Daily Briefing – 234

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 31st. 

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

Hospitalizations Statewide:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital   =  8,003
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available = 33%

Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in Region   =  933
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 42%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,903
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4,315
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 26%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  690
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  393
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 39%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .91
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 4.86%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 5.10

Useful Websites:

NYS Vaccine Update

As of noon Yesterday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 1,554,450 first doses and already administered 90 percent or 1,393,064 first dose vaccinations and 75 percent of first and second doses. Delivery of the week 8 allocation from the federal government does not begin until the middle of this week. Also, due to the  impacts from the Nor’Easter, the State rescheduled vaccine appointments at: SUNY Stony Brook, Jones Beach, Aqueduct Racetrack, the Javits Center, and the Westchester County Center. Every New Yorker with appointments at these sites scheduled for yesterday will receive an email or text message rescheduling their vaccination for later this week.

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 219,420 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 144,6993 have been administered (66%).

U.S. Vaccine Rollout Looks Bad—Until You Look Everywhere Else

Even though the vaccine rollout has been hugely disappointing, the U.S. is still, somehow, among the world’s leaders in getting shots into people’s arms.  The country is well on track to gain herd immunity this year, even as tales of long lines, supply-chain problems, line-skipping, and broken eligibility rules are inescapable.

Still, even with a botched rollout, the United States is vaccinating its population faster than most countries are disturbing. this raises the urgent question of how the process can be sped up, especially for the most vulnerable—and, just as important, how to bring the rest of the planet along, too. 

Read more at the Daily Beast

At-Home Covid-19 Tests -US Will Buy 8.5 Million Kits

The Biden administration said it has reached a $230 million deal with Australian diagnostics company Ellume USA LLC to produce at-home, over-the-counter Covid-19 tests.  The Food and Drug Administration previously authorized the test. So far, the FDA has cleared three Covid-19 tests that can be processed entirely at home, but Ellume’s is the only one that doesn’t require a prescription. None are widely available at this point.  The company is expected to produce 19 million tests a month by the end of the year Based on the agreement, 8.5 million tests will be guaranteed to the U.S. government.

For months, public health authorities have been calling for rapid, easy-to-use tests for Covid-19 that can be performed anywhere, both to enable people to quickly determine whether or not they have Covid-19 and to allow for wider screening. At-home tests are expected to be less precise than those done in a lab and will likely require a follow-up test in certain situations.

Read more at the WSJ

Republicans Propose $618 Billion Covid-19 Stimulus Plan

The GOP proposal, roughly one-third the size of Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan, would provide $300 a week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits through June, include $20 billion each for child care and schools, $50 billion for small-business relief and $160 billion for vaccines, testing and protective equipment, according to a summary of the proposal’s spending released Monday morning.

“It was a very good exchange of views. I wouldn’t say that we came together on a package tonight. No one expected that in a two-hour meeting,” Ms. Collins said outside the White House. After the meeting White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Mr. Biden and the Republicans had a productive discussion but emphasized that the president wants to move quickly with a large aid plan.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Directs TSA to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19 Through the Transportation System

January 30th the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security announced the issuance of a National Emergency Determination to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This determination enables TSA to implement President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel. TSA will require individuals to wear a mask at TSA screening checkpoints and throughout the commercial and public transportation system. Imposing these proven public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 will mitigate the safety and security threat COVID-19 poses to transportation and contribute to the overall national effort to reduce the transmission of the disease.

Read more at DHS

OSHA Issues Updated COVID Guidance

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued stronger worker safety guidance in an effort to help employers better identify risks that could lead to transmission of the disease.  The guidelines say every employer should implement a COVID-19 prevention program. They list 15 potential instructions, including how to evaluate workplaces for hazards, isolate workers and clean and disinfect workplaces.

Like guidelines the Trump administration published last year, the new recommendations do not carry the weight of law. Worker advocacy groups have pressed the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration to implement something stronger.

NY DOL Indefinitely Cancels Unemployment Insurance Charges

Bond Schoeneck and King Report that New York State Department of Labor (DOL) Commissioner Roberta Reardon signed an Order last month to temporarily modify the unemployment benefit charging system and ease the burden for unemployment insurance charges incurred by all employers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Order provides that all unemployment benefits paid out to claimants since March 9, 2020 will be charged against New York State’s general unemployment insurance account and will not be attributed to individual employers until further notice. The Order also cancels all charges made against employers’ accounts since March 9 across the board—regardless of whether the employer pays unemployment insurance taxes based on an experience rating or uses the benefit reimbursement model.

Read more at BSK

Manufacturing Economy Report: 2020 GDP Worst Since the End of the Second World War

The U.S. economy grew 4.0% at the annual rate in the fourth quarter—a reading that was weaker than expected as consumer spending on goods was relatively flat with COVID-19 cases on the rise and renewed restrictions placed in many areas. Residential and nonresidential business spending, inventories and service-sector consumption were bright spots.

Real GDP shrank 3.5% in 2020, the largest annual decline in economic activity since 1946. The U.S. economy is expected to rebound in 2021, especially as more Americans get vaccinated and market participants resume some semblance of normalcy in their actions. The current forecast is for 4.8% growth in 2021.

Monday Economic Report 0201 2021

Semiconductor Sales Rise in 2020

Global sales of semiconductor chips rose 6.5% in 2020, as a surge in purchases towards the end of the year offset stifled demand during the first wave of covid-19. American firms made up 47% of the $439bn market, but just 12% of manufacturing capacity—many American companies now source chips from Asian factories.

Several semiconductor product segments stood out in 2020. Logic (USD 117.5 billion in 2020 sales) and memory (USD 117.3 billion) were the largest semiconductor categories by sales. Annual sales of logic products increased by 10.3% compared to 2019, while sales of memory products were up 10.2%. Sales of micro-ICs — a category that includes microprocessors — increased 4.8% to USD 69.6 billion in 2020. Sales of all non-memory products combined increased by 5.2% in 2020 and that category reached an all-time high in total sales.

Read more at Evertiq

Cohn Reznick on Loan Forgiveness for First-and Second-Draw PPP Loans: What’s New?

While many of the forgiveness rules released with the second wave of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are the same as they were for the first round, there are some key differences to be aware of when planning spending and forgiveness for your first- or second-draw loan.

In this video, CohnReznick PPP specialists Stephanie O’Rourk and Jeff Bobrosky break down what’s new and what hasn’t changed with regard to: 

  • Forgiveness forms
  • Types of forgivable costs
  • Limits on spending on payroll vs. non-payroll costs
  • The “covered period”
  • Owner compensation
  • Safe harbors from reductions in loan forgiveness

Watch, Read more at Cohn Reznick