Friday July 31, 2020
Hello Chamber Members and Partners,

Here are the latest updates and resources for businesses and employees during this uncertain time.

Send us any questions or updates you may have. We are here to help provide information, connect the dots and assure those in the North Country that we will get through this together.

Onward and Be Well!
DMV Licensing Driving Schools Can Now Conduct Distance Learning Pre-Licensing Courses
Governor Cuomo announced that DMV licensed driving schools can now conduct distance learning Pre-Licensing Courses. Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, driving schools across the state have been unable to offer the Pre-Licensing Course - also known as the five-hour course - to students.
Any DMV licensed driving school that is currently authorized to teach Pre-Licensing and chooses to conduct the course via distance learning technology may do so immediately under the conditions outlined in the State's press release.
More Than $30M to Enhance Contact Tracing and Flu Prevention in Advance of Fall Flu Season
The Governor announced more than $30 million to enhance COVID-19 contact tracing and flu prevention in advance of the fall flu season. The majority of funds, available to counties in the form of grants, will be used to increase local health department staffing capacity for enhanced detection, surveillance and prevention of COVID-19. The Governor also announced $2 million in additional immunization funds to expand flu vaccination rates statewide to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system in the event of a severe flu season. Funding by county is available  here .

The NYS Contact Tracing Initiative, in partnership with counties, uses the NY Communicable Disease Management System or CommCare. To ensure consistency throughout the state, counties receiving this funding will be required to use CommCare for all COVID-19 investigation and tracing activities. Awards are based on county populations plus a supplemental award for the percentage of statewide COVID-19 cases in each county.
$6.9 Million in Incentives Awarded to Manufacturers Across the State Will Provide Faster and More Secure Access to Life-Saving Medical Products 
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced 12 New York companies have received support from the State to produce needed supplies to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While the State currently has some of the lowest transmission rates in the United States, preparing for a possible "second wave" is vital to protecting essential healthcare workers and the public. 
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available here.
"New York State continues to closely monitor the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the nation, and as that situation worsens, we're taking every action we can here at home to slow the spread and save lives,"  Governor Cuomo said.  "While yesterday's numbers show New York is continuing on the right trajectory, we cannot get complacent. With much of the rest of the country surging, we are still vulnerable and have to continue to wear masks, socially distance and be New York Tough. We will get through this, together."
Data is summarized briefly below:
  • Patient Hospitalization - 586 (-33)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 83
  • Hospital Counties - 29
  • Number ICU - 142 (-12)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 72 (-4)
  • Total Discharges - 72,973 (+73)
  • Deaths - 13
  • Total Deaths - 25,145
County Sales Tax Receipts Better Than Expected at Mid-Year
A recent county-by-county report of Sales Tax Revenues from the office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli shows most area counties with better results for January-June 2020 than expected. CLINTON COUNTY saw record receipts pre-pandemic for January (+16.7%) and February (+9.6%), but then saw sales tax receipts down 22.1% in April and down 36.2% in May. But a plus number of 6.4% for June placed Clinton for the 6-month period at down just 4.1% compared to the first six months of 2019. 

The spreadsheet below from the Comptroller's Office shows sales tax data for each county in the region.

It is notable that adjustments by N.Y.S. Tax & Finance often result in unexpected spikes or valleys for a given month, which may be the case for June. So while the six month figures are welcome news, Clinton County still expects by year's end to see a decline ranging from 15% ($6.2 million) to as high as 22.5% ($9.2 million).

We will bring updates to these numbers in the months ahead.
As Pandemic Rages, Trudeau Institute Hints at Rapid Testing
An effort by Trudeau Institute to develop rapid COVID-19 testing may be underway.

A member of Trudeau Institute’s board of trustees, Konrad  “Kip”  Testwuide, hinted at the possibility of a new rapid-testing initiative — where results from COVID-19 tests could be processed within 24 hours — during a virtual meeting hosted by the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce last week.

“I think we have to think ahead, and plan for this, and see if we can get behind an effort to support a rapid-testing initiative,”  Testwuide said.

Trudeau Institute is a biomedical research facility. It was built upon studying infectious diseases of the lungs, and its longtime hometown, Saranac Lake, is known for fostering innovation in the field of public health.

It wasn’t clear what role, if any, Trudeau Institute would play in the fight against COVID-19 earlier this year as researchers around the world started studying coronaviruses — which have been known since the 1960s, this current iteration being the seventh coronavirus, according to Trudeau Institute President Dr. Atsuo Kuki.

Two teams at Trudeau are now working on COVID-19 in one way or another. One group is focusing on both influenza and the coronavirus. Another group, which initially focused on influenza and Zika, shifted about 90% of its operations to focus on a vaccine for COVID-19.
What’s the Status on COVID-19 Testing and Treatments?
U.S. Chamber President Suzanne Clark today talked with medical experts and scientists about the current state of COVID-19 vaccine and treatment development. In the latest episode of the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Path Forward series Clark was joined by panelists:
  • Dr. Oxiris Barbot, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Dr. Lloyd Minor, Dean, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Dr. Stefano Bertuzzi, CEO, American Society of Microbiology

On testing innovation, Dr. Barbot discussed how New York City is “utilizing public health laboratories and clinical facilities to have testing machinery to reduce the turnaround time for getting results.”

Dr. Minor discussed vaccine development, explaining, “The fact that there are multiple vaccines in clinical trials today is encouraging in terms of ultimately getting one, or hopefully several, that would be effective.”

Dr. Stefano also was optimistic about a vaccine being developed but noted the distribution challenge: “Preliminary results are encouraging. That’s why there’s confidence that we will have a vaccine. But keep in mind you’ll have to vaccinate 7 billion people, and that’s not an easy task.”

  • 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