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Daily Briefing – 152

Post: Sep. 20, 2020

Record-High Number of COVID-19 Tests Reported to New York State, Weekend Numbers Remain Below One Percent

In a press release Saturday Governor Cuomo announced that a record-high number of tests were reported Friday – 110,444. The State’s infection rate remains below one percent at 0.89 percent.  In Sunday’s release the number of tests were 100,355 with 862 positive.

CDC Reverses Course on Testing for Asymptomatic People Who Had Covid-19 Contact

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says that close contacts of people with Covid-19 should be tested, regardless of whether they have symptoms — reversing controversial recommendations it made last month, reportedly over the advice of agency scientists.

CDC’s testing guidelines now bluntly counsel people who have been within six feet of a person “with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection” for at least 15 minutes to get screened. “You need a test,” reads the latest version of the document, released Friday.

Manufacturers Are Scaling up Fast Virus Tests

US manufacturers could be producing 100 million fast coronavirus tests each month by the end of 2020. These antigen tests will be less accurate than current tests but are designed to allow workplaces and schools to test quickly.

Makers of the four recently-approved antigen tests have the capacity to make around 40 million per month, but expect to more than double that by year end, according to a Reuters analysis that includes proprietary figures shared by companies. Unlike the $100 and up molecular diagnostics currently dominating U.S. testing that must be sent to a lab and often take several days for results, antigen tests can cost as little as $5. They can be performed anywhere and produce results in minutes.

Read more a Reuters

Stimulus: White House backs $1.5 Trillion Package

“I agree with a lot of it,” the president said in a press conference Wednesday when asked about a $1.5 trillion stimulus proposal unveiled by a bipartisan group of House members this week. “I think the things I don’t agree, we can probably negotiate. But I think we’ve made some progress over the last week.” (Earlier on Wednesday, the president urged the Republican Party to “go for the much higher numbers.”)

On Thursday morning, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Fox News that President Trump was “certainly willing to embrace the 1.5 trillion-dollar number that was put out in the last day or so.” At another point, Meadows added: “At least let’s use this $1.5 trillion new recommendation as a foundation for new negotiations.”

Read more at Yahoo Finance

US DOL Releases Leaver Related Coronavirus Public Service Announcements

the Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor last week launched a public awareness campaign concerning workplace rights amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  The campaign includes a series of public service announcements with information about the new paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave benefits available under the FFCRA and other worker protections.  

View the PSAs

National Geographic: Millennials and Gen Z are Spreading Coronavirus—But Not Because of Parties and Bars

When it comes to Millennials and Generation Z—defined by the Pew Research Center as people born after 1982 and 1996 respectively—stories of crowded beach gatherings and house parties where guests try to infect each other with COVID-19 have made headlines. But those stories obscure the more complicated circumstances of people shaped by economic and societal inequality. An August 18 briefing from the World Health Organization announced that people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are now driving the virus’s spread, but that’s because most are just trying to do their jobs.

“In the past few decades, we’ve seen a shift in the economy toward more service jobs,” including retail, food service, hospitality, and childcare, says Sharon Sassler, a professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University. “Young people in those service jobs are now at a greater risk of being exposed.” What’s more, emerging research is confirming what many experts have observed with natural disasters: economic vulnerability severely impairs a person’s ability to cope with catastrophe, and this burden falls heavily on younger generations.

Read more at National Geographic

Liberty Street Economics: Did State Re-Openings Increase Consumer Spending?

In March, most states imposed severe restrictions on households and businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19. This was followed by a gradual loosening of restrictions (“reopening”) starting in April. Taken together, these measures raise the question of how closures and reopenings affect consumer spending. The authors investigate how much consumer spending increased after the reopenings but do not assess whether or how states should loosen or tighten restrictions.

Short Answer – Yes.

Read more at the NY Fed’s Liberty Street Economics

The Economist: Revisiting the 90 Percent Economy

Calculations by Goldman Sachs, a bank, suggest that social-distancing measures continue to reduce global gdp by 7-8%—roughly in line with what The Economist argued in April, when we coined the term “90% economy” to describe what would happen once lockdowns began to be lifted. Yet although the global economy is operating at about nine-tenths capacity, there is a lot of variation between industries and countries. Some are doing relatively—and surprisingly—well, others dreadfully.

Read more at The Economist