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Daily Briefing -178

NYS COVID and Micro Cluster Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing from Albany yesterday providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, October 25th. Tracking data for the hotspots and the rest of the State are below.  

Here is a summary of positivity rates:

  • 20 hotspot zip codes: 3.25%
  • Orange Hot Zone: 1.54%
  • Rockland Hot Zone: 8.53%
  • Statewide: 1.45%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.18%

Here are some useful links:


“Mask Up” Campaign to Benefit COVID-19 Relief Efforts

New York is partnering in with The RealReal and dozens of New York fashion designers to launch “Mask Up” – a five-week campaign to benefit COVID-19 relief efforts and encourage everyone to wear masks. As a part of this campaign, there will be themed mask releases every Monday.  A limited edition “New York Tough” mask designed by the acclaimed New York fashion label Public School was released today as part of the campaign. Governor Cuomo’s daughter Mariah has been volunteering on this project.

Read the press release


Europe Imposes New Covid-19 Restrictions as Second Wave Accelerates

Daily confirmed infections in Europe, which overtook the U.S.’s daily detected infections during October, are threatening to overwhelm European countries’ capacity to test, trace and isolate virus carriers, leading authorities and health experts to warn that the pandemic could intensify. Governments are hoping that last-ditch measures such as curbs on socializing and nightlife can reduce contagion again without strangling Europe’s economic recovery.

France announced a daily record for coronavirus infections, with confirmed infections reaching over 52,000 on Sunday. Italy, struggling with an explosive rise in infections, imposed the toughest restrictions on its population since ending its lockdown, including the closure of all bars and restaurants at 6 p.m. In Spain, the government announced a state of emergency, as it did in March, giving national authorities greater powers to impose social-distancing and emergency health-care policies.

Read more in the WSJ


Monday Economic Report: State Job Creation, PMI, Conference Board Survey and More

Michigan created the most net new manufacturing jobs in September, adding 5,200 workers. Other states with notable employment growth for the month included Wisconsin (up 4,800), Maine (up 4,700), Florida (up 3,700), South Carolina (up 3,600), Georgia (up 3,300) and Ohio (up 3,100). Despite gains over the past five months, manufacturing employment figures continue to experience sizable declines due to COVID-19.

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index rose 0.7% in September, increasing for the fifth straight month but still 4.1% lower than pre-pandemic levels in February.

Monday Economic Report 2020-1026


Stocks Slide on Virus Rise, Fading Stimulus Hopes

U.S. stocks dropped sharply, with the Dow industrials down about 650 points, as coronavirus cases surged in America and Europe, adding to worries about the economic outlook after Congress and the White House failed to agree on a fiscal stimulus deal

Read more at the WSJ


Survey: COVID-19 Isn’t Cancelling the Holidays Season 

Consumers are expected to spend an average of $1,387 per household this season, with the pandemic shifting how and where consumers will shop, according to Deloitte’s 35th annual holiday retail survey released on Oct. 20. 

“In this season of uncertainty, price, value and convenience continue to be top considerations for consumers, as is the desire to get creative with how they celebrate the season with family, friends and pets, no matter the circumstances,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution leader

See the key findings at Material Handling and Logistics


Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee Dies at 78

Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee, who transformed the South Korean firm into a global tech titan, died at the age of 78 on Sunday, the company said. Under Lee’s leadership, Samsung rose to become the world’s largest producer of smartphones and memory chips, and the firm’s overall turnover today is equivalent to a fifth of South Korea’s GDP.

Samsung’s meteoric rise helped make Lee South Korea’s richest and most powerful industrialist.

Read more at IndustryWeek


The Hidden Costs of Working From Home

Nearly half of the American workforce recently entered their seventh straight month of working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. As of June, 42 percent of American workers were working from home, while 26 percent of workers were reporting to work in person, according to Stanford University.

“Working from home has ups and downsides on costs,” Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom told NBC News. “Of course, you do have to pay more water and you do have to pay more electricity … On the other hand, you have to set that against you’ve saved a lot of money on commuting.”

Read more at NBC News


Survey: Pandemic Fueling Stress Among Workers

One quarter of workers have considered leaving their jobs due to pandemic-driven stress, according to a study by SAP and AP-NORC. The survey reveals 80% of respondents said they felt positively about their employer’s response to the pandemic.

A quarter of the people we spoke with said they were considering quitting their job, and there was not a big difference between those working remotely and those who had to leave the home to work. But employees who are still going into a workplace were more likely to say they experienced a higher amount of stress, she said.  In addition, the poll found that 28% of those surveyed have cut back on their hours, and 20% have had to take leave.

Read more at CNN

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 177

NYS COVID and Micro Cluster Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing via phone call yesterday providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, October 24th.  Tracking data for the hotspots and the rest of the State is below.  In addition to the COVID update the Governor also spoke about early voting and again called one the federal government to help the state with its budget challenges. 

Here is a summary of positivity rates:

  • 20 hotspot zip codes: 3.10%
  • Orange Hot Zone: 1.21%
  • Rockland Hot Zone: 2.78%
  • Statewide: 1.30%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.06%

Here are some useful links:


DiNapoli: Halfway Through the Year, Revenue Hole Persists

Halfway through the state’s fiscal year, state tax receipts are trailing last year by $2.8 billion, according to the September State Cash Report released by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

State tax revenues totaled $8.8 billion in September, $922.3 million higher than the latest projections by the state Division of the Budget (DOB). Total tax revenues in September were a net $364.1 million higher than those in 2019, primarily due to a $440 million increase in personal income tax collections resulting partly from an additional day in September of withholding collections and lower refunds.

Read more at the controllers website


Jobless Claims Fall

Weekly initial claims for jobless benefits, a proxy for layoffs, fell by 55,000 to a seasonally adjusted 787,000 in the week ended Oct. 17, the Labor Department said Thursday. Claims for the prior two weeks were revised lower, reflecting new data from California. The revised level of claims for the week ended Oct. 3—767,000—was the lowest since the March 14 week, when less than 300,000 new claims were filed.

The number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs, which cover most workers, decreased by 1 million to about 8.4 million for the week ended Oct. 10, also the lowest since March. That is consistent with many employers recalling workers furloughed earlier this year, and some, such as online retailers and logistics firms, adding staff.

Read more in the WSJ


Workers Who Lost jobs Because of COVID-19 Find New Careers in These Fields

As the health crisis continues to rage across the country and more temporary job losses become permanent, a small but growing number of laid-off and working Americans in hard-hit industries like restaurants, retail and travel are switching to new careers or occupations. Many are transitioning to sectors that have thrived during the pandemic, such as technology, health care, real estate, banking, and warehousing and delivery.

Sixty-three percent of workers who lost jobs because of the outbreak have changed their industry and 4% have changed their field or overall career path, according to a Harris Poll survey for USA TODAY. Community colleges haven’t seen much of an uptick in students due to social distancing, but enrollment in online skills courses such as web development and financial analysis are up significantly.

Read more at USA Today


 

AstraZeneca, J&J Resuming US Tests of COVID-19 Vaccines

The Food and Drug Administration has given AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson permission to resume Phase 3 trials of their respective covid-19 vaccines. Both drug makers had paused the process after participants fell ill. The FDA concluded that there was no evidence that the subjects’ illnesses were caused by the vaccines.

Read more at the AP


Can Employers Require Mandatory Vaccinations?

The discussion from Greenwald Doherty relates to flu vaccination issues, which may be instructive for when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. They do note that the circumstances, law, and guidance relating to a COVID-19 vaccine may be different than those that apply to flu vaccination and could compel a different analysis.

In industries where employees serve and interact with populations who are more susceptible to contracting the flu (such as healthcare or early education), employers are likely permitted to (or required to in some states) require flu vaccination. Employers outside of these industries, however, face the challenge to articulate the basis (other than the general intention to keep the workplace safe) of the need for such a policy.

Read more at Greenwald Doherty


Survey of Supply Chain Pros Reveals Biggest Pandemic Concerns

According to a new survey by Supplyframe, 32% of surveyed supply chain professionals who work at North American medical supply companies anticipate it will take six to 12 months for global supply chains to return to full capacity for vaccine distribution.

A majority of respondents were concerned with how U.S.-China relations might impact supply chains: specifically, 82% worried that tariffs with China could impact the availability of personal protective equipment and medical devices, and 26% said medical gear will be more difficult to source. A fifth of respondents anticipate continued product shortages, and 30% said U.S. manufacturing capacity needs to be higher.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Cuomo: Eight Additional NYS Companies to Start Producing COVID-19 Related Equipment and Supplies to Support In-State Needs

Governor Cuomo Friday announced that eight additional State companies have received support from New York to produce needed supplies to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. These grant funds will help alleviate product shortages due to supply chain issues that could lead to unfair pricing practices. These companies will also increase the State’s manufacturing capacity while creating new jobs and market opportunities. To date, more than $16 million in grants have been awarded to 28 qualifying New York-based companies to retool their business lines and pivot to manufacturing vital supplies for ongoing response and recovery efforts.

Read more and see the recipients


“Glocalisation” Opportunity Out of Crisis in Asia

While globalization may be under threat, so-called glocalisation looks set to resurge. In essence, to be “glocal” means making the most of both global and local resources—creating standalone ecosystems in individual markets.

By many accounts, the advent of COVID-19 promises to accelerate an end to the globalized world taken for granted in the 21st century. Boston Consulting Group (BCG), for example, forecasts global trade to drop by 20% in 2020 and doesn’t expect trade to return to the US$18trn recorded in 2019 until 2023. With supply chains thrown into chaos, countries are turning their gaze inwards with a new appreciation for self-sufficiency. Symbolic of this shift, the world’s two largest economies appear to be on a path to decouple their economies and technology ecosystems.

Read more at The Economist Intelligence Unit


Deeper Dive: Should Covid Be Left to Spread Among the Young and Healthy?

As new waves of covid-19 sweep the world, lockdowns are back in fashion. This time, though, they are a harder sell. They certainly save lives. But it is now clear that the lost jobs, the disruption to education and medical services, and the harm to mental health that they cause all exact tolls of their own—and these are paid not just in misery, but in deaths. Systems of “test and trace”, intended to stop those exposed to the virus from passing it on, seem to have worked in some places, but not in others.

In the absence of a vaccine, or of effective drug treatments, the question of how much longer this can go on for is thus being asked more insistently. And on October 4th a trio of public-health experts from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford universities put out a petition calling on governments to change course in a radical way.

Read more in The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 176

NYS COVID and Micro Cluster Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday, October 21th.  Tracking data for the hotspots and the rest of the State is below.
 
Summary of positivity rates:
  • 20 hotspot zip codes: 3.20%
  • Orange Hot Zone: 5.32%
  • Rockland Hot Zone: 2.02%
  • Statewide: 1.20%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 0.96%
Here are some useful links:

New York’s Cluster Update: Frequently Asked Questions

This week has brought some major changes to New York’s cluster action initiative. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released guidance about how cluster zones are designated and how the cluster zone designation may be changed. Further, the Governor has updated the already-existing cluster zones and added new cluster zones. Bond Schoeneck and King attorneys discuss frequently asked questions about the clusters and updated maps for the cluster zones.

Read more at BSK


Talks Continue on Relief Package, Doubts Remain

Negotiators on both sides of the House pledged to continue talks to provide further coronavirus relief measures, despite opposition to the move from Senate Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has urged the White House to avoid reaching a deal before the election, while other Republican voices in the Senate played down the prospects for an agreement.

Read the full Story at CNN


Vaccine Trials Near Finish Line

In just a few weeks, we will begin to see results from late-stage trials for possible COVID-19 vaccines, A Amid all the challenges and chaos of the U.S. pandemic response, the vaccine development process has actually been relatively quick and smooth. Biopharmaceutical manufacturers and scientists have managed to move forward at an unprecedented speed, largely keeping politics out of the process and maintaining confidence in the eventual results. Ultimately, six different vaccine candidates have so far been developed, tested and scaled on a timeline that had previously been unthinkable.

Today, independent advisers to the Food and Drug Administration will meet to have their first formal discussion about whether and how they will recommend specific vaccines for use by the public. Those decisions will take place after the vaccine candidates complete their late-stage trials and are submitted for approval. The next big challenge—assuming at least one of the vaccine candidates is deemed successful—will be producing the astronomical number of vaccine doses that will be needed to inoculate the public in the United States and around the globe.

Read more at the Washington Post (subscription) 


Chappaqua’s Ishana Kumar, 12, Wins Top Award For Research Into ‘Imaginary Colors’

Ishana Kumar, 12, from Chappaqua, New York, won the coveted $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, the top award in the Broadcom MASTERS®, the nation’s premier science and engineering competition for middle school students.

Through her project, Ishana investigated whether retinal fatigue changes our perception of “imaginary colors,” an illusion of color most commonly seen from a spinning black and white disk, called a Benham’s disk. She had her subjects look at the Benham’s disk, and then stare at a red, blue or green light. Next, her subjects stared back at Benham’s disk, and determined whether the imaginary colors changed as a result of retinal fatigue, the phenomenon that occurs when someone stares at a brightly lit, colored area for a while. Ishana’s research could lead to a better understanding of eye disease, our neural pathways as well as both color and cognitive processing.

Listen to the story at NPR


Coronavirus Threatens to Push the Child-Care Industry Over the Edge

The coronavirus pandemic has plunged U.S. day cares into a financial crisis.  Child-care centers across the country—big chains, tiny in-home operations, nonprofits—are teetering. Enrollment slumped in the spring and never fully recovered. Extra expenses, like protective gear and deep cleaning, are piling up. By some estimates, some 40% of U.S. day cares are closed. Many of those that are open have half the number of children they did.

Lawmakers and economists are warning that many child-care providers will fail without government help. If that happens, parents who struggled to find a day-care slot before the pandemic would have to compete for even fewer spaces when it is over. Already, the pandemic is forcing many mothers out of the workforce, a decision likely to hurt their career prospects for years. And if parents can’t work, the economy can’t flourish.

Read more in the WSJ


SLC 2020 Q&A:  How Amazon Manages Risk with Better and Faster Data

Heather MacDougall, Amazon worldwide vice president of workplace health and safety, will speak at the at the 2020 Safety Leadership Conference, which takes place Nov. 10-12 virtually. She will discuss how Amazon is leveraging technology to keep workers at a growing network of fulfillment centers safe while meeting customer demand.

MacDougall previews her session, “Safety Technology: Using Innovation to Solve Challenges and Drive Improvement,” in a Q&A with EHS Today.

Read the Q&A at EHS Today


America After Covid: What Demographics Tell Us

The pre-pandemic migration from large American cities to the suburbs and small towns is continuing, write demographers Wendell Cox and Joel Kotkin. The most expensive cities, such as New York, will continue to be attractive but will also face competition from less expensive alternatives around the country, they argue.

Read the full story at Chief Executive online


 

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Daily Briefing – 175

NYS Micro Cluster and Covid Update

At a briefing for reporters yesterday Governor Cuomo provided an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday, October 20th.  The “micro-cluster” initiative seeks to detect small outbreaks and contain them within a geographic area, with buffer zones with fewer restrictions to monitor the spread from “micro-clusters”. The State has placed restrictions on social and economic activities within “micro-clusters” based on the extent of COVID-19 spread. A “red zone” is an area with the highest positivity rates, an “orange zone” is the area immediately surrounding the “red zone,” and a “yellow zone” is an area surrounding the “orange zone.”
 
The initiative began fourteen days ago, during which time the NYSDOH has studied the data to determine whether “micro-cluster” areas have successfully reduced viral spread to a level where restrictions can be eased. New York will begin to adjust zones based on the following metrics:
  • To exit a “red zone”: under 3% after 10 days (4% in less populated areas)
  • To exit an “orange zone”: under 2% after 10 days (3% in less populated areas)
  • To exit a “yellow zone”: under 1.5% after 10 days (2% in less populated areas)
  • Additional considerations include hospitalization trends, source of new cases, local government enforcement efforts, and community cooperation.
Tracking data for the clusters and the rest of the State is below.
 
Summary of positivity rates:
  • 20 Cluster zip codes: 6.61%
  • Orange Red Zone (10 Day Average): 4.20%
  • Rockland Red Zone (10 Day Average): 4.80%
  • Statewide: 1.62%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.42%
Here are some useful links:

Some Further Details on the  New York Paid Sick Leave Law Guidance from Harris Beach

On the Monday New York State released long-anticipated guidance on the state’s new Paid Sick Leave Law, or “PSL.” The new law is not limited to coronavirus-related situations. It is instead a new, permanent sick leave mandate for almost all businesses and non-profit employers in New York State. The guidance is available here.

The law functionally goes into effect on January 1, 2021. On that date, employees may start using Paid Sick Leave. As of September 30, however, employees were to begin “accruing” Paid Sick Leave at a rate of 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. Employers should keep track of how much leave their employees will have accrued as of January 1. Alternatively, employers may choose to “frontload” employees’ Sick Leave allotment at the beginning of the year.

Read more from Harris Beach 


Coronavirus Stimulus Talks Make Progress 

White House and Democratic negotiators said they would press ahead with efforts to reach a sweeping coronavirus relief deal after making progress Tuesday, even as the prospect of a roughly $2 trillion package sparked opposition from Senate Republicans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) had indicated that she hoped to pin the White House down on enough issues by the end of the day Tuesday to be able to determine whether a deal could be passed before the Nov. 3 election. After Tuesday’s discussion, both sides said they were willing to continue their discussions without decisively establishing whether a deal will be possible.

Read more in the WSJ


Meanwhile… The Senate Takes Up $500 Billion Package

The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday will take up a $500 billion COVID-19 stimulus package, a bill unlikely to make it out of the Senate as relief negotiations drag on less than two weeks before Election Day.

The bill would give a federal boost to weekly unemployment benefits, send over $100 billion to schools, and allocate funding for testing and vaccine development. Democrats are expected to block the legislation, arguing more money is needed to combat the virus and help Americans.  Its $500 billion price tag is far less than the roughly $1.8 trillion package the White House has offered and the $2.2 trillion package Democrats have backed. The two parties have spent months attempting to find a bipartisan agreement for one last batch of coronavirus stimulus relief before the election. 

Read more in USA Today


Single-Family Homebuilding Increases

U.S. single-family homebuilding raced to a more than 13-year high in September, cementing the housing market’s status as the star of the economic recovery amid record-low mortgage rates and a migration to the suburbs and low-density areas in search of more room for home offices and schooling.

The report from the Commerce Department on Tuesday also showed building permits and housing completions scaling levels last seen in 2007. That could help to ease an acute shortage of homes for sale, which has fueled house price inflation.  The data reinforced expectations that the economy rebounded sharply in the third quarter after suffering its deepest contraction in at least 73 years in the second quarter.

Read More are Reuters


Meanwhile… Mortgage Demand Falls for the Fourth Straight Week

Homebuyer demand is incredibly strong compared with last year, but there appears to be a slight pullback this month.  A drop in buyer demand caused total mortgage application volume to fall 0.6% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

Applications to purchase a home fell 2% for the week, the fourth straight week of declines. Purchase demand is down nearly 7% compared with four weeks ago. Volume, however, is still 26% higher than one year ago. The drop may be seasonal, although not much has conformed to normal patterns in the year of Covid-19. It may be more a factor of the incredibly low supply of homes for sale. Inventory continues to set record lows, especially at the entry level of the market.

Read more at CNBC


DOD Researchers Collaborate on Universal Antibody Test for COVID-19

Researchers from the U.S. Army Futures Command, in collaboration with Houston Methodist, Pennsylvania State University, and UT Austin, tested alternative ways to measure COVID-19 antibody level resulting in a process that is faster, easier and less expensive to use on a large scale. Their method holds promise for accurately identifying potential donors who have the best chance of helping infected patients through convalescent plasma therapy.

Read more at Global Biodefense


How Pfizer Plans to Distribute Coronavirus Vaccines

Pfizer has spent roughly $2 billion developing a coronavirus vaccine and is setting up its logistics network to ensure speedy distribution if the vaccine receives authorization. The drugmaker’s logistics plan involves reusable frozen containers, along with cargo planes and trucks to handle the delivery of up to 100 million doses this year and 1.3 billion next year.

Read the full story at the WSJ


Big Ten Football, The Midwest and COVID-19

With the first Big Ten football games scheduled for this weekend, Johns Hopkins looks at the current state of the COVID-19 epidemic in these states compared to where they were on August 11 when the season was originally put on hold. In mid-August, most of the states that are home to Big Ten Schools were beginning to come down from the peak of their respective summer COVID-19 surges. Since that time, however, nearly every one of these states has reported increased COVID-19 incidence.

Notably, all except Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have reported new record high daily incidence since the first announcement in August. Additionally, Wisconsin and Nebraska are currently reporting higher per capita daily incidence than New Jersey did at its first peak in April. Most of the Big Ten states are also reporting increased test positivity since August. 

Read More at Johns Hopkins


 

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Daily Briefing – 174

Two States added to Restricted States List, Non-Essential Between Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Discouraged

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced that Arizona and Maryland have been added to New York’s COVID-19 travel advisory. No areas have been removed. 43 states meet the criteria for requiring individuals who have traveled to New York 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. 

Neighboring states Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania now meet the criteria for the travel advisory, however, given the interconnected nature of the region and mode of transport between us, a quarantine on these states is not practically viable. That said, New York State highly discourages, to the extent practical, non-essential travel to and from these states while they meet the travel advisory criteria. 


Cuomo: “Hot Spot” Numbers Improve

At a briefing for reporters yesterday Governor Cuomo provided an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday, October 19th.  Tracking data for the hotspots and the rest of the State is below.
 
Summary of positivity rates:
  • 20 hotspot zip codes: 2.9%
  • Orange Hot Zone: 6.00%
  • Rockland Hot Zone: 1.99%
  • Statewide: 1.3%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.2%
Here are some useful links:

In Advance of “Deadline” Pelosi and Mnuchin Make Progress in Stimulus Talks

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made progress in their latest coronavirus stimulus talks Monday as time runs short to reach a deal before the 2020 election.

In a nearly one-hour phone call, the pair “continued to narrow their differences,” the California Democrat’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, said in a tweeted statement. Pelosi has directed House committee chairs to work to resolve areas of disagreement with the White House, and the speaker and Mnuchin plan to talk again Tuesday, Hammill added.

Read more at CNBC


NYS Paid Sick Leave Guidance and FAQ

The New York State Department of Labor has released guidelines and FAQs for the paid sick leave law enacted earlier this year. The guidance addresses several issues including: the amount of leave employees are eligible to receive, accrual calculations, employee eligibility to participate in the program, permitted uses for paid leave, existing employer programs, and retaliation against employees for use of paid sick leave.

All private-sector employees in New York State are covered, regardless of industry, occupation, part-time status, and overtime exempt status. Federal, state, and local government employees are not covered, but employees of charter schools, private schools, and not-for-profit corporations are covered.


OSHA Announces $1,222,156 In Coronavirus Violations

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Oct. 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited 85 establishments for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $1,222,156.

OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:

Read more at OSHA.gov


Atlanta Fed’s Bostic Says Recovery Threatened By Permanent Layoffs

It will be a while before the U.S. economy is fully recovered and before the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates or remove the support it is providing financial markets, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Raphael Bostic said on Monday.

“On balance, I am comfortable with our current policy stance,” Bostic said in remarks prepared for a virtual event organized for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Annual Meeting. “As I have detailed today, though the U.S. economy continues to show clear signs of recovery, there remain significant portions where the recovery has been weak or nonexistent.”

Read more at Reuters


New York’s Private Jobs Rebound Still Trails Most of U.S.

The Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon reports that as of September, New York’s private job count was down 12.1 percent from the same month in 2019, based on non-seasonally adjusted BLS and state Labor Department data.

The Empire State’s year-to-year decrease was almost double the national decline of 6.9 percent. Only one other state—tourism-intensive Hawaii—was further below its 2019 employment level, with a decline of 21.5 percent. As shown on the map in the article, Alaska and Vermont were the only other states with double-digit percentage declines in employment on a year-to-year basis.

Read more from the Empire Center


CDC Releases New COVID-19 Vaccine Specific Web Content

The CDC has added vaccine-specific content to its COVID-19 website. CDC’s new resources include information on vaccination planning, how vaccine safety is being ensured, and frequently asked questions. These resources are intended to clarify how COVID-19 vaccine recommendations will be made and how the vaccines will be monitored for safety, in order to build trust and confidence in future COVID-19 vaccines.

The CDC anticipates making frequent updates to this website, as well as CDC’s Vaccination and Immunization website, as more information becomes available and as vaccines become authorized or approved and recommended for use in the United States.

Read more at NACCHO 


DOD, HHS Name Partners to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines in Long-Term Care Facilities

Last Friday, Operation Warp Speed (OWS) named Walgreens and CVS as nationwide partners in the effort. Long-term care facilities will be able to sign up to have either CVS or Walgreens come to their locations to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to residents and staff. The program is free of charge to facilities, and is opt-in only.

“We are not imposing the solution on any nursing home,” Mango said. “This is voluntary, they have to opt in. This is an adjunct to what other solutions may be, but this will be something that will be available to every nursing home and senior living facility in the country.”

Read more at the DOD


GM Announces $2 Billion to Retrofit Tennessee Plant for Electric Cadillac

Spring Hill Manufacturing in Tennessee will join General Motor Co.’s Michigan plants in Detroit-Hamtramck and Orion Township as the company’s third electric vehicle plant. In a statement released October 20, GM said it would invest $2 billion in Spring Hill and a combined $152.5 million of investments on plants in Michigan.

The Spring Hill Assembly Plant, which currently produces two Cadillacs, will add a third to its production, the electric Cadillac Lyriq. The factory will build both the traditional XT6 and XT5 Cadillacs in addition to the new electric luxury model. According to GM, the renovation work at Spring Hill will include comprehensive upgrades to general assembly and major expansions of the paint and body shops, which will “begin immediately.”

Read more in IndustryWeek


 

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Daily Briefing – 172

Cuomo Outlines New Micro-Cluster Strategy to Tackle COVID-19 Hot Spots – Numbers for Covid and Clusters

The micro-cluster strategy is predicated on three principles: refined detection, specific and calibrated mitigation, and focused enforcement.  There are currently “micro-clusters” in Brooklyn and Queens, as well as Rockland and Orange Counties. 

Using New York State’s approach to track cases by address with the help of nation-leading levels of testing, the State will identify outbreaks and implement mitigation measures tailored to the precise areas where outbreaks occur. The State will implement rules and restrictions directly targeted to areas with the highest concentration of COVID cases, known as red zones, and put in place less severe restrictions in surrounding communities, known as orange and yellow zones that serve as a buffer to ensure the virus does not spread beyond the central focus area. Enhanced focused testing and enforcement will follow.

Read the press release

Here are the positivity rates from 10/17

  • Summary of positivity rates:20 hotspot zip codes: 3.19%
  • Orange Red Zone: 1.04%
  • Rockland Red Zone: 2.22%
  • Statewide: 1.08%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 100%

Here are some other useful links


Movie Theaters Outside of NYC Can Reopen October 23, Ski Centers Can Reopen this Season Too

Governor Cuomo announced that theaters in counties outside of NYC with positivity rates of less than 2% can reopen at 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people per screen.  Governor Cuomo also announced that ski resorts can reopen beginning November 6th with 50 percent indoor capacity and strict compliance with state health and safety protocols.


Fed: US Manufacturing Output Dips in September, August Number Revised Up

The Federal Reserve reported U.S. factory production unexpectedly fell in September, suggesting that manufacturing’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic was slowing heading into the fourth quarter.

Manufacturing production dropped 0.3% last month, the Federal Reserve said on Friday. Data for August was revised up to show to output at factories increasing 1.2% instead of 1.0% as previously reported. Factory production remains 6.4% below its pre-pandemic level. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast manufacturing output would rise 0.7% in September.

Read more at Reuters


NY Fed Survey: Businesses Anticipate Modest Price Increases in Year Ahead

Supplementary questions to the October Empire State Manufacturing Survey and Business Leaders Survey focused on recent and expected changes in the prices paid by firms and in the prices they receive. Businesses were also asked for their estimate of overall inflation (as measured by the consumer price index, or CPI) over the next year. Some of these questions had been asked in surveys conducted in December 2019 and earlier.

In the current survey manufacturers reported an average rise of 3.6 percent over the past year and expect the rate to accelerate slightly to 3.9 percent over the next twelve months. In addition to these point estimates, respondents were also asked to gauge the likelihood that the prices they paid overall would increase or decrease within certain specified ranges. The average respondent reported a roughly two in three chance that the prices they paid would rise by 8 percent or less. Price hikes of 2-8 percent were seen as more likely than increases of 0-2 percent. Service firms, on average, reported that declines
in prices paid were more likely than increases of 8 percent or more, while manufacturers indicated the reverse.

Read the full report


U.S. Retail Spending Picked Up Strongly in September

Retail sales increased in September for the fifth month in a row, as consumers prepared for further months of working and studying from home by spending strongly on vehicles, sporting goods and at home-improvement stores. Retail sales, a measure of purchases at stores, restaurants and online, increased a seasonally adjusted 1.9% in September from the prior month, the Commerce Department said Friday.

“These are really blowout numbers, said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a consulting firm.

Read more at the WSJ


Pfizer Plans to Seek Authorization for COVID-19 Vaccine in November

Pfizer confirmed Friday it expects to seek emergency authorization of its experimental vaccine against Covid-19, if it is effective, in the third week of November.

An analysis of the efficacy of the vaccine could be available sooner, the company said in an open letter from its CEO, Albert Bourla, but required safety data will take longer. The timelines included in the letter are not new, based on disclosures the company has previously made about the status of its vaccine effort with the German biotechnology firm BioNTech. But the need for Bourla, who had previously said a vaccine could be available by October, to make a public announcement emphasizes the tense political conditions surrounding the race for a vaccine.

Read more at Statnews


Hudson Valley Region September Job Numbers

The September 2020 over-the-year job losses continue to reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.  At 727,200, private sector job count has reached its lowest September level since 2010.  Meanwhile, the over-the-month change – a gain of 5,700, reflects the reopening of the economy.  The historical average over-the-month change between August and September is a loss of 3,000.

For the 12-month period ending September 2020, the private sector job count in the Hudson Valley fell by 86,600, or 10.6 percent, to 727,200.  Job losses were centered in leisure and hospitality (-33,600), trade, transportation and utilities (-14,500), professional and business services (-10,600), educational and health services (-9,200), other services (-8,600), natural resources, mining and construction (-5,100), manufacturing (-3,800), and financial activities (-1,000).

There were 39,300 manufacturing Jobs in the Valley in September 2020 down 3,800 from September 2019 and 100 from the previous month 

Labor Market Profile Hudson Valley SEP 2020


DiNapoli: New York State Ranks Second Nationally in Jobs Lost

While all states have lost employment since the COVID-19 pandemic struck earlier this year, the average state experienced job losses of 7.6 % during the pandemic, New York lost 12.8%.  New York surpasses almost every other state in both number and percentage of job losses. From February through August 2020, the Empire State ranks second to Hawaii in percentage of employment decline and second only to California in the total number. During that same period, unemployment in the State rose from 3.7 percent to 12.5 percent, based on preliminary estimates.

Read more at the Controller’s website  

The Reasons Behind America’s New Wave of Lay-Offs

The jobs picture is likely to get worse before it gets better. The pandemic is the proximate cause, but the deeper driver is bosses preparing for a new economy. David Garfield of AlixPartners, an advisory firm, reckons if companies must make do with only 70-90% of historical sales, as may happen with an anemic recovery, they cannot survive without “major restructuring”. Mr. Garfield believes firms must reduce complexity if they want to build resilience into supply and distribution networks. 

Bain, another consultancy, sees American companies “retooling for the new normal” by ploughing $5trn-10trn over the next decade into automation. This may kill old-fashioned jobs in the short term, but create new, tech-savvy ones over time.  “This is your moment to strike as chief executive if you want a dramatic change in market share,” says Hernan Saenz of Bain.

Read more in The Economist


China’s Economy Accelerates – GDP Plus 4.9 Percent

Growth in the world’s second-largest economy accelerated to 4.9% over a year earlier in the three months ending in September, up from the previous quarter’s 3.2%, official data showed Monday. Retail spending rebounded to above pre-virus levels for the first time and factory output rose, boosted by demand for exports of masks and other medical supplies.

China is the only major economy that is expected to grow this year while activity in the United States, Europe and Japan shrinks.  The recovery is “broadening out and becoming less reliant” on government stimulus, Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report. He said growth is “still accelerating” heading into the present quarter.

Read more at the AP


 

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Daily Briefing – 170

Cuomo Announces State Will Withhold Funds for Localities and Schools That Fail to Enforce Public Health Law

Governor Cuomo  announced yesterday that the State will withhold funds for localities and schools in COVID-19 cluster zones that fail to enforce public health laws. The New York State Department of Health will send a letter warning local governments in cluster zones that they will lose state funding if they fail to enforce state limits on gatherings and the closure of schools. The letter will be sent to New York City, Orange County, Rockland County, the Town of Ramapo and the Village of Spring Valley.

Governor Cuomo also announced that DOH will send an additional letter warning public and private schools in cluster zones that they will lose state funding if they do not comply with state requirements on closure and testing.

Read the press release


NYS COVID-19 Numbers and Cluster Initiative Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, October 12th.  Within the “Red Zone” focus areas, 4,138 test results were reported yesterday, yielding 171 positives or a 4.13 percent positivity rate. In the remainder of the state, not counting these “Red Zone” focus areas, 94,932 test results were reported, yielding 1,222 positives or a 1.2 percent positivity rate. Tracking data for the hotspots as compared to the rest of the State is below.
 
Summary of positivity rates:
  • 20 hotspot zip codes: 3.70%
  • Orange 10950: 3.51%
  • Statewide: 1.12%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.05%
Here are some useful links

Consumer Prices Rise

The consumer price index rose 0.2% last month, after gaining 0.4% in August, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. Prices for used cars and trucks rose 6.7% in September after a 5.4% gain in August and are now up 10.3% in the past 12 months. The September increase is the largest monthly increase since February 1969.

Overall inflation for the last 12 months is up 1.4% while core inflation, which excludes energy and food, is up 1.7%.

Read more from the Associate Press


 

IMF Revises its 2020 Global GDP Forecast Higher, 2021 Lower

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday turned slightly more positive on the global economy for this year, but warned of a “long, uneven and uncertain” recovery.  The global economy is now projected to contract by 4.4% in 2020 — an upward revision from an estimate of -4.9% made in June (which has now also been revised to -5.2% due to a new methodology used by the IMF). The IMF’s forecast assumes that social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic will continue into 2021, and that local transmission will fall everywhere by the end of 2022.

The IMF projected “only limited progress” going forward and cut its gross domestic product growth expectations for next year to 5.2%, from an estimate of 5.4% made in June.

Read more at CNBC


Global Study Shows What Workers Want, Expect and Value in Their Employers

According to a new survey, , “Hindsight 2020: COVID-19 Concerns into 2021, 35% of employees and business leaders wish their offices had closed faster and safety measures for essential workers had been implemented sooner. Still, 20% of surveyed workers felt their organization met their needs.

The Workforce Institute commissioned the survey, which Savanta, Inc. conducted in June 2020. A total of 3,903 employees and business leaders between the ages of 18 and 55 responded to general questions about leadership, employee attitudes around trust and crisis response/management from 11 countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States.

Read the story and key findings from the survey at EHS Today


Gender Employment Gap Widens with Start of Virtual School Year

Women dropped out of the labor force in staggeringly high numbers last month, underscoring how female workers have disproportionately borne the economic brunt of the pandemic, in large part because of changes to child care and schooling.

The disparity threatens to set back decades of progress in closing workplace gender gaps and hinder the overall recovery from the coronavirus recession.

Read more at The Hill


The “K Shaped” Recovery 

Economists analyzing the U.S. path to recovery are worried that inside national measures of economic growth lie deepening divisions between industries and people as some sectors recover fast, while employment in the leisure and hospitality industry, for example, remains 20% below where it was in February.

Within the roughly 5,000 worst-off zip codes nearly a quarter of working adults were employed in service occupations as of 2018. By contrast, in prosperous zip codes only 13% of employed adults were in service jobs, while half were in management or professional occupations, a group of jobs considered more adaptable to work-from-home arrangements.

Read more and see plenty of graphics at Reuters


World Economic Forum Survey: 5 Workforce Priorities During the Pandemic and Beyond

In a recent survey of manufacturing companies, respondents were asked to assess their own organizations with input from the shop floor, executives and peers. The dominant theme: “Empowering the factory workforce with knowledge and digital tools”, will be essential to surviving the current pandemic and ensuring that operations can adapt to change anytime, anywhere – crisis or not. Along with that, having strong operational standards and lean practices are critical for navigating this crisis and the future of manufacturing.

Read more at the World Economic Forum


Eli Lilly Pauses Trial of Antibody drug Over Safety Concern

Eli Lilly put a temporary halt to tests of a treatment for covid-19, just a day after Johnson & Johnson suspended trials of its vaccine. Lilly cited a “potential safety concern” with its antibody therapy, which President Donald Trump has flattered as a “cure”. Reuters reported that federal drug inspectors have “uncovered serious quality-control problems” at one of Lilly’s manufacturing plants.

Read more at Reuters


 

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Daily Briefing – 169

Three States Added to Restricted List

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Ohio, Michigan and Virginia have been added to New York State’s COVID-19 travel advisory. No areas 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.


New York State Cluster Update and Other COVID-19 Numbers

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, October 12th.  Within the “Red Zone” focus areas, 4,138 test results were reported yesterday, yielding 171 positives or a 4.13 percent positivity rate. In the remainder of the state, not counting these “Red Zone” focus areas, 94,932 test results were reported, yielding 1,222 positives or a 1.2 percent positivity rate.Tracking data for the hotspots as compared to the rest of the State is below.
 
Summary of positivity rates:
  • 20 hotspot zip codes: 4.13%
  • Orange 10950: 14.38%
  • Statewide: 1.4%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.2%
Here are some useful links

Manufacturing Economy Report: Manufacturing Job Openings Labor Force and More

Manufacturing job openings in August reached 460,000, up from 430,000 in July and the best reading since July 2019 (477,000). With that said, nonfarm business job openings declined from 6,697,000 in July to 6,493,000 in August, with fewer postings in construction, financial activities, health care, information and retail trade.

Overall, 13,550,000 Americans were unemployed in August, down significantly from 23,078,000 in April but up sharply from 5,787,000 in February. That translates into 2.1 unemployed workers for every one job opening in August, down from 4.6 in April but up from 0.8 in February.

Monday Economic Report 2020-1013


McConnell: Senate to Vote on New Funding for Small Businesses Next Week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said the Senate would vote on a narrow coronavirus relief bill next week, setting up a potential showdown with Democrats who have pushed for an agreement on a broader aid package.

Mr. McConnell said in a statement that the legislation would include new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, a $670 billion federal initiative that provides forgivable government-backed loans to small businesses grappling with the economic fallout of the pandemic. Authorization for PPP expired in August with roughly $130 billion of the funds left over.

Read more at the WSJ


US Machine Tool Orders Fell Again in August

U.S. machine shops and other manufactures booked new orders worth $297.7 million during August, -11.5% less than during July and -21.7% less than during August 2019. These orders bring the 2020 year-to-date (January to August) to $2.3 billion, which is -24.3% less than the eight-month total for 2019.

The data is provided by AMT – the Assn. of Manufacturing Technology in its latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report. The monthly report is a forward-looking index to manufacturing activity, tracking manufacturers capital investments in anticipation of future work orders.

Read more at American Machinist


Chinese Imports from U.S. Soar 24.8 Percent in September While Medical Equipment and Work-From-Home Gear Fuel Export Growth

China’s exports topped market expectations for a sixth straight month, rising 9.9% from a year earlier in September—the quickest pace in more than a year—as China continued to benefit from coronavirus-fueled demand for medical equipment and work-from-home electronic products. The strong trade figures point to a robust recovery that most economists expect will show China regaining its pre-coronavirus growth trajectory of between 5% and 6% when it reports third-quarter gross domestic product figures on Monday.

China’s purchases from its top three trading partners accelerated rapidly last month, with imports from the U.S. rebounding by the largest margin. China’s imports from the U.S. soared 24.8% in September from a year earlier, accelerating from a 1.8% increase in August.

Read more in the WSJ


NY Fed Report: How Have Households Used Their Stimulus Payments and How Would They Spend the Next?

The authors of the report from NY Fed economists finds that as of the end of June 2020, a relatively small share of stimulus payments—29 percent—was used for consumption, with 36 percent saved and 35 percent used to pay down debt. Reported expected uses for a potential second stimulus payment suggest an even smaller MPC, with households expecting to use more of the funds to pay down their debts. We find similarly small estimated average consumption out of unemployment insurance (UI) payments, but with somewhat larger shares of these funds used to pay down debt.

Read the report at the NY Fed


Inhaled Vaccines Aim to Fight Coronavirus at Its Point of Attack

The Covid-19 vaccines closest to the finish line are designed to be injected into the arm. Researchers are looking at whether they can get better protection from inoculations that fight the virus at its point of attack — the nose and mouth.

Most vaccines in human testing require two shots for effectiveness, and developers still aren’t even sure if they’ll prevent infections. Scientists are hoping to generate superior immune responses with inhaled vaccines that directly target the airway cells the virus invades.

Read more in Bloomberg


Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine Study Paused Due to Unexplained Illness in Participant

The study of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine has been paused due to an unexplained illness in a study participant.

J&J emphasized that so-called adverse events — illnesses, accidents, and other bad medical outcomes — are an expected part of a clinical study, and also emphasized the difference between a study pause and a clinical hold, which is a formal regulatory action that can last much longer. The vaccine study is not currently under a clinical hold. J&J said that while it normally communicates clinical holds to the public, it does not usually inform the public of study pauses.

Read more at STAT


Delta Posts Massive Loss, Warns Recovery Could Take 2 Years or More

Kicking off third-quarter reporting for the beleaguered airline sector, Delta said its net loss was $5.4 billion in the third quarter, compared with a profit of $1.5 billion in the year-earlier period. Including its second-quarter results, Delta has lost more than $11 billion during the pandemic so far. CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that the airline has seen “real encouraging signs of improvement,” including interest in Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.

Here’s how Delta performed compared with what Wall Street expected, based on average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted EPS: a loss of $3.30 versus an expected loss of $3
  • Revenue: $3.06 billion versus $3.11 billion, expected
  • More airlines are competing for price-sensitive leisure travelers

Read more at CNBC


 

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Daily Briefing – 168

New York State COVID-19 Numbers and Cluster Initiative Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, October 11th. Within the “Red Zone” focus areas, 2,190 test results were reported yesterday, yielding 81 positives or a 3.70 percent positivity rate. In the remainder of the state, not counting these “Red Zone” focus areas, 89,603 test results were reported, yielding 948 positives or a 1.05 percent positivity rate. Tracking data for the hotspots as compared to the rest of the State is below.
 
Positivity rates:
  • 20 hotspot zip codes: 3.70%
  • Orange 10950: 3.51%
  • Statewide: 1.12%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.05%
Below are some useful links

Rapid Testing to Be Made Available for Every County in New York State

The State Department of Health will deploy an initial 400,000 rapid result test kits free of charge to local health departments, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care providers to help increase access to free COVID-19 tests that can be done within 15 minutes and without having to send a specimen to a lab.

The rapid tests can be used to control new outbreaks, conduct surveillance testing, and will also be made available on a as needed basis to help schools in ‘yellow zones’ test students and staff as part of new requirements to monitor COVID-19 spread as part of the Governor’s Cluster Action Initiative.

Read the press release


Manufacturers: The Front-Line Defense Against COVID-19

Writing in IndustryWeek NAM CEO Jay Timmons and Carolyn Lee, CEO of the Manfuactuirn Institute write that “As the rate of COVID-19 cases ebbs and flows throughout the country, manufacturers have risen to the challenge in much the same way they did during WWII and other times of national crisis. Working day and night and over the weekends, they have helped us emerge from the early days of the pandemic by keeping shop floors open and making vital products, including the medical supplies and protective equipment people need to fight the coronavirus. Now manufacturing workers are spearheading our recovery, ensuring that the American economy reopens and generates prosperity. And we’ll need many, many more of them.”

“Throughout history, manufacturers have acted heroically—to protect our country and save lives. The pandemic was no exception, and manufacturing workers are a major reason why our country is on the road to renewal. If you’re ready to make a difference, pursue a career in manufacturing.”  

Read more at IndustryWeek


OSHA Refines COVID-19 Reporting Requirements

Jackson Lewis Attorneys report that on October 1, 2020, OSHA updated the FAQs again – this time taking a more reasonable approach. OSHA’s new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding its reporting and recordkeeping requirements and the conflicting state regulations create confusion for employers — and increase their chances of running afoul of enforcement efforts, say attorneys Gillian G. W. Egan and Cressinda D. Schlag of Council Associate Member Jackson Lewis.

In these most recent FAQs OSHA defines a “work-related incident” as “an exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace.” This is a significant and welcomed departure from OSHA’s previous position, which eliminated the work-relatedness determination altogether.

Read more at Jackson Lewis


Great Barrington Declaration

“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.”

Thus begins The Great Barrington Declaration, released last week by scientists who argue that most of us should return to our pre-COVID ways of life.  The declaration has generated a lot of attention and controversy. The cosigners represent a host of scientific disciplines such as public health, biostatistics, finance, and psychiatry. They include Michael Levitt, PhD, (who received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2013), Jonas Ludvigsson, MD, Angus Dalgleish, PhD, David Katz, PhD, and Mike Hulme, PhD.


Mid-Hudson Bridge Authority Traffic Off 16.55  Percent

In its August 2020 Traffic & Revenue Comparison Report the NYS Bridge Authority reported traffic on all bridges decreased by a total of 16.55 percent. There were just under one million fewer bridge crossings in the first eight months of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. There were over 4.8 million crossings this year, compared with 5.8 million last year.

The Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge had the biggest decline in traffic that with a loss of 18.05 percent. That was followed by the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, which lost 17.51 percent of its traffic. Traffic fell by 16.48 percent on the Mid-Hudson Bridge, by 15.94 percent on the Bear Mountain Bridge, and by 11.13 percent on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


Chinese Steel Production Drives Global Increase

Global steel output remained steady during August, with 156.2 million metric tons produced by 64 countries, about 0.9% more than during July and just 0.6% more than during August 2019. The World Steel Association, which tracks and reports monthly production in member nations, noted that many of the totals available for August represent estimates as a result of “ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic”.

However, the structure of the global industry is such that Chinese steel production is offsetting decreases and adjustments made in other nations dealing with the pandemic.

Read more in American Machinist


Trucker Pay Increasing as Driver Shortage Grows, Industry Capacity Tightens

Multiple trucking companies are giving drivers pay raises, thanks in part to increased income from customers willing to pay for fast service during the coronavirus pandemic. The higher pay may also help carriers recruit new drivers to replace older ones who have retired because of health concerns and to meet higher demand caused by the growth in e-commerce.

Read more at Transport Topics


The Council of Industry 2020 Compensation & Benefits Survey is Coming October 20th 

We are pleased to announce that the 2020 Council of Industry Compensation and Benefits Survey will be available for completion beginning October 20th. Your participation provides great insight for the Council of Industry, your company, as well as your peers. The survey is co-sponsored by Rose & Kiernan and Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions.
 
Here is some information to help you get ready


 

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Daily Briefing – 167

New York State Cluster Action Initiative Update and COVID-19 Numbers

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, October 10th. Hotspots in Brooklyn, Queens, Rockland, and Orange Counties have driven higher positivity and hospitalization rates in the State. Tracking data for the hotspots as compared to the rest of the State is below.
 
Positivity rates:

NYS COVID-19 Cluster Initiative Takes Shape

The initiative divides clusters and the areas around them into three categories with successively higher restrictions within each one: Red Zone – cluster Itself; Orange Zone – warning zone; and Yellow Zone – precautionary zone. The enforcement of the zones went into effect between Wednesday, October 7 and Friday, October 9.

A chart on the Cluster Initiative website (link below) has a summary of restrictions but it is not exhaustive. For full details see Empire State Development’s Guidance Related to New York’s Cluster Action Initiative.


Initial Unemployment Claims At 840K

First-time unemployment claims edged downward to 840,000 last week but remained above the pre-pandemic peak. Continuing claims also dropped, but some of the decrease is attributed to the fact that some people have reached the maximum available through regular state programs.

Claims have been above 800,000 every week since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, leading to the shutdown of the U.S. economy. However, continuing claims again fell sharply, dropping by just over 1 million to 10.98 million, according to the Labor Department release. Continuing claims trail the headline weekly claims number by a week.

Read more at CNBC


SBA and Treasury Announce Simpler PPP Forgiveness for Loans of $50,000 or Less

The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, Friday released a simpler loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. This action streamlines the PPP forgiveness process to provide financial and administrative relief to America’s smallest businesses while also ensuring sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

“The PPP has provided 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion to American small businesses, providing critical economic relief and supporting more than 51 million jobs,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “We are committed to making the PPP forgiveness process as simple as possible while also protecting against fraud and misuse of funds.  We continue to favor additional legislation to further simplify the forgiveness process.”


Coronavirus Stimulus Talks at Impasse

The latest, beefed-up White House offer on a new coronavirus package hit resistance from both Democrats and Republicans over the weekend, deflating hopes that a bipartisan agreement was imminent.

Democrats criticized the nearly $1.9 trillion offer from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as insufficient, particularly in its funding and strategy for coronavirus testing and tracing. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, balked at the offer’s cost and its proposed expansion of the Affordable Care Act. The concerns from both sides of the Capitol lowered expectations that had risen Friday when President Trump approved the most generous GOP offer to date in the negotiations.

Read more in the WSJ


Airbus Adds Biz Jet Model to A220 Series

While commercial aviation struggles with diminished demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, private aviation is having a more visible recovery track. Airbus corporate jets president Benoit Defforge explained that private aviation has regained about 90% of its pre-pandemic rate of order volume.

The A220s are twin-engine, narrow-body jets for regional and medium-range service, with seating for 108 to 130 passengers. The new business jet variant will be designed for 18 passengers. The ACJ TwoTwenty is offered with a flexible cabin layout, according to the requirements of heavy and long-range business-jet operations.

Read more at American Machinist


Survey: 76% of Workers Want More Mental Health Support

A new study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence reveals that 68% of those surveyed would prefer to talk to a robot over their manager regarding stress and anxiety at work. 76% of respondents believe that companies should be doing more to support their workers’ mental health.

The disintegration of boundaries between work and life due to remote work is being reported as the biggest driver of this dip in emotional well-being.  While many companies have started providing new-age benefits that address the emerging issues related to mental health, employees have higher expectations from their companies. Companies may believe that reimbursing counseling costs or covering mental health under insurance might be enough. Still, employees think there is scope for more intervention and technology utilization for their mental wellness.

Read more at ToolboxHR


What You Need to Know About Workplace COVID-19 Testing

Dr. Caesar Djavaherian of Carbon Health discusses types of coronavirus tests available to employers and best practices for maintaining safe workplaces. Djavaherian emphasizes the importance of prevention education, recommends implementing an employee daily symptom tracker — and identifies which symptoms to watch for — and explains why a positive result doesn’t necessarily mean a workplace must shut down.

Read more at Reset Work


Winners and Losers – The Pandemic Has Caused the World’s Economies to Diverge. A Series of Articles in the Economist Looks at the Trends and the Possibilities

In February the coronavirus pandemic struck the world economy with the biggest shock since the second world war. The crash was synchronized. As a recovery takes place, however, huge gaps between the performance of countries are opening up—which could yet recast the world’s economic order. By the end of next year, according to forecasts by the OECD, America’s economy will be the same size as it was in 2019 but China’s will be 10% larger. Europe will still languish beneath its pre-pandemic level of output and could do so for several years—a fate it may share with Japan, which is suffering a demographic squeeze.

It is not just the biggest economic blocs that are growing at different speeds. In the second quarter of this year, according to UBS, a bank, the distribution of growth rates across 50 economies was at its widest for at least 40 years.

Read more in The Economist


National Geographic COVID-19 Data Tracker

Nat. Geo. provides an interesting page with plenty of information and graphics to track the spread of COVID-19 – on page for the United States and another for Europe and the rest of the world. 


 

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Daily Briefing – 166

COVID and Cluster Initiative Update – Record Number of Tests Conducted

145,811 COVID-19 test results were reported to New York State Wednesday and the state continues to track clusters with a particular focus on areas where there are hot spot, cluster situations. Within the top 20 ZIP codes in counties with recent outbreaks – Brooklyn, Queens, and Rockland and Orange Counties – the average rate of positive tests is 5.8 percent. The rate of positive tests for the remainder of New York State, not counting these 20 ZIP codes, is 1.01 percent. These 20 ZIP codes contained 23.2 percent of all positive cases in New York State yesterday, but represent only 6.2 percent of the state’s population.

Positivity rates:

  • 20 hotspot zip codes: 5.8%
  • Orange 10950: 10.1%
  • Statewide: 1.26%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.01%

The state has also developed an tool to see in an address in within a designated cluster.  


Trump: Talks on COVID-19 Aid are ‘Working Out’

Two days after calling off coronavirus relief talks with Democrats, President Trump did a full 180-degree turn and said Thursday that he was now negotiating a “bigger deal” than a narrowly focused package to rescue airlines. “I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out. Now they’re starting to work out,” Trump said in the phone interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo.

Two days after calling off coronavirus relief talks with Democrats, President Trump did a full 180-degree turn and said Thursday that he was now negotiating a “bigger deal” than a narrowly focused package to rescue airlines.

Pelosi and Mnuchin have been busy fighting for an eleventh-hour lifeline for the decimated airline industry. The pair spoke twice by phone on Wednesday, and were expected to talk again on Thursday.

Read more at The Hill


Minutes: Fed Worried By Lack of Stimulus But Economy Recovering Faster Than Expected

Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s Sept. 15–16 meeting show the body’s concern about the U.S. economy’s ability to withstand the COVID-19 crisis without relief from Congress.

In positive news, the minutes noted that the U.S. economic recovery was moving more quickly than anticipated.  Still, members of the Fed Open Market Committee worried that a lack of additional assistance would jeopardize the recovery and cause particular harm in minority and low-income communities. “Many participants noted that their economic outlook assumed additional fiscal support and that if future fiscal support was significantly smaller or arrived significantly later than they expected, the pace of the recovery could be slower than anticipated.” 

Read more at CNBC


NAM Global Economic Report: Seven of the Top 10 Exports Markets Expanded in September

The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI expanded in September at the fastest pace in 25 months, buoyed by recoveries in demand and strengthening in the outlook.  In September, seven  of the top 10 markets for U.S.-manufactured goods had expanding manufacturing sectors, up from six in August and just one (China) in May. As such, these major trading partners have continued to improve after plummeting in April to levels that were either the worst since the Great Recession or at record lows.

The World Trade Organization predicts that global trade volumes could fall 9.2% in 2020, an improvement from the previous estimate of a 12.9% decrease this year. WTO predicts that global trade should rebound, rising by 7.2% in 2021.

Global Manufacturing Economic Report 1008 2020


German Exports Rise on “Low-Hanging Fruits” of Recovery

The value of German goods exports rose by 2.4% month-on-month in August, the fourth consecutive month of growth after the covid-19 lockdowns decimated international trade. German exports were still down 10.2% compared with last August. Meanwhile, German imports surged 5.8% month-on-month in August, reducing the country’s trade surplus.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected exports and imports to both rise by 1.4%. The trade surplus was forecast at 18.2 billion euros.  “The export economy has been reaping the low-hanging fruits in recent months,” VP Bank economist Thomas Gitzel said, adding that subsequent months would be harder.

Read more at Reuters


PPG CEO: Manufacturing Is Critical to Economic Rebound

Writing in IndustryWeek PPG CEO Michael McGarry says that “The U.S. manufacturing sector has established itself as the backbone of economic stability and renewal amid times of crisis or downturn. It is important that candidates in this election, regardless of political affiliation, understand that a strong economic recovery is reliant on a durable manufacturing industry.”

He adds that infrastructure investment, workforce development, immigration reform and continuing a pro-growth tax policy are the keys to ensuring growth in manufacturing. 

Read more in IndustryWeek


Health Benefit Costs Seen Rising 8.1% in 2021

Employer-sponsored health care benefit costs are expected to increase more than 8% globally next year as workers get treatment they had deferred due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Willis Towers Watson report. The consulting firm’s 2021 Global Medical Trends Survey found medical insurers project growth in benefit costs will slow this year to 5.9% after a 7.2% gain in 2019.

But for 2021, they forecast 8.1% growth, with North America gaining 7.1% after a 2.8% increase in 2020. The study also found that 67% of respondents expect medical costs will continue to accelerate over the next three years.

Read more at CFO


Airports Consider Pre-Flight COVID-19 Testing

Airports are working to offer pre-flight COVID-19 testing to prevent passengers from facing cumbersome quarantine orders when they arrive at their destination.

Hawaiian Airlines, for example, is offering $150 at-home saliva tests for passengers to take before flights and a range of airports are opening testing centers that offer 15-minute results (with others offering 48-hour results for more accuracy).  The goal isn’t only to help people fly without quarantining; it’s also to promote confidence in air travel itself. 

Read more in the WSJ


 

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Daily Briefing – 165

New York State Cluster Action Initiative Update and COVID-19 Numbers

Governor Cuomo issued a press release this afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday, October 6th. Hotspots in Brooklyn, Queens, Rockland, and Orange Counties have driven higher positivity and hospitalization rates in the State. Tracking data for the hotspots as compared to the rest of the State is below.

Positivity rates:

  • 20 hotspot zip codes: 5.1%
  • Orange 10950: 13.3%
  • Statewide: 1.25%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.05%

Empire State Development, in consultation with the Department of Health, released guidance earlier yesterday to help businesses determine whether they are an essential business if they are located in areas with designated cluster activity, as defined by Executive Order 202.68.


Trump Pushes for Some Covid Relief After Shutting Down Stimulus Talks

President Trump renewed calls for Congress to pass individual coronavirus relief measures, including more aid for airlines and direct checks for many Americans, after he halted negotiations with Democrats on a larger package until after the election.

Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump tweeted that he had “instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election,” saying a broader stimulus package would come then. Hours later, the president called on Congress to approve some additional assistance for airlines and a small-business aid program and direct checks for many Americans. “If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now,” Mr. Trump tweeted Tuesday night, adding Wednesday morning: “Move Fast, I Am Waiting To Sign!”

Mrs. Pelosi said Wednesday that Democrats were opposed to passing individual bills in the absence of a broader deal, calling that a “missed opportunity.”

Read more in the WSJ


JOLTS: Job Openings Fall… Except for Manufacturing 

August saw a reduction in the number of available jobs for the first time in four months, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Manufacturing job openings, however, rose that month, NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray tells us.

“Manufacturing job openings in August reached 460,000, up from 430,000 in July and the best reading since July 2019 (477,000). This improvement suggests that firms are once again increasing their interest in adding new workers, even as the sector attempts to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic and the overall labor market has changed dramatically.”

Read more at Reuters


White House Agrees to FDA’s Guidelines for Vetting Covid-19 Vaccines

The White House cast aside its objections and endorsed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s plans for assessing whether a Covid-19 vaccine should be given to the public, making it likely that a shot won’t be cleared until after the election, people familiar with the matter said. 

The FDA issued the guidelines soon afterward on Tuesday afternoon, saying it hopes the release “helps the public understand our science-based decision-making process that assures vaccine quality, safety and efficacy for any vaccine that is authorized or approved.”

Read more in the WSJ


Has Covid-19 Increased Suicide Rates Around the World?

The Economist answers that It is too early to say, but the signs are ominous. The CDC)carried out a survey this summer that found that one in ten of the 5,400 respondents had seriously considered suicide in the previous month—about twice as many who had thought of taking their lives in 2018. For young adults, aged 18 to 24, the proportion was an astonishing one in four.

The survey, published in August, was one of a growing number of warnings about the toll that the pandemic is taking on the mental health of people. For legions, the coronavirus has upended or outright eliminated work, schooling and religious services. On top of that, lockdowns and other types of social distancing have aggravated loneliness and depression for many.

Read more at The Economist


Manufacturers Lead by Example on COVID-19 Safety

Yesterday the leadership of the NAM Board of Directors—Trane Technologies Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Mike Lamach, Dow Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Vice Chair Jim Fitterling, BTE Technologies President and NAM Small and Medium Manufacturers Chair Chuck Wetherington and Protolabs President and CEO and NAM SMM Vice Chair Vicki Holt—released a joint statement to reinforce the industry’s critical role in the fight against COVID-19. 

“As manufacturers for America’s goods and essential products, we have a strong message for our team members and the country. All Americans must do everything in our power to keep our workers, our communities and our fellow citizens safe from COVID-19. Our industry will continue manufacturing personal protective equipment, medical supplies and therapeutics, racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine and keeping consumer goods and the food supply plentiful. We have been able to do this throughout the pandemic and keep our workers safe.

Read the full statement here.


Trump Administration To Force Employers To Pay H-1B Visa Workers Similar Wages To Americans

The departments of Labor and Homeland Security have issued a joint rule that significantly raises the wages employers must pay foreign workers who come to the country under H-1B visas and reduces the scope of “specialty occupations” eligible for the visas. “Companies have been incentivized to avoid hiring Americans or even lay off their own qualified, better-paid American workers and replace them with cheaper foreign labor,” said DHS’ Ken Cuccinelli.

Read more in Forbes


Boeing Projects Aircraft Demand to Fall -11 Percent

Boeing issued a new forecast of near-, medium- and long-term demand in commercial and defense aircraft, putting some figures to define the industry’s newly diminished outlook. The COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed commercial air travel, causing airlines to cancel orders and reducing the need for aircraft replacement and maintenance.

The 2020 edition of the Boeing Market Outlook (BMO) projects that the commercial aviation and services markets will continue to face significant challenges, though defense and government services sectors will be more stable. Global commercial airplane demand is projected to be worth $2.9 trillion over the next 10 years, -11% from the 2019 outlook and representing total demand for 18,350 commercial jets.

Read more at American Machinist


 

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Daily Briefing – 164

“Cluster Action Initiative” – Cuomo Imposes Tight Virus Rules on Areas Hit by Spikes Across State

Gov. Cuomo on Tuesday imposed tough new restrictions and guidelines aimed at curbing a surge of coronavirus clusters in parts of New York City and its northern suburbs. The State is declaring COVID-19 clusters in portions of Brooklyn, Queens, Orange and Rockland, as well as a “precautionary zone” in a portion of Binghamton. The “Cluster Action Initiative” will take dramatic actions within the cluster and precautionary measures in surrounding areas. The initiative will follow caseloads, not zip codes or census tract. 

Clusters will be labeled with colors based on their positivity rates. The cluster zones will be three different levels based on proximity to the cluster: red, orange, and yellow. Within each color code there will be capacity limits and gathering rules. Red zones will have the strictest restrictions. Within the red and orange zones, schools will be closed to in-person learning. Schools in a yellow zone must increase testing efforts.

The State is consulting with local governments on the maps of affected areas. The new rules will go into effect as soon as tomorrow, but no later than Friday, October 9th. Testing efforts for schools in a yellow zone will start no later than next Friday. The rules will be in effect for 14 days, at which time they will be reevaluated.


One State Added to Restricted List

Governor Cuomo announced that travelers from New Mexico are now required to complete a 14-day quarantine upon entering New York. No states or areas were removed from the travel advisory.


Pelosi Says Stimulus Talks Are Moving ‘Very Slowly’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are continuing to hash out the terms of the next federal coronavirus aid bill this week, but progress is slow.

4.9 million people will cross the government’s long-term joblessness threshold (defined as looking for work for 27 weeks or more) over the next two months, according to Labor Department data released last week. While job losses have slowed since the peak of the pandemic and the U.S. last month added more jobs than it lost, layoffs still remain stubbornly high. The two top negotiators, who suddenly resumed urgent conversations last week after negotiations fell apart in August, plan to speak again Tuesday. 

Read more at Forbes


Powell Says U.S. Faces ‘Tragic’ Risks From Doing Too Little to Support Economy

“The expansion is still far from complete,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in remarks delivered at a virtual economics conference Tuesday. “At this early stage, I would argue that the risks of policy intervention are still asymmetric. Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship.”

By contrast, the risks of providing too generous relief are smaller, he said. “Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste,” he said.

Read more in the WSJ


ISM Survey: U.S. Service Sector Activity Rises Above Pre-Pandemic Level in September

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Monday its non-manufacturing activity index rose to a reading of 57.8 last month from 56.9 in August. That put the index just above its 57.3 level in February. A reading above 50 indicates growth in the services sector, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index slipping to 56.0 in September.

The improvement in services industry activity fits in with expectations for a record rebound in economic growth in the third quarter after a historic plunge in gross domestic product in the April-June period. The economy got a boost over the summer from fiscal stimulus.

Read more at Reuters


U.S. Trade Deficit Widened in August to Largest Since 2006

The U.S. trade deficit widened in August to the largest since 2006 as the nation imported a record amount of consumer goods amid a pickup in demand ahead of the holiday-shopping season.

Total imports increased 3.2% to $239 billion, while exports rose 2.2% from the prior month to $171.9 billion. The nation’s surplus in services shrank to the lowest since 2012. Meanwhile, the merchandise trade deficit expanded to a record high. The coronavirus pandemic undid some of the Trump administration’s deficit-reduction efforts which were starting to bear fruit before Covid-19 upended demand and supply chains. American businesses, which drew down inventories at the start of the lockdown, have recently increased imports to replenish stocks ahead of the holidays.

Read more at Bloomberg


COVID-19 Response Sparks Efforts to Strengthen Supply Chain

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the fragility of the Defense Department’s supply chain. As a result, the department is taking a variety of steps to strengthen that supply chain, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment said. “One of our first actions was to ensure that the defense industrial base was essential and designated as critical infrastructure,” Ellen M. Lord said in an online discussion during the ComDef 2020 conference, a virtual conference providing insights and perspectives on issues facing the international defense communities.

Read the DOD press release


Nearly 20,000 Amazon Employees Could Have COVID-19

Amazon reported on its blog Oct. 1 that 19,816 employees have tested or been presumed positive for COVID-19. The company analyzed data on its 1,372,000 Amazon and Whole Foods Market frontline employees who were employed in the United States at any time between March 1 and Sept. 19, 2020. Amazon found 1.4% of workers were confirmed or presumed to have COVID-19.

The company has introduced or changed more than 150 safety measures since the pandemic began, including mandatory temperature checks, enhanced cleaning procedures and social distancing measures. Amazon has eliminated stand-up meetings during shifts, staggered break times and spread out chairs in breakrooms.

Read more in EHS Today


EU Reviewing Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in Real Time

The European health regulator is reviewing a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer PFE.N and BioNTech 22UAy.F in real time, days after launching a similar assessment process for AstraZeneca’s AZN.L vaccine.  The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Tuesday its human medicines committee was evaluating the first batch of data on the vaccine, and would continue to do so until enough data is available for a final decision. (bit.ly/34mAHiI)

Pfizer and BioNTech said in a joint statement the start of the review is based on data from laboratory and animal testing, as well as early testing on humans, while continuing talks to submit data as it emerged.

Read more at Reuters


 

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Daily Briefing – 163

Cuomo: Orders Clamp Down in NYC Hot Spots. 

In a briefing from his NYC Office Governor Cuomo said that hotspots could result in more widespread infections. In order to stop the spread from the hotspots the State is using testing, data analysis, and enforcement mechanisms. He added that local governments have not done enough to enforce laws and rules that prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

Beginning today in NYC: 

  • Schools in Brooklyn and Queens with clusters will be closed.
  • For religious institutions to remain open, communities must agree to enforce mask, capacity, and social distancing protocols.
  • The New York State Department of Health and State Police will oversee enforcement activities beginning at midnight in hotspot clusters with local personnel supplements.
  • Non-essential businesses, public spaces, and schools in hotspot areas should close; however, the State will first review public health data to determine which establishments in the impacted areas will close.
  • New York currently has the lowest statewide positivity rate in the nation if hotspots are excluded.

Read more at CBS New York


Cuomo Issues Executive Order 202.67 Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency

The Executive Order extends through November 3, 2020 the suspensions and modifications of law and any directives, unless they are superseded by a subsequent order, contained in Executive Orders 202 and up. Executive order 202 was issued March 7, 2020.

Read the order


Michigan Supreme Court Rules Against Governor’s Emergency Powers

Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lacks the authority to extend or declare states of emergency in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Democratic governor issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in March and expanded it via another executive order in April. The Republican-controlled legislature passed a resolution to extend the state of emergency, but only until April 30. Whitmer has since issued several more orders related to the pandemic.

Gov. Whitmer on Monday asked the state Supreme Court to hold off the effective date of the ruling until Oct. 30.

Read more at NPR


Monday Economic Report – Consumer Ups and Downs, Plus a Whole Lot More

Personal consumption expenditures rose 1.0% in August, increasing (but slowing) for the fourth straight month. The saving rate fell to 14.1% but remained well above the 7.5% average in 2019, suggesting that consumers remain cautious in their spending despite progress in the economy.

Meanwhile, personal income decreased 2.7% in August, the biggest monthly decline since May. The data reflect declining transfer payments, with unemployment insurance falling from $1.32 trillion in July to $633.5 billion in August. Total wages and salaries rose 1.3% in August.

Monday Economic Report 2020-1005


BLS: Manufacturers Added 66,000 Jobs in September

Manufacturers added 66,000 workers in September, rising for the fifth straight month but with employment still down by 647,000 since February. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 661,000 in September, somewhat below consensus estimates despite increasing for the fifth consecutive month.

Read the press release 


WHO Sounds Alarm Over Mental Health Effects of Pandemic

The ongoing pandemic is increasing the number of people who need assistance dealing with mental health issues while also limiting mental health care in 93% of countries, the World Health Organization says. WHO Emergencies Director Dr. Mike Ryan estimates that approximately 10% of the world’s population has been infected with coronavirus at this point, and is urging the global community to develop a “comprehensive strategy to fight this disease.”

Read more at Reuters


Interos Report Illustrates Severity of COVID-19 Impact on Global Supply Chains

More than 90% of companies expect the disruption of global supply chains caused by the pandemic will have long-lasting effects on their businesses. Nearly every one of the 450-senior decision-makers in the United States who took the survey (98%) said their organization’s supply chain was disrupted. Their organizations grappled with shortages, demand reduction, price swings, and another upheaval in their supply chains due to the pandemic. More than 90% are concerned that future waves of infections will have similar consequences.

To reduce risk and protect against future shocks, businesses are planning to retool their supply chains, the survey finds. Among the steps they are considering is moving manufacturing to the United States. 

Read more at Material Handling and Logistics


CDC Acknowledges Covid-19 Can Spread via Tiny Air Particles

In its latest revisions to the guidelines Monday, the CDC acknowledged a role for the tiny airborne particles, though the latest wording says they aren’t the main way the virus spreads.

The virus is primarily transmitted via respiratory droplets by people in close contact, including those who are physically near, or within about 6 feet of, each other, the CDC said. The agency also recognized, however, that some infections can be spread by exposure to the virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours.

Read more at the WSJ


 

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Daily Briefing – 162

Cuomo: State Will Up Enforcement In “Hot” Zip Codes

The Governor issued a press release Sunday announcing New York State will increase enforcement in zip codes with high positivity rates (hotspots). The new enforcement effort will fine and potentially close local businesses found to be out of compliance. This effort is modelled on the State Liquor Authority and State Police Task Force that has been enforcing State guidance at bars and restaurants. Infection rates:

  • 20 hotspot zip codes: 4.8%
  • orange County Zip 10950: 13.7 (3 day average is 21.2%)
  • Statewide: 1.10%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 0.91%

Use these helpful tools. 

President Trump Received Regeneron Experimental Antibody Treatment

President Trump has received a dose of an experimental antibody cocktail being developed by the Hudson Valley drug maker Regeneron, in addition to several other drugs, including zinc, vitamin D and the generic version of the heartburn treatment Pepcid, according to a letter from his doctor that was released by the White House Friday afternoon.

There are no approved treatments for Covid-19, but the Regeneron treatment is one of the most promising candidates, along with another antibody treatment developed by Eli Lilly. Both are being tested in patients around the country. Initial results have suggested that they can reduce the level of the virus in the body and possibly shorten hospital stays — when they are given early in the course of infection.

Read more in the New York Times (subscription)


U.S. Economy Plunged 31.4% in Q2 But a Big Rebound is Expected

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the gross domestic product, the economy’s total output of goods and services, fell at a rate of 31.4% in the April-June quarter, only slightly changed from the 31.7% drop estimated one month ago.  Economists believe the economy will expand at an annual rate of 30% in the current quarter as businesses have re-opened and millions of people have gone back to work. That would shatter the old record for a quarterly GDP increase, a 16.7% surge in the first quarter of 1950 when Harry Truman was president.

The government will not release its July-September GDP report until Oct. 29, just five days before the presidential election.

Read more at CNBC


New York State’s Second Quarter Economic Crash Was the Worst on Record, Well Above National Average

Seasonally adjusted at annual rates, New York State’s second-quarter GDP crashed 36.3 percent—easily the biggest drop on record, among the biggest decreases in any state, and considerably worse than the 31.4 percent decrease in national GDP during the same period, according to BEA estimates released today. New York’s economic performance ranked 44th out of 50 states.

The new GDP figures also included an adjustment to the annual state GDP estimates for 2019. New York’s GDP increase for last year was adjusted slightly downward, to 1.6 percent, compared to a national GDP growth of 2.2 percent. This ranked New York in the middle of the pack among the 50 states.

Read more at the Empire Center


Consumer Spending Rose in August, but Incomes Pose Hurdle for U.S. Recovery

The Commerce Department said that household income—what people receive in wages, investments and government benefits—fell by 2.7% in August from the previous month because emergency unemployment payouts came to an end. Consumer spending continued to grow (see main stories), but at a slower rate, which could dampen the country’s economic recovery.

Read more at the WSJ


Jobs Report Shows Fewer Hires as Recovery Loses Momentum

Nonfarm payrolls rose by a lower than expected 661,000 in September and the unemployment rate was 7.9%, the Labor Department said Friday in the final jobs report before the November election.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting a payrolls gain of 800,000 and the unemployment rate to fall to 8.2% from 8.4% in August. The payrolls miss was due largely to a drop in government hiring as at-home schooling continued and Census jobs fell.

Read more at CNBC


Jackson Lewis: OSHA COVID-19 Enforcement on the Rise

OSHA began opening many COVID-19 inspections in April 2020, and it has six months in which to issue citations. The ending of OSHA inspections in these cases and OSHA’s inclination toward issuing citations means that all employers, particularly those in the healthcare, personal care, and residential and group living spaces, should be prepared for possible citations.

To date, federal OSHA and its state counterparts have issued citations related to the selection of respirators, medical evaluations, and fit testing, as well as recording-and-reporting violations, and even under the general duty clause for failure to follow industry guidance on COVID-19-related precautions, such as social distancing.

Read more at Jackson Lewis


OSHA Issues Additional COVID-19 FAQs

OSHA’s new FAQs provide information to help employers apply the agency’s existing injury and illness recording and reporting requirements to the coronavirus. In particular, the FAQs provide guidance on how to calculate reporting deadlines for in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities and clarify the meaning of the term “incident” as it relates to work-related coronavirus in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities.

.These FAQs are the latest effort by OSHA to provide employers and employees with more information about how it will enforce its standards and regulations during the pandemic. 


DHS Announces Relaxing Travel Restrictions to U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is making it a little easier for some foreign nationals to fly to the United States by lifting certain restrictions in place following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the restrictions, any airplanes carrying passengers who had recently travelled to or had been present in China, Iran, the 26 countries in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Brazil but were exempt or received waivers to enter the U.S. were required to land at a limited number of U.S. airports. At those designated airports, there were public health resources for conducting enhanced entry screening. Now, those restrictions have been lifted. This change should make it easier for covered travelers, as they will have more flights, more airlines, and more U.S. arrival destinations to choose from for international travel.

Read more at Jackson Lewis


Deeper Dive From The Economist – Will COVID-9 Kill Globalization?

Covid-19 has been the third major disruption to globalisation within the past twelve years. The pandemic will not kill globalization off, but it will deepen the cracks.  The Economist offers a brief history of modern globlaization and the impacts of COVID-19.

Watch the 15 minute film


 

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Daily Briefing – 160

State Continues to Track “Hot Spots” 

The Governor issued a press release yesterday providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday, September 29th. New York State continues to track clusters with a particular focus on the top 20 ZIP codes in which there have been hotspots. Within the 20 hotspot ZIP codes, the average rate of positive tests is 5.5 percent. The rate of positive tests for the remainder of New York State, not counting the top 20 ZIP codes, is 0.82 percent. The rate of positive tests for all of New York State, including the top 20 ZIP codes, is 1.02 percent. These 20 ZIP codes contained 23 percent of all positive cases in New York State yesterday, but represent only 6 percent of the state’s population.


DiNapoli: Job Losses Are Concentrated in Lower-Paid Sectors

Six months into the COVID-19 recession, New Yorkers working in lower-paid sectors continue to suffer a disproportionate share of job losses statewide and especially in New York City.

Among the nearly 1.3 million net jobs the State lost from March through August, more than 320,000 were in accommodation and food services. These losses represented 41 percent of jobs in the industry before the recession hit, and one in every four jobs lost in all sectors statewide. Workers in this industry are disproportionately likely to be Black or Hispanic, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. As shown in the chart below, the average annual wage in 2019 for these hotel, restaurant and other jobs was $30,689, less than half the overall average for the State of $75,367. Retail trade, another sector with comparatively low wages, lost 93,000 jobs, one in every 10 of its previous total.

Read more 


Democrats Will Vote on $2.2 Trillion Stimulus, Talks with Mnuchin Will Continue

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that House Democrats will press ahead with a vote Wednesday night on their own $2.2 trillion stimulus proposal, a sign that a bipartisan deal still has yet to be struck to deliver further pandemic relief.

Pelosi made the announcement after a 90-minute meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. She said in a statement that talks between the two negotiators will continue. “Today, Secretary Mnuchin and I had an extensive conversation and we found areas where we are seeking further clarification. Our conversations will continue,” the California Democrat said.

Read more at CNN


Consumer Confidence in U.S. Posts Biggest Gain in 17 Years

Consumer confidence rebounded in September by the most in more than 17 years as Americans grew more upbeat about the outlook for the economy and job market, though sentiment remained below pre-pandemic levels. The Conference Board’s index increased 15.5 points, the most since April 2003, to 101.8 from August’s upwardly revised 86.3, according to a report issued Tuesday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a reading of 90 in September, and the figure exceeded all estimates.

The group’s gauge of current conditions rose 12.7 points to 98.5, while a measure of the short-term outlook jumped 17.4 points to a three-month high. The gain in the expectations index was the largest since 2009. The S&P 500 turned positive after the report.

Read more at Bloomberg (subscription) 


Shuttles and Carpooling for Manufacturing Employees During a Pandemic

Jackson Lewis Attorneys write that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided resources with tips and recommendations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when carpooling or ridesharing to and from work. These can be especially useful to manufacturing employees, who often cannot work from home or remotely and use shuttles or carpool, to better minimize the inherent risks of close-contact travel during or to and from work.

The safest option is to avoid carpooling to and from work. However, when that is not possible, the CDC tips provide useful guidelines. Additionally, they can be useful when manufacturers and employers require a shuttle to transport employees.

Read the Recommendations from the CDC at Jackson Lewis


FAA Certifies New GE Engine for Service

The GE9X, the fuel-efficient jet engine developed to power the forthcoming Boeing 777X twin-engine wide-body jet, has gained Federal Aviation Administration’s clearance for commercial flights.

The high-bypass turbofan engine was developed by GE Aviation from the earlier GE90 engine, with a larger fan and a higher percentage of lightweight materials (including ceramic-matrix composites), to achieve an estimated 10% greater fuel efficiency than the previous model.

Read more at American Machinist


More Grim News on the Impact of the Coronavirus Crisis on Women’s Careers

Seven months into a pandemic that has turned work and home life upside down, working women are confronting painful choices that threaten to unravel recent advances in gender equity—in pay, the professional ranks and in attaining leadership positions.

Women have already lost a disproportionate number of jobs. That is partly because of a segregated workforce in many fields in which women make up more of the lower-income service and retail jobs that vanished as Covid-19 gripped the economy. While women are 47% of the U.S. labor force, they accounted for 54% of initial coronavirus-related job losses and still make up 49% of them, according to McKinsey & Co.

Read more in the WSJ


COVID-19 Age Distribution

Researchers from the CDC COVID-19 Response Team published analysis of shifts in the age distribution of US COVID-19 cases. The study, published in the CDC’s MMWR, evaluated age data from COVID-19 cases reported in the US between May and August. The analysis included patients who visited the emergency department with COVID-like illness, patients with positive SARS-CoV-2 tests, and confirmed COVID-19 patients as well as test positivity data among the defined age groups. From May to July, COVID-19 incidence increased among all age groups, but the largest increases were observed in individuals under 30 years old.

Read more at the CDC


 

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Daily Briefing – 159

NYS Update: Changes to Restricted States, Cuomo to Meet with Orthodox Leaders Regarding “Hot Spot” Zip Codes

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that he will meet with Orthodox Jewish leaders to address COVID-19 clusters in communities downstate.

The governor also announced that Colorado has been added to New York State’s COVID-19 travel advisory. Arizona and Virginia have been removed. The advisory requires individuals who have traveled to New York from areas with significant community spread to quarantine for 14 days.


McKinsey: Time to Think Beyond COVID-19

Reach back to your company’s 2019 performance trajectory and start planning for a return to normal economic conditions for 2022, argues this McKinsey analysis. The coronavirus remains a threat, of course, but excess deaths are down, and the economic and operational upheaval caused by the pandemic is relatively well-understood, the authors write.

Read the full story from McKinsey


GM Announces $71 Million Investment at Ohio Plants

The investments, which GM said would help it retain 240 jobs, include $39 million at the company’s Toledo transmission plant and $32 million at its Defiance casting plant, according to an announcement from the company. 

“The Toledo investment will be used to upgrade and enhance the production of GM’s eight-speed rear-wheel-drive transmission and the Defiance investment will be used to prepare the facility for future engine casting components work,” the company said.

Read more at the Detroit Free Press


Pelosi and Mnuchin Discuss Possible Coronavirus Aid

The two spoke for 50 minutes, one day after House Democrats unveiled a new, less-expensive version of their previous aid package, which shaved the price tag to $2.2 trillion, down from $3.5 trillion. Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin, who also spoke Monday night, agreed to talk again Wednesday, Mrs. Pelosi’s spokesman said on Twitter.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Tuesday morning that he had spoken with Mr. Mnuchin, along with President Trump. “So hopefully we’ll make some progress and find a solution for the American people,” Mr. Meadows told reporters.

Read more at the WSJ


Companies Prepare for COVID-19 “Take-Home” Lawsuits

U.S. businesses with COVID-19 outbreaks are facing an emerging legal threat from claims that workers brought coronavirus home and infected relatives, which one risk analysis firm said could cost employers billions of dollars.

Between 7% and 9% of the roughly 200,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths so far are believed to stem from take-home infections.  Attorneys for both plaintiffs and companies said successful cases require a strong “causal chain” linking the sick family member to the worker and then to the business and the business’s alleged failure to adopt safety measures.

Read more at Reuters


Contact Tracing: What Employers Should Know

Contract tracing in the workplace could put employers in a legal bind because of confidentiality rules, warns attorney Susan Kline. Kline advises employers to establish a contract-tracing policy, to never disclose names of employees who test positive, and to ensure those in contact-tracing roles are trained to sensitively deal with employees.

Read the full story at Human Resource Executive


COVID-19 Vaccine Prospects That Have Made it to Phase Three trials and Beyond

More than 150 coronavirus vaccines are in development across the world—and hopes are high to bring one to market in record time to ease the global crisis. Several efforts are underway to help make that possible, including the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed initiative, which has pledged $10 billion and aims to develop and deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by January 2021. The World Health Organization is also coordinating global efforts to develop a vaccine, with an eye toward delivering two billion doses by the end of 2021.

Though it’s too soon to say which candidates will ultimately be successful, here’s a look at the prospects that have reached phase three and beyond—including a quick primer on how they work and where they stand.

Read more at National Geographic


NAM Works to Provide Recommendations on Ventilation Strategies

The NAM is working with the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Manufacturing Sector Council to offer recommendations to companies on ventilation strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 at the workplace. If your company has updated its industrial or HVAC systems or is using outdoor air to reduce the spread, NAM wants to hear from you and highlight your story. 

To share your story email Drew Schneider 


CMS Issues Urgent Call to Action Following Drastic Decline in Care for Children Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released preliminary Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) data revealing that, during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency, rates for vaccinations, primary, and preventive services among children in Medicaid and CHIP have steeply declined. This decline may have significant impacts on long-term health outcomes for children, as Medicaid and CHIP cover nearly 40 million children, including three quarters of children living in poverty and many with special health care needs that require health services.

Read the press release 


NAM’s Timmons: Manufacturers Worried About Coronavirus’ Long-Term Impact

On Monday NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons was a guest with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business discuss concerns over the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy and the 2020 presidential election as well as workforce development and manufacturing day.

Watch on Fox Business


 

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Daily Briefing – 158

Cuomo: State Looking Into Covid-19 Spread in Brooklyn, Mid-Hudson Region

State health officials are looking into Covid-19 clusters in Brooklyn, Rockland County and Orange County that led to a slight uptick in the state’s overall coronavirus infection rate this weekend, Gov. Cuomo said Monday.  After weeks of seeing a positivity rate of about 1 percent, Cuomo said recent outbreaks in Brooklyn, the Mid-Hudson region and the Southern Tier pushed the state’s infection rate up to 1.5 percent as of Sunday.

In the Governor’s press release yesterday afternoon he provided an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, September 27th. The State’s infection rate increased to 1.5 percent. This uptick has been traced to ten zip codes with high infection rates, which accounted for 27% of positive COVID-19 test results. The State is deploying rapid testing equipment to high infection areas. Governor Cuomo noted that outside the top 20 zip codes for new coronavirus cases, the infection rate in the rest of the state remains at one percent.

Read the press release and see which zip codes saw the uptick


Manufacturing Mutterings: Council of Industry Podcast With Lt. Governor Kathleen Hochul

Council of Industry President Harold King talks with the Lt. Governor about her role as the head of the State’s Regional Economic Development Councils and Workforce Development Initiative as well as how she came to appreciate manufacturing and recognize its economic significance, the challenges we face rebuilding the economy in a COVID-19 world, apprenticeship, workforce development, business climate and more. 

Listen Here


Pelosi Believes Coronavirus Stimulus Deal Still Possible 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday said another coronavirus stimulus plan is possible as House Democrats try to forge ahead on a smaller aid package costing about $2.4 trillion, roughly $1 trillion less than their initial proposal but more than what the Trump administration has signaled it will accept. 

The chamber could vote on the bill as soon as next week. Pelosi, facing growing pressure from moderate Democrats, has tried to convince Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to increase the administration’s $1.3 trillion offer by an additional $1 trillion. However, Mnuchin signaled earlier this month that the administration would not approve a plan that was larger than $1.5 trillion.

Read more at CNBC


China’s Yuan Is Riding High as Economy Recovers, Foreign Investors Pump In Money

The yuan is closing out its strongest quarter against the dollar in more than a decade, boosted by optimism over China’s economic outlook and by the country’s comparatively high interest rates.

From the start of July through Friday’s close, the yuan has strengthened 3.7% against the dollar. That puts the yuan on track for its biggest quarterly gain since early 2008, FactSet data shows. The only other bigger quarterly gains on record are from the 1970s and 1980s, long before China began reforming its currency market in 1994. 

Read more in the WSJ


NAM Manufacturing Economy Report – Core Capital Goods, Manufacturing PMI, Housing, Jobs and More

New orders for durable goods rose 0.4% in August, extending the 11.7% gain in July and rising for the fourth straight month despite growing well below the consensus estimate of around 1.5%. Overall, the durable goods manufacturing sector has continued to rebound from steep declines in March and April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but current activity remains off 4.6% from the pace in August 2019.

Despite the slower-than-expected headline number for durable goods, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft (or “core capital goods”)—a proxy for capital spending in the U.S. economy—rose 1.8% to the highest level since July 2018 and increased 2.8% year-over-year.

Monday Economic Report 2020-0928


Eurozone PMI – Business Activity Stagnates, Manufacturing a Bright Spot

Business activity stalled across the eurozone in September, albeit with increasingly divergent trends by sector and country. Faster growth of manufacturing, led by Germany, was offset by a renewed downturn in the service sector, which was often linked to resurgent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection rates. A net loss of jobs continued to be reported, though the rate of payroll reduction eased, notably in manufacturing, thanks in part to improved future expectations. Price pressures meanwhile moderated during the month.

Manufacturing output growth accelerated in September to the fastest since February 2018, fueled by the largest rise in new orders seen over this period. 

Read more at IHS Markit Flash


Forecast: US auto sales to rise 3.3% in September

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive forecast a 3.3% increase in US auto sales in September on a month-over-month basis. With the expected September growth, fueled in part by the Labor Day holiday, annual sales are forecast at 15.7 million vehicles, an increase of 500,000 vehicles from seasonally adjusted annual sales pace last month.

Read more at Reuters


Consumers Expect Modest Increase in Spending Growth and Continued Government Support

The New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data released its August 2020 SCE Household Spending Survey and SCE Public Policy Survey. The authors highlight the key takeaways from the data releases regarding the evolution of households’ spending and public policy expectations.

See the post and the results


This Friday- Broadcasting Live From Stanfordville Machine, Mfg Day 2020

WKIP’s Hudson Valley Focus Live will be broadcasting live the morning of October 2nd from Stanfordville Machine, Victory Lane in Poughkeepsie.

Hosted as always by Tom Sipos, guests will include Stanfordville CEO Neal Johnsen, the Council of Industry’s Johnnieanne Hansen and Harold King, and many other manufacturers, educators and economic development professionals.

Tune in at WKIP or with the iHeart Radio App


 

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Daily Briefing – 157

Cuomo:  Percent Positive Just Over One Percent – Mid Hudson Region Higher

The Governor issued a press release Sunday providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, September 26th. The percentage of tests returning positive remained relatively flat at 1.02 percent.

Notably the Mid-Hudson Region has seen and increase in the percentage of people testing positive. 

REGION

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

SATURDAY

Mid-Hudson

1.7%

1.6%

1.6%


What Can Government Do to Strengthen US Manufacturing?

To explore these and other policy proposals that would impact manufacturing for years to come, the Manufacturing Policy Initiative (MPI) at Indiana University and the Hudson Institute have organized a series of virtual policy discussions during Manufacturing Week, September 28 – October 2, 2020. The series will conclude on Manufacturing Day, Friday, October 2, with a live event at noon (EDT) featuring spokespeople for presidential candidates Donald Trump (Republican Party), Joe Biden (Democratic Party), and Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian Party).

Read more about the discussions and how you can join in at IndustryWeek


Commerce Department: Core Capital Goods Orders Rise in August

The Commerce Department reported a 0.4% gain in durable goods orders in August, with a 1.8% gain for capital goods excluding aircraft and defense. July’s figure for capital goods excluding aircraft and defense was revised upward from 1.9% to 2.5%.

Read more at Reuters


Manufacturers Repurpose LIDAR for Remote Sensing During COVID-19

For manufacturers, there is no remote work option. In the face of COVID-19, they need to take extra precautions, including remote temperature sensing.  As the global pandemic continues, some manufacturers are realizing they can repurpose their 3D LIDAR systems—now used for security or product tracking—to monitor employee distancing and behavior, said Justin Bean, global marketing director for Lumada Video Insights at Hitachi Vantara, which produces manufacturing software.

LIDAR, short for light detection and ranging, is a remote-sensing method that measures distances between objects through the use of pulsed laser light. The systems help autonomous vehicles maneuver. They’re used in airports to monitor the flow of passengers in real-time, and by manufacturers to monitor supply chains, said Flood. He spoke via the web at Geo Week, held in April.

Read More at ASME


Employers Expanding Wellness Benefits to Address COVID Concerns, Expect Health Benefits Costs to Increase More than 5%

Large employers plan to expand virtual care offered to employees next year as well as double down on mental health and emotional well-being as they continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an annual survey by Business Group on Health.

Employers project health benefits costs will rise by more than 5% in 2021 although the pandemic’s impact is fueling uncertainty about overall costs. According to the 2021 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, the total cost of health benefits is expected to rise 5.3% in 2021, taking cost management initiatives into account. The total cost is projected to rise to an average of just over $15,500 in 2021. In line with recent years, employers will cover nearly 70% of costs while employees will bear about 30%, or nearly $4,700.


The Pandemic Imperils Working Mothers’ Careers

Flexible scheduling has become a common practice at most companies as the pandemic drags on, keeping physical schools and day care centers closed in many parts of the country. Employers are authorizing workers to create work schedules that will permit them to fulfill their job responsibilities while addressing family needs. Study after study shows, however, that women are shouldering more of the domestic and child care responsibilities. That means they’re on a virtual high-wire act that requires getting up early in the morning and going to bed late at night to complete the work they’re paid for so they can tend to their children during the day.

The resulting exhaustion has led many women to quit or scale back their hours. Those who don’t have that option—such as single mothers—worry about their job performance and how it may affect their career paths. 

Read more from SRRM


Top U.S. Health Officials Reassure on Future Coronavirus Vaccine Safety 

“In the end, FDA will not authorize or approve a vaccine that we would not feel comfortable giving to our families,” Hahn told lawmakers during a Senate hearing on the coronavirus Wednesday. Dr. Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, joined Hahn and told lawmakers they would take an FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine once it’s available. 

There are four vaccine candidates from Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson that are now in late-stage human trials. On Wednesday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC that the FDA commissioner, President Donald Trump and the heads of each company have “made it clear” that a vaccine’s approval is “going to be by the book based on science, data and the law.”

Read more at CNBC


New York State Vaccine Advisor Task Force Announced

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday the formation of an independent Clinical Advisory Task Force of leading scientists, doctors, and health experts who will review COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Federal Government, and will advise New York State on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness:

  • Prioritization of vaccine recipients based solely on clinical guidance
  • Distribution network capable of providing two doses of vaccine to all New Yorkers
  • Qualified professionals and organizations to administer the vaccine
  • Data and IT infrastructure for scheduling appointments and tracking program metrics
  • Public education regarding vaccination program
  • Procurement of necessary supplies and equipment

Read the press release


America’s Economy is Recovering Faster than Expected

The upgrades in America can be attributed to three factors. First, the spread of the coronavirus in the southern “sunbelt states”, which rode a wave of the epidemic in the summer, has slowed. Second, America’s economic stimulus, the world’s largest both in absolute terms and as a proportion of GDP, has been potent.

The final reason behind the forecast revisions is probably America’s flexible labour market. The fall in unemployment in recent months seems to reflect mainly the creation of more new jobs, rather than the departure of discouraged workers from the workforce. In Europe governments have tended to assume much of the payroll cost for furloughed workers. Such schemes are handy in a tight spot. But if prolonged, they could keep workers in jobs that are never coming back. America, in contrast, has mainly protected people’s incomes with unemployment benefits. As a result the reallocation of labour from dying industries to up-and-coming ones is happening at speed. For example, the number of travel agents has fallen by 10% since April, even as overall employment has risen. Employment in general-merchandise shops is 6% higher than before the pandemic.

Read more and see the charts at The Economist


Grim Milestone – One Million Deaths But Some Things are Improving, And it Will Not Go on Forever

The Economist takes a long look at the numbers as the world looks set to see its millionth officially recorded death from covid-19 before the beginning of October. That is more than the World Health Organization recorded as having died from malaria (620,000), suicide (794,000) or hiv/aids (954,000) over the whole of 2017, the most recent year for which figures are available. 

Those deaths represent just over 3% of the recorded covid-19 cases, which now number over 32m. That tally is itself an underestimate of the number who have actually been infected by sarscov-2, the virus which causes covid 19. Many of the infected do not get sick. Many who do are never seen by any health system.

Read more at the Economist (Covid 19 coverage remains free)


 

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Daily Briefing – 156

FDA Approves Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences’ COVID-19 Saliva Swab Test

Governor Cuomo and State University of New York Chancellor  Malatras yesterday announced that the individual saliva swab diagnostic test for COVID-19 developed by SUNY Upstate Medical University and Quadrant Biosciences has been granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While this test has been used to date to support SUNY’s widespread testing of students across campuses, the emergency use authorization will help additional labs begin to use this test, helping pinpoint and contain the virus and protect New Yorkers.

The saliva test for individuals complements Upstate Medical’s and Quadrant’s innovative pool testing, which allows for about 10 to 25 people to be screened in one COVID-19 test. The test’s approval by the FDA means it can be brought to scale across New York State as well as used nationwide.

The Governor also reported that positive tests results remain below one percent.


Weekly Jobless Claims Rise 

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ending Sept. 19 came in at 870,000, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected first-time claims at 850,000, down slightly from the previous week’s 860,000.

Without the adjustment, about 825,000 people filed last week, up from the previous week’s 796,000. More than 6 million people a week filed during the peak of the layoffs in the spring, when Congress approved $600 a week in supplemental benefits. The supplemental benefits expired this summer.

“Bottom line, we have a mix of people going back to work because they are now greater incentivized to do so without the extra $600 per week and those that are still challenged in finding a job that matches their skills in this unfortunate pandemic landscape,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.

Read more at CNBC


UK Unveils Job Support Scheme  – Focus on “Viable” Jobs

British finance minister Rishi Sunak announced a new jobs support scheme on Thursday that would help firms employ people on shorter hours, but warned he could not save every business or job.

“The government will directly support the wages of people in work, giving businesses who face depressed demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours, rather than making them redundant,” Sunak told parliament. Sunak said the scheme would run for six months, starting in November and be open to all small and medium sized enterprises. “It will support viable jobs to make sure that employees must work at least a third of their normal hours and be paid for that work as normal by their employer,” he added.

Read more at Reuters


Workplace Safety, Hazard Prevention, and Premium Pay During COVID-19 Pandemic

Jackson Lewis Attorneys write that Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, workplace safety and hazard prevention are more important than ever for manufacturers and other employers of essential employees. Besides the benefits of keeping their workers safe, manufacturers that maintain safe workplaces generally benefit from strong grounds for resisting demands for premium or “hazard” pay during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more at Jackson Lewis


NAM: 60 Covid Policy Wins for Manufacturers

When the history of COVID-19 is written, it will probably confirm that this was the greatest mobilization of manufacturing power since World War II. From food to ventilators to the vaccines themselves, manufacturers are making the products that keep Americans safe, comfortable and hopeful. And they’ve done it all while contending with an economic crash, a raft of new regulations and new safety procedures that had to be implemented at top speed.

These extraordinary demands on manufacturers call for an unprecedented degree of policy support, and the NAM is making sure they get it.  NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse talks about the NAM’s work over the past six months.

Here are the wins


How to Prevent New Hires from Backing Out of Onsite Work During a Pandemic

You have open positions you need to fill. For this particular position, you require the person to work onsite. You go through the applicant screening process, choose a finalist, and make an offer. The candidate accepts your offer, then declares he or she isn’t ready to come into the workplace.

There are steps you can take that will likely significantly reduce the number of applicants who aren’t willing or able to meet the demands of the position. This saves you both the time and hassle of going through the screening process.

Learn more at EHS Today


COVID-19 Delays Employment Authorization Documents

Issuance of certain Employment Authorization Documents (Form I-766, EADs) may be delayed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. To complete Form I-9, new employees who are waiting for their EAD and current employees who require reverification may present certain Forms I-797, Notice of Action, as a List C #7 document issued by the Department of Homeland Security that establishes employment eligibility, even though the notice states it is not evidence of employment authorization. 

For the notice to be acceptable, it must include a Notice Date from Dec. 1, 2019, through and including Aug. 20, 2020, and indicate that USCIS has approved the employee’s Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Both new and current employees may present this notice to complete Form I-9 until Dec. 1, 2020. New employees will also need to present an acceptable List B identity document.

Read more at e-verify


EEOC Supplements Its Guidance on the Application of Disability Discrimination Laws to COVID-19 Issues

Bond Scheneck & King attorneys write that The COVID-19 pandemic has placed employers in a difficult position when it comes to complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. New protocols for maintaining workplace safety necessitate inquiries about employees’ health that present privacy pitfalls.  On September 8, 2020, the EEOC supplemented its existing FAQs to provide additional guidance on some of these issues. The full guidance, including the recent additions, is available here.

The most notable points from the September 8 additional guidance are summarized in this article.

Read the article at BSK


 

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Daily Briefing – 155

Executive Order Extending Moratorium On COVID-Related Commercial Evictions Until October 20

Commercial evictions will remain on hold in New York City at least through Oct. 20, following an executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo extending emergency coronavirus protections statewide. This marks the second time Cuomo has extended the respite for commercial tenants that was set to expire on Sunday. The order also applies to commercial mortgages. 

“Over the weekend I signed an executive order … which extends the executive order that says the business cannot be evicted from a space because they can’t pay the rent as a result of the pandemic,” Cuomo said during a press briefing on Monday. “That executive order extends until Oct. 20.” 

The New York state Office of Court Administration confirmed on Monday that eviction cases filed since March 17 remain subject to the ongoing suspension. 

Read more at Law360


Reminder:  SUNY and K-12 Monitoring Dashboard

Back on September 6th New York state launched an online dashboard to track COVID-19 tests in school districts. Districts are 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.  

In August the Governor and SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced the launch of a SUNY system-wide COVID-19 case tracker dashboard. The centralized dashboard provides 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.


Fed and Treasury Call for Stimulus

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin credit the Cares Act with helping to build the recovery — yet their call on Congress to fill the economy’s remaining holes is not triggering action on Capitol Hill.

At a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Powell and Mnuchin said the lending programs run by the Fed and Treasury could only go so far and cannot replace targeted aid from Congress.  The economy has “proven resilient” since many Cares Act benefits expired over the summer, Powell said, but there are plenty of unknowns about where the economy is headed. For example, Powell said that savings are very high, raising the long-term risk that people will go through money stored away before they are able to go back to work. “So their spending will decline, their ability to stay in their homes will decline and so the economy will begin to feel those effects at some time,” Powell said.

Read more at the Washington Post 


Existing Home Sales Rise to 14 Year High

Sales of existing homes rose 2.4% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 6 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales were 10.5% higher compared with August 2019. This is the highest sales pace since December 2006, before the Great Recession.

Sales were hampered only by lack of supply. There were 1.49 million homes for sale at the end of August, down 18.6% annually to a 3.0-month supply. The number of homes for sale when sales were last this robust, in 2006, was more than double the current supply.
 

IHS Surveys: U.S. Economy Continues Steady Recovery in September

U.S. service-sector and manufacturing companies reported solid growth in September, a positive signal for overall economic growth in the third quarter.

Data firm IHS Markit said Wednesday its composite Purchasing Managers Index for the U.S.—a measure of activity in the private sector—was 54.4 in September, down slightly from 54.6 in August. A reading above 50.0 indicates that activity is increasing, while a reading below points to a decline in activity.

Growth in the services sector slowed slightly to 54.6 in September from 55 in August, while in the manufacturing sector it accelerated to 53.5 from 53.1.

Read more at the WSJ


Immunity Discrimination: What Employers Need to Know

Legal experts are warning employers to be mindful of the potential for “immunity discrimination” — favoring certain job candidates because they’ve survived COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. This new type of bias involves recruiters who favor job candidates who have already contracted and survived COVID-19. Research suggests that coronavirus reinfection is doubtful. So, unlike applicants who haven’t had the virus, survivors likely won’t need time off work to recover from any future infection and can safely travel, meet with clients or work with others to complete tasks or long-term projects.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled such moves as unlawful and employers are advised to avoid COVID-19 discussions during the hiring process and to be mindful of other situations where discrimination could arise, such as promotion decision-making.

Read more at HR Executive


The U.S. Department of Labor Issues Revised FFCRA Regulations in Response to District Court Decision

In its August 3 decision, the District Court ruled that four parts of the Temporary Rule were invalid: (1) the requirement that an employee may only take FFCRA leave if there is work available from which to take leave; (2) the requirement that an employee may take intermittent FFCRA leave only with employer consent; (3) the definition of a “health care provider” whom an employer may exclude from taking FFCRA leave; and (4) the requirement that employees who take FFCRA leave must provide certain documentation to their employer prior to taking leave.

The USDOL reconsidered the portions of the Temporary Rule that the District Court held were invalid. It reaffirmed the regulations in part, revised the regulations in part, and provided further explanation of its rationale for its regulations.

Read more at Bond, Schoeneck and King


J&J Advances its Covid-19 Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson started a Phase 3 trial of its Covid-19 vaccine yesterday, making it the fourth company to do so. But unlike its nearest rivals, J&J has a vaccine that may require just one dose instead of two, which could be a differentiation in the months to come.  J&J is planning to enroll up to 60,000 volunteers in the U.S. and abroad to test its vaccine, which uses a harmless virus to deliver a key protein found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2.

J&J’s Phase 3 trial is about two months behind those of Moderna and the partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech, and it trails AstraZeneca’s U.S. study, which remains on hold after a safety issue. Each of those vaccines requires two administrations a few weeks apart. That means J&J’s one-dose vaccine, if it works, could inoculate twice as many people and avoid the risk that patients don’t return for a second vaccination.

Read more at Stat


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Daily Briefing – 153

Manufacturers Struggle to Recruit, Win Over Talent

Even as America struggles to recover from a deep economic decline and the rapid loss of tens of millions of jobs, manufacturing CEOs are still greatly concerned about training, retaining and finding the best people. That’s because, despite the new prospect of double-digit U.S. unemployment stretching into 2021, many firms are still starved for good workers.

There is a growing chorus of other CEOs whose main concerns about the availability and quality of workers seemed to belie the sudden availability of vast new pools of job candidates across most of the country. They worried about labor-related challenges that pre-dated the pandemic and that would still be there afterward, such as hanging on to skilled and experienced workers, training them in new technologies and continuing to build workplace cultures that appeal to demanding new generation.


Governor Cuomo: 0.98 Percent Positive, One Death

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, September 20th. The State’s infection rate remains below one percent at 0.98 percent. One New Yorker passed away yesterday, which is the lowest number since the pandemic started. The Governor reiterated that New York will not stop until that number is zero.

Read the press release


Global Trade Returns Faster Than Expected

When the new coronavirus hit earlier this year, international trade in goods suffered the biggest year-over-year drop since the Great Depression. Economists warned of rising protectionism, and some companies said they would reassess overseas supply chains that were vulnerable to unexpected shocks.

Trade remains below pre-pandemic levels. Still, it has snapped back robustly—and had recovered about half of this year’s historic loss by June, according to calculations by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German think tank.

Read more at the WSJ


Manufacturing Economic Report: Real Median Household Income Soared to a New Record in 2019

Real median household income soared to a new record, up 6.8% from $64,324 in 2018 to $68,703 in 2019. The average American working full-time, year-round earned $52,000 in 2019. The official poverty rate was 10.5% in 2019, down for the fourth straight year and down from 11.8% in 2018. For real median household income data by state.
Manufacturing production increased 1.0% in August, easing from the 3.9% gain seen in July but rising for the fourth straight month. Despite recent progress, output in the sector remained 6.7% below the pre-pandemic pace in February. Manufacturing capacity utilization was 70.2% in August, up from 69.5% in July but still down from 75.2% in February.

Monday Economic Report 2020-0921


Democrats Are Holding Out for a Bigger Stimulus Agreement from Trump

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats were holding out for a larger stimulus deal from President Donald Trump, who recently prodded Republicans to back a larger package that includes a second round of direct payments.

In an interview published Monday on the “Sway” podcast hosted by the New York Times opinion writer Kara Swisher, the California Democrat blasted the GOP’s opposition to substantial federal spending, charging that Trump is interested only in printing his name on stimulus checks.

Read more at Business Insider


40% of Working Parents Cut Hours or Quit Amid Pandemic

Nearly half of working parents have had to quit or reduce hours because of the pandemic, according to FlexJobs’ survey of than 2,500 parents with children 18 and younger living at home. Forty percent have had to change their employment situation by either voluntarily reducing their hours (25%) or quitting entirely (15%). An additional 5% said their partner has had to either reduce their hours or quit their jobs.

Read more a Human Resource Executive


Last Chance: 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)  – If link doesn’t work cut and paste into your browser


Schumer Proposes “America LEADS Act” 

Citing China’s present treat to the U.S. economy and national security, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today unveiled the America Labor, Economic competitiveness, Alliances, Democracy and Security (America LEADS) Act . The legislation proposes to provide over $350 billion in new investments nationally, especially to Upstate New York, which will help rebuild the U.S. economy and provide Upstate workers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and manufacturers with the skills and support needed to out-compete China.

“Bold, aggressive action is required to confront the clear and present threat China poses to our economic prosperity and national security,” said Senator Schumer. “We cannot continue to underinvest in our workers, manufacturing communities, science, technological research, and trade enforcement or cede our leadership in the international community and expect to confront this threat.”

America LEADS Act Section-by-Section


 

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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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