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Economic Trends

Daily Briefing – 234

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing  yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, January 17th. Governor Cuomo expressed concern that a true “second wave” will occur now that the U.K. strain is present in the community. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has said it is possible the U.K. strain will be the dominant variant in the community by March. There are additional strains being discovered across the globe, including the South Africa and Brazil variants. 

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

Hospitalizations Statewide

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in State   =  8868
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .005%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 32%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  1001
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 40%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,831
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4245
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 27%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  683
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  427
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 37%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 6.54%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 7.25%

Useful Websites:


Vaccine Update: Over 1 million Total Doses Have Been Administered

As of Sunday afternoon the state had administered 903,131 first doses and 103,747 second doses.  At the Briefing today Governor Cuomo raised concern about vaccine administration performance disparities between different regions and healthcare providers in the State. Moving forward, authorized providers with higher vaccine administration rates will receive additional vaccine allocations, while lower performing providers will not receive additional doses from the State.

All the nursing home facilities enrolled in the Federal Long Term Care Facility (LTCF) program in New York have had first doses of the vaccine administered to eligible residents and staff. The State reserved 225,225 doses for the LTCF program but has only used roughly 105,000 doses. The State will continue to reserve enough doses for all unvaccinated residents and staff who would like to receive the vaccine, and the remaining doses will be reallocated to the New York State vaccination program.  The State has opened five mass vaccination sites and plans to open eight additional sites this week. New York is taking special efforts to ensure social equity in vaccine distribution and build trust in the vaccine within all racial and ethnic groups. 


West Virginia Governor Says State is “Diamond in the Rough” for Successful Vaccine Distribution

Unlike other states, West Virginia declined to participate in a federal program through which CVS and Walgreens administered vaccines to residents and staff of long-term care facilities and instead leaned on local pharmacies to deliver the shots. It then became the first state in the nation to finish offering the vaccines to all nursing home facilities, doing so before the end of 2020.

Justice said he decided to reject the federal partnership program because “there are so many people that depend on their local health departments, their local pharmacies. If what we’re going to do is create a bureaucracy with federal government guidelines and everything, when we know this is about age, age and age, we’ve got to get shots in people’s arms, and every day we put a shot in somebody’s arm we’re saving a life,” he said.

Read more at CBS News Face the Nation


China Reports it’s Economy Grew 2.3% in 2020

China reported Monday that its economy grew 2.3% last year as the world struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Gross domestic product rose by 6.5% in the fourth quarter from a year ago, official data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed. Those numbers beat analysts’ expectations.

Economists expected China to have been the only major economy to grow last year, and predicted GDP in 2020 expanded by just over 2%. Those polled by Reuters expected the economy to grow 6.1% in the fourth quarter, faster than the 4.9% pace of the prior quarter. In late December, the National Bureau of Statistics lowered China’s official growth rate for 2019 to 6.0%, versus the previously reported 6.1%. The cut primarily occurred in manufacturing, as factories dealt with new U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.

Read more at CNBC


New York Joins ESG Battle Against Tyson After Virus Outbreak

New York state has joined investors managing trillions of dollars in pressuring Tyson Foods Inc. to improve its practices after slaughterhouses became coronavirus hot spots last year. The state’s pension fund wants America’s top meat producer to end a dual-class share structure that has effectively insulated the company from having to answer its shareholders over the coronavirus crisis, according to a proposal filed by New York State Common Retirement Fund that will be discussed next month at Tyson’s annual general meeting..

U.S. meat packers have been under pressure after thousands of workers caught the virus at processing plants last spring, with investors managing $2 trillion having written to the likes of Tyson and rival JBS SA demanding action to protect workers. Shareholders focused on environmental, social and governance issues argue that Tyson has been able to overlook their demands as family owners control the majority of voting rights.

Read more at Bloomberg


Manufacturing Economic Report: Output Expected to Reach Pre-Pandemic Levels By the End of 2021

Manufacturing production increased 0.9% in December, rising for the eighth straight month. Despite gains since the spring, manufacturing production remained 2.6% below the pre-pandemic pace in February. Overall, manufacturing production fell 6.5% on average in 2020, but output should rise by the same percentage in 2021. Even as capacity remained 2.3% below what was seen in February, manufacturing capacity utilization increased from 72.7% in November to 73.4% in December, the highest rate since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Monday Economic Report 0118 2021


Middle Market Companies Forecast Revenue Increase in 2021

Middle market companies anticipate the new year will bring recovery and new opportunities, according to the 2021 BDO Middle Market CFO Outlook Survey. According to the survey which consisted of interviewing 600 middle-market CFOs in the U.S. during September 2020, a majority forecast economic recovery (60%) and revenue increases (56%) in 2021. 

Manufacturers stepped up in 2020 to protect jobs, produce goods vital to the economy and help fight COVID-19. They are not yet out of the woods, however, as the road ahead will bring continued financial and operational challenges. In 2021, manufacturers must balance risk mitigation and other immediate needs with longer-term priorities such as investing in Industry 4.0, boosting supply chain resiliency and adapting to changing customer expectations.

Read more at Material Handling and Logistics


Biden Pushing to Cancel Keystone XL pipeline, Re-Join Paris Climate Agreement As Soon As He Takes Office

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) first reported the news on Sunday after it obtained an apparent briefing note from Biden’s transition team. On the list of executive actions meant for Biden’s first day in office “Rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit” reportedly shows up.
As the outlet notes, Biden indicated months ago that he planned on canceling the pipeline, though supporters of the project had been hoping he would change his mind. The project crosses over the U.S.-Canada border and has the support of the Canadian government.

Read more at The Hill


Covid Face Masks Are Disrupting a Key Tool of Human Communications, New Research Show

In laboratory experiments published last fall in Frontiers in Psychology, psychologist Claus-Christian Carbon at Germany’s University of Bamberg found that people readily confused expressions when the lower part of the face was blocked by a surgical mask. Happiness and sadness seemed like neutral poker faces. Signs of anger were especially hard to perceive. Wide-eyed fear, though, came through clearly.

“It hampers everyday life,” Dr. Carbon said. “It’s not just that you can’t read the face anymore. You misread it and misinterpret emotions. You also feel yourself a little bit misunderstood.”

Read more at the WSJ


Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal to Boost Partial Unemployment Benefits

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a proposal to boost partial Unemployment Insurance benefits to New Yorkers who return to work part-time. The plan will ensure unemployed New Yorkers who accept part-time work are not penalized by basing their partial unemployment benefits on the hours they actually work, rather than the number of days they work in a given week. This change will inject more money into New York’s economy while helping businesses fill part-time positions.

Legislation to be submitted with the Executive Budget will permanently enact a Partial UI program to incentivize unemployed New Yorkers to assume a part-time job as they search for full-time work, with a revised calculation made possible by technological improvements currently underway.  Since March 2020, New York State has Distributed Over $62 Billion in Unemployment Benefits to 4 Million New Yorkers – More Than 29 Typical Years’ Worth.

Read the press release


 

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Daily Briefing – 232

Vaccine Update: New York’s Health Care Distribution Sites Have Administered 83% of Doses Received from Federal Government 

As of Saturday afternoon the state had administered 772,399 doses of the 934,925 that it has received from the Federal government., or 83%.  Another 250,00 doses are expected this week. More than 7 million New Yorkers are eligible in Phase 1B. 


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, January 16th. 

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

Hospitalizations Statewide

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8771
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 32%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  1013
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 40%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,764
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4239
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 27%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  684
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  440
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 38%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.61%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 6.3%

Useful Websites:


A Look at What’s in Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan

The president-elect is rolling out a large spending package aimed at helping battle the virus and alleviate the economic toll it has taken.  That $1.9 trillion figure is a lot of money, to put it mildly. Congress passed a $900 billion relief program in December, and its package in March was also about $2 trillion. By way of comparison, the major financial crisis spending package — the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — clocked in around $800 billion.

The New York Times runs through a few of the biggest provisions, how they would work and what they might mean for the United States economy as it struggles through a winter of surging coronavirus cases and partial state and local lockdowns.

Read more at the New York Times


Joe Biden’s Covid-19 Vaccine Plan Intends to Speed Up Distribution

Mr. Biden wants to quicken the pace of vaccinations, setting a target of administering 100 million doses of the vaccine during the first 100 days of his presidency. He would spend $20 billion on the national vaccination program.

To accelerate vaccinations, he said his administration would work with federal, state and local officials to set up thousands of community vaccination centers across the country and deploy mobile units to rural and underserved areas. Mr. Biden promised 100 federally supported centers by the end of his first month in office. The Federal Emergency Management Agency would help set them up, and the federal government would reimburse states deploying the National Guard to help with vaccinations. Mr. Biden also said he aims to increase the pace of vaccinations by making shots available at independent and chain pharmacies.

Read more at the WSJ


Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Shows Promise

Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that the new single-dose coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson “looks like a good profile for a vaccine.”

The results of early-stage trials for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. It showed that all trial participants had neutralizing antibodies in their system after 57 days. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine would allow for more vaccines to be dispersed and would only require one shot, whereas the current COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two. 

Read more at The Hill


DiNapoli: Tax Revenues Through December Were $2.5 Billion Lower Than Last Year

State tax receipts through the first nine months of the state fiscal year were $2.5 billion lower than last year, but were $1.8 billion higher than anticipated by the state Division of the Budget (DOB), according to the monthly State Cash Report released by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Tax receipts in the month of December totaled $8.4 billion, $422.5 million above last year, and $1.4 billion above DOB’s latest projections.

“December’s tax receipts were better than expected, but the revenue challenge is still with us,” DiNapoli said. “President-elect Biden’s proposed stimulus plan, with new aid to help states and localities fill gaps created by the COVID-19 pandemic, is another hopeful sign. We still have a long way to go, and it’s essential that leaders in Washington act on a robust plan of assistance as quickly as possible.”


January Empire State Manufacturing Survey – Little Growth, Increasing Prices

There was little growth in manufacturing activity in New York State in January. The general business conditions index was similar to last month’s level at 3.5. Twenty-seven percent of respondents reported that conditions had improved over the month, while 23 percent reported that conditions had worsened. The new orders index rose three points to 6.6, indicating a small increase in orders, and the shipments index fell to 7.3, pointing to a modest increase in shipments. Delivery times were somewhat longer, and inventories held steady.

The prices paid index rose eight points to 45.5, its highest level in two years, indicating a pickup in input price increases. This index has risen a cumulative 41 points since May. The prices received index climbed five points to 15.2, its highest level in a year, pointing to an acceleration in selling prices.

Read the report


US Industrial Production Jumps 1.6% in December

U.S. industrial production rose 1.6% in December, a third straight monthly gain, but remains below its pre-pandemic level.  The December gain in industrial output followed a 0.5% increase in November and a 1% increase in October, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. Even with those gains, industrial output is still about 3.3% below its level in February before the pandemic hit.

Manufacturing increased 0.9%, its eighth straight monthly gain, even as production of motor vehicles and parts declined 1.6%. That follows a string of gains for the auto sector, including last month’s strong 5% increase. Without the drag in the auto sector last month, manufacturing posted gains of 1.1%.

Read more at the AP


IRS Reverses Position on Deductibility of Paycheck Protection Program Loan Expenses

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136, (the CARES Act) modifies several tax provisions in the Internal Revenue Code (the Code). The modifications are designed to provide relief to businesses and individuals adversely affected by the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Following the enactment of the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020, the IRS published Rev. Rul. 2021-2, which reverses their position in Notice 2020-32, noting that such conclusions are “no longer accurate statements of law” and are now “declared obsolete.” This change is retroactive and thus applies to PPP loans already funded under the existing PPP loan program during 2020. Taxpayers may deduct eligible business expenses paid for with a PPP loan received during 2020.


The Economist: The Rich World Has Become Better at Mitigating the Economic Cost of Lockdowns

The lockdowns of the spring, which at their peak covered more than half of the world’s population, provoked an almighty downturn. In April global economic output was 20% below where it would have been otherwise.

The latest round of lockdowns will hit the economy again—but, perhaps, not as hard. Analysts at Goldman Sachs have argued that in Britain’s case “the sensitivity of economic activity to covid-19 restrictions has diminished significantly since the first lockdown.” In research published on January 8th HSBC noted that German industrial output “extended its recovery in November, undeterred by the renewed lockdown”. America’s jobs report for December, released on the same day, showed that employment fell for the first time since April—a depressing result when millions of people are still out of work. Yet other high-frequency economic indicators, such as those for consumer spending, are in better shape than they were in the spring.

Read more at The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 232

NYT: Older New Yorkers Face Vaccine Red Tape

In the city, over a million older New Yorkers started the week with optimism that they would finally gain access to the vaccine after months of fearing they would fall victim to the coronavirus. But the reality of actually getting the shots has proved to be far more maddening.

Buggy websites, multiple sign-up systems that act in parallel but do not link together and a lack of outreach are causing exasperation and exhaustion among older New Yorkers and others trying to set up vaccination appointments. It is also stymying New York’s early efforts to get the vaccine to many of the city’s most vulnerable, creating a situation that elected officials say risks exacerbating the inequalities that Covid-19 has already laid painfully bare.


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

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

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

Hospitalizations Statewide

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8823
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .005%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 32%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  1015
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 39%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,764
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4239
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 27%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  686
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  446
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 39%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0): 1.08
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 6.42%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 7.80%

Useful Websites:


SBA Re-Opening Paycheck Protection Program to Small Lenders on Friday, January 15 and All Lenders on Tuesday, January 19

The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, will re-open the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 9 a.m. EST. The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 to all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA.

Earlier in the week, SBA granted dedicated PPP access to Community Financial Institutions (CFIs) which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to reach underserved and minority small businesses.


The World Bank Predicts 4% Growth in Global GDP in 2021

The World Bank predicts that the world GDP will grow by 4.0% in 2021, bouncing back after declining 4.3% in 2020. With that said, global output will remain 5.0% below pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year. While COVID-19 and its spread remain downside risks to the economic outlook, the prospects of a vaccine and a return to “normalcy” in spending and activity should help the overall recovery.

Read more at the World Bank


Germany’s GDP Lost 5 Percent in 2020

Today Destatis, Germany’s federal statistics office, reported that the country’s economy contracted by a smaller-than-expected 5% last year because of measures taken to contain the covid-19 pandemic. The slump in GDP is painful, but not as bad as the 9% plunge forecast for France and the 11.2% that Spain is expected to lose. Germany’s position is less dire because its stronger fiscal position meant it could afford more generous help for companies, families and freelancers. The country’s focus on high-quality manufacturing helped too. Most German factories stayed open during the two lockdowns in 2020, which limited the fall in output. Because the latest lockdown will probably continue into February, economists expect another contraction in the first quarter of this year. But then, they say, Germans can look forward to a strong rebound, once the weather becomes milder and more of them are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Read more at MarketWatch


U.S. Unemployment Claims Rise as Pandemic Weighs on Economy

Worker filings for jobless claims jumped to nearly 1 million last week (965k) indicating rising layoffs amid a surge in Covid-19 cases. The report added to the evidence that the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases and fresh business restrictions in some places are weighing on the labor market. Employers cut 140,000 jobs in December, marking the first decline since the pandemic hit the country last spring. Leisure and hospitality workers bore the brunt of the decline, as a nationwide surge in coronavirus infections forced many restaurants and bars to close or scale back operations. 

The recovery in the number of available jobs posted online reversed course toward the end of December, according to job-search site Indeed’s measure of job-posting trends. Other recent economic data suggest a broader economic slowdown under way. Small-business optimism fell sharply in December. Household spending declined for the first time in seven months in November, with household income slipping too. 

Read more at the WSJ


Job Openings Decline

Overall job openings fell in the closing months of 2020, according to CNBC, while manufacturing openings also dropped somewhat. NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray has the manufacturing numbers from the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey:

“There were 498,000 manufacturing job openings in November, pulling back from 531,000 in October, which was an all-time high.” Nondurable goods manufacturers reported a record number of job postings in November, up from 236,000 to 250,000, but openings among durable goods firms dropped sharply, down from 296,000 to 248,000. Despite softening in the latest data, manufacturing job openings have firmed up in recent months from springtime weaknesses,” says Moutray.

Read more at CNBC


Machinery Buying Survey Shows Optimism for Recovery

After one of the most tumultuous and disruptive periods in memory, that optimism has rebounded. In PMM’s second annual survey, conducted in October, 61 percent of respondents (83 out of 136 total) plan to buy primary processing equipment in 2021, essentially equal to the pre-pandemic figure. 

Companies say new equipment is needed to expand capacity (69 percent), replace existing equipment (52 percent) and/or add new processing capabilities (17 percent). And an overwhelming 73 percent of respondents expect their business to improve in 2021, while only 2 percent believe it will be worse. 

Read more at Plastics Machinery Manufacturing


Boeing Jet Deliveries Fell Almost 60% in 2020

Boeing Co. reported its total commercial aircraft deliveries during 2020 totaled 157, a -59% drop from 2019 and the worst annual delivery total for Boeing since 1973, when it delivered 156 aircraft. The total reflects not only the Covid-19 pandemic’s influence on commercial aircraft demand, but also the lingering effect of the 737 MAX idling. For contrast, in 2019, prior to the start of the pandemic, Boeing delivered 380 aircraft; but in 2018, before the 737 MAX program was grounded, the OEM delivered 806 aircraft.

In detail, the 2020 deliveries for Boeing commercial jets included 43 of the 737 series; five 747s; 30 767s; 26 777s; and 53 787 Dreamliners. Also for 2020, Boeing’s new orders totaled 184 aircraft, and its order backlog slipped by 1,026 to 3,282 aircraft.

Read more at American Machinist


Future Coronavirus Vaccines May Harness Nanoparticles

Conventional vaccines that are based on inactivated, weakened, or genetically modified viruses can be highly effective and are easier to store and transport. However, they take a long time to develop and are more likely to cause side effects.

Biochemists at Stanford University, CA, have created a prototype of a nanoparticle-based COVID-19 vaccine that they believe would not only be cheap, safe, and effective but also remain stable at room temperature. They are even hopeful that their vaccine could be shipped and stored as a freeze-dried powder. The scientists recently published the results of a preclinical study of the nanoparticle vaccine in the journal ACS Central Science.

Read more at Medical News Today


State of the State Part IV- Infrastructure Investment

Governor Cuomo delivered part 4 of his 2021 State of the State address yesterday, this one focused on infrastructure investment proposing to invest billions into infrastructure improvements to build a new New York. As part of these efforts, Governor Cuomo has put forth a number of proposals focused on transforming Manhattan’s Midtown West neighborhood, including building a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, rebuilding the state’s airports, and improving transportation infrastructure to create jobs, spur economic development and bring existing infrastructure into the 21st century. 

Earlier this week, the Governor announced proposals to win the war against COVID-19, by addressing New York’s short-term economic issues, ensure social and racial justice, and reopen the state while growing the green economy. 

Read the press release


 

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Daily Briefing – 229

Phase 1B – New York Expands its COVID-19 Vaccine Pool By 3.2 Million People 

New York will now offer COVID-19 vaccines to a wider group of residents after the state’s previously strict eligibility guidelines meant medical providers were forced to throw out unused doses.

State authorities have investigated healthcare providers who may have violated its vaccination plans. Despite the previously strict criteria, hospitals in the state face a $100,000 fine if they don’t use their COVID-19 vaccine doses quickly enough. Cuomo announced the policy on January 4, adding that some of the state’s hospitals had used less than a fifth of their doses.

Read more at Business Insider


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

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

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

Hospitalizations Statewide

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8645
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 33%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  1030
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 40%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,804
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4200
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 26%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  690
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  414
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 40%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0): 1.08
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 6.272%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 7.80%

Useful Websites:


Webinar With US Senator Charles Schumer – January, 14, 2021, 03:00pm – 4:00pm

Join The Manufacturing Alliance on Thursday, January 14th at 3 PM for a webinar with U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (NY), who could soon become Senate Majority Leader. Senator Schumer will be discussing the latest COVID-19 Federal Stimulus Package and his priorities for the new year.

Senator Schumer will also answer pre-submitted questions about the future of manufacturing. Please submit your questions by tomorrow afternoon to Tiffany at tiffanylatinog@macny.org.  There is no cost to attend, however space is limited and registration is required.

Click here to Register


The Full List of Joe Biden’s Cabinet Picks

Having campaigned on a pledge to build a cabinet “that looks like America,” Mr. Biden’s planned nominations have included historic firsts for women and racial minorities. All cabinet nominees will require confirmation in a closely divided Senate. Mr. Biden ran as a consensus builder, emphasizing his decades-long career in the Senate as a party moderate. His choices for top jobs in his administration have so far been well-known Washington figures, many of whom served in the Obama administration, signaling an emphasis on experience.

Mr. Biden and his team face an immediate challenge of steering the country out of a pandemic that had claimed more than 370,000 lives as of Saturday and an economic recession that has left millions jobless. Mr. Biden’s cabinet picks will play a crucial role in his plans to provide coronavirus relief, as well as in executing his domestic and foreign-policy priorities.

See the full list


Biden to Outline Covid-19 Relief Package Next Week

President-elect Joe Biden said Friday that he will be “laying out the groundwork” for trillions of dollars of Covid-19 relief next week, and that he would push for an increase in the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. Mr. Biden spoke hours after the Labor Department reported that the U.S. lost 140,000 jobs in December amid the resurgence of the pandemic, ending seven months of job growth.

“The bottom line is the jobs report shows we need to provide more immediate relief for working families and businesses—now,” Mr. Biden said, before formally announcing additional members of his economic team.

Read more the WSJ


Monday Economic Report – Mfg. Jobs, Durable Goods, Construction and More

Manufacturing added 38,000 workers in December, rising for the eighth straight month and making the sector one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing (but expected) report. Yet, the manufacturing sector lost 557,000 workers in 2020, the largest annual decline since 2009 and ending three years of gains. The U.S. economy on a whole lost 140,000 workers in December, the first monthly decline in nonfarm payroll employment since April

Durable goods data have rebounded strongly since the pandemic. Over the past 12 months, new orders for durable goods have increased 3.9%, but with transportation equipment excluded, sales rose a solid 4.9% year-over-year.

Monday Economic Report 0111 2021


Women Accounted for 100% of the 140,000 Jobs Shed by the U.S. Economy in December

Women accounted for all of U.S. job losses in December, dramatically underscoring the pandemic’s unrelentingly disastrous impact on working women.

Actually, it’s even worse than that: Technically, women accounted for more than 111% of jobs lost last month. The U.S. economy lost a net 140,000 jobs in December, the first month since April that total payrolls declined, the Labor Department said Friday. But women lost 156,000 jobs overall during the month, while men gained 16,000 jobs, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).

Read more at Fortune


The Pandemic Could Amount to $10trn in Forgone GDP Over 2020-21

The economic toll of the covid-19 pandemic is incalculable. But let’s try anyway. A useful starting point is the semi-annual Global Economic Prospects report released this week by the World Bank. It calculates that the world economy probably shrank by 4.3% in 2020, a setback matched only by the Depression and the two world wars. But this dramatic figure still understates the cost. It measures the world economy’s fall from where it was before the pandemic, not from where it would have been had the virus not spread.

All Told the cost of covid-19 this year and last will amount to about $10.3trn in forgone output: goods and services the world could have produced had it remained unafflicted. That is, to put it mildly, a big number.

Read more at the Economist


BioNTech Boosts 2021 Vaccine Supply Forecast to 2 Billion Doses

German company BioNTech, which developed the first coronavirus vaccine approved in the West, said Monday it expects to produce two billion doses in 2021, up from the 1.3 billion previously forecast.   European regulators last week approved doctors drawing six doses from each vial, boosting dosage capacity by 20 percent.

The Mainz-based company, which developed the jab with US giant Pfizer, is planning to open a new factory in Marburg, Germany, in February, expected to ramp up production capacity by 750 million doses a year.   The site will join five other sites in Germany, Belgium and the US shared with Pfizer.  The company said it had shipped nearly 33 million doses by January 10, more than a month after Britain became the first Western nation to approve any vaccine on December 2.

Read more at IndustryWeek


2021 State of the State

Governor Cuomo began to deliver his State of the State Address this morning from the War Room in the State Capitol, outlining his 2021 agenda. A press release from the Governor’s office is below with details of the proposals highlighted in the speech. Governor Cuomo announced that he will be delivering three additional speeches in the coming days with additional proposals and details. The State of the State will be reflective of the following seven-point plan, announced this morning:

1, Defeat COVID, 2. Vaccinate New York, 3. Manage Short Term Economic Crisis, 4. Invest in the Future, 5. Transition to Green Energy, 6. Understand Long Term Effects of COVID, 7. Address Systemic Injustices. 

At this time the Governor has not released his State of the State book.  We will send a link as soon as it becomes available.  

Read the press release


 

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Daily Briefing – 228

Vaccine Distribution Update – Phase 1B Starts Today

In Friday’s press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that starting Starting today, New York State will begin scheduling vaccinations for “Phase 1b” groups—the next category of people eligible for the vaccine. This group includes: People aged 75 and up; education workers (pre-K through 12 teachers and education workers, licensed and registered child care providers, and school-bus drivers); first responders (local police, State Police, Sheriff’s Office employees, professional and volunteer firefighters); EMS workers (including professional and volunteer paramedics and EMTs); public transit workers (airline and airport employees, passenger railroad employees, subway and mass transit employees, ferry employees, Port Authority employees, and public bus drivers); and public safety workers. About 3.2 million additional New Yorkers will now be eligible.

Notably, Essential manufacturing workers are not listed as phase 1B eligible though that was the case just a few weeks ago. 

Also the Governor issued a media advisory Saturday announcing the 2021 State of the State Address will be delivered today, January 11th at 11:30 a.m. from the War Room in the State Capitol. The event will be live streamed on the Governor’s website.

Read the press release


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, January 9th. With more U.K. strain cases being found in New York and across the country, it is even more important that New Yorkers continue to follow the guidelines wear a mask, avoid gatherings and social distance.

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

Hospitalizations Statewide

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8484
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 34%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  994
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 41%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,791
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4228
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 27%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  690
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  412
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 40%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0): 1.12
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 6.22%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 7.90%

Useful websites:


Study: Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine Appears Effective Against Mutation in New Coronavirus Variants 

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine appears able to protect against a key mutation in the highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in Britain and South Africa, according to a laboratory study conducted by the U.S. drugmaker.

The study by Pfizer and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, indicated the vaccine was effective in neutralizing variants with the so-called N501Y mutation, situated on a portion of the virus that it uses to enter and infect cells.

Read More at Reuters


Empire Center: New York Is Still Waiting For a Viable COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

In Friday’s briefing, Governor Cuomo warned that the federal allotment of 300,000 doses per week would not be enough to vaccinate the two highest-priority groups until April. This sidesteps the more immediate crisis, which is that the state is delivering doses less than half as fast as Washington sends them.

A number of steps the governor announced Friday should at least begin to speed things up. Most significantly, Cuomo opened the door to broader eligibility for early shots, acceding to pressure from Mayor de Blasio and others. Previously he had insisted on completing group 1a (which includes health-care workers and nursing home residents) before doing anyone else. Perhaps most significantly, he’s enlisting county public health departments, which have pre-existing mass vaccination plans that for some reason Cuomo chose not to use at first. He said he’s also adding thousands of pharmacies, clinics and doctor’s offices.

Read more at the Empire Center


Eligibility and Requirements for First and Second Draw of PPP Loan Applications

On Jan. 6, 2021, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued guidance regarding the stimulus package’s Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act, which continued the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). First and second time eligible borrowers may apply for either a First Draw or Second Draw PPP Loan until March 31, 2021. 

As detailed in this Information Memo from Bon, Schoeneck and King, many basic aspects of the PPP remain the same. However, there are important distinguishing factors for both First and Second Draws.

Read the Memo at BSK


Seven Months of Job Growth End; Unemployment Rate At 6.7

The U.S. lost 140,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate was 6.7%, ending seven months of job growth and suggesting the economy is weakening.  Job growth has slowed in recent months as cold weather, rising Covid-19 infections, and new restrictions on businesses deal a setback to the recovery from the pandemic. The pandemic and related restrictions led to 22 million job losses in March and April; 12 million have been recovered since then.

The silver lining is that economists believe the lull will be temporary. The process of distributing vaccines is under way. The roughly $900 billion aid plan is providing stimulus checks of up to $600 for most families, a $300-per-week boost in unemployment benefits for laid-off workers and a new round of aid for businesses.

Read more at the WSJ


But…Manufacturing Adds Jobs

NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray provided us with the manufacturing numbers from the Labor Department report: “Manufacturing added 38,000 workers in December, rising for the eighth straight month and making the sector one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing (but expected) report.”

“Despite gains since the spring, the labor market for the sector remains well below its pre-COVID-19 pace, with manufacturing employment down by 543,000 in December relative to the level in February. The manufacturing sector had 12,309,000 workers in December, down from 12,852,000 in February but a definite improvement from 11,489,000 employees in April.”  “Overall, the manufacturing sector lost 557,000 workers in 2020, the largest annual decline since 2009 and ending three years of gains.”

Read more at CNBC


Boeing to Pay More Than $2.5 Billion to Settle Criminal Conspiracy Charge Over 737 Max

Boeing agreed to pay $2.5bn to settle criminal charges that it misled safety officials who were investigating the firm’s 737 MAX airliner. America’s Department of Justice said the plane maker had chosen “the path of profit over candor” by withholding information following two crashes in 2018 and 2019, which killed 346 people. Some $500m will go towards compensating victims’ families.

Read more at CNBC


Context: A Tale of Two Pandemics – What a Difference a Century Makes

A New Year is upon us.  Will multilateralism and cooperation start staging a comeback against the forces of narrow nationalism?  That won’t be easy, and it will be a while before we’ll know. Yet a trio of early tests will offer clues – stemming the spread of the pandemic, rolling out vaccines to turn it back, and dealing with its huge economic fallout.

The new year in question was way back in 1919, at the outset of the third wave of the Spanish flu pandemic. It was a moment with clear similarities to our own struggle with COVID-19. But less obvious – and potentially more telling for 2021 – are the differences between the two.

Read more at the CS Monitor


 

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Daily Briefing – 227

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday, January 6th. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8548
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 29%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  951
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 33%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,716
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  1408
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 29%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  699
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  434
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 40%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.12
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 7.39%

Here are some useful websites:


Cuomo: Vaccination Rate at Hospitals Is Up – Needs To Be Better

On his press call yesterday Governor Cuomo discussed the mixed performance of hospital systems across the State on vaccine distribution. Before this week there were 10,000 vaccines to be administered a day. That number jumped to 30,000 on Monday and today we are at 50,000 plus vaccines a day. Vaccine distribution among health care workers is critical in maintaining hospital capacity. Across the state hospital systems have access to beds and equipment but fall short on staff, especially nurses, which is now the priority concern for hospitals. If a hospital system has reached the refusal rate of 70%, the Governor called on them to inform the Department of Health so the doses can be reallocated. The Governor will announce a reallocation plan today.

1B DISTRIBUTION – Once there has been enough vaccines administered to health care workers in the 1a category, the State will move to phase 1b which contains certain essential workers and general public over the age of 75.  Governor Cuomo stated that some local governments that wish to prioritize police officers over other groups in phase 1b are not allowed to do so.  The Council of Industry is seeking clarification, however for now manufacturing workers are not listed as part of 1B.

Read the press release


Mid-Hudson COVID-19 Clusters

Guidance and maps can be found HERE


Moderna CEO Says Vaccine Likely to Protect for ‘Couple of Years’

The covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna will probably offer protection against the virus for up to two years, according to the company’s chief executive. The speed at which vaccines have been developed has left scientists with less data than normal about the longevity of any inoculation. The Moderna shot was approved by the EU on Wednesday.

The CEO added his company was about to prove that its vaccine would also be effective against variants of the coronavirus seen in Britain and South Africa.

Read more at Reuters


Business Leaders Condemn Capital Violence

Businesses and trade associations strongly condemned the rioters and President Trump for goading them on, according to Fox Business. Business leaders nationwide demanded that elected leaders, including the president, call for an end to violence and support the peaceful transfer of power.

“These were destructive acts against our shared principles and beliefs of a peaceful transition of power,” said Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Farley. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said, “Our leaders must call for peace and unity.”  The NAM led the business community in a statement condemning the assault on American democracy. It urged our leaders to seriously consider next steps and reiterated its call for an orderly transition—a step that is critical to the functioning of our industry, our democracy and our country. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said:

Read more at Fox Business


Japan Issues COVID-19 State Of Emergency For Tokyo

Suga Yoshihide, Japan’s prime minister, declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures today to combat a growing outbreak of covid-19. The country’s daily case tally hit a new high of more than 6,000 on Wednesday, including a record 1,591 in Tokyo. The state of emergency is Japan’s second, following a nationwide declaration last spring. Japan’s constitution prevents the government from imposing a strict lockdown, but residents largely complied with stay-at-home requests last time. (Mr Suga has pushed the Diet to approve a bill giving the government authority to impose fines on businesses.) Officials are asking restaurants to close and people to stay indoors after 8pm. Schools are allowed to remain open. But experts worry that the measures may be insufficient. And relief in the form of vaccines is a long way off: Japan is expected to begin inoculations only in late February.

Read more at NPR


November U.S. Trade Deficit Widest Since 2006

The foreign-trade gap in goods and services expanded 8% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $68.14 billion in November, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That was the highest deficit since August 2006, and the goods deficit was the highest on record.

Imports increased 2.9% in November to $252.3 billion. Exports rose 1.2% to $184.2 billion. Factories in the U.S., Asia and Europe boosted their output as 2020 drew to a close, aided by a rise in new orders and a revival in trade that has continued despite a sharp rise in coronavirus infections across many large economies.  Demand for imports in the U.S. improved and demand for U.S. exports also picked up, just not as much. 

Read more at the WSJ


Pandemic Drives 2020 Residential Real Estate Boom In Hudson Valley

Single-family home sales in Rockland County increased 14.7 percent for the year, with 36 percent of those sales taking place in the fourth quarter. Unit sales for the year were 2,327, as compared to 2,028 in 2019, according to Data provided by OneKey™ MLS.  The median sales price of $500,000 represented a nearly 10 percent increase compared to last year’s median of $455,000.

Counties throughout the Hudson Valley performed similarly as the coronavirus pandemic drove urban dwellers to the suburbs and exurban communities. New buyers were fleeing cramped apartments and close living circumstances as the pandemic drew on, suggesting that lifestyles and commuter patterns may be changing for more than just the short haul. Like Rockland County, Westchester, the largest market in the region, experienced a year-over-year increase in single-family residential sales of 14 percent or 6,657 units as compared to 5,839 for 2019.

Read more in the Rockland Business Journal


U.S. Unemployment Claims Nearly Steady as Extra $300 Payments Start

Weekly initial claims for jobless benefits from regular state programs, a proxy for layoffs, fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 787,000 in the week ended Jan. 2, the Labor Department said Thursday. The prior week’s figure was revised up by 3,000.

Unemployment claims have remained at high levels during the pandemic—holding at four times their pre-pandemic average at around 800,000 a week through the fall and into the winter. Claims peaked at nearly 7 million in the spring, when a majority of states issued stay at home orders early in the pandemic. The pre-pandemic peak was 695,000.  Mr. Trump signed a $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill on Dec. 27, which, in part, added a $300-a-week supplement for those receiving unemployment benefits and extended two pandemic-specific programs used by about 13 million people.

Read more at the WSJ


ADP: Employers Shed 123,000 Jobs in December

Private Sector employment dropped by 123,000 jobs from November to December, according to the monthly labor market analysis released Wednesday by payroll firm ADP. The number was below consensus forecasts of 50,000 jobs added and compares to 307,000 jobs added in the prior month.  Losses were heaviest among large employers, those with more than 1,000 employees, which lost 147,000 jobs. The services sector accounted for some of the largest losses.

Economists are looking for today’s Labor Department report to show about 50,000 new jobs were added in December, but some have forecast a modest drop in new jobs created.

Read more at US News


 

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Daily Briefing – 226

After Unprecedented, Raucous Day US Congress Accepts Electoral College Result

Hours after hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a harrowing assault on American democracy, a shaken Congress on Thursday formally certified Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.

Immediately afterward, the White House released a statement from Trump in which he pledged an “orderly transition” when Biden is sworn into office on Jan. 20, although he repeated his false claim that he won the November election. On Wednesday, the Republican president had seemingly encouraged his followers to swarm the Capitol.

Read more at Reuters


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday, January 5th. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8665
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 29%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  984
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 33%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,716
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  1408
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 29%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  699
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  398
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 40%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.12
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 8.41%

Here are some useful websites:


NYS Vaccine Rollout Phase “1B”

NYS is working with the public and private sectors to develop a “retail network” of vaccination provider sites.  Similar to operations for the annual distribution of the flu vaccine and like with our ongoing COVID-19 testing, these sites will help ensure access to the vaccine in multiple locations in each of the state’s 10 regions. The network of sites will include pharmacies, federally-qualified health centers, local health departments, private urgent care clinics, private doctor networks, and other sites capable of vaccinations. More sites continue to be added to the network every day.

In addition to hospitals and the “retail network,” the State will undertake special efforts to supplement these sites with pop-up locations, including at the Javits Center, SUNY and CUNY locations, community centers, and houses of worship—with a special emphasis on reaching underserved communities. 

Vaccines phase 1B


County Leaders Seek Cooperation from Cuomo Administration to Carry Out Vaccination Plan

County leaders in New York said Tuesday that their health departments have been developing vaccination plans for years and can help smooth the rocky rollout of the state’s vaccination program, but they need more cooperation from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration. The county executives said their health departments are required by state law to have mass vaccination plans, and they have been updating them regularly with test runs of their systems and investment in staff training.

But they said Cuomo and the state health department are not providing data that they need and are leaving them out of key meetings. They said that makes it more difficult to coordinate the distribution of the vaccines in their communities when the doses arrive.

Read more at WBFO


Democrats Take Senate Control

Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeated Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Georgia’s two Senate runoffs. The outcome of the high-profile and costly elections will put Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress and influence the scope of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.

New York State Senator Charles Schumer will be the new Majority Leader.  The Council of Industry and The New York Manufacturing Alliance look forward to working with his office to strengthen manufacturing in New York in the Hudson Valley.

Read more at the WSJ


Workplace Lawsuits Hit Record High in 2020

A record 1,548 rulings were made in 2020 related to workplace lawsuits, up more than 5% from 2019, and 61 were class-action suits related directly to the pandemic, according to an annual report from Seyfarth Shaw. The 10 largest settlements — spanning sexual misconduct along with race, gender and age discrimination — cost employers $1.58 billion, and trends identified for 2021 include the pandemic’s continued effect, increased class actions, and a rise in lawsuits related to wages and hours.

Read more at Forbes


U.S. Factory Orders Beat Expectations in November

New orders for U.S.-made goods increased more than expected in November and business investment on equipment was solid, pointing to sustained recovery in manufacturing. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that factory orders rose 1.0% after increasing 1.3% in October. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders increasing 0.7% in November.

Orders fell 7.3% year-on-year. Manufacturing, which accounts for 11.9% of the U.S. economy, is being supported by a shift in demand towards goods from services because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Institute for Supply Management reported on Tuesday that its index of national factory activity increased in December to the highest level since August 2018.

Read more at Reuters


December Manufacturing PMI Beats Expectations, Climbs 3.2%

The Institute for Supply Management reported that its Purchasing Manager’s Index for manufacturing rose 3.2% in December to 60.7%. The latest PMI indicated that manufacturing is growing at a faster rate than in November, when the PMI registered 57.5%.

December now marks a seventh month of growth for the manufacturing sector as it continues to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic alongside the overall economy, which has grown each of the past eight months. The ISM’s indexes for new orders and production both grew at a faster rate than in November, and its employment index, which contracted two months ago, returned to growth territory.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Manufacturers Await Possible COVID-19 Safety Regulations

Manufacturers should be prepared for a possible Emergency Temporary Standard that could be issued at the outset of the Biden administration.  An ETS is a set of mandatory rules and regulations for employers, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Labor.  While manufacturers are encouraged to follow CDC guidance as they develop and implement their own tailored plans to protect against COVID-19, an ETS could impose compulsory requirements on manufacturing operations, HR departments and safety protocols.

There’s no concrete information yet about the text of an ETS, but possible new requirements for manufacturers might include:

  • Written plans for stopping the spread of COVID-19;
  • A comprehensive assessment of COVID-19 hazards throughout the workplace and a clear plan for diminishing or eliminating those hazards;
  • Expanded definitions of terms like “positive COVID-19 case,” “high-risk exposure period” and “physical distancing”;
  • Requirements that employees are tested for COVID-19 in some scenarios and paid for the time taking tests;
  • Increased recordkeeping and reporting on safety procedures; and
  • Additional requirements for employees to receive paid leave and testing.

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 225

Updated Plan to Expedite New York Vaccine Process Focuses on Nursing Homes, Hospitals and “Special Efforts” 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo detailed an updated plan to expedite the vaccine process in New York after saying that the process was moving too slowly.  According to the governor, who shared the state’s updated plan Tuesday despite it being his usual on-cam off day, the new distribution process consists of three focus areas: nursing homes, hospitals and what Cuomo calls “special efforts.”

The “special efforts” part of the distribution process will focus on state-sponsored efforts, according to Cuomo, which include setting up vaccination drive-thrus and pop-up locations in churches, community centers and other locations as well as social equity efforts to reach the most vulnerable populations, including the Black and Hispanic communities.


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday, January 4th. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8590
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 29%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  986
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 34%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,716
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  4061
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 29%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  689
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  398
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 39%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.12
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 8.31%

Here are some useful websites:


A New Web Application Will Help New Yorkers Determine if They are Eligible to Get a Vaccine

By answering a series of simple questions, New Yorkers can find out if they are eligible for the vaccine and, if so, where to make an appointment.

Visit the site


Democrats On Brink of U.S. Senate Control, Win One Georgia Race and Leading in Second

Democrats won one U.S. Senate race in Georgia and surged ahead in another on Wednesday, moving closer to a stunning sweep that would give them control of the chamber and the power to advance President-elect Joe Biden’s policy goals.

Raphael Warnock beat Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler to become the first Black senator in the history of the deep South state. Jon Ossoff held a narrow lead over incumbent David Perdue in the other race, with a final outcome not expected until later on Wednesday at the earliest.

Read more at Reuters


More than 2 million individuals are now eligible to be vaccinated as part of Phase 1A

Monday, the list of eligible New Yorkers was expanded again to include all doctors, nurses and health care staff who come in contact with the public; ambulatory centers staff; and all public health care workers who provide direct in-person care, including those who conduct COVID-19 tests and handle lab specimens. Beginning this week, eligibility will also be expanded to include home care workers, hospice workers, and nursing home and other congregate setting workers who have yet to receive a vaccine through the federal nursing home vaccination program. 

See the full list including


New COVID Vaccines Need Absurd Amounts of Material and Labor

Early vaccines are relying on mRNA, and the chemicals, containers and worker skills required for such production have never been deployed at such a large scale. 

“There aren’t any facilities in the world that have manufactured mRNA at such a large scale before,” says Maria Elena Bottazzi, a virologist at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Pfizer and Moderna have been building supply networks to shift from clinical to large-scale production. But each step in the manufacturing process requires raw materials that, before COVID, were only produced in the amounts needed for clinical research.

Read more at Scientific American


Workers Are Calling Out Sick in Record Numbers Affecting Supply Chains

Nearly 1.8 million employees were absent from work because of illness in November, according to the Labor Department.  Whether it’s because they have COVID-19 themselves, are worried about getting it or are taking care of someone who already has it, the number of workers who’ve missed days on the job has doubled in the pandemic.

What’s more, unlike the jobless rate, which has steadily declined from its April peak, the rate of absenteeism — as it is called by economists — has remained stubbornly high. Almost 1.8 million workers were absent in November because of illness, nearly matching the record 2 million set back in April, according to Labor Department data.

Red more at Employee Benefit News


England, Scotland Return to Lockdown – Germany Considers Tightening

England has gone into full lockdown for the third time, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson made one of his many U-turns on the subject. Other U.K. nations have taken similar measures, as COVID-19 case numbers soar. Businesses are getting a new $6.2 billion package to help them through the coming months. Johnson’s new order also included the cancellation of this year’s crucial end-of-schooling exams, after education officials were reportedly told the opposite just hours before.

Read more at Fortune


World Bank: ‘Lost Decade’ for Global Economy Possible 

Even before Covid-19, the World Bank had lowered its projections for global growth in the 10 years that began in 2020. The pandemic is exacerbating that trend, raising the prospect of a “lost decade” ahead, the World Bank said Tuesday, as it also cut its forecasts for the coming year.  

Before the pandemic, the bank projected that potential global growth between 2020 and 2029 would slow to a yearly average of 2.1%, from 2.5% in the previous decade, as a result of aging populations and lower productivity growth. On Tuesday the bank lowered its projection to 1.9%. Potential output assumes the world economy is operating at full employment and capacity. The bank attributes the long-term downgrade to lower trade and investment caused by uncertainty over the pandemic, along with disruptions in education that will hamper gains in labor productivity.

Read more at the WSJ


General Motors’ US Sales Fall in 2020 Despite Strong Q4

The biggest U.S. automaker cited continued consumer hunger for pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and other large cars, enabling GM to score record average transaction prices in the fourth quarter and full year. But overall sales for 2020 still fell 11.8% to 2.5 million compared with 2019, reflecting the hit from a nearly two-month disruption to auto manufacturing due to the initial US Covid-19 outbreak in the spring.

In the fourth quarter, GM reported a 4.8% increase in U.S. auto sales to 771,323, topping analyst estimate. Despite elevated unemployment, U.S. auto sales have been relatively strong in the second half of 2020.  Analysts have pointed to the lift from federal support programs to consumers, as well as the shifting of funds from travel and other discretionary items to autos and bigger-ticket purchases, such as home improvement.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Five Metro Areas With Highest 2020 Move Outs Located in NY, NJ: United Van Lines Study

The five metro areas with the highest move outs in 2020 were located in New York and New Jersey, according to a study from moving company United Van Lines.

The Nassau-Suffolk area in New York and the Bergen-Passaic area in New Jersey were the top two areas that experienced the greatest outbound migration, each seeing 81 percent outbound migration, according to the company’s 44th Annual National Migration Study.  Trenton, N.J., saw 76 percent outbound, while New York City and Newark, N.J., both saw 72 percent outbound migration.

Read more at The Hill


 

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Daily Briefing – 224

Cuomo: New York Hospitals Need to Speed up Coronavirus Vaccinations – Threatens Fines

COVID-19 vaccines are not being distributed fast enough by many of New York’s hospital networks, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a Monday press conference, and if the pace doesn’t pick up, hospitals could be fined or could lose access to future tranches of vaccines.

Under the new guidelines, vaccines must be distributed by hospitals within one week of receiving them, and if they are not, then hospitals can be fined up to $100,000 and be disqualified from receiving further batches of vaccines. Cuomo used a slide in his presentation to highlight the hospitals that have distributed the highest and lowest portion of the vaccines they’ve already received. The three best-performing hospitals were New York Presbyterian Health Care System, Oswego Hospital and Richmond University Medical Center, each above 90 percent in usage, and the three lowest-performing were Westchester Medical Center, New York City Health – Hospitals and Montefiore Healthcare System, each around 30 percent in usage.

Read more at the Albany Times Union


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, January 2nd. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8251
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 29%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  942
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 34%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,716
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  4061
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 29%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  684
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  399
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 39%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.12
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 8.34%

Here are some useful websites:


UK Variant Confirmed in Saratoga Case

The Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany has confirmed the first known case of the U.K. variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 in New York State. An individual from Saratoga County, NY, with no known recent travel, tested positive for the strain, which scientists say is more contagious than other strains. It is not believed to be deadlier or to cause more severe disease.

Because the individual who tested positive for this variant did not travel recently, it is likely that the strain is spreading in the community.  Because the virus strain is more transmittable, it could lead to a higher infection rate and possibly a higher hospitalization rate.

Read more at the Daily Gazette


UK Rolls Out Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine 

The country’s National Health Service (NHS) is the first in the world to deploy the jab after it was approved for use in the U.K. by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) last week. The NHS said 82-year-old Brian Pinker was the first person in the world to receive the jab Monday morning.

The approval and deployment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is seen as a boon in the race against Covid-19 as it is cheaper than alternatives created by Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna.  Additionally, and unlike rival vaccines, it can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 degrees Celsius or 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least six months.

Read more at CNBC


Fauci: US Could Start Vaccinating 1 million people per day 

A few weeks after the first coronavirus vaccine was authorized in the US, it became clear that the nation’s vaccine rollout was off to a painfully slow start.  But Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on Sunday that vaccinations could speed up soon. Fauci said there’s no reason why the US can’t immunize 1 million people per day right now.

That pace would put the country on track to fulfill President-elect Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 100 million people in his first 100 days in office.

Read more at Business Insider


Manufacturers Overcame Covid-19 Setbacks to End 2020 on High Note

Factories in the U.S., Asia and Europe boosted their output as 2020 drew to a close, aided by a rise in new orders and a revival in trade that has continued despite a sharp rise in coronavirus infections across many large economies.  

Data firm IHS Markit said its purchasing managers index for the U.S. manufacturing sector rose to 57.1 in December from 56.7 in November. That was the biggest improvement since September 2014, IHS Markit said. A reading above 50 points to an increase in activity from the previous month, while a reading below that level points to a decline. IHS Markit’s purchasing managers index for the eurozone’s manufacturing sector also rose, to 55.2 in December from 53.8 in November, reaching its highest level since May 2018.

Read more at the WSJ


Covid-19 Vaccines Are in High Demand, but Thousands More Workers Are Needed to Make Them

Contract-manufacturing companies working to accelerate the global availability of Covid-19 vaccines are struggling with a shortage of their own: There aren’t enough workers to meet this year’s big production push. More than 5,000 open jobs exist at the world’s 10 largest companies that have won Covid-19 outsourcing work, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the companies’ websites. The firms were ranked by production capacity.

Outsourcing companies such as Emergent make about one-sixth of complex treatments including vaccines, but the scale and abruptness of Covid-19 shots is likely to boost that share much higher, say industry executives and experts. With demand dwarfing supply, Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc.and others are turning to contract manufacturers for assistance in what is the largest pharmaceutical rollout in modern history.

Read more at the WSJ


US Imposes New Tariffs on French, German Aircraft Parts

The tariffs are on “aircraft manufacturing parts from France and Germany, certain non-sparkling wine from France and Germany, and certain cognac and other grape brandies from France and Germany,” which will be added to the list of products taxed since 2019, according to a statement from the US Trade Representative.

It said the move was in retaliation to tariffs imposed by the European Union which it considers unfair.  The decision is the latest twist in the 16-year trade battle over aircraft subsidies that turned increasingly sour under the protectionist instincts of US President Donald Trump, and comes despite hopes for a trade truce following Joe Biden’s election.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Pentagon Delays Full-Rate Production for F-35s

The DOD has delayed indefinitely the planned combat testing for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, meaning that full-rate production of the aircraft cannot proceed. “Technical challenges and the impact of Covid-19” were cited by a DoD spokesperson as preventing planning and set-up for a projected month-long series of simulations of the F-35 jets versus enemy air-defense systems and fighter aircraft.

The simulations are to be conducted using an on-ground simulator at the U.S. Navy’s Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. After the simulations are completed, two to three more months will be necessary to transfer and analyze the data and then draft a final report for delivery to DoD and Congressional leaders.  That report is required before full-rate production can be authorized.

Read more at American Machinist


Bringing Mental Health to the Boardroom and C-Suite

This year has been hard in so many ways, but perhaps the biggest hit has been to Americans’ collective mental health throughout back-to-back public health and cultural crises. There’s a massive shift among employers to destigmatize mental health needs and support employee mental health as workers are shouldering unprecedented mental health challenges.  With pervasive problems like COVID-19, an unstable economy, racial injustice, and timely mental health challenges brought about by stress-inducing events like the recent election, it’s no wonder that more than 80% of U.S. workers are experiencing mental health issues in 2020.

Read more at BenefitsPro


 

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Daily Briefing -223

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo issues a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, January 2nd. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital =  7963
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of  Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 30%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  926
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 34%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5720
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  4035
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 29%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  687
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  414
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  =39%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 7.98%

Here are some useful websites:


Senate Overrides Trump’s Veto of NDAA Defense Bill

The Senate voted to override President Trump’s veto of a $740.5 billion defense bill Saturday 81-13.  The National Defense Authorization Act is an annual measure that secures hazard-pay raises for troops and authorizes funds for aircraft, ships, nuclear weapons, and other national-security programs. Mr. Trump had threatened to veto this year’s bill before it passed Congress, but lawmakers had moved forward anyway, approving it with wide majorities.

Mr. Trump has objected to several provisions in this year’s NDAA. He has criticized it for including measures that would strip military bases of names honoring Confederate military leaders and regulate troop withdrawals he has sought in Afghanistan and Germany. 

Read more at the WSJ


Georgia Senate Runoff Election

Georgia’s Senate run-off elections arrive tomorrow after a whirlwind two-month campaign that smashed fundraising records, inspired historic voter turnout, bombarded the airwaves with ads, and loomed over congressional negotiations on major spending legislation.

The stakes may never have been higher in such a narrow election. Amid President Donald Trump’s incessant attacks on Georgia’s election integrity, four people are seeking two seats that will determine which party controls the Senate. For President-elect Joe Biden, nothing less than his entire agenda is on the table.


Empire Center: NYS Summary of COVID-19 Contact Tracing Data Raises More Questions Than It Answers

The Empire Center’s Bill Hammond writes that as part of his Dec. 11 briefing, Gov. Cuomo shared a table listing the percentages of 46,000 COVID-19 cases that contact tracers had linked to various exposure sources in September, October and November. Topping the list was a category called “household/social gatherings,” which was said to account for 73.84 percent of the traced cases. “Healthcare delivery” was second at 7.81 percent, followed by “higher education student” at 2.02 percent, “restaurants & bars” at 1.43 percent and another 26 groupings with lower percentages.

Cuomo cited the high number for “household/social gatherings” as bolstering his policy against in-home parties of more than 10. But the category in question seemed to encompass a range of possibilities, including transmission within a household (say, from a husband to a wife, or a child to a parent) as well as get-togethers involving outside guests. Lumping these two common scenarios together made it difficult to judge the risk of either exposure source on its own.

Read more at Empire Center


Unemployment Claims Fall

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week but remain elevated more than nine months into the health and economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.  Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slid to a seasonally adjusted 787,000 for the week ended Dec. 26, compared with 806,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 833,000 applications in the latest week.

Though jobless claims have dropped from a record 6.867 million in March, they have held persistently above their 665,000 peak hit during the 2007-09 Great Recession. The weekly unemployment claims report, the most timely data on the economy’s health, aligns with other recent weak economic reports, including a decline in consumer confidence to a four-month low in December and drops in both consumer spending and income last month.

Read more at Reuters


Covid-19 Vaccine’s Slow Rollout Could Portend More Problems

Of the more than 12 million doses of vaccines from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. with BioNTech SE that have been shipped, only 2.8 million have been administered, according to federal figures. 

Public health officials and states say uptake is lagging for several reasons, beginning with holiday seasons that have kept staff of hospitals and nursing homes away from work. They also note they are facing high percentages of people, including some health-care workers, who are skeptical of taking the shots.  Hospitals and other sites are staggering appointments to avoid pulling too many workers from caring for patients amid a nationwide surge in Covid-19 cases. Administration of the vaccines also takes more time than a typical flu shot, particularly since they are being done in a socially distant way and may be preceded by a Covid-19 test.  In addition, people who receive vaccines are being monitored for at least 15 minutes in case of allergic reactions. 

Read more at the WSJ


Vaccine Tracker Now Available On Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center has launched a tracking tool to offer daily updates and nationwide perspective on the progress of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in the United States.

The vaccine tracker shows the latest numbers for doses administered by U.S. states that have started to make this data available. As of Monday, Dec. 21, data for 21 states is included, and the tracker will expand as more states make this data available, new vaccines are approved, and consistent data standards are established.


National Geographic: What We’ve Learned About How Our Immune System Fights COVID-19

Scientists have made significant strides in understanding one of the pandemic’s biggest mysteries: Why some people recover quickly while others develop severe cases of the coronavirus.
Twelve months of study have shown that our bodies, in many cases, develop a robust and persistent immune response to SARS-CoV-2, but for some people with severe cases, it can go haywire and hurts more than helps.

Our fundamental comprehension of immune responses to the coronavirus has grown significantly, but more questions—like the longevity of immunity—are still to be answered, especially amid concerns that mutations may help SARS-CoV-2 evade our immunological defenses. With vaccination on the horizon for many at-risk individuals, the immune response’s intricacies are even more critical to understand.

Read more at NatGeo


SARS-CoV-2 Variants are Optimized for Spreading – Following the Evolutionary Rule Book

Natural selection is a powerful force. In circumstances that are still disputed, it took a bat coronavirus and adapted it to people instead. The result has spread around the globe. Now, in two independent but coincidental events, it has modified that virus still further, creating new variants which are displacing the original versions. It looks possible that one or other of these novel viruses will itself soon become a dominant form of sars-cov-2.

So far, the evidence suggests that despite their extra transmissibility, neither new variant is more dangerous on a case-by-case basis than existing versions of the virus. In this, both are travelling the path predicted by evolutionary biologists to lead to long-term success for a new pathogen—which is to become more contagious (which increases the chance of onward transmission) rather than more deadly (which reduces it). And the speed with which they have spread is impressive.

Read more in The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 222

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday, December 29th. In addition to the Buffalo Bills announcement (see story below) the governor announced that a total of 203,000 New Yorkers have received the first dose of vaccine. Next week the State will open eligibility to ambulatory care health care workers and public facing health care workers (including those administering COVID-19 tests).

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  7892
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 31%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  906
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 35%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,662
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  4054
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 31%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  684
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  430
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 41%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 8.66%

Here are some useful websites:


Mid-Hudson COVID-19 Cluster Maps


Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine Approved by UK Regulator

Britain became the first country to authorize the covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca and Oxford University. The vaccine is cheaper and easier to make than those already in use, but clinical-trial data caused confusion: a half-dose followed by a full dose appeared more effective than two full doses. The British regulator has approved two full doses, saying there was insufficient evidence for approving an initial half-dose.

Read more at CNBC


U.S. Reports First Case of New Covid-19 Variant

Colorado reported the first case in the U.S. of a fast-spreading variant of Covid-19 that was first detected in the U.K. and led to a widespread lockdown and travel restrictions there. Health officials said the case was confirmed by a state lab and found in a man in his 20s in Elbert County, southeast of Denver. The man, who had no history of travel, had been placed into isolation and details of his case were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials said they were working to identify other potential cases and contacts through contact-tracing protocols. Authorities said the man is recovering in isolation and no close contacts had been identified so far.  
The CDC said in a written statement that the agency was aware of Colorado’s report of the first U.S. case associated with the U.K. variant. The agency said it expected there to be additional cases in the coming days.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Updated Quarantine Guidance, What You Need to Know from Bond Schoeneck and King 

On December 26, 2020, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) updated its mandatory quarantine requirements (the Quarantine Advisory) for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 but do not develop symptoms. The Quarantine Advisory may be found here. Previously, asymptomatic individuals who had been exposed to COVID-19 had to quarantine for 14 days. Now, such individuals must quarantine for 10 days. Importantly, the Quarantine Advisory also applies to individuals who traveled to a non-border state or country. DOH also updated its protocols for healthcare personnel to return to work following a COVID-19 exposure, so long as they remain asymptomatic (the Healthcare Protocols). They, too, will be subject to the new shortened 10-day quarantine. 

Read the update from BSK


Senate Sets Defense Bill Veto Override in Motion for Weekend

The Senate moved Wednesday toward a vote to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a $740.5 billion defense policy bill, setting up a clash with the White House that may not culminate until the final hours before a new Congress begins on Sunday.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell was forced Wednesday to schedule a series of procedural votes because Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is delaying the process by demanding a separate vote on increasing pandemic stimulus payments to $2,000 from $600 for most Americans. That increase has been championed by Trump and Democrats, but many Republicans are opposed, and McConnell has refused to bring it up as a stand-alone bill. Under Senate procedures, the impasse could delay the vote on whether to override a Trump veto for the first time until Saturday, or even as late as Sunday before the current Congress ends at noon Washington time.

 Read more at Bloomberg


Extended Unemployment Benefits From the COVID Relief Act Will Kick In Next Week

Unemployed New Yorkers Will Receive an Additional $300 Weekly Supplement and Extended Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Starting the Week of January 3rd The federal government has extended federal unemployment benefits for an additional eleven weeks through March 14, 2021. New Yorkers currently receiving benefits do not need to call the Department of Labor to receive these extended benefits — they should continue to certify for unemployment benefits in their usual manner and will automatically receive extended benefits. Those whose unemployment benefit year has ended should reapply online.

Implement details are in the press release


The Economist Asks – How Quickly Will America’s labor Market Recover?

One of the biggest questions facing the world economy in 2021 is how fast America’s labor market will recover. Optimists point to the rapid decline in the unemployment rate after the first wave of the pandemic—from nearly 15% in April to 6.7% in November—as a reason for a speedy recovery. Pessimists’ go-to statistic is the high and rising rate of the long-term unemployed, those who have been out of work for more than six months. It has risen from 0.7% of the labor force in February to 2.5% today. 

On average, the longer someone is unemployed, the harder it is for them to find work. In part that may be because the least productive workers, for whom the labor market is always an unwelcoming place, are more likely to experience long spells of unemployment during downturns. But spending months on the sofa also causes people’s skills to atrophy. As a result, recessions inflict lasting scars on both workers and the economy.

Read more at the Economist


Back to the Future: 7 Developments Shaping Automotive in 2021 and Beyond

Companies have changed processes, worked differently, restarted after six weeks of wholesale plant shutdowns, manufactured personal protective equipment by the millions, and dealt with huge losses all in the midst of political unrest and a presidential election unlike any other in history.

What does that stew of ingenuity, challenge and change bode for the future—for automakers and their suppliers, large and small? As the curtain is drawn 2020, let’s shift gears, rest our literal and figurative Twitter feeds, and look at some seminal happenings that could affect automotive for the long haul.

View the slide show


Protocol Put in Place for Limited Number of Fans To Attend Bills Playoff Game

Governor  Cuomo announced the final pilot plan for allowing fans to attend the Buffalo Bills’ first home playoff game in more than two decades under strict COVID-19 protocols. Under the pilot, which was developed cooperatively between the Bills, New York State and Bio-Reference Laboratories, 6,700 fans will be allowed to attend the game only after first obtaining a negative COVID-19 test result. Contact tracing will also be conducted after the game. This is the first stadium re-opening pilot plan in the nation to require these measures and if successfully implemented, it could serve as a model for re-opening entertainment venues across New York.

Read the press release


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 221

NYS Updates Quarantine Guidelines to Align With CDC 

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced updated quarantine guidelines for New York which are consistent with the latest Centers for Disease Control guidance. Under the new guidelines, individuals exposed to COVID-19 can end their quarantine after 10 days without a testing requirement as long as no symptoms have been reported during the quarantine period. After day 10 is reached, individuals must continue monitoring for symptoms through day 14 and if any develop, they should immediately self-isolate and contact the local health department or their healthcare provider to report this change and determine if they should seek testing. Individuals should to continue strict adherence to all recommended safe behaviors to stop the spread – wearing masks, socially distancing and avoiding gatherings.

Read the press release


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, December 26th. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  7814
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 31%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  899
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 36%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,701
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3937
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 31%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  681
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  405
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 42%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 7.14%

Here are some useful websites:


Highlights of New COVID Relief Bill

Sunday night, President Trump signed the new Covid Relief Bill. Highlights include Changes the end of FFCRA Leave, Updates to PPP and EIDL programs, Extension of the Employee Retention Credit and an extension of Unemployment Insurance.  

Highlights of New COVID Relief Bill 1229 2020


McConnell: Senate Has Votes to Override Trump’s Defense Veto

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is signaling lawmakers have the votes to override President Trump’s veto of a mammoth defense policy bill as soon as Wednesday.  “The House voted to reapprove the conference report on this must-pass legislation. Today the Senate will set up a final vote for tomorrow, Wednesday, with this chamber to follow suit,” McConnell said from the Senate floor on Tuesday.

But whether the Senate holds a veto override vote today is in limbo. McConnell tried to set up the vote earlier but that effort was blocked by Democrats, who are trying to get a separate stand-alone vote to increase the amount of recently passed stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000.  If McConnell has to break a rare filibuster of the veto override effort, that would set up a 60-vote threshold procedural hurdle for Thursday.

Read more at The Hill


What We Know About the UK, EU Post-Brexit Trade Pact

The European Union and Britain on Thursday agreed a post-Brexit trade deal after almost 10 months of tortuous negotiations to govern ties when the UK exits the single market.  

Here is what we know so far about the 2,000-page accord — still yet to be published — that covers areas from fishing to future competition after Dec. 31. 

Read more at Industry Week


Pandemic Reshapes U.S. Employment, Speeding Changes Across Industries

The pandemic and related restrictions shocked the U.S. job market earlier this year, leading to a labor-force reordering as the economy recovered. Jobs have declined at retail stores, restaurants and bars and grown at warehouse and transportation businesses that serve online customers as e-commerce flourishes.

Here is a breakdown of how jobs in various categories of the labor market cumulatively changed from February, just before the pandemic hit the U.S., to November.

Read more in the WSJ


Boeing 737 Max Completes First U.S. Commercial Flight Since It Was Grounded

American Airlines Flight 718 took off from Miami around 10:40 a.m. ET, heading to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, according to aviation tracking site Flightradar24.com. The plane landed ahead of schedule, shortly after 1 p.m. The jet was grounded for some 20 months, after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed a total of 346 people.

The airline is the first U.S. carrier to return Boeing’s jetliner to passenger use — a move it announced in November, when the Federal Aviation Administration cleared the way for the 737 Max to return to commercial flight. In response to the FAA move, airlines in Brazil and Mexico put the plane back into service earlier this month.

Read more at NPR


State Attorney General Joins Parcare Vaccine Investigation – Cuomo Raises Fines

The attorney general’s office is joining the investigation of the Parcare Health Network for allegedly securing COVID-19 vaccine and administering it to populations not yet approved to receive it. Parcare operates facilities in Kiryas Joel, Brooklyn and Manhattan.  On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the AG’s office was also looking into the case and if there was any illegal activity, those who committed it could be fined $1 million and could face the loss of all their state licenses.

In a related story Governor Cuomo yesterday signed an Executive Order increasing penalties on health care providers who intentionally disregard the state’s vaccine prioritization protocols. Under the new Executive Order, providers who knowingly administer the vaccine to individuals outside of the state’s prioritization protocols may face penalties up to $1 million, as well as revocation of all state licenses. Additionally, certification of vaccine recipients will now be mandatory as part of the State’s vaccination process.


DHS Extends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility Through January 31, 2021

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. This temporary guidance was set to expire December 31. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended this policy an additional 30 days until January 31, 2021.

This provision only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. See the original news release for more information on how to obtain, remotely inspect, and retain copies of the identity and employment eligibility documents to complete Section 2 of Form I-9.

Read more at DHS


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 220

NYS Vaccine Update

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 140,000 New Yorkers have received the first COVID-19 vaccine dose to date. New York expects to receive another 259,000 doses this week, with 139,400 coming from Pfizer and 119,600 coming from Moderna. The Governor also announced that the state is expanding the priority populations eligible to receive a vaccine to include urgent care center employees, individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff, and residents of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports’ congregate facilities.

Vaccines will continue to be distributed for high-risk hospital workers, federally qualified health center employees, EMS, coroners, medical examiners, funeral workers and residents and staff of Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and Office of Mental Health facilities. Next week, the state expects to expand this universe further with the addition of ambulatory care workers and public-facing public health workers.

Read the press release


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, December 26th. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  7559
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 31%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  852
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 36%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,678
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3917
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 31%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  678
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  413
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 42%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 8.33%

Here are some useful websites:


Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021: PPP and Tax Provisions

Council Associate member Jackson Lewis writes that the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Act) generally provides the annual funding for the federal government and contains several important rules giving further COVID-19 relief. These include, among other things, revisions to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), expansion of the employee retention tax credit and changes to other employer-related tax provisions. The Act was passed by Congress on December 21, 2020, and signed by President Donald Trump on December 27, 2020.

This article highlights some of the PPP and tax provisions we believe will be of interest to employers.

Read more from Jackson Lewis


Manufacturing Economy Report – NAM Outlook Survey, Durable Goods and More

Real value-added output in the manufacturing sector rose to $2.213 trillion in the third quarter, as expressed in chained 2012 dollars. It remained down 1.0% from the all-time high recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019 ($2.236 trillion), despite tremendous volatility year-to-date. Overall, manufacturing accounted for 11.0% of real GDP in the third quarter, with value-added output (in nominal terms) up to $2.329 trillion, just 1.7% from a record high.

Monday Economic Report 1228 2020


Novavax Launches Late-Stage Covid Vaccine Trial in US

Novavax is launching a late-stage trial of its Covid-19 vaccine in the US and Mexico, fuelled by an award of up to $1.6bn from the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed programme.  The Maryland-based biotech company kicks off the trial at 115 sites on Monday, aiming to recruit up to 30,000 participants. Two-thirds will receive the vaccine, with the remaining one-third taking a placebo. 

Novavax is already testing its vaccine in a phase-3 trial in the UK in partnership with Britain’s vaccines task force and a phase-2 study in South Africa.  Stanley Erck, Novavax chief executive, thanked Operation Warp Speed, which gave the company one of its largest grants to vaccine makers.

Read more at the Financial Times


House Overrides Trump Veto of Defense Bill – Senate Will Take it Up Today

The House voted Monday to override President Trump’s veto of a must-pass defense policy bill, the first successful override vote of Trump’s presidency. The House voted 322-87, easily surpassing the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a veto.  The action now moves to the Senate, which also needs to muster two-thirds support in order for Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to be overridden. 

The NDAA passed both chambers of Congress earlier this month with large bipartisan majorities, but it was unclear exactly how many Republicans would buck the president when it came to the override vote.

Read more at The Hill


House Passes $2,000 Stimulus Check Bill, But The Plan Will Face Opposition In The Senate

The House on Monday approved giving Americans weathering the coronavirus pandemic $2,000 stimulus checks, substantially boosting payments from the $600 checks that were set to be given out as part of a COVID-19 relief package that President Donald Trump signed into law Sunday evening. 

The bill, which passed in a 275 – 134 vote, needed the support of two-thirds of House members present — a feat hard to reach in such a divided Washington. The measure will now head to the GOP-controlled Senate where its future remains unclear. Senate Republicans have for months stressed over increased government spending and are likely to oppose the measure despite Trump’s demands.

Read more at USA Today


Manufacturers Express Increased Optimism in Q4 NAM Survey

The National Association of Manufacturers fourth-quarter Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey showed a respondent pool growing increasingly positive about the business outlook for their firms. Nearly three-quarters (74.2%) of manufacturers who responded characterized the business outlook as “positive,” up from 66% in the previous outlook survey. The 74.2% figure is nearly equivalent to the survey’s historical average of 74.4% and a soaring improvement over the 33.9% reported in the second quarter, NAM data show.

Nevertheless, for the year as a whole, 62.4% of manufacturers expressed a positive outlook, down from 92.4% in 2018 and 76.2% in 2019. It was also the lowest annual average since 2009, NAM shared.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Governor Cuomo Releases Executive Order 202.85 Extending Protections for Residential Tenants

The Executive Order extends through January 26, 2021 the suspensions and modifications of law and any directive, not superseded by a subsequent directive, contained in Executive Orders 202.66 as continued and contained in 202.71 and 202.78, which prevent any residential tenant suffering financial hardship during the COVID-19 state disaster emergency declared by Executive Order 202, from facing eviction judgements and warrants.

Read the order here


Global Steel Production Pauses 

Global steel production declined to 158.3 million metric tons during November, down -3.1% from October, and yet 6.6% higher than the November 2019 total. The November continue to show the lingering effects of weak or depleted demand from manufacturing and construction markets: Most of the world’s major steelmaking nations continue to struggle with demand weakened by Covid-19 pandemic, with the notable exception of China, which has expanded its overall output through the course of the year and increased its percentage share of global output.

In October, World Steel projected that 2020 steel demand will drop by -2.4% year-over-year, to 1.725 billion metric tons – indicating that the current rate of output is on track for that forecast. For 2021, World Steel foresees steel demand recovering 4.1% year-over-year, to 1,795.1 million metric tons.

Read more at American Machinist


How BioNTech-Pfizer Won the Vaccine Race

The founders of a small German company called BioNTech gave birth to Operation Lightspeed — in which the scientists in the company diverted all their resources from cancer therapy research to finding a vaccine to stop COVID-19.  Their partnership with Hudson Valley manufacturer Pfizer led to the first approved vaccine for the virus.  


 

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Daily Briefing – 218

Joy, Hope, Peace

Wishing all our readers, members and friends a safe and happy holiday season and prosperous New Year. 


COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, December 20th. The Governor announced that 89,000 New Yorkers have received the first COVID-19 vaccine dose to date. 22,000 New Yorkers have received the first dose in 90 nursing home facilities as part of a federal-private partnership program.   The Governor also announced that the New York State Department of Health has authorized the use of extra doses that have been found in Moderna vaccine vials. The vials were previously believed to contain 10 doses, but may now contain up to 11 doses.

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  6,864
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 30%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  796
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 31%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,751
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  4,121
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 31%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  715
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  420
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 42%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.84%

Here are some useful websites:


Trump Vetoes Defense Policy Bill

President Trump vetoed a $740.5 billion defense-policy bill and demanded last-minute changes to coronavirus relief legislation, adding fresh uncertainty to the closing days of 2020 as a government shutdown loomed. The annual defense bill sets pay rates for troops and authorizes funds for military construction projects, aircraft, ships, nuclear weapons and other national-security programs. It also includes items related to anti-money-laundering efforts, cybersecurity, and the U.S. border wall. Congress has passed it for 59 years in a row, nearly always on a bipartisan basis. This year, the House approved final passage 335-78 and the Senate passed it 84-13.

 To make the bill law over the president’s objections requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber. The House is scheduled to hold its override vote on Monday, Dec. 28, with the Senate to follow Tuesday.

Read more at the WSJ


Covid Aid in Limbo

Washington is grappling with a crisis related to a massive coronavirus relief package that also funds the government. Mr. Trump, in a video posted Tuesday night on Twitter, criticized the legislation and called on lawmakers to increase direct payments to Americans to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples, from $600 per adult and per child, the current level in the bill.

His sudden turn on the coronavirus relief package surprised lawmakers, many of whom had already left Washington after Congress overwhelmingly approved the relief bill in a 92-6 vote in the Senate and 359-53 in the House.

The 5,593-page year-end package combines the coronavirus relief and a $1.4 trillion spending bill needed to fund the government through September. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) told House Republicans on a call Wednesday he had spoken to Mr. Trump and that the president was still deciding whether to veto the package, according to people familiar with the call.

Read more at USA Today 


From Ethan Allen Personnel Group – 2021 Minimum Wage Summary and FLSA Overview

This Advisory summarizes the 2021 Minimum Wage Increases that are scheduled to go into effect 12/31/2020. Over the past 3 years, the minimum wage thresholds for employees in NY State have been increasing. In keeping with these increases, the new tiered rates across the State, for both HOURLY AND SALARIED employees effective December 31, 2020, are listed below.

Along with the increase to the minimum wage, the amounts that employers can deduct from employees’ wages for items such as uniform allowances and meals are also set to change on December 31.  The Department of Labor on its website has summarized the revisions applicable to hospitality employers, employers in “miscellaneous industries,” and employers in the “building service industry.”  Employers should consult these summaries to determine how much they can deduct for a uniform allowance and claim for meal, lodging and tip credits.

Minimum Wage Guidance Ethan Allen 1222 2020


Core Capital Goods Orders, Shipments Rise in November

Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, rose 0.4% last month. These so-called core capital goods orders jumped 1.6% in October. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast core capital goods orders increasing 0.7% in November. Core capital goods orders increased 0.8% year-on-year in November.

Business investment on equipment rebounded strongly in the third quarter after five straight quarterly declines. Spending on equipment could help to blunt the impact of slower consumer spending on GDP growth in the fourth quarter. Consumer spending is being hampered by a resurgence in new coronavirus infections and a delay by Congress to approve another rescue package. Growth estimates for the fourth quarter are mostly below a 5% annualized rate.

Read more at Reuters


Household Spending Drops for First Time in Seven Months

Personal spending—a measure of how much consumers spent on goods and services—fell 0.4% last month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Household income—how much Americans earned from wages, investments and government aid programs—fell 1.1%.  Consumer spending, the biggest driver of economic growth in the U.S., has weakened as a rise in coronavirus infections this winter prompted states and cities to order businesses to close or scale back operations. Consumers cut back sharply on purchases of goods. 

The drop in income in part reflects the fading effects of federal aid programs that Congress and states put in place earlier this year to help households and businesses weather the pandemic.

Read more at the WSJ


Alaska Airlines Raises Order for New 737 MAX Jets

Boeing and Alaska Airlines have restructured an earlier order for 737 MAX aircraft, resulting in 23 additional 737 MAX 9 jets for the carrier, or a total of 68 new aircraft plus options 52 more. Alaska Airlines, the fifth-largest U.S. airline, is restructuring its fleet around Boeing’s narrow-body 737 MAX series, and will take 13 new jets in 2021, 30 in 2022, 13 in 2023, and 12 in 2024.

The first deliveries will take place during Q1 2021, as Boeing resumes deliveries following the FAA’s recertification of the 737 MAX series last month.

Read more at American Machinist


EU is Giving Brexit Trade Talks ‘Final Push’: EU Negotiator

EU negotiator Michel Barnier vowed Tuesday to continue to push for a post-Brexit trade deal in the last 10 days before Britain leaves the single market. On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen held a crisis call to discuss Brexit and the coronavirus crisis. 

If the talks between Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost fail to reach a breakthrough in the coming days, the UK will leave without a follow-on trade deal. Tariffs would be reimposed on cross-Channel trade in food and goods, exacerbating the economic shock of a return to a border after 47 years of integration. But the talks are deadlocked over how to ensure fair trade rules are respected in the future and, especially, over how to assign fishing rights in UK waters.

Read more at IndustryWeek


The New York Fed DSGE Model Forecast—December 2020

The authors present an update of the economic forecasts generated by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model, The December model forecast is summarized in a blog post, alongside the September forecast, and in numerous charts. The model uses quarterly macroeconomic data released through the third quarter of 2020, financial data available through November 19, 2020, and SPF forecasts for GDP growth.

  • In the forecast that combines the two scenarios described above, real GDP growth is expected to be -2.6 percent in 2020 on a Q4/Q4 basis, compared with a -4.1 percent projection in September.
  • Core PCE inflation is projected to be 1.3 percent in 2020, above the September forecast of 0.8 percent, but in spite of AIT it is expected to remain subdued throughout the forecast horizon, and below the projections in September. The change in the inflation projections relative to September mostly reflects the fact that the model is now more certain in interpreting the COVID-19 recession as a demand shock, leading to a decline in inflation.

Read the detailed forecast and see the charts at the NY Fed


What a Particle a Ten-Thousandth of a Millimetre in Diameter Has Taught the Inhabitants of a Globe 120 Billion Billion Times its Size

AS 2019 drew to a close, the virus that was later to be called SARS-CoV-2 burst out of stealth mode. On December 26th Zhang Jixian, a doctor at the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, had noticed seven cases of unusual pneumonia, four of which were connected to the Huanan wet market in Wuhan. Subsequent research has suggested that by then the virus had made its way unnoticed to Europe and America, too. As 2020 draws to a close, the virus is rampant. There have been more than 70m confirmed cases and the number is growing by 4.3m a week. 

In between, covid-19 rapidly came to dominate life utterly. Like a fluorescent injection in the bloodstream, as the virus surged around the world it has illuminated the workings of the global body politic. For every symptom of resilience—including food supply-chains, the financial system and, most of all, science—there have been symptoms of frailty.

Read more from The Economist

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Daily Briefing – 216

British Airways and Delta Airlines Agree to Test All Passengers Before Entering New York State

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced that in the wake of a new, highly contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus found in the United Kingdom, British Airways and Delta Airlines have voluntarily agreed to require a COVID-19 test before allowing passengers to board planes traveling from the United Kingdom to New York. With this move, New York joins the list of 120 countries with a similar requirement on flights from the U.K. The Governor has asked Virgin Atlantic, the other airline that runs flights from the U.K. to New York, to do the same.

Read the press release


COVID and “Winter Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press conference yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, December 20th.  Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  6331
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 30%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  745
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 33%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5664
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3945
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 32%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  712
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  425
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 42%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.09
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.75%

Here are some useful websites:


What Is in the $900 Billion Covid-19 Aid Bill

The Wall Street Journal has a nice breakdown of what is in the AID Bill Congress passed yesterday.  It includes help for some sectors that weren’t prioritized the first time around. New York Senator Chuck Schumer announced some additional details to look out for, including $25 billion in rental assistance, $15 billion for theaters and other live venues, $82 billion for local schools, colleges, and universities, and $10 billion for child care. 

Also included are more help for individuals, the unemployed, small businesses and others.

See the breakdown in the WSJ


Cuomo Announces New York Has Administered 38,000 Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that more than 38,000 vaccine doses have been administered in New York State as of Monday morning – the highest reported total in the nation thus far. Bolstering this effort, the first 346,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to begin arriving in New York Monday, with an additional 120,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected later this week.

The Governor also announced the launch of New York’s Vaccine Equity Task Force chaired by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, Attorney General Letitia James, National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial, and Healthfirst President & CEO Pat Wang.

Read the press release


Monday Economic Report – Manufacturing Production Rose for the 7th Straight Month

Manufacturing production increased 0.8% in November, rising for the seventh straight month, led by strength in durable goods. The largest increases in output in November were in motor vehicles and parts, primary metals, paper, miscellaneous durable goods and aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment. Overall, manufacturing production remained 3.7% below the pre-pandemic pace in February.

There is also reports on Manufacturing Production, IHS Manufacturing PMI, Regional Fed Reports, Residential Construction, Consumer Spending, Unemployment Claims, Fed Plans and more.

Monday Economic Report 2020-1221


New York State Manufacturers PPE Survey 

If you are manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and/or looking to access PPE, you are asked to please take this brief surveybelow. As part of the COVID Recovery Initiative, the NYMEP will use your responses to get a better sense of the demand for PPE categories and types, and will then validate competitive suppliers and recommend PPE buying channels to manufacturers statewide.


Survey: 57% of Employees Back Mandated Vaccine

Fifty-seven percent of employees support mandated COVID-19 vaccinations from employers, and that percentage significantly increases among older, white-collar and Democrat-voting workers, according to a survey by CNBC and SurveyMonkey. “For CEOs and human resources professionals, the return to work is already a fraught endeavor, and factoring in political considerations adds yet another challenge,” write Laura Wronski and Jon Cohen.

Read the full story at CNBC 


New Regulations and Fact Sheets on NY Paid Sick Leave Law

Council Associate Member and friend Harris Beach Attorneys write that on December 9th, the DOL published proposed regulations that further implement the Paid Sick Leave Law. Although the regulations answer some questions, employers should note that the regulations are still in “proposed” form and not yet final. Employers and other members of the public have until February 7, 2021, to submit comments and feedback to the DOL regarding the proposed regulations.

The DOL has also issued several topic-specific and industry-specific “Fact Sheets” on the new law, including Fact Sheets specific to restaurants, farm workers, seasonal workers, and unionized employers.

The Fact Sheets and the Proposed Regulations can be found at the bottom of this page


Cutting Tool Orders Rising as Manufacturing Recovers

U.S. machine shops and other domestic manufacturing operations consumption $167.9 million worth of cutting tools during October, according to Cutting Tool Market Report issued jointly by the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) and AMT – the Association for Manufacturing Technology. The total represents a 7.6% increase over September’s result and a -22.4% shortfall of the October 2019 total.

The CTMR presents cutting-tool consumption as an indicator of overall manufacturing activity, as cutting tools are used in production of components used by virtually every industrial sector. 

Read more at American Machinist


The Newest Supplier KPI? Employee Vaccination Rate

The percentage of employees vaccinated against COVID-19 will be the most important supplier key performance indicator of 2021, surpassing the standard KPIs of on-time delivery, quality, and cost management. This according to a column in Supply Chain Dive

Vaccine compliance needs to be a top-line component of a supplier risk assessment. Procurement professionals today should immediately reach out to critical suppliers to learn about their vaccination plans and subsequent efforts to secure a healthy workplace, and workforce, during the pandemic recovery. If there is no established plan, request one. Be an early leader in the supply chain recovery. 

Read more at Supply Chain Dive


 

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Daily Briefing – 215

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines Begin Shipping NYS Expects 348k Doses

Vials of Moderna’s vaccine were filled in pharmaceutical services provider Catalent Inc’s facility in Bloomington, Indiana. Distributor McKesson Corp is shipping doses from facilities in places including Louisville, Kentucky, and Memphis, Tennessee – close to air hubs for United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp.  Governor Cuomo said New York State anticipates receiving 346,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine next week.

The start of delivery for the Moderna vaccine will significantly widen availability of COVID-19 vaccines as U.S. deaths caused by the disease have reached more than 316,000 in the 11 months since the first documented U.S. cases.


COVID and “Winter Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, December 19th.  In response to news of a new variant of COVID-19 in the UK, the Governor called on the federal government to consider imposing multiple restrictions in the including  mandatory testing of individuals traveling from the United Kingdom on flights to the United States, as well as a new travel ban from Europe. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  6185
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 29%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  748
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 33%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5850
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3955
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 33%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  713
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  432
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 43%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.09
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.05%

Here are some useful websites:


Congress Reaches Final Agreement on Pandemic Relief

Lawmakers reached a final agreement on the $900 billion coronavirus relief package, moving Congress closer to approval of a fresh infusion of aid to households, small businesses and schools after months of gridlock. The relief package includes $300 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits, a second round of stimulus checks and funding for schools, health-care providers, vaccine distribution and small businesses. Negotiations accelerated this week after congressional leaders agreed to drop two provisions: funding for hard-hit state and local governments, which Democrats and some Republicans had sought, as well as liability protections for businesses and other entities operating during the pandemic, a top GOP priority.

The House voted on a 24-hour extension of government funding Sunday evening, setting up votes on the relief agreement and broader spending bill for Today. The aid package is tied to a roughly $1.4 trillion annual spending package and Congress has passed a series of temporary spending bills in recent days to keep the government funded while it finished the negotiations.

Read more in the WSJ


Countries Ban Travel From U.K. in Race to Block New Covid-19 Strain

Countries across Europe and beyond barred travelers from Britain on Sunday in an effort to keep out a highly infectious new strain of the coronavirus that is spreading rapidly in England.

The British government said on Saturday the new strain appeared to be spreading 70% faster than earlier variants and is responsible for a surge in cases in London and its surrounding areas. Recorded cases across the U.K. in the week to Sunday rose 51% over the week before. The emergence of the variant presents a serious setback for suppressing the pandemic before new vaccines can be rolled out across the country, suggesting major restrictions will continue into the new year.

Read more at the WSJ


EEOC Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates

US employers that are considering mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations must be ready to allow exceptions for those with disabilities or religious disagreements, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Employers are only allowed to ask workers why they have decided not to be vaccinated if the matter is “job related and consistent with business necessity,” the EEOC says.

Read more at Reuters


Companies Offer Home COVID-19 testing

Employers including insurer TIAA, software provider Appian and digital health care provider Buoy Health are offering their staff members at-home COVID-19 tests as an added employee benefit. “Given the recent rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide, it felt like the right time to make testing available to ease the burden of associates needing to find testing facilities and risking being exposed to the virus when leaving their homes,” said Sean Woodroffe, TIAA’s chief HR officer.

Read more at Employee Benefit News


More Americans Are Too Sick to Work as Virus Cases Surge

The number of employed Americans fell by 4.3 million in the two weeks ended Dec.7, according to the latest edition of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. That’s following a 2.4 million rise in the number of workers with jobs during the prior two week period.

Nearly 5 million Americans said they can’t work because they’re sick with coronavirus, a figure which has more than doubled in less that two months. Another 5.2 million said they weren’t working because of fears about getting sick or spreading the virus, up from 4.8 million in the prior tally.  The data underscores the threat surging cases pose to the rebounding labor market and the importance of getting the virus under control to bolster economic growth. On top of illness, more than 6 million Americans were out of work as a result of employers temporarily or permanently shuttering their businesses because of virus lockdowns, compared with 5.2 million in the previous survey, the data showed.

Read more at Bloomberg


Shorter Quarantines Could Actually Help Prevent COVID-19 Outbreaks

While caution is wise, researchers are now wondering if lengthy 14 day quarantine measures are necessary and are uncovering shorter alternatives that retain public safety. Quarantines are costly, straining the mental health and finances of those in isolation, as well as the resources of governments and companies implementing these precautions. Shorter quarantines could ease that burden, but this pivot will also require better logistics such as spaces where people can quarantine, access to fast testing, and support for meals and other necessities like medicine. Making these investments could potentially increase people’s compliance with voluntary guidelines.

This push for shorter quarantines is supported by academic reports that show that people with coronavirus don’t appear to be contagious after nine or 10 days. In addition, new research shows that shorter quarantines combined with smarter testing strategies can actually do more than 14-day quarantines to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Read more at Nat Geo


State Tax Receipts Strong Again in November, But Jobs Recovery Remains Slow

New York State’s tax receipts in November were a whopping $800 million above Governor Cuomo’s projections for the month—further evidence that the current-year budget gap is probably much smaller than Cuomo has been claiming.

Meanwhile, however, private employment in New York continued to recover only slowly in November—failing to increase at all across much of upstate, where employers are about to be hit with an increase in state-mandated minimum wage.

Read more at the Empire Center


Private Sector Jobs in the Hudson Valley 9.0 percent Year on Year

Private sector jobs in the Hudson Valley declined by 73,700 or 9.0 percent, to 749,200 in the 12 months ending November 2020.  Job losses were centered in leisure and hospitality (-29,700), trade, transportation and utilities (-10,300), professional and business services (-8,700), educational and health services (-8,600), other services (-6,800), manufacturing (-4,000), financial activities (-2,900), and natural resources, mining and construction (-2,400). 

There are 39,200 people working in manufacturing in the region, 9.3% fewer than a year ago. 

Hudson Valley Labor Market Profile – NOV 2020


Suspected Russian Hack is Much Worse Than First Feared

The scale of a sophisticated cyberattack on the U.S. government that was unearthed this week is much bigger than first anticipated. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in a summary Thursday that the threat “poses a grave risk to the federal government.”

CISA said those behind the attack used network management software made by SolarWinds, a Texas-headquartered IT firm, to breach the government networks. As many as 18,000 SolarWinds Orion customers downloaded a software update that contained a backdoor, which the hackers used to gain access to the networks. Microsoft was one of the hack victims. Like with the cyberattack of SolarWinds, hackers infiltrated Microsoft products and then went after others, Reuters said, citing people familiar with the matter.


School Closing Have Hit Poor American Children’s Learning

A recent analysis of standardized tests by McKinsey, a consulting firm, found that pupils examined in the autumn had learned 33% less math and 13% less reading than expected. For schools that are majority non-white, the learning losses were much steeper: pupils there had learned 41% less math and 23% less reading. NWEA, a producer and administrator of standardized exams used in primary and secondary schools, published its own review of autumn scores that was less worrying. Pupils slid back substantially in math, but not reading, with few detectable differences along racial or socioeconomic lines. But a substantial share of students, disproportionately poor and non-white, simply did not take the tests this year—which may have flattered the results.

Read more at The Economist

read more »

Daily Briefing – 214

New York’s Cluster Zones: Frequently Asked Questions Answered By Bond Schoeneck & King

There have been significant changes to New York’s cluster action initiative. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has changed the metrics for designating a cluster zone and changed the applicable restrictions in cluster zones. Additionally, the Governor announced on Monday, December 14 three new yellow zones in Genesee, Niagara and Oneida Counties. In this article BSK attorneys discuss frequently asked questions about the clusters and updated maps for the cluster zones.

Read more as BSK


COVID and “Winter Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press conference yesterday morning (in Kingston to declare a state of storm related emergency in 18 Counties) and provide an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday, December 16th.

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  6147
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 26%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  743
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 29%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5850
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3955
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 33%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  725
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  416
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 46%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.09
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.38%

Here are some useful websites:


Today at 11:00: NAM COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall for Manufacturers 

As the world prepares for the release of the COVID-19 vaccine, manufacturers have many questions as they prepare for its deployment. Please join us on Friday, December 18 at 11:00 a.m. EDT for a special NAM/MLC Town Hall meeting to discuss the current status of the vaccine timeline, implications for its deployment, and framework-building considerations to prepare companies from health and safety, legal and business operations angles. A question-and-answer session will be part of the meeting.

Register Here


McConnell Says Congress Will Keep Working Through the Weekend to Pass a Stimulus Deal

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened his floor remarks on Thursday by saying Congress in no stranger “to December funding deadlines or the occasional pre-Christmas cliffhanger.” The Kentucky Republican suggested that it was likely the chamber would stay in session at least through Saturday.

“For the information of all Senators, we are going to stay right here until we are finished, even if that means working into or through the weekend, which is highly likely” he said. “And if we need to further extend the Friday funding deadline before final legislation can pass in both chambers, I hope we only extend it for a very, very short window of time.”  A similar attitude was reflected in Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s remarks on the Senate floor. The New York senator said “we are very close to an agreement.”

Read more at Business Insider


Major CEOs Signal they Could Mandate Covid Vaccines

Seventy-two percent of current and recent CEOs of major companies signaled an openness to vaccine mandates, according to a poll held Tuesday at a virtual summit by the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute.

The broad question did not specify whether the mandate would apply to all employees or just ones who needed to work in close proximity to customers and colleagues.  Several CEOs indicated that such a mandate has not yet been formulated at their companies and they want to see how early rounds of vaccinations go. Companies may also be reluctant to require that employees take vaccines until they have been fully approved by the FDA.

Read more at CNN

 

IHS Market: U.S. Business Activity Cools in Mid-December

Data firm IHS Markit said on Wednesday its flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index, which tracks the manufacturing and services sectors, fell to a reading of 55.7 early this month from 58.6 in November. A reading above 50 indicates growth in private sector output.

According to IHS Markit, though new orders continued to grow, temporary shutdowns and customer uncertainty weighed on the upturn. It also noted that companies reported a fall in new export sales as renewed lockdowns in key export markets dampened foreign demand.

Read more at Reuters


U.S. Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Jump to Highest in Three Months

Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits unexpectedly jumped to the highest level in three months, suggesting the labor market’s recovery is faltering amid the surge in Covid-19 cases and widening business restrictions. Initial jobless claims in regular state programs rose by 23,000 to 885,000 in the week ended Dec. 12, Labor Department data showed Thursday. On an unadjusted basis, the figure fell by about 21,000.

Continuing claims for state programs declined by 273,000 to 5.51 million in the week ended Dec. 5. That figure roughly approximates the number of people receiving state unemployment benefits, but doesn’t include the millions of people who have already exhausted those benefits or are receiving assistance through federal pandemic jobless aid programs. A Bloomberg survey of economists had called for 818,000 initial state claims and 5.7 million continuing claims on an adjusted basis.

Read more at Bloomberg


New York State DOL: $15 Minimum Wage Phase-in to Continue 

The New York State Department of Labor today announced the state’s $15 minimum wage phase-in will continue, with the next stage taking effect December 31, 2020. This announcement comes after a statutorily required report by the Division of the Budget found the Upstate, Long Island and Westchester labor markets — where the minimum wage is scheduled to rise — are leading New York’s economic recovery from the downturn caused by the global pandemic. The report found that, just prior to the pandemic, the State had achieved record low unemployment following four years of increases to the minimum wage. In addition, the report showed that minimum wage workers need support today, as they were disproportionally impacted by the pandemic’s economic toll, with those earning the minimum wage representing a large portion of the hardest-hit industries, including retail trade and leisure and hospitality.


DiNapoli: Total New York Wages Fell $12.5 Billion in Second Quarter

In the second quarter of 2020, total wages paid in New York State declined by $12.5 billion or 7.4 percent in comparison to the second quarter of 2019, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The decline is primarily attributable to the historic loss of 1.9 million jobs in March and April, with a limited employment rebound in May and June.

Total wages in accommodation and food services fell by $3.5 billion, a drop of nearly 60 percent from the prior year’s second quarter. Other New York industries with large declines in wages included construction, retail and wholesale trade, and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector. In three sectors with comparatively higher compensation—finance and insurance, information, and professional and technical services—overall wages increased in the second quarter compared to a year earlier. The government sector also saw a modest gain.

Read more at the Comptroller’s website


FDA Says Pfizer Vaccine Vials Hold Extra Doses Expanding Supply By as Much as 40%

The Food and Drug Administration said late Wednesday that those extra doses could be used, clearing up confusion that had caused some pharmacists to throw away leftover vaccine for fear of violating the rules the agency set last week.

The Pfizer vials are supposed to hold five doses, but pharmacists have found they have enough for a sixth or even a seventh dose. Putting those into use could significantly increase the United States’ scarce early supply of the shot, reducing the likelihood of a “vaccine cliff” this spring as demand outpaces supply.  Manufacturers typically overfill vaccine vials to safeguard against spills and other waste, said Erin Fox, a pharmacy expert at University of Utah who monitors drug shortages. “It’s pretty unusual to have a full extra dose or more though — but it does seem to be there!” she said in an email.

Read more at Politico


 

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Daily Briefing – 213

State Website Provides Vaccine Updates

NYS has launched a website to keep New Yorkers informed as vaccines become available.  The State is receiving its first delivery of 170,000 doses this week and the first New Yorkers have begun to be vaccinated. Additional doses of the vaccine will follow later this month.  The first New Yorkers to receive the vaccine will be high-risk hospital workers (emergency room workers, ICU staff and Pulmonary Department staff), nursing home residents, nursing home staff, followed by all long-term and congregate care residents and staff, EMS workers, other health care workers, coroners and medical examiners. Staff at every hospital will have access to the first vaccine allocation.

Visit the site


COVID and “Winter Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press conference yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday, December 15th. “New York’s goal is to have the best vaccine program in the United States. It’s the most ambitious governmental operation that has been undertaken, period. We have been planning for the vaccine, now we’re implementing that plan and we’re ensuring New Yorkers can access the vaccine free of charge.” The Governor said.

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  6097
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 24%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  722
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 28%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5756
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3815
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 33%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  725
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  409
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 46%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.09
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 6.21%

Here are some useful websites:


Timmons Calls on Governors to Use Fed Definition of Essential

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons sent a letter to the National Governors Association calling on state leaders to rely on federal definitions of essential businesses when distributing COVID-19 vaccines.

“Manufacturers recommend that governors rely on the sound definitions of essential critical infrastructure workforce offered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. These terms are comprehensive and well understood by the manufacturing community. Moreover, the CISA explanations of the industry sectors that comprise the nation’s critical infrastructure can be applied uniformly in various emergency and response circumstances determined by states and their elected leaders”  It is unlikely New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will adopt this position.


Groundhog Day – Congress Closes in on a $900 Billion Covid Relief Deal

Congressional leaders closed in on a $900 billion coronavirus relief deal Wednesday. The developing aid agreement would not include liability protections for businesses or aid to state and local government, CNBC confirmed. Disagreements over those two issues have blocked lawmakers from crafting a year-end rescue package.

The measure would contain a direct payment to Americans in some amount, as well as enhanced federal unemployment insurance, NBC News reported. In addition, Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana told CNBC that the deal would have roughly $300 billion in small business aid including Paycheck Protection Program loans, money for Covid-19 vaccine distribution and testing and relief for hospitals.

Read more at CNBC


Manufacturing Fuels Industrial Production Rise

Manufacturing increased 0.8% in November, according to the Federal Reserve, following 1.1% growth in October. Production of motor vehicles and parts showed particular strength with an increase of 5.3%.  Overall industrial production rose less in November than October, when it grew by a revised 0.9% after an initial estimate of 1.1%. Output in November remained 5% below pre-pandemic levels.

Economists are seeing “healthy, but not overly impressive” industrial growth that could continue to slow as job growth falls and Congress considers a relatively small federal stimulus.

Read more at the WSJ


Fed Updates Plans for Bond Buying, But Makes No Changes to Asset Purchases

The Federal Reserve provided updated plans Wednesday for its purchases of large amounts of government debt to support the economy, but didn’t change the program to provide more stimulus.  Fed officials also released new projections showing most of them expected interest rates would remain near zero at least through 2023, as the labor market and economy regain their pre-pandemic health.

Since June, the Fed had been buying $80 billion in Treasurys and $40 billion in mortgage bonds per month and had pledged to buy assets at least at that pace for “the coming months.”

Read more at the WSJ


Retail Sales Dropped  1.1% in November 

The November decline, plus a revision that put October sales down slightly, marked the end of several months of growth in retail spending after sharp drops earlier this year when the pandemic triggered widespread business closures. Retail sales for October were revised to a decline of 0.1% from an earlier estimate of a 0.3% increase.  Restaurants, department stores and vehicle dealerships all reported sharp sales declines, with clothing and furniture purchases falling. Purchases of groceries and building materials increased, along with online sales.

Sales were up by 4.1% when compared with the same month a year ago.

Read more at the WSJ


NY Fed: Businesses Report Marked Deceleration in Wages and Benefit Costs

Supplementary questions to the December Empire State Manufacturing Survey and Business Leaders Survey focused on recent and expected changes in the prices paid by firms for several major budget categories, including wages, employee benefits, insurance, energy, and other commodities. In the current survey manufacturers reported an average increase of 3 percent. Looking ahead, Manufacturers said that they expected the prices they paid to rise by 3.3 percent in 2021. In last December’s survey they had anticipated increases of more than 4 percent in 2020.

For wages, service firms reported an average decrease of 1.2 percent—the first reported decline in
the twelve years the Fed has asked this question—while manufacturers indicated an average increase of 2.1 percent. Looking ahead to 2021, both groups projected an average rise of roughly 3 percent. In last December’s survey, increases had been expected to average around 4 percent overall in 2020—a bit higher among service firms, a bit lower among manufacturers.

Read more at the NY Fed


NAM Meets with Yellen

The National Association of Manufacturer’s Executive Committee met with Treasury Secretary–designee Janet Yellen and Deputy Treasury Secretary–designee Wally Adeyemo for a virtual roundtable on Tuesday afternoon.  According to a statement from Biden’s transition team, Yellen described President-elect Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan and his policies for addressing the COVID-19 crisis as well as longer-term problems facing the economy, including job loss, wage stagnation, the decay of critical infrastructure and the need for investment in skills training.

“Dr. Yellen thanked NAM’s leadership for its partnership and support for her and Mr. Adeyemo’s nominations, and expressed the incoming administration’s gratitude for the critical role that manufacturing has played and will continue to play in the recovery, including the production of PPE and consumer goods, maintaining the food supply, and supporting vaccination efforts,” according to the statement.

Read the statement from the Biden Transition


Latest Polling in Georgia Senate Runoff Elections – Both Democrats Still Own Slight Leads

No candidate in either of Georgia’s Senate races won a majority of the vote on Nov. 3, triggering a runoff for both seats, with the top two candidates in each race facing off.  With less than four weeks remaining until the January 5th election the latest polling show very tight races with Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock holding slim leads over their Republican opponents David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler.

Control of the Senate now hinges on the outcome of these two races.

See the polling at 538


Mayo Clinic New York (and other states) COVID-19 Tracker Map

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Mayo Clinic has been tracking COVID-19 trends and predicting hot spots to keep our staff and hospitals safe. Now, They’re sharing the data they monitor.

This map shows a rolling average of daily cases for the past week. This is the best sign of hot spots.

See the map at the Mayo Clinic 


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 212

New Cluster Zone Restriction Metrics and Matrix

On December 10, Governor Cuomo announced new metrics by which micro-cluster focus zones will be determined to help control COVID-19 spread and protect hospital capacity.  Those restrictions were released Monday Evening. The initiative continues to divide clusters and the areas around them into three categories with successively higher restrictions within each one: Red Zones, Orange Zones and Yellow Zones.

In the Red Zones all non-essential businesses are closed. Most manufacturing will be essential, and the definition of essential has evolved slightly since April. We do encourage you to confirm you essential status of the list and, again, should your region become a Red Zone you will self determine if you are essential or non-essential. 


COVID and “Winter Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday, December 14th. “Right now, New York is focused on growing hospital capacity through our Surge and Flex program and requiring hospital systems to begin working together so they are prepared. As those operations continue, it’s on all of us to be smart, tough, and do what we know stops the spread – socially distance, wear masks and wash our hands. The goal is to avoid another shut down and we will only be able to do that if we all do our part.”

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  5982
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 23%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  735
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 27%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5775
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3799
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 33%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  767
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  431
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 47%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.12
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.33%

Here are some useful websites:


Moderna’s Vaccine Found Highly Effective, Clearing Way for a Second Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration said its preliminary analysis confirmed the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, bringing it to the cusp of U.S. authorization.  A panel of outside experts will offer their recommendation Thursday, with a final FDA decision expected soon thereafter.

The positive news comes as hospitals ramped up vaccinations with the shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which the FDA cleared last week. Packed in dry ice to stay at ultra-frozen temperatures, shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will arrive at 400 additional hospitals and other distribution sites, one day after the nation’s death toll surpassed a staggering 300,000. The first 3 million shots are being strictly rationed to front-line health workers and elder-care patients, with hundreds of millions more shots needed over the coming months to protect most Americans.

Read more at Yahoo News


Democratic Leaders Under Pressure to Agree to Slimmed-Down COVID-19 Relief Deal

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are under growing pressure from fellow Democrats to back off their insistence that a year-end COVID-19 relief package include another large tranche of federal aid for cash-strapped state and local governments.

On Tuesday, the two Democrats met with McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to discuss attaching a relief package to the $1.4 trillion omnibus package funding general government operations. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin joined by phone.  Schumer and Pelosi have eased up on their demands in recent days amid growing calls from fellow Democrats for a coronavirus relief deal before Congress leaves for the Christmas break.

Read more at The Hill


Empire State Manufacturing Survey: Slight Uptick in Business Activity

Business activity edged slightly higher in New York State, according to firms responding to the December 2020 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index was little changed at 4.9. New orders increased marginally, and shipments were modestly higher. Inventories continued to move lower, and delivery times edged up. Employment posted its strongest gain in months, and the average workweek lengthened somewhat. Input prices increased at the fastest pace in two years, while selling prices increased at about the same pace as last month. Looking ahead, firms remained optimistic that conditions would improve over the next six months.

Read the full report


Pandemic Supplies Production Act Proposes to Nationalize Production, Distribution of Essential Supplies for COVID-19.

US Reps. John Larson (D-CT) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) recently introduced the Pandemic Supplies Production Act designed to nationalize the production and distribution of supplies deemed essential to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new legislation would seek to gather information on the private sector’s manufacturing capabilities surrounding equipment, supplies, therapeutics, and vaccines needed to combat COVID-19. It would then mandate the Defense Production Act be invoked to match the supply and capacity needed to meet the demand for these supplies — both through COVID-19 and future pandemics. It would also create a new agency to lead the acquisition and distribution of such supplies: the Defense Logistics Agency.

Read more at Homeland Preparedness News


CDC Guidance for Strategies to Address High Levels of Community Transmission 

COVID-19 pandemic control requires a multipronged application of evidence-based strategies while improving health equity: universal face mask use, physical distancing, avoiding nonessential indoor spaces, increasing testing, prompt quarantine of exposed persons, safeguarding those at increased risk for severe illness or death, protecting essential workers, postponing travel, enhancing ventilation and hand hygiene, and achieving widespread COVID-19 vaccination coverage.

These combined strategies will protect health care, essential businesses, and schools, bridging to a future with high community coverage of effective vaccines and safe return to more activities in a range of settings.

Read more at the CDC


Withholding of State Aid Puts Additional Crunch on Region’s Cities

The withholding of 20 percent of the state’s Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM funding) puts the City of Poughkeepsie in a “cash crunch,” Mayor Rob Rolison said.

“We are looking at an anticipated shortfall with falling funding because the revenues were drying up during the pandemic, which at one point was $2 million and we were able to make some cuts and some savings and we were looking at a potential $1 million shortfall by the end of the year,” he said. “Now with the 20 percent withholding of AIM, which is $800,000, that is $1.8 million.”

Port Jervis Mayor Kelly Decker said the state’s withholding of aid is across the board, meaning more belt-tightening for that city.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


States Urge Congressional Funding for COVID-19 Vaccine Education 

A key state health regulator told the panel that state health agencies are sorely lacking in capabilities to educate the public on the new vaccines and on their effectiveness and to dispel myths and vaccine hesitancy and the states have asked Congress for $8.4 billion in supplemental funding to help the cause.

Read more at Homeland Preparedness News


FDA Authorizes First Direct-to-Consumer COVID-19 Test System

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized LabCorp’s Pixel COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit for use by any individual 18 years and older without a prescription. This product, which is authorized as the first COVID-19 direct-to-consumer (non-prescription) test system, allows an individual to self-collect a nasal swab sample at home and then send that sample for testing to LabCorp. Positive or invalid test results are then delivered to the user by phone call from a health care provider. Negative test results are delivered via email or online portal. This home sample collection kit can be purchased online or in a store without a prescription.

Read the FDA Press Release


A Little More Clarity On CDC Quarantine Lengths 

Up until the CDC’s Dec. 2 announcement, the agency had advised that employers impose a blanket 14-day quarantine for those individuals who came into close contact with other individuals who tested positive or were presumed-positive. While the agency continues to hold that the original 14-day quarantine period is best after a close contact, the revised guidelines now allow for quarantine periods it deems acceptable, if the individual remains symptom-free.

The new periods are: 10 days after close contact with the positive person; and seven days following close contact if the returning employee has a negative result for a test within 48 hours of the final day of the seven-day quarantine (that is, at least five days following close contact).  The CDC also says the seven-day alternative should be available only when the use of tests to discontinue a quarantine will not have an impact on community diagnostic testing. It also makes the point of emphasizing that testing for infection-evaluation should be the priority.

Read more at EHS Today


Busy Factories, Wary Consumers: China’s Uneven Rebound

Factories in China have been buzzing for months, a sign that the supply side of the country’s economy has staged a recovery since covid-19 shut it down in February. Data released today show an improvement in that effort. Industrial production increased by 7% in November from a year earlier, having grown by 6.9% year-on-year in October. In 2020 China’s policymakers have focused on raising production, in order to keep unemployment low. But a recovery on the demand side of the economy has lagged behind. Retail sales rose by 5% in November, up from 4.3% in October. That represents a healthy increase from earlier in the year but it also shows the government is still struggling to stimulate consumer demand. Despite a miraculous rebound from the pandemic, progress has been lopsided.

Read more at MarketWatch


 

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Daily Briefing – 211

“Winter Plan” Strategy Laid Out by DOH

Governor Cuomo and the state’s COVID Task Force have worked in consultation with global public health experts, local governments and other stakeholders to create a Winter Plan to combat a COVID-19 surge in New York.  The Winter Plan consists of five targeted strategies focused on mitigating the spread of the virus and bolstering New York State hospital preparedness.

Read the plan


COVID and “Winter Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, December 13th.  He noted the increasing hospitalization rates may cause some regions’ hospital systems to become overwhelmed if rates do not stabilize. Currently, the areas with the highest risk of hospital systems becoming overwhelmed are New York City and Central New York, as well as Erie and Monroe Counties. Governor Cuomo warned that New York could see 11,000 COVID patients hospitalized (double the current number) if the current infection rate continues.  He warned that if the trajectory of hospitalization rates does not change the State could enter a second shut down of all non-essential businesses. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  5712
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 23%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  705
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 26%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5731
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3781
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 33%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  741
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  394
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 48%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.12
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.66%

Here are some useful websites:


First Covid-19 Vaccinations Administered to U.S. Public

A nurse in New York was among the first to receive the shot Monday morning, and health workers throughout the U.S. were also set to receive the newly authorized vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE. Pfizer shipped vaccine vials out Sunday, and hospitals and health departments across the country received them early Monday.

Some 145 U.S. hospitals and other sites were slated to receive vaccine doses Monday, followed by 425 on Tuesday and 66 on Wednesday, according to Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, the federal initiative to deliver Covid-19 vaccines.

Read more at the WSJ


Major Shippers Start Historic Vaccine Distribution

FedEx Express, UPS and Boyle Transportation trucks rolled out Sunday from a Pfizer manufacturing facility in Michigan, with security escorts, carrying shipments of 2.9 million US COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines were expected to arrive today at 145 of 636 distribution centers, with the doses to arrive at the remaining distribution centers by Wednesday.

Read more at Reuters


Cuomo Issues Executive Order 202.82 Which Sets Parameters for Administrations of COVID Vaccines.

The Executive Order is  in force through January 12th and (among  many other provisions) makes the following suspensions and modifications of law:

  • Modifies the Insurance Law to ensure health coverage for COVID-19 immunizations and its administration, including visits necessary to obtain the vaccine.
  • Permits licensed physicians, certified nurse practitioners to issue non-patient specific regimens to nurses, physician assistants, specialist assistants, pharmacists, or other permitted by this Order, as well as non-nursing staff, permitted by law or Executive Order and upon completion of training deemed adequate by the Commissioner of Health, to: (1) collect throat, nasal, or nasopharyngeal swab specimens, as applicable and appropriate, from individuals suspected of being infected by COVID-19 or influenza, for purposes of testing; (2) collect blood specimens for the diagnosis of acute or past COVID-19 disease; (3) administer vaccinations against influenza or COVID-19, and (4) where applicable and to the extent necessary, to perform tasks, under the supervision of a nurse, otherwise limited to the scope of practice of a licensed or registered nurse to provide care for individuals diagnosed or suspected of suffering from a COVID-19 or influenza infection.

Read the full order


US Purchase Another 100M Doses of Moderna Vaccine

The Trump administration announced on Friday that it will purchase another 100 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, according to a release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  

The vaccine is still pending emergency authorization from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) but approval appears likely. The U.S. had previously ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine earlier this year, and those will begin shipping immediately upon FDA authorization, with 20 million expected by the end of December.  The second batch of 100 million doses purchased by the U.S. will be delivered in the second quarter of next year, according to HHS.

Read more at The Hill


Bipartisan Negotiators Unveil Stimulus Bill as Clock Ticks Down

A bipartisan group of senators finally hit paydirt in its long-running coronavirus relief negotiations. Nearly a dozen centrist senators will present their much-anticipated product on Monday afternoon in two pieces: a $748 billion package boosting funds for education, vaccine distribution, transportation and other areas, and a $160 billion add-on of state and local aid coupled with a short-term liability shield for employers, according to four people familiar with the talks.

McConnell has not commented directly on the bipartisan proposal, though it does meet his general framework after he relented on previous demands for liability reform in any new stimulus measure. Pelosi wouldn’t say Monday whether she’s open to dropping Democrats’ demands for additional state and local funding.”I very much support state and local,” Pelosi said. “We are in negotiations,” she added when asked by reporters if it was still a “red line” for Democrats.

Read more at Politico


Manufacturing Economic Report – Consumer Confidence, Producer and Consumer Price Indexes

The Small Business Optimism Index declined from 104.0 in October to 101.4 in November, with owners continuing to worry about short-term political and COVID-19 uncertainties. Despite some slippage in confidence, the headline index continued to reflect overall strength, with workforce challenges topping the “single most important problem” list once again. Consumer confidence rose in December, according to preliminary data from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters, but confidence remains well below the levels seen before the pandemic. There were wide disparities along partisan lines.

Consumer and producer prices rose in November, but core inflation remains largely in check for now. Indeed, the Federal Reserve has pursued extraordinary monetary policy measures to help prop up the economy, with little worry about inflation, and it remains committed to its stimulative stance for the foreseeable future. The Federal Open Market Committee meets this week on Dec. 15–16.

Monday Economic Report 2020-1214


De Blasio: NYC Should Prepare for Full Shutdown Possibility

“The governor said we should prepare for the possibility for a full shutdown, I agree with that,” de Blasio said Monday. “We need to recognize that that may be coming, and we need to get ready for that now.”

A shutdown would ultimately be a decision that comes from Cuomo, but “what’s increasingly clear is that all forms of restrictions are on the table,” de Blasio said. “At the current rate we’re going, you have to be ready now for a full shutdown, a pause like we had back at the end of the spring. That’s increasingly necessary to break the back of the second wave, to stop it from growing, taking lives, threatening our hospitals.”

Read more at Bloomberg


U.K., EU Leaders Extend Marathon Brexit Talks

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and top European Union officials decided not to pull the plug from Brexit negotiations Sunday, with officials signaling last-minute progress on some of the issues that have bedeviled the talks. With time running short—a deal has to be in place by Jan. 1 to prevent huge disruption to trade and security cooperation—officials on both sides said negotiators appeared to be finding some common ground though they cautioned much work needed to be done.

Officials on both sides said they were narrowing differences over the question that lies at the center of their dispute: How much will the U.K. be tied to EU norms as the price for a tariff-free trade deal with its largest trading partner? On that question hangs trade worth close to $900 billion a year.

Read more at the WSJ


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 210

NYS COVID “Winter Plan” To Begin This Week

As positivity rates and hospitalization rates continue to increase New York is recalibrating protocols with a new Winter Plan based on the most recent public health data.  The State i will make announcements regarding color zone designations on Monday, December 14th.

Here are the new metrics for determining color zone designations.

  • Red Zones: A “red zone” will be declared when a region is 21 days from 90% hospital capacity. “Red Zone” designation will put a region under NY on PAUSE restrictions, which is the Governor’s Executive Order from March 22nd, implementing a 10-point policy which closed non-essential businesses and limited public interactions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Orange Zones: A region will be designated an “orange zone” if it has 4% or higher positivity rate over the last 10 days AND 85% hospital capacity OR the NYS Department of Health (DOH) determines the region has an unacceptably high rate of hospital admissions.
  • Yellow Zones: An area will be designated as a “yellow zone” if it reaches 3% positivity rate over 10 days AND the cluster is in the top 10% for hospital admissions per capita over the past week and experiences week-over-week growth in daily admissions.

The announcement was made Friday.


COVID and Cluster ‘Surge & Flex’ Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, December 12th.  The State’s focus has shifted from positivity rates to regional hospitalization rates.  

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  5410
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 22%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  685
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 26%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5735
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3828
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 34%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  741
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  385
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 49%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.19
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 4.96%

Here are some useful websites:


Cuomo Encourages Schools to Remain Open

Data has shown that schools have proven to be safer for students and faculty than local communities in terms of COVID-19 transmission and infection rate. Initially, experts believed schools would be sources of transmission similar to mass gatherings. However, due to high compliance with the protocols put in place, the data has shown that the positivity rates in schools is lower than the surrounding communities. Local governments have had a large degree of control in determining whether schools remain open or go to remote learning, but Governor Cuomo advocated that schools should remain open unless there is data that the school has a problematic infection rate.

Read the press release


F.D.A. Clears Pfizer Vaccine, and Millions of Doses Will Be Shipped Right Away

The authorization is a historic turning point in a pandemic that has taken more than 290,000 lives in the United States. With the decision, the United States becomes the sixth country — in addition to Britain, Bahrain, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico — to clear the vaccine. Other authorizations, including by the European Union, are expected within weeks.

The authorization set off a complicated coordination effort from Pfizer, private shipping companies, state and local health officials, the military, hospitals and pharmacy chains to get the first week’s batch of about three million doses to health care workers and nursing home residents as quickly as possible, all while keeping the vaccine at ultracold temperatures.

Read more at the NYT


Best Practices for Mental Health Care in the Workplace – 5 Strategies

Employee well-being and mental health care have been elevated from perks to requirements as life and work have collided amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gallup researchers note. They offer five strategies culled from top organizations, such as training managers to talk about mental health and identifying high-risk employees.

Read more at Gallup


Trust is Key to Discussing Vaccinations in the Workplace

At the end of the day, says Pearce, the workforce needs to believe that the employer is doing the right things, having balanced the needs of the organization, the safety of the employees, and the expectations of the customer.

“This success of managing the vaccination, and other issues related to COVID-19 will be achieved through an ongoing dialogue based on trust,” says Pearce.

Read more at EHS Today


West Point Tests COVID Tracking Device -Beats Navy 15-0

Cadets at West Point have been selected for a test that utilizes a wearable, proximity logging device that helps evaluate where and when COVID outbreaks happen within troops.

The system uses a Samsung smartwatch with enhanced proximity and contact logging to gather data on interactions between devices, with the distinction that no GPS data or physiological data is being gathered. That is, it’s not tracking individuals. The study is an investigation of an enhanced contact tracing technology used in Singapore. 

Army beat Navy 15-0.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


Regional Transportation Study Suggests ‘Micro-Transit’

The findings and recommendations from the study, which began in 2018, suggest improving the technological infrastructure of regional transit, based on results of 1,295 surveys representing 75 percent ridership and 25 percent non-riders.

In the vein of technological improvement, one of the implements backed by data is creation of micro-transit services. Micro-transit acts like a public Uber, or Lyft, and allows riders to directly request vehicles. The study recommends a 10-zone micro-transit service area across the three counties. Those areas would be the 17M/US-6 corridor, a west of Newburgh area, an east of Newburgh area, Beacon to Newburgh on both sides of the Hudson, south Poughkeepsie, northern Dutchess, southern Ulster County, Bearsville/Woodstock and West Hurley. 

Read more at Mid Hudson News


Talks On Stimulus Package Deadlock On State And Local Aid Despite Assurances Of Progress

Congress will return to work on Monday with one more week to hash out a comprehensive coronavirus aid bill but despite assurances from a bipartisan group of senators that a $908 billion relief framework is coming together, old disagreements are proving difficult to resolve. 

Democratic leaders want the $908 billion framework to include more federal aid to state and local governments to stave off layoffs and protect essential services, according to CNN’s Manu Raju, but many Republicans view that as a bailout for blue states and are opposing its inclusion. On top of that, lawmakers reportedly still don’t have an agreement on coronavirus liability protections for businesses and schools, a major Republican priority that Democrats say will put the interests of corporations ahead of workers’ safety.

Read more at Forbes


 

 

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Daily Briefing- 209

COVID and Cluster ‘Surge & Flex’ Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday, December 9th.  The State’s focus has shifted from positivity rates to regional hospitalization rates.  

If statewide and regional hospitalization rates do not stabilize by today indoor dining will be banned in New York City and capacity would be reduced from 50% to 25% for the rest of the state. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  5164
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 22%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  694
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 25%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5889
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3981
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 35%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  744
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  378
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 49%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.18
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.15%

Here are some useful websites:


US Panel Endorses Widespread Use of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

A U.S. government advisory panel endorsed widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Thursday, putting the country just one step away from launching an epic vaccination campaign against the outbreak that has killed close to 300,000 Americans.  Shots could begin within days, depending on how quickly the Food and Drug Administration signs off, as expected, on the expert committee’s recommendation.

Next week, the FDA will review a second vaccine, from Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, that appears about as protective as Pfizer-BioNTech’s shot. A third candidate, from Johnson & Johnson, which would require just one dose, is working its way through the pipeline. Behind that is a candidate from AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

Read more at the AP


ICU Beds Filling Up –  Latest US Map and COVID Case Count

More than a third of Americans live in places where intensive-care beds in hospitals are close to capacity, according to fresh federal data. An analysis by the New York Times of detailed geographical information on covid-19 in hospitals, published for the first time, showed that one in ten Americans lived in areas where intensive-care units were either full or had less than 5% of beds available. Many of them are in the Midwest and the South.

See the map and analysis at the NYT


McConnell signals no Republican support for COVID-19 deal from bipartisan group

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hitting the brakes on the emerging COVID-19 aid package from a bipartisan group of lawmakers, saying Republican senators won’t support $160 billion in state and local funds as part of a potential trade-off in the deal.

McConnell’s staff conveyed to top negotiators that the GOP leader sees no path to an agreement on a key aspect of the lawmakers’ existing proposal – a slimmed-down version of the liability shield for companies and organizations facing potential COVID-19 lawsuits – in exchange for $160 billion in state and local funds that Democrats want.   The hardened stance from McConnell, who does not appear to have the votes from Republicans for a far-reaching compromise, creates a new stalemate over the $900-billion-plus package, despite days of toiling by a bipartisan group of lawmakers toward a deal.

Read more at ABC News


U.S. Unemployment Claims Rise to Highest Level Since September

Weekly initial claims for jobless benefits from state programs, a proxy for layoffs, increased by a seasonally adjusted 137,000 in the week ended Dec. 5, the Labor Department said Thursday. Last week’s level of applications was the highest since September, but was still well down from a peak of nearly seven million in late March.

Jobless claims have mostly trended down since the spring, when the coronavirus pandemic caused widespread business shutdowns. Since falling below 1 million a week in August, the pace of improvement slowed. That matches with other measures showing the economy is recovering, but at a slower pace in recent months.

Read more at the WSJ


GAO Report – Jobless Data Flawed

Jobless claims data has been viewed as a bellwether for economists and policy makers for a half-century. However, the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog, last month said jobless claims data was flawed.

The GAO said states have provided inconsistent data to the Labor Department and incidents of fraud have distorted the numbers. The Labor Department on Thursday said the measurement of ongoing benefits, known as continued claims “reflect a good approximation” of the number of insured unemployed workers filing for benefits.  That number rose by 230,000 to 5.8 million in the week ended Nov. 28. State programs provide unemployment insurance to most U.S. workers.

Read more in the WSJ


 

A Little More Detail from the JOLTS Report – Manufacturing Job Openings Rise

Manufacturing job openings increased from September to October, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  There were 525,000 manufacturing job openings in October, up from 492,000 in September and a new record high. Postings for durable (up from 267,000 to 290,000—the best since August 2019) and nondurable goods (up from 225,000 to 235,000—an all-time high) both strengthened in October.

According to NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray, “One sign of improved health is the ‘churn’ seen in the labor market, and the number of quits has rebounded in recent months. This is reassuring and a sign that the market is strengthening.”

See the full report at the BLS


Empire Center’s McMahon: NY’s Need for Federal Aid Is Real—But Inflated

A solid case can be made for providing relief geared to the sudden and unforeseeable revenue losses of state governments and localities across the country, whose revenue estimates were severely disrupted by a pandemic with consequences far more severe than anything they could have planned for in 2019.

But Cuomo has not helped his case by playing games with the numbers involved, repeatedly exaggerating the amount he actually needs—and by avoiding any action to permanently reduce spending, lest it suggest to Congress that he actually needs less. As framed in this week’s letter to the congressional delegation, the real budgetary needs of the state and the city (but not the MTA, which is in truly dire shape) are exaggerated.

Read more at the Empire Center


Pandemic Means Employers Need to Know How Workers Spend Time Off

Employers have wide latitude during a pandemic in what they can ask regarding your holiday plans. That includes asking workers to take a pledge to refrain from any risky behavior—as some companies did right before Thanksgiving—and cautioning employees against any conduct that would violate federal or local health guidelines. It varies by state, but if it is a matter of protecting the safety of the workplace, employers can also discipline workers for what they do during off hours. That could include if workers don’t disclose potential exposure to the virus and return to the workplace without quarantining after personal travel or after attending large celebrations.

Read more at the WSJ


ECB Expands Stimulus Program in Bid to Prop up Pandemic-Hit Eurozone Economy

The European Central Bank expanded and extended its asset-buying program Thursday and vowed to keep an eye on the euro exchange rate as it attempts to shore up the eurozone economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The moves were largely in line with expectations and aimed to keep borrowing costs low for governments as they ramp up spending to address the fallout from the health crisis.

The centerpiece of Thursday’s actions was an expansion of the size of its pandemic emergency purchase program by 500 billion euros ($606.2 billion) to 1.85 trillion euros and extending it by at least nine months to March 2022. Lagarde said the ECB didn’t necessarily have to use the entire PEPP “envelope” if conditions improve, but could also expand it if needed.

Read more at Market Watch


Boeing 737 Takes Off On First Commercial Flight in 20 Months

Boeing’s 737 Max jet is flying commercial routes once again, as Brazil’s Gol Airlines brought the jetliner back into service Wednesday. The worldwide fleet of 737 Max planes has been grounded since March 2019, after two deadly crashes raised concerns over the aircraft’s safety and airworthiness.

Gol flew passengers on a 737 Max 8 Wednesday from São Paulo to Porto Alegre, along Brazil’s eastern coast. The trip lasted roughly an hour and 15 minutes, with the plane landing on schedule,

Read more at NPR 


 

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Daily Briefing -208

Cuomo Outlines COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution in New York State

New York State is set to receive 170,000 doses of the initial Pfizer vaccine, as soon as this weekend. Nationwide, six million doses are set to be distributed within days.  The Mid-Hudson Region is slated to receive 19,200 doses.

Nursing home staff and nursing home residents will be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, along with “high risk” hospital workers, which include those who work in the ICU, emergency room, or in pulmonary care. Rules have been established as to who gets the vaccine first in hospitals, and those rules have been sent to the hospitals. The hospitals will choose who will get the vaccine first, based on the high-risk guidelines.

Read more about the distribution protocol at Local Syracuse


COVID and Cluster ‘Surge & Flex’ Update

Governor Cuomo held a remote press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday, December 7th.  The State’s focus has shifted from positivity rates to regional hospitalization rates.  “Hospitals are going to have to be extraordinarily flexible and nimble to handle the additional case load. Not only will they have to work as a system and balance caseload among their hospitals, but they also need to be prepared to shift patients before they’re admitted, to other hospitals that have a greater capacity,” Governor Cuomo said.

If statewide and regional hospitalization rates do not stabilize indoor dining would be banned in New York City and capacity would be reduced from 50% to 25% for the rest of the state. 

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  (The State is no longer focused on positivity rates, instead it is closely monitoring hospitalizations and ICU capacity)

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  4993
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 22%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  666
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 25%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5975
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3928
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 36%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  747
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  378
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 48%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.18
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.44%

Here are some useful websites:


White House Return to Stimulus Talks Boosts Chance of Deal

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a surprise re-entry into talks on a 2020 pandemic-relief package with a $916 billion proposal that opened a potential new path to a year-end deal despite objections from Democrats over elements of the plan.

After largely leaving the task to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell since Election Day, Mnuchin pitched a $916 billion stimulus plan to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a Tuesday afternoon telephone call, more than a week after she and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer retreated from their previous insistence on a $2.4 trillion bill.

Read more at Bloomberg


Latest Polling in Georgia Senate Runoff Elections – Both Democrats Own Slight Leads

No candidate in either of Georgia’s Senate races won a majority of the vote on Nov. 3, triggering a runoff for both seats, with the top two candidates in each race facing off.  With less than four weeks remaining until the January 5th election the latest polling show very tight races with Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock holding slim leads over their Republican opponents David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler.

Control of the Senate now hinges on the outcome of these two races.

See the polling at 538


Job Openings in U.S. Unexpectedly Rose to a Three-Month High – Mfg Among the Growing Sectors

U.S. job openings unexpectedly rose in October to a level that’s consistent with a gradual improvement in the labor market as employers seek to adjust headcounts against a backdrop of changing demand and coronavirus infection dynamics.  One measure of hiring—the share of LinkedIn members who added a new employer to their profiles, indexed to the monthly average in 2015-2016—rose 0.8% in November, compared with October. The index jumped 18.1% from September to October.

Year on year the number of job openings in October (not seasonally adjusted) decreased to 7.1 million (-596,000) reflecting the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labor market. Job openings decreased in a number of industries with the largest decreases in retail trade, accommodation and food services, and finance and insurance. Only nondurable goods manufacturing and durable goods manufacturing had increases in job openings.

Read more at Livemint


Deloitte CFO Survey:  Vaccines Make for Optimism 

The percentage of CFOs rating the North American economy as “good” or “very good” rose to 18% in the latest survey from 7% a quarter earlier. That puts North America ahead of Europe, where only 5% of respondents rate the current economy as “good” or “very good,” but well behind China, where 47% see it as “good” or “very good.”

Looking a year out, a full 59% of CFOs expect the U.S. economy to be better. A majority (58%) expect the S&P 500 will be higher by the end of next year, and a similar majority (60%) believe the ten-year bond yield will stay below 2%.

Read more at Deloitte


US Steel to Acquire Big River Steel Entirely for $774 Million

U.S. Steel Corporation announced December 8 that it would purchase the remaining equity of Big River Steel Co. for $774 million in cash after ending November 2020 with about $2.9 billion in liquidity, $1.7 billion in cash. David B. Burritt, CEO of U.S. Steel, called the purchase “the cornerstone of our ‘Best of Both’ strategy.”

The deal, which is set to close in the first quarter of 2021, will combine U.S. Steel’s blast furnaces and steel intellectual properties with Big River Steel’s modern electric arc furnace (EAF) technologies and “mini mill” operations into the same company. U.S. Steel, in a statement, said this would expand U.S. Steel’s talent pool and make the overall company more competitive.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Respirators, Wearables, Social Distancing – A Look at The Top 10 Trends in EHS in 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, we look back on a year that we won’t soon forget (and will likely feel the reverberations of for years to come). Here are the top 10 issues impacting safety professionals in 2020, as reported in our print magazine, on our website, in one of our digital products, or on one of our social media channels. Our thanks to EHS Today’s editorial staff and all others who contributed to our coverage throughout the year.

Read more at EHS Today


FuzeHub Webinar: Experts from RIT, Cornell and RPI Discuss COVID-Impacted Manufacturing – Today at 11:00

COVID has altered the way many manufacturers do business. Whether that means changing materials to accommodate supply issues, redesigning product, or reusing and remanufacturing components to meet demand; the pandemic has forced organizations to innovate or fail.

Learn from our panel of industry experts how manufacturers have adapted to this chaotic new landscape during the next virtual workshop in the Manufacturing Reimagined series “Crisis Workarounds: Alternate Materials, Product Redesign & Remanufacturing.”

Learn more and register


Manufacturers Push for Tax Deduction Extension

The NAM is calling for Congress to temporarily extend a COVID-19 tax relief provision that would support manufacturers impacted by the pandemic.

Currently, the maximum deduction for interest on business loans is limited to 30% of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). When COVID-19 hit, however, many businesses saw their earnings fall, which also caused their allowable business interest deduction to decrease, even as firms were forced to take out loans to stay afloat. To support these businesses, Congress increased the allowable business interest deduction from 30% to 50% of EBITDA in the bipartisan CARES Act

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 206

Fauci Joins Cuomo at Briefing, Calls NY Plan “Sound” 

Dr. Anthony Fauci joined Governor’s press briefing yesterday morning via video.  He was asked to chime in on the governor’s rule limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer.

“I think that’s a very sound rule and I feel 10 may even be a bit too much. It’s not only the number, Governor, but it’s the people that may be coming in from out of town…. You want to make sure you don’t get people who just got off an airport or a plane or a train and came in from Florida or came in from wherever. That’s even more risky than the absolute number. Not only the number of 10 seems reasonable, but make sure that when people come in, that they’re not people who have no idea where they’ve been or who they’ve been exposed to. You want to be friendly, you want to be collegial, but you really got to be careful about that.”

Read the transcript or listen to the audio


NYS Transmission Rate Climbs to 1.22, Only California’s is Higher

As of December 5, 2020, California had the highest Rt value of any U.S. state. The Rt value indicates the average number of people that one person with COVID-19 is expected to infect. A number higher than one means each infected person is passing the virus to more than one other person. New York State is second at 1.22.

Read more at Statista


COVID and Cluster Update – DOH to Implement ‘Surge & Flex’ Protocol

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, December 6th. He announced that DOH will implement its Surge and Flex protocol.  Hospitals are mandated to begin expanding their bed capacity by 25 percent and retired doctors and nurses are urged to return to service to prepare for a future COVID-19 surge and that if the statewide and regional hospitalization rates do not stabilize within 5 days, indoor dining would be banned in New York City and capacity would be reduced from 50% to 25% for the rest of the state.

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  (The State is no longer focused on positivity rates, instead it is closely monitoring hospitalizations and ICU capacity)

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  4602
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .002%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 23%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  618
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 25%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  728
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  368
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 48%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5968
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3743
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 37%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.22

Here are some useful websites:


Congress To Buy Time for Stimulus Negotiations by Voting on a One-Week Extension of Government Funding Until December 18

Congress will vote on Wednesday on a one-week extension of to buy more time for coronavirus relief negotiations, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.  The move would keep the federal government funded until December 18. Another short-term spending package or large-scale omnibus bill must be passed by then or result in a shutdown.

The Washington Post reported that negotiations on a government funding bill are being held up by strong disagreements on numerous policy issues, notably immigration. Lawmakers are aiming to attach a coronavirus relief package to the critical spending bill this month.  But the newspaper reported that legislative text for the $908 billion bipartisan framework may come Tuesday at the earliest. It’s expected to include $300 federal weekly unemployment benefits, a fresh round of small business aid, as well as assistance for state and local governments. But it will likely exclude a second wave of $1,200 stimulus checks.

Read more at Business Insider


China Exports Surge by Forecast-Beating 21.1% in November

China’s exports rose in November at their fastest pace in almost three years, official figures showed Monday, as a surge in demand in key markets ahead of the festive period also helped the country post a record trade surplus.  The reading is the latest spot of good news out of the world’s number two economy, which has been enjoying a bounce back from virus-induced lockdowns that sent it into a rare contraction earlier in the year.

Overseas shipments grew 21.1% on-year last month to $268 billion thanks to strong demand for medical goods and electronics.  The figure — the best since February 2018 — surpassed the 12 percent tipped in a Bloomberg poll of analysts and was much better than the 11.4 percent seen in October. The reading also marked the sixth straight month of growth.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Manufacturing Economy Report – Manufacturing Continued to Expand in the Latest Data

Manufacturing continued to expand in the latest data, even while signs of slowing persist in many markets and with activity remaining below pre-pandemic levels.  The Institute for Supply Management® said that manufacturing activity in November pulled back from October, which had recorded the fastest pace since September 2018. The index noted decelerating—but still solid—expansions for new orders and production.

New orders for core capital goods—a proxy for capital spending in the U.S. economy—rose 0.8% to $70.1 billion in October, a new record. Encouragingly, core capital goods orders have risen a very robust 5.9% over the past 12 months. Manufacturing added 27,000 workers in November, rising for the seventh straight month. Employment in the sector remains well below its pre-COVID-19 pace, down by 599,000 in November relative to the level in February. The current outlook is for 12,250,000 employees in the manufacturing sector at year’s end.

Manufacturing Economic Report 2020-1207


Automotive Highlights Manufacturing Jobs Gain in November

The motor vehicle sector added 15,400 jobs last month, accounting for more than half the 27,000 jobs gained in US manufacturing, according to Labor Department data. November’s seasonally adjusted manufacturing employment in terms of jobs was up from a month earlier but down from a year ago.

Read the full story at SME


Rolls Cuts Deeper into Jet-Engine Parts Production 

Rolls-Royce Plc is downsizing its turbofan engine components manufacturing business as the long-range impact of the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more apparent. Its new strategy further narrows the scope of commercial-aircraft engine parts Rolls will produce for its own use and expands the list capabilities it will put into the ITP Aero portfolio it is offering for sale at a reported price of £2 billion ($2.6 billion.)

The pandemic has gutted demand for new commercial aircraft and maintenance for existing fleets, with dire effects on the supply chain. Rolls-Royce, which has been downsizing its organization for several years, raised the scope of those efforts earlier this year.

Read more at Foundry Management


3M Cut Workforce by 3%

As part of a shift in its operating structure, 3M announced December 3 it would eliminate 2,900 positions globally. In a release, the conglomerate said it would work to streamline its business by focusing on global trends.

3M’s CEO Mike Roman said in a statement that 3M began using a new operating model at the beginning of the year, but that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted end markets and forced companies to adapt to changing circumstances faster. In January, before the pandemic hit, the company said it would cut 1,500 jobs as part of an initial restructuring.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Schumer: American Foundries Act Added to Defense Authorization Act – Win for Upstate New York

Earlier this year the bipartisan American Foundries Act was successful added as an amendment  to the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced the final version of the FY2021 NDAA includes his provision to bolster U.S. leadership in the semiconductor and broader microelectronics industries. The senator explained that the new programs included in NDAA will increase federal support for semiconductor manufacturing by providing new federal incentives to conduct advanced research and development of semiconductor technology, secure the supply chain, and ensure national and economic security by reducing reliance on foreign semiconductor manufacturing.

“The economic and national security risks posed by relying too heavily on foreign semiconductor suppliers cannot be ignored, and Upstate New York, which has a robust semiconductor industry, is the perfect place to grow domestic semiconductor R&D and manufacturing by leaps and bounds,” said Senator Schumer. “

Read the press release


1st Doses Of COVID-19 Vaccine To Be Administered Starting Today In The U.K.

As U.S. health authorities continue examining the proposed COVID-19 vaccines, residents in the United Kingdom — the first Western country to issue approval for emergency use — are set to receive their first shots as early as this week.

But quickly vaccinating as many people as possible in the U.K. will pose enormous logistical challenges — from keeping the doses frozen to figuring out how to methodically and fairly distribute the vaccine across the nation of 68 million. The first batch of the vaccine created by Pfizer and the German company BioNTech arrived in the U.K. last week. Doses are scheduled to be delivered to hospitals beginning Monday. Nursing home residents, health care workers and people age 80 and over will be first in line.

Read more at NPR


 

 

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Daily Briefing – 205

Cluster Focus to Shift to Hospitalizations

The State is now primarily focused on hospitalization rates and hospital bed availability rather than positivity rates, though they continue to use that metric to monitor and control outbreaks. “We’re closely monitoring hospital capacity and have implemented triggers to ensure hospitals have what they need.” The Governor said.

  • The Western New York and Finger Lakes regions continue to have the highest percentage of population hospitalized.
  • Hospital capacity can be increased by using a “surge and flex” system which ends elective surgeries, expands hospital capacity, and builds field hospitals.
  • Roughly 40% of the ICU beds in the State are currently available.
  • At the beginning of the pandemic the average stay in the hospital for a COVID patient was 11 days. It’s now five days thanks to improved treatments. In March, 23% of those hospitalized would pass away from COVID-19. Now, it is just eight percent.

Read the press release


COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release  yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, December 5th. 

Tracking data for the Clusters and the rest of the State are below. 

  • Clusters: 6.22%
  • Statewide: 4.71%
  • Mid-Hudson Region: 5.97%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 4.24%
  • Rockland yellow zone: 5.80%
  • Westchester yellow-zones (Peekskill  10.59, Ossining 8.68, Tarrytown 5.70, Yonkers 5.76 New Rochelle 5.94, Port Chester 11.42)
  • Orange Yellow Zones – (Newburgh 7.88, Middletown 8.16)
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 4,063 (783 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.11

Here are some useful websites:


US Economy Adds 245,000 Jobs, Unemployment Rate Falls to 6.7% – November Jobs Report

The U.S. Department of Labor released its monthly jobs report Friday morning.  Here were the main results from the report, compared to Bloomberg consensus data as of Friday morning:

  • Change in non-farm payrolls: +245,000 vs. +460,000 expected and a revised +610,000 in October
  • Unemployment rate: 6.7% vs. 6.7% expected and 6.9% in October
  • Average Hourly Earnings month-over-month: 0.3% vs. +0.1% expected and +0.1% in October
  • Average Hourly Earnings year-over-year: 4.4% vs. +4.2% expected and a revised +4.4% in October

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Manufacturers Add 27,000 Jobs in November

Manufacturing added 27,000 new jobs in November as compared to 33,000 in October. The number of new jobs created each month in manufacturing has trended downward each month. The manufacturing sector employs 599,000 fewer people than it did before February 2020.

In a troubling sign for the health of the economy and of employers still looking to hire, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that the 0.2 point drop in the unemployment rate was mainly due to a loss in the number of people participating in the labor force, which means fewer people are looking for a job. About 3.9 million people in November reported that the COVID pandemic prevented them from looking for work, up from 3.6 million in October. That could exacerbate a key stumbling block for manufacturers. In the Institute for Supply Management’s December 1 survey of manufacturers, executives from multiple industries cited labor shortages and suppliers with labor shortages as a challenge in ramping up production while most other factors, including consumer demand, were favorable.

Read more at IndustryWeek


The Bipartisan Stimulus Bill Looks Pretty Close To What Top Economists Think Is Needed

With the slowing pace of the economic recovery and a winter without a widely-distributed vaccine, some economists are feeling exasperated with Capitol Hill: “C’mon, already!” exclaims Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi. “If we don’t get that help, [Friday’s unemployment] report suggests that the economy is going to start backtracking, we’re going to start losing jobs, and unemployment will start rising again,” Zandi tells Fortune.  

Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America, is slightly more optimistic: “There’s a clear economic case for the stimulus, but I think it’s important to remember that the economy has continued to recover, has continued to heal,” she tells Fortune. “Another round of stimulus will simply speed up that healing process in a way that could be very powerful for the trajectory of growth once we have the vaccine.”

But what’s on economists’ wish lists for a stimulus bill to bridge the gap between an ailing economy and a vaccine-liberated one?

Read more at Fortune


Meatpacker JBS Removed At-Risk Workers from Beef Plant Amid Covid-19 Surge

U.S. meatpackers are shoring up defenses to keep Covid-19 out of plants that collectively employ hundreds of thousands of workers, supplying meat to fast-food chains and supermarkets. Rapidly spreading infections associated with U.S. meatpacking plants last spring killed dozens of workers, forced widespread shutdowns and led to shortages in some meat products, while backing up livestock on farms.

JBS on Nov. 7 removed 202 Greeley plant workers considered vulnerable to the coronavirus due to age and other factors, a JBS spokesman said. Those workers are getting full pay and benefits and can return to work after community-infection rates decrease, he said. The step has had marginal effect on the plant’s beef production, according to the company.

Read more at the WSJ


States Forge COVID-19 Liability Shields

One of the factors for business owners who are making the decision of whether to reopen while the COVID-19 pandemic waxes and wanes is the prospect of legal liability claims filed by employees, vendors and customers who contract the virus in your premises.

On the federal level there isn’t much to report because partisan differences have reinforced legislative gridlock. States that have already jumped on the bandwagon are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming. Each has chosen to enact COVID liability shields either by taking legislative action or through executive orders issued by their governors.  Legislation is being considered in several other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and South Carolina, report attorneys Honore Hishamunda and Kevin M. Young of the Seyfarth Shaw law firm. 

Read more at EHS Today


Johns Hopkins Looks at Worldwide Case Fatality Ratio

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have focused separately on incidence and mortality, whether in terms of total or per capita values. Today, we will take a closer look at the relationship between these to metrics by discussing the case fatality ratio (CFR). CFR helps us understand how severe a disease is by determining what percentage of patients ultimately die. The CFR for the vast majority of countries remains below 3%. In fact, 86% of countries (163 of 190) and territories tracked by Our World in Data are reporting CFR of 3% or less, 63% (120) are reporting a CFR 2% or less, and 31% (59) are reporting a CFR of 1% or less. Globally, the cumulative CFR is currently 2.3%.

Johns Hopkins looks at Worldwide case fatality ratio (CFR)


Nat Geo Poll Shows 61 Percent of Americans Likely to Take COVID-19 Vaccine

A National Geographic and Morning Consult poll finds 61 percent of Americans surveyed are likely to do so as well. Of the 2,201 Americans polled, 37 percent responded “very likely” and 24 percent “somewhat likely.” Another 11 percent said “somewhat unlikely” and 19 percent “very unlikely.” Ten percent of respondents said they didn’t know. (The categories of responses were rounded to the nearest percentage).

Men who were polled were more likely (69 percent) to say they would take the vaccine than women (51 percent), with nearly 1 in 4 women responding “very unlikely.” Sixty-two percent of women identifying as Democrats supported taking the vaccine, as opposed to 45 percent of Republican women and 42 percent of female Independents.

Read more and see the charts at National Geographic


 

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