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Daily Briefing – 280

Final Thoughts on the $212 Billion New York State Spending Plan From MACNY and the Manufacturing Alliance 

Both Houses of the New York State Legislature have finalized and passed a 2021-22 State Budget. The budget agreement was reached between the Legislature and Governor Cuomo earlier this week. The $212 billion spending plan includes $5.5 billion in federal aid. 

We are very thankful that the State Senate restored funding of our apprenticeship program (MIAP) in its one-house budget resolution, and that this funding was included in the final state budget agreement. And while we and the business community oppose the budget’s temporary corporate tax increase, we are relieved that state legislators heard our pleas to have qualified manufacturers remain exempt. 


NYS Vaccine Update – 11 Million Doses Delivered

As of 11 am Thursday 7,015,8313 (plus 143,968 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 4,452,131 are fully vaccinated (Plus 112,718).  In the Hudson Valley 727,384 (plus 18,638) have at least one dose and 424,308 (plus 14,128) are fully vaccinated. 


COVID Update

Governor Cuomo issues a press release yesterday afternoon with data through Wednesday April 7th.  There were 47 COVID related deaths for a total of 40,970.

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,422
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 518

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,296
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 419

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.40%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.14%

Useful Websites:


US Vaccine Rollout – A Quarter of US Adults Are Fully Vaccinated

As of Wed. April 7, 110 million Americans—roughly a third of the population, and 42.4% of adults, had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  That number is up from 97.6 million people last Wednesday; on average, the U.S. administered more than 3 million doses daily in the past week.

Nearly a quarter of all adults, a total of 64.3 million, and 57.4% of Americans over the age of 65, have been fully vaccinated. The vast majority of vaccinated individuals received one of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines; about 4.5 million Americans have received the one-shot product developed by Johnson & Johnson.

Read more and view the tracker at Fortune


“In Rare Instances” – AstraZeneca’s Vaccine Linked to Blood Clots, Regulators Say

he European Medicines Agency has concluded there is a link between AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and “very rare” but dangerous clotting events reported in a number of countries where the vaccine has been used, events which in some cases have been fatal. A safety committee, the agency said Wednesday, concluded that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects” of the vaccine.

Regulators stressed that the benefits of the vaccine, which was shown to be 76% effective at preventing Covid infections in a large U.S.-based study, still outweigh its risks. “This vaccine has proven to be highly effective to prevent severe disease and hospitalization,” said Emer Cooke, the EMA’s executive director. “And it is saving lives.”

Read more at Statnews


India Could Resume Vaccine Exports by June

The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine-maker, will resume vaccine exports in June if infections in its home country fall. The company paused foreign shipments of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine last month as covid-19 cases in India rocketed. India recorded more than 126,000 new infections on Wednesday, the most yet in a single day.

Read more at the AP


NAM Study—Tax Increases Will Cost 1 Million Jobs in Two Years

Tax increases under consideration in Congress would cost 1 million jobs two years following their implementation, according to a new study published by the National Association of Manufacturers.

The study found that proposed tax increases would cause a loss of an average of 600,000 jobs each year over the next decade, while reducing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by hundreds of billions of dollars. The study comes as talk of reversing portions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act heats up in Washington. That legislation, which was supported by manufacturers and organizations across
the business community, was like rocket fuel for manufacturers in the U.S., prompting companies to create jobs, increase wages and benefits and invest in local communities. In 2018, manufacturers created 263,000 jobs — the best year for job creation in two decades.

Read the study at the NAM site


Amazon Takes Commanding Lead in Union Vote at Alabama Warehouse

With about half the ballots counted Thursday evening, Amazon held a commanding lead in the historic union election at one of its Alabama warehouses. Out of the 3,215 ballots cast, there were 1,100 votes against unionization and 463 votes in support. The preliminary results put Amazon ahead by more than a 2-1 margin.
 
Counting will resume on Friday, when the National Labor Relations Board will have more than a thousand ballots left to count. There are also hundreds of contested ballots, most of which were challenged by Amazon.
 

744,000 Americans Filed New Claims Last Week

New weekly jobless claims unexpectedly held above 700,000 last week to extend a rise from late March, despite other signs that rehiring has been taking place across the recovering economy. New weekly jobless claims data have generally been following a downtrend over the course of 2021, though they still remain elevated relative to historical trends. Here were the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended April 3: 744,000 vs. 680,000 expected and a revised 728,000 during the prior week
  • Continuing claims, week ended March 27: 3.734 million vs. 3.638 million expected and a revised 3.750 million during the prior week

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Biden Rule on Covid-19 Workplace Safety Misses Deadline

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has yet to act on an emergency temporary standard that President Biden directed the agency to consider by March 15. The directive, issued as one of Mr. Biden’s first actions after taking office, could require employers to develop mandates on masks, physical distancing and air ventilation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently provides guidelines on these measures, but they aren’t mandatory.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh “reviewed the materials, and determined that they should be updated to reflect the latest scientific analysis of the state of the disease,” a Labor Department spokeswoman said. “He has ordered a rapid update based on CDC analysis and the latest information regarding the state of vaccinations and the variants. He believes this is the best way to proceed.”

Read more at the WSJ


Fed Minutes Show Expectations for Stronger Economic Recovery

Recent weeks have brought a steady stream of encouraging signs for the economy. One-third of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, a ratio that should rise to 75%Hiring surged in March and unemployment fell, trends that are expected to continue in the months ahead as more businesses reopen to full capacity and consumers return to restaurants, airports and entertainment venues.

While some Fed officials said the scenario could drive employment and spending up faster than anticipated, most didn’t see an outsize risk of inflation becoming a The central bankers want to see more improvement before they dial back the easy-money policies implemented early last year to counter the pandemic’s economic fallout.

Read more at the WSJ


Chip Shortage Could Cut US Vehicle Production by More than a Million, AAI Warns

The shortfall in semiconductor availability could stall U.S. vehicle production by as many as 1.27 million vehicles in 2021, says the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. In a letter to the Commerce Department, John Bozzella, CEO of the AAI, said that a recent survey of AAI member companies produced the figure. The AAI represents almost 99% of all manufacturers who sell cars and light trucks in the U.S.

“The chips that are generally used in vehicles are not the same chips used in consumer electronics devices,” explained Bozzella. But semiconductor foundries are costly to run and maintain, and computer chip manufacturers commonly operate on contracts to keep production running as consistently as possible. When automotive factories shut down in 2020, the foundries changed their production lines to adapt to the whipsaw in demand.

Read more at IndustryWeek


 

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Daily Briefing – 279

More on the $212 Billion New York State Spending Plan 

  • State Operating Funds spending is $111 billion
  • All Funds spending $212 billion for FY 2022
  • Applies $5.5 billion in federal aid
  • Provides $29.5 billion in School Aid, a $3 billion, 11% increase.
  • Provides $7.7 billion in State support for higher education in New York
  • $311 billion infrastructure plan
  • $29 Billion in Public and Private Green Economy Investments
  •  $800 million in grant funding for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A surcharge on corporate tax rate that increases the business income tax rate from 6.5% to 7.25% for three years for taxpayers with business income greater than $5 million. It also increases the capital base method of liability estimation to 0.1875% from the 0.025% rate in effect last year.   The capital base method increase continue to exempt qualified manufacturers.
  • $50 million for training in high-growth industries, employer-driven training for low-income workers.

 


NYS Vaccine Update – More Than 20% of New Yorkers Are Fully Vaccinated

All New Yorkers 16 years of age and older are now eligible in  New York. As of 11 am Wednesday 6,871,863 (plus 123,968 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 4,339,413 are fully vaccinated (Plus 105,950).  In the Hudson Valley 708,746(plus 14,589) have at least one dose and 410,180 (plus 13,741) are fully vaccinated. 


COVID Update

Governor Cuomo issues a press release yesterday afternoon with data through Tuesday April 6th.  There were 59 COVID related deaths for a total of 40,922.

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,526
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 514

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,141
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 384

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.48%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.34%

Useful Websites:


US Vaccine Rollout – New U.S. Cases Fall as Vaccine Rollout Ramps Up

The U.S. reported more than 61,000 new cases for Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University that was published early Wednesday. The data may update later. Not all states report data on new cases daily. Tuesday’s figure was lower than Monday’s revised tally of 77,794, when several states resumed reporting data after the Easter weekend.

About 19% of people in the U.S. are now fully vaccinated, with an average of 3 million doses administered each day over the past week. Vaccination levels vary by state. In New Mexico, 26.3% of residents are fully vaccinated, while in Georgia, the figure is 13.4%, according to CDC data.

Read more at the WSJ


Oxford Pauses Trial of Covid 19 Vaccine on Children

The University of Oxford said no safety concerns have arisen from the children’s trial and Sage adviser Professor Calum Semple said the decision to pause had been made out of “exceptional caution”, as he urged people to continue accepting Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs.

Assessments are under way into a very rare and specific type of blood clot in the brain, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), occurring together with low levels of platelets (thrombocytopenia) following vaccination in adults.

Read More at the Oxford Mail


Manufacturing Openings Keep Improving

The number of job openings edged up to 7.4 million on the last business day of February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Hires also edged up to 5.7 million while total separations were little changed at 5.5 million. Within separations, the quits rate and layoffs and discharges rate were unchanged at 2.3 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

There were 538,000 manufacturing job openings in February, up from 537,000 in January. Meanwhile, manufacturers hired 387,000 workers, up from 351,000 in January, while layoffs in the industry declined from 90,000 in January to 84,000 in February, the lowest reading since August 2014.


JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon Sees ‘Goldilocks Moment’ for U.S. Economy

In his annual letter to shareholders Wednesday, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said strong consumer savings, expanded vaccine distribution and the Biden administration’s proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan could lead to an economic “Goldilocks moment”—fast, sustained growth alongside inflation and interest rates that drift slowly upward. The U.S. government’s rapid and deep monetary and fiscal intervention over the past year helped prevent many of the worst outcomes, said Mr. Dimon, who has since made a full recovery from the aortic tear he suffered in March 2020.

Mr. Dimon called for laying the foundation for long-term economic growth with a yearslong, nationwide “Marshall Plan” Affordable child care, streamlined safety-net programs and job training that leads to higher-wage jobs would increase labor-force participation.


NY Fed Study: How Households Are Using Stimulus Checks

A NY Fed Study found that households reported using or planning to use an average 16 percent of the second-round stimulus funds for essential spending, an average 6 percent for non-essential spending, and to donate 3 percent, resulting in a total MPC of 26 percent. They also reported saving or planning to save an average 37 percent of their stimulus checks and use 37 percent to pay down debt. These shares are very similar to those we found for the first round of stimulus checks, where households reported spending 29 percent, saving 36 percent, and using 35 percent to pay down debt. (See the table below.)

The reported allocations are also in line with those that households reported back in August for a potential future second round of stimulus checks. At that point in time, they expected to use a slightly lower share for consumption (24 percent) and debt paydown (31 percent), with more expected to be saved (45 percent).

Read more at the NY Fed


IMF Revises Forecast Again

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and vast sums of government aid will accelerate global economic growth to a record high this year in a powerful rebound from the pandemic recession, the International Monetary Fund says in its latest forecast. The 190-country lending agency said Tuesday that it expects the world economy to expand 6% in 2021, up from the 5.5% it had forecast in January. It would be the fastest expansion for the global economy in IMF records dating back to 1980.

In 2022, the IMF predicts, international economic growth will decelerate to a still strong 4.4%, up from its January forecast of 4.2%.

Read more at the AP


IRS Issues Guidance for ERTC

On Friday, the Internal Revenue Service issued important guidance to help employers determine their eligibility for claiming the Employee Retention Tax Credit for the first half of 2021.  The latest guidance from the IRS addresses a range of issues for the first two calendar quarters of 2021, including:

  • The increase in the maximum credit amount,
  • The expansion of the category of employers that may be eligible to claim the credit,
  • Modifications to the gross receipts test,
  • Revisions to the definition of qualified wages, and
  • New restrictions on the ability of eligible employers to request an advance payment of the credit.

Read more at the Internal Revenue Site


One Third Of Millennials Plan To Quit Their Jobs After The Pandemic

One third of millennials intend to seek a new job when the pandemic ends, and about 26% of all employees will look to change jobs, with 80% of them anxious about career growth, according to a Pulse of the American Worker Survey from Prudential. The Labor Department found that about 3.4 million US employees left their jobs in February, and almost 50% of the employees surveyed who intend to leave their jobs said they’d give their employer a grade of “C” or lower for their workplace culture efforts during the pandemic.

Read more at Forbes


Side Conversations are Powerful — and Missing Right Now

Social distancing has meant fewer side conversations, which means fewer offhand comments that provide insight into larger issues, writes Michael Wade. “Savvy chief executives have long known that it is wise to watch for ‘by the way’ remarks that people make at the conclusion of a one-on-one meeting and especially while the departing colleague is standing in the doorway,” he writes.

Read more at Execupundit blog


 

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Daily Briefing – 278

Budget Deal Reached: The $212 Billion Spending Plan is Nearly 10% More Than Last Year

New York State leaders announced they had reached an agreement on Tuesday on a $212 billion state budget that includes tax increases on the wealthy as well as substantial relief for renters, undocumented immigrants and business owners hit hardest by the coronavirus.

It includes $2.3 billion in federal funds to help tenants late on rent and a $2.1 billion fund to provide one-time payments for undocumented workers who did not qualify for federal stimulus checks or unemployment benefits, according to budget highlights released by the governor’s office. New tax hikes on the rich and increases to corporate taxes are expected to generate more than $4 billion in additional revenue each year. 

Read more at the New York Times


NYS Vaccine Update – Everyone 16 and Over Eligible

New Yorkers 16 years of age and older became eligible in  New York Yesterday. As of 11 am Tuesday 6,747,895 (plus 100,675 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 4,233,463 are fully vaccinated (Plus 99,616).  In the Hudson Valley 694,157 (plus 14,369) have at least one dose and 396,439 (plus 13,184) are fully vaccinated. 


COVID Update – Essential Worker Monument In the Works

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday April 5th.  The Governor also announced the creation of the Essential Workers Advisory Committee to provide design input and recommendations for a monument in New York City honoring the service and sacrifice of New York’s essential workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Essential Workers Monument will recognize the 17 essential worker groups whose members continued selflessly serving their fellow New Yorkers during the State’s coronavirus pandemic response. These groups include: Nurses, Doctors, Hospital Staff, Teachers, Transport Workers, Police, Ambulance/EMT, Firefighters, Corrections, Sanitation, National Guard, Store Employees, Government Employees, Building Service Workers, Utility Workers, Delivery Drivers, and Construction/Manufacturing.

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,533
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 519

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,060
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 371

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.57%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.63%

Useful Websites:


US Vaccine Rollout – 3.1 Million Shots Per Day

The U.S. administered an average of 3.1 million Covid-19 shots per day over the last seven days and hit a new record over the weekend with more than 4 million shots administered in a single day as vaccine manufacturing picks up pace and more mass vaccination sites open, White House senior advisor for Covid-19 Andy Slavitt told reporters Monday.

He added that 75% of seniors have now received at least one shot, and more than half are fully vaccinated.  The daily coronavirus death toll in the U.S. is at its lowest level in months as the country ramps up the pace of vaccine administration.

Read more at CNBC


CDC Issues Updated Guidance on Travel for Fully Vaccinated People

Last Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its travel guidance for fully vaccinated people to reflect the latest evidence and science. Given recent studies evaluating the real-world effects of vaccination, CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last recommended dose of vaccine. Fully vaccinated people can travel within the United States and do not need COVID-19 testing or post-travel self-quarantine as long as they continue to take COVID-19 precautions while traveling – wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, socially distancing, and washing hands frequently


ISM : America’s Services Sector Hit an All-Time High in March

The upbeat survey from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) on Monday followed news on Friday that the economy added 916,000 jobs last month, the most since August. Economic growth this year is expected to be the best in nearly four decades.

The ISM’s non-manufacturing activity index rebounded to a reading of 63.7 last month also due to warmer weather. That was the highest in the survey’s history and followed 55.3 in February.

Read more at Reuters


U.K. to Ease Lockdown as Covid-19 Vaccination Campaign Turns the Tide

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. will begin to relax more public-health restrictions starting next week and remains on course to fully reopen its economy by the summer, after months of lockdown and a speedy vaccination campaign turned back a deadly tide of infection.

The U.K.’s changing fortunes contrast with a worsening picture in other parts of Europe, where rising caseloads and faltering vaccine rollouts mean governments are under pressure to tighten controls to beat back a resurgent pandemic. France imposed a new nationwide lockdown last week, while in Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing powerful regional governments to implement tougher measures to curb infections.

Read more at the WSJ


Port Authority Predicts Stewart Airline Growth Post-COVID

The executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey predicts airline growth at New York Stewart International Airport post-COVID. Rick Cotton acknowledges while airlines have tightened their belts since the pandemic struck, they will be critical in their selection of new markets, and he believes the Hudson Valley will be one of them.

Regional economic development officials are counting on new attractions like Legoland and existing facilities like Resorts World Catskills and the adjacent waterpark to be factors that will entice airlines to grow service in the region.

Read more at the Mid-Hudson News


FAA Approves Design of 737 MAX 8200 Variant

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Wednesday it had approved the design for the Boeing 737-8200, part of the Boeing 737 MAX series, a necessary step before the U.S. planemaker can begin delivering the airplanes to Ryanair.

The FAA said the 737-8200 incorporates all of the design improvements that were part the 20-month review of the 737 MAX that led to the ungrounding of the MAX in November, more than a year after two fatal crashes killed 346 people.

Read more at Reuters


Congressional Research Service Report on State and Federal Authority to Mandate Vaccination: Police Powers vs. Free Exercise Clause

This report provides an overview of state and federal authority to mandate vaccination. The first part of the report discusses the Supreme Court’s long-standing recognition of state and local authority to mandate vaccination as an exercise of their police power, as well as modern courts’ analyses of more recent challenges to state vaccination mandates based on the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. The first part of the report closes with a look at how the COVID-19 vaccines’ EUA status may affect a court’s analysis of a potential mandate.

The second part of the report provides an overview of federal authority to mandate vaccination. It discusses one possible source of existing federal authority, Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), and reviews the extent of Congress’s constitutional authority under the Constitution’s Spending and Commerce Clauses to potentially mandate vaccination.

Read the analysis at CRS


Covid-19 Vaccine Developed by U.S. Army Begins Human Testing

The U.S. Army will start testing among adult volunteers an Army-developed Covid-19 vaccine that researchers say may protect against a variety of coronavirus variants. Army doctors plan to start testing on Tuesday the protein-based shot in as many as 72 adults ages 18 to 55 at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., the institute said. The team will test whether the vaccine safely induces the desired immune response in study subjects.

Initial results of the study could become available by midsummer. If the data are positive, the Army likely would try to join with a drug company to further test and develop the vaccine, said Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the institute’s emerging infectious-disease branch.

Read more at the WSJ


The Interplay of  PPP and ERC With the R&D Tax Credit

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA), contains a number of provisions to assist businesses and individuals that have suffered economically from the coronavirus pandemic. Included in the CAA are beneficial provisions for businesses that obtained or qualify to obtain a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and employers that qualify for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). The CAA also addresses the interplay for businesses that intend to claim both the ERC and the research and development (R&D) tax credit. Specifically, the CAA:

  • Confirms that business expenses (that normally would be deductible for federal income tax purposes) paid out of forgiven PPP loans may be deducted for federal income tax purposes, thus rejecting the position previously taken by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that expenses paid with forgiven PPP loan proceeds are not deductible for income tax purposes.
  • Clarifies that wages taken into account in determining a taxpayer’s 2021 ERC may not be considered in determining the R&D tax credit. Taxpayers, therefore, may deduct and take an R&D tax credit for expenses that otherwise qualify as qualified research expenses (QREs).

Read more ad BDO


 

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Daily Briefing – 277

Budget Talks: Cuomo, Legislature Hash out Wealth Tax Hikes, Big Issues Still Remain

Legislators were briefed Saturday on the deal, which raises personal income taxes for those with more than a million dollars in annual income to 9.65 percent, a hike of 0.83 percentage points, the Journal reported and Buffalo News reported. The deal would also create two new tax brackets for those making more than $5 million and more than $25 million. Income from $5 million to $25 million would be taxed at 10.3 percent, and above $25 million would be taxed at 10.9 percent. These rate changes are expected to raise more than $4 billion in annual revenue for the state.

Discussions over a $2 billion fund for “excluded workers” continue and are mucking up negotiations according to sources.

Read more at the Times Union


NYS Vaccine Update – New Yorkers 16 and Older Eligible Today

New Yorkers 16 years of age and older can begin to schedule appointments and get vaccinated beginning today. The Governor announced a “Roll Up Your Sleeve” ad campaign to encourage New Yorkers to get vaccinated. The ads will be shown on television and online statewide beginning April 7. The ads were directed by Contagion screenplay writer Scott Burns, and shot at New York City’s Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

As of 11 am Monday 6,647,220 (plus 63,556 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 4,133,847 are fully vaccinated (Plus 62,048).  In the Hudson Valley 679,788 (plus 7,174) have at least one dose and 383,255 (plus 5,650) are fully vaccinated. 


COVID Update – 11 PM Curfew Lifted for Casinos, Movie Theaters, Bowling Alleys, Billiard Halls, Gyms and Fitness Centers

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday April 4th. The governor also announced that beginning yesterday (Monday) the 11 p.m. curfew currently in place for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiards halls, gyms and fitness centers will be lifted. The 11 p.m. curfew for food and beverage establishments and the 12 a.m. curfew for catered events remains in effect. Both curfews will be evaluated later this month.

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,434
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 512

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,010
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 370

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.57%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.63%

Useful Websites:


US Vaccine Rollout – 4 Million Doses Saturday

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the U.S. administered 4,081,959 vaccine doses since Friday, bringing the seven-day average of vaccinations to 3,072,527 per day.  

In total, over 161.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. thus far, according to the agency’s vaccine tracker. Over 104 million people have received at least one dose, and nearly 60 million have been fully vaccinated.

Read more at The Hill


J&J Takes Over Contractor’s Covid-19 Vaccine Manufacturing Plant

Johnson & Johnson said it will assume full control of the Baltimore factory where millions of covid-19 vaccine doses were ruined by mixing ingredients for its vaccine with those from AstraZeneca’s jab, made on the same site. The Emergent plant hadn’t yet been cleared by regulators when J&J discovered the quality problem during a routine inspection, and none of the batch had been shipped for use to make vaccines.

J&J and U.S. health authorities have looked forward to the plant coming online and producing the key ingredient to bolster the overall supply of vaccine doses. Under the changes, J&J is assuming full responsibility for operations and manufacturing of its vaccine’s key ingredient at the Emergent plant, including installing a new leadership team and boosting the number of technical, quality and other workers.

Read more at the WSJ


J&J has Begun Testing its Vaccine in Adolescents

Researchers have begun testing the drug maker’s vaccine in adolescents 12 to 17 years old, the company announced. Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Wednesday that their coronavirus vaccine is extremely effective in young adolescents, perhaps even more so than in adults. Results from a similar trial of Moderna’s vaccine are expected in the next few weeks.

Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are also testing their vaccines in children younger than 12. Johnson & Johnson has said it would wait for results from trials in older children before following suit.

Read more in The New York Times


Taiwan’s TSMC Plans $100 Billion Investment to Meet Demand

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company said Thursday it was planning to invest $100 billion over the next three years to meet soaring demand as a global shortage of chips hits the auto and other industries. TSMC, the world’s largest contract microchip maker, said its new investment plans will increase capacity to keep up with demand. It did not specify where the new foundries would be built.

Taiwanese high-tech chip foundries are some of the world’s biggest and most advanced, and European and US car manufacturers have been reaching out to Taipei for help plugging the shortages. 

Read more in IndustryWeek 


February Factory Orders Drop 0.8%

The Commerce Department said on Monday that factory orders dropped 0.8% after surging 2.7% in January. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders slipping 0.5% in February. Orders increased 1.0% on a year-on-year basis.

Severe weather blanketed large parts of the country, including winter storms in Texas and other parts of the densely populated South region, in the second half of February, disrupting consumer spending, production at factories, home building and sales.

Read more at Reuters


Tesla’s Quarterly Electric Vehicle Deliveries Top Expectations

The company said early Friday it delivered 184,800 vehicles to customers worldwide in January through March, more than double the year-earlier figure when the outbreak of Covid-19 briefly halted production at its plants in California and Shanghai. Still, the increase from 2020’s fourth quarter was just 2.2%. The company had been expected to report deliveries of about 172,000 units, due to factors including the global shortage of chips and electronic components that’s pounded the auto industry this year.

Read more at Forbes


From the Pessimist Camp: Five Reasons Why COVID Herd Immunity is Probably Impossible

The once-popular idea that enough people will eventually gain immunity to SARS-CoV-2 to block most transmission — a ‘herd-immunity threshold’ — is starting to look unlikely.

Most estimates had placed the threshold at 60–70% of the population gaining immunity, either through vaccinations or past exposure to the virus. But as the pandemic enters its second year, the thinking has begun to shift. In February, independent data scientist Youyang Gu changed the name of his popular COVID-19 forecasting model from ‘Path to Herd Immunity’ to ‘Path to Normality’. He said that reaching a herd-immunity threshold was looking unlikely because of factors such as vaccine hesitancy, the emergence of new variants and the delayed arrival of vaccinations for children.

Read more in Nature


We Need to Ensure that Employee Mental Health is a Top Priority

Studies have shown that more workdays are lost to mental-health-related absenteeism than any other illness or injury. Those studies, by the way, were conducted before the pandemic; as you can imagine, the incidences of anxiety and depression among workers isolated from friends, family and co-workers have only gotten worse since COVID-19 reared its ugly head. And while there are now vaccines for COVID-19, there’s no vaccine or PPE or any kind of off-the-shelf equipment that offers mental health protection.

Read more at EHS Today


Can You Steer a Ship Through the Suez Canal?

Navigating the Suez Canal is a high-stress, complicated feat that requires master piloting skills. To demonstrate, CNN worked with Master Mariner Andy Winbow and Captain Yash Gupta to produce this simulated passage.

Try your hand at traversing one of the most highly trafficked nautical thoroughfares in the world.

Try the simulation at CNN


 

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Daily Breifing – 276

NYS Budget Talks Stall over “Excluded Workers Fund,” Revenue Raisers and Other Issues

Both houses of the Legislature prioritized a $2.1 billion dollar “Excluded Workers Fund” in their one house budget resolutions released several weeks ago aimed at providing checks to an estimated 300,000 New Yorkers impacted by the coronavirus who were ineligible to receive federal unemployment benefits and pandemic-related aid due to issues like immigration status. But internal budget talks blew up over the last several days in both chambers, creating a split between progressive New York City Democrats backing the proposal and moderate Democrats representing suburban and upstate districts. 

Sources said the fund is even more of a hard sell amidst proposed tax hikes on wealthy New Yorkers and businesses pushed by both houses and Gov. Andrew Cuomo — despite the state receiving over $12 billion from the Biden administration via the American Rescue Plan.


NYS Vaccine Update – More Than 10 Million Doses

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced more than 10 million total COVID vaccine doses have been administered across New York. 187,964 doses were administered across the state in the 24 hours ending Sunday morning at 11:00, and more than 1.4 million doses have been administered over the past seven days. 

As of 11 am Monday 6,583,664 (plus 102,422 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 4,071,799 are fully vaccinated (Plus 103,253).  In the Hudson Valley 672,614 (plus 12,106) have at least one dose and 377,605 (plus 13,379) are fully vaccinated. 


COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday April 3rd. 

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,373
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 521

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,040
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 386

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.56%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.78%

Useful Websites:


More U.S. States Expand Vaccine Eligibility as Pace of Inoculations Accelerates

Alabama will allow everyone ages 16 or older to sign up for a Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, joining more than 40 states that have already broadened access in an effort to make all adults eligible by the end of the month. New York will expand that eligibility tomorrow.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that about 101.8 million people — nearly one-third of the total U.S. population — had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Read more at the New York Times


New York Officially Lifts Travel Quarantine Requirement for Domestic Travelers

On April 1, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) officially updated its Interim Guidance for Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State to remove the quarantine requirement for domestic travelers arriving in New York State from other U.S. States or territories. This updated guidance document has been anticipated since Governor Cuomo announced on March 11, 2021, that the domestic traveler quarantine requirement would be lifted on April 1. 

In addition to removing the domestic traveler quarantine requirement, the updated NYSDOH guidance document also provides other important information.


FDA Probes Cause of Failed Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine Batch

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating what caused a batch of the active ingredient for Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ -0.92% Covid-19 vaccine to be scrapped for failing to meet quality standards at a contract manufacturing plant, according to a person familiar with the matter.  The FDA may send an inspection team to assess the situation at the Baltimore plant operated by contractor Emergent BioSolutions Inc., EBS -13.40% the person said.

The regulatory scrutiny follows J&J’s disclosure Wednesday that a batch of the main ingredient for its Covid-19 vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant didn’t meet standards. The batch didn’t reach the vial-filling and finishing stage, and no doses from it were distributed.

Read more at the WSJ


Manufacturing Grew for a Tenth Straight Month in March 

The ISM’s manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index rose 3.9 points from February to reach 64.7%, making March the tenth month of an expanding industrial economy following a sharp downturn in April 2020. 

The indexes tracking manufacturing production (up 3.2 points to 68.0%) and new orders (up 4.9 points to 68.1%) notched ten-month growth streaks, while the index tracking order backlogs reached nine months of growth as it rose 3.5 points to 67.5%. The employment index, which rose 5.2 points to 59.6%, continued to grow for a fourth month.

Read more at IndustryWeek


March Jobs Report: Payrolls Rise by 916,000, Unemployment Rate Drops to 6.0%

The U.S. economy brought back more jobs than expected in March, presaging even faster employment growth in the coming months as more Americans become vaccinated and jobs across industries return. The Department of Labor released its March employment report Friday. Here were the main metrics in the report, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg: 

  • Change in non-farm payrolls: +916,000 vs. +660,000 expected and a revised +468,000 in February 
  • Unemployment rate: 6.0% vs. 6.0% expected and 6.2% in February 
  • Average hourly earnings, month-over-month: -0.1% vs. +0.1% expected and a revised +0.3% in February 
  • Average hourly earnings, year-over-year: 4.2% vs. +4.5% expected and a revised +5.2% in February 

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Manufacturers Add 53,000 People to Payrolls March

Manufacturing added 53,000 jobs in March after adding 18,000 in February. The most recent results suggest that the 10,000 manufacturing jobs lost in January was a temporary blip in manufacturing employment growth, which has otherwise grown in the months since April 2020, when manufacturing lost 1.3 million jobs all in one month. The manufacturing sector currently employs about 515,000 fewer people than it did in February 2020, before the first effects of the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact employment. 

New hires in manufacturing were split almost evenly between the durable goods and nondurable goods sectors, which added 30,000 and 23,000 jobs, respectively.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Corning Inc.’s Valor Glass Vials a Key Part of COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

From the time work began about a decade ago, to receiving a total of $261 million in federal funding to significantly expand production, Valor Glass vials developed by Corning Inc. are playing a critical role in the fight against the pandemic, according to the company.  Corning Inc. officials say in late 2020 alone, the company shipped enough Valor Glass vials to deliver more than 100 million vaccine doses. 

The company last week was awarded a $57 million expansion of federal funding to increase domestic manufacturing capacity of pharmaceutical glass tubing and vials used for COVID-19 vaccines. 

Read more at The Leader (Corning)


How Pfizer Went From 0 to 100 Million Doses of mRNA Vaccine

Before last year, no vaccine based on messenger RNA had ever been produced on a large scale, but Pfizer has delivered over 100 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine in the US and plans to reach 2 billion “as soon as possible” this year, says Mike McDermott, president of Pfizer Global Supply. Pfizer repurposed some equipment at its Kalamazoo, Mich., plant, invested in modular rooms and automated impingement jet mixers, and worked with lipids suppliers to expand capacity, McDermott says.

Read more at CNN


Almost One Billion Doses of COVID-19 Vaccines Have Been Produced

COVX was established last year to promote the supply of vaccines to countries that might otherwise struggle to obtain them. Some 192 nations joined. Each was promised enough jabs to inoculate 20% of its people. But on March 24th India put a temporary halt on vaccine exports. Since it provides 86% of supplies for covax, this has thrown a spanner in the works.

It is in the world’s interest to suppress transmission everywhere at the same time. New variants may emerge wherever the virus is able to spread unchecked by vaccines. The founders of COVAX started planning early.  They worked quickly to bring so many countries on board. By the end of 2020, it looked as if the extraordinary scientific effort that had produced vaccines in record time would be followed by an unprecedented co-operation to vaccinate one-fifth of the world. And yet even as growing quantities and varieties of vaccine are coming online, COVAX is now struggling to deliver.

Read more at The Economist


We Still Don’t Know the Origins of the Coronavirus. Here Are 4 Scenarios.

Last week, the World Health Organization released a report from a team of international researchers that traveled to China to investigate four possible scenarios in which the SARS-CoV-2 virus might have caused the initial outbreak. In the days since, however, world governments have expressed concern that the investigators lacked access to complete data, while scientists say that the report has shed little light on how the virus got jumpstarted.

Here’s a look at the evidence the report lays out for each of the four theories—and what experts make of them as possible origin stories for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Read more at NatGeo


 

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Daily Briefing – 275

Biden Proposes 2.3 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

President Biden unveiled a $2 trillion plan Wednesday to rebuild the nation’s aging infrastructure, support electric vehicles and clean energy and boost access to caregivers and their pay in a massive undertaking that would be the centerpiece of his economic agenda. Biden billed the sweeping jobs proposal, dubbed the American Jobs Plan. The plan  would pump billions into rebuilding roads, bridges and rail with a dual goal of creating millions of “good-paying union jobs.”

The plan is to raise taxes on corporations to pay for the eight-year spending package. He proposed increasing the corporate tax rate to 28% and overhauling how the United States taxes multinational corporations by increasing the minimum tax on U.S. corporations to 21%. Senate Minority Leader McConnell called it a “Trojan horse” for borrowed money, debt and tax increases on “the most productive parts of our economy.” 

Read more at USA Today


COVID Update – Hospitalizations Fall, More Rapid Testing Sites Open

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

The state is expanding the New York Forward Rapid Testing Program to help businesses and events safely reopen. Twenty-five new sites will open Thursday, April 1, and 10 sites will open within the next two weeks for a total of 70 sites statewide. The New York Forward Rapid Test Program provides affordable rapid (30 minutes or less) COVID tests at locations across the State. 

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,651
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 539

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,124
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 408

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.47%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.75%

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – 30.4 percent of New Yorkers Have Had at least One Dose

Governor Cuomo yesterday updated New Yorkers on the state’s vaccination program. 192,853 doses have been administered across the state’s vast distribution network in the last 24 hours, and more than 1.3 million doses have been administered over the past seven days. The week 16 allocation from the federal government is in the process of being delivered to providers.

As of 11 am Monday 6,068,998 (plus 97,603 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 3,566,509 are fully vaccinated (Plus 102,773).  In the Hudson Valley 610,947 (plus 12,900) have at least one dose and 319,156 (plus 9,001) are fully vaccinated. 


Survey: Covid-19: U.S. Vaccine Confidence Rises Though Skeptics Remain

A new poll shows a continuing increase in the number of Americans, particularly Black adults, who want to get vaccinated. But it also found that vaccine skepticism remains stubbornly persistent, particularly among Republicans and white evangelical Christians. By now, roughly 61 percent of adults have either received their first dose or are eager for one, up from 47 percent in January, according to the latest monthly survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The shift was most striking among Black Americans, some of whom have previously expressed hesitancy but who have also had access issues. Since just February, 14 percent more Black adults said they wanted or had already gotten the vaccine. 

Read more at the New York Times


Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine 100% Effective in Study of 12- to 15-Year-Olds, Company Says

The Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE safely protects kids 12 years and older, the companies said. The vaccine was 100% effective in protecting against symptomatic disease in a study of more than 2,200 children, the companies said Wednesday.

Researchers also didn’t find any safety concerns, Pfizer and BioNTech said. Given the results, Pfizer said it would ask U.S. health regulators in the coming weeks to expand use of the shots to 12- to 15-year-olds. The timetable for authorization in the U.S. could mean the children will be able to be vaccinated before the next school year begins in the fall.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization – Vote Along Party Lines

The New York Senate, Tuesday, voted to approve the recreational use of marijuana with the vote along party lines as Democrats supported it and Republicans opposed it. In the Hudson Valley, all Democrats voted for the measure, including Harckham, Hinchey, Mayer, Reichlin-Melnick, Skoufis and Stewart-Cousins. The two Republicans in the region, Serino and Martucci, voted against it.

The Democrat-controlled Assembly is also set to approve the new law with the governor promising to sign it.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


DiNapoli: Some New York Industries Are Not on the
Path to Recovery

Even as overall job growth has resumed in New York, some industries — educational services, government, and financial activities — have continued to lose jobs. The high-wage finance and insurance industries, within the broader category of financial services, lost about 7,000 jobs since May 2020, in addition to the 8,100 job decline in March and April, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The leisure and hospitality sector was the most significantly impacted by the economic shutdown, suffering 30 percent of the State’s total employment decline despite representing only 9.8 percent of total employment. Jobs within this sector have low average annual wages. Fortunately, since May 2020, the leisure and hospitality sector has recovered the largest number of jobs, nearly 260,000; however, these gains represent only 43 percent of the jobs lost in the industry.


Suez Canal Opens, but Shipping Will Be Snarled for Months

Late Tuesday, ships were again moving through the Suez Canal, a day after engineers freed the Ever Given, a 1,300-foot container ship, and cleared the waterway for global traffic. Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, which runs the 120-mile shipping route, said at a press conference that 113 ships had crossed in both directions since the route reopened late Monday, and another 95 are expected to pass through in the evening, up from the typical 50 or so daily passages. 

Egyptian officials say the logjam will be cleared in three to four days. Shipping executives say it will take days longer. Leth Agencies, a ship’s services provider in the Suez, said 352 vessels are still awaiting transit.

Read more in the WSJ


Private Payrolls Grow at Fastest Pace Since September: ADP

Private payrolls in March expanded at the fastest pace since September 2020 as anticipation of a strong economic rebound coupled with aggressive vaccination rates pushed companies to hire, according to a report Wednesday from payroll processing firm ADP.

Companies added 517,000 workers for the month, a healthy spike from the 176,000 in February though just below the 525,000 Dow Jones estimate as well as some fairly highly optimistic calls for the government’s nonfarm payrolls count. The February total was revised sharply higher from the originally reported 117,000.

Read more at CNBC


Pending Home Sales Plunge

The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index, which tracks the number of homes that are under contract to be sold, fell 10.6% in February from a month earlier — falling for the second straight month. The results missed analysts’ expectations of pending home sales declining 3%, according to Bloomberg consensus estimates. Sales for the first time after eight consecutive months of annual gains, slid 0.5% in February from the same month a year ago.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Chicago PMI Jumps

The jump in the Chicago PMI to its highest level since July 2018 makes the massive surge in the Philly Fed index look a bit less of an outlier, though it’s not clear how much of the increase represents a real strengthening of the trend and how much represents a post-storm catch-up, or is a reaction to the passage of the massive Covid relief bill.  Either way, the surveys signal that the manufacturing sector continues to recover strongly.  Prices continue to rise too; the Chicago prices paid index rose for a seventh straight month, to its highest level since August 2018.

Read more at MarketWatch


 

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Daily Briefing – 274

An On-Time State Budget – It’s a Long Shot 

 A new state budget is supposed to be approved so that the plan is in place for the start of the new fiscal year overnight Thursday. It almost certainly will not be done by then. This is not wholly a result of a distracted Gov. Cuomo, who is facing an onslaught of allegations from his sexual harassment accusers and investigations over Covid-19 deaths of nursing home residents. Another major factor is that Albany is flush with cash, both from higher-than-projected revenues and a historic federal bailout, and lawmakers see an opportunity to spend far more than Cuomo wants through new taxes imposed on wealthy people.

Like last year, many of the budget talks are being done virtually. Unlike last year, one of the three people who negotiate the final plan – Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat – has Covid. That has left talks among Heastie, Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to be done via Zoom or by telephone.

Read more at the Buffalo News


COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday March 28th. There were 57 COVID-19 deaths. 

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,715
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 556

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,027
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 392

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.43%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.71%

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – 30 and Older Started Yesterday, 16 and Older April 6th

Governor Cuomo yesterday updated New Yorkers on the state’s vaccination program. 172,128 doses have been administered across the state’s distribution network in the last 24 hours, and more than 1.3 million doses have been administered over the past seven days. Delivery of the week 16 allocation begins mid-week.  

As of 11 am Monday 5,971,395 (plus 73,117 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 3,463,736 are fully vaccinated (Plus 104,540).  In the Hudson Valley 598,047 (plus 6,880) have at least one dose and 306,558 (plus 9,001) are fully vaccinated. 


Both Covid Cases and Vaccinations are on the Rise

About 66,000 new Covid-19 cases are being reported in the U.S. each day, based on a seven-day average of Johns Hopkins University data. That is far below January’s peak of about 250,000 daily cases but more in line with the summer surge, when daily cases peaked near 70,000 in late July.

Nearly 2.4 million vaccine shots were administered on Monday, bringing the seven-day average of daily vaccinations to 2.8 million, a record level.

CDC data shows that 95 million people, nearly 30% of the U.S. population, have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine. Some 53 million are fully vaccinated. About half of those 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

Read more at CNBC


State Establishes Mass Vaccination Site at Rockland Community College

The site will be at Rockland Community College’s Eugene Levy Fieldhouse and is expected to open Thursday, April 1. Hours of operation of the site will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

“The opening of Rockland Community College as a mass vaccination site will have an immediate impact on our community as we continue to grapple with one of the highest infection rates in New York State,” said County Executive Ed Day.


CDC Study: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Vaccines 90% Effective

Research by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna covid-19 jabs were about 90% effective in preventing infections after two doses, compared with around 95% effective in clinical trials.

Under real-world conditions, mRNA vaccine effectiveness of full immunization (≥14 days after second dose) was 90% against SARS-CoV-2 infections regardless of symptom status; vaccine effectiveness of partial immunization (≥14 days after first dose but before second dose) was 80%.

Read the report a the CDC website


Nearly Half of Organizations Won’t Track Employee COVID-19 Vaccination Status

A recent study by Gartner found that nearly half of large global organizations will not track the vaccination status of their employees.  The study, conducted with 227 HR leaders on March 16, found that only  8% of survey respondents reported that they will require employees to show proof of vaccination. 

Out of 227 HR leaders, 36% plan to have employees self-report vaccination status, but will not require proof.

Read more at EHS Today


Walden Engineering Survey of  COVID 19 Business Operations

Council Associate Member Walden Engineering is compiling information on what measures businesses are taking to keep their employees and customers safe from COVID -19. Please take a moment to complete their short survey. 

Take the survey


Report by WHO Into Covid-19 Origins Leaves Key Questions Unanswered

The long-awaited report presents the findings of the four-week mission completed earlier this year by a WHO-led team of international experts and their Chinese counterparts in Wuhan, the Chinese city that was the site of the first confirmed coronavirus cases.  It calls for closer examination of Chinese hospital records and blood samples from before the first known cases in December 2019, as well as more extensive testing of farms that supplied wild animals to a market linked to many early cases.

But the 319-page document, shared with WHO member states ahead of its planned publication on Tuesday, also recommends further studies into evidence, often cited by Chinese authorities, that the virus may have circulated in other countries—including the U.S.—in late 2019, and that it has spread via frozen food.

Read more at the WSJ


New York DOL Issues Guidance (FAQs) on Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccinations

On March 12, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed a new law that grants paid leave to employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Under the statute, employees may take up to four hours of paid time off per vaccine injection. A link to our prior post discussing the statute is available here. 

The text of the new law is silent on several key issues, which has left employers with numerous unanswered questions. Following the enactment of the law, the New York Department of Labor (NYDOL) issued guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) addressing some of these issues. 


Boeing Seals Southwest Airlines Large 737 MAX Order

US carrier Southwest Airlines agreed to buy 100 additional Boeing 737 MAX planes, the companies announced Monday, in a vote of confidence for the aircraft after a 20-month grounding.  The order, which includes options on another 155 new MAX planes, is the biggest for the model since regulators cleared it to resume service in late 2020 following two deadly crashes that sent Boeing into a crisis exacerbated by the industry downturn during the pandemic.

Single-aisle planes like the MAX, which are ideally suited for relatively short trips, have been seen as early beneficiaries of a post-pandemic recovery in which leisure and domestic travel are seen as recovering well before international and business travel.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Survey: U.S. Consumer Confidence Rises to a 12 Month High in March, Inflation Expectations Reach 10 Year High

U.S. consumer confidence raced in March to its highest level since the COVID-19 pandemic started, supporting views that economic growth will accelerate in the coming months, driven by more fiscal stimulus and an improving public health situation. The Conference Board said on Tuesday its consumer confidence index jumped to a reading of 109.7 this month, the highest level since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, from 90.4 in February. 

The bad news is that inflation expectation for the next 12 months rose to 6.7% from 6.5%, reaching the highest level in 10 years. This survey overstates inflation substantially, and the latest increase might just be a response to higher gas prices, but the Fed will not want to see further sustained increases. 

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Congress Members Introduce Legislation to Create a ‘Manufacturing Czar’

On Monday a bipartisan group of legislators in both Houses of Congress to introduced legislation that would create the new White House post, as well as a new Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Policy (OMII) to help strengthen America’s manufacturing industry and workforce, improve global competitiveness following the coronavirus pandemic, and enhance research and development. Initial operations would be funded with $20 million.

The Chief Manufacturing Officer the bill envisions would coordinate manufacturing and industrial innovation initiatives across the federal government and work with representatives in state and local government, labor, non-governmental groups, and private business to develop and implement enhanced coordination of manufacturing policy. 

Read more at the Cleveland.com


Three Major Initiatives to Re-energize Stewart International Airport 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday announced three major Port Authority initiatives to re-energize Stewart International Airport and the surrounding region as air travel returns from unprecedented lows resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Port Authority unveiled a new air carrier incentive program, a new airport marketing campaign to attract interest from across the airline industry to SWF, and the completion of a new Federal Inspection Station. Given its location Stewart is uniquely positioned to serve important segments of air travelers, including international business and leisure travelers, especially as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed across New York and beyond. 

Read the press release


 

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Dily Briefing – 273

New York Expands Covid Vaccine Eligibility – Aged 30 Plus Today, All Adults Starting April 6

New York is expanding its Covid vaccine eligibility to everyone 30 and older beginning Tuesday, followed by all residents 16 and older on April 6, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday.

“Today we take a monumental step forward in the fight to beat COVID,” Cuomo said in a statement. “As we continue to expand eligibility, New York will double down on making the vaccine accessible for every community to ensure equity, particularly for communities of color who are too often left behind.”


COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday March 28th. There were 57 COVID-19 deaths. 

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,575
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 546

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,002
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 388

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.46%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.80%

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – 9 Million Doses, Eligibility Expanded

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced a new expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in New York. Beginning Tuesday, March 30 at 8 a.m., all New Yorkers 30 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Beginning April 6, universal eligibility goes into effect and all New Yorkers 16 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine. 

As of 11 am Monday 5,898,278 (plus 74,960 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 3,359,196 are fully vaccinated (Plus 97,386).  In the Hudson Valley 591,167 (plus 8,028) have at least one dose and 297,557 (plus 6,725) are fully vaccinated. 


Biden Admin Is Weighing Vaccine Passport Rollout

The Biden administration has been considering how to implement a complicated and ethically fraught program, commonly referred to as a “vaccine passport,” as other countries, private interests, and nongovernmental organizations do the same.

The Post reports that the Department of Health and Human Services has been leading the push, which will require an immense level of coordination between government agencies, businesses requiring vaccine passports, and companies that create the services. White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients is in charge of the process; he reportedly intends to brief governors on the plan in the coming week.

Read more at the New York Magazine


CDC Director Describes Feeling of ‘Impending Doom’ – Urges Covid-19 Precautions

CDC chief Rochelle Walensky said Monday that the most recent data shows the seven-day average growing to about 60,000 cases a day, which she said was a 10% increase compared with the prior seven-day period. She said hospitalizations were up to 4,800 admissions in the seven-day average, compared with 4,600 admissions in the prior seven-day average.

She said she has a feeling of “impending doom” with Covid-19 cases rising recently in the U.S., as Biden administration officials urged Americans to continue taking precautions against the virus.

Read more at the WSJ


NAM Economy Report: Manufacturing Contributed $2.35 Trillion in Value-Added Output to GDP 

The U.S. economy grew 4.3% at the annual rate in the fourth quarter. Overall, real GDP was boosted by business investment, but consumer spending, particularly for goods, was held back by rising COVID-19 cases and renewed restrictions in many areas. The U.S. economy is expected to rebound in 2021, especially as more Americans get vaccinated and market participants resume some semblance of normalcy in their actions. The current forecast is for 6.8% annual growth in 2021.

Monday Economic Report 0329 2021


Traffic in Suez Canal Channel Resumes After Stranded Ship Refloated

A 1,300-foot, 220,000-ton container ship that has been blocking traffic in the Suez Canal for nearly a week is finally free and once again underway, onboard tracking sites and livestreamed video from the scene indicate.

The successful effort to free the ship means at least 369 vessels backed up waiting to transit the canal, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels, can now move, Rabie said, according to Reuters.

Read more at NPR


Xinjiang Cotton: Western Clothes Brands Vanish as Backlash Grows

Several major brands including H&M, Nike, Burberry, Adidas and Converse, among others have expressed concern over allegations that members of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority group are being used as forced labor. Some of these companies’ online shops are blocked and their stores have vanished from some digital maps. It comes after several Western countries imposed sanctions on China.
 
The challenge for foreign brands has always been about how to sell your stuff to China’s 1.4 billion at the same time as satisfying your global customers’ growing demands to get your ethics right.

Read more at The BBC


Tai: U.S. Isn’t Ready to Lift China Tariffs

The U.S. isn’t ready to lift tariffs on Chinese imports in the near future, but might be open to trade negotiations with Beijing, according to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.   In her first interview since Senate confirmation, Ms. Tai said she recognized that the tariffs can exact a toll on U.S. businesses and consumers, though proponents have said they also help shield companies from subsidized foreign competition.

Read more at the WSJ


Blinken: Aspects of U.S.-China Ties are ‘Increasingly Adversarial’

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday he sees “increasingly adversarial” aspects to the United States’ relationship with China. “There are clearly increasingly adversarial aspects to the relationship, there are certainly competitive ones,” Blinken told CNN, adding that there were also areas of cooperation between the two countries. The United States on Saturday condemned China’s sanctions against two U.S. religious rights officials and a Canadian lawmaker.

Read more at Reuters


Webinar: How to Respond to OSHA’s COVID Enforcement

Manufacturers now find themselves in the crosshairs of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) amped-up enforcement of its COVID-19 guidelines and need to take immediate action to avoid the potential flood of citations and penalties expected to result.

Council Associate Member Walden Engineering presented a webinar on this topic March 26th providing tips and resources to Council member firms. 

Presentation slides can be found here


Boeing Resumes 787 Dreamliner Deliveries

Boeing delivered the first 787 Dreamliner long-range aircraft on March 26, after a five-month pause prompted by the discovery of some structural flaws in several jets. A 787-9 jet was delivered to United Airlines and a second is expected to be delivered there soon.

In October 2020, Boeing stopped deliveries of 787s following the report that the Federal Aviation Administration had initiated a historical review of quality-control issues at the North Charleston, S.C., assembly operation. At that time, Boeing grounded eight aircraft which had been recently completed and undertook inspections of more 787s for signs of structural defects.

Read more at American Machinist


 

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Daily Briefing – 272

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday March 27th. ICU patients dropped to 877, a new low since December 6 and a 46 percent decline from the post-holiday peak. Intubations dropped to 530, a new low since December 8 and a 49 percent decline from the post-holiday peak. There were 64 COVID-19 deaths. 

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,529
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 523

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,091
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 390

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.45%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.76%

Useful Websites:


State Launches “Excelsior Pass” New Yorkers Can Use it to Demonstrate Vaccine or Negative Test

Governor Cuomo Friday announced the launch of Excelsior Pass — a free, voluntary platform developed in partnership with IBM, which utilizes proven, secure technology to confirm an individual’s recent negative PCR or antigen test result or proof of vaccination to help fast-track the reopening of businesses and event venues in accordance with New York State Department of Health guidelines.

Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app. Each Pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination. An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.

Read the press release


NYS Vaccine Update – 14.6% of New Yorkers Fully Vaccinated

Governor Cuomo announced that 194,837 doses have been administered across the state’s distribution network in the last 24 hours, and more than 1 million doses have been administered over the past seven days. The week 15 allocation of 1,565,080 first and second doses was expected to finish arriving Sunday.

As of 11 am Tuesday 5,823,318 (plus 91,907 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 3,261,810 are fully vaccinated (Plus 106,397).  In the Hudson Valley 583,139 (plus 9,223) have at least one dose and 290,832 (plus 9,617) are fully vaccinated. 


U.S. Update – Covid-19: About a Third of U.S. Adults Have Received at Least One Dose of a Vaccine

The U.S. vaccination campaign is accelerating rapidly, with more than 91 million people — roughly a third of the adult population — having received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccination by Saturday. And nearly every state has announced that it will meet President Biden’s directive to make all adults eligible by May 1.

But as of Saturday afternoon, two states — Arkansas and New York — still had not declared a timeline for their residents.


Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine Starts Testing in Young Children

Researchers administered the first doses of the vaccine to children enrolled in the study, which is evaluating the shots in children six months to 11 years. Pfizer expects initial results by the end of the year. Children make up about 13% of Covid-19 cases in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The vaccine, which Pfizer developed with BioNTech SE, is authorized for use in people 16 years and older. Pfizer had earlier started testing the vaccine in children ages 12 years to 15 years. Children appear to be at lower risk of contracting the coronavirus than adults. When they are infected, they tend to experience milder symptoms, though some get seriously ill and can spread the virus.

Read more in The WSJ


Covid-19 Shots for Children Hold Key to Herd Immunity

To achieve the vaccination rates that health authorities are aiming for, the shots must eventually reach the arms of children and teenagers, too. Children aren’t going to be vaccinated for several months at least, however, because drugmakers are still testing shots in younger ages.

That means health authorities can’t be confident of securing community protection against the virus, known as herd immunity, until later this year at the earliest, because children under 18 make up a significant proportion of many countries’ populations.

Read more at the WSJ


Global Chip Shortage Continues to Take its Toll on Automotive, Other Sectors

The global shortage of semiconductors remains in focus after China’s Nio Inc. announced it would temporarily halt production at one of its factories due to the chip shortage. The global auto industry was already struggling for supply before last week’s fire at a Japanese manufacturer of automotive chips exacerbated the problems. Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG and Honda Motor Co. all have had production problems due to the shortage. 

Read more at Bloomberg


Global Auto Production Dropped 16% Last Year Thanks to COVID-19

According to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, global automotive production fell by 16% last year thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to suppress it. OICA President Fu Bingfeng called 2020 “the worst crisis ever to impact the automotive industry.”

Regionally, the United States saw automotive production drop by 19%, slightly more than average worldwide, and produced a combined 8,822,399 cars and commercial vehicles. In Europe, production fell by 21% on average, with its main producing countries reporting drops between 11% and almost 40%. South America saw production fall more than 30% as Brazil took the impact of COVID hard, and vehicle production in Africa slid more than 35%.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Work Continues to Free Ship, Open Suez Canal

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said on Sunday that tugging and dredging operations to free a grounded container ship blocking the waterway would continue around the clock, according to wind conditions and tides.

As of Saturday, 321 boats were waiting to transit the canal, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels. Shipping rates for oil product tankers nearly doubled after the ship became stranded, and the blockage has disrupted global supply chains, threatening costly delays for companies already dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.

Read more at Reuters


We Need to Ensure that Employee Mental Health is a Top Priority

Studies have shown that more workdays are lost to mental-health-related absenteeism than any other illness or injury. Those studies, by the way, were conducted before the pandemic; as you can imagine, the incidences of anxiety and depression among workers isolated from friends, family and co-workers have only gotten worse since COVID-19 reared its ugly head. And while there are now vaccines for COVID-19, there’s no vaccine or PPE or any kind of off-the-shelf equipment that offers mental health protection.

Read more at EHS Today


PPP Extension Passes Senate; Awaits President’s Signature

The PPP Extension Act of 2021 (the PPP Extension Act) passed the Senate yesterday with overwhelming bipartisan support (92-7). The PPP Extension Act now awaits President Biden’s signature.

It is all but certain that the PPP deadline of March 31, 2021 will be extended to May 31, 2021. 

Read more at Bond Schoeneck and King


Covid-19 Has Brought Together Biomedical Technologies That Will Transform Human Health

The first virus to have its genome read was an obscure little creature called ms2; the 3,569 rna letters it contained were published in 1976, the hard-won product of some ten years’ work in a well-staffed Belgian laboratory. The sars-cov-2 genome, almost nine times longer, was published just weeks after doctors in Wuhan first became concerned about a new pneumonia.

It is hardly remarkable that medical science has moved on since 1976. But the covid-19 pandemic has brought the sharp joy of seeing decades of cumulative scientific progress in sudden, concerted action. The spate of data, experiments and insights has had profound effects on the pandemic—and, indeed, on the future of medicine. It is also an inspiration. Around the world, scientists have put aside their own work in order to do their bit against a common foe. Jealously guarded lab space has been devoted to the grunt work of processing tests. Covid-19 has led to some 350,000 bits of research, many of them on preprint servers that make findings available almost instantaneously.

Read more at The Economist (COVID coverage remains free) 


 

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Dily Briefing – 271

COVID Update 

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

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,600
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 549

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,218
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 408

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.37%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.74%

Useful Websites:


State Lawmakers Reach Deal to Legalize Marijuana

After years of false starts, New York state lawmakers said Wednesday that they had reached an agreement to legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use by adults starting next year. State Sen. Liz Krueger said lawmakers were finalizing a bill that would create a new state regulator for cannabis products and decriminalize the possession of up to three ounces of marijuana. New Yorkers will be allowed to cultivate marijuana for personal use and the state will study a new system for determining whether drivers are inebriated because of marijuana use, she said.

The bill is set to be taken up next week by the state Assembly and Senate, lawmakers said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has proposed legalizing marijuana in the state budget that is due by next week. He put marijuana legalization into his budget proposals in 2019 and 2020, but it was taken out after disagreements with Democrats who dominate the state Assembly and Senate.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine Update – 14.6% of New Yorkers Fully Vaccinated

Governor Cuomo announced that for the first time more than 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered over a 24-hour period in New York State. 202,123 doses have been administered in the last 24 hours, and more than 1 million doses have been administered over the past seven days. 27.5% of New Yorkers have at least one dose, 14.6% are completely vaccinated.

As of 11 am Tuesday 5,496,075 (plus 122,121 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 2,920,527 are fully vaccinated (Plus 90,351).  In the Hudson Valley 546,113 (plus 13,857) have at least one dose and 258,584 (plus 6,792) are fully vaccinated. 


U.S. Update – Cases Hit 30 Million – Vaccines 95 Million – as Infections Rise in Most States

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States was nearing the 30 million mark Thursday as new infections continued to trend upward in a majority of states despite an escalating vaccination campaign. Cases rose by 4 percent nationwide over the past week with states such as Michigan, Colorado and Connecticut all reporting spikes of more than 30 percent, according to data compiled by The Washington Post. 

At least 85.5 million people have received one or both doses of a coronavirus vaccine in the United States. More than 546,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the country, out of almost 30 million confirmed cases.

Read more at the Washington Post


NAM Webinar: Employer COVID-19 Vaccination Communications: Do’s and Don’ts

We know manufacturers are working hard to communicate effectively with their teams about the need to be vaccinated against COVID-19. As part of our “This Is Our Shot” project, the National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute continue rolling out resources to support these efforts. And next up: 

  • What: Webinar on Employer COVID-19 Vaccination Communications: Do’s and Don’ts
  • When: Wednesday, March 31, 12:30-1:30 p.m. EDT
  • Who: Ann Christiano, Director, Center for Public Interest Communications, University of Florida

Register here


India Delays Big Exports of AstraZeneca Shot, Including to COVAX, as Infections Surge

India has put a temporary hold on all major exports of the AstraZeneca coronavirus shot made by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine-maker, to meet domestic demand as infections rise, two sources told Reuters.The move will also affect supplies to the GAVI/WHO-backed global COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, through which 64 lower-income countries are supposed to get doses from SII, the program’s procurement and distributing partner UNICEF told Reuters.

There have been no vaccine exports from India since Thursday, the foreign ministry’s website shows, as the country expands its own immunization effort.

Read more at Reuters


AstraZeneca Revises Vaccine Efficacy Down to 76% After Criticism of U.S. Trial Data

Following U.S. criticism of the data it provided from its local trials, AstraZeneca has revised the efficacy rate of its vaccine down from 79% to 76% (which is still really good as vaccines go, but not the 90+% being touted by BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna and Sputnik V.) For people over 65, the efficacy rate actually increased from 80% to 85%.

The latest twist created another layer of uncertainty for a product already facing dwindling public support in Europe following months of confusion and missteps. The data kerfuffle may delay the shot’s ability to win U.S. regulatory clearance, although it will likely still play a crucial role in curbing the global pandemic.

Read more at Fortune


Ship in a Bottleneck: The Suez Canal

The ship that has completely blocked the Suez Canal remains stuck in place. While operations to free the channel continue today, the best chance to move the vessel may not come until Sunday or Monday when the tides are highest. The blockage is halting $9.6 billion a day of traffic, and the knock-on effects of closing one of the world’s most important transit points is likely to worsen for ships carrying everything from crude oil to cement to live animals. 

Read more at Bloomberg


IHS Markit: U.S. Factory Activity Picks Up in March; Cost Pressures Building

U.S. factory activity picked up in early March amid strong growth in new orders, but supply chain disruptions because of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to exert cost pressures for manufacturers, which could keep inflation fears in focus. Data firm IHS Markit said on Wednesday its flash U.S. manufacturing PMI increased to 59 in the first half of this month from a final reading 58.6 in February, when activity took a step back after a cold snap hit large parts of the country.

Britain’s overall PMI was also strong, at 56.6.

Read more at Reuters


Deloitte: CFOs Express Increased Optimism and Expectations for Economic Growth

CFOs’ outlooks appear to be improving overall and shifting upward for key operating metrics, with the exception of earnings growth. Despite myriad internal and external risks, including the well-being of talent, ongoing concerns over the pandemic, and the potential for increased taxes, CFOs have a greater appetite for risk-taking.

CFOs’ perceptions of the North American economy are growing more positive, with 29% citing current conditions as good,  Their perceptions of China’s current economy are more positive, with 51% considering it good, and 6% as very good. Perceptions of Europe’s current economy are far less positive: Only 7% consider it good, and 48% view it as bad and 1% as very bad. 

Read more at Deloitte


Jobless Claims: 684,000 Americans Filed New Unemployment Claims

U.S. states saw a bigger than expected drop in initial unemployment claims filings last week as claims fell to a fresh pandemic-era low. 

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

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended March 20: 684,000 vs. 730,000 expected and a revised 781,000 during the prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended March 13: 3.870 million vs. 4 million expected and a revised 4.134 million during the prior week.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Replay: County Execs Reflect on a Year of COVID – What They Learned and What’s Next In Pattern For Progress Webinar 

Pattern For Progress CEO Jonathan Drapkin The County Executives of Dutchess, Orange and Ulster Counties in this hour long webinar.  Marcus Molinaro, Steve Neuhaus and Pat Ryan reflect on the past year and look toward what is next for the region.

If we might editorialize a moment…. We believe the Hudson Valley is fortunate to have such effective leadership at the County level. In addition to the three on this webinar we acknowledge Ed Day in Rockland, MaryEllen Odell in Putnam and George Lattimore in Westchester. Our CE’s have proven themselves time and again to the be pragmatic, humble, caring, non-partisan, collaborative and most of all effective. We appreciate their leadership.

See the webinar here (60 minutes)


 

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Daily Briefing – 270

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday March 22nd. 

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,641
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 551

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,242
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 415

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.34%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.76%

Useful Websites:


Cuomo: Budget Might Be Late, “Significant” Tax Hikes Not Needed

Governor Cuomo’s administration on Monday signaled there isn’t a need for “significant” increases in taxes for the state budget this year. The stance potentially puts Cuomo at odds with Democratic state lawmakers, who have proposed measures to increase taxes on upper income earners and the financial industry that would generate $7 billion.

Whether the spending plan can be put to bed by next week is up in the air, Cuomo said Wednesday, pointing to the recent COVID-19 diagnosis of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. the COVID-19 diagnosis and quarantining of the speaker’s staff would lead to a delay in a basic function of the state government was rebuked by Heastie.

Read more at Spectrum News


NYS Vaccine Update

154,705 doses have been administered across New York in the last 24 hours, and more than 1 million doses have been administered over the past seven days. Delivery of the week 15 allocation begins mid-week.   

As of 11 am Tuesday 5,373,954 (plus 88,344 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 2,860,176 are fully vaccinated (Plus 71,334).  In the Hudson Valley 532,256 (plus 10,711) have at least one dose and 251,792 (plus 6,327) are fully vaccinated. 


Vaccine Update – Texas and Georgia Join Growing List of States Making All Adults Eligible for Vaccine

Texas, Indiana and Georgia announced Tuesday that residents 16 years and older will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations starting Thursday for Georgia residents, Monday for Texans and on March 31 for Indianans. 

West Virginia, Alaska and Mississippi are the only states where all adults are eligible to receive shots. Widening the eligibility for vaccines comes at a time when federal health officials have warned of a possible fourth surge of the virus as troubling new variants spread, urging Americans to get vaccinated. About 25 percent of the total U.S. population has received at least one shot, and 14 percent are fully vaccinated

Read more at the New York Times


With $9 Billion Coming to NYS to Help Schools With COVID – More in the Hudson Valley Are Reopening

As area school districts get ready for more in-person learning, hundreds of millions of federal dollars are coming to the region to help with the fallout of Covid-19. The American Rescue Plan will provide $130 billion to support education nationwide, and $9 billion is coming to New York State.

Newburgh Free Academy, and the city school district will be getting $30-$31 million in relief coming over the next few years. The Middletown School District will be getting $17.7 million to help recover from the pandemic.

Read More at Mid-Hudson News


U.S. Durable Goods Orders Fall in February

New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly fell in February, suggesting some cooling in business spending on equipment after recent strong growth.

Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, dropped 0.8% last month, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. These so-called core capital goods orders gained 0.6% in January. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast core capital goods orders rising 0.5% in February.

Read more at CNBC


Richmond Fed: Growth of Mid-Atlantic Manufacturing Activity Quickens in March

Manufacturing activity across the central Atlantic region of the U.S. expanded in March at slightly quicker pace than that of the previous month, data from a survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond showed Tuesday. The index is compiled by surveying manufacturing firms across the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which encompasses the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and most of West Virginia. Positive readings signal expansion, while negative readings indicate contraction.

Manufacturing activity in the area has been expanding uninterruptedly since July 2020, but the expansion pace has slowed significantly in recent months from a record-high peak reached in October.

Read more at Morningstar


PPP Expires March 31, 2021; SBA Issues Updated First and Second Draw Applications

Since President Biden has taken office, eligibility to obtain a First and Second Draw Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been expanded. As such, the Small Business Association (SBA) recently updated First and Second Draw PPP applications. Changes to these forms include the “per location” exception for certain entities as established in the American Rescue Plan of 2021.

As of now, the PPP is set to expire on March 31, 2021. However, the PPP Extension Act of 2021 – which would extend the PPP to May 31, 2021 – was passed with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and is awaiting action in the Senate.

Read More at Bond Schoeneck and King (includes links to 1st and 2nd draw forms)


SBA to Increase Lending Limit for COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration is increasing the maximum amount small businesses and non-profit organizations can borrow through its COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Starting the week of April 6, 2021, the SBA is raising the loan limit for the COVID-19 EIDL program from 6-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $150,000 to up to 24-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000.

Read more at SBA


Egypt’s Suez Canal Blocked by Huge Container Ship Further Disrupting Global Logistics

Dozens of vessels are stuck after a giant container ship became wedged across Egypt’s Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest trade routes. Egypt says it has reopened the canal’s older channel to divert traffic, amid fears it could remain blocked for days. The incident has already created long tailbacks on the waterway, stopping dozens of other vessels from passing.

About 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe. The Ever Given, registered in Panama, was bound for the port city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China and was passing northwards through the canal on its way to the Mediterranean.

Read more at BBC


Pfizer Testing A Pill To Treat Covid

Pfizer, which brought the first U.S.-approved Covid-19 vaccine to market, is conducting a stage one clinical trial on an oral antiviral therapy that a Covid-19 patient could take when they first develop symptoms, which would make it the first oral antiviral treatment of its kind for coronavirus. Pfizer will share details on the study and pre-clinical data on April 6 during an American Chemical Society meeting

Vaccinations and therapeutic treatments could be the way to return to normal activities. The U.S. has granted emergency use authorizations for other treatments such as antibody treatments developed by Eli Lilly and Regeneron, and a combination treatment using Remdesivir and baricitinib (an anti-inflammatory).  

Read more at Forbes


Intel Announced ‘IDM 2.0’ Strategy for Manufacturing, Innovation and Product Leadership

Intel said it would spend $20bn on two new chipmaking factories in Arizona. Under a turnaround plan unveiled by its new boss, Pat Gelsinger, the firm will start making chips for other manufacturers. That will put it more directly into competition with the dominant Asian chipmakers, Taiwan’s TSMC and Korea’s Samsung Electronics. Investors took heart; shares rose in after-hours trading.

Read more at Businesswire


Germany’s Merkel Reverses Plans for Easter Lockdown

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has cancelled plans for a strict lockdown over Easter, just a day after the measures were announced. Calling the plan a “mistake”, Mrs. Merkel said she took “ultimate responsibility” for the U-turn.

The proposed lockdown was agreed with regional leaders in talks overnight on Monday, with restrictions set to be tightened between 1-5 April. But the plan was reversed following a crisis meeting on Wednesday. It had been widely criticised by business leaders and scientists. The lockdown would have been Germany’s strictest yet, with most shops closed and gatherings limited.

Read more at the BBC


 

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Daily Briefing – 269

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday March 22nd. 

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,681
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 522

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,093
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 399

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.33%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.69%

Useful Websites:


Cases Have Stopped Declining in New York City

Although cases are not as high as they were during the spring and winter surges, the city has “reached a plateau, which simply means that cases are no longer declining,” said Dr. David D. Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University. Across the city, a newly identified variant, called B.1.526, has been spreading. It now accounts for over 45% of the number of new cases. Experts are calling it the New York Variant.

In total 65.1% of new cases in the most recent week were caused by variants, up from 52.4% in prior week.

Read more at ABC News


NYS Vaccine Update

137,814 doses have been administered across New York in the last 24 hours, and more than 1 million doses have been administered over the past seven days. Delivery of the week 15 allocation begins mid-week.   

As of 11 am Tuesday 5,285,610 (plus 87,497 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 2,758,842 are fully vaccinated (Plus 66,151).  In the Hudson Valley 521,545 (plus 9,606) have at least one dose and 245,465 (plus 2,231) are fully vaccinated. 


Vaccine Update – 2.3 Million Doses Per Day

The US CDC reported 156.7 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses distributed and 126.5 million doses administered. This includes 82.8 million people (24.9% of the entire US population; 32.0% of the adult population) who have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine and 44.9 million (13.5%; 17.4%) who are fully vaccinated. Among adults aged 65 years and older, 69.2% have received at least 1 dose and 42.5% are fully vaccinated.

The average doses administered* continues to level off at approximately 2.3 million doses per day, including 901,311 individuals fully vaccinated (i.e., second dose of a 2-dose vaccine or a single dose of a 1-dose vaccine). In terms of full vaccination, 22.2 million individuals have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 20.3 million have received the Moderna vaccine, and 2.4 million have received the J&J-Janssen vaccine.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


AstraZeneca’s U.S. COVID Trial in Doubt After Agency Says Drugmaker May Have Submitted Outdated Data

The Data and Safety Monitoring Board, charged with ensuring the safety and accuracy of AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial, has expressed concerns to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases that the information released about the testing results included outdated information.

This “may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data,” the agency said in a statement early Tuesday, without elaborating. AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to a request for comment made outside of office hours.

Read more at Fortune


White House Teams With Groups on Vaccine-Hesitancy Campaign to Sway Conservatives

The Biden administration is enlisting the help of groups including the Christian Broadcasting Network Inc. and Nascar to encourage more people to get the Covid-19 vaccine, particularly members of communities that have been the most skeptical.  A spokesman for the Christian Broadcasting Network said the group welcomes the Biden team’s effort.

The Ad Council announced a campaign Tuesday that will run during time donated by media across TV and digital media platforms. The public-service campaign features videos with a new Willie Nelson recording and athletes representing 13 sports leagues and organizations, including the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

Read more at the WSJ


Powell, Yellen Testify At House Financial Services Committee on Economy/Recovery

Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers that the economy is slated for booming growth this year. But their sunnier forecast was paired with reminders that at least 9.5 million jobs are still missing from the labor force and that a fully healed economy depends on getting the pandemic under control.

Powell also told lawmakers Tuesday he doesn’t expect the $1.9 trillion stimulus package will lead to an undesirable increase in inflation, but he emphasized that the central bank has tools to deal with rising price pressures if necessary. Mr. Powell said the Fed remained strongly committed to keeping the public’s expectations for future price increase under control.

Read more at the Washington Post


Biden Administration Officials Put Together $3 Trillion Economic Plan

Administration officials are crafting a plan for a multipart infrastructure and economic package that could cost as much as $3 trillion The first proposal would center on roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects and include many of the climate-change initiatives Mr. Biden outlined in the “Build Back Better” plan he released during the 2020 campaign.

That package would be followed by measures focusing on education and other priorities, including extending the newly expanded child tax credit scheduled to expire at the end of the year and providing for universal prekindergarten and tuition-free community college, the people said.

Read more at the WSJ


Walsh Confirmed as Labor Secretary

The Senate on Monday confirmed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Secretary of Labor, clearing him to take the helm of the agency amid historic unemployment and economic uncertainty. Unions hailed Walsh’s confirmation as a transition to a more worker-friendly Labor Department.

Walsh will be tasked with implementing the Biden administration’s agenda at the department, which includes stricter workplace safety enforcement and expanding apprenticeship training opportunities, among other changes.  

Read more at Politico


Chip Shortage Hits Volvo Trucks

Swedish truck maker Volvo warned of a substantial hit on production in the second quarter due to the global shortage of semiconductors. The company, which has 18 production facilities globally, was forced by the shortage to cut production at its factories in Belgium and Brazil.

Deutsche Bank analysts estimated that Volvo would make 16,000 fewer trucks in the second quarter and consensus earnings could come down by 4-7% this year.

Read more at Reuters


New Home Sales Fall Amid Bad Weather

Sales of newly built homes dropped significantly, largely as a result of last month’s winter weather. But analysts expect home construction activity to remain strong in the months to come despite rising mortgage rates.

New home sales occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 775,000 in February, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday. That was 18.2% down from the upwardly-revised pace of 948,000 in January. Compared to 2020, February’s figure was still up roughly 8.2% year-over-year. Because of the small sample size used in producing the report, it is prone to large revisions from month to month.

Read more at MarketWatch


House Bill Introduced Bill to Establish, Expand State Strategic Stockpiles

US Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) reintroduced legislation that would establish and expand state strategic stockpiles Thursday. Called the State Strategic Stockpile Readiness Act, the legislation would establish a pilot program that would award dollar-for-dollar matching grants to states that expand or maintain a strategic stockpile of commercially available drugs, medical equipment, personal protective equipment, and other medical products deemed to be essential supplies in the event of a public health emergency.

Read more at Homeland Preparedness News


FDA Authorizes First Machine Learning-Based Screening Device

The Device is used to Identify Certain Biomarkers That May Indicate COVID-19 Infection The US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first machine learning-based Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) non-diagnostic screening device that identifies certain biomarkers that are indicative of some types of conditions, such as hypercoagulation (a condition causing blood to clot more easily than normal).

Read the FDA press release


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 268

COVID Update – 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday March 21st. 

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,370
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 499

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,085
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 396

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.29%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.62%

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – Vaccine Eligibility Expands to 50-Plus Age Group Today

The governor announced at a press event yesterday that the age requirement for COVID-19 vaccines was dropping from 60-plus to 50-plus, beginning Tuesday.  “Tomorrow morning, 50 and above, make your appointment and get your vaccine,” Gov. Cuomo said. 

 As of 11 am Monday 5,198,113 (plus 65,947 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 2,692,691 are fully vaccinated (Plus 38,557).  In the Hudson Valley 511,939 (plus 8,134) have at least one dose and 242,125 (plus 2,231) are fully vaccinated. 


U.S. Cases Falling Overall, But Rising in Several Northern States

The Johns Hopkins database reports 33K new cases yesterday, down
13% from Sunday last week. Hospitalizations and deaths are still falling, thanks to vaccination. There is some upward pressure  concentrated in northern states where the weather is still cool. Michigan remains the most troubling state; cases have almost tripled over the past month, and the rate of increase is accelerating. Cases are rising steadily in New Jersey, up 36% from their late February low, and the trend also is clearly increasing in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Delaware, and New Hampshire. 

The most open southern states are performing better, with cases flat in Florida and falling in Texas and Mississippi. It seems likely that warmer weather is helping,

Read more at US News and World Report


AstraZeneca Vaccine Is Safe, 79% Effective in U.S. Trials

AstraZeneca’s vaccine was shown to be safe and 79% effective in preventing symptomatic disease in U.S. clinical trials involving more than 32,000 people, the U.K. drugmaker said.

The company said it would prepare to request emergency authorization in the U.S., a move that—if approved—will add another vaccine available for Americans.

Read more at the AP


Chip-Plant Fire Spreads Concerns About Global Auto Production

A fire at a factory of one of the world’s leading auto chip makers has added to the troubles of car makers that already have slashed production because of a semiconductor shortage. The fire Friday left a swath of charred equipment in the factory owned by a subsidiary of Renesas Electronics Corp.  in Hitachinaka, northeast of Tokyo. The company said it would take at least a month to restart the damaged operations.

Car makers have already been struggling with a shortage of semiconductors stemming in part from an unexpectedly strong comeback after the coronavirus pandemic hit last year. That left factories ill-prepared to increase production quickly.

Read more at the WSJ


Covid-19 Vaccine Manufacturing in U.S. Expanding

After a slow start, Pfizer Inc., its partner BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc. have raised output by gaining experience, scaling up production lines and taking other steps like making certain raw materials on their own.  Pfizer figured out how to stretch scarce supplies of special filters needed for the vaccine production process by recycling them. Moderna shortened the time it needed to inspect and package newly manufactured vials of its vaccine. The companies—along with Johnson & Johnson, which recently launched a Covid-19 vaccine—also are teaming up with other firms to further increase production.

In addition, the U.S. government has helped vaccine makers access supplies under the Defense Production Act, suppliers and government officials say. The Biden administration this month said it used the act to provide $105 million in funding to help Merck & Co. make doses of J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine and to expedite materials used in its production.

Read more at the WSJ


Vaccine Battle Heats Up With EU Ready to Halt U.K. Shipments

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said that the EU will not share its vaccine supply with poorer countries until it has achieved “a better production situation”. Her volte-face on the spirit of the bloc’s commitment to COVAX, an international initiative to provide poor countries with vaccines, comes as many EU members face a third wave of covid-19 infections (see main stories). Meanwhile, Britain will reportedly go on a diplomatic drive this week to persuade individual member-states to veto any move to block exports of vaccines across the English Channel.

Read more at Bloomberg


Stimulus Checks Have Left U.S. Households Flush to Spend

Last week a third round of relief payments started showing up in the accounts of millions of Americans, $1,400 payments so far sent to roughly 90 million adults totaling about $242 billion. That is on top of $600 per recipient payments sent in December and $1,200 sent earlier last year and in all will add up to more than $800 billion.

It turns out there is a lot we already know to answer that. Americans have spent some of it, saved a lot of it and used large portions to pay down burdensome debt. That leaves the economy primed for a consumer boom once business fully reopens and poses risks that worry some people on Wall Street, including higher inflation and an asset bubble. Moreover, it leaves a different debt overhang — federal debt — that poses new uncertainties for business, households and Uncle Sam himself.

Read more at Morningstar


DOL Creates New Whistleblower Protocols

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that OSHA will now be responsible for overseeing worker retaliation complaints that are filed under the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act (CAARA) and the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA). In addition to enforcing whistleblower protections for workers regarding federal health and safety laws, over the years OSHA also has been made responsible by Congress for overseeing the enforcement of the whistleblower provisions of 25 different statutes. In fact, only about 62% of the whistleblower claims OSHA investigates deal with safety and health violations.

OSHA’s staff handles complaints of retaliation arising from—among other things—employees reporting violations of securities and tax laws as well as violations of consumer product, food, nuclear industry, motor carrier, pipeline and maritime safety, and health insurance reform laws.

Read more at EHS Today


McMahon: Tax Increases On The Highest Earners 

A year after the Empire State was clobbered by the coronavirus, New York’s Legislature confronts an embarrassment of revenue riches. State taxes have rebounded more strongly than expected from the pandemic meltdown — capped by a massive injection of $12.6 billion in no-strings-attached federal stimulus funds. 

Yet among their budget priorities for the fiscal year starting April 1, the Democratic super-majorities in the state Assembly and Senate want to raise $7 billion or $8 billion more in new taxes — mostly from a few thousand multimillionaire earners.

Read more at the Empire Center


NY Income Tax Deadline Extended

The Department of Tax and Finance will be extending the New York State income tax deadline to May 17. This aligns with the federal decision to do the same and provides New Yorkers still coping with the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic ample time to file. 

Read more at the Department of Taxation and Finance


Some Schools Have Been Open for Months – Here’s What They Learned

Teachers and administrators whose buildings have been open for many months have come to some hard-earned conclusions about how to make it all work. Some of what they learned is consistent with what many scientists have been touting—that masking, ventilation, distancing and regular testing when possible are effective ways to reduce transmission of Covid-19 in schools. Other once-lauded tactics, such as daily temperature checks and deep cleaning of surfaces, have become lower priorities.

They also have learned that teachers, not their students, are likely the primary transmitters of the virus in grade schools, that children are likely most at risk of infection during lunch time, and that tools such as portable air cleaners and carbon-dioxide monitors can help.

Read more at the WSJ


 

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Daily Briefing – 267

COVID Update – NY Forward Safe Office Initiative 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday March 20th. Friday the Governor  announced  the New York Forward COVID-Safe Offices partnership with major commercial real estate partners to expand access to COVID-19 testing for employers. As part of the initiative, 21 participating landlords have committed to provide space and facilitate access to testing services for tenants interested in conducting regular diagnostic testing of their employees.

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,355
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 477

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,136
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 397

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.30%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.63%

Useful Websites:


First Brazilian Variant Discovered in New York State Resident

Governor Cuomo Friday announced the discovery of the first case of a COVID-19 P.1 variant, commonly referred to as the Brazilian variant, in a New York State resident. The case was identified by scientists at Mount Sinai hospital in New York City and verified by the Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center Laboratories. The patient is a Brooklyn resident in their 90’s with no travel history. DOH is working with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to learn more information about the patient and potential contacts.

The P.1 variant was first detected in the United States at the end of January, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently reporting 48 cases nationwide. The P.1 variant has been designated a “variant of concern,” which means there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease and the potential for reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines. However, while additional research is warranted, researchers at the University of Oxford recently released non-peer reviewed data that indicates the P.1 variant may be less resistant to the current vaccines than originally thought. 

Read the press release


NYS Vaccine Update – 7.5 Million Doses

7.5 million total COVID vaccine doses have been administered across New York State. 139,209 doses have been administered across New York’s vast distribution network in the last 24 hours, and more than 1 million doses have been administered over the past seven days. The week 14 allocation of 1,284,565 first and second doses was expected to finish arriving yesterday. Delivery of the week 15 allocation begins mid-week.  As of 11 am Sunday 5,132,166 (plus 92,393 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 2,654,134 are fully vaccinated (Plus 51,815).  In the Hudson Valley 503,805 (plus 10,612) have at least one dose and 239,894 (plus 3,242) are fully vaccinated. 


US Vaccine Rollout – Jabs Leveling Off at 2.2 Million Per Day

The US CDC reported 151.1 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses distributed and 115.7 million doses administered. This includes 75.5 million people (22.7% of the entire US population; 29.2% of the adult population) who have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, and 41.0 million (12.3%; 15.9%) who are fully vaccinated. Among adults aged 65 years and older, nearly two-thirds (66.3%) have received at least 1 dose and 38.6% are fully vaccinated.

The average doses administered appears to be leveling off at approximately 2.2 million doses per day, including 902,781 individuals fully vaccinated. In terms of full vaccination, 20.5 million individuals have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 19.4 million have received the Moderna vaccine, and 2.0 million have received the J&J-Janssen vaccine.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


Crystal Run Healthcare Provides Some Vaccine Facts

For the last several months, we’ve been looking forward with a hopeful gaze as some of the smartest brains in the world worked to develop vaccines to help stem the pandemic. And to our relief, they’ve been approved for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). We signed up to get vaccinated ourselves and have encouraged family, friends, and colleagues to get the vaccine as soon as they are able.

What we weren’t expecting is how much concern about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, also known as vaccine hesitancy, we’d be faced with. The country’s history with past vaccines can’t be overlooked – and we understand why people may be hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but it is important for us to overcome vaccine hesitancy, together. The state of immunity of the world is determined by all of us, and while we wait for the widespread availability of vaccine, whether eagerly or reluctantly, We’d like to take this opportunity to talk about some of the recent good news vaccine studies have been showing.

Crstal Run Health – Vaccines are safe and effective


US Loans AstraZeneca Vaccine to North American Neighbors

The US government is finalizing plans to ship millions of doses of its available AstraZeneca-Oxford SARS-CoV-2 vaccine supply to Mexico and Canada. During a March 18 press conference, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the US has 7 million available doses and plans to send 2.5 million doses to Mexico and 1.5 million doses to Canada. She noted that the shipments would amount to a loan, with the US expected to receive doses of the same or a different vaccine in the future, and that the US government’s first priority remains vaccinating the US population. The US has faced increasing pressure to share its supply of vaccines with other countries, particularly the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the US.

Ms. Psaki said the White House continues to engage in conversations regarding requests from other countries, but providing the vaccine to US neighbors to the north and south is in the country’s best interest. The plan could be finalized as soon as today.

Read more at the US News


CDC Eases Physical-Distancing Recommendation for Schoolchildren

In guidelines updated Friday, the nation’s public-health agency said K-12 students should remain at least 3 feet apart in classrooms rather than the 6 feet it had recommended previously, a change it said was made possible by new scientific findings.  The agency also removed a recommendation that schools install physical barriers such as sneeze guards, partitions or tape and urged schools to consider Covid-19 symptom screening for sports and extracurricular activities.

The reduced distance applies to students only, not teachers and staff, the CDC said, because transmission rates of Covid-19 are higher among adults. Also, students should remain 6 feet apart in communities where transmission of Covid-19 is high if they cannot be divided into cohorts, the CDC said.

Read more at the AP


Forecasters Raised Growth Predictions for US Economy As Consumers Gain Confidence

The U.S. economic recovery is picking up steam as Americans increase their spending, particularly on in-person services that were battered by the coronavirus pandemic. The rising number of Covid-19 vaccinations, falling business restrictions, ample household savings and injections of federal stimulus funds into the economy are fueling the surge, economists say.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal this month raised their average forecast for 2021 economic growth to 5.95%, measured from the fourth quarter of last year to the same period this year, from a 4.87% projection in February’s survey. The higher figure would mark the fastest such pace in nearly four decades.

Read more at the WSJ


DiNapoli: Four Out of Five Small Businesses in NY Continue to Report a Negative Overall Impact From COVID-19

One year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York’s small businesses continue to suffer, even as the economy reopens gradually and employment growth resumes. Seventy-eight percent of small businesses (with less than 500 employees) surveyed reported an overall negative impact in their business in the first week of March 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The share has declined from 94 percent in April 2020 when data were first reported, but has plateaued at approximately 80 percent since October 2020.

The share of New York’s small businesses reporting negative impacts has been consistently greater than the national average, which has also declined more quickly. In April 2020 almost 90 percent of small businesses nationally reported a negative impact; by the first week of March that figure declined 18 percent to 72 percent.

Read more at the Comptroller’s website


New COBRA Subsidy Requires Quick Action by Plan Sponsors

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, includes a number of provisions designed to assist workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them is a new COBRA premium subsidy that pays for 100% of the applicable COBRA premium for eligible individuals with respect to coverage periods beginning April 1, 2021 and ending Sept. 30, 2021.

In order to comply with the law, employers will face a number of challenges and additional administrative responsibilities, including the identification of premium subsidy eligible individuals, contacting previously terminated employees not currently enrolled in COBRA but who are eligible for the premium subsidy, revising or supplementing existing COBRA notices, and satisfying new notice requirements. 

Read more at Bond Schoeneck & King


The Old Have Become Happier and the Young More Miserable

Covid-19 threatens the old far more than the young, with the risk of death after contracting the disease doubling for every eight years of life. Yet the old have cheered up. Globally, between 2017-19 and 2020 happiness was boosted by 0.22 points on the Cantril ladder among people over the age of 60. Meanwhile the young have had a rough year. Many lost their jobs—in America the unemployment rate for people aged 20 to 24 shot up from 6.3% in February 2020 to 25.6% two months later (it fell back to 9.6% last month). In some rich countries young women have had a particularly hard time. They often work in sectors, such as hospitality, which have been shut down. When schools close, many are lumbered with more than their fair share of child care.

Read more at The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 266

COVID Update – Travel for Sports and Fans In-Person for Baseball Season

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday March 17th. The Governor also announced New York Yankees and New York Mets (Let’s Go Mets) to Start the Season with Fans in the Stands Beginning April 1 at 20% capacity. Also, beginning March 29, statewide travel for sports and recreational activities will be permitted. Currently, travel for sports and recreation is limited to contiguous counties and regions in accordance with New York State Department of Health guidance.  

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,536
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 499

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,229
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 397

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.28%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.66%

Useful Websites:


New York State Launching “Excelsior Pass” to Securely Present Proof of Vaccination or Negative Test 

In the coming days, New York State will be launching Excelsior Pass, a tool that allows New Yorkers and visitors to securely present proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results. This unique app provides venues and patrons with a secure method to easily present, scan and confirm test and vaccine information to ensure convenient event flow-through.

Additionally, to make COVID-19 diagnostic testing even more available for New Yorkers, the State recently launched the New York Forward Rapid Test Program. This is a unique public-private partnership to make low-cost rapid testing available to the public to support enhanced economic activity, including weddings, catered events and arts and entertainment venues.


NYS Vaccine Update 

As of 11 am Wednesday 4,790,894 (plus 99,637 from yesterday) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 2,493,242 are fully vaccinated (Plus 53,165).  In the Hudson Valley 463,752 (plus 13,313) have at least one dose and 229,619 (plus 3,721) are fully vaccinated. 


US Vaccine Rollout – Vaccines Across America

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday about 73.7 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 40 million people who have been fully vaccinated by Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine or the two-dose series made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Providers are administering about 2.47 million doses per day on average. Figures show the date shots were reported, rather than the date shots were given.

Read more at the New York Times Vaccine Tracker


Another 770,000 Americans Filed New Unemployment Claims

The Department of Labor released its weekly report on new jobless claims on yesterday. Here were the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg:

Initial jobless claims, week ended March 13: 770,000 vs. 700,000 expected and an upwardly revised 725,000 during the prior week
Continuing claims, week ended March 6: 4.124 million vs. 4.034 million expected and 4.144 million during the prior week.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


UK Vaccine Supply Hit by India Delivery Delay

An expected reduction in the UK’s Covid vaccine supply in April is partly due to a delay in a delivery from India of five million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses.
The shipment, produced by the Serum Institute of India, has been held up by four weeks, NHS England warned of a reduction in supply in April in a letter to local health organizations on Wednesday.
 
A spokesperson for the Serum Institute said: “Five million doses had been delivered a few weeks ago to the UK and we will try to supply more later, based on the current situation and the requirement for the government immunization program in India.”

Read more at the BBC


AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 Vaccine Cleared by EU After Blood-Clot Concerns

The European Union’s health agency said that the Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca PLC was “safe and effective” and didn’t increase the risk of blood clots, a decision that could clear the way for the resumption of inoculation campaigns that have been halted in much of the region.

The European Medicines Agency said that new expert analysis concluded that the benefits of using a Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca outweigh its potential risks and inoculations with it should proceed.

Read more at the WSJ


The Fully Vaccinated Employee: What the New CDC Guidelines Mean for Employers

As employers consider whether to require vaccinations for employees and how to handle employees who refuse to be vaccinated, the CDC has given employers some clarity … and new issues to navigate. On March 9, the CDC issued its first set of recommendations for fully vaccinated people, providing guidance for everyone who has been patiently wondering what types of pre-COVID activities they can safely resume now that vaccines are here.

For employers navigating the constantly changing landscape of COVID-19 policies, the guidelines offer new options and potential new challenges, whether due to easing workplace restrictions or continuing them.

Read more at the National Law Review


CDC Issues Interim Guidance for Testing in Non-Healthcare Workplaces

The purpose of the guidance is to provide employers with considerations for incorporating testing for SARS-CoV-2 into a workplace COVID-19 preparedness, response, and control plan in select non-healthcare workplaces. The guidance includes descriptions of different types of SARS-CoV-2 tests; scenarios where SARS-CoV-2 testing may be used;  considerations for screening testing (testing asymptomatic workers with no known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2)

The guidance says that screening testing could be effective in helping to prevent transmission for select workplace settings and are based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of COVID-19 

Read the guidance at the CDC website


COVID-19 “Extension” of COBRA Deadlines May End Sooner Than Expected

In recently issued joint guidance, the Department of Labor, the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service confirmed the indirect extension of the COVID-19-related deadlines for electing and paying for COBRA coverage that were first announced in March 2020. In what may have been a surprise to some, the agencies also confirmed that the mandated extensions do not extend beyond 12 months. For former employees who faced one or more COBRA deadlines early in 2020, the mandated extensions may have already expired or may expire sooner than expected. 

Read more at Bond Schoeneck & King


CFOs Express Increased Optimism and Expectations for Economic Growth

Deloitte’s quarterly CFO Signals survey is out this morning, and while financial chiefs are usually a dour lot, their confidence currently is soaring.  Some 67% report rising optimism about their company’s financial prospects—the highest in a decade.

Fewer than one-fifth (18%) of CFOs say they plan to require employees to get a vaccine before returning to on-site work. 41% say they won’t require vaccinations. 35% are still undecided.  More than a third said they expect post-COVID travel expenditures to remain at 60% or lower than pre-COVID spending.

Read the results at Deloitte


Democrats, Republicans Hope Biden Will Take a Harder Line on China as Summit Begins

As the Biden administration holds its highest-level meetings with China since taking office, it enjoys broad bipartisan support for taking a tough stance toward Beijing but also faces skepticism about whether the talks will bring real policy changes.  The Biden administration plans to use that rare consensus as leverage when Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan meet Thursday and Friday in Alaska with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Senior administration officials said the U.S. plans to outline some specific areas where China must take steps to change course before the relationship can move forward in a substantive way.

Read more at NBC News


SMIC Is Building a New Factory in Shenzhen Costing $2.35 Billion.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), China’s largest and most important chipmaker, is building a new factory in Shenzhen that will cost $2.35 billion.  The company and the government of the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen will jointly put capital into the project. Shenzhen is known as a huge technology hub in China and houses the headquarters of giants such as Tencent and Huawei.

SMIC is key to China’s plans to boost self-sufficiency in the semiconductor industry amid tensions with the U.S., which has exposed the world’s second-largest economy’s reliance on foreign technology in the field.

Read more at CNBC


Honda to Briefly Suspend ‘Most’ North America Auto Production

Japanese automaker Honda will be “suspending production” for one week at most of its plants in the United States and Canada due to factors that include a shortage of parts, the company said Tuesday.

The company is dealing with “a number of supply chain issues related to the impact from COVID-19, congestion at various ports, the microchip shortage and severe winter weather over the past several weeks,” especially in Texas, a Honda spokesperson in Japan told AFP. Since the situation is “fluid,” the timing and length of “production adjustments could change.”

Read more at IndustryWeek


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 265

COVID Update 

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

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,624
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 494

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,185
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 375

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.28%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.67%

Useful Websites:


Budget Negotiations Start in Albany With Cuomo Under Scandal

Both the state Senate and Assembly have approved their own fiscal plans, each proposing to raise billions of dollars in revenue through new tax increases on the wealthy, including hikes on the personal income tax for high-income earners, a surcharge on capital gains, and an increase in the estate tax.

The governor has proposed his own surcharge on the state’s top earners, but he is targeting those who make above $5 million. The legislature is looking at taxing those that make $1 million or more. This week, even amid scandal, Cuomo raised a red flag on the legislature’s tax proposals, which are much broader than his own. “How you raise revenue can actually raise revenue or it can cost you revenue,” Cuomo said.

Read more at Spectrum News


NYS Vaccine Update – Appointments Now Available at Ten New State-run Mass Vaccination Sites

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced that appointments are now available at ten new state-run mass vaccination sites across the state. All ten sites will open on Friday, March 19 and will operate from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily.  Sites in the Hudson Valley are located at:

  • SUNY Orange, Diana Physical Education Center.
  • Ulster Fairgrounds, New Paltz

As of 11 am Wednesday 4,691,257 (plus 101,227 from yesterday) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 2,440,077 are fully vaccinated (Plus 56,256).  In the Hudson Valley 450,439 (plus 10,897) have at least one dose and 225,898 (plus 3,905) are fully vaccinated. 


US Vaccine Rollout – State Distributions Evening Out

The US CDC surpassed 100 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses administered on March 9. In total, the US has distributed 135.8 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and administered 109.1 million doses nationwide.  As the US SARS-CoV-2 vaccination program continues to scale up, vaccination administration and coverage are becoming more even between states. Currently, the median state-level doses delivered is 41,289 doses per 100,000 population, and most states are within approximately 5% of that total. In terms of doses administered, the median state-level total is 34,066 doses per 100,000 population. The variation is only slightly larger for administered doses, with most states falling within 7-8% of that total.

The US once again surpassed 2 million doses administered per day*, including 829,356 individuals fully vaccinated (i.e., second dose of a 2-dose vaccine or a single dose of a 1-dose vaccine). Broken down by manufacturer, both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines surpassed 50 million cumulative doses, and the J&J-Janssen vaccine is approaching 1.5 million doses.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


IRS Postpones April 15 U.S. Tax Deadline to May 17

The IRS and Treasury Department will postpone the April 15 tax-filing deadline to May 17, the agencies announced Wednesday. In addition, taxpayers can also delay payment of any money owed the IRS until May 17. If payers still need more time to submit their returns, they can request an extension (but not taxes owed) until Oct. 15 by filing Form 4868.

The extended deadline applies only to federal income returns and taxes, meaning that taxpayers will need to check to see if due dates for state taxes have been changed. Not all states follow the same filing deadline as the federal government.

Read more at CNBC


President  Biden is Under Increasing Pressure to Share the Nation’s SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Supply

U.S. President Joe Biden is under increasing pressure to share the nation’s SARS-CoV-2 vaccine supply with other countries. On Friday, President Biden met virtually with the leaders of Japan, India, and Australia—members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, an alliance to address mutual concerns about China—and agreed to work together to increase production of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in India to bolster the Indo-Pacific region’s supply.

The summit committed to supplying at least 1 billion vaccine doses to the region by the end of 2022. Though not the focus of the agreement, the leaders hope these efforts will challenge China’s growing influence in the region and other parts of the world, as China’s ability to produce millions of vaccine doses and ship them to low- and middle-income countries has offered it advantages in terms of strengthening diplomatic and economic relations.

Read More at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


DOL Inspector General Critical of OSHA – Calls for COVID ETS

The Department of Labor (DOL) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has criticized the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for inadequate COVID-19 enforcement and advocated for the adoption of Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), which OSHA is expected to issue very soon.

The OIG notes that restrictions on onsite inspection and travel led to a dramatic decrease in inspections, which dropped from more than 26,000 in an eight-month period in 2019 to approximately 13,000 inspections in the same timeframe in 2020. OSHA received 15% more complaints but performed 50% fewer inspections in a 10-month period in 2020. The report also found that states operating OSHA state plans did better than the federal agency.

Read more at EHS Today


Jackson Lewis Provides Details on NYS Time Off for Vaccine Law

Effective immediately, New York State employers must provide employees with up to four hours of paid time off per COVID-19 vaccination. The new law sunsets on December 31, 2022.

The new law provides that:

  • All New York employees must receive a paid leave of absence for “a sufficient period of time” not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection. In other words, employees may be entitled to up to eight hours of paid time off if receiving a two-injection COVID-19 vaccine;
  • This leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay; and
  • Employers cannot require employees to use other available leave (such as sick leave or vacation time) before providing this leave.

The new law applies to both public and private employers, with potential carveouts for employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement.

Read more from Council Associate Member Jackson Lewis


Fed Holds Steady on Interest Rates, Bond Purchases

The Federal Reserve kept its easy-money policies in place and vowed to maintain them until the U.S. economy recovers further from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, while also highlighting the brightening outlook for growth. They plan to continue buying at least $120 billion per month of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities until “substantial further progress” is made toward those objectives. 

The officials also expect stronger economic growth, higher inflation and lower unemployment this year than they did in December. Their median projection showed the U.S. gross domestic product rising 6.5% in 2021, up from their December expectation of 4.2%. They expect unemployment to fall to 4.5% by year’s end, from 6.2% in February.

Read more at the WSJ


Chip Shortage Continues to Negatively Impact Automakers

The global shortage of semiconductors is starting to have serious effects for automakers, with Honda Motor Co. saying it will suspend production at some U.S. plants while Toyota Motor Corp. has already scaled back production due to the lack of chips. Industry leaders told a Senate committee yesterday that more incentives are needed for domestic production to reduce the reliance on foreign supplies of semiconductors. Samsung Electronics Co. warned that the supply crunch may delay the launch of its latest phone while Volkswagen AG said it has lost production of 100,000 cars worldwide. There is little good news on the immediate horizon, with Renesas Electronics Corp.’s top executive warning the shortage may last into the second half of this year. 

Read more at WLNS (Michigan) 


Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins Predicts Recreational Marijuana Legalization This Spring

Senator Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D, Yonkers) said it is not a matter of if, but when. The governor would like it passed as part of the state budget, which would translate into millions in new revenue for the state. The budget deadline is April 1.

“We’re trying to figure a way forward so that there will be a way of some understanding of vehicle safety. I am pretty sure that we will be able to work through and that the Assembly will as well. I am optimistic that it will be resolved sooner than later,” she said.

Read more at Mid Hudson News


In Senate Testimony Timmons Defends Tax Reform, Advocates Investment Incentives

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons testified before the Senate Committee on Finance yesterday to push forward a post-partisan consensus on a number of key manufacturing priorities.  Timmons asked a series of questions about whether America would meet its moment—including by ensuring competitive tax rates, investing in infrastructure, developing trade agreements that protect American workers and enacting comprehensive immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“If the answer to those questions is ‘yes,’ if we tackle these fundamental issues, then I’m certain that this Next World that we are building in the aftermath of the pandemic will be built by American workers in American factories, restoring American leadership in the world.”

Read the testimony 


Coming ‘Vaccine Passports’ Aim for Simplicity

The first digital “vaccine passports” for post-pandemic travel have been designed as easy-to-use applications that will one day merge into other travel platforms, like airline apps, their developers say.  Though popularly known as vaccine passports, the apps also include information like Covid-19 test status, and are in trial runs in several places around the world.

Health pass apps aim to guide users through the data-entry process step-by-step and keep the amount of information they need to enter to a bare minimum, partly by investing in functions like passport-chip scanning.

Read more in the WSJ


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 263

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday March 15th.  

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,517
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 463

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,086
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 376

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.22%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.62%

Useful Websites:


Assembly, Senate Pass One House Budgets – Part of the Annual NYS Budget Process

The two legislative chambers posted their one-house budget bills online over the weekend, planning for more than $200 billion of spending. These budgets are meant to plant a flag for each chamber about their policy priorities and goals, and they are subject to negotiation between the leaders or representatives of the Executive Chamber, Assembly and Senate. Stark differences remain between their proposals for raising taxes on the wealthy and legalizing online mobile sports betting and what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said he supports.

The governor, constitutionally, has tremendous sway over how the budget is written and edited, but it remains to be seen how his politically-weakened stance — as a result of the COVID-19 nursing home deaths and sexual harassment allegations facing him — will influence negotiations.

Read more at the Olean Times Herald


NYS Vaccine Update 

As of 11 am Monday 4,493,757 (plus 77,598 from yesterday) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 2,317,552 are fully vaccinated (Plus 52,789).  In the Hudson Valley 428,102 (plus 6,954) have at least one dose and 216,718 (plus 2,524) are fully vaccinated. 


US Rollout: Cases Down, Vaccines Success Means Another Case Spike Like Europe Unlikely

Coronavirus developments in Europe are likely no longer early indications of what will happen weeks later in the U.S., due partly to America’s progress vaccinating its population, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday. The former Food and Drug Administration commissioner’s comments on “Squawk Box” come one day after White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the situation in Europe shows why U.S. states should not completely ditch pandemic precautions right now. Newly reported Covid-19 cases in the U.S. dropped below 40,000 for the first time since early October, 

“Earlier I said we were sort of four to maybe six weeks behind Europe, and we pretty much were,” Gottlieb said, referring to previous phases of the global health crisis. “Everything that happened in Europe eventually happened here. Now I think the tables have turned. We’re ahead of Europe.”

Read more at CNBC


AstraZeneca Defends Vaccine After More Countries Suspend Use Over Blood Clot Concerns

AstraZeneca said a review of data from 17m people vaccinated with its covid-19 jab, developed with Oxford University, found no increased risk of blood clots. Over the weekend Ireland and the Netherlands joined a growing list of European countries in halting use of the jab, after reports of clotting. The review, conducted alongside European health authorities, found fewer clotting cases than would be expected to occur naturally.

Read more at Market Watch


SBA Extends Deferment Period for all COVID-19 EIDL and Other Disaster Loans until 2022

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced extended deferment periods for all disaster loans, including the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, until 2022.

All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note. All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note. 

Read more at the SBA


March Empire State Manufacturing Survey – Highest Reading Since Last July

Manufacturing activity grew substantially in New York State in March. The general business conditions index rose five points to 17.4, its ninth consecutive positive reading, and its highest level since July of last year. Delivery times again rose at the fastest pace in a year, and inventories edged higher.

The index for number of employees was little changed at 9.4, indicating ongoing modest gains in employment, and the average workweek index inched up to 10.9, signaling an increase in hours worked. The prices paid index rose seven points to 64.4, again reaching its highest level in a decade, pointing to sharp input price increases. The prices received index was little changed from last month’s two-year high, pointing to ongoing selling price increases.

Read more at the NY Fed


NAM Manufacturing Economy Report – Cost Top Concern for Manufacturers

In the latest NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, 87.6% of respondents said they feel either somewhat or very positive about their company’s outlook, the highest level in two years. The outlook bounced back from the 33.9% reading in the second quarter of 2020, which was the worst reading since the Great Recession. Medium and large manufacturers were more upbeat in their outlook than smaller firms.
 
Roughly two-thirds of manufacturers expect to return to pre-pandemic levels of revenue by the end of 2021, with one-third saying that their revenues had recovered by the end of 2022. Cited by 76.2% of respondents, rising raw material costs topped the list of primary business challenges in the first quarter. Although 65.8% of those completing the survey consider the inability to attract and retain talent as their top challenge, this issue dropped to second place.

NAM Manufacturing Economy Report 0315 2021


White House Weighs How to Pay for Long-Term Economic Program

The Biden administration is looking past its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill and starting to consider how to pay for the next round of programs. The challenges are twofold. Officials face a decision over how much of the bill to pay for with tax increases and which policies to finance with more borrowing. In a narrowly divided Congress, they must also craft a bill that can win support from nearly every Democrat. The decision will help determine how much of President Biden’s Build Back Better economic agenda he can advance in his first year in office.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday that the Biden administration hasn’t decided whether to pursue a wealth tax, and that while the administration intends to issue proposals to rein in deficits over time, U.S. borrowing costs are manageable right now.

Read more at the WSJ


Southwest, JetBlue Expect Leisure Bookings to Help Revenue

Southwest Airlines Co and JetBlue Airways Corp pointed to a steady rise in leisure bookings as signs of a slowing pandemic due to vaccine rollouts drove more people to go on vacations or visit their friends and relatives.

Southwest also forecast lower cash burn in the first quarter on Monday and said operating revenue for March and April was expected to improve as a rise in leisure bookings countered a lag in business travel.

Read more at Reuters


Boeing, Southwest Near Deal For Massive 737 Max Order: Report

A source told Reuters late Wednesday that the deal could potentially include 130 firm orders plus significant options for 170 more. At list prices, 130 737 Max jets would be about $13 billion, though carriers typically get steep discounts for large deals. However, another source said the firm orders could come in less than 100, according to Reuters.

The order would be for the Boeing 737 Max 7, which is a smallest variant of the narrowbody family of planes that received clearance late last year to return to service again.

Read more at Investors Business Daily


When CEOs Really Think We’ll Come Back to Work

Top executives are seeing light at the end of the pandemic tunnel as the U.S. vaccination efforts continue to ramp up and more states expand eligibility for shots. But corporate leaders are still split on what the workplace will look like in 2021 and beyond.

“Given the global rollout of vaccines, we are currently planning on the basis that schools and [SAT] test centers will reopen in a socially distant fashion during March, and that normal operations will resume in the second half of 2021.…We will occupy a significantly smaller corporate office square footage.”

—Sally Johnson, financial chief, Pearson 

Here is what some other top executives are saying about coming out of Covid-19 lockdowns, widening vaccinations and bringing people back into the workplace.

Read more at the WSJ

read more »

Daily Briefing – 262

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday March 14th.  

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,486
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 458

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,175
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 408

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.15%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.54%

Useful Websites:


Through January, New York Was Still Down 1 Million Jobs

New York’s post-pandemic recovery continued to lag far behind the national average in January, with total private employment in the Empire State remaining a million jobs below the level of a year earlier.

The latest establishment payroll headcount from the state Labor Department—reflecting an important annual “benchmark” re-estimate based on employer unemployment insurance filings—also shows the state’s job count took a bigger dip than originally reported in December, when Governor Cuomo tightened some restrictions in response to a second wave of coronavirus infections. The updated December number was down 1.062 million, reflecting a net loss of nearly 100,000 more jobs that previously estimated.

Read more at the Empire Center


NYS Vaccine Update – 6.5 Million Doses, 2.26 Million Fully Vaccinated

As of 11 am Sunday 4,416,159 (plus 86,114 from yesterday) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 2,264,763 are fully vaccinated (Plus 50,651).  In the Hudson Valley 421,118 (plus 7,766) have at least one dose and 214,194 (plus 3,820) are fully vaccinated. 


US Passes 100 Million COVID-19 Vaccinations

The United States has passed 100 million vaccine doses administered, a big milestone that shows the pace of the vaccination campaign is accelerating.

The U.S. also set a new record for shots administered in a day on Friday, at 2.9 million, according to the White House, with the seven-day average up to 2.3 million per day. About 35 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while about 65 million have received at least one dose. Almost 65 percent of people over age 65 have received at least one dose, up from 8 percent when President Biden took office, the White House said.

Read more at The Hill


EU Approves Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The European Medicines Agency said that the J&J vaccine is safe and effective against Covid-19, and hours later EU authorities formally authorized its use. Distribution is set to begin in the second quarter.

The J&J vaccine has the potential to significantly bolster vaccination drives over time. It can be kept in refrigerators instead of freezers, making it easier to store and distribute than some vaccines already approved, and recipients need only one dose rather than the two administered for other vaccines, often many weeks apart.

Read more at the WSJ


Novavax Vaccine 96% Effective Against Original Virus 

Novavax Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine was 96% effective in preventing cases caused by the original version of the coronavirus in a late-stage trial conducted in the United Kingdom, the company said on Thursday, moving it a step closer to regulatory approval. The vaccine was 100% effective in preventing serious illness and death.

The vaccine was also about 86% effective in protecting against the more contagious virus variant first discovered and now prevalent in the UK. It was only around 55% effective in a separate, smaller trial in South Africa, where volunteers were primarily exposed to another newer, more contagious variant that is widely circulating there and spreading around the world. 

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Some Key Details of the American Rescue Plan from PKF O’Conner Davies

The House of Representatives passed a final version of H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), on March 10, 2021. This version of the bill has now passed both the House and Senate and was signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021. Among a broad array of stimulus provisions, the legislation includes an extended timeframe for the employee retention credit through the end of 2021, as well as credits for paid family and sick leave for employees and dependent children. There are also enhancements to the PPP loan program, and additional assistance availability to shuttered venue operators and restaurant businesses.

This article updates their previous article, which covered the original version of the bill before changes were made in the Senate. A brief summary of the tax highlights of ARPA follows.

Read more at PKFOD


Onshoring Vaccine Production – Vaccine Nationalism Deepens

The vaccine crunch in Europe has shown that states that depend on deliveries from multinationals can be vulnerable. In January, AstraZeneca cut supplies to the bloc by more than half for the first and second quarters, and told Brussels it was not able to divert Belgian-made drugs that were earmarked for the United Kingdom. The cut heightened tensions between London and Brussels and prompted European leaders to set curbs on exports of vaccines made in the EU – starting this month, when Italy blocked exports of AstraZeneca’s shot.

After these manufacturing setbacks deprived European Union members of drugs made on their own soil there is a push to build domestic capacity.  From Australia to Thailand, states planning home-based vaccine plants are starting to reshape the industry.

Read more at Reuters


What You Can and Can’t Do if You’ve Been Vaccinated – What You Need to Know

For now, people who have gotten their shots must navigate decision-making in a world where the vaccinated and unvaccinated will coexist for months, even within the same household.

So what should and shouldn’t you do? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines Monday. Fully vaccinated people can gather indoors with others who are also fully vaccinated without taking extra precautions, the CDC said. And vaccinated people may gather with one other unvaccinated family without masks and distancing as long as the unvaccinated members are healthy and aren’t at risk for developing a more serious case of Covid-19. But the CDC urged fully vaccinated people to continue taking precautions in public, and in medium or large private gatherings.

Get the answers at the WSJ


Chronogram Guide to Getting Vaccinated in the Hudson Valley

The River, a publication of Chronogram, partnered up with the healthcare journalism experts at ClearHealthCosts to create a local guide to getting a COVID-19 vaccine in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. The guide includes the latest official guidelines and criteria from New York State and local governments, and also some insider tips on navigating the process, an interactive map of all of the vaccine sites in the region, and more.

Vaccine information changes all the time. New sites are popping up weekly. New groups of people are becoming eligible. The state’s rules for who can get vaccinated where might change without warning. They’re keeping this guide updated and here is the latest update as of March 12

Read the guide


NAM Global Manufacturing Economic Report

The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI picked up from 53.6 in January to 53.9 in February, the fastest pace in three years. Overall, manufacturers remain very upbeat in their outlook for production over the next six months. The index for future output rose to its highest level since May 2014. Supply chain disruptions helped push input prices higher, with raw material costs jumping at the swiftest rate since April 2011.

In February, eight of the top nine markets for U.S.-manufactured goods had expanding manufacturing sectors, up from seven in January. Many markets experienced notable milestones in the PMI data, including Germany (best since January 2018), Japan (best since December 2018), the Netherlands (best since July 2018) and South Korea (best since April 2010). At the other extreme, Mexico contracted at the slowest pace of decline in 11 months.

Global Economic Update 03 2021


The Economist: Biden’s Stimulus is a High-Stakes Gamble for America and the World

When the pandemic struck it was natural to fear that the world economy would stay in the doldrums for years. America is defying such pessimism. Having outrun gloomy growth forecasts from last summer, it is adding fiscal rocket fuel to an already fiery economic-policy mix. President Joe Biden’s $1.9trn stimulus bill takes to nearly $3trn (14% of pre-crisis gdp) the amount of pandemic-related spending passed since December, and to about $6trn the total paid out since the start of the crisis. On current plans the Federal Reserve and Treasury will also pour some $2.5trn into the banking system this year, and interest rates will stay near zero. Mr Biden’s spending will provide welcome relief to those whose lives have been upended—today America is still missing 9.5m jobs. Thanks to extra cash for most parents, the country’s persistent and widespread child poverty will fall dramatically.

Yet, though today’s policymakers have a guaranteed place in economic history, they may not come to be seen as heroes. That is because America is running an unpredictable three-pronged economic experiment that features historic levels of fiscal stimulus, a more tolerant attitude at the Fed towards temporary overshoots in inflation, and huge pent-up savings which no one knows if consumers will hoard or spend. This experiment has no parallel since the second world war. The danger for America and the world is that the economy overheats.

Read more at The Economist (Subscription) 


Covid-19 Cases Can be Shaped by Medical Conditions and Demography

Covid-19 threatens everyone, but its risk is concentrated among particular groups of people. To help readers understand how the disease interacts with demography and with other illnesses (“comorbidities”), we have built a statistical risk model, using records in the Covid-19 Research Database from 425,000 people in America who tested positive. For any group of unvaccinated people of a given age, sex and mix of comorbidities, our model estimates the share that would be hospitalized or die within 30 days of a covid-19 diagnosis.

This interactive tool lets you explore the model’s output for any combination of variables. It assumes that comorbidities not selected are not present, even if they often appear together. For example, if you enter only Type 2 diabetes, you will receive an estimate for people with Type 2 diabetes but not hypertension. 

This tool is free to use at The Economist


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 261

COVID Update 

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

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,735
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 451

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,168
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 405

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.11%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.34%

Useful Websites:


Quarantine for Domestic Travel Will No Longer Be Required Starting April 1st

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that domestic travelers will no longer be required to quarantine after entering New York from another U.S. State or U.S. Territory starting April 1st. While no longer required, the NYS Department of Health still recommends quarantine after domestic travel as an added precaution. Mandatory quarantine remains in effect for international travelers. All travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form. Individuals should continue strict adherence to all safety guidelines to stop the spread – wearing masks, socially distancing and avoiding gatherings.

Read the press release


NYS Vaccine Update – More Than 20% of New Yorkers Have at Least One Dose

As of 11 am Thursday 4,073,412 (plus 101,312 from yesterday) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 2,191,058 are fully vaccinated (Plus 122,086).  In the Hudson Valley 385,958 (plus 11,300) have at least one dose and 199,241 (plus 20,2931 ) are fully vaccinated. 


US Vaccination Rollout – US To Buy Another 100 Million J&J Doses

As of March 10, nearly one-tenth (9.9%) of the U.S. adult population, a total of 32.9 million people, had been fully vaccinated according to CDC data. 62.5 million individuals, or 18.8% of U.S. adults had received at least one dose of a vaccine, up from 52.9 million a week ago. When it comes to the nation’s at-risk senior population, 61.2% of people 65 and older have so far received at least one dose.

In total, 127.9 million doses of the three available vaccine have been distributed across the country; 95.7 million of those doses or 74.8% have been administered. While the vast majority of fully-vaccinated individuals received either the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccine (32.4 million people), roughly of 458,000 vaccine recipients have gotten the newly authorized J&J shot. On Wednesday afternoon, President Joe Biden announced plans to purchase another 100 million doses of the J&J vaccine.

Visit the Fortune Vaccine Tracker


Assembly Speaker OK’s Committee Impeachment Investigation into Cuomo Allegations

The speaker of the state Assembly authorized the judiciary committee to begin an impeachment investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and dozens of Democratic New York state lawmakers called for Cuomo to resign.  State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie made the decision after meeting with the Assembly Majority Conference, a meeting he announced earlier Thursday.

The committee led by Democratic Assemblyman Charles Lavine is authorized to subpoena documents, interview witnesses and evaluate evidence, the statement says. Heastie said he has the “outmost faith” that Lavine and the committee will conduct an “expeditious” investigation. In a statement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said the Assembly’s action will have “no bearing” on her investigation.

Read more at CNN


New York Passes Bill Giving Employees Paid Time Off to Get Vaccinated

New York has just passed a bill requiring employers to provide employees with “a sufficient period of time”, up to a maximum of four hours of paid leave per shot, to obtain COVID-19 vaccines. If an employee gets a vaccine that consists of two separate shots (like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine), employees will be eligible for up to four hours of paid time off for each injection.  Employees would be paid at their regular rates of pay for up to the four hours to get vaccinated.

While the bill has not yet been signed by Governor Cuomo, he is expected to sign it shortly and it will take effect immediately upon his signature. The law would expire December 31, 2022, so if it is signed it will remain in effect until the end of next year.

Read more at Greenwald Doherty


NAM Webinar: Vaccine Presentation with CDC

On Tuesday, March 16 at 11:00 am EST please join the NAM for their second webinar in the “This is Our Shot” series. Dr. Margaret Kitt, MPH, MD, Deputy Director at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will discuss COVID-19 vaccines.  Dr. Kitt, a Rear Admiral (Retired) in the United States Public Health Service, is currently the Team Lead for the Essential Workers Team as part of the Vaccine Implementation Unit within the CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. She will offer expert insights into the science and rollout of these lifesaving defenses.

As our nation approaches 100 million vaccines administered, this presentation will be important for all members of the manufacturing community.

Register here


CEOs Are Optimistic About the Economy

A PwC survey of 5,000 CEOs around the world, out fresh this morning, finds they are more optimistic about the economy than they’ve been since the company started asking the question nine years ago. 76% of them predict economic growth will improve in 2021, compared to 22% last year (pre-pandemic) and 42% in 2019.

Optimism is particularly strong in the U.S., where 86% foresee growth. Moreover, the U.S. was selected as the top market for growth by 35% of the CEOs, widening its lead over China, chosen by 28%. Last year, the U.S. was only one percentage point ahead of China.

Read the report at PWC


ECB Plans to Ramp up Bond Buying

The ECB opted on Thursday to leave its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program, or PEPP, unchanged, at a total of 1.85 trillion euros ($2.21 trillion) due to last until March 2022.  However, the central bank’s bond purchases in the first quarter have been lower than usual and the Frankfurt-based institution said it expected to ramp up its purchases going forward.

Bond yields in the euro zone have been rising since February, following their United States counterparts higher after President Joe Biden announced a massive fiscal stimulus plan. It has led to fears that rising yields could derail the economic recovery in Europe by raising borrowing costs for countries already struggling with the coronavirus crisis.

Read More at CNBC


Employers Need to Address Women’s Mental Health

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that almost 41% of adults in the United States were struggling with mental health challenges and fallen prey to drug and alcohol abuse. Women especially have faced significant mental health challenges arising from the pandemic and lockdowns. 

We have learned that physical and emotional abuse are not the only threats to women’s mental health, and the impact of isolation and the burdens of extra responsibilities at home appear to be driving many women out of the workforce, perhaps permanently, and this could limit the ability of businesses to recover fully.

Read more at EHS Today


New Unemployment Claims Reach 4 Month Low – Still Elevated

U.S. states saw new jobless claims fall more than expected to reach a four-month low last week, as impending spring weather and more vaccine-driven business reopenings allow hiring to pick up. Continuing claims, which count the total number of Americans still receiving state unemployment benefits, also fell for for an eighth straight week last week, reaching the lowest level in nearly one year.

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended March 6: 712,000 vs. 725,000 expected and a revised 754,000 during the prior week
  • Continuing claims, week ended February 27: 4.144 million vs. 4.200 million expected and a revised 4.337 million during the prior week

Read more at Yahoo Finance


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 260

COVID Update 

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

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,798
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 470

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,166
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 403

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.11%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.32%

Useful Websites:


Budget Season – State Lawmakers Are Poised To Take Power Amid Cuomo Scandals

With just four weeks until the state budget deadline, many Democratic lawmakers have been eyeing a tax package that would go further than the hike on high-income earners that Cuomo proposed in his worst-case-scenario executive budget. The Legislature also could pressure Cuomo to send additional recreational marijuana tax revenues to communities hardest-hit by anti-drug laws, said Assemblyman Ron Kim, a Queens Democrat.

Read more at Bloomberg


NYS Vaccine Update – The Latest Totals

As of 11 am Wednesday 3,972,100 (plus 104,673 from yesterday) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 1,968,972 are fully vaccinated (Plus 38,919).  In the Hudson Valley 374,658 (plus 12,429) have at least one dose and 175,117 (plus 3,831 ) are fully vaccinated. 


US Vaccination Rollout – 1.98 Million Doses Per Day

The US CDC has distributed 116.4 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and administered 92.1 million doses nationwide. In total, 60.0 million people (18.1% of the entire US population; 23.5% of the adult population) have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, and 31.5 million (9.5%; 12.3%) have received both doses. The US continues to set new records for daily doses administered, up to 1.98 million doses per day, including 815,748 individuals receiving their second dose.

The breakdown of doses by manufacturer remains relatively steady, with slightly more Pfizer-BioNTech doses (46.8 million) than Moderna (44.9 million) administered nationwide. The CDC reported the first data for the J&J-Janssen vaccine, with 208,590 doses administered**.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security 


Vaccine Positively Impacting Long Term Care Facility Cases

long-term care facilities (LTCFs) have seen steady declines in COVID-19 incidence and mortality over the past several months, for both residents and staff. LTCFs were among the earliest priorities for SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Through March 4, 2021, more than one-third of all US COVID-19 deaths were among LTCF residents.

Since the start of the US vaccination effort in mid-December, weekly COVID-19 incidence and mortality has decreased substantially. At the peak the CDC reported 34,251 new cases among LTCF residents. During the week of February 28, 2021, the US reported only 1,474 new cases, a decrease of more than 95% from the peak. Similarly, the US reported 7,049 deaths among LTCF residents during the week of December 20, 2020, which fell to 1,350 the week of February 28, 2021—a decrease of more than 80%.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security 


COVID-19 Relief Bill Wins Final Approval in House

The House of Representatives gave final approval on Wednesday to one of the largest economic stimulus measures in U.S. history, a sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that gives President Joe Biden his first major victory in office.

Approval by a 220-211 vote in the Democratic-controlled chamber came with zero Republican support after weeks of partisan debate and wrangling in Congress. Democrats described the legislation as a critical response to a pandemic that has killed more than 528,000 people and thrown millions out of work. Republicans said the measure was too costly and was packed with wasteful progressive priorities. They said the worst phase of the largest public health crisis in a century has largely passed and the economy is headed toward a rebound.

Read more at Reuters


What’s in the Third Covid-19 Stimulus Package? 

The $1.9 trillion legislation known as the American Rescue Plan Act includes a range of measures, from stimulus checks to child tax credits, jobless benefits, vaccine-distribution funds, healthcare subsidies and restaurant aid. This deal would be the largest aid package to pass since widespread restrictions tied to the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.

$50 billion, or 7% of the $1.9 trillion price tag, is directed at testing and contact tracing.  $16 billion is earmarked for vaccine distribution. Most of the rest consists of payments to states, student-debt relief, health-insurance subsidies and unemployment benefits.

See the breakdown in the WSJ


 CPI – Inflation Keeps Creeping Up

The cost of U.S. consumer goods and services rose in February at the fastest pace in six months nudging inflation closer to levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic.  The consumer price index advanced 0.4% last month, the government said Wednesday, matching the estimate of economists polled by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal.  The rate of inflation over the past 12 months moved up to 1.7% from 1.4%.

The Federal Reserve, the nation’s inflation watchdog, is prepared to let prices rise above 2% for an extended period without raising interest rates. Central bank leaders predict any sharp increase in inflation after the economy fully reopens is likely to be temporary.

Read more at MarketWatch


House Passes PRO Act

The House passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (H.R. 842) by a vote of 225 to 206. There were 5 Republicans voting in favor (Fitzpatrick, Katko, Smith, Van Drew and Young) and 1 Democrat voting against (Cuellar). On Monday, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy in support of the PRO Act.

The PRO Act now moves onto the Senate and the NAM will continue to vigorously advocate that Senators oppose the bill. Please reach out to me if you would like more information on where your Senators stand: there are currently 44 Democratic and 0 Republican cosponsors. Of note, Senators Kelly (AZ), King (ME), Manchin (WV), Sinema (AZ) and Warner (VA) are not cosponsors.

Read more:


Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Neutralizes Brazil Variant in Lab Study

Blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine neutralized an engineered version of the virus that contained the same mutations carried on the spike portion of the highly contagious P.1 variant first identified in Brazil, the study conducted by scientists from the companies and the University of Texas Medical Branch found.

Pfizer has said it believes its current vaccine is highly likely to still protect against the South African variant. However, the drugmaker is planning to test a third booster dose of their vaccine as well as a version retooled specifically to combat the variant in order to better understand the immune response.

Read more at Reuters


Moderna, Novavax and Others are Trying to Get ahead of Variants like Those Identified in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil

Researchers at Moderna Inc., Novavax Inc. and the University of Oxford are designing the shots, known as multivalent vaccines, to protect not only against the form of the virus commonly circulating globally but also potentially contagious strains that have emerged or might in the future.  The work belongs to a range of efforts vaccine makers and drug researchers are undertaking to get ahead of variants like the one identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.

Research indicates some vaccines currently in use generate weaker immune responses against the strain found in South Africa in particular, though there isn’t evidence indicating that current vaccines don’t protect against variants.

Read more in the WSJ


Chaos Strikes Global Shipping – Misalignment of Containers Has Costs Skyrocketing

Around the planet, the pandemic has disrupted trade to an extraordinary degree, driving up the cost of shipping goods and adding a fresh challenge to the global economic recovery. The virus has thrown off the choreography of moving cargo from one continent to another.

As households in the United States have filled bedrooms with office furniture and basements with treadmills, the demand for shipping has outstripped the availability of containers in Asia, yielding shortages there just as the boxes pile up at American ports.

Read more at the New York Times


 

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Daily Briefing – 259

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday March 8th.  

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,899
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 490

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,103
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 408

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.16%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.29%

Useful Websites:


Tax Hikes “Still on the Table” Despite Federal Dollars Coming to New York

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed by the US Senate wipes out New York State’s projected budget deficit — possibly negating the need for hefty tax hikes or spending cuts, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office said Monday. The American Rescue Plan provides state government coffers with $12.6 billion in unrestricted aid, a measure championed by Schumer, the New York senior senator

Asked about Schumer’s office claim, Cuomo budget spokesman Freeman Klopott referred to the governor’s comments on Sunday, when he said that tax hikes are still on the table despite the influx of federal funding.

Read more at The NY Post


NYS Vaccine Update – Expanded Eligibility Includes New Yorkers 60 Years and Older

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced that beginning March 10, all New Yorkers 60 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Additionally the following essential workers will now be eligible to begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on March 17:

  • Public-facing government and public employees
  • Not-for-profit workers who provide public-facing services to New Yorkers in need
  • Essential in-person public-facing building service workers

As of 11 am Tuesday 3,867,427 New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 1,930,053 are fully vaccinated.  In the Hudson Valley 362,229 have at least one dose and 175,117 are fully vaccinated. 


US Vaccination Rollout – When Will We Have a Vaccine Surplus?

There is no doubt that the U.S. is moving from a time of vaccine scarcity, when there is not enough vaccine to go around, to one of vaccine surplus, when it will be far easier for people who want a Covid vaccine to receive one. By early summer, barring a manufacturing catastrophe, there should be enough vaccine for every American.

The math behind the U.S. having enough supply to vaccinate roughly 260 million by the end of May depends a great deal on new, more aggressive timelines from Johnson & Johnson. A closer look at administration and industry statements also suggests officials know this. 

Read more at STAT News


House Will Vote This Morning on $1.9tn Covid Relief Bill

House will hold its final vote on the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package today. House majority leader Steny Hoyer said  that the House will take up the bill at 9 am ET tomorrow morning.

Read more at The Guardian


OECD Global Forecast: 3.4% Shrinkage Last Year, and 5.6% Growth 2021

The world economy is set to rebound this year with 5.6% growth and expand 4.0% next year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its interim economic outlook. That marked a sharp increase from its last outlook in early December, when the Paris-based policy forum forecast global growth of 4.2% this year and 3.7% next year.

But significant risks loom over the improved outlook, notably in the form of how fast authorities get vaccine shots to people, how soon restrictions are lifted and whether new variants of the coronavirus are kept in check.

Read more at Reuters


Manufacturers’ Optimism Keeps Rising – Cost of Materials Now Top Concern 

In the NAM’s first-quarter 2021 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, manufacturers reported an increase in optimism for the third straight quarter. The survey found that 87.6% of manufacturers felt either somewhat or very positive about their company’s outlook. The number bounced back from the 33.9% reading in the second quarter of 2020, which was the worst since the Great Recession. More importantly, this suggests that manufacturers had the strongest outlook in two years, since the first quarter of 2019.

Increased costs of raw materials (76%) and the inability to attract and retain talent (66%) were the top-two biggest challenges facing manufacturers in 2021.  Other top worries included rising health care and insurance costs (50.9%), transportation and logistics costs (50.2%), supply chain challenges with inventory management (48.7%) and an unfavorable business climate, including taxes and regulations (44.0%).

Read more at the NAM


CDC Study: Obesity Increases the Risk for Severe COVID-19–Associated Illness

Among 148,494 U.S. adults with COVID-19, a nonlinear relationship was found between body mass index (BMI) and COVID-19 severity, with lowest risks at BMIs near the threshold between healthy weight and overweight in most instances, then increasing with higher BMI. Overweight and obesity were risk factors for invasive mechanical ventilation. Obesity was a risk factor for hospitalization and death, particularly among adults aged <65 years.

These findings highlight clinical and public health implications of higher BMIs, including the need for intensive management of COVID-19–associated illness, continued vaccine prioritization and masking, and policies to support healthy behaviors.

Read more at the CDC


CDC Issues First Set of Guidelines on How Fully Vaccinated People Can Visit Safely with Others

 The CDC issued its first set of recommendations on activities that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely resume. The new guidance—which is based on the latest science — includes recommendations for how and when a fully vaccinated individual can visit with other people who are fully vaccinated and with other people who are not vaccinated.

This guidance represents a first step toward returning to everyday activities in our communities. CDC will update these recommendations as more people are vaccinated, rates of COVID-19 in the community change, and additional scientific evidence becomes available.

Read more at the CDC


Air Traffic Data Shows That the Travel Recovery Is Underway

According to flight-tracking data from RadarBox, the average number of business-jet flights last week came in higher than the corresponding week for 2020 and 2019 as well. In fact, the 2021 figure of 8,787 flights is 11.1% higher than in 2019.  That’s a key figure because it implies that business travelers are ready to fly. If so, it will be good news for commercial airlines that are looking to attract business travelers back as they reopen routes.

Also according to RadarBox, domestic flights in China are also now up when compared to 2019, with the average number of commercial flights 19.5% ahead of the same period in 2019.

Read more at The Motely Fool


Machine Tool Orders Up 12% Over 2020

U.S. machine shops and other manufacturers ordered new capital equipment worth $322.5 million during January, a -28.9% drop from the December order volume in the U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report issued by AMT – the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology. However, the new figure is 11.6% higher than the January 2020 total, supporting the case that a manufacturing recovery is in progress.

Significant increases were reported for metal-forming/fabricating orders, up +161.5% year-over-year nationwide, with even more remarkable increases in the North Central-East (+392.1% year/year) and West (+111.1%) regions.

Read more at American Machinist


 

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Daily Briefing – 258

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday March 7th.  

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,830
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 490

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,070
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 396

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.19%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.27%

Useful Websites:


Cuomo Signs Bill “Limiting” Emergency Powers

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed off on a bill that limits his emergency pandemic powers Monday morning.

This process means Governor Cuomo can no longer sign new mandates on his own, like when he reduced capacity in restaurants, without approval from the state legislature. But there is a caveat. The governor is able to extend already existing directives like the mask mandate. Those powers will expire automatically once the state of emergency expires in April, or sooner if the legislature chooses to do so.

Read more at Syracuse.com


NYS Vaccine Update – 10  Additional Mass Sites to Open

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that 10 Additional State-Run Mass Vaccination Sites are to open in the coming weeks including 2 in the Hudson Valley at SUNY Orange in Middletown and the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz. 

As of 11 am Monday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 4,227,090 first doses and administered 89 percent or 3,746,905 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 86 percent of first and second doses (5,640,706) of the 6,541,110 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 626,065 first and second doses have been distributed, 519,605 administered (83 percent). 


US Vaccination Rollout – NPR Tracker Shows How Efficiently States are Using their Vaccine Allocation

Since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 90 million doses have been administered, reaching 17.7% of the total U.S. population, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. is currently administering over 2.2 million shots a day.

Getting millions of people vaccinated, in order of priority, is a big logistical challenge for states. As a result, there’s often a delay between when states receive their federal shipments of vaccines and when they get all the shots into people’s arms.  The CDC says its data may reflect a reporting lag of up to five days.

Visit the NPR Vaccine Tracker


WMC Health Interactive Directory Helps Hudson Valley Residents Find COVID-19 Vaccination.

The directory allows the user to search an interactive map by location type, such as pharmacy or health clinic, location name and county. Clicking on a location serves up detailed information about that location, who might be eligible to receive a vaccine at that location, and how to register for an appointment. The directory does not represent the actual inventory of vaccine at each location, only that a location has received a recent distribution, or a distribution sometime in the past.  Each location controls its own schedule and makes its own appointments. This directory covers the geography of the Hudson Valley HUB.  

Visit the directory


House Poised To Pass $1.9 Trillion Relief Bill On Today

House Democrats are expected to pass the final version of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Tuesday.  The Senate voted 50-49 to approve the plan on Saturday, with all Democrats voting in support of the measure — and all Republicans opposed — following a marathon debate of more than 24 hours. In a statement on Saturday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he expects the president to be able to sign the legislation early this week.

The colossal package would bring a new round of payments to Americans still battling against the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and it includes an increase to the child tax credit and an extension of supplemental unemployment benefits through Sept. 6. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said “Democrats decided their top priority wasn’t pandemic relief, it was their Washington wish list. It was jamming through unrelated policy changes they couldn’t pass honestly. A colossal missed opportunity for our nation.”

Read more at NPR


CDC Says Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather in Small Groups Without Masks

The CDC said Monday that fully vaccinated people should continue to take precautions in most circumstances to prevent the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19. People who are fully immunized should continue to wear masks and keep their distance from others in public or while visiting unvaccinated people at higher risk for severe cases of Covid-19, the CDC said.

It is possible that vaccinated people could still get infected by the virus and transmit it to others who are at risk for severe disease, public-health experts say. But early research suggests that in addition to protecting against severe cases of Covid-19 that could lead to hospitalization or death, authorized vaccines likely also make people less vulnerable to infection and potentially less likely to spread the virus, the CDC said.

Read more at the WSJ


Brent Crude Hovers Just Under $70 After Saudi Oil Facilities Attacked

The price of Brent crude rose above $70 a barrel for the first time in 14 months after Saudi Arabia said its oil facilities had been attacked. On Sunday Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who also bombed military targets, fired 14 drones and eight missiles. Saudi’s energy ministry, which reported no casualties or loss of property, lambasted the attacks on global energy security.

“Possible damage at Ras Tanura in particular is generating concern on the oil market, as this is home to Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil storage facility and oil export terminal,” said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodity research at Commerzbank, in a note to clients.

Read more at MarketWatch


Yellen Expects U.S. Economy to Return to Full Employment in 2022

In an interview on MSNBC U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Monday that President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package will provide enough resources to fuel a “very strong” U.S. economic recovery, but will not address longstanding inequality problems.  Ms. Yellen reiterated that she doesn’t expect the spending to cause the economy to overheat, resulting in high inflation and interest rates.

“I’m anticipating, if all goes well, that our economy will be back to full employment, where we were before the pandemic, next year.” The Secretary said.

Read more at Reuters


NAM Manufacturing Economy Report- Jobs, Productivity, Output All Improving

Manufacturing employment increased by 21,000 in February, rising for the ninth time in the past 10 months. Overall, the manufacturing sector remains a bright spot in the U.S. economy, with expanding demand and production and hiring moving in the right direction. With that said, manufacturing employment has fallen by 561,000 workers over the past 12 months. 

Manufacturing labor productivity rose 5.0% at the annual rate in the fourth quarter with strong rebounds in output, both for durable and nondurable goods, according to revised data.

Monday Economic Report 0308 2021


Scream, Not Swab: Dutch Inventor Hopes He Discovered a New Test For COVID

A Dutch entrepreneur named Peter van Wees has come up with a novel idea for COVID testing. In lieu of nasal (or the other end, if you’re visiting China) swabs, van Wees has created an airlocked cabin in which you’re supposed to stand and scream. An industrial air purifier then collects your screamed particles, which are checked for the coronavirus. Getting tested and getting to vent after a year of this pandemic? Genius

Read more at Reuters


How to Fix the COVID-Damaged Pipeline for Women in Leadership

In the United States alone, a National Women’s Law Center analysis found that at least 5 million women have lost their jobs since the onset of COVID-19, putting female participation at its lowest rate since 1988. Already enormous in scale, the losses continue to add up. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported some 275,000 women left the country’s labor market in January, compared to just 71,000 men. 

Broadly speaking, it’s the men and women in leadership ranks who can initiate the most significant organizational changes. But even women at that level have been hit hard by the pandemic. New research from the IBM Institute for Business Value shows that fewer women today hold high-level executive and managerial roles than at the end of 2019. During that same period, the pipeline of women in senior manager and senior vice president roles both shrank by five percentage points, from 25% and 18% respectively in 2019, to 20% and 13% today

Read more at Fortune


 

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Daily Briefing – 257

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday March 6th.  The Governor also announced that indoor dining outside of New York city can move to 75% capacity from 50% beginning March 19th. New York City restaurant capacity will remain at 35 percent capacity.

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,789
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 472

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,135
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 396

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.19%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.23

Useful Websites:


 

NYS Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins Calls for Gov. Cuomo’s Resignation

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins added her voice to a growing number of Mr. Cuomo’s foes and allies who believe the three-term Democrat should step down. Her push for his resignation came shortly after a Sunday news conference in which Mr. Cuomo argued that it would be “anti-democratic” for him to step down because of the allegations.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, also a Democrat, stopped short of echoing Ms. Stewart-Cousins but said in a statement that “it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.”

Read more at the Albany Times Union


NYS Vaccine Update – 5.5 Million Doses Administered

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that more than 5.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in New York to date. More than 18 percent of New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and more than 9 percent are fully vaccinated. 

As of 11 am Sunday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 4,227,090 first doses and administered 86 percent or 3,650,948 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 84 percent of first and second doses (5,517,582) of the 6,541,110 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 626,065 first and second doses have been distributed, 506,945 administered (81 percent). 


US Vaccination Rollout – Nearing 100 Million Doses Distributed

On Friday the US CDC reported 96.40 million vaccine doses distributed and 76.90 million doses administered nationwide (79.8%). In total, 50.73 million people (15.3% of the entire US population; 19.9% of the adult population) have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, and 25.47 million (7.7%; 10.0%) have received both doses.

The average daily doses administered is rebounding from its brief decrease, which was likely caused by severe winter weather and now stands at 1.42 million doses per day*. The breakdown of doses by manufacturer remains relatively steady, with slightly more Pfizer-BioNTech doses administered (39.26 million; 51%) than Moderna (37.52 million; 49%). No doses of the J&J-Janssen vaccine have been reported, but we expect the first of those doses to be reported this week.

Read more at Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security


‘Hassle Factor’ And Distrust Shadow Wide U.S. Vaccine Hesitancy

The White House now says all American adults will be able to get a Covid-19 vaccination by the end of May. Convincing a sizable portion of the U.S. public to be immunized is another matter. Only about 54% of American adults who haven’t been vaccinated say they definitely will, according to a Census Bureau survey conducted in February. Meanwhile, about 23% say they will probably be vaccinated, and another 23% will either probably or definitely not get vaccinated.

Reaching that highly coveted “herd immunity” level is central to the U.S. government’s plans to fight Covid and reopen businesses. Vaccine supply is one thing, but overcoming hesitancy to get the shot is another. To do that, officials must make the process of getting shots easier, and fight misinformation about the vaccines, concerns about the speed of development and distrust of government and health-care institutions.

Read more at Bloomberg


Job Growth Surges in February 

Hiring surged in February as U.S. economic activity picked up with Covid-19 cases steadily dropping and vaccine rollouts providing hope for more growth.  The Labor Department reported Friday that nonfarm payrolls jumped by 379,000 for the month and the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%. That compared with expectations of 210,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate holding steady from the 6.3% rate in January.

Nearly all the job gains came from the battered leisure and hospitality sector, which saw an increase of 355,000 amid a relaxation of dining restrictions in some areas. Bars and restaurants gained 286,000 jobs while hotel-related hiring totaled 36,000 and amusement, gambling and recreation businesses added 33,000. Manufacturing posted a 21,000 increase.

Read more at CNBC


Manufacturing Up 21,000 Jobs

Manufacturing added 21,000 people in February. Most of the growth was in the durable goods sector as transportation equipment companies hired 9,700 people. Machinery companies added 3,800 jobs, miscellaneous durable goods companies added 2,800, and electrical equipment and appliances companies hired 2,400. 

Nondurable goods employment increased by 4,000 in February, with notable gains in miscellaneous nondurable goods manufacturing (4,100 new jobs), plastics and rubber products(3,000 jobs), and apparel (2,400). Food manufacturing lost 3,100 jobs while printing and related activities lost 1,700 and paper products lost 1,000. 

Read more at IndustryWeek


Senate Approves Coronavirus Measure in Partisan Vote

The package provides another round of stimulus checks, aid for state and local governments, and more help for small businesses and schools. The party-line vote is a significant break from the previous five coronavirus bills, each of which passed with bipartisan support.

The House will take up the bill on Tuesday for a vote and plans to send it to Biden’s desk for a signature early next week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement. 

Read more at the Hill


EU Seeks Access to U.S. Produced AstraZeneca Vaccines

The European Union will urge the United States to permit the export of millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine as it scrambles to bridge supply shortfalls, the Financial Times reported.  The 27-nation EU also wants Washington to ensure the free flow of shipments of crucial vaccine ingredients needed in European production, the FT report on Saturday said.

EU countries started inoculations at the end of December, but are moving at a far slower pace than other rich nations, including former member Britain and the United States. Officials blame the slow progress in part on supply problems with manufacturers.

Read more at CNBC


US, EU to Suspend $11.5B in Tariffs for Four Months

The U.S. and European Union have agreed to suspend tariffs relating to a long-standing trade dispute for four months, following a similar deal announced Thursday between the U.S. and U.K.  European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said she and President Biden struck the deal in a Friday phone call.

The suspension will cover $11.5 billion-worth of traded goods, including $4 billion from EU tariffs on U.S. goods and $7.5 billion that former President Trump had imposed. The four-month pause is meant to provide an opportunity for the trading partners to work out issues in a 17-year dispute on subsidizing aerospace competitors Boeing and Airbus.

Read more at The Hill


Domestic Travelers to New York No Longer Required to Quarantine if Fully Vaccinated

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new travel guidance Wednesday for people fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The governor said domestic travelers are no longer required to quarantine or test-out within 90 days of full vaccination, but international travelers must continue to follow CDC guidelines for traveling.

AAA reports there has been a huge uptick in customers over the past few weeks, with more people looking to travel.  AAA says people are booking flights to warmer locations like Florida, Hawaii, and the Caribbean.

Read more at Spectrum News


Companies Take Charge of Germany’s Vaccination Drive

Germans are used to being top of the class. Early in the pandemic, when Germany controlled its outbreak better than most of the West, they felt they were. In vaccinating citizens against covid-19, by contrast, the country has been a laggard. One in 20 has received a shot, compared with nearly a third of Britons and a sixth of Americans.

German bosses are losing patience. Many workers at the industrial firms that dominate corporate Germany are vulnerable to covid-19 because factory or construction jobs cannot be done from home. Nearly all companies in the DAX 30 blue-chip stock market index, as well as countless CEOs of smaller firms, are therefore preparing to launch their own immunization drives. They include BASFand Bayer (in chemicals), BMW and Volkswagen.

Read More at the Economist


Drugmakers, Food Companies and Airlines Try to Offer Covid-19 Inoculations at Work

Large employers, from the meatpacking industry to airlines and pharmaceutical companies, are getting permission from public-health officials to administer Covid-19 vaccines, hoping to speed up inoculations of their employees. Companies registered to provide doses include energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp. meatpacker Smithfield Foods Inc. and machinery-makers Caterpillar Inc. and Deere DE 3.52% & Co., according to Illinois public-health records. 

Throughout the pandemic, companies have jostled for access to safety-related tools, such as protective gear and testing capacity to protect workers and give customers and staff more confidence in shared spaces. Now their focus has shifted to vaccines.

Read more at the WSJ


 

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Daily Briefing – 256

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday March 3rd.  The governor also made several announcements.

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,177
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 546

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,192
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 401

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .80
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.12%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.12

Useful Websites:


New York State Budget: Economic and Revenue Forecasts Presented

The Legislature’s fiscal committees released their economic and revenue analyses of the current fiscal year and the upcoming fiscal year.  The revenue consensus figures provide a fiscal framework for any spending beyond that put forward in the Governor’s proposed Executive Budget.  The revenue projections put forward by the Senate and the Assembly are significantly higher than the executive projections but all parties forecast robust economic recoveries for New York State in the state’s upcoming fiscal year.

The Executive Budget projections and the differences proposed by the Legislature’s analyses, exclusive of federal funds, are summarized in the article below.

Read More at JD Supra


NYS Vaccine Update – Marist College Among Three New Short Term Mass Vaccination Sites Open for J&J Vaccine

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday announced three new short term mass vaccination sites that will utilize the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in an expansion of New York’s roll-out of the new vaccine. Future vaccine allocations, when they are delivered, will be used to establish additional sites throughout the state. The sites will be located at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, SUNY Genesee in Batavia, Genesee County, and Jamestown Community College in Olean, Cattaraugus County. They will open Friday and aim to distribute vaccine in areas of the State that need additional options for residents. Each site will administer 3,500 Johnson & Johnson vaccines. New York will partner with local medical providers in setting up the operating these sites.

As of 11 am Thursday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 3,375,540 first doses and administered 96 percent or 3,231,841 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 90 percent of first and second doses (4,959,235) of the 5,515,260 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 533,465 first and second doses have been distributed, 4447,788 administered (84 percent). 


US Vaccination Rollout – States Rapidly Expanding Vaccine Access as Supplies Surge

Buoyed by a surge in vaccine shipments, states and cities are rapidly expanding eligibility for COVID-19 shots to teachers, Americans 50 and over and others as the U.S. races to beat back the virus and reopen businesses and schools. Indiana and Michigan will begin vaccinating those 50 and over, while Arizona and Connecticut have thrown open the line to those who are at least 55. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are reserving the first doses of the new one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson for teachers. And in Detroit, factory workers can get vaccinated starting this week, regardless of age.  There are no changes in New York’s eligibility guidelines. 

In the U.S., more Americans have now received at least one dose than have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. So far, 80.5 million doses have been given. In the last week, an average of 2.01 million doses per day were administered.  24.3 doses have been administered for every 100 people, and 75% of the shots delivered to states have been administered.

Read more at Bloomberg


Another 745,000 Americans Filed New Unemployment Claims

Weekly unemployment claims ticked up last week but by a smaller than expected margin, picking up slightly after reaching the lowest level since November during the prior week. The Department of Labor released its weekly report on new jobless claims on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Here were the main metrics included in the report, compared to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended February 27: 745,000 vs. 750,000 expected and a revised 736,000 during the prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended February 20: 4.295 million vs. 4.300 million expected and 4.419 million during the prior week

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Moderna, IBM Team Up for Vaccine Information Tracking, Sharing

IBM and Moderna announced plans Thursday to work together to identify technologies to track and share COVID-19 vaccine information. The companies said their aim is to securely provide information sharing between government jurisdictions, healthcare providers and individuals.

“If ever there was a time to rally around open technology and collaboration, it’s now,” said Jason Kelley, managing partner and global strategic alliances leader for IBM. “As governments, pharmacy chains, healthcare providers and life sciences companies continue to scale and connect their tools, and as new players enter the supply chain, open technology can help drive more transparency and bolster trust, while helping to ensure accessibility and equity in the process.”

Read more at UPI


How to Reduce Vaccine Hesitancy

Vaccines can only end this pandemic and prevent even more death and economic disruption if enough people get them, allowing a country to achieve herd immunity. Employers can play an essential role in achieving that goal by embracing the tenets of behavioral economics to combat vaccine hesitancy. This article From the Harvard Business Review offers 12 strategies that leverage the power of behavioral economics.

Read more at HBR


Senate Debates $1.9T American Rescue Plan

The Senate is began debating President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus and COVID-19 relief bill on Thursday after various negotiations produced a different version of the package.  The House passed the aid package last weekend, but two significant aspects have since been changed. The provision to raise the federal minimum wage requirement to $15 per hour will no longer be part of the bill and Biden has agreed to impose greater income restrictions for Americans to receive the $1,400 direct stimulus payment.

There will be up to 20 hours of debate on the bill followed by a period where senators can introduce an unlimited number of amendments to the legislation.  Republicans have threatened to introduce a plethora of amendments designed to make Democrats take votes on controversial issues like the reopening of in-person classes in schools.  


OPEC, Russia Send Oil Price Up With Deal to Contain Output

The OPEC oil cartel and allied countries left most of their production cuts in place amid worry that coronavirus restrictions could still undermine recovering demand for crude.  Many analysts had expected a small production increase as the price of oil has risen 30% since the start of the year on hopes that the pandemic will ease, allowing for an economic rebound that should increase energy consumption.

Instead, the group of oil producers opted for caution, and their decision in favor of supply restraint quickly sent crude oil prices even higher. The U.S. contract, which had plunged below zero last year as the pandemic restrictions on businesses devastated demand for energy, jumped about 5% on the day to over $64 a barrel.

Read more at WLOX


Powell Confirms Easy-Money Policies, Shrugs Off Inflation Fears – Remarks Send Markets Tumbling

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reaffirmed Thursday his intention of keeping the central bank’s easy-money policies in place until the labor market improves much further. “Today we’re still a long way from our goals of maximum employment and inflation averaging 2% over time.” The appearance came as brightening economic forecasts are pushing up long-term borrowing costs, which could complicate the Fed’s efforts to keep interest rates low to support the recovery. Bond markets sold off during his comments, sending yields higher, as prices and yields move in opposite directions. Stocks also tumbled, with the Dow industrials down more than 600 points.

He said the central bank will maintain ultralow interest rates until its employment and inflation goals have been met and it will continue hefty asset purchases until “substantial further progress has been made. He said he expected it would take “some time” to meet the conditions for considering a rate increase, but declined to be more specific about an anticipated time frame. 

Read more at the WSJ


Indian Vaccine-Maker Serum May Account for Almost Half the World’s Supply

Serum Institute has emerged as the one firm apparently able to ramp up production fast and export the doses without courting controversy. By the end of the year, Serum owner Adar Poonawalla says, it will add 1.5bn covid-19 shots to 1.3bn-1.5bn doses against diseases from measles to tuberculosis that it already produces annually. On February 23rd it dispatched the first mass shipment, of 70m shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, to India and two dozen other poor countries in the covax vaccine-sharing program. On March 1st Canada said it will procure 500,000 doses from the company.

The relatively small family concern, which entered last year with annual revenues of $735m and a workforce of 6,000, is becoming mission-critical to the global fight against the coronavirus.

Read more at The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 255

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press conference yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday March 2nd.  The governor also made several announcements:

  • Venues Will Be Able to Host Up to 100 People Indoors and Up to 200 People Outdoors; With Testing, Up to 150 People Indoors and Up to 500 People Outdoors; Social Distancing and Face Coverings Required
  • Domestic Travelers Are No Longer Required to Quarantine or Test-Out Within 90 Days of Full Vaccination; International Travelers Must Continue to Follow CDC Guidance
  • Beginning March 22, Outdoor Residential Gatherings Expanded to 25 People; 
  • Non-Residential Social Gatherings Expanded to 100 People Indoors and 200 People Outdoors

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,323
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 556

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,257
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 416

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .80
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.18%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.14

Useful Websites:


Republican Leaders Say Democrats’ Repeal of Cuomo’s Emergency Powers “Bogus”

Yesterday, New York State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt and Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay blasted the proposal advanced by the majorities in the State Legislature to, “supposedly revoke” Gov. Cuomo’s emergency powers. Barclay said, “Now that we’ve seen the details of what Democrats proposed, we can more fully appreciate it for the failure it is.  A year ago today, the governor signed the bill that expanded his authorities. In the past 12 months, we’ve seen lockdowns, business closures, jobs lost, schools in chaos, a nursing home coverup, and now criminal investigations and sexual harassment allegations. Somehow, Democrats still can’t seem to bring themselves to govern independently of Andrew Cuomo.”

Instead of immediately revoking the governor’s emergency powers the GOP said this bill “has been given the governor’s stamp of approval,” and removes the current expiration date of the governor’s emergency powers, currently set to expire on April 30, 2021 and left it open until the Federal government says the pandemic has ended.

Read More at The Niagara Frontier


NYS Vaccine Update – 24/7 J&J Sites Begin Vaccinations Tonight, More FEMA Sites to Open

Governor Cuomo Tuesday announced New York State is launching a  program to begin administering the Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine to eligible New Yorkers during the overnight hours at the Yankee Stadium, Javits Center and New York State Fair Mass Vaccination Sites.  As part of this effort, thousands of new appointments will be made available at each of the three sites in the coming days. Counties, pharmacies, and Federally Qualified Health Centers will also be receiving Johnson & Johnson allocations this week. 

As of 11 am Wednesday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 3,290,980 first doses and administered 90 percent or 3,125,025 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 90 percent of first and second doses (4,819,412) of the 5,372,605 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 520,305 first and second doses have been distributed, 433,776 administered (83 percent). 


US Vaccination Rollout – When Might a Majority of People Be Vaccinated?

Experts have estimated that 70 to 90 percent of the population needs to acquire resistance to the coronavirus to reach herd immunity. A number of factors will determine how quickly this threshold is met, especially the pace at which newly vaccinated people join those who are immune after past infections. But the presence of more transmissible virus variants could complicate that progress. The projection below from the NY Times only shows the share of the total population with at least one shot based on the current rate of vaccination, but it provides a rough indication of when the virus’s spread could begin to stall.

The US CDC reported Tuesday about 51.8 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 26.2 million people who have been fully vaccinated. 

Read more at the NY Times 


Vaccines Promised for All U.S. Adults by May 31st

The U.S. will have enough Covid-19 shots by the end of May to vaccinate all adults, Biden announced at a press conference yesterday. The authorization of the Johnson & Johnson shot plus a new deal to expand production mean supplies should be plentiful in the coming months. The president warned that the battle to defeat the virus is far from over,  The daily count of cases in the U.S. dropped below 50,000 for the first time since October.

Mr. Biden also called on states to give priority to teachers, school staff and child-care workers for vaccinations, as virtual learning continues for many students across the country. Several teachers unions have made vaccinations part of their negotiations for returning to in-person teaching. Mr. Biden said 30 states are giving priority to such workers for the shot.

Read more at the WSJ


SHRM Survey: 28% of Workers Don’t Want COVID-19 Vaccine

An alarmingly high number of employees assert that they have no intention of taking the vaccine, according to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). According to the survey of human resources professionals and employees in the United States, 60% of workers will probably or definitely get the vaccine once it becomes available to them, while approximately 28% say they would still choose not to get the vaccine, even if it meant losing their jobs.

The report also provides the HR professional and employee perspectives on the vaccine, employer and government incentives to get the vaccine, and how the pandemic has impacted remote work. Findings also highlight contrasting views on considerations that will factor into any return-to-work plan.

Read more at EHS Today


Biden Agrees Limit Number of People Who Will Get Checks in Covid Relief Plan

President Biden has backed a plan to cut the income caps for Americans to receive a direct payment as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package set to pass in the coming days, a Democratic source said Wednesday.  The phase-out levels for the $1,400 stimulus checks are:

  • $75,000 in income for single filers; the cap for receiving some payment is now $80,000
  • $112,500 for heads of households; the cap is now $120,000
  • $150,000 for joint filers; now capped at $160,000

The structure would slash the direct payment income caps approved by the House. Under the

Read more at CNBC


The Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefits Plans Continues

On Friday, February 26, 2021, the DOL released EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 (the “clarifying notice”).The notice provides guidance on the duration of the COVID-19 relief that was originally provided in the Notice of Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants and Beneficiaries (“the notice of extension”). Specifically, the DOL clarified that the extension of timeframes will continue until the earlier of a) one year from the date an individual or plan is first eligible for relief or b) 60 days after the announced end of the national emergency (the end of the “outbreak period”).

Many employers must continue to honor the extended timeframes for individuals who become eligible to make certain elections in 2020 or 2021. Only individuals who became eligible to make these elections at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic will have exhausted their timeframes under this relief. So employers will need to work with their vendors and plan administrators to ensure that timelines are being administered in accordance with the new understanding of the DOL’s guidance.

Read more at Associate Member Rose & Kiernan (an NFP Company)


Report: U.S. Infrastructure Gets ‘C-,’ $2.59 Trillion Over 10 Years Needed To Fix It

The United States faces a $2.59 trillion shortfall in infrastructure needs that requires a massive jump in government spending to address crumbling roads, bridges and other programs, according to an assessment by an engineers group issued on Wednesday.  

The report, published once every four years, gave the United States a “C-” overall — up from a D+ in 2017 — and marked the first time in two decades the country received a “C” range grade — but found the country is spending just over half of what is required, labeling overall U.S. infrastructure in “mediocre condition.”

Read more at Reuters


HOW Study: The Impact of Remote Work

Dov Seidman of the HOW Institute of Leadership surveyed 1000 U.S.-based professionals who moved to remote work during the pandemic. The study focused on their feelings of connection. “Humans are social animals,” Seidman says. “For human organizations to thrive, connections between and among individuals need to be meaningful and rooted in common purpose.” Among his findings:

  • Many workers reported their connection to their direct supervisors and to their organizations actually rose during the pandemic, a finding reinforced by studies like the Edelman trust survey which found trust in “my employer” went up. 
  • A significant plurality of respondents (44%) felt their connection to coworkers had gone down.
  • Feelings of disconnectedness were significantly higher among women and people under the age of 30.

Read more at the HOW Institute


WHO Official: Pandemic Unlikely to End in 2021

Global coronavirus case numbers increased last week after six consecutive weeks of decline as infections climbed in the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia and the eastern Mediterranean, the World Health Organization reports. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that countries should not rely solely on vaccinations to control the spread of the virus, while WHO Executive Director of emergency services Dr. Mike Ryan says it would be “premature” and “unrealistic” to think the pandemic will end in 2021.

Read more at The Guardian (free registration)


 

 

 

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