TalkWilliamsport.com launches I’m A Pennsylvanian” apparel Collection

TalkWilliamsport.com has launched the “I’m A Pennsylvanian” Collection for Commonwealth residents to commemorate the coronavirus struggle in the new online store ahead of Lycoming County moving to the Green phase on June 5.

According to website owner Todd Bartley, “this is a great politically satirical way for fellow Pennsylvanians to express themselves having come through a very difficult time while supporting local businesses.”

“We also acknowledge the tremendous loss of life during this pandemic and in no way wish to diminish the impact on those families directly affected.

Shirts and are available in multiple sizes as well as the color combinations of Red, Yellow and Green in line with the closing and reopening phases outlined by political leaders.

Face coverings are currently available with a yellow on black combination.

Customers are encouraged after their purchase to share photos of themselves wearing the shirts and face coverings with TalkWilliamsport.com while following CDC and CISA guidelines. Please include your county when submitting your photos.

Other items will be available for sale next week.

EXCLUSIVE: How did Lycoming County move from Yellow to Green?

Talkwilliamsport.com posed several questions to Governor and Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine on Friday afternoon in regard to the metrics used to determine counties moving from Red to Yellow to Green.

Regarding Lycoming County moving from Yellow to Green, Department of Health Press Secretary Nate Wardle provided the following:

“As the Governor mentioned, the Wolf Administration is looking for decreasing rates of new cases over a 7-day period, a decreasing percent positivity rate over a 14-day period, and any outbreaks in the county being managed through contact tracing in order to move a county from yellow to green.

Counties that can show progress in these areas are prepared to move to the green phase.

We will continue to assess the data being provided, the latest information on the coronavirus as we look to determine what the next phase looks like, and whether it would require any type of mitigation efforts.”

Friday, the Department of Health reported Lycoming County added new cases and remained at 162 since the inception of the coronavirus pandemic and 16 reported deaths.

Lycoming County Coroner Charles Kiessling has confirmed 20 deaths attributed to COVID-19 all occurring in nursing home patients and all having comorbid conditions.

On Thursday, as exclusively reported by Talkwilliamsport.com, the Lycoming County Commissioners had a conference call with officials from the Department of Health outlining their case to move from Yellow to Green.

On Friday afternoon, Governor Wolf announced Lycoming County along with 15 other counties will move to the Green phase on June 5.

Lycoming County Commissioner Scott Metzger provided exclusive reaction to Talkwilliamsport.com on the Governor moving the county to the Green phase next weekend. “We have been working diligently on behalf of the citizens of Lycoming County.  We are very pleased that the Governor has heard us and we will moving into the green phase effective June 5th.  We will continue to be responsible as we move towards the no phase period.  Thank you to the citizens of Lycoming County.  Continue to be safe and God bless you.”

News Talk WMPT and talkwilliamsport.com continues to keep Lycoming County residents informed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Wolf Signs Budget to Sustain Education, Support Communities Amid Pandemic

Harrisburg, PA – As Pennsylvania continues to address public health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tom Wolf today signed a state budget that will provide 12 months of sustained public education funding at 2019-20 levels and makes important investments in communities and programs to help begin to restore the economy.

“Education must remain a priority even during a pandemic and this budget provides schools with the stability to continue building on the progress we have made to prepare our children for a successful future,” said Gov. Wolf. “Reaching an early budget agreement under these challenging circumstances is encouraging as we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19.

“While this is an encouraging step in the right direction, more needs to be done to ensure Pennsylvania has the resources it needs to protect key programs and investments.”

The $25.75 billion General Fund budget in HB 2387 includes an additional $2.6 billion in federal funding provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act. The budget sustains funding at current year levels for Pre-K Counts and Head Start, basic and special education in K-12 schools, and higher education. The budget also provides $300 million from the CARES Act to make up for a decline in gaming revenue that annually supports school property tax relief for homeowners.

To help communities to recover, the budget provides $420 million to assist nursing homes with COVID-19-related costs, $50 million to help Pennsylvanians with food insecurity and $225 million for grants to small businesses through the Department of Community and Economic Development.

The budget also provides $625 million to counties through block grants to help address the disruption to their budgets from the pandemic. The funding will assist counties with the cost of purchasing personal protective equipment, help local governments, and provide grants to small businesses, among other options.

“As the state’s economy begins to reopen from the public health emergency, there are still unanswered questions about the state’s finances, but this agreement is an important step to stabilize our schools and put Pennsylvania on a path to recovery,” said Gov. Wolf.

The governor also signed HB 1083, HB 2441, HB 2442, HB 2443, HB 2444, HB 2445, HB 2467, HB 2468, HB 2469, HB 2470, HB 2471, HB 2472, HB 2473, HB 2474, HB 2475, HB 2510, SB 166, SB 1108 and SB 1122. The governor vetoed SB 1027 and HCRRR#1.

Read the veto message for SB 1027 here.

Read the veto message for HCRRR#1 here.

Congressman Keller seeks to make PPP loan forgiveness application process easier

Joins letter asking for shorter, simpler application from Treasury Department

As many local businesses struggle during the coronavirus pandemic Congressman Fred Keller is seeking to make the application process for Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness easier.

Friday, Keller joined dozens of other members in Congress in appealing to the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration to make the process of applying for loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program simpler and more streamlined.

The current loan forgiveness application, released on May 15, 2020, is lengthy and does not match the simpler process of applying for the loan. This application has created a large burden on the many small businesses seeking forgiveness of their paycheck protection loan.

The lawmakers are seeking a shorter and simpler application, more in line with the process needed to first apply for the Paycheck Protection Program loan, for businesses receiving less than $350,000 in loan dollars.

To date, 95 percent of Paycheck Protection Program loans have been less than $350,000.

“The loans are intended to be forgiven if small businesses follow the rules provided by Congress, and the guidance published by U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Unfortunately, the recently-published forgiveness application places an undue burden on America’s smallest businesses and the lenders that are assisting them through this process,” the letter reads in part.

“The length, documentation requirements and complexity of the forgiveness application would be incredibly daunting and time consuming for many constituent small businesses and the small community lenders whom the government deputized to administer assistance. Many constituent small business owners indicated they will need to hire outside legal and accounting help, at great additional expense, to confidently complete the application. This makes little sense for mom and pop businesses with few employees, a small payroll and cash flow challenges stemming from an involuntary, government-imposed interruption of their operations. Likewise, most community financial institutions that originated small PPP loans have neither the staff nor the forensic auditing expertise to assist their borrowers with the extensive forgiveness application provided by the SBA.

“The smallest businesses should not be saddled with the same forgiveness reporting burden as larger businesses with larger loans,” the letter states.

You can read a full copy of the letter HERE.

On Friday afternoon, Governor Tom Wolf announced Lycoming County will be moving into the “Green” phase on June 5.

 

Notice to Absentee and Mail-in Voters

The Lycoming County Board of Elections is aware of extended U.S. Mail delivery timeframes in Pennsylvania that  are  affecting  voters  who  applied  for  absentee  and  mail-in  ballots  to  vote  in  the June 2 General Primary.

Please  know  that  the  Board  of  Elections  processed  all  absentee  ballot  and  mail-in  ballot  applications, and that ballots were mailed to voters on the very next day after each application was processed.

Voters who applied for an absentee ballot or a mail-in ballot for the June 2 General Primary and have not yet received their ballots in the mail have two options to vote:

  1. Call Voter Services at (570) 327-2267 to cancel your old ballot and issue a new one, and to choose a time to come in to pick it up. You would also have the option to vote the ballot in person while there.
  2. Vote in person at your polling place on June 2 by provisional ballot. Provisional ballots cast at  the  polls  are  not  counted  on  Election  Day,  but  must  be  held  until  after  the  election  to  verify that the voter did not already return an absentee ballot or mail-in ballot.

Voted absentee ballots and mail-in ballots must be returned to Voter Services before 8:00pm on Tuesday, June 2 in order to be counted. Postmarks do not count.

Voters may drop off their voted ballots in person at Voter Services in order to avoid the mail. Voter  Services  is  located  at  33  West  Third  Street,  Williamsport  –  directly  across  Third  Street  from the county courthouse – on the first floor of the building.

If you applied for an absentee or mail-in ballot and must vote at the polls because your ballot did not arrive in the mail, the provisional ballot you cast at the polls will be counted.

Evangelical Community Hospital Announces New Visitor Restrictions

Recognizing the need to balance continued infection control protocols regarding the spread of COVID-19 and the desire of loved ones and caregivers to visit with and support patients, Evangelical Community Hospital is establishing new visitor restrictions.

These new visitor policies are effective Monday, June 1, 2020.

All visitors will be screened when entering any of Evangelical’s facilities and will be required to wear a mask while inside. Any visitor with symptoms of respiratory illness—such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath—will not be permitted inside the facility. All visitors must be 18 years of age or older.

Visitors may be asked to leave the facility and wait in their vehicle or a designated area if physical distancing is no longer possible at their destination or they fail to adhere to the policies, protocols, and requests from staff members.

The Hospital’s Dining Room and Gift Shop remain closed to visitors.

For Inpatients:   

  • One dedicated, on-site patient support person. The patient must identify their support person.
  • Patients who are suspected or confirmed as having COVID-19 will not be permitted any visitors.
  • If two patients are in a room, the curtain separating the room must be pulled and the support person must remain in their patient’s side of the room as much as possible.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) and masking protocols must be followed.

·         Visiting hours are from 1-8 pm.

For Pediatric Inpatients:

  • Up to two dedicated caregivers for the duration of the Hospital stay.

·         Caregivers must remain in the patient’s room as much as possible.

For Laboring Mothers:

·         One dedicated support person for the duration of the Hospital stay.

For End-of-life Situations:

  • Two visitors at a time for a non-COVID patient.
  • If more than two visitors wish to see the patient, the other visitors must wait outside in their vehicle or designated area and enter and exit the facility two at a time.

·         Visitors must remain in the patient’s room unless asked to step outside by a care provider or staff member.

For Outpatient Testing and Appointments (Laboratory, Imaging, Physical Therapy, Physician and Clinic Practices):

  • One person may accompany the patient.

·         The support person may be asked to wait in their vehicle or designated area if appropriate physical distancing cannot be achieved in the waiting or care area.

For Outpatient Surgeries and Procedures at the Ambulatory Surgical Center, Endoscopy Center, and One Day Surgery:

  • One support person may accompany patient.

·         The support person may be asked to wait in their vehicle or designated area if appropriate physical distancing cannot be achieved in the waiting or care area.

For the Emergency Department:

  • One dedicated, on-site support person may accompany the patient.
  • Support person must remain in the patient’s room.
  • Emergency Department patients under the age of 18 can have one dedicated caregiver with them during the entire stay.

·         Exceptions to the Emergency Department visitor restrictions may be made for patients who are nearing the end of life.

Updates are regularly posted at www.evanhospital.com/virus. Patients are encouraged, if they have questions about restrictions and or care, to reach out directly to the practice providing their services.

Williamsport Mayor issues Proclamation regarding open containers

Friday afternoon Derek Slaughter, Mayor of the City of Williamsport issued a Proclamation regarding open containers and guidance on gatherings.

Mayor Slaughter added, “Additionally, we have placed tables in the midtown landing area to assist with local restaurants and others who do not have outdoor seating capacity. There are areas which are privately owned that are exploring placing outdoor seating options as well.”

Open-Container Proclamation 05.29.2020

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, local businesses, and particularly local restaurants and bars, have suffered severe economic setbacks, and it is the opinion of city government that we must take whatever steps are in our power to support our local business community while protecting the health and welfare of all of our citizens.

On May 8, Governor Wolf officially declared Lycoming County to be in the “yellow phase” of pandemic recovery, which continued to restrict bars and restaurants to takeout and delivery only. On May 21, Governor Wolf signed into law SB 327, which allows bars and restaurants to sell takeout mixed drinks to be consumed by the general public off of the establishment’s licensed premises. Subsequent to the passage of SB 327, the Williamsport Business Association and other local businesses and trade organizations reached out to the City to request leniency on open-container restrictions.
 
At this time, Mayor Derek Slaughter deems it to be in the best interest of the local business community to temporarily suspend open-container restrictions upon streets, sidewalks, alleys, or public ways of the City, or upon the parking areas of private shopping centers under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Police (Article 745.04 and 747.01 of the City’s Ordinances), until restaurants and bars in Lycoming County are once again permitted to serve food and drink within their own licensed premises, or until this suspension is otherwise lifted. This action is being taken to assist, as best the city can, the stimulation of the local economy.

However, Covid-19 remains a public health crisis and it is important that citizens understand that all open-container activity is at the risk of the consumer, and that public restrictions on large gatherings remain in place, per the advice of the CDC and Governor Wolf.

Further, this suspension does not apply to City parks and has no impact on the enforcement of public drunkenness, any state law or regulation, motor vehicle code laws (including but not limited to 75 P.S. 3809 – the restriction against possessing an open container within a motor vehicle), driving under the influence, or other city statutes related to the consumption or excessive consumption of alcohol. We encourage all citizens of Williamsport to consume and interact responsibly and utilize this opportunity to support local businesses in their time of need.

Gov. Wolf: State Continues Phased Reopening with 16 More Counties Set to Go Green on June 5

Harrisburg, PA – With more than 80 percent of the state in some phase of reopening, Governor Tom Wolf today announced that 16 additional counties will take another step forward and move to green effective 12:01 a.m., June 5. Counties include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clinton, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Lycoming, Mercer, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland.

The first 18 counties moved to green today, including Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango and Warren.

Eight counties moved to yellow today, including Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lebanon, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, and Schuylkill.

Counties that remain in red and are expected to move to yellow by June 5 include Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery, and Philadelphia.

With more than half the state poised to be in the green phase on June 5, the governor this week provided an updated order for counties moving to green to give businesses and residents a clearer picture of what is permitted in that phase of reopening. The order includes these highlights:

  • Large gatherings of more than 250 prohibited.
  • Restaurants and bars open at 50% occupancy.
  • Personal care services (including hair salons and barbershops) open at 50% occupancy and by appointment only.
  • Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities, and personal care services (such as gyms and spas) open at 50% occupancy with appointments strongly encouraged.
  • All entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) open at 50% occupancy.
  • Construction activity may return to full capacity with continued implementation of protocols.
  • Visitation to prisons and hospitals may resume subject to the discretion of the facility. Visitors who interact with residents and patients must be diligent regarding hygiene. Given the critical importance of limiting COVID-19 exposure in nursing homes, personal care home and long-term care facilities, visitation restrictions will initially remain in place.

Business frequently asked questions were also updated and are available here.

Gov. Wolf also provided more options for counties in the yellow phase by allowing outdoor dining beginning June 5 and providing Summer Camp Guidance for providers, parents and caregivers.

The Summer Camp Guidance includes information on what types of programs for children are permitted during the phased reopening, status of public playgrounds and the operation of community pools, and the status of organized team sports.

The state continues to use risk-based metrics from Carnegie Mellon University, combined with contact tracing and testing capability and a sustained reduction in COVID-19 hospitalizations, to make decisions on county moves. The 50 new cases per 100,000 population continues to be a consideration, but not a sole deciding factor.

To see up-to-date data on case counts and demographics, hospital preparedness and testing, view the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

As more counties and residents enjoy loosened restrictions, the governor stressed the need to balance resuming activities with keeping case counts low and taking personal responsibility by wearing a mask or choosing to stay away from crowds to reduce the likelihood of coming into contact with someone carrying COVID-19.

“If we take the simple steps of wearing a mask, staying home when sick, and implementing social distancing tactics, we can help eliminate the spread of COVID-19 and make a huge contribution to getting our commonwealth back on track,” Gov. Wolf said.

Gov. Wolf & Sec. Levine Update on COVID-19 mitigation Friday at 2:00 p.m.

Friday, Governor Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine will provide an update on the coronavirus known as COVID-19 and efforts to mitigate the virus in Pennsylvania at 2:00 p.m.

Talkwilliamsport.com will carry the event live and online.

BREAKING NEWS: Lycoming County enters Green phase on June 5

Lycoming County will join 15 other counties, Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clinton, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Mercer, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland moving to the “Green” Phase next Friday June 5.

News Talk WMPT reached out to Lycoming County Commissioner Scott Metzger for reaction to the Governor moving the county to the Green phase next weekend. “We have been working diligently on behalf of the citizens of Lycoming County.  We are very pleased that the Governor has heard us and we will moving into the green phase effective June 5th.  We will continue to be responsible as we move towards the no phase period.  Thank you to the citizens of Lycoming County.  Continue to be safe and God bless you.”

As exclusively reported yesterday, the Lycoming County Commissioners along with Director of Administration Matt McDermott, Coroner Charles Kiessling and State Representative Garth Everett held a conference call with officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Commissioner Mussare, would like more flexibility for bars and restaurants moving into the Green phase.

“Although we appreciate the governor moving us to the green category he must also reevaluate his occupancy requirements for restaurants and bars. According to many of those owners 50% occupancy will not cover their cost.

The Lycoming County Commissioners will continue to advocate for our small business owners. We will ask the governor to call on them individually to hear their concerns and personal stories. By doing so he will have accurate data that he can count on to make correct decisions as he moves forward.”

Commissioner Mirabito had not yet responded at press time. Once he does this story will be updated accordingly.

Governor Wolf and Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine eill hold a press conference at 2 p.m. to make the formal announcement.