Telework Now Encouraged, Not Mandated by the State

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

As progress continues on the state’s vaccine distribution effort, the Wolf administration last week updated its mitigation order to strongly encourage, but no longer mandate, telework for businesses.  Organizations choosing to conduct in-person operations are still required to implement safety measures to help prevent the spread of the virus – including social distancing, masking and following gathering and occupancy guidelines.

In a statement announcing the order revision, Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin said, “We’ve made significant progress in our battle against COVID-19, so we must continue abiding by all guidelines and orders, including masking and social distancing when out and about. The best way to support our local businesses is to create a safe environment for everyone so that we can combat the virus’s spread, which will help position us to bounce back easier and faster long term.” 

Prior to this change, telework was mandated except in circumstances where it was not possible.  The updated telework order went into effect on Sunday, April 4.  Sunday also marked the lifting of restrictions for the restaurant industry – including increasing capacity limits to 75 percent and allowing for bar seating and service.

More information on the updated orders can be found here

Guidance for Businesses in the Hospitality Industry

All businesses in the retail food services industry, including restaurants, wineries, breweries, private clubs, and bars, are permitted to provide take-out and delivery sales of food, as well as dine-in service in both indoor and outdoor seating areas so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the guidance, as required by this guidance, including:

  • Alcohol can only be served for on-premises consumption.
  • Take-out sales of alcohol for the purposes of off-site consumption are permitted subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law.

This guidance applies to all restaurants, private event spaces and wedding venues with food service, licensed clubs, and bars, regardless of whether the business operates within a larger facility such as a hotel, casino, convention center, conference center or similar large venue.

Private event spaces and wedding venues which do not offer food service are not subject to this guidance, but must follow all applicable provisions of the commonwealth’s Guidance for Businesses Permitted to Operate During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of Employees and the Public.

No business is required to conduct in-person operations, and should not do so if the business is unable to do so in accordance with all applicable guidance.

All businesses and employees in the restaurant and retail food service industry authorized to conduct in-person activities pursuant to this guidance must follow all applicable provisions of the Guidance for Businesses Permitted to Operate During the COVID19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of Employees and the Public, including provisions requiring the establishment of protocols for execution upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.

For additional details on guidance, visit here

Member News- March 31, 2021

Brothers Establish Scholarship Fund for Central Columbia Students

The Community Giving Foundation: Bloomsburg is pleased to announce the creation of a new scholarship fund to support Central Columbia graduating seniors. The Lynch Brothers Scholarship Fund was established by Pat and Bill Lynch, both proud graduates of Central Columbia and recipients of the school’s Social Studies Award. The brothers were able to turn their interest in social studies into rewarding and meaningful careers, and hope this scholarship opportunity will do the same for current students.

Pat Lynch turned his interests into a thriving career in education, teaching World Cultures at North Allegheny Intermediate High School near Pittsburgh for 31 years. His classes emphasized the discussion of current events and the analysis of editorial cartoons, and he created a program which allowed tenth grade students to participate in campaign work for candidates in local, state, and national offices. After participating in a Fulbright-Hayes Scholarship trip to Nigeria, Mr. Lynch started a pen pal program to allow his students to interact with Nigerian students.

Bill Lynch spent his entire professional career in public service after graduating from law school. He first served as a Senior Staff Counsel for both the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives non-partisan committee staff for over 20 years. He was appointed by two WA State Governors to the WA Environmental Hearings Office, where he served for 11 years (four years as Chairman), and later appointed by a third Governor as Chairman of the WA Energy Facility Siting Council. Mr. Lynch wrote landmark legislation in many areas in Washington State, including consumer protection, salmon recovery, housing, and labor relations. He authored numerous environmental decisions, transformed the decision writing process of the EHO, and co-authored a decision directing local governments to infiltrate stormwater into the ground to remove pollutants—a decision that was the first of its kind in the nation. Mr. Lynch has also volunteered with numerous community groups including the Thurston County Housing Authority, where he served as a board member for 20 years.

“Understanding our country’s history, the workings of the government, the achievements of our country’s many peoples and our interactions with others nations is vital to an informed citizenry and a healthy democracy,” explained the Lynch brothers. “We hope that the yearly awarding of this scholarship to the top male and female social studies students will help promote the value of becoming active, well-informed citizens.

The brothers appreciate the social studies teachers they had while at Central Columbia, complementing the school’s unique combination of social studies courses. Bill Lynch particularly credits Duane Ford as a major contributor to his success in life. The Lynch Brothers Scholarship Fund will continue to carry on a legacy of learning, something the school’s current teachers are thankful for.“At Central Columbia, we are committed to providing a diverse curriculum in social studies to all students. The scholarship that the Lynch brothers are providing honors that commitment and the students who value these opportunities. We cannot thank the Lynch brothers enough for this generous donation to Central Columbia and our students,” remarked Jason Hippenstiel, high school teacher.

Contributions can be made to the Lynch Brothers Scholarship Fund online at csgiving.org (click Donate and search “Lynch”), or mail to the Community Giving Foundation, Attn: Lynch Brothers Scholarship Fund, 725 West Front Street, Berwick PA 18603.

Bloomsburg is an affiliate of the Community Giving Foundation, which manages nearly 300 charitable funds and makes grant investments throughout the region to improve the quality of life in the Central Susquehanna area. For more information, visit csgiving.org or call the Foundation at 570-752-3930.


Geisinger partners with Acadia Healthcare to expand behavioral health services

Geisinger and Acadia Healthcare Company have formed a joint venture to address the urgent need for expanded, high-quality inpatient behavioral health services in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. As part of the joint venture, two new freestanding inpatient behavioral health facilities will be constructed in Moosic and Danville with plans to serve adult and pediatric patients beginning in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

Geisinger, which serves more than 1 million people across 45 counties in Pennsylvania, has partnered with Acadia Healthcare, the nation’s largest stand-alone behavioral healthcare company, to establish these new 96-bed, 73,000-square-foot facilities. Geisinger chose Acadia Healthcare as its partner based on their shared commitment to quality care, strong clinical outcomes, and successful track record of collaborating with numerous premier health systems. Geisinger and Acadia will be investing a combined close to $80 million into these two facilities that together are expected to create approximately 200 new jobs by 2024.

Both the Danville and Moosic locations are easily accessible from the entire central and northeastern Pennsylvania regions, and are near Geisinger hospitals in Danville, Scranton and Plains Township. Construction is scheduled to begin in Moosic in Fall 2021 and in Danville in 2022. The partnership will provide an opportunity for Geisinger to consolidate inpatient behavioral health programs from Geisinger Medical Center, Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital and Geisinger Community Medical Center into these new facilities, which will allow an opportunity for these vacated units to be repurposed for additional capacity, including expanded private room availability.

A recently released 2020 Mental Health America Report estimates that 47 million Americans now struggle with mental health challenges, an increase of 4 million people since the 2018 report, which mirrors trends locally in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Upon completion, the two new inpatient behavioral health facilities will address current and future demand for adult, pediatric and adolescent patients who struggle with acute symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This vast array of acute behavioral health services provides a level of care previously not seen in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, especially for children and adolescents.


NEPIRC to Offer Legal Aspects of COVID-19 Vaccination for Employers Webinar Part 2

Since Part 1 of this webinar aired in February, there have been many developments and updates regarding COVID-19 vaccination that have been reported. During Part 2 of this no-cost webinar series, Attorney James Devine will cover these developments in detail for small to mid-sized manufacturers. The webinar will be held on May 5th from 10:00-11:30 am.

Webinar format:
• Presentation of COVID-19 vaccination developments and updates
•Q&A

If you have a question you’d like to ensure is covered during this event, please submit it to [email protected] by Friday, April 23rd.  We will once again prepare a complete Q&A document after the webinar airs that will be available for download on the NEPIRC website.

Register here.

Pennsylvania Accelerating Vaccination Eligibility

The Department of Health (DOH) in conjunction with the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force today announced the start of the special initiative to vaccinate targeted industry workers and to accelerate the vaccination timetable for those in Phases 1B, 1C and 2. All Pennsylvanians will be eligible to schedule vaccination appointments beginning April 19.

Pennsylvania is beginning the following accelerated phased rollout:

· March 31 workers in the four targeted industries:
     Law enforcement, which includes police, sheriffs and deputies, constables, corrections officers and staff, as well as probation and parole staff.

     Firefighters, including career and volunteer firefighters.

     Grocery Store workers, including all workers in supermarkets and grocery stores.

     Food and Agriculture workers, including all food processing company employees, including meat, poultry, and dairy processing, fresh fruit and vegetable packing operations, food manufacturing, all farmworkers, farm operators, and farm managers, including at urban agriculture operations.

· April 5 all residents in Phase 1B will be eligible to start scheduling vaccination appointments.

· April 12 all residents in Phase 1C will be eligible to start scheduling vaccination appointments.

· April 19, all residents will be eligible to start scheduling vaccination appointments.

“It is important to remember that eligibility does not guarantee an immediate vaccination appointment,” Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said. “Vaccine providers are ready and eager to get a shot in the arm of every person who wants one while we continue to aggressively advocate for more vaccine.”

Residents should continue to use the Department of Health’s Vaccine Provider Map to find a vaccine provider nearest them. The department will continue to update the map as the federal government increases the number of pharmacy chains receiving vaccine through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership.

Columbia County EMA is assisting Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties with COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Those wishing vaccinations who fall in Phase 1A eligibility should call 570-389-5735 Monday through Friday only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Provide name, date of birth, address and phone number.

Someone from Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties will call back to schedule an appointment. The clinic expects to experience a large volume of inquiries and asks callers to allow ample time for a call back. Callers who are not contacted within 72 hours are asked to call again.

People without internet access can contact the Health Hotline by calling 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

Bloomsburg Exploring Business Assistance Programs

The Town of Bloomsburg is exploring the possibility of utilizing some of its emergency funding to provide assistance to businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic. Before moving forward with developing a program, determining business needs is necessary. Funds directly assisting for-profit businesses in the Town could fund:

  • Machinery, furniture, fixtures, and equipment used for business purposes related to COVID-19
  • Working capital
    • Payroll
    • Rent/mortage
    • Utilities such as oil, gas, electric, water/sewer, internet, phone
    • Supplies needed for day-to-day operations up to 90 days
    • Insurance, accounting, legal services
    • Advertising
  • Inventory

Businesses with needs should send their information to Jamie Shrawder at SEDA-COG at [email protected] by this Friday, April 2nd.