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Daily Briefing – 142

Post: Sep. 3, 2020

Cuomo:  Casinos Can Open at 25% Capacity 

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that casinos and video lottery facilities across the State, as well as malls in New York City will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday, September 9th. Casinos must have enhanced air filtration systems in place, will be limited to 25% of maximum occupancy, masks will be required, and six feet of social distancing for all machines must be in place. Table games will not be allowed unless physical barriers are installed and approved by the Gaming Commission. No food or beverage service will be permitted on the casino floor. Additional staff will also be required to ensure social distancing and cleaning requirements are maintained. 

Read the casinos press release

27 Straight Days Under 1% Positive Tests

The Governor also issued a press release detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from September 2nd. New York’s rate of positive tests was below one percent for the 27th straight day. Of the 88,981 test results reported to the State, 0.99% (889) were positive.

In response to a spike in cases in Western New York, the State sent a Department of Health testing SWAT team to the region and established eight new testing sites. The SWAT team has performed 6,385 tests and identified 266 positive cases. The State, in partnership with local health departments, is utilizing contact tracing for positive cases.

Read the press release

Factory Orders Climb 6.4% in July in Third Straight Increase

U.S. factory orders rose 6.4% in July for a third straight increase, reflecting a rebound in manufacturing after the economy reopened. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 6.2% gain. New evidence from a closely followed ISM survey of manufacturing executives, what’s more, points to another increase in August. Orders for durable goods made to last at least three years climbed a revised 11.4% last month, up slightly from an initial 11.2% reading. Orders for non-durable goods such as clothing and food products rose a slower 1.8%. Manufacturers have rebounded faster than the much larger service side of the U.S. economy, though sales, production and employment still haven’t returned to pre-crisis levels.

Read more at MarketWatch

U.S. Jobless Claims Fell Last Week

New applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, a possible sign of a slowly improving labor market and the impact of a new measurement method. Weekly initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 130,000 to a seasonally adjusted 881,000 in the week ended Aug. 29, the Labor Department said Thursday. The number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs, which cover most workers, decreased by 1.24 million to about 13.3 million for the week ended Aug. 22.

The latest data is in line with a general trend of improvement since spring, but also reflects a new methodology to adjust for seasonal factors. Under the new method, updated seasonally adjusted data should be more in line with the unadjusted data, J.P. Morgan economist Daniel Silver said. Unadjusted claims have most weeks been lower than the more widely reported adjusted figure since early March.

Read more in the WSJ

Giroir: $5 rapid Covid-19 Tests Will be Sent to States Starting in Mid-September

This antigen test, called the BinaxNOW Covid-19 Ag Card, uses a nasal swab and requires no instrument to read it. The test costs $5 a piece and Giroir said 48 million a month will be available in the United States. 

The administration, which purchased 150 million of the tests in a $760 million contract, will push the tests out in mid-September. The tests will go to assisted living senior centers and home health staff, but the “overwhelming majority” will be sent to governors to support the opening of schools and daycare centers and to support first responders and people who work in critical jobs. They will also encourage the tests be sent to first responders and people who have been displaced by natural disasters like the wildfires out West and the hurricanes in Louisiana. 

Read more at CNN

DOL Issues Guidance on Teleworking

The US DOL Wage and Hour Division – following the NAM’s recommendations – issued a Field Assistance Bulletin to help clarify manufacturers’ requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act to compensate employees for the hours in which work is performed while teleworking. DOL notes that telework arrangements have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in many new questions for employers. In the bulletin, DOL reminds employers that they must pay employees for all hours in which work was performed or if they have reason to believe that work was performed, even if the work was not requested.

You can read the bulletin here

DOL Issues Final Rule on Guidance and Establishes Search Portal

In accordance with President Trump’s October 2019 Executive Order 13891, the Department of Labor issued a final rule establishing new requirements for, “issuing, modifying, withdrawing, and using guidance,” as well as a new, searchable portal for all of the Department’s guidance material. The rule represents an effort to prevent guidance from becoming enforceable policy without notice and comment. DOL notes, “unless law permits, guidance documents should not establish new requirements that the agency treats as binding; any such requirements should be issued pursuant to applicable notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act…”

National Academies Offer Plan for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on Sept. 1 released a discussion draft of a preliminary framework to assist policymakers in planning for an equitable allocation of a vaccine against COVID-19. The committee that developed the draft framework was formed in July in response to a request to the National Academy of Medicine from the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The discussion draft includes a summary of lessons learned from past allocation frameworks for mass vaccination campaigns, including for H1N1 influenza in 2009 and during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2013-2016, as well as from recent guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic for the allocation of scarce resources, such as medical resources and supplies.  Drawing from these lessons learned, the committee then defined the foundational principles, primary goal, and criteria for determining an equitable allocation framework. 

Read more and the recommendations at EHS Today