MANSFIELD — The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made this year hard for chambers, including the one here, but it doesn’t stop there. It will continue to have an impact while budgeting for 2021.
“We’re holding our own right now. We’ve got some memberships coming in, which we’re thankful for, short term, that’s helping. Long term, it’s still going to be a problem,” Jodi McNeal, Mansfield Chamber of Commerce treasurer, said during the meeting Tuesday morning.
Chamber President Chris Jones agreed. Because many of the chamber’s big fundraising events were canceled, the chamber’s finances have taken a hit. Beyond the fundraising events, the chamber mostly relies on membership dues to get by, Jones said.
“Sadly, we’ve had some lost businesses within the county and our area,” Jones said.
Jones argued that the chamber has assisted more businesses this year than in the past because of the pandemic. The chamber has helped with PPE, applications for loans and grants, changes in government programs, and knowing what is available to businesses.
Unlike many other organizations, chambers aren’t eligible for a lot of the COVID-19 grants.
McNeal said the chamber is helping everybody survive. For more information on how to become a member of the chamber, visit https://www.mansfield.org/index.php/join or call the chamber at 570-662-3442.
The chamber members heard an update from Kjell Fenn, headmaster of New Covenant Academy. He said the school has continued to stay open and in in-person learning. There have been no cases among the students or staff, Fenn said, but had about seven students who were quarantined due to close contacts.
He said this year has been very stressful on teachers and the office staff and encouraged everyone to do what they can to show appreciation to teachers and office staff in every district.
“There’s stress because we don’t know what’s happening from day to day,” Fenn said. “One day you’re trying to plan for two, three week units, but you don’t know if that’ll happen.”
A COVID-19 update was given by chamber Vice President and Chair of the Tioga County COVID-19 task force Jim Nobles. As of Tuesday morning, Tioga County had 102 new cases within the previous seven days, and 161 new cases within the previous 14 days.
He said contract tracing by the state’s Department of Health is very backlogged.
“They’re very, very far behind. Even to the point now where people aren’t getting contacted within the incubation period of the entire disease,” Nobles said. “So you might be positive, you might not get a call until day 14 or 15 when your symptoms subside and you’re ready to go back to work.”
In addition to wearing a mask and washing of hands,
Nobles said it’s important to stay home when you’re sick and contact your healthcare provider. He said testing is available all throughout the county and tests get back very quickly, typically within 24-48 hours.
“We’re going to have to ratchet things up a little bit here, especially as we come into the holiday season, or we’re going to continue to see this community uptick,” Nobles said.
Mansfield University has successfully conducted randomized asymptomatic COVID-19 testing of more than 140 students and employees, according to a written report sent in by Ryan McNamara, director of marketing and communications. Those tested were done voluntarily and only one person tested positive in the asymptomatic program. Updated case numbers of students and employees can be found at https://www.mansfield.edu/covid/..