Daily Briefing – 186

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release today detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Wednesday November 4th. Tracking data for the hotspots and the rest of the State are below.

  • Hotspot Zones: 3.04e: 0.88%
  • Rockland Hot Zone: 3.81%
  • Orange Orange Zone: 0.75%
  • Statewide: 1.86%
  • Statewide excluding hotspots: 1.70%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,277 (268 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

U.S. Daily Coronavirus Cases Top 100,000 for the First Time

The number of new daily coronavirus cases recorded in the U.S. surpassed 100,000 for the time, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The data showed 102,831 new Covid-19 infections were recorded on Wednesday, up from 91,530 cases on Election Day. 

The data also showed that 1,097 deaths were recorded Wednesday, lower than the 1,134 deaths reported the previous day.  The grim daily record comes after data showed a soaring number of hospitalizations due to the virus in many states, with the surge most pronounced in the Midwest and Southwest.

Read more at CNBC

Election Update – Continued Counting and Lawsuits

Votes continue to be counted  – and counting is a bit slower than past presidential elections due to the high number of absentee ballots. Depending on which news outlet you follow former Vice President Joe Biden is either 6 or 16 electoral votes shy of the 270 needed to win the presidency. President Trump’s campaign is unhappy with what they consider a slow count of ballots and claim they are being excluded from the process making them suspicious of the results. They have filed lawsuits in several states asking to halt counting until they are allowed to monitor counting.

Republicans appear to have held on to control of the Senate though that will likely require them to win run-off elections in Georgia. They may also have gained a few seats in the House.
Markets have rallied on the prospect of a government divided between the two parties.

State Senate Races In The Hudson Valley Too Close to Call – Veto Proof Majority May Hang In The Balance

A number of New York state Senate races in the Hudson Valley have not been decided. It could be weeks before constituents know who will represent them next year. The closest races are in districts with first-term Democrats in seats previously in Republican hands for a long time. Democrat Jen Metzger is trailing in the 42nd District, which had been in Republican hands for years before John Bonacic retired in 2018. Republican Mike Martucci has declared victory, saying the margin of victory at the polls was substantial enough to overcome the number of mail-in and absentee ballots on file with the Board of Elections. Metzger says there are about 25,000 absentee ballots that are overwhelmingly from Democratic voters, and she’ll await the final results. The 42nd District includes Sullivan County and portions of Delaware, Orange and Ulster Counties.

McConnell Calls for Coronavirus Package Before End of the Year

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that Congress should approve a coronavirus relief package before the end of the year, a shift from his recent suggestion that a measure was more likely early next year.

During a press conference in Kentucky a day after he won reelection, McConnell expressed optimism that negotiators could reach a deal post-election. The outcome of the presidential contest and control of the Senate remains unknown, though final results are expected within the coming days if not sooner.

Read more at Politico

Jobless claims: Another 751,000 Americans Filed New Claims

The Labor Department’s latest report reflected the tenth straight week that new jobless claims came in below the psychologically important 1 million mark. And the past several months’ worth of weekly new claims have come down significantly from the nearly 7 million new claims filed at the beginning of April. However, improvements have slowed to a trickle compared to the initial legs lower in new weekly claims that ensued after April’s peak, and the latest initial jobless claims tally came in worse-than-expected.

“Overall, the economy appears to be losing a bit of momentum,” Wells Fargo Securities economists including Jay Bryson said in a recent note. “Jobless claims have improved recently but remain elevated.”

Read more at Yahoo Finance

GM Rebounds From Coronavirus-Related Losses

General Motors Co. GM +1.23% ’s efforts to crank up production of pickups and other lucrative models drove a $4 billion profit in the third quarter, the latest automotive company to rebound from earlier Covid-19-related losses, even as the pandemic worsens. The car business has mounted a striking recovery since U.S. auto plants were idled for several weeks last spring. Auto makers have managed to keep their factories bustling without major pandemic-related disruptions, while demand for new vehicles has come back stronger than analysts predicted when the crisis hit.

GM said Thursday net income rose 74% over the same quarter in 2019, when a bruising 40-day strike led by the United Auto Workers union halted work at the company’s U.S. factories, denting earnings.

Read more at Reuters

Most Americans Chose Not to Raid Their 401(k)… Yet

Faced with the prospect of surging unemployment and a declining economy, Congress in March passed a law that temporarily allows Americans to use their retirement money today. But so far, there hasn’t been a rush of funds out of accounts.

Fidelity Investments, the largest 401(k) provider in the country, has seen 4.6% of eligible people take some money out through Sept. 30 due to the virus. An additional 1% have taken a so-called hardship distribution that allows withdrawals for reasons including buying a home, preventing foreclosure or paying medical bills. That is compared with about 2% a year that typically take a hardship distribution.

Read more at the WSJ

Uber, Gig Economy Companies See California Win as National Model

Voters in California on Tuesday approved a ballot proposal by Uber Technologies Inc, Lyft Inc and its allies that cements app-based food delivery and ride-hailing drivers’ status as independent contractors, rather than employees. Uber’s shares rose 12%, while Lyft jumped 9%.

The companies, along with DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates, poured more than $205 million into the campaign. Gig economy companies want to turn California voters’ decision to make ride-service drivers contractors into a model for the nation, as several states consider requiring drivers from Uber, Lyft and rival services be treated as employees with higher compensation.

Read more at Reuters