Erie County COVID-19 Newsroom Alerts
A resource page for current happenings surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic
While the COVID-19 pandemic affects countless businesses and organizations around Erie County, The Erie Reader is here to keep you updated on the constantly shifting events around the community. Keep refreshing this page to hear the latest.
LECOM and Jefferson Educational Society to Hold Forum on Coronavirus and Mental Health
Tune into the Jefferson Educational Society's Facebook page at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Apr. 1 for a live Q&A with LECOM behavioral health specialists Meghan McCarthy, D.O. (director of MCH's psychiatric
residency program) and child/adolescent psychiatrists Gianpiero Martone, D.O. and Prianka
Sinha, D.O. During the Facebook Live webcast, panelists will discuss how to cope with the stresses related to the COVID-19 pandemic and field viewers' questions.
Edbinoro: Suspension of In-Person Instruction from March 29, 2020 Through all scheduled 2020 summer sessions
Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education Office of the Chancellor Guidance: continuation of no in-person instruction occurring at our 14 universities during all scheduled 2020 summer sessions
2020 Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community Now Virtual with Online Fundraising
Highmark Inc. announced today that the 2020 Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community that brings thousands of walkers together to raise funds for hundreds of local nonprofit organizations has been modified to be a virtual walk coupled with an online fundraising option due to the ongoing COVID-19 virus situation. Online registration for the virtual walk is now open. Walkers can register and donate at the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community website, and select the participating nonprofit of thei
Erie Phil From Home: Music Director Daniel Meyer has a gift for you
Music Director Daniel Meyer is safe at home with his family but still thinking of all of you! He sent along a message as well as a playlist just for our amazing audience. Stay tuned for more playlists in the coming weeks from Philharmonic musicians and guest artists. Our best wishes to you and yours - please stay safe and healthy! Need something? We're still available remotely via phone at 814.455.1375.
Edinboro University Establishes Student Hardship Fund
Life on the Edinboro campus has changed, but it has not stopped. I admire the resilience of our students and faculty as they adjust to new ways of learning, teaching and communicating. For our students, these changes can bring complications—lost wages, transportation issues, food insecurity, technology issues and more. Many of you have reached out with offers of assistance and have asked how you can help. We thank you for those offers. Here's how you can help. Make a gift to support the St
United Way Teams with FamilyWize for Prescription Accessibility
The United Way of Erie County has partnered with FamilyWize to provide area residents with increased accessibility to prescription resources. FamilyWize partners with major pharmacies such as Walgreens, CVS, WalMart, and RiteAid to provide prescription deliveries and discounted prices.
Meals on Wheels Program One of Four More ECGRA Grants
The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) has announced four additional grants issued through its Erie County COVID-19 Response Fund, bringing the grand total to eight.
- Child Care Center for Life Sustaining Personnel ($16,000): The Downtown Y is operating as a daycare center for life-sustaining personnel, in particular healthcare professionals.
- Mercy Center for Women ($9,525): Emergency homeless shelter assistance accounting for increased regulations imposed by COVID-19 response.
- The Upper Room ($5,000): Same as above.
- Meals On Wheels ($2,000): Meal delivery partnership with the Second Harvest Food Bank servicing elderly and disabled Erie residents.
COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program Open for Applications
For-profit businesses of 100 employees or less may now apply for loans via Pennsylvania's new COVID-19 Working Capital Access (CWCA) program through their county's Certified Economic Development Office.
Three Additional Bills Pass PA State House
Following the passage of S.B. 751 (relaxing the 180-day requirement for the commonwealth's schools) on Wednesday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved three more bills in response to COVID-19 pandemic.
- S.B. 422: Postpones state primary until June 2 to allow polling places additional time to safely prepare.
- H.B. 68: Provisions for unemployment compensation benefits and suspension of certain requirements for workers impacted by COVID-19
- H.B. 1232: Authorizes transfer of $50 million in state funds to assist health care facilities; extends medical marijuana regulations until late 2021.
PA Distilleries Cleared for Sanitizer Production
Pennslyvania's small craft distilleries will soon be cleansing more than palates. Removal of certain FDA and U.S. Treasury production regulations means they'll soon be cleansing hands, too. Alcohol is the key ingredient in hand sanitizer, of which there is a critical shortage of across the state and the country, and distilling equipment is optimized for extracting highly concentrations of ethanol from natural sources. State Senators Vincent Hughes and Tim Kearney and U.S. Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon and Brendan Boyle, who helped get the project off the ground, expect that the first sample may be available by Friday.
The Healing Power of Laughter: The National Comedy Center
Stay tuned for the "National Comedy Center Anywhere" launch next week, and consider engaging with the National Comedy Center by becoming a member, making a donation, or shopping in our online store – all meaningful ways to support the nation's official cultural institution dedicated to comedy. In the meantime, we'll try to keep the laughs coming. - Journey Gunderson, Executive Director of the National Comedy Center
Emergency School Code Relief Bill Passes Pa. House
Senate Bill 751, or the Emergency School Code Relief Bill, was approved by the Pennslyvania House of Representatives Wednesday and will move on to the State Senate. The bill provides authority to the secretary of education for school closure until the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end and ups the number of permissible flexible institution ("in-service") days. The measure would apply to all schools —public, private, (cyber) charter, career and technical, or otherwise — in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Commonwealth Foundation Submits Legislative Reform Suggestions to Pa. Lawmakers
The Commonwealth Foundation, a Harrisburg-based organization whose mission is to "transform free-market ideas into public policies," submitted a series of recommendations to Pennsylvania lawmakers today to minimize the damages to the state economy as a result of COVID-19. The key points include:
- Bolstering the health care system
- Providing flexibility to help workers
- Swift action in response to fiscal challenges
- Ensuring students can continue their education
- Avoiding potential legislative pitfalls
Follow the link to read their full advisory.
Guest Post: Why Desperate Times Call For Businesses to Market Online
With short-term futures so uncertain for many of our nation's businesses, planning for the long-term may seem premature or even foolish. But although COVID-19 may have caught your business at the wrong time, the right time for success may still yet lie ahead — depending on how you portray yourself right now. In this blog post, Erie Reader partner Epic Web Studios explains why a concerted digital marketing effort may not only help your business survive COVID-19, but flourish when it passes. Stay tuned to eriereader.com for plenty of new content as we heed their advice!
Oasis Market Announces Curbside Pickup
The Oasis Market, located downtown at 914 State St., is implementing a new curbside pickup program at its store, available between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Customers are asked to send a list of the names and amounts of their desired items via email to GrowingErie@TheOasisMarket.com or to call and place a phone order at 814-651-0679 if they are without email access. Please allow allow store associates 20-30 minutes for order preparation. Last call for orders will be at 2:30 p.m. Payment required remotely before pickup. SNAP accepted.
Sheetz Announces Temporary Raise for All Hourly Employees
Regional gas station and convenience store chain Sheetz announced a $3 raise for all hourly employees on Wednesday due to the increased demands placed on workers during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Sheetz stores have suspended self-serve food and drink items, emphasized online ordering, and stepped up sanitization efforts to combat transmission of coronavirus. The move affects over 17,000 store employees at 600 locations (including three in the Erie area) and is valid through April 23, at which time it will be reevaluated.
Erie Playhouse to Temporarily Close
The Erie Playhouse will be temporarily closing the curtains on its operations for the first time its 100-plus year history in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community theater organization announced in a press release Tuesday. All remaining shows in the 2019-20 season have been canceled and Playhouse staff have been temporarily laid off, with the exception of its business manager and Executive Director Kate Neubert Lechner. The Playhouse has plans for live-streaming digital entertainment coordinated through volunteers and board members until normal operations can resume.
Mayor Schember Declares State of Emergency for City of Erie
Mayor Joe Schember has declared a State of Emergency for the City of Erie, Pennslyvania. The declaration is a vital measure to securing federal funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the COVID-19 crisis continues. During this time, public safety resources (police, fire, EMS, animal control) will operate as normal. Public Works and the Bureau of Wastwater and Sewer Collection will distribute its employee resources between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shifts to limit the number of personnel working simultaneously. Any city employee able to work remotely will.
"These are extraordinary times, which call for extraordinary measures," said Schember. "We need to do everything we can to protect the residents of the City of Erie and our brave first responders while still providing critical public services. We ask everyone to Stay Calm, Stay Home, and Stay Safe."
Catholic Diocese of Erie Suspends Victim Payments
The Indpendent Survivors' Reparation Program, the Erie Catholic Diocese's fund for abuse victims, has been put on hold for 90 days. After that 90-day period, the situation will be reevaluated.
The decision was influenced by a steep decline in the stock market resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, a domino effect that has led to a devaluation of the Diocese's historic investments, a decreased line of credit, and in turn a reduced ability to pay back the damages suffered by victims of clergy and layperson abuse.
In a statement Tuesday, the Diocese said the suspension impacts some 40 individuals whose claim is still pending. All other claimants have already accepted settlements or are in line for payment.
United Way, ServErie and Erie County Dept. of Human Services issue urgent need for volunteers at the Avalon
The Erie County Department of Human Services in partnership with ServErie and United Way's 211 Helpline are in desperate need of volunteers (adults age 18+) to assist in the operation of the Avalon Overflow Homeless Shelter. Volunteers are needed IMMEDIATELY to help around the clock in incremental shifts. Those interested in learning more and finding out if they are qualified to volunteer should email Ashley Westgate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YMCA Creates Virtual Health & Wellness Resources
YMCA of Greater Erie engages the community with free virtual tools and resources. Programs include Stay Health-Y 600, Y360, Classes via Zoom, social media, and more online offerings.
Pennsylvania's Child Care System in Urgent Need of Stimulus to Prevent Collapse
Principal partners of the Pre-K for PA and Start Strong PA advocacy campaigns called for swift action by PA policymakers to save the state's child care system. Advocates touted a recent survey by the Pennsylvania Child Care Association showing that of the 605 child care providers responding (serving more than 44,000 children across the Commonwealth), nearly one-third indicated that they would not be able to reopen if the state mandated closure lasts for longer than one month.
Jefferson Educational Society: Coronavirus Conversation and other News from the Jefferson
LECOM medical specialists will discuss the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and its regional implications in a special live video broadcast on Tuesday, March 24, at 6 p.m. It is one of several local programs that will be presented this week by the Jefferson. All programs will be livestreamed on the Jefferson's Facebook site: https://www.facebook.
Erie County COVID-19 Response Fund Grants Support Erie Family Center, North East Food Pantry
ECGRA has awarded three additional grants through Erie County COVID-19 Response Fund to support those in need throughout Erie County. A grant awarded late Friday evening was used to support Erie County homeless residents. During a virus outbreak, homeless shelters are only allowed to admit 10 people. This left approximately 70 homeless people without a place to stay this weekend.
Emergency Shelter Funding for the Homeless of Erie County ($12,500), North East Community Food Pantry ($1,000), Diaper Depot Emergency Distribution ($7,500)
Presbyterian SeniorCare Network Introduces Initiative to Brighten Spirits of Residents, Patients, and Team Members
Pittsburgh's Presbyterian SeniorCare Network is calling on the community to help brighten the lives of its residents, patients, and team members by delivering some #RaysOfSunshineduring the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the community are invited to send a note or a card, long or short, big or small, homemade or store-bought, that will be shared with residents, patients, and team members.
Farm to School Initiative Grows in Erie School District
Currently, Erie School District is providing meals to students during the COVID-19 shutdown. Erie School District (ESD) has started "harvest of the month," a program where elementary school students learn about the benefits of gardening through interactive, hands-on experience. Students plant seeds in school gardens while learning about the vegetables in multidisciplinary courses. ESD's foodservice provider, Metz Culinary Management, supports the program by corresponding menu items, taste tests, and educational posters with the month's harvest items.
Bizzarro calls on Wabtec to consider public safety over profit amidst COVID-19 pandemic
State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, released the following statement today calling on Wabtec to adhere to CDC guidelines and do their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
"The decision by Wabtec to remain open without properly protecting its workforce during this pandemic shows a lack of judgment and general disregard for its employees and our greater Erie community, as we all work together to limit the spread of COVID-19. Employee health, proper workplace disinfecting per the CDC guidelines, and social distancing should be fundamental concerns facing each and every business across Pennsylvania, particularly as non-life-sustaining entities. My office has received constituent calls from management and hourly employees about a lack of sanitizing protocols that could facilitate the unnecessary spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Union Grocery and Retail Workers See Wage Increases, Enhanced Safety Measures in PA
Members of UFCW 1776KS will see wage increases and safety improvements at hundreds of workplaces across Pennsylvania following collaboration with employers.
UFCW 1776KS announced today industry-wide safety measures, temporary wage premiums and improved benefits for retail and grocery workers in union facilities across Pennsylvania.
"Our members are performing the essential work necessary to keep people safe during this unprecedented outbreak," said UFCW 1776KS President Wendell Young, IV. "Thanks to the hard work that these frontline responders are doing, Pennsylvania families can shop in safety. Enhancing safety protocols to protect these workers, customers and providing fair wages and improved benefits to meet their needs is the least we can do to thank them."
Bridgeway Activates COVID-19 Response Fund to Sustain Erie County Small Businesses and Nonprofits
The $2.35 million Erie County COVID-19 Response Fund, established by ECGRA and Erie County Council this week includes $1.6 million of loans to small businesses and non-profits to help meet rapidly rising needs generated as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis. These ECGRA loans will be administered through Bridgeway Capital. To help qualified small businesses and nonprofits access loan capital, Bridgeway opened the applications today via an Erie County COVID-19 Business Relief webpage at bridgewaycapital.org.
PA Small Businesses Are Now Eligible to Apply for SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Gov. Wolf: Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available to Small Businesses and Non-Profits Facing Losses Related to COVID-19
Governor Tom Wolf today announced the availability of low-interest loans for small businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Erie Downtown Partnership: COVID-19 Update
The Erie Downtown Partnership and the Erie Parking Authority have collaborated to offer participating downtown restaurants and cafes that are open for carry-out service complimentary "Carry-Out Only" reserved parking spaces adjacent to their downtown business.
The roster of participating businesses currently includes over 30 downtown restaurants that are offering carry-out specials during the shutdown. Any business that wants to be added who is in the Downtown Improvement District from the Bayfront up to 14th Street and over from Holland to Sassafras Streets can email email@example.com.
Cathedral of St. Paul Worship this Sunday
We will gather online for Worship on Sunday, March 22 at 10 am
Join people from across our diocesan partnership for a short worship service, a message from Bishop Sean Rowe, and time to ask questions about this time in which we find ourselves.
Use this link to join the service: https://zoom.us/j/857403996 or call 646-876-9923 and use code 857403996# to join by phone.
Erie Regional Chamber | COVID-19 Business Resource Guide
We are undoubtedly in unprecedented times as a community. The Erie Regional Chamber team is here to be a partner as your business experiences this uneasy economic time.
Over the last several days, our team has engaged our entire member base, ensuring that you know we are here to support your organization and provide assistance in any way we can. We remain open and virtually accessible to you during this time of economic uncertainty. If you haven't already, please answer this brief seven-question survey.