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Daily Briefing – 230

Post: Jan. 12, 2021

Vaccine Rollout Update – New CDC Guidance and the Governor Calls for Patience

The State announced that 645,037 vaccines have been administered to date.

Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated their vaccination guidelines to include members of the public that are 65 and older, and those who are immunocompromised. In his press conference yesterday Governor Cuomo stated that New York is going to accept this Federal guidance. The CDC has not yet defined who falls into the immunocompromised category, and the State is working with the CDC to obtain further guidance. In the meantime, those who are 65 and older are able to immediately begin scheduling vaccine appointments through the State website.

Governor Cuomo noted that the new guidance could lead to additional issues in scheduling, and called for patience. Under new guidance, approximately seven million New Yorkers are eligible for the vaccine, with the State still receiving approximately 300,000 doses per week. 

Read more at the Albany Times Union

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 Sunday, January 10th. 

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

Hospitalizations Statewide

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8926
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .005%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in State  = 32%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  1053
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .005%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 39%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,790
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4155
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 27%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  693
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  412
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 40%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0): 1.08
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 7.7%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 7.80%

Useful Websites:

Empire Center’s Bill Hammond: The State’s Vaccine Appointment System Was Not Ready for Prime Time

“On Monday afternoon, an 80-year-old Albany resident asked me to make an appointment on her behalf. I ultimately succeeded, but only after confronting a bewildering array of poorly designed websites, contradictory instructions and several apparent dead ends. My search ended successfully. But I’m a health policy analyst who has been following the situation closely, has experience using government websites and wasn’t easily deterred by confusing directions. New Yorkers without those advantages would likely find the system in this condition hard if not impossible to navigate.”

Read more at the Empire Center

Vaccine Supply Chain Hits Snags

The manufacturing and distribution of the first two vaccines in the U.S.—those produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE in a joint program and by Moderna Inc. — has effectively outpaced the ability of those administering the vaccines to keep up under the current guidelines to set vaccination priorities. “What has not happened yet is sufficient ‘consumption’ of the distributed supply,” said Philip Palin, an author and supply-chain resilience expert who advises governments and businesses on preparing for catastrophic events. Vaccines are being allocated to targeted groups, he said, in contrast to more high-velocity supply chains, which are more common and tend to be demand-driven.

To speed up vaccinations, Mr. Palin said, authorities could work with community organizations and local governments to identify potential vaccination sites and focus on areas where the need for the vaccine is the greatest.

Read more in the WSJ

Small-Business Optimism Sinks to Seven-Month Low

Small-business owners turned more pessimistic in December than they have been at any time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic after a record new stage of the viral outbreak and Democratic electoral victories that promise a potentially dramatic shift in economic policy in Washington.

The closely followed optimism index compiled by the National Federation of Independent Business fell by 5.5 points to 95.9 last month, marking its lowest level since last May.

Read more at Market Watch

EV Manufacturer Lordstown Sparks Continued Interest

Lordstown Motors Corp. announced it has received more than 100,000 non-binding production reservations from commercial fleets for its Endurance all-electric pickup truck, with an average order size of nearly 600 vehicles per fleet.

With a defined focused on the commercial fleet market, Lordstown is one of a host of emerging OEMs producing electric light duty trucks. Other manufacturers jockeying for position in the growing EV market include Nikola, Rivian, Arrival, Tesla and Bollinger. Automotive giant Ford Motor has also placed significant bets on an electrified future with its 2020 introduction of the all-electric F150 truck. 

Read more at IndustryWeek

Ford to Close Brazil Manufacturing Operations, Take $4.1 Billion in Charges

Production will cease immediately at Ford’s plants in Camaçari and Taubaté, with some parts production continuing for a few months to support inventories for aftermarket sales. The Troller plant in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, will continue to operate until the fourth quarter. Ford officials said the action was part of the $11 billion global restructuring previously forecast by the U.S. automaker, of which it had accounted for $4.2 billion through the third quarter of 2020. Ford shares closed up more than 3%. The plant closures affect about 5,000 employees, mostly in Brazil, Ford spokesman T.R. Reid said on a conference call with reporters.

Industry vehicle sales fell 26% in Brazil last year and are not expected to rebound to 2019 levels until 2023 with an emphasis on less profitable fleet sales, Ford said.

Read more at Reuters

FDA Issues Alert Regarding SARS-CoV-2 Viral Mutation to Health Care Providers and Clinical Laboratory Staff 

The US Food and Drug Administration is alerting clinical laboratory staff and health care providers that the FDA is monitoring the potential impact of viral mutations, including an emerging variant from the United Kingdom known as the B.1.1.7 variant, on authorized SARS-CoV-2 molecular tests, and that false negative results can occur with any molecular test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 if a mutation occurs in the part of the virus’s genome assessed by that test. The FDA is taking additional actions to ensure authorized tests remain accurate by working with test developers and conducting ongoing data analysis to evaluate all currently authorized molecular tests. The FDA believes the risk that these mutations will impact overall testing accuracy is low.

Read more at the FDA

Vermont Study: 7 Day Quarantine for Asymptomatic Contacts Enough W Negative PCR Test

On May 8, 2020, the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) issued a Health Update* recommending shortening the duration of quarantine for persons exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Exposed persons who were in quarantine could be tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on or after quarantine day 7.

Those who had remained asymptomatic throughout quarantine and who received a negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test result on or after day 7 could end quarantine. These results indicate that among the persons in quarantine who tested negative at day 7 after exposure, none who were retested between day 8 and 14 were positive. Allowing asymptomatic persons to shorten quarantine with a negative test at day 7 or later has not been demonstrated to result in transmission of SARS-CoV-2, indicating that the policy has been effective.

See the Study Results at the CDC