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Post: Apr. 4, 2021

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

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

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

NYS Vaccine Update – More Than 10 Million Doses

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

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

COVID Update 

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

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


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

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

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

Other Data

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

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

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

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

Read more at the New York Times

New York Officially Lifts Travel Quarantine Requirement for Domestic Travelers

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at the WSJ

Manufacturing Grew for a Tenth Straight Month in March 

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

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

Read more at IndustryWeek

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

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

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

Read more at Yahoo Finance

Manufacturers Add 53,000 People to Payrolls March

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

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

Read more at IndustryWeek

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

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

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

Read more at The Leader (Corning)

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

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

Read more at CNN

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

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

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

Read more at The Economist

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

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

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

Read more at NatGeo