Daily Briefing – 222

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday, December 29th. In addition to the Buffalo Bills announcement (see story below) the governor announced that a total of 203,000 New Yorkers have received the first dose of vaccine. Next week the State will open eligibility to ambulatory care health care workers and public facing health care workers (including those administering COVID-19 tests).

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  7892
    • 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   =  906
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 35%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,662
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  4054
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 31%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  684
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  430
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 41%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 8.66%

Here are some useful websites:

Mid-Hudson COVID-19 Cluster Maps

Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine Approved by UK Regulator

Britain became the first country to authorize the covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca and Oxford University. The vaccine is cheaper and easier to make than those already in use, but clinical-trial data caused confusion: a half-dose followed by a full dose appeared more effective than two full doses. The British regulator has approved two full doses, saying there was insufficient evidence for approving an initial half-dose.

Read more at CNBC

U.S. Reports First Case of New Covid-19 Variant

Colorado reported the first case in the U.S. of a fast-spreading variant of Covid-19 that was first detected in the U.K. and led to a widespread lockdown and travel restrictions there. Health officials said the case was confirmed by a state lab and found in a man in his 20s in Elbert County, southeast of Denver. The man, who had no history of travel, had been placed into isolation and details of his case were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials said they were working to identify other potential cases and contacts through contact-tracing protocols. Authorities said the man is recovering in isolation and no close contacts had been identified so far.  
The CDC said in a written statement that the agency was aware of Colorado’s report of the first U.S. case associated with the U.K. variant. The agency said it expected there to be additional cases in the coming days.

Read more at the WSJ

NYS Updated Quarantine Guidance, What You Need to Know from Bond Schoeneck and King 

On December 26, 2020, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) updated its mandatory quarantine requirements (the Quarantine Advisory) for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 but do not develop symptoms. The Quarantine Advisory may be found here. Previously, asymptomatic individuals who had been exposed to COVID-19 had to quarantine for 14 days. Now, such individuals must quarantine for 10 days. Importantly, the Quarantine Advisory also applies to individuals who traveled to a non-border state or country. DOH also updated its protocols for healthcare personnel to return to work following a COVID-19 exposure, so long as they remain asymptomatic (the Healthcare Protocols). They, too, will be subject to the new shortened 10-day quarantine. 

Read the update from BSK

Senate Sets Defense Bill Veto Override in Motion for Weekend

The Senate moved Wednesday toward a vote to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a $740.5 billion defense policy bill, setting up a clash with the White House that may not culminate until the final hours before a new Congress begins on Sunday.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell was forced Wednesday to schedule a series of procedural votes because Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is delaying the process by demanding a separate vote on increasing pandemic stimulus payments to $2,000 from $600 for most Americans. That increase has been championed by Trump and Democrats, but many Republicans are opposed, and McConnell has refused to bring it up as a stand-alone bill. Under Senate procedures, the impasse could delay the vote on whether to override a Trump veto for the first time until Saturday, or even as late as Sunday before the current Congress ends at noon Washington time.

 Read more at Bloomberg

Extended Unemployment Benefits From the COVID Relief Act Will Kick In Next Week

Unemployed New Yorkers Will Receive an Additional $300 Weekly Supplement and Extended Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Starting the Week of January 3rd The federal government has extended federal unemployment benefits for an additional eleven weeks through March 14, 2021. New Yorkers currently receiving benefits do not need to call the Department of Labor to receive these extended benefits — they should continue to certify for unemployment benefits in their usual manner and will automatically receive extended benefits. Those whose unemployment benefit year has ended should reapply online.

Implement details are in the press release

The Economist Asks – How Quickly Will America’s labor Market Recover?

One of the biggest questions facing the world economy in 2021 is how fast America’s labor market will recover. Optimists point to the rapid decline in the unemployment rate after the first wave of the pandemic—from nearly 15% in April to 6.7% in November—as a reason for a speedy recovery. Pessimists’ go-to statistic is the high and rising rate of the long-term unemployed, those who have been out of work for more than six months. It has risen from 0.7% of the labor force in February to 2.5% today. 

On average, the longer someone is unemployed, the harder it is for them to find work. In part that may be because the least productive workers, for whom the labor market is always an unwelcoming place, are more likely to experience long spells of unemployment during downturns. But spending months on the sofa also causes people’s skills to atrophy. As a result, recessions inflict lasting scars on both workers and the economy.

Read more at the Economist

Back to the Future: 7 Developments Shaping Automotive in 2021 and Beyond

Companies have changed processes, worked differently, restarted after six weeks of wholesale plant shutdowns, manufactured personal protective equipment by the millions, and dealt with huge losses all in the midst of political unrest and a presidential election unlike any other in history.

What does that stew of ingenuity, challenge and change bode for the future—for automakers and their suppliers, large and small? As the curtain is drawn 2020, let’s shift gears, rest our literal and figurative Twitter feeds, and look at some seminal happenings that could affect automotive for the long haul.

View the slide show

Protocol Put in Place for Limited Number of Fans To Attend Bills Playoff Game

Governor  Cuomo announced the final pilot plan for allowing fans to attend the Buffalo Bills’ first home playoff game in more than two decades under strict COVID-19 protocols. Under the pilot, which was developed cooperatively between the Bills, New York State and Bio-Reference Laboratories, 6,700 fans will be allowed to attend the game only after first obtaining a negative COVID-19 test result. Contact tracing will also be conducted after the game. This is the first stadium re-opening pilot plan in the nation to require these measures and if successfully implemented, it could serve as a model for re-opening entertainment venues across New York.

Read the press release