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Daily Briefing – 253

COVID Update – One Year Since COVID Found in New York

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday February 28th.  “It’s been exactly one year since we first identified COVID in New York…. It’s critical that New Yorkers continue to practice safe behaviors—washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing—while we’re still working to vaccinate a large portion of the population. This has been an incredibly long 365 days and there are more ahead, but New Yorkers have already shown unprecedented perseverance and toughness throughout this pandemic.”

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,307
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 556

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,102
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 396

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .82
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.08%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.16

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – 4.5 Million Vaccine Doses Administered

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced over 4.5 million first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date. Additionally, 122,455 doses were administered over the past 24 hours. The total week 11 federal vaccine allocation has been delivered to providers for administration. As of 11:00 AM today, New York providers have administered 92 percent of first doses. The week 12 allocation from the federal government will begin arriving mid-week.

As of 11 am Monday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 3,206,430 first doses and administered 92 percent or 2,954,858 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 88 percent of first and second doses (4,583,616) of the 5,229,950 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 507,145 first and second doses have been distributed, 413,389 administered (82 percent). 


US Vaccination Rollout – Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Rollout, Cases Tick Up

Johnson & Johnson has begun shipping the first nearly four million doses of its newly-authorized COVID-19 vaccine across the country, officials said Monday.  Johnson & Johnson’s addition to the vaccine arsenal will be limited at first, but company officials expect to scale up production in the coming months. Gorsky said the company is committed to delivering 100 million doses by June and “up to a billion” by the end of 2021.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that progress against the pandemic number may be stalling. The number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is leveling off at a concerningly high number, she said, following weeks of declining cases and deaths.

Read more at NPR


ISM: U.S. Manufacturing Sector at Three-Year High, Cost Pressures Mounting

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Monday its index of national factory activity rebounded to a reading of 60.8 last month from 58.7 in January. That was the highest level since February 2018. Manufacturing, which accounts for 11.9% of the U.S. economy. The increase was despite a global semiconductor chip shortage, which has hurt production at automobile plants.

The survey’s measure of prices paid by manufacturers jumped to a reading of 86.0, the highest since July 2008, from 82.1 in January.

Read more at Reuters


Manufacturing Economy Report – Durable Goods Orders and Personal Income Soar

New orders for durable goods jumped 3.4% in January, the strongest monthly increase since July 2020 and another sign that growth in the manufacturing sector remains very robust. On a year-over-year basis, new durable goods orders have soared 6.3% since January 2020, or 8.5% with transportation equipment excluded.

Personal income soared 10.0% in January, buoyed by stimulus checks and increased unemployment insurance from legislation enacted at year’s end. It was the largest monthly increase since April 2020. Overall, personal income has jumped 13.1% over the past 12 months.  

Monday Economic Report 0301 2021


January Steel Production Up Worldwide

Global steel production increased slightly in January to 162.9 million metric tons, just 1.27% more than the tonnage reported for December 2020, and 4.8% more than the January 2020 total. The January data supplied by the World Steel Assn. showed a small decrease from December output in China, but better month-to-month results in the other large steelmaking nations.

U.S. raw steel production during January totaled 6,900 metric tons (7,605.9 short tons), +7.24% higher than World Steel’s reported total for December 2020, but -9.9% lower than U.S. January 2020 tonnage.

Read more at American Machinist


German Factory Activity At Three-Year High in February

Higher demand from China, the United States and Europe drove growth in German factory activity to its highest level in more than three years in February, brightening the outlook for Europe’s largest economy, a survey showed on Monday.

IHS Markit’s Final Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing, which accounts for about a fifth of the economy, jumped to 60.7 from 57.1 in January. It was the highest reading since January 2018 and came in slightly better than the initial “flash” figure of 60.6.

Read more at Reuters


China’s Economic Recovery Slowed More than Expected in February

China’s economic recovery continued in February, but at a slower-than-expected pace, with all major sectors posting their lowest growth rates since last spring. The data encompasses the Lunar New Year holiday period, during which economic activity usually slows. 

The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) – a survey of sentiment among factory owners in the world’s second-largest economy – fell to 50.6 last month from 51.3 in January,  according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). February’s reading was below the median prediction of 51.1 in a Bloomberg poll of analysts, and was the lowest since February 2020, when the index hit a record low of 29.6 at the height of the coronavirus lockdowns.

Read more at China ME


WHO: Global Cooperation Needed to End Pandemic

Equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is critical to global recovery efforts, and countries must stop pursuing deals with vaccine manufacturers that will limit supply in other regions, should waive intellectual property rules and should encourage pharmaceutical companies to share vaccine knowledge to help speed up production, says World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. UNICEF has announced it will supply low-income countries with syringes and safety boxes to help them prepare for vaccination drives.

Read more at the Associated Press


Tech Tips to Help Score a Covid-19 Vaccine Appointment at CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and More

The Wall Street Journal’s Tech reported Joanna Stern offers tips to help you get that elusive vaccine appointment.  The guide is not for cutting the line. Her advice will help book appointments for people whose states have deemed them eligible for Covid-19 vaccination.

Read more at the WSJ


 

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Daily Briefing – 252

COVID Update – Positivity Continues To Decline

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday February 27th.   

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,259
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 538

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,210
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 411

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .80
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.14%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.16

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – State Will Partner with Local Health Departments

Governor Cuomo announced Friday that the State will partner with local health departments to include vaccination sites for the 65+ population across New York State. Local health departments can, where needed, will provide assistance to New Yorkers with transportation to and from the vaccination facilities and special support for paperwork regarding their vaccination.  Counties across New York State will be getting an increased supply of Moderna vaccine for this purpose starting this week.

As of 11 am Sunday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 3,206,430 first doses and administered 89 percent or 2,864,541 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 85 percent of first and second doses (4,463,679) of the 5,229,950 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 507,145 first and second doses have been distributed, 504,477 administered (80 percent). 


US Vaccination Rollout – 72.8 Million Doses Have Been Administered

The biggest vaccination campaign in history is underway. More than 236 million doses have been administered across 103 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg. The latest rate was roughly 6.67 million doses a day.

In the U.S., more Americans have now received at least one dose than have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. So far, 72.8 million doses have been given. In the last week, an average of 1.65 million doses per day were administered. Across the U.S., 21.9 doses have been administered for every 100 people, and 76% of the shots delivered to states have been administered.

Visit the interactive Bloomberg vaccine rollout site


The House Passed A $1.9 trillion Stimulus Bill – Here is What’s Next

The House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., voted largely along party lines early Saturday to advance the massive relief plan, which includes extensions to programs designed to assist millions of unemployed Americans and provides financial support for state and local governments. Democrats are rushing to send the bill to Biden’s desk by March 14, when jobless benefits are set to expire.

With the bill bound for a Senate split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, lawmakers will next week begin offering amendments to the House’s plan and will likely pass a different version of the bill they received. Should that happen, the House will then have to pass the Senate’s version or the two chambers will have to meet to draft a final, agreeable draft in a conference committee.

Read more at CNBC


Senate Parliamentarian Rules Minimum Wage Boost Cannot Be Passed Through Reconciliation

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has told senators that the federal minimum wage increase President Joe Biden and Democrats have been seeking would violate the chamber’s rules for inclusion in a filibuster-proof pandemic relief reconciliation bill.  While the provision would affect the federal budget significantly, MacDonough deemed the impact “merely incidental” to the underlying policy intent of the wage boost, therefore violating the Senate’s “Byrd rule.”

Some Democrats want to fire the Senate parliamentarian and/or end the filibuster that requires a minimum of 60 of the 100 Senators to move a bill forward for a vote.

Read more at Roll Call


Boost to Household Income Primes U.S. Economy for Growth

Household income—the amount Americans received from wages, investments and government programs—rose 10% in January from the previous month, the Commerce Department said Friday. The increase was the second largest on record, eclipsed only by last April’s gain, when the federal government sent an initial round of pandemic-relief payments. Household income has risen 13% since February 2020, the month before the pandemic shut down large segments of the economy.

January’s increase in household income was almost entirely due to federal pandemic-relief aid included in a $900 billion stimulus program signed into law in late December. That package included one-time cash payments of $600 and a special weekly unemployment benefit of $300 that the government started sending to households.

Read more at the WSJ


FDA Approves J&J Single-Dose Covid-19 Vaccine 

As expected on Saturday, acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock granted an emergency use authorization for a vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company.  The J&J vaccine joins two others, one from Pfizer-BioNTech and the other from Moderna, which have been given to nearly 50 million Americans since they were authorized in December.

About 4 million doses of the new vaccine should be made available this week, 20 million total during March, and another 80 million by the end of June. Because the vaccine requires only one dose, it will help protect 100 million people and take effect more rapidly than the two-dose vaccines.

Read more at USA Today


Why the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Could be a ‘Game-Changer’

Experts say the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine could streamline a national COVID-19 vaccination administration campaign that has been criticized as scattered and lethargic. Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna versions must be given in two doses several weeks apart. The absence of stringent temperature requirements for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine also means increased access across health systems and communities. 

Another potential advantage of Johnson & Johnson’s candidate is that it’s made from a vaccine platform with a track record: the viral-vector approach, which the company used in its Ebola virus vaccine approved by the European Commission in July. By contrast, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are based on messenger RNA technology that was first authorized for use in humans in December. Viral-vector technology uses an adenovirus, which causes the common cold. The strain of adenovirus used in the vaccine platform is engineered not to replicate, so that it doesn’t make the recipient sick.

Read more at Nat Geo


“Long Haulers” – When Does COVID-19 Become A Disability?

“Long-haulers are people who survive COVID-19 but have symptoms — sometimes debilitating symptoms — many months later. As scientists scramble to explain what is going on and figure out how to help, disability advocates are also scrambling: They are trying to figure out whether long-haulers will qualify for disability benefits.  Disability advocates and lawmakers are calling on the Social Security Administration (SSA) to study the issue, update their policies and offer guidance for applicants.

“If we end up with a million people with ongoing symptoms that are debilitating, that is a tremendous burden for each of those individuals, but also for our health care system and our society,” says Dr. Steven Martin, a physician and professor of family medicine and community health at UMass Medical School.

Read more at NPR


Understanding SARS- CoV02 Variants

Sars-cov-2, which causes covid-19, replicates while infecting its host. As it does, the virus’s genetic information—a sequence of 30,000 rna letters—is sometimes corrupted. These mutations can make sars-cov-2 more dangerous in several ways. They can increase transmissibility, evade detection by tests, avoid immune responses (including from vaccines) and cause more severe illness.

This makes tracking the evolution of sars-cov-2 crucial. Of the 110m covid-19 cases found worldwide, scientists have sequenced and published the genomes of 600,000. By comparing these sequences and other viral characteristics, evolutionary biologists create phylogenetic trees—a set of hypothetical relationships between sequences which show how the virus has evolved over time.

Read the article and see the graphics at The Economist


 

 

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Daily Briefing – 250

COVID Update – Positivity Continues To Decline

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday February 23nd.   

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,876
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 611

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,278
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 402

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .80
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.36%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.18

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – Eligible New Yorkers Can Begin Making Appointments at State-FEMA Vaccination Sites in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Yonkers

The  sites are scheduled to open on Wednesday, March 3 in the four cities. The four vaccination sites will operate between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily and each site has the capacity to administer 1,000 doses per day. 

As of 11 am Wednesday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,812,900 first doses and administered 89 percent or 2,517,003 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 86 percent of first and second doses (3,907,040) of the 4,530,640 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 446,000 first and second doses have been distributed, 358,896 administered (80 percent). 


US Vaccination Rollout – 82.1 Million Doses Delivered

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday about 44.5 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 19.9 million people who have been fully vaccinated. The federal government has delivered about 82.1 million doses to states, territories and federal agencies.

Figures show the date shots were reported, rather than the date shots were given.

Visit the interactive New York Times vaccine rollout site


The House Rules Committee COVID-19 Bill Text Has Spending Measures Far Exceeding the Agreed to  $1.9 Trillion Price Tag 

The House Rules Committee on Wednesday released new text of the COVID-19 relief bill, adding spending measures that far exceed the $1.9 trillion price tag planned for the bill.  The full House is expected to vote on the COVID-19 relief package on Friday, but the bill will need to be changed to hit the $1.9 trillion limit to move through the Senate under special budgetary rules that are being used to avoid a Senate filibuster.

The Rules measure includes spending on foreign aid, tribal assistance and the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology that will raise the price well above $1.9 trillion. The biggest point of contention in the measure is language that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. It’s not clear if that can be included in the package under the requirements for using the special budgetary rules avoiding a Senate filibuster.

Read more a The Hill


COVID-19 Vaccine Makers Tell Congress U.S. Supply will Soon Surge 

Executives from Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson – speaking at a hearing at the U.S. House of Representatives – said they would be able to supply enough vaccine to have fully inoculated 130 million people in the United States by the end of March.  The drugmakers also reaffirmed their commitments to supply more than enough doses necessary to vaccinate all Americans by the end of July.

Pfizer Chief Business Officer John Young said it was plausible that there could be a surplus of vaccine in the United States sometime in the second quarter of this year.

Read more at Reuters


J&J’s Covid-19 Vaccine Is Safe and Effective, FDA Says, Paving Way for Approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine works safely, paving the way for the approval of a third vaccine in the U.S. as early as this weekend. The vaccine was 66.1% effective in preventing moderate to severe disease and appeared safe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday, and the shot also showed tantalizing signs of slowing the spread of the virus.

The J&J vaccine involves only one shot, a factor that also may ease the logistics of delivering doses. The shot also doesn’t require ultracold temperatures, meaning that sites without expensive freezers can start vaccinations.

Read more at the WSJ


NAM “This is Our Shot” Has Resources For Manufacturers To Communicate With Employees

Hey manufacturers – this IS OUR shot.  We developed it and we are producing it – and soon we will be able to receive it on a large enough scale to end the COVID threat to our families, our friends, and our families. 

Now that vaccines for COVID‑19 are available, getting manufacturers—and more Americans—to receive their shot is one of the most important steps toward ending the pandemic and powering recovery and renewal. To accomplish this essential mission, the National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education partner of the NAM—are providing the resources below to ensure that manufacturers, their teams and their communities know that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and available.

Visit the page and view the resources


Ghana is First Nation in World to Receive COVAX Vaccines

A shipment of covid-19 jabs from COVAX—a global vaccine-sharing initiative—arrived in Ghana, making it the first recipient of the scheme. Ghana received 600,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot, produced by the Serum Institute of India, after officials proved that the country had sufficient infrastructure to ensure quick distribution. Shipments to other west African countries are expected to follow.

Read more at the AP


Pfizer, Moderna Vow to Ramp Up COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery

The US could have 3 million available COVID-19 vaccine doses per day by April, based on numbers shared by major vaccine makers in a House committee hearing Tuesday. Pfizer said it plans to boost its delivery capacity to more than 13 million doses per week by mid-March, while Moderna expects to increase its supply capacity to more than 40 million doses per month by April.

Read more at Politico


Rival Drugmakers Team Up To Make More Covid-19 Vaccines

Normally big pharmaceutical companies compete to sell cancer, arthritis and other drugs. The desperate need for Covid-19 vaccines, however, is turning fierce industry competitors into fast pandemic friends. “This is a time when the pharma companies are saying, ‘We’ll go back to fighting when this is over. We’ll take you to the cleaners and maybe drive you to bankruptcy, but right now we need to be working together,’” said James Bruno, who consults for drug companies.

The collaborations, along with the authorization of newer vaccines and fine-tuning by the vaccine makers themselves, could help significantly boost global output, as health authorities scramble to vaccinate people amid the threat of emerging variants that may increase spread of the virus.

Read more at the WSJ


Events Up to 150 People Can Be Held Beginning March 15th – With Restrictions

Governor Cuomo announced Monday that as New York’s hospitalization and COVID-19 infection rates continue to decline, New York is issuing guidance to begin re-opening additional sectors of the economy. Specifically, billiard halls statewide and movie theaters in New York City are now permitted to re-open. Additionally, guidance is also being released for weddings and catered events which are scheduled to resume on March 15.


 

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Daily Briefing – 249

COVID Update – UK and South African Variants

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday February 22nd. To date, there are 154 known cases of the UK variant in New York State. A second South African variant has been identified In Nassau County.  

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,977
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 617

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,144
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 383

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .80
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.46%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.23

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update

As of 11 am Tuesday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,477,825 first doses and already administered 93 percent or 2,252,945 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 89 percent of first and second doses (3,436,944) of the 3,868,075 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 364,585 first and second doses have been distributed, 290,2879 administered (80 percent). 

The state continues  to focus on vaccine equity. Governor Cuomo said “starting this week our largest-yet vaccination sites in Brooklyn and Queens will each begin vaccinating 3,000 eligible New Yorkers daily, prioritizing individuals in communities that were hit hardest by the pandemic.”


US Vaccination Rollout – 16.9 Percent of Adult US Population Have One Dose

The US CDC reported 75.21 million vaccine doses distributed and 64.18 million doses administered nationwide (85.3%).

In total, 44.14 million people (13.3% of the entire US population; 16.9% of the adult population) have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, and 19.44 million (5.9%; 7.5%) have received both doses. The average daily doses administered decreased slightly to 1.46 million doses per day*, including 664,618 second doses per day*. These decreases could be a result of delays in vaccine distribution and administration stemming from severe winter weather affecting much of the country.

Read more at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


Fed Chair Says Interest Rates Will Remain Low, Inflation May Temporarily Be “Volatile”

In congressional testimony Tuesday Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reaffirmed the central bank’s commitment to maintaining easy-money policies until the economy has recovered further from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The Fed will therefore continue to support the economy with near-zero interest rates and large-scale asset purchases until “substantial further progress has been made,” a standard that Mr. Powell said “is likely to take some time” to achieve.

He added that inflation could be somewhat volatile over the next year and might rise due to a potential burst of spending as the economy strengthens. But that, he said, would be a “good problem to have” in a world where economic and demographic forces have been pulling inflation down for a quarter of a century.

Read more at the WSJ


CDC Report: First Month of COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Monitoring “Reassuring”

Monitoring, conducted as part of the US vaccination program, indicates reassuring safety profiles for COVID-19 vaccines. Local and systemic reactions were common; rare reports of anaphylaxis were received. No unusual or unexpected reporting patterns were detected. Health care providers and vaccine recipients can be reassured about the safety of Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Counseling vaccine recipients to expect transient local and systemic reactions might ease concerns and encourage completion of the 2-dose vaccination series.

Read the Report at the CDC website


Novavax Completes Enrollment in Mexico and the US for the Phase 3 Clinical Trials

The vaccine maker announced its phase 2 trial is set for its candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Combined, the trials will include approximately 30,000 participants, many of whom are in “communities and demographic groups most impacted by the disease.” Study sites were deliberately assigned to areas with elevated community transmission, with the aim of accelerating the timeline for obtaining the data needed to conduct the efficacy analysis.

Novavax is using a different vaccine technology than previously authorized SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. The Novavax vaccine is protein-based, and it contains recombinant nanoparticles constructed of synthetic SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins to generate the desired immune response. The vaccine also contains a proprietary adjuvant to boost the immune response. It requires 2 doses, administered 21 days apart.

Read more at Barons


USDA, FDA: No Transmission of COVID-19 Through Food or Food Packaging 

A Studies by the USDA and FDA and Underscore Current Epidemiologic and Scientific Information Indicating No Transmission of COVID-19 Through Food or Food Packaging After more than a year since the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak was declared a global health emergency, the US Department of Agriculture, the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to underscore that there is no credible evidence of food or food packaging associated with or as a likely source of viral transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing COVID-19.

Read more at the FDA


FDA Looks to Quickly Authorize Covid-19 Vaccine Booster Shots as New Variants Emerge

The agency issued new guidance for vaccine manufacturers as it looks to establish speedier procedures to deal with virus mutations that could worsen the pandemic. Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement the agency is seeking “efficient ways to modify medical products that either are in the pipeline or have been authorized for emergency use to address emerging variants.”

The agency also announced new guidelines for makers of diagnostic tests and monoclonal-antibody drugs about how those companies can best adapt their products to address mutations now cropping up in the U.S.

Read more as the WSJ


Will Employees Be Able to Sue Over OSHA Violations?

Attorneys at Council Associate Member Jackson Lewis write that as the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) turned 50 last December, the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) issued “OSHA’s Next 50 Years: Legislating a Private Right of Action to Empower Workers,” in which it suggested that Congress provide a private right of action for employees under the OSH Act.

CPR has expressed optimism recently that the new political climate in Washington, D.C. will make reality this and other goals.

Read more at Jackson Lewis


Biden Immigration Bill: What it Means for Employment-based Immigration

The Dreamers and border control issues garner most of the media attention around immigration reform, but there are also real impacts to employment-based immigration included in this bill.  There is the good news, that certain green card categories (EB-2 and EB-3) would enjoy increased numbers, clearing up some of the backlog for those professionals here in limbo and waiting years if not decades for the ability to apply for permanent status.

The bad news for many employers is that we can also anticipate that any smaller targeted bill on temporary workers will include some rather problematic wage-based provisions, making it difficult for small employers, start-ups in certain industries and rural hospitals and medical employers to be able to obtain an H-1B (temporary professional worker visa) for entry-level positions.

Read more from Harris Beach


Boeing Grounds 777s After Engine Fire in Colorado

Dozens of Boeing 777 planes were grounded worldwide Monday following a weekend scare on a United Airlines’ plane that suffered engine failure and scattered airplane debris over suburban Denver.

The incident on the flight out of Denver — which quickly returned to the airport after part of the engine caught fire and broke off — prompted United and other airlines to ground planes with the same Pratt & Whitney engine. Boeing said all 128 of the 777s with Pratt & Whitney engines were grounded following Saturday’s emergency landing of United flight 328 to Hawaii.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Steel Supply, Pricing Squeeze Manufacturers

Manufacturers are struggling to source steel and fill orders, with hot-rolled steel prices at a 13-year high, although market prices have been beneficial for steel producers. Steel is in short supply in the United States and prices are surging. Unfilled orders for steel in the last quarter were at the highest level in five years, while inventories were near a 3-1/2-year low, according to data from the Census Bureau. The benchmark price for hot-rolled steel hit $1,176/ton this month, its highest level in at least 13 years.

Soaring prices are driving up costs and squeezing profits at steel-consuming manufacturers, provoking a new round of calls to end former President Donald Trump’s steel tariffs.

Read more at Reuters


 

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Daily Briefing – 248

COVID Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday February 21st. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,804
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 605

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,168
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 385

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .80
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.52%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.22

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update

As of 11AM Saturday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,406,535 first doses and already administered 93 percent or 2,228,283 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 90 percent of first and second doses (3,384,153) of the 3,743,810 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 352,475 first and second doses have been distributed, 287,559 administered (82 percent). 

The week 10 allocation from the federal government was been delayed due to winter storms impacting much of the country but the remaining week 10 deliveries are arriving today and over the next few days. The week 11 allocation will begin arriving mid-week.


US Vaccination Rollout – Urgency to Ramp Up Vaccination Clashes with Biden’s Equity Focus

The race to vaccinate as many people as possible while more contagious coronavirus variants march across America is colliding with lagging efforts to steer shots to people of color and underserved communities bearing the brunt of the pandemic.

Though the Biden administration has prioritized equitable vaccine distribution, putting that goal into practice is difficult. Local public health officials are under pressure to quickly distribute their limited supplies and reach high-risk groups first in line. So far, limited data continues to show that people in hard-hit minority communities are getting vaccinated at a much slower pace than people in wealthier white ones.

Read more at Politico


India Will Prioritize Vaccine Production For Domestic Use

The Serum Institute of India will prioritize India itself before making more vaccines for the rest of the world. That’s a big deal, because the Serum Institute is one of the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturers, and its output (it has a licensing deal with AstraZeneca) is critical for developing economies during the pandemic.

In June 2020, the Serum Institute struck a deal with firm AstraZeneca to manufacture 1 billion doses of the British pharmaceutical firm’s COVID-19 vaccine, which has demonstrated efficacy rates between 62% and 90% in Phase III clinical trials. From the start of the partnership, the Serum Institute pledged to share the vaccines with non-wealthy nations.

Read more at Fortune


Also from Fortune – Will Vaccine Prevent a Person From Being Infectious?

One of the biggest questions surrounding COVID-19 vaccines from the likes of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca is whether or not, and to what extent, they can prevent actual transmission of the coronavirus rather than just making someone less sick if they do contract it (the latter an important goal itself). We’re beginning to get more answers to that crucial query—and the early findings are promising. 

Read more at Fortune


Manufacturing Economy Report: Retail Sales, European Activity, Housing and More

Retail spending soared 5.3% in January, boosted by new stimulus payments enacted at year’s end and ending three straight months of declines. Indeed, retail sales weakness in the fourth quarter of 2020 helped lead to passage of additional relief. Excluding gasoline and motor vehicles, retail spending increased 6.1% in January.

In Europe, manufacturing activity expanded at the strongest pace in three years, even as raw material prices rose at rates not seen since April 2011, and the services sector contracted sharply for the sixth straight month due to COVID-19-related restrictions.

Monday Economic Report 0222 2021


McKinsey Report: Virus May Cause 100M Workers to Seek New Careers

More than 100 million workers across the world’s top eight economies may be forced to change occupations by 2030 due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released Thursday. This would add up to one in 16 workers having to change jobs in China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated globally trending changes in the workplace, prompting consultant firm McKinsey & Company to raise its prediction for how many workers will likely need to switch jobs in the top eight economies by 12 percent.  

Read more at The Hill 


Here’s What’s in the House Democrats’ Stimulus Relief Plan 

The House Budget Committee Friday released the Democrats’ massive coronavirus relief package, pulling together President Joe Biden’s stimulus proposal into a 591-page bill.  The Committee is expected to consider the legislation, which is based off measures approved by at least nine committees, on Monday. The full House may pass the legislation this week, but it could face hurdles in the Senate. Already, two Democrats — Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — have voiced opposition to one element of the plan, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Much of the Bill seems beyond the definition of COVID Relief.  


How Companies Can Continue Supporting Employee Mental Health

According to the Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition, published on February 19, 2021, there’s positive news on the state of workers’ mental health for the first time in the past year. The index shows vast improvements but still cause for concern. Stress, negativity and general anxiety risks have taken a positive turn at the beginning of 2021. By the end of January, employees’ stress and risk of general anxiety dropped down to pre-pandemic levels. Resilience and social connectivity climbed back to positive levels not seen since before February 2020.

Data comparing December 2020 to January 2021 revealed a notable decline in risk of depression (down 30%) and PTSD (down 25%) along with a considerable increase in sustained attention (up 21%). These statistics, while encouraging, belie the mental health crisis that remains. Risk of depression and PTSD and sustained attention levels remain alarmingly worse than before Covid-19

Read more at Forbes


 

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A Look Into Marlboro High School’s Engineering Program

A Look Into Marlboro High School’s Engineering Program 

By Taylor Dowd

Marlboro High School offers an elective engineering program with three course levels. Thomas Fassell, who has taught the program for more than ten years, teaches freshmen through seniors at the school. The structure of the program differs from a traditional instruction model. After the first year course, Engineering & Robotics, Fassell modifies the courses to best suit his students’ interests within the field. He actively seeks student feedback to structure a program that teaches necessary areas of study while keeping students engaged in the work they do. For levels two and three, Fassell teaches Raspberry Pi and Advanced Robotics. 

When Fassell began teaching the program, there was only one course section. Now, there are two sections of the level one course and one section of each upper level course. He attributes the growth to the hands-on nature of the course. “It’s a very student-centered class. I’m trying to get away from the direct instruction model. I let them set the pace and set the tone.” Currently, he has a group of seniors heavily focused on computer programming (specifically Raspberry Pi and Python). Another group of students chose to begin working on circuits. Level one focuses on statics–structures that should not move–such as bridges and the forces behind them. Later in the year, the focus shifts towards mechanical gears and functionality. He teaches students to make their own RC airplanes and how to fly them. Now, students are finishing construction of spaghetti bridges. Students are exposed to various units in the program, with one common theme among everything they learn. “It’s all about manipulating the variables,” says Fassell. Because the courses are electives, Fassell does not have to follow rigid schedule structure and the courses do not require Regents exams. He enjoys the focus on the students and the hand-on, project-based teaching he does. “It’s liberating,” he says.

Marlboro High School currently operates on a hybrid schedule, which allows only half the students to be physically present in the classroom at once. Fassell says this model allows for small groups of students to work together on tasks and he can give students individualized feedback. Much like the struggles of being a student during a pandemic, Fassell emphasizes the trial-and-error nature of the courses he teaches and encourages students to experiment and be willing to fail. “Nothing will go according to plan. It’s not gonna be perfect, it’s not gonna be what you expect, but how are we gonna make it work? I want them to be able to change and adapt depending on the scenario. I’d like them to keep building and keep perfecting it.”

Fassell speaks highly of the program’s partnership with Rob Engle and Sono-Tek, a Council of Industry member. It offers students the opportunity to learn first-hand from a local manufacturer. Fassell says a recent online fieldwork experience with Engle and Sono-Tek employees allowed students valuable insight virtually. Before the pandemic, a soldering technician came to the school for a demonstration on a drone project, providing feedback and answering student questions. Fassell says Sono-Tek’s support has only improved his school’s program.

Additionally, Fassell thanks the Marlboro administration. “The flexibility and support I’ve been given from my administration has been amazing,” he says. “If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have this program.”

To follow along with the Engineering & Robotics class at Marlboro, follow their Twitter, https://twitter.com/MHSEngineering1

 

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Daily Briefing – 247

COVID Update – First Case of South African Variant Identified

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday February 20th. The Governor said the first case of the South African variant has been identified in a resident of New York State. The individual is a Nassau County resident. Previously a Connecticut resident, hospitalized in New York, was the first to have the South African Variant. 

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,764
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 606

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,218
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 394

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .82
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.44%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.18

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – 6 FEMA Vaccination Centers To Open

As of 11AM Saturday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,406,535 first doses and already administered 92 percent or 2,206,988 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 89 percent of first and second doses (3,333,116) of the 3,743,810 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 352,475 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 284,830 administered (81 percent).

Six community-based vaccination sites are being established through a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The sites in Brooklyn and Queens will begin vaccinations on Wednesday, February 24th. The Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Yonkers sites are slated to begin vaccinations on March 3. For the first week of scheduling, appointments at these six sites statewide are reserved specifically for New Yorkers currently eligible for vaccination living in areas with low vaccination rates in counties and boroughs. After one week, appointments at each site will then be made available to all residents of the site’s host county, borough or specified target region. New Yorkers can begin scheduling appointments for the Brooklyn and Queens sites at 8 a.m. on Saturday, February 20 by utilizing New York’s ‘Am I Eligible’ website or by calling the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829). Appointment scheduling will then open for the Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers and Albany sites at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, February 24. 

The State Vaccine Tracker site now includes county by county distribution and administration data. 


US Vaccination Rollout – States Find “Hidden Doses” 

When the coronavirus vaccine began rolling off production lines late last year, federal health officials set aside a big stash for nursing homes being ravaged by the virus. Health providers around the country figured as well that it was prudent to squirrel away vials to ensure that everyone who got a first dose of vaccine got a second one. Two months later, it is clear both strategies went overboard as millions of doses wound up trapped in logistical limbo, either set aside for nursing homes that did not need them or stockpiled while Americans clamored in vain for their first doses. Now a national effort is underway to pry those doses loose — and, with luck, give a significant boost to the national vaccination ramp-up.

Read more at The New York Times


Study: Pfizer Vaccine Is Highly Effective After One Dose, Can Be Stored in Normal Freezers

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE generates robust immunity after one dose and can be stored in ordinary freezers instead of at ultracold temperatures, according to new research and data released by the companies.  The findings provide strong arguments in favor of delaying the second dose of the two-shot vaccine, as the U.K. has done. They could also have substantial implications on vaccine policy and distribution around the world, simplifying the logistics of distributing the vaccine.

A single shot of the vaccine is 85% effective in preventing symptomatic disease 15 to 28 days after being administered, according to a peer-reviewed study conducted by the Israeli government-owned Sheba Medical Center and published in the Lancet medical journal. Pfizer and BioNTech recommend that a second dose is administered 21 days after the first.

Read more in the WSJ


U.S. begins to See Effect of Vaccines on New Cases and Deaths

New cases of the disease have declined for the fifth straight week, and deaths related to COVID-19 have fallen by nearly 21 percent. Meanwhile, each region of the country has also recorded “substantial declines” in hospitalizations.

Some of this good news can be attributed to the nationwide vaccine rollout, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Based on their data, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have recorded fewer COVID-19 deaths—and now account for a smaller percentage of U.S. deaths overall—which seems to correlate with vaccinations among this vulnerable group.

See the data at Nat Geo


Survey: Only 6% of US Employers Plan to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination

Employers will balance a wide range of concerns and viewpoints as they decide whether to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or encourage vaccination through education, incentivization or a combination of these approaches.  A recent survey by management-side firm Littler Mendelson found only 6% of respondents planned to require that all employees get vaccinated once shots are readily available and/or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants full approval.

Despite the public health significance of vaccination, employers have a few reasons to be cautious about issuing mandates. One of these reasons — a mandate’s impact on employee morale and company culture — is reflected in Littler’s survey results. These concerns may not be unfounded; in a recent survey of workers by people analytics firm Perceptyx, 53% of respondents said employers should not require vaccination, and 43% said they would consider leaving their jobs if they were required to be vaccinated.

Read more at HR Dive


DiNapoli: State Tax Revenues $2 Billion Lower Than Last Fiscal Year

State tax receipts cumulatively through January of State Fiscal Year 2020-21 are nearly $2 billion lower than last year, according to the monthly State Cash Report released by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Overall, tax receipts are $1.7 billion higher than anticipated by the state Division of the Budget’s (DOB) January projections. Tax receipts for the month of January totaled $11.4 billion. This is $550.5 million above last year and $1.7 billion above DOB’s latest projections.

“State tax receipts continue to come in stronger than expected, but year-to-date collections are still far below last year,” DiNapoli said. “It is important that President Biden’s relief package is passed to prevent cuts to vital services in New York.”

Read more at the Comptroller’s website


Clorox CEO: New Cleaning Behaviors Are New Normal

Clorox is resuming production of Pine-Sol and other cleaning sprays, while retail availability of its disinfecting wipes is improving thanks to a continued increase in production, said CEO Linda Rendle. “We are seeing signs that the consumer has permanently changed their behavior in a number of categories, cleaning being one of them,” said Rendle.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


IHS Predicts 1M Vehicle Shortfall Due to Auto Chip Shortage

A shortage of auto semiconductor chips could impact nearly 1 million units of global light vehicle production in the first quarter, data firm IHS Markit said on Tuesday, significantly upping a prior forecast.

The firm on Feb. 3 estimated the issue would impact 672,000 vehicles through March 30. IHS Markit said it still expects the majority of volume can be recovered in the remainder of 2021.

Read more at Reuters


Producer Prices See Huge Gain

The producer price index for final demand jumped 1.3% last month, the biggest gain since December 2009 when the government revamped the series, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. That followed a 0.3% rise in December. In the 12 months through January, the PPI accelerated 1.7% after rising 0.8% in December. The index shows increases across a range of industries, including:

  • 5.1% increase in wholesale energy prices;
  • 0.2% increase in food prices;
  • .8% rise in core goods prices;
  • 1.4% increase in prices for final demand services less trade, transportation and warehousing;
  • 1.2% increase in health care costs; and
  • 9.4% rise in portfolio fees.

Read more at CNBC


U.S. Industrial Production Rises

U.S. industrial production rose 0.9% in January, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday, for the fourth straight monthly gain. The gain was above Wall Street expectations of a 0.5% gain, according to a survey by the Wall Street Journal. Production rose a revised 1.3% in December, down slightly from the prior estimate of a 1.6% gain.

Output of motor vehicles fell 0.7% in January after a 0.2% decline in the prior month. Output was held down by the global shortage of semiconductors, the Fed said. (See Related Story Above) Mining production, which includes oil and gas, jumped 2.3% after a 0.7% gain in the prior month.

Read more at MarketWatch


The Pandemic Made the World Realize the Importance of Human Contact

The pandemic has been an exercise in subtraction. There are the voids left by loved ones who have succumbed to covid-19, the gaps where jobs and school used to be, and the absence of friends and family. And then there are the smaller things that are missing. To stop the spread of covid-19 people have forsaken the handshakes, pats, squeezes and strokes that warm daily interactions. The loss of any one hardly seems worthy of note.

And yet touch is as necessary to human survival as food and water, says Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the Miller School of Medicine, part of the University of Miami. It is the first sense to develop and the only one necessary for survival. We can live with the loss of sight or hearing. But without touch, which enables us to detect such stimuli as pressure, temperature and texture, we would be unable to walk or feel pain. Our skin is the vehicle through which we navigate the world.

Read more in the Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 246

“Seven Minutes of Terror:” Mars Rover Perseverance Lands Successfully In Jezero Crater

Including a bearing produced by Poughkeepsie based Schatz Bearing Corporation (along with thousands of other highly engineered parts from other small manufacturers) the Mars Rover Perseverance successfully landed on the surface of Mars some 127.76 million miles away.  

Perseverance is the most sophisticated rover NASA has ever sent to the Red Planet, with a name that embodies NASA’s passion, and our nation’s capability, to take on and overcome challenges. It will collect carefully selected and documented rock and sediment samples for future return to Earth, search for signs of ancient microbial life, characterize the planet’s geology and climate, and pave the way for human exploration beyond the Moon.  Perseverance is also ferrying several cutting-edge technologies to the surface of Mars – including a helicopter named Ingenuity, the first aircraft to attempt powered, controlled flight on another planet.


COVID Update – Positivity Continues to Decline from Holiday Highs

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday February 17th.  The Governor noted the daily positivity rate was 3.15 percent yesterday, the lowest since November 23. The 7-day average positivity rate has declined for 41 straight days.

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 6,434
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 669

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,313
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 417

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .82
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.61%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.40

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – County by County Data Now Available on State Tracker Site

As of 11AM Thursday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,335,250 first doses and already administered 90 percent or 2,109,690, first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered  and 85 percent of first and second doses (3,093,790) of the 3,619,550 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 340,370 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 270,048 administered (79 percent).

The State Vaccine Tracker site now includes county by county distribution and administration data. 


US Vaccination Rollout – Nearly 53 Million Jabs

The US CDC reported 70.06 million vaccine doses distributed and 52.88 million doses administered nationwide (75.5%).

In total, 38.29 million people (approximately 11.6% of the entire US population) have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, and 14.08 million (4.3%) have received both doses. The average daily doses administered continues to increase, now up to a record high of 1.50 million doses per day. The number of people receiving their second dose is increasing at nearly 600,000 per day. The breakdown of doses by manufacturer continues to shift toward the Moderna vaccine. The CDC is still reporting slightly more Pfizer-BioNTech doses administered (27.27 million; 52%) than Moderna (25.51 million; 48%), but the gap is closing.

Read more at Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security


House Planning Vote on Covid Relief Bill By the End of Next Week 

The House aims to pass its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan before the end of February as Democrats race to beat a deadline to extend key unemployment programs, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday. Some Republicans have backed a smaller bill based around vaccine distribution money.

The House Budget Committee on Monday plans to combine the separate aid bills advanced by other panels into one massive piece of legislation. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has told lawmakers to prepare to work through next weekend to pass the final bill.

Read more at CNBC


What’s Included in the 1.9 Billion Democrat Plan

We’re beginning to see what the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus package might actually look like. The House of Representatives has been busy drafting its version of the budget reconciliation package, which includes $1,400 stimulus checks for those making up to $75,000, $400 expanded weekly unemployment insurance benefits through August 29, and, as it stands now, increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2025. It also contains a restaurant rescue fund, money for reopening schools, and Democrats’ long-sought-after funding for state and local governments, among other items.

Read more at VOX


U.S. Sees Steepest Drop in Life Expectancy Since World War II

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics said life expectancy at birth was 77.8 years as of the end of June based on provisional estimates. The one-year decline from the previous year was the largest drop since World War II, when life expectancy fell 2.9 years between 1942 and 1943. It put life expectancy at its lowest level in the U.S. since 2006.

Demographers predict life expectancy will decline further when figures for the full year are published, which could occur in May or June. Before 2020, life expectancy had inched up for two consecutive years, after dipping earlier in the decade as drug overdoses and suicides rose and progress on heart-disease mortality stalled.

Read more at the WSJ


U.S. Seizes One Million More Counterfeit N95 Masks

One million counterfeit N95 masks were seized by federal agents on Wednesday as part of a sweeping fraud investigation stemming from the global coronavirus pandemic, the head of the Department of Homeland Security announced. The seizure brought the total number of knockoff masks that have been confiscated in recent weeks to more than 11 million, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said during a news conference.

Mr. Mayorkas appeared next to several boxes of masks that had been seized and were stamped with the name 3M, the largest remaining American producer of N95s.  Officials said that the company had been working with investigators to identify sources of counterfeit masks, which originated in China, and that the department expected to make arrests.

Read more at the New York Times


Jobless Claims Show Unexpected Move Higher

New claims totaled 861,000, the highest level in a month and above the Dow Jones estimate of 773,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.  The total for the week ended Feb. 13 marked only a slight uptick from the 848,000 a week earlier. That number was revised up from the initially reported 793,000. Continuing claims declined again, edging lower to just below 4.5 million, a drop of 64,000. That data runs a week behind the headline first-time claims total.

The total of those receiving benefits dropped by 1.3 million to 18.34 million, primarily due to a falloff in those on Covid-19 pandemic-related claims in the final week of January. However, those numbers have accelerated in early February.

Read more at CNBC


Biden Continues to Push $15 Federal Minimum Wage

While he acknowledged that increasing the wage could squeeze some employers, he pointed to economists and studies that say the impact would be minor. Plus, the President argued, it would help those stuck at the minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour since 2009.

However, the effort is likely to encounter hurdles in the Senate, where two Democratic senators have already voiced opposition to it. That may ultimately doom the provision since Democrats can’t afford to lose any votes, assuming no Republicans support it. Democratic leaders are looking to pass the entire package through a procedure called reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority. Nevertheless,  Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, is committed to including it in the package.

Read more at CNN


 

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Daily Briefing – 245

COVID Update – More UK Variant Detected

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday February 16th. Twelve additional cases of the UK variant were identified in New York State. Eleven were in New York City and one is in Broome County. To date, there are 82 known cases of the UK variant in New York State.

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 6,574
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 691

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,254
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 416

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .82
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.66%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.43

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – 75% of Hospital Workers Vaccinated Statewide

As of 11AM Tuesday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,192,675 first doses and already administered 92  percent or 2,024,22, first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered  and 87 percent of first and second doses (2,924,528) of the 3,371,025 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 316,155 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 256,032 have been administered (81%).

According to statistics on the state vaccine tracker 75% of hospital workers have been


US Vaccination Rollout – US Ups Supply

The White House on Tuesday said that states collectively would begin receiving 13.5 million doses each week — a jump of more than two million doses due in part to a shift in the way the government is allocating doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.

On Tuesday evening, President Biden said that every American who wanted a Covid-19 vaccination would be able to get one by the end of July, offering a more encouraging forecast than he delivered a week earlier when he warned that logistical and distribution hurdles would delay vaccinations beyond the end of the summer. He then qualified the remark slightly, saying that the doses would “be available” by then. But he also said he did not expect it to take months to get the shots into people’s arms.

Read more at the New York Times


Impeachment Trial Over, Democrats Focus on Passing Covid Relief Bill

Democrats are moving to pass another coronavirus relief package within weeks.  Both Democratic-held chambers of Congress and President Joe Biden will now turn their full attention to pushing a $1.9 trillion aid bill through before key unemployment programs expire on March 14.

House panels have advanced major parts of the bill, which the Budget Committee is set to combine into one mammoth proposal in the coming days. Congress has to go through a more drawn-out process than usual to approve the plan under budget reconciliation, a tool that will enable Democrats to pass it with no Republican votes in the Senate.  

Read more at CNBC


American-Made PPE for All Is Within Reach

Since the onset of the pandemic, many manufacturers have stepped up and pivoted to increase face mask production domestically. But increasing mask production is only one component of domesticating the supply chain for PPE. What is much more complicated, yet just as crucial, is locally sourcing the filtration material that goes inside a mask to trap harmful particles. In both N95 respirators and surgical masks, this filtration material is called “meltblown,” because it is made by melting polypropylene and blowing it onto a conveyer belt to create a nonwoven fabric. There are only a few companies in the U.S. and the world capable of manufacturing meltblown.

The U.S. Department of Defense, to its immense credit, recognizes the essential role meltblown plays in the domestic production of face masks, and last year, it granted $16 million to U.S. manufacturers. This funding went a long way toward investing in the equipment and supplies needed to ramp up production – but more can and must be done.

Read more at IndustryWeek


NY Fed Survey: Area Manufacturers Report More Unfilled Jobs, Little Impact From Minimum Wage Increases 

In the supplemental questions for the New York Federal Reserve’s Empire Manufacturing Report, businesses were asked how many employees they had and how many job openings they had at the time of the survey: the median figure for job openings as a share of the workforce was 2.9 percent among manufacturers—almost double the proportion from last February’s survey.

Respondents in those parts of our region seeing a minimum hike were asked how much of an effect, if any, the recent increase in the state’s minimum wage had on their decisions about compensation and employment. (A parallel question was asked in our February surveys in both 2020 and 2019, following earlier phases of the minimum wage hike.) Among manufacturers, 44 percent indicated no effect (up from 41 percent), while 10 percent noted a significant effect (down from 18 percent).

Read the survey report


… Also Widespread Supply Disruptions

In the same NY Fed survey participants were also asked a series of questions about supply disruptions and delays and how these might be affecting their business. Three-quarters of manufacturers indicated that they have encountered at least some disruptions so far this year. A little less than a third of those businesses with supply issues, in turn, characterized them as substantial. Of those businesses experiencing supply disruptions, the most commonly cited source was domestic suppliers either  having limited supplies or being shut down, followed by trucking delays. Issues with foreign suppliers and shipping delays at the ports were also fairly widely cited by manufacturing firms. When asked about the extent to which recent supply disruptions were affecting their bottom line, 40 percent of manufacturers indicated moderate to substantial effects. 

Read about supply disruptions at the NY Fed


U.S. Oil Output Slumps by Record One-Third as Texas Freezes

Total U.S. oil production has plunged by one-third — the most ever — as an unprecedented cold blast freezes well operations across the central U.S., according to traders and industry executives with direct knowledge of the operations.

Crude output has now fallen by about 3.5 million barrels a day or more nationwide, they said, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public. Before the cold snap, the U.S. was pumping about 11 million barrels a day, according to last government data. Production in the Texas’s Permian Basin alone — America’s biggest oil field — has plummeted by as much as 65%.

Read more at Bloomberg


 Meanwhile – Oil Prices Settle Near Their 13-Month Highs

Oil prices settled near 13-month highs on Tuesday, supported by a deep freeze in the U.S. South that shut wells and oil refineries in Texas. Prices have been buoyant for months, with major oil producing countries restricting supply and vaccines rolling out to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled up 1% to $60.05, after touching their highest since early January 2020. Brent settled up 5 cents, or 0.1%, to $63.35 a barrel, near the 13-month peak reached the previous session.

Read more at Reuters


U.S. Retail Sales Rose Strongly on Stimulus in January

Retail sales, a measure of purchases at stores, at restaurants and online, rose by a seasonally adjusted 5.3% in January from a month earlier, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The increase followed three months of decline during the holiday season. It was the strongest gain since last June, when the economy was in the process of reopening from pandemic-related closures.

Consumer spending is the main driver of the U.S. economy, accounting for more than two-thirds of economic output. Spending rose across the board, including in categories hit hard by social distancing and pandemic-related restrictions, such as bars and restaurants.

Read more at the WSJ


Fed Minutes Highlight Willingness to Steer Past Coming Inflation

Federal Reserve officials last month debated how to lay the groundwork for the public to accept coming higher inflation, and also the need to “stay vigilant” for signs of stress in buoyant asset markets, according to minutes of the U.S. central bank’s Jan. 26-27 policy meeting. With a jump in some prices expected this spring, “many participants stressed the importance of distinguishing between such one-time changes in relative prices and changes in the underlying trend for inflation,” according to the minutes, which were released on Wednesday.

In the drive to explain the difference to the public, “participants emphasized that it was important to abstract from temporary factors affecting inflation – such as low past levels of prices dropping out of measures” and more persistent price trends, the minutes showed. Others were concerned about the potential for stress to bubble up in the financial system.

Read more at Reuters


Bond Prices Rally in the US and Around the World

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose above 1.33% in overnight trading, hitting the highest level since February 2020. While that move has eased somewhat in European trading, volatility markets are signaling that U.S. bonds could be in for more wild gyrations in the coming months. There are plenty of reasons for the move, as investors try to price in the impact of a still-to-be-completed stimulus bill, and the reopening of the U.S. economy. Rising yields are not a uniquely American phenomenon, with the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index having its worst start to a year since 2013

Italy attracted more than €110bn ($133bn) in orders for the sale of a ten-year government bond. The offering is the first since Mario Draghi became prime minister, raising investors’ hopes that the former boss of the European Central Bank can fix Italy’s COVID-stricken economy.

Read more at Investing.com


New York State Sues Amazon Over Worker Treatment During Covid-19 Pandemic

New York’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com Inc. that accuses the online retailer of not doing enough to protect workers in the state from the coronavirus. Last week, Amazon sued New York’s attorney general to prevent the state from taking legal action against the company over its handling of worker safety during the pandemic and the firing of one of its warehouse workers last year.

In its complaint last week, Amazon argued that New York lacked the legal authority to regulate the company’s warehouse activities, saying that those operations are governed by federal law and regulators such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a federal agency that oversees workplace safety. Amazon said Ms. James had threatened to sue the company if it didn’t agree to demands that included reducing its production and performance requirements and paying “large sums” to Mr. Smalls.

Read more at the WSJ


 

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Daily Briefing – 244

COVID Update – Positivity Rate Continues to Decline

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday February 15th.  As part of that update, the Governor announced that New York State’s 7-day average COVID-19 positivity rate dropped to 3.71 percent, the lowest since November 28.

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 6,620
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 697

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,216
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 408

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .88
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.71%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.47

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – 1 Million New Yorkers Fully Vaccinated With Second Dose

As of 11AM Monday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,192,675 first doses and already administered 91  percent or 1,992,575 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered  and 85 percent of first and second doses (2,862,984) of the 3,371,025 received. 

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 316,155 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 250,716 have been administered (80%).


US Vaccination Rollout – Biden Says US Will Surpass Goal of 100 Million Shots in 100 Days

President Joe Biden expressed optimism Tuesday that the U.S. vaccine rollout will surpass forecasts, although a massive winter storm was stalling efforts to deliver shots this week. “Before I took office, I set a big goal of administering 100 million shots in the first 100 days,” Biden tweeted Tuesday. “With the progress we’re making I believe we’ll not only reach that, we’ll break it.”

Biden’s goal had been considered conservative by experts. Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week that it would be “open season” for all Americans who want the vaccine by April. 

Read more at USA Today


Rapid Covid-19 Tests Are Going Unused

The U.S. government distributed millions of fast-acting tests for diagnosing coronavirus infections at the end of last year to help tamp down outbreaks in nursing homes and prisons and allow schools to reopen. But some states haven’t used many of the tests, due to logistical hurdles and accuracy concerns, squandering a valuable tool for managing the pandemic. The first batches, shipped to states in September, are approaching their six-month expiration dates.

At least 32 million of the 142 million BinaxNOW rapid Covid-19 tests distributed by the U.S. government to states starting last year weren’t used as of early February, according to a Wall Street Journal review of their inventories.

Read more at the WSJ


NIH Experts Discuss SARS-CoV-2 Viral Variants

The rise of several significant variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has attracted the attention of health and science experts worldwide. In an editorial published last week in JAMA, experts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, outline how these variants have arisen, concerns about whether vaccines currently authorized for use will continue to protect against new variants, and the need for a global approach to fighting SARS-CoV-2 as it spreads and acquires additional mutations.

The article was written by NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.; John R. Mascola, M.D., director of NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC); and Barney S. Graham, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of NIAID’s VRC. 

Read the NIH press release


World Likely to Pay More for Meat as Food Inflation Deepens

There are signs that the food inflation that’s gripped the world over the past year, raising prices of everything from shredded cheese to peanut butter, is about to get worse. The COVID-19 pandemic upended food supply chains, paralyzing shipping, sickening workers that keep the world fed and ultimately raising consumer grocery costs around the globe last year. Now farmers — especially ones raising cattle, hogs and poultry — are getting squeezed by the highest corn and soybean prices in seven years. It’s lifted the costs of feeding their herds by 30% or more.

To stay profitable, producers including Tyson Foods, Inc. are increasing prices, which will ripple through supply chains and show up in the coming months as higher price tags for beef, pork and chicken around the world.

Read more at Business World


Senate Bill Introduced to Address Shortages in PPE, Testing Supplies

US Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) introduced legislation to address shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies. The Protecting Providers Everywhere (PPE) in America Act would boost domestic PPE and testing supply production. It would also promote a more sustainable supply chain by ensuring dedicated funding from the Strategic National Stockpile to American manufacturers of applicable medical supplies.

Read more at Homeland Preparedness News


GAO Report: Operation Warp Speed Accelerated COVID-19 Vaccine Development

The General Accounting Office (GAO) analyzed the the Operation Warp Speed program’s vaccine candidates and found that their development followed traditional practices, with some adaptations. For example, some clinical trial phases overlapped with each other and with animal studies to accelerate development.

Two vaccines were authorized for emergency use— the GAO  tracker shows all the candidates. GAO also found that agencies are working to help mitigate vaccine manufacturing challenges. 

Read the press release (Includes a link a GAO Podcast on Vaccine Manufacturing Challenges)


Empire State Manufacturing Survey: Growth Accelerates, Prices Increase, Employment Steady

Manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace in months in New York State in February according to the New York Fed’s monthly survey. The general business conditions index rose nine points to 12.1, its highest level since July of last year. Thirty-two percent of respondents reported that conditions had improved over the month, while 20 percent reported that conditions had worsened. The new orders index rose four points to 10.8, indicating that orders increased, and the shipments index fell to 4.0, pointing to a small increase in shipments. Delivery times rose at the fastest pace in a year, and inventories were higher.

The same survey indicates that employment at manufacturers in the region grew slightly and that both prices paid and prices received increased at the fastest pace in a decade. 

Read more at the NY Fed


Bottom Story: IRS Says There Are No Plans to Extend Tax-Filing Deadline Beyond April 15

Last year, in the midst of Covid-related shutdowns, the agency ended up pushing the deadline for 2019 returns to July 15, giving individuals and businesses an extra 90 days to file and pay any amount owed. The IRS also had delayed the 2020 due dates for first- and second-quarter estimated payments.

Read more at CNBC


 

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Daily Briefing – 243

COVID Update – First South African Variant Case In New York

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday February 14th.  As part of that update, the Governor notified New Yorkers that a Connecticut resident who is a patient in a New York City hospital has tested positive for the South African variant. There is no evidence of any spread in New York State to date.

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 6,623
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 688

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,247
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 446

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .88
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.53%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.53

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update 

As of 11AM Sunday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,192,675 first doses and already administered 89  percent or 1,957,681 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered  and 83 percent of first and second doses (2,798,676) of the 3,371,025 received. 

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 316,155 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 249,035have been administered (79%).


US Vaccination Rollout – 53.8 Million Doses Have Been Administered

More than 173 million doses have been administered across 77 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg. The latest rate was roughly 5.96 million doses a day.

In the U.S., more Americans have now received at least one dose than have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. So far, 53.8 million doses have been given, according to a state-by-state tally. In the last week, an average of 1.68 million doses per day were administered. Across the U.S., 16.4 doses have been administered for every 100 people, and 77% of the shots delivered to states have been administered 

Read more at Bloomberg Virus Tracker  (Free Subscription)


Moderna Wants to Pack 50% more COVID Vaccine per Vial

Moderna is seeking clearance with regulators around the world to put 50 percent more coronavirus vaccine into each of its vials as a way to quickly boost current supply levels.

“In order to better maximize resources as well as maximize opportunities to deliver more doses into each market faster, Moderna has proposed filling vials with up to 15 doses of vaccine versus the previous 10 doses,” a spokesperson said in a statement to AFP. The spokesperson added the company was engaging in discussions with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and authorities in other countries, and the increased level of doses wouldn’t require different vials to those currently in use.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Israeli Study: 94% Drop in Symptomatic COVID-19 Cases With Pfizer Vaccine

Israel’s largest healthcare provider on Sunday reported a 94% drop in symptomatic COVID-19 infections among 600,000 people who received two doses of the Pfizer’s vaccine in the country’s biggest study to date. The comparison was against a group of the same size, with matching medical histories, who had not received the vaccine.

Health maintenance organization (HMO) Clalit, which covers more than half of all Israelis, said the same group was also 92% less likely to develop severe illness from the virus.

Read more at Reuters


Obamacare Exchanges to Re-Open

President Biden last month ordered the launch of a three-month special enrollment period as a key part of his effort to rebuild the Affordable Care Act. To help raise awareness of Obamacare coverage options — and the federal subsidies to help pay for premiums — the administration is pouring $50 million into marketing and outreach.

Read more at CNN


Japanese Economy Recovers from Pandemic Slump

The Japanese economy grew at an annual rate of 12.7% in October-December, marking the second straight quarter of growth, amid a recovery from the slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to government data released Monday.

The world’s third-largest economy saw growth in consumption, government spending and exports for the final quarter of last year, compared to the previous quarter, the Cabinet Office said. Japan’s seasonally adjusted gross domestic product had grown at a dramatic annualized rate of 22.9% in the July-September period.

Read more at the AP


White House Says Biden Planning Order on Semiconductor Shortage

Last week President Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the White House intends to sign an executive order to try and help improve U.S. automaker’s access to semiconductors, which have been in short supply. The order, which Psaki said Biden would sign “in the coming weeks,” will identify “immediate actions” to spur domestic production of critical goods and “working with allies to develop a coordinate response to the weaknesses and bottlenecks.”

A group of U.S. chip companies had sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to provide “substantial funding for incentives for semiconductor manufacturing” as part of his economic recovery and infrastructure plans.

Read more at Reuters


Ethan Allen’s Provides an Update on the Latest CDC Vaccine Guidance and Recommendations

Our friends and Associate Members at Ethan Allen Personnel Group write that on February 10, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance stating that fully vaccinated persons who have been exposed to COVID-19 are no longer required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine);
  • Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series; and
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.

Notwithstanding the ability to avoid quarantine, the CDC cautions that fully vaccinated persons who do not quarantine should still watch for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.  In addition, all persons should continue to follow and maintain the same protective measures (i.e., distancing, mask-wearing, etc.) regardless of their vaccination status.  Finally, the CDC’s new guidance provided some additional considerations for patients and residents in healthcare settings.

Ethan Allen CDC Guidance on Vaccines Feb 10 2021


Why Administering Covid-19 Shots Is So Hard – Its Complicated

Delivering Covid-19 shots to sites around the country is just the first step in vaccinating the population. Getting them from the freezer and into arms is another journey, complicated by the special handling the doses require but also because of cumbersome data-management systems. Sites must take precautions to ensure that they don’t contribute to the spread of the virus, measures that can slow down administration of shots. And at many locations, demand for doses has outstripped supply.

The Wall Street Journal visits the inner workings of a Tennessee vaccination site and gets a first hand look at the challenges health care workers face in getting shots in arms. 

Read more at the WSJ


 

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Daily Briefing – 242

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday February 13th. 

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 6,593
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 698

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,352
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 434

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .88
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.83%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.67

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Saturday  announced that individuals with comorbidities and underlying conditions can start using the ‘Am I Eligible’ website starting Sunday morning. As of 11AM Saturday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,129,135 first doses and already administered 90 percent or 1,923,259 first dose vaccinations and 83 percent of first and second doses. The week 9 allocation from the federal government continues being delivered to providers for administration.      

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 305,865 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 242,666 have been administered (79%).


US Vaccination Rollout – Feds Deliver Vaccines Directly To Drug Store Chains

The U.S. vaccine program will enter a new phase Friday when the federal government starts to deliver doses directly to drugstore chains and pharmacies, in an effort to get more jabs into arms as new variants of the virus continue to spread. The program involves 21 national pharmacy partners and independent pharmacy networks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and household names such as Walgreens,  CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, Kroger and Costco. 

The initial plan is to send a million doses to 6,500 pharmacies, White House officials said this week. The program is expected to greatly expand the number of sites that offer vaccines and speed up the overall program.

Read more at MarketWatch


Deal Finalized for 200 Million Doses

Days after taking office, President Joe Biden said his administration planned to buy another 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses — 100 million from Pfizer and 100 million from Moderna. That purchase went through late last week, the president said, marking a 50% increase in the nation’s total vaccine supply.

Added to the 400 Million secured by the previous administration the US has now ordered 600 million total doses from the companies — enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans. That gives the country enough doses for all of its adult population: about 255 million people.

Read more at Business Insider


CDC Presses K-12 Schools to Reopen

Federal health and education officials urged the nation’s elementary and secondary schools on Friday to reopen safely as soon as possible, saying they can operate by strictly adhering to safety precautions to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission in classrooms and in their communities.

In new guidelines for schools, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said students, teachers and staff should be required to wear masks at all times and should maintain distances of at least 6 feet from one another as much as possible, with students divided into small groups that don’t mix with one another. Also essential, the agency said, are proper hand-washing practices, cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, and working with health departments to use contact tracing, isolation and quarantine to reduce the risk of transmission once someone has been infected.

Read more at the WSJ


Global Manufacturing Economic Update – U.S.-Manufactured Goods Exports Fell More Than 14% in 2020

According to seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S.-manufactured goods exports totaled $1,171.37 billion in 2020, dropping roughly 14.21% from $1,365.33 billion in 2019 to the lowest level since 2010. Among the top 10 markets for U.S.-manufactured goods, China (our third largest market) was the only market with increased activity in 2020, with exports up 2.17%.

Global Economic Update Feb 11


U.K. Economy Suffers Biggest Slump in 300 Years Amid Covid-19 Lockdowns

The U.K. economy recorded its biggest contraction in more than three centuries in 2020, according to official estimates, highlighting the Covid-19 pandemic’s economic toll on a country that has also suffered one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks. 

Gross domestic product shrank 9.9% over the year as a whole, the Office for National Statistics said Friday, the largest annual decline among the Group of Seven advanced economies. France’s economy shrank 8.3% and Italy’s contracted 8.8%, according to provisional estimates. German GDP declined 5%. The U.S. shrank 3.5%. However, the data showed the U.K. economy grew at an annualized rate of 4% in the final quarter of the year, aided by government spending and a small uptick in business investment.

Read more at the WSJ


Many Covid-19 Workers’ Comp Claims Are Being Rejected

Insurance carriers and business groups feared at the start of the pandemic that they would be overwhelmed by workers’ comp claims related to Covid-19. That concern intensified as more than a dozen states passed laws giving some employees including nurses and firefighters a presumption of eligibility, or access to workers’ comp coverage without requiring them to prove infections occurred on the job. Those fears turned out to be unfounded. 

The data also suggest that carriers are denying a significant percentage of claims related to Covid-19, even in states with the so-called presumptive-eligibility rules. Through these measures, insurers are directed to accept the Covid-19-related claims of some front-line workers, bypassing the usual step in which workers have to prove their accident or illness occurred while at work.

Read more at the WSJ


Area Lawmakers Join Call for End to Governor’s Emergency Powers

State Senators James Skoufis (D, Cornwall) and Elijah Reichlin-Melnick (D, Nyack) joined 12 other Democratic state senators in releasing a statement calling for an end to Democratic Governor Cuomo’s emergency powers that he has been using since March 3, 2020.  The lawmakers now say that those powers are inappropriate and are seeking to have them rescinded.

Skoufis and his colleagues noted that during the early months of the pandemic, state government had to restructure the decision-making process to render rapid, necessary public health directives. “It is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate.”

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


2nd Democratic Senator Comes Out Against the $15 Minimum Wage in Biden’s Stimulus Package

“What’s important is whether or not it’s directly related to short-term Covid relief. And if it’s not, then I am not going to support it in this legislation,” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona told Politico in an interview published Friday. “The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process.” She went on: “It is not a budget item. And it shouldn’t be in there.”

Sinema, a moderate, isn’t alone among Democrats in her resistance to the $15 wage bump. Sen. Joe Manchin told reporters last week that he favored a smaller increase to $11, saying “it’s responsible and reasonable.”

Read more at Business Insider


New U.S. Data From the Census Bureau Shows 7.8% of Workforce Have Multiple Jobs

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Census Bureau said on Thursday it will present new data next week that will show 7.8% of the country’s workforce hold multiple jobs, a trend that has been on the rise during the past 20 years.  Census Bureau said the data next Wednesday will also show that earnings from secondary jobs, on average, account for 27.8% of a multiple jobholder’s total quarterly earnings.  “Multiple jobholding occurs at all levels of earnings, with both higher- and lower-earnings multiple jobholders earning more than 25% of their total earnings from multiple jobs,” it said. “These new statistics tell us that multiple jobholding is more important in the U.S. economy than realized.”

The data could contribute to the heated debate on President Joe Biden’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour from the current rate of $7.25 by 2025.

Read More at Reuters


COVID-19 May Become Endemic. Governments and Businesses Need to Think About How to Cope

The Economist notes that even miracles have their limits. Vaccines against the coronavirus have arrived sooner and worked better than many people dared hope. Without them, the pandemic threatened to take more than 150m lives. And yet, while the world rolls up a sleeve, it has become clear that expecting vaccines to see off covid-19 is mistaken. Instead the disease will circulate for years, and seems likely to become endemic. When covid-19 first struck, governments were caught by surprise. Now they need to think ahead.

Across the world governments will have to work out when and how to switch from emergency measures to policies that are economically and socially sustainable indefinitely. The transition will be politically hard in places that have invested a lot in being COVID-free. Nowhere more so than China, where vaccination is slow. The Communist Party has defined every case of covid-19 as unacceptable and wide circulation of the disease as a sign of the decadence of Western democracies.

Read more at The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 241

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday February 10th. 

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 7,342
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 808

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,452
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 434

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .88
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.54%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.10

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update 

Governor Cuomo & Biden Administration officials announced yesterday that mass vaccination sites to will open in New York State targeting equitable vaccination access. The state has administered over 2,341,255 vaccine doses through the state’s vaccination program. New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,002,055 first doses and administered 89 percent (1,787,189.) 64 percent of the 1,031,650 second doses (660,083) have been administered. 

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 285,290 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 224,048 have been administered (79%).


US Vaccination Rollout – Fauci Predicts “Open Season” In April

April will be “open season” for vaccinations in the U.S. and any adult will be able to get vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted Thursday. “By the time we get to April it will be open season, namely virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated,” Fauci said.

He said it will take several more months to logistically deliver injections to adult Americans but predicted herd immunity could be achieved by late summer. Fauci’s comments come amid a slow and chaotic vaccine rollout that has seen vaccination sites shut down because of a lack of supply and waiting lists of tens of thousands across the country who are unable to get an appointment for a shot. 

Read more at USA Today


CDC: No Quarantine Needed for Fully Vaccinated  People Who Have Been Exposed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance that people who have been fully vaccinated for the coronavirus no longer need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone who is infected with COVID-19.

“Fully vaccinated persons who meet criteria will no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19,” the CDC said in the updated guidance Wednesday.

Read More at The Hill


It Wasn’t Me – Plant Said to be Cause of AstraZeneca Vaccine EU Cuts Denies Responsibility 

AstraZeneca blamed production problems at a Belgian factory for its failure to meet delivery commitments to the EU—while the EU suspected it was giving other customers priority. Well, the plant’s owner, Thermo Fisher, now says it produced all the doses it told AstraZeneca it would produce.

“We have complied with all the contractual requirements we have with AstraZeneca,” Thermo Fisher’s vice president for the EU, Cedric Volanti, told in a news conference on Wednesday, when asked about possible production problems the plant had faced.

Read more at Reuters


AstraZeneca’s revenues rose 10% in 2020, to $26.6bn

The drug maker, which developed a covid-19 vaccine with Oxford University, made just $2m from its coronavirus jab, which it pledged to sell at cost price. Yesterday the World Health Organization recommended its vaccine for all adults, helping assuage worries about its efficacy among over-65s, and against a variant first found in South Africa.

REad more at BBC


Automakers Report Strong Sales for End of 2020

The automotive market has strengthened considerably since the first half of 2020 forced vehicle manufacturers to shut production. General Motors, Ford Motors, and Toyota Motor Corp. all reported positive sales figures for the end of 2020 into the beginning of 2021.

  • General Motors reported February 10 that it pulled in $6.4 billion in 2020, a 4.5% loss relative to 2019 profits. Full-year revenue fell 10.7% to $122.5 billion. For its 2020 fourth-quarter results, though, GM reported profits of $2.8 billion—night and day compared to the $194 million loss it saw in Q4 2019.
  • Ford, meanwhile, saw drops in both quarterly and full-year revenue when it announced earnings last week: 2020 revenue fell 18% to $127.1 billion, and revenue for the fourth quarter fell from $39.7 billion in the last quarter of financial year 2019 to $36.0 billion in the quarter just ended.
  • Ford, meanwhile, saw drops in both quarterly and full-year revenue when it announced earnings last week: 2020 revenue fell 18% to $127.1 billion, and revenue for the fourth quarter fell from $39.7 billion in the last quarter of financial year 2019 to $36.0 billion in the quarter just ended.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Cash-in-Pockets Emerges as New Democratic Approach to Federal Aid in Coronavirus Bill

Congressional Democrats are using coronavirus relief legislation to advance a vision of federal aid to households that is focused on cash assistance with few restrictions, moving away from the work requirements and minimum-income thresholds that have been cornerstones of federal policies for decades.

Democrats have emphasized the breadth of households’ needs during the pandemic and have rejected Republicans’ concerns that giving people money would discourage them from returning to work. For lower-income and middle-income households, the combination of policies in the Democrats’ legislation could yield significant short-term increases in income. While unemployment benefits have an application process and eligibility restrictions, direct payments and the child tax credit expansion would have no strings attached, and they are available even to households with no income.

Read more at the WSJ


Powell: Bleak Jobs Picture Means Rates Will Stay Low 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday painted a dour picture on the state of U.S. employment, saying continued aggressive policy support is needed to fix the myriad issues still facing workers. Addressing the issue will require a “patiently accommodative monetary policy that embraces the lessons of the past” regarding the benefits that low interest rates bring to the labor market, the central bank chief told the Economic Club of New York.

Powell further said the headline unemployment rate has “dramatically understated” the true damage, including the biggest 12-month drop in labor force participation since at least 1948.

Read more at CNBC


Another 793,000 Americans Filed New Unemployment Claims Last Week

New weekly jobless claims fell relative to the prior week’s level, which was upwardly revised to 812,000 from the 779,000 previously reported. This brought new claims for the week ended February 6 to the lowest level in five weeks. And despite last week’s upward revision, the four-week moving average for new claims fell by 33,500 to 823,000.

By state, some of the most populous parts of the country saw encouragingly large drops in unadjusted new jobless claims last week. Florida saw by far the greatest decrease, with unadjusted initial jobless claims dropping by more than 51,000 last week. New York followed by a wide margin, with new claims in the state dropping by nearly 20,000. 

Read more at Yahoo Finance


The Economist: How Rising Inflation Could Disrupt the World’s Economic Policy

Headline statistics on price rises will soon contribute to the sense that an inflationary dawn is breaking. They will go up automatically as the collapse in commodities prices early in the pandemic falls out of comparisons with a year earlier, and the recent rise in the oil price begins to bite—on February 8th Brent crude rose above $60 a barrel for the first time in more than a year. In Germany the reversal of a temporary cut in vat has already helped year-on-year inflation rise from -0.7% to 1.6% in a month.

For most of the past decade the world economy’s problem, judged by central banks’ targets, has been too little inflation, not too much. As a result it is easy to view the coming acceleration in prices as welcome. In fact, it is worth worrying about, for several reasons.

Read more at The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 240

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday February 9th. 

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 7,593
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 828

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,422
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 427

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .88
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 4.02%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.30

Useful Websites:


Major Stadiums and Arenas In New York Can Reopen with Limited Spectators Beginning February 23

Governor  Cuomo yesterday announced that sports and entertainment events in major stadiums and arenas with a capacity of 10,000 or more people can re-open with limited spectators beginning February 23. Following the model established as part of the successful Buffalo Bills pilot program, venues and events must follow similar guidelines, including Department of Health approval for venues and events, capacity limitations, testing requirements, mandatory face coverings, temperature checks, and assigned, socially distanced seating.

Let’s Go Rangers.

Read the press Release


NYS Vaccine Update – Mass Vaccination Sites Opened for “Equitable Vaccination Access”

Governor Cuomo & Biden Administration officials announced yesterday that mass vaccination sites to will open in New York State targeting equitable vaccination access. The state has administered over 2,341,255 vaccine doses through the state’s vaccination program. New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,874,975 first doses and administered 92 percent (1,738,927) 65 percent of the 933,850 second doses (602,238) have been administered. 

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 264,710 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 213,180 have been administered (81%).


When Might a Majority of People Have Been Vaccinated?

Experts have estimated that 70 to 90 percent of the population needs to acquire resistance to the coronavirus to reach herd immunity, when transmission of the virus substantially slows because enough people have been protected through infection or vaccination.

A number of factors will determine how quickly this threshold is met, especially the pace at which newly vaccinated people join those who are immune after past infections. But the presence of more transmissible virus variants could complicate that progress. If the country maintains its current pace of administering first doses, about half of the total population would be at least partially vaccinated around early July, and nearly all around late November, assuming supply pledges are met and vaccines are eventually available to children.

Read more at the New York Times


U.K. Study: One Pfizer Dose Provided Protection Two-Thirds of the Time

Early findings from the U.K.’s vaccination program, due to be released within days, show that the first dose reduced the symptomatic infection risk among patients by 65% in younger adults and 64% in over-80s, a person familiar with the matter said.

The data, first reported by The Sun newspaper, showed that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine saw protection rise to between 79% and 84%, depending on age. The AstraZeneca vaccine offers similar protection, the newspaper said.

Read more at Fortune


Vaccine Hesitancy

The percentage of adults who say they’re willing to get the Covid-19 vaccine increased from September to December, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published Tuesday. However, the report found that a significant percentage of Americans still remain hesitant about the vaccine: Only about half of adults under age 65 said they were “absolutely certain” or “very likely” to get the Covid-19 vaccination.

The biggest increases in support for inoculation came from adults 65 and older, among whom support grew from 49% to 66%. Support from essential workers grew from 37% to 46%, and adults under 65 with underlying health conditions increased their support from 37% to 42% in the same period.

Read more at the WSJ


Manufacturers and Vaccines

The NAM and The Manufacturing Institute have readied a solution to take direct aim at vaccine hesitancy: the “This Is Our Shot” project, which encourages manufacturers, families of manufacturers and manufacturing communities to get a COVID-19 vaccine (link below).

“We recognize that most manufacturers aren’t presently eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine,” said NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas. “So we’re taking a phased approach on this vaccine awareness project—to have the industry ready for the challenge. Right now, we’re educating manufacturing executives and leaders about the COVID-19 vaccine and this project, building communications tools for broader use as the vaccine becomes more widely available and targeting limited public outreach where skepticism is pervasive to get a head start on the problem.”

Visit the NAM resource page


Manufacturing Job Openings Fall

There were 475,000 manufacturing job openings in December, pulling back for the second straight month from 531,000 in October (an all-time high) and 487,000 in November.  NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray says. “Durable goods manufacturers increased the number of postings in the sector in December, up from 246,000 to 263,000. Nondurable goods firms reduced openings to 211,000 from 241,000.”

In December, manufacturers hired 396,000 workers, the same pace as in November, with both being the best readings since June. At the same time, total separations increased from 366,000 to 374,000, also the highest since June. Net hiring (or hiring minus separations) was 22,000 in December, down from 30,000 in November but a net positive for the fifth consecutive month.

See the BLS Report


GM Extends Plant Downtime Due to Extended Semiconductor Shortage

On February 9, General Motors Co. announced that scheduled downtime at three of its plants would continue through to the middle of March as a sustained semiconductor shortage squeezes U.S. auto production. GM extended production downtime in three assembly plants in Fairfax, Kansas City; Ontario, Canada; and San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

According to GM, the company will extend the downtime for the rest of the month and reassess their options in the middle of March. In the meantime, the company plans to assemble vehicles without the relevant parts so they can be completed once the semiconductors become available.

Read more at IndustryWeek


For the First Time in a Year, Oil Prices Top $60 a Barrel

On February 8th the price of Brent crude rose above $60 a barrel for the first time in more than a year. Battery metals, too, are enjoying a run-up in value. The prices of cobalt, lithium and certain rare-earth metals have soared since late last year (see chart), with nickel and copper enjoying an even longer climb. It is tempting to see the recent surge as evidence of competing bets about the fuels of the future. For both oil and battery metals, the reality is more complex.

Some of the rise in oil prices is, of course, linked to expectations about demand. Oil investors have taken hope that rising Chinese demand might be matched elsewhere. In India, consumption of cooking fuels from liquefied petroleum gas is up. In America, President Joe Biden’s proposed stimulus of $1.9trn may bring a jump in economic activity and therefore oil demand. 

Read more at The Economist


Consumer Inflation Climbs at Fastest Pace in Five Months

The cost of food, another household staple, edged up a scant 0.1% last month.  The prices of groceries and food purchased from restaurants have both risen close to 4% over the past year, reflecting shortages of certain foods and higher costs tied to coping with the pandemic. A separate “core” measure of inflation that strips out often-volatile food and energy costs was flat in January.

Last month prices rose for clothing, medical care, rent and car insurance, but those increases were offset by lower costs of new and used cars, passenger fares and recreation.

Read more at MarketWatch


Gillibrand Wants $10B for Mental Health, Substance Abuse In COVID Relief Bill

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee urging them to include $10 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the next COVID-19 relief bill.

Half the funding would support the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program, while the other $5 billion would boost the Substance Abuse Prevent and Treatment Block Grant program. Both programs provide direct aid to states for mental health services and substance abuse treatment.  
“The pandemic has exacerbated New York’s addiction crisis and we must do more to address the troubling trend of high rates of mental health and substance use disorders,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

Read more at The Auburn Citizen


The World Is Still Battling Polio. What That Warning Means for Covid-19

The decades long battle to eradicate polio around the world is one of the most ambitious and expensive public-health campaigns in history. The mass-vaccination drive and its progress toward arresting a malady that has disabled or killed millions of people point to the success possible in the efforts to inoculate people around the world against Covid-19.

But even with an established vaccine, billions of dollars invested and international support, the polio effort has struggled. And in a cruel twist, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the polio fight off course. “The pandemic has been at least a one-year setback” to the polio eradication goal, said Bill Gates, whose charitable foundation is a major funder of the effort.

Read more at the WSJ


 

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Daily Briefing – 239

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday February 8th. “Our post-holiday surge reduction is continuing, and that is the direct result of the toughness of New Yorkers who have sacrificed and done what is needed to beat back this invisible enemy. Our infection rate is the lowest it has been since December 1, so we’re back to where we started on the holiday surge,” Governor Cuomo said.

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 7,875
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 875

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,320
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 427

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .88
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.12%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.34

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – Allocation to the States Increasing 5%

The White House announced a 5 percent increase in vaccine allocations to the states for the next three weeks. The state has administered over 2,228.567 vaccine doses through the state’s vaccination program. New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,874,975 first doses and administered 90 percent (1,684,233) 56 percent of the 933,850 second doses (522,605) have been administered. Delivery of the week 9 allocation from the federal government begins mid-week.

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 264,710 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 201,953 have been administered (76%).


US Vaccination Progress 

The US CDC reported 59.31 million vaccine doses distributed and 42.42 million doses administered nationwide. The US has administered 71.5% of the distributed doses, an increase of more than 10 percentage points since Friday (61.2%). In total, 32.34 million people (nearly 10% of the entire US population) have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, and 9.52 million (2.9%) have received both doses. The average daily doses administered is once again increasing, now up to a record high of 1.46 million doses per day.

A total of 4.95 million doses have been administered at long-term care facilities (LTCFs) through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care (LTC) Program*, including residents and staff. This covers 3.78 million individuals with at least 1 dose and 1.15 million with 2 doses. Approximately 60% of the doses have gone to residents, and 40% to staff.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


Survey: Lower-Level Workers Are Less Willing to Receive the Vaccine than Senior Leadership

According to a new survey released on Feb. 8 by The Conference Board survey, there is a division based on job titles.  Lower-level workers are less willing to receive the vaccine than senior leadership.  Another issue that could be affecting acceptance of the vaccine is that nearly half of companies have yet to communicate a policy on getting the vaccine. Furthermore, even those companies that are encouraging workers to receive the vaccine are not mandating it as a condition of returning to the office.

Key findings include: One-fifth of US workers—19%—are undecided about whether to get the vaccine.  Three-quarters plan to take an FDA-approved vaccine when available.  Only 6% do not plan to get the vaccine.

Read more at EHS Today


Sen. Warren, Rep. Schakowsky Introduce Bill to Manufacture COVID-19 Supplies

US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced legislation to publicly manufacture personal protective equipment, prescription drugs, and other medical supplies necessary to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pandemic Emergency Manufacturing Act of 2021 authorizes the federal government to manufacture medical products, including contracting with existing manufacturers, to ensure an adequate supply of critical materials to avoid rationing during this crisis.

Read more at Homeland Preparedness News


CDC Study: Decline in COVID-19 Hospitalization Growth Rates Associated with Statewide Mask Mandates

During March 22–October 17, 2020, 10 sites participating in the COVID-19–Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network in states with statewide mask mandates reported a decline in weekly COVID-19–associated hospitalization growth rates by up to 5.5 percentage points for adults aged 18–64 years after mandate implementation, compared with growth rates during the 4 weeks preceding implementation of the mandate.

Mask-wearing is a component of a multipronged strategy to decrease exposure to and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and reduce strain on the health care system, with likely direct effects on COVID-19 morbidity and associated mortality.

Read the more at the CDC website


WHO: Virus Likely Came From Animal, Not Laboratory

The virus that causes Covid-19 most likely entered the human population through an intermediate animal and is highly unlikely to have leaked from a laboratory, a leader of a World Health Organization investigative team said at a press conference in the Chinese city of Wuhan. In laying out the possibilities for the origin of the pandemic, the WHO team said Tuesday it was also possible that it may have been transmitted to humans through frozen food, a theory heavily promoted by Beijing. But the team said the most likely scenario was one in which the virus spilled over naturally from an animal into humans, such as from a bat to a small mammal that then infected a person.

The preliminary assessment came during a news conference that followed a two-week-long mission to Wuhan, the original center of the pandemic, which included 17 Chinese and 17 WHO experts. It comes more than a year after the virus first began spreading in China and around the globe, killing more than two million people.

Read more at the WSJ


Latest Chinese Vaccine News

The COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Cansino is 90.1% effective at preventing severe illness and 65.7% effective at preventing symptomatic cases, according to Pakistan’s health minister. The good news: it’s another single-shot vaccine, like J&J’s, which makes it easier than most to roll out. The bad news: like the other Chinese contenders, Sinopharm and Sinovac, Cansino has not published much data beyond flashy headline efficacy figures.

Read more at Fortune


Trade Deficit Hit Highest Point Since 2008 Last Year

The deficit between U.S. exports and imports hit a 12-year-high in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic hammered supply chains around the world. Full-year results for 2020 showed a deficit of $678.7 billion, 17.7% more than 2019 and the highest full year deficit since 2008.

That’s despite a slight dip in the monthly deficit in December, which saw a trade deficit of $66.6 billion, down $2.4 billion from November’s $69.0 billion. Pending revisions to the December figures, November had the highest single-month trade deficit of the year, but December’s three-month moving average, $66.5 billion, was the highest deficit period of the year.

Read more at IndustryWeek


CBO: $15 Minimum Wage Would Reduce Poverty, Cost Jobs

Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would increase wages for at least 17 million people, put 1.4 million Americans out of work, and lift some 900,000 out of poverty, according to the nonpartisan CBO.

This higher federal minimum could raise wages for an additional 10 million workers who would otherwise make slightly above that wage rate, the study found.

Read more at NPR


 

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Daily Briefing – 238

COVID Update – NYC Dining Can Open Friday, 2 Days Sooner Than Planned

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday February 7th. The Governor also announced that New York City indoor dining can reopen at 25 percent capacity on February 12, Lunar New Year Day. The reopening was previously scheduled for Valentine’s Day, but restaurants requested an earlier reopening date to allow staff to prepare and the request has been granted. The reopening is subject to strict state guidance, which can be found here.

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 7,716
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 870

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,363
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 427

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .91
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 4.28%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.30

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update 

The state Vaccine dashboard was not updated as of 7:30 p.m. yesterday – information below is from Sunday. The state has administered over 2,136,209 vaccine doses through the state’s vaccination program. New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,874,975 first doses and already administered 87 percent 1,627,191 first dose vaccinations and 76 percent of first and second doses. Delivery of the week 9 allocation from the federal government begins mid-week. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 264,710 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 193,678 have been administered (73%).

The Governor announced Monday that New Yorkers with comorbidities and underlying conditions can make appointments at state-run mass vaccination sites beginning February 14, with the first appointments scheduled for February 15. Excess vaccine supply meant for hospital workers can be used to open eligibility for New Yorkers with comorbidities and underlying conditions. Local health departments will determine how, where and when to schedule appointments in their jurisdictions, and those appointments will begin as early as February 15. 


US Vaccination Progress 

As vaccinations speed up across the U.S., key Covid-19 metrics are declining from a record-setting fall surge. Newly reported cases fell below 100,000 for the first time this year. Hospitalizations dropped for the 26th day in a row, and the number of Covid-19 patients requiring intensive-care treatment fell to its lowest level since Nov. 19. The country is now averaging about 1.4 million vaccinations a day, and nearly 10% of the U.S. population has been given at least one dose, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Demand is so high in some states it is overwhelming local providers and frustrating people seeking shots.

Read more at the WSJ


Yellen: Biden’s Plan Could Restore Full Employment By 2022

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday the country was still in a “deep hole” with millions of lost jobs but that President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan could generate enough growth to restore full employment by next year.

Republican senators argued that Biden’s proposal was too expensive and they cited criticism from Larry Summers, a treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, that passage of the measure could run the risk of triggering runaway inflation. Summers also contended that Biden’s plan would make less money available for other initiatives such as improving the nation’s infrastructure.

Read more about Secretary Yellen’s Testimony and the Relief Package at the AP


The U.S. Has an Emerging Industrial Policy 

The Biden plan – characterized by some as “misguided” and “awful economics” – has sparked a debate about the wisdom of industrial policy. Largely ignored is the fact that the United States has an emerging industrial policy, created in piece-meal fashion over the last few years.

For sure, this isn’t the kind of industrial policy practiced during the Cold War by Soviet-block nations behind the Iron Curtain. Yet it does involve the government picking winners and losers, but in a targeted manner as might be expected of a nation that values capitalism. This American Industrial Policy is characterized by its focus on capabilities critical to national security, supported by resilient supply chains, and achieved through political consensus. Each attribute deserves elaboration.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Manufacturing Economy Report – Jobs, Productivity, Mfg Construction and More

The ISM Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index® slowed in January but continued to expand solidly, declining from 60.5 in December to 58.7 in January. New orders and production growth remained robust, but respondents cited lingering supply chain disruptions, and raw material costs rose at the fastest pace since April 2011.

Factory orders rose 1.1% in December, increasing for the eighth straight month but declining 0.8% year-over-year. At the same time, durable goods have rebounded strongly since the pandemic. Over the past 12 months, new orders for durable goods have risen 1.9%, but with transportation equipment excluded, sales increased a solid 7.0% year-over-year.

Monday Economic Report 0208 2021


Cold Reality Dawns That Illness Is Likely Here to Stay – What Does That Mean For Business

The ease with which the coronavirus spreads, the emergence of new strains and poor access to vaccines in large parts of the world mean Covid-19 could shift from a pandemic disease to an endemic one, implying lasting modifications to personal and societal behavior, epidemiologists say.

“Going through the five phases of grief, we need to come to the acceptance phase that our lives are not going to be the same,” said Thomas Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I don’t think the world has really absorbed the fact that these are long-term changes.”

Read more in the WSJ


Rolls-Royce to Temporarily Close Jet-Engine Plants This Summer

Rolls-Royce is planning to temporarily close its jet-engine factories for two weeks this summer to preserve cash, marking the first time it has been forced into such a drastic move since it became a listed company in the 1980s. The aero-engine maker is consulting unions and employee representatives at its civil aerospace division, which manufactures jet-engine parts, about how the shutdowns will work as it cuts costs to cope with a prolonged collapse in the aviation market arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

The division employs 19,000 staff globally in countries including Germany and Singapore, although the majority — 12,500 — are based in the UK. Rolls-Royce has also started talks with British unions about a separate target to deliver a permanent 10 per cent improvement in productivity and efficiency at its UK civil aerospace operations. These are predominantly focused on its historic engine production facilities in Derby, but also include smaller sites in Solihull, Tyne and Wear and Glasgow.

Read more at the FT


What You Need to Know About OSHA’s Jan. 29 COVID Guidance

Though mostly the same as earlier guidance, the new document’s differences are significant.

What is different about the new OSHA guidance that employers need to watch out for and is likely to end up being the draft the agency will work off of to create its ETS? For one thing, employers are now responsible for providing their employees a COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. However, when it comes to applying the guidance, because at this time there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines prevent transmission from person-to-person, employers are expected to continue following protective measures in the workplace even if workers are vaccinated.

Read more at EHS Today


Empire Center Breaks Down State Budget and Taxes in Updated Budget App

The Empire Center’s online New York State budget database has been updated to reflect all the key numbers from Governor Cuomo’s proposed Executive Budget for fiscal year 2022.

The Explore the Budget app at SeeThroughNY.net allows users to search and compare actual results, estimates and projections for major spending and tax categories from state fiscal years 2011 through fiscal 2025. In addition, the budget search tool includes total annual disbursements dating back to 1984 and tax receipts in major categories since 1976, presented in both nominal and inflation-adjusted terms. All of the state budget data can be downloaded in spreadsheet form.

Visit the App


 

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Daily Briefing – 237

Super Bowl VI  Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defeats Kansas City Chiefs 31 – 9

Employers should remain diligent with safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 following the Super Bowl.  Many people gathered to enjoy the game in the company of friends and family yesterday new cases are likely. 

See the Highlights


COVID Update – Remain Diligent, Avoid Super Bowl Spread

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday February 6th. “It’s no accident that our positivity and hospitalizations are continuing to decline, this is happening because of the dedication and discipline shown by New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “While we are encouraged by these declining numbers, we must remain vigilant. Today, I urge New Yorkers to enjoy the Superbowl but be smart and don’t do anything to undo our progress: wear a mask, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings.”

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 7,649
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 853

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,411
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 420

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .91
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 4.00%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.20

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update 2.1 Million Vaccine Doses Administered

The state has administered over 2,136,209 vaccine doses through the state’s vaccination program. As of 11AM yesterday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,874,975 first doses and already administered 87 percent 1,627,191 first dose vaccinations and 76 percent of first and second doses. Delivery of the week 9 allocation from the federal government begins mid-week. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 264,710 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 193,678 have been administered (73%).

The Governor announced Friday that, because COVID 19 has proven far more dangerous to individuals with certain underlying medical conditions the state has made these individuals eligible under the phase 1b of the vaccination program. Beginning February 15th New Yorkers of any age with qualifying underlying conditions will be eligible for the COVID vaccine beginning.. Eligible conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2), heart conditions, pregnancy, obesity, sickle cell disease, liver disease and others. 


US Vaccination Progress – As U.S. Vaccinations Ramp Up, Some Recipients Struggle to Secure a Second Dose

In some American states, people who have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine have been experiencing maddening difficulties as they try to schedule their second.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two injections, given 21 days apart, while Moderna’s two injections should be given 28 days apart. But the C.D.C. said last month that the interval can be expanded to six weeks if giving the second dose sooner was “not feasible.”

Read more at the New York Times


J&J Seeks FDA Authorization for One-Shot Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson asked U.S. regulators Thursday to clear the world’s first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, an easier-to-use option that could boost scarce supplies.

J&J’s vaccine was safe and offered strong protection against moderate to severe COVID-19, according to preliminary results from a massive international study. It didn’t appear quite as strong as two-dose competitors made by Pfizer and Moderna — a finding that may be more perception than reality, given differences in how each was tested.

Read more at AP


U.S. Employers Added 49,000 Jobs in January

U.S. employers added 49,000 jobs last month, returning growth to the labor market after a one month dip, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.3%.  Jobs grew strongly in business and professional services, the Labor Department said in its January report on U.S. employment. Many sectors, though, lost jobs last month. The leisure and hospitality sector lost 61,000 jobs in January, following a steep decline of 536,000 in December. Retailers, health-care companies and warehouses cut jobs in January.

The fall in the unemployment rate in part reflected the Labor Department’s annual update to population estimates used to calculate the unemployment rate and other measures. The new estimates show the civilian labor force was 200,000 lower than previously estimated, employment was 180,000 less, and unemployment 20,000 less.

Read more in the WSJ


Manufacturing Jobs Slip 10,000 in January 

The U.S. manufacturing sector shed about 10,000 jobs in January 2021, according to the latest figures from the Department of Labor. Durable goods manufacturing as a whole lost 17,000 jobs, but significant gains in nondurable chemical manufacturing pushed the figure of total manufacturing jobs lost significantly.

Of the 17,000 jobs lost in durable goods manufacturing, 6,400 jobs were in nonmetallic mineral products, 5,300 in motor vehicles and parts, and 4,300 in fabricated metal products. Semiconductors and electronic components led durable manufacturing in jobs gained, with 1,800, and wood products, computer and electronic products, and miscellaneous durable goods also saw gains. Nondurable goods manufacturing employed 7,000 more people in January than it had in December, driven almost entirely by gains in chemical manufacturing: Chemical manufacturers employed 10,500 more people in January than they had the month before.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Biden Does Not Expect Minimum Wage Hike to be in Relief Bill

U.S. President Joe Biden said in an interview released on Friday he does not expect his proposal for a hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour to be included in his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill because of Senate rules.

Increasing the minimum wage may run afoul of Senate rules on reconciliation, a tool Democrats plan to use to pass Biden’s coronavirus relief bill without Republican support in the closely divided  Senate. Biden said he would be prepared to negotiate the wage rise separately and the increase could be phased in.

Read more at Reuters


Budget Reconciliation Moves Forward in House

The House aims to pass a coronavirus relief bill within two weeks, as Democrats push ahead with the process that enables them to approve a rescue package with no Republican votes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday.

The Senate passed a budget resolution early Friday after a marathon of votes on dozens of amendments. The House followed in the afternoon in a nearly party line vote, starting the reconciliation process that would allow President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package to get through the Democratic-held Senate with a simple majority which means a 50-50 vote with Vice President Camilla Harris casting the tiebreaking vote in her role as President of the Senate.


DiNapoli: Statewide Local Sales Tax Collections Declined 10 Percent in 2020

Local sales tax collections declined by $1.8 billion, or 10 percent, in 2020 over the previous year. By comparison, collections only dropped 6 percent in the 2009 recession compared with 2008. In the first quarter – mostly occurring before the economic impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic swept through New York – collections grew by 4.6 percent over the same quarter the previous year. 

However, collections plummeted by 27.1 percent in the second quarter (April-June) compared to the second quarter in 2019. State-mandated closure of non-essential businesses in late March led to a spike
in unemployment and a sharp decline in retail and food services sales in the following months.

Read more at the Comptroller’s website


DiNapoli: Sales Tax Collections Up in the Hudson Valley

In the Hudson Valley, total sales tax collections rose by 1.8 percent.  Increases in sales tax is attributable to online purchasing. Internet sales continued during the full pause of the economy early on in the pandemic and as brick-and-mortar stories gradually opened, consumer habits continued the shift to online sales as people continued to avoid crowded places.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


How Vaccines are Made and Why it is Hard

Broadly, there are two ways of making antiviral vaccines. One, tried and trusted, involves growing, in tanks called bioreactors, cell cultures that act as hosts for viruses which are then used in one way or another to make the vaccine in question. The alternative method, developed recently and employed to make the mRNA vaccines, such as those of Moderna and Pfizer, that the pandemic has stimulated the invention of, requires culturing cells only at the beginning of the process. mrna is the substance that carries instructions about how to make a protein from a cell’s dna to the molecular factories, known as ribosomes, which do the actual manufacturing. 

But it is one thing to design and test vaccines. It is another to make them at sufficient scale to generate the billions of doses needed to vaccinate the world’s population, and to do so at such speed that the rate of inoculation can outpace the spread and possible mutation of the virus.

Read more (or listen) at The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 236

NYS Vaccine Update

As of 11AM yesterday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,554,450 first doses and already administered 92 percent or 1,432,195 first dose vaccinations and 77 percent of first and second doses. Delivery of the week 8 allocation from the federal government is in the process of being delivered to providers for administration.

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 219,420 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 150,166 have been administered (68%).


COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday February 2st. 

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations Statewide:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital   =  8,082
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available = 34%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  957
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 42%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,894
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4,354
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 26%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  687
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  420
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 40%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .91
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 4.68%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.60

Useful Websites:


US Vaccination Progress – Who is Getting the Now Close to 50 Million Doses Administered

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a release of its first comprehensive look at the state of the nationwide vaccine campaign, says that nationwide, 63% of those vaccinated were women and 55% were over 50 years old. The agency’s researchers issued a pair of reports examining the demographics of those vaccinated nationwide through January 14 and the rollout of the shots in long-term care facilities.  60% of those vaccinated identified as non-Hispanic White.

Read more at CBS News


Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine Has 92% Efficacy in Trial

Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine gives around 92% protection against Covid-19, late stage trial results published in The Lancet reveal.  It has also been deemed to be safe – and offer complete protection against hospitalization and death.

The vaccine was initially met with some controversy after being rolled out before the final trial data had been released. But scientists said its benefit has now been demonstrated.  It joins the ranks of proven vaccines alongside Pfizer, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen.

Read more at BBC


AstraZeneca Vaccine – Single Dose Could Cut Transmission By 67% –  75% Effective for 3 Months

One dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine provides sustained protection against Covid for at least three months and cuts transmission of the virus by two-thirds, according to research that appears to support the UK’s decision to delay booster shots.

Analysis of fresh data from three trials found that the first shot conferred on average 76% protection against symptomatic infections from three weeks until 90 days, and reduced transmission of the disease by 67%.

Read more at The Guardian


China’s Hot Economic Recovery Weakens as Manufacturing and Services Cool

China’s growth is likely to moderate in the coming months as the country faces risks on two fronts, according to the chief Asia economist of Goldman Sachs. “The first is simply policymakers are quite comfortable with the recovery so far and are starting to pull back on policy stimulus to some degree,” Andrew Tilton said on “Streets Signs Asia” on Monday.  “If things do continue to go well, then we could have some inflation risks,” he added.

The world’s second largest economy showed robust GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2020, expanding at 6.5% compared to a year ago. It beat market expectations, and made China one of the few major economies in the world to record positive growth for a year mired by the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more at CNBC


Biden Administration Focus on OSHA, COVID-19 and What It Means for Manufacturers

On January 29, 2021, OSHA released “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” in response to President Joe Biden’s Executive Order issued on January 21, 2021. The guidance is not a standard or regulation and creates no legal obligations for employers, but it is a step toward fulfilling a Biden campaign pledge that OSHA would “immediately release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to give employers … enforceable guidance on what to do to reduce the spread of COVID.

As a candidate, Biden promised to be “the most pro-union president you have ever seen” and “unions are going to have increased power” in his administration. His administration has installed James “Jim” Frederick, a former United Steelworkers safety official, as the acting Deputy Assistant Secretary to lead OSHA on an interim basis. Frederick has indicated that, in that role, he will be focused on drafting and implementing an Emergency Temporary Standard to address COVID-19.

Read more at Jackson Lewis


Five New York Companies to Produce COVID-19 Related Equipment and Supplies to Support In-State Needs

Four additional New York companies and one company that has previously received state support will be awarded nearly $2 million in state support to produce needed supplies to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. These grant funds will help alleviate product shortages due to supply chain issues that could lead to unfair pricing practices. The companies will also increase the State’s manufacturing capacity while creating new jobs and market opportunities. To date, New York State has announced more than $20 million in grants to 36 qualifying New York-based companies to retool their business lines and pivot to manufacturing vital supplies for ongoing response and recovery efforts. These 36 companies will collectively create and retain over 3,500 jobs.

Read the press release and see the companies


Biden, House Democrats Push 1.9 Billion Relief Plan Through Budget Reconciliation

Democrats are mostly united behind Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan, and are moving quickly to muscle it through without GOP votes using budgetary tactics known as reconciliation. Still, lawmakers fear that a single misstep could force Congress to sputter over yet another cliff — boosted jobless benefits that expire on March 14 — while hindering vaccine distribution just as dangerous new variants are emerging in the U.S.

So far, a handful of centrist Democrats privately aren’t committing to voting for the House budget, hoping to push party leaders to pursue a dual-track approach to Covid relief, according to multiple members and aides. Several in the most vulnerable districts remain anxious that they don’t know what will ultimately be in the massive package.

Read more at Politico


Pandemic Exacts a Toll on Employees’ Mental Health

Employee mental health has seen a downturn during the pandemic, with workers reporting a 48% increase in depression risk in November and December, according to the recent Mental Health Index produced by Total Brain and the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. “Managers should learn to recognize warning signs of employees who may be struggling: personality changes, irritability, fatigue, reckless behavior and weight loss are common symptoms of mental health disorders,” writes Alyssa Place.

Read more at Employee Benefit News (free registration)


 

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Daily Briefing – 235

NYS Vaccine Update

As of noon today, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,554,450 first doses and already administered 91 percent or 1,414,241 first dose vaccinations and 76 percent of first and second doses. Delivery of the week 8 allocation from the federal government begins mid-week.   Federal supply to the states will increase from 16 percent to about 20 percent as a direct allocation. The State will in turn increase supply 20 percent to local governments in the coming weeks.” 

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 219,420 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 147,854 have been administered (67%).


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday February 1st. 

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations Statewide:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital   =  8,067
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available = 34%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  930
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 42%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,892
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4,277
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 26%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  685
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  393
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 39%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .91
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.47%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.80

Useful Websites:


US Vaccination Progress

The US CDC reported 49.94 million vaccine doses distributed and 32.22 million doses administered. The US has administered 64.5% of the distributed doses, which is an increase of more than 10 percentage points from Friday’s update (54.1%). In total, 26.02 million people (approximately 7.9% of the US population) have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, and 5.93 million (1.8%) have received both doses. The US is now averaging 1.36 million doses administered per day, a 20% increase from the previous week. The breakdown of doses by manufacturer remains relatively even, with slightly more Pfizer/BioNTech doses administered (17.36 million; 54%) than Moderna (14.76 million; 46%).

Read more at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


Covid-19 Vaccine Supply to States to Rise Again, Biden Administration Says

White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said the Biden administration will increase its weekly vaccine supply to states by another 5% for three weeks, in addition to the 16% increase announced last week.

The total increase will bring the weekly vaccine supply for states to 10.5 million doses.  Mr. Zients also announced the first phase of a federal program starting Feb. 11 that will deliver vaccines directly to certain pharmacies.

Read more at the WSJ


Vaccines to Stress-Test Grocery Stores and Pharmacies

Some of America’s biggest retailers are preparing to take a central role in administering Covid-19 shots, hoping to avoid logjams and other complications that have slowed the vaccine rollout’s early days.

The job of vaccinating large swaths of the population will fall largely on retail pharmacies, with companies such as CVS Health Corp., Walgreens, Boots Alliance Inc., Walmart Inc.  and Kroger Co. saying they are prepared to give tens of millions of shots a month.

Read more at the WSJ


CBO Sees Rapid Growth Recovery

U.S. economic growth will recover “rapidly” and the labor market will return to full strength quicker than expected thanks to the vaccine rollout and a barrage of legislation enacted in 2020, according to a government forecast published Monday. Importantly, the CBO said its rosier projections do not assume any new stimulus, including President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan.

Gross domestic product, or GDP, is expected to return to its pre-pandemic size by mid-2021 and the labor force is forecast to rebound to its pre-pandemic level in 2022, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said.

Read More at CNBC


ISM: U.S. Manufacturing Sector Slows; Prices Paid by Factories Highest Since 2011

U.S. manufacturing activity slowed slightly in January, while a measure of prices paid by factories for raw materials and other inputs jumped to its highest level in nearly 10 years, strengthening expectations inflation will perk up this year. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Monday its index of national factory activity fell to a reading of 58.7 last month from 60.5 in December.

The survey’s manufacturing employment gauge rose to 52.6 from 51.7 in December. That raises hope for a rebound in hiring this month. Bottlenecks in the supply chain continued driving up costs for manufacturers. The survey’s prices paid index jumped to a reading of 82.1 last month, the highest since April 2011, from 77.6 in December.  That supports predictions of a pick-up in inflation in the coming months, though high unemployment could limit manufacturers’ ability to raise prices.

Read more at Reuters


Meanwhile Across the Pond… UK Factory Growth Slows as COVID and Brexit Combine – IHS Markit

The final IHS Markit/CIPS manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 54.1, higher than a preliminary reading for January of 52.9 but down from a three-year high of 57.5 in December, when factories rushed to beat problems when Britain’s new trade relationship with the European Union began on Jan. 1.  Smaller manufacturers were particularly hard-hit, the survey showed.

Input price inflation rose to a four-year high in January, reflecting raw material shortages and transport delays.

Read more at Reuters


Can The US Rise to Challenge of Workforce Reskilling?

America’s low investment in workforce development and its piecemeal approach to reskilling programs will make it even more difficult to lift people out of pandemic-related unemployment, Caroline Preston writes. Preston examines how businesses, government and education groups are reassessing workforce training in light of the pandemic and technological change.

Read more at The Hechinger Report


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 234

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday January 31st. 

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations Statewide:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital   =  8,003
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available = 33%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  933
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 42%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,903
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4,315
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 26%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  690
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  393
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 39%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .91
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 4.86%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.10

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update

As of noon Yesterday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,554,450 first doses and already administered 90 percent or 1,393,064 first dose vaccinations and 75 percent of first and second doses. Delivery of the week 8 allocation from the federal government does not begin until the middle of this week. Also, due to the  impacts from the Nor’Easter, the State rescheduled vaccine appointments at: SUNY Stony Brook, Jones Beach, Aqueduct Racetrack, the Javits Center, and the Westchester County Center. Every New Yorker with appointments at these sites scheduled for yesterday will receive an email or text message rescheduling their vaccination for later this week.

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 219,420 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 144,6993 have been administered (66%).


U.S. Vaccine Rollout Looks Bad—Until You Look Everywhere Else

Even though the vaccine rollout has been hugely disappointing, the U.S. is still, somehow, among the world’s leaders in getting shots into people’s arms.  The country is well on track to gain herd immunity this year, even as tales of long lines, supply-chain problems, line-skipping, and broken eligibility rules are inescapable.

Still, even with a botched rollout, the United States is vaccinating its population faster than most countries are disturbing. this raises the urgent question of how the process can be sped up, especially for the most vulnerable—and, just as important, how to bring the rest of the planet along, too. 

Read more at the Daily Beast


At-Home Covid-19 Tests -US Will Buy 8.5 Million Kits

The Biden administration said it has reached a $230 million deal with Australian diagnostics company Ellume USA LLC to produce at-home, over-the-counter Covid-19 tests.  The Food and Drug Administration previously authorized the test. So far, the FDA has cleared three Covid-19 tests that can be processed entirely at home, but Ellume’s is the only one that doesn’t require a prescription. None are widely available at this point.  The company is expected to produce 19 million tests a month by the end of the year Based on the agreement, 8.5 million tests will be guaranteed to the U.S. government.

For months, public health authorities have been calling for rapid, easy-to-use tests for Covid-19 that can be performed anywhere, both to enable people to quickly determine whether or not they have Covid-19 and to allow for wider screening. At-home tests are expected to be less precise than those done in a lab and will likely require a follow-up test in certain situations.

Read more at the WSJ


Republicans Propose $618 Billion Covid-19 Stimulus Plan

The GOP proposal, roughly one-third the size of Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan, would provide $300 a week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits through June, include $20 billion each for child care and schools, $50 billion for small-business relief and $160 billion for vaccines, testing and protective equipment, according to a summary of the proposal’s spending released Monday morning.

“It was a very good exchange of views. I wouldn’t say that we came together on a package tonight. No one expected that in a two-hour meeting,” Ms. Collins said outside the White House. After the meeting White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Mr. Biden and the Republicans had a productive discussion but emphasized that the president wants to move quickly with a large aid plan.


Acting Homeland Security Secretary Directs TSA to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19 Through the Transportation System

January 30th the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security announced the issuance of a National Emergency Determination to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This determination enables TSA to implement President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel. TSA will require individuals to wear a mask at TSA screening checkpoints and throughout the commercial and public transportation system. Imposing these proven public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 will mitigate the safety and security threat COVID-19 poses to transportation and contribute to the overall national effort to reduce the transmission of the disease.

Read more at DHS


OSHA Issues Updated COVID Guidance

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued stronger worker safety guidance in an effort to help employers better identify risks that could lead to transmission of the disease.  The guidelines say every employer should implement a COVID-19 prevention program. They list 15 potential instructions, including how to evaluate workplaces for hazards, isolate workers and clean and disinfect workplaces.

Like guidelines the Trump administration published last year, the new recommendations do not carry the weight of law. Worker advocacy groups have pressed the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration to implement something stronger.


NY DOL Indefinitely Cancels Unemployment Insurance Charges

Bond Schoeneck and King Report that New York State Department of Labor (DOL) Commissioner Roberta Reardon signed an Order last month to temporarily modify the unemployment benefit charging system and ease the burden for unemployment insurance charges incurred by all employers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Order provides that all unemployment benefits paid out to claimants since March 9, 2020 will be charged against New York State’s general unemployment insurance account and will not be attributed to individual employers until further notice. The Order also cancels all charges made against employers’ accounts since March 9 across the board—regardless of whether the employer pays unemployment insurance taxes based on an experience rating or uses the benefit reimbursement model.

Read more at BSK


Manufacturing Economy Report: 2020 GDP Worst Since the End of the Second World War

The U.S. economy grew 4.0% at the annual rate in the fourth quarter—a reading that was weaker than expected as consumer spending on goods was relatively flat with COVID-19 cases on the rise and renewed restrictions placed in many areas. Residential and nonresidential business spending, inventories and service-sector consumption were bright spots.

Real GDP shrank 3.5% in 2020, the largest annual decline in economic activity since 1946. The U.S. economy is expected to rebound in 2021, especially as more Americans get vaccinated and market participants resume some semblance of normalcy in their actions. The current forecast is for 4.8% growth in 2021.

Monday Economic Report 0201 2021


Semiconductor Sales Rise in 2020

Global sales of semiconductor chips rose 6.5% in 2020, as a surge in purchases towards the end of the year offset stifled demand during the first wave of covid-19. American firms made up 47% of the $439bn market, but just 12% of manufacturing capacity—many American companies now source chips from Asian factories.

Several semiconductor product segments stood out in 2020. Logic (USD 117.5 billion in 2020 sales) and memory (USD 117.3 billion) were the largest semiconductor categories by sales. Annual sales of logic products increased by 10.3% compared to 2019, while sales of memory products were up 10.2%. Sales of micro-ICs — a category that includes microprocessors — increased 4.8% to USD 69.6 billion in 2020. Sales of all non-memory products combined increased by 5.2% in 2020 and that category reached an all-time high in total sales.

Read more at Evertiq


Cohn Reznick on Loan Forgiveness for First-and Second-Draw PPP Loans: What’s New?

While many of the forgiveness rules released with the second wave of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are the same as they were for the first round, there are some key differences to be aware of when planning spending and forgiveness for your first- or second-draw loan.

In this video, CohnReznick PPP specialists Stephanie O’Rourk and Jeff Bobrosky break down what’s new and what hasn’t changed with regard to: 

  • Forgiveness forms
  • Types of forgivable costs
  • Limits on spending on payroll vs. non-payroll costs
  • The “covered period”
  • Owner compensation
  • Safe harbors from reductions in loan forgiveness

Watch, Read more at Cohn Reznick


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 243

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday January 30th. 

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations Statewide:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital   =  7,967
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available = 33%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  940
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 41%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,909
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4,365
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 26%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  700
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  422
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 38%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .91
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 4.44%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.10

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update

As of 11:00 AM Sunday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,554,450 first doses and has administered 88 percent or 1,361,212 first dose vaccinations and 73 percent of first and second doses. Delivery of the week 8 allocation from the federal government does not begin until the middle of this week. The past week New Yok received 410850 vaccines.  In the previous week New York received 678,500 vaccines. 

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 219,420 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 140,723 have been administered (64%).


US Vaccine Update

The US is continuing to adapt its SARS-CoV-2 vaccination strategy. Last week President Biden expressed confidence that the US will have enough supply to vaccinate 300 million individuals by the end of the summer.  Despite plans to scale up supply and distribution, the White House’s COVID-19 response team is calling for patience from the American people, noting that it will likely be months before everyone who would like a vaccine can get one. 

Even with increased supply and distribution, a number of barriers remain to vaccinating the US population. Notably, the absence of a federal vaccine stockpile has led states to reserve half of their allocation to ensure enough supply for second doses, which is slowing vaccination efforts. Until states can have confidence in longer-term planning for vaccine deliveries, many will likely continue to reserve doses.

Read more at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


Syringe Supply May Hamper Additional Doses

Some of the world’s largest syringe manufacturers warn that the demand for specialized syringes—such as the low-dead volume syringes—may soon exceed production capacity. Without the low-dead volume syringes, vaccinators may not be able to draw extra doses from each vial, which could reduce the number of available doses by 17%. I

Read more at Reuters


Cuomo: Limited NYC Dining Can Start February 14th, Wedding Receptions March 15th

Noting that that the restaurant industry is the lifeblood of New York City the Governor said that, if our current trajectory holds, New York City dining at 25 percent capacity can reopen on February 14th, Valentine’s Day.

Effective March 15th, marriage receptions can be held under limited state guidelines. Events must be approved by the local health department and there will be mandatory testing of all guests before an event. Capacity at weddings and receptions will be limited to no more than 150 people or no more than 50 percent of the venue’s capacity, whichever is lower. All patrons must be tested prior to the event. This upcoming change in guidelines follows the success of the Buffalo Bills program, which allowed fans to attend home games with mandatory testing. 

Read the press release


J&J Vaccine Provides Strong Shield Against Severe Covid

In a study of more than 44,000 people, the vaccine prevented 66% of moderate to severe cases of Covid-19, according to a company statement Friday. And it was particularly effective at stopping severe disease, preventing 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths.

Based on the result, J&J plans to file with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an emergency-use authorization next week. The drug giant’s top scientist said this month he expects a clearance in March, and that it would have product ready to ship then. The company didn’t specify how much of the vaccine would be available immediately, though it reaffirmed that the U.S. would receive 100 million doses by the end of June.

Read more at Bloomberg


AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 Vaccine Wins EU Green Light

The European Union’s drug regulator recommended the use of AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine in people 18 and older, clearing the way for a shot that EU officials have considered critical in turning the tide of the pandemic in the region.

But Friday’s announcement, from the European Medicines Agency, came with a warning that the shot hasn’t been tested enough in people over 55 to be certain the shot works in those age groups. Some European officials have reservations over using the vaccine—which AstraZeneca developed with the University of Oxford—to inoculate people over 65. The shot would likely work in the elderly, the EMA said, but there was limited data available. The result is that Friday’s decision might only slightly accelerate a vaccine rollout that has so far been slow.

Read more at the WSJ


The Latest Technologies to Keep Workers Safe From COVID-19

Outbreaks of the virus – or fear of exposure –  have forced  manufacturers to continue to rethink their processes. Industries ranging from automotive to food processing to consumer-packaged goods have had difficulty following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for social distancing, which is not always possible due to the close proximity of workers that may be required, leading to plant shutdowns and resulting in supply shortages and waste of essential products.

 Manufacturers, however, are learning to adapt to keep plants open and productive and workers safe by implementing new safety protocols. They’re also implementing technology specifically focused on curtailing COVID-19, such as Internet of Things (IoT) wearables, to help them keep track of unavoidable exposures among their workforces.

Read more at EHS Today


Survey: Vaccination Incentives Welcomed by US Workers

Fifty-three percent of US workers said employers shouldn’t mandate vaccinations and 43% would consider quitting if their employer did so, according to a Perceptyx survey. Despite this, 53% said they’d likely get a vaccination if available today, 56% would do so if encouraged by their employer, and 60% would if given an incentive of $100 or more by their employer.

The survey results indicate the challenges HR departments face in counseling executives on planning for workforce vaccination campaigns, but they may also show that a strategy centered around providing incentives for vaccination could connect with employees more broadly than a vaccination mandate.

Read more at HR Dive


Pelosi : House Will Take First Step Toward Passing More Covid Relief  Through Reconciliation

The House will forge ahead next week with the process that would allow Democrats to pass a coronavirus relief bill without Republican support, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday. Pelosi said the House plans to pass a resolution and send it to the Senate that will also have to pass a budget measure. This is the first step toward approving legislation through reconciliation. The process would enable Senate Democrats to approve an aid measure without GOP votes.

The speaker said she hopes Democrats can still win GOP support for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package as the White House holds talks with bipartisan lawmakers. But the House wants to prepare in case Democrats fail to win over Republicans skeptical of the price tag.

Read more at CNBC


Vaccine Passports: The Promise and Perils of Proving You’ve Had the Jab

The vaccination rollout has been rocky to say the least, bit it is enough of a start to invigorate a debate about whether people who have been vaccinated should be permitted to move around more freely.

To allow this, those who have been vaccinated need to be able to prove it. And thus has begun a discussion about whether certificates of immunity—or vaccination passports—should be introduced. Some tourism-dependent countries, such as the Seychelles, have already opened to people who have received a covid-19 jab. Opinions differ about how welcome the wider adoption of such a thing would be. Some think it is a quick route back to normal life. Others worry that it will be unfair and divisive.

Read more at The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 242

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday January 27th. 

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations Statewide:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital   =  8,520
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available = 32%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  1,046
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .005%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 40%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,877
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4,393
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 26%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  687
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  426
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 37%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .91
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.34%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.80

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update

New York’s Vaccine Tracker was, as of 9:00 p.m. last night, unchanged from Wednesday morning. the numbers below are the same as reported yesterday. 

Health care distribution sites have received 1,304,050 first doses and already administered 96 percent or 1,246,946 first dose vaccinations and 77 percent of first and second doses. The week 7 allocation from the federal government is in the process of being delivered to providers for administration. 

In the Mid-Hudson Region 179,475 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 126,191 have been administered (70%)


US Vaccine Update

The US has now administered more than half of the distributed vaccine doses. As of Tuesday the  CDC reported 41.42 million vaccine doses distributed and 22.73 million doses administered (54.9%%), including 2.71 million administered in long-term care facilities (LTCFs). In total, 19.25 million people have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, and 3.35 million have received both doses. The US is now averaging 1.13 million doses administered per day, an increase of 35% compared to this time last week. The breakdown of doses by manufacturer remains relatively even, with slightly more Pfizer/BioNTech doses administered (12.55 million; 55%) than Moderna (10.08 million; 45%).

Read more at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


Fauci: COVID Vaccines Can Be Easily Adapted to New Variants

Pfizer and Moderna’s current Covid-19 vaccines can be easily adapted to target new strains of the virus, something the drugmakers are already working on, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.

New strains of the coronavirus have emerged in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil that have given scientists some cause for concern. Although it’s no surprise the virus is mutating, researchers are quickly trying to determine what the changes might mean for recently developed lifesaving vaccines and treatments against the disease.

Read more at CNBC


N.Y. Severely Undercounted Virus Deaths in Nursing Homes, Report Says

In the 76-page report released by the attorney general, Letitia James, a survey of nursing homes found consistent discrepancies between deaths reported to the attorney general’s investigators and those officially released by the Health Department. The attorney general accused the Cuomo administration of undercounting coronavirus-related deaths at nursing homes by as much as 50 percent, according to a report released on Thursday.

The count of deaths in state nursing homes has been a source of controversy for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state Health Department officials, who have been sensitive to any suggestion that they played any role in the number of nursing home deaths, which the state put at more than 8,500 but the AG said could be as high as 13,000. 

Read more at the New York Times


Gross Domestic Product Rose 4.0% in Q4

Fourth-quarter U.S. gross domestic product—the value of all goods and services produced across the economy, adjusted for seasonality and inflation—grew at a 4% annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. That joined a record 33.4% annual rate of growth in third quarter to further reduce losses from earlier in the pandemic.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic output, slowed considerably in the fourth quarter compared with the prior quarter. Continued strength in corporate and residential housing investment, however, has helped set the economy up “for what could be a really good 2021,” said James Knightley, an economist at ING Financial Markets LLC.

Read more at the WSJ


U.S. Unemployment Claims Fell Last Week

New jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, dropped to 847,000 in the week ended Jan. 23, down from a revised 914,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday. New York had 64,793 initial claims. Only to Illinois (108,808) and Kansas (82,944) had more. 

Weekly numbers can be volatile, particularly around holidays. The 4-week moving average was 868,000 last week, the highest level since September, and an increase of 16,250 from the previous week’s revised average.

Read more at The Hill


US Employers are Positive About Productivity, Raises

An Indeed survey finds 92% of US employers say they think their workers have “pulled together to weather the crisis,” 73% are optimistic about workforce productivity and 54% are hopeful about increasing employee salaries this year. In addition, 27% of employers intend to “hire at higher volumes” in 2021 and 46% say their leadership teams have “greater awareness” regarding “the challenges of balancing caregiving” with work.

Read more at TechRepublic


Boeing Reports Record Annual Loss – Delays 777X

Boeing Co. reported its largest-ever annual loss and took a big financial hit on its newest jetliner, signs that the Covid-19 pandemic is compounding the aerospace giant’s problems.

The plane maker said the new 777X, its largest passenger jet, would be at least three years late for airline customers, the latest Boeing plane to hit trouble following the grounding of the 737 MAX after two fatal accidents. Quality problems with its popular 787 Dreamliner jet have halted deliveries since October.

Read more at Reuters


Biden Suspends Oil and Gas Leasing in Slew of Executive Actions on Climate Change

Biden’s orders direct the secretary of the Interior Department to halt new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters, and begin a thorough review of existing permits for fossil fuel development.  
In addition to the pause on leasing, Biden will direct the federal government to conserve 30% of federal lands and water by 2030 and find ways to double offshore wind production by that time.

The series of actions kick off the president’s agenda to reduce the country’s emissions and establish stricter targets under the Paris climate accord, the landmark agreement by nearly 200 nations aimed to mitigate climate change. 

Read more at CNBC


Biden Signs Executive Orders to Reopen Obamacare Enrollment

Biden signed an executive order for the Department of Health and Human Services to reopen insurance enrollment on HealthCare.gov from Feb. 15 through May 15, giving a new coverage opportunity to Americans who lost their jobs and employer-based insurance during the pandemic. The annual open enrollment for the plans ended in December in most states.

Nearly 9 million uninsured Americans could get free or subsidized health insurance through the special enrollment period, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health research organization.

Read more at USA Today


 

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Daily Briefing – 241

Vaccine Update

 As yesterday morning, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,304,050 first doses and already administered 96 percent or 1,246,946 first dose vaccinations and 77 percent of first and second doses. The week 7 allocation from the federal government is in the process of being delivered to providers for administration. 

In the Mid-Hudson Region 179,475 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 126,191 have been administered (70%)


Orange Zone and Most Yellow Zone Restrictions Lifted

NYS is making modifications to the micro-clusters. All Orange Zone restrictions, and some Yellow Zone restrictions, have been lifted statewide—including all cluster zones in Western New York. The Yellow Zones that remain are in Newburgh and in New York City (two in the Bronx, one in Queens, and one in Washington Heights).

Yellow Zone restrictions, which include mandatory weekly testing of a portion of students and faculty at schools, remain in place in those zones. Statewide limits remain the same—a 33 percent cap on gym occupancy, a limit on private gatherings of 10 people, a 50 percent cap of occupancy in retail establishments— masks are still required in public when social distancing is not possible to maintain. 


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday January 26th. The Governor also announced additional cases of the UK variant have been found in Long Island, New York City, Westchester, Saratoga, Tompkins, Niagara, Onondaga, Essex and Warren Counties, bringing the statewide total to 42 cases. 

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations Statewide:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital   =  8,771
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available = 32%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  1,056
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .005%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 40%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,900
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4,393
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 26%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  695
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  445
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 37%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .91
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.44%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 6.50

Useful Websites:


 

 

NAM Launches “This is Our Shot” Vaccine Resource Page

The NAM and The Manufacturing Institute are launching the “This Is Our Shot” project today, an initiative to encourage manufacturing team members, their families and their communities to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The project is live at NAM.org/ThisIsOurShot, where our members can find the latest resources on the importance of getting vaccinated, vaccine safety, vaccine distribution and how to talk about vaccines. T It includes six main components: (1) science-based messaging research; (2) emergency industry convening and education, such as webinars; (3) an online vaccine information hub; (4) PSA campaign; (5) Yellow and Red Ribbon initiative (for vaccinated individuals to show their peers they’re a part of the fight); and (6) a rapid response media and digital campaign.

Visit the site at NAM.org


Fed Interest Rates

In a policy statement released after a two-day meeting, The Federal Reserve said “The pace of the recovery in economic activity and employment has moderated in recent months, with weakness concentrated in the sectors most adversely affected by the pandemic.”

The Fed has set short-term interest rates near zero, launched a bond-purchase program of $120 billion per month, and said it will keep stimulative measures in place until its goals of lower unemployment and 2% inflation are achieved. They think the economy will bounce back later this year as vaccines are more widely distributed and begin to bring the deadly coronavirus pandemic under control. That, in their estimation, would allow restaurants, hotels, airlines and other businesses to begin moving back toward operating at full capacity.

Read more at the WSJ


Biden Orders OSHA to Issue New COVID-19 Guidance

One day after he was inaugurated, President Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise to labor unions by ordering the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to begin the process of developing COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) for employers.

If OSHA chooses to issue ETS—something that it is generally expected to do—the standards would take effect immediately and last no longer than six months, unless they are eventually adopted as a permanent standard

Read more at EHS Today


House Democrats Introduce $15 Minimum Wage Measure

Democrats introduced legislation in the House Tuesday that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15, but Republicans are expected to oppose the bill. A 2019 Congressional Budget Office analysis found that the increase would ultimately move 1.3 million Americans above the poverty level, but it also would result in an equal number of job losses.

Read more at NBC News


December Unemployment Up in Hudson Valley

Unemployment inched up in all Hudson Valley counties in December 2020, the State Labor Department reported.  New York State’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 8.4% in November to 8.2% in December 2020.

Unemployment Rate Rank Releasable DEC 2020


Stewart Cargo Tonnage Reaches New Levels

In the first 10 months of 2020, the most current data compiled by the Port Authority, cargo tonnage has skyrocketed, said Michael Torelli, the airport’s business director, who briefed the Stewart Airport Commission virtually on Tuesday. “Through October we have already broken any record that we had at Stewart for tonnage with still two months to go,” he said.  When you add up cargo and mail shipped, a total of 47,788 tons have flowed through Stewart, the most ever in a 10-month period.

Passenger traffic, meanwhile, is down 86.7 percent.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


U.S. Consumer Confidence Edges Higher

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index increased to a reading of 89.3 this month from 87.1 in December. The slight gain likely reflected nearly $900 billion in additional pandemic relief provided by the government at the end of December, which lifted consumers’ near-term expectations.

The survey’s present situation measure, based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, fell to a reading of 84.4 from 87.2 in December. The expectations index based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions increased to 92.5 from a reading of 87.0 in December, suggesting households foresee conditions improving in the near term. The cut-off date for the survey was Jan. 14. 

Read more at Reuters


Cutting-Tool Orders Took Another -10% Drop

U.S. machine shops and other manufacturers purchased $151.3 million worth of cutting tools during November 2020, dropping -9.9% from the October purchase volume and -20.0% from the November 2019 level. For the 11 months from January to November 2020, U.S. cutting-tool orders totaled $1.7 billion, or -22.7% less than the comparable figure for 2019.

The data is compiled by AMT – the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology and the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute in their jointly issued Cutting Tool Market Report. The CTMR presents cutting-tool consumption as an indicator of overall manufacturing activity, as cutting tools are used in production of components used by virtually every industrial sector.

Read more at American Machinist


Hudson Valley Counties Authorize Higher-Risk Sports to Proceed, Effective Feb. 1st

The Hudson Valley region has reviewed the updated “Interim Guidance for Sports and Recreation during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” dated January 22, 2021 published by New York State. Following discussion with the New York State Association of County Health Officials, regional County Executives, and area public health officials, the Hudson Valley region will authorize “Higher-Risk” sports — both scholastic and non-scholastic — to proceed, effective February 1st, 2021, at the sole discretion of the governing school district or non-scholastic athletic organization. These activities include, but are not limited to, football, wrestling, ice hockey, rugby, basketball, contact lacrosse, volleyball, martial arts, and competitive cheer/dance. In accordance with the state guidance, county health departments in the region will also monitor whether there has been a more-transmissible variant of COVID-19 identified in the area, as well as the percent of local residents that test positive.

Read more and view the guidelines


 

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Daily Briefing – 240

Vaccine Update- Allocation to States Will Rise 16 Percent

The total week 6 federal allocation of vaccine delivery to providers was complete Sunday. Delivery of the week 7 allocation from the federal government does not begin until the middle of this week. As of 11am yesterday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,304,050 first doses and administered 93 percent or 1,210,339 first dose vaccinations.  President Biden announced yesterday that allocations to states will go up 16 percent and that this allocation will be consistent for the next three weeks.

In the Mid-Hudson Region 179,475 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 122,017 have been administered (68%)


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, January 23rd.

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations Statewide:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital   =  8,831
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Population =  .005%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available = 32%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  1,071
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .005%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 40%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,878
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4,274
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 26%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  689
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  418
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 37%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .91
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 6.79%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 8.10

Useful Websites:


Moderna on Track to Deliver 200 Million Doses of its COVID Vaccine to U.S. Government by End of June

Moderna Inc. said Tuesday it is on track to deliver 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. government by end-March and to deliver 200 million doses by end-June. The Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech said it has already delivered more than 30 million doses of the vaccine to the U.S. government. About 10.1 million doses of the vaccine have by now been administered in the U.S., the company said, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The U.S. government has an option to purchase up to 300 million doses of the Moderna vaccine. The vaccine has also been authorized for use in Canada, Israel, the European Union, the U.K. and Switzerland. 

Read more at MarketWatch


Biden Sets Sights on 1.5 Million Vaccinations a Day

President Joe Biden said he was hopeful that the U.S. could ramp up its capacity to administer 1.5 million shots daily. That would be a significant jump from the policy of 100 million shots in 100 days that he made a tenet of his nascent administration. “We’re trying to get out a minimum of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days, and move in the direction where we’re well beyond that in the next 100 days, so we can get to the point where we reach herd immunity in a country of over 300 million people,” he said.

By the end of former President Donald Trump’s time in office, the nationwide rate has hovered around that million-shots-a day mark.

Read more at Politico


FEMA Supports Vaccine Distribution: COVID-19 Response Update

FEMA is helping identify and fill resource gaps, using federal funding to accelerate state vaccination efforts and working to establish vaccine sites, in alignment with President Joseph R. Biden’s COVID-19 response plan. FEMA established a new Interagency Vaccination Task Force in FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center and is deploying FEMA staff to vaccination sites in support of state requests. This new task force is developing data dashboards to track personnel movement and vaccine distribution.

Read more at FEMA


Coronavirus: Vaccine Supply Fears Grow Amid EU Export Threat

The European Union threatened to block exports of AstraZeneca’s covid-19 vaccine manufactured within its borders. The British drug firm has told the EU it will not be able to supply all of the doses it originally promised because of production problems. The bloc’s health commissioner called that “unacceptable”. The EU’s vaccination program lags others in the rich world; it has yet to approve the AstraZeneca jab.

Responding to the EU’s comments, the UK’s Minister for Covid Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi said on Tuesday that supplies were “tight” and warned against what he called “the dead end of vaccine nationalism”, adding: “No-one is safe until the whole world is safe.”

Read more at the BBC


Meanwhile…

Germany’s Handelsblatt reported that AstraZeneca’s vaccine is barely (as in 8%) effective for people over the age of 65. The company has strenuously denied this, and scientific experts appear to be on its side. The British government is reportedly furious at the slur on its national champion, and the German government has denied the report that said its officials came up with the 8% estimate; they suggest somebody got confused. Quick takeaway: wait for better data before getting alarmed, and let’s see what the European Medicines Agency decides this week about the AZ jab.

Read more at ABC News


IMF Raises Global Economic Growth Forecast but Says Outlook Remains Uncertain

Global output is projected to grow 5.5% this year, up from the IMF’s October forecast of a 5.2% increase. Last year’s estimated contraction of 3.5% was smaller than October’s forecast for a 4.4% contraction. China was the only major economy to grow last year, expanding by 2.3% amid effective containment measures and forceful economic support, the IMF said.

The stronger-than-expected recovery masks significant disparities between high-skilled workers and their less-educated counterparts, the IMF’s chief economist, Gita Gopinath, said in a December interview. Similarly, rich countries are faring better than poor ones as the global pandemic nears its first anniversary.

Read more at the WSJ


Congress Renews Employee Retention Tax Credit

The ERTC was slated to expire on Dec. 31—but Congress extended the ERTC until June 30, 2021. The expansion also increased the credit percentage from 50% to 70%; increased the amount of qualifying wages per employee from $10,000 for the year to $10,000 per quarter; changed the gross receipts test from a 50% quarterly decline when compared to the prior-year quarter to a 20% decline; and increased the full-time employee threshold from 100 to 500 employees.

Read more at the IRS website


Johns Hopkins: US Has Passed Peak Cases

It is becoming more clear that the US has passed a peak in terms of daily incidence, and the current average is less than what it was prior to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The peak in terms of reported incidence was 248,706 new cases per day on January 8. In addition to daily incidence, we are beginning to observe an associated decrease in hospitalizations at the national level.

This trend is evident at the regional and state levels as well. All 4 regions have reported decreasing daily incidence since approximately January 8-10, including a further decrease in the Midwest, which has reported a steady decline in daily incidence since mid-to-late November.  Looking at mortality at the state level, 21 states (plus Washington, DC) are reporting decreasing daily mortality over the past week, compared to 11 with increasing mortality and 18 holding relatively steady (-10% to +10%).


 

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Daily Briefing – 239

Vaccine Update

The total week 6 federal allocation of vaccine delivery to providers was complete Sunday. Delivery of the week 7 allocation from the federal government does not begin until the middle of this week. As of 11am yesterday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,304,050 first doses and administered 88 percent or 1,144,070 first dose vaccinations.

In the Mid-Hudson Region 123,150 FIRST doses have been distributed, 100,677 administered (82%)


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, January 23rd.

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations Statewide:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital   =  8,730
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available = 32%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  1,030
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 40%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,867
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4,295
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 26%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  685
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  415
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 37%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .91
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.47%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 6.20%

Useful Websites:


The U.S. Economy Likely Grew 4.1% at the End of 2020

The Bureau of Economic Analysis will release the first estimate of fourth quarter real GDP on Thursday, with 5.5% annualized growth expected. Overall, the U.S. economy should decline 3.4% in 2020, but with 4.3% growth forecasted in 2021, according to current estimates.

The U.S. fourth-quarter report on gross domestic product, due on Thursday, will still offer a useful diagnosis of the economy. It will tell us which parts have mostly recovered and which are still ailing.

Read more at MarketWatch


Manufacturing Economy Report: Strong Numbers in the US and Europe

The IHS Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI grew at the fastest pace on record in January, making the sector a continued bright spot in the U.S. economy. New orders, exports and output expanded at the best rates since mid-2014, with employment rising at paces not seen since January 2019. Respondents remained extremely upbeat in their outlook for the coming months, even as input costs rose at the strongest rate since May 2018. In Europe, manufacturing activity also stayed strong, even with some easing in January. 

Monday Economic Report 0125 2021


Biden Signs Buy American Order for Government Procurement

President Biden signed an executive order Monday imposing tougher rules on government procurement practices to increase purchases of products made in the U.S., a step toward fulfilling his Buy American campaign pledge to strengthen domestic manufacturing.  The new policies will include tightening the government procurement rules to make it harder for federal agencies to purchase imported products, revising the definition of American-made products and raising local-content requirements. The executive order also ensures that small and midsize businesses will have better access to information needed to bid for government contracts.

While their styles are different, Mr. Biden’s Buy American initiative has similarities to Mr. Trump’s domestic preference policy, which was part of his America First policy that featured tariff wars with China and other trading partners.

Read more at the WSJ


Yellen Confirmed as Treasury Secretary 

The Senate on Monday voted overwhelmingly to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary, putting her in a pivotal role to shepherd the flagging economic recovery as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on the country. Yellen’s first task will be to work with Congress to advance President Joe Biden’s plan for a new $1.9 trillion economic-stimulus package, amid concerns among some lawmakers about the growing debt.

The full Senate vote was 84 to 15, making Yellen the first woman to head the Treasury. She received support from most Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Read more at CNN


New Guidance on NY COVID-19 Sick Leave

Attorneys at Bond Schoeneck and King write that the New York State Department of Labor issued updated guidance regarding the use of COVID-19 sick leave. This guidance clarifies certain issues and provides new obligations for employers. 

The NY COVID-19 Sick Leave Law was enacted on March 18, 2020, and entitles employees to paid or unpaid sick time (depending on employer size) when they are subject to an order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the department of health, local board of health or any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such order. All leave provided under this law is in addition to any leave required by the New York Paid Sick Leave Law. 

Read more at BSK


Germany Urges Taiwan to Help Ease Auto Chip Shortage

Germany has asked Taiwan to persuade Taiwanese manufacturers to help ease a shortage of semiconductor chips in the auto sector which is hampering its fledgling economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Automakers around the world are shutting assembly lines due to problems in the delivery of semiconductors, which in some cases have been exacerbated by the former Trump administration’s actions against key Chinese chip factories.

The shortage has affected Volkswagen, Ford Motor Co, Subaru Corp, Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co Ltd, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and other car makers.

Read more at Reuters


Samsung Considers $10 Billion US Chipmaking Plant, Sources Say

Samsung Electronics Co. is considering spending more than $10 billion building its most advanced logic chipmaking plant in the U.S., a major investment it hopes will win more American clients and help it catch up with industry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

Samsung is taking advantage of a concerted U.S. government effort to counter China’s rising economic prowess and lure back home some of the advanced manufacturing that over the past decades has gravitated toward Asia. The hope is that such production bases in the U.S. will galvanize local businesses and support American industry and chip design. Texas, Arizona and New York are reportedly being considered as possible locations.


WHO Signs Vaccine Deal with Pfizer 

The World Health Organization has signed an agreement with Pfizer that will provide the WHO’s COVAX initiative with 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccine for distribution in poor countries. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says vaccines could help bring the rising global case count — which is nearing 100 million — under control, but says that vaccine hoarding by wealthy countries will undermine efforts to end the pandemic.

Read more at CNBC 


Manufacturing Surge Strains Supply Chains

Consumer spending on manufactured products during the pandemic has meant strong demand but also supply shortages for many materials, reflected in indicators such as scrap steel prices. This has meant many manufacturers need more time to deliver products than during summer 2020.

Some manufacturers have stockpiled materials to guard against a lack of availability in the future. They are counting on being able to quickly recover the added cost of holding more inventory than usual with increased sales.

Read more at the WSJ


 

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