Thursday January 7th, 2021
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"During the holiday season, we had one clear message for New Yorkers - if you celebrate smart, you reduce the spread and if you don't, we will see a COVID hangover with increasing infection and hospitalization rates. Unfortunately, we are now seeing that hangover all across this nation," Governor Cuomo said. "To finally overcome this virus, it's going to require all of us to stay united and stay smart. New York is working tirelessly to not only distribute the vaccine quickly and fairly, but also ensure hospitals do not become overwhelmed. With the UK strain now confirmed to be here, we need the federal government to learn the lessons of the spring and requiring testing of all international travelers to help contain it. In the meantime, we all know that our actions will determine what happens next, so let do what we know works - wear a mask, avoid gatherings and socially distance."
Today's data is summarized briefly below:
  • Test Results Reported - 197,816
  • Total Positive - 16,648
  • Percent Positive - 8.41%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 8,665 (+75)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 1,161
  • Hospital Counties - 56
  • Number ICU - 1,408 (+16)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 877 (+26)
  • Total Discharges - 106,319 (+940)
  • Deaths - 161
  • Total Deaths - 30,965
The North Country Chamber of Commerce is working with a number of area companies and interests to help determine and deal with cross border impacts from the announced shutdown of most activity in Quebec as of Saturday. The province-wide shutdown and curfew is to be in effect until February 8. The details were announced by Quebec Premier Francois Legault at 5:00 p.m. today. The provisions mostly mirror those imposed in Quebec during its first shutdown last year, requiring all non-essential businesses to close and imposing a curfew daily from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. during which time people are only to be on the streets for work or essential purposes.

"We have been in active communication with the Quebec Government in recent days and are assured that there will be no interference with essential personnel commuting across the border," reports Garry Douglas, Chamber President. "This happily includes the hundreds of Quebec doctors, nurses and health care professionals who are a vital part of the North Country's health care system."

"We also welcome a provision in the Quebec guidelines that will open the door for manufacturers there to carry on 'priority' work," notes Douglas. "Many of our North Country manufacturers and other businesses depend on cross border supply chains, so hopefully interruptions of these connections can be avoided in most cases. We know that several of our Quebec based companies are working to clarify what activities can be regarded as priorities, and we have been told by the government that they do not want to interrupt manufacturing supply chains. We also have area businesses dependent on the Port of Montreal, as well as rail and trucking across the border, and we are told these shipping and transportation activities will continue."

On another related impact, Douglas notes that the Quebec shutdown, which follows an existing shutdown in Ontario, "does not bode well for the removal of border crossing restrictions anytime soon, possibly pushing our hopes for some relief off longer. It is certainly something we will continue to stay on top of in both Washington and Ottawa."
U.S. Chamber Webinar Recording: Coronavirus Relief Programs 
Yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted a webinar to discuss small business relief provisions in the 2nd COVID Stimulus Bill. Staff from the U.S. Chamber provided information on the changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance Grants, and more.
We at the North Country Chamber of Commerce know that many of you are eager to know more about these programs, including when you will be able to apply, and we want you to know that we are on top of it.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has committed to partnering with us to host our own informational webinars that will cover and answer your questions on the PPP, EIDL Advance Grants, and the Live Venue (“Save our Stages”) grant program for theaters and independent movie theaters.
More information on these webinars is forthcoming and will be included in the Today’s Dose e-newsletter and on our website as soon as the SBA and U.S. Treasury finalize the new program regulations.
More information on the small business relief provisions included in the 2nd Stimulus Bill can be found in our write-up here.
An Update from Hudson Headwaters Health Foundation
Hudson Headwaters and select regional partners have been entrusted by the New York State Department of Health with the responsibility of vaccinating a large part of the North Country. We are excited to vaccinate as many people as possible but are legally obligated to follow state mandates and prioritization lists very closely.

We have made excellent preliminary progress vaccinating a significant part of our staff which represents the workforce for vaccinating the population. Per NYS guidelines, our next priority is assisting with health care agencies and persons living in and working in long-term care facilities. We are very hopeful to move to the next priority groups within the coming weeks, including essential frontline workers and those 75 years of age and older.

We fully appreciate everyone's desire to receive the vaccine, and it is our intention to use the network's well established infrastructure to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible. Updates will be posted to our website as they are relayed to us by NYS, including when and how patients may schedule a vaccine appointment.

Our presence in so many communities positions us well to play this historic role. Thank you for the outpouring of support this past year. Thanks to donors like you, Hudson Headwaters continues to show up for our patients and communities, no matter the challenges.

Tucker Slingerland, M.D.
The State of the Economy
As we begin the new year, it is a good time to take a high-level look at where the economy is right now and where it may be going the rest of the year.

The good news: The economy will pick up steam as the year goes on. The virus is still in control of the economy, constraining its growth as cases remain high. As vaccinations drive down caseloads, economic activity will improve.

The big boost to growth will come when we can gather in larger numbers without fear of contracting Covid-19. Once that occurs businesses such as restaurants, bars, live sports, theaters, events, conventions, theme parks, travel, tourism, film production, and more can resume more completely. Perhaps most importantly, schools should be able to reopen fully, and parents that have been driven from the workforce can re-enter it.

In the meantime: The economy was clearly slowing at the end of 2020. Several key data points showed the pullback. Income and consumption fell in December. Consumer sentiment dropped sharply. In November, small business optimism declined, as did the outlook of the manufacturing and service sectors. Most troubling was a 1.1% fall in retail sales in November, leading up to the all-important holiday shopping season. Retail sales are still above their pre-pandemic high, but the big drop in November coming off a small decline in October is concerning.

This slower growth is likely to continue into early 2021. The recently passed relief bill with $600 per person payments, already arriving in many peoples’ accounts, should buoy spending this month, though. The resumption of the PPP program will help, too. 

Looking ahead: We will get the initial reading on how fast the economy grew in the fourth quarter of 2020 on January 28th. Estimates show it growing over 5%. It grew more than 33% in the third quarter, coming off the 31% contraction in the second quarter.
As of now, the economy is on track to grow more than 4% in 2021. At this pace, it should return to its pre-pandemic size by next quarter. That would be a quick bounce back.
Bottom line: If we can kick the virus sooner in the year, growth will exceed current estimates. We cannot get the vaccinations fast enough when it comes to restoring economic health.

— Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Forward NY: Official State Website for opening procedures and guidelines.
  • NYS Travel Advisory: Stay up to date on the latest NYS Travel Advisory Updates.
  • 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