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Daily Briefing – 228

Post: Jan. 10, 2021

Vaccine Distribution Update – Phase 1B Starts Today

In Friday’s press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that starting Starting today, New York State will begin scheduling vaccinations for “Phase 1b” groups—the next category of people eligible for the vaccine. This group includes: People aged 75 and up; education workers (pre-K through 12 teachers and education workers, licensed and registered child care providers, and school-bus drivers); first responders (local police, State Police, Sheriff’s Office employees, professional and volunteer firefighters); EMS workers (including professional and volunteer paramedics and EMTs); public transit workers (airline and airport employees, passenger railroad employees, subway and mass transit employees, ferry employees, Port Authority employees, and public bus drivers); and public safety workers. About 3.2 million additional New Yorkers will now be eligible.

Notably, Essential manufacturing workers are not listed as phase 1B eligible though that was the case just a few weeks ago. 

Also the Governor issued a media advisory Saturday announcing the 2021 State of the State Address will be delivered today, January 11th at 11:30 a.m. from the War Room in the State Capitol. The event will be live streamed on the Governor’s website.

Read the press release

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday, January 9th. With more U.K. strain cases being found in New York and across the country, it is even more important that New Yorkers continue to follow the guidelines wear a mask, avoid gatherings and social distance.

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

Hospitalizations Statewide

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8484
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 34%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  994
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 41%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,791
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4228
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 27%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  690
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  412
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 40%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0): 1.12
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 6.22%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 7.90%

Useful websites:

Study: Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine Appears Effective Against Mutation in New Coronavirus Variants 

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine appears able to protect against a key mutation in the highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in Britain and South Africa, according to a laboratory study conducted by the U.S. drugmaker.

The study by Pfizer and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, indicated the vaccine was effective in neutralizing variants with the so-called N501Y mutation, situated on a portion of the virus that it uses to enter and infect cells.

Read More at Reuters

Empire Center: New York Is Still Waiting For a Viable COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

In Friday’s briefing, Governor Cuomo warned that the federal allotment of 300,000 doses per week would not be enough to vaccinate the two highest-priority groups until April. This sidesteps the more immediate crisis, which is that the state is delivering doses less than half as fast as Washington sends them.

A number of steps the governor announced Friday should at least begin to speed things up. Most significantly, Cuomo opened the door to broader eligibility for early shots, acceding to pressure from Mayor de Blasio and others. Previously he had insisted on completing group 1a (which includes health-care workers and nursing home residents) before doing anyone else. Perhaps most significantly, he’s enlisting county public health departments, which have pre-existing mass vaccination plans that for some reason Cuomo chose not to use at first. He said he’s also adding thousands of pharmacies, clinics and doctor’s offices.

Read more at the Empire Center

Eligibility and Requirements for First and Second Draw of PPP Loan Applications

On Jan. 6, 2021, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued guidance regarding the stimulus package’s Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act, which continued the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). First and second time eligible borrowers may apply for either a First Draw or Second Draw PPP Loan until March 31, 2021. 

As detailed in this Information Memo from Bon, Schoeneck and King, many basic aspects of the PPP remain the same. However, there are important distinguishing factors for both First and Second Draws.

Read the Memo at BSK

Seven Months of Job Growth End; Unemployment Rate At 6.7

The U.S. lost 140,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate was 6.7%, ending seven months of job growth and suggesting the economy is weakening.  Job growth has slowed in recent months as cold weather, rising Covid-19 infections, and new restrictions on businesses deal a setback to the recovery from the pandemic. The pandemic and related restrictions led to 22 million job losses in March and April; 12 million have been recovered since then.

The silver lining is that economists believe the lull will be temporary. The process of distributing vaccines is under way. The roughly $900 billion aid plan is providing stimulus checks of up to $600 for most families, a $300-per-week boost in unemployment benefits for laid-off workers and a new round of aid for businesses.

Read more at the WSJ

But…Manufacturing Adds Jobs

NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray provided us with the manufacturing numbers from the Labor Department report: “Manufacturing added 38,000 workers in December, rising for the eighth straight month and making the sector one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing (but expected) report.”

“Despite gains since the spring, the labor market for the sector remains well below its pre-COVID-19 pace, with manufacturing employment down by 543,000 in December relative to the level in February. The manufacturing sector had 12,309,000 workers in December, down from 12,852,000 in February but a definite improvement from 11,489,000 employees in April.”  “Overall, the manufacturing sector lost 557,000 workers in 2020, the largest annual decline since 2009 and ending three years of gains.”

Read more at CNBC

Boeing to Pay More Than $2.5 Billion to Settle Criminal Conspiracy Charge Over 737 Max

Boeing agreed to pay $2.5bn to settle criminal charges that it misled safety officials who were investigating the firm’s 737 MAX airliner. America’s Department of Justice said the plane maker had chosen “the path of profit over candor” by withholding information following two crashes in 2018 and 2019, which killed 346 people. Some $500m will go towards compensating victims’ families.

Read more at CNBC

Context: A Tale of Two Pandemics – What a Difference a Century Makes

A New Year is upon us.  Will multilateralism and cooperation start staging a comeback against the forces of narrow nationalism?  That won’t be easy, and it will be a while before we’ll know. Yet a trio of early tests will offer clues – stemming the spread of the pandemic, rolling out vaccines to turn it back, and dealing with its huge economic fallout.

The new year in question was way back in 1919, at the outset of the third wave of the Spanish flu pandemic. It was a moment with clear similarities to our own struggle with COVID-19. But less obvious – and potentially more telling for 2021 – are the differences between the two.

Read more at the CS Monitor