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Daily Briefing – 252

Post: Feb. 28, 2021

COVID Update – Positivity Continues To Decline

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Saturday February 27th.   

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


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,259
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 538

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,210
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 411

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .80
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.14%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.16

Useful Websites:

NYS Vaccine Update – State Will Partner with Local Health Departments

Governor Cuomo announced Friday that the State will partner with local health departments to include vaccination sites for the 65+ population across New York State. Local health departments can, where needed, will provide assistance to New Yorkers with transportation to and from the vaccination facilities and special support for paperwork regarding their vaccination.  Counties across New York State will be getting an increased supply of Moderna vaccine for this purpose starting this week.

As of 11 am Sunday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 3,206,430 first doses and administered 89 percent or 2,864,541 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 85 percent of first and second doses (4,463,679) of the 5,229,950 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 507,145 first and second doses have been distributed, 504,477 administered (80 percent). 

US Vaccination Rollout – 72.8 Million Doses Have Been Administered

The biggest vaccination campaign in history is underway. More than 236 million doses have been administered across 103 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg. The latest rate was roughly 6.67 million doses a day.

In the U.S., more Americans have now received at least one dose than have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. So far, 72.8 million doses have been given. In the last week, an average of 1.65 million doses per day were administered. Across the U.S., 21.9 doses have been administered for every 100 people, and 76% of the shots delivered to states have been administered.

Visit the interactive Bloomberg vaccine rollout site

The House Passed A $1.9 trillion Stimulus Bill – Here is What’s Next

The House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., voted largely along party lines early Saturday to advance the massive relief plan, which includes extensions to programs designed to assist millions of unemployed Americans and provides financial support for state and local governments. Democrats are rushing to send the bill to Biden’s desk by March 14, when jobless benefits are set to expire.

With the bill bound for a Senate split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, lawmakers will next week begin offering amendments to the House’s plan and will likely pass a different version of the bill they received. Should that happen, the House will then have to pass the Senate’s version or the two chambers will have to meet to draft a final, agreeable draft in a conference committee.

Read more at CNBC

Senate Parliamentarian Rules Minimum Wage Boost Cannot Be Passed Through Reconciliation

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has told senators that the federal minimum wage increase President Joe Biden and Democrats have been seeking would violate the chamber’s rules for inclusion in a filibuster-proof pandemic relief reconciliation bill.  While the provision would affect the federal budget significantly, MacDonough deemed the impact “merely incidental” to the underlying policy intent of the wage boost, therefore violating the Senate’s “Byrd rule.”

Some Democrats want to fire the Senate parliamentarian and/or end the filibuster that requires a minimum of 60 of the 100 Senators to move a bill forward for a vote.

Read more at Roll Call

Boost to Household Income Primes U.S. Economy for Growth

Household income—the amount Americans received from wages, investments and government programs—rose 10% in January from the previous month, the Commerce Department said Friday. The increase was the second largest on record, eclipsed only by last April’s gain, when the federal government sent an initial round of pandemic-relief payments. Household income has risen 13% since February 2020, the month before the pandemic shut down large segments of the economy.

January’s increase in household income was almost entirely due to federal pandemic-relief aid included in a $900 billion stimulus program signed into law in late December. That package included one-time cash payments of $600 and a special weekly unemployment benefit of $300 that the government started sending to households.

Read more at the WSJ

FDA Approves J&J Single-Dose Covid-19 Vaccine 

As expected on Saturday, acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock granted an emergency use authorization for a vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company.  The J&J vaccine joins two others, one from Pfizer-BioNTech and the other from Moderna, which have been given to nearly 50 million Americans since they were authorized in December.

About 4 million doses of the new vaccine should be made available this week, 20 million total during March, and another 80 million by the end of June. Because the vaccine requires only one dose, it will help protect 100 million people and take effect more rapidly than the two-dose vaccines.

Read more at USA Today

Why the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Could be a ‘Game-Changer’

Experts say the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine could streamline a national COVID-19 vaccination administration campaign that has been criticized as scattered and lethargic. Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna versions must be given in two doses several weeks apart. The absence of stringent temperature requirements for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine also means increased access across health systems and communities. 

Another potential advantage of Johnson & Johnson’s candidate is that it’s made from a vaccine platform with a track record: the viral-vector approach, which the company used in its Ebola virus vaccine approved by the European Commission in July. By contrast, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are based on messenger RNA technology that was first authorized for use in humans in December. Viral-vector technology uses an adenovirus, which causes the common cold. The strain of adenovirus used in the vaccine platform is engineered not to replicate, so that it doesn’t make the recipient sick.

Read more at Nat Geo

“Long Haulers” – When Does COVID-19 Become A Disability?

“Long-haulers are people who survive COVID-19 but have symptoms — sometimes debilitating symptoms — many months later. As scientists scramble to explain what is going on and figure out how to help, disability advocates are also scrambling: They are trying to figure out whether long-haulers will qualify for disability benefits.  Disability advocates and lawmakers are calling on the Social Security Administration (SSA) to study the issue, update their policies and offer guidance for applicants.

“If we end up with a million people with ongoing symptoms that are debilitating, that is a tremendous burden for each of those individuals, but also for our health care system and our society,” says Dr. Steven Martin, a physician and professor of family medicine and community health at UMass Medical School.

Read more at NPR

Understanding SARS- CoV02 Variants

Sars-cov-2, which causes covid-19, replicates while infecting its host. As it does, the virus’s genetic information—a sequence of 30,000 rna letters—is sometimes corrupted. These mutations can make sars-cov-2 more dangerous in several ways. They can increase transmissibility, evade detection by tests, avoid immune responses (including from vaccines) and cause more severe illness.

This makes tracking the evolution of sars-cov-2 crucial. Of the 110m covid-19 cases found worldwide, scientists have sequenced and published the genomes of 600,000. By comparing these sequences and other viral characteristics, evolutionary biologists create phylogenetic trees—a set of hypothetical relationships between sequences which show how the virus has evolved over time.

Read the article and see the graphics at The Economist