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Daily Briefing – 124

Post: Aug. 6, 2020

Cuomo Receives Honorary Degree from Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine for Pandemic Leadership – Thanks Essential Workers

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo delivered remarks at the 2020 Constellation Forum, which was held virtually this year by Northwell Health, where he was presented with an honorary degree from the Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine in recognition of his leadership in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

To date New York state has over 423,000 confirmed cases and 32,431 deaths from the coronavirus, according the the World Health Organization. 

“New York had the largest and fastest spike in the country, and possibly on the globe, and today we’re proud to say we’ve gone from the highest infection rate in the country to one of the lowest infection rates. I want to thank all the people who worked so hard to make this success possible. It was a beautiful cooperative effort and New Yorkers themselves forged the true spirit of community and they followed their better angels – but it would not have been possible without the essential workers and they really deserve special thanks, the people who bravely went to work so that everybody else could stay home, the blue collar workers who are the backbone of our society, the bus drivers, the policemen, the utility workers, the grocery store workers, the delivery people, people who risked their health so we could safeguard ours, and our health care workers and hospital administrators who showed why we say New York has the best health care system on the globe.” Governor Cuomo said.

Read the transcript, watch the speech

Jobless Claims Total 1.186 Million, Lowest Level of the Pandemic

Weekly jobless claims hit their lowest level of the pandemic area, totaling 1.186 million last week, well below Wall Street expectations.  Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for 1.42 million. The level for the week ended Aug. 1 represented a drop of 249,000 from the previous period. 

Amid worries that the employment picture was faltering after two record-breaking months of job creation, the claims number indicates some momentum. Continuing claims, or those who have collected benefits for two straight weeks, dropped by 844,000 to 16.1 million.

Read more at CNBC

Yale Study: Expanded Benefits Are Not Discouraging a Return to Work?

The report’s abstract states: “We find that that the workers who experienced larger increases in UI generosity did not experience larger declines in employment when the benefits expansion went into effect. Additionally, we find that workers facing larger expansions in UI benefits have returned to their previous jobs over time at similar rates as others. We find no evidence that more generous benefits disincentivized work either at the onset of the expansion or as firms looked to return to business over time.”  Their dataset came from Homebase, which is a private company that provides scheduling and time clock software to small businesses, and included several hundreds of thousands of works across the country.  

The studies conclusions are contradictory to the anecdotal experiences of several Council of Industry members. 

Read more at Forbes

Stimulus Negotiations: “Acrimony and Impasse”

The Washington Post reports that Congress’ top Democratic and Republican leaders traded bitter accusations Thursday ahead of a critical negotiating session on a coronavirus relief bill, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) alleging that Republicans don’t give “a damn” about those in need.  The messy back and forth came just hours before Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D.-N.Y.) and top White House officials are set to meet in the Capitol for another round of talks.

With talks appearing to falter, President Trump told reporters that he was preparing to sign executive orders, as soon as Friday morning, that he says would extend enhanced unemployment benefits and provide a payroll tax cut. Trump has in the past, though, threatened to sign something and then reversed course, and the path forward for the talks – and millions of Americans looking for economic relief – remained unclear.

Read more at the Washington Post (subscription)

Vaccine Progress

With so many vaccines in the works it can be hard to tell the players without a scorecard.  Below we provide  a scorecard (of sorts) to help you see the status of the various vaccines in the works  we can barely keep up or keep you up to date. Here are some major stories this week:

  • Johnson & Johnson announced a deal with the United States to create 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine—with a price tag of $1 billion. Its late-stage human trials are slated to begin in September. CNBC
  • New experimental vaccine studies from the pharmaceutical company Novavax are promising. One study saw the vaccine produce a high level of antibodies against the virus with no harmful side effects, while the other found that the vaccine strongly protected monkeys from COVID-19 infections. New York Times
  • Moderna is setting prices for its vaccine candidate. Reuters.
  • AstraZeneca will make its potential COVID-19 vaccine in mainland China. Reuters 

Vaccine Challenges

Distribution challenges will be difficult to overcome. We’re heading toward the largest single vaccination campaign ever undertaken.  As if that weren’t enough: COVID-19 vaccines aren’t the only shots we’re expecting. We’ll also be fighting the seasonal flu— and companies will be working to supply record numbers of that vaccine, too.

Read more at CNBC

Study Shows Temp, Contract Workforce to Grow

In a new survey conducted by the Conference Board of 1,300  CEOs and C-Suite executives, the consensus is that companies will be using more contract and gig workers and fewer permanent staff.  Additionally, more flexible hours will part of a company’s strategy to adapt to new working arrangements. Remote working will continue and, in many cases, become permanent.  

All of these changes will create leaner organizations, which will be a legacy of the pandemic. 

Read more at EHS Today

SBA Issues Additional Loan Forgiveness FAQs

Council Associate Member and friend PKF O’Connor Davies writes that the  new FAQs contain a few “nuggets” of information, but that much more are needed.

there are 23 FAQs in all, broken down into four sections:

  1. General Loan Forgiveness FAQs,
  2. Loan Forgiveness Payroll Costs FAQs,
  3. Loan Forgiveness Nonpayroll Costs FAQs, and.
  4. Loan Forgiveness Reductions FAQs.

Read more at O’Connor Davies

China, U.S. to Review Trade Deal, Air Other Grievances on Aug 15 

Senior U.S. and Chinese officials will review the implementation of their Phase 1 trade deal and likely air mutual grievances in an increasingly tense relationship during an Aug. 15 videoconference, two people familiar with the plans said.

Under the Phase 1 trade deal signed in January, China had pledged to boost purchases of U.S. goods by some $200 billion over 2017 levels, including agricultural and manufactured products, energy and services.  But China, battered by the global coronavirus recession, is far behind the pace needed to meet its first-year goal of a $77 billion increase. Imports of farm goods have been lower than the 2017 level, far behind the 50% increase needed to meet the 2020 target of $36.5 billion.

Read more at Reuters