Daily Briefing – 224

Cuomo: New York Hospitals Need to Speed up Coronavirus Vaccinations – Threatens Fines

COVID-19 vaccines are not being distributed fast enough by many of New York’s hospital networks, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a Monday press conference, and if the pace doesn’t pick up, hospitals could be fined or could lose access to future tranches of vaccines.

Under the new guidelines, vaccines must be distributed by hospitals within one week of receiving them, and if they are not, then hospitals can be fined up to $100,000 and be disqualified from receiving further batches of vaccines. Cuomo used a slide in his presentation to highlight the hospitals that have distributed the highest and lowest portion of the vaccines they’ve already received. The three best-performing hospitals were New York Presbyterian Health Care System, Oswego Hospital and Richmond University Medical Center, each above 90 percent in usage, and the three lowest-performing were Westchester Medical Center, New York City Health – Hospitals and Montefiore Healthcare System, each around 30 percent in usage.

Read more at the Albany Times Union

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, January 2nd. 

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

  • Hospitalizations Statewide
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8251
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 29%
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  942
    • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
    • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 34%
  • ICU Beds Statewide
    • Total ICU Beds   =  5,716
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  4061
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 29%
  • ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 
    • Total ICU Beds   =  684
    • Occupied ICU Beds =  399
    • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 39%
  • Transmission Rate (R0): 1.12
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 8.34%

Here are some useful websites:

UK Variant Confirmed in Saratoga Case

The Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany has confirmed the first known case of the U.K. variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 in New York State. An individual from Saratoga County, NY, with no known recent travel, tested positive for the strain, which scientists say is more contagious than other strains. It is not believed to be deadlier or to cause more severe disease.

Because the individual who tested positive for this variant did not travel recently, it is likely that the strain is spreading in the community.  Because the virus strain is more transmittable, it could lead to a higher infection rate and possibly a higher hospitalization rate.

Read more at the Daily Gazette

UK Rolls Out Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine 

The country’s National Health Service (NHS) is the first in the world to deploy the jab after it was approved for use in the U.K. by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) last week. The NHS said 82-year-old Brian Pinker was the first person in the world to receive the jab Monday morning.

The approval and deployment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is seen as a boon in the race against Covid-19 as it is cheaper than alternatives created by Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna.  Additionally, and unlike rival vaccines, it can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 degrees Celsius or 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least six months.

Read more at CNBC

Fauci: US Could Start Vaccinating 1 million people per day 

A few weeks after the first coronavirus vaccine was authorized in the US, it became clear that the nation’s vaccine rollout was off to a painfully slow start.  But Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on Sunday that vaccinations could speed up soon. Fauci said there’s no reason why the US can’t immunize 1 million people per day right now.

That pace would put the country on track to fulfill President-elect Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 100 million people in his first 100 days in office.

Read more at Business Insider

Manufacturers Overcame Covid-19 Setbacks to End 2020 on High Note

Factories in the U.S., Asia and Europe boosted their output as 2020 drew to a close, aided by a rise in new orders and a revival in trade that has continued despite a sharp rise in coronavirus infections across many large economies.  

Data firm IHS Markit said its purchasing managers index for the U.S. manufacturing sector rose to 57.1 in December from 56.7 in November. That was the biggest improvement since September 2014, IHS Markit said. A reading above 50 points to an increase in activity from the previous month, while a reading below that level points to a decline. IHS Markit’s purchasing managers index for the eurozone’s manufacturing sector also rose, to 55.2 in December from 53.8 in November, reaching its highest level since May 2018.

Read more at the WSJ

Covid-19 Vaccines Are in High Demand, but Thousands More Workers Are Needed to Make Them

Contract-manufacturing companies working to accelerate the global availability of Covid-19 vaccines are struggling with a shortage of their own: There aren’t enough workers to meet this year’s big production push. More than 5,000 open jobs exist at the world’s 10 largest companies that have won Covid-19 outsourcing work, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the companies’ websites. The firms were ranked by production capacity.

Outsourcing companies such as Emergent make about one-sixth of complex treatments including vaccines, but the scale and abruptness of Covid-19 shots is likely to boost that share much higher, say industry executives and experts. With demand dwarfing supply, Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc.and others are turning to contract manufacturers for assistance in what is the largest pharmaceutical rollout in modern history.

Read more at the WSJ

US Imposes New Tariffs on French, German Aircraft Parts

The tariffs are on “aircraft manufacturing parts from France and Germany, certain non-sparkling wine from France and Germany, and certain cognac and other grape brandies from France and Germany,” which will be added to the list of products taxed since 2019, according to a statement from the US Trade Representative.

It said the move was in retaliation to tariffs imposed by the European Union which it considers unfair.  The decision is the latest twist in the 16-year trade battle over aircraft subsidies that turned increasingly sour under the protectionist instincts of US President Donald Trump, and comes despite hopes for a trade truce following Joe Biden’s election.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Pentagon Delays Full-Rate Production for F-35s

The DOD has delayed indefinitely the planned combat testing for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, meaning that full-rate production of the aircraft cannot proceed. “Technical challenges and the impact of Covid-19” were cited by a DoD spokesperson as preventing planning and set-up for a projected month-long series of simulations of the F-35 jets versus enemy air-defense systems and fighter aircraft.

The simulations are to be conducted using an on-ground simulator at the U.S. Navy’s Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. After the simulations are completed, two to three more months will be necessary to transfer and analyze the data and then draft a final report for delivery to DoD and Congressional leaders.  That report is required before full-rate production can be authorized.

Read more at American Machinist

Bringing Mental Health to the Boardroom and C-Suite

This year has been hard in so many ways, but perhaps the biggest hit has been to Americans’ collective mental health throughout back-to-back public health and cultural crises. There’s a massive shift among employers to destigmatize mental health needs and support employee mental health as workers are shouldering unprecedented mental health challenges.  With pervasive problems like COVID-19, an unstable economy, racial injustice, and timely mental health challenges brought about by stress-inducing events like the recent election, it’s no wonder that more than 80% of U.S. workers are experiencing mental health issues in 2020.

Read more at BenefitsPro