Daily Briefing – 198

COVID and Cluster Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, November 22nd. 

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

  • Clusters: 4.48%
  • Rockland Red zone: 3.39%
  • Westchester yellow-zones (Peekskill  7.29, Ossining 10.11, Tarrytown 8.80, Yonkers 4.38 New Rochelle 5.20, Port Chester 7.94)
  • Orange Yellow Zones – (Newburgh 8.68, Middletown 3.84)
  • Statewide: 3.08%
  • Statewide excluding clusters: 2.73%
  • Statewide hospitalizations: 2724 (545 in ICU) 
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.13

Here are some useful websites:

Bond Schoeneck & King’s FAQs about New York’s Cluster Zones

There have been significant changes to New York’s cluster action initiative. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has updated the already-existing cluster zones and added new cluster zones in the Bronx, Queens and the Hudson Valley, as well as in Erie and Niagara Counties. Below, we discuss frequently asked questions about the clusters and updated maps for the cluster zones.

In this post, BSK attorneys discuss frequently asked questions about the clusters and updated maps for the cluster zones

Read more at BSK

Manufacturing Economy Report – Housing Surges Plus Mfg Jobs, Output and Capacity

Manufacturing production increased 1.0% in October, strengthening after edging up just 0.1% in September and rising for the sixth straight month. Manufacturing capacity utilization rose from 71.0% in September to 71.7% in October. This represents tremendous progress from the spring, but down from 75.2% in February. Total industrial production also rebounded in October, up 1.1% for the month, boosted by strength in manufacturing and utilities, but down 5.3% year-over-year.

Surveys from the Kansas City, New York and Philadelphia Federal Reserve Banks each found continuing expansions in November in their districts, albeit with some slowing. Respondents remained upbeat in their outlook. In the Kansas City release, more than 50% had issues finding talent.

Monday Economic Report 2020-1123

US Economy Hurtles Toward ‘COVID Cliff’ With Programs Set to Expire

March’s CARES Act set up myriad programs to give people economic relief in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which are set to expire on Dec. 31. Unless a divided Congress can reach a deal to extend the programs, the country’s economic suffering could skyrocket. “It’s a lot of risk to be putting on the economy at a time when so many other pressures are already underway,” said Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is pushing for a $2.2 trillion package, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who endorses a more limited $500 billion approach, have yet to hold a meeting on the subject. Their staffs have not discussed the matter either.

Read more at The Hill

GSA  Begins Transition Process 

A federal agency said the Trump administration would provide President-elect Joe Biden resources to transition to the White House, ending a delay that had come under increasing criticism from members of both parties. The decision by the GSA comes as Michigan on Monday certified the results of the election and legal setbacks piled up for Mr. Trump and his allies. No evidence of significant voter fraud has been produced, and Republican allies in Congress had signaled growing impatience with Mr. Trump and his team.

Read more at the WSJ

Biden Names Some Cabinet Members

The week of Thanksgiving, Biden named key nominees for his foreign policy and national security teams, including Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. Haines would be the first woman to serve in the role if confirmed. Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for homeland security secretary, would be the first Latino and immigrant in that position.

Biden also tapped former Secretary of State John Kerry for a new White House position as special presidential envoy for climate. Kerry will serve on the National Security Council.

Read more at NPR

Economists Are Calling for More Stimulus. Here’s Where Assistance Plans Stand

For Americans who have had a tough year financially amid Covid-19, a second set of $1,200 stimulus checks would provide some much welcome relief.  But lawmakers on Capitol Hill still need to work out their differences before they can approve another coronavirus stimulus package that will trigger those payments.

Now, a group of more than 125 economists including Jason Furman, a former top economic advisor to President Barack Obama, is calling for more direct cash payments to American families to help them weather the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The initiative was organized by the Economic Security Project, an advocate of guaranteed income.

Read more at CNBC

IHS Markit: U.S. Manufacturing, Services Activity Expanding Rapidly in November

U.S. business activity expanded at the fastest rate in more than five years in November led by the quickest pickup in manufacturing since September 2014, a survey showed on Monday in an indication the economy keeps making progress at clambering out of the COVID-19 recession even as infections surge.

Markit’s manufacturing index climbed to 56.7 from 53.4 in October, above the median forecast in a Reuters economists’ poll of 53. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Read more at Reuters

AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Shown to be Effective and Cheaper

Drug maker AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, buoying the prospects of a relatively cheap, easy-to-store product that may become the vaccine of choice for the developing world.  The results are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.

AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. But unlike the others, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at freezer temperatures, making it potentially easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.

Read more at the AP

US Approves Regeneron Antibody Treatment

A Covid-19 antibody therapy used to treat President Donald Trump was approved by the US drug regulator on Saturday for people who aren’t yet hospitalized by the disease but are at high risk.

The green light for drug maker Regeneron came after REGEN-COV2, a combination of two lab-made antibodies, was shown to reduce Covid-19-related hospitalizations or emergency room visits in patients with underlying conditions.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Tumbling Community-College Enrollment Highlights Pandemic’s Broad Impact

Enrollment tumbled this fall at community colleges around the country, flipping a longstanding trend in which people flock to school when the economy weakens and raising concerns about the colleges’ financial outlook. Overall enrollment at public two-year colleges fell 9.5% in the fall term, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Enrollment by first-year students plummeted 18.9%, indicating that some people who weren’t yet on the path to a degree are sidestepping it entirely right now.

One factor in the widespread decline is that out-of-work adults don’t know what skills to be pursuing for when the economy does rebound.

Read more at the WSJ

Many Employers Avoid Coronavirus Tests Over Cost, Not Availability

A survey by Arizona State University and the World Economic Forum, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, has found that companies most frequently cited cost and complexity as the biggest deterrents to testing their workers.

The findings, based on responses from 1,141 facilities at over 1,100 companies worldwide from September through late October, are consistent with earlier reports suggesting that many employers have been able to obtain testing relatively quickly if they absorb the expense. In many cases, however, employers have indicated that they feel the benefits do not outweigh the costs. Over all, 17 percent of the facilities surveyed worldwide said they were testing workers. At least half of those facilities were doing so even for workers without symptoms, and roughly half were testing workers at least once a week.

Read more at the New York Times