PA Department of Health Releases Updated COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan

After receiving additional prioritization recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Pennsylvania Department of Health released an updated COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan on Friday, January 8, 2021, that reflects those additional federal recommendations. 

Below is a summary from the Wolf Administration of the updated Phases 1A, 1B, 1C (which is new) and Phase 2.  Full details, including all CDC-designated essential industry categories, are listed in the plan itself, which is available here.

Phase 1A remains centered on healthcare workers as defined by ACIP as paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.  These include, but are not limited toemergency medical service personnel, nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, technicians, chiropractors, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, health professions students and trainees, direct support professionals, clinical personnel in school settings or correctional facilities, contractual HCP not directly employed by the health care facility, and other persons when working in health care settings, such as regulatory staff who perform on-site assessments in hospitals and 1A long-term care facilities, long-term care ombudsmen, Older Adult Protective Services, Adult Protective Services, and Child Protective Services staff that are required to do on-site assessments in hospitals and 1A long-term care facilities, and volunteer personnel not directly involved in patient care but potentially exposed to infectious material that can transmit disease among or from health care personnel and patients.

Phase 1B now includes all adults aged 75 and older, residents of non-1A congregate care facilities, and additional front-line essential workers, defined by CDC as “essential workers who perform duties across critical infrastructure sectors and maintain the services and functions that U.S. residents depend on daily and likely at highest risk for work-related exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, because their work-related duties must be performed on-site and involve being in close proximity (<6 feet) to the public or to coworkers”.  These include, but are not limited to, law enforcement, fire/rescue personnel, PA National Guard not included in 1A, emergency services personnel, corrections officers and other staff of non-1A congregate care settings, public transit workers, grocery store workers, education workers, manufacturing workers, and childcare workers.

Phase 1C has been newly created to include adults aged 65-74, adults 18-64 with a serious underlying condition that puts them at increased risk if they contract COVID-19, and essential workers in critical industries not covered under 1B.  Per ACIP guidance, these industries include, but are not limited to, water and wastewater, finance, information technology, energy, food service, and federal/state/county/local government. As with Phase 1B, CDC defines essential workers as those “who perform duties across critical infrastructure sectors and maintain the services and functions that U.S. residents depend on daily and are likely at highest risk for work-related exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, because their work-related duties must be performed on-site and involve being in close proximity (<6 feet) to the public or to coworkers.”

Phase 2: On December 22, 2020, the CDC adopted the recommendations of the ACIP to vaccinate any individual over the age of 16 who agrees and does not have a contraindication for vaccine. Note that at this time, only the Pfizer-BioNTech product is approved for those ages 16 and 17. 

According to the Department of Health:
The DOH’s goals while the vaccine supply remains limited are to maximize benefits and minimize harms caused by the virus, promote justice, mitigate health inequities, and promote transparency and prioritize populations accordingly.  DOH continues to receive feedback on this plan regarding prioritization, and the CDC indicates an intention to publish additional information on essential workers.  DOH will review and incorporate as necessary into future versions of the plan. 


Guidance on New Paycheck Protection Program Announced

The U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury Department have provided guidance on the re-opening of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses. Member accounting firm McKonly & Asbury provides updated details of the program. The Chamber will be partnering with McKonly & Asbury on a webinar to help members understand this and other relief programs this month.

PPP First Draw Loans

For the most part, the rules for PPP First Draws Loans have not changed. The requirements around applying for loans, maximum loan amount, use of the funds (minimum 60% payroll and maximum 40% other eligible costs), covered periods and the forgiveness factors remain relatively unchanged. However, there are a few key adjustments that the Economic Aid Act incorporate into the program that further assist those business that either a.) Have not applied for a loan and would like to; b.) Are applying for forgiveness of the PPP First Draw Loan; or c.) Would like to apply for a PPP Second Draw loan.

Key Changes for PPP First Draw Loans

  • Period to apply for a PPP First Draw Loan is extended to March 31, 2021
  • New borrowers may calculate maximum loan amount using 2019 or 2020 payroll data
  • Eligibility has been extended to:
    • Section 501(c)(6) and destination marketing organizations.
      • Not more than 300 employees
      • Lobbying activities do not comprise more than 15% of activities
      • Cost of lobbying did not exceed $1 million in most recent tax year that ended prior to February 15, 2020
    • News organizations that are majority owned and controlled by a NAICS code of 511110 or 5151 business/non-profit and employ no more than 500 employees per location
  • Acceptable use of funds now includes:
    • Operations expenditures – Cloud computing services, human resources, payroll functions and accounting related functions for sales, billing, tracking supplies, inventory, records and expenses.
    • Property damage costs due to vandalism or looting from public disturbances in 2020 not covered by insurance.
    • Supplier costs for essential operations, pursuant to a contract in effect at any time before the covered period of the loan or with respect to perishable goods.
    • Worker protection expenditures incurred beginning March 1, 2020, to the end date of the current National Emergency.
  • Expanded guidance for seasonal employers
    • Expands definition of eligible seasonal business that was dormant or not fully operating on February 15, 2020, to allow for PPP First Draw Loan eligibility to calculate their maximum loan amount on any 12-week period between February 15, 2019, and February 15, 2020.
    • Defines a seasonal employer as a business that does not operate for more than 7 months in a calendar year and had gross receipts for any 6 months of that year that were not more than 33.33 percent of the gross receipts for the other 6 months of that same year.
  • Use of “Alternative Covered Period” has been eliminated
  • Loan requests for less than $150,000 will not require submissions of documentation at time of application
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advances will no longer be deducted from the borrower’s forgiveness amount
  • Loans received before December 27, 2020 can be revised to receive increased amounts due to changes from the Economic Aid Act. Requirements would be:
    • If the borrower returned all of a PPP loan, the borrower may reapply for a PPP loan in an amount the borrower is eligible for under current PPP rules.
    • If a borrower returned part of a PPP loan, the borrower may reapply for an amount equal to the difference between the amount retained and the amount previously approved.
    • If the borrower did not accept the full amount of a PPP loan for which it was approved, the borrower may request an increase in the amount of the PPP loan up to the amount previously approved.
    • All increase requests must be submitted on or before March 31, 2021.

PPP Second Draw Loans

PPP Second Draw Loans (PPP2) give businesses that took a PPP First Draw Loan a second bite at the apple. For the most part, the terms, conditions, and requirements of a PPP2 loan are the same as those outlined for a PPP First Draw Loan. The PPP2 loans also include all of the new legislative changes, as outlined above, from the PPP First Draw loans. While many of the requirements around the use of the funds, covered periods and forgiveness matters are the same, there are a few nuances to PPP2. 

Key Changes and Requirements of PPP2

  • Eligible business with 300 or fewer employees
  • Experienced a revenue reduction of 25% in 2020 relative to 2019
  • PPP2 loans may only be made to an eligible borrower that
    • Has received a First Draw PPP Loan
    • Has used, or will use, the full amount of the First Draw PPP Loan on or before the expected date which the Second Draw PPP Loan is disbursed to the borrower
    • Full amount is defined as the PPP First Draw Loan and any increases to such loan
  • Loan amount is equal to the lesser of two-and-a-half months of the borrowers average monthly payroll costs or $2 million
    • For borrowers assigned a NAICS code beginning with 72 at the time of disbursement, the Economic Aid Act provides that the maximum loan amount is equal to three-and-a-half (3.5) months of payroll costs
  • PPP2 Loan is calculated using either the twelve-month period (calendar year 2020) prior to when the loan is made or calendar year 2019

Revenue Reduction Requirement

One of the key features to qualification for this loan is that an eligible business must prove a revenue reduction of 25% or greater in 2020 relative to 2019. The borrowers must calculate this revenue reduction by comparing the borrower’s quarterly gross receipts for one quarter in 2020 with the borrower’s gross receipts for the corresponding quarter of 2019. There are other general requirements for businesses that were not in business for all quarters in 2020 or 2019. For more clarity on that please feel free to reach out to McKonly & Asbury.

The IFR provides a little caveat for simplicity that states that a borrower that was in operation in all four quarters of 2019 is deemed to have experienced the required revenue reduction if it experienced a reduction in annual receipts of 25 percent or greater in 2020 compared to 2019 and the borrower submits copies of its annual tax forms substantiating the revenue decline. This provision will allow a borrower to provide annual tax return forms to substantiate its revenue reduction.

SBA’s Definition of Gross Receipts

The IFR generally defines gross receipts to include all revenue in whatever form received or accrued (in accordance with the entity’s accounting method) from whatever source, including from:

  • Sales of products or services
  • Interest, dividends and investment income
  • Rents, royalties, fees, or commissions, reduced by returns and allowances

Other items such as subcontractor costs, reimbursements for purchases a contractor makes at a customer’s request, and employee-based costs such as payroll taxes are included in gross receipts.

Generally, receipts are considered “total income” (or in the case of a sole proprietorship, independent contractor, or self-employed individual “gross income”) plus “cost of goods sold,” and excludes net capital gains or losses as these terms are defined and reported on IRS tax return forms.

Gross receipts do not include:

  • Taxes collected for and remitted to a taxing authority if included in gross or total income (such as sales or other taxes collected from customers and excluding taxes levied on the concern or its employees)
  • Proceeds from transactions between a concern and its domestic or foreign affiliates
  • Amounts collected for another by:
    • Travel agent
    • Real estate agent
    • Advertising agent
    • Conference management service provider
    • Freight forwarder or customs broker
  • First Draw PPP Loans

Loan Documentation Requirements

The documentation required to substantiate an applicant’s payroll cost calculations is generally the same as documentation required for First Draw PPP Loans. However, no additional documentation to substantiate payroll costs will be required if the applicant (i) used calendar year 2019 figures to determine its First Draw PPP Loan amount, (ii) used calendar year 2019 figures to determine its Second Draw PPP Loan amount (instead of calendar year 2020), and (iii) the lender for the applicant’s Second Draw PPP Loan is the same as the lender that made the applicant’s First Draw PPP Loan.

For loans with a principal amount greater than $150,000:

  • The applicant must also submit documentation adequate to establish that the applicant experienced a revenue reduction of 25% or greater in 2020 relative to 2019
  • Documentation may include relevant tax forms, including annual tax forms, or, if relevant tax forms are not available, quarterly financial statements or bank statements.

For loans with a principal amount of $150,000 or less:

  • Documentation is not required at the time the borrower submits its application for a loan
  • Documentation must be submitted on or before the date the borrower applies for loan forgiveness.

What to Do Now

Some banks have already opened up portals for submissions of information for continued First Round PPP loans or PPP2 loans. The easiest option would be to do a PPP2 loan with the same bank or lender that you worked with in the first round based upon the documentation and qualification requirements. For those that are now considering a first round loan, be prepared with the needed documentation as outlined above for calculating the loan.

Contact McKonly & Asbury’s COVID-19 team at [email protected] with any questions you may have.

The 2021 Healthcare Challenge for Chamber Employers

From My Benefit Advisor

For a large number of employers, the exceptional economic pressure placed on them during 2020 has only heightened the annual challenge of managing costs relating to their company’s benefit programs.  Although various vaccines and treatments are on the near-term horizon, the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic remain largely unknown.  Virtually everyone expects health care premiums to increase in the months ahead, but the severity of increase is less known.  Of course, even if health care premiums remained relatively flat, employers may still not be able to comfortably fit them in their budget with revenues mostly down over the past several months. 

With so many uncertainties, many business owners are struggling to come up with a way to prepare for the coming year.  From our perspective, the following three strategies can prove pivotal for employers when developing effective, long term strategies in the current climate:

  1. Incorporate a painstakingly thorough approach to employee benefits
  2. Take advantage of any available digital healthcare technologies
  3. Incorporate new and creative strategies will be best able to manage the predicted volatile trends in health care costs and their impact on insurance premiums.

Begin the process early of investigating and learning about the different approaches to employee benefits.  It is not recommended that you wait until the open enrollment process, so that you have time to educate yourself and your employees on possible options. 

Look into fully insured employer sponsored plans, self and level-funded plans, individual HRA’s and if available group medical captives and PEOs.

A fully insured, employer sponsored plan is the traditional route of insuring employees where a company pays a premium to the insurance carrier.  The carrier then handles healthcare claims based on coverage benefits that have been established by the employer.  The benefit of this type of plan are:

  • Fixed monthly premium rate, revisited annually or if there is a change in the number of enrolled employees, whichever comes first.
  • Employees and dependents are responsible for paying deductibles and co-pays for healthcare services that are covered under the fully insured policy.
  • Employer administration of the plan instead of the insurance company.
  • Premiums are collected by the insurance carrier who then pays healthcare claims based on the coverage benefits outlined in the company-purchased insurance policy.

A level-funded plan is a plan that combines cost savings and customization aspect of a self-funding plan with the financial safety and predictability of a fully insured plan. This type of plan is a form of self-insurance because the employer pays a steady fee each month but take on more of the financial risk.   These plans provide cost predictability, little to no risk to the employer, exempt form ACA mandated requirements and flexibility in plan design.

A self-insured plan, the employer is using their own money to cover the employee claims.  Employers contract with an insurance company or third party administrator to administer the plan.   Typically, large employers have interest in this type of plan.

Individual HRA is an individual health reimbursement arrangement offering an alternative to traditional group health plans.   It’s a specific account-based health plan that allows employers to provide defined non-taxed reimbursements to employees for qualified medical expenses, including monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs, like copayments and deductibles. Employees must be enrolled in individual health insurance coverage to use the funds.

The integration of digital tools in the corporate environment is moving at a rapid pace and changing the way companies implement their wellness strategies.  Employers and many of the insurance carriers they work with have inserted technology into their benefit offerings as a way for individuals not just to monitor their general physical fitness but also to address concrete wellness needs and improve health outcomes.

Through the use of these digital tools, employees are empowered to take greater control over their well-being through the tracking, managing and analysis of critical health data. Digital health tools also increase the efficiencies of healthcare by improving access, reducing costs, increasing quality of care and making medicine more personalized and precise.

Implementing digital health into your wellness strategy will usually include a variety of tools, including:

  • Health Information Technology… utilizing a platform or application to manage the exchange of health information between patients and medical personnel in a secure, computerized environment.
  • Mobile Health… allowing medicine and care delivery through mobile phones, tablets and other wireless technology.
  • Telehealth… providing the remote exchange of data and care between a patient and their medical advisor.
  • Wearables… clothing and accessories that integrate advanced electronic technologies to assist in providing more personalized health data.

Although the severity and extent of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented in modern times, there are safeguards built into the structure of the insurance industry that are designed to maintain stability during significant loss events.  Two key elements provide protection against large financial loss for insurance companies and provide some stability in premiums:

  • Claim Reserves
    Insurance regulations require carriers to maintain a claim reserve account at specified levels (based on the company’s size and risk profile) that provides a safety net if claim expenses are larger than anticipated.   These reserves are funded through a part of the premiums charged to policy holders.
  • Reinsurance
    Reinsurance is coverage purchased by an insurance company from a third-party insurer that is designed to insulate them from major claims events.  If claims, either individually or collectively surpass designated levels, the reinsurance carrier would reimburse the insurance company for a part of the claim cost.

Insurance carriers are also employers and as such, have experienced some of the same pandemic-related business costs as any other business.  Added cybersecurity costs, outlays for equipment and software to facilitate their employees alternative work arrangements, etc. will impact their financial bottom line during this event.   Even the downturn in equity markets will affect the expected level of return on their investment portfolio.

There is also the potential that some recent virus-related development will positively impact insurance costs, such as the more widespread use of tele-health services.  In addition to providing access to care with lower costs, on a long-term basis this development could allow healthcare providers extend their reach to more remote or less affluent groups of people to expand access to care and improve overall population well-being.

Considering all of these pandemic influences, it is likely that future health insurance premiums will be affected, although the expected range of impact probably won’t be clear until later this year.  Working with your broker to be aware of the trends as well as being forward-thinking towards new and innovative strategies will provide you with the tools to mitigate costs and provide a benefit plan for your employees. 

The Chamber offers a unique insurance platform called ChamberChoice. It offers members access to My Benefit Advisor as a solution for employee benefits. For more information about My Benefit Advisor, contact Jim Pitts at 610-324-6291 or email him at [email protected]

Member News- January 6, 2021

The Exchange Announces 2021 Schedule

The Exchange has much of its 2021 schedule set, with many open-call shows in which you can display your work. As always, we welcome all media and people of all ages and levels of experience.

“What I Did In Quarantine”
The Exchange Gallery opens 2021 by inviting artists to submit work that they have made since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. All media accepted, 2-D and 3-D, including video and installation pieces (please get in touch with us ahead of time about videos and installations). As always, we encourage work by artists of ALL ages and levels of experience. The work may or may not have COVID itself as a theme, but it just has to have gotten made since roughly March of 2020, and if you can tell us the story of how the crisis has informed the work, all the better.  All media accepted, 2-D and 3-D.  As always, we encourage work by artists of ALL ages and levels of experience.

“What I Did In Quarantine” will run at the Exchange Gallery from January 11th through February 19th, 2021.

How to Successfully Start a Business During a Pandemic

Are you interested in opening your own business? Are you wondering how it is possible to do during a time of uncertainty? The pandemic doesn’t mean that you have to postpone starting a business. Join the members of the Wilkes University Small Business Development Center for a free five-week series to learn how you can successfully begin a business and rise to meet the new demands of the market. 

Weis Center for the Performing Arts Announces Weis Center Streams: Five Free Virtual Performance Offerings

The Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University will offer five virtual performances in spring 2021. The virtual performances, called Weis Center Streams, are free thanks to the generosity of sponsors, but registration is required by calling the Campus Box Office at 570-577-1000 or online at

Sponsors for the spring performances include: Gary and Sandy Sojka, Nancy and Sam Craig, Martha and Alan Barrick and Coldwell Banker Penn One Real Estate, Chanin Wendling and Karl Voss and family, Evangelical Community Hospital and Geisinger.

Performances are as follows:

The Snail and the Whale (Family Discovery) will be offered January 22-24 with unlimited access all weekend. The performance is sponsored, in part, by Gary and Sandy Sojka. The performance is suggested for ages 3-7 years or PreK-3rd grade. Runtime: 60 minutes.

Longing to see the world, the tiny sea snail hitches a lift on the tail of a great, grey-blue humpback whale. Together they go on an amazing journey, told through live cello music and singing, storytelling and lots of laughs … but when the whale gets beached, how will the snail save him? Join an adventurous young girl and her sea-faring father as they re-imagine the story of a tiny snail’s incredible trip around the world, inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved picture book.

STONO/Step Afrika (World Music and Dance) will be offered February 8-21 with unlimited access. There will also be a pre-performance talk with the Artistic Director and a post-show talk with members of Bucknell and the central PA community. Pre-performance panelists will explore the Stono Rebellion and its relevance to issues regarding political protest and structural inequities that dominate American conversations today. The performance is sponsored, in part, by Chanin Wendling and Karl Voss and family.

Step Afrika! is a dance company dedicated to the African-American tradition of “stepping”. Their dance style is a fusion of South African gumboot dance and African American stepping. Step Afrika! blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities; traditional African dances; and an array of contemporary dance and art forms into a cohesive, compelling artistic experience. Performances are much more than dance shows; they integrate songs, storytelling, humor and audience participation. The Company is featured prominently at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History & Culture with the world’s first stepping interactive exhibit.

On September 9, 1739, the largest insurrection of enslaved Africans in North America began in South Carolina on the banks of the Stono River. Twenty Africans marched south toward a promised freedom in Spanish Florida, waving flags, beating drums, and shouting ‘Liberty.’ This extraordinary act of rebellion in colonial America predates the famed Boston Tea Party of 1773, the first significant act of defiance to British rule over American colonists. Although the Stono Rebellion was suppressed, this little-known event in American history forever changed African American life and culture. When Africans lost the right to use their drums through The Negro Act of 1740, they began to use their bodies as percussive instruments in response. This act of survival and activism earned them the name of “Drumfolk,” coined by famed folklorist Bessie Jones. Their percussive movement gave rise to some of the country’s most distinctive art forms, including the ring shout, tap, hambone, and stepping. Stono honors the spirit of resistance and activism that remains a critical part of American freedom.

This is Me: Letters From the Front Lines created by DIAVOLO (Contemporary Dance Film) will be offered from February 24-March 2. There will be a pre-performance panel discussion with Artistic Director, Jacques Heim and community members. The 35 minute performance is sponsored, in part, by Evangelical Community Hospital and Geisinger. The performance is dedicated to the heroism of frontline workers.

DIAVOLO is a creative movement production company that pushes the envelope of innovation by creating unique live & cinematic experiences. Using custom-made architectural structures, DIAVOLO intersects storytelling, movement and architecture with an inventive and visceral approach.

The 2020 premiere of This is Me: Letters From the Front Lines is a dance film exploring how the current climate of isolation has encouraged us to look within ourselves. We follow the paths of military veterans and first responders as they share what it means to be a true warrior – to be on the front lines – and fight the invisible enemy that all humanity is currently battling. At a time when most have been asked to halt and withdraw, others, like soldiers, are charging forward. This is Me: Letters From the Front Lines captures the resilience, determination and hope of the human spirit.

It is dedicated to all the veterans for their service, commitment and sacrifice and to all of our COVID-19 first responders for their dedication, selflessness, and resilience.

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Front Row National (Classical) will be offered on March 13 at 7:30 p.m. and April 11 at 2 p.m. The first performance in March will feature Alessio Bax & Lucille Chung (pianos) and is sponsored, in part, by Nancy and Sam Craig. The performance will include: Mozart – Concerto in E-flat major for Piano and String Quintet, K. 449 and Bartók – Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.

Then, on April 11 at 2 p.m. Gloria Chien (piano) will be featured and the program will include: Field – Nocturne No. 2 for Piano, Liszt – Grand duo concertant ‘Le Marin’, and Mendelssohn – Quartet in C-minor, Op. 1.

All of the Weis Center’s spring virtual performances are free, but registration is required by calling the Campus Box Office at 570-577-1000 or online at

In addition to Weis Center Streams, the Weis Center is professionally producing a weekly video performance series called Weis Center Sessions and a snaptalk series called Weis Center Snaps, both featuring members of the Bucknell community. All videos are available for free on the Weis Center’s website and social media channels.

For more information about Weis Center Streams, Sessions and Snaps, go to or search for the Weis Center on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.  


2021 Annual Award Nominees Announced

The Chamber of Commerce will recognize outstanding individuals at its Annual Meeting, sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities, on Wednesday, February 10th. Nominees for the awards are as follows:

Small Business of the Year – Sponsored by First Columbia Bank & Trust
Bason Coffee Roasting
Diversified Technology Corp

Large Business of the Year – Sponsored by DRIVE
Bloomsburg University
First Columbia Bank & Trust
McKonly & Asbury
Service 1st Federal Credit Union

Community Progress – Sponsored by Atlantic Broadband
Cats in Bloom
Diversified Technology Corp
PB&J Bar
Quality Inn Bloomsburg
Town of Bloomsburg

Nonprofit of the Year – Sponsored by PNC Bank
Berwick Area YMCA
Bloomsburg Volunteer Ambulance
Bucknell & Wilkes SBDC
Community Giving Foundation
Danville Child Development Center
Good Samaritan

Outstanding Citizen – Sponsored by the Berwick Industrial Development Association
To be announced at Annual Meeting

Mask-up Sponsor: Geisinger
Media Sponsor: Bold Gold Media

Help us to celebrate all of the nominees by attending the Annual Meeting virtually via Zoom. Register online or by calling the Chamber at 570-784-2522 by February 9th.