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Daily Briefing – 143

Post: Sep. 7, 2020

Cuomo Announces Online COVID-19 Testing Dashboard for Schools and another one for SUNY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that New York state will launch an online dashboard to track COVID-19 tests in school districts. Districts will be required to provide the State Department of Health with daily data on the number of people who tested positive for the coronavirus in each of their schools. They must also provide a link to the dashboard on their websites. The requirement will take effect on Tuesday.

The Governor and SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras Monday announced the launch of a SUNY system-wide COVID-19 case tracker dashboard. The centralized dashboard will provide real time, up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases, testing, and quarantine and isolation space availability across SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities to more efficiently monitor, respond to, and contain the virus.


Positive Covid 19 Test Rate Below 1 percent for 31 Days, 2 Deaths Sunday 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced for one month, or 31 days, that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate has remained below 1 percent. Yesterday, 0.88 percent of tests reported to the state were positive. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

“Thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers, our state has now gone a full month with our COVID infection rate remaining below one percent,” Governor Cuomo said.

Testing SWAT Team Deployed to Oneonta

In response to a high number of positive test results in Oneonta the State deployed a testing SWAT team. Over the past 5 days, 1,965 tests were performed which found 91 positive cases. Test results have shown the increase in cases is connected to spread among college students with 85 of the 91 positives cases being individuals aged 18-24. In this age bracket, 738 individuals were tested and 11.5 percent were positive. Outside of this age bracket the positivity rate was 0.48 percent. The State, in partnership with local health departments, is utilizing contact tracing for positive cases.

Read the press release

U.S. Unemployment Rate Fell to 8.4% in August as Hiring Continued

Employers added 1.4 million jobs last month, helping push down the unemployment rate to 8.4% from 10.2% in July, Friday’s Labor Department report said. The jobless rate’s decline—it has dropped from near 15% in April at the beginning of the pandemic—put it below the peak from the 2007-2009 recession. That puts unemployment in line with past major recessions, though it is significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels. 

Manufacturers added 29,000 jobs in August continuing gains from the previous 3 month but are sill more than 700,000 below pre-pandemic highs.

Read more at the Reuters

Pelosi, Mnuchin Agree to Avoid Government Shutdown in October

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have agreed to work to avoid a government shutdown right before the election, and not let the stalemate over virus-relief legislation hold up a vital stopgap spending bill.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress, seeking to avert a politically damaging government shutdown just before the Nov. 3 election, had been planning a bill to extend funding at least until mid-November. There was a risk, however, that either side would try to leverage the need to pass such a stopgap to achieve their goals for an economic stimulus.

Read more at Bloomberg

Stimulus Pessimism

In the same article Bloomberg reports that Congressional Democrats and the Trump administration have been at an impasse over stimulus since talks broke off on Aug. 7. The sides are about $1 trillion apart, with Democrats pushing for $915 billion in aid to states and localities and insisting on $600 per week federal supplemental unemployment benefits.

During the Tuesday call, Mnuchin and Pelosi weren’t able to bridge that gap — even after the Treasury chief had signaled fiscal aid was urgent for parts of the U.S. economy. Pelosi later pointed out that Democrats had already pared their earlier $3.4 trillion demand down to $2.2 trillion.

Negotiations are expected to resume today.

Read more at Bloomberg

Virtual Classrooms – Studies Find Significantly Reduced Test Scores in Every Subject

The Economist Intelligence Podcast discusses the millions of schoolchildren heading back to classes, many of them online. They examine the evidence on virtual learning and how it is creating a “learning gap” and deepens inequalities.

Listen Here

Vaccine Trial Results Could Come Early

Pfizer says that the company could have results from its phase three trial as soon as October.

The company has already been enrolling thousands of participants in its late-stage trial, and the results will determine whether Pfizer submits the drug for regulatory approval by the FDA. Ultimately, the company hopes to include about 30,000 people around the world in the trials.

The Trump administration has agreed to pay Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, nearly $2 billion to develop and deliver 100 million doses of their vaccine if it is successful. Even if the drug is found to be safe and effective, we’ll need to clear some major hurdles like access and distribution. 

Read more at CNBC

Russian Vaccine Shows Signs of Immune Response

Russian scientists have published the first report on their coronavirus vaccine, saying early tests showed signs of an immune response.  The report published by medical journal The Lancet said every participant developed antibodies to fight the virus and had no serious side effects.

Two trials of the vaccine, named Sputnik-V, were conducted between June and July. Each involved 38 healthy volunteers who were given a dose of the vaccine and then a booster vaccine three weeks later. The participants – aged between 18 and 60 – were monitored for 42 days and all of them developed antibodies within three weeks. Among the most common side effects were headaches and joint pain

Experts say the trials were too small to prove effectiveness and safety.

Read more at the BBC

Covid-19 Vaccine Developers Prepare Joint Pledge on Safety, Standards

A number of companies developing coronavirus vaccines intend to put forward a public pledge that they will not seek government approval unless they’ve concluded their shots are completely safe.

A draft of the rare joint statement, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, commits all of the companies, including Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Moderna Inc., to ensuring that the safety of vaccinated people is their top priority. Two people familiar with the matter told the Journal that the pledge could be issued as soon as early next week. 

“We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the Covid-19 vaccines that may ultimately be approved and adherence to the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which they are evaluated,” the draft statement says.

Read more at the WSJ