Thursday, November 12, 2020
Washington Must Pass a Pandemic Relief Bill
Congress left Washington before election with no compromise and no action on the long anticipated COVID-19 Relief Bill. This followed months of endless negotiations and postponement.

The question now is whether, with Election Day behind us, a compromise relief bill can be achieved during Lame Duck session before year's end, rather than being punted to the new Congress in the new year. At the core of urgency are many thousands of small businesses who survived so far but with the pandemic not yet over and perhaps worsening before concluding, there are a great many enterprises who increasingly need access to a second round of the PPP forgivable loan program to make it through winter. This includes many of our restaurants, for example, who are struggling without the outdoor dining which helped through summer. And retailers and others who, in border areas like ours, depend on the eventual reopening of the border. These are just examples.

For many, the difference of a few months may well be the difference between surviving and closing. And we all remain committed to doing everything we can to LEAVE NO BUSINESS BEHIND.

And so we are joined with allies across the country in calling upon our Washington leaders to find common ground, recognize the urgency and pass additional relief measures now versus January or February. In addition to crucial PPP access for small business, resources are needed for testing and healthcare, support for education as our schools and colleges continue to navigate myriad and costly challenges, and urgent new aid for state and local assistance and airports -- as well as for the MTA and transit agencies whose recovery and stabilization is crucial to our region's many transportation equipment producers.

The need is timely, and the time is now.
Garry Douglas
President and CEO
North Country Chamber of Commerce
Governor Cuomo Announces New Guidelines for Restaurants, Bars, Gyms and Private Gatherings
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday new COVID-19 restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms and residential gatherings in New York State.
Effective Friday at 10 p.m., bars, restaurants and gyms or fitness centers, as well as any State Liquor Authority-licensed establishment, will be required to close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. Restaurants will still be allowed to provide curbside, food-only pick-up or delivery after 10 p.m., but will not be permitted to serve alcohol to go. The State Liquor Authority will issue further guidance for licensees as to what sales are continued to be permitted.
The Governor also announced that indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences will be limited to no more than 10 people. The limit will be implemented due to the recent prevalence of COVID spread resulting from small indoor gatherings including Halloween parties. These gatherings have become a major cause of cluster activity across the state. Further, this public health measure brings New York State in line with neighboring states including Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. This new rule is also effective Friday at 10 p.m.
"If you look at where the cases are coming from, if you do the contact tracing, you'll see they're coming from three main areas: establishments where alcohol is served, gyms, and indoor gatherings at private homes," Governor Cuomo said. "The reason we have been successful in reducing the spread in New York is we have been a step ahead of COVID. You know where it's going; stop it before it gets there. And you know where it's going by following the science. This is the calibration that we've talked about: increase economic activity, watch the positivity rate - if the positivity rate starts to go up, back off on the economic activity. It was never binary -- economic activity or public health -- it was always both."
The Governor took these actions amid a widespread increase in cases throughout the nation and an increase in New York, which was expected moving into the fall and winter seasons.
Welcoming the State Comptroller
The North Country Chamber was pleased to join with Assemblyman Billy Jones this week in co-hosting a visit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. A key focus of the visit was the continuing strain on county and local finances stemming from the pandemic. We were pleased to be joined by Clinton County Legislature Chair Mark Henry, County Administrator Mike Zurlo and Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman at the Chamber. We later accompanied the Comptroller and Assemblyman in two visits in the Malone area, including meetings with Franklin County officials, and including a visit to Titus Mountain.

All shared perspectives with the Comptroller on the continuing impacts on local government and business, and we discussed the importance of anticipated additional federal support. We also collectively thanked Comptroller DiNapoli for the importance of the timely information and data he continues to provide, including the monthly reports on county sales tax receipts. He left with an even stronger understanding of the particular economic factors and conditions in our area, and we will continue to work actively with him and his team going forward.
Vermont Issues Mandatory Quarantine Advisory
Officials in Vermont have implemented mandatory quarantine for all travel into and returning from outside the Green Mountain State.

The warning map will not reference "safe" area counties. Nearly all regions in New York are red, indicating COVID infection rates have surpassed acceptable levels in the state's metric. Vermont is also experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases, not unlike parts of the North Country.

The function of the leisure travel map has been suspended, according to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

"Due to rising COVID-19 case counts across the Northeast, effective on Nov. 10, the State of Vermont has suspended its leisure travel map and implemented a mandatory quarantine for anyone returning or traveling to Vermont. A regional map will continue to be maintained on the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Department of Financial Regulation websites for informational purposes only. The regional map will continue to be updated weekly on Tuesdays."

The advisory does not affect essential travel for work-related, medical, school or custody purposes.

The quarantine rule became effective Nov. 10.
Trudeau Fellow Leads Vaccine Clinical Trial
A Trudeau Institute collaborator is leading a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine that is so far showing 90% effectiveness.

Stephen Thomas, one of two fellows for the Saranac Lake-based biomedical research facility, has been named lead principal investigator for a phase-three clinical trial for a vaccine being developed by Pfizer and German company BioNTech. Trudeau Institute announced the news on Wednesday.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced preliminary results of a late-stage clinical trial for its vaccine on Monday that suggests it’s more than 90% effective, according to the New York Times. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set a threshold of 50% efficacy for vaccines to be eligible for emergency authorization.

Thomas is working alongside Pfizer and BioNTech as the two companies share trial results with regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, later this month.
Thank You for Exploring the #adkcoast!
A thank you for supporting the lifeblood of our community - the local businesses! 
The popular Adirondack critters are back! Thanks to ROOST!

The ROOST team has refreshed the “Politely Adirondack” signage for our business and community partners to use for their winter signage needs. Similar to the warm weather version, the posters and printouts have been customized for each of the different marketing regions to help get the word out about the guidelines and expectations for people when they are in our communities.

So please print out and hang up at your local business to continue to politely remind people to stay safe while exploring the North Country and Adirondack Coast.
  • Forward NY: Official State Website for opening procedures and guidelines.

  • Looking for Supplies: If your business is looking for hard to find protective products, we have created a list of businesses offering hand sanitizer, gloves, wipes, masks and other items.

  • SCORE: Small business owners are resilient and can power through this challenging time, with SCORE by their side.
To help the North Country reopen safely and meet the state and local mandates, The North Country Chamber of Commerce has created a comprehensive list of resources to navigate state and local requirements. Check out the home page for details. There is also a series of webinars available for businesses to help educate and provide answers to common questions.
Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce