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Daily Briefing – 109

Post: Jul. 17, 2020

NY State Ed Department Releases Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools Reopening Guidance

The New York State Education Department (SED) has released the guidance for reopening Pre-K to Grade 12 schools. The guidelines are intended to provide guidance to local educational agencies (LEAs) as they plan to reopen their schools – whether instruction occurs in person, remotely, or in some combination of the two. Specifically, the document outlines the essential elements that must be included in an LEA’s school reopening plan, as well as recommended best practices.

If any health and safety-related guidance in the SED guidance conflicts with guidance issued by the New York State Department of Health (DOH), the DOH guidance shall apply.

Schools will only reopen if their region is in phase four and if the daily infection rate remains at 5% or lower using a 14-day average. Should a region’s infection rate exceed 9% using 7-day average after August 1st, schools will remain closed.  The State will make a decision regarding the reopening of schools based on these metrics during the week of August 1-7. If the virus spikes between August 1st and school opening date, the State will stop the reopening of schools.

Earlier this week the New York State Department of Health released guidelines for reopening Pre-K to Grade 12 School

The State Ed guidance can be found here

The DOH Guidance is here

More Enforcement: Governor Announces ‘Three Strikes and You’re Closed’ Initiative and New Rules for Restaurants Statewide

Governor Cuomo announced new regulations for bars and restaurants in New York City to ensure they are complying with social distancing and face covering orders. The new regulations for bars and restaurants in New York City are to ensure they are complying with state social distancing and face covering orders. As part of the ‘Three Strikes and You’re Closed’ initiative, any establishment that receives three violations will be closed for business.

The Governor also announced that all restaurants and bars statewide will be subject to new requirements that they may only serve alcohol to people who are ordering and eating food and that all service at bar tops must only be for seated patrons who are socially distanced by six feet or separated by physical barriers. Under current law, only establishments that serve food are permitted to serve alcoholic beverages.

Read the press release

Decision on Phase Four for NYC Today

The Governor also announced that a decision will be made on New York City entering phase four by today, July 17th. If New York City is approved to enter phase four on Monday, the state will not allow any additional indoor activity, such as malls and cultural institutions.

The NYC phase four guidelines have not been released.

Read the statewide phase four guidelines 

Johnson & Johnson Hopes to Begin Late-Stage Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Ahead of Schedule in September

The company is in talks with the National Institutes of Health to move up the timeline for the trial, J&J’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Paul Stoffels said during an earnings call with investors Thursday. The company announced earlier in the day that it plans to enter a phase one human trial next week, which will include  more than 1,000 participants.

The company is also planning a phase two study in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, he said.

Read more at CNBC

DOD’s Commercial Solution Opening Can Help Manufacturers Expand Capacity to Produce Critical Supplies

The Defense Department’s Joint Acquisition Task Force recently released information about the Commercial Solution Opening, a new way for manufacturers to submit proposals to address government needs in the fight against COVID-19. This can help interested companies quickly secure a cost-sharing agreement to expand domestic production capacity for critical medical supplies.

The CSO’s focus areas include masks, fiber and materials, screening and diagnostics, gloves and gowns and pharmaceuticals. $150 million is available for domestic industrial expansion cost-sharing support through the CSO. Proposals will be evaluated on a rolling basis, but if you are interested, you must submit your proposal before Aug. 3, 2020.

Read more about the CSO at the Defense Department website

Liability Update

Meanwhile, Congress is preparing to debate a nationwide approach as soon as next week. During a recent public appearance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) previewed his effort to craft legislation focused on “liability protection for everyone related to the coronavirus,” that would be retroactive from December 2019 and extend to 2024. Additionally, Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced a bipartisan bill to provide liability protections.

The NAM will continue to advocate for liability protections because of its critical importance to manufacturers. If you have questions or concerns please reach out to Patrick Hedren phendred@nam.org and Erica Klenicki EKlenicki@nam.org.

Read a copy of the bill here

Federal Paid Leave Guidance and FAQs

The Wage and Hour Division issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) for paid leave offered under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act if the summer camp of an employee’s child is closed due to COVID-19. Under the bulletin, WHD stated that summer camp closures shall be treated as if they were school closures and therefore, employees will be entitled to paid leave to care for a child. The NAM has called on DOL to continue updating compliance assistance materials to assist manufacturers in implementation of the law’s requirements.

The IRS also released updated guidance on the tax provisions relating to paid leave wages earned under the FFCRA.

Read the DOL FAB

Visit the DOL FAQs Page 

Visit the IRS updated guidance

NY Fed Survey: Businesses Report Ongoing Worker Recalls despite Pandemic Adjustment Costs

Supplemental questions in the July 2020 Empire State Manufacturing Survey and Business Leaders Survey focused on labor market conditions during the coronavirus pandemic, including employment dynamics through the downturn and recovery, the extent of worker recalls and business shutdowns, and the costs associated with reopening.

Between February (pre-pandemic) and the lowest point of the current downturn employment declined 28 percent in the service sector and 22 percent in the manufacturing sector, when measured across all firms. Among only firms that reduced their workforce, employment fell much more steeply during this period: by 45 percent and 32 percent, respectively. On both measures, the declines were substantially steeper among leisure & hospitality firms.

However, with the reopening of nonessential businesses throughout the region, business conditions have continued to improve, and employment has rebounded somewhat across all industries. While service firms reported that 30 percent of their business operations were shut down one month ago, they now report that only 22 percent are shut down. Likewise, manufacturing firms now report that only 9 percent of their operations are shut down, down from 18 percent one month ago.

Read the supplemental report

U.S. Retail Sales Rose 7.5% in June as Stores Reopened – Unemployment Claims Held Steady

The Commerce Department on Thursday said June retail sales—a measure of purchases at stores, at restaurants and online—increased a seasonally adjusted 7.5% on the month. Retail sales totaled $524.3 billion in June, up from $487.7 billion in May and nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.

A separate reading on the jobs market—new worker claims for unemployment insurance—held nearly steady at a seasonally adjusted 1.3 million for the week ended July 11, the Labor Department said, a sign the rise in Covid-19 infections and related restrictions on businesses is causing the labor market’s healing to stall. Weekly claims have declined from a late March peak of 6.9 million weekly claims, but remain historically high.

New York’s initial jobless claims for the same week were 91,583. That’s down just over two thousand from the week before.

Read more in the WSJ