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Daily Briefing – 219

Post: Dec. 27, 2020

Remain Diligent Council Members – US Surgeon General Says “Very Concerned” About Possible Post-Holiday Surge

We urge our members to remain diligent a focused to prevent the spread of COVID in your workplace. 

“We’re very concerned and we always see a little bit of a bump after holidays, and sometimes a large bump,” US Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams said when asked about concerns about a post-holiday surge of Covid-19 and the number of people who traveled. 

Read more at CNN

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, December 26th. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  7183
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 31%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  807
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .003%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 36%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,776
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3823
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 30%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  679
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  378
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 42%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 5.85%

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Trump Signs Measure Funding Government, COVID Relief – House Will Vote Today to Override Defense Authorization Veto

President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion pandemic relief package Sunday, ending days of drama over his refusal to accept the bipartisan deal that will deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and avert a federal government shutdown. The massive bill includes $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September. 

In his statement, Trump repeated his frustrations with the COVID-19 relief bill for providing only $600 checks to most Americans instead of the $2,000 that his fellow Republicans already rejected. He also complained about what he considered unnecessary spending by the government at large. “I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed,” Trump said in the statement.

Also, Trump has also repeated his discontent over a $740 billion bill authorizing the nation’s defense programs, a legislation he vetoed last week. On Monday, the House is scheduled to vote on overriding Trump’s veto. If the House vote succeeds, the Senate could hold its vote as early as Tuesday.

Read more at the AP

Manufacturers Urge Officials to Follow CISA Guidelines For Vaccination Deployment

Please consider joining with other manufacturers by sending the letter below to Governor Cuomo and your state representatives.  It reads in part, “As states receive vaccine allocations in the coming weeks and consider CDC guidance on vaccine distribution, we recommend that the decisions to be made rely on the sound definitions of essential critical infrastructure workforce offered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. These terms are comprehensive and well understood by the manufacturing community. Moreover, the CISA explanations of the industry sectors that comprise the nation’s critical infrastructure can be applied uniformly in various emergency and response circumstances determined by states and their elected leaders. Manufacturing plants are integral to virtually every critical infrastructure supply chain.”

Holiday Shoppers Steered Clear of Stores, Favoring Online Buying

U.S. retail sales rose 3% during this year’s expanded holiday shopping season from Oct. 11 to Dec. 24, a report by Mastercard Inc said on Saturday, powered by a pandemic-driven shift toward online shopping.  Ecommerce sales jumped 49% in this year’s holiday shopping season, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse report, underscoring the COVID-19 pandemic’s role in transforming customers’ shopping habits.

Holiday e-commerce sales made up 19.7% of total retail sales this year, the data showed, noting that options such as buy online and pick-up-in-store, contactless technologies were key for retailers. Electronics and appliances also rose 6% during the period, as a reduction in spending on dining out, travel and leisure encouraged shoppers to make other purchases. Sales of apparel and jewelry slumped overall, but e-commerce sales rose 15.7% and 44.6%.

Read more at Reuters

Brexit Trade Deal Is Reached Between U.K., European Union

The U.K. and the European Union secured an agreement over their future relations, setting the seal on the 2016 British referendum decision to leave the bloc and bringing to a close years of economic uncertainty and fraught politics in the U.K.

The deal, coming just days ahead of an end-year deadline, calms the worst fears of a major economic disruption in coming weeks as Britain unmoors from its largest trading partner and is tackling another intense phase of the coronavirus pandemic. Under the terms of the accord, both sides will continue to trade free of tariffs but there will be significant new bureaucracy for importers and exporters. The free flow of workers between the two economies will end and trade in services will be much reduced. London’s vast financial center will no longer have guaranteed access to European markets.

The deal gives Britain significant freedom to depart from EU regulations and sign free-trade deals with countries like the U.S. But as the price for securing a deal without tariffs, the U.K. agreed that it wouldn’t seriously undercut EU standards on issues such as labor and the environment and would maintain similar constraints on the subsidizing of private industry.

Read more at the WSJ

Covid-19 Test Makers Aim to Broaden Virus Testing Well Into Spring

Even as more Americans get Covid-19 vaccinations, diagnostic manufacturers, employers and public-health authorities are pushing to expand testing for the virus over the next several months to help curb its still-surging spread. The goal is that more-frequent testing, along with other mitigation measures such as mask wearing and social distancing, can get people back into classrooms and workplaces before the wider availability of vaccines.

The U.S. will likely be able to perform more than 70 million Covid-19 tests a week by the end of January, according to recent estimates from the Rockefeller Foundation. By April, that is expected to grow to 200 million weekly tests. The growth will be driven by tests done outside laboratories, including in schools and doctors’ offices, and those processed at home. Increasing the number of patient samples analyzed in a single test, a technique known as pooling, will also likely contribute, the foundation said.

Read more at the WSJ

Latest Polling in Georgia Senate Runoff Elections

No candidate in either of Georgia’s Senate races won a majority of the vote on Nov. 3, triggering a runoff for both seats, with the top two candidates in each race facing off.  With less one week remaining until the January 5th election the latest polling show very tight races with Republican David Purdue holing less than one percentage point lead over Democrat Jon Ossoff.  Democrat Raphael Warnock hold a similarly small lead over Republican Kelly Loeffler.

Control of the Senate now hinges on the outcome of these two races.

See the polling at 538

Businesses Adapt Better to Covid-19 After Lessons Learned From Spring Surge

The resurgence in coronavirus infections throughout the West this fall has dealt a fresh blow to the global economy. But the impact is far less, thanks in part to lessons learned by businesses, particularly in manufacturing, about how to keep workers safe and continue operating. The resurgence of East Asian economies, particularly China, has also buoyed many Western manufacturers.

Moreover, unlike during the spring surge, disruptions to supply chains have been less frequent, as parts and raw materials have kept flowing to factories.

Read more in the WSJ

From Polio To The COVID Vaccine, Dr. Peter Salk Sees Great Progress

Peter Salk was just 9 when he got a shot in 1953 at the family home outside Pittsburgh.  At that time, polio terrorized the country every summer. In the worst single year, 1952, nearly 60,000 children were infected. Many were paralyzed, and more than 3,000 died. Frightened parents kept their children away from swimming pools, movie theaters and other public places.  The vaccine helped eradicate polio, made his father world famous, and shaped Peter Salk’s own life — he also became a doctor of infectious diseases.

“I was bowled over when the first news came out about the Pfizer, BioNTech results and being somewhere on the order of 95 percent effective,” he said. “I just had a really strong emotional reaction that I totally had not anticipated.”

Read more at NPR