Daily Briefing – 247

COVID Update – First Case of South African Variant Identified

Governor Cuomo held a press briefing yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday February 20th. The Governor said the first case of the South African variant has been identified in a resident of New York State. The individual is a Nassau County resident. Previously a Connecticut resident, hospitalized in New York, was the first to have the South African Variant. 

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


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,764
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 606

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,218
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 394

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .82
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.44%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.18

Useful Websites:

NYS Vaccine Update – 6 FEMA Vaccination Centers To Open

As of 11AM Saturday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 2,406,535 first doses and already administered 92 percent or 2,206,988 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 89 percent of first and second doses (3,333,116) of the 3,743,810 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 352,475 FIRST and SECOND doses have been distributed, 284,830 administered (81 percent).

Six community-based vaccination sites are being established through a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The sites in Brooklyn and Queens will begin vaccinations on Wednesday, February 24th. The Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Yonkers sites are slated to begin vaccinations on March 3. For the first week of scheduling, appointments at these six sites statewide are reserved specifically for New Yorkers currently eligible for vaccination living in areas with low vaccination rates in counties and boroughs. After one week, appointments at each site will then be made available to all residents of the site’s host county, borough or specified target region. New Yorkers can begin scheduling appointments for the Brooklyn and Queens sites at 8 a.m. on Saturday, February 20 by utilizing New York’s ‘Am I Eligible’ website or by calling the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829). Appointment scheduling will then open for the Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers and Albany sites at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, February 24. 

The State Vaccine Tracker site now includes county by county distribution and administration data. 

US Vaccination Rollout – States Find “Hidden Doses” 

When the coronavirus vaccine began rolling off production lines late last year, federal health officials set aside a big stash for nursing homes being ravaged by the virus. Health providers around the country figured as well that it was prudent to squirrel away vials to ensure that everyone who got a first dose of vaccine got a second one. Two months later, it is clear both strategies went overboard as millions of doses wound up trapped in logistical limbo, either set aside for nursing homes that did not need them or stockpiled while Americans clamored in vain for their first doses. Now a national effort is underway to pry those doses loose — and, with luck, give a significant boost to the national vaccination ramp-up.

Read more at The New York Times

Study: Pfizer Vaccine Is Highly Effective After One Dose, Can Be Stored in Normal Freezers

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE generates robust immunity after one dose and can be stored in ordinary freezers instead of at ultracold temperatures, according to new research and data released by the companies.  The findings provide strong arguments in favor of delaying the second dose of the two-shot vaccine, as the U.K. has done. They could also have substantial implications on vaccine policy and distribution around the world, simplifying the logistics of distributing the vaccine.

A single shot of the vaccine is 85% effective in preventing symptomatic disease 15 to 28 days after being administered, according to a peer-reviewed study conducted by the Israeli government-owned Sheba Medical Center and published in the Lancet medical journal. Pfizer and BioNTech recommend that a second dose is administered 21 days after the first.

Read more in the WSJ

U.S. begins to See Effect of Vaccines on New Cases and Deaths

New cases of the disease have declined for the fifth straight week, and deaths related to COVID-19 have fallen by nearly 21 percent. Meanwhile, each region of the country has also recorded “substantial declines” in hospitalizations.

Some of this good news can be attributed to the nationwide vaccine rollout, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Based on their data, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have recorded fewer COVID-19 deaths—and now account for a smaller percentage of U.S. deaths overall—which seems to correlate with vaccinations among this vulnerable group.

See the data at Nat Geo

Survey: Only 6% of US Employers Plan to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination

Employers will balance a wide range of concerns and viewpoints as they decide whether to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or encourage vaccination through education, incentivization or a combination of these approaches.  A recent survey by management-side firm Littler Mendelson found only 6% of respondents planned to require that all employees get vaccinated once shots are readily available and/or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants full approval.

Despite the public health significance of vaccination, employers have a few reasons to be cautious about issuing mandates. One of these reasons — a mandate’s impact on employee morale and company culture — is reflected in Littler’s survey results. These concerns may not be unfounded; in a recent survey of workers by people analytics firm Perceptyx, 53% of respondents said employers should not require vaccination, and 43% said they would consider leaving their jobs if they were required to be vaccinated.

Read more at HR Dive

DiNapoli: State Tax Revenues $2 Billion Lower Than Last Fiscal Year

State tax receipts cumulatively through January of State Fiscal Year 2020-21 are nearly $2 billion lower than last year, according to the monthly State Cash Report released by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Overall, tax receipts are $1.7 billion higher than anticipated by the state Division of the Budget’s (DOB) January projections. Tax receipts for the month of January totaled $11.4 billion. This is $550.5 million above last year and $1.7 billion above DOB’s latest projections.

“State tax receipts continue to come in stronger than expected, but year-to-date collections are still far below last year,” DiNapoli said. “It is important that President Biden’s relief package is passed to prevent cuts to vital services in New York.”

Read more at the Comptroller’s website

Clorox CEO: New Cleaning Behaviors Are New Normal

Clorox is resuming production of Pine-Sol and other cleaning sprays, while retail availability of its disinfecting wipes is improving thanks to a continued increase in production, said CEO Linda Rendle. “We are seeing signs that the consumer has permanently changed their behavior in a number of categories, cleaning being one of them,” said Rendle.

Read more at Yahoo Finance

IHS Predicts 1M Vehicle Shortfall Due to Auto Chip Shortage

A shortage of auto semiconductor chips could impact nearly 1 million units of global light vehicle production in the first quarter, data firm IHS Markit said on Tuesday, significantly upping a prior forecast.

The firm on Feb. 3 estimated the issue would impact 672,000 vehicles through March 30. IHS Markit said it still expects the majority of volume can be recovered in the remainder of 2021.

Read more at Reuters

Producer Prices See Huge Gain

The producer price index for final demand jumped 1.3% last month, the biggest gain since December 2009 when the government revamped the series, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. That followed a 0.3% rise in December. In the 12 months through January, the PPI accelerated 1.7% after rising 0.8% in December. The index shows increases across a range of industries, including:

  • 5.1% increase in wholesale energy prices;
  • 0.2% increase in food prices;
  • .8% rise in core goods prices;
  • 1.4% increase in prices for final demand services less trade, transportation and warehousing;
  • 1.2% increase in health care costs; and
  • 9.4% rise in portfolio fees.

Read more at CNBC

U.S. Industrial Production Rises

U.S. industrial production rose 0.9% in January, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday, for the fourth straight monthly gain. The gain was above Wall Street expectations of a 0.5% gain, according to a survey by the Wall Street Journal. Production rose a revised 1.3% in December, down slightly from the prior estimate of a 1.6% gain.

Output of motor vehicles fell 0.7% in January after a 0.2% decline in the prior month. Output was held down by the global shortage of semiconductors, the Fed said. (See Related Story Above) Mining production, which includes oil and gas, jumped 2.3% after a 0.7% gain in the prior month.

Read more at MarketWatch

The Pandemic Made the World Realize the Importance of Human Contact

The pandemic has been an exercise in subtraction. There are the voids left by loved ones who have succumbed to covid-19, the gaps where jobs and school used to be, and the absence of friends and family. And then there are the smaller things that are missing. To stop the spread of covid-19 people have forsaken the handshakes, pats, squeezes and strokes that warm daily interactions. The loss of any one hardly seems worthy of note.

And yet touch is as necessary to human survival as food and water, says Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the Miller School of Medicine, part of the University of Miami. It is the first sense to develop and the only one necessary for survival. We can live with the loss of sight or hearing. But without touch, which enables us to detect such stimuli as pressure, temperature and texture, we would be unable to walk or feel pain. Our skin is the vehicle through which we navigate the world.

Read more in the Economist