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Daily Briefing – 117

Post: Jul. 28, 2020

Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota  – Plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. Added to Travel Restricted List

Governor Cuomo today announced that three additional states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. meet the metrics to qualify for the travel advisory requiring individuals who have traveled to New York from those areas, all of which have significant community spread, to quarantine for 14 days. The newly-added states are Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota. No states have been removed. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average. 

Another School Reopening Plan -Valley Central (Orange County)

Valley Central will proposes a split schedule with remote learning taking place for the entire population one day per week.  Read the plan below.

The State Education Department must approve all plans.  Plans must be submitted to by the end of this week – Friday, July 31, and the Governor will announce which regions will be eligible to reopen the following week. Plans are beginning to appear on District websites. Suffice to say that you should expect nothing close to a “normal” back to school season.

Republicans Release $1 Trillion Stimulus Proposal

Some highlights of the new proposal:

  • Five-year COVID-19-related liability protections for businesses, health care providers and schools.
  • $100 billion or more for the Paycheck Protection Program, which benefits small businesses.
  • Another round of $1,200 checks for Americans and financial support for schools.
  • A reduction in emergency employment benefits from $600 to $200 per week, until states can set up their own unemployment programs to pay 70% of income. (A reminder: the current benefits run out very soon.)

NAM Vice President of Government Relations Jordan Stoick points out “Manufacturers were glad to see many of the priorities from our ‘American Renewal Action Plan’ included in this proposal, including targeted liability protections for manufacturers and other essential front-line businesses that have operated during the COVID-19 pandemic, and increased funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which has provided critical liquidity for manufacturers.”

Democrats say the GOP legislation falls short of providing enough money for state and local governments, fails to protect renters from eviction and doesn’t invest enough in lower-income communities hit hard by the pandemic.

Read more at The Hill

Kodak Shifts Into Drug Production With Help of a $765 Million U.S. Loan

Eastman Kodak Co. has won a $765 million government loan under the Defense Production Act, the first of its kind. The purpose: to help expedite domestic production of drugs that can treat a variety of medical conditions and loosen the U.S. reliance on foreign sources.

The onetime leader in photography sales is gearing up to produce ingredients for generic drugs, including the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine that President Trump has touted in the treatment of coronavirus. Meanwhile, the U.S. is aiming to shift from relying on countries such as China and India, Kodak Chief Executive Jim Continenza and U.S. officials said.  The loan is from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, a government agency akin to a bank, the officials said. The loan is the first of its kind under the Defense Production Act, which the Trump administration has previously invoked to speed the production of Covid-19 related supplies such as ventilators.

Read more at the WSJ

Pfizer and BioNTech Choose Lead mRNA Vaccine Candidate Against COVID-19 and Commence Pivotal Phase 2/3 Global Study

After extensive review of preclinical and clinical data from Phase 1/2 clinical trials, and in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) and other global regulators, Pfizer and BioNTech have chosen to advance their BNT162b2 vaccine candidate into the Phase 2/3 study, at a 30 µg dose level in a 2 dose regimen. BNT162b2, which recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Fast Track designation, encodes an optimized SARS-CoV-2 full length spike glycoprotein (S), which is the target of virus neutralizing antibodies.

“Today, we are starting our late-stage global study, which will include up to 30,000 participants. We selected BNT162b2 as our lead candidate for this Phase 2/3 trial upon diligent evaluation of the totality of the data generated so far. This decision reflects our primary goal to bring a well-tolerated, highly effective vaccine to the market as quickly as possible, while we will continue to evaluate our other vaccine candidates as part of a differentiated COVID-19 vaccine portfolio,” said Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-Founder of BioNTech. 

Read the press release

How COVID-19 Has Transformed Contracts: Force Majeure and Material Adverse Effect

Lawyers from Council Associate Member and friend Harris Beach write that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered our assumptions about how the world works. In particular, for organizations and their attorneys, it has introduced new uncertainties into interpreting and enforcing existing contracts and negotiating new contracts. Your organization, like many others, may be confronting such uncertainties.

Read more at Harris Beach

OSHA Publishes, Then Withdraws, A Broad Position on Reporting COVID-19 Hospitalizations and Fatalities

Council of Industry Associate Member and friend Jackson Lewis reports that OSHA quietly updated its COVID-19 FAQs in mid-July to add guidance that took an extremely broad (and arguably unenforceable) interpretation of an employer’s responsibility to report COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities.  Just as quietly, over the last weekend in July, it removed the updated Reporting FAQs.   Now employers are left to speculate whether the guidance is gone for good, or whether they need to be on the alert for the guidance to return.

Under 29 C.F.R. § 1904.39(b)(6), all employers – including low-risk employers exempt from most OSHA recordkeeping requirements – must contact OSHA to report certain serious work-related injuries and illnesses.  Employers have 8 hours to report a work-related fatality that occurs within 30 days of the work-related incident precipitating it.  Employers have 24 hours to report an in-patient hospitalization if the hospitalization occurs within 24 hours of the work-related incident.  This standard has been almost impossible for employers to comply with through the COVID-19 epidemic.

Read more at Jackson Lewis

The Geometry of the Pandemic in America

Why have covid-19 cases risen so fast? The answer may seem blindingly obvious. But it is not.   The manifest and palpable explanation is that, when lockdowns were eased, people started moving around more, and those who were infected started passing the virus on. This is consistent with the chronology. Most states began to lift restrictions around the end of April or the start of May. Allowing a few weeks for the disease to develop brings you to the start of June when cases began their recent spike.

This is not wrong, but nor is it the whole story, because the pattern of people’s activity does not match the pattern of infection. As the chart in the story shows, new infections fell gradually and gently from 100 cases per million people in mid-April to about 60 in mid-June. Indices of day-to-day activity, however, show a different pattern. Such data, which are based on mobile-phone tracking, reveal no real change as lockdowns were eased.

The answer lies in the geometry of the disease and the starting point of people infected

Read more in The Economist