three different schools within the District. Dr. Martin also noted that children 12 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination and listed four vaccination clinics in Lock Haven and Williamsport currently being offered by UPMC. Click Here for the KSDC Update for details. 

- The PA Department of Health is now encouraging all COVID-19 vaccine providers to start vaccinating anyone age 12 and over with the Pfizer vaccine. Read more: Department of Health: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Fully Approved for Use in 12- to 15-Year-Olds.

- PA First Lady Frances Wolf, alongside Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson, Thursday led a discussion about the COVID-19 vaccine and its effect on children during a Facebook Live event hosted by the Pennsylvania Commission for Women. The event, entitled Vax Facts for Parents and Guardians, is the first in a series aimed at providing Pennsylvania communities with relevant and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines and addressing the questions of concerned citizens. The full event is available at www.facebook.com/PACommissionforWomen. You can read the full state news release here: Wolf Administration, Medical Professionals Share Important Updates on COVID-19 Vaccinations for Children (pa.gov).

- Lock Haven University today announced an extension of its test-optional admission policy for students applying to the university through the fall of 2022. First-year applicants to the university will not be required to submit either a Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the American College Testing (ACT) score to complete an application for admission. The policy was originally implemented for fall 2020 to accommodate students who were impacted by test date cancellations because of COVID-19. Click here for the LHU news release for more.  

- Millbrook Playhouse this week announced plans for a 2021 season starting in June. The barn theatre in Mill Hall was unable to open last year due to the pandemic. Instead of the traditional June through August schedule, the Playhouse this year will host performances through December. The shows, ranging from musicals, to comedies and drama, are all planned in the larger, Ryan Main Stage theater. There are also several children’s performances on tap at the Playhouse’s Courtyard stage, as well as youth theatre camps that are scheduled for August. Click Here for the Millbrook flyer for the season line-up and visit www.millbrookplayhouse.org for more information.

- PennDOT issued an update today on a Route 220 project in Castanea Township, part of a larger project to improve the ride quality and extend the useful life of approximately 43 miles of roadway on 12 different routes in Clinton and Centre counties. PennDOT advises motorists to anticipate traffic stoppages when merging on or off Route 220 at the Salona interchange early next week. The stoppages are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19. They will not exceed 15 minutes at a time, and flaggers in the roadway will direct traffic. 

Additionally, PennDOT advises motorists the contractor will continue implementing short-term closures of the left (passing) and right (travel) lanes throughout the entire work zone, which encompasses Route 220 northbound and southbound between Salona and McElhattan. The contractor lifts the closures at the end of each workday. Read more: News Details (penndot.gov).

- PennDOT today also announced the start next week of another project in both Clinton and Centre counties. In Clinton, the project involves milling, guiderail replacement and more along Route 4001, the Kettle Creek Road. More here: News Details (penndot.gov).

- The Center for Rural Development this week released the May/June issue of its newsletter, Rural Perspectives. The latest issue includes data from a study on the pandemic’s impact on crime and education, a look at youth employment, and more. Read the newsletter online at www.rural.pa.gov.

- The PA Department of Agriculture this week announced an investment of $500,000 in developing the future workforce of the state’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry by funding 57 grants for ag education. Keystone Central School District’s Career & Technology Center is listed as receiving a $7,500 award for an aquaponics project. See more: Wolf Administration Invests $500,000 in Future of Agriculture, Funds 57 Ag Education Grant Projects (pa.gov).

Upcoming Webinars: 

- The U.S. Chamber Foundation hosts three COVID-19-related webinars next week as part of its “Path Forward: Ask Me Anything” series. Each half-hour session begins at 2pm and features expert panelists who will answer your questions on:

  • Contact Tracing: Johns Hopkins University’s Dr. Emily Gurley will answer questions about contract tracing and its role in fighting COVID-19 on Wednesday, May 19.
  • COVID-19 Vaccines: Northwell Health’s Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena will address questions and the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccines, vaccination efforts, and more on Thursday, May 20.
  • Public Health: Former CDC Director and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. Richard Besser, will answer your biggest questions about public health, what to expect in the next 4-6 months, and the long-term impacts of the pandemic on Friday, May 21. 

- The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts a no-cost webinar, More Profitable Prices for You – in just 80 Minutes, on Thursday, May 20 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The webinar focuses on how to increase profits and/or donations through strategic pricing. Register Now!

5/12/21

- Pennsylvania’s statistics in the battle against the Coronavirus continue to improve. The state Tuesday provided a weekly status update, based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 14,053, which is 4,320 fewer new cases compared to the previous week, and a statewide percent positivity of 6.6%, compared to 7.6% last week. There was not much change in our region: Clinton County’s percent positivity increased slightly to 6.9%, compared to 6.8% last week; Centre County is at 6.8%, compared to 6.9% last week; and Lycoming County maintained a 7.4% positivity rate. Clinton and Centre counties have both improved and are now listed as being in the moderate transmission level along with 23 other counties. Lycoming County continues to be in the substantial level of transmission along with 39 other counties. Two counties, Cameron and Forest, are listed as being in the low level of transmission. Read more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for April 30 – May 6 (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, the PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,179 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,179,251. According to the data, Clinton reported 3 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,609. Centre County saw 12 new cases, bringing their total to 16,627, and Lycoming County reported 22 new cases, bringing their total to 11,612. The number of COVID-related hospitalizations statewide continues to trend under 2,000. There currently are 1,751 people hospitalized with the virus, 406 of whom are in intensive care.

To date, the state has administered 9,381,098 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 5,713,828 of which are first doses and 3,667,270 are second doses. According to the state’s vaccine dashboard, 2,595 people in Clinton County have received their first dose, while 10,278 are fully vaccinated. In Centre County, 17,449 have received a first dose, while 58,805 are fully vaccinated; and in Lycoming County, 10,479 people have received their first shot, while 34,936 people are fully vaccinated. More data here: Department of Health: Over 9.3 Million Vaccinations to Date, 53.1% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 46.2% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 10th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- From the U.S. Chamber: Encouraging employees to get the COVID-19 vaccination can be a delicate dance. And some businesses are offering employees meaningful incentives for getting their doses, including cash and paid time off. Read more: Vaccination incentives: a win-win situation.

- Pennsylvanians accessing the new Unemployment Compensation (UC) system the state plans to launch in June will use Keystone ID, the state’s secure login. The Department of Labor & Industry is preparing users to transition from the 40-year-old current system to the new computer system and says the new system will enable quicker and easier filing of UC claims. L&I is offering weekly workshops to prepare users for the new UC system and the new login process using Keystone ID is among the key topics covered. Details here: Keystone ID Part of Transfer to New, Improved Unemployment Compensation System.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration today announced the latest application data results for the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The RRF has received more than 147,000 applications from women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged business owners, requesting a total of $29 billion in relief funds. To date, a total of $2.7 billion has been distributed to 21,000 restaurants since the Restaurant Revitalization Fund opened on May 3, 2021. Read the entire news release here: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/may/12/recovery-smallest-restaurants-bars-administrator-guzman-announces-latest-application-data-results, and for more information about the Restaurant Revitalization Program, visit https://sba.gov/restaurants.

- In case you missed it, the Wolf Administration announced Tuesday that event and gathering maximum occupancy limits will be increased to 50% for indoor events/gatherings and 75% for outdoor events/gatherings, effective this coming Monday, May 17 at 12:01 a.m. Event and gathering limits – along with all other COVID-19 mitigation measures except for masking – will be completely lifted on Monday, May 31 at 12:01 a.m. 

- The U.S. Treasury Department this week announced the launch of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, established by the American Rescue Plan to provide $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments. The department has also released final amounts to be delivered to state, counties, and municipal governments and guidance on how those funds can be used. Click Here for the Coronavirus State & Local Recover Funds news release as well as a fact sheet on the initiative.

- As part of an Integration Update, Lock Haven University today highlighted activities to-date and the process timeline. The update also includes a link to the integration plan and information on how to comment on the proposal. Click Here for the LHU file for more.  

 - The PA Department of Environmental Protection says a new report released today shows tremendous potential for clean energy workforce development opportunities that can bolster Pennsylvania’s economy. The 2021 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Industry Workforce Development Needs Assessment and Gap Analysis Report identifies how to best support continued job growth in the state’s clean energy technology sectors. More information here: DEP Report Finds Clean Energy Workforce Development Will Boost Job Creation, Economy (pa.gov).

- The Departments of Human Services, Labor & Industry, and Education today announced the availability of the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), a program that will assist eligible households in paying for internet service and certain electronic devices. Learn more: Wolf Administration Encourages Pennsylvanians to Apply for Assistance with Internet Bills, Electronic Devices (pa.gov).

- The Departments of Human Services and Education today announced the Wolf Administration has begun distribution of Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) federally funded benefits to the families of nearly one million 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. More here: Wolf Administration Begins Distribution of $1 Billion in Pandemic EBT Benefits to Families of Eligible School-Age Children.

- Over 50 projects were highlighted today as PennDOT announced work that will take place across District 2’s nine-county region during the 2021 construction season. Overall highlights for District 2 (Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Juniata, McKean, Mifflin, and Potter counties) include:

  • approximately 68 miles of paving;
       • approximately 46 bridges repaired or replaced; and
       • approximately 432 miles of roadway seal coated.

Notable projects expected to begin this year include the Route 477 bridge replacement over Fishing Creek in Loganton Borough, a $1.6 million project. Notable projects that will continue this year include: the I-99 highway restoration including patching and overlay, guiderail and drainage in Bellefonte area ($4.6 million), and the I-80/A18 construction for the new local interchange just east of the Bellefonte 161 interchange ($52 million), both in Centre County. Read more: News Details (penndot.gov)

- Governor Tom Wolf announced today that PennDOT will invest $10 million in state grant funds benefitting 12 Pennsylvania airports. The Williamsport Regional Airport is listed to receive $322,500 for site work and $761,500 for construction of a 12,000 square foot hangar complex. Click Here for the PennDOT file for more information.  

- SEDA-COG is seeking general contractors for work on housing rehab projects in the region. Click Here for the SEDA-COG news release for details.

- The Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation (CPWDC), the local Workforce Development Board for a nine-county Central Pennsylvania region including Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties, has announced it has rebranded to Advance Central PA, saying the name change reflects a positive, forward-thinking organization that expresses how the local Workforce Development Board works tirelessly to move the Central Pennsylvania region forward. See the attached CPWDC announcement for more information.

5/11/21

- The state today announced further relaxing of occupancy limits for indoor and outdoor events and gatherings, effective this coming Monday, May 17. Occupancy limits will be increased to 50 percent for indoor events and gatherings, and 75 percent for outdoor events and gatherings, effective 12:01 a.m. May 17. Currently, maximum occupancy is 25 percent for indoor and 50 percent for outdoor events and gatherings. More information here: Wolf Administration to Increase Indoor and Outdoor Events and Gatherings Maximum Capacity on May 17.

- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Monday expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age. Shots could begin as soon as a federal vaccine advisory committee issues recommendations for using the two-dose vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds. See more: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-emergency-use.

- The PA Department of Health today applauded the FDA for taking the next step to make Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine available to 12- to 15-year-olds, and said the state will be ready to begin vaccinating that age group once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices reviews the data and makes an official recommendation to use the vaccine for this age group. That committee is slated to discuss the recommendation tomorrow, May 12. The state estimates about 750,000 more Pennsylvanians will be able to get vaccinated once the 12- to 15-year-old age group is eligible. They would join the more than 5.7 million Pennsylvanians who have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far. Read more: Department of Health Notes One More Step Required Before Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Approved for Use in 12-15 Year Olds.

- UPMC today issued their COVID update, which highlights vaccine effectiveness and more. Click Here for the UPMC file.

5/10/21

- Starting this week, PA Department of Labor and Industry is hosting instructional workshops to help claimants and employers prepare for the June launch of Pennsylvania’s new Unemployment Compensation system.  The workshops begin this week and run through the week of June 14. They’ll cover information such as how to LogIn, payment information, status updates, appeals, fact-finding, Frequently Asked Questions, and more. Additional information can be found on the Department’s website.

L&I announced preparations for the transition to the “new, faster, and easier-to-use” UC benefits system are going well, with minimal or no disruption in benefits anticipated for most unemployment payment recipients. The UC system will be offline for several days during next month’s transition, but the planned timeline has been positioned to allow most individuals to file their bi-weekly claims as scheduled.

The transition from the old to the new system will take place May 30-June 7, with the new system anticipated to be “live” on June 8.

  • From Thursday, June 3, to  Monday, June 7, individuals with ongoing claims will be unable to file biweekly certifications.
  • Individuals scheduled to file their biweekly certification during the week of May 30 to June 5 will be able to file their biweekly claims between Sunday, May 30, and Wednesday, June 2. L&I will process all claims and issue payments through the Pennsylvania Treasury after the old system is taken offline but before the transition begins.
  • When the new system comes online, everyone will change to a weekly filing pattern.
  • During the week of June 6 to 12, individuals will be able to file on time after the new system comes online on June 8.
  • Individuals filing for unemployment for the first time will be unable to file a new claim from May 31 to June 7. These individuals will still receive on-time payments if they file when the new system comes online on June 8.
  • The ability to file a claim by phone will be offline from June 3 to 9. These individuals can either file using the new online system when it comes online, or they can file on Thursday, June 10, or Friday, June 11.

More details here: L&I to Transition to New, Faster, Easier-to-Use Unemployment Compensation System with Minimal Disruption Anticipated.

And, L&I said about 230 new customer service representatives began answering incoming calls to the UC Service Center today, while existing, trained staff members have been shifted to exclusively work on resolving outstanding claim issues. See more on that change here: Starting Today: Additional Customer Service Improvements for Unemployment Compensation (pa.gov).

- Nearly half of Pennsylvania’s state senators are urging Gov. Tom Wolf to lift his COVID-19 mitigation orders on businesses before Memorial Day. In a letter to the governor, they asked for the restrictions to be lifted on Friday, May 28 - the Friday before Memorial Day. Currently, Wolf plans to remove the restrictions on Memorial Day, May 31. Lawmakers argue removing the restrictions three days earlier would help the hospitality and tourism industries, which have been hurt badly by the pandemic.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today it will begin delivering economic relief from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to more than 16,000 approved applicants. This first round of funding represents over $2 billion of relief awarded since last Monday’s successful program launch. Restaurants and other food and beverage businesses across the nation will begin to see funds in bank accounts as early as Tuesday, May 11.

Under RRF, restaurants are eligible for funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue losses, capped at $10 million per business and $5 million per location. The SBA will continue to fund approved applications until all funds have been exhausted. SBA has prioritized a customer-centric approach to the delivery of economic aid, eliminating cumbersome application requirements, streamlining the application process, and by partnering with point-of-sale (POS) vendors to provide seamless ways to apply to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Following the 21-day priority period, all eligible applications will be funded in the order in which they have been received. While the SBA will continue accepting applications from any eligible establishment until funds are exhausted, the number of applications received so far could exhaust the funds authorized to fund the RRF. Interested onsite food establishments may still apply through SBA-recognized POS vendors or directly via the SBA online application portal: https://restaurants.sba.gov.

- The Pennsylvania Department of Health is reporting that a number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 has shown a recent decline. In their update today, DOH said 1,924 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, with 427 of those in intensive care. The Department today reported 1,023 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,174,687. According to the data, Clinton County reported 1 new case, bringing the countywide total to 3,597. Centre County saw 8 new cases, bringing their total to 16,586, and Lycoming County reported 6 new cases, bringing their total to 11,558.

The state says 9,232,573 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date; 5,658,647 of those are first/single doses, while 3,573,926 are full/second doses. In Clinton County, 2,520 people have been partially vaccinated, while 10,178 are fully vaccinated. In Centre County, 18,642 people have received a single dose of the vaccine while 57,098 are fully vaccinated. In Lycoming County, 10,053 people have received their first dose, while 34,491 people are fully vaccinated. Read more: Department of Health: Over 9.2 Million Vaccinations to Date, 52.6% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 45.3% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 10th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, there have been 32,543,257 cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States to date. And, following a rapid rise in COVID-19 vaccination rates, U.S. vaccination progress is beginning to slow. The CDC says that while more than 8 in 10 people ages 65 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, only about 1 in 3 people ages 18 to 29 have. Everyone 16 and older is currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and the CDC is encouraging people to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

- Lock Haven University this past weekend celebrated the achievements of nearly 400 graduates during the 143rd spring commencement ceremonies, which were held in-person Friday and Saturday. Click Here for the LHU news release.

- With the deadline to file 2020 Pennsylvania person income tax returns and make final 2020 income tax payments only a week away (May 17), the PA Department of Revenue is reminding people there is a free online option available for filing state returns and making payments. More here: Pennsylvanians Have Free Online Filing Option for PA Income Tax Returns, Payments.

- Several Updates from the PA Chamber:

  • A series of regulatory reform bills that fall under the policy umbrella of the PA Chamber’s “Bringing PA Back” initiative have been approved by the state House of Representatives. These reforms would bring much needed transparency and greater efficiency to the state’s regulatory review and permitting process. -> Read More
  • Last week, two PA Chamber-supported unemployment compensation bills moved forward in the legislative process. -> Read More
  • The state Senate is in session this week. There are a number of items of interest to the business community scheduled to be considered in committee or before the full chamber. -> Read More

5/7/21

- Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan today issued the following update on the local employment picture: Clinton County’s unemployment claims numbers continued to show improvement for the week ending May 1, 2021, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. Initial weekly claims were 68, down from the 81 registered for the week ending April 24. The new claims included 56% who were male, and 24% were in the construction field. The continued unemployment insurance claims were down almost 100, to 550. That number included 57% men, and 23% in the construction sector. The state also reported that seven Clinton County residents had unemployment benefits end during the seven day period ending May 1 (since the beginning of 2021, a total of 469 county residents have had benefits expire).

The April monthly unemployment rates for all 67 counties should be released by the state on or around June 1. Clinton County’s March unemployment rate was 7.2%.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry also announced today that the next phase of a customer service improvement initiative for unemployment compensation begins Monday, May 10, when about 230 new customer service representatives will answer incoming calls to the UC Service Center. L&I said existing staff will shift to exclusively work on resolving outstanding claim issues. The change is part of a larger effort to improve customer service and prepare for the transition, slated for next month, from the state’s 40-year-old mainframe system to an easier-to-use modern computer system. More here: Additional Unemployment Compensation Customer Service Improvements Start Monday (pa.gov).

- According to the federal Department of Labor, the U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.1%. Labor force participation was at its highest point since August 2020, and hesitancy about returning to work due to the coronavirus was at its lowest point since the pandemic began. Click on the following links for more details: Read the Bureau of Labor Statistics report; Read Secretary Walsh’s statement; and Read Chief Economist Janelle Jones’ blog post.

- Meanwhile, according to the Department of Labor….In the week ending May 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 498,000, a decrease of 92,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. Read the full news release here: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/OPA/newsreleases/ui-claims/20210839.pdf.

- The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) ran out of funding for most small businesses on Tuesday, nearly four weeks early, but about $8 billion is still available through community financial institutions, which lend to underserved groups such as women and minorities. For more, go to the PPP page on the Small Business Administration’s website at: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program.

- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration this week issued an Unemployment Insurance Program Letter that provides states with guidance on addressing unemployment insurance benefit overpayments established by states for programs authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. An overpayment occurs when a state finds an individual received a payment or payments to which they are not entitled. Read more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20210505.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration on Thursday announced the initial results of the successful May 3 launch of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, showing more than 186,000 applications. The $28.6 billion program, signed into law by President Joe Biden as part of the American Rescue Plan, provides economic aid to restaurants and other establishments struggling to make ends meet as a result of the pandemic. In the first two days of the RRF application window, the SBA received: 186,200 applications from restaurants, bars, and other eligible businesses in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and five U.S. Territories….97,600 applications of which came from restaurants, bars, and other eligible businesses owned and controlled by women (46,400), veterans (4,200), socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (30,800), or some combination of the three (16,200). 61,700 applications from businesses with under $500,000 in annual pre-pandemic revenue, representing some of the smallest restaurants and bars in America. Read more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/may/05/administrator-isabella-casillas-guzman-announces-initial-results-restaurant-revitalization-fund.

- On a related note, the National Restaurant Association has prepared an FAQ document and step-by-step guide to help operators interested in applying for a Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant.

- A couple of updates for the restaurant and hotel industry from the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association: 

  • The National Restaurant Association today released its updated COVID-19 Operating Guidance, which incorporates information from the CDC, FDA, EPA, OSHA, as well as critical training recommendations for your employees.
  • The U.S. Labor Department released the April jobs report this morning, showing that the U.S. economy brought back far fewer jobs than estimated. While the overall gains were far below anticipated, the leisure and hospitality sector saw employment trend higher in April. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurants added a net 187,000 jobs in April.
  • Skift.com is reporting that hotels added 54,000 jobs in April – the biggest monthly gain since last September – and hotel unemployment dropped to 13.8% from 19.9%  seen in March. While hotels have run well above the national unemployment rate average for the duration of the pandemic, this is the narrowest gap between the two figures since the start of the crisis.

- Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 statistics, as well as our region’s stats, continue to improve. The State, in its weekly updated based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighted a seven-day case increase of 17,774. The previous seven-day increase was 21,823, indicating 4,049 fewer new cases across the state as of April 29, compared to the previous week. The state’s current percent positivity rate is 7.6%, compared to 8.6% last week and 9.6% the week before that. There are now 12 counties that have a positivity rate lower than 5%, and no counties reporting over a 20% rate.

Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties all saw drops in their percent positivity rates over the past week. Clinton County currently is at 6.8% - now the lowest of the three counties. Centre County is at 6.9%, and Lycoming County has a percent positivity of 7.4% (compared to 14.1%, 8.8% and 9.2% a week ago, respectively). However, all three counties, as well as 41 others, remain in what the state terms a substantial level of transmission. Only Cameron, Forest and Fulton counties are considered to be in the low level of transmission. Another 20 counties are in the moderate level of transmission. More here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for April 23 – 29 (pa.gov).

- Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin heralded the improved percent positivity numbers today in her weekly update. Dr. Martin said the District currently has three active cases of COVID-19 among staff and four among students across four different schools. She also said the state’s recent decision to lift mitigation orders (except for masking) on Memorial Day will allow for more people to attend graduation ceremonies. Click Here for the KCSD Update.

Meanwhile, Dr. Martin also announced plans for a month-long educational summer camp for students. Click Here for the flyer.

- The Wolf Administration announced today that thousands of students and families will continue to receive nutritious meals during the pandemic. The Biden Administration is extending or providing flexibilities to the National School Lunch Program Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT). Learn more: Wolf Administration: Pandemic Food Aid to Continue for Students and Families in Need.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,986 cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,169,678, with 2,047 people hospitalized with the virus. To date, the state has administered 9,041,237 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine: 5,578,109 Pennsylvanians have received first doses, while second doses have been administered to 3,463,128 people. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Pennsylvania has administered first doses of vaccine to 51.6% of its entire population, and the state ranks 10th among the 50 states for vaccine administration. More here: Department of Health: Over 8.9 Million Vaccinations to Date, 51.6% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 43.4% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 10th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- UPMC calls the COVID-19 vaccine “vital” in its latest update, encouraging people to get a vaccine and noting that the health system has distributed more than 515,000 doses of the vaccine across its service regions, which include Lock Haven, Coudersport, Williamsport and Wellsboro. Click Here for the UPMC file.

Regarding UPMC Vaccination Clinics locally:  UPMC will host a vaccination clinic in Renovo on Tuesday, May 11, at the Renovo Fire Company, 230 11th Street, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00p.m. In addition to scheduled appointments, they are encouraging walk-ins. At this point, due to lack of appointments, there is no UPMC clinic scheduled for next week at the Dunnstown Fire Hall (clinics have been held there on Wednesdays for the past several weeks), and the clinic on May 19 could be the last there as requests for vaccinations have slowed considerably.

- There are 10 other locations in the Clinton County area that continue to have vaccines available, and the PA Health Department announced it has transitioned to using Vaccines.gov as the mapping source to help individuals find a location where they can get vaccinated. According to that map, COVID-19 vaccines are available at Keller & Munro Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy, Weis Pharmacy, Pleasant Valley Family Medicine in Lock Haven; Mill Hall Pharmacy, Weis Pharmacy, Walmart, and Family Practice Center in Mill Hall; and Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital and the Weis Pharmacy in Jersey Shore. See more: Department of Health Transitions to New Vaccine Map to Enhance Access to COVID-19 Vaccine.

- Since the onset of the pandemic, the Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has provided more than 1,000 collective hours of business advising to small business owners experiencing supply chain disruptions, staffing challenges, a decrease in revenue, and/or closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 347 entrepreneurs who have sough pandemic-related support, 38 have worked with the SBDC to access a combined $4.5 million in capital through local, state and federal emergency funding initiatives. Read More

The Small Business Development Center at Penn State also offers no-cost pandemic-related consulting. Pandemic support specialist Elizabeth Hay stands ready to support small business owners in Clinton as well as Centre, Lycoming and Mifflin counties navigate the emergency loan application process and more. Consulting services are confidential and no-cost. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

- Lane shifts, traffic stoppages and nighttime work are all in the mix next week as work continues on the Local Interchange/Route 26 project in 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. Read more: News Details (penndot.gov).

Upcoming Webinars:

- The First Step to Small Business Success, Tuesday, May 11 at 9:00 a.m. The Small Business Development Center at Penn State hosts this session to help entrepreneurs learn about the process of starting a business. Register Here

- The SBDC hosts weekly Quick Connect Coaching: Leveraging SBDC Services, Tuesdays at 1:00 pm. No-cost consulting, educational training, and resources. See how the SBDC can help your small business start, grow and prosper. Register Here

- ADP hosts a May 11, 3:00 p.m. webinar, Understanding & maximizing tax credits for your restaurant. REGISTER

- The Penn State SBDC hosts, R3: Strategic Design and Planning for Small Business, monthly, June – September. This 90-day journey gives small business owners insight into strategic planning by identifying business capabilities and designing a road map to future state initiatives. Register by May 21. Register Here

- The SBDC also offers a PASBDC Grow with Google Series, May 11 and May 26. The PA SBDC network has partnered with Grow with Google and Google Trainer Randi F. Penfil to host a series of 6 webinars. This month they will host "Using YouTube to Grow Your Business" on May 11 from 11:00 a.m. – Noon, and "Make Better Business Decisions with Analytics" on May 26 from 10:00-11: a.m. Visit the links above for additional program information and Register for the 5/11 Event Here.

- You can also use the following link to check out All Upcoming SBDC Events.

The following lists of several upcoming SBDC-partnered events. Local businesses are also welcome to participate in these sessions:

5/5/21

- In case you missed it, the Wolf administration, in coordination with the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force, announced Tuesday that COVID-19 mitigation orders except masking will be lifted on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31. Details here: Wolf Administration to Lift Mitigation Orders on Memorial Day, Masking Order Once 70% of Pennsylvania Adults Fully Vaccinated (pa.gov).

- Governor Tom Wolf today visited Penn State University to discuss COVID-19 vaccine efforts and encourage students to get vaccinated before summer break. The governor was joined by Penn State football coach James Franklin, student athlete Theo Johnson, PSU president Eric Barron, and the Nittany Lion mascot. See more: Gov. Wolf Visits Happy Valley; Meets with PSU Coach Franklin and President Barron to Encourage Vaccinations (pa.gov).

- The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Department of Health announced that the Regional Vaccination Clinic at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center will resume operations this Thursday, May 6, offering both the two-dose Moderna vaccine and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. May 6 – 10 will be the final week the clinic offers the first dose of the two-dose Moderna vaccine. Starting May 13, the clinic will only offer the second dose of Moderna, and the single dose J&J vaccine. Read more: Regional Vaccination Clinic in Centre County to Resume Scheduled Operations Thursday (pa.gov).

- The Department of Health today confirmed an additional 2,597 cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,164,216. According to the data, Clinton County reported four new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,577. Centre County saw 40 new positive cases, bringing their total to 16,472, and Lycoming County was up 14 cases, to 11,428. Statewide, 2,172 people are hospitalized with the virus, 480 of whom are in intensive care.

To date, 8,840,842 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Pennsylvania; 5,494,037of those are first/single doses, while another 3,346,805 are second/full doses. In Clinton County, 2,884 people have received their first dose of the vaccine, while 9,630 have received a full dose. In Centre County, 19,637 people have received their first dose, while 53,609 people are fully vaccinated. And in Lycoming County, 10,345 people are partially vaccinated and 33,134 are fully vaccinated. More here: Department of Health: Over 8.8 Million Vaccinations to Date, 50.9% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 42.2% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 10th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency this week discussed how flexible disaster emergency declarations allow emergency officials to maintain response and recovery operations for the extent of long-duration disaster incidents. Read more: Wolf Administration Discusses Need for Flexible Disaster Emergency Declarations for Long-Duration Disaster Incidents (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Education this week is celebrating teachers across the state for their dedication following more than a year of overcoming challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more: Department of Education Thanks Educators for an Extraordinary Year.

- The state is reminding registered voters that they have until this coming Tuesday, May 11, to apply for a mail ballot to vote in the May 18 primary election. More here: Pennsylvanians Have One Week Left to Apply for a Mail Ballot for the May 18 Primary Election (pa.gov).

- With the personal income tax filing deadline approaching on May 17, the PA Department of Revenue is reminding low-income Pennsylvanians they may be eligible for a refund or reduction of their PA personal income taxes through the commonwealth’s Tax Forgiveness program. See more: Low-Income Pennsylvanians Can Benefit from Tax Forgiveness Program (pa.gov).

- First Commonwealth Bank hosts two employer webinars tomorrow, with a focus on health care and employee retention. The 1:30-2:15 p.m. session is for employers with 40+ employees, while the 3:30-4:15 p.m. session is for employers with 2 – 40 employees. For more information and to register, visit www.fcbanking.com/SBW.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

MAY 4, 2021 

Wolf Administration to Lift Mitigation Orders on Memorial Day, Masking Order Once 70% of Pennsylvania Adults Fully Vaccinated 

Pennsylvanians ages 16 and older who want a vaccine are urged to get one 

Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf administration, in coordination with the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force, announced today that mitigation orders except masking will be lifted on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31 at 12:01 AM. 

The current order requiring Pennsylvanians to wear masks will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Face coverings are required to be worn indoors and outdoors if you are away from your home. In accordance with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, fully vaccinated Pennsylvanians are not required to wear a mask during certain activities.  

“We continue to make significant progress in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and as more Pennsylvania adults get vaccinated and guidance from the CDC evolves, we can continue to move forward with our reopening efforts,” ​Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam said. “I encourage Pennsylvanians to take the critical steps needed to put this pandemic behind us by getting vaccinated, follow through with both doses if you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and continue to take steps like masking, frequent hand washing and sanitizing and social distancing.”

Requirements such as testing and reporting ​new cases will remain in place for hospitals and long-term care facilities. Maintaining requirements for hospitals and long-term care facilities wi​ll allow Pennsylvania to continue to closely monitor COVID-19 spread while lifting other restrictions.

The Department of Health recommends that Pennsylvanians refer to CDC guidance and recommendations regarding ongoing COVID-19 safety measures and procedures.

These updates will not prevent municipalities and school districts from ​continuing and implementing stricter mitigation efforts. 

“With millions of Pennsylvanians getting vaccinated, it’s time to plan the transition back to normal,” said Sen. Art Haywood. Hospitalizations and deaths are down. This action today is a key step forward.”

“While the restrictions that were put in place at the outset of the pandemic have been a major source of frustration for many Pennsylvanians and businesses, it is the collaborative work of this bipartisan Task Force that is allowing us to finally roll back the restrictions and get back to normal life,” said Sen. Ryan Aument.

“I’m thrilled after more than a year that we are able to lift these restrictions so that we can move to more normal life,” said Rep. Tim O’Neal. “This will help grow our economy and assist our small businesses that have sacrificed so much due to COVID-19. Thank you to Pennsylvanians who have chosen to be vaccinated. Your efforts have helped us arrive at today.”

“I am proud of the progress we have made with vaccinations throughout Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Bridget Kosierowski. “Lifting mitigation orders on Memorial Day and announcing that masking orders will be lifted once 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s adults are fully vaccinated are all benefits from following the scientific medical research and data. Many sacrifices had been made over the past year while we waited for help. The help is now here in the form of a vaccine and we must do everything we can to encourage everyone to receive their vaccination so we can overcome this pandemic. Let’s follow the science, because it’s the path to us all returning to normalcy.”

The governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic remains in place. 

All Pennsylvanians ages 16 and older are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine. The provider map is available on the Department of Health’s website. Pennsylvanians with questions about the vaccination process can call the Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258. 

More information is available on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard

MEDIA CONTACT:  Barry Ciccocioppo, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

4/3/21

- The Restaurant Revitalization Fund site is now live as of today, Monday, May 3, and the application portal will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted. The U.S. Small Business Administration is overseeing the $28.6 billion RRF. As expected, the site has received a high volume of traffic leading the SBA to tweet this afternoon that if you received the following message: "Your application failed the Knowledge Based Authentication (KBA) Validation," your place in line is reserved and you will be able to complete your application shortly. 

The National Restaurant Association is cautioning operators that the number of applications will exceed available funds and is urging interested eligible businesses – including restaurants, food stands, food trucks, caterers, bars, saloons, lounges and taverns, bakeries, breweries, brewpubs, taprooms, wineries and distilleries – to submit a grant application as early as possible, even if they do not qualify for the 21-day priority period. The NRA updated several resources for restaurant owners completing grant applications for the RRF:

- On a related note, the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association today said the state House Liquor Control Committee Tuesday is scheduled to consider House Bill 1154, which would make mixed drinks to-go permanent.

Separately this week, the PA House Labor & Industry Committee is scheduled to consider HB 406, which would reinstate the work-search requirement to continue receiving unemployment compensation benefits.  

- The SBA is also currently accepting applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. To submit an application, visit sba.gov/svogrant. 

- The PA Department of Revenue announced today that the state collected $4.0 billion in General Fund revenue in April, about 0.7 percent more than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $32.7 billion, or 4.2 percent above estimate. More here: Revenue Department Releases April 2021 Collections.

- The Internal Revenue Service reminds workers in the gig economy and those who claimed unemployment compensation in 2020 of their options and where to find information on meeting their tax obligations. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-has-options-for-gig-economy-workers-and-those-with-unemployment-benefits.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending April 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 553,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- Wages and benefits grew quickly for U.S. workers in the first three months of the year, a sign that businesses are starting to offer higher pay to fill newly-opened jobs. U.S. workers’ total compensation rose 0.9% in the January-March quarter, the largest gain in more than 13 years, the Labor Department said Friday. That’s up from 0.7% in the final three months of last year. The solid gain comes after weaker increases during the pandemic, when the unemployment rate initially shot to nearly 15% before declining steadily to 6% in March. As a result, workers’ pay and benefits rose just 2.6% in the year ending in March, down from 2.8% a year earlier. The data comes from the Labor Department’s Employment Cost Index, which measures pay changes for workers that keep their jobs. Unlike some other measures of Americans’ paychecks, it isn’t directly affected by mass layoffs such as the pandemic job losses that occurred last spring. The figures suggest that as the economy rapidly reopens, businesses are already providing higher pay and benefits to pull workers back into the job market. Many businesses have complained that they can’t find people to take jobs, despite still-high unemployment. Some Americans are reluctant to take jobs in industries like restaurants, hotels and bars for fear of contracting the coronavirus. Others, particularly women, are constrained by child care obligations. And a generous federal supplement to unemployment benefits of $300 a week may also be keeping some unemployed on the sidelines. That benefit ends September 6. Read More (Source: The Associated Press)

- As part of her most recent constituent update, 76th District State Representative Stephanie Borowicz noted that the House Majority Policy Committee has released the results of its COVID-19 Economic Recovery Business Survey conducted earlier this year. Rep. Borowicz said, “The overriding message was that government needs to get out of the way of the Commonwealth’s businesses to help them lead the way toward our post-pandemic economic recovery. Nearly one-third of survey respondents said outright that the biggest challenge facing their business is Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 mitigation orders. Another 21% indicated financial issues and hardships were their greatest challenges, no doubt exacerbated by the various business restrictions that have been in place for more than a year. Similarly, nearly one-third of respondents said the best way to kickstart the economy was simply allowing them to be open for business again.” Rep. Borowicz added, “But pandemic restrictions aren’t the only thing getting in the way, according to the survey results. High business taxes and overregulation are also a hindrance to the state’s businesses.” Read the full report here.

- Pennsylvania put on ice hundreds of regulations during the pandemic, but policymakers are starting to weigh whether any of the suspended or revised rules should be jettisoned for good. They are also examining whether it’s time to reinstate some of the suspended rules on a list that runs 139 pages, covering everything from training and inspections to the rights and living standards of people in group homes and children in foster care. House Republicans issued a set of letters to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf a month ago that identified dozens of suspended regulations that they want more information about, including whether some are still needed and whether others can be put back in force. “The governor’s been making these decisions for a year, on his own, without consulting with the Legislature,” said Rep. Martin Causer, R-McKean, chairman of a House committee that will gather details about suspended regulations. “We all have a focus on safety and want to make sure we’re focused on safety in dealing with these regulations. But it will require cooperation between the executive and legislative branch.” Mr. Wolf issued an order April 7 directing agencies to see which ones may be “unnecessary or counterproductive.”  As vaccines have become widely available and people are looking for a return to pre-pandemic lives, several other states have moved to make permanent some of the regulatory changes that COVID-19 brought. South Carolina’s governor suspended legal prohibitions against home delivery of beer and wine and restaurants including alcohol with meals outside their buildings. The results were so popular that bills permanently removing the laws have easily passed the South Carolina House. (Source: The Associated Press)

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 1,728 cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,158,486. According to the data, Clinton County reported seven new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,561. Centre County saw 10 new cases, bringing their total to 16,411, and Lycoming County was up 16 cases, to 11,395. Statewide, 2,161 people are hospitalized with the virus, 479 of whom are in intensive care. In all, 26,276 deaths have been attributed to the virus, 62 in Clinton County.

According to the state, Pennsylvania has administered 8,684,480 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine – 5,427,753 first/single doses and 3,548,102 second/full doses. In Clinton County, 2,940 people have received their first shot, while 9,486 are fully vaccinated. In Centre County, 20,042 people are partially vaccinated and 52,538 are fully vaccinated. In Lycoming County, 10,473 are partially vaccinated and 32,644 are fully vaccinated. More information here: Department of Health: Over 8.6 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 50.3% of Population, PA Ranks 10th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- Governor Tom Wolf today visited the Philadelphia Flyers to discuss COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The Flyers recently launched a COVID-19 vaccine campaign, ‘Take Your Shot’, encouraging Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated. See more: Gov. Wolf Joins Philadelphia Flyers Organization to Encourage Pennsylvanians to ‘Take Your Shot’ (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, PA Department of Health Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson today visited the Bryce Jordan Center vaccination site at Penn State to address vaccine hesitancy and encourage college students to get vaccinated before the semester ends. More here: Acting Physician General Visits Bryce Jordan Center Vaccination Site, Encourages College Students to Get Vaccinated (pa.gov).

- Today, May 3, is the last day to register to vote in the upcoming May 18 primary election. The Clinton County Voter Registration Office closed at 5:00 p.m., but people can register online until 11:59 this evening. Applications for a mail-in or absentee ballot must be received by the Clinton County Voter Registration Office by 5:00 p.m. next Tuesday, May 11. During the County Commissioners’ work session this morning, Voter Registration’s Maria Boileau said about 1,300 registered voters have requested mail-in and absentee ballots in the county. Boileau added that the county is “ready to go” for the May 18 election, with a full slate of poll workers in every precinct. Statewide, some 741,500 people have applied for mail ballots for the May 18 election. See more: Mail Ballot Applications for the May 18 Primary Near 750,000 Milestone (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Real ID deadline has been pushed back to May 2023 because of COVID-19. 

- Keystone Central School District continues in-class learning. In her weekly update, District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin Friday reported one active case of Covid-19 among staff and seven among students across three different schools. Click Here for the KCSD Update.

- Little League Baseball today announced that the Baseball and Softball World Series events will be held this August, as scheduled in Williamsport and Greenville, North Carolina, respectively, but this years series will feature teams solely from the United States. There was no World Series last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. See today’s announcement: 2021 Little League® World Series and Regional Tournament update - Little League.

- The PA Department of Human Services reminded people that while the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) season has ended, assistance with utility bills remains available through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to individuals and families who live in rental properties, as well as to landlords. A total of $847 million has been distributed among the state’s 67 counties for the ERAP program, which launched in March. Read more: At End of LIHEAP Season, Department of Human Services Encourages Pennsylvania Renters to Apply for Utility Assistance Through the New Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

- Motorists traveling Route 220 between Salona and McElhattan this week should expect to encounter moving operations alternating between the right (travel) and left (passing) lane in the northbound and southbound direction. PennDOT urges motorists to stay alert for slow-moving or stopped vehicles throughout the work zone.

Additionally, motorists should expect to encounter short-term closures of the left (passing) lane in the northbound and southbound lanes. The contractor will lift these closures at the end of each workday. Read more: https://www.penndot.gov/regionaloffices/district-2/pages/details.aspx?newsid=1944.

- PennDOT is hosting an on-demand virtual public meeting and comment period for a Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study exploring sustainable transportation funding options. The public meeting is accessible online at all hours of the day through June 1, at www.penndot.gov/funding. Click Here for the PennDOT news release.

- Governor Wolf today announced that the PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is seeking veterans to apply for three member-at-large positions on the State Veterans Commission, including one position reserved for a woman veteran. Learn more: Wolf Administration Seeks Applicants to Fill State Veterans Commission Member-At-Large Positions (pa.gov).

- The Small Business Development Center at Penn State hosts a free webinar, Small Business Financing Opportunities: An Expert Panel Discussion, Tuesday, May 4, from 9:00-10:30 am. Are you looking for capital to start, run, or expand your business? Funding opportunities are available during this period of pandemic recovery, which makes it a great time to secure capital with low interest rates in addition to pursuing disaster loans and grants. The session will provide business owners with quick and simple updates on changes to pandemic funding and details on options available at the federal, state, and local levels, plus commercial lending tips and insider grant and loan information, as well as special financing for specific industries. The panel includes Sonia Smith of the Small Business Administration, Mat Caddell of M&T Bank, John Reichard of SEDA-COG, and Bill Hall from Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Register in advance to receive session log-in information. 

- Education and outreach staff from the PA Department of Banking and Securities will host and participate in a number of virtual presentations in May that promote financial capability. Details here: May 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Virtual Events Announced (pa.gov).

- In recognition of May’s Military Appreciation Month, member organizations of the PA Military Finance Alliance will offer free, financial capability webinars focusing on the unique financial challenges facing members of the military, veterans and their families. More information here: Virtual “Making $ense of Finance” Events in May to Educate and Protect Members of Military, Veterans (pa.gov).

- The National Deer Association, in conjunction with the PA Game Commission and the Wildlife Futures Program, will host a series of virtual informational programs on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and CWD management this month. The meetings will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The program for the Northcentral Region is scheduled for this Thursday, May 6, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Click Here to register. You can also visit the Game Commission’s Chronic Wasting Disease webpage to learn more about this disease and its management. 

- Penn State Extension offers a free webinar series on ticks as part of May’s National Lyme Disease Awareness Month.  For more, visit www.extension.psu.edu and see the Tick Series under Featured Webinars.