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Daily Briefing – 140

Post: Sep. 1, 2020

Alaska and Montana Back on Restricted Travel List

The Governor issued a press release yesterday announcing Alaska and Montana have once again met the metrics to qualify for the 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers entering New York. No states have been removed from the mandatory quarantine requirements.  32 states and Guam are on the restricted list. 

The release also provides an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday, August 31st. New York’s rate of positive tests was below one percent for the 25th straight day. Of the 76,997 test results reported to the State, 0.98% (754) were positive. The number of ICU patients remained at 109, the lowest number since March 15th.

Cuomo Releases Guidance for Agri-Tourism Businesses

The Governor yesterday released guidance for reopening agri-tourism businesses, including corn mazes, pick-your-own fruit and vegetable operations, hayrides, and haunted houses. Corn mazes, pick-your-own-fruit and vegetable operations, and haunted houses will operate under the low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment guidelines. Hayrides will be subject to both the low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment guidelines and public transportation guidelines. Farmers’ markets and craft beverage trails have remained open under State guidance.

Covid-19 Vaccines: What’s Coming and When?

The Wall Street Journal has a helpful rundown of the various vaccines in production. The front-runners in the midst of or slated to begin final round testing include: AstraZeneca, Pfizer and BioNTech SE, Moderna, Sinopharm, CanSino Biologics.

Some 170 Covid-19 vaccines are in development around the world, according to the World Health Organization, each one promising to protect people from the deadly coronavirus and allow them to go back to work and school. Now, a handful are starting or nearing the final stage of testing. Depending on the results, some companies say their vaccines could be green-lighted for use as soon as this year.

Read the article at the WSJ

Impressive China Manufacturing PMI Data for August

Asia’s manufacturing sector shows signs of recovering from the region’s covid-19 lockdowns. The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for China rose to 53.1 last month, the highest figure recorded since 2011, from July’s 52.8, where a score of 50 or above indicates expansion. The equivalent indices for India and South Korea also rose.

Read more at Reuters

Monday Economic Report: The Federal Reserve Will Accept Higher Inflation in Short Run

In a long-anticipated speech, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that monetary policymakers would be willing to accept core inflation above the Federal Open Market Committee’s stated goal of 2%, so long as the longer-term average achieved that goal. The FOMC affirmed the more “dovish” change in strategy in a statement made afterward. With core inflation well below that goal right now, the test of this new policy will have to come later.

Plus consumer spending, durable goods orders anticipated GDP and more.

Monday Economic Report – August 31, 2020

Why Are There Still Not Enough Paper Towels?

Blame lean manufacturing. A decades long effort to eke out more profit by keeping inventory low left many manufacturers unprepared when Covid-19 struck. The situation isn’t likely to abate soon, because producers have no plans to build new manufacturing capacity. The central piece of the machinery needed to make paper towels takes years to assemble.

Americans have faced many stresses in the pandemic, of which paper-towel scarcity is hardly among the worst. Yet the forces behind the shortage nearly six months into the crisis help explain the broad lack of U.S. preparedness that has made the pandemic worse than it might have been.

Read more at the WSJ

Survey: 21% of Parents Have Reduced Work Hours Because of Remote School

As many parents experienced in the spring, remote learning asks a lot from them, too. Not only do many children need assistance with school work and scheduling but, at the very least, they require basic supervision, which means an adult must be at home to help.

To that point, 21% of parents said that they had to change or reduce work hours due to changes in school or child care as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to a new report from Country Financial.

Read more at CNBC

IRS Notice on Presidential Order Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations Creates Additional Uncertainty

Attorneys for Council Associate Member and Friend Jackson Lewis write that the Internal Revenue Service has issued Notice 2020-65 to provide guidance on the employment tax deferral that is the subject of President Donald Trump’s August 8, 2020, Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster.

Pursuant to the Notice, the due date for the withholding and payment of the employee share of Social Security taxes on certain wages is postponed until the period beginning on January 1, 2021, and ending on April 30, 2021. While the Notice provides additional details as to how to determine which wages are subject to the deferral and when the deferred taxes must be repaid, it leaves many questions unanswered and creates potential liability for employers.

Read more at Jackson Lewis

Also from Jackson Lewis … A Rise in OSHA Whistleblower Claims During COVID-19 Pandemic: USDOL Office of Inspector General

In the report, the OIG noted that the pandemic has resulted in a 30% jump in whistleblower complaints during the four-month period of February 2020 through May 2020 as compared to the same period in 2019—from approximately 3,150 complaints in 2019 to approximately 4,100 in 2020.  Of the whistleblower complaints filed from February 2020 through May 2020, approximately 1,600 (39%) were related to COVID-19, such as claims that someone was retaliated against for claiming violations of guidelines regarding social distancing or personal protective equipment.

Read more at Jackson Lewis