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Daily Briefing – 157

Post: Sep. 27, 2020

Cuomo:  Percent Positive Just Over One Percent – Mid Hudson Region Higher

The Governor issued a press release Sunday providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, September 26th. The percentage of tests returning positive remained relatively flat at 1.02 percent.

Notably the Mid-Hudson Region has seen and increase in the percentage of people testing positive. 









What Can Government Do to Strengthen US Manufacturing?

To explore these and other policy proposals that would impact manufacturing for years to come, the Manufacturing Policy Initiative (MPI) at Indiana University and the Hudson Institute have organized a series of virtual policy discussions during Manufacturing Week, September 28 – October 2, 2020. The series will conclude on Manufacturing Day, Friday, October 2, with a live event at noon (EDT) featuring spokespeople for presidential candidates Donald Trump (Republican Party), Joe Biden (Democratic Party), and Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian Party).

Read more about the discussions and how you can join in at IndustryWeek

Commerce Department: Core Capital Goods Orders Rise in August

The Commerce Department reported a 0.4% gain in durable goods orders in August, with a 1.8% gain for capital goods excluding aircraft and defense. July’s figure for capital goods excluding aircraft and defense was revised upward from 1.9% to 2.5%.

Read more at Reuters

Manufacturers Repurpose LIDAR for Remote Sensing During COVID-19

For manufacturers, there is no remote work option. In the face of COVID-19, they need to take extra precautions, including remote temperature sensing.  As the global pandemic continues, some manufacturers are realizing they can repurpose their 3D LIDAR systems—now used for security or product tracking—to monitor employee distancing and behavior, said Justin Bean, global marketing director for Lumada Video Insights at Hitachi Vantara, which produces manufacturing software.

LIDAR, short for light detection and ranging, is a remote-sensing method that measures distances between objects through the use of pulsed laser light. The systems help autonomous vehicles maneuver. They’re used in airports to monitor the flow of passengers in real-time, and by manufacturers to monitor supply chains, said Flood. He spoke via the web at Geo Week, held in April.

Read More at ASME

Employers Expanding Wellness Benefits to Address COVID Concerns, Expect Health Benefits Costs to Increase More than 5%

Large employers plan to expand virtual care offered to employees next year as well as double down on mental health and emotional well-being as they continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an annual survey by Business Group on Health.

Employers project health benefits costs will rise by more than 5% in 2021 although the pandemic’s impact is fueling uncertainty about overall costs. According to the 2021 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, the total cost of health benefits is expected to rise 5.3% in 2021, taking cost management initiatives into account. The total cost is projected to rise to an average of just over $15,500 in 2021. In line with recent years, employers will cover nearly 70% of costs while employees will bear about 30%, or nearly $4,700.

The Pandemic Imperils Working Mothers’ Careers

Flexible scheduling has become a common practice at most companies as the pandemic drags on, keeping physical schools and day care centers closed in many parts of the country. Employers are authorizing workers to create work schedules that will permit them to fulfill their job responsibilities while addressing family needs. Study after study shows, however, that women are shouldering more of the domestic and child care responsibilities. That means they’re on a virtual high-wire act that requires getting up early in the morning and going to bed late at night to complete the work they’re paid for so they can tend to their children during the day.

The resulting exhaustion has led many women to quit or scale back their hours. Those who don’t have that option—such as single mothers—worry about their job performance and how it may affect their career paths. 

Read more from SRRM

Top U.S. Health Officials Reassure on Future Coronavirus Vaccine Safety 

“In the end, FDA will not authorize or approve a vaccine that we would not feel comfortable giving to our families,” Hahn told lawmakers during a Senate hearing on the coronavirus Wednesday. Dr. Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, joined Hahn and told lawmakers they would take an FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine once it’s available. 

There are four vaccine candidates from Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson that are now in late-stage human trials. On Wednesday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC that the FDA commissioner, President Donald Trump and the heads of each company have “made it clear” that a vaccine’s approval is “going to be by the book based on science, data and the law.”

Read more at CNBC

New York State Vaccine Advisor Task Force Announced

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday the formation of an independent Clinical Advisory Task Force of leading scientists, doctors, and health experts who will review COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Federal Government, and will advise New York State on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness:

  • Prioritization of vaccine recipients based solely on clinical guidance
  • Distribution network capable of providing two doses of vaccine to all New Yorkers
  • Qualified professionals and organizations to administer the vaccine
  • Data and IT infrastructure for scheduling appointments and tracking program metrics
  • Public education regarding vaccination program
  • Procurement of necessary supplies and equipment

Read the press release

America’s Economy is Recovering Faster than Expected

The upgrades in America can be attributed to three factors. First, the spread of the coronavirus in the southern “sunbelt states”, which rode a wave of the epidemic in the summer, has slowed. Second, America’s economic stimulus, the world’s largest both in absolute terms and as a proportion of GDP, has been potent.

The final reason behind the forecast revisions is probably America’s flexible labour market. The fall in unemployment in recent months seems to reflect mainly the creation of more new jobs, rather than the departure of discouraged workers from the workforce. In Europe governments have tended to assume much of the payroll cost for furloughed workers. Such schemes are handy in a tight spot. But if prolonged, they could keep workers in jobs that are never coming back. America, in contrast, has mainly protected people’s incomes with unemployment benefits. As a result the reallocation of labour from dying industries to up-and-coming ones is happening at speed. For example, the number of travel agents has fallen by 10% since April, even as overall employment has risen. Employment in general-merchandise shops is 6% higher than before the pandemic.

Read more and see the charts at The Economist

Grim Milestone – One Million Deaths But Some Things are Improving, And it Will Not Go on Forever

The Economist takes a long look at the numbers as the world looks set to see its millionth officially recorded death from covid-19 before the beginning of October. That is more than the World Health Organization recorded as having died from malaria (620,000), suicide (794,000) or hiv/aids (954,000) over the whole of 2017, the most recent year for which figures are available. 

Those deaths represent just over 3% of the recorded covid-19 cases, which now number over 32m. That tally is itself an underestimate of the number who have actually been infected by sarscov-2, the virus which causes covid 19. Many of the infected do not get sick. Many who do are never seen by any health system.

Read more at the Economist (Covid 19 coverage remains free)