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.
Local Arts & Culture Earmarked for $10,000 in Pandemic Relief
Funding made available through CARES Act
State Represenetatives Bob Merski, Pat Harkins, and Ryan Bizzarro announced Monday that nearly $10,000 in funding would be distributed to local arts and culture organizations through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The five organizations receiving $1,930 in aid include:
- The Erie Philharmonic
- The Erie Playhouse
- The Erie Art Museum
- Erie Arts & Culture
- Stairways Behavioral Health (home of BLOOM Collaborative)
Penn State Signees
A portion of the signatures for Penn State's open letter regarding COVID-19
Erie County Update: July 6, 2020
11 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Erie County
Concerned Penn State Instructors Pen Open Letter
Teachers address continuing uneasiness about returning to the classroom in the wake of COVID-19
P100s a Good Fit for Future Outbreaks
AHN study confirms the effectiveness of elastomeric respirators in healthcare settings
P100 elastomeric respirators, traditionally used in industrial and construction settings, filter out nearly 100 percent of airborne particles. As such, they're becoming increasingly favored in healthcare as a form of personal protective equipment.
Erie County Update: July 2, 2020
Six new positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Erie County
Are You COVID-19's Type?
Research finds genetic factors behind severity of symptoms
Choose Your Lake Erie Cyclefest Adventure
Participating cyclists will determine ride timing, sequence
Rep. Bob Merski Q&A Addresses Erie County's Move to Green
State Department of Health officials give expert advice
DEP Launches Expanded Online Permitting
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is now allowing permits for all environmentally-related authorizations to be submitted online through its new application tool, OnBase-DEP Upload Form
Public Masking Continues in Green Phase
Gov. Tom Wolf thinks wearing a mask in social settings should become routine
Restrictions and Differences Under PA's Green Phase
A quick guide to what Friday's move to the Green phase means for Erie County
Erie County Update: June 25, 2020
Nine new cases and one additional death reported by Erie County
Erie County Update, June 24, 2020
Nine new positive cases reporteed for a total of 551 cumulative cases
LECOM Debuts Rapid COVID-19 Testing
System generates real-time results in 20 minutes or less
Strong Adjustments as Local Gyms Reopen
Starting Friday, area fitness facilities back in the mix
Erie County Update: June 22, 2020
20 new cases were reported over the span of four days, with two additional deaths
Erie County To Enter Green Phase June 26
After a long and at times frustrating wait, Erie County has been cleared to enter the Green Phase of Pennsylvania's phased reopening plan on Friday, June 26. More details to follow.
Erie Playhouse Presents 'The Mountaintop' Via Livestream
The Erie Playhouse will present The Mountaintop, an original play by Katori Hall, via livestream select dates in July. The 90-minute play reimagines the night before Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. Ticketing information to be announced. All proceeds will be donated toward the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Performances will take place Thursday, July 16 through Saturday, July 18 starting at 7:30 p.m. each night.
Highmark Implements Outreach Programs for Seniors
Highmark employees are volunteering their time to proactively tend to the medical and social needs of vulnerable Medicare seniors through the Highmark Helpers (phone outreach) and Highmark Pen Pals (written correspondence) programs, part of the health insurance company's comphrensive response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Erie County Update: June 18, 2020
Erie County Update, June 17, 2020
Six new cases of COVID-19 reported today with no new cases counts over ten reported since the weekend
Erie County reports 38 new positive cases of COVID-19 for June 13-16; cumulative total is 472
The total cumulative cases of COVID-19 in Erie County is 472, with 256 recovered cases, 207 active cases, 7,771 negatives and nine deaths.
City of Erie Tennis Courts Now Open
Youth Tennis Program – Ages 5 through 18: June 22 – August 14
Erie County reports 16 new positive cases of COVID-19; cumulative total is 434
The total cumulative cases of COVID-19 in Erie County as of 3 p.m. on June 11 is 434, with 252 recovered cases, 174 active cases, 7,136 negatives and eight deaths.
YMCA of Greater Erie Opens Summer Programming
The YMCA of Greater Erie announced several initiatives toward supporting community's youth Thursday, including:
- City of Erie Parks & Recreation Program: Summer play and learning activities for kids 6-18 at nine Erie parks. https://www.ymcaerie.org/programs/1034/
- Meals for Kids: Healthy dinner meals and snacks for kids aged 2-18 with pickup locations throughout Erie County. Free fresh produce boxes at the Downtown and Eastside Y locations Fridays at 3:30 p.m. https://www.ymcaerie.org/programs/1031/
- Outdoor pools will reopen Wednesday, June 15 at YMCA Camp Sherwin and the Eastside Family YMCA locations under state health department/CDC guidelines.
Law Enforcement Awarded Nearly $155K for Coronavirus Preparedness
Erie law enforcement agencies are eligible to apply for up to $154,780 through federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (administered by the Pennslyvania Commission on Crime and Deliquency), Democratic State Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski all announced.
Merski said the funding will support a wide variety of resources.
"Protecting our criminal justice workers and the citizens they serve requires a mix of personnel- and equipment-based resources," Merski said. "Fortunately, our county will be able to use this funding for a wide range of needs, from addressing inmates' medical issues, to purchasing and distributing critical supplies and personal protective equipment, to hiring extra staff, providing training and furnishing overtime pay."
Erie County Update: June 10, 2020
Teachers and Administrators to Face New School Year Shielded
United Way Provides Grant to Erie Family Center's Diaper Depot
AHN Hospitals Update Visitation Policy
Allegheny Health Network hospitals, including Erie's St. Vincent, have announced a new visitor policy in which patients are allowed to have one healthy support person on the premises during defined visitation hours, 9 a.m. to noon or 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Vistation hours will not be limited in the event of :
- Minor patients under the age of 18
- Patients who have an intellectual, developmental or cognitive disability, communication barrier, or behavioral concerns
- Patients receiving end of life care
- Labor and Delivery, including postpartum patients
Erie County Update: June 9, 2020
LECOM Opens Union City Rural Health Clinic
LECOM is again expanding health access through partner Corry Memorial Hospital with the opening of the $1.5 million Union City Rural Health Clinic, 101 E. High St. in Union City. The facility features 10 exam rooms, two procedure rooms, four physician offices, and a conference room and will offer both primary and specialty care and routine lab/diagnostic services.
Did Erie County Really Get 31 COVID-19 Cases In One Day?
How a lag in probable cases accounted for a misrepresented record high
On June 8, David Bruce wrote for GoErie.com that Nate Wardle, press secretary for the state health department confirmed that a data-dump was responsible for this due to a backlog from one of the laboratories. ErieNewsNow also received a similar confirmation from Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper.
Virtual Sounds of Summer Concert Series to Begin June 8
The City of Erie is launching a virtual version of its annual concert series, Sounds of Summer, featuring past performances from local musicians at various senior living facilities throughout the city. The concerts will begin Monday, June 8 at 7 p.m. and will air on Community Access Media (CAM)'s channel 1021 on Spectrum and channel 2 on VNET, as well as the CAM and City of Erie Government Facebook pages. Sounds of Summer will continue airing every Monday evening through July 20. Each s
Erie Philharmonic Musicians Pitch In
Musicians of the Erie Philharmonic launched an unprecedented fund drive for the orchestra this past month, raising over $2,000 towards keeping music alive in Erie. Funds raised by the musicians will be used to offset the costs of small, live concerts over the summer as the Philharmonic looks to return to the stage. While the plans for the fall are evolving on a daily basis, the orchestra is committed to presenting a full 2020-21 season. To make a monetary contribution towards the annual fund, p
The Latest PA County Map
Wolf Cautious of Erie County's Rising Numbers
Green Still Not A Go In Erie County
Local State Reps. Continue to Push for Move to Green Phase
Despite concerns from some about the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in Erie County, State Representatives Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski, and Pat Harkins are doubling down on their push for a move to the less restrictive Green Phase of reopening as outlined by the state, decrying the economic impact of remaining in the Yellow Phase.
They hope their letter, co-signed by state Sens. Dan Laughlin and Michele Brooks; state Reps. Curt Sonney and Brad Roae; and local mayors and county executives – will persuade Gov. Wolf to add Erie County to the list of counties transitioning to Green by next week, if not today.
Erie County Update: June 4, 2020
Despite Big Plans On Deck, SeaWolves Season May Be In Hole
Erie County Update: June 3, 2020
Two deaths reported as well as seven new cases announced
Restaurants to resume dine-in services while professional sports to resume competition
Governor Tom Wolf announced on Wednesday guidance for counties shifting to yellow and green phases
16 Counties Including Pittsburgh Area Set to Green While Erie Remains Yellow
Erie County not among counties Gov. Wolf announced to go green next Friday; school to resume in fall
Dining Al Fresco in Phase Yellow
Erie County Update: June 2, 2020
12 new cases reported in Erie County as surrounding areas see little change
Erie County Update: June 1, 2020
42 new positive cases announced as Erie County crosses an important threshold of new cases
Erie County Update: May 29, 2020
11 new cases reported as Erie is not announced to move to Green phase
Local Government Officials React to Green Phase Exclusion
Erie County to remain in Yellow Phase next week as more populous counties go Green
2020 Irish Festival Canceled
Better luck o' the Irish Festival next year — the annual halfway to St. Paddy's Day special becomes the latest Erie tradition erased from the 2020 calendar in response to COVID-19.
State Legislators Renew Push to Reopen Personal Services Businesses
A group of state legislators including senators Steve Santarsiero (D-10) and Maria Collett (D-12) and representatives Perry Warren (D-31), Tina Davis (D-141), John Galloway (D-140) and Wendy Ullman (D-143) have again appealed to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to allow the reopening of personal services businesses (such as barber shops and salons) in Yellow and Green phase counties. Their letter references a similar plan in Ohio listing all the precautions and best practices personal services business owners are undertaking to operate safely and responsibly amidst heightened concerns.
National Comedy Center Postpones 30th Annual Lucille Ball Comedy Fest
The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y. has not had its last laugh — in fact, the state-of-the-art museum plans on reopening this summer with enhanced safety and sanitation protocols. However, the town's annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, which had been scheduled Aug. 5-9 of this year has been postponed to Aug. 4-8 of next year. Scheduled headliners Jeff Foxworthy and David Spade, Kevin Nealon, and Rob Schneider of SNL will honor their appearances in the rescheduled fest.
Those who have already purchased tickets to this year's festival can either be issued new tickets for the rescheduled events, donate them to the non-profit Comedy Center as a tax-deductible contribution, exchange them for a National Comedy Center gift card, or receive a full refund (by Jul. 15, 2020).
Amidst COVID-19, LECOM Honors Largest Ever Graduating Class
Despite trying and unusual circumstances, 2020 marks the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine's largest ever graduating class, with 1,254 degrees awarded to students across its Pennsylvania and Florida campuses. Among those are 539 Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, 278 Doctors of Pharmacy, and 96 Doctors of Dental Medicine.
The 2020 class includes 610 graduates from LECOM Erie, 537 graduates from LECOM Bradenton (Florida), and 107 graduates from LECOM at Seton Hill in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
United Way to Resume Free Tax Preparation for Qualified Filers
The United Way of Erie County is resuming its Erie FREE Taxes program on June 1, which will allow tax filers with 2019 incomes of $56,000 or less to have their federal, state, and local returns prepared for free by IRS-certified volunteers. Qualified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) filers must schedule an appointment by calling 1-888-829-5680 to drop off their tax documents at a specified tax site. Do not call the United Way offices directly. The deadline for filing taxes this year is July 15.
Erie County Update, May 28, 2020
Erie County Update: May 27, 2020
State Senate Democrats Announce Main Street Business Revitalization Plan
$550 million in additional funds could be earmarked for small businesses via CARES
Wolf Announces 17 Counties to Green Phase, Plan for Statewide Stay-at-home Order Lift
Erie County will not be one of the areas opening up on May 29
Erie County Update: May 26, 2020
25 new cases reported over Memorial Day weekend
Erie County Update: May 22, 2020
Jefferson Educational Society Issues Economic Report
A new Jefferson Report entitled "Erie and Crisis: Region Faces Unique Opportunity to Reimagine Itself" is now available for download, the community think tank announced. This project, co-written byAndrew Roth, Judith Lynch, Pat Cuneo, Ben Speggen, Angela Beaumont, and Colleen Dougherty, and edited by Jefferson President Ferki Ferati, examines the unique opportunities the Erie region faces as it responds to the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences.
PA Senate Democrats Announce Main Street Business Revitalization Grant Program
A group of Pennsylvania State Senate Democrats consisting of Jay Costa, Vince Hughes, John Blake, Jim Brewster and Pam Iovino are calling for $550 million in funds allocated to Pennsylvania through the federal CARES (Coronavrius Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security) Act to be funneled into their new Main Street Business Revitalization Initiative, which will issue grants to "historically small, vulnerable and disadvantaged small businesses" in communities — small town staples such as barbershops, salons, corner bars, diners, bed and breakfasts, etc. The initiative will be run through the state's Community Development Financial Institutions
Highmark Extends COVID-19 Coverage Without Cost Sharing
Highmark is extending waivers on all deductibles, coinsurance, and copays related to COVID-19 treatment and telehealth through Sept. 30. The move applies to in-network, in-patient care only.
Presque Isle Partnership Announces Cancelation of Summer Events
Presque Isle Partnership announced Thursday that all of its annual fundraising events were to be canceled, with no alternative programming in the works. The events included:
- Presque Isle Poker Paddle (5/31)
- UPMC Sunset Music Series (6/10, 6/17, 6/24, 7/8, and 7/15)
- Discover Presque Isle (7/24-7/26)
- Presque Isle Triathlon (8/8)
Instead, the partnership will focus its efforts on the 100th anniversary of Presque Isle becoming a state park in 2021. Summer visitors were asked to safely and respectfully observe all CDC social distancing guidelines.
Gov. Wolf Vetoes House Bill 2388
House Bill 2388 — which would've allowed the reopening of Pennsylvania vehicle dealers, lawn and garden centers, cosmetology salons, barber shops, messenger service and agent service activities, animal grooming services, and manufacturing operations, was vetoed by Governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday and sustained Wednesday, after receiving vocal support from State Representative Ryan Bizzarro and others.
Erie County Update: May 21, 2020
Area Food Banks Feed Needs With Additional Funding
Three grants totaling $219,243 were recently awarded to area food banks through the Food Recovery Infrastructure Grant Program, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The funding breakdown is as follows:
- $95,000 to Emmaus Ministries
- $70,902 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania
- $53,341 to Adagio Health
Erie Childcare Providers to Receive Over $1M in CARES Funding
Erie childcare providers have been awarded a total of $1,011,700 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the office of State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro announced Wednesday. The funds will be distributed through regional Early Learning Resource Centers to eligible organizations.
Edinboro University Prepping for Return to Classes in Fall
Edinboro University President Guiyou Huang sent out a letter to students and colleagues Wednesday indicating the fluidity of the college's plans for reopening this fall and the need to be "nimble," accounting for the various social distancing and safety measures that would need to be in place assuming a return to campus. To that end, she reported that housekeeping was thoroughly cleaning facilities, and Plexiglas dividers were being installed where appropriate.
State Senate Democrats Ask Gov. Wolf to Allow Curbside Sales for All Retailers
A group of 16 Pennsylvania State Senate Democrats led by Steve Santarsiero (Bucks County) signed a formal request sent to Gov. Tom Wolf's desk Wednesday, asking that all retail stores across the commonwealth be allowed to open for curbside pickup, citing the ability of restaurants, liquor stores, and other services to do the same. A similar plea was made by a group of 60+ Pa. House Members earlier in the week.
Erie County Update, May 20: 2020
Erie County Update: May 19, 2020
Eligible Pa. Seniors Due For Property Tax/Rent Rebate Payments
Gov. Tom Wolf today signed off on a bill that will push up the distribution of property tax/rent rebate payments to senior citizens. For those who have already applied for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, payment is on the way. Those who have yet to apply are encourage to call Rep. Ryan Bizzarro's office at 814-835-2880 for free assistance with the application process.
Erie County Update, May 18, 2020
Bizzarro Votes for More Reopenings for Select Businesses
State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro recently voted for House Bill 2388, which would immediately issue a waiver to the Governor's business closure order to the following businesses:
- vehicle dealers
- lawn and garden centers
- cosmetology salons
- barber shops
- messenger service and agent service activities
- animal grooming services
- manufacturing operations
Reopening would be contingent on adherence to social distancing practices and mitigation efforts recommended by the CDC. CDC guidelines include employers, employees and patrons wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting using EPA-approved disinfectants.
State Rep. Bizzarro Hosts Virtual COVID-19 Scam Prevention Event
This Wednesday at 10 a.m., State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro will host a live webcast in tandem with the Pennslyvania Attorney General's office covering treatment, supply, and provider scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participation is limited to the first 100 registrants, who must contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive an access code.
State Rep. Harkins Encourages Cash-Strapped Residents to Investigate LIHEAP
State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, is advising residents to enroll in the newly announced Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Recovery Crisis Program, which will provide a crisis benefit and a supplemental payment for households to help offset utility costs.
Harkins said that LIHEAP Recovery Crisis benefits may be available if a household:
- Has had their main or secondary energy source completely shut off.
- Is notified that their utility service will be shut off in the next 60 days.
- Has broken energy equipment or leaking lines that must be fixed or replaced.
- Is in danger of being without fuel in 15 days or less.
- Owes funds to a utility provider that would constitute a service termination if not for the Public Utility Commission's moratorium on terminations.
The new program opens today and runs through August 31, or until all budgeted funds are expended. The maximum benefit will be $800 for this period, and eligibility guidelines will be the same as those used during the 2019-20 LIHEAP season.
Erie County Update: May 15, 2020
Five new cases reported in Erie County as 13 additonal Western Pa. counties enter Yellow Phase
Second Harvest Offers SNAP Assistance to Families in Need
Erie County Update: May 14, 2020
A third COVID-19-related death was reported in Erie County
PA Senate Approves Additional Ventilator Funding
Celebrate Erie and More Events Postponed as Parks Remain Closed
State Representatives Merski and Kortz Team to Reduce Hunting, Fishing Fees for Frontline Workers
If new legislation introduced by state representatives Bob Merski (Erie) and Bill Kortz (Allegheny) passes, Pennsylvania's health care workers and first responders would pay just $1 for one-year hunting and fishing licenses.
"Pennsylvania's health care professionals and first responders have been there for us 24/7 throughout this pandemic, working tirelessly to save lives even when doing so puts their own lives at risk," said Merski, who is a member of the House Game and Fisheries Committee. "Words are barely adequate to thank them, but we can give back in small ways. Offering reduced fees on hunting and fishing licenses is one way to do that while encouraging these frontline heroes to relax outdoors."
Erie County Update: May 13, 2020
One new case reported as local businesses reminded to follow safety protocol
Updates from Dr. Rachel Levine
PA Secretary of Health gives daily breakdown of statewide data
How Contact Tracing Works in Erie County
AHN to Deliver Mobile Testing to Underserved Communities
The Allegheny Health Network announced launch of mobile COVID-19 testing clinics yesterday, with the specific intention of providing for underserved communities in Pittsburgh and eventually Erie. Physician's orders will not be required for an appointment, but appointments will be required. Those undergoing testing should be experiencing symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus, such as shortness of breath.
In the meantime, COVID-19 testing is available at AHN West Side Health + Wellness Pavilion, 4247 Ridge Road, Erie PA 16506
Erie County Update: May 12, 2020
Two new cases reported as Dahlkemper joined by Erie County Health Department Medical Director Dr. R. Anthony (Tony) Snow
United Way of Erie County Shifts Funding Focus
The United Way of Erie County, a proud sponsor of the annual National Night Event supporting neighborhood organizations, is putting its financial backing this year behind those most involved in helping sort through the fallout of COVID-19. To help identify the most deserving mini-grant awardees, the United Way has released a 2020 Neighborhood Organization Community Impact Survey.
Erie County Update: May 11, 2020
Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, in her regular address, reported that there were six new positive cases of COVID-19 since Friday. One is in their 20s, two in their 30s, one in their 50s, one in their 80s, and one is under the age of five. Three of the cases are in Zone one (the City of Erie), one in Zone two (Millcreek), one in Zone three (the northeastern portion of the county), and one in Zone five (the western portion of the county). All of these new cases were said to be linked to kn
Erie County Update: May 8, 2020
Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Site Online
The PA Dept. of Labor and Industry's recently launched Pandemic Unemployment Compensation website is now accepting applications for weekly claims, dating back to Jan. 27 or the first week workers were unable to work due to COVID-19, whichever came first. Applicants served include the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig workers who wouldn't normally be eligible for unemployment.
Erie County COVID-19 Response Funds Support Erie County in Face of Crisis
The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) has awarded five additional grants through the Erie County COVID-19 Human Relief Fund to support those in need throughout Erie County. The ECGRA Board of Directors awarded grants to YMCA of Greater Erie, Erie Family Center, Edinboro Community & Economic Development Corporation, Elmwood Food Pantry, and Harborcreek High School.
Merski, Harkins: Nearly $8.7 million to Erie schools to support continued learning during pandemic
Area school districts will receive approximately $8.68 million in federal funding under the CARES Act to ensure students have the resources they need to continue learning during the pandemic, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding to five school districts and their schools will be key to helping develop and deliver ongoing education and supports.
Bizzarro urges area school districts to apply for federal CARES funding
The Pennsylvania Department of Education submitted an application to the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. School districts will need to apply for funding upon approval of the state's application. PDE anticipates approval from the U.S. Department of Education in approximately a week and is working to ensure application processes are streamlined for quick issuance to eligible districts.
Erie County Update: May 7, 2020
Area Hospitals See Patients Return for Appointments, Surgeries
AHN Saint Vincent, UPMC Hamot, and Millcreek Community Hospital able to resume preventative and elective procedures as county prepares to enter Yellow Phase
Erie County Update: May 6, 2020
Two new cases reported, with new guidelines issued from the state
15 Area Liquor Stores Open May 8
Fine Wine & Good Spirit locations open to limited public access around Erie County
What Yellow Phase Means For You
Unpacking the state's vague guidelines
Harkins, Merski vote for comprehensive COVID-19 testing
Pennsylvania moved one step closer to providing residents with meaningful COVID-19 testing Monday after the House voted to develop and implement a testing plan, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced. Harkins and Merski, both D-Erie, said H.B. 2455 would require the state to first develop and then fund a comprehensive testing plan. Funding would include resources for development and manufacturing of testing equipment and supplies, contact tracing and other measures. Health care
Erie County Update, May 5, 2020
No new cases reported, while Dept. of Health's Charlotte Berringer joins the conversation
Bizzarro votes to expand COVID-19 testing as state heads back to work
Today state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, voted to expand critical COVID-19 testing as Pennsylvania heads into a new phase in its ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. "This bill will ensure that we have the testing capabilities we need to not only stop the coronavirus, but also jumpstart Pennsylvania's economy and get back to work in a safe manner," Bizzarro said. "Without adequate testing on the front lines of this crisis, all of our hard work and sacrifice could be unde
Erie County Update: May 4, 2020
No word from state government as concern ramps up prior to Yellow phase movement
Updates from Dr. Rachel Levine
Pennsylvania's Secretary of Health addresses Yellow phase precautions in her daily address
How COVID-19 Has Affected the Erie Economy
Erie Leading Index reveals impact of pandemic so far
State House Votes To Reopen Lawn and Garden Stores
House Bill 2429 would provide local lawn and garden centers a waiver to Gov. Tom Wolf's mandatory closure order, allowing them to reopen pending adherence to all public health protocols.
St. Vincent Implements Mercy Virtual vICU Capabilities
Saint Vincent is becoming the latest Allegheny Health Network hospital to implement St. Louis-based Mercy Virtual's vICU (virtual ICU) capabilities to provide another level of around-the-clock ICU support. The system combines telecommunication and remote patient monitoring technology through encrypted connections, allowing critical care intensivists at Mercy's Virtual Care Center to coordinate with St. Vincent's onsite clinical team.
Patterson School of Ballet Offers Virtual Class
Be on your toes — the Patterson School of Ballet is offering a Virtual Community Class on Sunday, May 3 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The Zoom instructional period will be led by artistic director Michael Patterson, formerly of the Pennsylvania Ballet.
Livestream with Kemi Ilesanmi: Creative Catalyst Speaker Series
Erie Arts & Culture and guest speaker Kemi Ilesanmi will host a virtual conversation on May 6 at 6 PM as part of the agency's Creative Catalyst Speaker Series. The intent of the Creative Catalyst Speaker Series is to build the capacity of our region by sharing methodology on how creative practices can be aligned with social issues.
Elevate Church provides free pancake breakfasts to community
Elevate Church announces the distribution of free pancake breakfasts to those in need Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon throughout this time of quarantine. The service is being offered at the church located at 975 Millcreek Mall.
Harkins, Merski support expansion of allowable business activities for real estate
State Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, expressed their support for newly released state guidance authorizing certain in-person activities related to real estate transactions. The lawmakers said the guidance – which allows resumption of certain activities by appraisers, notaries, home inspectors and title companies – are positive steps that can be accomplished without compromising public safety. More info as well at: www.pahouse.com/Harkins
Erie County COVID-19 Response Fund Opens Project Face Shield to Non-Profits
The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) authorized the purchase of an additional 500 face shields, which are now available at no cost to Erie County non-profits. ECGRA already provided an initial investment to support local police and fire with a purchase of 500 face shields. Now, the program has been extended to start equipping local non-profit organizations.
Senators Call for Auditor General to Examine DCED's COVID-19 Response
In light of ongoing concerns about the Department of Community and Economic Development's (DCED) handling of the COVID-19 crisis, Republican senators are calling on the Auditor General to begin an audit of the agency immediately, according to Senator Dan Laughlin. "Given recent developments, we formally request you take this proclaimed passion for protecting Pennsylvania taxpayers during COVID-19 and your constitutional obligation as Pennsylvania's fiscal watchdog, to immediately begin an aud
Erie County Update: April 29, 2020
Three new cases reported, with a data breakdown given by Dahlkemper
Managing Liabilities During COVID-19 Ask Your Pressing Questions During Q&A Session
"Managing Liabilities During the COVID-19 Crisis." A timely webinar offered by Ben Franklin Technology Partners with Tom Sharbaugh, Director of the law school's Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic. Tom will cover a wide range of topics related to managing commitments in the COVID environment, including loans, leases and other contracts, as well as potential personal liability as a guarantor or otherwise. This Thursday, April 30, 2020 9:30 - 10:30 AM Includes Q&A Free for Members, Free to Join
13 More Liquor Stores in Erie County Offering Curbside
The large ramp-up went into effect today, with many more locations featuring the service
Marinas, Golf Courses, Campgrounds, and More to Open May 1
Governor Tom Wolf announced this measure to benefit physical and mental health while following social distancing guidelines
Erie County Update: April 28, 2020
Two new cases reported in Erie County, while the Department of Health's Melissa Lyon joined
Rite Aid Expands COVID-19 Testing Criteria
As announced in an earlier update, pharmacy chain Rite Aid has opened COVID-19 testing sites in the parking lots of 25 of its stores, including its Peach St. location in Erie. Today it announced that any adult 18 or older exhibiting novel cornavirus-like symptoms ( fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and/or new loss of taste or smell) can register for a free self-swab test at riteaid.com. Testing is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 days a week.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners to Offer Free Webinar
Ben Franklin Technology Partners will offer a free webinar, "Managing Liabilities During COVID-19," on Thursday morning (9:30 to 10:30 a.m.) to both members and non-members.
The session will feature Tom Sharbaugh, a Professor of Practice at Penn State Law in University Park and director of the school's Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic within the Happy Valley LaunchBox in downtown State College. Topics will include loans, leases, and potential personal liability (as a guarantor or otherwise). A Q & A will follow.
Setting the Stage With Light the Playhouse Fundraiser
Like many community arts organizations, the Erie Playhouse has been running on backup generators since the COVID-19 pandemic began, hoping to get by until it's safe to power up fully. In anticipation of that date, the community theater is launching its Light the Playhouse fundraiser. For $100, donors can sponsor one of the 1,500 light bulbs that will burn on opening night — on the marquee, in the house, and on the LECOM Stage. The fundraiser will run from May 5 - July 1.
Second COVID-19 Death of Erie County Resident Reported
Highmark Introduces COVID-19 Symptom Checker Healthbot
The chatbot uses artificial intelligence technology to provide guidance as to when patients should seek medical attention. Highmark has collaborated with the CDC Foundation and Microsoft to launch the virtual symptom checker through its website highmarkanswers.com
The chatbot uses artificial intelligence technology to provide guidance as to when patients should seek medical attention and redirects them to the appropriate resources.
Merski Announces Small Business Spotlight Initiative
State Rep. Bob Merski (2nd Legislative District) is looking to celebrate local businesses and their offerings with his new Small Business Spotlight initiative, which will feature a new local business each day. Interested applicants should send a picture and brief description of their business to Mersk's email (RepMerski@pahouse.net) or Facebook page through direct message (facebook.com/RepMerski)
$720,000 in Relief Funding Earmarked for Erie County
Erie County will be receiving a much-needed infusion of emergency relief funding for community development and affordable housing activities as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on. Nearly $720,000 is headed our way via a grant administered by the Pennslyvania Dept. of Community and Economic Development, made possible through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
"This crisis has affected our entire society, from people's ability to work to communities' ability to shelter and feed their neighbors. We are mobilizing across the state to expand or create new programs and make sure that emergency federal funding is moving quickly to the frontlines of this crisis," said state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro. "I'm thankful Governor Tom Wolf's administration was able to get these dollars moving and out to local municipalities and look forward to continuing to work with the governor and his team to address the vital needs of our communities."
Erie County Update: April 24, 2020
First Erie County Resident Passes Away Due to COVID-19
Erie County Update: April 23, 2020
Northwest Pennsylvania Targeted for "Yellow Phase" of Reopening
State issues $10,000 grant for remote learning
The $10,000 Continuity of Education and Equity Grant to the Robert Benjamin Wiley Community Charter School will fund laptops and other remote-learning equipment for Pennsylvania students unable to afford it.
Erie County Update: April 22, 2020
Erie County Update: April 21, 2020
ECGRA Grant Equips Sheriffs, Fire Fighters with Face Shields
The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority continues to funnel resources into the community through its COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, an intiative that has awarded $512,283 to date since its launch on Mar. 19.
Highlighting the latest batch of five is a purchase of 500 face shields through the strategic partnership between Penn State Behrend and Bliley Technologies, 384 of which will be distributed among the East County Volunteer Fire Dept. Chiefs Association, Erie County Sheriff's Office, and City of Erie Fire Dept. Penn State Behrend and its partners will be busy producing PPE in the coming weeks, with $46,500 going to the expansion of the face shield project (including N95s).
Other grants awarded include:
- $2,850 to MECA Senior Care for sanitization/opening of its Senior Center
- $25,400 to the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network to compensate for loss of volunteer base
- $2,500 to the Millcreek Counseling & Mental Health Advocacy Partnership for telemedicine
- $56,408 to Urban Erie Community Development Corporation (UECDC) for supplemental food box preparation and delivery to Housing Authority residents
Probable COVID-19 Deaths Added to Statewide Totals
Jefferson Educational Society features Avi Loeb, James and Deb Fallows
Join James and Deborah Fallows, the husband-wife co-author duo of the critically acclaimed bestselling book "Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America" as they discuss the towns and cities they visited throughout their multi-year journey (including Erie, Pennsylvania) and to learn about their travels and reporting since.
They will be presenting on Facebook Live on Tuesday, April 21, at 4 p.m.
Harkins Commends Wolf's Reopening Strategy
Pa. State Rep. Pat Harkins lauded Governor Tom Wolf's decision to allow the reinitiation of some construction work and enabling online automotive sales via legislation allowing remote notary service.
"We have been pushing to persuade the governor to recognize this and reopen those jobs that will not endanger workers, and the governor has listened," said Harkins. "After sharing their frustration, it's great to be able to share some good news ... these are just the first steps, but they're steps in the right direction. I'll continue working to be sure that our workers – their safety, their families, and their jobs – are the top priorities during these challenging times."
Erie County Update: April 20, 2020
Zero confirmed cases, four probable as Perry Square protest raises concerns
Aunt Bertha Social Care Network Launches
Aunt Bertha, an online social care network connecting people to community benefits organizations (servicing food, housing, and transportation needs), has been implemented across the Highmark Inc., Allegheny Health Network, and Gateway Health systems. The Aunt Bertha directory catalogs geographic-specific information on social service agencies and CBOs across the United States, including resources specifically pertaining to COVID-19, and is free of charge to access.
AHN To Outfit Caregivers with P100 Respirators
Allegheny Health Network announced a new partnership with MSA Safety, manufacturer of the Advantage® 200 LS Respirator, a tight-fitting, reusable half-mask that covers the nose and mouth. It comes equipped with twin removable filter cartridges that effectively screen over 99 percent of airborne particulates. These P100 industrial grade respirators will supplement the network's PPE inventory and be sterilized by AHN technicians after use.
LECOM Celebrates National Osteopathic Medicine Week
LECOM will celebrate National Osteopathic Medicine Week as the nation's largest medical college, having grown substantially since its founding in Erie in 1992. Collectively, its campuses in Erie, Greensburg, Pa., and Bradenton, Fla. have graduated more than 7,100 doctors of osteopathic medicine since its inception — 539 new doctors will join them next month. Over the past three decades, the profession has grown an impressive 300%
"LECOM and LECOM Health recognize the important contributions osteopathic physicians make, both during NOM Week and throughout the year," said LECOM President and CEO John M. Ferretti, D.O. "Their dedication to championing improved patient outcomes through education and quality care makes a difference in the everyday lives of the patients they treat. At no time has that been more vital than now during the COVID-19 pandemic."
Main Street Relief + Recovery Program in the Works
The Erie Downtown Partnership is working on securing grants for a Main Street Relief + Recovery Program that would aid small businesses within Erie's downtown footprint. Those interested in supporting or partcipating are encouraged to:
Jefferson Education Society Programming: Apr. 19-25
The Jefferson Educational Society continues to offer free lectures, panels, and expert advice through its Facebook page throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's what's coming up for the week ending Apr. 25, 2020.
- Tues., Apr. 21: "A Conversation with James and Deborah Fallows," authors of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America, moderated by Ben Speggen (live at 4 p.m.)
- Weds., Apr. 22: "Necessary Interruptions: Encounters in the Convergence of Ecological and Public Health," with Dr. Aaron Kerr, chair of the Gannon University philosophy program (live at 6 p.m.)
- Fri., Apr. 24: "Practicing Meditation through Mindfulness Part Five" with Penny Mechley-Porter, NCC, LPC (live at noon)
Rite-Aid To Offer COVID-19 Testing At Peach St. Location
Rite-Aid will begin administering self-swab nasal tests for COVID-19 at its 5430 Peach St. location, the office of State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro confirmed in a news release. Testing will be by appointment only for patients 18 or older with a valid government ID who meet CDC eligiblity requirements. Time slots are reserved online at www.riteaid.com.
PA Stay-at-home Order Held Until May 8
Gov. Tom Wolf detailed the latest developments of reopening businesses amidst COVID-19
Erie County Update: April 17, 2020
A record seven new cases have been reported, as reopening and new policies are discussed
Governor Wolf Outlines Plan to Reopen Pennsylvania
Follow the link for a breakdown of the plan's key points
Statewide Mask Order Takes Effect as New Cases Confirmed
Two New Cases Reported as Mental Health Issues Addressed
Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper was joined by Dr. Mary Anne Albaugh
Jefferson Educational Society Announces Week's Online Programming
Jefferson Educational Society, Erie's local think tank for community progress, has continued to provide free lectures and educational programming throughout the COVID-19 pandemic via its Facebook Live webcasts, and this week is no different. Keep your mind fresh and engaged with these three programs:
- Tuesday, Apr. 14: "Afghanistan When and How Will America's Longest War End?" with Dr. Boher Gasheh (pre-recorded)
- Wednesday, Apr. 15: "From Peaceable Kingdom to Slaughterhouse: Colonial Pennsylvania and Native Americans" with Larry Flately, J.D. (pre-recorded)
- Friday, Apr. 17: "Practicing Meditation Through Mindfulness: Part 4" with Penny Mechley-Porter, NCC, LPC (noon)
Highmark Reimburses PCPs During COVID-19 Crisis
Local primary care physicians (PCP), like many others, have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pennsylvania-based insurer Highmark Inc. announced today that it will provide advanced payments through its True Performance reimbursement program this week to over 1,700 affiliated primary care practices and related facilities located in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware.
"PCPs are important partners for Highmark," said Deborah Rice-Johnson, president, Highmark Inc. "They help to coordinate and better manage care for our members with chronic conditions, and help ensure that members are staying healthy by receiving services like appropriate screenings and vaccinations."
SeaWolves to Rebroadcast Mize No-Hitter Thursday
On what would've been their 2020 Opening Day, the Erie SeaWolves invite fans to relive one of their most memorable outings of the 2019 season by tuning into Fox Sports Radio WFNN 1330 AM at 7 p.m. On Apr. 29, 2019, prized pitching prospect Casey Mize threw a complete game no-hitter against the Altoona Curve, reminding baseball fans of his status as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. Mize threw 98 pitches in the appearance, throwing 70 for strikes.
LECOM Promotes Hearts for Healthcare
LECOM Health is honoring healthcare workers bravely battling the COVID-19 pandemic through its Hearts for Healthcare campaign — featuring billboards, banners, and signage throughout its facilities — from Apr. 7 (World Health Day) through the end of the month. The college encourages local citizens to lend their support on social media with the #HeartsForHealthcare tag.
AHN Implements New Employee Safety Measure
The Allegheny Health Network, which includes Erie's St. Vincent Hospital, has announced a number of new safety measures to protect employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. AHN pledged its commitment to its workers and regular payment, whether they must pick up additional/alternative work, work from home, self-quarantine due to infection, or care for a family member with coronavirus. Additionally, AHN has secured lodging near its hospitals should employees want to distance themselves from family or roommates as a precaution.
Erie Wild Rib Cook Off & Music Festival Canceled
The Erie Wild Rib Cook Off and Music Festival, a signature event of early summer, has been scrapped for 2020. Event organizers are encouraging pork-lovers not to despair, however, as the festival will return June 2-5, 2021 for its 30th iteration.
Erie County COVID-19 Relief Fund Continues to Expand Outreach
The beneficiaries of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA)'s Erie County COVID-19 Human Relief Fund increased by three Wednesday with grants awarded to Erie City Mission (homeless shelter and kitchen - $39,085), Safe Journey (women's shelter for domestic abuse victims - $9,000), and Erie Dawn (domestic violence safe house provider - 10,000). In total, the fund has allocated $319,560 in aid to 14 local organizations.
SafeNet Issues Plea for Support
SafeNet, a community-based domestic violence safety network, is issuing a plea for help. At a time when the potential for domestic battery and abuse is at all-time high due to unemployment frustrations and increased time at home, the nonprofit finds itself at a financial breaking point. Those with the means to donate are encouraged to call 814.455.1774 ext. 248 or email email@example.com. Contributions are also being accepted through the SafeNet website.
Highmark Waives Out-Of-Pocket Costs for In-Network, Inpatient COVID-19 Treatment
Highmark announced today that members of their insurance network would be relieved of any out-of-pocket charges related to inpatient COVID-19 treatment through May 31, including deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance. In addition, telehealth services for all members will also be free of cost through June 13.
Penn State Behrend Collaborating on COVID-19 Face Shield Production
Penn State Behrend has partnered with Cleveland-based Case Western Reserve University and Nottingham Spirk Design in a new class of COVID-19 face shields, addressing critical shortages in the medical community. With assistance from University Hospitals and Cleveland's MAGNET manufacturing advocacy group, the team devised a product that can be produced with extreme efficiency via a rolling die cutting machine. Through this method, the team hopes to assemble 5,000 shields a day with the help of several regional companies — Erie's Port Erie Plastics (molds), Munot Plastics (shields), and Bliley Technologies (distribution), Akron's R.C. Musson Rubber Co. (rubber straps), and Cleveland's Die Cut Products (additional shields).
State Representatives Merski and Harkins Urge Census Participation
State Representatives Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are urging constituents to partake in 2020 Census Day. "It's hard to overestimate how important our community's response is," said Merski, adding that the information is used to "determine how to allocate billions in funding" for critical community assets such as schools, roads, and hospitals. Census data also directly influences how many U.S. Representatives each state gets in the House. All data collected is highly confidential and its release punishable by law.
Since the 2010 Census, Pennsylvania has received nearly $27 billion from the federal government to fund critical programs and services. "Now, it's time for everyone to be counted again, and today — on Census Day — I'm asking everyone to do their part. If we all get counted, we end up stronger because of it."
Erie County Bar Association to Open Bankruptcy Advice Hotline
The COVID-19 "Ask-A-Lawyer" hotline is opening up to provide free bankruptcy legal advice to local business owners and other individuals who have suffered economic losses during the pandemic. From Monday, Apr. 6 through Thursday, Apr. 9, volunteer Erie County Bar Association lawyers will be answering calls and providing advice. Callers may be subsequently directed to the ECBA's Lawyer Referral & Information Service — initial consultation and referral fees will be waived.
ECBA President George Joseph said. "The Erie County Bar Association and our partners at WICU are proud to support this important community resource."
Global Food Security Expert to Speak
Caitlin Welsh, Director of the Global Food Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., will offer remarks and take audience questions about COVID-19-related food security issues via a live webcast on the Jefferson Educational Society's Facebook page, Thursday, Apr. 2. at 6 p.m.
Ms. Welsh is an Erie native and graduate of Mercyhurst Prep, who went on to volunteer with the Peace Corps in Morocco's breadbasket region and eventually spend seven years in the State Department Office of Global Food Security. Most recently, she's spent time with the National Security Council and National Economic Council as director of global economic engagement.
ECGRA Turns Up COVID-19 Relief Funds to Eleven
The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority continues to invest in its Erie County COVID-19 Human Relief Fund with three additional grants awarded yesterday, boosting its to-date contributions to a grand total of $261,475. They are as follows:
- Grant #9 goes toward the Penn State Plastics Department for development of a COVID-19 face shield plastic molding design ($6,700)
- Grant #10 is awarded to Community Shelter Services to accommodate increased demand for shelter in the midst of COVID-19 ($30,750)
- Grant #11 goes to the men's shelter St. Patrick's Haven ($2,500)
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.