Update from the Chamber on COVID-19

  • The Chamber wants to support you in preparing your business or organization for potential impacts from novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and seeks your help in preventing spread in our community.

    The Coronavirus has already had a vast impact on our local economy. We’re in touch with many members for support in planning for continued workplace and economic disruptions from the spread of Coronavirus. This message is intended to provide you with the best sources of information we’ve found, as well as suggestions to help you plan for and mitigate the impact of this virus on your business, organization, and family. While this message is geared towards business and workplace readiness, if you’d like recommendations for preparing at home, please click here.

    To see the number of tests and confirmed cases in Tompkins County visit the Health Department website. Since it has a long incubation period, it could be over two weeks from initial exposure until symptoms appear, and even longer before people are tested and cases are confirmed. Everything that we are reading and examining about this illness indicates that we should continue to take this threat seriously,  widespread health and economic impacts from this virus are being felt nationwide.

    It is our shared responsibility to stem the spread of this virus and to prepare as best we can. To that end, we’ve compiled some of the most reliable sources of information for your business at the bottom of this email. A few key priorities for your business or organization to consider are as follows:

    • For the most up-to-date business resources in our community visit https://www.tompkinschamber.org/covid-19-business-resources/ 
    • Workplace Cleanliness: Encourage frequent hand washing; make hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes available; provide free tissues; and encourage your team to find non-contact ways of greeting others and working together.
    • Review your upcoming meeting calendar and change in-person meetings to virtual meetings or phone calls.  If you are feeling unwell, do not visit other organizations—reschedule meetings or drop-ins as necessary. Likewise, be flexible when others ask to reschedule with you.
    • Sick Policies: To help prevent the spread of this or any virus, please support your employees in staying home if they are sick. You may need to review your paid time off/sick time policies if they do not allow the flexibility or financial support your employees need to comply. Also, learn who on your team may have responsibility to care for others, should circumstances require it.
    • Remote Work Policies: If you are able to consider remote work as an option, and don’t already have a remote work policy, it may be time to develop such a policy with input from your IT provider (some local options here) . Since many workplaces cannot allow remote work, consider instead how you may shift or rotate schedules.
    • Understand Your Employer Obligations: You are legally obligated to provide a safe workplace and to make accommodations for those with disabilities. Protecting your workplace and team from the spread of Coronavirus is no different.
    • Don’t Tolerate Racist or Ignorant Statements: Address and quell any rumors or statements related to Coronavirus that are based on race, ethnicity, country of origin, or misinformation. Do address valid concerns or questions about recent travel to impacted areas.
    • Make a Plan for Reduced or Interrupted Operations: Prepare your business and customers for disruptions in operations, whether it be from changes in consumer behavior, supply chain issues, or a large portion of your workforce being ill. Ensure that you have access to emergency funding or a line of credit should you have a significant disruption in operations.
    • Examine Your Supply Chain: Large manufacturers are already examining their supply chains in impacted areas to minimize disruptions. Consider whether any of your suppliers are located in regions with significant impacts, and whether your shipping times may be lengthened – with the goal of maintaining necessary inventory levels to support your business operations.
    • Communications Plan: Have a point person on your staff who will take the lead in keeping your information current, addressing staff concerns, and communicating updates to your team. Here’s a link to a planning tool from Cornell University.
    • Use Your Professional Associations for Support: Many professional networks and organizations are offering webinars and other resources for employers. Make use of these opportunities!
    • Get Updates Regularly: Ensure you are checking back with numerous sources regularly for the most up to date guidance and information regarding the spread of this virus.

    More resources are included below for your convenience! Be well, friends.

    Tompkins County Health Department

    Tompkins County Public Health officials are staying in close contact with New York State Department of Health, the CDC, and other area institutions to manage our community’s response to this threat.

    “Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) continues to monitor and respond to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) with guidance from NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the CDC. Public health response is focused on containment of the virus and preparation for any emergent situations that may arise in the future.”

    https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health

    Centers for Disease Control

    The CDC has the most resources for all groups, but specifically speaks to how businesses should prepare for this outbreak. “All employers should be ready to implement strategies to protect their workforce from COVID-19 while ensuring continuity of operations. During a COVID-19 outbreak, all sick employees should stay home and away from the workplace, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene should be encouraged, and routine cleaning of commonly touched surfaces should be performed regularly.”

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html

    US Chamber of Commerce

    “All employers should be ready to implement strategies to protect their workforce from the Coronavirus while ensuring continuity of operations. Download these guides created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which are based on information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to learn more about how employers and employees can prepare for and address the impacts of the Coronavirus.”

    https://www.uschamber.com/coronavirus

    https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/resilience-box 

    Colleges Offer Guidance and Resources

    While Cornell University has joined many peers by moving to online courses only after spring break (from April 4rd on), Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College have not yet taken such actions.

    Cornell University Updates

    Ithaca College Updates

    Tompkins Cortland Community College Updates

    With questions call the Chamber at 607-273-7080, or email us at info@tompkinschamber.org.

    * A brief reminder that we are not doctors or legal experts – just your friendly local Chamber doing our best to keep you informed.*

  • Updates from the Chamber

    3/23/2020

    Governor Cuomo announced the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone.


    3/21/2020

    The Tompkins Chamber staff has collected a database of gift card offerings, links to online stores, and innovative approaches from our member businesses. 


    3/20/2020 (2)

    Governor Cuomo will sign an Executive Order mandating that 100% of the workforce must stay home beginning Sunday, March 22 at 8PM, excluding essential services. Exemptions from the order will include shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions.

    3/20/2020


    3/19/2020

    EO 202.6 From NYS will be updated to reflect that staffing reduction requirements are now at 75% remote work.


    3/18/2020

    “If you are filing a new unemployment insurance claim, the day you should file is based on the first letter of your last name. If your last name starts with A – F, file your claim on Monday. For last names starting with G – N, file your claim Tuesday. For last names starting with O – Z, file your claim on Wednesday. If you missed your filing day, file your claim on Thursday or Friday. Filing later in the week will not delay your payments or affect the date of your claim, since all claims are effective on the Monday of the week in which they are filed.”
    New York State Mandated Closure of All Restaurants, Bars, Gyms, Theaters, and Casinos. Food and beverage delivery and pick up only will be allowed.
    BREAKING NEWS FROM GOV CUOMO: NY, PA, CT, and NJ will temporarily close all indoor portions of retail shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys effective tomorrow (Thurs March 19) at 8PM.

    3/17/2020

    The Chamber Team is working to provide updates as quickly as we have them. It’s also critical to us that you have accurate, complete guidance from all sources – which doesn’t always come immediately.

    New York State Waiving 7 Day Wait Period for Unemployment Insurance

    New York State Today Mandated Closure of All Restaurants, Bars, Gyms, Theaters, and Casinos. Food and beverage delivery and pick up only will be allowed.

    The Workforce Development Board has provided the following guidance – click here.

    The Chamber & TCAD are collaborating to ensure that low-interest SBA Funding will be available to local businesses and nonprofit organizations, which requires action from Governor Cuomo.

    The Chamber is participating in the local Economic Recovery Cabinet to ensure we leverage as many resources as possible for our community both during and after this economic disruption. Your survey inputs will be valuable to supporting this work.


    3/15/2020

    The Chamber has posted a page on our website with specific resources for your business or organization to help manage the impacts from COVID-19.


    3/11/2020

    (as specified in the update below) The Tompkins Chamber is currently evaluating our upcoming events & programs schedule, because one of the best ways to prevent community spread of a virus like COVID-19 is to practice “social distancing”, and limiting large group gatherings.

    • Business After Hours on March 11 will take place as scheduled. Please see our recommendations/requests regarding event attendance here.
    • Annual Dinner & Awards scheduled for March 26th has been postponed. We will be in touch as soon as possible with the rescheduled date.
    • We are examining our schedule through early April, including March 19th Networking @ Noon, April 1st Welcome Home Wednesday, and upcoming Women in Business and Small Business Roundtables.

    3/11/2020

    COVID-19 Impact, Event Updates, and Resources from the Chamber: 

    Dear Members,
    We first want to acknowledge that recent developments throughout New York and the nation around the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, as well as the proactive measures taken by Cornell University yesterday, have put us into new territory together as an organization and a community. The Chamber Team plans to do our best to support our members during the next few weeks or months with the resources you need, as well as adjustments as necessary to our work program and event schedule with the goal of keeping you, your employees, and your loved ones safe. Your business, your employees, and this community are our top priority.
    We know that for many of you, especially for small business owners, things may seem very uncertain and even downright scary right now. We share your concerns, and will do our best to listen, support you, and connect you to meaningful and helpful resources. We’ve reached out to some key community partners gather resources to support you financially, and are happy to have your creative ideas about how we can work together to mitigate the economic impact of this public health concern and the changes in work flow that are resulting community wide.
    More resources are included below for your convenience. Be well, friends.
    The Tompkins Chamber is currently evaluating our upcoming events & programs schedule, because one of the best ways to prevent community spread of a virus like COVID-19 is to practice “social distancing”, and limiting large group gatherings. This understanding is based on conversations with our local health department, research and input from numerous sources.
    What we know today is that we will be making some changes moving forward out of an abundance of caution. Here are the updates we can provide at this time:
    • Business After Hours on March 11 will take place as scheduled. Please see our recommendations/requests regarding event attendance here.
    • Annual Dinner & Awards scheduled for March 26th has been postponed. We will be in touch as soon as possible with the rescheduled date.
    • We are examining our schedule through early April, including March 19th Networking @ Noon, April 1st Welcome Home Wednesday, and upcoming Women in Business and Small Business Roundtables.
    As a key role of the Chamber is to act as convener, to facilitate important conversations, and to support you all in supporting each other – we will strive to continue this work regardless of our events calendar in the coming weeks.

    3/10/2020

    Regarding Upcoming Chamber/CVB Events & COVID-19: 

    The Chamber & CVB will continue to monitor the situation with the Coronavirus outbreak, and heed recommendations from the Tompkins County Health Department and County leadership first, with additional resources from the NYS Dept. of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. At this time, there are no known confirmed cases in Tompkins County, and County officials are not recommending the cancellation of any events.

    We do ask that you support our efforts to keep our network healthy by:

    • Refraining from shaking hands, hugging, or kissing acquaintances at our events.
    • Not attending our events if you or a close relative have recently returned from a Level 2 or Level 3 country as designated by the CDC, or any other community that you believe has an active outbreak.
    • Please do not attend events if you’re not feeling well, regardless of your symptoms.
    • Always wash your hands just before or after arriving, before leaving events, and as soon as you arrive back at work/home.
    • Please contact the Chamber (info@tompkinschamber.org, 607-273-7080) if you have reason to believe you or someone close to you that has attended a recent event has been exposed to Coronavirus. We will keep this information confidential, but may need to follow up with you and/or the Public Health Department regarding next steps.
    • If you register but don’t or can’t make it, please tell us. We are working to maintain meticulous attendance records so that we will be able to reach our members for follow up, or share attendance lists with Public Health Officials should it become necessary.
    • Our team will work with you regarding credit for any events you’ve registered and paid for but cannot attend – for any reason.

    Thank you in advance for working with us to keep our network healthy. Should anything change with our plans, we’ll be in touch immediately!