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Latest News:

06/26/20 – This Coronavirus Doesn’t Change Quickly, And That’s Good News For Vaccine Makers (NPR) – Scientists are monitoring the virus that causes COVID-19 for genetic changes that could make a vaccine ineffective. But so far, they’re not seeing any. Click here for full story.

06/24/20 – UPMC doctor sees too much focus on rising COVID-19 cases, too little on declining severity and hospitalizations (PennLive) – A UPMC doctor on Wednesday said the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 within UPMC is the lowest in many weeks, and people who test positive aren’t getting as sick. Click here for full story.

06/16/20 – Dow futures up 800 points after report of potential steroidal treatment for severely ill coronavirus patients (MarketWatch) – U.S. stock-index futures Tuesday morning saw early gains deepen following a report of a potential treatment for COVID-19 that has proved successful in early trials. Click here for full story.

06/15/20 – Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker (New York Times) – Researchers around the world are developing more than 135 vaccines against the coronavirus. Vaccines typically require years of research and testing before reaching the clinic, but scientists are racing to produce a safe and effective vaccine by next year. Click here for full story.

06/12/20 – The Covid Age Penalty (Wall Street Journal) – By now it’s clear that people older than 65 are the most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, and the age penalty is especially severe for the elderly with underlying health conditions. This is a tragedy in lives cut short, but it also means that states and cities should be able to lift their lockdowns safely if they focus on protecting vulnerable Americans. Click here for full story.

06/08/20 – Asymptomatic spread of coronavirus is ‘very rare,’ WHO says (CNBC) – Coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials said Monday, casting doubt on concerns by some researchers that the disease could be difficult to contain due to asymptomatic infections. Click here for full story.

06/05/20 – UPMC doctor says COVID-19 has become ‘less prevalent’ and isn’t making people as sick (PennLive) – Fewer people are testing positive for COVID-19 and those who test positive don’t seem to be getting as sick, a UPMC doctor said Thursday. Click here for full story.

05/28/20 – Antibody Tests Point To Lower Death Rate For The Coronavirus Than First Thought (NPR) – Mounting evidence suggests the coronavirus is more common and less deadly than it first appeared. The evidence comes from tests that detect antibodies to the coronavirus in a person’s blood rather than the virus itself. Click here for full story.

05/26/20 – S&P 500 tops 3,000 points on hopes of economic recovery, COVID-19 vaccine (Reuters) – U.S. stocks jumped and the S&P 500 breached 3,000 points on Tuesday as optimism about a potential coronavirus vaccine and a revival in business activity. Click here for full story.

05/17/20 – Stock futures add to gains on vaccine hope as open nears, Dow futures now up 700 points (CNBC) – Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes rose sharply Monday, rebounding from losses last week, as news from a Moderna trial stoked optimism about a potential coronavirus vaccine. Click here for full story.

05/15/20 – UPMC Shadyside, Altoona among Hospitals Receiving Federal Shipment of Remdesivir (Trib Live) – UPMC Shadyside (and Altoona) are among 21 hospitals that will receive shipments on remdesivir, the antiviral medication that FDA officials have authorized for emergency treatment of COVID-19 patients. Click here for full story.

05/15/20 – Back in Business: After weeks of empty parking lots, area stores are eager to open up (Altoona Mirror) – For many area businesses, it’s opening day, but they will be pitching merchandise, not baseballs. Blair, Bedford and Cambria counties entered the yellow phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s three-step plan, allowing more retailers to reopen following the March shutdown to stem the spread of COVID-19. Click here for full story.

05/14/20 – Llama Antibodies Neutralize Virus That Causes COVID-19 (BBC) – Scientists are pursuing multiple tracks of research in the quest for an effective treatment to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. One pathway showing some early promise involves llamas. Click here for full story.

05/13/20 – Targeting the Elderly – Shifting Focus (Intelligencer) – One observation from the early days of the pandemic has been confirmed again and again, in country after country: The lethality of the virus rises sharply with age. Click here for full story.

05/10/20 – What we cannot do, is extended social isolation (UPMC News) – Dr. Steven Shapiro, UPMC’s chief medical and scientific officer, participated in a virtual roundtable convened by U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Subcommittee on Health Care, on May 6 to explore the issue of reopening the economy. Click here for full story.

05/09/20 – Protect the Elderly to Drive Down COVID-19 Death Rate and Reopen Society (UPMC News)UPMC Senior Communities haven’t seen any cases of COVID-19 among residents, despite the elderly being among the most vulnerable, UPMC officials shared at a press briefing today. Click here for full story.

05/08/20 – Shutdown to lift across much of western Pennsylvania – Blair County Included (Associated Press) – Thirteen more western counties, comprising nearly 2.7 million residents and much of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, can shed Gov. Tom Wolf’s most restrictive pandemic orders on movement and businesses next week, joining much of northern Pennsylvania that began emerging Friday. The counties announced Friday by Wolf are Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland. Click here for full story.

05/07/20 – Pa. will announce the next counties that will move into the yellow phase of Wolf’s reopening plan on Friday (PennLive) – Twenty-four Pennsylvania counties will move into the yellow phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus reopening plan on Friday. As of Thursday, it’s unclear which counties will go in the next wave, but we do know when they will be revealed: This Friday. Click here for full story.

05/05/20 – Pfizer, BioNTech began human trials of a possible COVID-19 vaccine. If successful, it could roll out in September (Chicago Tribune) – Pfizer and the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech announced that their potential coronavirus vaccine began human trials in the United States on Monday. If the tests are successful, the vaccine could be ready for emergency use here as early as September. Click here for full story.

05/05/20 – UPMC Leaders Discuss COVID-19 Response (Bedford Gazette) – As Gov. Tom Wolf prepares to start at least part of the state on the road to economic normalcy, matters are beginning to return to more-normal conditions across the UPMC Health System. Click here for full story.

04/30/20 – UPMC Doctor Argues COVID-19 not as Deadly as Feared, says its Hospitals will Shift Back to Normal (PennLive) – A UPMC doctor on Thursday made a case the death rate for people infected with the new coronavirus may be as low as 0.25% — far lower than the mortality rates of 2-4% or even higher cited in the early days of the pandemic. Click here for full story.

04/29/20 – ‘A drug can block this virus’: Fauci hails Covid-19 treatment breakthrough (Politico.com) – “The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover,” Fauci told reporters hours after Gilead said promising data was incoming from NIAID’s sweeping trial, which involved 1,063 patients. Click here for full story.

04/27/20 – In Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine, an Oxford Group Leaps Ahead (New York Times) – The Oxford scientists now say that with an emergency approval from regulators, the first few million doses of their vaccine could be available by September — at least several months ahead of any of the other announced efforts. Click here for full story.

04/27/20 – Governor Announces May 1 Statewide Reopening of Limited Outdoor Recreational Activities to Help Pennsylvanians Maintain Positive Physical, Mental Health (Governor.PA.gov) – Starting Friday, May 1, golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds may reopen statewide and are required to follow updated life-sustaining business guidance. Click here for full story.

04/23/20 – Wolf Administration Issues Guidance as Construction Industry Prepares to Resume Work May 1 (Governor.PA.gov) – All businesses in the construction industry in the commonwealth are permitted to resume in-person operations starting Friday, May 1 – one week earlier than previously announced. Click here for full story.

2/1/20 – 7/7/20 (Source CDC/PADOH)

Total

As % of
Population

US COVID Cases (Tested Positive)

3,001,000

0.91%

US Hospitalization Rate Due to COVID

100 Per (100K)

0.10%

US COVID Deaths (Confirmed or Presumed)

113,303

0.03%

US COVID Deaths (Reported Media)

133,000

0.04%

US Total Deaths (All Causes)

1,303,271

0.40%

US COVID Deaths (Confirmed or Presumed)
As % Of total Deaths

10.21%

NA

PA COVID Cases

88,691

0.69%

PA COVID Deaths (Confirmed or Presumed)

6,787

0.05%

PA COVID Hospitalizations (current)

637

0.00%

Blair County COVID Cases (confirmed)

78

0.06%

Blair County COVID Deaths

1

0%

US Seasonal Flu Cases 10/1/19-3/30/20

35,500,000

11%

PA Flu Cases 10/1/19-3/30/20

129,912

1%

Blair County Flu Cases 10/1/19-3/30/20

1,617

1%

 

COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance

Overview

The COVID-19 public health crisis has impacted every Pennsylvanian in every community. The recently enacted state budget includes $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

Within this allocation, the Department of Community and Economic Development has been allocated $225 million for COVID-19 relief to small businesses through a distribution to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). For Blair County companies the CDFI is the Progress Fundwww.progressfund.org/grants-for-small-businesses/

Uses

DCED will distribute the funding to the Pennsylvania CDFI Network, which will then administer the funding in the form of:

  • Grants to cover operating expenses for the duration of the shutdown and the transition period to re-opening
  • Grants to cover technical assistance, including training and guidance, for business owners as they stabilize and relaunch their businesses
  • Debt payment relief for CDFI Pennsylvania borrowers
  • Loan loss reserves for CDFIs

The funds will be distributed in three ways:

  • Main Street Business Revitalization Program: $100 million
  • Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program: $100 million
  • Loan payment deferment and loss reserve: $25 million

Eligibility

All businesses must apply through an eligible CDFI and meet the program requirements which, at a minimum, include:

  • The business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and if required paid income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual or business tax returns
  • COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact and makes this grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant
  • The grant will be used to cover COVID-19 related costs
  • During the period beginning on June 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, the applicant has not and will not receive another grant under this state program

How to Apply

For Blair County companies contact the Progress Fundwww.progressfund.org/grants-for-small-businesses/

The nonprofit Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund was launched by Jeff Bartos, Richard Phillips and Roger Braunfeld.  Working with other business leaders throughout the Commonwealth, the Fund’s goal is to help save as many Pennsylvania jobs as possible while small businesses await recently approved federal funding.

Pennsylvania businesses that qualify for assistance from the Fund are:

  • Small businesses that employ three to 30 people;
  • Based in Pennsylvania and have been operating for at least one year;
  • Owned and operated by a Pennsylvania resident.

The funds dispersed to small businesses by the Pennsylvania 30 Day fund do not need to be repaid. If businesses who receive the Fund’s assistance do, at a later date, wish to “pay it forward” to another Pennsylvania small business in need of assistance, they may do so by directing those dollars back to the Fund, which will disburse the funding to another Pennsylvania business in need.

Main Street Lending Program

The Federal Reserve has announced that it is establishing a Main Street Lending Program (Program) to support lending to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Program will operate through three facilities: the Main Street New Loan Facility (MSNLF), the Main Street Priority Loan Facility (MSPLF), and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility (MSELF). Term sheets for each facility and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) providing more information regarding eligibility and conditions can be found by visiting the Federal Reserve Main Street Lending Website.

  • How do eligible borrowers apply? Once the Program is operational, small and medium-sized businesses interested in the Program can apply for Program loans by contacting an eligible lender. A description of eligible lenders can be found in the Program term sheets.
  • What documents should eligible lenders prepare? The Federal Reserve will publicly issue a form loan participation agreement, form borrower and lender certifications, and other form agreements that are necessary to implement the Program in accordance with the term sheets. The Federal Reserve will not provide form loan documents for eligible lenders to use when making eligible loans to eligible borrowers. Rather, eligible lenders should provide these documents. Loan documents related to any loans that are participated to the SPV must reflect the terms of the Program.

Main Street New Loan Facility (MSNLF)

Main Street Priority Loan Facility (MSPLF)

Main Street Expanded Loan Facility (MSELF)

Main Street Lending Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

CARES Act Small Business Owner Resources:

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance

Please note that this program is completed by the individual business through an online portal. The team at ABCD can provide guidance on the information needed and process but the application is not processed through our offices.

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing


Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Working Capital Access (CWCA)

4/1/20 – AT THIS TIME THE CWCA IS OVERSUBSCRIBED AND NOT ACCEPTING NEW APPLICATIONS. ABCD WILL PROVIDE NOTICE THROUGH OUR FACEBOOK PAGE AND MEDIA OUTLETS WHEN THE PROGRAM’S FUNDS ARE REPLENISHED.

YOU CAN PREPARE THE DOCUMENTS BELOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE IN ORDER TO BE MORE PREPARED SHOULD THE PROGRAM BE RE-INSTITUTED.

Program is administered by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) and provides critical working capital financing to small businesses located within the Commonwealth that are adversely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak (program guidelines). **NOTE: All CWCA loan applications in Blair County must be submitted through ABCD Corp.**

We’re Here To Help You…Every Step of the Way!!!

*Funds are limited. First to qualify and submit all required documents will be processed in the order they were received.*

  1. Contact rapidresponse@abcdcorp.org to notify our staff that you intend to apply for CWCA funding.
  1. You will be assigned a Loan Officer from ABCD’s staff to assist on your application. Your Loan Officer will reach out to you via email.
  1. Send your most recent year-end accountant prepared financial statements OR your most recently filed tax return, along with your Debt Schedule (excel) to your Loan Officer. Written permission should also be given to allow ABCD Corp to pull a credit report on any 20% or more owner of your business, should you qualify for the program as stated in #4 below.
  1. In order to qualify for CWCA, your business must show a 1:1 debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) for the most recent financial period. After receiving your most recent tax returns and debt schedule, your loan officer will calculate your DSCR to see if you are eligible.
  1. If your business meets the minimum criteria, your Loan Officer will notify you and begin the application process. Your loan officer will direct you to the remaining forms (all are listed below) and supply any additional information that will be needed.
  1. When forms are completed, they should be emailed to your Loan Officer who will compile and begin the online application.
  1. The application will be completed and submitted by your Loan Officer.
  1. Upon submission, the Dept. of Community and Economic Development will initiate communication with ABCD Corp and/or you to notify you of approval or any other developments.

**Please note there will be a commitment fee totaling 1% of the loan amount if you are awarded funding through the program.  This fee can be paid to ABCD Corp through proceeds of the CWCA loan. 

The Altoona Blair County Development Corp is continuously monitoring all of the federal, state and local organizations for pertinent information as it relates to the companies, employees and residents of Blair County impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our highest priority and concern is for the health and safety of our community members, family and friends so please continue to abide by the CDC and Governor’s recommendations to assist in the curbing of this virus during these unprecedented times.

In regards to assisting the businesses and employees of Blair County we have compiled resources and information below, but do not hesitate to contact us  for support by emailing our team at RapidResponse@abcdcorp.org.  We will continue to update these resources as they become available. Stay safe and we will all get through this.

Blair County Government, Health Care and Economic Development officials formed the Blair County COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force to be prepared to quickly address guidelines and share information in order to begin a phased, safe and scalable economic reopening for the county. As signs point towards a flattening of the pandemic curve, it is becoming clear the economic recovery will not be experienced uniformly across all communities. The newly formed Blair County Task Force has established a series of objectives to include:

  • Reviewing all guidelines, criteria and timelines (as they are developed and published) to reopen businesses in Blair County safely, quickly and effectively.
  • Researching/documenting diagnostic testing and patient capacity in the County.
  • Sharing information and drawing upon expert opinions related to evolving health safety, social distancing, testing protocols and implementation.
  • Informing and responding to all COVID-19 state/federal policy recommendations as they develop.

Task Force members currently include the Chair of the Blair County Board of Commissioners, officials from the Blair County Emergency Management, Altoona Blair County Development (ABCD) Corporation, Blair County Chamber of Commerce, UPMC, Tyrone Hospital, Conemaugh Nason Medical Center, Mayor of City of Altoona, Altoona City Emergency Management, State and Federal elected Officials. ABCD Corporation and the Blair County Chamber will help to administer the action items and communications for the Task Force.

On Wednesday Governor Wolf announced an updated plan for a phased reopening by region. Among the key thresholds established for Counties and/or Regions to open businesses at greater scale include the “availability of adequate diagnostic testing” and “a capacity to respond to new cases” as they develop.

While communities across the country are demonstrating varying degrees of resiliency and health impacts, Blair County’s health system providers have continued to demonstrate significant capacity to address patient care and have been rapidly expanding testing over the past several weeks. Health care providers in Blair are urging residents not to defer any needed treatment as conditions in the hospitals are safe and the capacity is there to address all levels of frontline patient care and procedures. The Task Force will advocate for Blair’s reopening based on County data, capacity to address all prescribed guidelines and approaches unique to our community.

For more information contact Stephen McKnight, President and CEO of the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation at stevem@abcdcorp.org or Joe Hurd, CEO of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce at jhurd@blairchamber.org

Blair County COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force Objectives (full listing) and Membership:

  • Review all required guidelines, criteria and timelines (as they are developed and published) to reopen businesses in Blair County safely, quickly and effectively.
  • Research and document overall diagnostic testing capacity in the County.
  • Share knowledge and draw upon expert opinions on the effectiveness of anti-body and other diagnostic testing to inform and respond to state policy recommendations as they develop.
  • Collect information and clarify what is needed as it relates to approved anti-body testing and other diagnostic testing.
  • Identify and leverage all public and private sector funding sources for the purchase and implementation of antibody and other diagnostic testing.
  • Develop and/or track implementation strategies for such testing throughout the County.
  • Identify and map assets/resources where such diagnostic testing is taking place within the County.
  • Identify and close gaps in testing to ensure capacity to implement at the maximum scale possible.
  • Communicate and track the collection of information on testing approaches being undertaken either directly through the county or through private sector employers and hospitals.
  • Ensure that testing data is being collected and communicated to the appropriate state and federal agencies.
  • Advise on all other measures needed to address existing and emerging requirements both related and unrelated to diagnostic testing.

NOTE: CDC guidance is pointing towards the need for communities to implement and document large-scale “antibody testing” as one of the steps towards full scale reopening. While several antibody tests are currently available in limited quantities, the process of refining and increasing production to meet demand is underway. As these tests become more readily available and reliable, evaluation and implementation of those tests will be included as part of the Task Force’s review.

All Task Force members can be reached directly through their respective offices:

  • Hon. Bruce Erb, Blair County Commissioners
  • Mark Taylor, Blair County Emergency Management
  • Joe Hurd, Blair County Chamber of Commerce
  • Jan Fisher, UPMC Altoona
  • Anna Anna, Tyrone Hospital
  • Hon. Matt Pacifico, Mayor, City of Altoona
  • Tim Hileman, Altoona Emergency Management
  • Hon. Judy Ward, PA State Senate
  • Hon. James Gregory, PA House of Representatives
  • Dr. Lori Bechtel-Wherry, Penn State Altoona
  • Tim Harclerode, Conemaugh Nason Medical Center
  • Hon. John Joyce, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Stephen McKnight, Altoona Blair County Development Corporation
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