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:


7/7/22

- The PA Department of Health today announced that all AMI COVID-19 testing sites including the Clinton County testing site will now offer three methods of testing. These methods include Point of Care (POC) Rapid Antigen tests, over the counter test kits, and the current PRC test. Details here: https://www.media.pa.gov/pages/health-details.aspx?newsid=1769

With support from the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services and Lock Haven University, the state’s Clinton County walk-in COVID-19 testing site is located at LHU’s Parsons Union Building (PUB), 650 Railroad Street, Lock Haven. Testing there is available Tuesdays through Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., through September 9. More information on testing sites across Pennsylvania is available here: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Public%20Testing.aspx 

- Cases of COVID-19 declined across Pennsylvania over the past week, they remained relatively steady in Clinton County, and saw a decline in both Centre and Lycoming Counties, according to information from the PA Department of Health. There were 2,045 new cases of COVID reported statewide on Tuesday, down from 2,924 cases reported on the previous Tuesday. Across Pennsylvania, total COVID cases now stand at 3,018,128 as of July 5. Deaths in PA attributed to the virus are at 45,824 (up 58 over last week’s figures).

  • Clinton County reported six new cases on July 5, compared to four cases last Tuesday, bringing the countywide total to 9,633, or a total of 22 new cases in the past seven days. Deaths in Clinton County attributed to the virus rose by one, to 130.
  • Centre County reported 16 new cases on Tuesday, compared to 27 cases the Tuesday before, bringing the countywide total to 38,051, up 143 over the past seven days. Deaths in Centre County attributed to the virus remained at 361.
  • Lycoming County reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, compared to 31 new cases the Tuesday before. That brings the countywide total to 30,296, up 77 over the past seven days. Deaths in Centre County attributed to the virus rose by two in the past week, to 539.

More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

- According to the latest information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties continue to be in the “low” community level for COVID-19 along with 47 other of the state’s 67 counties. Another 16 counties (including Union County locally) are currently in the “medium” community level, while one county – Montour County – is currently in the “high” community level. More data is available on the CDC’s community level tracker website.      

- Governor Tom Wolf recently signed into law House Bill 2401, which amends the Health Care Facilities Act, to extend regulatory waivers that went into effort over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read more: Gov. Wolf Signs Bill to Protect Public Health Measures (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Revenue recently released fiscal year 2021-22 collections data, noting that the state ended the fiscal year with $48.1 billion in General Fund collections, 13.2 percent above estimate. More here: Revenue Department Releases Fiscal Year 2021-22 Collections.

- Pennsylvania’s new fiscal year began last Friday, but state lawmakers and the Wolf Administration have yet to agree to a new spending plan. Both Republicans and Democrats appear hopeful a deal will be finalized this week. Senate Republican spokesperson Erica Clayton Wright said in a statement that “steady progress” was made on the budget over the Fourth of July weekend. Senate Democrats agreed a deal is “close,” but added final elements are “still being worked out.” (Source: PA Restaurant & Lodging Association) 

- According to the PA Department of Labor and Industry, there were 22 initial unemployment claims filed by Clinton County residents during the week ending July 2, 2022. That compares to 30 claims filed one month ago. There were 243 continued claims for the same time period, up slightly from the 230 listed one month ago. One year ago, there were 428 residents on the continued claims list.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending July 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 235,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 231,000. Read the full news release.

- From the Federal Office of Rural Health: New 988 Suicide Help Line Goes Nationwide on July 16. The U.S. is getting close to the July 16 transition to 988 – the easy-to-remember number to reach the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has added downloadable print files for wallet cards, magnets, and posters to its 988 Partner Toolkit, along with key messages, frequently asked questions, fact sheets (English and Spanish), radio PSA scripts (English and Spanish), and more. To strengthen and expand the existing network of over 200 locally operated and funded crisis centers across the country, the Lifeline suicide & crisis network is looking to bring on new volunteers and paid employees to receive training to answer calls, chats, and texts from people in crisis. Since 1999, suicide rates in rural areas have been consistently higher than those in metropolitan areas.

- The PA State Police this week said vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities were down slightly this Independence Day holiday weekend compared to 2021. PSP investigated 649 vehicle crashes resulting in four fatalities and 170 injuries during the July 1-4 travel period. Read more: State Police Announces Independence Day Weekend Crash and Enforcement Results (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Revenue says more than 260,000 older homeowners, renters and people with disabilities across Pennsylvania are now being issued rebates totaling about $121.7 million through the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. See more: Property Tax/Rent Rebates to Be Distributed Starting Today (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Community & Economic Development today announced it is accepting applications for grants through the Keystone Communities Program, which provides funding to communities for planning activities, facade grant programs, accessible housing programs, and development grants. Eligible organizations can apply through August 31 for the 2022 fiscal year competitive funding round.

6/30/22

- A local employment update from Partnership President Mike Flanagan: Clinton County’s jobless picture improved slightly during the month of May, according to information released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor& Industry.

The Department reported the county’s May unemployment rate was 5.2%, down from the 5.4% registered in April. There were an estimated 200 more county residents working in May, as compared to April. One year ago, the unemployment rate was 7.0%.               

Chester County had the lowest month of May unemployment rate in the state at 2.8%, while Clinton was ranked 50th out of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties. Fayette and Forest counties were last, coming in with a 6.1% rate.               

For the week period ending June 4, Clinton County had 30 residents file for initial unemployment claims. For the same time period, the continued claims were listed at 230. One year ago, the continued claim number in the county was 691.               

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending June 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 231,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- It’s a mixed bag of COVID-19 statistics this week. Statewide, cases have seen an increase. Locally, Clinton County’s case counts continue to be low, but Centre and Lycoming counties are seeing an up-tick in new cases. 

Pennsylvania reported 2,924 new cases on Wednesday, up from 1,841 new cases reported the week prior. The count means positive cases of COVID in the state have now exceeded 3 million (3,006,257 as of June 29). Deaths in Pennsylvania attributed to the virus are at 45,766.

Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties all continue to be in the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s “low” community level for COVID along with 48 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania. The other 16 counties are in the CDC’s “moderate” community level, with no counties in the “high” level.

Clinton County reported only four new cases Wednesday, compared to seven new cases a week ago and 47 total new cases in the past week, bringing the countywide case count to 9,611. Deaths attributed to COVID in Clinton County remained at 129, which has been the figure for several weeks now. Centre County reported 27 new cases Wednesday (up from 14 new cases a week ago and up 205 over the past seven days), bringing the countywide total to 37,898. The 361 deaths in Centre attributed to the virus is up one from last week. In Lycoming County, there were 31 new cases reported Wednesday, up from 13 a week ago (and a total of 127 new cases over the past seven days), bringing the county total to 30,219. The 537 deaths in Lycoming County attributed to the virus is up one from a week ago.

- Governor Tom Wolf is urging Congress to take action to preserve Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies to ensure that individuals and families who were eligible for the subsidy may continue to obtain health care. More here: Gov. Wolf Urges Congress to Preserve Affordable Care Act Subsidies to Ensure Health Care Remains Affordable for Tens of Thousands of Pennsylvanians (pa.gov).

- The PPL Foundation today announced a half-million dollar contribution to Operation HELP, a PPL Electric Utilities Corporation program that provides financial assistance to help income-eligible families struggling with their energy bills. Read more: https://pplweb.mediaroom.com/PPL-Foundation-donates-500,000-to-Operation-HELP-to-assist-families-with-energy-bills. 

- From the PA Restaurant & Lodging  Association: USDA takes aim at supply-chain bottlenecks through a financing initiative geared to improving the volume and pricing of food supplies. 

- From the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. This week, the CDC has activated its Emergency Operations Center in response to the monkeypox outbreak. 

- A reminder from PennDOT: All driver license and photo centers will be closed Saturday, July 2, through Monday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.

- The Partnership office will be closed Monday, reopening Tuesday, July 5. We wish you a safe and happy July 4th Holiday Weekend!

6/24/22

- This week’s COVID “Community Level” data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) continues to show an improving trend in Pennsylvania. The latest from the CDC shows no Pennsylvania counties in the “high” community level. Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties continue to be in the low level along with 48 other counties, while 16 of the state’s 67 counties are in the “medium” community level. The only county in the medium level in the immediate area is neighboring Union County. For more information, visit the CDC’s community level tracker website.

According to the PA Department of Health’s COVID 19-Dashboard, statewide, there were 1,841 new cases reported Tuesday of this week (the latest information available), which was down from a week ago when the daily case count was at 2,165. Clinton County reported only seven new cases on June 21, bringing the countywide total to 9,564. Centre County reported 14 new cases, bringing their county total to 37,693, and Lycoming County reported only 13 new cases, bringing their total to 30,092. In the past week, there were no additional deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Clinton (continuing to report 129 deaths) and Centre counties (360 deaths). There were two new deaths attributed to the virus in the past week in Lycoming County, bringing their COVID-related deaths to 536. For more COVID-19 statistics, visit the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration invites businesses and organizations to participate in a survey to assess satisfaction with SBA’s customer service and communication on COVID-19 related grant and loan relief programs. The SBA says results will be used to monitor and improve the effectiveness of future SBA customer service and communications efforts. The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete for each program from which you obtained financial assistance. Launch the survey

- A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, www.covid.gov, offers one-stop online information for COVID prevention and treatment in every county across the country. Visitors to the site can enter their county and map nearby locations for masks, respirators, vaccines, boosters, and all testing and treatment options.

- As a reminder, a state-sponsored COVID-19 walk-in testing clinic continues to be available locally at the ground level of the Parsons Union Building (650 Railroad Street) on the Lock Haven University campus. Testing is available Tuesdays through Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending June 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 229,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation this week made available their 2021 PA Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Safety annual report. View the PA Workers' Compensation and Workplace Safety 2021 Annual Report.

- Following intensive work during the past several months, the Internal Revenue Service says that processing on a key group of individual tax returns filed during 2021 will be completed by the end of this week. Due to issues related to the pandemic and staffing limitations, the IRS began 2022 with a larger than usual inventory of paper tax returns and correspondence filed during 2021. The IRS said it took a number of steps to address this, and is on track this week to complete processing of originally filed Form 1040 (individual tax returns without errors) received in 2021. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-continues-work-on-inventory-of-tax-returns-original-tax-returns-filed-in-2021-to-be-completed-this-week.

6/17/22

- According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Clinton, Centre and Lycoming Counties this week are all in the “low” community level for COVID-19. The CDC is now updating that information every Thursday. In all, 48 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties are in the low level; 15 are in the medium level, and four counties – Mifflin, Montour, Juniata and Huntingdon – are in the high community level. For more information, visit the CDC’s community level tracker website.

Meanwhile, the PA Department of Health, which updates it’s COVID-19 information on Wednesdays, currently reports that Pennsylvania cases now total 2,975,031, with the number of daily cases reported on Wednesday at 2,165, which is also a downward trend. Clinton County reported 17 new cases on Wednesday, with a total of 9,530 to date. Centre County reported 20 new cases Wednesday, with a countywide total of 37,569; and Lycoming County reported 21 new cases Wednesday, with a countywide total of 30,008. Clinton County data shows 129 deaths attributed to the virus, 360 in Centre and 534 in Lycoming County. For more COVID-19 statistics, visit the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

- U.S. Food & Drug Administration advisers this week endorsed the first COVID-19 shots for kids under age five. If all regulatory steps are cleared, the shots could be available as early as next week. More here: COVID shots for youngest Americans: Live updates | AP News

- The U.S. Small Business Administration this week highlighted the impact of the SBA’s COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), saying that through the life of the program, the SBA disbursed an unprecedented level of economic aid – about $390 million – to nearly four million small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the pandemic. Read more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2022/jun/13/four-million-hard-hit-businesses-approved-nearly-390-billion-covid-economic-injury-disaster-loans.

- An employment update from Partnership President Mike Flanagan: For the week ending June 4, the state Department of Labor & Industry says 30 Clinton County residents filed for first time unemployment benefits. For the same seven day period, the continued claim number was 230 in the county, up slightly from a couple of weeks ago. One year ago, the continued claim number was 691. 

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending June 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 229,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf this week announced Pennsylvania was awarded a $3 million federal grant that the PA Department of Labor & Industry will use to confront disparities in access to the state’s Unemployment Compensation (UC) system by partnering with community-based organizations that work with underserved Pennsylvanians. PA is one of seven states to receive the Navigator grant, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. More here: Wolf Administration Receives $3 Million Federal Grant to Eliminate Barriers to Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation System (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf continues to urge the General Assembly to pass legislation that would use American Rescue Plan Act funds to send $2,000 checks to Pennsylvanians. See more: Wolf Administration Continues Push for $2,000 Direct Payments to Pennsylvanians as Prices Soar.

- The Federal Reserve this week escalated its battle against inflation, announcing the largest interest rate hike in 28 years as the central bank struggles to regain control over soaring consumer prices. The Fed raised its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point — the biggest hike since 1994. That follows a quarter-point increase in March and a half-point jump in May.

- The costs of gas, food, and most other goods and services jumped in May, raising inflation to a new four-decade high and giving American households no respite from rising costs. Consumer prices surged 8.6% last month from 12 months earlier, faster than April's year-over-year surge of 8.3%, the Labor Department said last Friday. Meanwhile, restaurant menu prices industry-wide are up 7.4% year-over-year, with limited services prices up 7.3% and full-service prices up 9%. (Source: PA Restaurant & Lodging Association)

- Responding to record-high gas prices, the IRS increases the mileage rate to 62.5 cents per mile for the rest of 2022.

- The number of guest workers and immigrants coming to the United States is slowly climbing again after steep declines during the pandemic. Tens of thousands of international students are back at resort towns and amusement parks. The Biden Administration has released more visas for seasonal guest workers, and it's automatically extending work permits for others. 

- A study conducted by Magnify Money analyzing U.S. Census Bureau data found that older adults are making their return to the workforce. In May 2022, 22% of Americans 65 and older had jobs. Pennsylvania ranks third in the highest jump of older adults coming back to the workforce.

- PA’s PennDOT and Human Services departments are urging Pennsylvanians to use Find My Ride (FMR) to learn about public transit options and apply for transportation assistance programs. More here: Wolf Administration Urges Pennsylvanians to Review Transit Options and Apply for Transportation Assistance Programs, Highlights Importance of Access to Health Care and Jobs (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Census Bureau this week announced the launch of a new experimental survey to measure business conditions on an ongoing basis. The Business Trends and Outlook Survey (BTOS) is the successor to the Small Business Pulse Survey, a high-frequency survey that measured the effect of changing business conditions during the coronavirus pandemic and other major events like hurricanes on our nation’s small businesses. BTOS will increase the scope of the Small Business Pulse Survey to include large single-location employer businesses (those with 500 or more employees). It will provide insight into the state of the economy by providing continuous, timely data for key economic measures every two weeks. Read More

- The PA Departments of Revenue and Aging this week extended to December 31, 2022, the deadline for older and disabled Pennsylvanians to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2021. See more: Application Deadline Extended to Dec. 31, 2022 for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program (pa.gov).

- 12th District Congressman Fred Keller this week offered information about tax-related scams that taxpayers should avoid:

  • Pandemic-related scams. Criminals still use the COVID-19 pandemic to steal people's money and identity with bogus emails, social media posts and unexpected phone calls, among other things. Some of the pandemic-related scams for which people should continue to be on the lookout include:
  • Economic Impact Payment and tax refund scams
  • Unemployment fraud leading to inaccurate taxpayer 1099-Gs
  • Fake employment offers posted on social media
  • Fake charities that steal your money 
  • OIC mills. IRS cautioned taxpayers with pending tax bills to contact the IRS directly instead of going to unscrupulous tax companies that use local advertising and falsely claiming they can resolve unpaid taxes for pennies on the dollar. Offer in Compromise (OIC) "mills" make outlandish claims usually in local advertising regarding how they can settle a person's tax debt. Taxpayers should also be wary of unscrupulous "ghost" preparers and aggressive promises of manufacturing a bigger refund.
  • Ghost preparers: Taxpayers should be wary of preparers who won't sign the tax returns they prepare, often referred to as ghost preparers. By law, anyone who is paid to prepare, or assists in preparing federal tax returns, must have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Paid preparers must sign and include their PTIN on the return.
  • Inflated refunds: Not signing a return is a red flag that the paid preparer may be looking to make a quick profit by promising a big refund or charging fees based on the size of the refund.

- The PA State Police this week highlighted their Community Access to Information Dashboard (CAID), which was launched a year ago with the goal of increasing transparency related to crime, crash and enforcement data. Learn more here: State Police Highlight Community Information Dashboard (pa.gov), or visit the Community Access to Information Dashboard at bit.ly/PSP-CAID.

- Governor Wolf this week signed into law legislation that improves nursing license requirements to support trained individuals who want to enter the nursing profession in Pennsylvania. Learn more: Gov. Wolf Signs Bill to Improve Nursing License Requirements (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of General Services says more than 280 heavy equipment items from PennDOT will be up for public purchase during an online auction this coming Monday, June 20 at noon. Read more: Commonwealth's Online Heavy Equipment Auction to Feature More Than 280 Items for Sale to the Public Starting June 20 (pa.gov).

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission board of commissioners last week gave preliminary approval to a list of proposed fee adjustments for fishing licenses and various other licenses and permits for the 2023 license year. Under the proposal, basic fishing licenses would go up by $2.50, the first increase since 2005. A public hearing on the proposal is to be scheduled. Details here: PFBC BOARD GIVES PRELIMINARY APPROVAL TO PROPOSED FEE ADJUSTMENTS (pa.gov).

6/10/22

- The PA Department of Health this week provided a summary of COVID-19 information for May, noting there were 111,011 new cases of the virus, or an average of 3,581 new cases per day, during the month. Statewide, there were 591 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in May, averaging about 19 deaths per day. The Department said, as of June 1, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 was 1,329, two times as high as it was on May 1 (651 people).

As of June 7, Clinton County had reported a total of 9,465 cases of COVID-19, including 128 deaths attributed to the virus. Centre County had reported 37,355 cases, including 359 deaths; and Lycoming County had reported 29,861 cases, including 530 deaths. Read more here: Department of Health Provides Monthly Update on COVID-19 Trends, and for more COVID-19 statistics, visit the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week placed Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties, along with 37 other PA counties, in the “low” community level for COVID-19. Another 19 counties currently are in the “medium” community level, while only eight PA counties are in the “high” community level. See more information on the CDC’s community level tracker website.

Community Levels are a recent tool established by the CDC to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

  CDC recommendations for low community level are:

   The CDC recommendations for medium community level are:

And, the CDC recommends the following precautions in communities where the Community Level is high:

- News sources today report that the Biden administration is expected to announce that the CDC will lift its requirements for travelers to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the U.S. More here: US will end Covid-19 testing requirement for air travelers entering the country - CNNPolitics. (Source CNN)

- And the CDC, in an update this week, says the Monkeypox virus is a completely different virus than the viruses that cause COVID-19 or measles in that it’s not known to linger in the air and is not transmitted during short periods of shared airspace. Learn more: CDC Monkeypox Response: Transmission | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC.

- A local employment update from Partnership President Mike Flanagan: Clinton County’s unemployment rate for April increased slightly from March, according to information recently released by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The April rate was 5.4%, up from the 5.0% reading from a month earlier. The state attributed  the increase to the fact that there were an estimated 900 county residents who were not employed in April, as opposed to 800 in March. One year ago, Clinton’s unemployment rate was 7.1%. Clinton County’s 5.4% mark in April is 46th  out of the state’s 67 counties. Adams County was no. 1 at 3.2% and Centre was no. 6 at 3.4%.

During the seven day period ending May 28, 20 county residents filed for jobless benefits for the time period. There were 212 continued unemployment claims for the same time frame, with 63% of them male. One year ago, the continued claim count in Clinton County was 526 people. 

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry last week rolled out in-person services for Unemployment Compensation (UC) claimants available by appointment at PA CareerLink locations throughout the state, starting with locations in southeastern and southwestern PA. Over the coming weeks and months, the department plans to make the service available at additional CareerLink centers. See more: Department of Labor & Industry to Offer In-Person Services for Unemployment Compensation Claimants at PA CareerLink® Centers. 

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending June 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 229,000, an increase of 27,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release. 

- In May, the U.S. economy added 390,000 jobs, with a 3-month moving average of 408,000. Chief Economist Joelle Gamble shared insight on this and other data from the latest jobs report.

- According to information gathered by the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association, The number of people quitting their jobs remained near record highs at 4.4 million in April, mostly unchanged from the previous month. Nearly all of those who quit did so to take another job, typically for higher pay.

Teens are in an unusually commanding position - at least those among them who want a job. According to new research by Drexel University, an average of 33% of youths ages 16-19 will be employed each month from June through August, the highest rate since 2007.

Meanwhile, restaurants added another 46,100 jobs last month but remain 700,000 short of pre-pandemic levels.

- In a nod of support as the hospitality industry continues to recover from the pandemic, legislation that would allow for amplified sound during certain hours at restaurants, bars, breweries, clubs, and hotels was unanimously approved by the state Senate this week. The measure would expand on a 2019 law that currently allows only limited wineries to offer amplified sound, like outdoor music, up to 75 decibels at the property line. The bill now heads to the state House, where, if approved and then signed by the Governor, would take effect immediately. (Source: PA Restaurant & Lodging Association).

- Keystone Central School District’s Career & Technology Center recently hosted an end-of-year banquet to recognize students and employers involved in their Work Experience program, which currently has 70 partnerships with employers from Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties. Click Here for file for more information.

- PA CareerLink Clinton County will host another “Mid-Week Meet & Greet,” giving local employers an opportunity to meet in a casual setting with area job seekers. The June 29 session at the local CareerLink office in Lock Haven will involve three employers: SA Piper Logistics, Susque-View Home Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, and Associates for Training & Development. Click Here for PA CareerLink flyer for more information.  

5/20/22

- Cases of COVID-19 continue to trend upward, and this week, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is listing Clinton, as well as Lycoming, Cameron and Potter counties has having a “high” COVID-19 Community Level. Clinton and Lycoming had previously been in the “low” community level. In all, 23 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties currently are listed as having a high community level (only four counties were listed in the high level a week ago). Centre, as well as Clearfield and 25 other counties, continue to have a low community level (56 counties were in the low level a week ago), and Union and 16 other counties currently have a medium community level (compared to seven counties a week ago). Community Levels are a recent tool established by the CDC to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

The CDC recommends the following precautions in communities where the Community Level is high:

More data from the CDC is available here: CDC COVID Data Tracker: County View.

- The latest statistics from the PA Department of Health, reported Wednesday, showed 3,929 new cases across Pennsylvania, bringing the statewide number of cases to 496,135, including 44,898 deaths attributed to the virus. Daily cases a week ago were trending at the 3,000 per day level. Clinton County, as of this week, had a total of 9,254 cases of COVID-19, including 18 new cases reported Wednesday (cases are now being reported weekly instead of daily), for a total of 97 new case reports in the past week, which is down from 61 new case reports the previous week. There have been no new reports of deaths attributed to COVID in Clinton County (127 deaths have been attributed to the virus). Centre County reported 38 new cases this week, bringing the countywide total to 36,326, an increase of 220 cases in the past week. Lycoming County this week reported 36 new cases (an increase of 245 since last week), bringing their countywide total to 29,139. More information is available on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

- A local employment update from Partnership President Mike Flanagan: For the weekly period ending May 14, the state reported that 27 Clinton County residents applied for first time unemployment benefits. Approximately one year ago that number was 47.  For the same time period, there were 227 continued unemployment claims in the county. One year ago, that figure was 556.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending May 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 218,000, an increase of 21,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- From the U.S. Senate….in what’s being termed a “devastating blow to the restaurant industry and small businesses,” the Senate failed to advance the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022, ending the possibility of replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). (Source: PA Restaurant & Lodging Association).

- The Internal Revenue Service today announced that interest rates will increase for the calendar quarter beginning July 1, 2022. See more: IRS interest rates increase for the third quarter of 2022 | Internal Revenue Service. 

- UGI Utilities, Inc. – Gas Division (UGI) this week announced that its purchased gas cost rates will increase on June 1, impacting residential, commercial and industrial customers. An additional increase is projected on December 1, 2022. More here: https://www.ugi.com/press/ugi-utilities-to-increase-natural-gas-rates-on-june-1-2022-projects-additional-increase-in-december/

- Governor Tom Wolf announced Thursday that more than $5.2 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) competitive, set-aside funding was awarded to update existing water and/or sewer systems in four communities, including a project that will positively impact users in Renovo and South Renovo. A total of $1,019,386 was awarded to complete a freshwater infrastructure system between Renovo and South Renovo boroughs, benefitting 302 customers. More here: Gov. Wolf: More Than $5.2 Million in New Funding Awarded to Communities for Water and Sewer Improvements in Four Counties (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf this week announced a $98 million grant opportunity, funded by the American Rescue Plan, for certified child care providers to support workforce recruitment and retention. Details here: Gov. Wolf Announces $98M Grant Opportunity Investing in Child Care Workforce Recruitment and Retention (pa.gov).

- The Governor this week also called upon the PA General Assembly to pass legislation for the American Rescue Plan Act-funded $500 million PA Opportunity Program, which would send checks of up to $2,000 to millions of Pennsylvanians. Read more: Gov. Wolf Calls for $2​,000 Payments, Wage Increase for Pennsylvanians.

- The PA Department of Human Services this week announced that the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) season has again been extended, with the deadline moving from today, May 20, to June 17. The department also urges Pennsylvanians who are behind on or having trouble paying home heating bills to apply for assistance. Learn more: Department of Human Services Extends LIHEAP Season to June 17, Reminds Pennsylvanians Who Need Energy Assistance to Apply for LIHEAP.

- More than half of registered voters say they are more concerned about the economic impact of the coronavirus compared with 41% who say the same for the public health impact. (Source: Morning Consult)

- According to a new Pew Research Center survey, the public views inflation as the top problem facing the United States, with no other concern coming close.

- The U.S. Department of Labor will offer online compliance seminars for contracting agencies, contractors, unions, workers and other stakeholders to provide information on the requirements governing payment of prevailing wages on federally funded construction and service contracts. Details here: US Department of Labor to offer prevailing wage compliance seminars online for federal contractors, contracting agencies, unions, workers | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov). 

- The U.S. Department of Labor offers four mental health resources for employers: The pandemic has underscored the importance of access to mental health benefits and highlighted how important it is for employers and service providers to treat mental health and substance use disorder benefits the same as any other health benefits.

- New Federal Funding to Increase Internet Access.  The U.S. Department of Commerce recently announced Internet for All, a $65 billion investment included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – that passed last November.  The federal National Telecommunications and Information Administration has opened the application window for several programs that will support efforts in states and U.S. territories to close the digital gap in areas with little or no high-speed internet. A separate program, the Affordable Connectivity Program, helps low-income households pay for monthly internet service and provides discounts for laptops, tablets, and desktop computers.

Meanwhile, Governor Wolf visited an elementary school in Centre County this week to highlight the Biden Administration’s Internet for All initiative and Pennsylvania’s readiness to manage more than $100 million in federal funds to deploy affordable, high-speed internet to Pennsylvanians. More here: Governor Wolf: Pennsylvania’s Broadband Authority Ready to Deploy Minimum of $100 Million in Life-Changing Internet for All Funds (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced the opening of two grant programs:

  • The Growing Greener Plus Grants Program funds watershed protection projects such as watershed restoration and protection, surface mining conservation and reclamation, and abandoned mine drainage set-asides.
  • Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Grants fund projects identified in Watershed Implementation Plans. Examples include agricultural best management practices; projects that address storm water runoff, stream channel degradation, and flood plain restoration; and new watershed implementation plan development in Pennsylvania environmental justice areas.

The application deadline for both grants is June 24.

- The PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has announced that the 2021-22 Veterans’ Trust Fund is accepting supplemental grant applications for programs and services benefitting Pennsylvania veterans. The VTF grants are awarded to nonprofits and veteran service organizations. The grant application deadline is June 1, 2022. More information here: DMVA Announces Supplemental Veterans’ Trust Fund Grant Opportunities (pa.gov).

5/12/22

- Nearly 30 employers are slated to participate in the upcoming Spring Career Fair, Wednesday, May 25 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Roxy Theatre in Lock Haven. PA CareerLink Clinton County hosts the event. Click Here for the attached flyer for details, and contact CareerLink’s Dorie Gilmore at 570-893-4022 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

- Governor Wolf recently announced awards totaling more than $11 million for 26 apprenticeship programs that will empower Pennsylvania workers to earn while they learn and support Pennsylvania businesses in building a pipeline of talent for occupations in agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, IT, education, human services, building trades and more. Details here: Gov. Wolf Announces $11 Million in Workforce Development Funding for PAsmart Apprenticeship Programs.

-  The PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) is alerting consumers that most utilities will be adjusting their prices for electric generation on June 1 – cautioning that many non-shopping (default service) customers will see sharp increases in energy costs as summer approaches, ranging between 6% and 45% depending on their electric utility. Both business and residential customers will see price increases. For small business customers, the PUC says that among the state’s major Electric Distribution Companies, default service rates will see an increase ranging from 20.8% in the PPL service territory to a 55.6% increase in West Penn Power’s service territory. Read more: PUC Alerts Consumers of June 1 Price Changes for Electric Generation | PA PUC.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry this week announced that updated Minimum Wage Act regulations for tipped workers will go into effect August 5. Details here: Wolf Administration: Updated Minimum Wage Act Regulations Protecting Tipped Workers Approved (pa.gov).

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending May 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 203,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- Inflation rose again in April, continuing a climb that has pushed consumers to the brink and is threatening the economic expansion, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. The consumer price index (CPI), a broad-based measure of prices for goods and services, increased 8.3% from a year ago. That represented a slight ease from March's peak of 8.5% but was still close to the highest level since the summer of 1982. (Source: PA Restaurant & Lodging Association)

- The latest pandemic information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows COVID-19 community levels in 56 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties – including Clinton, Centre and Lycoming – continue to be in the “low”, as of calculations through May 5. Seven counties – Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Wyoming, Lackawanna and Wayne – are in the “medium” community level, while Montour, Sullivan, Bradford and Susquehanna are listed in the “high” community level.

Meanwhile, the PA Department of Health today reported 3,065 new cases of the virus, bringing the statewide total to 2,359,297, including 44,814 deaths attributed to COVID-19. In the past week (between May 3 to May 10), there were 21,851 new cases reported statewide. Clinton County reported 20 new cases today (61 in the past seven days), bringing the countywide total to 9,157. The number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Clinton County remains at 127. Centre County reported 36 new cases today, bringing the countywide total to 36,016, including two new deaths since last week. Lycoming County today reported 29 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 28,894, and two new deaths since last week. More information is available on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

- In accordance with the recent Presidential order, PA Governor Tom Wolf has ordered all Commonwealth of Pennsylvania flags on all state facilities, public buildings and grounds to fly at half-staff through Monday, May 16, to commemorate the one million American lives lost to COVID-19. Read more: Gov. Wolf Orders Commonwealth Flags to Half-Staff in Honor of Lives Lost to COVID-19, Peace Officers Memorial Day (pa.gov).

- More than 107,000 Americans died of a drug overdose last year, setting another tragic record in the nation's escalating overdose epidemic, according to new CDC estimates. The 2021 total marks a 15% increase from the previous record, set in 2020. 

- PennDOT announced that in 2021, statewide traffic deaths increased to 1,230 from 1,129 in 2020. More here: Article (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Human Services has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services has approved Pennsylvania’s Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) plan for the 2021-22 school year. Eligible families will begin to receive these P-EBT benefits in mid-to-late June. Learn more: Department of Human Services Announces Pandemic-EBT Plan Approval to Cover the 2021-2022 School Year, Outlines Updated Eligibility.

- Applications are now being accepted for Pennsylvania’s Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program, a temporary emergency program to help low-income families pay overdue water bills. LIHWAP is a grant which does not have to be repaid. Read more: LIHWAP (pa.gov).

- From State Representative Stephanie Borowicz:  The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is currently hosting a series of Virtual Veteran Town Hall meetings to provide the Commonwealth’s nearly 800,000 veterans with a convenient platform to learn and ask questions about programs and benefits earned through their military service. Each session runs from 5-6:30 p.m. and features a different topic for discussion. The remaining 2022 schedule is as follows:

 

•  

Wednesday, May 18 – Serving Older Veterans.

 

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Wednesday, July 13 – Resources for Homeless Veterans.

 

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Wednesday, Sept. 14 – Transportation Issues Facing Veterans.

 

•  

Wednesday, Nov. 2 – Honoring Veterans for Their Service and Sacrifice.

Participants have the opportunity to ask questions of the presenters live during the sessions. To join in one of the virtual town halls, veterans should visit DMVA’s websiteTwitter or Facebook pages two weeks prior to each town hall for the WebEx link.

5/6/22

- Partnership President Mike Flanagan offers a local employment update: Clinton County’s jobless market improved slightly in March, according to information released this week by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The March 2022 rate was 5.0%, down from the 5.3% registered in February. The newest unemployment rate is the county’s lowest since the pandemic began in March 2020. The state estimates that 800 county residents were without a job in March, just below the 900 from the previous month. One year ago in March 2021, the unemployment rate was 6.9% with 1,200 people listed as unemployed.

Lycoming County had a 5.1% unemployment rate in March, and Centre County was at 3.5%. Montour County had the state’s lowest figure at 2.9%.

The Department also released unemployment filing numbers for Clinton County for the week ending April 23, 2022.  There were 24 county residents filing an initial claim for the seven-day period ending April 23. That number is down from 47 listed in early April. The continued claim number was 279, compared to 323 in early April. Approximately one year ago, there were 643 county residents on the continued unemployment claim list.   

- PA Governor Tom Wolf says Pennsylvania’s strong fiscal standing continues to improve month after month, paving the way for investments that will lower costs for Pennsylvanians. More here: Gov. Wolf: April 2022 Revenues Highest Ever Collected, Money in Bank will Cover Historic Investments in Pennsylvanians (pa.gov)

- From the U.S. Department of Labor….The economy added 428,000 jobs in April, including notable gains in leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing. The nation’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.6% - just 0.1 percentage point above its pre-pandemic level.

Additionally, the Department says in the week ending April 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 200,000, an increase of 19,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

In recognition of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Department of Labor compiled some helpful resources for ensuring your small business is a great place to work and that it is staying on track with the law. Click here: Own a Small Business? We’re Here to Help | U.S. Department of Labor Blog (dol.gov)

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry has updated its Refusal of Suitable Work form.  The state House passed HB1819 last year to clarify that skipping a job interview or taking other actions to discourage your own hire is a refusal of suitable work and required the Department of Labor & Industry to update the form accordingly. The department recently updated the form for employers to report refusal of work

- From the Internal Revenue Service….

 During National Small Business Week, May 1 to 7, the IRS is highlighting tax benefits and resources tied to the Small Business Administration theme for this year’s celebration, “Building a Better America through Entrepreneurship. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-recognizes-small-business-week-information-and-free-resources-for-starting-a-business.

- The PA Department of Health today provided a summary of COVID-19 information for April, noting that a total of 39,981 new COVID-19 cases were reported averaging 1,333 per day in April; the number of people currently hospitalized with the virus on May 1 totalled 651 patients, 193 patients higher than reported on April 1; there were 403 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in PA averaging about 14 deaths per day in April; and 521,066 COVID-19 vaccinations were administered during the month. Read more: Department of Health Provides Monthly Update on COVID-19 Trends.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health on Wednesday began providing COVID-19 updates on a weekly basis rather than daily. Numbers of new covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths still are being provided on the department’s online dashboard, but it now will update once a week. On Wednesday, May 4, the state was reporting a total of 2,827,812 cases of COVID-18, with 44,733 deaths attributed to the virus. Clinton County reported six new cases, bringing the countywide total to 9,096, including 127 deaths. Centre County reported 24 new cases, for a to-date total of 31,664 (349 deaths); and Lycoming County reported 19 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 28,695, including 520 deaths attributed to the virus.

Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties are among 53 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties that continue to be in the “low” community level for COVID-19. Seven PA counties – Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Wyoming, Lackawanna and Wayne – are listed as being in the medium level, and four counties – Montour, Sullivan, Bradford and Susquehanna – are now rated in the high community level. More information is available on the CDC’s community level tracker website.

- The PA Department of State announced that its professional licensing waivers issued under the COVID-19 disaster declaration will begin expiring in phases starting May 23. ALL waivers will expire by June 30. Details here: Department of State to Roll Back Remaining Professional Licensing Waivers.

- The PA Department of Human Services reminds Pennsylvanians that support from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) has been extended by two weeks, through May 20, allowing additional households the opportunity to apply for those crisis benefits. See more: Department of Human Services Extends LIHEAP Season, Encourages Pennsylvanians that Need Home Energy and Water Assistance Programs to Apply.

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration: 

  • Important EIDL Deadlines:As of January 1, 2022, the SBA is not able to accept applications for new COVID EIDL loans or advances. The deadline to request a loan increase or reconsideration is May 6, 2022. The COVID-19 EIDL portal (covid19relief1.sba.gov, also known as the "RAPID portal") will close on May 16, 2022. Borrowers should download their loan documents from the portal prior to this date. Learn more 
  • Small business owners who are creditworthy but do not qualify for conventional financing can access capital and get funding to grow their business through SBA-backed lo ans. Connect with a lender near you using SBA's Lender Match. Learn more
  • The application period is now open for T.H.R.I.V.E.Emerging Leaders Reimagineda free executive-level training series intended to give ambitious small business leaders a challenging opportunity to accelerate their growth through targeted training led by motivating leaders in small business development. The program allows participants to work with a network of experienced subject matter experts in core business topics. The new format also promotes an eco-system of business connections among business peers, government leaders, and the financial community. Learn more
  • The SBA is seeking public comments on a proposed rule that would revise the employee-based small business size standards for businesses in nine North American Industrial Classification System sectors. The proposed changes in sectors including manufacturing and transportation, will enable more mid-sized businesses to regain small business status and allow current small businesses to retain small business status for a longer period, thereby allowing them to benefit from SBA’s procurement and loan programs. Learn more

- To assist workers in obtaining new opportunities in rural communities where residents once relied on energy industry jobs, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of $34.2 million in funding in Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Initiative demonstration grants. Learn more: US Department of Labor announces $34.2M in funding available to support career training, services in Appalachian Region, Lower Mississippi Delta | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- Morning Consult's monthly U.S. Consumer Spending Report provides a detailed assessment of purchasing patterns reported by consumers across a variety of categories of goods and services. Housing, groceries, and gas accounted for 52% of total spending in March as consumers cut down on nonessential purchases due to soaring prices.

- The U.S. economy shrank last quarter for the first time since the pandemic recession struck two years ago, contracting at a 1.4% annual rate, but consumers and businesses kept spending in a sign of underlying resilience.

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

  • 32.6% of U.S. small businesses think more than 6 months will pass before their business returns to normal level of operations. For responses collected 4/4-4/10, it was 30.6%
  • 64.0% of U.S. construction small businesses experienced a large increase in prices they pay for goods and services compared to 6 months ago. For responses collected 4/4-4/10, it was 65.9%
  • 39.5% of U.S. manufacturing small businesses experienced a moderate increase in demand for their goods or services compared to 6 months ago. For responses collected 4/4-4/10, it was 37.6%
  • 45.8% of U.S. wholesale trade small businesses experienced foreign supplier delays in the last week. For responses collected 4/4-4/10, it was 44.5%
  • 41.6% of U.S. accommodation and food services small businesses were affected by availability of current employees to work in the last week. For responses collected 4/4-4/10, it was 37.9%
  • 43.9% of U.S. small businesses report a moderate negative effect by the Coronavirus pandemic. For responses collected 4/4-4/10, it was 42.8%
  • 20.1% of U.S. small businesses reported a decrease in revenues in the last week. For responses collected 4/4-4/10, it was 18.9%
  • 13.9% of U.S. small businesses think they will need to obtain financial assistance or additional capital in the next 6 months. For responses collected 4/4-4/10, it was 12.4%

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau says consumer behaviors have changed in many ways since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. More people began working from home and avoiding indoor venues, including shopping malls and restaurants. According to Census data, people have changed the way they shop and many now routinely have groceries delivered or opt for curbside pickup. Because of these consumer behavior changes, e-commerce has continued to grow and many brands have been pivoting their business strategies to remain competitive. While retail e-commerce grew, sales in some industries declined from 2019 to 2020 as pandemic-related lockdowns kept people at home, working, shopping and even studying online. Continue reading to learn more about:  E-commerce boom; How some industries fared; and Retail evolution.

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

  • The First Steps to Small Business Success - May 10 at 1:30pm - A monthly webinar designed for those who are thinking about starting a business or are in the early stages of starting up. SBDC small business experts share the key aspects of starting a business and help you determine if launching a new endeavor is right for you. Register Here
  • Introductory QuickBooks Online - May 17 at 10am - A breakdown of the benefits of QuickBooks Online, how to choose the right subscription, and how to move from desktop to online. The SBDC shares tips for setting up your company, best practices, and navigating the QuickBooks Online application. Register Here
  • Agriculture Marketing - Three-Part Series - On Demand. Register by May 31. This on-demand, 3-part marketing series breaks down social media, storytelling, and a holistic approach to marketing your ag businesses. Attend one or all sessions. Register in advance to receive recordings to watch on demand. Register Here
  • USDA SBIR Grant Opportunities - June 27 at Noon - Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Innovation Partnership lead this one-hour webinar and share how to research USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant opportunities and additional tips for submitting a successful application. Register Here

For additional SBDC events, information, and resources, visit https://sbdc.psu.edu/.

- The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) will host the second in a five-part series of virtual Veteran Town Halls on May 18, 2022, from 5-6:30 p.m. The town hall will focus on serving older veterans.

Learn more: DMVA to Host Virtual Town Hall on Serving Older Veterans (pa.gov).

4/14/22

- We are passing along several upcoming opportunities for businesses looking for additional employees:

  • Schlesinger Communications is partnering with the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science & Technology (CPI) and the PA CareerLink in Centre County to host a Career Fair next month. The May 10, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Fair will be held at CPI in Bellefonte and in addition to CPI students, the event is open to job seekers from the general public. Click Here for the CPI file for details.
  • PA CareerLink Clinton County will host a career fair for job seekers on Wednesday, May 25, from 1:00-4:00 p.m., at the Roxy Theatre on Main Street, Lock Haven. Businesses/organizations interested in participating can contact Dorie Gilmore at CareerLink at 570-893-4022, ext. 112 or  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Click Here for the CareerLink flyer for additional information.
  • The Ben Franklin Learning Center hosts a Making Connections to Recruit Talent series over the next several weeks, during which employers can participate in interactive, real-time Zoom meetings with representatives from four higher education schools in the region as a way to find qualified candidates for full-time positions, internships, co-ops or research.
  • Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology: April 19 - Todd Taylor, Vice President, Post-Secondary Education
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology: April 26 - Shelley Moore, Senior Director of the Center for Career Design
  • South Hills School of Business and Technology: May 3 - Denny Ligenfelter, Director of Career Services and Recruitment & Jeff Stachowski, Outreach Director

Reserve Your Spot

- SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) is asking businesses in Clinton, Centre, Lycoming and surrounding counties to complete a COVID-19 impact survey. The brief survey is aimed at determining the needs of the business community. Click here to take the survey: https://seda-cog.org/covid-19-business-impact-survey/ by May 7. Click Here for the SEDA-COG news release for more details.

- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today reported 1,344 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 2,783,891. Thursday’s case count is a change from the recent downward trend (April 5, for example, the state reported 797 new cases statewide). The Health Department’s March COVID statistics showed that cases were averaging 767 per day during March (compared to an average of 3,199 cases per day in February). The state also said the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped 67.3 percent from March 1 to March 31, and that deaths attributed to the virus averaged less than 32 per day last month. See more: Department of Health Provides Monthly Update on COVID-19 Trends.

In today’s report, Clinton County saw one new case, bringing the countywide total to 9,040. Centre County saw 21 news cases reported today, bringing their total to 35,295, and Lycoming County reported eight new cases, bringing their countywide total to 28,460. Of the 44,464 deaths attributed to the virus statewide, 124 deaths have been from Clinton County; 348 in Centre, and 512 in Lycoming County. Get more information on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard and the vaccine dashboard.

- The state continues to offer free COVID-19 walk-in testing clinics in several locations across the state, including one in both Clinton and Centre counties. The Clinton testing site is in the Parsons Union Building at Lock Haven University and is open Tuesdays through Fridays 10am-6pm and Saturdays 8am-2pm, through September 9. The Centre testing site is located at the County Recycling and Refuse Authority in Bellefonte and is open Tuesday through Saturday 10am-7pm, through next Saturday, April 23. More here: Department of Health Continues to Offer Free COVID-19 Testing, New Sites Available.

- With the decrease in COVID case counts, Geisinger has removed the limit on the number of total visitors a hospitalized adult patient can have. However, only two may visit at a time. Details here: https://www.geisinger.org/about-geisinger/news-and-media/news-releases/2022/04/07/15/14/geisinger-loosens-visitation-policy-for-hospitalized-adult-patients.

- An employment picture update from Partnership President Mike Flanagan: The state recently released its February 2022 unemployment numbers for the 67 counties, and Clinton County checked in at 5.3%, just below the 5.4% registered in January. One year ago, the rate was 7.5% and an estimated 1,300 county residents were out of work. This February, 900 people were estimated to be jobless.

Meanwhile, for the week ending April 2, the state reports that 26 Clinton County residents filed for initial unemployment benefits, which is lower than the 44 listed two weeks ago. The continued claim number was 323, down about 100 from two weeks ago, and down considerably from the 736 registered approximately one year ago.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending April 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 185,000, an increase of 18,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education, including Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield Universities, voted today to freeze tuition for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year. Click Here for the State System file for more information.

- Several updates from the Internal Revenue Service:

- The U.S. Small Business Administration announced the launch of America’s Seed Fund Startup Expo 2022, a new initiative aimed at identifying innovative startups and supporting them with resources to help them scale, grow, and thrive. SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman said the competition comes in the midst of a historic economic recovery and record growth in new business applications as American entrepreneurs continue to start and grow their businesses and startups. Read more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2022/apr/07/sba-administrator-guzman-announces-launch-inaugural-americas-seed-fund-expo-competition-small.

- SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman last week announced a multi-faceted expansion of efforts to identify and support the SBA Inspector General’s recovery of fraudulently obtained COVID economic relief funds and to prevent potential future theft of taxpayer dollars. Learn more

- From Congressman Fred Keller: Local Social Security offices have restored in-person services, including for people without an appointment. To avoid waiting in line, people are encouraged to use SSA’s online services at www.socialsecurity.gov and schedule appointments in advance rather than walking in without an appointment.

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected March 28 - April 3, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 8.4% of U.S. small businesses report having an increase in the total number of hours worked by paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 3/21-3/27, this statistic was 9.2%
  • 32.1% of U.S. wholesale trade small businesses report the need to identify new supply chain options in the next six months. For responses collected 3/21-3/27, this statistic was 37.0%
  • 35.7% of U.S. retail trade small businesses experienced difficulties hiring paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 3/21-3/27, this statistic was 32.2%
  • 11.9% of U.S. construction small businesses indicated a need to improve methods of producing goods or services in the next six months. For responses collected 3/21-3/27, this statistic was 8.9%
  • 13.9% of U.S. small businesses report having 3-4 weeks of cash on hand for business operations. For responses collected 3/21-3/27, this statistic was 15.1%

- Findings from a new survey revealed that 84% of business travelers expect to take at least one trip to attend conferences, conventions, or trade shows in the next 6 months.  

- The PA State Police today announced that troopers confiscated $23,160,277 worth of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamines, and other illicit drugs during the first quarter of 2022. Read more: State Police Seizes More Than $23.1 Million In Illegal Drugs During The First Quarter of 2022 (pa.gov).

- PSP also announced the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) conducted 321,666 background checks during the first quarter, a 25% decrease compared to the first quarter of 2021. See more: State Police Announce First Quarter Firearms Purchase Denial Investigations (pa.gov).

4/5/22

- The PA Department of Health today reported 797 new cases of COVID-19 across the state, bringing total cases to date to 2,784,487, with 44,348 deaths attributed to the virus, including 32 new deaths reported today. According to the state, Clinton County registered one new case, bringing the countywide total to 9,030; Centre County saw 16 new cases, bringing their total to 35,121; and Lycoming County reported four new cases, bringing their total to 28,384. The state has attributed 124 deaths in Clinton County to COVID-19, 347 deaths in Centre, and 511 deaths in Lycoming County.

Meanwhile the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention continue to rate Clinton, Centre and Lycoming counties in the “low” community level for COVID. In all, 64 of the state’s 67 counties currently are in the low community level, while Bradford, Sullivan and Wayne counties are in the “medium” level.

- The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have authorized and are recommending a second booster shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for those over age 50, as well as younger people who are immunocompromised. The latest booster recommendations can be found on the CDC’s website.

- Attention Small Business Owners: If you’re interested in expanding your markets and growing your sales, consider listing your business on CommonGoods, a new online e-commerce directory established by the state to connect PA small businesses with consumers, especially those who want to shop local. Currently, there currently are no small businesses in Clinton County listed on CommonGoods, so you could be among the first (there are a couple of businesses that have signed on from Centre and Lycoming counties). The new directory was created by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development to help businesses rebound from the pandemic and expand their e-commerce opportunities.

- Governor Tom Wolf last week signed into law a measure that temporarily extends certain suspensions of regulations and statutes that were issued by agencies under the COVID-19 disaster declaration through June 30. The current waivers were set to expire at the end of March. More here: Gov. Wolf Extends Waivers to Assist Continued Recovery from Pandemic.

- The PA Insurance Commission has announced approval of a loss-cost filing, including a 6.25 percent reduction in loss costs. Loss-costs are a component in determining workers’ comp insurance rates paid by businesses, and this reduction should lead to lower premiums for many Pennsylvania businesses. See more: Insurance Commissioner Approves Filing for Workers’ Comp Insurance, Lowering Premiums for Pennsylvania Businesses (pa.gov).

- From the PA Department of Labor & Industry via Partnership President Mike Flanagan: The initial unemployment claims totaled 44 Clinton County residents for the weekly period ending March 19. That is up from 31. The continued claims were virtually the same with 437 the week ending March 19, according to the state. Unemployment numbers for all 67 counties for February 2022 should be released soon.

- At the national level, the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the American economy added 431,000 jobs in the month of March, and the unemployment rate was 3.6 percent, down from 3.8 percent in February. More here: March 2022 Jobs Report: America is Back to Work | U.S. Department of Labor Blog (dol.gov).

- Pennsylvania collected $5.6 billion in General Fund revenue in March, or 13.5 percent more than anticipated, according to the PA Department of Revenue. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $34.1 billion, or 8.5 percent above estimate. Read more: Revenue Department Releases March 2022 Collections.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration Monday issued four final rules to modify revenues-based small business size standards in 16 North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) sectors that will increase small business eligibility for SBA’s federal contracting and loan programs for about 59,000 additional firms. For more information about SBA’s revisions to its small business size standards, visit “announcements about updating size standards” at http://www.sba.gov/size.

- The Small Business Digital Alliance (SBDA), a new public-private co-sponsorship between the SBA and Business Forward, Inc., published a comprehensive suite of free resources to help small businesses expand their customer base, manage their growth, find and retain talent, and enter new markets. Learn more.

- The Ben Franklin Learning Center is hosting an interactive, real-time zoom series, Making Connections to Recruit Talent. Employers who want to find qualified candidates for internships, co-ops, research, or full-time positions; learn about some different schools to find talent through demos of the school’s services; investigate training and other resources for your business that may be covered through WEDnet or other funds; and create some lasting professional relationships with talent/career services as well as instructors to find new pools of talent, are encouraged to sign up for the following Zoom meetings with Career Services professionals from the following institutes of higher education:

  • Susquehanna University: April 14 - Allie Grill-Director, Career Development Center & Tess Marsh-Employer Relations Coordinator, Career Development Center
  • Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology: April 19- Todd Taylor, Vice President, Post-Secondary Education
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology: April 26- Shelley Moore, Senior Director of the Center for Career Design
  • South Hills School of Business and Technology: May 3- Denny Ligenfelter, Director of Career Services and Recruitment & Jeff Stachowski, Outreach Director

Reserve Your Spot

- PA CareerLink Clinton County hosts a Mid-Week Meet & Greet on April 20, from 10:00 a.m. to noon, featuring representatives from Croda, Inc., First Quality, and the Pennsylvania State Police. The informal event gives job seekers a chance to learn more about these companies and their current employment opportunities. Click Here for the PA CareerLink flyer for details. 

- According to a recent article from North Penn Legal Services, starting July 1, 2022, many U.S. consumers may see an improvement in their credit scores, as the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, remove nearly 70% of medical collection debt from consumer credit reports. This applies to medical debt that was sent to debt collectors and eventually paid off. Learn more: North Penn Legal Services : News & Events : News & Updates : Many Will Soon Have Medical Debt Removed From Credit Score (nplspa.org).

- As PA prepares for the eventual end of the federal public health emergency, the PA Department of Human Services is encouraging those enrolled in Medical Assistance to make sure their contact information is correct and sign up for alerts through the myCOMPASS PA mobile app and by text to ensure they are getting updates about their cases quickly. More here: Department of Human Services Encourages Pennsylvanians Receiving Benefits to Update Contact Information, Enroll in Text Alerts to Receive Timely Updates on Benefits.

- The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects commodity costs to continue increasing this year, which will send menu prices skyward. The USDA projects restaurant menu prices to rise 5.5 to 6.5 percent this year, while grocery prices are expected to rise 3 to 4 percent.

3/30/22

- Following are two upcoming opportunities for businesses seeking qualified full-time employees, interns, or co-op students:

   ▶ If your small business is looking for full-time employees, or possibly interns, co-op students or researchers, consider participating in the Small Business & Start-Up Fair on Tuesday, April 5, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Penn State Innovation Hub in State College. This is a university-wide recruitment event for students seeking professional opportunities within the small business or start-up environment. For more information and to register, click here: Small Business & Start-Up Fair | Penn State Student Affairs (psu.edu). The event is being hosted by the Small Business Development Center at Penn State, which supports small businesses in the region.

   ▶ The Ben Franklin Learning Center hosts a webinar series: Making Connections to Recruit Talent: Employers, do you want to…

  • Find qualified candidates for internships, co-ops, research, or full-time positions?
  • Learn about out some different schools to find talent through these demos of the school’s services.
  • Investigate training and other resources for your business that may be covered through WEDnet or other funds?
  • Create some lasting professional relationships with talent/career services as well as instructors to find new pools of talent?

If so, consider signing up for the following interactive real-time Zoom meetings with Career Services professionals from the following Institutes of Higher Education:

  • Susquehanna University: April 14 - Allie Grill-Director, Career Development Center & Tess Marsh-Employer Relations Coordinator, Career Development Center
  • Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology: April 19- Todd Taylor, Vice President, Post-Secondary Education
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology: April 26- Shelley Moore, Senior Director of the Center for Career Design
  • South Hills School of Business and Technology: May 3- Denny Ligenfelter, Director of Career Services and Recruitment & Jeff Stachowski, Outreach Director

Reserve Your Spot

- Following is the link to the Centers for Disease Control’s latest COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review, which provides new information on COVID-19, as well as timely information on reported cases, vaccination data, hospitalizations, deaths, and testing data: //m.emailupdates.cdc.gov/rest/head/mirrorPage/@8M1oqyC96_MWy8RIWFJktgFDCLYi5GAjYTkKvQypwsmbA6pXLXv5_UGcJJ95U4AtCskUieKV0kIriOMKi9qSHmqhUvJeNiqDzCfKA-8ukzbrU7FV.html">https://m.emailupdates.cdc.gov/rest/head/mirrorPage/@8M1oqyC96_MWy8RIWFJktgFDCLYi5GAjYTkKvQypwsmbA6pXLXv5_UGcJJ95U4AtCskUieKV0kIriOMKi9qSHmqhUvJeNiqDzCfKA-8ukzbrU7FV.html

Clinton County, as well as Centre and Lycoming counties, this week continues to be classified in the “low” community level for COVID-19, according to the CDC. As of March 28, all but eight Pennsylvania counties are in the low community level. The other eight (including nearby Union County) are in the “medium” community level. Click here for the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels, which determine the disease’s impact on counties and recommend prevention measures. Click here for the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, which tracks cases, laboratory tests, vaccinations, deaths, and other pandemic data.

- The CDC has developed a new COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation calculator the organization says takes the stress out of deciding when, and for how long, people with COVID-19 and close contacts need to stay home, get tested, and wear a well-fitting mask. For this and other CDC updates, click here: //m.emailupdates.cdc.gov/rest/head/mirrorPage/@LEzFS0eotDWFmjOSnCM_ZhLANt99D4mHIx0nbH3DtGzI0Hi9tW2ksBOZ7kXx9RwOdE_mnHJ1wG2gP-82exAYlNwMSW7Ly3OIwiX3T4L0yklqw8oS.html">https://m.emailupdates.cdc.gov/rest/head/mirrorPage/@LEzFS0eotDWFmjOSnCM_ZhLANt99D4mHIx0nbH3DtGzI0Hi9tW2ksBOZ7kXx9RwOdE_mnHJ1wG2gP-82exAYlNwMSW7Ly3OIwiX3T4L0yklqw8oS.html.

- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized a second booster dose of either the Pfizer or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for older people and certain immunocompromised individuals. See more: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Second Booster Dose of Two COVID-19 Vaccines for Older and Immunocompromised Individuals | FDA.

- The Clinton County Department of Emergency Services says the free, walk-in COVID-19 testing clinic that has been available in Clinton County for the past several months, is being extended through the end of September. The clinic is available at Lock Haven University’s Parsons Union Building Tuesdays through Saturdays. Click Here for the Clinton COVID Testing Clinic file for more information.

- The PA Insurance Commission and PA Emergency Management Agency are encouraging Pennsylvanians who incurred funeral expenses for a COVID-19-related death to apply for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s COVID-19 funeral assistance program. Details here: Wolf Administration Encourages Individuals to Apply for FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance (pa.gov). 

- The PA Department of Revenue last week announced that the state’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in February, the lowest since February 2020’s pre-pandemic level. More here: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Falls To 5.1 Percent in February, Lowest Since February 2020 Pre-Pandemic Level.

- The U.S. Department of Labor this week unveiled a public education campaign on the importance of mental health-friendly workplaces. Learn more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/odep/odep20220329-0.

- The Internal Revenue Service this week revised its frequently asked questions (FAQs) on 2020 unemployment compensation exclusion. Open this Fact Sheet (FS-2022-21) for details.

- The Biden Administration Tuesday announced reforms to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Community Advantage (CA) loan program, a key SBA tool for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Community Development Companies (CDCs), microlenders and other critical mission-based lending partners, that prioritizes equitable access to capital for low-income borrowers and those from underserved communities. Read more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2022/mar/30/biden-harris-administration-expands-sba-pilot-program-targeting-access-capital-underserved.

- According to new population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Clinton County showed a slight gain in population from 2020 to 2021, higher than any surrounding counties. Click here to view the graphic: Where Counties are Growing (census.gov).

Meanwhile, the latest estimates show the impact of COVID-19 on fertility and mortality across the nation, as half of all states and nearly three quarters of all counties experienced more deaths than births in their populations between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. More here: Deaths Outnumbered Births in Half of All States Between 2020 and 2021 (census.gov).

The Census Bureau says deaths in the United States increased by 19% between 2019 and 2020 following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 — the largest spike in mortality in 100 years. Read more: U.S. Deaths Spiked as COVID-19 Continued (census.gov).

- After two years and hundreds of missions across the state, the Pa. National Guard response mission in the wake of COVID-19 has ended. Guard members were first activated on March 17, 2020, and its response included providing support staff to long-term care facilities, assisting at testing sites, training nursing home workers, and more. Throughout the two-year mission, there were about 1,400 guard members who were activated with some being activated multiple times.  

- According to the Wall Street Journal, corporate travel transactions are up significantly over the past nine weeks, with small and medium-sized companies driving the acceleration. The increase is driven by a host of factors. Workers are returning to offices, restrictions are dropping domestically and internationally, and clients are once again comfortable with face-to-face get-togethers.

- A recent Datassential survey suggests that U.S. consumers are ready to move out of crisis mode and get back to business, with more than 70% of Americans believing the worst of the pandemic is behind us. 

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected March 14 - 20, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 21.5% of U.S. small businesses experienced a large negative effect from the Coronavirus pandemic. For responses collected 3/7-3/13, this statistic was 22.5%
  • 31.0% of U.S. wholesale trade small businesses experienced a moderate increase in demand compared to six months ago. For responses collected 3/7-3/13, this statistic was 28.4%
  • 65.7% of U.S. retail trade small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays last week. For responses collected 3/7-3/13, this statistic was 63.9%
  • 57.8% of U.S. accommodation and food services small businesses experienced a large increase in prices they pay for goods and services compared to six months ago. For responses collected 3/7-3/13, this statistic was 54.8%
  • 9.7% of U.S. small businesses required employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination before physically coming to work last week. For responses collected 3/7-3/13, this statistic was 10.6%

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

  • Banking Services -  Thursday, March 31  The Banking Services Available for a Small Business module provides an overview of business banking services. Register Here
  • Time Management - Thursday, April 7  The Time Management for a Small Business module provides an overview of time management and is designed to help participants to understand how time management can benefit their business. Register Here
  • Financial Management  - Thursday, April 14  The Financial Management for a Small Business module provides an overview of business financial management and is designed to help participants to understand how financial management can benefit their business. Register Here
  • Risk Management  - Thursday, April 21  The Risk Management for a Small Business module provides an overview of risk management and is designed to help participants to understand how risk management can benefit their business. Register Here
  • Managing Cash Flow - Thursday, April 28  The Managing Cash Flow module encourages the participants to focus on cash flow management as an essential competency of business ownership. Register Here

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

3/22/22

- From the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all continue to decrease in the United States. According to CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, as of the latest weekly update (March 16), 76.7% of the total U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 65.3% has completed their primary series. However, the CDC notes that only about half of the booster-eligible population has received a booster dose and is considered up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines.

The current 7-day moving average of daily new cases (30,040) decreased 16.6% compared with the previous 7-day moving average (36,010). A total of 79,486,762 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States as of March 16, 2022. Currently two variants, Omicron and Delta, are classified as Variants of Concern in the United States. Click here for more from the March 18 COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review: //m.emailupdates.cdc.gov/rest/head/mirrorPage/@BTNivcvy8SjPoM79AdjzC00A_YfHOZ9TDyAUDTvqzQEE_bv7uDebDri-pPmLsEyR4UN87CzaIJPMlyhOevgv0aq_5JFUR--ihJn2qU1RFj0DlqFk.html">https://m.emailupdates.cdc.gov/rest/head/mirrorPage/@BTNivcvy8SjPoM79AdjzC00A_YfHOZ9TDyAUDTvqzQEE_bv7uDebDri-pPmLsEyR4UN87CzaIJPMlyhOevgv0aq_5JFUR--ihJn2qU1RFj0DlqFk.html.

Meanwhile, the PA Department of Health today reported 545 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 2,775,728 positive cases reported since the start of the pandemic. Hospitalizations and intensive care unit patients with COVID, are also low. The state today reported one new case in Clinton County, bringing the countywide total to 9,017. Centre County reported four new cases, bringing their county total to 34,996, and Lycoming County reported just two new cases, bringing the countywide total to 28,360. Of the 44,091 deaths statewide attributed to the virus, 124 of them are in Clinton County, 346 in Centre, and 508 in Lycoming County.

- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has reopened the rulemaking record partially and scheduled an informal public hearing to seek comments on specific topics that relate to the development of a final standard to protect healthcare and healthcare support service workers from workplace exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Read more: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOL/bulletins/30ff2e6. 

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today announced a new round of grant funding available to PA apprenticeship programs to develop diverse talent pipelines and reach underrepresented populations within the building and construction trades. A total of $1.5 million is available with applications due by April 21. Learn more: Wolf Administration Announces Apprenticeship Grant Opportunity to Develop Workforce Diversity Within Building and Construction Trades (pa.gov). 

- PA Governor Tom Wolf today announced the approval of $10 million for 19 projects to deploy high-speed broadband infrastructure to unserved areas in Pennsylvania, including three projects in Centre County and one in Lycoming County. See more: Gov. Wolf: $10 Million in New Funding Approved to Support High-Speed Broadband Infrastructure in Unserved Areas of Pennsylvania (pa.gov).

- As a tool for helping small businesses reach more customers, the PA Department of Community & Economic Development recently created CommonGoods, an online e-commerce directory that connects PA small businesses with consumers. You can learn more about CommonGoods here: Home - CommonGoods (pa.gov), and register your business on the new directory here: https://commongoods.pa.gov/for-businesses/.

- In the latest Morning Consult Tracking the Return to Normal survey, 73% of American adults said they feel comfortable going out to eat at a restaurant. Comfort with indoor dining now sits at 70%, while comfort with outdoor dining increased 1 point to 79%. The same survey also found that 68% of Americans said they are comfortable going on vacation with 64% saying they are comfortable staying at a major hotel chain. 

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected March 7-13, 2022, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 39.2% of U.S. small businesses experienced a large increase in prices they pay for goods & services compared to 6 months ago. For responses collected 2/28-3/6, this statistic was 36.0%
  • 63.9% of U.S. retail trade small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays in the last week. For responses collected 2/28-3/6, this statistic was 62.5%
  • 56.9% of U.S. manufacturing small businesses were affected by the availability of supplies or inputs used to provide goods or services in the last week. For responses collected 2/28-3/6, this statistic was 54.9%
  • 37.2% of U.S. accommodation and food services small businesses expect to identify new supply chain options in the next 6 months. For responses collected 2/28-3/6, this statistic was 33.5%
  • 13.7% of U.S. small businesses experienced production delays in the last week. For responses collected 2/28-3/6, this statistic was 12.7%
  • 22.7% of U.S. small businesses experienced difficulty locating alternate domestic suppliers in the last week. For responses collected 2/28-3/6, this statistic was 21.6%

- From the U.S. Chamber: Quality, pricing and convenience are important factors in your brand’s “stickiness,” or tendency to gain repeat business. Learn more about your “stickiness” factor to gain vital insight on what keeps your customers coming back for more.

- With less than a month left until tax day, the PA Department of Revenue is extending its customer service hours for taxpayers to get help by phone. Read more: Revenue Department Extends Call Center Hours to Assist Late-Season Tax Filers. 

- PennDOT officials today highlighted the 98 projects anticipated to start or continue this year in the nine-county District 2 region that includes Clinton County, and discussed the benefits coming to regional roads and bridges due to the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Click Here for the PennDOT file for more (we’ve highlighted the two Clinton County projects noted in the release).

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission is seeking applicants for grants to support education programs that promote new interest in fishing and boating in the state. More here: PFBC OFFERS GRANTS UP TO 25K TO INSPIRE INTEREST IN FISHING AND BOATING (pa.gov).

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity today announced that the next auction of unclaimed property items from Treasury’s vault, including an 1882 $50 gold certificate, will take place online over two days: Wednesday, March 23 and Thursday, March 24. Details here: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- UPMC is encouraging people to resume routine health care visits. The health care provider says after two years of facing pandemic woes, it is time to make your individual health a top priority again. Click here for the UPMC article for more.  

Upcoming Webinars:

  • Preparing Your City for Federal Funding, a webinar designed for local governments, will be held Wednesday, March 23, at 12:30 p.m. It is being hosted by the Electrification Coalition to help local government and municipal officials prepare for new federal funding for electric vehicle (EV) and charging infrastructure., highlight opportunities for municipalities, and discuss how these funds will be distributed. The webinar will also include guidance for cities to prepare to take advantage of the new funding, including resources available now and the latest on timing for funding availability. REGISTER:  https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Ututx1xLRSWRenzOO9bsDA

3/16/22

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration: On Tuesday, the SBA announced a deferment extension for future payments on COVID-related Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). This deferment extension of up to 30 months is effective for all EIDLs approved in 2020, 2021, and 2022. The SBA says the extended deferment period will “provide additional flexibility to small business owners impacted by the pandemic, especially those in hard-hit sectors managing disruption with recent variants, as well as recent supply chain and inflation challenges amid a growing economic recovery.”

EIDL borrowers should be aware of the following (source: PA Restaurant & Lodging Association):

  • EIDLs now have a total deferment of 30 months from the date of the loan issuances but interest continues to accrue during deferment.
  • SBA warns that deferments could result in "balloon" payments.
  • Borrowers may make partial or full payments during the deferment period but are not required to.
  • After deferment ends, borrowers will be required to make regular principal and interest payments beginning 30 months from the date of the loan issuance.

- SBA Administrator Isabelle Casillas Guzman issued a statement Friday on the first anniversary of the American Rescue Plan. Read more: Statement by SBA Administrator Guzman on the First Anniversary of the American Rescue Plan.

- The federal government has provided more than $2 billion to help cover funeral costs for more than 300,000 families of people who died from COVID-19, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Tuesday as it launched a new campaign to raise awareness about the aid to eligible families. More than 965,000 people have died in the U.S. from the virus. More here: https://www.fema.gov/press-release/20220315/fema-tops-2-billion-covid-19-funeral-assistance-announces-new-campaign.

 - Emphasizing that “testing remains a critical tool as we transition to this new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the PA Health Department says free COVID-19 testing sites are open to the public in several locations across the state, including a site in Clinton County and a site in Centre County. The Clinton County COVID-19 testing clinic is located at the Parsons Union Building on the campus of Lock Haven University and is available Tuesdays through Fridays from 10am to 6pm and Saturdays 10am to 7pm, through April 2. The Centre County site is located at the County Recycling and Refuse Authority in Bellefonte. Although the site is closed today and tomorrow (March 16 & 17), testing is offered there Tuesdays through Saturdays 10am to 7pm through April 2. See more: Department of Health Continues to Offer Free COVID-19 Testing Sites, New Sites Available.

- The PA Health Department released its February 2022 nursing home inspection report, noting that nursing home surveyors conducted 376 inspections of 276 separate nursing homes last month. Of those inspections, there were 223 complaint investigations. Learn more: Department of Health Highlights February 2022 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information.

- The PA Liquor Control Board Monday celebrated the grand opening of the New Fine Wine & Good Spirits store in Lock Haven. The new store is located in the Clinton Plaza on Walnut Street in Lock Haven. As part of the opening, the store is offering 10 percent off all in-store wines, spirits and accessories through today (March 16). Read more: Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Celebrates Grand Opening of New Fine Wine & Good Spirits in Lock Haven, Clinton County (pa.gov).

3/11/22

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday updated their COVID-19 Community Level information, which shows that much of Pennsylvania is now in the “low” level, the level at which the CDC recommends people stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if they have symptoms. Clinton and all surrounding counties are currently in the low level, except for Union County, which remains in the medium level (at the medium level, the CDC recommends people at high risk for severe illness talk with their healthcare provider about masking and other precautions, as well as staying up to date with vaccines and getting tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms). Overall, 16 Pennsylvania counties currently are in the medium category, with the remaining 51 counties in the low category.

According to the latest update, the CDC says more than 98 percent of the U.S. population is in a location with low or medium COVID-19 Community Level. The CDC says the Community Level data will be updated on Thursdays and can help counties make informed decisions and take appropriate public health actions. Click here for more: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html

Note: COVID-19 Community Levels do not apply in healthcare settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes. Instead, the CDC says healthcare settings should continue to use community transmission rates and follow CDC’s infection prevention and control recommendations for healthcare workers.

- The latest statistics from the CDC continue to show the pandemic’s decline:

  • As of March 9, the current 7-day moving average of daily new cases (37,147) decreased 28.8% compared with the previous 7-day moving average (52,156). A total of 79,248,406 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States as of March 9. Currently two variants, Omicron and Delta, are classified as Variants of Concern in the United States. More Case Data
  • The U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Program began December 14, 2020. As of March 9, 2022, 555.9 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States. Overall, about 254.3 million people, or 76.6% of the total U.S. population, have received at least one dose of vaccine. About 216.4 million people, or 65.2% of the total U.S. population, have been fully vaccinated. More Vaccination Data
  • The current 7-day daily average of new hospital admissions for March 2–8, was 3,113, a 27.5% decrease from the prior 7-day average (4,293) from February 23–March 1. More Hospital Data
  • The current 7-day moving average of new deaths (1,180) has decreased 25.0% compared with the previous 7-day moving average (1,572). As of March 9, a total of 961,620 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the United States. More Death Data
  • The percentage of COVID-19 nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) that are positive (percent positivity) is decreasing in comparison to the previous week. The 7-day average of percent positivity from NAATs is now 2.8%. The 7-day average number of tests reported for February 25–March 3, was 948,207 down 7.0 % from 1,019,890 for the prior 7 days. More Testing Data
  • The CDC’s COVID Data Tracker’s homepage has been updated, making it easier to navigate and quickly locate COVID-19 data.

- The CDC is also developing guidance that will ease the nationwide mask mandate on airplanes, buses and other mass transit next month, according to a U.S. official, but the existing face covering requirement to slow the spread of COVID-19 will be extended through April 18. The requirement, which is enforced by the Transportation Security Administration, had been set to expire on March 18, but was extended by a month to allow the public health agency time to develop new, more targeted policies. The requirement extends to planes, buses, trains and transit hubs.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today reported the state’s unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent in January, the lowest since March of 2020. January’s report marks the 21st consecutive month without an unemployment rate increase. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate rose a tenth of a percentage point to 4.0 percent in January. Read more: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Falls To 5.4 Percent in January, Lowest Since March 2020 (pa.gov).

- Labor & Industry also announced that the state’s unemployment compensation (UC) claimants will soon receive correspondence with guidance to register for free credit-monitoring to ensure the safety of their personal data. L&I announced in January it would offer these services amid an ongoing investigation into unusual account changes within PA’s UC system. UC systems nationwide have been targeted by fraudsters since unemployment spiked to historic levels at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and caused unprecedented demand for UC benefits.

More here: Department of Labor & Industry Invites Unemployment Compensation Claimants to Register for Free Credit-Monitoring Services.

- The PA Insurance Department announced it reclaimed $15,289,806 in 2021 for more than 41,000 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. See more: Insurance Department Reclaims Over $15 Million in 2021 Restitution Payments for Pennsylvania Consumers.

- As they develop the habits, skills and other traits needed for future success, young people from age 14 to 21 have a limited window of opportunity. That’s why, when school is not in session, out-of-school time organizations provide supervised programs for young people and expose them to career options that prepare them better to enter and succeed in the workforce. To support these organizations, the U.S. Department of Labor has announced $10 million in available grant funding intended to expand local work readiness programs and support workforce development activities. The funds will support efforts to connect out-of-school time organizations with state and local workforce partners to develop and implement career-focused programming. The department will award approximately five grants of up to $2.5 million each to support the following activities:

  • Career exploration services.
  • Work readiness.
  • Career counseling.
  • Work experience (including internships, summer and year-round employment, pre-apprenticeships and Registered Apprenticeships).
  • Youth placement services for employment, education or training.

Learn more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20220309.

- PA Auditor General Timothy DeFoor was on campus Wednesday at Lock Haven University. He highlighted career opportunities in the AG’s office, and urged students to be smart with money. Read more: Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General -Auditor General DeFoor Visits Lock Haven University to Highlight Career Opportunities, Urge Students to Be Smart with Money (paauditor.gov).

- The PA Department of Education today announced that nearly $5.3 million in funding has been awarded to 21 libraries in 17 counties for the construction and rehabilitation of public library facilities. The Annie Halenbake Ross Library in Lock Haven is among the grant recipients and is slated to receive $23,950. More here: Pennsylvania Department of Education Announces Nearly $5.3 Million in Keystone Grant Awards for Public Library Facilities.

- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is releasing a draft Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy (EJ Policy) which strengthens language on how DEP oversees and participates in environmental justice priorities and reform with community partners. The public comment period on the policy is open through May 11, 2022. See more: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of General Services recently issued an Invitation to Qualify, seeking small businesses interested in conducting Commercial Building Energy Audits and evaluating facilities for ENERGY STAR Building Certifications for commonwealth and COSTARS member facilities. Details here: Small Business Sought to Conduct Energy Audits, Energy Star Certifications for State and COSTARS Members Facilities (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Chamber’s “CO” resource highlights Grant opportunities for women: There are many grants available for women-owned businesses if you know where to look. Check out our grant page to peruse funding and mentorship opportunities for your woman-led company. You can also check out a guide on getting certified as a woman-owned business. Getting certified can expand your business’s access to federal contracts and other funding opportunities.

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected February 28 - March 6, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 20.5% of U.S. small businesses report that their business has returned to its normal level of operations
  • 46.1% of U.S. construction small businesses were affected by availability of supplies or inputs used to provide goods or services in the last week. For responses collected 2/21-2/27, this statistic was 48.9%
  • 15.6% of U.S. accommodation and food services small businesses experienced a decrease in the total number of hours worked by paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 2/21-2/27, this statistic was 16.6%
  • 17.8% of U.S. small businesses report being affected by availability of current employees to work in the last week. For responses collected 2/21-2/27, this statistic was 19.9%
  • 20.7% of U.S. small businesses report a decrease in revenues in the last week. For responses collected 2/21-2/27, this statistic was 22.5%
  • U.S. small businesses experienced decreases in foreign supplier and production delays. 18.0% reported foreign supplier delays and 12.7% production delays in the last week. For 2/21-2/27, these were 19.1% and 13.9%, respectively

3/8/22

- Clinton County, as of Friday, March 3, is now listed in the “low” category, the lowest of the three “levels” recently created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a new tool for helping people and communities decide on COVID-19 prevention steps based on the latest data. The three levels (low, medium and high) are determined by looking at hospital beds being used by patients with the virus, new hospital admissions among people with COVID-19, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in the county. For areas in the low level, the CDC recommends people stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, and get tested if they have COVID symptoms.

In addition to Clinton, Lycoming County, as well as Cameron, Potter and Tioga counties all are in the low level. Elsewhere in our immediate region, Centre and Clearfield counties are in the “medium” level. At that level, the CDC recommends people at high risk for severe illness talk with their healthcare provider about whether they need to wear a mask and take other precautions, stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, and get tested if they have symptoms. Union County is the only county locally that currently is in the high level. At that level, the CDC recommends people wear a mask indoors in public, stay up to date with vaccines, get tested if they have symptoms, and note that additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness. No matter what the level, the CDC says people may choose to mask at any time. Additionally, people with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19, should wear a mask. Read more: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html.

- In its latest COVID-19 update, the PA Department of Health said COVID-19 case counts are at their lowest level since last August, hospital admissions due to COVID-19 are falling, and mortality rates are declining. As of March 2, the daily average number of cases in the state was 1,565. The number of people hospitalized as of the end of February was 27 percent lower than the prior week. In addition, 72,750 vaccine doses were administered in the week ending February 27. More data is available on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard and vaccine dashboard.

- Following suit with recently updated CDC and PA Department of Health guidelines, the Clinton County Commissioners this week announced the relaxing of the masking requirement for county employees and members of the public visiting county buildings. Commissioner Angela Harding said county employees who are vaccinated and who have their COVID-19 booster shots are no longer required to mask at work. Masking is still recommended for employees who are not vaccinated.

- Also following state and federal COVID-19 updates, Keystone Central School District has dropped the requirement for wearing masks on school busses. In her monthly newsletter, Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin noted COVID-19 cases within the district are low. Click Here for the KCSD file for additional information.

- The PA Department of Education recently released results from 2020-21 school year federal and state-mandated testing. PDE said they recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic brought “tremendous challenges to the school year, impacting students, teachers and staff alike.” They further urged caution in interpreting the test results given the unique learning conditions over the past few years. Learn more: Pennsylvania Releases Assessment Results from Pandemic Year.

- The Health Department continues to offer free walk-in COVID-19 testing in Clinton County. The testing site is at Lock Haven University and is available Tuesdays through Saturdays. Click Here for the COVID Testing Clinic flyer for details.

Meanwhile, CovidTest.org is now accepting online orders for an additional set of four free COVID-19 tests. 

 - The U.S. Department of Labor this week announced it will conduct focused inspections in hospitals and nursing care facilities treating COVID-19 patients. Read more: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOL/bulletins/30ddd2d

- From Partnership President Mike Flanagan: There were 33 initial filings by Clinton County residents for unemployment compensation for the week ending February 26, according to the PA Department of Labor & Industry. One year ago, it was 75.  The continued claim number for the same one-week period ending February 26 listed by the state was 453 county residents. The week prior, it was 482. One year ago, the continued claim number was 966.

- At the national level, February’s jobs report exceeded expectations: A total of 678,000 jobs were added to the economy, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.8%. Job growth was widespread, with notable gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, health care, and construction. The economy has averaged a monthly gain of 582,000 jobs added over the past three months. Read the BLS report and Read a statement from Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.

- Governor Tom Wolf today announced that Pennsylvania was awarded $6.8 million in federal grant funding to help promote equitable access to the state Unemployment Compensation system. More here: Gov. Wolf Announces $6.8 Million in Federal Grants to Promote Equitable Access to Unemployment Compensation Claims (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced the availability of $3.2 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, including COVID-19 grants. The grants will fund training and education to help workers and employers identify and prevent work-related infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Training topics must focus either on COVID-19 specifically or infectious diseases broadly. The maximum awarded for each grant is $160,000 for a 12-month performance period. Applications are due by May 6. Learn more about the funding opportunity and applying for grants.

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected February 21 - 27, 2022, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 32.3% of U.S small businesses report a large or moderate increase in demand for their business’s goods or services compared to six months ago
  • 21.9% of U.S. wholesale small businesses expect to improve methods of logistics, delivery, or distribution in the next six months. The national average is 10.7%
  • 55.4% of U.S. manufacturing & 48.9% of construction small businesses were affected by availability of supplies or inputs used to provide goods or services in the last week. The national average was 32.4%
  • 22.4% of U.S. small businesses report a large negative effect by the Coronavirus pandemic. For responses collected this time last year (2/22/21-2/28/21), this statistic was 29.4%
  • 11.0% of U.S. small businesses required employee COVID19 vaccination & 8.6% a negative COVID19 test before physically coming to work in the last week. For responses collected 2/14-2/20, these were 12.2% & 10.6%, respectively

3/1/22

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined the new set of measures for communities where COVID-19 is easing its grip, with less of a focus on positive test results and more on what's happening at hospitals. COVID-19 Community Levels are a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. The new system puts more than 70% of the U.S. population in counties where the virus is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals. 

According to the new measures (as of Friday, February 25):


   In both Clinton and Lycoming counties, community level is Medium, which means people should take the following precautions:

  In Centre County, community level is High, with the CDC recommending:

 See more here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html

 Meanwhile, as of Monday, the CDC says there has been 78,759,083 cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States.

 - The PA Department of Health Friday provided an update on the commonwealth’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, and highlighted preparations being made to continue protecting public health, as the state transitions toward the endemic stage of COVID-19. Read more: Department of Health Provides COVID-19 Update, Highlights PA’s Transition Toward Endemic.

The Department today announced that free COVID-19 testing sites will continue to operate and be open to the public at eight locations across the state, including clinics in Clinton and Centre counties. The State-sponsored COVID-19 walk-in clinic at Lock Haven University’s Parsons Union Building (PUB) will continue to operate Tuesdays through Saturdays through April 2. Hours are 10am-6pm Tuesdays through Fridays and 8am-2pm on Saturdays. The site in Centre County at the County Recycling and Refuse Authority in Bellefonte will also continue through April 2. According to the Health Department, the state still receives an average of over 50,000 COVID-19 tests results every day, with over 24-million test results since the start of the pandemic. See more: Department of Health Continues to Operate Free COVID-19 Testing Sites, New Sites Added for March.

- Lock Haven University is following suit with the CDC and PA Department of Health, announcing that effective today, March 1, while still highly recommend, masks are no longer required in classrooms and most other indoor university spaces (there are some exceptions) as long as Clinton County remains in the medium (or low) risk category. Masking will still be required at LHU’s Clearfield campus as Clearfield County is among those areas still in the high community risk category. Click Here for the LHU Update for more information.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today announced that the Joint Task Force on Misclassification of Employees, a bipartisan-nominated group of volunteers representing business, labor, and government perspectives, has submitted its annual report to the General Assembly with 15 unanimous recommendations. Details here: Worker Misclassification Task Force Releases Annual Report with 15 Unanimous Recommendations for General Assembly (pa.gov).

- Pennsylvania collected $2.4 billion in General Fund revenue in February, about 6.8 percent more than anticipated, according to information released today by the PA Department of Revenue. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections are running 7.5 percent above estimate. See more: Revenue Department Releases February 2022 Collections.

- The Federal Reserve Board this month will begin a statistical study of household finances, the Survey of Consumer Finances, that will provide policymakers with important insight into the economic condition of a broad cross section of American families. Read more: https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/pressreleases/other20220225a.htm

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected February 14-20, the Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 17.7% of U.S small businesses reported postponing planned capital expenditures for 2021. 22.0% reported the same for 2020, based on 2/15/21-2/21/21 responses.
  • 11.7% of U.S small businesses reported decreased planned capital expenditures for 2021. 15.6% reported the same for 2020, based on 2/15/21-2/21/21 responses.
  • 58.2% of U.S construction small businesses reported a large increase in prices paid for goods and services compared to six months ago. The national average for this statistic was 36.5%.
  • 76.1% of U.S small businesses reported a large or moderate increase in prices paid for goods and services compared to six months ago.
  • 30.3% of U.S small businesses reported having 3 or more months of cash on hand for business operations. For 1/10/22-1/16/22, this statistic was 28.4%.
  • 12.2% of U.S. small businesses required employee COVID-19 vaccination & 10.6% a negative COVID-19 test before physically coming to work in the last week.

- PA CareerLink Clinton County will host a Meet & Greet event on Wednesday, March 16, from 10:00am-noon featuring representatives from three local employers. The session will be held at the CareerLink 8 North Grove Street, Lock Haven office and is designed to provide job seekers with the opportunity to learn about the companies and the positions that are available. The three March Meet & Greet participants are Croda, Inc., Keystone Central School District, and the Wayne Township Landfill. Click Here for the PA CareerLink file or contact Dorie Gilmore at 570-893-4022 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. 

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission is seeking project applications for the State Wildlife Grants Program. Applications are due by April 22. Learn more here: ​PFBC SEEKS APPLICATIONS FOR STATE WILDLIFE GRANT FUNDING (pa.gov).

- The PA Liquor Control Board Sunday announced it will remove all Russian-made products from state Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores and service centers as a show of support for the people of Ukraine. The PLCB says it will not restrict sales of Russian-branded products that are not sourced from Russia, as doing so could adversely impact those brands. See more: Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Removes Russian-Made Products from Fine Wine & Good Spirits Shelves, FWGS.com (pa.gov).

2/25/22

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this afternoon is expected to announce a loosening of the federal mask-wearing guidelines to protect against COVID-19 transmission during a 3:00 p.m. COVID update with the media. Reports indicate this means most Americans will no longer be advised to wear masks in indoor public settings. The CDC is expected to announce a change to the metrics it uses to determine whether to recommend face coverings, shifting from looking at COVID-19 case counts to a more holistic view of risk from the coronavirus to a community. Under current guidelines, masks are recommended for people residing in communities of substantial or high transmission — roughly 95% of U.S. counties, according to the latest data.

According to the CDC Covid Data Tracker site, most of Pennsylvania remains in the “high” level of community transmission (with “high” being the highest, followed by “substantial”, “moderate” and “low” levels). That includes Clinton, which the CDC currently lists as having a community transmission rate of 8.22 percent; Centre, at 7.87 percent; and Lycoming County, currently at 6.28 percent (it should be noted that these transmission levels are trending much lower than what they had been during the past several months). Six counties are listed as being in the “moderate” level, including Snyder, Dauphin, Carbon, Monroe, Lehigh and Delaware, and one county – Sullivan – is listed in the moderate level, with a current transmission rate of 1.16 percent. You can access the CDC site here: CDC COVID Data Tracker. 

- Governor Tom Wolf this week announced that Pennsylvania reached a new COVID-19 vaccine milestone with 95 percent of Pennsylvanians ages 18 and older receiving at least one vaccination. More here: Governor Wolf: Pennsylvania Reaches New COVID-19 Vaccine Milestone (pa.gov).

- As the state continues to encourage people to get vaccinated against the virus, the PA Department of Health reports a continued decline in COVID-19 cases. In the weekly statewide summary of COVID-19 trends over the past seven days (February 14-20), the daily average number of cases was 2,608, compared to a daily average of 3,695 reported last week and down substantially from the 11,405 daily case average just three weeks ago. The number of people currently hospitalized with the virus also continues to decline and, as of this past Monday, February 21, was 27% lower than on February 14. About 9.9 percent of all staffed adult intensive care unit beds are COVID-19 patients, and 25.8 percent of all ventilators statewide are in use.  

According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, Clinton County’s current COVID-19 case count stands at 8,948 positive cases, only 49 cases higher than what was reported a week ago. The 123 deaths attributed to the virus remains the same as a week ago. In Centre County, cases increased by 201 over the past week, now totaling 34,638. Two additional deaths have been attributed to the virus in the past week, bringing the number of related deaths to 335. And in Lycoming County, the number of positive COVID cases increased by 127 in the past week, to 28,157, and the number of deaths attributed to the virus now stands at 500, up three from a week ago.

The Health Department also noted that 85,760 vaccine doses were administered in the past week, including 33,853 booster doses and 9,635 pediatric doses. Read more: Department of Health Provides Weekly Update on COVID-19 Trends in Vaccinations, Cases and Hospitalizations

- The Clinton County Department of Emergency Services says more than a hundred people took advantage free vaccine clinics held in Clinton County last week. A total of 136 shots were administered, 95 of them at the Renovo clinic, with the remaining shots given at clinics in Loganton and Beech Creek. In all, 76 of the 136 shots were a combination of first and second round shots and COVID-19 boosters, while another 60 people took advantage of shingles vaccine shots which also were available.

Meanwhile, the Department of Emergency Services has announced the state-sponsored walk-in COVID-19 testing clinic at Lock Haven University will be extended through April 2. The clinic is located in the Parsons Union Building (PUB) on campus and is available Tuesdays through Saturdays for people age three and older. Click Here for the COVID Testing Clinic file for additional details.

- From Partnership President Mike Flanagan: The state reported that 40 Clinton County residents filed for first time unemployment benefits during the seven-day period ending February 19. Approximately one year ago, that number was 79. The continued benefits claim number for the week ending February 19 was 482, down from 1,010 one year ago.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending February 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 232,000, a decrease of 17,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- The U.S. Commerce Department and Homeland Security this week announced the completion of a one-year assessment on the critical supply chains supporting the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, saying the COVID-19 pandemic and related disruptions exposed existing vulnerabilities in both domestic and global ICT supply chains. Click here to read the assessment.

- While unprecedented levels of quitting have grabbed headlines as the pandemic wears on, federal data shows that layoffs have dropped to a record low as employers scramble to preserve their workforce. In December, Pennsylvania employees ranked as the least likely to lose their jobs, according to new estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The agency reported Thursday that only 0.2% of Pennsylvania-based employees were laid-off or terminated in December — the lowest rate of any state.

- PA Labor & Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier Friday announced the department’s submission of final-form regulations to update the state's Minimum Wage Act to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission. If IRRC approves these final-form regulations, the regulations would be given a final review and approval by the Attorney General's office prior to being published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. IRRC's next meeting is March 21. Read more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Labor-and-Industry-Details.aspx?newsid=659.

- The PA Department of Revenue is urging Pennsylvanians to file their tax returns as soon as possible as one way to avoid falling victim to tax-related fraud. See more: Pennsylvanians Encouraged to File Tax Returns Early to Avoid Falling Victim to Tax Related Fraud (pa.gov).

- The Internal Revenue Service has launched a new resource page to help taxpayers and tax professionals during the 2022 filing season. Taxpayers face several issues due to critical law changes that took place in 2021 and ongoing challenges related to the pandemic.

- You can join the IRS for a series of online meetings in February and March (divided by location/states) for small business organizations and owners. The meetings will include:

  • Presentations from IRS leadership covering the top tax issues affecting small business owners regarding income, deductions, employment taxes and recordkeeping
  • How to get ready for the 2022 filing season
  • Tax scams targeting small businesses 
  • How the IRS is reorganizing to better serve small business taxpayers
  • Listening session to hear concerns, feedback and suggestions from participants

Learn more

2/18/22

- The PA Department of Health says the number of COVID-19 cases across the state continues to trend downward. For the period February 7-14, the daily average number of cases was 3,695 (compared to a daily average of 5,487 cases the previous week, and a daily average of 11,405 cases a week before that). The number of people currently hospitalized with the virus as of February 14 was 25.6 percent lower than on February 7. The current case count for Clinton County stands at 8,899, with 123 deaths attributed to the virus. Centre County has a total of 34,437 COVID-19 cases, with 333 deaths; and Lycoming County’s case count currently stands at 28,030, with 497 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Acting Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter says the latest post-vaccination data continues to prove that vaccinations are effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death. From January through February 11, 71 percent of the reported COVID-19 cases, 83 percent of the reported COVID hospitalizations, and 80 percent of the reported COVID deaths were in unvaccinated, or not fully vaccinated, individuals. In the past week, 109,327 vaccine doses were administered across the state, a drop of 10.9 percent from the previous week. Click here for more: Department of Health Provides Weekly Update on COVID-19 Trends in Vaccinations, Cases and Hospitalizations.

- The Department of Health is offering free, no appointment needed, walk-in COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics at three different locations in Clinton County today and tomorrow. A clinic is being held today, February 18, until 7:00 p.m. at the Renovo Fire Department in Renovo; and two clinics are taking place tomorrow, Saturday, February 19, one from 7:00-11:00 a.m. at the Sugar Valley Fire Hall in Loganton, and another from 1:00-5:00 p.m. at the Beech Creek-Blanchard Fire Hall in Beech Creek. In addition to COVID-19 vaccines for adults and children, the clinics are offering flu shots and the Shingles vaccine. The clinics are supported by the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services.

- The state continues to offer free COVID-19 testing in Clinton County. The walk-in testing clinic on the Lock Haven University campus will continue through February 26. The clinic is located in the Parsons Union Building (PUB) on campus and is available Tuesdays through Saturdays for people age three and older. Click Here for the Clinton COVID Testing Site file for additional details.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry is advising users of its systems, including Unemployment Compensation claimants, to expect intermittent outages throughout the Presidents Day holiday weekend due to routine system maintenance. More here: Weekend System Maintenance to Temporarily Limit Public Access to L&I Systems Including Unemployment Compensation (pa.gov).

- The PA Attorney General’s office this week charged five out-of-state residents for defrauding Pennsylvania’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. The five are alleged to have submitted more than $925,000 in false PUA claims. Read more: AG Shapiro Charges Five Out-of-State Residents for Defrauding PA’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program – PA Office of Attorney General.

- From Partnership President Mike Flanagan: For the week ending February 12, there were 61 Clinton County residents filing for initial unemployment benefits, according to the PA Department of Labor & Industry. For the same timeframe, there were 544 continued claims, almost the same as two weeks ago. About three quarters of the initial claims and continued claims were filed by males. Approximately one year ago, the continued claims were listed at 1,010. 

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending February 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 248,000, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- The U.S. Department of Labor is urging health care facilities and providers to implement more effective safety and health programs amid soaring injury rates during the pandemic, saying healthcare workers experienced a staggering 249 percent increase in injury and illness rates in 2020. More here: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/osha/osha20220217.

- Amid the worker shortage, Governor Tom Wolf has renewed his push to start a major new scholarship program for college students in Pennsylvania. The Governor says the Nellie Bly Scholarship Program would help students pursuing in-demand careers pay to attend community college and state system schools.

- In its January 2022 report, the PA Department of Health noted that nursing home surveyors conducted 497 inspections of 340 separate nursing homes, including 390 complaint investigations and 43 COVID-19 specific investigations. See more: Department of Health Highlights January 2022 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- The PA Department of Health today said two additional state-directed healthcare strike teams and another long-term care regional support team are providing requested assistance for hospitals and skilled nursing facilities caring for patients with COVID-19. The two health care strike teams have been deployed to Geisinger Wyoming Valley and Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, while the Pleasant Valley Manor Nursing Home in Monroe County is also receiving support. See more: Wolf Administration Continues COVID-19 Support for Healthcare Workers, Hospitals and Patients

- Top U.S. political website The Hill takes a look at when a pandemic becomes endemic 

- From the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association….

  • Americans are preparing to spend big — again — as omicron cases subside and states across the country loosen covid restrictions. As omicron wanes, Americans are eagerly booking "revenge" travel trips. Travel agents, hotel operators and restaurateurs say they’ve seen dramatic spikes in demand in the past week.

- From the U.S. Census Bureau….

  • The Census Bureau this week launched Phase 8 of the Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS), which includes new questions designed to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s small businesses. Initial results of the latest phase of the experimental survey are set to be released next week on February 24. The SBPS was launched in April 2020 to measure the effect of changing business conditions on the nation’s small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Read More
  • The evolution of job growth and employment in the U.S. economy over the past four decades has been characterized by two important but seemingly contradictory facts: Young start-up businesses have been a key driver of economic growth, yet more and more of the American workforce has become concentrated at older, more mature firms. Read More

- From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Keeping up with constant changes in the business landscape can be tough. Luckily, futurists are able to make predictions on everything from consumer behavior to new digital spaces. Check out the top key business trends for 2022.

- The PA Department of  Drug & Alcohol Programs today announced more than $15 million in grants funding for stabilization payments to substance use disorder treatment providers to assist with pandemic-related expenses. Learn more: Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Announces $15 Million in Grant Funding for Substance Use Disorder Treatment Providers in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic.

- The state this week announced that the application window is now open for grants to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities increase protection from wildfires. Grant applications must be submitted online through the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website by May 12. See more: Wolf Administration Accepting Grant Applications for Volunteer Fire Companies Increase Protection from Wildfires in Rural Areas.

- A reminder that all PennDOT driver license and photo centers will be closed this Saturday, February 19, through Monday, February 21, in observance of Presidents Day. Customers can still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.

2/15/22

- Governor Tom Wolf this week announced nearly $14.2 million in Community Development Block Grant-CARES Act funding to support communities and their residents. A total of $1,040,000 will go to the Covation Center Inc. (a Williamsport-based nonprofit that provides coworking space, business coaching, referral assistance and training for small businesses and start-ups) to provide grants of up to $85,000 to small businesses in Clinton, Lycoming, Centre and seven other central PA counties), with a focus on supporting businesses located in low/moderate income areas. Another $510,962 grant will come to Clinton County to improve emergency services radio communication between the 9-1-1 Center in Flemington and the western part of the county. Read more: Gov. Wolf Announces Nearly $14.2 Million to Support Community Success (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today announced the availability of $2.5 million in Schools-to-Work program grant funding to continue fostering partnerships between schools, employers, organizations, and associations that lead to career pathways for students. Learn more: L&I Announces $2.5 Million in ‘Schools-to-Work’ Grant Funding Available to Create Student Pathways to Employment.

- In an effort to increase Pennsylvanians’ access to COVID-19 testing, the PA Department of Health is also distributing rapid over-the-counter COVID-19 test kits to vulnerable communities, including Clinton, Lycoming and Clearfield counties locally. Community Health Nurse Karen Baldys of the Department’s Clinton County office on Church Street in Lock Haven conducted test distributions Monday and today and says COVID-19 test kits will again be available for pick-up there Wednesday, February 16 from 8:30a.m. – 1:45p.m. and Thursday, February 17 between 8:30 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. The test kits are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, with no appointment necessary. People are limited to picking up a maximum of four tests. The tests have received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, are approved for at-home use and do not require oversight from a medical provider. The tests are approved for individuals age two and older, and provide results in about 15 minutes. For more information, contact the DOH local office at 570-893-2437.

- The state also continues to offer free COVID-19 testing in Clinton County. The walk-in testing clinic on the Lock Haven University campus is slated to be available through February 26. The clinic is located in the Parsons Union Building (PUB) on campus and is available Tuesdays through Saturdays for people age three and older. Click Here for the Clinton COVID Testing Site file for additional details. The Centre County testing site will also continue to operate through February 26 at the County Recycling and Refuse Authority in Bellefonte. The state this week opened four new testing sites in McKean, Susquehanna, Washington and York counties. Like Clinton and Centre, testing sites continue to operate in Berks, Blair and Somerset counties. 

- The Department of Health this week is offering free, walk-in COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics at three different Clinton County locations. A clinic is scheduled for Friday, February 18, from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Renovo Fire Department in Renovo; Saturday, February 19, from 7:00 – 11:00 a.m. at the Sugar Valley Fire Hall in Loganton; and Saturday, February 19 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Beech Creek-Blanchard Fire Hall in Beech Creek. In addition to COVID-19 vaccines for adults and children, the clinics will also offer flu shots and the Shingles vaccine. The clinics are being supported by the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services. 

- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a new resource guide available to help people in rural America start and grow businesses, create good-paying jobs in their communities and strengthen America’s economy. The guide features information on how rural entrepreneurs can use USDA and other federal programs to access financing and other assistance to help start and expand their businesses. 

- The Center for Rural Pennsylvania invites people to participate in a public hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, February 16, to learn more about the strategies being used to combat the opioid addiction and overdose crisis in rural Pennsylvania during the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. and is being held at the State Capitol Building, Room 8E-B East Wing, and also via Zoom. Click here for More information.

- From the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association….

  • Restaurant menu prices increased at their highest rate in 40 years in January, according to new federal data released last week, as operators work to make up for their own higher costs. Overall, consumers' food costs are up 7% over the past year. Grocery prices are rising at a similar rate to restaurants (up 7.4%). Generally, when restaurant and grocery prices increase at similar rates, consumers shift some spending to restaurants.

- PennDOT this week noted that all driver license and photo centers will be closed this Saturday, February 19, through Monday, February 21, in observance of Presidents Day. Customers can still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.

2/11/22

- The PA Department of Health will offer free, no appointment needed, walk-in COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics at three different locations in Clinton County next week. A clinic is scheduled for Friday, February 18, from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Renovo Fire Department in Renovo; Saturday, February 19, from 7:00 – 11:00 a.m. at the Sugar Valley Fire Hall in Loganton; and Saturday, February 19 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Beech Creek-Blanchard Fire Hall in Beech Creek. In addition to COVID-19 vaccines for adults and children, the clinics will also offer flu shots and the Shingles vaccine. The clinics are being supported by the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services.

- The state continues to offer free COVID-19 testing in Clinton County. The Clinton County Department of Emergency Services Thursday announced that the walk-in testing clinic on the Lock Haven University campus will continue to be available through the end of February. The clinic is located in the Parsons Union Building (PUB) on campus and is available Tuesdays through Saturdays for people age three and older. Click Here for the Clinton COVID Testing Site file for additional details.

- Cases of the COVID-19 virus in Pennsylvania continue to decline, according to the PA Department of Health. In the weekly COVID-19 update, the state said the daily average number of cases for the period January 31-February 6 was 5,487 (that compares to a daily average of 11,405 the week prior). As of Monday, February 7, the number of people hospitalized with the virus was 25.8 percent lower than on January 31.

Pennsylvania’s current COVID-19 case count totals 2,254,735, with 42,035 deaths attributed to the virus. According to the state, Clinton County reported 18 new cases, bringing the countywide total to 8,784, with 120 total deaths attributed to the virus. Centre County reported 49 new cases, bringing their total to 34,117 cases, with 331 deaths. Lycoming County reported 67 new cases, bringing their countywide total to 27,803, including 492 deaths attributed to COVID-19. More information is available on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard and the vaccine dashboard.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that, as of Monday, February 7, there were 76,415,622 reported cases of COVID-19 across the United States. More here: U.S. Cases.

- Partnership President Mike Flanagan reports the following from PA Department of Labor & Industry data: For the week ending January 29, 67 Clinton County residents filed for initial unemployment benefits, down slightly from 78 a week earlier. The continued unemployment numbers increased about 100 to 553 for the same time period. One year ago in late January, the continued unemployment claims count was 1,045.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending February 5, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 223,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- PA Labor & Industry this week provided additional guidance to Pennsylvanians who claimed unemployment compensation benefits in 2021 and are preparing to file their tax return using the 1099-G tax form. Department guidance is also available for individuals who suspect they are the victim of identity theft after unexpectedly receiving a 1099-G form. Learn more: Wolf Administration Updates UC Claimants with Helpful Information for Filing 2021 Tax Returns (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Department of Labor this week provided states with updated guidance to waive recovery of certain unemployment insurance benefits overpayments that occurred during the height of the pandemic. See more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20220207.

- The IRS reminds the public that as of January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2022, businesses can claim 100% of their food or beverage expenses paid to restaurants.

- Governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday unveiled his eighth and final budget proposal, asking for the largest-ever increase in aid for public schools, plus more money for direct care workers, higher-education institutions and college scholarships. Wolf delivered the $43.7 billion proposal to lawmakers in a joint session of the House and Senate.

- Governor Wolf Thursday signed into law Senate Bill 739, which appropriates $25 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to support Pennsylvania’s emergency management services (EMS) companies. Read more: Gov. Wolf Approves $25 Million for EMS Workers Hardest Hit by Pandemic - Governor Tom Wolf.

- 76th District State Representative Stephanie Borowicz this week announced that 21 Clinton County emergency response organizations will receive funding support via the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program administered by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Office of the State Fire Commissioner. The grants awarded locally are part of $29 million designated to more than 2,000 recipients. Click Here for the announcement from Rep. Borowicz for details.

- Amid the pandemic, U.S. healthcare workers experienced a staggering 249 percent increase in injury and illness rates in 2020 while serving those in need, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In fact, workers in the healthcare and social assistance industries combined, suffered more injuries and illnesses than workers in any industry in the nation. Read more: As workers’ injury and illness rates soar, US Department of Labor urges healthcare facilities, providers to employ effective safety, health programs | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- The increased demand and the constraints on the global supply chain have combined to place enormous strain on the nation’s warehouse and logistics industries, and has prompted the U.S. Department of Labor to take heightened action to ensure that warehouse and logistics workers’ wages and workplace rights are protected. Details here: US Department of Labor announces worker initiative to safeguard rights, ensure protections for workers in warehouse, logistics industries | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- In time for a full weekend of athletic competitions, Lock Haven University has announced that spectators will once again be allowed at upcoming men’s and women’s basketball and wrestling contests. The indoor masking mandate will continue, but Haven fans will be allowed at Thomas Fieldhouse events, starting today, Friday, February 11. LHU wrestling hosts Cleveland State tonight, there’s a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader this Saturday, February 12, and the women’s wrestling team hosts a competition on Sunday. Fans must bring their own masks to events (masks will no longer be provided upon entering the Fieldhouse); people will not be permitted into the Fieldhouse without a mask. For more on LHU’s athletics schedule, visit www.GoLHU.com

- A sellout crowd of 300 runners will take on Bald Eagle Mountain tomorrow (Saturday) in the 10th annual Frozen Snot trail challenge, Clinton County’s first trail race of the new year. The 7:30 a.m. start is from the outdoor pavilion at Restless Oaks Restaurant in McElhattan and includes a long course of 13.5 miles or a shorter, 8.3-mile course. Participants come from near and far. They’ll have a chance to sign-in tonight starting at 5:30 p.m. at the nearby Oregon Hill Winery in McElhattan, or at Restless Oaks tomorrow morning starting at 6:00 a.m.

2/1/22

- Clinton County’s unemployment rate for December 2021 dropped to one of its lowest rates in a few years. The PA Department of Labor & Industry released figures Tuesday and Clinton County had a 4.2% unemployment rate for December. That is down from 5.2% in November, and from 7.0% a year ago. Unofficially, the 4.2% is the lowest for the county since a 4.3% unemployment number in April 2019. The high mark for the county in the “Covid” timeframe was 16.6% in April 2020. Centre County checked in at 4.0% for December, and Lycoming was at 5.8%. Montour County had the lowest unemployment rate of the state’s 67 counties with a 2.8% reading.               

In Clinton County, there were an estimated 16,900 residents employed in December 2021, up 100 from the prior month, and 600 in one year. The numbers may not take into account anyone who may have fallen off the rolls or had benefits expire.               

During the week ending January 15, 2022, there were 78 initial unemployment claims filed by Clinton County residents. The continued unemployment claims number was 426 for the same week. One year ago, the continued unemployment claims count was 1,204.

- Pennsylvania collected $3.6 billion in General Fund revenue in January, the PA Department of Revenue said today, or 11.7% more than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $26.1 billion, or 7.6% above estimate. Details here: Revenue Department Releases January 2022 Collections.

- The PA Department of Health today provided its weekly COVID-19 update as of Monday, January 31, noting that case numbers are trending downward. According to the report, the daily average number of cases for the period January 24-30 was 11,405. The number of people currently hospitalized with the virus as of Monday was 23.8% lower than the week before. The percent of available adult and pediatric intensive care beds in the state rose to 18.9% and 14.4%, respectively, and 30.6% of all ventilators statewide are in use. The state also noted that 164,247 vaccine doses were administered in the past week, including 73,426 booster doses and 18,498 pediatric doses. The total number of vaccines administered dropped by 27.3% compared to the previous week (although the state said the major snow storm and post-holiday decline consistent with national trends affected the numbers). Read more: Department of Health Provides Weekly Update on COVID-19 Trends in Vaccinations, Cases and Hospitalizations.

The Health Department reported 5,685 new cases statewide today, bringing the total case count to 2,211,784, according to the state’s COVID-19 Database. Clinton County reported 32 new cases, bringing the total to 8,535, with 117 deaths attributed to the virus. Centre County reported 65 new cases, for a total of 33,409, and 321 deaths. And Lycoming County reported 66 new cases, bringing their total to 27,009, with 484 deaths.

- The free, walk-up COVID-19 testing site in Clinton County has been extended another couple of weeks, through February 12, but is now at a new location on the Lock Haven University campus. Tests are now available (for people age three and older) at LHU’s Parsons Union Building (PUB) first floor meeting room at 650 Railroad Street, Lock Haven. Testing hours remain the same: 10am-6pm Tuesdays through Fridays, and 8am-2pm on Saturdays. The state clinic is being supported by the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services and LHU.

The COVID-19 testing site in Centre County has also been extended through February 12. It’s located at the County Recycling and Refuse Authority/Interpretive Center, at 253 Transfer Road in Bellefonte. Hours are 10am-7pm.

Separately, the PA Department of Health, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and PA Emergency Management Agency Monday announced four long-term care regional support sites to relieve pressure on hospitals and skilled nursing facilities due to a high number of patients with COVID-19. Sites will open in the next week or so at skilled nursing facilities in Allegheny, Blair and Clarion counties and in Philadelphia. Learn more: Wolf Administration Announces Long-Term Care Regional Support Sites to Help Relieve Strain on Healthcare Workers, Hospitals (pa.gov).

The state also deployed another healthcare strike team was deployed this past weekend to Crozer Health facilities in the southeast region. Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter said the state is seeing the highest number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 since the pandemic began more than two years ago. More here: Department of Health Deploys Additional Healthcare Strike Team to Help Relieve Strain on Healthcare Workers, Hospitals in Southeast.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today announced plans to distribute more than $3 million in Business-Education Partnership Grant funding to 22 workforce development organizations statewide that work to connect PA businesses with school districts and students to better prepare youth to enter into an ever-changing workforce. Among the recipients is the Central Workforce Development Board, which covers Clinton, Centre Lycoming, and six other counties in the region. That agency is to receive $150,000 to support increasing career awareness, increasing workforce competencies, facilitating student-teacher in-the-workplace events and networking industry mixers, and expanding current, effective initiatives to advance and grow the talent pipeline in central PA. Learn more: Wolf Administration Awards More Than $3 Million to Connect Businesses with Students, Expand Access to Job Training.

- Keystone Central School District Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin today issued her monthly update, noting that the District is seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases, following a surge in January. She says the district continues to implement a number of mitigation efforts and will be adding a “Test to Stay” option that will allow participating staff and students to stay in school if they have been in close contact with someone who has COVID, but they themselves have tested negative and are symptom free. Click Here for KCSD file for the full February update.

- Lock Haven University students and faculty returned to the classroom for in-person learning Monday, following one week of online instruction that was a precautionary measure to hopefully minimize COVID cases on campus.

Meanwhile, LHU today provided an update on the integration process for LHU, Bloomsburg and Mansfield, which is set to begin in five months. Click Here for LHU Integration Update for more.

- SEDA-COG is offering expertise on American Rescue Plan Act Funds. In early January, the U.S. Treasury issued the Final Rule for the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program, enacted as part of ARPA, which delivers $350 billion to state, local and Tribal governments to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The final rule becomes effective on April 1, 2022. Treasury has also provided an overview of the final rule. SEDA-COG has formed an internal team to provide administrative support, project development, management expertise, and general technical assistance for these funds. Interested municipalities can reach out to Kristen Moyer for assistance at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 570-522-7212.

- State and local governments will have a shot at securing a piece of $1.5 billion in transportation grant funding under an application process that the U.S. Department of Transportation kicked off on Friday. The department issued a notice of funding opportunity for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE, program. Funding for the grants was included in the bipartisan infrastructure package President Biden signed into law last year. RAISE is the first discretionary funding program included in the infrastructure package to accept applications, according to DOT. A variety of road, transit, rail and trail projects are eligible for funding.

- The Marcellus Legacy Fund was created by Act 13 of 2012 to provide for the distribution of unconventional gas well impact fees to counties, municipalities and commonwealth agencies. Pursuant to Section 2315 (a) (6) (i) of the Act, a portion of the fee revenue will be transferred to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for statewide initiatives that will include abandoned mine drainage abatement; abandoned well plugging; sewage treatment; greenways, trails and recreation; baseline water quality data; watershed restoration; and flood control. Applications will be accepted annually between February 1 and May 31. Eligible applicants with questions should call 717-787-6245. See more: https://dced.pa.gov/programs-funding/commonwealth-financing-authority-cfa/act-13-programs/

- Governor Tom Wolf today announced that 30 counties – including Clinton, Lycoming and Centre counties – have received nearly $28 million in additional federal funding to enhance their behavioral health programs. Details here: Governor Wolf Announces Recipients of $28 Million to Support Community Mental Health Resources (pa.gov).

- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Monday approved a second COVID-19 vaccine, the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, which will be marketed as Spikevax for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older. More here: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Takes Key Action by Approving Second COVID-19 Vaccine | FDA.

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration: 

  • Join the IRS for a series of online meetings in February and March (divided by location/states) for small business organizations and owners. The meetings will include:
  • Presentations from IRS leadership covering the top tax issues affecting small business owners regarding income, deductions, employment taxes and recordkeeping
  • How to get ready for the 2022 filing season
  • Tax scams targeting small businesses 
  • How the IRS is reorganizing to better serve small business taxpayers
  • Listening session to hear concerns, feedback and suggestions from participants

Learn more 

  • Does your small business have the capabilities to support infrastructure projects? Join the Federal Aviation Administration for Virtual Vendor Day on January 31 at 1:30 p.m. ET to learn about protentional opportunities such as the $5 billion in funding FAA has to upgrade and replace air traffic facilities. Register 
  • Small businesses are attractive targets for cyber attacks because they have information that cybercriminals want, and they typically lack the security infrastructure of larger businesses. In recognition of Data Privacy Day, January 28, learn about cyber threats, how to protect your data and how to keep your business safe from cyber attacks. Learn more 
  • The SBA recently announced $3 million in new funding for state governments to help emerging small businesses across America develop their cybersecurity infrastructure – a priority of the Biden-Harris Administration, outlined in the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. As part of the Cybersecurity for Small Business Pilot Program, through the Office of Entrepreneurial Development, state governments are eligible to compete for grants that will help deliver cybersecurity assistance to nascent and start-up business owners. Applications will be accepted through March 3, 2022. Learn more
  • Paycheck Protection Program borrowers: If your loan is $150,000 or less, you may be eligible to apply for direct forgiveness through SBA using theonline portal. Follow the steps below.
  1. Find out if your lender is participating. 
  2. Watch a video about how to use the portal.
  3. Apply for forgiveness.

For additional information, visit the SBA website.

- From State Representative Stephanie Borowicz’s office: The Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program is accepting applications for its Summer 2022 session. The 13-week program remains based at Pennsylvania’s Capitol Building in Harrisburg where fellows are placed in committee chair and House leadership offices. Qualified applicants must be:

 

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Undergraduate juniors and seniors, graduate students or law school students.

 

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Enrolled in a Pennsylvania college/university or a Pennsylvania resident enrolled in an out-of-state institution.

 

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Students of any major with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

For more information or to apply, visit www.pahousefellowship.us. Applications can be submitted via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by March 1.

- A measure of prices that is closely tracked by the Federal Reserve rose 5.8% last year, the sharpest increase since 1982, as brisk consumer spending collided with snarled supply chains to raise the costs of food, furniture, appliances, and other goods. 

- The PA State Police recently announced the Pennsylvania Instant Check System conducted 337,911 background checks during the fourth quarter of last year, an 11% increase from the previous quarter. In addition, State Police released the number of firearms purchase denials, subsequent investigations, and arrests that resulted from investigations for the fourth quarter of 2021. More here: State Police Announce Quarterly Firearms Purchase Denial Investigations (pa.gov)

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Monday announced the appointment of Bill Kocher to manage nearby Bald Eagle State Park. With nearly a 27-year career with DCNR, Kocher comes to our area after spending nearly 20 years at Worlds End State Park in Sullivan County. See more: DCNR Names New Park Manager for Bald Eagle State Park.

- The PA Fish and Boat Commission today announced the release of its 2022 adult trout stocking schedule, also available using the FishBoatPA mobile app and website, www.fishandboat.com. The state returns to a single, statewide Opening Day of Trout Season on April 2 (with a single, statewide Mentored Youth Trout Day on March 26). The commission this year says it will stock about 3.2 million adult trout in 696 streams and 128 lakes open to public angling. More information here: 2022 ADULT TROUT STOCKING SCHEDULE NOW AVAILABLE! (pa.gov).

- The Pennsylvania Game Commission this week announced hunters took 3,659 bears in Pennsylvania last year, the state’s fifth-best harvest ever and the second-largest recorded since 2011. A Clinton County harvest again made the top ten among largest bears taken: a 602 male bear was harvested during the regular season in Beech Creek Township by Jacob Rembold of Lock Haven. Lycoming County ranked first among counties for bear harvest, with 212 bears taken. Potter was second, with 180, and Clinton County was fifth, with 156. Read more: BEAR HARVEST FIFTH-BEST EVER (pa.gov).

1/26/22

- The Clinton County Commissioners today approved a pilot program that will provide relocation assistance, initially to select Clinton County companies involved in education, health care, manufacturing and government agencies. With funds through the American Rescue Plan act, the Commissioners are piloting a “Live and Work Clinton County” initiative that will offer relocation funds to encourage employees of select local companies to relocate to Clinton County. The county has earmarked $150,000 in funds, aimed at supporting employers in an effort to find qualified employees, as well as spur economic growth for the community. The commissioners said the plan is to focus the program initially on specific areas of the community that are struggling to find qualified employees. They plan to meet with targeted companies in the near future to finalize the scope of the pilot.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed into law a measure that distributes more than $210 million of federal COVID-19 relief aid to help the healthcare system in PA hold onto staff and recruit new workers. House Bill 253 appropriates $225 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to support the health care workforce in Pennsylvania, including $180,692 to UPMC Lock Haven Hospital; $115,643 to Bucktail Medical Center; and $180,692 to Geisinger Jersey Shore. In total, support goes to:

  • $100 million to be distributed to all acute care, critical access, and children’s hospitals licensed by the PA Department of Health for recruitment and retention payments to direct care staff;
  • $110 million to be distributed on a per-bed basis to high-Medical Assistance hospitals, designated Critical Access Hospitals, and inpatient and residential behavioral health facilities for recruitment and retention payments to key staff; and
  • $15 million to quadruple the funds available for the nurse loan forgiveness program.

More here: Gov. Wolf Celebrates Bipartisan House Bill 253, Appropriating $225 Million to Support Health Care Workforce.

- The PA Health Department this week said it is seeing a slight decrease in the seven-day moving average of COVID-19 cases, but cautioned it is “much too early to let down our guard.” The Department reports that between January 17 to 23, the daily average number of cases was 15,294; the number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 on January 24 was 12.8 percent lower than on January 17; and the percent of available adult and pediatric ICU beds in the state rose to 16.1 percent and 14.2 percent, respectively.  About 27.8 percent of all staffed adult ICU beds are COVID-19 patients, the state, also noting that 31.3 percent of all ventilators statewide are in use.

The Health Department also reported 382,064 vaccine doses were administered in the past week, including 272,327 booster doses, and 22,076 pediatric doses. The numbers reflect a 38.5 percent increase in vaccines administered from the previous week. More here: Department of Health Provides Weekly Update on COVID-19 Trends in Vaccinations, Cases and Hospitalizations.

- OSHA announced the official withdrawal this past Tuesday of the Vaccine & Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) as an enforceable emergency temporary standard. The move comes on the heels of a Supreme Court decision earlier this month, which stated that "challengers were likely to prevail on their claims" in the ongoing legal challenges to the ETS. 

Meanwhile, OSHA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 3 (which includes Pennsylvania), the PA Business Emergency Operations Center and Philadelphia officials are partnering to present a webinar on current COVID guidance and resources for businesses. This free webinar takes place on next Thursday, February 3 at 1:00 p.m. Participants can pre-submit questions/topics they would like to see addressed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by this Friday, January 28. REGISTER

- The PA Department of Corrections has announced the department is suspending in-person visitation at all state correctional institutions immediately through February 28 to allow facilities to more effectively allocate staff amid a surge of COVID-19 cases. Read more: Department of Corrections Suspends In-Person Visitation.

- As part of the ongoing investigation of unusual account changes within PA’s unemployment compensation (UC) system, the Department of Labor & Industry is taking the proactive step of offering free credit-monitoring services to all UC claimants, even though there has been no confirmed data breach. See more: Dept. of Labor & Industry to Proactively Offer Credit-Monitoring Services to Unemployment Compensation Claimants Amid Ongoing Investigation (pa.gov).

- PA CareerLink Clinton County will host a February 23, 10:00 a.m. to noon Meet & Greet involving local employers Avery Dennison, UPMC and Spherion. The session is an opportunity for people seeking employment to learn about the companies and their current employment opportunities. Click Here for the PA CareerLink file for details.

- The Wolf Administration is reminding licensed child care providers that they can apply for one-time funding through the American rescue Plan Act to help address workforce and operational challenges due to the pandemic. The deadline to apply for funding is this coming Monday, January 31. Learn more: Wolf Administration Reminds Child Care Providers to Apply for Federal Grant Funding (pa.gov).

- Governor Wolf announced that Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin will resign his position on February 11. The Governor said it’s his intention to name DCED Deputy Secretary Neil Weaver as Acting Secretary. Read more: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-announces-department-of-community-and-economic-development-secretary-dennis-davin-to-depart-wolf-administration-names-neil-weaver-as-acting-secretary/.

- Governor Wolf this week announced the state will fulfill its commitment to raise the minimum wage for commonwealth employees to $15 per hour by January 31. More here: Gov. Wolf Fulfills Commitment to Raise Minimum Wage for Commonwealth Workers (pa.gov).


- From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Spread the Word About Vaccine Boosters. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released new resources – posters, flyers, videos, and talking points – to help promote the extra protection from COVID-19 boosters.  All vaccinated adults aged 18+ are eligible for a booster. A few weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded booster eligibility to include adolescents ages 12 to 17, recommending that they receive a booster shot five months after their initial vaccination. The CDC also released a new resource, based on input from rural health departments and organizations, with 12 strategies to increase vaccine uptake in rural communities (pdf).  Search by zip code to find nearby locations providing adult and pediatric vaccines and boosters for COVID-19 and the flu at vaccines.gov.

- Also from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy:

- The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it plans to begin raising its benchmark interest rate as soon as March, a key step in reversing its pandemic-era low-rate policies that have fueled hiring and growth but also escalated inflation.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In the week ending January 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 260,000, a decrease of 30,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- The IRS has issued guidance on Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) retroactive termination. 

- The National Restaurant Association this week kicked off a campaign to push for Congress to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). The Association sent a letter to Congressional leaders outlining the critical need to replenish the fund, using the national survey results to support the ask. Among the Pa.-specific results of the Association’s most recent survey, key findings from this round include the following points:

  • 93% of PA restaurants experienced a decline in customer demand for indoor on-premises dining due to the omicron variant.
  • A majority of PA restaurants have not experienced a complete sales recovery to pre-pandemic levels.
  • 91% of RRF recipients said the grant helped them retain or hire back employees who otherwise would have been temporarily or permanently laid off. 

- The American Hotel & Lodging Association has released its second annual State of the Industry report. The report reveals shifts in consumer and business sentiment, as well as the uneven path to the industry's recovery. Top findings included:

  • Occupancy rate and room revenue are projected to approach 2019 levels in 2022
  • Leisure travelers will continue to drive recovery
  • Business travel is expected to remain down more than 20% for much of 2022 with the full effects of omicron still unknown

- Lock Haven University this week announced that it is limiting the number of spectators in attendance at all remaining home basketball and wresting events, effective this Saturday, January 29 until further notice, due to ongoing COVID concerns and what they said is a “continued disregard for the university’s masking policy at recent indoor competitions.” The University said the change is designed to give student-athletes the best chance at completing their seasons without further postponements and cancellations (over a dozen Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference competitions have been postponed or cancelled in recent weeks due to COVID-19 infections). Remaining basketball games and wrestling dual meets can be viewed free online at www.GoLHU.com via the PSAC Sports Digital Network: https://psacsportsdigitalnetwork.com/golhu/.

- Lock Haven University is among a number of local organizations supporting the critical need for blood during the pandemic. The University announced Wednesday that its Red Cross Club will host American Red Cross blood drives February 2 and 3 from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Student Recreation Center on campus in honor of LHU student and cancer survivor Hannah Freezer of Muncy. To schedule an appointment to donate blood, visit redcrossblood.org and enter the code LHUNIVERSITY to choose LHU's campus drive in honor of Hannah Freezer.

- Assistance to home mortgage holders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will be available starting February 1 under a new program called the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund. The PAHAF is funded under the American Rescue Plan. Click Here for the PA Homeowner file for more information.

- Last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that Pennsylvania will receive an extra $1.6 billion in federal funds over five years to help fix some of the more than 3,353 bridges listed in poor condition. The state will receive the third most money for bridges under the federal infrastructure bill, one of seven states to receive at least $1 billion over five years. The new funding comes in addition to $4 billion over five years for state roads the agency will receive under the infrastructure bill. The program requires a state match of 20 percent for bridges owned by the state. As an incentive for the state to help other levels of government, the new program waives that local match for bridges owned by counties, cities, boroughs and townships. Read more: Philly Voice.

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration:

  • The SBA and Business Forward, Inc., a non-profit organization working with small business leaders in support of policies promoting America’s economic competitiveness, have announced the launch of the Small Business Digital Alliance. A joint public-private co-sponsorship, the SBDA will connect small businesses with critical tech resources to start and expand their e-commerce business to scale for success. The new initiative will also feature a series of free briefings and training to help small businesses access and utilize these digital tools to reach new markets, find diverse talent, improve operations, and raise capital. Learn more
  • Over the past year, cyber incidents have impacted many companies, non-profits, and other organizations, large and small, across multiple sectors of the economy. Most recently, public and private entities in Ukraine have suffered a series of malicious cyber incidents, including website defacement and private sector reports of potentially destructive malware on their systems that could result in severe harm to critical functions. 

   All organizations, regardless of sector or size, should immediately:

  • Reduce the likelihood of a damaging cyber intrusion
  • Take steps to quickly detect a potential intrusion
  • Ensure your business is prepared to respond if an intrusion occurs
  • Maximize business's resilience to a destructive cyber incident

   Report incidents and anomalous activity to CISA and/or the FBI via your local FBI field office, FBI’s 24/7 CyWatch at (855) 292-3937 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Learn more

  • In celebration of National Mentoring Month, join Associate Administrator for the SBA Office of Entrepreneurial Development, Mark Madrid and CEO of the SCORE Association, Bridget Weston for awebinar about the benefits of a business mentor this Thursday, January 27, at 1:00 p.m. During the webinar, you will learn:
  • Who needs a mentor and specifically how they can help start or grow your business
  • How to find the right mentor for you
  • How to utilize SCORE’s extensive, nationwide network of business experts to assist you in navigating different aspects of your business
  • How experienced business people can become involved in mentoring others through SCORE
  • How SCORE mentorship plays out in the real world of starting and growing a business (as illustrated by a client case study)

Register

  • Whether you are new to business ownership, or a seasoned entrepreneur, a mentor can help you navigate the challenges of starting or managing a business. Most entrepreneurs agree that every business owner could use a mentor. In fact, according to a Sage survey, 93% of small and medium sized businesses see the value of business mentors. And yet, in the same survey, only 28% of those businesses report using mentoring services. Learn more
  • Did you know that nearly 96% of consumers live outside the U.S., and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries? The SBA has resources to help you export your products or services. Learn more

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: We launched a new grants page to help you find funding opportunities, learn how to apply and see our grants in action.

- The U.S. Postal Service last week launched its site for ordering free COVID-19 test kits. Residential households in the U.S. can order one set of 4 free at-home tests from USPS.com. The White House also has opened a hotline for those who can't order online. The number to call is (800) 232-0233. The orders will ship free starting in late January. 

- From the U.S. Census Bureau: Based on responses collected January 10 through January 16, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  • 15.1% of U.S small businesses required employee COVID-19 vaccination and 15.8% a negative COVID-19 test before physically coming to work in the last week
  • 30.1% of U.S small businesses experienced difficulties hiring paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 1/3/22-1/9/22, this statistic was 28.2%
  • 45.3% of U.S small businesses experienced domestic supplier delays and 25.8% experienced delays in delivery/shipping to customers in the last week
  • 20.2% of U.S educational services small businesses experienced a decrease in the number of hours worked by paid employees in the last week. For responses collected 1/3/22-1/9/22, this statistic was 28.4%
  • 36.2% of U.S. accommodation and food services small businesses indicated that they will need to increase marketing or sales in the next 6 months. For responses collected 1/3/22-1/9/22, this statistic was 30.8%

1/21/22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Other items of interest: 

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

1/14/22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1/12/22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1/7/22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1/4/22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reserve Your Spot

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

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

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

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

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

12/23/21

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

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

Some related information:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12/17/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12/14/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12/10/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12/7/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

- PA Chamber Updates: 

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

12/3/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- PennDOT Updates of general interest:

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

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

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

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

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

11/29/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11/23/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11/19/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11/12/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11/10/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • COVID-19 Booster Shots:

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

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

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

  • What to Bring to Your Booster Appointment

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

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

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration:

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

Register

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

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

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

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

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

11/5/21

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

Here are four things large employers need to know:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- From the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association:

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

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

11/2/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For additional information, visit the SBA website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/29/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/26/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/22/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/19/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/15/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/12/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REGISTER HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/8/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explore Data

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

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

10/5/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- From the PA Chamber: 

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

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

- From the U.S. Small Business Administration: 

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

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

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

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

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

   For additional information, visit the SBA website.

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

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

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

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

10/1/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Bellefonte Avenue/Commerce Street

- Church/Henderson Streets

- Church/Vesper Streets

            - Jay/Church Streets

            - Jay/Main Streets

            - Water/Grove Streets

            - Main/Hanna Streets

            - Main/Grove Streets

            - Main/Vesper Streets

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

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

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

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

9/28/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/24/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/21/21

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/17/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- From the U.S. Census Bureau:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/10/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/3/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8/31/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Non-COVID-related updates from PennDOT:

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

8/27/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here: PENNSYLVANIA: 2020 Census.

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

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


8/24/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


8/20/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


8/17/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Updates from the U.S. Chamber:

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

PPP / Vaccine Tax Credit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8/10/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8/3/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   - Water Quality Monitoring ($3,500 limit)

   - Restoration Projects ($3,500 limit)

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

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

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

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

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

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

7/30/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- The U.S. Small Business Administration is launching a streamlined application portal to allow borrowers with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans $150,000 or less through participating lenders to apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA. The new portal is expected to streamline the loan forgiveness process for over 6.5 million businesses. Read more: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/jul/28/sba-announces-opening-paycheck-protection-program-direct-forgiveness-portal.

- According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly employment information….In the week ending July 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 400,000, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous week's revised level. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4 percent for the week ending July 17, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending July 17 was 3,269,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read more: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/OPA/newsreleases/ui-claims/20211419.pdf.

- A workforce update from 25th District State Senator Cris Dush: The economic impact of the workforce shortage facing Pennsylvania employers was the topic of a public hearing Wednesday by the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee. Pennsylvania is facing a serious workforce crisis that is threatening our employers and slowing our economic recovery. Businesses across the Commonwealth have been forced to curtail their hours of operation or even close because of a workforce shortage. The panel heard from the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, local employers and the PA Restaurant and Lodging Association in order to fully identify the employers’ needs and the role the General Assembly can play in creating an environment for economic growth and job creation. You can view hearing video and more here.

- Governor Wolf Wednesday joined President Joe Biden at Mack Trucks in Lehigh County, to highlight the President’s plan to Buy American and support jobs for American workers. See more: Gov. Wolf Joins President Biden for Announcement to ‘Buy American,’ Support American Workers (pa.gov).

- U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, in a guest editorial this week, cited child care as the number one reason many Americans do not want to get a job. Click Here for the U.S. Commerce Secretary file for the full article. 

- PBS News Hour reportsIn the year ending in June, wages and salaries jumped 3.5% for workers in the private sector, the largest increase in more than 14 years. That increase was driven by sharp rise in pay for restaurant and hotel workers of more than 6%.

- The U.S. Economic Development Administration is hosting a series of webinars in August about the newly announced EDA funding opportunities through the American Rescue Plan. The application process is now open. Deadlines vary based on program. An initial webinar to provide an overview of the new programs was held this week, and a second “EDA 101 and American Rescue Plan webinar will be held this coming Wednesday, August 4 at 2 p.m. EDT.

For those interested in one of the specific programs, following is a list of upcoming webinars. Click on the webinar topic to register:

 For a full list of webinars or learn more about the EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs, visit www.eda.gov/ARPA

- PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today encouraged farmers to apply for funding to strengthen the long-term health and vitality of PA’s farms. Nearly $763,000 of the $1 million Farm Vitality Grant Program remains available. The program opened in mid-April and will remain open until all funds are exhausted. See more: Secretary of Agriculture Encourages Farmers to Take Advantage of Grant Program to Pay for Business Planning Services.

- State officials and the State Police Thursday issued a reminder to PA residents to be wary of fraudsters who are using information stolen from private-sector data leaks to apply for unemployment compensation. They urge people to be vigilant of fraud and to take action if they become a victim. Learn more: PSP Warns Fraudsters are Using Information Stolen from Private-Sector Data Leaks to Apply for Unemployment Compensation Benefits (pa.gov).

- The federal eviction moratorium ends on July 31. But if you know of someone struggling to make rent or pay utility bills due to the pandemic, help is available via the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Funds through the ERAP can also be available for landlords. In Clinton County, the Clinton County Housing Coalition is administering the program. Initially set to run through the end of this year, the program has now been extended into September of 2022. Learn more: https://www.dhs.pa.gov/ERAP/Pages/ERAP.aspx.

- PA House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) sent a letter to state agencies Monday telling them to prepare to have the nearly 500 waived and suspended regulations reinstated on September 30, while also working with House standing committees on reviewing which regulations should be permanently repealed or reformed. 

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced Thursday that the fifth batch of payments under the American Rescue Plan Act’s (ARPA) Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery program has been sent to qualifying Pennsylvania municipalities. Disbursements made this week include payments to 233 municipalities totaling $22.6 million. Combined with the 1,885 payments made previously, which totaled $441 million, that means 2,118 Pennsylvania municipalities have received more than $463 million. See more: https://www.patreasury.gov/newsroom/archive/2021/07-29-ARPA-Funding.html.

- Calling it a key security issue, the Internal Revenue Service today urged those entities with Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) to update their applications if there has been a change in the responsible party or contact information. Learn more: IRS: Businesses, charities, others with Employer Identification Numbers must update responsible party information within 60 days of any change | Internal Revenue Service.

- The IRS reports that another 1.5 million taxpayers will receive refunds averaging more than $1,600 as it continues to adjust unemployment compensation from previously filed income tax returns. See more: IRS continues unemployment compensation adjustments, prepares another 1.5 million refunds | Internal Revenue Service

- The IRS Thursday updated frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the paid sick and family leave tax credits under the American Rescue Plan Act. The updates clarify that eligible employers can claim the credits for providing leave to employees to accompany a family or household member or certain other individuals to obtain immunization relating to COVID-19 or to care for a family or household member or certain other individuals recovering from the immunization. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/paid-leave-credit-available-for-providing-leave-to-employees-caring-for-individuals-obtaining-or-recovering-from-a-covid-19-immunization.

- FirstEnergy customers: FirstEnergy Corporation this week announced the implementation of a new phase of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EE&C) programs offered to their customers – including businesses and industrial users – as part of Pa legislation known as ACT 129, which was designed to reduce energy consumption and demand. Click Here for the two-page FirstEnergy flyer for details or pass the info on to those in your business engaged in facility maintenance, physical plant or building and grounds.

- UPMC this week announced that its Board of Directors selected Leslie Davis to succeed the retiring Jeffrey Romoff as President & CEO, effective August 1. Board chair Nicholas Beckwith said, “During her 17 years at UPMC, Ms. Davis has demonstrated a commitment to both clinical excellence and building relationships with patients, doctors, employees, leaders, and communities. This experience leaves her exceptionally well-qualified to lead a large organization like UPMC to future success and growth at such a critical time for the health care and insurance industries. We are thrilled to announce Leslie as UPMC’s next leader. She brings a stellar track record built over three decades of leadership in health care with the background and expertise to propel UPMC into the next phase of growth.

- PennDOT announced today that the Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC) has submitted its report to Governor Wolf and the General Assembly. The TROC report presents an overview of transportation funding in Pennsylvania and outlines the commission’s review of several potential revenue sources including road user charges, tolling, redirection of funding, fees, and taxes. Analysis of each option includes potential revenue that a given solution could bring the commonwealth, concerns raised by commission members relating to each option, and suggested next steps. Read more: Article (penndot.gov).

- PennDOT is alerting regional drivers to traffic impacts on Route 4001 (Kettle Creek Road) in Clinton County. Work got underway this week to remove guide rail along a 4-mile stretch of the road. The work zone starts in Noyes Township about 4 miles northwest of Route 120 and stretches north for about four miles in Leidy Township. Once the guiderail is removed, installation of new guiderail will be delayed until paving takes place in mid-to-late August. Without guide rail along the road, drivers are advised to use caution and slow their speed while traveling Kettle Creek Road.

Meanwhile, work to place gabion baskets along this same stretch will occur from August 2 through August 20. Roadway flagging will be in place as needed for the guide rail and gabion basket work. Once gabion baskets are complete, paving will take place and new guide rail will be installed. More here: News Details (penndot.gov)

- Governor Wolf today highlighted the importance of outdoor spaces to peoples’ well-being during the pandemic as he announced Penn’s Parks for All – A Plan for Pennsylvania’s State Parks of Tomorrow. Read more: Gov. Wolf Says All People Need State Parks, Launches Effort to Sustain Them, Make Them Welcoming to All.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced the department will soon begin accepting applications for grants aiding snowmobile- and ATV-related projects. Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, August 2 through September 30 through DCNR's online grant application system. More information here: Wolf Administration Announces Grants to be Available (pa.gov).

- For those interested in applying for an elk hunting permit in Pennsylvania’s annual elk-license drawing, the deadline to enter is tomorrow, July 31. More here: TIME RUNNING OUT FOR PROSPECTIVE ELK HUNTERS (pa.gov).

- The PA Fish and Boat Commission today announced nearly $380,000 in grants to develop and implement projects that benefit fishing, boating and aquatic resources in nearby Cameron, Potter, Elk and McKean counties. More here: GRANTS AWARDED FOR SINNEMAHONING WATERSHED RESTORATION PROJECTS (pa.gov).

- PA CareerLink hosts a Zoom presentation on Unemployment Compensation on Thursday, August 5, from 10:00 a.m. until noon. Learn the latest about UC for your business from UC Workforce Development rep Nancy Smithbauer. Register to participate at: https://forms.gle/kPg7Zbf2cqqN4AE67.

- From the U.S. Chamber: Discover creative ways to tailor your social media content at our next CO— Roadmap for Rebuilding on Thursday, August 5 at 12:00 pm. Register now to learn more about choosing the right platform for you and building a marketing plan from our panel of small business leaders, and then ask your questions live.

- PA CareerLink hosts a Resume Review on Thursday, August 12, at 10:00 a.m. at their Clinton County office at 8 North Grove St., Lock Haven. The session will be conducted by a member of the UPMC Talent Acquisition Team and is open to anyone who would like to receive suggestions on their resume. Pre-registration is required by calling 570-893-4022.

7/27/21

- There continues to be an up-tick in COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania. The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 986 positive cases of the virus, bringing the statewide total to 1,221,657. The state has recorded 3,722 cases of COVID-19 in Clinton County since the pandemic began; 17,020 cases in Centre County; and 12,009 cases in Lycoming County. Statewide, there currently are 430 people hospitalized with the virus, 97 of whom are in intensive care, and the trend in the 14-day moving average number of hospitalized patients continues to increase. The statewide percent positivity for the week of July 16-22 stood at 2.6%. More data here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=1537.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today reversed course on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.

Meanwhile, Gov. Wolf was quoted in news outlets around the commonwealth as saying "I'm not considering any statewide [mask] mandate." He has made it clear the Administration's strategy for fighting the virus is through vaccines. The Administration released an expanded statement late this afternoon, which read, "The administration is not considering reinstating a statewide mandate; however, we recommend Pennsylvanians, including schools, follow CDC guidance. Further, businesses and local governments may adopt stricter COVID prevention strategies, including mask requirements."

- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to mandate coronavirus vaccination for employees Monday when its leaders gave heath care workers eight weeks to get inoculated. Read more: https://www.pennlive.com/nation-world/2021/07/veterans-affairs-tell-workers-they-have-8-weeks-to-get-the-covid-19-vaccine.html?e=1a2598713c24f3b9b618fcff2a4a0f97&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_coronavirus%202021-07-27&utm_term=Newsletter_coronavirus (Source: PennLive)

Meanwhile, the U.S. has decided not to lift existing travel restrictions “at this point” because of the alarming surge of new COVID-19 cases nationwide and spread of the highly contagious delta variant. See more: https://www.pennlive.com/nation-world/2021/07/citing-the-delta-variant-us-reportedly-decides-not-to-lift-travel-restrictions.html?e=1a2598713c24f3b9b618fcff2a4a0f97&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_coronavirus%202021-07-27&utm_term=Newsletter_coronavirus. (Source: PennLive)

- With Delta variant COVID-19 cases rising, click here for information on the symptoms to look for: https://www.pennlive.com/coronavirus/2021/07/with-delta-variant-covid-19-cases-rising-here-are-the-symptoms-to-look-for.html?e=1a2598713c24f3b9b618fcff2a4a0f97&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_coronavirus%202021-07-27&utm_term=Newsletter_coronavirus.

- With the start of the 2021-22 school year about a month away, the PA Departments of Health and Education are offering recommendations to families and schools as they safely prepare for in-person teaching and learning. Vaccinations, school guidance, and face coverings/masks are highlighted. Learn more: Preparing for a Safe New School Year. 

- The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has unveiled Pennsylvania: Work Smart, Live Happy, to help market the state, attract and retain top talent, and assist with business attraction and development. Learn more: Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Releases New Magazine to Help Promote the State - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- Responding to skyrocketing claims of Unemployment Insurance Fraud, the PA Department of Labor and Industry this week provided employers with helpful tips for reporting fraudulent claims. -> Read More (Source: PA Chamber)

- Several updates from the U.S. Small Business Administration:

  • The SBA Office of Capital Access will host a webinar series for small business owners to discuss the COVID EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) program’s small business loans. The EIDL program is a Federal small business loan program designed to support small businesses to recover from the COVID-19 economic recession by providing accessible and borrower-friendly capital. Information at each webinar will be the same. The webinar schedule includes:
  • Cyber attacks are a growing concern for small businesses. The types of threats include malware, ransomware and phishing. The SBA has tools and resources to help you protect your small business. Learn more. 
  • The SBA today reached a new milestone of successfully awarding over $7.5 billion in Shuttered Venue Operators Grants to more than 10,000 hard-hit live entertainment small businesses, nonprofits, and venues. The SVOG program is designed to assist in getting the nation’s cultural institutions back on track after being shuttered due to the pandemic. The SBA continues to accept applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. To submit an application, visit sba.gov/svogrant.
  • As a reminderSBA directly communicates from email addresses ending in @sba.gov. SBA also communicates via email updates/notifications using an email marketing platform. Those emails end in @updates.sba.gov. One exception is noted: If you applied for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and emailed the SVOG Support Center, you may receive an email back from a zendesk.com account. This is an authorized SBA contractor. If you are being contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA who is not using an official SBA email address, you should suspect fraud. To report potential fraud, visit sba.gov/covidfraudalert.
  • The American Rescue Plan extends a number of critical tax benefits, particularly the Employee Retention Credit and Paid Leave Credit, to small businesses. Learn more.

- From the PA Chamber: 

  • A report released last week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that states and territories overpaid billions in unemployment benefits during the pandemic.Reporting shows that GAO identified $12.9B in overpayments made between March 2020 and April 2021 and noted the final total would be higher as several states had yet to report numbers for the period.
  • Amid discussions on plans for nearly $5T in federal spending, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week reminded lawmakersthat the 2019 suspension of the federal government’s statutory debt limit—the debt ceiling—was set to expire on July 31.  Without further Congressional intervention to raise or suspend the limit, the CBO expects the U.S. to be unable to meet its obligations in October or November.

- The PA Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for up to $1 million Small Business Advantage Grants on a first-come, first-served basis. The Program assists small businesses undertaking energy efficiency, pollution prevention or natural resource conservation projects. For more information, visit DEP’s Small Business Advantage Grants webpage.

- DEP is also accepting applications for two Driving PA Forward funding programs-- the Truck and Bus Fleet Grants and Onroad Rebates to reduce diesel emissions. Details here: PA Environment Digest Blog: DEP Now Accepting Applications For Driving PA Forward Truck & Bus Fleet Grants, Onroad Rebates To Reduce Diesel Emissions (paenvironmentdaily.blogspot.com)

These other cleaner fuels funding opportunities are also open:

- In his latest weekly newsletter, 12th District Congressman Fred Keller notes that the IRS provides free interactive online training to help officers, board members, and volunteers maintain their organization’s tax-exempt status at StayExempt.irs.gov. The Maintaining 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status course discusses what responsibilities organizations have and what activities can jeopardize an organization’s 501(c)(3) status. The Tax-Exempt Organization Workshop provides additional information on the benefits, limitations and expectations of tax-exempt organizations.

- The PA Department of Human Services today discussed the upcoming July 31 end of the federal eviction moratorium and urged Pennsylvanians at risk of eviction or utility shutoffs because of COVID-19 to apply for assistance available through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Read more: Department of Human Services, York City and County Officials Urge Pennsylvanians to Apply for Rental Assistance Ahead of Federal Eviction Moratorium Expiring.

ERAP program assistance is available in Clinton County. Applications are being administered through the Clinton County Housing Coalition. Click here for a link to the ERAP online application.

- PennDOT today announced that the application period for grants under the Rail Transportation Assistance Program and the Rail Freight Assistance Program is now open. See more: Article (penndot.gov).

- The Wolf Administration this week announced that it will soon require all Pennsylvania landfills – including those that accept unconventional oil and gas waste – to conduct quarterly testing of leachate for radiological contaminants. More information here: Wolf Administration to Move Forward with Radiological Testing of Leachate at Landfills (pa.gov).

- The PA Board of Game Commissioners met Saturday in Harrisburg, the first in-person meeting in more than a year. Read about their actions here: HIGHLIGHTS FROM TODAY'S COMMISSIONERS MEETING (pa.gov)

Meanwhile, a former director of the Game Commission’s Northcentral Regional Office in Antes Fort has been named deputy executive director of the Game Commission’s field operations. David Mitchell, who had most recently served as director of the Southeast Region Office, will now be responsible for coordinating and advancing the wildlife management program in the Commission’s six regions. See more: GAME COMMISSION WELCOMES NEW DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR (pa.gov).

- During its quarterly business meeting Monday, the PA Fish & Boat Commission gave preliminary approval to a proposal to establish a single, statewide Opening Day of Trout Season beginning annually in 2022. More details here: PFBC BOARD PROPOSES SINGLE OPENING DAY OF TROUT SEASON, ANNOUNCES FISHING LICENSE FEES WILL REMAIN THE SAME IN 2022, EXPANDS USE OF ICE FISHING EQUIPMENT, AND ELECTS NEW OFFICERS AT QUARTERLY MEETING.

- PA Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell, and DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today highlighted the prevalence of ticks in the state. More here: Prevalence of Ticks in Pennsylvania is High, Take Steps to Prevent Tick Bites and Tick-borne Diseases (pa.gov).

7/23/21

- Reports have cases of COVID-19 trending upward slightly. The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 557 positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 1,218,975. Across the state, 347 people are hospitalized with the virus, 75 of whom are in intensive care. The statewide percent positivity rate for the week of July 9 – 15 stood at 1.7 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 62.2 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.4 Million Vaccinations to Date, 62.2% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

- The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Tuesday renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration for another 90 days. The declaration was first issued in late January of 2020. See more: https://www.phe.gov/emergency/news/healthactions/phe/Pages/COVID-19July2021.aspx

Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that the more that SARS-CoV-2 spreads, the greater the chance that its genetic material will change or mutate, and create new variants or strains. As it passes from person to person, the virus builds up mutations. Currently, there are four known mutations, known as variants of concern, with the highly transmissible Delta variant dominant across the country. The COVID-19 data hub created last year by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services indicates that, as of July 15, new cases across the country were up nearly 70 percent over the previous week; deaths were up 26.3 percent.

- Geisinger continues to offer free, walk-in and scheduled COVID-19 vaccinations at various locations, including at their community vaccination center at Jersey Shore Hospital as well as through the pharmacy at the new Geisinger facility on Spring Street in Lock Haven. Click here for the latest information or to schedule a vaccination: COVID-19 Vaccine | Frequently Asked Questions | Geisinger.

- The U.S. Economic Development Administration this week announced six programs, collectively called Investing in America’s Communities, that the EDA will execute to equitably invest the $3 billion it received from the American Rescue Plan. Read more: EDA Announces American Rescue Plan Programs (govdelivery.com)

The EDA will host a webinar to provide more information on the American Rescue Plan Funding Opportunities at 3:00 p.m. this coming Tuesday, July 27 and again at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 29.

- Keystone Central School District this week began communicating information about the District’s revised Health and Safety Plan and Learning Choices for the upcoming school year. Click Here for the KCSD file for the information released by Superintendent Dr. Jacquelyn Martin. 

- In a recent update, UPMC is encouraging people to stay diligent, take care of your health while traveling, and be mindful of others. Click Here for the UPMC Safe Travel Checklist highlights what to talk about with your doctor before traveling, immunization suggestions, and pandemic considerations.

- From the U.S. Department of Labor:  In the week ending July 17, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 419,000, an increase of 51,000 from the previous week's revised level. Read the full news release.

- The U.S. Census Bureau today posted results from its latest Small Business Pulse Survey. Based on responses collected July 12 through July 18, the Survey estimates that:

  • 25.2% of U.S. small businesses report a large negative effect from the Coronavirus pandemic in the last week. For responses collected 6/21/20 – 6/27/20, this statistic was 37.7% 
  • 20.3% U.S. small businesses report a decrease in revenues in the last week. For responses collected 7/5-7/11, this statistic was 19.6%
  • 15.8% of U.S. small businesses expect to make a capital expenditure in the next 6 months. For responses collected 7/5-7/11, this statistic was 16.2% 
  • 15.0% of U.S. small businesses report operating capacity to be affected by availability of supplies or inputs in the last week. For responses collected 7/5-7/11, this statistic was 14.4% 
  • 17.7% of U.S. small businesses expect to identify new supply chain options in the next 6 months 
  • 55.3% of U.S. Health Care and Social Assistance small businesses report a moderate negative effect from the coronavirus pandemic, higher than the national average of 42.4% 
  • 56.9% of U.S. Accommodation and Food Services small businesses expect to identify and hire new employees in the next 6 months.
  • The Overall Sentiment Index, which assesses the overall average effect of the pandemic on businesses, decreased to -0.41 from the prior week, indicating a more negative sentiment for SBPS responses collected 7/12 – 7/18

- In his weekly update today, 25th District State Senator Cris Dush highlighted a number of pandemic-related matters, including: Help for renters and homeowners; a legislative review regarding education; a new law that increases access to 5G; an update on the proposed integration of state universities; and information on a recent hearing on COVID-19 contact tracing. Click Here for the Senator Dush file for details.

- The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration this week announced funding opportunities for more than $21 million in training grants to help non-profit organizations. Read more: Apply Today for Department of Labor Funding Training on Workplace Hazards and Infectious Diseases (govdelivery.com)

- From the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA):

  • PRLA Thursday was invited to attend a stakeholders' briefing by the Wolf Administration on proposed changes to existing regulations relating to Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage Act. The Administration is currently finalizing the proposed regulatory changes and will submit them to the Attorney General for review. After that, they will submit the proposal to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) where there will be an opportunity for public comment.
  • The PA Department of Labor & Industry is warning employers: unemployment compensation fraud attempts are on the rise across the nation and in Pennsylvania. Watch out for these warning signs of fraudulent unemployment claims filed involving you or your company.
    • Employers who can access the new UC system can use this guide to help you report fraudulent claims: https://bit.ly/3zhbqED
    • Employers who cannot access the new UC system can use the SIDE E-Response system to report fraudulent claims: https://bit.ly/3BnGp3A.
  • The Independent Fiscal Office recently released its July Labor Market Update showing an improvement in payroll job creation in the month of June. 23,100 part or full-time jobs were added in June. The Leisure and Hospitality industry saw an increase of 26,800 jobs, while healthcare saw 8,600 added jobs, retail 5,700 added jobs, manufacturing 4,800 added jobs, and construction 1,300 added jobs. Pennsylvania also saw a decrease in average weekly unemployment compensation (UC) claims, with 767,300 UC recipients receiving an average of $2,059, which is a 144,500 person drop from the number of UC recipients in May.
  • CBRE Hotels Research forecasts U.S. lodging demand will return to pre-pandemic levels by the fourth quarter of 2023. READ MORE
  • Lodging Magazine predicts that economy hotels and those within the limited-service segment are poised to outperform the rest of the industry this summer travel season. Click here for three reasons why.
  • FSR Magazine suggests five ways restaurant owners can entice workers to apply.

- The PA Department of Community and Economic Development and the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority today announced that $14 million in Challenge grant funding has been approved for the Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Each of the four Ben Franklin partners (including the Central & Northern PA region, which provides support for businesses in Clinton County), will receive $3.5 million in funding. The partners provide access to capital, business expertise, technology commercialization services and a network of resources to advance the development of new technologies. More here: Wolf Administration: $14 Million in Challenge Grant Funding Approved for Ben Franklin Technology Partner Projects - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources this week announced new conservation measures in certain state forests – including Sproul, Bald Eagle, Tiadaghton and others in the region – where federally threatened and endangered bats are found. The new conservation measures address traditional firewood collection and cutting of standing dead trees and will limit firewood cutting and harvesting on designated roads in the impacted forests now through August 31. There will also be limited cutting enforced on designated roads in Bald Eagle State Forest September 1 – November 1, 2021, and between April 1 and May 14 of 2022. Read more: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/DCNR_details.aspx?newsid=763.

- Students attending any of Pennsylvania’s six state universities slated for consolidation next year won’t notice much change any time soon, according to the leader of the state university system. State System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Greenstein spoke with state senators on Tuesday about the plans to consolidate six universities into two institutions, including Lock Haven University, which will merge with Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities. Read more: Read More (Source: Harrisburg Patriot-News)

- UPMC Williamsport has been granted Level II Trauma Center accreditation, which goes into effect on September 1. Click Here for the UPMC Williamsport file for more information.

- Wolf Administration officials this week shared proposed nursing home regulations focused on increasing the quality of care received by residents by increasing the minimum direct care hours by 1.4 more hours each day. The current skilled nursing facility regulations have not been updated since 1999. Read more: Wolf Administration Announces Proposed Nursing Home Regulations Focused on Increased Quality of Care for Residents and Workers (pa.gov)

7/20/21

- New COVID-19 case numbers in Pennsylvania are mirroring those at the national level. The state reported nearly 1,500 new coronavirus cases over the past seven days. That's a big jump from the 907 reported the week before. It's the first time new cases have trended upward in Pennsylvania since the early spring, but the daily numbers are still a fraction of what they were during the winter-time peak. Read More (Source: WFMZ Radio)

- PA Labor & Industry on Friday released its employment situation report for June 2021, noting the state’s unemployment rate was down one-tenth of a percent over the month, to 6.9 percent in June. That rate was 6.4 percentage points below the June 2020 level. The U.S. unemployment rate rose a tenth of a percentage point from May, to 5.9 percent in June. More here: Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Down To 6.9 Percent in June (pa.gov). 

- Instances of Unemployment Compensation fraud are on the rise. 25th District State Senator Cris Dush, as part of his weekly newsletter, has offered some good information on how people should handle Unemployment Compensation Fraud and Identity Theft. Click Here for the UC Fraud file for details. 

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry has announced the department’s partnership with virtual identity verification vendor ID.me has been extended to provide identity verification for all new UC Claims. For more, including an overview from L&I on how to deal with fraudulent claims, click here: L&I Extends Partnership with Identity Verification Vendor ID.me to Reduce Unemployment Compensation Claim Fraud Attempts.

- PA CareerLink hosts a Zoom presentation on Unemployment Compensation Thursday, August 5, from 10:00 a.m. until noon. Learn the latest about UC for your business. The session will be presented by Nancy Smithbauer, Unemployment Compensation Workforce Development Representative. Click Here for the CareerLink file for more information, and register at: https://forms.gle/kPg7Zbf2cqqN4AE67. 

- The PA Attorney General’s office has filed suit against a Florida business for scamming Pennsylvania business owners. The scammers sent letters to businesses, acting as the Commonwealth’s Department of State, claiming that business owners needed to apply for a certificate of good standing in order to lawfully do business in Pennsylvania (certificates are optional, not necessary). Business owners were sent legitimate certificates of good standing, but the scammers charged double the cost of receiving a real certificate from the Commonwealth. Anyone who received a letter from “PA Certificate Service” should file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General by visiting https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint/consumer-complaint/. Read more: AG Shapiro Files Lawsuit To Shut Down Business Certificate Scam – PA Office of Attorney General.

- A new report shows Pennsylvania is showing signs of a strong economic recovery in one key area. Researchers at the left-leaning Tax Policy Center found that the Keystone State had one of the steepest drops in sales taxes in the nation last year. But now, forecasters predict Pennsylvania will collect nearly 15 percent more this year than last. That would be the largest increase of any state. Read More (Source: WESA Public Radio)

- We’re passing along the following resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: 

  • Grants and loans can help you endure tough times and expand as you scale your business. Thisguide differentiates between the two and outlines options to get you through both thick and thin.
  • More grant & program information can be foundhere.
  • Every small business should have business insurance, but it can be hard to sort through the options. See the different typesof insurance and learn what might work for your business.
  • Ransomware attacks are on the rise and can be hard to detect. This guideexplains what exactly ransomware is and provides strategies to protect your business.
  • Growing your business starts with finding the right people to help you reach your goals. Get ideas on which business operations to outsource, learn how to find the best freelancers, and get complimentary access to Fiverr Business’s new freelance management tool. Need talented freelancers? Here’s how to find them (for free).

 

- Resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration: 

  • If you own a small business in the construction or service industry, there's a good chance you'll need a surety bond. SBA-backed surety bonds can help you compete for larger contracts. Click here to Learn more about the SBA Surety Bond Guarantee Program.
  • Interested in government contracting? There are many opportunities available in the federal procurement market. Developing a marketing and sales strategy can help you achieve success. Join the General Services Administration for a webinar on July 20 at 2:00 p.m. to learn how to develop a targeted approach to contracting with the federal government. Register 
  • Attention, women in business: Register for upcoming webinars to learn how to get certified for the Women-Owned Small Business federal contracting program, what to do after you're certified and more. The webinars will be held from July-December 2021. Register
  • The SBA and Public Private Strategies Institute are hosting several webinars from July to August to help businesses get back on track. Join the next webinar this Thursday, July 22, at 2:00 p.m. to:
  • Hear about what steps you can take now to learn and take advantage of new and existing programs that are available at the SBA
  • Get an update regarding programs and recent policy announcements made by the Biden-Harris Administration
  • Have your questions answered by SBA Leadership and small business experts
  • Learn how you can become a vaccine leader in your community
  • Discover tools and resources you can use to take your business digital

Register

- From the PA Chamber of Business & Industry: 

  • Over the last 18 months, Pennsylvania employers and workers adapted to unprecedented challenges as shuttered schools and childcare facilities required typically full-time staff to care for their families on short notice. -> Read More
  • President Biden recently signed a sweeping executive order that could have profound impacts on employers, including policies that target specific industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, banking and telecommunications. -> Read More

- For those in the food industry: 

  • The National Restaurant Association will host a complimentary educational session, Maximizing Employee Retention Credit to Put Money Back into your Business, on July 22 at 2:00 p.m. The session will cover how to identify if your business is eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) and what to expect from the application process. REGISTER
  • ServSafe recently released the 6th edition of its COVID-19 Operating Guidance, which incorporates the latest recommendations and best practices from the CDC, FDA, and OSHA. DOWNLOAD
  • The National Restaurant Association is reporting that eating and drinking places added 194,300 jobs in June, marking the sixth consecutive month of staffing growth. Despite the growth, this segment is still nearly 10% below pre-pandemic employment levels. 

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced last week that the third batch of payments under the American Rescue Plan Act’s (ARPA) Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery program has been sent to qualifying Pennsylvania municipalities. More here: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- The Keystone Communities (KC) program encourages partnerships between public and private sectors that jointly support local revitalization initiatives for the growth and stability of neighborhoods and communities, social and economic diversity, and a strong and secure quality of life. Now through August 31, 2021, eligible organizations can apply for the KC program for the 2021 fiscal year competitive funding round. For program guidelines and to apply, visit the DCED website at https://dced.pa.gov/programs/keystone-communities-program-kcp/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=KC%20program&utm_campaign=KCP.

- The Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program still has billions of dollars left. The program, which first opened in April, has received around 15,000 applications for about $11.7 billion in funding—billions short of the $16 billion allocation by Congress.

- The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has released their latest newsletter. Among other topics, this issue includes an article on projected changes for Pennsylvania employment between 2018 and 2028, showing an increase for Clinton County, with a greater increase for Centre and a lesser increase for Lycoming county.. The July/August edition of Rural Perspectives is now available online at www.rural.pa.gov.

- The PA Department of Health shared its monthly update on PA’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data, and continued to encourage people to download the COVID Alert PA app. Learn more: Department of Health Offers Monthly Update On COVID-19 Investigations, Contact Tracing, and Monitoring Efforts.

- In its June report, the PA Department of Health notes that nursing home surveyors conducted 453 inspections, including 293 complaint investigations, of 322 separate nursing homes. Of those inspections, 55 were COVID-19-specific investigations. There were five new sanctions finalized against nursing care facilities resulting in $44,500 in fines. More here: Department of Health Highlights June 2021 Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.

- As part of the American Rescue Plan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, is providing $398 million in funding through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program to 1,540 small rural hospitals for COVID-19 testing and mitigation. Of that funding, $6,459,400 is earmarked for 25 small rural hospitals in Pennsylvania.

- The PA State System of Higher Education last week unanimously approved the proposed plans to integrate Lock Haven, Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities. In case you missed it, Click Here for the LHU news release for details.

For donors, friends and Lock Haven University alumni, Vice President of University Advancement Joe Fiochetta assured supporters that the foundations and alumni associations for each university will remain independent. Click Here for the LHU Advancement file for more.

While the integration process is slated to occur over the next few years, some pandemic-related funds will be used to support the process. The PASSHE board also last week laid the groundwork for spending $75 million in one-time funds the system will receive through the American Rescue Plan ($50 million) and the state employees retirement system ($25.1 million). The Pa. State System of Higher Ed. has $75M in one-time funds. Here's the preliminary spending plan | Pennsylvania Capital-Star (penncapital-star.com).

 - The personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpile currently being stored at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg will be moved to another site over the next few months, allowing the site to resume holding large events by mid-September. Read more: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- The PA Board of Game Commissioners will meet in-person this Friday and Saturday (July 23 and 24) for the first time in more than a year. During the height of the pandemic, the meetings were held virtually. More information here: BOARD OF GAME COMMISSIONERS TO MEET IN HARRISBURG (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, the Game Commission says the new system for using hunting licenses, has experienced slowdowns during peak sales periods. The Commission is working with the system vendor that operates the new HuntFishPA licensing system, hoping to find a solution that will speed up the sales process and improve system performance. See more: GAME COMMISSION ALERTS HUNTERS OF SLOWER-THAN-USUAL LICENSE FULFILLMENT (pa.gov).

- The PA Fish and Boat Commission will hold its quarterly business meeting next Monday, July 26, at the Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters. It will be an in-person meeting that will also be live-streamed. More here: PFBC QUARTERLY MEETING TO BE HELD ON JULY 26 (pa.gov).

- 25th District State Senator Cris Dush reports that legislation merging the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole was recently signed into law. The new law transfers supervision of offenders and certain administrative functions from the Board to the Department, but preserves parole decision–making responsibilities within the Board. The merger is projected to save taxpayers $29.6 million through 2023 when fully implemented by eliminating redundant procedures and sharing of resources and personnel.

- The DOC today announced that four more facilities have finalized plans to resume in-person visitation, including the State Correctional Institution in Benner Township, Centre County. SCI Benner is slated to reopen to in-person visits July 29. The DOC last week announced that Rockview State Prison would resume in-person visitation beginning August 2. See more: In-Person Visitation to Resume at Coal Township, Benner Township, Pine Grove, Greene State Correctional Institutions (pa.gov).

7/13/21

- The Internal Revenue Service announced today it will issue another round of refunds this week to nearly 4 million taxpayers who overpaid their taxes on unemployment compensation received last year. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-readies-nearly-4-million-refunds-for-unemployment-compensation-overpayments.

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry is reminding people receiving unemployment compensation benefits that the state’s work search requirements resumed as of Monday (yesterday). That means people must attest that they applied for two jobs and completed a “work search activity” like attending a job fair or posting a resume on a recruiting site, the week prior. Because claimants always file for benefits the week after they are unemployed, individuals will start certifying they looked for work beginning July 18. The requirement also applies to those in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which expanded benefit eligibility to business owners, freelancers, and independent contractors. See more: Reminder: Work Search Requirements Resume Next Week (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 334 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,214,654. Statewide, 256 people are hospitalized with the virus, 49 of whom are in intensive care. The statewide percent positivity for the week of July 2 through July 8 stood at 1.2 percent. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.3 Million Vaccinations to Date, 61.3% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated.

- The PA Department of Corrections announced today that three additional facilities have finalized plans to reimplement in-person visitation, including SCI Rockview, which is slated to resume in-person visits August 2. On-site visits to DOC facilities were suspended on March 13, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More here: In-Person Visitation to Resume at Mahanoy, Rockview, Huntingdon State Correctional Institutions (pa.gov).

- Members of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) today voted to adopt the final-form rulemaking of the multistate CO2 budget trading program, also known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional CO2 Budget Trading Program. Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI would establish a program to limit CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric power plants located in Pennsylvania. See more: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- The PA State Police today announced that troopers confiscated more than $19.6 million worth of illegal drugs during the past three months. Read more: State Police Seizes More Than $19.6 Million in Illegal Drugs During the Second Quarter of 2021 (pa.gov).

Meanwhile, the State Police Monday announced two new community-based initiatives, the creation of an Office of Community Engagement, and the Community Access to Information Dashboard. More here: State Police Strengthens Community Engagement, Develops Public Dashboard (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of  Education this week announced that K-12 schools will have the option to continue offering free school meals during the 2021-22 school year. Learn more: Free School Meals to Continue in Upcoming School Year (pa.gov).

PDE and NextGenScience meanwhile today announced the launch of the Pennsylvania Science Education Leaders Network (PennSEL), a cohort of leadership teams representing 19 regions across the state with a goal of improving science learning for all students. Read more: Department of Education Announces Launch of Science Education Leadership Network.

- Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity today announced the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program (PA 529) had its best year ever in fiscal year 2020-21, adding 25,004 new accounts while bringing in more than $732 million in total contributions. These numbers are the largest in the nearly 30-year history of PA 529. Read more: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- From 12th District Congressman Fred Keller: 

  • All Department of Veterans Affairs facilities and clinics that administer COVID-19 vaccines are accepting walk-ins for eligible Veterans, spouses and caregivers. The VA encourages those who wish to get their COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment to check the walk-in hours and requirements at their local facility. Individuals taking advantage of walk-in vaccinations may need to wait for the vaccine to be prepared and will be screened when entering the facility. For more information about COVID-19 vaccinations at the VA, click here.
  • A Veteran ID Card (VIC) is a form of photo ID you can use to get discounts offered to Veterans at many restaurants, hotels, stores and other businesses. Find out if you’re eligible for a Veteran ID Card—and how to apply. VA Veteran ID Cards do not permit access to bases or commissaries. Learn more here.

- 76th State Representative Stephanie Borowicz this week announced that 20 volunteer fire and ambulance companies in Clinton County and another eight in Centre County qualified to receive approximately $328,612 from a grant program administered by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Office of the State Fire Commissioner. Following is a list of grant awards for Clinton County emergency responders:

  • Avis Volunteer Fire Company, $11,876.
  • Beech Creek Blanchard Volunteer Fire Company, $12,589.
  • Beech Creek Blanchard Volunteer Fire Company, EMS, $8,993.
  • Castanea Volunteer Fire Company, $11,520.
  • Chapman Township Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, $11,520.
  • Citizens Hose Company No. 5, $14,550.
  • Citizens Hose Company of South Renovo, $11,520.
  • Dunnstown Fire Company, $12,411.
  • Goodwill Hose Company Ambulance Association, $8,993.
  • Goodwill Hose Company No. 3, $11,876.
  • Hand In Hand Hose Company, $13,659.
  • Haneyville Volunteer Fire Company, $11,520.
  • Hope Hose Company No. 2, $12,411.
  • Lamar Township Volunteer Fire Company, $12,504.
  • Lockhaven Emergency Medical Service, $8,993.
  • Nittany Valley Volunteer Fire Company, $11,876.
  • Renovo Fire Department Inc., $12,767.
  • Sugar Valley Community Volunteer Fire Company Inc., $11,520.
  • Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Company, $9,350.
  • Woolrich Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, $12,589.

All funding comes from proceeds from slot machine gaming.

- The U.S. Census Bureau by August 16 is set to release in-depth demographic statistics from the 2020 Census that will be used to redraw legislative voting districts. These follow the April 26 release of the first results from the 2020 Census, which showed that the total population was 331.4 million. The first release determined each state’s share of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Read More

The August data release will provide the first look at the demographic characteristics of the nation by state, county and city, including:

  • Race and ethnicity
  • Voting-age population
  • Occupied and vacant housing units
  • People living in group quarters like nursing homes, prisons, military barracks and college dorms

For more about redistricting or redrawing political districts and/or a detailed demographic portrait of the nation’s population, Continue reading.

7/9/21

- PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity says the state has distributed more than $300 million of American Rescue Plan Act COVID funds to qualifying municipalities in the past two weeks, including some to Clinton County municipalities. Municipalities can use the funds to address negative economic impacts due to the pandemic, replace lost public sector revenue, support public health, assist essential works, and invest in infrastructure improvements such as water, sewer or broadband services. See more: News Release (patreasury.gov).

- The PA Department of Education this week provided information on a new law that permits parents, guardians, and students over the age of 18 to elect to have their children or themselves repeat their grade because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools and school districts will accept completed forms only through this coming Thursday, July 15. More here: Department of Education Provides Information on New Law That Allows Grade Level Retainment.

- Lock Haven University this week announced plans for a full return to the classroom for the upcoming fall semester but noted that some of the University’s COVID-19 modifications will remain in place. Click Here for the LHU news release for details.

Meanwhile, the State System of Higher Education has published a final version of proposed integration plans for six of the universities in the 14-university system. One of the proposals, called the Northeast Plan, would integrate Lock Haven, Bloomsburg, and Mansfield universities. The State System says the changes published Wednesday follow several weeks of public comment on the proposed integrations. The System Board of Governors is slated to act on the integration plans at their meeting next week. Click here to see highlights of revisions to the integration plan based on public input: https://www.passhe.edu/SystemRedesign/Documents/Guide%20to%20Plan%20Changes.pdf; and here for the Final Northeast Implementation Plan: https://www.passhe.edu/SystemRedesign/Documents/Northeast Plan 07.07.2021__CLEAN.pdf.

- The PA Department of Human Services today announced that all County Assistance Offices will resume in-person operations for clients this coming Monday, July 12. The Assistance Offices had been closed to in-person services throughout the pandemic. Read more: Department of Human Services to Reopen County Assistance Offices to the Public, Encourages Continued Use of Online Services.

- The Department of Human Services also announced that the Wolf Administration has reached an agreement with the Biden Administration that allows DHS to continue issuing about $150 million monthly in emergency food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to more than 1.8 million low-income Pennsylvanians. More information here: Wolf Administration Secures Agreement to Continue Issuing Emergency Food Assistance (pa.gov).

- As of early June, PPL Electric Utilities customers received more than $1 million in utility payments through the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, representing 55 percent of the total utility assistance funds paid throughout the entire state. According to PPL Regional Affairs Director Tracie Witter, “PPL Electric Utilities is the front runner in the state as we help our customers utilize this new program. Our success is attributed to proactively embracing the program, strategic partnerships with the 29 counties throughout our service territory and our effective communications strategy.”

Witter notes that in Clinton County, 35 customers were assisted for a total of $30,759.

ERAP assistance continues to be available to both landlords and tenants. The Clinton County Housing Coalition is the agency accepting applications, determining eligibility, and making program payments on behalf of the County Commissioners. The ERAP program is to remain in effect until December 31, or until funds are exhausted. Click here for a link to the ERAP online application.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week said it is monitoring multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, including four in the United States that seem to spread more easily than others. So far, studies suggest that current authorized vaccines work on these variants. The CDC is encouraging everyone ages 12 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. More Information.

- UPMC this week offered information on the COVID-19 Delta variant in their “Health Beat” newsletter. Click Here for the UPMC file for more.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration this week released updated Restaurant Revitalization Fund data for individual states. Pennsylvania ranked 6th in total applications submitted, with 9,944 applications requesting nearly $2.5 billion in relief. The SBA approved 3,530 applications in Pennsylvania (or about 35% of submitted applications), totaling just under $950 million in aid. View the complete report here.

The SBA officially announced the closure of the RRF portal on July 14. According to the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association, the only way to get more funds into the RRF is for Congress to allocate additional funding.

- Recently, the IRS issued its "dirty dozen" list for 2021 with a warning for taxpayers, tax professionals, and financial institutions to be on the lookout for 12 schemes and scams. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said scam artists continue to use the pandemic to steal money and information from honest taxpayers in a time of crisis.

Non-COVID Items of Note: 

- The Ben Franklin $50,000 Big Idea Contest – hosted by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA - is looking for tech entrepreneurs or small manufacturers who are developing innovative, new products, processes, or software applications. Businesses in Clinton County are in the Ben Franklin coverage area. The deadline to submit your big idea is August 23. Learn More!

- SEDA-COG continues to encourage contractors to take advantage of project opportunities through their housing rehabilitation program. Click Here for the SEDA-COG news release for more information.

- The PPL Foundation this week announced the awarding of more than $450,000 in grants to 115 nonprofit organizations. Funds will be used to inspire students to explore career opportunities, facilitate community conversations on diversity and inclusion, encourage environmental conservation in the next generation and more. A complete list of grant recipients is available online.

PPL Foundation’s next grant cycle, which awards grants focused on major new initiatives and expansions of programs that align with the foundation’s focus areas, will begin in August. Applications for grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 will be accepted Aug. 1 through Sept. 15. Read the full news release here: PPL Newsroom - News Releases (mediaroom.com)

- The PA Department of Agriculture is calling for proposals for projects designed to increase consumer awareness of Pennsylvania agriculture products and increase sales and exports. The department will award up to $303,000 in matching funds to PA nonprofits to reimburse up to 50 percent of costs for promotional and educational projects. See more: Secretary of Agriculture: $300,000 Available to Promote Pennsylvania Agriculture Sales, Export Markets (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today announced it is taking steps to correct overcharges for some Unemployment Compensation fault overpayments during the years 2006 through 2016. L&I said 65 percent of those affected are owed less than five dollars, and 80 percent are owed less than $50. See more: L&I: Interest Refunds Coming for Certain Claimants (pa.gov).

- The PA Department of Corrections this week announced the creation of a specialized unit at nearby Rockview State Correctional Institution that is designed to serve the needs of incarcerated individuals diagnosed with dementia and other memory loss diseases. Learn more: Department of Corrections to Launch Innovative Neuro-Cognitive CARE Unit at SCI Rockview.

- The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board will hold a meeting on Tuesday, July 13, to consider the final form rulemaking for Pennsylvania to take part in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The 9:00 a.m. meeting will be streamed at pacast.com/live/dep. More here: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- The PA State Police this week announced second-quarter 2021 firearms purchase statistics. The April through June 2021 activity was not record-breaking, unlike the previous three quarters. More here:  https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/PA-State-Police-Details.aspx?newsid=710.

- PennDOT is alerting regional drivers to traffic impacts that are expected to begin Wednesday, July 14, along Route 64 from Zion to Hublersburg in Centre County as paving work occurs throughout July. Drivers should plan for short to moderate travel delays. See more: News Details (penndot.gov).

7/6/21

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed a four-day total (July 3-6) of an additional 547 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,213, 135. Across Pennsylvania, there are 293 people hospitalized with the virus, 53 of whom are in intensive care. The current COVID-19 positive case count for Clinton County is 3,717; 16,930 in Centre; and 11,970 positive cases to date in Lycoming County. There have been 67 deaths attributed to the virus in Clinton County, 228 in Centre and 296 in Lycoming County.

To date, vaccine providers have administered 11,759,994 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 6,760,882 of which are first/single doses and 4,999,112 of which are second/full doses. According to the data, 2,669 people in Clinton County have received a partial dose, while 12,892 are fully vaccinated. In Centre, 10,296 are partially vaccinated and 76,753 are fully vaccinated. And in Lycoming County, 8,231 people are partially vaccinated while 45,154 are fully vaccinated.

The Health Department continues to urge Pennsylvanians to follow CDC guidance for wearing a mask where required by law, rule and regulations, including healthcare, local business and workplace guidance. They also encourage people who have not yet been vaccinated to wear a mask in public. Read more: Department of Health: Over 11.7 Million Vaccinations to Date, 63.0% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 60.5% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- Following are several updates from the U.S. Small Business Administration:

  • If you received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness. Follow the four steps below.
  1. Contact your lender and complete the correct form
  2. Compile documentation
  3. Submit the forgiveness form and documentation to your lender
  4. Communicate with your lender throughout the process    (Learn more)
  • Small business owners who are finding it hard to fill job openings may be eligible to petition the government for help. There are still 6,000 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services H-2B visas for people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who are exempt from the returning worker requirement. The supplemental visas address the needs of U.S. employers at risk of permanent and severe financial loss and supports the Biden-Harris Administration goal to expand legal pathways for hard-working individuals. Interested qualified businesses can petition for these visas before July 8, 2021. Learn more
  • The American Rescue Plan extends a number of critical tax benefits, particularly the Employee Retention Credit and Paid Leave Credit, to small businesses. Learn more
  • The SBA continues to accept applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. To submit an application, visit sba.gov/svogrant.
  • For women in business: Tune in to SBA’s upcoming webinars and learn how to get certified for the Women-Owned Small Business federal contracting program, what to do after you're certified and more. Learn more
  • The SBA has extended the application date for the Community Navigator Pilot Program from July 12 to July 23, 2021, and anticipates making award decisions by September 2021. Established by the American Rescue Plan, the community navigator approach is designed reach the nation’s smallest businesses, with a priority focus on those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as women and veterans. Learn more
  • The SBA and Public Private Strategies Institute are hosting several webinars through August to help businesses get back on track. The next webinar is this Thursday, July 8 at 2:00 p.m. As part of the webinar, participants will: hear about what steps to take now to learn and take advantage of new and existing programs that are available at the SBA; get an update regarding programs and recent policy announcements made by the Biden-Harris Administration; have questions answered by SBA Leadership and small business experts; learn how to become a vaccine leader in your community; and discover tools and resources you can use to take your business digital Register

 - A reminder that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has postponed the enforcement date for REAL ID, extending the current deadline of October 1 of this year, to May 3, 2023. The department cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in extending the deadline. Learn more at PennDOT.gov/REALID. Read More

- 25th District State Senator Cris Dush holds Open Houses at his Brookville District Office tomorrow, Wednesday, July 7, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and at his Wellsboro District Office on Thursday, July 8, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Contact information for those offices is:

Brookville Office                               Wellsboro Office
73 South White Street, Suite 5           5 Main Street
Brookville, PA 15825                         Wellsboro, PA 16901
814-646-7272                                     570-724-5231

 The Senator will also host a Virtual Town Hall next Tuesday, July 13, at 5:30 p.m. People can access the event via live audio stream at https://senatorcrisdushpa.com/access-live/ or join in via Facebook Live at www.facebook.com/SenatorCrisDushPA. Sign Up Here.

- The Small Business Development Center at Penn State hosts a number of upcoming webinars on topics ranging from: the first steps to small business success, QuickBooks Online, Crisis Management with 360º Planning, and more. Click the following link to see All Upcoming SBDC Events.

- The PA State Police today announced enforcement statistics from the just-ended, four-day Fourth of July holiday weekend, including 503 arrests for driving under the influence, 8,935 speeding citations, and the investigation of 680 crashes which resulted in the death of nine people and injuries to 195 others. See more: State Police Announces Independence Day Holiday Enforcement Results (pa.gov).

- The PA Game Commission today said this coming Monday, July 12 is the first day for Pennsylvania hunters to apply for a doe license. Nonresidents can submit their first antlerless application a week later, beginning July 19. The Commission noted a slight fee increase (not in the license fee, but in the fee for a the vendor that operates the state’s licensing system) means the doe licenses now cost $6.97 for residents and $26.97 for nonresidents (an increase of .09 cents). The Commission said the change is an important one to remember, as checks or money orders written for an improper amount will result in the application being rejected. Details here: WHAT HUNTERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT 2021-22 ANTLERLESS DEER LICENSES (pa.gov).

7/2/21

- Clinton County’s jobless picture continued to show improvement based on monthly information released this week by the PA Department of Labor and Industry. The county’s May unemployment rate was 5.8%, down from the 6.9% reading in April. A year ago, near the beginning of the pandemic, the county’s May jobless rate was 12.2%. Clinton ranked no. 24 out of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties with its 5.8% reading. Centre County was no. 11 at 4.8%. Chester and Montour counties tied for first at 3.9%. Philadelphia County was last at 8.9%. The state unemployment rate checked in at 6.9% and the United States was 5.8% for May.

“These numbers indicate some signs of a return to normalcy,” said Clinton County Economic Partnership President Mike Flanagan. “But we know that many of our businesses, including the service sector, are struggling for employees and that continues to be a major issue. We still have an estimated 1,000 people out of work, which is almost the number we were at prior to the pandemic in March 2020.”

- From the U.S. Department of Labor: In June 2021, the nation’s unemployment rate was 5.9% and 850,000 jobs were added to the economy, including 343,000 jobs in leisure and hospitality. The economy is growing faster than at any time in 40 years. Read the Bureau of Labor Statistics report and Read Secretary Walsh's statement.

Meanwhile, in the week ending June 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 364,000, a decrease of 51,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 4,000 from 411,000 to 415,000. The 4-week moving average was 392,750, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,000 from 397,750 to 398,750. Read the full news release.

- The U.S. Department of Labor this week also announced the funding availability of approximately $43 million in grants to help reemploy dislocated workers most affected by the economic and employment fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. See more: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20210629.

- The U.S. Small Business Administration will officially shut down the RRF portal on July 14 (the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, funded through the American Rescue Plan), unless Congress replenishes the fund (a possibility looking increasingly unlikely, according to the PA Restaurant & Lodging Association). The SBA will hold onto all applications if additional dollars are allocated to the fund. In a letter to RRF applicants, the SBA said it was able to provide grants to 105,000 restaurant operators before depleting the $28.6 billion fund. However, another 265,000 applicants were left disappointed. 

- Tourism and hospitality operations across the country are feeling the crunch from labor shortages, and many are turning to teenagers (Generation Z) to help fill their openings. Check out these tips on what zoomers are looking for in a job.

- The PA Department of Community and Economic Development this week announced that due to an extension granted by the U.S. Department of Treasury, local governments still have time to request their portion of federal Local Fiscal Recovery funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act. DCED Secretary Dennis Davin said, “This federal funding can be used to help support COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost revenue, and support economic stabilization for businesses and households. As our communities plan for long-term economic recovery, it’s important that every municipality utilizes the resources available to them.” More here: Wolf Administration: Not Too Late for Local Governments to Request American Rescue Plan Local Funding Allocations - PA Department of Community & Economic Development.

- Pennsylvania ended the 2020-21 fiscal year on June 30 with $40.4 billion in General Fund Collections, about 9.3 percent above estimate, according to the Department of Revenue. Read more: Revenue Department Releases Fiscal Year 2020-21 Collections.

- PA Governor Tom Wolf this week signed the state’s new $40.8 billion budget. Read more: https://www.pennlive.com/news/2021/06/pa-gov-tom-wolf-signs-408-billion-budget-with-more-money-for-public-schools.html?e=1a2598713c24f3b9b618fcff2a4a0f97&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_coronavirus%202021-07-01&utm_term=Newsletter_coronavirus.

- Governor Wolf says the new budget makes an historic investment in the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). He announced distribution of the first $50 million of a $200 million three-year commitment for all PASSHE schools, which include Lock Haven University. The Governor said PASSHE is also working with system faculty and staff unions to use a portion of the state’s investment to support its workforce, including extending the time faculty at any of the 14 universities who are facing “role elimination” have to work to find alternatives to their retrenchment. There is also an effort being made to ensure no functions are outsourced that would impact current AFSCME employees within the state system. Learn more: Wolf Administration Announces Historic Investment in PASSHE.

- The PA Department of Health today confirmed an additional 304 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,212,561. Statewide, there are 310 people hospitalized with the virus, 59 of whom are in intensive care. The Health Department said vaccine providers have administered 11,711,557 total vaccine doses as of today, July 2, with 6,738,627 of those being single/first doses and 4,972,930 being second/full doses. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.7 Million Vaccinations to Date, 62.9% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 60.3% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 9th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- More than one million Pennsylvanians have missed their second coronavirus shots, a no-show rate among the nation’s highest and a gap that could prove critical as the country braces for the spread of the newer, more transmissible Delta variant, according to a report this week in the Philadelphia Inquirer. By June’s end, 70% of Pennsylvania adults should have been fully vaccinated. Instead, the state had only reached 60%, meaning many who got their first doses in May skipped the second shots. With both doses likely needed to protect against the Delta variant — a single shot is only about 33% effective against Delta, one study found — getting the second shot has become more urgent than ever. Yet the share of Pennsylvanians not completing their immunizations has been rising over the last two months, reaching nearly 17% this week, according to an Inquirer analysis of CDC vaccination data. The reasons so many are skipping or delaying second shots are unclear — particularly since Pennsylvanians have done better than many in other states at showing up for their first shots. And understanding why could prove difficult: The Pennsylvania Department of Health is not tracking missed second doses, meaning state officials don’t know who skipped the shots or what demographic groups they belong to, information that could be critical for addressing the problem. Read More (Source: Philadelphia Inquirer)

- Employee vaccinations have been a widely discussed and contested issue regarding the return to the physical workplace. If you’re requiring the vaccine for your staff, here’s how to discuss and promote your policy without potentially alienating any employees: Communicating about vaccine requirements. Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

- Governor Wolf Thursday vetoed Senate Bill 618, which would have prohibited local, county, and state offices, as well as public schools and publicly funded universities from requiring Pennsylvanians to prove that they’ve been vaccinated. Details here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-vetoes-anti-vaccination-legislation/.

- Starting on Tuesday, July 6, it’s back to the office for some state government employees who have been working from home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More (Source: Harrisburg Patriot-News)

- The PA Department of Agriculture is seeking projects that strengthen the state’s competitiveness of horticultural specialty crops and combat food system shortfalls associated with COVID-19. Proposals are due July 30. Details here: Department of Agriculture: $1.4 Million Available to Strengthen Specialty Crop Market, Combat COVID-19 Food System Impacts.

- The Ag Department is also calling for research proposals on issues critical to sustaining and growing the state’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry. A total of $1.29 million is available to support eligible projects. More here: Agriculture Secretary Calls for Innovative Research to Grow Pennsylvania Ag Industry (pa.gov).

- Natural gas production in Pennsylvania increased while new well drilling decreased in 2020, according to the 2020 Oil and Gas Annual Report released today by the PA Department of Environmental Protection. See more: Article Viewer (pa.gov).

- In addition to being Independence Day, this Sunday, July 4, is “Fish-for-Free Day” in Pennsylvania, a day when people of any age can fish on waterways without a license (all other fishing regulations still apply). Read more: SUNDAY, JULY 4 IS A "FISH-FOR-FREE DAY" IN PENNSYLVANIA! (pa.gov).

- The PA Fish & Boat Commission says it will enhance boating under the influence enforcement over the July 4th Holiday Weekend. More information here: "OPERATION DRY WATER" ENHANCED BOATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE ENFORCEMENT SET FOR 4TH OF JULY WEEKEND (pa.gov).

- The PA Game Commission announced that completing the National Rifle Association’s free hunter-education online course will satisfy the prerequisite for obtaining a hunter or furtaker license in the state, giving prospective hunters who need to become certified before getting their license yet another option to do so. The NRA course will be offered free of charge in addition to the in-person and online courses currently offered by the Game Commission. In-person courses are now back up and running after a year of being available on a limited basis during the pandemic. People can find course information on the Commission’s hunter-education page at www.pgc.pa.gov.

- 25th District State Senator Cris Dush will host a Virtual Town Hall on Tuesday, July 13, at 5:30 p.m. People can access the event via live audio stream at https://senatorcrisdushpa.com/access-live/ or join in via Facebook Live at www.facebook.com/SenatorCrisDushPA. Sign Up Here.

Senator Dush is also holding Open Houses at his Brookville District Office on Wednesday, July 7, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and at his Wellsboro District Office on Thursday, July 8, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Contact information for those offices is:

Brookville Office                               Wellsboro Office
73 South White Street, Suite 5           5 Main Street
Brookville, PA 15825                         Wellsboro, PA 16901
814-646-7272                                      570-724-5231
FAX: 814-646-7275                            FAX: 570-723-5119

 

- Penn State Extension is offering 25 percent off enrollment in over 75 online courses, but only if you enroll before July 6. View the online course catalog and register for courses here: VIEW COURSES

- The PA Department of Banking will host and participate in a number of virtual presentations during July to promote financial capability. Find out more – including presentation topics – here: July 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Virtual Events Announced (pa.gov).

6/29/21

- Cases of COVID-19 continue to decline across the state as well as locally. Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam today issued the weekly status update on Pennsylvania’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 995 (389 fewer new cases across the state over the past week compared to the previous week) and a statewide percent positivity of 1.2%, down slightly from 1.4% percent last week. Clinton County this week has a percent positivity of 1.6%, down from 1.9% a week ago. The percent positivity rate for Centre County also declined, from 1.7% last week to 0.7% this week, and Lycoming County’s percent positivity is 2.8% this week compared to 3.0% last week. In all, 65 of the state’s 67 counties have a positivity rate lower than 5 percent, and there are no counties reporting over a 10 percent positivity rate. 

Clinton and Centre counties continue to be among the 55 counties in what the state considers a “low” level of community transmission. Twelve counties – including Lycoming – are in the “moderate” level, and no counties are in the “substantial” level of community transmission – the second consecutive week without any counties in the substantial range. 

The Governor said 75 percent of Pennsylvanians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of early Monday, the Health Department said 59.8% of Pennsylvanians 18 or older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 75.2% have received at least a first dose. The mask-wearing order tied to the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer in effect (as of Monday), but businesses are permitted to require masks should be so choose. 

With the continued decline in cases, the state said today’s update is the last that will be issued via a news release, although the COVID dashboard will continue to be updated every Friday. More information here: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard Update for June 18 – June 24 (pa.gov).

- The Health Department today reported 162 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,211,869. Statewide, there are 341 people hospitalized with the virus, 57 of whom are in intensive care. Across the state, vaccine providers have administered 11,635,434 total vaccine doses, 6,704,974 of which are first/single doses and 4,930,460 of which are second/full doses. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.6 Million Vaccinations to Date, 62.6% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 60% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 7th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- Updates from the PA Chamber:

  • Ahead of the June 30 Constitutional deadline, the General Assembly and Wolf administration reached agreement on a $39.78 billion budget for the 2021-22 Fiscal Year. The final budget does not impose any new or additional tax increases on employers. -> Read More.
  • Among the numerous policies included in budget-related legislation passed last week was a one-sentence provision that has significant implications for many Pennsylvania employers. -> Read More. 
  • In the rush to finalize the state budget, legislation that would have provided restaurants with more flexibility and revenue options failed to get to the governor’s desk.  House Bill 1154would have allowed restaurants to continue selling cocktails-to-go and utilizing outdoor space. -> Read More. (Update: It’s being reported today that State Senator Scott Martin of Lancaster County has sent a letter to Senate leadership urging it to call senators into session (before a rule permitting them to vote remotely expires on June 30) to consider the cocktails-to-go legislation. There has been no formal response as of yet to that request).

- From the U.S. Census Bureau….Based on responses collected June 14 through June 20, the Small Business Pulse Survey estimates that:

  •  22.7% of U.S. small businesses have experienced little or no effect from the coronavirus pandemic. For responses collected 5/24/20 – 5/30/20, this statistic was 11.4%
  • 13.2% of U.S. small businesses experienced an increase in operating revenues in the last week. For responses collected 6/7 – 6/13, this statistic was 12.1%
  • 35.8% of U.S. small businesses believe they will need to identify and hire new employees in the next 6 months
  • 61.8% of U.S. Manufacturing Small Businesses experienced domestic supplier delays in the last week. The national average for this statistic was 36.7%
  • 39.1% of U.S. Wholesale Trade Small Businesses experienced foreign supplier delays in the last week.  For responses collected 6/7 – 6/13, this statistic was 40.2%
  • The Operational Challenges Index, which assesses the overall effect of the pandemic on business operations increased to -0.09, indicating fewer challenges
  • 5.9% of U.S. Small Businesses have experienced a large negative effect from the coronavirus pandemic. For responses collected 5/17/20 – 5/23/20, this statistic was 45.0%

- The PA Department of Labor & Industry today said jobs in public safety and emergency response are in high demand. More here: L&I Highlights Fast-Growing Careers in Public Safety and Emergency Response During Tour of HACC’s Senator John J. Shumaker Public Safety Center (pa.gov).

- The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department released information today detailing how many people in each state received the third round of Economic Impact Payments through early June. The new details, available on IRS.gov, are through June 3 and provide a look at the number of payments by state, income category, filing status and other features. Read more: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-treasury-release-state-by-state-data-on-third-round-of-economic-impact-payments.

- Treasury and the IRS today also issued guidance for taxpayers developing renewable energy projects to address delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic. More here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-extend-safe-harbor-for-renewable-energy-projects.

- According to UPMC’s latest COVID Update today, more than 140 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, with UPMC having distributed more than 595,000 doses of vaccine to-date. For those wanting to schedule a vaccine appointment, visit Vaccine.UPMC.com. To schedule an appointment for a child between the ages of 12 and 17, call 844-UPMCVAC (844-876-2822) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., 7 days a week. Click Here for the UPMC file for the full newsletter.

- The PA Department of Education today announced the availability of the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a program that will help eligible schools and libraries close the digital divide and homework gap. Learn more: Department of Education Encourages Schools and Libraries to Apply for Federal Assistance to Help Close the Digital Divide.

- PennDOT today announced that the application site for the 2021 Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside of the Federal Highway Administration’s Surface Block Grant Program is now open, and applications will be accepted through October 15. Some $18 million is available statewide for eligible projects. See more: Article (penndot.gov).

- PennDOT also announced today that work to place a new box culvert along Marsh Creek Road in Centre County will begin next Thursday, July 8. The box culvert will replace a large cross pipe on an unnamed tributary of Marsh Creek on Route 1002 (Marsh Creek Road) northwest of Howard. Work is expected to last through August 6. Beginning July 8, the road will be closed at the work site and a detour will be in place using Route SR1001(Howard Divide Road), Route 150 (Bald Eagle Valley Road), Route 4007 (Moose Run Road), and Route 1002 (Marsh Creek Road). This detour will be used for the duration of the project, which is a joint effort between Centre County PennDOT Maintenance and Nestlerode Contracting, Inc. of Lock Haven. PennDOT will perform excavation, removal of the pipe, and back-filling. The contractor will set the new box culvert, pave the roadway approaches and install guide rail. 

- In advance of the upcoming holiday, PennDOT today said all driver license and photo centers will be closed Saturday, July 3, through Monday, July 5, in observance of Independence Day. People can still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.

- The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources today announced the opening of an ATV Regional Trail Connector pilot program in neighboring Potter and Tioga counties that will provide opportunities for riding enthusiasts to travel on more miles of roadways opened to ATVs. Read more: DCNR Set to Open ATV Regional Trail Connector Pilot Area July 16 (pa.gov).

6/25/21

- The PA Department of Health today announced that the order requiring universal face coverings will be lifted statewide this coming Monday, June 28. Read more: Department of Health Lifting Universal Masking Order on June 28, Urging Pennsylvanians to Follow Mask-Wearing Guidance Where Required.

While the mask mandate in Pennsylvania ends on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, and other federal agencies still require a mask for unvaccinated individuals. The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association is among those groups suggesting businesses consider having unvaccinated employees continue to wear a mask until the federal guidance changes.

- A reminder that Lock Haven University, in collaboration with UPMC and Clinton County Government will host a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Monday, June 28, from 12:00 noon – 4:00 p.m. The drive-thru clinic – open to anyone age 12 and older – will be held at the LHU Student Recreation Center parking lot, 550 Railroad Street, Lock Haven. No registration is required.

- The Health Department today confirmed an additional 258 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,211,299. There are 380 people hospitalized with the virus, 75 of whom are in intensive care. To date, vaccine providers have administered 11,555,953 total vaccine doses, 6,672,317 of which are first/single doses, and 4,883,636 of which are second/full doses. More data here: Department of Health: Over 11.5 Million Vaccinations to Date, 62.2% of Entire Population Received First Dose, 59.4% of Pennsylvanians Age 18 and Older Fully Vaccinated, PA Ranks 8th Among 50 States for First Dose Vaccinations.

- The PA Senate this week confirmed the nominations of Jennifer Berrier as Secretary for the Department of Labor & Industry, and Noe Ortega has the state’s Education Secretary. Both had been nominated by Governor Tom Wolf. Berrier had been the acting Labor & Industry secretary since December 4, when her predecessor Jerry Oleksiak resigned. While senators voiced concerns about the delays and problems their constituents encountered in applying for unemployment compensation benefits during the height of the pandemic, the Senate Labor & Industry Committee voted to support Berrier’s nomination with a favorable recommendation. Ortega had been serving as acting education secretary since October 1 when his predecessor Pedro Rivera resigned to become president of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster. Ortega’s nomination, however, was advanced out of the Senate Education Committee with no recommendation, as some on the committee were critical of the department’s COVID-19 mitigation guidance to school districts and what they called a lack of communication with them about it.

- The Governor this week announced the resignations of his Chief of Staff Mike Brunelle and Budget Secretary Jen Swails, both of whom have accepted jobs in the private sector. Elena Cross, Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor (who hails from State College and attended Penn State), assumes the role of Chief of Staff effective June 26. Gregory Thall, Special Advisor to the Budget Secretary, will assume the role of Budget Secretary on July 31. Read more: Governor Wolf Announces Staffing Changes (pa.gov).

- In the week ending June 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 411,000, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week's revised level, according to information released by the U.S. Department of Labor. More here: News Release (dol.gov).

- The U.S. Department of Labor this week announced funding opportunities for more than $21 million in Occupational Safety and Health Administration training grants for non-profit organizations. Details here: US Department of Labor announces availability of more than $21M in grants for training on workplace hazards, infectious diseases | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).

- 12th District Congressman Fred Keller will host a Telephone Town Hall on Monday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m. He is inviting constituents to dial-in at 866-641-6837 or listen in live at keller.house.gov/live.

- Businesses interested in exploring the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program have an opportunity to support Keystone Central School District students via the Keystone Central Foundation. The EITC provides companies with a 75% tax credit for donations to nonprofit educational improvement organizations, such as the Keystone Central Foundation. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need