A fundraising campaign for Ithaca’s Forest City Lodge raised over $11,000 in one day to help with building improvements and staying in business during coronavirus.

The Ithaca Voice reports that the lodge had a decrease in revenue because of COVID-19 and the building almost had to close indefinitely, after being open for 108 years. Their income is dependent on food and bar sales at community events, including comedy and music shows.

$4000 of the raised funds will pay for overdue bills. $5000 will pay for bills until social distancing is over and $1000 will help with their food take-out services when that resumes. Excess funds are for quote "further financial safety, as well as maintenance and upgrades to the building and its facilities" unquote.

Local businesses in Tompkins are starting to reopen for in-store retail shopping, according to the Ithaca Voice. Social distancing rules still apply to customers as well as store employees. In order to prevent practices such as mask-wearing from becoming a source of friction, the Tompkins Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, or DIA, and the City of Ithaca have organized a Zoom webinar for local businesses Thursday, June 18.

Tompkins Chamber President Jennifer Tavares says although locals are generally complying with social distancing rules, the virtual seminar will offer guidelines and tools for local businesses in the current situation. The one-hour event will include a 30-minute presentation by Mike Ellis and the team at Family & Children's Services, followed by a half hour question & answer period.

The webinar is from 9:00 to 10:00 am. For more information and to submit a question for the presenters, send an email to allison@downtownithaca.com. Customers interested in learning more about which local businesses are or are not opening can visit downtownithaca.com.

Looking at the local coronavirus caseload, there were no new cases in either Schuyler or Tompkins County. There have been 166 cases in Tompkins County, while 156 of those cases recovered, according to the Tompkins Health Department. In Schuyler county, there have been 14 total cases and all have recovered.

Governor Cuomo announced today that New York had its lowest percentage of positive COVID-19 tests yesterday. Less than one percent of the nearly 60,000 tests conducted in New York yesterday were positive. The total number of cases in New York is now just over 385,000.

The Governor also announced that Friday will be his last daily press conference, and going forward he’ll provide briefings as needed.

According to a press release from the office of state Attorney General Letitia James, the State of New York has once again extended a halt to collecting debts for certain payments owed to the state. Primarily aimed at medical and student debt, the policy extension covers today, June 17, through July 16 of this year.  These debts arise primarily from expenses incurred at state hospitals and state veterans' homes and for student debt owed to universities in the State University of New York (the SUNY) system.  The debts must have been referred to the Office of the Attorney General via settlements or lawsuits by New York State or state agencies.

The collection halt also suspends debtors' interest accrual so people are not penalized for applying for temporary collection relief.  Other debt categories relate to such costs as oil spill cleanup and removal costs, property damage, and some agency fees.

The OAG will reconsider further suspending debt collection when the current July 16 deadline approaches.

For further information or to apply for state-related debt collection relief, call the OAG hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

Contributing writing by Tessie Devlin, Joanne Izbicki, and Jon Donville