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Daily Briefing – 220

Post: Dec. 28, 2020

NYS Vaccine Update

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 140,000 New Yorkers have received the first COVID-19 vaccine dose to date. New York expects to receive another 259,000 doses this week, with 139,400 coming from Pfizer and 119,600 coming from Moderna. The Governor also announced that the state is expanding the priority populations eligible to receive a vaccine to include urgent care center employees, individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff, and residents of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports’ congregate facilities.

Vaccines will continue to be distributed for high-risk hospital workers, federally qualified health center employees, EMS, coroners, medical examiners, funeral workers and residents and staff of Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and Office of Mental Health facilities. Next week, the state expects to expand this universe further with the addition of ambulatory care workers and public-facing public health workers.

Read the press release

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, 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   =  7559
    • 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   =  852
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 36%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,678
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  3917
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 31%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  678
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  413
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 42%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 8.33%

Here are some useful websites:

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021: PPP and Tax Provisions

Council Associate member Jackson Lewis writes that the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Act) generally provides the annual funding for the federal government and contains several important rules giving further COVID-19 relief. These include, among other things, revisions to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), expansion of the employee retention tax credit and changes to other employer-related tax provisions. The Act was passed by Congress on December 21, 2020, and signed by President Donald Trump on December 27, 2020.

This article highlights some of the PPP and tax provisions we believe will be of interest to employers.

Read more from Jackson Lewis

Manufacturing Economy Report – NAM Outlook Survey, Durable Goods and More

Real value-added output in the manufacturing sector rose to $2.213 trillion in the third quarter, as expressed in chained 2012 dollars. It remained down 1.0% from the all-time high recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019 ($2.236 trillion), despite tremendous volatility year-to-date. Overall, manufacturing accounted for 11.0% of real GDP in the third quarter, with value-added output (in nominal terms) up to $2.329 trillion, just 1.7% from a record high.

Monday Economic Report 1228 2020

Novavax Launches Late-Stage Covid Vaccine Trial in US

Novavax is launching a late-stage trial of its Covid-19 vaccine in the US and Mexico, fuelled by an award of up to $1.6bn from the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed programme.  The Maryland-based biotech company kicks off the trial at 115 sites on Monday, aiming to recruit up to 30,000 participants. Two-thirds will receive the vaccine, with the remaining one-third taking a placebo. 

Novavax is already testing its vaccine in a phase-3 trial in the UK in partnership with Britain’s vaccines task force and a phase-2 study in South Africa.  Stanley Erck, Novavax chief executive, thanked Operation Warp Speed, which gave the company one of its largest grants to vaccine makers.

Read more at the Financial Times

House Overrides Trump Veto of Defense Bill – Senate Will Take it Up Today

The House voted Monday to override President Trump’s veto of a must-pass defense policy bill, the first successful override vote of Trump’s presidency. The House voted 322-87, easily surpassing the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a veto.  The action now moves to the Senate, which also needs to muster two-thirds support in order for Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to be overridden. 

The NDAA passed both chambers of Congress earlier this month with large bipartisan majorities, but it was unclear exactly how many Republicans would buck the president when it came to the override vote.

Read more at The Hill

House Passes $2,000 Stimulus Check Bill, But The Plan Will Face Opposition In The Senate

The House on Monday approved giving Americans weathering the coronavirus pandemic $2,000 stimulus checks, substantially boosting payments from the $600 checks that were set to be given out as part of a COVID-19 relief package that President Donald Trump signed into law Sunday evening. 

The bill, which passed in a 275 – 134 vote, needed the support of two-thirds of House members present — a feat hard to reach in such a divided Washington. The measure will now head to the GOP-controlled Senate where its future remains unclear. Senate Republicans have for months stressed over increased government spending and are likely to oppose the measure despite Trump’s demands.

Read more at USA Today

Manufacturers Express Increased Optimism in Q4 NAM Survey

The National Association of Manufacturers fourth-quarter Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey showed a respondent pool growing increasingly positive about the business outlook for their firms. Nearly three-quarters (74.2%) of manufacturers who responded characterized the business outlook as “positive,” up from 66% in the previous outlook survey. The 74.2% figure is nearly equivalent to the survey’s historical average of 74.4% and a soaring improvement over the 33.9% reported in the second quarter, NAM data show.

Nevertheless, for the year as a whole, 62.4% of manufacturers expressed a positive outlook, down from 92.4% in 2018 and 76.2% in 2019. It was also the lowest annual average since 2009, NAM shared.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Governor Cuomo Releases Executive Order 202.85 Extending Protections for Residential Tenants

The Executive Order extends through January 26, 2021 the suspensions and modifications of law and any directive, not superseded by a subsequent directive, contained in Executive Orders 202.66 as continued and contained in 202.71 and 202.78, which prevent any residential tenant suffering financial hardship during the COVID-19 state disaster emergency declared by Executive Order 202, from facing eviction judgements and warrants.

Read the order here

Global Steel Production Pauses 

Global steel production declined to 158.3 million metric tons during November, down -3.1% from October, and yet 6.6% higher than the November 2019 total. The November continue to show the lingering effects of weak or depleted demand from manufacturing and construction markets: Most of the world’s major steelmaking nations continue to struggle with demand weakened by Covid-19 pandemic, with the notable exception of China, which has expanded its overall output through the course of the year and increased its percentage share of global output.

In October, World Steel projected that 2020 steel demand will drop by -2.4% year-over-year, to 1.725 billion metric tons – indicating that the current rate of output is on track for that forecast. For 2021, World Steel foresees steel demand recovering 4.1% year-over-year, to 1,795.1 million metric tons.

Read more at American Machinist

How BioNTech-Pfizer Won the Vaccine Race

The founders of a small German company called BioNTech gave birth to Operation Lightspeed — in which the scientists in the company diverted all their resources from cancer therapy research to finding a vaccine to stop COVID-19.  Their partnership with Hudson Valley manufacturer Pfizer led to the first approved vaccine for the virus.