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Daily Briefing – 188

Post: Nov. 9, 2020

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo press briefing via phone call detailing New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday November 8th. The COVID-19 infection rate continues to increase across the state, country and world. The Governor said he expects the rate to continue to increase through the fall and winter until a vaccine is widely distributed to the public. New York has successfully kept positivity rates low through its “micro-cluster” strategy which includes aggressive testing and enforcement efforts. Areas that have been declared as “micro-clusters” have seen progress in lowering rates through this strategy. New York has the third lowest positivity rate in the nation.

In a separate announcement yesterday the Governor updated the COVID-19 micro-cluster focus areas in New York State. Brooklyn’s red zone will transition to an orange warning zone, while there are new yellow precautionary zone focus areas in Erie, Monroe and Onondaga Counties.

Tracking data for the Clusters and the rest of the State are below.  

  • Clusters: 4.3%
  • Rockland Red zone: 2.43%
  • Orange Orange zone: 1.47%
  • Statewide: 2.8%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.6%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 1,444 (282 in ICU) 

Here are some useful websites:

Biden Transition Team Unveils Members of Covid-19 Task Force

The list includes Rick Bright, the former head of the vaccine-development agency BARDA ousted by the Trump administration in April; Atul Gawande, the surgeon, writer, and recently departed CEO of Haven, the joint JP Morgan Chase-Berkshire Hathaway-Amazon health care venture; and Luciana Borio, a former Food and Drug Administration official and biodefense specialist. The task force also includes a variety of other well-known doctors and academics, among them Zeke Emanuel, a former Obama administration health care adviser, and Celine Gounder, a physician and medical journalist with years of experience combating HIV and tuberculosis outbreaks. 

Despite the task force’s breadth, it does not include several figures still seen as likely to play major roles in the Biden administration’s Covid-19 effort, including Joshua Sharfstein, the former deputy FDA commissioner, and Nicole Lurie, the Obama administration’s assistant health secretary for preparedness and response.

Read more at Statnews

Business Groups Breathe Sigh of Relief Over Prospect of Divided Government

With control of the Senate still uncertain (likely to come down to Republicans winning at least one of the two runoff elections in Georgia) the nation will likely have a divided government. Democrats will control the presidency and the House (albeit with a smaller majority in the new Congress) and Republicans the Senate.  Business groups had been bracing for a Democrat sweep that carried with it the risk of progressive policies and ramped-up regulations. Instead, the prospect of a split Congress and the gridlock that comes with it is being welcomed by many. 

Trade groups are optimistic that a Biden presidency, combined with a Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-led House could open the door for moderate pro-business policies.

Read more in The Hill

Can President Trump Win His Election Challenges in Court? Alan Dershowitz Chimes In

Here is my completely objective, nonpartisan, non-ideological, expert prediction as to how the courts will likely resolve the multiple lawsuits being bought by President Trump and his team of lawyers.

He may well win his legal challenge in Pennsylvania to write-in ballots mailed before the end of Election Day but received over the subsequent three days. The question remains, however, whether a decision in favor of President Trump on these challenged mail-in ballots would make a difference in the outcome of Pennsylvania’s presidential tally. If former vice president Joe Biden has won the state by a margin in excess of the challenged votes, then a Trump victory on Article II grounds will be pyrrhic: Biden’s margin of victory would be smaller but he would still carry the state.

Read more at The Hill

EU Set to Impose $4B in Tariffs on US Exports

The European Union reportedly is set this week to impose tariffs totaling $4 billion annually on U.S. exports of aircraft and aircraft components, as well as fruits, nuts, and other produce, orange juice, some alcoholic spirits, construction equipment, and various other products. The move, which stems from the long-running dispute over subsidies to Boeing, would follow a November 9 meeting of EU trade ministers.  The EU had reserved the decision on leveling tariffs until after the recent presidential election.

In October, the World Trade Organization appellate panel authorized the EU to exercise tariffs on U.S. exports, about one year after the same body authorized the U.S. to apply tariffs on EU exports. The WTO previously had ruled that the EU had subsidized Airbus, as well as that the U.S. had subsidized Boeing. The charges in each case date to 2004.

Read more at Reuters

DiNapoli Predicts $3.8B More in State Tax Receipts

New York State’s tax receipts in the current fiscal year will exceed Governor Cuomo’s latest projections by $3.8 billion—still down from last year, but a big improvement over the governor’s worst-case scenario—according to updated estimates from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office.

DiNapoli’s revenue projection isn’t simply speculative; it’s grounded in actual tax collections through September, which were a not-insignificant $1.1 billion above the amount most recently projected by Governor Cuomo’s Division of the Budget (DOB). The comptroller’s office also projects that state revenues will exceed the latest DOB projections by $4.1 billion in fiscal 2022, which begins next April 1, and $3.5 billion in fiscal 2023

Monday Economic Report: Manufacturing Expands at Fastest Rate in 25 Months

The Institute for Supply Management reported that the manufacturing sector expanded in October at the fastest pace since September 2018, with the sector continuing to rebound from COVID-19-related weaknesses in the spring. The data were buoyed by robust growth in new orders, which rose at rates not seen since January 2004. With that said, there are also hints at lingering supply chain disruptions in the ISM despite solid progress since April in these data.

New orders for manufactured goods rose 1.1% in September, increasing for the fifth straight month. Despite recent progress, new factory orders have fallen 3.9% year-over-year, due largely to severe COVID-19 disruptions in March and April. More encouragingly, core capital goods spending—a proxy for capital spending in the U.S. economy—rose 1.0% in September, with 4.5% growth over the past 12 months.

Monday Economic Report 2020-1109

President-Elect Biden’s Agenda on Technology and Innovation Policy

ITIF has analyzed President-elect Joe Biden’s policy agenda on a range of important tech-related issues—from the digital economy and broadband telecommunications to trade policy, advanced manufacturing, life science, and clean energy. The overall picture that emerges is that the president-elect’s approach to technology and innovation policy appears to be formulated to engage government as an active partner alongside industry in spurring innovation—but also as a tougher regulator of many tech industries and technologies.

Read the report

Covid-19 Vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech is Strongly Effective – mRNA Technology is Also Behind Moderna Vaccine

Pfizer and partner BioNTech said Monday that their vaccine against Covid-19 was strongly effective, exceeding expectations with results that are likely to be met with cautious excitement — and relief — in the face of the global pandemic.

Both Pfizer’s vaccine and Moderna’s use messenger-RNA, or mRNA, technology, which uses genetic material to cause the body to create a protein from the virus; the immune system then recognizes the virus and learns to attack. Other vaccines in the late stages of development use genetically engineered viruses for a similar purpose, or pieces of protein that are directly injected. No mRNA product has ever been approved by regulators.

Read the article in StatNews (scroll down for a video on how the mRNA vaccine works)

3M on track to produce 95M N95 masks per month

3M is ramping up N95 mask production in Aberdeen, S.D., and expects to have the capacity to produce almost 95 million N95 masks per month by the end of the year. Last year, 3M manufactured about 22 million masks every month in the US.

The company announced Friday that two new production lines installed at its Aberdeen factory soon will increase production of N95 respirator masks due to high demand amid the coronavirus pandemic. The facility will be adding 120,000 square feet to expand production of N95 masks, thank to grants issued by U.S. Department of Defense contracts to further expand its U.S. production of N95 respirators.

Read the full story at The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, S.D.)