Wednesday August 12, 2020
Here are the latest updates and resources for businesses and employees during this uncertain time. - Onward and Be Well!
On Friday, August 14, Jody Parks -- a stalwart of everything at the Chamber for 25 years -- will retire as Executive Vice President, of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. Jody has long overseen most of the operations at the North Country Chamber, providing her leadership and creativity to all of our various events, lead our membership services, handled all of our technology matters . In short, she was a clever puppet master who made the Chamber run smoothly and has helped with its tremendous growth throughout the years.

Thanks in no small part to her skills and enthusiasm, she helped our Chamber:
  • Progress from representing one county to the North Country region
  • Grow from 800 members to more than 4,000
  • Create our present Chamber headquarters and then do it again after a disaster 
  • Oh…the great flood of 2011! – and now through a pandemic
  • Grow events like Expo to new heights and create major new events like Taste of the North Country and our Celebration of Women in Business
  •  Successfully navigate continual changes in technology including websites and new media
  • We all learned quickly to NEVER open an email from someone we didn’t know! – DON’T CLICK ON IT!
  • Coordinate our original Accreditation by the U.S. Chamber and then successive re-accreditations, reaching Five Star status achieved by less than 1% of Chambers nationally.
  • Year after year! – A 5 star Chamber!
  • Making the Chamber's Annual Dinner a success in every way, year in and year out, with exceptional themes, deserving awards, and lots of glitter, all while making it look effortless

Most of all, Jody never thought of the Chamber as the place she worked, it was part of her and it showed in the way she consistently infused everything with positivity, professionalism, imagination, fun, a can do spirit and, on occasion, more than a bit of glitter. For that, we cannot thank her enough; those are some admirable shoes to fill.

We know you all join us in thanking Jody for all of her many and lasting contributions to building our Chamber and region. THANK YOU JODY!
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday that two additional states and Virgin Islands meet the metrics to qualify for the travel advisory requiring individuals who have traveled to New York from those areas, all of which have significant community spread, to quarantine for 14 days.

The newly-added states and territories are:
  • Hawaii
  • South Dakota
  • Virgin Islands

States removed:
  • Alaska
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
"New York went from one of the worst situations in the country, to an example for the rest of the nation to follow," Governor Cuomo said. "Our numbers continue to remain low and steady, which shows this virus will respond to an approach based on science, not politics. In order to protect this progress, we must keep up our efforts - we cannot go back to the hell we experienced a few months ago, which is why we are adding Hawaii, South Dakota and Virgin Islands to the travel advisory."
For more on the NYS Travel Advisory visit!

Why New York Gyms Say They Can Reopen Safely
A coalition of gyms and fitness centers this week released a safety plan for reopening during the coronavirus pandemic as their facilities remain closed in New York. 

The gyms released a statement of approval from an infectious disease expert in Chicago, who praised the health and safety plan from the New York State Fitness Alliance. 

“Taken together, the steps you have outlined should safely reduce entry of virus into your facilities, potential airborne virus transmission, fomite-mediated virus transmission and persistence of virus on surfaces with high physical contact,” wrote Dr. Ravi Durvasula, an infectious disease expert at the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, in a letter. “I have reviewed coronavirus mitigation practices at a variety of public venues, including nursing homes, restaurants, bars and department stores. Your proposal is one of the most thorough approaches I have encountered and I concur with your plans.”

The reopening plan would require gym and fitness center workers to wear face coverings, provide regular cleaning of surfaces and be trained on safety protocols. The coalition said the safety steps taken exceed requirements set down by the Centers for Disease Control, the state Department of Health and the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

The plan provides for social distancing in the facilities and that members wear face coverings when not exercising. The plan also provides for contact tracing in the event someone who has been in the facilities tests positive for COVID-19. 

“The fitness industry in New York has submitted a comprehensive plan to the state that will ensure the safety of our members and the public and Dr. Durvasula’s review validates it further,” said Bill Lia, the chairman of New York State Fitness Alliance. “Dr. Durvasula is an extremely credible, highly regarded doctor with years of experience in infectious diseases, his endorsement speaks volumes on the safety of our reopening plan. The people who are committed to bettering their health by using a fitness center are more health conscious than the public at large and are eager to take the necessary steps in order to gain access to their health facilities safely.”

Gyms have remained closed as other entities and venues in New York have reopened in recent weeks. State officials in July pointed to data in other states showing a rise in COVID-19 cases as gyms have opened elsewhere in the country. 

New York's COVID-19 infection rate over the last several days has been below 1 percent out of tens of thousands of people who have sought tests.

Some gym owners have warned they cannot financially continue to remain closed or provide limited workout space outdoors.
WEBINAR: How to Run Great Virtual Events
Running virtual events can be challenging, especially if you’ve never run one before. However, with a little preparation, tips, and knowing what to expect, you can rock your next virtual event.

Join us for this webinar, presented by digital marketing expert Jenna Shaffer, to hear how to run a great virtual event.

More specifically, you’ll learn:
  • How to prepare for your virtual event
  • Running your event and keeping people engaged
  • How to follow-up after your event

Date: August 25th
Time: 1PM
A message from Tony Collins, President, Clarkson University
Pandemic’s Toll on State Gas Tax Revenue
States rely on gas tax revenue to fund transportation spending. But because of the massive decline in fuel usage during the height of the pandemic, states will have a hole left in their budgets—one that will not be made up just with increased economic activity as the virus abates and Americans take to the roads again. Congress will need to step in and fill and the gap, otherwise states will have to cut spending on crucial investments that are vital for economic growth.
What’s the story: Fuel sales (motor gas, jet fuel, and diesel) were on average over 14 million barrels per a day before the pandemic, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Then fuel usage dropped off a cliff. In early April, sales were down to just over 8 million barrels a day, a drop of 46% from early March. Sales have recovered some, but they are still far below their levels prior to the COVID-19 shock.

Do the math: We do not have tax receipt data yet, but we can come up with a rough estimate for how much revenue states are missing based on fuel sales. If sales had maintained their pre-pandemic levels, fuel sales would have been about 380 million more barrels. There are about 30 gallons of gas per barrel and the average gas tax rate of the states is around $0.36 per gallon. That means states have lost somewhere in the ballpark of $4 billion in gas tax revenue so far. That will likely grow until the economy is fully recovered, which may not be until next year.
State and local government spending accounted for almost 11% of GDP before the pandemic. That is over $2.3 trillion in spending each year, of which $431 billion is investment spending. Their spending fell 5.6% in the second quarter. Declines in investment were a major contributor to that decline. State and local governments also employ roughly 20 million Americans, or over 13% of the U.S. workforce.

US Chamber's take: Unless the federal government steps in to fill the lost revenue, states will either have to raise taxes (in fact their taxes will go up automatically because of a programmed increase in unemployment taxes that occurs when those funds are used), or cut back on spending and services. Both routes would lead to less economic growth and a prolonged recovery. State and local governments may also be forced to lay off workers, or bring back fewer than they would have, if the federal government does not help.

–Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today released a new "Mask Up, America" Public Service Announcement, highlighting the effective use of masks during the 1918 deadly Influenza Pandemic that infected 500 million people - a third of the world's population. The advertisement features archival photos of the use of masks during the 1918 outbreak, which was crucial to preventing the spread of the deadly virus, to inspire Americans to wear masks today. This new PSA is one in a series launched by the Governor to inform the public on the importance of wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the PSA campaign has been viewed by over 4 million Americans nationwide.
"All the data and science show that masks work, and it is essential that everyone wear a mask to protect one another and further prevent the spread of COVID-19," Governor Cuomo said. "Our message is simple: I wear a mask to protect you and you wear a mask to protect me, and by using historical images and targeted approaches in our integrated "Mask Up, America" campaign, this new advertisement will help educate the public and further drive mask compliance."
This new national PSA is part of Governor Cuomo's nationwide "Mask Up America" PSA campaign, featuring Robert De Niro, Kaitlyn Dever, Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman, John Leguizamo, Anthony Mackie, Rosie Perez, Ellen Pompeo, Paul Rudd and Jeffrey Wright.

  • 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.

  • Now Hiring: Whether you are hiring or looking for work, we have a page dedicated to helping pair potential employees with employers.

  • Webinars: Did you miss one of our webinars, you can find them all here.

  • SCORE: Visit Scores Coronavirus page for webinars and useful articles for small businesses.
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