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Daily Briefing – 244

Post: Feb. 16, 2021

COVID Update – Positivity Rate Continues to Decline

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Monday February 15th.  As part of that update, the Governor announced that New York State’s 7-day average COVID-19 positivity rate dropped to 3.71 percent, the lowest since November 28.

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


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 6,620
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 697

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,216
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 408

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .88
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.71%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.47

Useful Websites:

NYS Vaccine Update – 1 Million New Yorkers Fully Vaccinated With Second Dose

As of 11AM Monday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,192,675 first doses and already administered 91  percent or 1,992,575 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered  and 85 percent of first and second doses (2,862,984) of the 3,371,025 received. 

In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 316,155 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 250,716 have been administered (80%).

US Vaccination Rollout – Biden Says US Will Surpass Goal of 100 Million Shots in 100 Days

President Joe Biden expressed optimism Tuesday that the U.S. vaccine rollout will surpass forecasts, although a massive winter storm was stalling efforts to deliver shots this week. “Before I took office, I set a big goal of administering 100 million shots in the first 100 days,” Biden tweeted Tuesday. “With the progress we’re making I believe we’ll not only reach that, we’ll break it.”

Biden’s goal had been considered conservative by experts. Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week that it would be “open season” for all Americans who want the vaccine by April. 

Read more at USA Today

Rapid Covid-19 Tests Are Going Unused

The U.S. government distributed millions of fast-acting tests for diagnosing coronavirus infections at the end of last year to help tamp down outbreaks in nursing homes and prisons and allow schools to reopen. But some states haven’t used many of the tests, due to logistical hurdles and accuracy concerns, squandering a valuable tool for managing the pandemic. The first batches, shipped to states in September, are approaching their six-month expiration dates.

At least 32 million of the 142 million BinaxNOW rapid Covid-19 tests distributed by the U.S. government to states starting last year weren’t used as of early February, according to a Wall Street Journal review of their inventories.

Read more at the WSJ

NIH Experts Discuss SARS-CoV-2 Viral Variants

The rise of several significant variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has attracted the attention of health and science experts worldwide. In an editorial published last week in JAMA, experts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, outline how these variants have arisen, concerns about whether vaccines currently authorized for use will continue to protect against new variants, and the need for a global approach to fighting SARS-CoV-2 as it spreads and acquires additional mutations.

The article was written by NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.; John R. Mascola, M.D., director of NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC); and Barney S. Graham, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of NIAID’s VRC. 

Read the NIH press release

World Likely to Pay More for Meat as Food Inflation Deepens

There are signs that the food inflation that’s gripped the world over the past year, raising prices of everything from shredded cheese to peanut butter, is about to get worse. The COVID-19 pandemic upended food supply chains, paralyzing shipping, sickening workers that keep the world fed and ultimately raising consumer grocery costs around the globe last year. Now farmers — especially ones raising cattle, hogs and poultry — are getting squeezed by the highest corn and soybean prices in seven years. It’s lifted the costs of feeding their herds by 30% or more.

To stay profitable, producers including Tyson Foods, Inc. are increasing prices, which will ripple through supply chains and show up in the coming months as higher price tags for beef, pork and chicken around the world.

Read more at Business World

Senate Bill Introduced to Address Shortages in PPE, Testing Supplies

US Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) introduced legislation to address shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies. The Protecting Providers Everywhere (PPE) in America Act would boost domestic PPE and testing supply production. It would also promote a more sustainable supply chain by ensuring dedicated funding from the Strategic National Stockpile to American manufacturers of applicable medical supplies.

Read more at Homeland Preparedness News

GAO Report: Operation Warp Speed Accelerated COVID-19 Vaccine Development

The General Accounting Office (GAO) analyzed the the Operation Warp Speed program’s vaccine candidates and found that their development followed traditional practices, with some adaptations. For example, some clinical trial phases overlapped with each other and with animal studies to accelerate development.

Two vaccines were authorized for emergency use— the GAO  tracker shows all the candidates. GAO also found that agencies are working to help mitigate vaccine manufacturing challenges. 

Read the press release (Includes a link a GAO Podcast on Vaccine Manufacturing Challenges)

Empire State Manufacturing Survey: Growth Accelerates, Prices Increase, Employment Steady

Manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace in months in New York State in February according to the New York Fed’s monthly survey. The general business conditions index rose nine points to 12.1, its highest level since July of last year. Thirty-two percent of respondents reported that conditions had improved over the month, while 20 percent reported that conditions had worsened. The new orders index rose four points to 10.8, indicating that orders increased, and the shipments index fell to 4.0, pointing to a small increase in shipments. Delivery times rose at the fastest pace in a year, and inventories were higher.

The same survey indicates that employment at manufacturers in the region grew slightly and that both prices paid and prices received increased at the fastest pace in a decade. 

Read more at the NY Fed

Bottom Story: IRS Says There Are No Plans to Extend Tax-Filing Deadline Beyond April 15

Last year, in the midst of Covid-related shutdowns, the agency ended up pushing the deadline for 2019 returns to July 15, giving individuals and businesses an extra 90 days to file and pay any amount owed. The IRS also had delayed the 2020 due dates for first- and second-quarter estimated payments.

Read more at CNBC