Our Blog

Daily Briefing – 151

Post: Sep. 17, 2020

Cuomo Covid Update: 3 deaths, 0.98 Percent Positive Test Rate

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Thursday announced that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate remained below one percent. Yesterday, a total of 896 new cases were reported – a 0.98 positive test rate. There were 3 deaths reported. Other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

U.S. Unemployment Claims Held Steady at 860,000 Last Week

Weekly initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 33,000 to a seasonally adjusted 860,000 in the week ended Sept. 12, the Labor Department said Thursday. The number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs, which cover most workers, decreased by 916,000 to about 12.6 million for the week ended Sept. 5.

After sharply falling later in the spring and early summer, new applications have largely held steady since early August. The declining number of people receiving state benefits likely reflects that workers are finding new jobs, or are being recalled to old ones. But it also shows some workers who applied for benefits in March have hit the six-month limit set in many states.

Read more at the WSJ

Hudson Valley Region Employment Numbers

For the 12-month period ending August 2020, the private sector job count in the Hudson Valley fell by 98,300, or 12.0 percent, to 720,700.  Job losses were greatest in leisure and hospitality (-41,300),

Manufacturing in the region employed 4,400 fewer people than August 2019 a decline of 10%.  

The August 2020 over-the-year job losses continue to reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.  At 720,700, private sector job count has reached its lowest August level since 1999.

Press Release #1 August 2020

Survey Shows Ongoing Financial Insecurity for New Yorkers

Nearly 30 percent of all New York households expect a loss of employment income within the next four weeks, according to new data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Among adult New Yorkers pursuing a postsecondary education, 83 percent said their plans for classes this fall have been canceled or changed significantly.

Visit the Survey site

DiNapli: State Tax Revenues Continued Declines in August – State has $4 Billion CARES Act Balance

Total tax receipts of $4.3 billion were $219 million or 4.8 percent below those of August 2019. For the first five months of the fiscal year, tax revenues have totaled $3.2 billion below the previous year. These latest figures again highlight the severe budgetary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting difficult choices for policy makers if the State does not receive significant additional relief from the federal government.

Total State spending through August was $2.5 billion below the same period in 2019. Year-over-year declines in Local Assistance disbursements totaling $1.9 billion include $591 million in Medicaid (reflecting a lower State share offset in part by a higher federal share), $368 million in education and $321 million in transportation.

The State’s General Fund balance was $12.8 billion as of September 11, an increase of $34.6 million from a week earlier. Among other factors contributing to that balance are $4.5 billion in proceeds from short-term borrowing that is anticipated to be repaid before the end of the fiscal year, and more than $1.9 billion in delayed payments to local governments, nonprofit organizations and other entities.

The federal CARES Act provided $5.1 billion to New York State through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. As of September 11, the State’s CARES Act Fund held a balance of just under $4 billion. A total of $1.1 billion had been spent as of that date.

Read More at the Comptroller’s website

Empire Center: New York State Has Dug Itself Into Its Deepest Hole On Record

The Center’s E.J. McMahon writes: “In the pre-dawn hours of April 3—with much of the state’s economy shut down in response to the pandemic, state and local tax receipts drying up, and the COVID-19 death toll climbing—the New York State Legislature completed passage of a budget that authorized state operating funds spending of more than $103 billion, a slight spending increase over fiscal 2020.

Within hours, Cuomo held a news conference in which he praised the budget as “an extraordinary accomplishment” — and, in almost the next breath, acknowledged that the state faced a revenue shortfall of $10 billion, which he blamed on the coronavirus crisis.”

Read more at the Empire Center

“Clear as Mud” – What Can Employers Do if Workers Refuse a Vaccine?

Employers could face a legal quandary if — as a COVID-19 vaccine is released — they attempt to mandate vaccines, since 35% of Americans say they would refuse to get an FDA-approved, free shot, according to a Gallup poll. Lieser Skaff Alexander attorney Alissa Kranz says HR’s path is as “clear as mud” and warns of state-specific termination laws and the potential for workers’ compensation claims if they have a bad reaction to a vaccine.

Read more ant HR Executive

OSHA Issues Citations for COVID-19 Violations

On Sept. 12, OSHA announced a number of citations to companies across the countries due to violation of COVID regulations. Violations included failing to ensure employees wore proper protective equipment, the general duty clause for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious harm, and respiratory protection standards.

Read more at EHS Today

CDC Director: Face Masks May Provide More Protection than Coronavirus Vaccine

Face coverings are “the most powerful public health tool” the nation has against the coronavirus and might even provide better protection against it than a vaccine, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told lawmakers Wednesday. 

“We have clear scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defense,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said. “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine.”  A 50% effective vaccine would be roughly on par with those for influenza but below the effectiveness of one dose of a measles vaccination, which is about 93% effective, according to the CDC.  “If I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to protect me. This face mask will,” Redfield told lawmakers while holding up a blue surgical face mask.

Read more  at CNBC