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Daily Briefing – 231

Post: Jan. 13, 2021

Vaccine Rollout Update

New York has administered 732,066 vaccine doses as of yesterday afternoon.

Governor Cuomo announced that as of yesterday the first three state-run vaccination sites are now open and vaccinating eligible New Yorkers against the COVID-19 virus. The sites are located at the Jacob K. Javits Center, Westchester County Center and New York State Fair Expo Center. Sites at Jones Beach and SUNY Albany will open today and tomorrow, respectively, with more vaccination sites to be announced in the coming days.

Over 7 million New Yorkers are now eligible for the COVID vaccine, but the state only receives 300,000 doses per week from the federal government. Vaccinations are by appointment only. To determine eligibility and schedule an appointment to receive their first dose. Appointments to receive the second dose at these sites are scheduled in-person after receiving the first dose. New Yorkers should not attempt to book their second appointment online.

Coronavirus Vaccine Doses That Were Held Back Now Being Released

The Trump administration is releasing second doses of coronavirus vaccines that were reserved for booster shots and is urging states to give the vaccine to anyone age 65 and older, as well as to people with pre-existing health conditions, a shift in strategy that vastly expands the pool of those eligible for shots while presenting another hurdle for the logistics of administering the vaccine at state and local levels.

Starting in two weeks, doses will be allocated based on the pace that states say they are administering the vaccine, as well as the size of a state’s population of people age 65 and older.

Read more at the WSJ

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 Tuesday, January 12th. Three additional cases of the UK variant have been identified in Warren County, bringing the total number of cases in New York to 15. Specifically, four cases in Saratoga County and two cases in Warren County have been identified as part of the cluster connected to a jewelry store in Saratoga Springs. Three additional cases in Warren County are under investigation for their link to this cluster, but have yet to be confirmed. A second cluster has also been identified and includes two cases in Suffolk County, two cases from Nassau County and one from Queens. The final case was identified in Manhattan and is not connected to either cluster.

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

Hospitalizations Statewide

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  8929
  • 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   =  1044
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • 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   =  692
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  393
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 40%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0): 1.08
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 7.40%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 7.80%

Useful Websites:


Chinese Vaccine Sinovac Setback

China’s big vaccine-export hope, Sinovac’s CoronaVac, just suffered a huge blow: it’s only 50.4% effective, according to the results of its first large-scale, late-stage trial. The trial was conducted by Brazil’s Butantan Institute, which claimed last week that the efficacy rate was 78%. Now, it says that figure left out “very mild” cases that did not require medical assistance.

Read more at CNBC

Moderna Says COVID-19 Vaccine Immunity to Stay at Least a Year

Immunity from Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine should last at least a year, the company said on Monday. The drugmaker said it was confident that the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology it used was well suited to deploy a vaccine based on the new variant of the coronavirus which has emerged in a handful of countries.

The company also said Monday it expects to deliver between 600 million doses and 1 billion does of its vaccine in 2021 and forecast vaccine-related sales of $11.7 billion for the year, based on advance purchase agreements signed with governments.

Read more at Reuters

Webinar Slides and Recording: Vaccine Protocols Presentation and Discussion with Jackson Lewis

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are slowly becoming available, many employers will have a strong case for requiring employee vaccinations, so long as their vaccination policies have certain exceptions, are job-related and are consistent with business necessity, legal experts say.
But that is only part of the conversation. Last week The Council of Industry and Attorneys from Jackson Lewis held a discussion of the issues surrounding COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace, including: Who can you require to get the vaccine? Should you require the vaccine? Can employees refuse? How should you handle refusals? What are some strategies to get employee buy in – make them feel safe – and do what is in the best interest of the business?

Help Wanted Rises at U.S. Soft-Goods Producers as Virus Persists

The number of positions waiting to be filled at U.S. manufacturers of non-durable goods such as food, paper products, cleaning supplies and clothing rose by 14,000 to 250,000 in November, figures from the Labor Department showed Tuesday. The rate of openings, or number of available jobs as a share of total employment in the industry plus the vacancies, hit 5.1%, the fifth straight record in data back to 2000.

The rise in vacant positions during the current economic downturn stands in stark contrast to the sharp decline in openings during the 2007-09 recession. Then, the figures reflected a broad business-cycle demand contraction as opposed to the self-inflicted and temporary freeze behind the pandemic-induced slump.

Read more at Bloomberg

Machine Tool Orders Weakening Again

Domestic machine shops and other manufacturers ordered $330.3 million worth of new machine tools during November 2020, a -13.3% drop from the October order volume, and slightly higher (+1.4%) more than the November 2019 order volume. The year-over-year increase for November was the first such result for the U.S. Manufacturing Orders report, as noted by AMT – the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology, which issue presents the monthly summary of new orders for metal-cutting and metal-forming and fabricating machines.

Through 11 months, U.S manufacturing technology new orders totaled $3.4 billion, -18.7% less than the January-November 2019 order total.

Read more at American Machinist

U.S. Consumer Prices Pushed Higher By Gasoline Prices; Inflation Sill Benign

U.S. consumer prices increased solidly in December amid a surge in the cost of gasoline, though underlying inflation remained tame as the economy battled a raging COVID-19 pandemic that has weighed on the labor market and services industry. Inflation could, however, briefly accelerate this year as the government provides more money to stimulate the economy, and the consumer price declines early in the coronavirus crisis wash out of the calculations.

But that will unlikely have an impact on the Federal Reserve, which has signaled it would tolerate higher prices after inflation persistently undershot the U.S. central bank’s 2% target. The Fed has slashed interest rates to near zero and is pumping money into the economy through asset purchases.

Read more at Reuters

The Economist: Commodity Prices are Surging

The Biggest commodity story of 2020 was one of decline. As the coronavirus pandemic halted travel, oil prices fell off a cliff, then briefly went subterranean: in April a futures contract for West Texas Intermediate was worth less than nothing. Oil began clawing its way above $45 a barrel in November, supported by optimism about vaccines. For other commodities, however, 2020 was not all bad. Indeed the year may have marked the start of an extraordinary ascent.

Commodity bulls, led by Jeff Currie of Goldman Sachs, a bank, argue that longer-term trends will support prices through the coming decade. “The pandemic itself is a structural catalyst for a commodity supercycle,” Mr Currie contends. In addition to a weaker dollar and the accompanying boost for commodities, the pandemic may have the effect of synchronizing activity across some of the world’s biggest economies.

Read more at The Economist

State of the State Part III – Focus on Green and Renewables

Governor Cuomo delivered Part 3 of his 2021 State of the State address yesterday focusing on the State growing the green energy economy. As part of these efforts, Governor Cuomo has put forth a number of proposals focused on creating the largest offshore wind program in the nation, making New York State a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse, and creating a green energy transmission superhighway, all while creating green jobs to support communities and small businesses as we face the global threat of climate change. 

Read the press release