Daily Briefing – 234

COVID and “Winter Cluster Plan” Update

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing  yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday, January 17th. Governor Cuomo expressed concern that a true “second wave” will occur now that the U.K. strain is present in the community. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has said it is possible the U.K. strain will be the dominant variant in the community by March. There are additional strains being discovered across the globe, including the South Africa and Brazil variants. 

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

Hospitalizations Statewide

  • Patients Currently in Hospital in State   =  8868
  • 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   =  1001
  • COVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region Population =  .004%
  • Percent of Hospital Beds Available in Region  = 40%

ICU Beds Statewide

  • Total ICU Beds   =  5,831
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  4245
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 27%

ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 

  • Total ICU Beds   =  683
  • Occupied ICU Beds =  427
  • Percent of ICU Beds Available  = 37%

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0): 1.02
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 6.54%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 7.25%

Useful Websites:

Vaccine Update: Over 1 million Total Doses Have Been Administered

As of Sunday afternoon the state had administered 903,131 first doses and 103,747 second doses.  At the Briefing today Governor Cuomo raised concern about vaccine administration performance disparities between different regions and healthcare providers in the State. Moving forward, authorized providers with higher vaccine administration rates will receive additional vaccine allocations, while lower performing providers will not receive additional doses from the State.

All the nursing home facilities enrolled in the Federal Long Term Care Facility (LTCF) program in New York have had first doses of the vaccine administered to eligible residents and staff. The State reserved 225,225 doses for the LTCF program but has only used roughly 105,000 doses. The State will continue to reserve enough doses for all unvaccinated residents and staff who would like to receive the vaccine, and the remaining doses will be reallocated to the New York State vaccination program.  The State has opened five mass vaccination sites and plans to open eight additional sites this week. New York is taking special efforts to ensure social equity in vaccine distribution and build trust in the vaccine within all racial and ethnic groups. 

West Virginia Governor Says State is “Diamond in the Rough” for Successful Vaccine Distribution

Unlike other states, West Virginia declined to participate in a federal program through which CVS and Walgreens administered vaccines to residents and staff of long-term care facilities and instead leaned on local pharmacies to deliver the shots. It then became the first state in the nation to finish offering the vaccines to all nursing home facilities, doing so before the end of 2020.

Justice said he decided to reject the federal partnership program because “there are so many people that depend on their local health departments, their local pharmacies. If what we’re going to do is create a bureaucracy with federal government guidelines and everything, when we know this is about age, age and age, we’ve got to get shots in people’s arms, and every day we put a shot in somebody’s arm we’re saving a life,” he said.

Read more at CBS News Face the Nation

China Reports it’s Economy Grew 2.3% in 2020

China reported Monday that its economy grew 2.3% last year as the world struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Gross domestic product rose by 6.5% in the fourth quarter from a year ago, official data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed. Those numbers beat analysts’ expectations.

Economists expected China to have been the only major economy to grow last year, and predicted GDP in 2020 expanded by just over 2%. Those polled by Reuters expected the economy to grow 6.1% in the fourth quarter, faster than the 4.9% pace of the prior quarter. In late December, the National Bureau of Statistics lowered China’s official growth rate for 2019 to 6.0%, versus the previously reported 6.1%. The cut primarily occurred in manufacturing, as factories dealt with new U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.

Read more at CNBC

New York Joins ESG Battle Against Tyson After Virus Outbreak

New York state has joined investors managing trillions of dollars in pressuring Tyson Foods Inc. to improve its practices after slaughterhouses became coronavirus hot spots last year. The state’s pension fund wants America’s top meat producer to end a dual-class share structure that has effectively insulated the company from having to answer its shareholders over the coronavirus crisis, according to a proposal filed by New York State Common Retirement Fund that will be discussed next month at Tyson’s annual general meeting..

U.S. meat packers have been under pressure after thousands of workers caught the virus at processing plants last spring, with investors managing $2 trillion having written to the likes of Tyson and rival JBS SA demanding action to protect workers. Shareholders focused on environmental, social and governance issues argue that Tyson has been able to overlook their demands as family owners control the majority of voting rights.

Read more at Bloomberg

Manufacturing Economic Report: Output Expected to Reach Pre-Pandemic Levels By the End of 2021

Manufacturing production increased 0.9% in December, rising for the eighth straight month. Despite gains since the spring, manufacturing production remained 2.6% below the pre-pandemic pace in February. Overall, manufacturing production fell 6.5% on average in 2020, but output should rise by the same percentage in 2021. Even as capacity remained 2.3% below what was seen in February, manufacturing capacity utilization increased from 72.7% in November to 73.4% in December, the highest rate since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Monday Economic Report 0118 2021

Middle Market Companies Forecast Revenue Increase in 2021

Middle market companies anticipate the new year will bring recovery and new opportunities, according to the 2021 BDO Middle Market CFO Outlook Survey. According to the survey which consisted of interviewing 600 middle-market CFOs in the U.S. during September 2020, a majority forecast economic recovery (60%) and revenue increases (56%) in 2021. 

Manufacturers stepped up in 2020 to protect jobs, produce goods vital to the economy and help fight COVID-19. They are not yet out of the woods, however, as the road ahead will bring continued financial and operational challenges. In 2021, manufacturers must balance risk mitigation and other immediate needs with longer-term priorities such as investing in Industry 4.0, boosting supply chain resiliency and adapting to changing customer expectations.

Read more at Material Handling and Logistics

Biden Pushing to Cancel Keystone XL pipeline, Re-Join Paris Climate Agreement As Soon As He Takes Office

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) first reported the news on Sunday after it obtained an apparent briefing note from Biden’s transition team. On the list of executive actions meant for Biden’s first day in office “Rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit” reportedly shows up.
As the outlet notes, Biden indicated months ago that he planned on canceling the pipeline, though supporters of the project had been hoping he would change his mind. The project crosses over the U.S.-Canada border and has the support of the Canadian government.

Read more at The Hill

Covid Face Masks Are Disrupting a Key Tool of Human Communications, New Research Show

In laboratory experiments published last fall in Frontiers in Psychology, psychologist Claus-Christian Carbon at Germany’s University of Bamberg found that people readily confused expressions when the lower part of the face was blocked by a surgical mask. Happiness and sadness seemed like neutral poker faces. Signs of anger were especially hard to perceive. Wide-eyed fear, though, came through clearly.

“It hampers everyday life,” Dr. Carbon said. “It’s not just that you can’t read the face anymore. You misread it and misinterpret emotions. You also feel yourself a little bit misunderstood.”

Read more at the WSJ

Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal to Boost Partial Unemployment Benefits

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a proposal to boost partial Unemployment Insurance benefits to New Yorkers who return to work part-time. The plan will ensure unemployed New Yorkers who accept part-time work are not penalized by basing their partial unemployment benefits on the hours they actually work, rather than the number of days they work in a given week. This change will inject more money into New York’s economy while helping businesses fill part-time positions.

Legislation to be submitted with the Executive Budget will permanently enact a Partial UI program to incentivize unemployed New Yorkers to assume a part-time job as they search for full-time work, with a revised calculation made possible by technological improvements currently underway.  Since March 2020, New York State has Distributed Over $62 Billion in Unemployment Benefits to 4 Million New Yorkers – More Than 29 Typical Years’ Worth.

Read the press release