Tuesday June 16, 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!
The North Country Chamber of Commerce is criticizing the announcement today that Canada and the U.S. have agreed to extend existing restrictions on border crossings to July 21, limiting cross border travel to specifically defined categories of essential travel.

"We fully expected another thirty day extension," states Garry Douglas, Chamber President, "but hoped there would be an accompanying commitment to develop potential phases for reopening linked to facts and performance rather than fear and feelings. It is an act of bi-national economic and social mismanagement of the world's most important social and economic partnership to again act so simplistically without providing any conceptual pathway forward."

Douglas reports that the North Country Chamber will continue its advocacy in Washington and Ottawa for the identification of interim steps that can potentially be agreed to prior to July 21, including "a thoughtful joint policy of metrics and step by step progress that will be considered."

The Chamber notes that commercial shipping between Canada and the U.S. remains uninterrupted. "But while this is highly welcome, especially to our region's bi-national supply chains, it misses how integrated we are economically," notes Douglas, "and how Canada-U.S. business is not merely about the movement of boxes but about relationships, meetings, site and sales visits and face to face partnering. It is not a fact to say the economic connections are unaffected because they are more and more affected each passing week. And the continued tearing of the special social fabric that binds our two peoples is also, as we have said, profoundly sad and very damaging."

Concludes Douglas, "We have never said this unprecedented measure isn't understandable in the face of an unprecedented health challenge. But it is absolutely past time that it be within some agreed framework providing the forward pathway in a clear and agreed way. That remains missing and that is unacceptable. An immediate bi-national strategic dialogue is called for."
SBA Now Accepting New Applications for EIDL Loans and Advances
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced yesterday that they have begun accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications from all eligible small businesses.

Prior to June 15 th , the SBA had closed the EIDL application portal to all non-agricultural businesses.

Agricultural businesses who have not yet applied, can still do so.
EIDL applicants who have already submitted an application will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
To submit an EIDL application, click here.
For more information on the EIDL and EIDL Advance, click here.
If you have any questions regarding your EIDL or EIDL Advance application, you can contact the U.S. SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 1(800) 659-2955. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 1(800) 877-8339."
Updated Clarification from Empire State Development Regarding COVID-19 Testing for Salons
Per a conversation with Empire State Development, we have received updated clarification about COVID-19 testing for Salons.

If you work or own a salon and solely work on hair, then you no longer need to receive a COVID-19 test.

However, if you are performing any services that are listed under personal services in phase 3 , (i.e. waxing or nails) then you must continue COVID-19 testing until the END of Phase 3 in our region.

If you have any questions please refer to the  NYS FORWARD  website or reach out to us - we are happy to help!
Updates from the Office of Mental Health
OMH has updated the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the OMH Guidance page.

This update includes new answers relevant to OMH-licensed programs and designated services, background check and fingerprinting requirements, telemental health, Adult Behavioral Health Home and Community Based Services (Adult BH HCBS), Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), Children’s Day Treatment, Continuing Day Treatment, and Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS).

OMH also released guidance regarding infection control in reopening public mental health system sites.

The guidance can be found  here
Health Insurance Updates: Is COVID-19 Testing Covered?!
The Governor announced Sunday that the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended through July 15, 2020.

Excellus BCBS: COVID-19 Testing Coverage
The health plan provides coverage in full for diagnostic/viral testing as well as antibody testing that is determined to be medically appropriate for the diagnosis and treatment of an individual by an attending provider as evidenced by an order from the attending provider.
  • Testing that is ordered or performed solely for purposes of pandemic control or re-opening the economy, and not based on a determination by an attending provider that the test is medically appropriate for the diagnosis and treatment of an individual member, is not covered. This includes tests performed on an asymptomatic individual solely to assess health status as required by parties such as a government/public health agency, employer, school, or camp.

BSNENY: COVID-19 Testing Coverage
BlueShield will waive the cost-share for COVID-19 diagnostic tests for members who meet the NYS Department of Health guidelines for testing AND is prescribed by your doctor. Any testing done without a doctor’s prescription, and that does not meet the NYS Department of Health guidelines is not covered. Broad public health testing to identify individuals who may have been exposed, or surveillance testing for employment purposes are also excluded from coverage. This includes any Commercial, individual, and Medicare Advantage members.

CDPHP: COVID-19 Testing Coverage
CDPHP will cover COVID-19 antibody testing if ordered by a provider when it’s done at a participating lab. While there is no limit on the number of antibody tests that can be ordered, we are relying on the ordering provider to determine medical necessity. 
CDPHP is waiving cost-share for all coronavirus (COVID-19) related treatment with in-network providers.

MVP: COVID-19 Testing Coverage
MVP continues to follow state and federal guidance related to COVID-19 testing. At this time, MVP will waive member cost-shares for FDA-approved COVID-19 antibody tests and immunoassays (qualitative, semiquantitative, and single step method) for all members.
MVP will waive member cost-shares for all additional FDA-approved, medically necessary COVID-19 testing ordered by a physician for diagnostic purposes.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Fort Ticonderoga
Build your perfect adventure in America’s most historic landscape!

Fort Ticonderoga is excited to announce that they will be open for the 2020 season beginning on June 30th! Read more about hours of operation, exciting programming, site-wide expectations, and more.

Congratulations to our friends and the Fort, we wish them an excellent opening!
To help the North Country reopen safely and meet the state and local mandates, T he 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.
  • 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.

  • How to Help: If you are looking for a way to help the North Country, we have created an ever growing list of needs in our community. And if you are a non-profit, health care organization or a business helping those in need, email us with your needs, contact information and we will be happy to add you to our growing list.

  • SCORE: Visit Scores Coronavirus page for webinars and useful articles for small businesses.
Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce