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:


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.

4/28/21

- Clinton County’s employment situation improved slightly in March, registering a 7.2% monthly unemployment rate, down from February’s 7.5% reading. According to information released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor & Industry, Clinton County had an estimated 1,300 people unemployed, and 16,200 people employed for a total estimated workforce of 17,500. The estimates were basically the same in February, with 100 less people employed.

The March rate for the county was good for no. 35 out of the state’s 67 counties. In February, Clinton checked in at no. 38. Centre County’s March unemployment rate was 5.5%, and a no. 9 ranking. Montour County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.6% and Philadelphia County was last at 10.8%. The Pennsylvania jobless rate was 7.3% in March. While the rate showed a small improvement in the county, state records show that 457 county residents have had unemployment benefits expire since the beginning of 2021.

“We are always pleased to see county employment improvements, albeit the small increases,” said Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan. “But we are still almost two full points above what the rate was before the pandemic hit more than a year ago. The good news is that there are plenty of employment opportunities out there for anyone that wants one.”

- SEDA-COG today announced the opening of the third funding round for the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Relief Program (CHIRP) grant, saying Clinton County still has slightly more than $179,000 remaining in the program fund. CHIRP offers grants of up to $50,000 for eligible hospitality-related businesses and will be available through July 15 or until funds are exhausted. Click here to apply: https://csgiving.org/chirp/, and 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..

Of the various counties SEDA-COG is overseeing, CHIRP funds are now exhausted in Centre, Lycoming and Union counties. Click Here for the SEDA-COG file.

- Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education's governing board today gave the go-ahead to proceed with gathering public input and developing final implementation plans to consolidate six of its 14 universities – including Lock Haven University – into two. The plan calls for the integration of LHU with Bloomsburg and Mansfield at the northeastern end of the system, and California, Clarion and Edinboro universities in the west. A 60-day public comment period is now in effect to gather public input on the integration proposal, and two virtual public hearings are scheduled for June 9 and 10. To read the integration plan, click here. To submit public comment, go to details​. Read more: Press Releases | PA State System of Higher Education (passhe.edu).

In response to the PASSHE board’s action, Dr. Bashar Hanna, Interim President at Lock Haven University, this afternoon issued a brief statement to the campus community, saying, “As always, our commitment to our students and their success will remain the center of our ongoing integration discussions.” He encouraged people to review the integration plan and offer their thoughts and feedback during the comment period, and he thanked those who have participated in working groups with regard to the integration process. In closing, Dr. Hanna thanked the campus community for their “continued dedication to our students and their success.”

- In its race to get Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, the Biden administration recently announced a tax credit for businesses that give employees time off to get vaccinated. Click here for more information, including access a recent webinar that highlights which businesses are eligible for this tax credit, how they can use the credit and more.

- Registration for the new Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) will begin this Friday, April 30 at 9 a.m. and U.S. Small Business Administration will begin accepting applications via the application portal on Monday, May 3 at 12 p.m. The application portal will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted. For more, read the press release here.

To prepare, eligible applicants are encouraged to:

  • Register for an account in advance at restaurants.sba.gov starting Friday, April 30 at 9 a.m. If you are working with point-of-sale vendors Square or Toast, you do not need to register beforehand on the application portal.
  • Review the sample application, program guide and cross-program eligibility chart on SBA COVID-19 relief options. 
  • Attend a webinar training session: Restaurant Revitalization Fund Information Session - Thursday, April 29 at 9:00 AM – U.S. Small Business Administration representatives share details regarding RRF eligibility, allowable use of funds, application process and timeline, impact on other SBA relief program funding, required documentation, and additional resources for assistance. Register Here. Training sessions will be recorded and later posted on SBA's YouTube channel.

For more information, visit sba.gov/restaurants. 

- The Wolf Administration has received approval from the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expend Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefit eligibility to families of PA SNAP eligible children who are child care aged. This federally-funded program helps families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches for their children and is designed to bridge the gap left by child care centers closing and to help families who may have strained resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More here: Wolf Administration Receives $224 Million in Food Assistance for Pennsylvania Families with Young Children (pa.gov).

- The CDC Tuesday updated its guidelines for individuals who are fully vaccinated. The PA Department of Health followed suit and announced it has updated its mask guidance to reflect the CAC announcement, which says people who are fully vaccinated can spend time outdoors, in some situations, without wearing a mask. Details here: Department of Health Updates Mask Guidance Following CDC Announcement.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 3,686 cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,143,076. Clinton County reported 12 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 3,508. Centre County was up 48 new cases, bringing their total to 16,230, and Lycoming County reported 22 new cases, bringing their total to 11,529. More information here: Department of Health: Over 8.2 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 48.1% of Population, PA Ranks 10th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and Department of Health today announced that the Regional Vaccination Clinic at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center will resume operations as scheduled tomorrow, Thursday, April 29, offering both the two-dose Moderna vaccine and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Learn more: Regional Vaccination Clinic in Centre County to Resume Scheduled Operations Thursday (pa.gov).

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement & Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from April 18-25, as they relate to regulated boards and commissions. During that period, BEI performed 460 total inspections and opened 11 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed four warning letters and one compliance letter relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, April 18-25.

- PennDOT is reminding motorists that Pennsylvania’s Move Over Law is now in effect. See more: Details (penndot.gov).

- Meanwhile, PennDOT today launched a survey designed to gain an understanding of Pennsylvanians’ perceptions and knowledge of automated vehicles. The survey is available at the following link. Learn more: Article (penndot.gov).

- The Wolf Administration has released a new economic impact report for Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry. See more: Governor Wolf: New Report Reveals $132.5 Billion Economic Impact for Pennsylvania Agriculture, Outlines Strategic Growth Opportunities.

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced this week that twelve counties in DEP’s Northcentral Region – including Clinton County – have taken the first significant step to improving the health of local waterways. The counties, with DEP assistance, are creating Countywide Action Plans (CAP) to identify projects that will reduce nutrient and sediment pollution in the Susquehanna River and its tributaries and are looking for local groups to get involved. Read more: DEP Announces Twelve Northcentral Counties Begin Countywide Action Plans to Improve Water Quality in Communities.

- Lock Haven was among six River Towns across the Susquehanna Greenway to organize clean-up activities in celebration of Earth Day last week. Saturday’s clean-up, organized by Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. and the City of Lock Haven, drew more than 40 volunteers who collected some 200 pounds of litter from along streets and in recreation areas. Volunteers included the Lock Haven University ROTC Bald Eagle Battalion, two local Boy Scout Troops and their families, and individuals from the community who stepped up to do their part in keeping the city beautiful. Other River Town communities to stage clean-ups last week included Williamsport, Lewisburg, Bloomsburg, Danville and Sunbury.

- Upcoming Webinars:

  • Small Business Financing Opportunities: An Expert Panel Discussion - Tuesday, May 4 at 9:00 am – A panel of experts from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA, M&T Bank, and SEDA-COG will provide business owners with updates on pandemic funding and details on options available at the federal, state, and local levels. Additionally, they will provide commercial lending tips and insider grant and loan information and address special financing for specific industries. Register Here
  • PA CareerLink hosts a May 5, 10:00 a.m. employer seminar via Zoom on Pennsylvania's Shared-Work Program. Shared-Work allows a business to retain its workforce during a temporary slowdown and then quickly ramp up operations without the expense of recruiting, hiring and training new employees. Shared-Work also helps to protect your employees from the financial hardship of a full layoff. Register for the workshop at: https://forms.gle/vFfCkgKJYcAN7KWQ6.

4/26/21

- Some positive news today from the state regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam, in their weekly status report, noted a decrease in reported cases and a lower statewide percent positivity, which they called encouraging. Based on data from the state’s COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, the state reported a seven-day case increase of 21,167 cases – 4,172 fewer new cases than the previous week. The statewide percent-positivity deceased to 8.6%, from 9.6% last week. There are now six counties with a positivity rate lower than five percent, and no counties reporting a rate of more than 20 percent.

According to the data, our area is also seeing a decrease in the percent-positivity rate. Clinton County’s percent-positivity is 14.1%, compared to 16.0% last week. Centre County’s rate this week is 8.8%, compared to 8.9% a week ago, and Lycoming County’s positivity rate this week is 9.2% compared to 9.3% last week. Currently, 53 of the state’s 67 counties – including Clinton, Centre and Lycoming – are in what the state considers the “substantial” level of transmission (compared to 55 counties last week). Another 11 counties are in the moderate level, and Cameron, Forest and Fulton counties are in the low level of transmission. Read more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for April 16 – 22 (pa.gov)

- The PA Health Department today confirmed an additional 1,881 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,136,057. According to the state, Clinton County reported one new case, bringing the countywide total to 3,482. Centre County saw 9 new cases, bringing their total to 16,139, and Lycoming County reported 7 new cases, bringing their total to 11,202. Statewide, 2,561 people are hospitalized with the virus, 544 of whom are in intensive care.

The state has administered 8,043,744 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of today, 5,115,217 of which are first/single doses, while 2,928,52 are second/full doses. According to the data, 3,194 people in Clinton County have received their first/single dose, while 8,412 are fully vaccinated. Based on population, 25.1% of the county’s residents are now fully vaccinated. In Centre County, 20,915 people are partially vaccinated, while 47,647 people are fully vaccinated, meaning 32.6% of the population are now fully vaccinated. And in Lycoming County, 10,940 people are partially vaccinated, while 113,299 are fully vaccinated (30.2% of Lycoming’s population now fully vaccinated). For more information, click here: Department of Health: Over 8 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 47.3% of Population, PA Ranks 10th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

To see the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Provider map, click here: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/programs/immunizations/Pages/COVID-19-Vaccine-Providers.aspx.

- The Department of Health Friday notified all COVID-19 vaccine providers that the pause in administering doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine has been lifted, as per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. Read more: Department of Health: Resume Use of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Following FDA/CDC Recommendation.

For more from the CDD regarding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, click here: CDC Recommends Use of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Resume | CDC.

- As Pennsylvania continues its accelerated COVID-19 vaccination plan, Governor Wolf today discussed how the state and its partners are using various means to reach people not able to leave home to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Read more: Gov. Wolf, Health Agencies, Community Partners Helping Pennsylvanians Who Cannot Leave Home Receive COVID-19 Vaccine.

- And the Department of Health today reminded people of the importance of all vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccine, to protect against a number of serious illnesses including measles, mumps, whooping cough, and hepatitis. Learn more: Department of Health: COVID-19 Vaccine One of Many Important Vaccines for Pennsylvanians.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration last week launched a new round of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) assistance – called Supplemental Targeted Advances – that will provide $5 billion in additional assistance to 1 million small businesses and nonprofit organizations that have been most severely affected by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective April 22, the SBA modified the Targeted EIDL Advance application process to determine if businesses also qualify for the additional $5,000 Supplemental Targeted Advance. SBA will contact eligible business entities to apply and applications will be processed on a first-comefirst-served basis. To qualify for the Supplemental Targeted Advance, an eligible business entity must be in a low-income community, suffered greater than 50 percent economic loss, and have 10 or fewer employees. Learn more

- The SBA has announced key details on application requirements, eligibility, and a program guide for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Also announced was a new initiative that will allow restaurants and other related businesses to apply for the RRF through point-of-sale service providers such as Clover ®, NCR Corporation, Square, and Toast.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration today reopened the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal. Potential applicants should register on the portal, and the SBA has also added the following updated resources:

  • A checklist to make sure applicants have everything they need to complete an application.
  • Additional resources include an applicant user guide and FAQ.
  • There is a Call Center for Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal technical assistance such as a password reset, browser suggestions, or how to use the multi-factor authentication with an app and the QR code. Applicants can call 1-800-659-2955 and follow the prompts to SVOG assistance.

For additional information, visit www.sba.gov/svogrant.

- The PA State System of Higher Education board of directors this week are expected to move forward a proposal to integrate 6 of the systems 14 universities, a move that would integrate Lock Haven University with Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities in what’s being called the proposed Northeast Integration Plan. If the proposal is approved Wednesday, the process then calls for a 60-day public comment period before a final determination is made on the integration. A 200-page Northeast Proposed Integration Plan Report, dated Friday, April 23, can be accessed here: https://www.passhe.edu/SystemRedesign/Documents/Northeast Integration Plan 4.23.21.pdf#search=Integration information.

- CORRECTION: The graduation ceremony for Central Mountain High School’s class of 2021 is currently scheduled to take place at 11:00 a.m. on June 5. On Friday, we incorrectly said the ceremony was scheduled for 7pm. We apologize for our misprint.

- The CDC has updated guidance for operating youth and summer camps during COVID-19. See more here: Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps During COVID-19 (cdc.gov).

- Pennsylvania is among seven states poised to lose a congressional seat. The U.S. Census Bureau today announced that the 2020 Census shows the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281. The U.S. resident population represents the total number of people living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The resident population increased by 22,703,743 or 7.4% from 308,745,538 in 2010. However, based on 2020 Census apportionment population counts, 7 House seats will shift among 13 states. One state will gain two seats (Texas), and 5 states will gain one seat (Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon). Seven states will lose one seat (California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia). For more on the 2020 Census population and apportionment data released today, click here: America Counts.

- Both the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the PA Game Commission today announced the start of gypsy moth suppression spraying on state lands. DCNR has listed a spraying schedule for state forests and parks, including Hyner View State Park in Clinton County. See more: DCNR to Begin Spraying Forests in Gypsy Moth Suppression Effort (pa.gov).

The Game Commission, meanwhile, plans to spray more than 50,000 acres of state game lands this spring, including a number of game lands in the Northcentral Region, which includes Clinton, Potter, Centre, Lycoming, Cameron, Clearfield and Tioga counties. Details here: GAME COMMISSION ANNOUNCES GYPSY MOTH SPRAYING PLANS (pa.gov).

- The Game Commission has appointed David Carlini as the new Northcentral Region director, based out of the Commission’s regional office in Antes Fort, replacing David Mitchell, who recently took over as director of the Commission’s Southeast Region Office. Both began their new assignments about a week ago. Learn more: GAME COMMISSION APPOINTS REGION DIRECTORS (pa.gov).

4/23/21

- The Biden Administration is encouraging businesses to offer paid time off for their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and small businesses who offer this benefit could have their costs offset with a tax credit. Participate in a U.S. Chamber-sponsored free webinar on Monday, April 26 at 2pm to learn which businesses qualify for the tax credits and how and when employers should apply for the program. To register, click here.

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

- All Pennsylvanians 16 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and UPMC is encouraging people to schedule their shot today. You can Click here to schedule your vaccine using UPMC’s online registration/scheduling process. If you have limited access to online services, or need assistance scheduling your vaccine appointment over the phone, call 844-UPMCVAC (844-876-2822) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., seven days a week.

- Partnership President Mike Flanagan today offered his weekly update on the local employment picture: Unemployment insurance claims by Clinton County residents inched up during the week ending April 17. According to information released Thursday by the state Department of Labor & Industry, initial unemployment insurance claims and continued claims were up slightly from the numbers released on April 10. Initial claims increased nine, to 78. Of the 78, 54% were male and 22% were in the construction field. The continued claims figure went from 647 to 677 as of April 17. Males accounted for 60% of the ongoing claims, and 24% were in the construction field. Another 17 residents had unemployment benefits expire, bringing the 2021 to-date total to 457 people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

The March monthly unemployment rate for all 67 counties should be released on April 27. The Clinton County unemployment figure in February was 7.7%.

- At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that in the week ending April 17, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment benefit claims was 547,000, a decrease of 39,000 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 more: News Release (dol.gov).

- Today, Friday, April 23, is the deadline for for-profit businesses in Lock Haven’s central business district to apply for a Neighborhood Assistance Program grant of up to $500. Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. is offering the grant and more than 20 businesses have so far applied for funding. Click Here for the DLH file for guidelines, eligibility criteria and the application. NOTE: Downtown Manager Marie Vilello is working out of the office today, so grant applicants are asked to email their application to her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or bring their application to the 205 East Main St., Lock Haven office on Monday. People with questions can contact Marie at 570-263-0602.

- The SBA has released a program guide for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), a federal grant program that will be available to restaurants, bars and other similar businesses. The recently passed American Rescue Plan dedicated $28.6 billion in funds for the RRF, to help businesses offset revenue losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. View the program guide here: https://www.sba.gov/document/support-restaurant-revitalization-funding-program-guide.

Meanwhile, the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association and the National Restaurant Association are co-hosting a webinar with the SBA today (April 23) at Noon to discuss the RRF. The SBA will review the application process and what operators should do to prepare prior to the fund opening. REGISTER 

- The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that it plans to reopen the application portal for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) tomorrow, Saturday, April 24. The portal crashed in the first attempt a couple weeks ago and was shut down, but the SBA says it has completed rigorous testing and is now prepared to reopen the portal. The SVOG represents pandemic support for businesses such as performance venues, museums and movie theatres. Interested applicants should register for an account in advance through the portal. The SBA says it will provide updated documents and guidance later today.

- The SBA this week released its latest Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) report. Pennsylvania received more than 126,000 loans totaling more than $8.8 billion in funds.

- The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing safe harbor for small businesses to claim deductions relating to first-round Paycheck Protection Program loans. See more: Treasury Department and IRS provide safe harbor for small businesses to claim deductions relating to first-round Paycheck Protection Program loans | Internal Revenue Service.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf Thursday signed House Bill 766 into law, aligning the annual state corporate tax deadline with the federal tax deadline of May 17, 2021, and giving the PA departments of Revenue and Community & Economic Development the ability to deal with state taxation while the COVID-19 disaster declaration is in effect. The state personal income tax deadline automatically aligns the federal deadline of May 17. See more: Gov. Wolf Signs Bill to Align State Tax Deadline with May 17 Federal Deadline for Corporate Taxes, Other Provisions (pa.gov).

- Lock Haven University this week announced plans to hold in-person commencement ceremonies in May. The ceremony for graduate students is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 7, while undergraduate ceremonies for the class of 2021 will be held at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 8 in an effort to reduce the gathering size. In addition, a May 15, 11:00 a.m. graduation celebration is also planned for the Class of 2020, which was unable to graduate in person last year due to the pandemic. Click Here for LHU Graduation file.

- Local high school graduation ceremony dates are also set and are planned as in-person events:

  • May 28 - Walnut Street Christian School Graduation – 7pm - Walnut Street Christian School, 201 West Highland St., Avis. www.wsbcm.org
  • June 9 - Sugar Valley Rural Charter School Graduation – 7pm - Charter School parking lot area, 236 East Main St., Loganton. www.svrcs.org

- The PA Department of Education has launched the next phase of an initiative that helps school leaders and educators address students’ learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new toolkit and professional learning series, “Accelerated Learning through an Integrated System of Support”, provides a voluntary process and research for school leaders to consider in preparing for the upcoming school year that addresses the academic and emotional well-being of students. Read more: Department of Education Launches Program to Help Schools Address Learning Loss Due to the Pandemic.

- United Airlines has announced a new feature to help flyers prepare to travel as safely as possible amid the pandemic. Customers who need to take a COVID-19 test before boarding the plane for their destination can now easily schedule a test through its digital platform call Travel-Ready Center. 

- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) celebrated Earth Day and the 50th anniversary of the state Environmental Rights Amendment Thursday by announcing the availability of $22.5 million to schools, local governments, and nonprofit organizations for projects to improve water quality in their communities or watersheds or statewide. More information here: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf marked Earth Day by joining the Chesapeake Conservancy to announce a new collaborative environmental initiative for the state to restore the health of 30 agriculturally-impaired streams by 2030. The Governor also recognized two Department of Environmental Protection employees, including Marcus Kohl, Regional Director for DEP’s Northcentral Region (which includes Clinton County) based in Williamsport. Kohl and DEP employee Jason Fellon both received “Champion of the Chesapeake” awards. The Chesapeake Conservancy awards celebrate conservation leadership in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Learn more: Gov. Wolf, Chesapeake Conservancy & Partners Announce Initiative to Restore 30 Agriculturally Impaired Streams by 2030.

- Brodart, Co., the Lycoming/Clinton county-based provider of books, furniture and library services and supplies, is hosting an on-site job fair Thursday, April 29 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at its 280 North Road, McElhattan facility. There are also plans for a May 6 job fair at their Arch Street, Williamsport operation. Click Here for the Brodart flyer or contact Dorie Gilmore at PA CareerLink Clinton County at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

- Events start to swing into high gear this weekend in Clinton County:

  • Clinton County’s largest trail race is slated for tomorrow, April 24. The 15th annual Hyner View Trail Challenge on Saturday has an 8:00 a.m. start for the 50K race and a 9:00 a.m. start for the 25K course. The race, which typically draws some 1,300 participants, is among several organized by the PA Trail Dogs running group. www.patraildogs.com
  • As part of Earth Week, Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. and the City of Lock Haven host a city-wide litter pick-up Saturday, April 24. The litter pick-up is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with participants meeting at Triangle Park in the downtown, then fanning out to clean up streets and park and recreation areas. www.lockhaven.org
  • And the Clinton County Speedway at the Fairgrounds in Mackeyville kicks off its 2021 racing season Saturday evening. Gates at the oval dirt track open at 5:30, with hot laps at 7:00 and racing at 7:30 p.m. www.clintoncountyspeedway.com

Click Here for the weekly “What’s Happening in Clinton County” events flyer for more information on local activities.

- Pennsylvania’s spring turkey season kicks off this Saturday, April 24, with a one-day youth hunt, followed by the statewide season opener next Saturday, May 1. More here: SPRING TURKEY SEASON ABOUT TO TAKE FLIGHT (pa.gov).

- The PA Game Commission and Fish & Boat Commission lauded the introduction Thursday of the federal Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, saying the legislation could rank among the most meaningful initiatives for fish and wildlife in history. Learn more: PENNSYLVANIA PUSHES FOR DEDICATED FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION FUNDING (pa.gov)

- Upcoming Webinars:

  • Restaurant Revitalization Fund Information Session - Thursday, April 29 at 9:00 AM

    During this one-hour information session, SBA Eastern Pennsylvania District Office representatives Sonia Smith and Shannon Degiglio will share details regarding Restaurant Revitalization Fund eligibility, allowable use of funds, application process and timeline, impact on other SBA relief program funding, required documentation, and additional resources for assistance. Register Here

  • Small Business Financing Opportunities: An Expert Panel Discussion - Tuesday, May 4 at 9:00 am  

    A panel of experts from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA, M&T Bank, and SEDA-COG will provide business owners with updates on pandemic funding and details on options available at the federal, state, and local levels. Additionally, they will provide commercial lending tips and insider grant and loan information and address special financing for specific industries. Register Here

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

  • If you missed Thursday’s webinar with employment and labor attorney Katharine Batista titled, "COVID-19 Vaccines for Your Employees: Issues & Options," you can access it on-demand here

4/21/21

- The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department today announced further details of tax credits available under the American Rescue Plan to help small businesses, including providing paid leave for employees receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. The additional details, provided in a fact sheet released today, spell out some basic facts about the employers eligible for the tax credits. It also provides information on how these employers may claim the credit for leave paid to employees related to COVID-19 vaccinations. View the fact sheet here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/employer-tax-credits-for-employee-paid-leave-due-to-covid-19, and see the full news release here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/american-rescue-plan-tax-credits-available-to-small-employers-to-provide-paid-leave-to-employees-receiving-covid-19-vaccines-new-fact-sheet-outlines-details.

- The PA House Republican Majority Policy Committee Tuesday released a report from a 2021 survey of small business owners in Pennsylvania. The purpose was to identify how businesses across the Commonwealth were impacted by the pandemic and what business owners need to recover. View the full Report on Economic Recovery

- The U.S. Department of State said this week it will be updating its travel advisories to better reflect travel guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. The update will result in about 80% of countries worldwide being under a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the U.S.-Canada border closure was extended to at least May 21.

- Cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania continue to be high. According to Governor Tom Wolf’s weekly status update on the state’s mitigation efforts, based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, Pennsylvania saw a slight increase in the percent positivity rate, which this week stands at 9.6%, compared to 9.5% last week and 9.4% the week before that. Both Clinton and Lycoming counties saw a rise in their percent positivity rates, with Clinton this week at 16.0% (compared to 11.0% last week) and Lycoming at 9.3% (compared to 8.9% last week). Centre County saw a decline in their percent positivity rate, to 8.9% this week compared to 9.6% last week.

Currently, 55 of the state’s 67 counties – including Clinton, Centre and Lycoming – are in what the state considers a “substantial” level of transmission. Nine other counties are in the moderate level, and only three counties – Cameron, Potter and Forest – are in the low level of transmission. Read more: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for April 9 – 15 (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 4,602 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,118,470. According to the data, Clinton County reported 16 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 3,411. Centre County saw 65 new cases, bringing their total to 15,844, and Lycoming County was up 35 new cases, to 11,029.

As of today, 7,752,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the state – 4,793,970 first/single doses and 2,616,383 second/full doses. According to the state, 2,508 people in Clinton County have received their first dose of the vaccine, while 7,411 are fully vaccinated. In Centre County, 19,772 have received their first dose and 43,671 are fully vaccinated, and in Lycoming County, 8,934 people have received their first dose of the vaccine while 25,405 people are fully vaccinated. Read more: Department of Health: Over 7.4 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 43.9% of Population, PA Ranks 11th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- UPMC is encouraging area residents to schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, as the health care system has available time slots at its weekly vaccine clinic at the Dunnstown Fire Hall. Those wanting an appointment can call the Lock Haven Family Medicine office at 570-748-1260 or the UPMC McElhattan office at 570-769-1300.

In its latest COVID-19 update, UPMC discusses the side effects of the vaccine. Click Here for the UPMC COVID Update.

- Governor Wolf today visited the Guthrie Health vaccine clinic in Sayre, Bradford County to tour a facility that’s providing vaccines to a large population of rural residents and to talk about progress in vaccinating Pennsylvanians. See more: Gov. Wolf Visits the Guthrie Clinic to Talk Vaccine Progress, Hesitancy and Rural Reach (pa.gov).

- The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association hosts a webinar this Thursday, April 22, at 10:30 a.m. covering COVID-19 Vaccines for Your Employees: Issues & OptionsREGISTER

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from April 11-18 as it relates to regulated boards and commissions. During that period, the Bureau performed 457 total inspections and opened four investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, the Bureau distributed eight warning letters and one compliance letter relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: Department of State Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, April 11-18.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions for April 12-16 as it relates to businesses not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. To date, the Bureau has assigned 437 cases to its investigators. During the latest period, the department completed two investigations that were sent to the Department of Health. More here: Department of Labor & Industry Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, April 12 – April 16.

- The Lycoming-Clinton Counties Commission for Community Action (STEP), Inc. is asking for participation in their community needs assessment as they seek peoples’ knowledge and perceptions of the needs facing our community. Go to www.stepcorp.org/CNA to complete the survey before May 1.

- Two Keystone Central Career & Technology Center students, sophomore Charles Harter and senior Skylar Lininger, took first- and third-place honors, respectively, in the recent Skills USA Statewide Competition. Harter earned first place in the CNC Milling Specialist state competition, while Lininger took third place in the Early Childhood Education state competition. Click Here for the KCSD news release for more on their accomplishments.

4/19/21

- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Saturday announced key details for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RFF). Part of the recently signed American Rescue Plan, the RRF is providing $28.6 billion aimed at helping bring jobs back and revive one of the industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahead of the application launch and over the next two weeks, the SBA will establish a seven-day pilot period for the RRF application portal and conduct extensive outreach and training. The pilot period will be used to address technical issues ahead of the public launch. Participants in this pilot will be randomly selected from existing PPP borrowers in priority groups for RRF and will not receive funds until the application portal is open. 

Following the pilot, the application portal will be opened to the public. The official application launch date has yet to be announced, but for the first 21 days the program is open, the SBA will prioritize reviewing applications from small businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Following the 21-day period, all eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications.

Details on application requirements, eligibility, and a program guide are now available at www.sba.gov/restaurants.

- Several additional updates from the SBA: 

  • The current round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is reaching smaller borrowers (small businesses), with 94% of all loans going to businesses with 20 or fewer employees. The SBA is currently offering PPP loans until May 31, 2021. Businesses are able to apply for a first or second draw PPP loan and loan forgiveness. Learn more.
  • The SBA has announced that businesses that were denied a Targeted EIDL Advance can now send a request for reevaluation of their declined application to the following email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Applicants should use the subject line “Reevaluation Request for (insert your 10-digit application number)”, and in the body of the email, include identifying information for the application such as the application number, business name, business address, business owner name(s) and phone number. Also important to include is an explanation and any documentation that addresses the reason for the decline, if available. The SBA says it will contact applicants if additional documentation is required to complete the review.
  • The SBA tech team and software vendors are in the process of testing the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal, with hopes the portal will be reopened by the end of this week. The SBA announcement said, “After our vendors fixed the root cause of the initial tech issues, more in-depth risk analysis and stress tests identified other issues that impact application performance. The vendors are quickly addressing and mitigating them and working tirelessly with our team so the application portal can reopen ASAP and we can deliver this critical aid.” For more information about the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, visit sba.gov/svogrant.
  • Are you currently hiring? Consider a candidate who may qualify you for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. The WOTC is a Federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain targeted groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. Learn more.
  • The SBA continues to caution businesses regarding fraudsters: The SBA directly communicates from email addresses ending in @sba.gov. The SBA also communicates via email updates/notifications using an email marketing platform. Those emails end in @updates.sba.gov. If you are being contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA who is not using an official SBA email address, you should suspect fraud. Learn more.

 - From the PA Chamber: The state House and Senate are both 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 legislative chambers. -> Read More. 

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed 1,914 additional positive cases of COVID-19, as well as 3,761 cases Sunday and 5,114 case reports on Saturday, bringing the statewide total to 1,109,291. According to the state, Clinton County reported 8 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 3,378. Centre County saw 36 new cases, bringing their total to 15,744, and Lycoming County was up 66 new cases, to 10,952. Statewide, 2,638 people are hospitalized with the virus, 551 of whom are in intensive care. 

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of today, Pennsylvania had administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 43.2% of its eligible population. The PA Health Department reports 7,141,842 doses administered through today – 4,638,111 of the first/single dose and 2,503,731 of the second/full dose. Here in the region, 2,653 people in Clinton County have received the first dose of the vaccine, while 7,123 have received the full dose. In Centre County, 19,078 people have received the first shot, while 42,959 have received the full dose. And in Lycoming County, 9,279 people have received a first shot and 24,501 the full dose of the vaccine. Read more: Department of Health: Over 7.1 Million Vaccinations to Date, First Doses of Vaccine to 43.2% of Population, PA Ranks 10th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- More than $150,000 in support was generated for LHU students during Lock Haven University’s recent All In Day of Giving. The money raised during the 24-hour fundraiser, held last Thursday into Friday, will support academic and athletic scholarships for LHU students. While gifts continue to come in, as of today, April 19, 642 donations from alumni, supporters, fans and sponsors, resulted in nearly $154,000 raised. Click Here for the LHU All In news release for more.

- Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. and the City of Lock Haven host a city-wide litter pick-up this Saturday, April 24, in celebration of Earth Day. Volunteers will focus on the downtown area as well as city parks and recreation areas. For more information, contact Downtown Lock Haven, Inc. at 570-748-1576.

Statewide, spring litter pickups are underway. People interested in organizing their own event can register and learn more at Pick Up Pennsylvania.

- The PA Department of State today reminded eligible Pennsylvanians that the deadline to register to vote in the May 18 primary election is just two weeks away. Read more: Deadline to Register to Vote in May 18 Primary Fast Approaching (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, Clinton County has put out a call for poll workers for the upcoming election. Click Here for information from the County Voter Registration office.

- The PA Department of Agriculture today announced an outdoor Spring Food Fest will be held next month at the PA Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. The May 7-9 event follows a successful Fall Food Fest this past November and is designed to provide an opportunity for people to get their PA Farm Show food fix. See more: Secretary of Agriculture Announces PA Farm Show Spring Food Fest.

4/16/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4/14/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4/12/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Updates from the PA Chamber…. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4/9/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Several updates from the Internal Revenue Service:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

4/7/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Upcoming webinars….

 

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

4/5/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Webinars this Week….

 

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

4/1/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- In the “Glad to see it” category….

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

3/31/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/29/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Updates from the PA Chamber…. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/26/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/24/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/19/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/17/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/15/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration:

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

Learn more 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/12/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/11/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- From the U.S. Chamber:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Webinars/Events:

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

3/8/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/5/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the webinar Schedule:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/4/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/3/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Updates from the U.S. Census Bureau:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/2/21

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

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

The webinar schedule is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/1/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Updates from the PA Chamber:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/26/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

2/25/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/24/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Webinars:

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

2/23/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/22/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Updates from the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry:

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

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

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

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

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

You can find all of the new fact sheets here.

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

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

2/19/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/18/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/17/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/16/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/12/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/11/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Webinars:

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

2/10/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Online Opportunities:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/9/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/8/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/5/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/4/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Webinars:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/3/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Webinars:

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

2/2/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Webinars: 

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

Non-COVID Items of Interest: 

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

2/1/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1/29/21

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

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

The December unemployment rates for all 67 of the Commonwealth’s counties should be released next week. Clinton County’s November unemployment rate was 6.6%.

- Elementary students in Keystone Central School District will continue with five days of in-the-classroom learning next week, while middle and high school students will continue with the two-days-in, two-days-out hybrid schedule. Click Here for the attached KCSD Update from Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin for the latest.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 9,643 positive cases of COVID-19, noting that today’s counts included more than 4,000 backlogged antigen testing data from urgent care centers (4,052 of today’s newly-identified cases had their specimens collected over a week ago).

According to the state, Clinton County saw 9 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,474. Centre County reported 60 new cases, bringing their count to 10,985, and Lycoming County reported 51 new cases, bringing their count to 8,003. The statewide total of COVID-19 cases now stands at 834,048.

There are 3,691 people hospitalized with the virus, 753 of whom are in intensive care. There were 159 new deaths reported – one in Clinton County for a total of 51 locally – with the statewide total of deaths attributed to COVID-19 now at 21,462. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: More than 893,000 Vaccinations to Date.

Following are several COVID-19 informational links:

   - County specific and statewide information is available on the Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

   - Access information on COVID-19 vaccine distribution here: Vaccine dashboard data.

   - A commonwealth COVID-19 vaccination guide explains the current process for getting a vaccination. People with questions about the vaccination process can call the Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258.

- The PA Department of Corrections today announced it will relaunch its COVID-19 dashboard, which had been shut down when the system became overwhelmed. Read more: Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Initiates Relaunch of COVID-19 Dashboard.

- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus protection program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. Last week, President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure. Click here for the specific guidance on OSHA’s website: https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework. Read the OSHA news release here: US Department of Labor issues stronger workplace guidance on coronavirus (govdelivery.com).

Meanwhile, March 2, 2021, is the deadline to submit 2020 Form 300A, summarizing work-related injuries and illnesses, data to OSHA.

- The Internal Revenue Service today posted updated FAQs about recent legislation that extended and amended tax relief to certain small- and mid-sized employers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FAQs are available at COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses FAQs. Read the entire news release here: IRS updates FAQs on paid sick leave credit and family leave credit | Internal Revenue Service.

- The IRS is also urging taxpayers who receive Forms 1099-G for unemployment benefits they did not actually get because of identity theft to contact their appropriate state agency for a corrected form. Learn more: IRS offers guidance to taxpayers on identity theft involving unemployment benefits | Internal Revenue Service.

- The IRS today explained how corporations may qualify for the new 100% limit for disaster relief contributions and offered a temporary waiver of the recordkeeping requirement for corporations otherwise qualifying for the increased limit. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/new-law-increases-deduction-limit-for-corporate-cash-contributions-for-disaster-relief-irs-provides-recordkeeping-relief.

- As a new legislative session begins in the U.S. Congress, Governor Wolf today urged the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation to prioritize critical infrastructure needs for the commonwealth as part of any potential new stimulus package and infrastructure package. In a letter to the delegation, the Governor emphasized that an investment in the state’s infrastructure is critical to address current needs and help move Pennsylvania forward. Read more: Gov. Wolf Urges Congress to Prioritize Critical Infrastructure Needs to Move PA Forward.

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,020 licensed liquor establishments this week (January 25-28), issuing 12 notices of violation and 29 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 77 licensee checks during the period, issuing one warning. They issued no notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement January 25-28: 1,020 Compliance Checks; 12 Notices of Violation (pa.gov)

- If you missed Thursday's webinar with the U.S. Small Business Administration about small business funding options, you can watch it on-demand here.


- The PA Public Utility Commission published notice in the January 30 PA Bulletin of the Act 13 drilling impact fees to be applied to unconventional shale gas wells existing during 2020. As a result, there will be an estimated loss of about $56 million in revenue to a record low of $145 million. Read more here: PUC: Act 13 Drilling Impact Fees For Calendar 2020 To Drop; Revenue Falls By $56 Million To Record Low.

- The PA Agriculture Department today announced grants totaling $1,287 million to eight organizations – including a number to Penn State University – for research on issues critical to sustaining and growing the state’s agriculture industry. See more: Wolf Administration Awards $1.3 Million to Fund Research to Grow PA Agriculture Industry.

- The PA Game Commission announced today that the public can begin to view results of the state’s surveillance efforts of Chronic Wasting Disease via a new CWD Surveillance Dashboard available online at https://pgcdatacollection.pa.gov/CWDResultsLookup. Read more: BUSY TIME FOR CWD SURVEILLANCE WINDING DOWN (pa.gov).

- The 2021 Clinton County Tourism/Recreation Grant Program is now accepting applications for projects aimed at increasing the area’s tourism and recreational assets. Click Here for the news release for more on the program, and you can access program guidelines and apply at: https://www.clintoncountypa.com/departments/funding-opportunities.

- River Valley Transit today resumed public transportation services in Clinton County on a limited basis. A bus loop between Williamsport and Lock Haven will run Fridays and Saturdays only, four times a day. For more information, go to www.rideRVT.com.

- The River Valley Regional YMCA is encouraging people to “hit the reset button,” announcing they are offering a free, six-week “Transformation Challenge” to help people re-energize in spirit, mind and body. The challenge kicks off Monday, February 1, and is open to everyone. People can join the challenge by texting RESET to 844-889-6222. For more information visit www.rvrymca.org or contact any of the River Valley Regional YMCAs in Lock Haven, Jersey Shore, Mansfield, Muncy, Williamsport or Towanda.

1/28/21

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 6,036 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 824,405. The Department noted that today’s case counts include backlogged antigen testing data from urgent care centers. They said 1,214 of today’s newly-identified cases had their specimens collected over a week ago. Clinton County today reported 12 new positive cases, bringing the countywide case count to 2,465. Centre County saw 77 additional cases, bringing their total to 10,925, and Lycoming County reported 43 new cases, bringing their total to 7,952. Clinton County also reported another death, bringing the number of deaths attributed to COVID to 50.

Statewide, 3,768 people are hospitalized with the virus, 759 of whom are in the intensive care unit. There were 198 new deaths reported for a total of 21,303 deaths attributed to COVID-19 statewide. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 6,036 New Cases, 3,768 Patients Hospitalized and 759 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- According to the Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine website, as of today, 599 people in Clinton County have received a partial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 248 people have received the full dose. Centre County data shows 5,877 people have received a partial and 1,947 a full dose, and Lycoming County shows 5,479 people have received a partial and 1,867 a full dose of the vaccine. See more here: COVID-19 Vaccine (pa.gov).

- Lock Haven University today offered an update on plans to integrate Lock Haven, Bloomsburg and Mansfield Universities, following recent virtual meetings with stakeholder groups from all three communities. Click Here for the LHU Integration file for more.

- Williamsport-based River Valley Transit today announced it is offering a new, Friday-Saturday-only, bus loop in Clinton County. The new “Lock Haven Link” begins tomorrow, January 29, and will see a bus loop four times a day between Lock Haven and Williamsport, with scheduled stops at the STEP Clinton County Community Center in Lock Haven and the Mill Hall Walmart, as well as the Jersey Shore Weis Market. Those stops had been among the most popular during the public transportation trial that was recently discontinued. Ridership is free for senior citizens, as well as Lock Haven University students with a college ID. As an introduction to the new Lock Haven Link, there is no fee to ride this weekend for the general public. Click Here for River Valley Transit information, and for additional details visit www.rideRVT.com.

- As the Pennsylvania General Assembly convenes for a new legislative session, Governor Tom Wolf today outlined his agenda, in which he continues to prioritize ensuring that businesses and workers have a path toward recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, building on bipartisan progress by removing barriers to help everyday Pennsylvanians succeed, and demanding accountability through government reform. Details here: Governor Wolf 2021 Agenda Prioritizes Economic Recovery, Building on Bipartisan Measures, Government Reform.

- Pennsylvania’s state Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation to distribute just over $900 million to aid schools and hospitality-related businesses hit hard by the coronavirus, as well as people struggling to pay rent or utility bills. The bill still requires approval from the state House of Representatives and Governor Tom Wolf. Most of the $912 million being directed by the bill is from Pennsylvania’s share of federal aid approved by Congress in a coronavirus recovery package it passed last month. Some of it, $145 million, is reserve cash from a worker’s compensation fund that Wolf last month had asked lawmakers to send to businesses hit hard by the pandemic. The money would be available through counties in grants of up to $50,000 for owners of bars, restaurants and hotels. Wolf’s office would not say whether the Governor supports the bill, but said it would continue to work with the Republican-controlled Legislature on it. House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said the House will move quickly on the bill, but did not say whether members there will seek changes. Read More (Source: The Associated Press)

- State lawmakers have made it clear they hold a deep resentment toward Governor Wolf’s unilateral decision-making when it comes to responding to COVID-19 and are fixing to give voters a chance to show how they feel about the governor’s handling of the pandemic at the ballot box this May. Both the state House and Senate this week approved identical bills providing for a constitutional amendment that would limit the length of a governor-declared emergency disaster to 21 days, unless lawmakers agree to extend it. Currently, the governor’s emergency declarations can last up to 90 days and be extended indefinitely. It is the Senate bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland County, that is now moving through the House, which is expected to bring that bill up for a vote as early as Tuesday. That would ensure it would meet the constitutionally required timeframe to be advertised so it can appear on the May 18 primary ballot. Read More (Source: Harrisburg Patriot News)

- The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation received official word Wednesday that the state is eligible for $407.2 million for road and bridge projects under the second federal stimulus package approved in December. As a result, the department no longer is nearly out of funds and has dropped the emergency request it made to the state Legislature late last year to borrow as much as $600 million to continue ongoing projects. The agency also is allowing some projects that have been delayed for lack of funds to go out for bids, spokeswoman Alexis Campbell said Wednesday. “We intend to use these funds primarily to help cover the state revenue gaps in our construction program that we’ve faced as a result of COVID-19,” Ms. Campbell said in a statement. “We don’t intend to continue pursuing bonding authority at this time.” The department has lost several hundred million dollars in revenue from the state gasoline tax as a result of reduced driving during the pandemic. After shifting funds for nearly eight months to cover the shortfall, the agency ran out of options in November and told the state Senate it would have to shut down all road and bridge projects across the state because it was out of money unless it could borrow. Read More (Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

- Following an unpredictable year with many changes and challenges, the Internal Revenue Service is sharing important reminders for taxpayers who are about to file their 2020 federal tax returns. See more here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/important-reminders-before-filing-2020-tax-returns.

- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Pennsylvania announced it has $1.9 in funding available through the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program to help private landowners, land trusts, and other groups wanting to restore and protect critical wetlands, agricultural lands and grasslands. Click Here for the NRCS file for more information.

- The PA Department of Education is asking organizations across the state to consider providing nutritious meals to youth during the summer months (June-September) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program. Read more: Pennsylvania Department of Education Seeks Sponsors for Summer Meals Nutrition Programs.

- The PA Department of Human Services today announced that Pennsylvania was awarded $340,000 for strategic planning and infrastructure development in preparation for the launch of National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s “988” in July 2022. The 988 call number will eventually replace 1-800-TALK (8255) as the direct line for the Lifeline, easing access to life-saving crisis intervention services. The funds will be used to support 13 crisis call centers, including State College-based Centre Helps. More details here: Pennsylvania Awarded Funding to Prepare for Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988 Launch.

- In a joint announcement, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and PA Fish and Boat Commission today announced the launch of HuntFishPA, a new, user-friendly licensing platform for hunters, anglers and boaters. Visitors to www.HuntFish.pa.gov will note convenient features like personalized dashboards, auto-renewal for fishing licenses, and the ability to report game and furbearer harvests as required. See more: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Launches HuntFishPA: New Mobile-Friendly, Outdoor Recreational Licensing Platform.

1/27/21

- The 2021 Clinton County Tourism/Recreation Grant program begins accepting applications tomorrow, January 28. Nonprofit organizations and municipalities are eligible for the program, which is designed increase tourism by supporting the development and expansion of tourist and recreational assets and events. The program is coordinated through the Partnership’s Tourist Promotion Agency, the Clinton County Commissioners and the County Planning Department. New this year, the application is online instead of a paper application. Click here for access to grant guidelines and the online application (the application portal opens tomorrow) on the County Government website: https://www.clintoncountypa.com/departments/funding-opportunities.

- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the availability of approximately $46 million in Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant funds to support projects aimed at reducing emissions from the nation's existing fleet of older diesel engines. School districts, municipalities, counties and nonprofits are among the eligible applicants. The EPA is holding webinars about the grant program on February 3 at 3:00 p.m. (Click Here to Join) and again on February 11 at 2:00 p.m. (Click Here to Join). Applications are due by March 16. Click Here for all the details on how to apply.

- PennDOT and the PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs today announced that a new state law waives the requirement of having to take a Commercial Driver’s License Knowledge Test when applying for a CDL, for residents who are current and former military members and who operated a commercial vehicle as part of their duties. More here: New Law Updates CDL Requirements for PA Veterans, Service Members.

- Amid frustrations at the slow pace of the national COVID-19 vaccination effort, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. is boosting the number of doses sent to states each week and will be giving state officials more certainty on the number of doses they can expect in future shipments. The federal government expects to provide enough doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer or early fall. Read more: Biden administration unveils boost to state COVID-19 vaccine shipments; Wolf says Pa. needs more doses | Pennsylvania Capital-Star (penncapital-star.com).

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,874 positive cases of COVID-19 – the highest case count in several days – bringing the statewide total to 818,369. According to the state, Clinton County reported 8 new cases today, bringing the countywide case count to 2,453. Centre County saw 124 new cases, bringing their total to 10,848, and Lycoming County reported 63 new positive cases, bringing their count to 7,909. Clinton County also saw the report of two more deaths, bringing the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 to 49.

Statewide, there are 3,790 people hospitalized with the virus, 760 of whom are in intensive care. There were 222 new deaths reported for a total of 21,105 deaths attributed to the virus. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 5,874 New Cases, 3,790 Patients Hospitalized and 760 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- A recent article in Modern Retail magazine takes a look at retailers who are trying to get their employees vaccinated quickly. Understanding the many challenges this process presents, companies are fairly and strategically working with their employees to complete the vaccination process in a timely manner to avoid future infections, keep their employees healthy and resume the next kind of ‘new normal.’ Read more: Why Retailers Are Paying Employees to Get the Coronavirus Vaccine.

- New research from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council indicates that the coronavirus is much deadlier than regular flu for Pennsylvania patients. Read more in this PennLive report: COVID-19 much deadlier than regular flu for Pa. patients, new report finds - pennlive.com.

- Here’s a reliable answer to a question we’ve received from a couple of Partnership members:  If you already got a PPP loan, can you also get an Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)? Yes. The December 2020 stimulus bill revised the rules around PPP and ERTC so that businesses can take advantage of both; however, there is one significant limitation, according to Neil Bradley, Chief Policy Officer at the U. S. Chamber of Commerce: “The only limitation is that you can’t claim PPP to pay for the same payroll costs that you are doing for ERTC.” Bradley also said, “you can’t at the same time claim ERTC for the same wages paid with the PPP program….the rule is virtually you can’t get two dollars for the same one dollar of expense.” More Answers Here.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from January 18-22, involving businesses that are not covered by other state agencies, boards or bureaus. To date, the Bureau has assigned 396 cases to its investigators. Between January 18-22, the Department received 121 cases for investigation from the Department of Health and completed 22 investigations. See more: Department of Labor & Industry Releases COVID-19 Enforcement Actions, Jan. 18 – Jan. 22.

- The PA Department of Community and Economic Development today highlighted the work of innovaTel Telepsychiatry, a nationwide telepsychiatry company owned and operated by clinicians, for making critical, remote mental health services accessible for those in need. DCED Secretary Dennis Davin said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented everyone with challenges and stresses that we could have never prepared for and innovaTel’s service is designed to help, no matter where you are.” Read more: Wolf Administration Applauds innovaTel for Making Remote Mental Health Support Accessible Amid COVID-19 Pandemic - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources today presented poll results indicating four out of five Pennsylvanians who visited parks and trails believe that time spent outdoors is essential to their physical and mental health during the pandemic. Additional details here: Poll Shows Outdoors Important to Pennsylvanians During Pandemic.

- Penn State Extension hosts a live webinar, Mental Wellness during COVID-19: Emotional Overload, at 11:00 am on February 10.

Learn More

- Despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, women are still vastly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce, according to information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Women made gains – from 8% of STEM workers in 1970 to 27% in 2019 – but men still dominated the field. Men made up 52% of all U.S. workers but 73% of all STEM workers. Read More

- PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced that the PA Preferred Organic Program is partnering with Rodale Institute and Penn State Extension to offer organic farmers and those interested in transitioning to organic, a series of virtual field day sessions to learn about the latest tools, techniques, and research in organic no-till crop production. More information here: Department of Agriculture Offers Free Virtual Organic Field Day Series through Pennsylvania Farm Bill Organic Program.

1/26/21

- PA Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today provided an update on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania and the many challenges that are ahead because of limited supply of doses from the federal government. According to the state, vaccine providers have administered vaccine to 605,633 people so far – 473,449 who have received their first dose and 132,184 who have received two doses and are considered fully vaccinated. They say the state is to receive another 143,275 first doses of vaccine and 137,625 second doses this week. You can access the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard here, and read the entire news release here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/wolf-administration-provides-covid-19-vaccine-update-focuses-on-getting-more-doses-to-pennsylvanians-amid-limited-federal-supply/.

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 4,628 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 812,495. According to the state, Clinton County reported eight new cases, bringing the countywide case count to 2,445. Centre County reported 69 new cases, bringing their total to 10,724, and Lycoming County saw 47 new cases, bringing their total to 7,846. Statewide, 3,887 people are hospitalized with the virus, 770 of whom are in intensive care. More here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1271.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, as of January 25, there are 25,018,520 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States. Additionally, 41,418,325 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed across the country, with 22,734,243 doses administered. A total of 19,252,279 people have received one or more dose, and 3,346,390 people have received two doses.

- The Internal Revenue Service is urging employers to take advantage of the newly-extended employee retention credit, designed to make it easier for businesses that, despite challenges posed by COVID-19, choose to keep their employees on the payroll. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/new-law-extends-covid-tax-credit-for-employers-who-keep-workers-on-payroll.

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today it is taking steps to improve the First Draw Paycheck Protection Program loan review so that small businesses have as much time as possible to access much needed PPP funds. See more: The SBA Takes Steps to Improve First Draw Paycheck Protection Program Loan Review.

- The Penn State Small Business Development Center offers an SBA Emergency Loans Webinar Series, designed to help small business owners understand the process for applying for PPP and EIDL loans. The webinars cover who is eligible for a second-round SBA Emergency Loan, documentation required to complete an application, timelines for approval/closing on your loan, and how to estimate your economic loss during the pandemic. The workshop is held from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. on the following Thursdays: January 28 , February 4, February 11, February 18, and February 25. The SBDC takes questions, and participants walk away with screenshots of the SBA emergency loan application, a “Frequently Asked Questions” about COVID-19, and other resources related to the loan application process.

Register Here

- While it’s not yet accepting applications, the U.S. Small Business Administration has published some guidelines for what they are calling the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, established as part of the most recent COVID-19 economic relief bill signed into law in late December. The federal government earmarked $15 billion in grants to shuttered venues, including live performing arts organizations and operators, theatrical producers, motion picture theater operators, and live venue operators or promoters. More information here: Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (sba.gov).

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today provided an update on the recent Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) implementations. Both programs had expired at the end of the year and have now resumed as part of the new federal CARES Act extensions. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Labor-and-Industry-Details.aspx?newsid=529.

Meanwhile, PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced the arrest of two inmates – one from the State Correctional Institution at Rockview in Centre County – and an outside accomplice for their roles as ringleaders who conspired to provide false information on PUA applications. More here: https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/taking-action/covid-19/ag-shapiro-3-more-arrests-in-pandemic-unemployment-assistance-scheme/.

- The U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS) last April began asking businesses when they expect to return to normal levels of operations, an indication of how they are adapting to the pandemic and other public health strategies. From this past spring until now, business expectations of a return to normal have shifted, with many businesses having expectations at opposite extremes – those with expectations of a short-term return to normal and those facing long-term challenges. Read More

- A new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that impacts all international travelers coming into the U.S. takes effect today. As of January 26, all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from a foreign country must be tested for COVID-19 no more than three days before their flight and must present documentation to the airline before boarding the flight. See more: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States | CDC.

- California leads the nation in the number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, while Pennsylvania falls in at eighth highest. See more in this article from PennLive: Which states have the most confirmed coronavirus cases (1/25/2021): Where does Pa. stand? - pennlive.com.

- The PA Department of Agriculture today released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from January 18-24. The Department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 600 inspections during that period, 33 of which were complaints related to COVID-19 mitigation measures such as social distancing, masking and occupancy limits. The Department received 236 food facility COVID-19 related complaints, five of which were referred to local and county health jurisdictions. And, inspectors closed three restaurants that were in violation of state mitigation and enforcement orders. According to the state, there was one inspection in Clinton County during the most recent period, resulting in no complaints or closure orders being issued. See more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Agriculture_details.aspx?newsid=1029.

- The Department of State’s Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation today released data related to COVID-19 enforcement actions from January 17-24. These are related to regulated boards and commissions. During that period, BEI performed 383 inspections and opened 16 investigations during which COVID-19-specific compliance was a focus. This week, but Bureau distributed no warning letters or compliance letters relating to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/State-details.aspx?newsid=449.

- Governor Wolf is slated to offer his 2021-22 budget address next Tuesday, February 2. But instead of a live speech before the state House and Senate as is normally the case, because of COVID the Governor’s message will be a pre-recorded video address to the General Assembly. No pomp, zero circumstance: Wolf will deliver virtual budget address | Pennsylvania Capital-Star (penncapital-star.com).

- The Wolf Administration today highlighted the latest accomplishments of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and, in an update on prescribing and overdose trends noted that the opioid crisis continues to affect the state. Details here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1269.

- The SCORE Central PA Chapter hosts an online webinar, Fundraising for Small Nonprofits, next Wednesday, February 3, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. CLICK HERE to register.

1/25/21

- The Wolf Administration today released their weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard. The data highlighted a seven-day case increase of 31,140 (8,948 fewer new cases than the previous week), a statewide percent positivity of 10.5% (down from 12.7% last week), and 66 of the state’s 67 counties with what is considered substantial transmission status.

Neighboring Cameron County this past week was the lone county to move into the low level transmission category -- a sign of progress. Every county continues to have a concerning percent positivity rate of above 5%, however there are now only two counties (Forest, at 40.4% and Montour at 21.9%) with percent positivity at or above 20% (a decrease of two counties from the week before). Clinton County’s percent positivity declined slightly to 11.5%; Centre County is at a 6.6% positivity, and Lycoming County is at 12.4% positivity. More details here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for Jan. 15-21: Case Increases Near 31,100; Percent Positivity at 10.5% and 66 Counties with Substantial Transmission (pa.gov).

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 3,976 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 807,867. According to the state’s data, Clinton County reported 11 new cases, bringing the countywide case count to 2,437. Centre County reported an additional 83 cases today, bringing their count to 10,655, and Lycoming County reported 39 new cases, bringing their count to 7,799. Statewide, there are 3,910 people hospitalized with the virus, 790 of whom are in intensive care. Read more: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: Two-Day Total of 7,910 New Cases, 3,910 Patients Hospitalized and 790 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- The PA Department of Community & Economic Development today issued a COVID-19 vaccine update, which highlights who is eligible for the vaccine and where people can get vaccinated. Click Here for the DCED Vaccine Update for details.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to offer up-to-date information on the latest developments with the COVID-19 vaccine: 

  • Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions: The CDC recently updated their FAQs page about the vaccines, which answers commonly asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Vaccine Resources: The CDC updated their resource page on COVID-19 vaccines. On this page you can find when and where you can receive the vaccine, receive accurate vaccine information, and more.

- The Health Department today shared its weekly update on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data and continued to encourage people to download the COVID Alert PA app. Read more: Department of Health Jan. 10-16 Update On COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, Monitoring Efforts: Pennsylvanians Urged To ‘Answer the Call’ And Download the COVID App.

- PA Department of Labor & Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier announced over the weekend that payments for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program in the new federal CARES Act extension resumed as of Sunday, January 24. More here: L&I to Begin Issuing Extended PEUC Benefit Payments.

People filing for unemployment claims through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program were able to resume filing for an additional 11 claim weeks this past Friday, January 22.

 - The PA Department of Community & Economic Development today shared several tax resources for employers. More here: Attn Employers: 5 Go-To Tax Tools for a Headache-Free Filing in 2021 (pa.gov).

- As a reminder, the U.S. Small Business Administration has re-opened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to all participating PPP lenders. PPP provides loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis. SBA is currently offering:

  • First Draw PPP loans - for those borrowers who have not received a PPP loan before August 8, 2020.
  • Second Draw PPP loans - for eligible small businesses with 300 employees or less and that previously received a First Draw PPP loan. These borrowers will have to use or had used the full amount of their First Draw loan only for authorized uses and demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020. The maximum amount of a Second Draw PPP loan is $2 million.

The PPP will remain open for loans until March 31, as set forth in the Economic Aid Act, or until Congressionally-appropriated funding is exhausted. Learn more

- Several updates from the PA Chamber: 

  • The state’s Independent Fiscal Office is reporting an improved economic outlook, but cautions there could be difficult times in the coming fiscal year. -> Read More
  • State House and Senate lawmakers are back in Harrisburg this week to kick off the first full week of the 2021-22 legislative session. The PA Chamber takes a look at the week ahead: -> Read More 
  • The National Small Business Exporters Summit for 2021 will be held virtually on Wednesday, February 24 and Wednesday, March 3. Now in its fifth year, the 2021 Summit helps provide a wealth of knowledge specifically for small-to-medium sized companies that are either actively engaged in or interested in exporting. To learn more and register, visit the NASBITE website.

 - Lock Haven University began its Spring 2021 semester today, with all students attending classes remotely. Click Here for University President Dr. Robert Pignatello’s welcome to the campus community, saying he is optimistic that partial in-person learning will begin, as planned, on February 8.  

Meanwhile, elementary school students in Keystone Central School District resumed full in-class instruction today. Middle and high school students continue to use the District’s hybrid instructional model that has students attending two days in the classroom and remotely the rest of the week.

- Older and disabled Pennsylvanians can now apply for rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2020. The Wolf Administration today said the assistance is available through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. In addition to a paper application, new to the program this year is the ability to submit applications electronically via mypath.pa.gov. See more: Pennsylvanians Can Now File Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Applications Online (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced new appointees to lead the agency under the Biden-Harris Administration. See more: U.S. Department of Commerce Announces First Biden-Harris Appointments | U.S. Department of Commerce

- The PA Tourism Office today announced the release of its annual Happy Traveler travel guide, a vacation and travel planning resource. See more: 2021 Happy Traveler Guide Inspires Dreams and Plans for Future Travel - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

Locally, the Clinton County Economic Partnership’s Visitors Bureau has announced the kick-off of a promotional campaign on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – designed to entice people to…Explore Clinton County, PA!

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 470 licensed liquor establishments over the weekend (January 22-24), issuing 17 notices of violation and 30 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 60 licensee checks during the period, issuing five warnings and one notice of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. More here: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement January 22-24: 470 Compliance Checks; 17 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The PA Board of Game Commissioners virtually met for the first time in 2021 today, giving preliminary approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2021-22 license year, as well as a number of other items. Click here for a summary of the Commission’s actions: HIGHLIGHTS FROM TODAY'S COMMISSIONERS MEETING (pa.gov).

- The PA Fish and Boat Commission held their quarterly business meeting Saturday, January 25, announcing several changes to the upcoming 2021 trout season, including opening day dates and stocking operations. More details here: PFBC ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO 2021 TROUT SEASON AND STOCKING OPERATIONS DURING QUARTERLY MEETING (pa.gov).

Upcoming Webinars:  

  • The PA Restaurant & Lodging Association hosts, Small Business Funding Options, presented by the U.S. Small Business Administration, on Thursday, January 28, at 3pm. REGISTER
  • Penn State Extension is offering a 50 percent discount on more than 70 online course offerings if you register before the end of January. Click here to View Courses and click here to Register Now.

1/22/21

- Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan today provided his weekly update on the local employment picture:  First time initial unemployment claims by Clinton County residents decreased during the week ending January 16, but the continued claims showed another increase, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. There were 112 initial claims filed and 19% of them are in the construction field. That number compares to 160 reported initial claims the week before. The continued claims inched up, going from 1,133 to 1,204 in a week’s time. The 1,204 figure included 21% in the construction field, 60% who are male, and 25% who were in the 35 to 44 age group.

The department reported that 42 Clinton County residents had their unemployment benefits exhausted as of the week ending January 16. That is down from the 56 reported the week ending January 9.

Unemployment rates for the month of December should be released by the state on or around February 2 for all 67 counties. Clinton County’s November unemployment rate was 6.6%.  

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today released its statewide employment situation report for December 2020. The state’s December unemployment rate was 6.7 percent, down 0.1 percent over the month and the eighth consecutive monthly decline. The U.S. rate remained unchanged from November at 6.7 percent. Read more: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Declines to 6.7 Percent in December (pa.gov).

- PA Labor & Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier today announced that payments for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in the new federal CARES Act extension are resuming….good news for some 400,000 self-employed workers and other Pennsylvanians such as gig workers and freelancers. People can begin filing for the additional 11 claim weeks as of today, January 22. Details here: L&I Issuing Extended PUA Benefit Payments.

- Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin today announced that the District’s five elementary school students will return to full in-class learning next week, starting Monday, January 25. Dr. Martin’s update said middle and high school students will continue to follow the hybrid learning model. Click Here for the KCSD Update for details.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 5,338 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 794,172. According to the state, Clinton County reported an additional 12 cases today, bringing the countywide total to 2,407. Centre County added 43 new cases, bringing their total to 10,451, and Lycoming County reported 53 new cases, bringing their countywide case count to 7,649.

Statewide, there are 4,758 people hospitalized with the virus, 851 of whom are in intensive care. There were 193 new deaths reported, for a total of 20,321. Clinton County deaths attributed to the virus increased by one, to 46. More here: Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19: 4,758 Patients Hospitalized and 851 Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today announced his intention to nominate Alison Beam to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health and named Dr. Wendy Braund as Interim Acting Physician General. Both take over duties held by Dr. Rachel Levine and will assume their new roles as of tomorrow, January 23. See more: Gov. Wolf to Nominate Alison Beam as Secretary of Health, Names Dr. Wendy Braund as Interim Acting Physician General (pa.gov).

- PA State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,110 licensed liquor establishments this week (January 18-21), issuing 16 notices of violation and 30 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements. The Williamsport Enforcement Office, which covers Clinton County, conducted 92 licensee checks during the period, issuing two warnings and no notices of violation related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See more: State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement January 18-21: 1,110 Compliance Checks; 16 Notices of Violation (pa.gov).

- The Department of Environmental Protection published notice in the January 23 PA Bulletin cancelling the 2021 round of Section 902 Recycling Implementation Grants due to a lack of money in the Recycling Fund. DEP doesn't have enough money for grants because the General Assembly took $50 million from the Recycling Fund to balance the state budget adopted in November. Read more here.

- The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a series of state-ordered casino closures, has resulted in a hit to the state’s gaming revenue. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board this week reported that 2020 gaming revenue fell by more than 20 percent, but also said internet gaming and sports betting saw significant increases. Read more in this Associated Press article.

- The pandemic has certainly changed how many people work, but it’s also given many pause to consider where they work and play. Click the following link for a Susquehanna Greenway article that looks at the shifting trend from big-city to small-town living: https://susquehannagreenway.org/small-communities-becoming-more-desirable-covid-19-world.

Non-COVID-Related News of Interest…. 

- The filing season for 2020 Pennsylvania personal income tax returns begins February 12, and the PA Department of Revenue is informing taxpayers that a new, state-only filing option is available at mypath.pa.gov. More here: Pennsylvania Taxpayers Encourage