Tuesday February 23, 2021
Governor's Update on the State's Progress During the Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
"Thanks to the hard work and dedication of New Yorkers, we're beating back COVID more and more every day and that has allowed us to begin reopening different facets of the economy as part of our post-COVID reconstruction," Governor Cuomo said. "Not only are our hospitalization and infection rates declining, but we're continuing to build out New York's already expansive vaccination network to ensure underserved communities are not denied access to this life saving medication. While we're not out of the woods yet, we have the momentum on our side. As long as we stay united and keep doing what we know works, we will finally defeat this invisible enemy and get back to normal."
Today's data is summarized briefly below: 
  • Test Results Reported - 142,019
  • Total Positive - 6,146
  • Percent Positive - 4.33%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 3.52%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 5,804 (+40) 
  • Net Change Patient Hospitalization Past Week - -819
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 572
  • Hospital Counties - 55
  • Number ICU - 1,148 (-14) 
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 780 (-14) 
  • Total Discharges - 142,724 (+417)
  • Deaths - 89
  • Total Deaths - 37,941
NYS Expanded Guidelines for Nursing Home Visitations
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced new, expanded guidelines for visitation of residents in nursing home facilities in accordance with CMS and CDC guidelines to begin on February 26. The Department of Health recommends that visitors take a rapid test before entry into the facility, and DOH will provide rapid tests to nursing homes to facilitate their ability to test visitors on-site and at no cost. Visitation continues to depend on the nursing home facility being free of COVID-19 cases for 14 days and the facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing.
"One of the most devastating aspects of this virus has been how it separated families from their loved ones, making an already difficult situation even harder to bear," Governor Cuomo said. "Thanks to the dedication of New Yorkers, we're now at a point where we can begin to expand nursing home visitations under strict guidelines to protect the health and safety of residents."
For counties with COVID-19 positivity rates between 5-10 percent on a 7-day rolling average, visitor testing is required and visitors must either present with a negative COVID-19 test, either PCR or rapid, within 72 hours or facilities may utilize rapid tests to meet the requirement. For counties with COVID-19 positivity rates below 5 percent on a 7-day rolling average, visitor testing is strongly encouraged and rapid tests may be utilized. Alternatively, visitors may provide proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination no less than 14 days from the date of the visit and no more than 90 days prior to the visit. Visitation will not be permitted if the county's COVID-19 positivity rate is greater than ten percent. Compassionate care visits are always permitted. 
Based on the needs of residents and a facility's structure, visitation can be conducted in resident rooms, dedicated visitation spaces and outdoors. The number of visitors to the nursing home must not exceed 20 percent of the resident census at any time and the number of visitors and time allocated to visitation should be considerate of this capacity limitation.
Additional Re-Opening Guidance for Billiard Halls & Wedding/Catered Events
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that as New York's hospitalization and COVID-19 infection rates continue to decline, New York is issuing guidance to begin re-opening additional sectors of the economy. 

Specifically, billiard halls statewide are now permitted to re-open. Additionally, guidance is also being released for weddings and catered events which are scheduled to resume on March 15.

Specific summary guidelines for each industry are as follows:

Billiard/Pool Halls (March 3rd)
  • Halls are restricted to 50 percent capacity outside of New York City; 35 percent capacity in New York City
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
  • Mandatory social distancing must be enforced, or physical barriers between parties of patrons/players must be installed.
  • Each party must be assigned to a table to avoid comingling.
  • Staff must rigorously clean and disinfect any rented or shared equipment between use.

Weddings and Catered Events (March 15th)
  • Venues are restricted to 50 capacity, with no more than 150 people per event.
  • All patrons must be tested prior to the event.
  • Sign-in with contact information required to assist with potential contact tracing.
  • Venues must notify local health departments of large events, above the social gathering limit, in advance.
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
  • Ceremonial and socially-distanced dancing allowed under strict guidelines.
Update on New York State Vaccination Program
As of 11AM today, New York's health care distribution sites have administered 93 percent of first doses so far delivered. The week 10 allocation from the federal government has been delayed due to winter storms impacting much of the country but the remaining week 10 deliveries are arriving today and over the next few days. The week 11 allocation will begin arriving mid-week.

The 'Am I Eligible' screening tool has been updated for individuals with comorbidities and underlying conditions with new appointments released on a rolling basis over the next weeks. Starting next week, local health departments will also receive vaccine allocations for these individuals. New Yorkers can use the following to show they are eligible:
  • Doctor's letter, or
  • Medical information evidencing comorbidity, or
  • Signed certification
State Comptroller Releases January Sales Tax Numbers
January sales tax figures released by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli again show most of our area counties performing significantly better than sales tax receipts statewide which were down 5.9% compared with January 2020.

Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton Counties were down just 2.2%, 2.1%, 2.0% and 2.8% compared to the pre-pandemic month of January 2020. This continues an area pattern of smaller declines than once anticipated last spring. The exception is Warren County whose sales tax receipts were down 7.1% in January.
SBA Prioritizes Smallest of Small Businesses in the Paycheck Protection Program; Steps to Promote Equitable Relief for Mom-and-Pop Businesses
The Biden-Harris Administration and the U.S. Small Business Administration are taking steps with the Paycheck Protection Program to further promote equitable relief for America’s mom-and-pop businesses. 
The latest round of Paycheck Protection Program funding opened one month ago is making major improvements to the program’s implementation:
  • For businesses with fewer than ten employees, the share of funding is up nearly 60%
  • For businesses in rural communities, the share of funding is up nearly 30%
  • The share of funding distributed through Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions is up more than 40%

These simple progressive steps demonstrate the commitment to racial and gender equity, reaching low and moderate-income, rural, urban, and other underserved areas. The SBA will: 
  • Establish a 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees
  • Allow sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula for these categories of applicants
  • Eliminate an exclusionary restriction on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions, consistent with a bipartisan congressional proposal
  • Eliminate PPP access restrictions on small business owners who have struggled to make federal student loan payments by eliminating federal student loan debt delinquency and default as disqualifiers to participating in the PPP; and
  • Ensure access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP.
The 14-day exclusivity period will start on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 9 a.m., while the other four changes will be implemented by the first week of March. The SBA is working on the program changes and will communicate details throughout this week.
LayerEight Managed IT Services
LayerEight is the newest Managed Services IT Solution in the North Country, and while they have a new name they are not new to the community or Managed Services, many of these friendly faces are formerly from Primelink Managed Services.
So what is Managed Services?

Managed Services is a term that makes absolutely no sense – unless you’re in the IT industry. So for those of you who do not know what it means let’s get right to it. Managed Services is fully outsourced IT that takes care of all the headaches you normally associate with technology. Basically, if it’s IT-related, Managed Services can make it better.
But why do businesses choose to use Managed Services?
  • Routine Maintenance
  • Proactive Monitoring
  • Reliable and Knowledgeable Staff
  • A Flat, Monthly Rate (No hidden fees)

Want to learn more, call the friendly face, Denise Calkins-Ryder (yes you know her!) at 518.324.4116 or email her at dcryder@lyr8.com to learn more – or heck to catch up!
**This is paid content sponsored by LayerEight**
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.
Today's Dose is Generously Supported By:
  • NYS Vaccination Updates: Official Site for making an appointment to get the COVID-19 Vaccine.
  • 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.
Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce