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Daily Briefing – 207

Post: Dec. 8, 2020

COVID and Cluster ‘Surge & Flex’ Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday, December 7th.  The State’s focus has shifted from positivity rates to regional hospitalization rates.

As part of the Surge and Flex protocol hospitals are mandated to begin expanding their bed capacity by 25 percent and retired doctors and nurses are urged to return to service to prepare for a future COVID-19 surge.  If statewide and regional hospitalization rates do not stabilize indoor dining would be banned in New York City and capacity would be reduced from 50% to 25% for the rest of the state.

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  (The State is no longer focused on positivity rates, instead it is closely monitoring hospitalizations and ICU capacity)

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  4835
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .002%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 23%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  644
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 25%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5889
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3764
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 36%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  741
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  367
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 48%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.22
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.74%

Here are some useful websites:

McConnell Calls for Covid-19 Aid Bill Excluding State Aid, Liability Shield

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said that Congress should take up a coronavirus relief bill that excludes Republican and Democratic priorities that currently lack bipartisan agreement and instead address those issues in an additional package next year. Mr. McConnell on Tuesday said lawmakers should set aside aid for state and local governments and liability protections, two issues that have bedeviled lawmakers in the year-end effort to pass another aid package.

In another development, Trump administration officials asked Senate Republicans to press to include $600 direct checks in any relief package, according to people familiar with the discussions. 

Read more at the WSJ

‘Go For It,’ Says Grandmother Who Got World’s First Pfizer COVID Vaccine in Britain

Margaret Keenan, the 90-year-old grandmother from Coventry, became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine outside of a trial in Britain on Tuesday, has a message for others: “go for it” to beat the devastating disease.

Britain began administering a covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, two pharmaceutical companies.  A further 800,000 doses are to be dispensed in the coming weeks, with priority given to the over-80s and health and care staff. Meanwhile, Britain’s government announced that a different vaccine manufactured by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, another pharmaceutical company, was delayed due to manufacturing problems. Just four million doses will be available before January.

Read more at Reuters

Pfizer Shot Effective, Safe, FDA Staff Says Before Meeting

The coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE is highly effective in preventing Covid-19 and there are no safety concerns that would prevent it from being granted an emergency-use authorization, according to a report by staff of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The report offers a first look at the U.S. review of the vaccine ahead of a public meeting Thursday of outside advisers to the agency. The FDA could clear the shot shortly after the meeting, with as many as 6.4 million doses immediately available to kick off a vast immunization effort designed to end a pandemic that has killed more than 283,000 Americans.

Read more at Bloomberg

JGS/Council of Industry Webinar on PPP Forgiveness – Recording Available

Council of Industry associate member JGS CPAs delivered a timely and informative webinar to Council of Industry members Monday afternoon.  JGS Partner Jason Giordano gave an excellent overview of the loan forgiveness process and how to maximize your benefit.

You can watch the presentation here

Sen. Ernst Introduces Bill to Incentivize PPE, Medical Manufacturers to Increase US Production

US Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has introduced a bill that encourages medical manufacturers to keep their manufacturing operations in the United States. The “Mobilize America to Manufacture Equipment Required for Independence from Communist Adversaries Act (Mobilize AMERICA Act)” would provide an incentive for the private sector to increase domestic manufacturing of critical medical supplies. Specifically, the bill would establish a grant program to allow manufacturers to expand domestic production of drugs, vaccines, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies.

Read more at Homeland Preparedness News

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Interim Recommendation for Allocating Initial Supplies of COVID-19 Vaccine

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended, as interim guidance, that both 1) health care personnel and 2) residents of long-term care facilities be offered COVID-19 vaccine in the initial phase of the vaccination program. Federal, state, and local jurisdictions should use this guidance for COVID-19 vaccination program planning and implementation. ACIP will consider vaccine-specific recommendations and additional populations when a Food and Drug Administration–authorized vaccine is available.

Read the full report at the CDC website

Employers Debate Whether to Require COVID-19 Vaccine for Workers

Companies will soon face a tough decision about whether to require their employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition for returning to work. New polling shows that nearly 60 percent of Americans said they would get the vaccine, up from 50 percent in September but still far below the amount needed to fuel a robust economic recovery.

Employers believe they are on firm legal ground to mandate vaccinations, but that doesn’t mean enforcement won’t be without its challenges, particularly given the backlash in some parts of the country to mask mandates and smaller groups opposed to vaccinations of any kind.

Read more at The Hill

Ford Delays Bronco Rollout, Cites Supply Issues

Ford Motor Co. announced December 4 that its rollout of the 2021 Ford Bronco SUV will be delayed from spring to summer 2021. According to the company, the delayed launch is connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, which Ford says has rattled its supply chains enough to cause the delay.

In addition to pushing back production, Ford’s decision will also mean that the off-road manual-transmission version of the Bronco SUV will have a 2022 model year instead of 2021: it was originally slated to enter production sometime later in 2021.

Read more at IndustryWeek

TPS Extended for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced a Federal Register notice extending the validity of Temporary Protected Status (TPS)-related documentation for beneficiaries under the TPS designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan. 

The notice automatically extends through Oct. 4, 2021, the validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs); Forms I-797, Notice of Action; and Forms I-94, Arrival/Departure Record (collectively, TPS-related documentation) for beneficiaries under the TPS designations for these six countries. The Notice also provides instructions to request a new EAD for beneficiaries who want a new EAD with an Oct. 4, 2021, expiration date. 

Read the Notice

FDA Names SUNY Upstate’s Saliva Test One of the Best in Detecting COVID-19

The FDA has ranked SUNY Upstate Medical University’s saliva test as the best of its kind in detecting COVID-19. The FDA also identified Upstate’s test as being among the most sensitive tests regardless of type, ranking sixth worldwide in detecting the virus. 

The test is cost-effective and easy to use, which SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras credits for helping SUNY campuses pinpoint cases at the earliest stages of the virus. 

Read more at Local Syracuse