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Daily Briefing – 217

Post: Dec. 22, 2020

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press call yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, December 20th.  The Governor also announced that Wadsworth Laboratory has begun research of the new, highly contagious COVID-19 strain that has been discovered in the United Kingdom. Already, Wadsworth has looked at more than 3,700 virus sequences identified in New York, but has yet to find the U.K. variant present in any of the samples.

Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  6,661
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 30%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  776
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 34%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,704
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3,987
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 31%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  713
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  422
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 42%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.89%

Here are some useful websites:

50,000 Vaccines Given in NYS, 630,000 Doses Delivered

Governor Cuomo announced that to date, 50,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered throughout New York. The state has received 630,000 doses thus far and expects to receive another 300,000 doses next week. With Christmas and Kwanzaa rapidly approaching, the Governor also called on hospitals, nursing homes, and medical personnel to continue providing vaccinations throughout the holidays to ensure nursing home patients and front line health care workers are protected as quickly as possible.

Read the press release

NAM Update on What is in the Relief Package

Below is a summary of the components of the the Relief Package passed Monday from the NAM. The NAM launched a multi-faceted effort to urge Congressional leaders to negotiate a COVID-19 relief package. They identified key audience sets, and deployed a variety of tools for manufacturers and industry advocates to make their voices heard on four key issues: PPP Reauthorization, Liability Protections, Tax Deductibility and Vaccine  Distribution Funding. They launched a second iteration of a Liability Protections campaign on December 11.

Now their most recent activity has been on the Vaccine Distribution campaign which was launched December 14 to mobilize advocates and drive messages to Congress.   

NAM COVID Relief Update 12 22-2020

Trump Threatens to Not Sign COVID-19 Bill, Wants Bigger Stimulus Checks

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday not to sign a $892-billion coronavirus relief bill that includes desperately needed money for individual Americans, saying it should be amended to increase the amount in the stimulus checks. U.S. government operations are being funded on a temporary basis through Dec. 28 waiting for the $1.4 trillion in federal spending for fiscal 2021 that is also part of the bill.

The outgoing Republican president’s threat, with less than a month left in office, throws into turmoil a bipartisan effort in Congress to provide help for people whose lives have been upended by the pandemic. Trump said he wants Congress to increase the amount in the stimulus checks to $2,000 for individuals or $4,000 for couples, instead of the “ridiculously low” $600 for individuals currently in the bill.

Read more at The Financial Post

Johns Hopkins Begins Tracking Vaccinations

Johns Hopkins has started compiling reports of vaccination from countries that have initiated their vaccination campaigns. The UK leads globally in terms of doses per capita, with 0.74 doses per 100 population. The remaining countries, in order, are the US (0.17), Russia (0.14), Israel (0.12), China (0.07), and Canada (0.05). In terms of total vaccination, China is #1, with 1 million doses administered, followed by the US (556,208), the UK (500,000), Russia (200,000), Canada (17,633), and Israel (10,000). Their data also displays vaccination policies by country, mapping countries by what proportion of their population is eligible for vaccination: nobody/none, 1 or 2 vulnerable groups, all vulnerable groups, vulnerable groups and others, and universal. At this time, only 4 countries are included in this dataset: United Arab Emirates (vulnerable populations and some others), the UK (all vulnerable groups), Canada (2 vulnerable groups), and the US (1 vulnerable group).

The US CDC added a vaccination tab to its COVID-19 data tracker. Currently, the tab shows only national totals for doses distributed and administered, as opposed to state-level data. The CDC reports more than 4.6 million doses have been distributed nationwide and 614,117 doses have been administered. Additionally, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center has added a vaccine tracker, which will provide updates from US states as they report vaccination data. Currently, the tracker includes data from 23 states.

Read more and get all the links at Johns Hopkins

Trust is Heart of Workplace Vaccine Discussions

With the arrival of vaccinations for COVID-19, a new set of issues arise as companies contemplate workplace policies. While the issues may be new, how employers handle this isn’t, according to Gary Pearce, chief risk architect at Aclaimant, a workflow solution for safety and risk management company.

At the end of the day, says Pearce, the workforce needs to believe that the employer is doing the right things, having balanced the needs of the organization, the safety of the employees, and the expectations of the customers.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Employers Offer More Flexibility in Time-off Policies

Companies are increasingly adding flexibility to their time-off policies, including floating holidays, PTO, and time off for caregiving. Three-quarters of companies also offer paid time off immediately for new hires, according to a recent report from International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

Read more at HR Dive

Empire Center: New York Had Largest 2019-20 Population Decline of Any State

New York could be on the way to its first population decline in any decade since the 1970s, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.  The Empire State’s July 1, 2020 population of 19,336,776 was down 126,355, or 0.65 percent, from the estimated level of a year earlier, the estimates indicate. In both absolute and percentage terms, New York’s population drop in 2019-20 was the biggest among 16 states.

At the other extreme, Texas and Florida were big gainers in 2019-20— up 373,965 (1.29 percent) and 241,256 (1.12 percent) respectively. The national population during the same period was up another 1,154,170, or 0.35 percent. Below is a map of percentage changes by state based on the new data, which mainly cover a period before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted living patterns starting in March.

Read more at Empire Center

EU and UK Edge Towards Brexit Compromise on Fisheries

Britain and the EU edged towards a compromise on fisheries on Monday in an attempt to unblock a Brexit trade deal, as Boris Johnson eyed December 30 for a last-gasp parliamentary vote on an agreement. Raoul Ruparel, a former Europe adviser to ex-prime minister

Theresa May who remains well connected in Whitehall, suggested the EU and the UK could find a solution to one outstanding issue holding back a deal: the bloc’s fishing rights in British waters after Brexit. The prime minister’s allies, meanwhile, said any trade deal struck now would probably have to be voted on by MPs and peers between Christmas and new year, with an emergency parliamentary session being planned.

Read more at the Financial Times

Airlines to Bring Back Thousands of Workers After Passage of Covid-19 Aid Bill

The $900 billion relief package for households and businesses battered by the coronavirus pandemic includes $15 billion for airlines to pay all their workers. Carriers are hoping—for the second time—that the government assistance will serve as a bridge through a rocky period.

Many travel executives believe there is pent-up demand for travel that could be unleashed next summer. If they are right, airlines will need as many pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, and baggage handlers as they can get in order to keep up. Airlines furloughed over 32,000 workers in October when the government aid they received last spring ran out. But a new strain of coronavirus in the United Kingdom has illustrated how quickly prospects for a recovery in travel could change. 

Read more at the WSJ