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Daily Briefing – 270

COVID Update 

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

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

Hospitalizations

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

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

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

Other Data

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

Useful Websites:


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

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

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

Read more at Spectrum News


NYS Vaccine Update

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

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


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

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

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

Read more at the New York Times


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

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

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

Read More at Mid-Hudson News


U.S. Durable Goods Orders Fall in February

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

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

Read more at CNBC


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

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

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

Read more at Morningstar


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

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

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

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


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

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

Read more at SBA


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

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

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

Read more at BBC


Pfizer Testing A Pill To Treat Covid

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

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

Read more at Forbes


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

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

Read more at Businesswire


Germany’s Merkel Reverses Plans for Easter Lockdown

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

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

Read more at the BBC


 

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Daily Briefing – 255

COVID Update 

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

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

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

Hospitalizations

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

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

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

Other Data

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

Useful Websites:


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

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

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

Read More at The Niagara Frontier


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

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

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


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

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

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

Read more at the NY Times 


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

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

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

Read more at the WSJ


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

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

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

Read more at EHS Today


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

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

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

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

Read more at CNBC


The Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefits Plans Continues

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

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

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


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

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

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

Read more at Reuters


HOW Study: The Impact of Remote Work

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

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

Read more at the HOW Institute


WHO Official: Pandemic Unlikely to End in 2021

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

Read more at The Guardian (free registration)


 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 239

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday February 8th. “Our post-holiday surge reduction is continuing, and that is the direct result of the toughness of New Yorkers who have sacrificed and done what is needed to beat back this invisible enemy. Our infection rate is the lowest it has been since December 1, so we’re back to where we started on the holiday surge,” Governor Cuomo said.

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

Hospitalizations 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 7,875
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 875

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,320
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 427

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .88
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.12%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.34

Useful Websites:


NYS Vaccine Update – Allocation to the States Increasing 5%

The White House announced a 5 percent increase in vaccine allocations to the states for the next three weeks. The state has administered over 2,228.567 vaccine doses through the state’s vaccination program. New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,874,975 first doses and administered 90 percent (1,684,233) 56 percent of the 933,850 second doses (522,605) have been administered. Delivery of the week 9 allocation from the federal government begins mid-week.

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 264,710 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 201,953 have been administered (76%).


US Vaccination Progress 

The US CDC reported 59.31 million vaccine doses distributed and 42.42 million doses administered nationwide. The US has administered 71.5% of the distributed doses, an increase of more than 10 percentage points since Friday (61.2%). In total, 32.34 million people (nearly 10% of the entire US population) have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, and 9.52 million (2.9%) have received both doses. The average daily doses administered is once again increasing, now up to a record high of 1.46 million doses per day.

A total of 4.95 million doses have been administered at long-term care facilities (LTCFs) through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care (LTC) Program*, including residents and staff. This covers 3.78 million individuals with at least 1 dose and 1.15 million with 2 doses. Approximately 60% of the doses have gone to residents, and 40% to staff.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


Survey: Lower-Level Workers Are Less Willing to Receive the Vaccine than Senior Leadership

According to a new survey released on Feb. 8 by The Conference Board survey, there is a division based on job titles.  Lower-level workers are less willing to receive the vaccine than senior leadership.  Another issue that could be affecting acceptance of the vaccine is that nearly half of companies have yet to communicate a policy on getting the vaccine. Furthermore, even those companies that are encouraging workers to receive the vaccine are not mandating it as a condition of returning to the office.

Key findings include: One-fifth of US workers—19%—are undecided about whether to get the vaccine.  Three-quarters plan to take an FDA-approved vaccine when available.  Only 6% do not plan to get the vaccine.

Read more at EHS Today


Sen. Warren, Rep. Schakowsky Introduce Bill to Manufacture COVID-19 Supplies

US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced legislation to publicly manufacture personal protective equipment, prescription drugs, and other medical supplies necessary to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pandemic Emergency Manufacturing Act of 2021 authorizes the federal government to manufacture medical products, including contracting with existing manufacturers, to ensure an adequate supply of critical materials to avoid rationing during this crisis.

Read more at Homeland Preparedness News


CDC Study: Decline in COVID-19 Hospitalization Growth Rates Associated with Statewide Mask Mandates

During March 22–October 17, 2020, 10 sites participating in the COVID-19–Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network in states with statewide mask mandates reported a decline in weekly COVID-19–associated hospitalization growth rates by up to 5.5 percentage points for adults aged 18–64 years after mandate implementation, compared with growth rates during the 4 weeks preceding implementation of the mandate.

Mask-wearing is a component of a multipronged strategy to decrease exposure to and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and reduce strain on the health care system, with likely direct effects on COVID-19 morbidity and associated mortality.

Read the more at the CDC website


WHO: Virus Likely Came From Animal, Not Laboratory

The virus that causes Covid-19 most likely entered the human population through an intermediate animal and is highly unlikely to have leaked from a laboratory, a leader of a World Health Organization investigative team said at a press conference in the Chinese city of Wuhan. In laying out the possibilities for the origin of the pandemic, the WHO team said Tuesday it was also possible that it may have been transmitted to humans through frozen food, a theory heavily promoted by Beijing. But the team said the most likely scenario was one in which the virus spilled over naturally from an animal into humans, such as from a bat to a small mammal that then infected a person.

The preliminary assessment came during a news conference that followed a two-week-long mission to Wuhan, the original center of the pandemic, which included 17 Chinese and 17 WHO experts. It comes more than a year after the virus first began spreading in China and around the globe, killing more than two million people.

Read more at the WSJ


Latest Chinese Vaccine News

The COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Cansino is 90.1% effective at preventing severe illness and 65.7% effective at preventing symptomatic cases, according to Pakistan’s health minister. The good news: it’s another single-shot vaccine, like J&J’s, which makes it easier than most to roll out. The bad news: like the other Chinese contenders, Sinopharm and Sinovac, Cansino has not published much data beyond flashy headline efficacy figures.

Read more at Fortune


Trade Deficit Hit Highest Point Since 2008 Last Year

The deficit between U.S. exports and imports hit a 12-year-high in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic hammered supply chains around the world. Full-year results for 2020 showed a deficit of $678.7 billion, 17.7% more than 2019 and the highest full year deficit since 2008.

That’s despite a slight dip in the monthly deficit in December, which saw a trade deficit of $66.6 billion, down $2.4 billion from November’s $69.0 billion. Pending revisions to the December figures, November had the highest single-month trade deficit of the year, but December’s three-month moving average, $66.5 billion, was the highest deficit period of the year.

Read more at IndustryWeek


CBO: $15 Minimum Wage Would Reduce Poverty, Cost Jobs

Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would increase wages for at least 17 million people, put 1.4 million Americans out of work, and lift some 900,000 out of poverty, according to the nonpartisan CBO.

This higher federal minimum could raise wages for an additional 10 million workers who would otherwise make slightly above that wage rate, the study found.

Read more at NPR


 

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Daily Briefing -223

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

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

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

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

Here are some useful websites:


Senate Overrides Trump’s Veto of NDAA Defense Bill

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

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

Read more at the WSJ


Georgia Senate Runoff Election

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

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


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

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

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

Read more at Empire Center


Unemployment Claims Fall

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

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

Read more at Reuters


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

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

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

Read more at the WSJ


Vaccine Tracker Now Available On Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

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

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


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

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

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

Read more at NatGeo


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

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

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

Read more in The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 222

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

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

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

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

Here are some useful websites:


Mid-Hudson COVID-19 Cluster Maps


Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine Approved by UK Regulator

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

Read more at CNBC


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

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

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

Read more at the WSJ


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

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

Read the update from BSK


Senate Sets Defense Bill Veto Override in Motion for Weekend

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

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

 Read more at Bloomberg


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

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

Implement details are in the press release


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

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

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

Read more at the Economist


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

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

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

View the slide show


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

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

Read the press release


 

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Daily Briefing- 209

COVID and Cluster ‘Surge & Flex’ Update

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

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

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

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

Here are some useful websites:


US Panel Endorses Widespread Use of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

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

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

Read more at the AP


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

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

See the map and analysis at the NYT


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

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

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

Read more at ABC News


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

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

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

Read more at the WSJ


GAO Report – Jobless Data Flawed

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

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

Read more in the WSJ


 

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

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

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

See the full report at the BLS


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

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

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

Read more at the Empire Center


Pandemic Means Employers Need to Know How Workers Spend Time Off

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

Read more at the WSJ


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

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

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

Read more at Market Watch


Boeing 737 Takes Off On First Commercial Flight in 20 Months

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

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

Read more at NPR 


 

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Daily Briefing – 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 alcohol.org, 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 Update 84

Cuomo On Reopening Dashboard, Roles of Businesses and Employees, Importance of Remaining Diligent 

At his press briefing today  Governor Cuomo demonstrated the new dashboard which displays daily test results for each county. The dashboard shows on a daily basis how many tests have been administered and how many tests were positive as a raw number and a percentage. Currently, all regions are showing low positive rates. The State will monitor the daily test results of all regions to ensure each region can continue through the reopening phases.  As each region moves through the reopening phases business owners have a responsibility to provide personal protective equipment and ensure social distancing. Employees have a responsibility to follow the rules and protocols.

Every region of the State is now reopening. The Long Island region is entering phase two today. Phase two industries include offices, real estate, essential and in-store retail, vehicle sales and rentals, retail rental, repair and cleaning, hair salons and barbershops, commercial building management, and outdoor and take-out/delivery food services.

The dashboard can be viewed here

Phase two guidance can be found here


Cuomo on Economy and Infrastructure Projects

Speaking at LaGuardia International Airport in Queens, the Governor was joined by Rick Cotton, Executive Director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the two discussed the opening of the new Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.

The Governor is fast-tracking the rebuilding of LaGuardia airport. It will be the first major new airport built in the United States since Denver International opened 25 years ago. The project is logistically difficult because the airport needs to remain operational while under construction, not to mention the tiny slip on land upon which it sits. Rick Cotton announced today the rebuild has reached a milestone – opening LaGuardia’s Terminal B Arrivals and Departures Hall. The new Terminal B is 50% bigger than the terminal it replaced. The Governor wants to energize the economy by starting other large scale development projects. The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the Port Authority used the time during the crisis to complete capital projects while usage was low. The MTA is accelerating $2 billion in capital projects. 

Read the press release


Fed Makes Revisions to Main Street Loan Program

The Federal Reserve Board has announced revisions to the Main Street Lending Program which complements the SBA’s PPP program. This will make it possible for more small and midsize businesses to receive financial support when the program opens, including lowering the minimum loan from $500,000 to $250,000.

Learn more here


Fed Officials Project No Rate Increases Through 2022

Federal Reserve officials projected no plans to raise interest rates through 2022 and said they were committed to providing more support to the economy following shutdowns to contain the coronavirus. Officials also said they would maintain their recent pace of purchases of Treasury and mortgage securities, effectively ending gradual, weekly reductions.

“Over coming months, the Federal Reserve will increase its holdings” of Treasury and mortgage bonds “at least at the current pace to sustain smooth market functioning,” officials said in their policy statement released after the meeting.

The statement also attributed improved conditions in stock and other financial markets to policy measures officials have taken in recent months to keep credit flowing through the economy.

Read more at the WSJ


OECD Warns of “Long-Lasting Scars” From Virus

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a group of rich countries, warned that the pandemic will leave “long-lasting scars” on the world economy, even if a second wave of infections is avoided. The tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries will be hit particularly hard, affecting low-skilled, young and informal workers. The OECD’s chief economist called for “extraordinary policies” to ensure a sustainable recovery.

Read more at MarketWatch


OSHA Face Coverings Q&A

The U.S. Department of Labor has released a question and answer web page specifically on face coverings and masks in the workplace.

That Q&A can be found here


Phase Three Guidelines Released for Food Services and Personal Care

As regions prepare for Phase 3 of Reopening, New York State has begun sharing guidelines. These guidelines will apply to non-essential businesses in regions that are permitted to reopen, essential businesses throughout the state that were previously permitted to remain open, and commercial and recreational activities that have been permitted to operate statewide with restrictions.

Read the guidelines here


GlobalFoundries Learned from Early Pandemic Experience

Semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries was able to tap into its early pandemic experience with facilities in Europe and Asia to prepare its US plants beginning in January and February. At the factory in Essex Junction, Vt., the daily workforce has been reduced, and employees wear full protective gear after undergoing temperature checks.

Read the full story at Burlington Vermont’s Seven Days


Signs Point to Years Long Employment Recovery

Last week’s jobs report from the Labor Department showed the rate of layoffs falling in April and hiring at an all-time low, and economists warn it might take a decade for the labor market to recover. The quits rate dropped to a nine-year low of 1.4%, a measure of low job market confidence. The labor market was slammed by the closure of nonessential businesses in mid-March to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many establishments reopened in May, with the economy adding a stunning 2.509 million jobs last month after a record 20.7 million plunge in April, government data showed on Friday.

Economists warn it could take even a decade for the labor market to recoup the jobs lost during the COVID-19 recession. 

Read the full story at Reuters

 

 

 

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NAM Releases a Plan for Significant Infrastructure Investment

From NAM (National Association of Manufacturers) By Michael Short

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement ahead of tomorrow’s White House infrastructure meeting:

“Every year, America is falling further behind on infrastructure. Investment is currently only one-third of what it was in 1960, and without action on infrastructure, we will lose 5.8 million jobs by 2040. Any serious legislative proposal must fix the Highway Trust Fund—through various user fees—and be transformational in its scope so that manufacturers and the country are positioned for future success. That’s why manufacturers are calling for at least $1 trillion in much needed new investment. Millions of jobs and our nation’s competitiveness are at stake, and it is time for our elected leaders to act.”

Link to NAM’s Press Release

In February, the NAM released “Building to Win”—an ambitious initiative to revitalize our nation’s failing infrastructure. Originally released ahead of the 2016 elections, the updated proposal serves as a blueprint to repair our roads, bridges, rails, airports, ports and waterways and revolutionize the infrastructure that makes the American Dream possible. It represents manufacturers’ vision for the path forward—one that will enhance the competitiveness of manufacturers and improve the lives of manufacturing workers and all Americans.

Read NAM’s report Building to Win

 

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#TBT To Our Annual Luncheon and Expo

A few weeks ago, on November 18, the Council held its annual Luncheon and Expo with our keynote speaker Scott P. Schloegel, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff of the Export-Import Bank. The event was a big hit and although we’ve already posted plenty of photos on our Facebook page, we thought we’d share some pics here for anyone who connects with us through our blog:

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Great Boston Molasses Flood: Secrets Revealed?

bostonmolassesdisaster

It’s one of the strangest tragedies in American history, the sort of thing that should only happen in fiction yet somehow happened in real life. On January 15, 1919 the North End area of Boston, Massachusetts a storage tank burst and a giant wave of molasses flooded out into the streets at 35 miles per hour. 21 people were killed and another 150 were injured. To this day residents swear that on hot days you can still smell the molasses in the air.

The event has become part of American folklore and a case study for engineering students. Bearly 100 years later there is still no consenus for why the disaster was so deadly, but a new study from Harvard though suggests that temperature played a large part in it. By studying the effects of cold weather on molasses, the researchers determined that the disaster was made more deadly in the cold winter weather than it would have in the summer season. When it first left the tank the syrup would’ve moved quickly enough to cover several blocks before the cold air thickened it into a hard sticky goo that left many residents trapped in it. Read more on the study in the New York Times.

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Judge Blocks New Overtime Rule

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On Tuesday, November 22, just before Thanksgiving U.S. District Court Judge Mazzant issued a nationwide injunction preventing the implementation of the Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule previously set to take effect on December. The Court found that the Department of Labor had likely exceeded its statutory authority in setting a salary threshold higher than necessary to exempt “any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity.” Because the current salary threshold increase was unlawful under the plain meaning of the statute, the Department of Labor “also lacks the authority to implement the automatic updating mechanism.”

While the Department of Labor is likely to appeal the decision, the timing is such that the fate of the overtime rule is now in the hands of the 115th Congress and the incoming Trump Administration. Until this rule is officially withdrawn by the Department of Labor or no appeal of the case is sought, it could come back again with an unfavorable ruling on appeal. Read the full press release from NAM.

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Hudson Valley Jobs Up in October

hudson valley

October job numbers for the Hudson Valley have been released, and they’re largely positive. The New York State Department of Labor reports:

For the 12-month period ending in October 2016, private sector employment in the Hudson Valley increased by 10,300 or 1.3 percent, to 797,300. Jobs were added in educational and health services (+7,500), professional and business services (+2,100), trade, transportation and utilities (+1,900), and leisure and hospitality (+1,600). Job losses were greatest in financial activities (-1,100), manufacturing (-1,000), and information (-500). The government sector added 200 jobs over the period.

In October 2016, the region’s private sector job growth continued its positive trend growing by 1.3 percent year over year. However, this was the region’s weakest year-over-year increase in 2016. The education and health service sector continued to perform well. Growth in education and health services accelerated sharply last year (+3.5%) and is on pace to match that this year.. Employment growth in the region’s leisure and hospitality sector was also strong – up 1.9 percent year-over-year.

Within the region, year-over-year job growth was fastest in the Kingston MSA (+2.5 percent), followed by Sullivan County (+1.5 percent), the Dutchess-Putnam MSA (+1.4 percent), and the Orange-Rockland-Westchester labor market area (+1.2 percent).

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U.S. Manufacturing Output Rises-Again

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Output at U.S. manufacturers rose in October, marking the second such monthly increase in a row. Industry experts hope this is a sign the industry is gradually recovering. Production at factories accounts for 75% of all output, and saw an increase of 0.2 percent for a second month, according to a Federal Reserve report showed. Warmer temperatures led to a drop in utility use, resulting in little change to total industrial production, which also includes mining. Factories are benefiting from steady household spending growth at the same time the drag on industrial output from the oil sector wanes as prices recover and drillers employ more rigs. However, a bigger boost to manufacturing is unlikely without stronger export markets and more domestic business investment. Read more at Bloomberg.

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New York State Business Activity Stabilizes

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At the tail end of a tumultuous year New York’s manufacturing sector delivered some good news. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s monthly report on manufacturing business activity stabilized in the state with the headline general business conditions index climbing out of negative territory for the first time in four months, rising eight points to 1.5. The new orders and shipments indexes also turned positive, rising to 3.1 and 8.5, respectively. Still, signs of economic trouble remained. Labor market conditions are still weak, with the number of employees and average workweek indexes both at -10.9. The inventories index fell eleven points to -23.6, pointing to a marked decline in inventory levels. Although price indexes were lower, they remained positive, suggesting a slower pace of growth in both input prices and selling prices. Indexes for the six-month outlook conveyed somewhat less optimism about future conditions than in October.

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Can the Internet of Things Boost the Economy?

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That’s the question Craig Torres sets out to answer for New Equipment Digest. As he summarizes the issue:

In the world of making everyday life more digital, something is starting to tip. You can see it at Noyes Air Conditioning Inc. on Monday mornings.

They used to be a nightmare, as recently as 2013, says General Manager Chris Kaufman in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Seventy technicians would dump a week’s worth of service tickets on accountants who’d then scramble to get invoices and payroll out. It was “really killing us,” Kaufman said. Then he found Canvas Solutions Inc., a startup that specializes in online workflow documentation. Now, everything’s done on iPads and the cloud.

That’s just one example of how technology is starting to reach into neglected corners of the economy — as it’s long promised to do. From plumbers’ trucks to public transportation, and even those endless forms you fill out before seeing a doctor, startup companies are finding ways to digitize ordinary tasks that have escaped the attention of giants such as Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

By doing so, they might even revive U.S. productivity, healing one of the deepest wounds of the Great Recession — one frequently lamented by Federal Reserve board members, who wrap up a two-day policy meeting today. Some economists doubt the latest tech gimmicks are up to that task, and debate is raging on the subject. But there’s plenty of money lined up behind the techno-optimists, who say the Internet of Things and its spinoffs are only just getting going.

We previously wrote about the Internet of Things in HV MFG, have a look. You can Read the full Digets article here.

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Paralyzed Monkeys Walk again with Wireless Brain-Spine Interface

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Swiss scientists have helped monkeys with spinal cord injuries regain control of non-functioning limbs in research which might one day lead to paralyzed people being able to walk again. The scientists, who treated the monkeys with a neuroprosthetic interface that acted as a wireless bridge between the brain and spine, say they have started small feasibility studies in humans to trial some components. Read more.

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Election Day 2016: Light at the End of the Tunnel

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The grueling election year is down to its final hours, now all that’s left is for the people to cast their vote. In addition to the Presidential race, voters in New York’s 19th congressional district will decide whether to send Democrat Zephyr Teachout or Republican John Faso to Congress. Faso is running a traditional Republican campaign and has the endorsement business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as MANUPAC, the Political Action Committee of the state’s manufacturers. Teachout staged an unsuccessful primary challenge from the left against Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014 and Bernie Sanders of Vermont has endorsed her and campaigned for her. Voters in the Hudson Valley will also be casting their ballots two closely watched State Senate races for the 40th and 41st districts. These races will go a long way towards determining if Democrats gain full control of the State Government.

Click here to find your polling place.

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ISM Manufacturing Index October 2016

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The Institute of Supply Management reported that U.S. manufacturing increased 0.4 percent in October, bringing the ISM Manufacturing Index to 51.9. The result is in keeping with many economists’ predictions. The report said respondents had mostly positive comments and cited a “favorable economy and steady sales, with some exceptions.” These numbers come as economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in October. The overall economy grew for the 89th consecutive month, according to the report. Read more about it.

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The Multifactor Productivity Problem

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For today’s food for thought, I direct you to this column from Bloomberg: “Manfacturing’s Productivity Myth,” which takes issue with the claim that US Manufacturers have gotten more productive by arguing that this claim fails to take into account Multifactor Productivity. 

“The fact that durable goods multifactor productivity in 1987 was 69 and non-durables’ was 96 means not that durable-goods manufacturers were less productive than non-durables manufacturers in 1987 but that their productivity increased a lot more from then through the index year of 2009. Which I know is a little confusing, but the alternative — charting year-over-year changes in the productivity index — makes it harder to see trends.

So durable-goods manufacturing saw big multifactor-productivity gains in the 1990s that appear to have stalled out just over a decade ago, while non-durables productivity hasn’t really budged much over the past three decades. Non-durables are things such as food, clothes, chemicals, paper products and plastics.”

Read the whole thing.

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Hudson Valley Job Market Has Bright September

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In a happy change of pace, the New York State Department of Labor’s latest report on unemployment in the Hudson Valley shows largely positive news across the board. For September 2016 the region’s private sector job count reached 793,000, a record high for the month. Private sector job growth was broad-based, with seven of nine sectors recording job gains. Aided by a strong healthcare component, the region’s educational and health services sector continued its positive trend, growing by 3.8 percent year-over-year. That’s the strongest September growth since 1999. After an unimpressive August (+2.1 percent), job count in the natural resources, mining, and construction sector rebounded nicely with a growth of 4.4 percent in September.

Of the 10 labor market regions in New York State, private sector job growth in the Hudson Valley (1.9 percent) was second only to NYC (+2.3 percent). Within the region, year-over-year, job growth was fastest in the Kingston MSA (+4.0 percent), followed by the Orange-Rockland-Westchester labor market area (+1.8 percent), the Dutchess-Putnam MSA (+1.5 percent), and Sullivan County (+1.0 percent).

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Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Helmets

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Ordinarily BMW debuting a new motorcycle concept wouldn’t be particularly newsworthy, but the storied manufacturer had an ace up its sleeve this month when it revealed a new model out fitted with artificial intelligence safety technology so advanced that riders won’t need to wear a helmet.

The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 motorcycle is the latest incarnation of BMW’s Vision Next series, which celebrates 100 years of the German brand with forward-looking concept vehicles. The group has been hosting events around the world this year to debut each new concept in a different city, with this unveiling happening in California. The bike comes equipped with self-balancing systems to keep it upright both when standing and in motion. Several systems—one BMW calls a “Digital Companion,” which offers riding advice and adjustment ideas to optimize the experience, and one called “The Visor,” which is a pair of glasses that span the entire field of vision and are controlled by eye movements—correlate to return active feedback about road conditions to the rider while adjusting the ride of the bike continuously depending on the rider’s driving style.1x-1

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NY Fed Survey: Business is Down, but For How Long?

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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has released the results of its monthly manufacturing  survey. The survey showed that business activity continued to decline in New York. The headline general business conditions index slipped five points to -6.8. The new orders index edged up but remained negative at -5.6, indicating an ongoing drop in orders, and the shipments index increased to -0.6, meaning shipments were essentially flat. Labor market conditions remained weak, with both employment levels and the average workweek reported as lower. Price indexes increased somewhat, and continued to signal moderate input price increases and a slight increase in selling prices. On the bright side, indexes for the six-month outlook suggested that manufacturing firms expect conditions to improve in the months ahead.

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What do this Year’s Nobel Laureate Scientists Have in Common?

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This year, six of the scientists receiving the Nobel Prize were associated with American universities. All of them are immigrants. In a year that has seen a surge in nativism in the U.S. (as well as abroad) the ordinarily mundane fact that none of America’s Nobel Laureate’s this year were born in America takes on a political subtext. Already some are using their newfound platform to speak out about the importance of open borders. The Christian Science Monitor reports:

“I think the resounding message that should go out all around the world is that science is global,” Sir James Fraser Stoddart, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and a professor at Northwestern University, who was born in Scotland, told The Hill. “It’s particularly pertinent to have these discussions in view of the political climate on both sides of the pond at the moment…. I think the United States is what it is today largely because of open borders.”

The laureate told The Guardian that his research group at Northwestern University has students and scientists from a dozen different countries and that bringing in international talent raises the bar overall.

“I got colleagues saying ‘Don’t you know that our people are better?’ ” he said of his early career in Britain. “When you get people from Messina or Madrid moving to a cold place like Sheffield, they’re serious about science…. It’s better for everyone.”

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