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Daily Briefing – 152

Record-High Number of COVID-19 Tests Reported to New York State, Weekend Numbers Remain Below One Percent

In a press release Saturday Governor Cuomo announced that a record-high number of tests were reported Friday – 110,444. The State’s infection rate remains below one percent at 0.89 percent.  In Sunday’s release the number of tests were 100,355 with 862 positive.


CDC Reverses Course on Testing for Asymptomatic People Who Had Covid-19 Contact

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says that close contacts of people with Covid-19 should be tested, regardless of whether they have symptoms — reversing controversial recommendations it made last month, reportedly over the advice of agency scientists.

CDC’s testing guidelines now bluntly counsel people who have been within six feet of a person “with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection” for at least 15 minutes to get screened. “You need a test,” reads the latest version of the document, released Friday.


Manufacturers Are Scaling up Fast Virus Tests

US manufacturers could be producing 100 million fast coronavirus tests each month by the end of 2020. These antigen tests will be less accurate than current tests but are designed to allow workplaces and schools to test quickly.

Makers of the four recently-approved antigen tests have the capacity to make around 40 million per month, but expect to more than double that by year end, according to a Reuters analysis that includes proprietary figures shared by companies. Unlike the $100 and up molecular diagnostics currently dominating U.S. testing that must be sent to a lab and often take several days for results, antigen tests can cost as little as $5. They can be performed anywhere and produce results in minutes.

Read more a Reuters


Stimulus: White House backs $1.5 Trillion Package

“I agree with a lot of it,” the president said in a press conference Wednesday when asked about a $1.5 trillion stimulus proposal unveiled by a bipartisan group of House members this week. “I think the things I don’t agree, we can probably negotiate. But I think we’ve made some progress over the last week.” (Earlier on Wednesday, the president urged the Republican Party to “go for the much higher numbers.”)

On Thursday morning, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Fox News that President Trump was “certainly willing to embrace the 1.5 trillion-dollar number that was put out in the last day or so.” At another point, Meadows added: “At least let’s use this $1.5 trillion new recommendation as a foundation for new negotiations.”

Read more at Yahoo Finance


US DOL Releases Leaver Related Coronavirus Public Service Announcements

the Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor last week launched a public awareness campaign concerning workplace rights amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  The campaign includes a series of public service announcements with information about the new paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave benefits available under the FFCRA and other worker protections.  

View the PSAs


National Geographic: Millennials and Gen Z are Spreading Coronavirus—But Not Because of Parties and Bars

When it comes to Millennials and Generation Z—defined by the Pew Research Center as people born after 1982 and 1996 respectively—stories of crowded beach gatherings and house parties where guests try to infect each other with COVID-19 have made headlines. But those stories obscure the more complicated circumstances of people shaped by economic and societal inequality. An August 18 briefing from the World Health Organization announced that people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are now driving the virus’s spread, but that’s because most are just trying to do their jobs.

“In the past few decades, we’ve seen a shift in the economy toward more service jobs,” including retail, food service, hospitality, and childcare, says Sharon Sassler, a professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University. “Young people in those service jobs are now at a greater risk of being exposed.” What’s more, emerging research is confirming what many experts have observed with natural disasters: economic vulnerability severely impairs a person’s ability to cope with catastrophe, and this burden falls heavily on younger generations.

Read more at National Geographic


Liberty Street Economics: Did State Re-Openings Increase Consumer Spending?

In March, most states imposed severe restrictions on households and businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19. This was followed by a gradual loosening of restrictions (“reopening”) starting in April. Taken together, these measures raise the question of how closures and reopenings affect consumer spending. The authors investigate how much consumer spending increased after the reopenings but do not assess whether or how states should loosen or tighten restrictions.

Short Answer – Yes.

Read more at the NY Fed’s Liberty Street Economics


The Economist: Revisiting the 90 Percent Economy

Calculations by Goldman Sachs, a bank, suggest that social-distancing measures continue to reduce global gdp by 7-8%—roughly in line with what The Economist argued in April, when we coined the term “90% economy” to describe what would happen once lockdowns began to be lifted. Yet although the global economy is operating at about nine-tenths capacity, there is a lot of variation between industries and countries. Some are doing relatively—and surprisingly—well, others dreadfully.

Read more at The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 151

Cuomo Covid Update: 3 deaths, 0.98 Percent Positive Test Rate

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Thursday announced that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate remained below one percent. Yesterday, a total of 896 new cases were reported – a 0.98 positive test rate. There were 3 deaths reported. Other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.


U.S. Unemployment Claims Held Steady at 860,000 Last Week

Weekly initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 33,000 to a seasonally adjusted 860,000 in the week ended Sept. 12, the Labor Department said Thursday. The number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs, which cover most workers, decreased by 916,000 to about 12.6 million for the week ended Sept. 5.

After sharply falling later in the spring and early summer, new applications have largely held steady since early August. The declining number of people receiving state benefits likely reflects that workers are finding new jobs, or are being recalled to old ones. But it also shows some workers who applied for benefits in March have hit the six-month limit set in many states.

Read more at the WSJ


Hudson Valley Region Employment Numbers

For the 12-month period ending August 2020, the private sector job count in the Hudson Valley fell by 98,300, or 12.0 percent, to 720,700.  Job losses were greatest in leisure and hospitality (-41,300),

Manufacturing in the region employed 4,400 fewer people than August 2019 a decline of 10%.  

The August 2020 over-the-year job losses continue to reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.  At 720,700, private sector job count has reached its lowest August level since 1999.

Press Release #1 August 2020


Survey Shows Ongoing Financial Insecurity for New Yorkers

Nearly 30 percent of all New York households expect a loss of employment income within the next four weeks, according to new data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Among adult New Yorkers pursuing a postsecondary education, 83 percent said their plans for classes this fall have been canceled or changed significantly.

Visit the Survey site


DiNapli: State Tax Revenues Continued Declines in August – State has $4 Billion CARES Act Balance

Total tax receipts of $4.3 billion were $219 million or 4.8 percent below those of August 2019. For the first five months of the fiscal year, tax revenues have totaled $3.2 billion below the previous year. These latest figures again highlight the severe budgetary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting difficult choices for policy makers if the State does not receive significant additional relief from the federal government.

Total State spending through August was $2.5 billion below the same period in 2019. Year-over-year declines in Local Assistance disbursements totaling $1.9 billion include $591 million in Medicaid (reflecting a lower State share offset in part by a higher federal share), $368 million in education and $321 million in transportation.

The State’s General Fund balance was $12.8 billion as of September 11, an increase of $34.6 million from a week earlier. Among other factors contributing to that balance are $4.5 billion in proceeds from short-term borrowing that is anticipated to be repaid before the end of the fiscal year, and more than $1.9 billion in delayed payments to local governments, nonprofit organizations and other entities.

The federal CARES Act provided $5.1 billion to New York State through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. As of September 11, the State’s CARES Act Fund held a balance of just under $4 billion. A total of $1.1 billion had been spent as of that date.

Read More at the Comptroller’s website


Empire Center: New York State Has Dug Itself Into Its Deepest Hole On Record

The Center’s E.J. McMahon writes: “In the pre-dawn hours of April 3—with much of the state’s economy shut down in response to the pandemic, state and local tax receipts drying up, and the COVID-19 death toll climbing—the New York State Legislature completed passage of a budget that authorized state operating funds spending of more than $103 billion, a slight spending increase over fiscal 2020.

Within hours, Cuomo held a news conference in which he praised the budget as “an extraordinary accomplishment” — and, in almost the next breath, acknowledged that the state faced a revenue shortfall of $10 billion, which he blamed on the coronavirus crisis.”

Read more at the Empire Center


“Clear as Mud” – What Can Employers Do if Workers Refuse a Vaccine?

Employers could face a legal quandary if — as a COVID-19 vaccine is released — they attempt to mandate vaccines, since 35% of Americans say they would refuse to get an FDA-approved, free shot, according to a Gallup poll. Lieser Skaff Alexander attorney Alissa Kranz says HR’s path is as “clear as mud” and warns of state-specific termination laws and the potential for workers’ compensation claims if they have a bad reaction to a vaccine.

Read more ant HR Executive


OSHA Issues Citations for COVID-19 Violations

On Sept. 12, OSHA announced a number of citations to companies across the countries due to violation of COVID regulations. Violations included failing to ensure employees wore proper protective equipment, the general duty clause for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious harm, and respiratory protection standards.

Read more at EHS Today



CDC Director: Face Masks May Provide More Protection than Coronavirus Vaccine

Face coverings are “the most powerful public health tool” the nation has against the coronavirus and might even provide better protection against it than a vaccine, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told lawmakers Wednesday. 

“We have clear scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defense,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said. “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine.”  A 50% effective vaccine would be roughly on par with those for influenza but below the effectiveness of one dose of a measles vaccination, which is about 93% effective, according to the CDC.  “If I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to protect me. This face mask will,” Redfield told lawmakers while holding up a blue surgical face mask.

Read more  at CNBC

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Daily Briefing – 150

Back Under 1 Percent

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday, September 15th. The State’s infection rate dropped to 0.87% after increasing slightly on Monday to one percent. Governor Cuomo stressed that “we don’t want to see our infection rate go over one percent for any period of time.” He emphasized that New Yorkers must keep wearing our masks, washing our hands, and remaining socially distant.

Read the press release


OECD Boosts Economic Outlook

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Wednesday boosted its global economic outlook while warning policy makers not to tighten policy too quickly. The OECD said global gross domestic product will shrink by 4.5% this year, and rise 5% next year. 

The OECD credited the improvement to better-than expected outcomes for China and the U.S. in the first half of this year, and a response by governments on a massive scale. But the Paris-based organization said output in many countries at the end of 2021 will still be below the levels at the end of 2019, and well below what was projected before the pandemic.

Read more at MarketWatch


Fed Signals Interest Rates to Stay Near-Zero Through 2023 – Revises Economic Forecast Upward

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday kept rates steady at near-zero, suggesting that interest rates will likely stay there through the end of 2023. 

Policymakers also upgraded their outlook on the U.S. economy’s emergence from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering more optimistic projections on where unemployment and economic growth will end the year 2020. In June, the Fed forecast a 6.5% contraction in real GDP and an unemployment rate of 9.3% by the end of 2020. But an August jobs report showing a better-than-expected 8.4% unemployment rate suggesting that the economic recovery is proceeding faster than originally expected.

Updated forecasts have the Fed now seeing 3.7% contraction in GDP with the unemployment rate reaching 7.6% by the end of the year

Read more at Yahoo Finance


U.S. Retail Spending Grew at Slower Pace in August

U.S. consumers increased retail spending in August for the fourth straight month but at a slower pace than earlier in the summer, as the economy tried to recover with the coronavirus pandemic still under way.  Retail sales—reflecting what households spent at service stations, stores, restaurants and online—rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in August from July, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. August marked the third month that retail spending was above prepandemic levels.

August is typically a big month for back-to-school shopping, and spending on electronics rose 0.8% with many school districts teaching classes online. Clothing purchases rose 2.9%, while furniture spending increased 2.1% from July.

Read more at the WSJ


Home-Builder Confidence Soars to All-Time High

Home builders are more confident about the state of their industry than ever before as foot traffic of prospective buyers continues to improve, according to research from a trade group released Wednesday.

The National Association of Home Builders’ monthly confidence index rose five points to a reading of 83 in September. The index reading was the highest on record in the 35-year history of the data series, surpassing the previous month’s record high. Index readings over 50 are a sign of improving confidence. The index had fallen below 50 in April and May as concerns about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic mounted.

Read More at MarketWatch


More From Home Builders Survey: Prospective Home-Buyers Are Shifting to Suburbs 

Evidence of a “suburban shift” in consumer home-buying preferences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in the second-quarter National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Home Building Geography Index (HBGI).

Small metro suburbs accounted for the fastest growing geographical areas for single-family construction during the second quarter, up 10.6 percent on a four-quarter, moving-average basis. This was followed by small towns (9.3 percent), small metro core areas (7.5 percent) and exurbs (5.6 percent).  Of the seven regional geographies, only small metro-area suburbs posted a year-over-year gain in this quarter, while the others registered declines, the biggest of which occurred in large metro core areas.

Read more at NoVa.com


Juggling Safety in a Circus of Roles: National Safety Survey 2020

So much can change in a year. Last year’s National Safety Survey examined the difference in titles and responsibilities safety professionals have. This year, the dynamics of health and safety within an organization have rapidly evolved since the novel coronavirus has brought illness prevention to the forefront of every conversation.

The year 2020 has brought about an unprecedented set of challenges to the safety industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has required professionals to focus their efforts on illness prevention to ensure business continuity while balancing ongoing “traditional” tasks.

Read more at EHS Today


Johns Hopkins: College Towns the New Hotspots

On a per capita basis, college towns are accounting for many of the country’s most severe outbreaks. According to data published by USA Today on September 11, 19 of the top 25 local outbreaks in the US were in college towns. Harrisonburg, Virginia—home to James Madison University—topped the list with more than 1,500 cases per 100,000 population over the previous 2 weeks. The school suspended in-person classes and sent students home in order to reduce the number of people on campus after detecting more than 500 cases within the first week of classes.

Universities continue to issue suspensions and other punishments for students who violate university COVID-19 policies or public health guidelines.  Transmission around college campuses is not limited to students and staff. In Oxford, 26 residents in a long-term care facility for veterans “died in connection with” COVID-19 in the past month. Although it is likely not possible to link students directly to individual cases and deaths in the local community in most instances, transmission between the university population and local public is inevitable.

Read more at Johns Hopkins


I-9 Flexibility Continued for Another 60 Days, Until November 19, 2020

Days before the upcoming deadline, ICE has announced it is extending the remote virtual verification option for completion of I-9 employment verification an additional 60 days (instead of just 30 days), until November 19, 2020, due to continued precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pursuant to the original guidelines for virtual verification, eligible employers may continue to inspect Section 2 documents without an actual in-person physical inspection (e.g., over video link, fax, or email). As before, the policy applies only to employers and workplaces that are in fact operating remotely. 

Read more at Jackson Lewis


 

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Daily Briefing – 149

Six States Removed From Restricted List

The Governor issued a press release yesterday announcing six states (California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio) have been removed from the mandatory quarantine requirements for travelers entering New York. The Northern Mariana Islands have also been removed. Puerto Rico has once again met the metrics to qualify for the quarantine requirements for travelers. That leaves 27 states and 3 territories on the restricted list.

The release also provides an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday, September 14th. Of the 73,678 test results reported to the State, 1.0% (766) were positive.


Bipartisan U.S. Lawmaker Group Unveil $1.5 Trillion COVID-19 Aid Bill

The Problem Solvers Caucus, including 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans, has been working to find common ground on coronavirus relief for the past six weeks. Representative Tom Reed, the Problem Solvers’ Republican co-chairman, said Republican leaders and the White House were “positive” about the plan. “They want to get a deal,” he told reporters.

The new bipartisan House proposal includes another round of direct checks to Americans, $500 billion for state and local governments, and jobless benefits, with spending lasting through January’s presidential inauguration.

Read more at Reuters


NY Fed Empire Manufacturing Survey: Activity Expanded at a “Solid Clip”

Business activity expanded at a solid clip in New York State, according to firms responding to the September 2020 Empire State Manufacturing Survey.

  • The headline general business conditions index climbed thirteen points to 17.0.
  • New orders increased modestly, and shipments grew significantly.
  • Unfilled orders continued to decline.
  • Inventories edged slightly lower, and
  • Delivery times were somewhat longer.
  • Employment was again little changed this month, though the average workweek picked up.
  • Input prices increased at a faster pace than in August, and selling prices continued to increase modestly.

Looking ahead, firms remained optimistic that conditions would improve over the next six months.

Read the full survey report


Fed: Manufacturing Production Increases in August

U.S. factory output increased solidly in August, though momentum is slowing as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

The Federal Reserve said on Tuesday that manufacturing production rose 1.0% last month after surging 3.9% in July. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast manufacturing output would rise 1.2% in August. Overall industrial output was up 0.4% in August, also down from July but the fourth straight month-over-month gain.

Read more at Reuters


China’s Economy Picks Up Speed

China’s economic recovery accelerated in August, with retail sales, the last holdout among the economy’s major components, returning to pre-coronavirus levels by showing their first month of growth this year.

Other major indicators, including factory production, investment and property activity, all gathered pace, China’s state-run statistics bureau said Tuesday, signaling a robust rebound for the world’s second-largest economy. The main official measure of joblessness, the urban surveyed unemployment rate, edged down to 5.6%, the lowest since it stood at 5.3% in January, when the coronavirus began to affect hiring. 

Read more at the WSJ


Machine Tool Orders Dip in July

Machine tool orders declined in July but showed signs of stabilizing, AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology said today. Orders totaled $337.5 million in July, down 1.7 percent from an adjusted $343.5 million the month before.  The July figure also was 14 percent lower than the $391.4 million in orders for July 2019.

Read more at SME.org


Beyond Mere Legal Compliance

Jackson Lewis Attorney Caroline M. DiMauro writes that while companies should always focus on the legal risks associated with their employment decisions, often it is the less obvious, non-legal issues and the way an employer treats its employees that lead to claims.

For example, in manufacturing where production schedules are critical and staffing often already lean, employers may be less inclined to be flexible in allowing workplace accommodations relating to COVID-19. Since March and now, as schools are back in session, businesses are inundated with requests for work from home, schedule modifications, or time off as employees deal with childcare issues, online schooling, and as COVID-19 exposure and infection incidents rise. Often, these employers may be quick to respond, “We don’t do that,” “That’s not our policy,” “We can’t allow that,” or “If we let you take time off, everyone will want to take off.”   

Read more on how you can “avoid harsh results”


MTA: Riders Face $50 Fine for Not Wearing Face Covering

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that as of Monday, September 14, all customers who refuse to wear a mask on public transit will be subject to a $50 fine. The new measure follows Governor Cuomo’s executive order directing the MTA to develop a plan to bolster mask compliance across public transit. MTA officials say that mask usage is already above 90 percent across New York City Transit subways and buses, the Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


Bottom Story – Cuomo “Would Not Ban Trick or Treaters”

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced he would not ban trick-or-treaters from going door to door this Halloween during an interview with News 12 Long Island with Tara Joyce.

“I would not ban trick-or-treaters going door to door. I don’t think that’s appropriate. You have neighbors – if you want to go knock on your neighbor’s door, God bless you and I’m not going to tell you not to. If you want to go for a walk with your child through the neighborhood, I’m not gonna tell you youcan’t take your child to the neighborhood, I’m not going to do that – I’ll give you my advice and guidance and then you will make a decision what you do that night.”

Read the transcript


 

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Paid Sick Leave Laws: What’s Next and What You Need to Know

 

The PSLL, codified as section 196-b of the N.Y. Labor Law, allows employees to begin accruing sick leave hours as of September 30, 2020 and utilize sick leave as of January 1, 2021. The Law, which covers all employers in New York State, gives employees at least 40 hours of paid or unpaid sick leave up to a maximum of 56 paid hours, depending on the size and net income of the employer. The PSLL does not prohibit or prevent an employer from providing an amount of sick leave, paid or unpaid, in excess of the Law’s requirements.

Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions’ very own, Ed Kowalski and Tom Lemmey, presented a webinar to 50 of our members demonstrating the policies to this new law.

Topics include:

  • Accrual & Drop-In Models
  • Legal requirements based on company size and revenue
  • Qualifications of full-time and part-time employees
  • The importance of maintaining an updated Handbook

To view the presentation slides, click here

To view the Ethan Allen HR Newsletter Employment Advisory 9.8.20, click here

To view the NYSPSL Client Questionnaire, click here

For any questions, email Ed Kowalski at edward@eaworkforce.com and Tom Lemmey at tom@eaworkforce.com

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Daily Briefing – 148

OECD: G20 Q2 GDP Declines by 6.2%

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published data on national economies for G20 countries in Quarter 2 of 2020. As a whole, the G20 economy contracted by 6.9% from Quarter 1. This contraction is an all-time record and more than 4 times what was observed during the peak of the 2009 global financial crisis. Of the G20 countries, China was the only one to report economic growth (+11.5%). Excluding China, the combined economy of the rest of the G20 contracted by 11.8%. Notably, India’s economy contracted by more than 25%, and the UK’s contacted by more than 20%. Across all OECD countries, the combined economy contracted by 10.6%. 

See the report at OECD.org


Press Release: Infection Rate .92% 

The Governor issued a press release this afternoon detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, September 13th. New York’s infection rate was 0.92%, the 38th straight day below one percent. Governor Cuomo reminded New Yorkers we have made progress but the pandemic is not over and it is important to continue to remain New York tough and to follow all state and local guidance.

Read the press release


Cuomo Announces $9 Million Awarded as Part of New York’s  Workforce Development Initiative

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 66 businesses, schools, and community-based organizations across the state have been awarded nearly $9 million as part of the State’s historic Workforce Development Initiative. The grants are federally funded and will support job training opportunities across the State for more than 3,600 New Yorkers adapting to the post-COVID economy. 

As New York has moved forward through the reopening process, the New York State Department of Labor has been working to connect every job seeker in New York with the right job opportunity. DOL has been encouraging both businesses in need of workers, and New Yorkers in need of a job, to take advantage of their Jobs Express website.


Monday Economic Report: Manufacturers’ Outlook Rebounding, Small Business Optimism Improving

In the latest NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, 66.0% of respondents reported a positive outlook for their company in the third quarter, up from 33.9% in the second quarter, which had been the worst reading since the Great Recession. However, the outlook measure remains below the historical average of 74.4%. Weak domestic demand continued to be the top primary business challenge.

Meanwhile the Small Business Optimism Index from the National Federation of Independent Business rose in August above the all-important threshold of 100, which is traditionally consistent with small business growth. Despite some progress, small business owners continued to cite lingering challenges, with an insufficient workforce once again the top “single most important problem.”


AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Moves Ahead In the UK, Remains Halted in US

U.S. trials of AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate will be on hold until at least midweek, pending a Federal Drug Administration investigation into the side effect that caused trials to be halted earlier this month, Reuters reported Monday, citing sources familiar with the matter. AstraZeneca on Saturday said U.K. clinical trials had resumed. The vaccine candidate’s trials were halted after a reported side effect in a U.K. patient. Reuters said new-patient enrollment and other steps in the U.S. trial are being rescheduled until at least midweek and it was not clear how long federal regulators would take to complete its investigation.

Read more at MarketWatch


JP Morgan Tells Trading-Floor Staff to Come Back to the Office

JPMorgan Chase executives told senior employees of the bank’s giant sales and trading operation that they and their teams must return to the office by Sept. 21, according to people familiar with the matter. the move bucks a trend by other large organizations that are giving employees more time to return. 

Trading chief Troy Rohrbaugh and Marc Badrichani, the bank’s global head of sales and research, delivered the message in conference calls Wednesday morning, the people said. The two executives said employees with child-care issues and medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to coronavirus complications can continue working from home, the people added.

Read more in the WSJ


Savvy Employers are Investing in Opportunistic Hiring Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Some talent acquisition experts and HR leaders agree that with millions of new entrants into the job market, employers that are focused on recruiting will be well-positioned to fill critical roles with suddenly accessible top talent at all levels, from executives to front-line workers.

“There’s more available talent than there’s ever been,” says Elizabeth Birrell, head of insight and talent analytics at Armstrong Craven, a talent mapping and executive search firm in Manchester, England. “Millions of people will be without jobs, and millions of jobs without people. Talent teams that can be decisive and invest in high-performers have unprecedented access to people from hard-hit industries who find themselves looking for work, sometimes for the first time in years.”

Read more at SHRM


Federal and State Civil Immunity from COVID-19 Lawsuits

Michael D. Shalhoub and Steven S. Vahidi of the Claims Journal write, that business leaders say liability immunity is necessary in order to protect against abusive and meritless lawsuits. The stakes are high. Big and small businesses alike are targets for opportunistic lawsuits. Just the mere threat of litigation may cause many businesses to remain closed or delay reopening because few businesses can afford the costs of defending a lawsuit following weeks of business disruption amid the sudden economic recession.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers across the country are already recruiting individuals to sue businesses by pouring millions of dollars into advertising.”

Read more in the Claims Journal


 

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Daily Briefing – 147

Extra $300 Unemployment Checks Start Arriving This week in New York

Unemployed New Yorkers who qualify will get an extra $300 a week as part of the Lost Wages Assistance program, according to an announcement Thursday from the New York Department of Labor. The extra money is only available to people who are out of work due to Covid-19. Roughly two million New Yorkers are pre-qualified for benefits and will start receiving payments next week, according to the Department of Labor.

On Aug. 8, President Donald Trump signed an executive order setting aside $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to help Americans who have lost wages due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been up to individual states to administer those benefits.

Read more at Syracuse.com


37th Day Under 1 Percent…Barely

The Governor issued a press release Sunday detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, September 12th. New York’s rate of positive tests was below one percent for the 37th straight day. Of the 72,668 test results reported to the State, 0.99% (725) were positive. The 725 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bring the statewide total to 444,365 confirmed cases in New York State. 

Read the press release


U.S. Producer Prices Rise

Prices for U.S. producers increased slightly more than expected in August. The U.S. Department of Labor announced a 0.3% increase in the producer price index for final demand – above the 0.2% economists anticipated.

Producer prices were led by a 0.5% increase in services. Nearly 20% of the rise in services was attributed to a 1.1% increase in margins for machinery, equipment, parts, and supplies wholesaling. Prices for goods edged up 0.1%.  Excluding the volatile food, energy and trade services components, producer prices rose 0.3% in August, advancing by the same margin for three straight months. In the 12 months through August, the core PPI gained 0.3%. The core PPI edged up 0.1% on a year-on-year basis in July.

Read more at Reuters


Consumer Prices Too

The consumer-price index—which measures what consumers pay for everyday items including groceries, clothing and electricity—climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in August, the Labor Department said Friday. That marked the third straight month of gains for consumer prices, after sharp declines at the pandemic’s onset.

Excluding the often-volatile categories of food and energy, so-called core prices increased 0.4%. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 0.3% increase for both the overall consumer-price index and the core index.

Read more at the WSJ


OECD Report: The Economic Impacts of Learning Losses

A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that the worldwide school closures in early 2020 led to losses in learning that will not easily be made up for even if schools quickly return to their prior performance levels. These losses will have lasting economic impacts both on the affected students and on each nation unless they are effectively remediated.

While the precise learning losses are not yet known, existing research suggests that the students in grades 1-12 affected by the closures might expect some 3 percent lower income over their entire lifetimes. For nations, the lower long-term growth related to such losses might yield an average of 1.5 percent lower annual GDP for the remainder of the century.

Read the report at OECD.org


Your Need For Skilled Workers – Please Complete this Short Survey

The Council of Industry is working with the Manufacturers Alliance of New York and SEMI, an association compromised of electronics manufacturing and the design supply chain to further develop and implement programs that will match the demand of manufacturers for skilled workers with supply of  people seeking meaningful careers.

In order to measure the need for skilled labor, we are asking you to please complete a shore ten (10) minute survey.

The information collected will assess workforce needs, both regionally and statewide. It will provide data necessary to substantiate the Alliance’s requests for new funding opportunities. Once acquired, these funds will be used to meet our objective of providing skilled workers for you and other New York State manufacturers.

Take the Survey (Manufacturers Only Please)


The Southern Hemisphere Skipped Flu Season in 2020

Although 2020 has been a difficult year in many ways for Aussies and Kiwis, it has not necessarily been bad for their physical health. This winter only around 0.4% of people in the two countries said they were suffering from flu-like symptoms, down by four-fifths compared with last year. Other countries in the southern hemisphere have reported similar slowdowns in the spread of influenza.

The cause for this steep decline in infections is clear. Governments all around the world have enacted costly lockdowns to fight the novel coronavirus. In doing so, not only have countries in the southern hemisphere slowed the spread of covid-19, but they also appear inadvertently to have stopped the proliferation of another deadly disease: the flu.

Read more in The Economist


Robots Addressing Safety Issues Receive Green Light

The ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute announced the selection of nine technical projects that will be led by members of its national consortium to help with COVID-19 recovery. Special funding for this project call was provided by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 

These projects address the needs of the manufacturing industry and the Department of Defense (DoD) in response to the national emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The specific applications of the selected projects have been identified by the Department of Defense as areas of urgency, such as diagnostics, medical care, medical countermeasures, non-medical personal protective equipment (PPE), and other supplies. The projects are explicitly linked to COVID-19 mitigation, demonstrating an ability for the United States and the Department of Defense to prevent, prepare for, and respond to this and future pandemics.

Read more and view the nine projects at EHS Today


Designing a vaccine against covid-19: Cautious optimism and lessons from HIV

Jerome Kim is the director-general of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) and an international expert on the evaluation and development of vaccines. He wrirtes in The Economist that “The vast majority of the 12,000,000 people infected with covid-19 have had mild or asymptomatic infection (80%), 15% were hospitalized, around 2-3% died. The remainder have protective immune responses that control and eliminate infection, and—we think—protect against re-infection. ‘Immunity’ against re-infection is now supported by three studies in monkeys. Like hepatitis A, measles, and polio, covid-19 is defeated by infection-induced antibodies and killer cells, and these responses protect against re-infection. While we do not fully understand covid-19 immunity, early observations provide hope that a vaccine may be practicable.”

Read more at the Economist


Compressing the Vaccine Development Process 

Historically, the average timeframe to bring a vaccine to market is measured in years (often ranging between 10 to 16 years) not months. And, with Covid-19, the global population is putting pressure on the industry to buck the system and create a market-ready vaccine in 18 months or less. 

To a large extent, government funding has provided much needed fuel for companies to work towards compressing each stage, often conducting sequential stages in parallel. For instance, running phase two and three trials simultaneously, while also building out manufacturing lines in existing facilities to be able to produce vaccines while they are still in clinical trials.

Read more at IndustryWeek


 

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Daily Briefing – 146

Cuomo: Over 9 Million COVID-19 Tests Conducted to Date In New York State

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced over 9 million diagnostic tests for COVID-19 have been conducted to date in New York State, and that the number of positive cases yesterday — 0.98 percent — was below one percent for the 34th day in a row. The Governor also confirmed 757 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 441,911 confirmed cases in New York State.

Read the press release


NAM/ Industry Week Q3 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey

Manufacturers reported a boost in optimism—up from 33.9% in Q2, the lowest reading since the first quarter of 2009. The survey also found significant use of many of the federal liquidity programs the NAM advanced early in this pandemic to support manufacturers. The data shows:

  • 72 percent of manufacturers that faced negative cash flow impacts due to COVID-19 used the Paycheck Protection Program, Main Street Lending Program or other liquidity program.
  • Nearly 92 percent of manufacturers that used federal liquidity programs said those funds were helpful in keeping their business afloat, retaining workforce or meeting other necessary expenses.
  • 66 percent of manufacturers are positive about their company’s outlook, a great improvement from the Q2 results. Still, the outlook remains below the historical average of 74.4%, and,
  • 62% of manufacturers expect their firm’s revenues will not get back to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2021 or later.

See the full survey results


JOLTS Report -US Job Openings Beat Forecasts, Over 400k Mfg Job Openings

US job openings increased by 617,000 to 6.6 million through the month, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, data published Wednesday. The reading beat all estimates from economists surveyed by Bloomberg and marked a third-straight month of improvement. According to the survey, the manufacturing industry saw 408,000 manufacturing job openings in July—an increase of more than 60,000 jobs since the prior month and the best result since February, before widespread COVID-19 restrictions came into effect.

Some of the survey’s data revealed weak points in the labor market’s recovery. The pace of hires sank to 4.1% in July from 5.1%, bringing it barely above pre-pandemic levels as millions of Americans remained jobless. The overall number of hires fell by roughly 1.2 million to 5.8 million.

Read more at Business Insider


Unemployment Claims Held Steady Last Week

The number of people seeking and collecting unemployment benefits has remained at historically high levels in recent weeks, a sign the labor-market recovery is losing steam six months after the pandemic struck the U.S.  Unemployment claims were unchanged at 884,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. Claims fell steadily for weeks after hitting a peak of about 7 million in March, but the pace of descent has slowed and claims remain above the prepandemic record of 695,000.

Continuing claims increased to about 13.4 million at the end of August.

Read more at the WSJ


Global Economic Report: Manufacturing Activity Gains Steam Worldwide Even as Challenges Persist

The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI expanded in August at the fastest pace since November 2018, and the sector continues to bounce back even as challenges persist worldwide due to COVID-19 and the severe worldwide recession. In August, sentiment among the top 10 markets for U.S.-manufactured goods improved in every economy except France. Six markets expanded — the same pace as in July and up from one (China) in May.

Global Manfuactuirng Economic Report 0910 2020


More EEOC COVID-19 Guidance: Testing, Screening, Managers, Confidentiality, and Telework

Jackson Lewis reports that since March of this year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released guidance on a near-monthly basis addressing various FAQs concerning COVID-19 issues. The guidance has focused on disability-related inquiries, confidentiality, hiring, and reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as issues under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). In its latest FAQ update posted yesterday, the EEOC covers some more practical questions employers have on several COVID-19 issues, such as testing, telecommuting, and sharing employee medical information.


Don’t Let New York’s Sick Leave Law Catch You Off Guard

New York State’s recently enacted paid sick leave law requires all private New York employers to provide their employees with paid (or unpaid) sick leave in varying amounts. The law takes effect on September 30, 2020, and employees begin accruing leave on this date, but employers are not obligated to allow employees to use accrued leave until January 1, 2021. Employers must ensure that their paid time off policies incorporate the requirements of this new law and allow employees to take all the sick leave to which they are entitled.  


NYSPHSAA Moves Football, Volleyball, Competitive Cheer Seasons to March

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced on Wednesday that “high-risk” football, volleyball, and competitive cheer fall seasons will be postponed until March 1, 2021. “We’ve spent two days speaking with nearly 500 athletic directors across the state and it’s clear that administering high-risk fall sports during the COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge for our member schools,” said NYSPHSAA executive director Dr. Robert Zayas. 

The football, volleyball, and fall competitive cheer seasons will be referred to as “Fall Sports Season II” in March.

Read more at Spectrum News


Dutchess County Ranked Among Top Ten in Nation for Innovative Technology Use During COVID-19 Response

Dutchess County Government is the number two ranked mid-size county government in the nation for its use of technology in the 2020 Digital Counties Survey conducted by the Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo). Dutchess County’s ongoing commitment to use technology to best serve residents was amplified in the efficient and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring residents had up-to-date information and the County’s workforce could continue serving residents despite the challenges of stay-at-home directives.

The Council of Industry has been proud to work with Dutchess and the other county governments in the region in their COVID response. 

Read the press release here


 

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Daily Briefing – 145

Cuomo: 33rd Straight Day with COVID-19 Infection Rate Below 1 Percent

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced the 33rd straight day that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate has been below 1 percent. Tuesday 0.91 percent of tests reported to the state were positive. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

The Governor also announced that indoor dining in New York City will be allowed to resume beginning September 30th with a 25 percent occupancy limit. All restaurants that choose to reopen will be subject to strict safety protocols, including temperature checks, contact information for tracing, face coverings when not seated and other safety protocols. Bar service will not be permitted, and restaurants will close at midnight.


Senate’s Pared Down COVID Relief Package

Senate Republicans unveiled a pared-down coronavirus relief on Tuesday, as they returned to Washington after the August recess. Negotiations over the next round of aid have been stalled for weeks on Capitol Hill and there is still little evidence of bipartisan progress. 

The proposed legislation likely will include the following elements:

  • A federal unemployment benefit
  • Another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding
  • More funding for COVID-19 testing and for schools
  • Liability protections

 The package is expected to come in at around $500 million, which is far short of the $1 trillion bill Republicans supported at the end of July and even further short of the $3 trillion bill the House approved. The Senate will consider the bill this week.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Biden Proposes a Tax Penalty for Offshoring and New Credits for Manufacturing Investments

The proposal has three chief components:

  • ​An offshoring tax penalty​: This part calls for a 28% corporate tax rate and an additional 10% “offshoring penalty surtax” on profits for manufactured goods and for services such as call centers, if American companies produce them overseas and then sell them back to the U.S. market. According to a briefing paper from the Biden campaign, ​“companies will pay a 30.8% tax rate on any such profits.”
  • A “Made in America” tax credit​: A 10% advanceable tax credit for companies on a broad range of investments designed to create manufacturing jobs in the United States. Eligible projects include revitalizing closed or closing factories, increasing domestic production, modernizing manufacturing facilities, expanding manufacturing payrolls and any expense or investment related to onshoring jobs.
  • Elimination of offshore tax loopholes: Biden’s plan would close several tax loopholes in the 2017 tax law that permit U.S. companies to shield their foreign profits from full taxation. 

Read more at CNBC


AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Study Put on Hold Due to Suspected Adverse Reaction in Participant in the U.K.

A large, Phase 3 study testing a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford at dozens of sites across the U.S. has been put on hold due to a suspected serious adverse reaction in a participant in the United Kingdom.

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca, a front runner in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, said in a statement that the company’s “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.” In a follow-up statement, AstraZeneca said it initiated the study hold. The nature of the adverse reaction and when it happened were not immediately known, though the participant is expected to recover, according to an individual familiar with the matter. 

Read more at STAT


EU Enters Final Talks for BioNTech-Pfizer Vaccine

The European Commission said on Wednesday it had entered final stage talks with BioNTech-Pfizer to purchase up to 300 million doses of a potential vaccine against COVID-19.

EU supply would be produced by BioNTech’s sites in Germany and Pfizer’s manufacturing site in Belgium, with deliveries starting by the end of the year, the companies said in a statement. The proposed agreement with the European Commission would be the largest initial order of doses for Pfizer and BioNTech to date.

Read more at Reuters


Regeneron Expects to Report Biomarker Data for COVID-19 Therapy by End of September

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said on Wednesday it expects to report biomarker data for its COVID-19 antibody cocktail by the end of this month.

The drugmaker last month struck a partnership with Roche AG to make and supply the COVID-19 antibody cocktail, which is being tested on several hundreds of patients after it prevented and treated the respiratory disease in animals. Regeneron’s cocktail, REGN-COV2, contains an antibody made by the company and another isolated from recovered COVID-19 patients.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Ford Wants to Add Data Services to Commercial Vehicles

Ford CEO Jim Farley says Ford can unlock revenue by offering data-based services with its commercial vehicles much like John Deere, from which Ford has hired a key artificial intelligence executive Alex Purdy.  At Deere, Purdy led efforts to deliver artificial intelligence (AI) on the farm through smart equipment and founded John Deere Labs to help build a “sticky” relationship with customers. Deere’s aftermarket parts and services business accounted for about 15% to 20% of $35 billion in sales last year.

“So now the total addressable market, instead of being just new-vehicle sales, is the entire process — parts, service, accessories, connected services,” says Ford commercial vehicle executive Ted Cannis.

Read more at Reuters


 

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Daily Briefing 144

Four States Added to Incoming Travel Advisory – 2 Territories Removed

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced four additional states—Delaware, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia—meet the metrics to qualify for New York State’s COVID-19 travel advisory. Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have been removed. The advisory requires individuals who have traveled to New York from areas with significant community spread to quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.


Cuomo: We Need to be “Vigilant and Smart” Post Labor Day

New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate has been below 1 percent for 32 straight days.  “We’re entering a new, different post-Labor Day phase. After Labor Day, people start to get back to work, schools are opening, activity is increasing, colleges are opening, you see traffic starting to increase. So we have to keep that in mind as we move forward and we need to remain vigilant and smart so that we don’t backslide” Governor Cuomo said. 

The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.


K12 Reporting Site, Dashboard Will Go Live Later Today

Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order on Tuesday to ensure that all K-12 school districts in New York State will report COVID-19 testing data. The Executive Order ensures that all schools, local health departments, labs, and testing sites report the data to that state, which will help keep parents, teachers, and students apprised of the situation in their district and region. 

The dashboard can be accessed here.


NAM Economic Report – Mfg Jobs, Mfg Activity, Mfg Construction and More

Manufacturers added 29,000 workers in August, slowing but extending the 41,000 gain in employment in July. Despite increases over the past four months, the labor market remains well below its pre-COVID-19 pace, with manufacturing employment down 720,000 since February. As such, sizable labor market challenges continue despite recent progress. The current outlook is for manufacturing employment to bounce back to roughly 12,350,000 workers by year’s end, up from 12,132,000 in August but down from the pre-pandemic pace of 12,852,000 in February.

Monday Economic Report 2020-0908


Updated US DOL COVID-19 and the Family and Medical Leave Act FAQs

The Department of Labor updated its FAQs for issues relating to COVID-19 and the Family and Medical Leave Act. As a reminder, not all employee leave taken during the pandemic will be considered an eligible reason for leave under the FMLA.

Read more at the US DOL


Vacation Hot Spots: Managing Employee Travel During a Pandemic

Council of Industry Associate Member and friend Jackson Lewis writes that as states reopen and travel restrictions are lifted, how can manufacturers manage the risk of employees returning from vacation travel and potentially putting other employees or customers at higher risk of catching COVID-19?

Manufacturers should review their current safety and leave policies and expect that more employees may travel to COVID-19 “hot spots.” Employers should consider The following options:

Read more at Jackson Lewis


MFG Day Will Go Virtual October 2 (and the Whole Month of October) 

In advance of this year’s MFG Day, on Oct. 2, The Manufacturing Institute held a webinar to help manufacturers plan virtual events. A few tips are below:

  • Provide a welcome message from senior leadership.
  • Offer an overview of the importance of manufacturing to the economy in your community.
  • Lay out what your company does and give participants a sense of its career offerings.
  • Film a video tour of your facility to show viewers the technology and tools you use every day.
  • Record interviews with employees or a conversation with a panel to allow young people to hear directly from the people who work at your business.
  • Create a survey to track how the event changes your audience’s perceptions of manufacturing—for example, asking participants about their interest in a manufacturing career both before and after your presentation.

A recap of the webinar can be found here.


Factory Owners Hiking Pay to Lure Workers 

U.S. manufacturing expanding in August at its fastest pace since late 2018. That has employers racing to bulk up staff to keep production rolling and satisfy demand. Pay increases are surfacing against a bleak backdrop. While joblessness has fallen from its April peak above 14 per cent, it’s still at a high level.

The labor-shortage paradox comes even as manufacturing employment is still down around 720,000 workers since before the pandemic started in February, said Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers. It suggests the ample supply of available labor hasn’t necessarily cured the nation’s skills gap, where workers don’t have the qualifications employers need, and the pandemic probably will speed up the use of robotics that’s already under way, Moutray said.

Read more at Bloomberg


 

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Daily Briefing – 143

Cuomo Announces Online COVID-19 Testing Dashboard for Schools and another one for SUNY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that New York state will launch an online dashboard to track COVID-19 tests in school districts. Districts will be required to provide the State Department of Health with daily data on the number of people who tested positive for the coronavirus in each of their schools. They must also provide a link to the dashboard on their websites. The requirement will take effect on Tuesday.

The Governor and SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras Monday announced the launch of a SUNY system-wide COVID-19 case tracker dashboard. The centralized dashboard will provide real time, up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases, testing, and quarantine and isolation space availability across SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities to more efficiently monitor, respond to, and contain the virus.


 

Positive Covid 19 Test Rate Below 1 percent for 31 Days, 2 Deaths Sunday 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced for one month, or 31 days, that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate has remained below 1 percent. Yesterday, 0.88 percent of tests reported to the state were positive. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

“Thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers, our state has now gone a full month with our COVID infection rate remaining below one percent,” Governor Cuomo said.


Testing SWAT Team Deployed to Oneonta

In response to a high number of positive test results in Oneonta the State deployed a testing SWAT team. Over the past 5 days, 1,965 tests were performed which found 91 positive cases. Test results have shown the increase in cases is connected to spread among college students with 85 of the 91 positives cases being individuals aged 18-24. In this age bracket, 738 individuals were tested and 11.5 percent were positive. Outside of this age bracket the positivity rate was 0.48 percent. The State, in partnership with local health departments, is utilizing contact tracing for positive cases.

Read the press release


U.S. Unemployment Rate Fell to 8.4% in August as Hiring Continued

Employers added 1.4 million jobs last month, helping push down the unemployment rate to 8.4% from 10.2% in July, Friday’s Labor Department report said. The jobless rate’s decline—it has dropped from near 15% in April at the beginning of the pandemic—put it below the peak from the 2007-2009 recession. That puts unemployment in line with past major recessions, though it is significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels. 

Manufacturers added 29,000 jobs in August continuing gains from the previous 3 month but are sill more than 700,000 below pre-pandemic highs.

Read more at the Reuters


Pelosi, Mnuchin Agree to Avoid Government Shutdown in October

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have agreed to work to avoid a government shutdown right before the election, and not let the stalemate over virus-relief legislation hold up a vital stopgap spending bill.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress, seeking to avert a politically damaging government shutdown just before the Nov. 3 election, had been planning a bill to extend funding at least until mid-November. There was a risk, however, that either side would try to leverage the need to pass such a stopgap to achieve their goals for an economic stimulus.

Read more at Bloomberg


Stimulus Pessimism

In the same article Bloomberg reports that Congressional Democrats and the Trump administration have been at an impasse over stimulus since talks broke off on Aug. 7. The sides are about $1 trillion apart, with Democrats pushing for $915 billion in aid to states and localities and insisting on $600 per week federal supplemental unemployment benefits.

During the Tuesday call, Mnuchin and Pelosi weren’t able to bridge that gap — even after the Treasury chief had signaled fiscal aid was urgent for parts of the U.S. economy. Pelosi later pointed out that Democrats had already pared their earlier $3.4 trillion demand down to $2.2 trillion.

Negotiations are expected to resume today.

Read more at Bloomberg


Virtual Classrooms – Studies Find Significantly Reduced Test Scores in Every Subject

The Economist Intelligence Podcast discusses the millions of schoolchildren heading back to classes, many of them online. They examine the evidence on virtual learning and how it is creating a “learning gap” and deepens inequalities.

Listen Here


Vaccine Trial Results Could Come Early

Pfizer says that the company could have results from its phase three trial as soon as October.

The company has already been enrolling thousands of participants in its late-stage trial, and the results will determine whether Pfizer submits the drug for regulatory approval by the FDA. Ultimately, the company hopes to include about 30,000 people around the world in the trials.

The Trump administration has agreed to pay Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, nearly $2 billion to develop and deliver 100 million doses of their vaccine if it is successful. Even if the drug is found to be safe and effective, we’ll need to clear some major hurdles like access and distribution. 

Read more at CNBC


Russian Vaccine Shows Signs of Immune Response

Russian scientists have published the first report on their coronavirus vaccine, saying early tests showed signs of an immune response.  The report published by medical journal The Lancet said every participant developed antibodies to fight the virus and had no serious side effects.

Two trials of the vaccine, named Sputnik-V, were conducted between June and July. Each involved 38 healthy volunteers who were given a dose of the vaccine and then a booster vaccine three weeks later. The participants – aged between 18 and 60 – were monitored for 42 days and all of them developed antibodies within three weeks. Among the most common side effects were headaches and joint pain

Experts say the trials were too small to prove effectiveness and safety.

Read more at the BBC


Covid-19 Vaccine Developers Prepare Joint Pledge on Safety, Standards

A number of companies developing coronavirus vaccines intend to put forward a public pledge that they will not seek government approval unless they’ve concluded their shots are completely safe.

A draft of the rare joint statement, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, commits all of the companies, including Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Moderna Inc., to ensuring that the safety of vaccinated people is their top priority. Two people familiar with the matter told the Journal that the pledge could be issued as soon as early next week. 

“We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the Covid-19 vaccines that may ultimately be approved and adherence to the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which they are evaluated,” the draft statement says.

Read more at the WSJ


 

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Daily Briefing – 142

Cuomo:  Casinos Can Open at 25% Capacity 

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that casinos and video lottery facilities across the State, as well as malls in New York City will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday, September 9th. Casinos must have enhanced air filtration systems in place, will be limited to 25% of maximum occupancy, masks will be required, and six feet of social distancing for all machines must be in place. Table games will not be allowed unless physical barriers are installed and approved by the Gaming Commission. No food or beverage service will be permitted on the casino floor. Additional staff will also be required to ensure social distancing and cleaning requirements are maintained. 

Read the casinos press release


27 Straight Days Under 1% Positive Tests

The Governor also issued a press release detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from September 2nd. New York’s rate of positive tests was below one percent for the 27th straight day. Of the 88,981 test results reported to the State, 0.99% (889) were positive.

In response to a spike in cases in Western New York, the State sent a Department of Health testing SWAT team to the region and established eight new testing sites. The SWAT team has performed 6,385 tests and identified 266 positive cases. The State, in partnership with local health departments, is utilizing contact tracing for positive cases.

Read the press release


Factory Orders Climb 6.4% in July in Third Straight Increase

U.S. factory orders rose 6.4% in July for a third straight increase, reflecting a rebound in manufacturing after the economy reopened. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 6.2% gain. New evidence from a closely followed ISM survey of manufacturing executives, what’s more, points to another increase in August. Orders for durable goods made to last at least three years climbed a revised 11.4% last month, up slightly from an initial 11.2% reading. Orders for non-durable goods such as clothing and food products rose a slower 1.8%. Manufacturers have rebounded faster than the much larger service side of the U.S. economy, though sales, production and employment still haven’t returned to pre-crisis levels.

Read more at MarketWatch


U.S. Jobless Claims Fell Last Week

New applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, a possible sign of a slowly improving labor market and the impact of a new measurement method. Weekly initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 130,000 to a seasonally adjusted 881,000 in the week ended Aug. 29, the Labor Department said Thursday. The number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs, which cover most workers, decreased by 1.24 million to about 13.3 million for the week ended Aug. 22.

The latest data is in line with a general trend of improvement since spring, but also reflects a new methodology to adjust for seasonal factors. Under the new method, updated seasonally adjusted data should be more in line with the unadjusted data, J.P. Morgan economist Daniel Silver said. Unadjusted claims have most weeks been lower than the more widely reported adjusted figure since early March.

Read more in the WSJ


Giroir: $5 rapid Covid-19 Tests Will be Sent to States Starting in Mid-September

This antigen test, called the BinaxNOW Covid-19 Ag Card, uses a nasal swab and requires no instrument to read it. The test costs $5 a piece and Giroir said 48 million a month will be available in the United States. 

The administration, which purchased 150 million of the tests in a $760 million contract, will push the tests out in mid-September. The tests will go to assisted living senior centers and home health staff, but the “overwhelming majority” will be sent to governors to support the opening of schools and daycare centers and to support first responders and people who work in critical jobs. They will also encourage the tests be sent to first responders and people who have been displaced by natural disasters like the wildfires out West and the hurricanes in Louisiana. 

Read more at CNN


DOL Issues Guidance on Teleworking

The US DOL Wage and Hour Division – following the NAM’s recommendations – issued a Field Assistance Bulletin to help clarify manufacturers’ requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act to compensate employees for the hours in which work is performed while teleworking. DOL notes that telework arrangements have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in many new questions for employers. In the bulletin, DOL reminds employers that they must pay employees for all hours in which work was performed or if they have reason to believe that work was performed, even if the work was not requested.

You can read the bulletin here


DOL Issues Final Rule on Guidance and Establishes Search Portal

In accordance with President Trump’s October 2019 Executive Order 13891, the Department of Labor issued a final rule establishing new requirements for, “issuing, modifying, withdrawing, and using guidance,” as well as a new, searchable portal for all of the Department’s guidance material. The rule represents an effort to prevent guidance from becoming enforceable policy without notice and comment. DOL notes, “unless law permits, guidance documents should not establish new requirements that the agency treats as binding; any such requirements should be issued pursuant to applicable notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act…”


National Academies Offer Plan for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on Sept. 1 released a discussion draft of a preliminary framework to assist policymakers in planning for an equitable allocation of a vaccine against COVID-19. The committee that developed the draft framework was formed in July in response to a request to the National Academy of Medicine from the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The discussion draft includes a summary of lessons learned from past allocation frameworks for mass vaccination campaigns, including for H1N1 influenza in 2009 and during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2013-2016, as well as from recent guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic for the allocation of scarce resources, such as medical resources and supplies.  Drawing from these lessons learned, the committee then defined the foundational principles, primary goal, and criteria for determining an equitable allocation framework. 

Read more and the recommendations at EHS Today


 

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Daily Briefing – 141

Governor Cuomo Announces 26th Straight Day with COVID-19 Infection Rate Below 1 Percent

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced the 26th straight day that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate has remained below 1 percent. Yesterday, 0.80 percent of tests reported to the state were positive. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.


U.S. Manufacturing Activity Strongest in Nearly Two Years in August

U.S. manufacturing activity accelerated to a nearly two-year high in August amid a surge in new orders, but employment continued to lag, supporting views that the labor market recovery was losing momentum.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Tuesday its index of national factory activity increased to a reading of 56.0 last month from 54.2 in July. That was the highest level since November 2018 and marked three straight months of growth.

But the continued improvement in manufacturing is uneven, as the COVID-19 pandemic shifts spending away from equipment used in the services industries such as restaurants and bars to purchases of goods like home electronics.

Read more at Reuters


Stimulus Deal Getting Closer, But There’s More Work To Be Done

Move past the sound bites, however, and one can see real progress toward a deal. Recall that the starting positions were $3.4 trillion in the Heroes Act passed by House Democrats and $1 trillion in the HEALS Act introduced by Senate Republicans. Following the call last week, however, Speaker Pelosi reduced her proposal by $200 billion, down to $2.2 trillion. At the same time, Mr. Meadows came up $300 billion, saying the President would sign a $1.3 trillion package.

Aid to state and local governments represents $915 billion of the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act. In contrast, the Republicans have offered $150 billion. Thus, this issue alone represents $765 billion of the $900 billion divide. Moody’s Analytics puts the budget shortfall at $500 billion and that’s not what state and local governments need now, it’s their budget shortfall over the next two years. Even if the federal government covered this entire shortfall, it would close the gap by over $400 billion. An agreement to cover just the next year’s state and local government budget shortfall would narrow the gap even further. Such a deal would require both sides to compromise.

Read more at Forbes


CBO: U.S. Debt Is Set to Exceed Size of the Economy for Year, a First Since World War II

U.S. government debt is on track to exceed the size of the economy for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, a milestone not hit since World War II that has been brought into reach by a giant fiscal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to report on Wednesday that federal debt held by the public is projected to reach or exceed 100% of U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of U.S. economic output. That would put the U.S. in the company of a handful of nations with debt loads that exceed their economies, including Japan, Italy and Greece.

Read more at the WSJ


United Airlines Halves Planned Layoffs to 16,370

United Airlines said Wednesday it expects to cut 16,370 jobs on Oct. 1, far fewer than the 36,000 it warned of two months ago, as suspense builds over whether Congress will extend relief for the struggling airline industry.

Between the lines: United was able to limit the layoffs by cutting costs, raising debt and encouraging tens of thousands of employees to participate in a variety of voluntary leave, early retirement and reduced hours programs.

Read more at Axios


Workforce Drug Testing Positivity Reaches Highest Rate in 16 Years

The rate of workforce drug positivity hit a sixteen-year high in 2019, according to an analysis released on August 25 by Quest Diagnostics.  Positivity rates in the combined U.S. workforce increased in urine drug tests, climbing to the highest level since 2003 (4.5%) and more than 28% higher than the thirty-year low of 3.5% recorded between 2010 and 2012. 

In addition to overall increases in workforce drug positives, specific regions of the United States, particularly the Midwest, experienced dramatic increases in positivity for cocaine and methamphetamine as well as marijuana. 

Read more at EHS Today


“Pooled” Saliva Test for COVID-19 Approved by NY Dept. of Health

The New York State Department of Health gave the green light for SUNY Upstate to begin using the tests Tuesday. The saliva tests will be used with another form of coronavirus screening called pooled surveillance testing.

Pooled surveillance testing allows a college campus to run multiple samples in a single test, which are pooled in batches as small as 10 samples and as large as 25 samples.

Read more at Spectrum News


Take the Reimagine New York Survey

New York State is calling for ideas on how we can use technology to help “build back better.” Whether those ideas are related to connectivity, telehealth, workforce – or how we work – we’d welcome your feedback.

Submit your ideas here.


 

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Daily Briefing – 140

Alaska and Montana Back on Restricted Travel List

The Governor issued a press release yesterday announcing Alaska and Montana have once again met the metrics to qualify for the 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers entering New York. No states have been removed from the mandatory quarantine requirements.  32 states and Guam are on the restricted list. 

The release also provides an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday, August 31st. New York’s rate of positive tests was below one percent for the 25th straight day. Of the 76,997 test results reported to the State, 0.98% (754) were positive. The number of ICU patients remained at 109, the lowest number since March 15th.


Cuomo Releases Guidance for Agri-Tourism Businesses

The Governor yesterday released guidance for reopening agri-tourism businesses, including corn mazes, pick-your-own fruit and vegetable operations, hayrides, and haunted houses. Corn mazes, pick-your-own-fruit and vegetable operations, and haunted houses will operate under the low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment guidelines. Hayrides will be subject to both the low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment guidelines and public transportation guidelines. Farmers’ markets and craft beverage trails have remained open under State guidance.


Covid-19 Vaccines: What’s Coming and When?

The Wall Street Journal has a helpful rundown of the various vaccines in production. The front-runners in the midst of or slated to begin final round testing include: AstraZeneca, Pfizer and BioNTech SE, Moderna, Sinopharm, CanSino Biologics.

Some 170 Covid-19 vaccines are in development around the world, according to the World Health Organization, each one promising to protect people from the deadly coronavirus and allow them to go back to work and school. Now, a handful are starting or nearing the final stage of testing. Depending on the results, some companies say their vaccines could be green-lighted for use as soon as this year.

Read the article at the WSJ


Impressive China Manufacturing PMI Data for August

Asia’s manufacturing sector shows signs of recovering from the region’s covid-19 lockdowns. The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for China rose to 53.1 last month, the highest figure recorded since 2011, from July’s 52.8, where a score of 50 or above indicates expansion. The equivalent indices for India and South Korea also rose.

Read more at Reuters


Monday Economic Report: The Federal Reserve Will Accept Higher Inflation in Short Run

In a long-anticipated speech, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that monetary policymakers would be willing to accept core inflation above the Federal Open Market Committee’s stated goal of 2%, so long as the longer-term average achieved that goal. The FOMC affirmed the more “dovish” change in strategy in a statement made afterward. With core inflation well below that goal right now, the test of this new policy will have to come later.

Plus consumer spending, durable goods orders anticipated GDP and more.

Monday Economic Report – August 31, 2020


Why Are There Still Not Enough Paper Towels?

Blame lean manufacturing. A decades long effort to eke out more profit by keeping inventory low left many manufacturers unprepared when Covid-19 struck. The situation isn’t likely to abate soon, because producers have no plans to build new manufacturing capacity. The central piece of the machinery needed to make paper towels takes years to assemble.

Americans have faced many stresses in the pandemic, of which paper-towel scarcity is hardly among the worst. Yet the forces behind the shortage nearly six months into the crisis help explain the broad lack of U.S. preparedness that has made the pandemic worse than it might have been.

Read more at the WSJ


Survey: 21% of Parents Have Reduced Work Hours Because of Remote School

As many parents experienced in the spring, remote learning asks a lot from them, too. Not only do many children need assistance with school work and scheduling but, at the very least, they require basic supervision, which means an adult must be at home to help.

To that point, 21% of parents said that they had to change or reduce work hours due to changes in school or child care as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to a new report from Country Financial.

Read more at CNBC


IRS Notice on Presidential Order Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations Creates Additional Uncertainty

Attorneys for Council Associate Member and Friend Jackson Lewis write that the Internal Revenue Service has issued Notice 2020-65 to provide guidance on the employment tax deferral that is the subject of President Donald Trump’s August 8, 2020, Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster.

Pursuant to the Notice, the due date for the withholding and payment of the employee share of Social Security taxes on certain wages is postponed until the period beginning on January 1, 2021, and ending on April 30, 2021. While the Notice provides additional details as to how to determine which wages are subject to the deferral and when the deferred taxes must be repaid, it leaves many questions unanswered and creates potential liability for employers.

Read more at Jackson Lewis


Also from Jackson Lewis … A Rise in OSHA Whistleblower Claims During COVID-19 Pandemic: USDOL Office of Inspector General

In the report, the OIG noted that the pandemic has resulted in a 30% jump in whistleblower complaints during the four-month period of February 2020 through May 2020 as compared to the same period in 2019—from approximately 3,150 complaints in 2019 to approximately 4,100 in 2020.  Of the whistleblower complaints filed from February 2020 through May 2020, approximately 1,600 (39%) were related to COVID-19, such as claims that someone was retaliated against for claiming violations of guidelines regarding social distancing or personal protective equipment.

Read more at Jackson Lewis


 

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2020 Golf Outing Winners!

More than 80 Socially Distanced Golfers Attended The Council Golf Outing August 31st. 

The event was at times surprisingly normal and at other times a bit surreal.  80 golfers attended the outing that began with masked golfers registering on a staggered schedule, proceeded to boxed lunches on the golf carts, continued to a shotgun start leading to some good (and not so good) golf.  Finally it concluded without an award ceremony or cocktails or dinner.  

We all missed the food and the post outing revelry, but we greatly enjoyed seeing in person so many folks that we have not seen since the pandemic began except, perhaps, virtually.  We also greatly appreciate the support of our members and friends and the respect that all participants showed for the Powelton Club’s safety and health guidelines.

Special thanks to Alicia Zito and Tanner Hansen for volunteering to help the event go smoothly. Ruge’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep for supplying the hole in one prize and the staff of the Powelton Club who are always professional and courteous. 

Thanks too to the staff of the Council of Industry for all the hard work to make the day a success. 

Here are the Winners! 

Best Ball: 

  • 1st Place – Pawling Engineered Products
  • 2nd Place – Direct Energy Business
  • 3rd Place – M&T Bank

Yellow Ball:

  • 1st Place – President Container Group
  • 2nd Place – Bleakley Platt
  • 3rd Place –  None

Scramble: 

  • 1st Place – Lakeland Bank
  • 2nd Place – Brewster Machinery
  • 3rd Place – Bell Flavors & Fragrances

Long Drive Women Alethea Schaffer

Long Drive MenRyan Sheflott

Closest to the PinCarlito Holt

 

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Lunch SponsorPackage Pavement Corp.

Beverage Cart SponsorLeChase Construction

Hole-in-One Prize Sponsors  –American Petroleum Equipment & Construction Co.

Shirt Sponsor  – Direct Energy Business

Prize Sponsors

     Best Ball – M&T Bank

     Yellow Ball – Belfor Property Restoration

     ScrambleConstruction Contractors Association

 Tee Sign Sponsors:

 

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A Pandemic is the Mother of Invention: Technology to Keep your People Safe and your Factory Running

 

In the continuing efforts to keep your people safe and your factories running efficiently, we are often looking to technology for solutions. CI and our Associate Member, HRP discuss the latest innovation and safety technologies to prevent the spread of COVID 19. This conversation is facilitated by Shaun Malin, Regional Manager, and will cover topics including:

C-19 Preparedness, Prevention, Response Plans – Mitigation Technologies including:

  • UV Lighting
  • Thermal Screenings
  • HVAC considerations
  • Long efficacy Disinfectants
  • Rapid Antibody Test Kits/Viral Testing

To view the webinar session: click here

To view the presentation: click here

 

About HRP Associates – Associate Member

For 37 years, the consulting engineers at HRP have worked together with our clients to assure that they move their environment forward. Our job is to minimize the environmental risks associated with our client’s projects and help them reach their intended business goals. 

HRP Associates, Inc. was founded in 1982 to serve the environmental needs of the regulated community subject to the newly-enacted Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA). Today, HRP is a multidisciplinary environmental and engineering consulting firm, with nine offices throughout the U.S. We have completed projects in nearly every state. Not only do we provide critical services to clients throughout the U.S., we have also extended our Global Consulting Services to over twenty countries throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

At HRP, as part of our continuous improvement policy, we constantly strive for and achieve new and better methods to lead your projects to successful completion. Our engineering consultants do this by listening carefully to your concerns, by innovating new ideas and processes internally, and by implementing solutions that are flexible, effective and sustainable. Our collaborative business approach means you will always be fully involved and informed through the development and completion of your project. We are sure that you, like our current clients, will find that this partnership approach provides your company with the unsurpassed level of service and integrity that you expect.

read more »

Daily Briefing – 139

Cuomo Executive Order Directs Development of  Covid and Flu Testing and Reporting

The Among other thins related to the election, the Executive Order directs the Commissioner of Health to develop by emergency regulations, comprehensive statewide protocols for the timely testing and reporting of all COVID-19 and Influenza cases to continue to ensure, as flu season approaches, the State has the most accurate data to evaluate the number of positive cases and to best ensure timely contact tracing efforts are implemented in all regions. 

Sunday the Governor issued a press release detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, August 29th. New York’s rate of positive tests was below one percent for the 23rd straight day. Of the 100,022 test results reported to the State (a single day record), 0.69% (698) were positive. Total hospitalizations dropped to 429, the lowest since March 16th; and intubations dropped to 47, the lowest since March 14th.


Updated Supplemental Education Guidance

The New York State Department of Health has released supplemental guidance documents for pre-K to grade 12 schools and higher education institutions. Please find the supplemental guidance documents at the links below.  the supplemental guidelines primarily deal with communication with the public of the district’s plan including how it will implement remote learning, and Covid testing and contact tracing procedures.

Supplement to the Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12


Other Countries Show that Schools Need Not Be Pandemic Hot Spots

How much of a risk is opening schools during the pandemic? Experience from a number of countries is starting to shed some light.

For the children themselves, covid-19 is not a big threat. They usually have mild symptoms or none at all. Among children with symptoms, only 0.1% of those younger than ten and 0.3% of those aged between ten and 19 end up in hospital, a study from Britain shows. For school-aged children, a covid-19 infection is less deadly than most flu infections.

Read more at The Economist


Johns Hopkins: US Falls Out of the Global Top 10 Per Capita Daily Incidence

The US CDC removed its previous COVID-19 reporting page and transitioned to its COVID Data Tracker dashboard. The dashboard provides links to a variety of data, including incidence and mortality, laboratory testing, community impact (eg, mobility), and high-risk populations (eg, healthcare workers, incarcerated populations). Some of the data is available at the state and county level directly through the dashboard. The dashboard added a 7-day moving average for daily deaths, and it once again reports COVID-19 data from New York City and New York state separately.

The CDC reported 5.80 million total cases (46,393 new) and 178,998 deaths (1,239 new). In total, 19 states (no change) are reporting more than 100,000 cases.

Read more at Johns Hopkins


CI/HRP Webinar: Technological Solutions to Keep Your People Safe and Your Factories Running Was Held Last Week

In the continuing efforts to keep your people safe and your factories running efficiently, we  are often looking to technology for solutions. On Friday August 28th CI and our Associate Member HRP Associates presented a webinar on the latest innovation and safety technologies to prevent the spread of COVID 19. The presentation was made by Shaun Malin, Regional Manager for HRP and covered topics including: C-19 Preparedness, Prevention, Response Plans – Mitigation Technologies including UV Lighting, Thermal Screenings, HVAC considerations, Long efficacy Disinfectants, Rapid Antibody Test Kits/Viral Testing.


COVID-19 Telecommuting and the Fair Labor Standards Act

Council Associate member and friend Ethan Allen Personnel Group provides some guidance on applying FLSA standards to telecommuting workers.  Many employers have increased the amount of teleworking for employees, including many roles that ordinarily would not telework. As the COVID-19 health crisis has progressed, employers have continued to extend their teleworking policies while other employers are gearing up to reopen offices. With these ongoing health risks, it is important for employers to review their teleworking policies and practices to ensure that they are appropriately compensating employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) as well as any applicable state and local laws.

Ethan Allen HR Newsletter Employment Advisory 8.31.20


Your Employee Refuses to Wear Masks — Now What?

For companies that have already returned to their offices, there have been tensions between workers about mask protocol. At the same time, it’s clearly important for employers to keep the workplace safe by enforcing CDC guidelines, which include wearing a mask. 

To do this, it’s important to understand what’s going on psychologically when employees don’t wear masks. Once you’re able to understand this, you can then adopt an approach that can get reluctant employees to observe safety guidelines.

Read more at Talent Management


FuzeHub Webinar: Funding Opportunities for COVID-Impacted Manufacturers

September 3, 2020, 11 AM – 12 PM EST

This Manufacturing Reimagined webinar will discuss important funding opportunities and assistance FuzeHub and other New York MEP partners can provide to offset project costs associated with COVID recovery initiatives.  The Manufacturing Reimagined program was developed to offer training, resource partnering, and $170,000 in funding (maximum $10,000 per project).

Join this informative webinar to learn about:

  • How the Manufacturing Reimagined program helps manufacturers respond to the COVID-related issues
  • What project funding opportunities are associated with the program
  • How to get a free customized Resources Report, partner with NYSTAR Innovation Assets, and other eligibility requirements
  • Details of the application and award processes
  • Hear from other New York MEP centers that have additional COVID recovery funding opportunities and programs

Click here to register


U.S. Consumer Spending Rose More Slowly in July

U.S. consumers boosted their spending in July, but more slowly than in prior months as new coronavirus infections rose and the expiration of enhanced unemployment checks loomed.  “Spending numbers have come back more than the economy as a whole, with the help of a lot of fiscal support,” said Jim O’Sullivan, an economist at TD Securities. “The question going forward is as fiscal support wanes, to what extent will it weaken.”

Personal-consumption expenditures, a measure of household spending on everything from haircuts to new cars, increased a seasonally adjusted 1.9% in July from the prior month, the Commerce Department said Friday.

Read more at the WSJ


 

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Daily Briefing – 138

Testing “Swat Team” Deployed in Western NY Amid Uptick in COVID-19 Cases

Governor Cuomo deployed a testing SWAT team to Western New York yesterday to address the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the region. The team will open free rapid testing sites across the region in partnership with Kaleida Health, Erie County Medical Center, and Catholic Health. Eight new testing sites will open on Saturday, August 29.

New York State will deploy 50 rapid testing machines to support the effort and will deploy more as needed. All tests are free of charge and the results will support the contact tracing efforts being conducted to monitor and control the virus spread.  

The Governor also announced that yesterday was the 20th day that the testing positive rate was under 1 percent for the 20th consecutive day.

Read the press release


Colleges & Universities Must Convert to Remote Learning if New Threshold Met

Also on Thursday, Governor Cuomo unveiled new guidelines for colleges and universities in New York State as they open campuses for in-person learning. “We’ve seen troubling reports of students congregating on college campuses, so we are setting a threshold,” Cuomo said. “We should anticipate clusters and that’s what we’re seeing. Be prepared for it, get ahead of it.” 

Cuomo says if a college or university in New York State get 100 positive cases of COVID-19 or the number of positive cases is 5% or more of the college population, whichever is less, the school must go to remote learning and limit on-campus activity for two weeks. Positive cases will include students, faculty, and staff.

Read more at Syracuse.com


Jobless Claims: Another 1.006 Million Americans filed New Unemployment Claims Last Week

Another 1 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment insurance benefits last week, as the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic continue to reverberate across the economy. 

The Labor Department released its report on weekly unemployment insurance claims Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Here were the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended Aug. 22: 1.006 million vs. 1.000 million expected and vs. 1.104 million during the prior week

  • Continuing claims, week ended Aug. 15: 14.535 million vs. 14.44 million expected and vs. 14.758 million during the prior week

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Rolls-Royce Loss Widens, Won’t Recommend Dividend

Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC said Thursday pretax loss for the first half of 2020 widened and the board won’t recommend an interim shareholder payment for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.K. engineering company said it has identified a number of potential disposals which are expected to generate proceeds of more than 2 billion pounds ($2.64 billion), and that these include ITP Aero and a number of other assets. As part of its restructuring plan, the company said more than 4,000 people in its civil aerospace division had left the business and it expects at least a further 5,000 to leave by year-end across the company. This includes over 2,500 voluntary severance and early retirement agreements in the U.K., it added.

Read more at MarketWatch


OSHA Provides Free COVID-19 Posters

You can order printed copies of OSHA COVID-19 posters and guidance booklets for your workplace. All items are free and available in multiple languages. Visit OSHA’s publications page to place an order.

Order your posters


Hiring Continues Amid Pandemic

The Manifest reports that 60% of employers have recruited at least one employee since the pandemic’s start and almost 50% have hired 10 or more employees. The survey also found that 61% of HR executives expect new recruits to stay with the company for two years or longer, and over a third say issues with work-life balance will drive employees to depart.

Read the full story at HR Dive


5 Key Takeaways From Powell’s Jackson Hole Fed Speech

At a speech in Jackson Hole Wyoming Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell outlined the revision to the central bank’s policy framework. 
 
Before the Covid-19 shock to the economy, the work on the new policy framework, led by Vice Chair Richard Clarida, benefited from a decidedly more open consultation process, including “a series of Fed Listens events around the country,” according to Powell. These were centered on the need to adapt monetary policy to “the new challenges that arise.” Specifically, the two-year review took into account the multiyear experience of lower potential growth, more depressed global interest rates, “the best [pre-Covid] labor market we had seen in some time” and muted inflation. The result — a self-described evolution (as opposed to revolution) to the dual objectives of the Fed — includes a more “broad-based and inclusive goal” for maximum employment and the flexible use of “average inflation targeting,” which enables monetary policy to “aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time” following periods when inflation has been below that level.

Read more at Bloomberg


Employers Likely to Face a Wave of COVID-19 Class Action Litigation

Council Associate Members and friends Bond Schoeneck and King write that as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to drastically impact the U.S., class action lawsuits have been on the rise. Despite court closures, class action filings have increased and are expected to continue. 

The risk to companies of class and collective action proceedings has been amplified. Below are the key areas that have already flooded the court system as well as issues that we expect to drive class action litigation arising from the pandemic…

Read more at BSK


 

 

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Daily Briefing – 137

Cuomo: 19 Straight Days Under 1 .0 Percent, Criticizes New CDC Testing Guidance

The Governor issued a press release yesterday saying that New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from  August 25th. For the 19th straight day, New York’s rate of positive tests was below one percent. Of the 71,189 test results reported to the State, 0.79% (566) were positive.  The State continues to monitor the increase in positive test results in Western New York related to several industrial locations. 

Separately the Governor criticized new CDC guidelines related to asymptomatic individuals with known exposure to a COVID-19 case. In the previous version of the testing guidance, the CDC recommended diagnostic testing for, among others, “asymptomatic individuals with recent known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2 [in order to] to control transmission.” In the current iteration, the CDC states that asymptomatic individuals who have close contact with a COVID-19 case “do not necessarily need a test unless [they] are a vulnerable individual.” 


Hurricane Laura Targets The Heart Of America’s Oil Refining Industry11% of Employers Paused 401(k) Contributions in Q2

Whenever tropical storm systems enter the Gulf of Mexico, as two have this week, most of the focus related to reporting on the oil and gas industry tends to center on efforts by offshore producers to evacuate and secure their operations, especially in the deep waters of the Gulf. That has all been happening this week as well over 80% of the production facilities have been idled in advance of the storms.

What gets less attention, but it is equally important to the public, is how these storms impact the refining sector of the oil and gas business.

Read more at Forbes


Around 11% of employers suspended their contributions to workers’ 401(k)s during the second quarter, Fidelity Investments reports. Of those who paused contributions, 48% said they intend to reinstate matching as soon as they are financially able and 32% will do so next year.

Read the full story in Human Resource Executive


American Airlines to Cut 19,000 Jobs by Oct. 1 When Federal Stimulus Ends

American Airlines said it would shed 19,000 workers Oct. 1, the first big wave of the tens of thousands of pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and other airline employees in jeopardy of losing their jobs when protections tied to federal aid to U.S. carriers expire this fall.

American’s cuts are short of the 25,000 potential job losses it warned were possible last month. But together with retirements and temporary leaves of absence, the reductions will make the carrier about 30% smaller than it was in March and are the clearest sign yet of the devastation coming for the airline industry as the summer travel season winds down and government funds run out.

Read more at the WSJ


Virgin Atlantic Wins Backing for £1.2bn Rescue Deal

Virgin Atlantic has won backing from its creditors for a £1.2bn rescue plan that would secure its future for at least 18 months and save 6,500 jobs. The airline said shareholders, banks, aircraft owners and suppliers owed money had approved the plan.

Virgin Atlantic said the agreement puts it in a position to “rebuild its balance sheet” and “welcome passengers back”. It had warned it would run out of cash by September without the deal.

Read more at BBC News


Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt Says Rapid Coronavirus Tests Are Needed to Get America Back to the Office

“There’s plenty of technology that allows for rapid testing, and with rapid testing corporations could open. People could go to work,” Schmidt said on “Squawk Box.” Schmidt is referring to a kind of coronavirus test than the lab-based diagnostic tests that have become common. There’s been a growing push for rapid tests that produce results in as little as minutes. Some of these rapid tests would be administered at home. Others could be delivered at offices or schools. 

But America does not yet have adequate testing infrastructure in place to widely deploy quick-turnaround tests, said Schmidt, who is leading a group organized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to help the New York state improve its economy in the wake of the coronavirus. 

Read more at CNBC


What is the Maturity Date of a PPP Loan? RBT CPAs Provides the Answers

New PPP loans approved on or after June 5th automatically have a loan length of five years. The PPP loan program is widely recognized for its forgivable nature if used for payroll, rent and utilities. Still, for a significant portion of borrowers, not all of the loan will be forgiven. The unforgiven portion will be converted to an SBA loan at a rate of 1%.

If a PPP loan received an SBA loan number before June 5, 2020, the loan has a two-year maturity. Existing loans can have their length extended from two years to five years, if the borrower and lender mutually agree to it. But what exactly does that mean for business owners who fall in this category, and how does one go about extending their existing loan?

What is the maturity date of a PPP loan RBT CPAs


Johns Hopkins: Daily Mortality Slowly Decreasing in US

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 5.79 million US cases and 178,819 deaths as of 12:30 pm EDT on August 26.

The US passed its second COVID-19 peak in late July, and we have been closely monitoring for an associated decrease in mortality. Now, approximately 1 month after the peak daily incidence, the US seems to be exhibiting the start of a decline in mortality. The daily mortality has been slowly decreasing for at least the past week, dipping below 1,000 new deaths per day for the first time since July 27. Additionally, COVID-19 mortality in the South, Southwest, and West regions—the most severely affected regions during the US resurgence over the past several months—appear to have passed their respective peaks as well. Mortality in these regions remains elevated, but it is at least starting to trend downward. 

Read more at Johns Hopkins 


 

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Daily Briefing – 136

Restricted Travel List: Five States Removed One Territory Added

Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland and Montana—have been removed from New York State’s COVID-19 travel advisory. Guam has been added. The advisory requires individuals who have traveled to New York from areas with significant community spread to quarantine for 14 days. 

The Governor added that the State has had a rate of positive tests below 1 percent for 18 straight days. Yesterday, 2 deaths were reported from COVID-19, matching the state’s previous low. No deaths were reported in New York City. The governor also updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov. 


State Labor Department Releases Preliminary July 2020 Area Unemployment Rates

The New York State Department of Labor today released preliminary local area unemployment rates for July 2020. From July 2019 to July 2020, the State’s private sector employment count decreased by 1,184,500. The State’s seasonally adjusted private sector job count increased over the month by 244,200, or 3.6%, to 7,116,200 in July 2020.The State’s private sector job count is based on a payroll survey of 18,000 New York employers, which is conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the State’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 15.6% to 15.9% in July 2020.   

In the Hudson Valley employment count decreased by 94,200 people year on year and the unemployment was 13.6% compared with 3.9 percent in July 2019.

Labor Market Profile (Hudson Valley) Release (2) – JUL 2020


SBA Releases Additional PPP Forgiveness Guidance

Council Associate member and friend PKF O’Connor Davies writes that Monday night, August 24, 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released an interim final rule (IFR) entitled Treatment of Owners and Forgiveness of Certain Non-payroll Costs. This IFR contains important guidance on pending questions related to certain Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan expenses eligible for forgiveness.

Read more from PKF O’Connor Davies


$56.14 = The Economic Value of a Face Mask Worn in the United States 

Calculations from Goldman Sachs, a bank, suggest that a 15 percentage-point rise in the share of the population that wears masks would reduce the daily growth of cases by about one percentage point. That obviates the need for lockdown measures that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from gdp. The Economist took those calculations a step further. According to our reckoning, an American wearing a mask for a day is helping prevent a fall in gdp of $56.14. Not bad for something that you can buy for about 50 cents apiece.

Read more in The Economist


German Economy Contracts at Record Pace

The German economy contracted by a record 9.7% in the second quarter as consumer spending, company investments and exports all collapsed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the statistics office said on Tuesday. The economic slump was much stronger than during the financial crisis more than a decade ago, and it represented the sharpest decline since Germany began to record quarterly GDP calculations in 1970, the office said.

Still, the reading marked a minor upward revision from an earlier estimate for the April-June period of -10.1% that the office had published last month.

Read more at Reuters


Senior U.S., Chinese Officials Say They Are Committed to Phase-One Trade Deal

The United States and China held talks over the implementation of the phase one trade agreement between the two countries. Originally scheduled for August 15th, they had been postponed by President Trump amid rising tension over several issues. The US trade representative said the two sides had discussed greater protection for intellectual property rights and removing Chinese barriers to American agriculture products and financial services.

Read more at the WSJ


5 Ways to Build a Culture of Safety for the Long Term

“Workplace safety” has become a buzz-phrase in 2020, as the pandemic has made safety concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 a top priority for most business leaders. An organizational climate that empowers employees is one key to achieving a culture of safety, writes Chuck Pettinger of Predictive Solutions. “People are often driven by what is quickest, most comfortable, and most convenient,” he writes.

Read the full story at EHS Today


COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool

Here’s a fun site:  This map shows the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location. The risk level is the estimated chance (0-100%) that at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present at an event in a county, given the size of the event.

The COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool is a collaborative project led by Prof. Joshua Weitz and Prof. Clio Andris at the Georgia Institute of Technology, along with researchers at the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory and Stanford University.  It is and powered by RStudio.

Visit the map


 

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Daily Briefing 135

Cuomo Briefing: Infection Rate and Western New York “Hot Spots” 

In a press briefing held on Long Island Governor Cuomo announced that the State’s infection rate is 0.66%, the lowest infection rate since the beginning of the pandemic. The State has averaged a one percent or under daily infection rate since June, and has been under one percent for 17 straight days.

Western New York has seen a recent increase in infection rate which has been driven, in part, by clusters identified at a steel plant, food processing plant, new cases at nursing homes, pre-hospital procedure screening, and testing seasonal labor at farms.

This should serve as a reminder to Council members to remain diligent in all health practices.

Read the transcript


Governor Cuomo Announces Lower-Risk School Sports in All Regions May Begin September 21

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced lower-risk, school-sponsored sports in all regions may begin to practice and play beginning September 21st. However, travel for practice or play will be prohibited outside of the school’s region or contiguous regions or counties until October 19th. For the fall sports season, lower- and moderate-risk sports include tennis, soccer, cross country, field hockey and swimming.

Higher-risk sports, including those with full physical contact, may begin to practice on September 21st but cannot play until a later date or December 31st. In accordance with the Department of Health’s guidance for sports and recreation during the COVID-19 public health emergency, practices for higher-risk sports are limited to individual or group, no- to low-contact training. Higher-risk sports include football, wrestling, rugby, hockey and volleyball.

Read the press release


Monday Economic Report – The Housing Market Has Emerged as a Bright Spot in the U.S. Economy

The housing market has emerged as a bright spot in the U.S. economy in recent months. After plummeting dramatically in April to the slowest pace since February 2015, it has been buoyed by low mortgage rates.  New residential construction soared 22.6% from 1,220,000 units at the annual rate in June to 1,496,000 units in July, a five-month high. Single-family housing starts increased for the third straight month from 869,000 units to 940,000 units, the highest reading since February.

Monday Economic Report – August 24, 2020


Manufacturing Up in August, says IHS Markit

U.S. business activity snapped back to the highest since early 2019 this month as companies in both the manufacturing and services sectors saw a resurgence in new orders even as new COVID-19 cases remain stubbornly high across the country, a purchasing managers’ survey showed on Friday.

Data firm IHS Markit said its flash U.S. Composite PMI Index rose to a reading of 54.7 this month – the highest since February 2019 – from 50.3 in July. Its flash – or preliminary – indicator for the manufacturing sector stood at its highest since January 2019 and for the services sector it was the highest since March 2019.

Read more at Reuters


SUNY Appoints Malatras as the Next SUNY Chancellor, Succeeding Johnson

The State University of New York (SUNY) board of trustees on Friday announced the appointment of Jim Malatras as the 14th chancellor of the SUNY system.  The appointment is effective Aug. 31, SUNY said in a Friday news release.

Malatras — the first SUNY graduate to become the system’s chancellor — has been serving as president of SUNY Empire State College. In recent months, he’s also been seen with Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his COVID-19 television briefings, acting as an advisor to Cuomo through the process.

Read more 


Malatras’ First Visit is to New Paltz – Announces New Grant and Internship Program to Accelerate PPE Production Across SUNY

Jim Malatras today toured SUNY New Paltz, announcing the new SUNY Prepare Innovation and Internship Program. The program is designed to accelerate the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) through new innovation and technologies at SUNY colleges and universities statewide. Chancellor Malatras was accompanied by Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan and SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian. Chancellor Malatras and President Christian reviewed the campus reopening plan – which was previously approved by SUNY – before meeting with students to discuss their goals for the upcoming semester and the importance of COVID-19 safety protocols. The visit comes as the campus community prepares to begin classes on Monday.

Read the press release


PKF O’Connor Davies: The Top 3 PPP Forgiveness Mistakes

Council Associate Member and friend O’Connor Davies write that with each passing day, more and more Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers are focusing on loan forgiveness. Since the program first launched, we have worked with hundreds of borrowers, initially on the loan application process, and then since early June, on loan forgiveness. In the process, we have seen more mistakes than we have clients. Some of the errors involve computations and applicability of the rules. But the most common mistakes are substantial, overarching ones that are likely to have a significant impact on forgiveness. Here are the top three mistakes we’ve seen along with recommended solutions.

Read more at PKF O’Connor Davies


Depression Risks Spike for US Employees

The pandemic has led to a 102% increased risk of depression among US workers, rising to 305% for employees ages 20 to 39, according to Total Brain’s July Mental Health Index. Mental health experts warn the situation will worsen as winter approaches, and Flawless Foundation’s Janine Francolini urges employers to make mental health “the absolute top priority.”

Read the full story at Human Resource Executive


Mid Hudson Regional Economic Development Council Drafting Recovery Strategy – Seeks Business Input

The Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC) is developing a regional economic recovery strategy.  The document will be used to prioritize funding and shape public policy around economic development. Please review and complete this questionnaire by Tuesday, August 25th, 2020 to give your input.

Take the 10 minute survey


 

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Daily Update – 134

Cuomo: Sixteen Straight days Positive Infection Rate Below One Percent

The Governor issued a press release this morning detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from yesterday, August 22nd.  Of the 74,043 test results reported yesterday, 0.77% (572) were positive. This is the sixteenth straight day that the positive infection rate has been below one percent. Additionally, Governor Cuomo announced that the number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations has dropped to 472, the lowest number since March 16th. The number of ICU patients dropped to 110, a new low since March 15th. 

Read the press release


Reopening: Gyms Reopen Today Along with Indoor Art and Cultural Activities in NYC

Gyms will be permitted to open as soon as today, August 24th but no later than September 2nd, pending local government inspections, at 33% facility capacity, with mandatory facial coverings, sanitation, check-in, and ventilation requirements.

Low-Risk Indoor Arts & Entertainment – NYC

Low-risk indoor cultural activities can reopen in New York City on Monday, August 24th with 25% occupancy, timed ticketing required with pre-set staggered entry, and mandatory face coverings.


Existing-Home Sales Surged 24.7% in July

Existing-home sales rose 24.7% in July from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million, the highest rate since December 2006, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. The July sales marked a 8.7% increase from a year earlier.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 14.2% monthly increase in sales of previously-owned homes, which make up most of the housing market. “The housing market is actually past the recovery phase and is now in a booming stage,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.  Low interest rates and a desire for more space boosted home-buyer demand.

Read more at the WSJ


The Covid-19 Effect: The 2020 IndustryWeek Technology Survey

The pandemic has become a defining moment for digital transformation, separating the haves from the have nots. Manufacturers suddenly find themselves dependent upon their tech investments. For some, strategic technology investments mean they can rapidly pivot to create desperately needed products. Remote access has also become an integral part of the new normal, enabling experts working from home to form meaningful connections with skeleton crews still on the shop floor. And as manufacturers venture into the restart mode, the strategic use of wearables and robot technology makes social distancing feasible.

Simply put, business as usual is not going to work. Uncertain times mean manufacturers need to be ready to navigate unknown territory. Fortunately, having the right technology in place can help manufacturers add clarity and consistency to crucial operations. And that is exactly the story we see playing out in in this year’s IndustryWeek technology survey.

Read More at IndustryWeek


PMI: French Business Activity Weaker Than Expected in August

Data compiler IHS Markit said its preliminary purchasing managers index (PMI) fell to 51.7 points from 57.3 in July – far below the average forecast for 57.2 in a Reuters poll of economists.  The reading for the services sector stayed above the 50-point level dividing an expansion from a contraction, but the preliminary PMI reading for manufacturing came in below that level.  The manufacturing PMI fell to 49.0 points in August – down from 52.4 in July and below a forecast for 53.7 points.

French business activity had surged after the euro zone’s second-biggest economy emerged in May from one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe as firms responded to pent-up client demand.

Read more at Reuters


Eurozone PMI Disappoints 

Euro zone flash PMI (purchasing managers’ index) data published on Friday dented hopes of a V-shaped recovery from the bloc’s deepest economic downturn on record. The August composite reading, widely seen as a strong gauge of economic health, fell to 51.6 from July’s 54.9, considerably below analyst expectations.

Read more at CNBC


They Don’t Just Cause Pandemics: How Viruses Shape the World – A Deeper Dive in The Economist

The influence of viruses on life on Earth goes far beyond the past and present tragedies of a single species, however pressing they seem. Though the study of viruses began as an investigation into what appeared to be a strange subset of pathogens, recent research puts them at the heart of an explanation of the strategies of genes, both selfish and otherwise. viruses are best thought of as packages of genetic material that exploit another organism’s metabolism in order to reproduce. They are parasites of the purest kind: they borrow everything from the host except the genetic code that makes them what they are. They strip down life itself to the bare essentials of information and its replication. If the abundance of viruses is anything to go by, that is a very successful strategy indeed.

Read more in The Economist


Economist Mortality: 54,000 “Excess Deaths” in U.S. Since March

The Economist mortality tracker uses the gap between the total number of people who have died from any cause and the historical average for the time of year to estimate how many deaths from the virus the official statistics are failing to pick up.

Updated August 11 the tracker shows that 66,063 people died the week of May 2-8 or 27% higher than the expected 52,480.  Down from a month early  when total deaths were 78,474 – 44% higher than the expected 54,383.  Data from most nations are included on the site.

See the tracker at the Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 133

New York’s COVID-19 Hospitalizations Drop to Lowest Number Since March 18 

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that New York State’s COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped to 518—the lowest number since March 18. Yesterday’s infection rate of 0.74 percent marked the 13th straight day with an infection rate below 1 percent. The number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs dropped to 120, matching the state’s previous low since March 16. The governor also updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

View hospitalizations page


Executive Order Extends Moratorium on COVID-Related Commercial Evictions Until September 20

The yesterday signed an executive order extending the state’s moratorium on COVID-related commercial evictions and foreclosures an additional month, until September 20th. This measure extends protections already in place for commercial tenants and mortgagors in recognition of the financial toll the pandemic has taken on business owners, including retail establishments and restaurants. The extension of this protection is intended to give commercial tenants and mortgagors additional time to get back on their feet and catch up on rent or renegotiate their leasing terms and avoid eviction proceedings and foreclosures. 

Read the press release


Comptroller DiNapoli: NY’s Economy & Finances in the COVID-19 Era

New York State’s total employment count hit an all-time high of more than 9.8 million in February, reflecting net gains of nearly 2 million jobs since April 1996. The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a body blow to the State’s economy, with combined losses in March and April wiping out 24 years of job growth. The April decline of more than 1.9 million represented the State’s largest monthly loss of jobs on record.

Personal income tax (PIT) collections, by far the State’s largest source of tax revenues, totaled $18.9 billion through July.  As with overall tax receipts, PIT collections through the first four months were not far from DOB’s April projections, approximately $135 million or 0.7 percent above the April figure. July sales and use tax collections of $1.1 billion were 8.5 percent below those of a year earlier, the lowest year-over-year decline in such receipts since noticeable impacts on tax receipts from the pandemic first appeared in March.

Read more at the Controllers website


Private Sector Job Count in the Hudson Valley Fell  13.9 Percent In 12 Months Ending July 31

For the 12-month period ending July 2020, private sector job count in the Hudson Valley fell by 114,500, or 13.9 percent, to 711,800.  Losses were greatest in leisure and hospitality (-45,900), trade, transportation and utilities (-18,200), professional and business services (-15,500), educational and health services (-10,600), other services (-10,300), natural resources, mining and construction (-6,700), manufacturing (-4,700), and financial activities (-2,000).

The July 2020 over-the-year job losses continues to reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.  At 711,800, private sector job count has reached its lowest July level since 1998.

 

CategoryJul
2020
Jun
2020
Jul
2019
Net
Month
%
Month
Net
Year
%
Year
Total Nonfarm848,600839,000983,3009,6001.1%-134,700-13.7%
         Goods-producing93,00092,000104,4001,0001.1%-11,400-10.9%
                     Manufacturing39,10039,10043,80000.0%-4,700-10.7%

Labor Market Profile – JUL 2020


Senate Republicans Introduce “Skinny” Relief Package, Includes Liability Protections

In response to recent events involving the U.S. Postal Service as well as stalled negotiations between the White House and top Democratic leaders, Senate GOP leaders will introduce a new “skinny” COVID-19 relief package addressing a range of issues in the coming days. The new package will include several top priorities for manufacturers, including the SAFE TO WORK Act, which is an opening bid for a liability protections framework. The bill will also include a weekly federal unemployment benefit at a lower level than Democratic leaders had proposed, and $10 billion in funding for the beleaguered postal service.

Read more at Politico


Laptops, Home Electronics Sales Still Soaring

Manufacturers are racing to keep up with the demand for laptops and other home electronics as the school year gets underway, with many students across the nation attending classes from home. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and this level of demand over and over again every single week … is just amazing,” says consumer electronics analyst Stephen Baker, noting that sales are now at levels typically seen only during the holiday season.

Read the full story at The New York Times (subscription)


Reimagining Supply Chain Resilience

New research from the McKinsey Global Institute looks at risk and resilience across 23 industry value chains and dozens of supply-chain executives, and shows a company could lose a year’s profit due to a significant supply-chain disruption. Based on those results and the probability of actual occurrences, companies can expect disruptions to erase an average 44 percent of one year’s profits over the course of a decade. Yet fifty-four percent of executives said they don’t have clear visibility into their supply chains beyond Tier 1. With the COVID-19 pandemic fresh in their minds, an overwhelming 93 percent reported in May that they plan to take steps to make their supply chains more resilient.

Read more in Forbes


 

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Daily Briefing – 132

Cuomo: Decision on Fall High School Sports Will Come Next Week

Governor Cuomo said in a press briefing Wednesday that he expects to decide the fate of scholastic sports in the next week. Those athletics have been prohibited since the coronavirus shut down schools in the spring.

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has pushed the start of fall season to Sept. 21, at the earliest. The NYSPHAA has also established a Plan B that would try to jam all three sports seasons into a post-Jan. 1 schedule. It is also possible that some lower-risk sports could get the green light this fall while others, such as football, are delayed.

Read more at Syracuse.com


Senate GOP Drafts Scaled-Back Coronavirus Relief Measure – Talks Remain Stalled

With negotiations over the next coronavirus stimulus package at an impasse and Republicans divided among themselves, Senate leaders held conference calls with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows last week. The output from those calls is a redefined plan that is expected to help unite the Republican caucus by lowering the $1 trillion price tag of the HEALS Act. By drawing more support, it will also strengthen the Republican negotiating position in talks with Democrats. Senate leadership informed Republican aides that text of the “skinny” bill would be released by Tuesday afternoon, according to Politico, who first reported on the pared down proposal, but it appears the bill may now be released later this week.

There is also some discussion that progress could be made after the party conventions conclude.

Read More at Forbes


FEMA Approves 7 States for Extra $300 Jobless Benefit

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized $300 a week supplementary unemployment benefits in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri and Utah. Some of the approved states say they are uncertain about how soon they can start paying out the funds.

Under Mr. Trump’s order, states can also use their own funds to provide another $100 a week for a total supplemental payment of $400, though it’s unclear whether any states will do so since many face cash crunches. Governors in states such as New York and New Jersey have indicated they are unlikely to fund the extra $100.

Read more in the WSJ


U.S.-Swiss Pact to Triple Supply of Emerging Covid-19 Treatment

Roche Holding AG has agreed to help develop and market an experimental Covid-19 treatment from Hudson Valley firm Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., the latest collaboration aimed at scaling up production of promising measures against the pandemic.

The pact is expected to more than triple the supply of the therapy, with Regeneron handling sales in the U.S. and Roche assuming responsibility for distribution elsewhere in the world. Regeneron’s antiviral candidate is being studied in two phase 2/3 clinical trials for treating Covid-19 along with a phase 3 trial for the prevention of the disease in people living with others who are already infected, the companies said in a statement.

Read more at Bloomberg


Gates: If 30-60% of Americans Take Coronavirus Vaccine, ‘Exponential Spread’ Will Stop

Microsoft founder Bill Gates said Tuesday that even if a minority of the U.S. population gets a coronavirus vaccine once available, that will be enough to slow its spread within the country.

Gates has been critical about the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying in a Tuesday interview with The Economist that part of the reason it failed in the beginning was due to slow initial testing efforts and some Americans’ refusal to wear masks because “we believe in freedom, individual freedom.”

But the country has hope, he said, because he thinks that by 2021, once the Food and Drug Administration approves an effective vaccine, “it will bring the pandemic to an end.” He added that even if only 30 to 60% of the population willingly receive a vaccine, that could be enough to slow and eventually stop the spread.

Read More at FoxBusiness


Johns Hopkins Vaccine Allocation Report

In support of planning efforts for future vaccination campaigns, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security published a framework for vaccine allocation and distribution in the US. The report, focuses on challenges early in the vaccination campaign that stem from limited availability as production capacity increases. There will inevitably be initial vaccine shortages, so it will be critical to identify who will be eligible for the first available doses in advance of the start of a vaccination campaign. 

The report outlines numerous “candidate groups that should be given serious consideration” for priority access, with the highest priority groups divided between 2 tiers. In Tier 1, the highest priority, the researchers included 3 groups of individuals.

Visit the report page at Johns Hopkins


Remote Virtual Verification Continues for I-9 Compliance During COVID-19 Pandemic

Council Associate member and friend Jackson Lewis reports that ICE has announced it is extending the remote virtual verification option for completion of I-9 employment verification an additional 30 days, until September 19, 2020, due to continued precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pursuant to the original guidelines for virtual verification, eligible employers may continue to inspect Section 2 documents without an actual in-person physical inspection (e.g., over video link, fax, or email). As before, the policy applies only to employers and workplaces that are in fact operating remotely. The latest announcement states that if any employees are physically present at the worksite, in-person physical inspection of the I-9 documentation must occur. In past announcements, however, ICE has indicated that it would use a case-by-case analysis to determine if the virtual I-9 review was reasonable.

Read more at Jackson Lewis


SUNY New Paltz’ Benjamin Center Blog: We Can No Longer Pretend Schools Are Only About Schooling

“Everything connects to everything,” Leonardo Da Vinci is said to have concluded from his life’s work. Nowhere is this lesson more evident than in K12 education this year. In the face of a pandemic, we closed our school buildings to protect the health of students and teachers, and were immediately confronted with the need to feed hungry children and with parents scrambling to find childcare so that they could work.  

Read more at the Benjamin Center


The Pandemic is Shaping Perceptions of Benefits

A study conducted by The Hartford in June found that 73% of workers value their organization’s insurance benefits, a drop from 80% from the same study conducted in March. The research also reveals that the pandemic is spurring employer interest in certain benefits, such as employee assistance programs, paid time off, wellness and mental health.

Read the more at Human Resource Executive


 

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Daily Briefing -131

Alaska and Delaware Added to the List of Restricted States 

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that two additional states meet the metrics to qualify for the travel advisory requiring visitors to quarantine for 14 days. The newly-added states are Alaska and Delaware. No areas have been removed.

The governor also announced that for the 11th straight day, New York State’s rate of positive tests was below 1 percent. Governor Cuomo also updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.


U.S. DOL Releases Guidance for the Lost Wages Assistance Program Created by Presidential Memorandum + FEMA Q&A

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the release of guidance to help states implement the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. LWA is authorized by Presidential Memorandum, and provides claimants in most Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs up to $400 per week additional benefits, starting with weeks of unemployment ending on or after Aug. 1, 2020, and ending Dec. 27, 2020 at the latest. LWA will be administered by states and territories through a grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and with support from the Labor Department.

To qualify for LWA benefits, individuals must provide self-certification they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and the state must confirm that the individual is receiving at least $100 of underlying unemployment benefits. 


U.S. Housing Starts Surge by Most Since 2016 and Permits Climb

U.S. home construction starts increased in July by more than forecast and applications to build surged by the most in three decades, indicating builders are responding to robust housing demand fueled by record-low interest rates.

Residential starts jumped by 22.6%, the most since October 2016, to a 1.5 million annualized rate from a month earlier, according to a government report released Tuesday. That compared with the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 1.25 million and followed an upwardly revised 1.22 million in June.

Read more at Bloomberg


NY Fed: Businesses Report Ongoing Shortfalls in Employment and Revenues

Service sector businesses, on average, indicated that about half their workforce was working on site; the average manufacturer, in contrast, noted that 84 percent of its workforce was working onsite. Of those not working onsite, the vast majority were reported to be working from home, while a modest proportion were on temporary furlough—either with or without paid benefits.

When asked about staffing levels relative to this time last year, service sector panelists indicated that they were down 15 percent, on average, while manufacturers reported an average decline of less than 4 percent. However, there was wide dispersion in the responses—especially among service firms, with 13 percent of businesses indicating increases in employment and another 13 percent reporting declines of more than 50 percent. Also, reported staff reductions tended to be a bit steeper, proportionally, among smaller firms than larger firms. Over the course of the next month, staffing levels are expected to rise slightly, on average,
at service firms, while manufacturers anticipate a further decline.

Read more at the NY Fed


Liberty Street Economics: Debt Relief and the CARES Act –  Which Borrowers Benefit the Most?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress on April 2, 2020, provided $2.2 trillion in disaster relief to combat the economic impacts of COVID-19. Among other measures, it included mortgage and student debt relief measures to alleviate the cash flow problems of borrowers. In this post, and through a series of tables and charts, the authors examine who could benefit most (and by how much) from various debt relief provisions under the CARES Act.  

Read more at the NY Fed


Walmart Q2 Earnings Soar, Led by Nearly 100% Growth In E-Commerce

Walmart (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings results, bolstered by online sales that skyrocketed 97% during the period, as the coronavirus crisis prompted consumers to flock to e-commerce for their needs.

Here were the main numbers compared to Bloomberg consensus forecasts:

  • Revenue: $137.7 billion vs. expectations of $135.6 billion
  • Adjusted EPS: $1.56 vs. expectations of $1.24
  • Walmart U.S. comp-store sales (excluding gas):  9.3% versus 5.3% expectations
  • Walmart U.S. e-commerce sales: up 97 %

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Home Depot Q2 Sales Soar 23%

Home Depot on Tuesday reported that its quarterly sales soared 23% as consumers stuck in the house during the coronavirus pandemic tackled home improvement projects.

Shares of the company rose 2.6% in premarket trading.

Here’s what the company reported for the fiscal second quarter compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • EPS: $4.02 vs. $3.71 expected
  • Revenue: $38.05 billion vs. $34.53 billion expected

Home Depot’s profit also surged 25% to $4.33 billion, or $4.02 per share, during the fiscal second quarter ended Aug. 2, up from $3.48 billion, or $3.17 per share, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting earnings per share of $3.71.

Read more at CNBC


Target Q2 Results Soar 24.3%

Sales online and at stores open for at least a year climbed by 24.3% during the quarter ended Aug. 1— an all-time high for the retailer. Same-store sales climbed by 10.9% while the company’s digital sales nearly tripled from a year earlier.

Here’s how the company did in the second quarter versus what analysts forecast, based on average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

Adjusted EPS: $3.38, vs. $1.62 expected
Revenue: $23 billion, vs. $20.09 billion expected
Same-store sales growth: 24.3%, vs. 7.6% expected, according to a StreetAccount survey

Read more at CNBC


Lowes Q2 Results Soar 30%

Lowe’s on Wednesday blew past Wall Street forecasts with a 30% surge in revenue and 68.7% jump in profit as consumers shifted spending from restaurants and travel to home improvement projects during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what the company reported for the quarter ended July 31 compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted EPS: $3.75 vs. $2.95 expected
    Revenue: $27.3 billion vs. $24.27 billion expected

Read more at CNBC


 

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