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Daily Briefing -208

Cuomo Outlines COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution in New York State

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

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

Read more about the distribution protocol at Local Syracuse

COVID and Cluster ‘Surge & Flex’ Update

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

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

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

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

Here are some useful websites:

White House Return to Stimulus Talks Boosts Chance of Deal

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

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

Read more at Bloomberg

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

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

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

See the polling at 538

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

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

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

Read more at Livemint

Deloitte CFO Survey:  Vaccines Make for Optimism 

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

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

Read more at Deloitte

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

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

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

Read more at IndustryWeek

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

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

Read more at EHS Today

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

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

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

Learn more and register

Manufacturers Push for Tax Deduction Extension

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

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


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Daily Briefing – 206

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

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

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

Read the transcript or listen to the audio

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

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

Read more at Statista

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

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

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

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

Here are some useful websites:

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

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

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

Read more at Business Insider

China Exports Surge by Forecast-Beating 21.1% in November

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

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

Read more at IndustryWeek

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

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

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

Manufacturing Economic Report 2020-1207

Automotive Highlights Manufacturing Jobs Gain in November

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

Read the full story at SME

Rolls Cuts Deeper into Jet-Engine Parts Production 

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

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

Read more at Foundry Management

3M Cut Workforce by 3%

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

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

Read more at IndustryWeek

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

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

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

Read the press release

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

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

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

Read more at NPR



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Daily Briefing – 205

Cluster Focus to Shift to Hospitalizations

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

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

Read the press release

COVID and Cluster Update 

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

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

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

Here are some useful websites:

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

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

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

Read more at Yahoo Finance

Manufacturers Add 27,000 Jobs in November

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

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

Read more at IndustryWeek

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

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

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

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

Read more at Fortune

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

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

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

Read more at the WSJ

States Forge COVID-19 Liability Shields

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

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

Read more at EHS Today

Johns Hopkins Looks at Worldwide Case Fatality Ratio

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

Johns Hopkins looks at Worldwide case fatality ratio (CFR)

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

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

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

Read more and see the charts at National Geographic


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Daily Briefing – 204

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing  yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday, December 2nd. The Governor also discussed the logistics of vaccine delivery, and that he would extend rent relief into the new year.

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

  • Clusters: 5.91%
  • Statewide: 4.63%
  • Mid-Hudson Region: 5.17%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 4.49%
  • Rockland yellow zone: 5.05%
  • Westchester yellow-zones (Peekskill  10.10, Ossining 9.77, Tarrytown 4.56, Yonkers 4.69 New Rochelle 5.77, Port Chester 8.58)
  • Orange Yellow Zones – (Newburgh 7.33, Middletown 6.30)
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 4,063 (783 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.11

Here are some useful websites:

Cuomo Executive Order Modifies to Allow In-Person Learning for Schools in Red and Orange Zones

“The directive contained in Order 202.68 that required the Department of Health to determine areas in the State that require enhanced public health restrictions based on cluster-based cases of COVID is hereby modified to provide that schools located within geographic areas designated by the Department of Health as “red zones” and “orange zones” may conduct in-person instruction during the period of time that the zone is designated “red” or “orange,” subject to compliance with guidance and directives of the Department of Health.”

Read the order

CDC Shortens Its COVID-19 Quarantine Recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its guidelines for people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Now, instead of the standard 14-day quarantine it has been recommending, the CDC says that potential exposure warrants a quarantine of 10 or seven days, depending on one’s test results and symptoms.

If individuals do not develop symptoms, they need only quarantine for 10 days; if they test negative, that period can be reduced to just one week.  The revision marks a significant change from the CDC’s recommendations since the start of the pandemic earlier this year. While the agency says a 14-day quarantine remains the safest option, it acknowledged this length placed difficult demands on people.

Read more at NPR

Coronavirus Stimulus Talks Moving in Right Direction, Party Leaders Say

One day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) signaled they would accept a smaller relief package than they had previously targeted, both sides indicated that shift could help move them closer to reaching an agreement on aid for businesses and families before the year’s end.

“That is at least movement in the right direction,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Thursday on the Senate floor. “Compromise is within reach. We know where we agree. We can do this.” Mr. McConnell also noted that Democrats’ shifting stance hadn’t eliminated many of the policy divisions that have stymied negotiations for months. Some of the most stubborn sticking points include funding for state and local governments prioritized by Democrats, but derided by President Trump as a bailout for Democratic-run states, as well as legal protections Republicans are seeking for businesses and other entities operating during the pandemic.

Read more at the WSJ

Jobless Claims Hit Pandemic-era Low as Hiring Continues

New jobless-claim filings last week reached their lowest level of the pandemic crisis, providing a sign that hiring is continuing if at a slower pace.

First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 712,000 last week, compared with 787,000 a week earlier and the Dow Jones estimate of 780,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.  Continuing claims also fell sharply, dropping 569,000 to 5.52 million.

Read more at CNBC

NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray Breaks Down the Changing Economy

 “The manufacturing sector has experienced solid growth in recent months, but lingering uncertainties about COVID-19 and supply chain disruptions continue to challenge businesses. Despite progress, there are roughly 600,000 fewer manufacturing workers today than before the pandemic, with production still down 4.8%. Activity has slowed of late, largely because of renewed virus outbreaks; although, the new restrictions have hit the service sector harder than manufacturing.”

Manufacturing Economic Outlook From Chad Moutray

Boeing 737 MAX Takes Flight Again

An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX airliner took to the skies for a short flight from Dallas, Texas to Tulsa, Oklahoma on December 2, as part of a Boeing publicity event hailing the return of the jet to service.

The plane carried about 90 people, including journalists, flight attendants, and American Airlines employees, making the 45-minute jaunt the first time the 737 has flown since the first half of 2019 with members of the public on board. According to the AP, American Airlines plans on returning the 737 to normal service December 29 with round trips from New York to Miami.

Read more at IndustryWeek

OPEC Plus Agree to Increase Output by 500,000 Barrels a Day in January

Oil prices rose after The Wall Street Journal first reported the that OPEC and a group of Russia-led oil producers agreed to increase their collective output by 500,000 barrels a day next month ending a standoff over oil policy among the two sides and promising a modest boost to global supplies as oil markets tighten.

The agreement marks a compromise among some of the world’s biggest producers after disagreement this week over whether or not to start raising output again. Members of the Organization of the Exporting Countries and a group of other big oil producers led by Russia agreed to the small increase, amounting to about a half percent of pre-pandemic global demand, during an online meeting Thursday, these people said.

Read more at the WSJ

Pandemic Spurs drug, Alcohol Use at Work

The pandemic is accelerating alcohol and drug addiction with one-third of employees since March admitting to using drugs or alcohol while working, according to, and over 40 states report increased death rates because of opioid abuse. American Addiction Centers says addiction costs employers $740 billion each year in health care expenses and lost productivity, and Standard Insurance Company’s Dan Jolivet offers advice on how employers can spot and help workers who might be struggling.

Read the full story at Employee Benefit News

Children’s Museum Partners with NASA To Develop “Pop-up” Museum 

The Mid Hudson Children’s Museum recently purchased a van and is partnering with NASA to create a new mobile “pop up” museum to bring STEM and space science programming into communities throughout the Hudson Valley.  This new “Space Science at Your Doorstep” initiative is made possible with the support of local businesses. 

Learn more about MHCM’s Corporate Sponsorship opportunities.


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Daily Briefing – 203

New York’s Contact Tracing Data: 70 Percent of New COVID-19 Cases Occur From Households and Small Gatherings

Governor today announced the release of a new PSA highlighting the dangers of COVID-19 “living room spread.” New York’s latest contact tracing data shows 70 percent of new COVID-19 cases originate from households and small gatherings. As the number of new cases continues to grow nationwide, the PSA encourages New Yorkers to avoid gatherings to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

View the PSA

COVID and Cluster Update 

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

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

  • Clusters: 5.88%
  • Rockland yellow zone: 4.83%
  • Westchester yellow-zones (Peekskill  9.57, Ossining 9.87, Tarrytown 4.72, Yonkers 5.05 New Rochelle 6.33, Port Chester 8.59)
  • Orange Yellow Zones – (Newburgh 7.49, Middletown 6.03)
  • Statewide: 4.63%
  • Mid-Hudson Region: 4.94%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 4.21%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 3,924 (742 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.11

Here are some useful websites:

State to Receive Initial Delivery of COVID-19 Vaccine Doses for 170,000 New Yorkers

New York State will receive an initial delivery of enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for 170,000 New Yorkers. If all safety and efficacy approvals are granted by the federal government, the state expects to receive the vaccines—which were created by Pfizer—on December 15. New York State expects additional allocations of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna later this month.

Read the press release

Pelosi and Schumer Back $900 Billion Coronavirus Stimulus Plan as Basis for Negotiations

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use a $908 billion bipartisan stimulus plan as the basis for relief talks as Congress scrambles to send aid to Americans before the end of the year. In a joint statement, the Democratic leaders endorsed a more narrow aid approach than they have previously. The California and New York Democrats had insisted on legislation that costs at least $2.2 trillion.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot down the bipartisan plan after its release Tuesday. He has endorsed only about $500 billion in spending in a new package.

Read more at CNBC

Biden’s Economic Team Charts a New Course for Globalization – With Trumpian Undertones

Joe Biden’s economic team is taking shape with plans to remake the Trump administration’s approach to economic relations overseas, with a distinction: agreement with President Trump’s assertion that globalization has been hard on many Americans but differences on how to address it.  The distinction shows Mr. Trump likely will have a lasting impact on the direction of U.S. economic policy, even though the incoming administration is trying to alter important parts of it.

For Mr. Biden’s new economic team, the election represents a bid to address the failings of globalization in a more cooperative manner with the rest of the world than Mr. Trump. Mr. Biden has signaled he wants to push allies for help confronting China and press for more aggressive programs domestically to help Americans hurt by trade, and aides have signaled a skepticism about using tariffs as a weapon in trade confrontations.

Read more at the WSJ

Biden Says He Will Not Kill Phase 1 Trade Deal with China Immediately

In an interview with Times columnist Thomas Friedman that gave clues to how the new administration will proceed on foreign policy, Biden said his top priority was getting a generous stimulus package through Congress, even before he takes power.  

Biden said he would pursue policies targeting China’s “abusive practices,” such as “stealing intellectual property, dumping products, illegal subsidies to corporations” and forcing “tech transfers” from U.S. companies to Chinese counterparts. “I’m not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs. I’m not going to prejudice my options,” President-elect Biden told Friedman.

Read more at Reuters

CDC Guidelines To Keep Employees Safe for a Happy Holiday Season

As we progress through the holiday season approaches and COVID-19 cases surge employers are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces. Most employees are suffering from fatigue, burnout, isolation, and loneliness from COVID-19 and will likely seek to reconnect with friends and family during the upcoming holiday season by attending gatherings, shopping, traveling, and other activities that increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many people. Gatherings during the upcoming holidays can be an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. This holiday season, consider how your holiday plans can be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep your friends, families, and communities healthy and safe.

CDC offers the following considerations to slow the spread of COVID-19 during small gatherings. These considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which all gatherings must comply.

Read the CDC recommendations and share them with your workforce

The Recovery of Low-Wage Jobs in Has Halted

A record 20 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in April, when the jobless rate hit a peak of 14.7%. And yet, even as the virus has persisted, the economy has begun to show signs of life. The latest figures, for October, put the unemployment rate at 6.9%.
These numbers are encouraging, but headline statistics can paint an incomplete picture. Opportunity Insights, a research group at Harvard University, has recently published a database on how well America’s businesses and workers are faring, by region. Their data, aggregated from private providers, offer a much more granular look at the state of the economy. They reveal that not all Americans have benefited equally from the recovery.

Cold, Hard Mission for a US Warehouse: Help Stop COVID

A warehouse in the US city of Baltimore may seem an unlikely place to help save the country from the Covid-19 pandemic, but Brian Gallizzo is prepared to do just that. “We are ready, we have our tanks full,” Gallizzo, chief financial officer for the six-decade-old family firm Capitol Carbonic, told AFP.

How his company will help is by keeping things cool — extremely cool. Capitol produces dry ice, a necessary component to distribute pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, which could receive government approval soon. Pfizer called Capitol because it was on the hunt for the quarter-inch pellets it spits out of a machine resembling a giant spaghetti maker in its Baltimore warehouse. The dry ice pellets are needed to keep Pfizer’s vaccine at just the right, very chilly, temperature.

Read more at IndustryWeek

DiNaploi: Statewide Job Losses Since February Still Above 1 Million

After losing more than 1.9 million jobs in March and April, New York State saw steady gains, averaging over 174,000 jobs in each of the following five months. That progress nearly halted in October, when statewide employment rose by less than 11,000. That brought the State’s job total to nearly 8.8 million, a cumulative increase of 881,000 since April—but, still, nearly 1.1 million below pre-pandemic levels in February.

From a regional perspective, New York City lost approximately 938,000 jobs in March and April, almost half the statewide total. As a percentage of February employment, however, the downstate suburban region took a sharper hit, experiencing a decline of more than 21 percent compared to 20 percent in the City and 18.1 percent in the rest of New York State. As of October, the downstate suburbs had recovered at a faster rate than the other two regions, recouping over 58 percent of lost jobs, as shown in the nearby chart. New York City saw only slight job gains in the month of October, while the rest of the State lost more than 14,000 jobs.

Read more and see some informative charts at the Controller’s website

NY Fed: The Regional Economy During the Pandemic

The New York-Northern New Jersey region experienced an unprecedented downturn earlier this year, one more severe than that of the nation, and the region is still struggling to make up the ground that was lost. That is the key takeaway at an economic press briefing held today by the New York Fed examining economic conditions during the pandemic in the Federal Reserve’s Second District. Despite the substantial recovery so far, business activity, consumer spending, and employment are all still well below pre-pandemic levels in much of the region, and fiscal pressures are mounting for state and local governments. Importantly, job losses among lower-wage workers and people of color have been particularly consequential. The pace of recovery was already slowing in the region before the most recent surge in coronavirus cases, and we are now seeing signs of renewed weakening as we enter the winter.

Read more at the NY Fed



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Daily Briefing – 202

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing call yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday, November 30th. 

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

  • Clusters: 6.20%
  • Rockland yellow zone: 4.52%
  • Westchester yellow-zones (Peekskill  9.55, Ossining 10.03, Tarrytown 5.55, Yonkers 4.75 New Rochelle 6.51, Port Chester 8.54)
  • Orange Yellow Zones – (Newburgh 7.30, Middletown 5.28)
  • Statewide: 4.96%
  • Mid-Hudson Region: 4.72%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 4.40%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 3,774 (718 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.11

Here are some useful websites:

Cuomo Announces Winter Plan to Combat COVID-19 Surge 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York’s plan for combating COVID-19 this winter. Over the past week, Governor Cuomo and the state’s COVID Task Force has worked in consultation with global public health experts, local governments and other stakeholders to ensure that the plan builds off the lessons learned during the past nine months to anticipate and prepare for an expected increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations over the Holiday season.

Specifically, the winter plan consists of five targeted strategies focused on mitigating the spread of the virus and bolstering New York State hospital preparedness including:

  • Continue and Strengthen New York’s Targeted Micro-Cluster Strategy while Managing Hospital Capacity to Enhance and Equalize Care;
  • Increase and Balance Testing Resources and Availability;
  • Keep Schools Open Safely;
  • Prevent Viral Spread from Small Gatherings; and
  • Operationalize an Equitable and Safe Vaccination Program

Read the Governor’s press release

Stimulus Update: What the Bipartisan Senators’ $900 Billion Package Does and Doesn’t Include

Yesterday a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a stimulus package in the $900 billion ballpark.

The bipartisan package proposed by senators including Republicans Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, and Democrats Joe Manchin and Mark Warner, would come in around $908 billion. That is well below the $2.2 trillion price tag sought by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while far greater than the $500 billion packages voted on this fall by Senate Republicans, though the specifics of the deal are subject to change.

See what details are known and read more at Fortune

Fed Chair Powell Calls Economic Outlook ‘Extraordinarily Uncertain’ – Stresses Importance of lending programs

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell emphasized the importance of the lending programs it has deployed during the coronavirus pandemic, telling senators in testimony delivered Tuesday that they’ve been integral in keeping the economic fallout from being worse.

Many of the key programs that the central bank has used since March are expiring at the end of the year, and the Fed will be forced to return the funding that supports them.

Read more at CNBC

OECD Lifts Economic Outlook Sees China Driving Global Recovery

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) expects the global economy to build momentum over the coming two years, with real gross domestic product (GDP) growth projected to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021.  In its latest economic outlook, the OECD said it expects the global economy to contract 4.2% this year. That reflects an upward revision from an estimate made in September that pointed to a 4.5% fall in real GDP.  Looking ahead, the group said worldwide economic growth would average 4% over the next two years. It expects real GDP growth to hit 4.2% in 2021 — trimmed from a September forecast of 5% — and 3.7% in 2022

It said China was expected to account for over one-third of world economic growth in 2021, while the contribution of Europe and North America “will remain smaller than their weight in the world economy.”

Read more at CNBC

Joe Biden Fills Out His Economic Team

President-elect Joe Biden fleshed out his economic team. He confirmed his nomination of Janet Yellen, a former head of the Federal Reserve, as his treasury secretary. He wants Wally Adeyemo to be her deputy and Neera Tanden the director of the Office of Management and Budget. All are considered moderates. However, Mr Biden also selected several more-progressive economic advisers.

Mr. Biden’s selections include outspoken advocates for aggressive fiscal stimulus to help return the economy quickly to its pre-pandemic health, a cause that could run into resistance in a closely divided Congress. The advisers are also known for advocating expanded government spending they say would boost the economy’s long-term potential, in areas that are liberal priorities such as education, infrastructure and the green economy, and policy changes aimed at narrowing racial disparities in the economy.

Read more at the WSJ

ISM index falls to 57.5% in November from 59.3%

The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index fell to 57.5% in November from a 21-month high of 59.3% in the prior month. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast the index to total 58%.

Although readings over 50% indicate growth, companies encountered more struggles in November with worker absenteeism, temporary plant closures, and an inability to fill open jobs. The index for new orders slipped to 65.1% from a 16-year high of 67.9% in October. The production gauge dipped to 60.8% from 63.0%. Employment was the biggest negative. The employment index fell back into negative territory, dropping to 48.4% from 53.2%.

Read more at MarketWatch

Lessons Learned: 2020, COVID-19 and the Future of Manufacturing

The totality of the changes 2020 required will be studied in textbooks for years. It was a unique high-stakes, high-speed innovation race, the likes of which the world has rarely experienced. Some of these changes will likely prove to be temporary, though others—particularly around the technological and automation implementations it included—have already begun to reshape the industry in permanent ways.

To help understand these changes, IndustryWeek pulled together an elite panel of manufacturing executives and experts for the closing keynote of the Manufacturing & Technology Virtual conference. The panel keynote, “The Future of Manufacturing,” takes a look back at the full 2020 experience and then ahead at the future it will create from a wide range of perspectives—from robotics and 3D printing to supply chain and smart manufacturing, and everything in between.

Johns Hopkins Report: 13 Million Cases

The US reported 12,999,624 cases on November 27, and it is likely that the US would have surpassed 13 million cases a day earlier, if not for delayed reporting over the Thanksgiving holiday.

It appears as though the national daily incidence may have passed an inflection point in mid-November. Prior to Thanksgiving, the daily incidence in a number of states—including Illinois, Iowa, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin, all of which exhibited very high incidence during the current surge—began to taper off. However, with the interruptions to COVID-19 reporting and the varying trends at the state level, it could be a little more difficult to anticipate daily incidence trends over the next week or so. Regardless of what the daily incidence trend looks like in the wake of Thanksgiving, COVID-19 mortality in the US will likely continue to increase due to consistent and sharp increases in daily incidence over the past several weeks.

Read more at Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security Situation Report


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Daily Briefing – 201

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, November 29th. The Governor reminded New Yorkers that Thanksgiving was not the end, but just the beginning of the dangerous Holiday Season “You are not just going into the Thanksgiving weekend, you’re starting a 37-day holiday period. It’s not a one- or two-day affair—it’s going to be the entire holiday season. New Yorkers need to stay vigilant, wash their hands, wear masks, socially distance and follow the rules as we move through the next 37 days and beyond.” He said. 

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

  • Clusters: 6.22%
  • Rockland yellow zone: 4.23%
  • Westchester yellow-zones (Peekskill  8.43, Ossining 10.65, Tarrytown 6.38, Yonkers 5.03 New Rochelle 6.19, Port Chester 7.91)
  • Orange Yellow Zones – (Newburgh 7.66, Middletown 4.78)
  • Statewide: 4.57%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 4.02%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 3,532 (681 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.11

Here are some useful websites:

China’s Factory Activity Expands at Fastest Pace in More Than Three Years

Upbeat data released on Monday suggests the world’s second-largest economy is on track to become the first to completely shake off the drag from widespread industry shutdowns, with recent production data showing manufacturing now at pre-pandemic levels.

China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) rose to 52.1 in November from 51.4 in October, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed. It was the highest PMI reading since September 2017 and remained above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. It was also higher than the 51.5 median forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Read more at Reuters

OPEC Faces Seismic Demand Split as Cartel Plots Next Move

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to weigh on global oil demand, the OPEC oil producers’ club on Monday began a meeting in which they are expected to decide on an extension of production cuts.

The common goal of the 13 member states, who will be joined by Russia and other allies forming the OPEC+ grouping on Tuesday, is to keep afloat a crude market devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic and which is slowly recovering from the depths into which prices plunged at the end of April. However, most observers expect the cut instead to be extended by three to six months to take into account the ongoing effects of the virus.

Read more at Bloomberg

Moderna Says New Data Shows Covid Vaccine is More Than 94% Effective, Asks FDA for Emergency Clearance

Moderna Monday requested emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for its coronavirus vaccine after new data confirms the vaccine is more than 94% effective in preventing Covid-19 and was safe. The new analysis from Moderna evaluated 196 confirmed Covid infections among the late-stage trial’s 30,000 participants. The company said 185 cases of Covid were observed in the placebo group versus 11 cases observed in the group that received its vaccine. That resulted in an estimated vaccine efficacy of 94.1%, the company said.

Moderna hopes to provide the U.S. government with 20 million doses by the end of the year, and Pfizer says it should have 50 million doses to split between the United States and other countries that made advanced purchase agreements.

Read more at CNBC

How COVID-19 Forced Companies to Reinvent Themselves

Long-term plans for technology, localized supply chains and the ability to quickly pivot production have helped companies such as furniture maker Ethan Allen and pizza maker Domino’s survive the pandemic, write Jennifer Pellet and Dale Buss. “If our focus was three to five years, like most companies, we would do like everyone else and go after higher margins by buying products made in East Asia,” says Ethan Allen CEO Farooq Kathwari.

The Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon on What Democrat Supermajorities in Albany Might Mean To the State’s Fiscal Situation and Economy

When most of the state’s record 1.9 million mail-in ballots were finally counted this week, it became clear that the New York State Senate’s existing 40-member Democratic majority would grow by at least two seats—giving them their first-ever two-thirds supermajority of the 63-member chamber, enough to override gubernatorial vetoes.

“Economic reality doesn’t factor into the rising Albany worldview. On average, the state’s incoming class of legislators are more inclined to tax, spend, and regulate—and far from hesitating to impose more restrictions on a shaky economy, they see the pandemic-driven crisis as an opportunity to be exploited.”

Read more at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal

GM Revises Nikola Deal, Won’t Build Electric Pickup

General Motors has agreed to a new deal with Nikola under which GM will build the fuel-cell system for Nikola’s Class 7 and 8 semi-trucks. The revision means GM won’t take an equity stake or manufacture Nikola’s planned electric pickup.

In September, the companies announced a deal under which GM would supply batteries, a chassis architecture, fuel cell systems and a factory to build Nikola’s proposed Badger electric pickup in return for an 11% stake and $700 million. But the deal came into question after a short seller criticised Nikola as a fraud, something Nikola has denied.

Read the full story at Reuters

Study: Covid Infections in England Fall By 30% After Lockdown

Coronavirus infections in England have fallen by about a third over lockdown, according to a major study. Some of the worst-hit areas saw the biggest improvements – but, despite this progress, cases remained relatively high across England.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the data showed the country could not “take our foot off the pedal just yet”.  The findings by Imperial College London were based on swabbing more than 100,000 people between 13-24 November.

Read more at the BBC

New York Federal Reserve President John Williams More Optimistic About Economic Recovery

In an interview carried live on the Wall Street Journal’s website, President Williams said the lending facilities stood up earlier this year were effective and that “if we did see a need to use those kinds of facilities again, we could restart them if that was appropriate.” In separate remarks before the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, Williams said he is more optimistic about the economic recovery given positive developments, including a stronger than expected rebound, and developments regarding COVID-19 vaccines. But he noted that the labor force is still down millions of jobs since COVID-19 pandemic first hit and emphasized that Fed’s commitment to help the economy get back to “full strength.”

Watch the Q&A at the WSJ

Two Surveys for New York State Manufacturers From FuzeHub: PPE, and Reshoring & Supply Chain

The New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NYMEP) is helping manufacturers statewide to access Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in response to COVID-19. Grants are available for NYS manufacturers of PPE. Please take this brief survey.

Learn more and take the survey

We continue to listen to New York State Manufacturers on how their Supply Chains have been affected by Covid-19 and Tariffs. We NEED to hear from you! Was your supply chain disrupted by Covid-19? | Are your imported goods falling short on deliver or quality? | Do you want to develop a strategy to better sell to domestic clients? | Have you been impacted by Tariffs? | Were you unaware of the Risks to your supply chain? If YES to any of those, please take part in our Supply Chain Program Survey.

Learn more and take the Survey


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Daily Briefing – 200

Be Extra Diligent in the Workplace This Week to Prevent Post Thanksgiving Spread

We encourage you to be mindful and extra diligent this week as employees return to the workplace following the Thanksgiving holiday.  Masks, social distancing, hand washing and surface cleaning can help you keep your people safe and your factory running. 

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, November 28th. 

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

  • Clusters: 5.83%
  • Rockland yellow zone: 3.94%
  • Westchester yellow-zones (Peekskill  7.23, Ossining 9.96, Tarrytown 7.85, Yonkers 4.84 New Rochelle 5.44, Port Chester 7.21)
  • Orange Yellow Zones – (Newburgh 8.57, Middletown 3.81)
  • Statewide: 4.27%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 3.75%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 3372 (667 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.09

Here are some useful websites:

New York’s Cluster Zones: BSKs Updated Frequently Asked Questions (11/25)

There have been significant changes to New York’s cluster action initiative. On November 23rd Governor Cuomo updated the already-existing cluster zones and added new cluster zones in Long Island, New York City, as well as in Monroe and Onondaga Counties. Below, BSK Attorneys discuss frequently asked questions about the clusters and updated maps for the cluster zones.

See the Updated FAQs and Maps at BSK

America Will be the First Country to Roll Out a Covid-19 Vaccine – Here’s How the Federal Government and States Plan To Do It

From the Economist  – Organizing America’s supplies of covid-19 vaccines is the task of Operation Warp Speed, a program set up by the current administration in May. It pre-purchased 100m doses of both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines this summer, and large quantities have already been made. Each firm expects to have about 20m doses ready to distribute in America by the end of this year. This amount is roughly what would be needed to inoculate all America’s health-care workers, who are a priority group for the first vaccine supplies.

Next will come groups particularly vulnerable to the disease, including essential workers at high risk of infection (such as police officers, teachers and bus drivers), care-home residents, people with high-risk medical conditions and those over 65. The order of priority between these groups, which are suggested by the CDC and other national health agencies, may vary somewhat from state to state. The current plan is that vaccine supplies, as they become available, will be divvied up among states and six big metropolitan areas proportionately to their population. Each state will decide how to distribute them. At the current pace of vaccine production, widespread vaccination of the elderly is not on the cards until February.

Read more at the Economist (COVOD Coverage remains free)

CDC Finalizing Recommendation to Shorten Covid-19 Quarantines

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may soon shorten the length of time it recommends that a person self-quarantine after potential exposure to the coronavirus, hoping that such a step will encourage more people to comply, a top agency official said.

CDC officials are finalizing recommendations for a new quarantine period that would likely be between seven and 10 days and include a test to ensure a person is negative for Covid-19, said Henry Walke, the agency’s incident manager for Covid-19 response. Agency officials are discussing the exact time period and what type of test a person would be given to exit quarantine, he said.

Read more at the WSJ

Weekly Jobless Claims Higher Than Expected, Continuing Claims Fall

Claims totaled 778,000 for the week ended Nov. 21, ahead of the 733,000 expectation from economists surveyed by Dow Jones and up from 742,000 the previous week, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.  Continuing claims for those collecting benefits for at least two weeks maintained their decline, falling to 6.07 million, a drop of 299,000.

The news comes amid an ongoing rise in coronavirus cases and worries that the national health system is becoming stressed. New daily cases have averaged 174,225 over the past week, and health officials worry that Thanksgiving could send that level higher as families across the country travel to celebrate the holiday.

Read more at CNBC

Holiday Sales to Grow Between 3.6%- 5.2% Says Industry Group

Continued consumer resilience is helping retail sales rebound, the National Retail Federation said on Nov. 23. This caused the industry group to forecast that holiday sales during November and December will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion.

The numbers compare with a 4% increase to $729.1 billion last year and an average holiday sales increase of 3.5% over the past five years.

Read more at Material Handling & Logistics

Consumer Spending Up a Slight 0.5% as Virus Maintains Grip

U.S. consumers increased their spending by a sluggish 0.5% last month, the weakest rise since April, when the pandemic first erupted, and a sign that Americans remain wary with the virus resurging across the country and threatening the economy.

The October gain reported Wednesday by the Commerce Department followed a seasonally adjusted 1.2% increase in September. It suggested that consumer spending, the primary driver of the U.S. economy, is being restrained by a weakened economy and by the failure of Congress to provide another stimulus package to struggling individuals and businesses.  The government’s report also showed that income, which provides the fuel for spending, fell 0.7% in October.

Read more from the AP

United Begins Flying Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine

United Airlines Holdings Inc. UAL -0.74% on Friday began operating charter flights to position doses of Pfizer Inc.’s PFE 1.92% Covid-19 vaccine for quick distribution if the shots are approved by regulators, according to people familiar with the matter.

The initial flights are one link in a global supply chain being assembled to tackle the logistical challenge of distributing Covid-19 vaccines. Pfizer has been laying the groundwork to move quickly if it gets approval from the Food and Drug Administration and other regulators world-wide.

Read more at the WSJ

Bipartisan Policy Center Survey: Women Leaving the Workforce at Unprecedented Rates

A new survey conducted by Morning Consult for the Bipartisan Policy Center finds that nearly one quarter of the women who have left work since the coronavirus pandemic began did so to manage their caregiving responsibilities.

The September monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that, among people over 20, four times more women than men left employment. Specifically, 865,000 women dropped out of the U.S. workforce, while 216,000 men did the same.

Read more at the Bipartisan Resource Center

What Exit Polls Say About Georgia’s Senate Runoffs

It’s hard to predict how many will vote — and by what means — in January, but the U.S. Elections Project says nearly 825,000 people had so far requested mail-in ballots by Wednesday morning. Georgians have until January 1 to send their requests, although the U.S. Postal Service recommends sending requests as early as possible. Voters can register for the runoff until December 7, and early voting will take place beginning December 14.

Most Georgians have likely already made their decisions about who’s getting their vote. No voter who spoke with CBS News planned to switch votes in the January contests. A week before the November election, CBS News polling showed just 4% of likely voters were undecided in the Perdue-Ossoff race. Perdue led with 49.7% to Ossoff’s 47.9%, falling just 0.3% short of outright victory. Libertarian Shane Hazel was eliminated with 2.3% of the vote. 

Read more at CBS News


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Daily Briefing – 199

Happy Thanksgiving

The Daily Briefing will be taking a few days for the Thanksgiving holiday returning Monday, November 30th.  We wish all of our readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday, November 23rd. The Governor also acknowledged the passing of former Mayor David Dinkins, Criticized the NRC’s approval of the sale of Indian Point, and announced plans to distribute Thanksgiving meals to those in need across the State. 

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

  • Clusters: 4.13%
  • Rockland yellow zone: 3.15%
  • Westchester yellow-zones (Peekskill  6.47, Ossining 10.51, Tarrytown 7.47, Yonkers 4.35 New Rochelle 4.99, Port Chester 7.71)
  • Orange Yellow Zones – (Newburgh 8.82, Middletown 3.65)
  • Statewide: 2.96%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.62%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 2856 (559 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.13

Here are some useful websites:

New York Democrats Declare Supermajority in State Senate

Preliminary election results on November 4 showed New York state Senate Democrats trailing behind in numerous key races.  However, absentee ballots have weighed heavily in Democrats’ favor this year, helping them to slowly gain ground across the state when results were finally tallied.

On Monday, state Senate Democrats triumphantly declared that they will be walking into Senate chambers next year with a supermajority for the first time in history. Democrats will now have the ability to override any vetoes that Governor Andrew Cuomo issues and be in charge of redrawing district lines.

Read more at Spectrum News

Hudson Valley Unemployment Figures

The NYS Department of Labor reported that the October 2020 unemployment rate for the Hudson Valley Region is 6.5 percent.  That is up from 6.4 percent in September 2020 and up from 3.6 percent in October 2019.  In October 2020, there were 71,900 unemployed in the region, up from 71,200 in September 2020 and up from 41,800 in October 2019. 

Year-over-year in October 2020, labor force decreased by 48,200 or 4.2 percent, to 1,099,600.

Labor Market Profile (Hudson Valley) OCT 2020

What a Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Would Mean – Dow Closes Above 30,000 on News of Her Selection

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will face an enormous challenge if she is confirmed by the Senate to serve as Treasury Secretary: pulling the U.S. out of the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

With COVID-19 cases rising and a vaccine still months away, markets appear to be focused on what a Treasury Secretary Yellen would mean for a prospective stimulus deal. On the day after the Wall Street Journal initially reported that President-elect Joe Biden picked Yellen for the job, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) climbed to break 30,000 for the first time.

Read more at Yahoo Finance

General Motors Drops Objections to California Fuel Standards

In a letter to the leaders of various environmental groups sent November 24, CEO Mary Barra announced that General Motors  Co. was switching sides in the struggle to define U.S. auto efficiency standards. The letter said GM would remove its support for the EPA’s rollback on efficiency limits and commit to “an all-electric, zero emission future.”

According to the Detroit Free Press, President-elect Biden spoke with Barra and UAW President Rory Gamble last week about his “Build Back Better” plan, which involves plans to expand vehicle electrification, install new charging stations, and support EV manufacturers.

Read more at the Detroit Free Press

Operation Warp Speed Refines Vaccine Delivery Plan

Charged with developing and delivering a vaccine to 300 million Americans, Operation Warp Speed paired military planners with experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work the details of a monumental plan. At the core of the distribution plan are the basic tenets of visibility, coverage, uptake and traceability, Ostrowski explained. Visibility of the vaccine is essential, particularly since the number of doses up front will be limited. 

Read more at DOD

COVID-19 Travel Health Notice Levels and Testing for International Travelers

On November 21, CDC revised the Travel Health Notice system for COVID-19 and released new recommendations for testing before and after international air travel to help the public make informed decisions for safer, healthier, and more responsible travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For most diseases, the Travel Health Notices have 3 levels. This new 4-level travel health notice system is specific to COVID-19 and details the level of COVID-19 in international destinations and U.S. territories. The COVID-19 Travel Health Notices now indicate low, moderate, high, and very high levels of COVID-19 for each destination and are based primarily on incidence rate (or new case counts in destinations with populations of 200,000 or less) and trajectory of new cases (whether new cases over the past 28 days are increasing, decreasing, or stable). CDC has and will continue to review data daily to ensure travelers have the most up-to-date information to inform their decisions.


EU to Clear 737 MAX to Fly in January

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will lift its grounding order on Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft in January 2021, the panel’s executive director has confirmed. Such a decision, which would parallel one delivered by the Federal Aviation Administration on November 18, will allow Boeing to resume deliveries of the narrow-body jets to EU customers, and allow those carriers to proceed with updating their current 737 MAX fleets and complete pilot training for the revised flight-control system.

EASA will issue a directive soon proposing how the grounding order will be lifted, to be followed by a 30-day comment period. FAA took the same approach in October, leading to the clearance earlier this month.  

Read more at American Machinist

GE Plans More Job Cuts in Aviation Division

In an internal video message delivered a week before the Thanksgiving holiday, new GE Aviation boss John Slattery said business conditions are difficult and the unit would need to shrink over the next 18 months, according to people familiar with the matter.

More jobs would be lost, he said, but the cuts would be more focused than two rounds of layoffs earlier this year that ultimately eliminated 25% of the division’s 52,000 global employees. Mr. Slattery didn’t disclose the number of jobs that would be cut in the video, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Read more at the WSJ

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Approves Indian Point Sale to Holtec

Holtec International’s purchase of the Indian Point nuclear power plant was approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Monday over the objections of state and federal officials. The five-member commission signed off on an NRC staff recommendation from last week, which gave Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, permission to transfer its license to Holtec when the plant shuts down next year.

The commission did, however, agree to “rescind, modify, or condition the transfer” after it decides whether to grant the state of New York and the Hudson River environmental group Riverkeeper a hearing to air their concerns with the sale.

Read more at LoHud


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Daily Briefing – 198

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, November 22nd. 

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

  • Clusters: 4.48%
  • Rockland Red zone: 3.39%
  • Westchester yellow-zones (Peekskill  7.29, Ossining 10.11, Tarrytown 8.80, Yonkers 4.38 New Rochelle 5.20, Port Chester 7.94)
  • Orange Yellow Zones – (Newburgh 8.68, Middletown 3.84)
  • Statewide: 3.08%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.73%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 2724 (545 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.13

Here are some useful websites:

Bond Schoeneck & King’s FAQs about New York’s Cluster Zones

There have been significant changes to New York’s cluster action initiative. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has updated the already-existing cluster zones and added new cluster zones in the Bronx, Queens and the Hudson Valley, as well as in Erie and Niagara Counties. Below, we discuss frequently asked questions about the clusters and updated maps for the cluster zones.

In this post, BSK attorneys discuss frequently asked questions about the clusters and updated maps for the cluster zones

Read more at BSK

Manufacturing Economy Report – Housing Surges Plus Mfg Jobs, Output and Capacity

Manufacturing production increased 1.0% in October, strengthening after edging up just 0.1% in September and rising for the sixth straight month. Manufacturing capacity utilization rose from 71.0% in September to 71.7% in October. This represents tremendous progress from the spring, but down from 75.2% in February. Total industrial production also rebounded in October, up 1.1% for the month, boosted by strength in manufacturing and utilities, but down 5.3% year-over-year.

Surveys from the Kansas City, New York and Philadelphia Federal Reserve Banks each found continuing expansions in November in their districts, albeit with some slowing. Respondents remained upbeat in their outlook. In the Kansas City release, more than 50% had issues finding talent.

Monday Economic Report 2020-1123

US Economy Hurtles Toward ‘COVID Cliff’ With Programs Set to Expire

March’s CARES Act set up myriad programs to give people economic relief in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which are set to expire on Dec. 31. Unless a divided Congress can reach a deal to extend the programs, the country’s economic suffering could skyrocket. “It’s a lot of risk to be putting on the economy at a time when so many other pressures are already underway,” said Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is pushing for a $2.2 trillion package, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who endorses a more limited $500 billion approach, have yet to hold a meeting on the subject. Their staffs have not discussed the matter either.

Read more at The Hill

GSA  Begins Transition Process 

A federal agency said the Trump administration would provide President-elect Joe Biden resources to transition to the White House, ending a delay that had come under increasing criticism from members of both parties. The decision by the GSA comes as Michigan on Monday certified the results of the election and legal setbacks piled up for Mr. Trump and his allies. No evidence of significant voter fraud has been produced, and Republican allies in Congress had signaled growing impatience with Mr. Trump and his team.

Read more at the WSJ

Biden Names Some Cabinet Members

The week of Thanksgiving, Biden named key nominees for his foreign policy and national security teams, including Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. Haines would be the first woman to serve in the role if confirmed. Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for homeland security secretary, would be the first Latino and immigrant in that position.

Biden also tapped former Secretary of State John Kerry for a new White House position as special presidential envoy for climate. Kerry will serve on the National Security Council.

Read more at NPR

Economists Are Calling for More Stimulus. Here’s Where Assistance Plans Stand

For Americans who have had a tough year financially amid Covid-19, a second set of $1,200 stimulus checks would provide some much welcome relief.  But lawmakers on Capitol Hill still need to work out their differences before they can approve another coronavirus stimulus package that will trigger those payments.

Now, a group of more than 125 economists including Jason Furman, a former top economic advisor to President Barack Obama, is calling for more direct cash payments to American families to help them weather the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The initiative was organized by the Economic Security Project, an advocate of guaranteed income.

Read more at CNBC

IHS Markit: U.S. Manufacturing, Services Activity Expanding Rapidly in November

U.S. business activity expanded at the fastest rate in more than five years in November led by the quickest pickup in manufacturing since September 2014, a survey showed on Monday in an indication the economy keeps making progress at clambering out of the COVID-19 recession even as infections surge.

Markit’s manufacturing index climbed to 56.7 from 53.4 in October, above the median forecast in a Reuters economists’ poll of 53. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Read more at Reuters

AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Shown to be Effective and Cheaper

Drug maker AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, buoying the prospects of a relatively cheap, easy-to-store product that may become the vaccine of choice for the developing world.  The results are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.

AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. But unlike the others, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at freezer temperatures, making it potentially easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.

Read more at the AP

US Approves Regeneron Antibody Treatment

A Covid-19 antibody therapy used to treat President Donald Trump was approved by the US drug regulator on Saturday for people who aren’t yet hospitalized by the disease but are at high risk.

The green light for drug maker Regeneron came after REGEN-COV2, a combination of two lab-made antibodies, was shown to reduce Covid-19-related hospitalizations or emergency room visits in patients with underlying conditions.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Tumbling Community-College Enrollment Highlights Pandemic’s Broad Impact

Enrollment tumbled this fall at community colleges around the country, flipping a longstanding trend in which people flock to school when the economy weakens and raising concerns about the colleges’ financial outlook. Overall enrollment at public two-year colleges fell 9.5% in the fall term, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Enrollment by first-year students plummeted 18.9%, indicating that some people who weren’t yet on the path to a degree are sidestepping it entirely right now.

One factor in the widespread decline is that out-of-work adults don’t know what skills to be pursuing for when the economy does rebound.

Read more at the WSJ

Many Employers Avoid Coronavirus Tests Over Cost, Not Availability

A survey by Arizona State University and the World Economic Forum, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, has found that companies most frequently cited cost and complexity as the biggest deterrents to testing their workers.

The findings, based on responses from 1,141 facilities at over 1,100 companies worldwide from September through late October, are consistent with earlier reports suggesting that many employers have been able to obtain testing relatively quickly if they absorb the expense. In many cases, however, employers have indicated that they feel the benefits do not outweigh the costs. Over all, 17 percent of the facilities surveyed worldwide said they were testing workers. At least half of those facilities were doing so even for workers without symptoms, and roughly half were testing workers at least once a week.

Read more at the New York Times


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Daily Briefing -197

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, November 21st and reminding New Yorkers that as Thanksgiving and the holidays approach, “we must wash our hands, wear our masks and avoid gatherings to keep the infection rate down.” 

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

  • Clusters: 4.39%
  • Rockland Red zone: 3.39%
  • Westchester yellow-zones (Peekskill  7.15, Ossining 10.22, Tarrytown 8.27, Yonkers 4.11 New Rochelle 5.68, Port Chester 7.59)
  • Orange Yellow Zones – (Newburgh 7.89, Middletown 5.41)
  • Statewide: 2.74%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.29%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 2562 (502 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.25

Here are some useful websites:

Pfizer, BioNTech Submit Formal Application to FDA to Authorize Covid-19 Vaccine

The drug maker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech applied on Friday to the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization for their Covid-19 vaccine, a watershed moment in the effort to curb the global pandemic.

Hours later, the FDA announced that a panel of outside experts, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee or VRBPAC, will meet Dec. 10 to review the data and advise the agency on whether to approve the emergency use request and what conditions, if any, to put on the vaccine’s use.  It is widely expected that the FDA will then issue an emergency use authorization for the two-dose vaccine, which has been shown to be highly effective in preventing Covid infections. Officials have said they hope to begin vaccination of health workers — who will be at the front of the line for the limited first doses — in some locations within days of the authorization.  It it unlikely to be authorized for use in children under the age of 12, for instance, because it hasn’t yet been tested in pre-teens.

Read more at StatNews

SUNY Chancellor Says COVID-19 Under Control

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said Friday afternoon, during a visit to the SUNY New Paltz campus, out of 140,000 students tested within the two weeks before the break, there were approximately 850 positive cases and a 0.5 percent positivity rate out of 510,000 tests conducted since mandatory testing began at the beginning of the semester.

According to both Malatras and SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian, students have been extremely cooperative and responsible about testing. Upstate Medical School is currently one of 150 areas in the world being used in Pfizer’s vaccine clinical trials. Malatras said the majority of those volunteers are SUNY students.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News

DiNapoli: State Tax Revenues Down $3 Billion Through October

State tax revenues through October totaled $43.8 billion, $3 billion lower than the same period in the previous fiscal year, according to the monthly State Cash Report released Saturday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.  

DiNapoli noted that spending from State Operating Funds, which pays for the state’s day-to-day operations as well as certain local assistance, through the first seven months of the fiscal year was $49.9 billion, or $6.1 billion lower than a year earlier. This is due to several factors including an increase in federal Medicaid reimbursements and according to the state Division of the Budget (DOB), withholding of $2.6 billion, including $2.4 billion in local assistance payments, through September.  Total tax receipts in October of $4.3 billion were $432.9 million below DOB’s projection in its FY 2021 Mid-Year Update, issued Oct. 30, but $320.1 million higher than DOB’s projection in its First Quarter Update issued in August. 

Read more at the Controller’s website

Jobless Claims Pick Up Amid Labor Market Struggles

Jobless claims totaled 742,000 for the week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That total also represented an acceleration from the previous week’s 709,000 and a continuation of the job market struggles since the coronavirus pandemic hit in early March.

The week-over-week increase was the first after four straight weeks of decline. Even with the increase for the most recent period, the four-week moving average, which smooths volatility in the numbers, decreased 13,750 to 742,00.

Read more at CNBC

Hudson Valley Employment Data

For the 12-month period ending October 2020, private sector job count in the Hudson Valley fell by 78,400, or 9.6 percent, to 742,500.  The October 2020 year-over-year job losses in our region continue to reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.  At 742,500, private sector job count has reached its lowest October level since 2010.  Meanwhile, the month-over month change – a gain of 13,800, reflects the reopening of the economy.  The historical average over-the-month change between September and October is a gain of 5,000.

Manufacturing employment stands at 39,500 (3,800 fewer than a year ago but 200 more than last month.

Labor Market Profile (Hudson Valley) OCT 2020

US Chamber: 7 Resources for PPP Loan Forgiveness Help (The 8th is the Council’s December 7 Webinar with JGS)

The federal government created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), part of the CARES Act, in March 2020 to provide businesses affected by COVID-19 with a lifeline. The PPP offered loans to companies that could be forgiven later if the right circumstances were met, including using the funds to maintain employee salaries and hire back workers.

While forgiveness was an attractive attribute for PPP loans, the actual process of obtaining forgiveness can be challenging for business owners. Forgiveness requires that businesses do many calculations, provide documentation, fill out forms and other time-consuming tasks.

Existing Home Sales Surge

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales increased 4.3% in October over September, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.85 million. That benchmark represented the highest level since February of 2006.

Prices have also shown a significant increase due to low interest rates that have helped boost demand. According to the NAR, the median existing home price rose 15.5% from the prior year to a record $313,000.  The price increase also stems from a limited supply. The NAR recorded 1.42 million homes for sale at the end of October—a decrease of 2.7% from September and 19.8% from October 2019.

Read more at Reuters

New-Home Construction Surges 

U.S. builders started construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.53 million in October, representing a 4.9% increase from the previous month’s figure, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday. Permitting for new homes occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.545 million in October, unchanged from September.

Read more at MarketWatch

Lumber Prices Rise Again, Defying the Normal Seasonal Slowdown

Lumber prices are making an unusual late-season climb, thanks to builder-friendly autumn weather and suppliers stocking up for what they expect to be another big year for home construction.  Wood inventories are thin throughout the lumber supply chain, while demand from builders and home remodelers remains strong.

Lumber futures have shot up 24% so far in November, closing Thursday at $616.90 per thousand board feet. That’s a lot lower than the record $1,000 hit this summer during America’s pandemic-induced lumber binge. But it is nearly 90% more than the typical price for boards delivered in January.

Read more at the WSJ

IRS Issues Guidance Denying Tax Deductions for PPP Loans

Bond Schoeneck & King Attorney Raymond Reichert writes that the IRS has released guidance on the deductibility of payments for otherwise deductible expenses using funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). “The guidance, although not unexpected, is not taxpayer friendly.”

Revenue Ruling 2020-27 describes two situations. In situation 1, the taxpayer incurred eligible expenses for which a PPP loan was obtained. In November, the taxpayer applied for loan forgiveness under Section 1106 of the CARES Act. In situation 2, the taxpayer paid the same types of eligible expenses as those paid in situation 1. However, in situation 2, the taxpayer did not apply for forgiveness of the PPP loan before the end of 2020. However, in situation 2 the taxpayer intends to apply for forgiveness in 2021.

Read more at BSK


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Daily Briefing -196

More Hudson Valley Communities “Named Cluster Zones”

During a telephone press briefing yesterday afternoon Governor Cuomo announced the establishment of  new “micro-cluster” zones in  parts of Rockland, Orange, and Westchester Counties.

  • The current Rockland County “yellow zone” will be expanded to include Pearl River, West Haverstraw, Stoney Point, and Suffern.
  • An Orange County “yellow zone” will be established, which includes Newburgh, New Windsor, Middletown, and Highland Falls.
  • A Westchester County “yellow zone” will be established, encompassing New Rochelle, Ossining, Tarrytown, Yonkers, and Peekskill.

Learn more:

COVID and Cluster Update 

On the telephone briefing today Governor Cuomo also provided an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday, November 18th.  

Tracking data for the Clusters and the rest of the State are below.  (The new cluster data will be added tomorrow) 

  • Clusters: 4.0%
  • Rockland Red zone: 1.18%
  • Westchester yellow-zone: 8.16%
  • Statewide: 2.7%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.3%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 2276 (437 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.23

Here are some useful websites:

Region’s County Officials Unite to Implore Residents: ‘Don’t Get Casual About COVID”

County Leaders and Health Officials highlight dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases relating
to casual, social gatherings; urge vigilance and safety precautions during holiday season

A week prior to Thanksgiving and the start of the winter holiday season, leaders from Dutchess, Orange, Putnam and Ulster counties gathered virtually today to ask residents to remain vigilant in the coming weeks and curtail small social gatherings. Such parties or “hangouts,” even among friends and family members, have led to a recent increase in local COVID-19 cases, raising the Mid-Hudson region’s positivity rate, affecting the ability of schools and businesses to remain open and further stressing the region’s healthcare resources.

You can watch the video here

IMF Chief: Global Economy Recovering, But May be Losing Momentum

The global economy is recovering from the depths of the coronavirus crisis, but there are signs of slowing momentum in countries with resurging infection rates, the International Monetary Fund said in a new report for G20 major economies.  The report, released ahead of this week’s virtual meetings of finance officials and leaders from the Group of 20 countries, underscored the uneven nature of the global recovery and warned the crisis would likely leave deep, unequal scars.

In a separate blog post, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva hailed what she called significant progress in the development of vaccines to vanquish a virus that has claimed more than a million lives around the globe and resulted in tens of millions of job losses.

Read more at Reuters

OSHA Offers Guidance to Frequently Cited Standards for COVID-19 Inspections

OSHA has issued guidance and an accompanying one-pager to help employers understand which standards are most frequently cited during coronavirus-related inspections.  OSHA based these documents on data from citations issued, many of which were the result of complaints, referrals and fatalities in industries such as hospitals and healthcare, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and meat/poultry processing plants.

The guidance document provides available resources that address the most frequently cited standards, including Respiratory Protection, Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, Personal Protective Equipment and the General Duty Clause.

DHS Extends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility Until December 31, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19.

This temporary guidance was set to expire November 19. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended this policy until December 31, 2020.  This provision only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. 

Read the press release

US Chamber Study: Childcare Situation Due to COVID Is Affecting Employers

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, on Nov 19, released a report   “Piecing Together Solutions: Employer Childcare Assistance Now and Looking Ahead,” which examines how employers have supported employees with young children while experiencing employee turnover and the future of their investment in childcare.

In June of this year, 24% of employers were concerned that some of their employees would leave the workforce because of the pandemic, but by October, 32% of employers had lost employees. When asked what factors drove employees’ decisions to leave the workforce, half cited childcare concerns.

Covid-19 Vaccines Could Depend on the Strength of Corning’s Vial

The US government has contracted with materials manufacturer Corning to produce an additional 164 million Valor glass vials per year to meet demand for the COVID-19 vaccine. The Valor vial is chemically fortified to be 40 times less likely to break, allowing for faster filling, according to a Corning statement.

The US government has contracted with materials manufacturer Corning to produce an additional 164 million Valor glass vials per year to meet demand for the COVID-19 vaccine. The Valor vial is chemically fortified to be 40 times less likely to break, allowing for faster filling, according to a Corning statement.

Read more at the WSJ (Includes a cool animation)

Even With 737 MAX Clearance, Covid-19 May Cause Overnight Closures In Aerospace Supply Chain

Aerospace suppliers, who sit at the beginning of aviation’s food chain, are looking at a decimation of demand — even more dramatic perhaps than the drop-off facing global carriers. Over the next decade, as many as 4,700 aircraft that had been on the production schedule at the beginning of 2020 will no longer be built. That is the equivalent of 2.5 years’ worth of production vanishing almost overnight.

While this will be painful for the larger airframe and engine manufacturers, the real carnage is expected to take place a step or two down the chain — including midsize and larger parts suppliers and special processing houses. 

Read more at Forbes

Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine Shows Robust Immune Response 

The coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is safe and triggers a similar immune response among all adults, according to the preliminary findings of a peer-reviewed phase two trial.

The promising early-stage results were published Thursday in The Lancet, one of the world’s top medical journals.  The study of 560 healthy adults, including 240 over age 70, found the vaccine to be safe and produced a similar immune response among people age over 56 and those ages 18 to 55.

Read more at CNBC


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Daily Briefing – 195

COVID and Cluster Update – Orange County Zone Removed from Cluster Watch List

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday, November 17th.  The Governor announced the Orange County Zone has met the metrics to be removed from the Cluster watch list.  

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

  • Clusters: 4.73%
  • Rockland Red zone: 3.52%
  • Westchester yellow-zone: 5.41%
  • Orange Orange zone: Met metrics to be removed
  • Statewide: 3.43%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 3.102%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 2202 (423 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.23

Here are some useful websites:

Pfizer: COVID-19 Shot 95% Effective, Seeking Clearance Soon

Pfizer said Wednesday that new test results show its coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective, is safe and also protects older people most at risk of dying — the last data needed to seek emergency use of limited shot supplies as the catastrophic outbreak worsens across the globe.

The announcement from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech comes as the team is preparing within days to formally ask U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of the vaccine. Anticipating that, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is on standby to publicly debate the data during the second week of December.  The companies also have begun “rolling submissions” for the vaccine with regulators in Europe, the U.K. and Canada and soon will add this new data.

Read more at the AP

Colleges Make Thanksgiving and Post Thanksgiving Plans

Ahead of the US Thanksgiving holiday, schools and students are preparing for travel and instruction plans. Some universities, such as the University of South Carolina, Emory University, and Syracuse University are planning to end in-person instruction prior to the break so that students do not have to return to campus between Thanksgiving and the traditional end of the term, which typically falls later in December. In a different approach, Boston University is asking students to refrain from traveling and remain on campus during the Thanksgiving holiday break.

The State University of New York (SUNY) announced a new policy as part of its testing program that requires all on-campus students to have a negative SARS-CoV-2 test within 10 days of leaving campus, which will require the 64 SUNY colleges and universities to test approximately 140,000 students.

Read the press release

Canadian Thanksgiving Bell Weather 

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving the second Monday in October. A surge in COVID-19 incidence following Canadian Thanksgiving is a cautionary reminder for the coming US Thanksgiving and other winter holidays. Canadians were advised to limit celebrations to household contacts only or host remote/virtual events, but the extent to which Canadians adhered to that guidance is not fully known. A month after the holiday, COVID-19 incidence continues to rise in Canada, but the largest increase was observed 2 weeks following the holiday, which is consistent with the epidemiology.

Read more at the Washington Post

Pelosi and Schumer Ask McConnell to Restart Coronavirus Stimulus Talks as Cases Surge

n a letter to McConnell on Tuesday, Schumer, D-N.Y., and Pelosi, D-Calif., asked the Kentucky Republican to “join us at the negotiating table this week so that we can work towards a bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 relief agreement to crush the virus and save American lives.” As they called for money for schools, small businesses, state and local governments and unemployment insurance, the Democrats wrote that the “pandemic and economic recession will not end without our help.”

Both McConnell and Pelosi have signaled they want to pass legislation this year, before Biden takes office. But neither leader has showed willingness to yield ground, making it unclear what could get through the GOP-controlled Senate and Democratic-held House.

Read more at CNBC

U.S. Retail Sales Lose Speed as Pandemic, Lack of Fiscal Stimulus Weigh

 U.S. retail sales increased less than expected in October and could slow further, restrained by spiraling new COVID-19 infections and declining household income as millions of unemployed Americans lose government financial support.

While other data on Tuesday showed production at factories accelerating last month, output remained well below its pre-pandemic level and the uncontrolled coronavirus outbreak could disrupt production. The public health crisis and frail economy are major challenges confronting President-elect Joe Biden when he takes over from President Donald Trump in January.

Read more at Reuters

FAA Recertifies Boeing 737 Max for Flight

Federal Aviation Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order November 18 that rescinded its earlier March 13, 2019 grounding order. Boeing models 737-8 and 737-9 were grounded worldwide after two of the planes, Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, crashed shortly after takeoff due to a software error. The planes were officially grounded for 20 months.

Despite the rescinded grounding order, the FAA said its actions “do not allow the MAX to return immediately to the skies.” The administration says it must approve new training programs for each U.S. airline operating the plane, individually certify all new planes manufactured since the grounding order was issued for airworthiness and export worthiness, and require airlines with parked 737 MAX planes to perform required maintenance tasks before they can return to the skies.

Read more at IndustryWeek

‘Banner Year’ for Cargo at Stewart Airport

The coronavirus pandemic has all but wiped out passenger service at New York Stewart International Airport; however, cargo tonnage carried through the Newburgh area facility has increased substantially.

Airport Business Development Director Michael Torelli told the Stewart Airport Commission on Tuesday that when freight and mail are combined, 10.5 million tons were transported at the airport during the months of July and August.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News

Cutting Tool Orders Signal a Rebound

Machine shops and other U.S. manufacturers purchased $156.1 million worth of cutting tools during September, +14.7% more than during August but -20.5% below the September 2019 total. As cutting-tool consumption is an index to the current rate of overall manufacturing activity, the September results reinforce the impression that domestic manufacturers are beginning the process of recovery from a recession that has been in process for about 12 months, but made more complicated by the halt in industrial activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through September, cutting-tool consumption totals $1.4 billion, meaning that the 2020 purchases trail the January-September 2019 volume by -23.1%.

Read more at American Machinist

Wi-Fi to Get 5G Airwaves Boost as Carmakers Lose Choice

Depending on which member of the Trump administration you ask, the Federal Communications Commission will vote today to either enhance Wi-Fi speeds, cause preventable traffic accidents or threaten the country’s technological competitiveness. The Commission is expected to approve a plan to reallocate part of the wireless spectrum that was reserved in 1999 for carmakers, giving it instead to cable and telecoms firms and device-manufacturers to accommodate the growing number of Wi-Fi-enabled gadgets.

The agency points out that carmakers have barely used that swath of frequency, intended to let vehicles communicate with each other. But the Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, insists the spectrum could still be used to prevent car crashes and save lives. The Treasury Department has sided with Ms Chao, adding that the portion of spectrum left for cars is insufficient to keep America’s smart-vehicle technology ahead of China’s. Unfortunately for them, the FCC is on a different wavelength.

Read More at Bloomberg

HBR: 10 Leadership Lessons from Covid Field Hospitals

The pandemic has forced leaders to be more accessible, bureaucracies to become more flexible and decisions to be made – and reversed – more quickly, write medical professionals who oversaw COVID-19 field hospitals in the UK and US. Even after the pandemic, leaders should recognize how much knowledge is untapped among junior staff, especially if there’s structure and clear goals.

Read more at the Harvard Business Review


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Daily Briefing – 194

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday, November 16th.  “We all have a part to play – wear a mask, stay socially distant, avoid gatherings large and small, and wash your hands religiously. Our actions today determine our rate of positive cases tomorrow – it’s that simple.” The Governor said.

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

  • Clusters: 4.89%
  • Rockland Red zone: 5.28%
  • Westchester yellow-zone: 7.42%
  • Orange Orange zone: 2.01%
  • Statewide: 3.18%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.82%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 2124 (408 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.32

Here are some useful websites:

U.S. Manufacturing Output Picks Up in October

U.S. manufacturing production accelerated in October, though exploding new COVID-19 infections across the country could cause disruptions at factories and leave the recovery in jeopardy.

Manufacturing output increased 1.0% last month, the Federal Reserve said on Tuesday. Data for September was revised up to show production at factories gaining 0.1% instead of decreasing 0.3% as previously reported. Factory production remains below its pre-pandemic level. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast manufacturing output rising 1.0% in October.

Read more at Reuters

Fed Supplemental Survey: Service Firms Report Weaker Labor Market than Manufacturers

35 percent of service firms and 44 percent of manufacturers said they expected their workforce to
increase over the next twelve months; conversely, 20 percent of service firms and 15 percent of manufacturers anticipated declines in the total number of workers. These balances are not much different, overall, than in the November 2019 survey—somewhat less positive among service firms, somewhat more positive among manufacturing firms (see table). Among service sector respondents, the most positive balances tended to come from businesses in retail, wholesale, education & health, and
professional & business services; the least positive balances came from those in leisure & hospitality, and real estate & construction (not shown in table).

Almost half of service-sector respondents and just over a third of manufacturers reported that they did not expect employment at their establishment to reach or surpass pre-pandemic levels within the next twelve months.

Read more at the NY Fed

CDC Releases Contact Tracing Video: “Answer the Call” 

The CDC’s Contact Tracing and Innovation Section within the State, Tribal, Local & Territorial Support Task Force has released a new video titled “Answer the Call” describing the contact tracing process. This video can be found on CDC’s Contact Tracing Resources for Health Departments webpage as well as in the Contact Tracing Communications Toolkit for Health Departments. This one-minute animated video informs the public about contact tracing and why they should answer and respond to a call from a public health worker.

Watch and share the video

How to Help Employees with Mental Health Issues

In August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that almost 41% of all adults in the United States are struggling with their mental health or substance use. This is double what had been historically reported pre-pandemic. Another analysis has reported that 25% of adolescents said they had contemplated suicide.

Mental health experts have come up with a new term for the aggravating factor: allostatic overload. This term describes what happens to a brain that has to process stress signals nonstop, which ends up consuming mental resources faster than a person can replenish them.  Get some timely advice for employers who may find themselves dealing with employees who find themselves in this situation.

Read more at EHS Today

Jackson Lewis – The Future of Workplace Law Under President-Elect Joe Biden

As President-elect Joe Biden selects members of his Cabinet and prepares for his transition into the presidency, he and a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives may pursue a number of significant pieces of federal workplace legislation. Many of these employment law measures successfully passed the House in 2019 and 2020.

Moreover, as with any transition from the President of one party to the President of another party, presidential appointments to the administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the National Labor Relations Board are likely to have further effect for employers. 

DOD Awards $6.18 Million Contract to Medline Industries, Inc. to Increase Domestic Production Capacity of Surgical Masks 

The Department of Defense, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, awarded a $6.18 million contract to Medline Industries, Inc. to increase domestic production capacity of surgical masks. This industrial base expansion effort will allow Medline to increase production capacity in Lithia Springs, Georgia by 36 million surgical masks per month by May 2021.

This effort was funded through the HHS Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support domestic industrial base expansion for critical medical resources.

Read the DOD press release

Free Online Platform for New Yorkers to Learn New Job Skills, Earn Certificates & Advance Their Careers

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of a new online training platform which will enable unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers weathering the COVID-19 pandemic to learn new skills, earn certificates, and advance their careers at no cost. The new course offerings are provided through a partnership between the New York State Department of Labor and Coursera, the world’s leading online learning platform.

The new tool will provide access to nearly 4,000 online programs taught by leading professors and industry professionals on Coursera, with a focus on high-growth and in-demand sectors like advanced manufacturing, technology, and health care, among others.  New Yorkers can request a free account on the New York State Department of Labor website.

Read the press release (includes a link to set up an account)

Asia Forges Massive Trade Deal

Fifteen countries across Asia have created the world’s largest trade deal. The agreement, dubbed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, cuts tariffs on a wide range of Asian goods and builds supply chains across a new trade zone that covers about 30% of the global population and around the same share of global economic output.

The deal includes the 10 countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) plus Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.  The agreement is the second major deal in two years that has left the United States out of the mix. 

Read more at Reuters

Rolls-Royce Testing 100% Sustainable Jet Fuel

Rolls-Royce is planning to conduct ground tests on a high-bypass turbofan engine using 100% sustainable aviation fuel for the first time, aiming to establish that unblended SAF can be used in current engine models in place of current jet-fuel formulations.

The SAF to be tested will be produced by World Energy, a California-based low-carbon fuel specialist, and supplied by Shell Aviation and SkyNRG. “This unblended fuel has the potential to reduce net CO2 lifecycle emissions by over 75% when compared to traditional jet fuel, and by an even greater amount in the years to come,” according to Rolls-Royce.

Read more at American Machinist



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Daily Briefing – 193

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, November 15th.  A total 124,565 COVID-19 tests were reported to the State Sunday.

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

  • Clusters: 4.19%
  • Rockland Red zone: 2.93%
  • Westchester yellow-zone: 3.95
  • Orange Orange zone: 0.00%
  • Statewide: 2.80%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.50%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,968 (391 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

New York State Transmission Rate  

The average number of people who become infected by an infectious person with COVID-19 is 1.28 in New York State making it 5th highest in the U.S. as of November 14th.  New York’s rate is only slower than those of Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island and New Hampshire A number below 1 indicates the spread of the virus is slowing, above 1 means it is accelerating.

See the transmission rates by State at Statista

Manufacturing Economy Report: Layoffs Lowest Since February 2017 Plus NFIB Survey and More

There were 456,000 manufacturing job openings in September, pulling back somewhat from the 469,000 postings in August, which was the best reading since July 2019.   Encouragingly, nonfarm business layoffs decreased from 1,533,000 in August to 1,333,000 in September, an all-time low. Meanwhile, layoffs in the manufacturing sector declined from 102,000 to 90,000, the lowest since February 2017 and well below the 635,000 layoffs in April.  

One sign of improved health is the “churn” seen in the labor market, and the number of quits has rebounded in recent months. This is also reassuring. Nonfarm payroll quits rose from 2,839,000 in August to 3,018,000 in September, the most since February, and manufacturing quits edged up from 207,000 to 212,000, a one-year high.

Monday Economic Report 2020-1116

Growth, But at a Slower Pace – Empire State Manufacturing Survey

Manufacturing activity in New York State expanded only to a small degree in November. After falling seven points last month, the general business conditions index fell four points to 6.3 this month, indicating that growth continued to slow. Thirty-one percent of respondents reported that conditions had improved over the month, while 24 percent reported that conditions had worsened. The new orders index fell nine points to 3.7, indicating a slight increase in orders, and the shipments index fell twelve points to 6.3. Delivery times were little changed, while unfilled orders and inventories continued to decline.

Read more at the NY Fed

Stimulus Update – The Politics at Play

Washington lawmakers have worked to come to an agreement on the next coronavirus relief package for months. Post-election, those talks could get shaken up by new developments on Capitol Hill.

That includes the election of Democratic candidate Joe Biden to the Oval Office. But it will likely also be shaped by shifting power in the Senate and the near-term prospects for a Covid-19 vaccine.

Those factors could influence how much aid is sent out and when.

Explore the possibilities at CNBC

Home Prices Are Rising Everywhere in the U.S.

The median price for existing homes in each of the 181 metro areas tracked by the National Association of Realtors was higher in the third quarter from a year earlier. This broad-based rally for single-family homes marked the first time since 1980 that every metro area tracked by NAR posted an annual price increase in the same quarter, NAR said. Back then, the association tracked 19 metro areas.

Record-low mortgage-interest rates have also motivated shoppers to enter the market. And a longstanding shortage of homes for sale has worsened, increasing competition among buyers and sparking bidding wars. Existing-home sales have surged in recent months and reached a seasonally adjusted 14-year high in September.

Read more at the WSJ

Producer Prices Climbed More Than Expected in October, Inflation Overall Stays Muted

Producer prices in the U.S. increased by slightly more than anticipated in the month of October, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand rose by 0.3 percent in October after climbing by 0.4 percent in September. Economists had expected prices to inch up by 0.2 percent.  The bigger than expected increase in producer prices was partly due to a jump in food prices, which surged up by 2.4 percent in October amid a spike in prices for fresh and dry vegetables.


Survey: 64% of Americans Open to New Job Opportunities

Sixty-four percent of American employees would consider changing jobs if approached by another employer or are seeking new job opportunities, and that rises to 76% among workers younger than 30, according to a Ceridian and Nielsen survey. Sixty-four percent of respondents said job security would play a larger part in career moves and engaging work was the top reason employees stay in their roles.

Read more at CNBC

Containers for US Exports Are Hard to Find

Containers for US exports are scarce these days as Asian exporters dominate supply ahead of the holidays, although there are supply constraints for cargo coming from Asia, too. “Right now we are grappling with a true emergency — carriers refusing bookings for trans-Pacific agricultural exports and canceling those already booked,” said Peter Friedmann, executive director at the Agriculture Transportation Coalition.

Read more at FreightWaves/American Shipper

GM Cuts Production at Two Plants as Pandemic Squeezes Supply Chain

General Motors was forced to curb production at two of its key assembly plants on Thursday and Friday due to parts shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic — and industry observers fear that more disruptions could follow as the rate of Covid-19 infections surges to record levels.

Overtime work scheduled for Saturday at GM’s big SUV plant in Arlington, Texas, has been canceled, the automaker announced, while the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was forced to temporarily shut down last Thursday and Friday. GM had been pressing to boost production at both factories to cope with shortages resulting from the industry’s two-month shutdown last spring.

Read more at NBC News

Democrats Ossoff, Warnock Start Georgia Runoffs Behind the Eight Ball

Joe Biden turned Georgia blue, barely. Compared to what they’re up against now, that was the easy part for Democrats.

To repeat Biden’s feat in a pair of Senate runoffs on Jan. 5, with control of the Senate on the line, the Democratic Party will have to defy a long track record of failure in overtime elections. They’ll need to overcome the entire weight of the Republican Party descending on the state — from organizers and operatives to potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. One of their Senate candidates, Jon Ossoff, would have to make up the nearly 90,000 votes he ran behind the GOP incumbent on Nov. 3.


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Daily Briefing – 192

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, November 14th.  A total 133,202 COVID-19 tests were reported to the State Saturday.

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

  • Clusters: 4.05%
  • Rockland Red zone: 3.21%
  • Westchester yellow-zone: 4.05
  • Orange Orange zone: 2.34%
  • Statewide: 2.74%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.45%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,845 (378 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

New York State Transmission Rate Bumps Up – Now 3rd Highest in the Nation 

The average number of people who become infected by an infectious person with COVID-19 is 1.32 in New York State making it 3rd highest in the U.S. as of November 11th.  New York’s rate is only slower than those of Maine (1.48) and Vermont (1.36.) A number below 1 indicates the spread of the virus is slowing, above 1 means it is accelerating.

See the transmission rates by State at Statista

Consumer Prices Stay Flat

U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in October, the lowest reading in five months, suggesting that a price spike over the summer is beginning to fade as coronavirus cases spread. The flat reading for last month followed a gain of 0.2% in September. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, also showed no changed in October, another indication that inflation remains well-behaved, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Over the past 12 months, overall inflation is up a moderate 1.2% while core inflation is up 1.6%. Both readings are well below the Federal Reserve’s 2% target for annual price gains.

Read more at the AP

DiNapoli: After Five Months, Jobs Recovery Varies Across New York

Total employment in New York State fell in March, and again—much more sharply—in April, with a combined loss of more than 1.9 million jobs. After five months of partial employment recovery since then, figures for September show significant if not severe lingering damage to job counts in every one of the State’s fifteen metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).

New York City, an early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to feel the sharpest loss, with a net decline of 648,000 jobs, nearly 14 percent of its February total. Figures for the Orange-Rockland-Westchester MSA also show a large decline of 10.7 percent. 

Read more and see the numbers at the Controller website

Moderna Says its Vaccine is 94.5% Effective 

Moderna Inc said on Monday its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial, becoming the second U.S. company in a week to report results that far exceed expectations.
Together with Pfizer Inc’s vaccine, also shown to be more than 90% effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the United States could have two vaccines authorized for emergency use in December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available by the year’s end. Next year, the U.S. government could have access to more than 1 billion doses just from the two vaccine makers, more than needed for the country’s 330 million residents.

Smaller, Faster, Cheaper – Fast Tests for COVID-19 are Coming

To try to slow the pandemic many countries are starting to deploy tests which, at some cost in accuracy, deliver their results much more rapidly than the polymerase-chain-reaction (pcr) tests that were commonplace at the pandemic’s beginning. These rapid tests will allow greater numbers of infected people than previously possible to be detected and quarantined before they can spread the contagion. They are therefore being used in increasing numbers to screen people for the presence of sars-cov-2, the virus that causes covid-19, in settings ranging from airports to nursing homes. In Europe, indeed, they are sometimes used to blitz entire neighborhoods, cities and even small countries, like Slovakia. But will they change the course of the pandemic?

PCR tests look for the genetic sequence of the virus in nose and throat swabs. These swabs have to be processed in laboratories and require machines that take hours to come up with a result. They are extremely accurate. But the delay involved can hobble test-and-trace systems.

Read more at The Economist

Coronavirus Surge Tests the Smallest Employers

Small-business owners are grappling with how to manage their workers as the numbers of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. surge. The questions include everything from reopening the office lunchroom to policing employees’ personal lives.

Delta Systems Inc., a maker of components for outdoor power equipment, thought it had all the proper safety measures in place. The Streetsboro, Ohio, company gives workers the option of cloth masks or plastic face shields. It checks employees’ temperatures daily and asks a handful of questions—about out-of-state travel, exposure to someone diagnosed with the virus and changes in their own health. But after cases jumped again in Ohio and two of Delta’s roughly 200 employees tested positive for the virus in recent weeks, executives have begun looking at next steps. As a manufacturer, the company doesn’t have the luxury of shutting down or sending production workers to do their jobs from home.

Read more at the WSJ

Pfizer Readies ‘Herculean Effort’ to Distribute Coronavirus Vaccine, Corning Ramps Up Vial Production

Pfizer is marshaling a massive new cold-storage supply chain to handle the delicate dance of transporting limited doses of its coronavirus vaccine from manufacturer to any point of use within two days. Experts say it will be a “Herculean effort” requiring several new technologies to work in flawless concert to safely deliver every dose of the drug.

The vaccine will be formulated, finished and placed in cold storage in the pharmaceutical giant’s Kalamazoo, Michigan, facility, its largest such plant in the country. During the shipment and storage, the vaccines must be kept at 94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit in order to maintain optimal efficacy. Each package can contain 1,000 to 5,000 doses. Corning, Inc. has ramped up production of a specialized glass that can withstand such a temperature. Hundreds of millions are in production at the moment. Corning says the $2.4 million deal also added 100 jobs.

Read more at NBC

Cuomo Threatens Trump With Legal Action Over Vaccine Distribution Plan

Governor Cuomo repeated his threat to sue the Trump administration as he invoked Martin Luther King, Jr. during Sunday remarks about the COVID outbreak at historic Riverside Church in Manhattan.

The governor went on to repeat his criticism of the Trump administration’s plans for distributing the coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available, saying that relying on hospitals and the private sector will perpetuate inequalities during the outbreak, which has affected communities of color at disproportionately high rates.

Read more at Yahoo News

Dozens of COVID-19 Vaccines Are in Development – Here Are the Ones to Follow

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

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

Read more at NatGeo


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Daily Briefing – 191

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday, November 11th. A total 162,627 COVID-19 tests were reported to the State Wednesday. Tracking data for the Clusters and the rest of the State are below.  

  • Clusters: 4.86%
  • Rockland Red zone: 2.84%
  • Westchester yellow-zone: 11.43
  • Orange Orange zone: 0.00%
  • Statewide: 2.95%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.53%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,677 (308 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

The Economist: What the Biden Administration Would do Differently on COVID-19

Forecasting the course of the disease over the long term has proved supremely difficult. It is therefore unclear how bad a situation a newly inaugurated President Biden would inherit on January 20th 2021. But the current signs do not augur well.

A virus spreading fast with no compensating stimulus would be a brutal starting position for a Biden administration. Even with expedited approval and distribution, getting a vaccine to every American who needs it would take months. Mr Biden has announced plans to take more serious federal action. He would use his executive authority to create a Rooseveltian Pandemic Testing Board to compel companies to produce more tests, laboratory materials and personal protective equipment. He probably lacks the authority to impose a mask mandate nationwide, but would push states to do so.

Read more at The Economist 

U.S. Unemployment Claims Slip but Hold at High Levels

Initial claims for jobless benefits, a proxy for layoffs, declined to 709,000 last week from 757,000 a week earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday. While weekly claims have fallen from a peak of near 7 million at the end of March, they remain well above levels seen before the coronavirus hit this spring at just above 200,000.

 The number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs, which cover most workers, dropped to 6.8 million for the week ended Oct. 31 from 7.2 million. Continuing claims are well below their spring levels, reflecting that many laid-off workers have been recalled to jobs or hired elsewhere. Others, though, have exhausted state benefits, a sign many are facing long periods of joblessness.

Read more at the WSJ

Manufacturing Job Openings Are Still Strong

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed a positive picture of the economy, according to NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray. He says:

“There were 456,000 manufacturing job openings in September, pulling back somewhat from the 469,000 postings seen in August, which was the best reading since July 2019 (477,000). Despite some easing in the latest data, the trendline is encouraging, with manufacturers once again increasing their interest in adding new workers and rebounding from springtime weaknesses due to COVID-19.”
“In September, manufacturers hired 351,000 workers, down from 384,000 in August and with weaker data for both durable and nondurable goods firms. At the same time, total separations declined from 332,000 to 324,000. Net hiring (or hiring minus separations) was 27,000 in September, slowing from a gain of 52,000 in August but still a solid figure.” 

Read the JOLTS report

Global Manufacturing Economic Update 

The International Monetary Fund predicts that worldwide GDP will fall 4.4% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and global recession, with output rebounding 5.2% in 2021. While economic activity has trended in the right direction, there are lingering worries in the outlook, including new restrictions on activity in many markets due to the continued spread of the virus. The service sector has seen renewed weaknesses in some areas, particularly in Europe, where COVID-19 cases are again on the rise. This could pose some risks to the manufacturing sector outlook moving forward if it persists.

That said the J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI expanded at the fastest pace since May 2018, up from 52.4 in September to 53.0 in October, buoyed by strength in demand and production and rising for the fourth straight month. In October, eight of the top 10 markets for U.S.-manufactured goods had expanding manufacturing sectors, up from seven in September and just one (China) in May.

Global Manufacturing Economic Report 1112 2020

SBA Intends to Require Borrowers with Loans Over $2 Million to Complete a New Loan Necessity Questionnaire

Council Associate Member and friends Bond Schoeneck and King write that the Small Business Association (SBA) has circulated Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan necessity questionnaire forms that it intends to require borrowers with PPP loans in excess of $2 million to complete. It is expected that nonprofit entity borrowers will be required to complete Form 3510 and for-profit entity borrowers will be required to complete Form 3509. These troubling new questionnaires specifically require borrowers to disclose information regarding their operations and liquidity during their covered periods.

Read more at BSK

Cashless Tolling to Go Live Overnight on NYS Thruway’s Ticketed System Beginning Friday, November 13

Governor  Cuomo today announced cashless tolling will go live on the New York State Thruway’s ticketed system during the overnight hours of Friday, November 13, into Saturday, November 14. The historic conversion will take place simultaneously at 58 tolling locations across the Thruway’s 450-mile ticketed system. The ticketed system is the final section of the Thruway to be converted to cashless tolling.

The official switch will take place in the overnight hours to limit impact to traffic. At the time cashless tolling goes live, cash will no longer be accepted as a form of payment at toll booths and printed toll tickets will not be handed out. To support this transition, NY E-ZPass has released a new TollsNY mobile app to help drivers manage E-ZPass accounts, find and pay Tolls by Mail invoices, and get important account alerts for tolls accrued at Thruway, MTA, and Port Authority tolling sites.

Read the press release

FDA Issues Authorization for Eli Lilly COVID-19 Treatment

The Food and Drug Administration has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for Eli Lilly & Co.’s COVID-19 antibody treatment drug bamlanivimab. According to Eli Lilly, the EUA is based on positive results from Phase 2 trials when used on patients with recently diagnosed COVID. The drug uses laboratory-made antibodies, proteins the body usually creates to fight off infections, to handicap the spread of the virus in the body.

Data from the ongoing study, says Daniel Skovronsky, President of Lilly Research Laboratories, show the drug may help patients clear the virus and reduce hospitalizations. The drug is conditionally approved for use in mild to moderate COVID cases, but not for those who have been hospitalized or are receiving oxygen therapy.

Read more at IndustryWeek

GM to Hire 3,000 Engineers, Designers, IT Workers For Electric Vehicle Production

The automaker will hire 3,000 engineers, designers and technology specialists between now and the end of the first quarter, and most of those people can work remotely, opening up the talent pool across the nation.  

GM has said it envisions a future of zero emissions, zero crashes and zero congestion, which it will achieve through electric and autonomous vehicles. To that end, GM considers 18 months the timeline to develop each electric vehicle. To go that fast simultaneously will require more people.

Read more at the Detroit Free Press

Study: A Minority of People With COVID-19 Account for the Bulk of Transmission

The study published in Nature,  by Ramanan Laxminarayan of Princeton University and eight co-authors, finds that covid-19 transmission is highly concentrated. Of all the contacts traced, 7.5% subsequently tested positive for covid-19 (assumed to be caused by exposure to the infected person identified). Yet the academics find that these infections stem from a minority of originally infectious individuals. Fully 71% of infected people did not transmit the virus on. Most new transmissions were from a few “super-spreaders”: about 10% of the people caused 60% of new infections, giving covid to three other people, on average.

Risk of infection is greatest in private homes and among similarly aged people. That is corroborated by evidence from 1,600 covid-19 “super-spreading” events. Such transmission occurs most often in large buildings, while just three documented events have taken place outdoors. 

Read more and view some interesting charts at The Economist


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Daily Briefing – 190

New York State Rate of  Transmission is One of Highest in the Nation – Deaths Pass 26,000

The average number of people who become infected by an infectious person with COVID-19 is 1.24 in New York State tying it for 5th highest in the U.S. (as of November 9, 2020).  a number below 1 indicates the spread of the virus is slowing, above 1 means it is accelerating.

Meanwhile the 32 COVID deaths Tuesday pushed the state past the grim milestone of 26,000 to 26,005. 

See the transmission rates by State at Statista

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo held a phone call press briefing detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday November 10th. Tracking data for the Clusters and the rest of the State are below.  

  • Clusters: 4.96%
  • Rockland Red zone: 1.81%
  • Westchester yellow-zone: 4.09
  • Orange Orange zone: 1.74%
  • Statewide: 2.93%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.58%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,628 (304 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

Governor Cuomo Announces New Business Restrictions

In response to the rapidly increasing rate of COVID-19 cases across the country, the region, and New York State, Governor Cuomo announced new restrictions on public activity. Contact tracing efforts have shown that three types of establishments are contributing to community spread. The State is taking new action to limit activities in these establishments which will go into effect on Friday, November 13th at 10:00 p.m.

  • Any establishment with a State Liquor Authority license, including bars, restaurants, and bowling alleys, can remain open, but will be required to close nightly at 10:00 p.m. Restaurants will be allowed to continue curbside pickup after 10:00 p.m., but only for food.
  • Gyms and fitness centers can remain open, but will be required to close nightly at 10:00 p.m.
  • Gatherings in private residences will be limited to ten people maximum. Border states have taken this measure and New York is following suit.

In response to a question from a reporter, Governor Cuomo said that if the positivity rate continues to increase the State will consider additional restrictions on economic activities including limiting indoor dining.  Governor Cuomo stated that he understands restrictions are tough on the affected industries, be that as it may we are closer than ever to a vaccine and restrictions are needed to get through the end of this pandemic

Read the press release

Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security Update

The daily incidence in the US is nearly 110,000 new cases per day and still increasing exponentially. The US is also reporting 976 deaths per day, an increase of nearly 40 percent since October 18. We expect that the average daily mortality will once again exceed 1,000 deaths per day in the coming days. If the US continues on this trajectory, it could surpass 250,000 cumulative deaths in the next 2 weeks.

As we have covered previously, COVID-19 incidence does not tell the full story. In addition to incidence, testing, hospitalizations, and mortality provide important insight into the current state of the US epidemic.  the US test positivity has doubled, from 4.2% to 8.3%, since early-to-mid October, once again putting the US above the WHO’s recommended 5% threshold. COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing nationwide, with the Midwest exhibiting the most substantial surge over the past several weeks. Looking at mortality, it is clear that COVID-19 deaths continue to follow trends in incidence, with a lag of approximately 3-4 weeks. The national surge in incidence began in mid-September, followed by a corresponding increase in mortality starting in mid-October. Since that time, daily COVID-19 mortality has increased by more than one-third.

Read more at Johns Hopkins

Wearables Can Help Detect COVID-19

Researchers calculated a baseline for each participant’s heart rate, sleep and activity levels. Using that data and self-reported symptoms, they developed a model that was able to predict with 80% accuracy whether a participant who experienced symptoms was likely to have COVID-19. They noted a significant difference in sleep and activity levels for people who tested positive compared to those participants who reported symptoms but tested negative.  The results were published in the journal Nature.

The findings highlight the fact that about 40-50% of those who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 report no symptoms or are pre-symptomatic. These people are still infectious but because they don’t feel sick, they may not seek testing and likely aren’t self-isolating, making it difficult to stop the spread.

Read more at EHS Today

Stimulus Negotiations in a ‘Lame Duck’ Session Likely to Face More Deadlock

With just a few weeks left in Congress’ session the path appears more murky than ever for a deal to be brokered during the “lame-duck session,” the period in November and December before a new Congress and president take power in January.

Congress’ top priority during the short session will be a spending bill to avert a government shutdown in December. Though a coronavirus stimulus deal remains a priority, Congress will have little time to resolve all its policy differences, reach an agreement and then pass it through both chambers before the House and Senate leave in December. The House is done with its year Dec. 10, and the Senate leaves Dec. 18.

Read more at USA Today

Transatlantic Trade Update

Less than 48 hours after Joe Biden pledged to “make America respected around the world again,” the EU reminded him that trans-Atlantic trade relations might be a good place to start, slapping tariffs on $4 billion worth of U.S. imports over illegal subsidies to Boeing. Besides the dogfight over airplane manufacturers. After more than 15 years of litigation, a bitter dispute is winding down. The EU and America have accused each other of unfairly subsidizing their aircraft industries, and both have won their claims at the World Trade Organization. 

But there are signs of a ceasefire. The EU’s tariffs were carefully calibrated to match the American ones. And despite previous American threats to escalate the dispute, a statement from Washington on November 9th suggested that the two sides were negotiating. Both sides realize that, with the strain put on aircraft-makers by covid-19, peace makes more sense than war.
Here is a rundown of the main U.S.-EU trade-related disagreements from Bloomberg

FAA Set to Lift 737 MAX Grounding Order

The Federal Aviation Administration is set to “unground” the Boeing 737 MAX passenger aircraft within days, according to published reports. Reuters cited sources saying the FAA would lift its grounding order by November 18, bringing to a close more than 19 months of investigation, testing, and recertification for the twin-engine aircraft series following two accidents that killed a total 346 passengers and crew members, in October 2018 and March 2019.

The FAA decision comes as other global regulators are also moving closer to decisions on allowing the plane to again resume flights and could approve the MAX around the time U.S. regulators act, the sources said.

Read more at Reuters

Honoring Veterans by Providing Job Opportunities

The Manufacturing Institute has graduated more than 400 military veterans from its Heroes MAKE America program, which has supplied hires at more than 100 companies. This year, the institute added the Heroes Connect service in response to the pandemic, allowing for virtual face-to-face connections between veterans and prospective employers.

The Council of Industry is a proud partner of the Manufacturing Institute

Read more at IndustryWeek


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Daily Briefing – 189

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday November 9th. Tracking data for the Clusters and the rest of the State are below.  

  • Clusters: 5.9%
  • Rockland Red zone: 2.86%
  • Westchester yellow-zone: 14.66
  • Orange Orange zone: 2.62%
  • Statewide: 3.09%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.56%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,548 (296 in ICU) 

We urge all our members to remain diligent in their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. With the holidays coming up, colder weather in the offing and pandemic fatigue settling in it is more important than ever to stay focused on safety.  Our members have thus far done an excellent job keeping their people safe from the virus at work.  Let’s keep it that way!

Here are some useful websites:

New York’s Travel Advisory 2.0: BSK Has Updated Their Frequently Asked Questions

New York’s travel advisory has been substantially altered during the past two weeks. On October 31, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 205.2, which revised the New York State Travel Advisory for domestic travel. On November 3, the New York State Department of Health issued an updated guidance document (the November 3 Guidance). The changes made by Executive Order 205.2 and the November 3 Guidance have generated confusion.

Bond Schoeneck & King discusses frequently asked questions they have received about the updates

US Job Openings Climb Slightly in September But Miss Expectations

US job openings rose by 84,000 to 6.4 million through September, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, data published Tuesday. Nearly 480,000 were in manufacturing The reading lands below the 6.5 million openings expected by economists. The largest gains emerged in the transportation and warehousing, business services, and financial industries.

Openings decreased the most in the accommodation and food services, the retail trade, and construction industries.

Read more at Business Insider

Machine Tool Orders Surged in September

U.S. machine shops and other manufacturers purchased $373.7 million worth of machine tools during September, +26.4% more than the August total, the highest monthly purchase value to date for the current year, as well as the highest monthly unit count at 2,354 metal-cutting and metal-forming/fabricating machines.

However, the September result is -3.2% lower than the September 2019 total and brings the nine-month total value for 2020 “manufacturing technology” orders to $2.32 billion, -24.3% lower than the January-September 2019 order. The results are provided by the AMT – the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology in its monthly U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report.

Read more at American Machinist

NAM: Remember the Regulators

While everyone is talking about the election results, let’s not forget about the slow and steady slog for better government—by which we mean, a stable and predictable regulatory system that encourages manufacturing growth instead of hampering it.

Recently, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons made the case for government-wide regulatory reform in a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Here’s what he had to say.

McConnell Taking the Lead on Stimulus Negotiations 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to take a larger role in coronavirus relief talks while the Trump administration sidelines itself, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

President-elect Joe Biden may also jump into the negotiations over a new stimulus package in the coming weeks, according to The Post. The political dynamics around coronavirus relief could be shifting in the wake of Biden’s election victory against President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede. Biden’s transition team is starting talks with congressional Democrats this week over priorities to pursue during the lame-duck session, The Post reported.

Read more at Business Insider

Evidence of PPP Fraud Mounts, Officials Say

Congress and the Trump administration designed the PPP to give small businesses fast and easy access to taxpayer funds, and it worked: About $525 billion in loans were distributed to 5.2 million companies between April 3 and Aug. 8. Many business owners say it was a lifeline in turbulent times.

But evidence is growing that many others took advantage of the program’s open-door design. Banks and the government allowed companies to self-certify that they needed the funds, with little vetting.  The Small Business Administration’s inspector general, an arm of the agency that administers the PPP, said last month there were “strong indicators of widespread potential abuse and fraud in the PPP.

Read more in the WSJ

Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s Vaccine is the Start of the End of the Pandemic

On November 9th Pfizer and BioNTech, two pharmaceutical firms, announced that the vaccine on which they have been collaborating is more than 90% effective in preventing symptomatic cases of covid-19. This is an astonishing result for a first-generation vaccine. Many had not dared to hope for efficacy of anything over 70%.

Three important questions about the vaccine remain. One is the extent to which it works in elderly people, one of the groups most vulnerable to covid-19, and who may not respond as well. Another is whether it prevents infectiousness (it remains possible that a vaccine could prevent someone from getting the symptoms of covid-19, but not from spreading it to others). And its long-term efficacy is entirely unknown.

Read more at The Economist

How Canon’s Pandemic Pivot Paints a Different Picture

Just a few weeks into the pandemic lockdowns, as toilet paper and Clorox wipes were becoming a rarified luxury, another shortage quietly emerged: webcams. Lots of people, suddenly thrust into the now-familiar world of constant Zoom calls, remote classrooms, and videoconferences, were scrambling to buy what had previously been a sleepy product, and there weren’t enough webcams to go around.  Canon, the camera-maker, spotted this shortage early — and saw an unexpected opportunity.

Canon did not make webcams, and has no plans to start. But within three weeks its engineering and software teams developed free software that would make it easy for Canon owners to convert their cameras into webcams. 

Read more about this customer driven pivot at Medium


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Daily Briefing – 188

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo press briefing via phone call detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday November 8th. The COVID-19 infection rate continues to increase across the state, country and world. The Governor said he expects the rate to continue to increase through the fall and winter until a vaccine is widely distributed to the public. New York has successfully kept positivity rates low through its “micro-cluster” strategy which includes aggressive testing and enforcement efforts. Areas that have been declared as “micro-clusters” have seen progress in lowering rates through this strategy. New York has the third lowest positivity rate in the nation.

In a separate announcement yesterday the Governor updated the COVID-19 micro-cluster focus areas in New York State. Brooklyn’s red zone will transition to an orange warning zone, while there are new yellow precautionary zone focus areas in Erie, Monroe and Onondaga Counties.

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

  • Clusters: 4.3%
  • Rockland Red zone: 2.43%
  • Orange Orange zone: 1.47%
  • Statewide: 2.8%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.6%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,444 (282 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

Biden Transition Team Unveils Members of Covid-19 Task Force

The list includes Rick Bright, the former head of the vaccine-development agency BARDA ousted by the Trump administration in April; Atul Gawande, the surgeon, writer, and recently departed CEO of Haven, the joint JP Morgan Chase-Berkshire Hathaway-Amazon health care venture; and Luciana Borio, a former Food and Drug Administration official and biodefense specialist. The task force also includes a variety of other well-known doctors and academics, among them Zeke Emanuel, a former Obama administration health care adviser, and Celine Gounder, a physician and medical journalist with years of experience combating HIV and tuberculosis outbreaks. 

Despite the task force’s breadth, it does not include several figures still seen as likely to play major roles in the Biden administration’s Covid-19 effort, including Joshua Sharfstein, the former deputy FDA commissioner, and Nicole Lurie, the Obama administration’s assistant health secretary for preparedness and response.

Read more at Statnews

Business Groups Breathe Sigh of Relief Over Prospect of Divided Government

With control of the Senate still uncertain (likely to come down to Republicans winning at least one of the two runoff elections in Georgia) the nation will likely have a divided government. Democrats will control the presidency and the House (albeit with a smaller majority in the new Congress) and Republicans the Senate.  Business groups had been bracing for a Democrat sweep that carried with it the risk of progressive policies and ramped-up regulations. Instead, the prospect of a split Congress and the gridlock that comes with it is being welcomed by many. 

Trade groups are optimistic that a Biden presidency, combined with a Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-led House could open the door for moderate pro-business policies.

Read more in The Hill

Can President Trump Win His Election Challenges in Court? Alan Dershowitz Chimes In

Here is my completely objective, nonpartisan, non-ideological, expert prediction as to how the courts will likely resolve the multiple lawsuits being bought by President Trump and his team of lawyers.

He may well win his legal challenge in Pennsylvania to write-in ballots mailed before the end of Election Day but received over the subsequent three days. The question remains, however, whether a decision in favor of President Trump on these challenged mail-in ballots would make a difference in the outcome of Pennsylvania’s presidential tally. If former vice president Joe Biden has won the state by a margin in excess of the challenged votes, then a Trump victory on Article II grounds will be pyrrhic: Biden’s margin of victory would be smaller but he would still carry the state.

Read more at The Hill

EU Set to Impose $4B in Tariffs on US Exports

The European Union reportedly is set this week to impose tariffs totaling $4 billion annually on U.S. exports of aircraft and aircraft components, as well as fruits, nuts, and other produce, orange juice, some alcoholic spirits, construction equipment, and various other products. The move, which stems from the long-running dispute over subsidies to Boeing, would follow a November 9 meeting of EU trade ministers.  The EU had reserved the decision on leveling tariffs until after the recent presidential election.

In October, the World Trade Organization appellate panel authorized the EU to exercise tariffs on U.S. exports, about one year after the same body authorized the U.S. to apply tariffs on EU exports. The WTO previously had ruled that the EU had subsidized Airbus, as well as that the U.S. had subsidized Boeing. The charges in each case date to 2004.

Read more at Reuters

DiNapoli Predicts $3.8B More in State Tax Receipts

New York State’s tax receipts in the current fiscal year will exceed Governor Cuomo’s latest projections by $3.8 billion—still down from last year, but a big improvement over the governor’s worst-case scenario—according to updated estimates from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office.

DiNapoli’s revenue projection isn’t simply speculative; it’s grounded in actual tax collections through September, which were a not-insignificant $1.1 billion above the amount most recently projected by Governor Cuomo’s Division of the Budget (DOB). The comptroller’s office also projects that state revenues will exceed the latest DOB projections by $4.1 billion in fiscal 2022, which begins next April 1, and $3.5 billion in fiscal 2023

Monday Economic Report: Manufacturing Expands at Fastest Rate in 25 Months

The Institute for Supply Management reported that the manufacturing sector expanded in October at the fastest pace since September 2018, with the sector continuing to rebound from COVID-19-related weaknesses in the spring. The data were buoyed by robust growth in new orders, which rose at rates not seen since January 2004. With that said, there are also hints at lingering supply chain disruptions in the ISM despite solid progress since April in these data.

New orders for manufactured goods rose 1.1% in September, increasing for the fifth straight month. Despite recent progress, new factory orders have fallen 3.9% year-over-year, due largely to severe COVID-19 disruptions in March and April. More encouragingly, core capital goods spending—a proxy for capital spending in the U.S. economy—rose 1.0% in September, with 4.5% growth over the past 12 months.

Monday Economic Report 2020-1109

President-Elect Biden’s Agenda on Technology and Innovation Policy

ITIF has analyzed President-elect Joe Biden’s policy agenda on a range of important tech-related issues—from the digital economy and broadband telecommunications to trade policy, advanced manufacturing, life science, and clean energy. The overall picture that emerges is that the president-elect’s approach to technology and innovation policy appears to be formulated to engage government as an active partner alongside industry in spurring innovation—but also as a tougher regulator of many tech industries and technologies.

Read the report

Covid-19 Vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech is Strongly Effective – mRNA Technology is Also Behind Moderna Vaccine

Pfizer and partner BioNTech said Monday that their vaccine against Covid-19 was strongly effective, exceeding expectations with results that are likely to be met with cautious excitement — and relief — in the face of the global pandemic.

Both Pfizer’s vaccine and Moderna’s use messenger-RNA, or mRNA, technology, which uses genetic material to cause the body to create a protein from the virus; the immune system then recognizes the virus and learns to attack. Other vaccines in the late stages of development use genetically engineered viruses for a similar purpose, or pieces of protein that are directly injected. No mRNA product has ever been approved by regulators.

Read the article in StatNews (scroll down for a video on how the mRNA vaccine works)

3M on track to produce 95M N95 masks per month

3M is ramping up N95 mask production in Aberdeen, S.D., and expects to have the capacity to produce almost 95 million N95 masks per month by the end of the year. Last year, 3M manufactured about 22 million masks every month in the US.

The company announced Friday that two new production lines installed at its Aberdeen factory soon will increase production of N95 respirator masks due to high demand amid the coronavirus pandemic. The facility will be adding 120,000 square feet to expand production of N95 masks, thank to grants issued by U.S. Department of Defense contracts to further expand its U.S. production of N95 respirators.

Read the full story at The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, S.D.)


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Daily Briefing – 187

Joe Biden Is the 46th President of the United States – Trump to Challenge Results

A day after clinching the U.S. presidency, Democrat Joe Biden and his advisers were working on Sunday on how to address the nation’s coronavirus crisis while reinforcing his intention to bridge America’s gaping political divisions.  Biden on Saturday made clear that tackling the pandemic was a top priority. Biden plans to launch a coronavirus task force on Monday to plot the way forward, led by former surgeon general Vivek Murthy and former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler.

President Donald Trump said on Saturday his campaign would begin challenging U.S. election results in court next week after media outlets called the race for Democrat Joe Biden, saying “this election is far from over.”

Read more at Reuters

A Letter to Members on the Election from Council President Harold King

The vote counts are clear enough that news organizations have confidently projected a winner in the Presidential election. Though many races remain to be called it looks as though both parties have some reason to celebrate as Joe Biden will be President, and Republicans will have a good chance to maintain control of the Senate and have made gains in the House in in State elections.

We acknowledge the poll workers and volunteers who worked tirelessly through the pandemic to handle record turnout and make sure the process worked. Recounts and litigation are also part of our democratic process, and we trust they will run their course and that the election is accurate and there are no valid questions about its legitimacy.


COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release Sunday detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday November 7th. Tracking data for the hotspots and the rest of the State are below.  The Governor also 

  • Hotspot Zones: 3.72%
  • Rockland Hot Zone: 2.43%
  • Orange Orange Zone: 1.47%
  • Statewide: 2.35%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 2.23%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,396 (295 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

“Great Day for Science and Humanity”’ Pfizer, BioNTech Say Covid Vaccine is More Than 90% Effective

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech announced Monday their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection, hailing the development as “a great day for science and humanity.”  Scientists are hoping for a coronavirus vaccine that is at least 75% effective, while White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has previously said one that is 50% or 60% effective would be acceptable.

U.S. stock futures skyrocketed on the news. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 1,458 points, implying an opening gain of more than 1,400 points.

Read more at CNBC

What Joe Biden’s Win Means for New York: 5 Things to Know

New York  leaders are hoping former Vice President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election Saturday will mean the start of a more collegial relationship with the White House, which has been at odds with the Empire State on issues big and small over the last four years.

It means you could see a federal government that’s more amenable to New York’s infrastructure needs, including a key rail tunnel project between New York and New Jersey that has languished during Trump’s presidency.  It’s also possible some New York Democrats could find themselves with a job in the Biden administration, which could trigger vacancies in elected office here.

Here are five potential impacts Biden’s win could have on New York From the Rochester Democrat & Chronical

Drop in Jobless Rate Shows Healing U.S. Labor Market

Employers added 638,000 jobs last month—the sixth straight monthly gain—and the jobless rate fell a percentage point to 6.9%, the Labor Department said Friday. The job market has now recovered 12.1 million of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April, when the shutdown of businesses led the jobless rate to soar to a post-World War II high of 14.7%.

October’s job gain would have been higher without the release of temporary census workers from public payrolls. Private-sector employers added 906,000 jobs last month, a pickup from September, more than offsetting a drop of 268,000 jobs in the public sector. Industries that hired the most workers last month included leisure and hospitality—particularly restaurants—retail and construction.

Read more at the WSJ

Manufacturing Adds 38,000 Jobs

Manufacturing added 38,000 new jobs, fewer than the 60,000 added in September. Manufacturing still employs several thousand fewer people than it did before the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Durable goods manufacturing added 21,000 jobs: fabricated metal products added 7,200 jobs, primary metals added 6,000, and wood products added 4,400. Machinery manufacturers hired 3,900 more people, Computer and electronics manufacturers hired 3,500, and miscellaneous durable goods manufacturing added 2,100.  Nonmetallic mineral products, electrical equipment and appliances, transportation equipment, and furniture all lost jobs.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Manufacturers Fare Better Than Many Service Providers in Covid-19 Economy

Months into the crisis, a clear divide between survivors and casualties is emerging. Countries, workers and industries that rely on making stuff—from computers to furniture to toys—are getting by, or even thriving, amid the economic maelstrom.

Meanwhile, those who provide the sort of face-to-face services that people avoid out of fear of infection—traveling, eating out, going to the movies and some child care—are struggling. Services that don’t require physical proximity—such as many financial services, software and telecommunications—have been less badly hit, as have construction and farming.  This divide between manufacturing and services means the pain has fallen especially heavily on female and immigrant workers and on economies with large informal sectors or with heavy exposure to tourism, entertainment and travel.

Read more at the WSJ

Grant Thornton Survey: Pandemic Supply Chain Changes 

There’s no doubt the pandemic had a disruptive impact on many manufacturing companies and in many areas of activity. But while three quarters of survey respondents reported some level of supply chain disruption, the majority (60%) now consider that level of disruption as only minor. Nevertheless, it meant around half had to rapidly reforecast demand, almost a third had to reduce production and two in five began to identify new suppliers as their existing global networks tried to cope with the initial disruption.

Regardless, this research also suggests the pandemic has called attention to some areas of improvement in manufacturing supply chain operations such as mitigation of future risks, streamlining operations, and minimizing potential vulnerabilities.

Review some results and download the report at Grant Thornton.

Toyota More Than Doubles Profit Outlook as China Sales Rebound

Japan’s top automaker said it now expects an operating profit of 1.3 trillion yen ($12.6 billion) for the year through March, 2021, up from the 500 billion it predicted previously. Operating profit for the previous financial year was 2.47 trillion yen.  That topped the 1.25 trillion yen average estimate for full-year profit from 26 analysts polled by Refinitiv.

For the second quarter, from July to September, operating profit fell to 506 billion yen from 662.4 billion in the same period a year earlier, according to Reuters’ calculations, as sales dipped amid the coronavirus impact globally.

Read more at Reuters

The WHO is Hunting for the Coronavirus’s Origins – Here are the New Details

Ten months have passed since health officials cited Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market as ground zero for the COVID-19 pandemic—and a global debate over how the pandemic began has existed for nearly as long. But the public may soon learn answers as the World Health Organization embarks on the final stages of a search for the coronavirus’s origins.

Disease detectives who have worked on similar hunts say this is business as usual. The WHO lacks the staffing—with 7,000 employees spread across 150 countries—to conduct a full-scale investigation on its own and always relies on national teams or international volunteers for field work.

Read more at Nat Geo


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Daily Briefing – 186

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release today detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday November 4th. Tracking data for the hotspots and the rest of the State are below.

  • Hotspot Zones: 3.04e: 0.88%
  • Rockland Hot Zone: 3.81%
  • Orange Orange Zone: 0.75%
  • Statewide: 1.86%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.70%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,277 (268 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

U.S. Daily Coronavirus Cases Top 100,000 for the First Time

The number of new daily coronavirus cases recorded in the U.S. surpassed 100,000 for the time, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The data showed 102,831 new Covid-19 infections were recorded on Wednesday, up from 91,530 cases on Election Day. 

The data also showed that 1,097 deaths were recorded Wednesday, lower than the 1,134 deaths reported the previous day.  The grim daily record comes after data showed a soaring number of hospitalizations due to the virus in many states, with the surge most pronounced in the Midwest and Southwest.

Read more at CNBC

Election Update – Continued Counting and Lawsuits

Votes continue to be counted  – and counting is a bit slower than past presidential elections due to the high number of absentee ballots. Depending on which news outlet you follow former Vice President Joe Biden is either 6 or 16 electoral votes shy of the 270 needed to win the presidency. President Trump’s campaign is unhappy with what they consider a slow count of ballots and claim they are being excluded from the process making them suspicious of the results. They have filed lawsuits in several states asking to halt counting until they are allowed to monitor counting.

Republicans appear to have held on to control of the Senate though that will likely require them to win run-off elections in Georgia. They may also have gained a few seats in the House.
Markets have rallied on the prospect of a government divided between the two parties.

State Senate Races In The Hudson Valley Too Close to Call – Veto Proof Majority May Hang In The Balance

A number of New York state Senate races in the Hudson Valley have not been decided. It could be weeks before constituents know who will represent them next year. The closest races are in districts with first-term Democrats in seats previously in Republican hands for a long time. Democrat Jen Metzger is trailing in the 42nd District, which had been in Republican hands for years before John Bonacic retired in 2018. Republican Mike Martucci has declared victory, saying the margin of victory at the polls was substantial enough to overcome the number of mail-in and absentee ballots on file with the Board of Elections. Metzger says there are about 25,000 absentee ballots that are overwhelmingly from Democratic voters, and she’ll await the final results. The 42nd District includes Sullivan County and portions of Delaware, Orange and Ulster Counties.

McConnell Calls for Coronavirus Package Before End of the Year

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that Congress should approve a coronavirus relief package before the end of the year, a shift from his recent suggestion that a measure was more likely early next year.

During a press conference in Kentucky a day after he won reelection, McConnell expressed optimism that negotiators could reach a deal post-election. The outcome of the presidential contest and control of the Senate remains unknown, though final results are expected within the coming days if not sooner.

Read more at Politico

Jobless claims: Another 751,000 Americans Filed New Claims

The Labor Department’s latest report reflected the tenth straight week that new jobless claims came in below the psychologically important 1 million mark. And the past several months’ worth of weekly new claims have come down significantly from the nearly 7 million new claims filed at the beginning of April. However, improvements have slowed to a trickle compared to the initial legs lower in new weekly claims that ensued after April’s peak, and the latest initial jobless claims tally came in worse-than-expected.

“Overall, the economy appears to be losing a bit of momentum,” Wells Fargo Securities economists including Jay Bryson said in a recent note. “Jobless claims have improved recently but remain elevated.”

Read more at Yahoo Finance

GM Rebounds From Coronavirus-Related Losses

General Motors Co. GM +1.23% ’s efforts to crank up production of pickups and other lucrative models drove a $4 billion profit in the third quarter, the latest automotive company to rebound from earlier Covid-19-related losses, even as the pandemic worsens. The car business has mounted a striking recovery since U.S. auto plants were idled for several weeks last spring. Auto makers have managed to keep their factories bustling without major pandemic-related disruptions, while demand for new vehicles has come back stronger than analysts predicted when the crisis hit.

GM said Thursday net income rose 74% over the same quarter in 2019, when a bruising 40-day strike led by the United Auto Workers union halted work at the company’s U.S. factories, denting earnings.

Read more at Reuters

Most Americans Chose Not to Raid Their 401(k)… Yet

Faced with the prospect of surging unemployment and a declining economy, Congress in March passed a law that temporarily allows Americans to use their retirement money today. But so far, there hasn’t been a rush of funds out of accounts.

Fidelity Investments, the largest 401(k) provider in the country, has seen 4.6% of eligible people take some money out through Sept. 30 due to the virus. An additional 1% have taken a so-called hardship distribution that allows withdrawals for reasons including buying a home, preventing foreclosure or paying medical bills. That is compared with about 2% a year that typically take a hardship distribution.

Read more at the WSJ

Uber, Gig Economy Companies See California Win as National Model

Voters in California on Tuesday approved a ballot proposal by Uber Technologies Inc, Lyft Inc and its allies that cements app-based food delivery and ride-hailing drivers’ status as independent contractors, rather than employees. Uber’s shares rose 12%, while Lyft jumped 9%.

The companies, along with DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates, poured more than $205 million into the campaign. Gig economy companies want to turn California voters’ decision to make ride-service drivers contractors into a model for the nation, as several states consider requiring drivers from Uber, Lyft and rival services be treated as employees with higher compensation.

Read more at Reuters


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Daily Briefing – 185

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release today.  The release detailed New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday November 3rd. Meanwhile the New York Times reported Monday that concerns have arisen that communities may be manipulating coronavirus positivity rates by discouraging sick people from being tested.

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

  • Hotspot Zones: 2.69%
  • Orange Orange Zone: 0.88%
  • Rockland Hot Zone: 3.43%
  • Statewide: 1.59%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.42%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,253 (284 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

The Count Continues

With more people voting absentee and by mail, counting is a bit slower than usual and the truth is that most presidential elections are not decided on election night.  Former Vice President Joe Biden did not get the early decisive win some Democrats had hoped for, as President Trump took Florida, Texas and Ohio. Meanwhile, Vice President Biden did appear to flip Arizona, Michigan and Wisconson as well as the second congressional district of Nebraska, and votes are still being counted in battlegrounds like Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

Read more live updates in the WSJ

Preliminary Results:  NYS Dems Fail to Gain Super Majority 

While absentee ballots are still being counted and will likely tilt some races toward the Democrats it appears that the party has fallen well short of achieving a veto-proof majority in the State Senate.  Such a supermajority will continue to exist in the Assembly. 

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) issued the following statement this morning:

“Despite a difficult night for many Democratic candidates throughout the state and nation, the Senate Democratic Conference comfortably retained our majority and will be welcoming a historic group of new upstate Democrats to the Senate. With the record high number of outstanding absentee ballots that are overwhelmingly Democratic, we will add even more victories to our majority as the vote counts continue. The Senate Democratic Majority will continue to lead New York State forward as we recover from this pandemic and economic crisis.”

See all NYS election results at the NY Times

Empire Center: With Hopes Dashed for “Blue Wave” Bailout, Cuomo Needs to Deal With Budget Shortfall

E.J. McMahon writes that Cuomo was banking on Joe Biden to win the White House and Democrats to take over the U.S. Senate – an outcome which was likely to produce another stimulus bill offering New York enough new federal aid to close its current budget gap of at least $8 billion and next year’s projected budget gap of nearly $17 billion.

But in the wake of yesterday’s election, it appears the Senate majority could remain under Republican control. The outcome of a few Senate races, including one or two Georgia runoffs in January, ultimately will be even more important to Cuomo’s budget bailout hopes than the presidential race. Even if Biden ekes out a win, prospects for a big state and local bailout bill are slim if Democrats don’t control a majority in the upper house.

Read more at the Empire Center

U.S. Trade Deficit Narrowed in September as Exports Rose

The U.S. posted a deficit of $63.86 billion in September, compared with $67.04 billion in August and $47.84 billion a year earlier, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The figures were adjusted for seasonal variation.

Exports rose 2.6% to $176.35 billion, while imports rose 0.5% to $240.22 billion, their slowest pace of growth since trade bottomed out in May.

Read more at the WSJ

XStream Trucking CEO: Why We’re Reshoring Our Manufacturing

The idea of reshoring is picking up momentum in light of the pandemic as a way to simplify supply chains and make companies less vulnerable to future disruptions. I’m not going to predict the future, but I’m going to talk about why my company, XStream Trucking, decided to reshore some of its manufacturing and the impact those decisions have had, which could serve as an example to others.

We started taking a close look at our supply chain long before the pandemic hit. The first big inflection point came in 2018, when a trade war broke out between the U.S. and China. The imposition of U.S. tariffs on some of our parts came as a surprise. As a start-up still building our business and reputation, we couldn’t afford to pass along additional costs to our customers.

Read more at IndustryWeek

China’s Economic Recovery is Accelerating

In a sign that China’s economic recovery is accelerating, even as much of the world is being hit by another wave of lockdowns the Caixin/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index for Chinese manufacturing came in at 53.6 for October, better than the 53.0 forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll. The latest reading was the highest since January 2011, the survey results showed.

The country’s Caixin/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index for services in October rose to its highest level since June. Last month’s reading hit 56.8, up from September’s 54.8, where any figure over 50 indicates expansion.

Read more at Reuters

ICE  I-9 Compliance Flexibility Scheduled to End November 19th

Our friends at Ethan Allan Workforce Solutions remind us that on March 19, 2020, due to precautions implemented by employers and employees associated with COVID-19, DHS announced that it would exercise prosecutorial discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This policy only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

Unless It is Extended by ICE the flexibility is scheduled to end November 19th. 

See the March Guidance

The Johns Hopkins CSSE Dashboard Reported 9.39 Million US Cases and 232,742 Deaths as of November 4

In addition to COVID-19 incidence, the US is reporting increasing impact on hospitals and increasing COVID-19 mortality. Nationally, emergency department (ED) visits for COVID-19 have increased steadily over the past several weeks. The percentage of Emergency Department visits for COVID-19 coronavirus-like illness increased from approximately 2% in early September to nearly 3.5% in early November, a 65% increase. Over the past week, 9 states have reported per capita COVID-19 mortality greater than 0.5 deaths per 100,000 population, including 3 states with 1 or greater. 

More than half of all US states have reported more than 400,000 cumulative cases, including 14 with more than 200,000 cases:

  • 900,000: California, Texas
  • 800,000: Florida
  • 500,000: New York
  • 400,000: Illinois

Read more at Johns Hopkins

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Daily Briefing – 184

Election Results

It is expected to be a long night and results may still be coming in. Use the links below to see the results in the presidential contest as well as to learn which party will control the U.S. Senate and the extent of the Democrat majority in New York State. 

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo issues a press release today stating that New York continues its effective micro-cluster approach with focused testing and targeted restrictions in areas where the metrics show sustained high levels of viral spread. The release detailed New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday November 2nd.  Tracking data for the hotspots and the rest of the State are below.

  • Hotspot Zones: 2.63%
  • Orange Orange Zone: 2.09%
  • Rockland Hot Zone: 2.48%
  • Statewide: 1.81%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.71%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,227 (268 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

Managing Stress and Anxiety During the Election

Our friends and Associate Members, Emergency One offer some advice on dealing with the news over the next few days (weeks?)

“We’re at the apex of the election cycle but that does not mean that heightened tension and the polarization that goes along with the election will go away after tomorrow. When “your side” loses, it can feel like the world is going off track in terrible and permanent ways. You can feel personally threatened in ways that trigger deep and uncomfortable emotions.

How can you manage your anxiety in times of political conflict while remaining positive? Click for some tips to help you through the next several days.”

Managing Stress and Anxiety During the Election

SBA Releases PPP Necessity Questionnaires

Council  Associate Member and friend PKF O’Connor Davies notes that the The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced last week that it will be issuing Loan Necessity Questionnaires to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Borrowers that, together with their affiliates, received PPP loans with an original principal amount of $2 million or more. According to the SBA, the purpose of these questionnaires is to facilitate the collection of supplemental information that will be used by SBA loan reviewers to evaluate the good-faith certification that Borrowers made on their PPP loan application forms that economic uncertainty made the loan request necessary. Two different versions of the loan Necessity Questionnaire have been released, Form 3509 for for-profit Borrowers and Form 3510 for not-for-profit Borrowers.

Read more at PKF O’Connor Davies

Factories Bounce Back Around the World as Consumers Rally

Factories across the globe bounced back strongly in October, as manufacturers hired more people and ramped up production of consumer goods in hot demand despite rising coronavirus infections.

Fresh surveys of purchasing managers for manufacturers showed a continuing divide between companies that are making products—from cars to electronics—and companies providing face-to-face services that people are shunning. The surveys released Monday indicated that the manufacturing sector continued to revive as the fourth quarter began, especially in global powerhouses such as the U.S. and Germany.

Read more in the WSJ

Commerce Department: U.S. Factory Orders Rise Solidly

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that factory orders rose 1.1% after climbing 0.6% in August. Orders were boosted by increased demand for primary metals, computers and electronic products as well as motor vehicles and fabricated metal products. But orders for machinery, furniture and electrical equipment, appliances and components fell.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders would rise 1.0% in September.

Read more at Reuters

3 Experts On How COVID-19 Changed Manufacturing and Supply Chains Around the World

Fast Company’s Shape of Tomorrow series asked business leaders to share their inside perspective on how the COVID-19 era is transforming their industries. Here’s what’s been lost—and what could be gained—in the new world order.

The food business used to be highly predictable, but the coronavirus pandemic changed all that, forcing General Mills to “build new tools, new rituals and new processes” in response to radical shifts in consumer demand, according to Chief Supply Chain Officer John Church. He and leaders at bedding company Boll & Branch and manufacturing technology company Nanotronics share how they and their businesses have adapted to the global crisis.

Read what they had to say at Fast Company

CMS Acts to Ensure Coverage of Life-Saving COVID-19 Vaccines & Therapeutics

 The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a comprehensive plan with proactive measures to remove regulatory barriers and ensure consistent coverage and payment for the administration of an eventual vaccine for millions of Americans. CMS released a set of toolkits for providers, states and insurers to help the health care system prepare to swiftly administer the vaccine once it is available. These resources are designed to increase the number of providers that can administer the vaccine, ensure adequate reimbursement for administering the vaccine in Medicare, while making it clear to private insurers and Medicaid programs their responsibility to cover the vaccine at no charge to beneficiaries.

Read the press release

Data Privacy Considerations for Employers Collecting Health Data from Employees 

With the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, for the first time ever, many companies are collecting more private information, including health information such as temperature screenings and health questionnaires, from their employees to assist with a safe transition back to the workplace from work at home.  In doing so, there are several data privacy laws and principles that companies may wish to consider when determining how they will collect, use, disclose and maintain this employee data.

This article is designed to address the balance between collecting health information from employees to maintain a safe workplace with those employees’ privacy concerns. 

Read more at EHS Today

Movement on Million Dollar Next-Gen Mask Challenge

XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, is pleased to announce, in tandem with the rollout of their seven industry partners, the selection of the 25 international teams moving forward in the $1 Million XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge. Youth representing 12 countries moved forward in the challenge based on their design’s ingenuity, effectiveness, X-factor of style, and ability to overcome common barriers to use.

Read more at IndustryWeek


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Daily Briefing – 183


More than 90 million Americans have already voted.  If you are not one of them today is election day and the last chance to have to exercise that right.  We encourage you to do so. 

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo held a briefing by phone call Sunday detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday October 31st.  Tracking data for the hotspots and the rest of the State are below.

The Governor also stated that administering a vaccine to the public will be the greatest operational task untaken by government during the pandemic. Testing, management of the hospital system, and contact tracing were all large operational tasks for government, but the administration of a vaccine will be far more difficult.  

  • 20 hotspot zip codes: 3.5%
  • Orange Orange Zone: 3.75%
  • Rockland Hot Zone: 4.20%
  • Statewide: 1.7%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.4%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,151 (276 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

BSK: Domestic Travel Advisory Substantially Revised — More Testing, Fewer Quarantine Days

On October 31, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 205.2, which substantially revises the New York State Travel Advisory for domestic travel. The revisions take effect Wednesday, November 4 and do not apply to international travelers. For rules applicable to international travelers, click here. These revisions also do not apply to essential workers.

Empire Center: Cuomo Issues Mid-Year Budget Update

The main mid-year takeaways promoted by the accompanying press release from Cuomo’s Division of the Budget (DOB) were “a $14.9 billion General Fund revenue decline and a 15.3 percent All Funds tax receipts decline from the Budget forecast released in February, creating a total loss of nearly $63 billion through FY 2024 as a direct consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

These numbers—while accurate—are nothing new. They also are misleading: the current budget hole is, at most, $8 billion, and since the state budgets only one year at a time, multi-year differences in future revenues as projected back in February are not meaningful.

ISM’s Manufacturing Index for October Reaches Highest Level Since September 2018

The ISM’s Pricing Manager’s Index for manufacturing rose to 59.3%, up 3.4 points from September, marking the highest point for the PMI since September 2018.  

The ISM’s indexes for new orders, production, backlog of orders, employment, supplier deliveries, inventories, prices, export and imports all rose compared to their September levels. The new orders index rose 7.7 points to 67.9%, the production index grew 2 points to 63%, inventories grew 4.8 points to 51.9%, and prices increased by 2.7 points to 65.5%. Customer inventories fell 1.2 points to 37.9%, its lowest point since June 2010, a level considered a positive for future production.  The index for manufacturing employment grew by 3.6 points, landing at 53.2%. The October results breaks a 14-month streak of contraction in manufacturing employment.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Monday Economic Report: GDP, Jobless Claims, Durable Goods, Trade Deficit, Household Spending…. All Good News

The U.S. economy bounced back strongly, jumping 33.1% at the annual rate in the third quarter, the largest increase in the history of the series.  Despite soaring in the third quarter, real GDP remained down 3.5% year to date.  Moving forward, real GDP is expected to rise an annualized 3.0% in the fourth quarter, but uncertainties continue to exist in the marketplace, which could challenge that outlook. Overall, the U.S. economy is predicted to shrink 3.3% in 2020, with 4.0% growth forecasted for 2021.

  • Personal consumption expenditures rose 1.4% in September.
  • Initial unemployment claims totaled 751,000 for the week ending Oct. 24.
  • At the same time, continuing claims declined from 8,465,000 for the week ending Oct. 10 to 7,756,000 for the week ending Oct. 17.
  • New orders for durable goods rose 1.9% in September.

Monday Economic Report 2020-1102

Citron Cooperman Survey: The Current Pulse of Manufacturing & Distribution Firms

Citron Cooperman’s Manufacturing and Distribution Practice team conducted this research to take the pulse of company leaders in the moment—amid COVID-19—and with an eye to the future.

Here are our three big takeaways from the Summer 2020 survey:

  • Revenues and earnings are surprisingly steady. The best performers have more traction with
    e-commerce.  There is a strong correlation between those who do at least half their business online and significant growth in revenue and earnings.
  • Technology and e-commerce rank highest for the biggest keys for future growth. Although investments in these areas has occurred over the years, improvements in the automation of processes and use of financial data is imperative.
  • COVID-19 has changed distribution in a variety of ways, most prominently changing the demand of product. This comes as no surprise. The big news is that nearly half of respondents see changing their business models their top priority challenge.

Citron Cooperman Manufacturing and Distribution Report 2020

WebMD Report: Employees Need More from Employers to Navigate the Pandemic

Employees have not been getting the kind of support they need from their employers to better manage their emotional and physical health during the pandemic, according to the results of a new report from WebMD Health Services. 

The survey, The Pandemic Disconnect: Employee Well-being, Employer Response, and Opportunities for Change released today, found that 77% of employees say the pandemic has had a negative impact on their well-being, with more than half (51%) citing increased stress, anxiety and feelings of isolation (49%). More than one-third say they are feeling depressed, frustrated or angry more often, are exercising less and not eating well.

Read more at BioSpace

Altor Safety LLC Receives $800,000 New York State Grant For Upstart Company

In April, Russell Fawkes and Jonathan Scott – long-time friends and Rockland entrepreneurs – fused the strengths of their companies to form a new one, Altor Safety, LLC, a mask manufacturer.

Fawkes heads up the Congers-based company PowerPak Civil & Safety, a national distributor of safety and PPE equipment. Scott is CEO of Metro-Wall, a Valley Cottage-based manufacturer and installer of interior glass partitions.

Together, they’re part of a new army of manufacturing warriors that are fighting down the coronavirus.

Read more in the Rockland Business Journal 


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