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Daily Briefing – 255

Post: Mar. 3, 2021

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo held a press conference yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday March 2nd.  The governor also made several announcements:

  • Venues Will Be Able to Host Up to 100 People Indoors and Up to 200 People Outdoors; With Testing, Up to 150 People Indoors and Up to 500 People Outdoors; Social Distancing and Face Coverings Required
  • Domestic Travelers Are No Longer Required to Quarantine or Test-Out Within 90 Days of Full Vaccination; International Travelers Must Continue to Follow CDC Guidance
  • Beginning March 22, Outdoor Residential Gatherings Expanded to 25 People; 
  • Non-Residential Social Gatherings Expanded to 100 People Indoors and 200 People Outdoors

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


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,323
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 556

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,257
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 416

Other Data

  • Statewide Transmission Rate (R0):  .80
  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.18%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.14

Useful Websites:

Republican Leaders Say Democrats’ Repeal of Cuomo’s Emergency Powers “Bogus”

Yesterday, New York State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt and Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay blasted the proposal advanced by the majorities in the State Legislature to, “supposedly revoke” Gov. Cuomo’s emergency powers. Barclay said, “Now that we’ve seen the details of what Democrats proposed, we can more fully appreciate it for the failure it is.  A year ago today, the governor signed the bill that expanded his authorities. In the past 12 months, we’ve seen lockdowns, business closures, jobs lost, schools in chaos, a nursing home coverup, and now criminal investigations and sexual harassment allegations. Somehow, Democrats still can’t seem to bring themselves to govern independently of Andrew Cuomo.”

Instead of immediately revoking the governor’s emergency powers the GOP said this bill “has been given the governor’s stamp of approval,” and removes the current expiration date of the governor’s emergency powers, currently set to expire on April 30, 2021 and left it open until the Federal government says the pandemic has ended.

Read More at The Niagara Frontier

NYS Vaccine Update – 24/7 J&J Sites Begin Vaccinations Tonight, More FEMA Sites to Open

Governor Cuomo Tuesday announced New York State is launching a  program to begin administering the Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine to eligible New Yorkers during the overnight hours at the Yankee Stadium, Javits Center and New York State Fair Mass Vaccination Sites.  As part of this effort, thousands of new appointments will be made available at each of the three sites in the coming days. Counties, pharmacies, and Federally Qualified Health Centers will also be receiving Johnson & Johnson allocations this week. 

As of 11 am Wednesday, New York’s health care distribution sites have received 3,290,980 first doses and administered 90 percent or 3,125,025 first dose vaccinations. In total the state has administered and 90 percent of first and second doses (4,819,412) of the 5,372,605 received. In the Mid-Hudson Region a cumulative total of 520,305 first and second doses have been distributed, 433,776 administered (83 percent). 

US Vaccination Rollout – When Might a Majority of People Be Vaccinated?

Experts have estimated that 70 to 90 percent of the population needs to acquire resistance to the coronavirus to reach herd immunity. A number of factors will determine how quickly this threshold is met, especially the pace at which newly vaccinated people join those who are immune after past infections. But the presence of more transmissible virus variants could complicate that progress. The projection below from the NY Times only shows the share of the total population with at least one shot based on the current rate of vaccination, but it provides a rough indication of when the virus’s spread could begin to stall.

The US CDC reported Tuesday about 51.8 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 26.2 million people who have been fully vaccinated. 

Read more at the NY Times 

Vaccines Promised for All U.S. Adults by May 31st

The U.S. will have enough Covid-19 shots by the end of May to vaccinate all adults, Biden announced at a press conference yesterday. The authorization of the Johnson & Johnson shot plus a new deal to expand production mean supplies should be plentiful in the coming months. The president warned that the battle to defeat the virus is far from over,  The daily count of cases in the U.S. dropped below 50,000 for the first time since October.

Mr. Biden also called on states to give priority to teachers, school staff and child-care workers for vaccinations, as virtual learning continues for many students across the country. Several teachers unions have made vaccinations part of their negotiations for returning to in-person teaching. Mr. Biden said 30 states are giving priority to such workers for the shot.

Read more at the WSJ

SHRM Survey: 28% of Workers Don’t Want COVID-19 Vaccine

An alarmingly high number of employees assert that they have no intention of taking the vaccine, according to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). According to the survey of human resources professionals and employees in the United States, 60% of workers will probably or definitely get the vaccine once it becomes available to them, while approximately 28% say they would still choose not to get the vaccine, even if it meant losing their jobs.

The report also provides the HR professional and employee perspectives on the vaccine, employer and government incentives to get the vaccine, and how the pandemic has impacted remote work. Findings also highlight contrasting views on considerations that will factor into any return-to-work plan.

Read more at EHS Today

Biden Agrees Limit Number of People Who Will Get Checks in Covid Relief Plan

President Biden has backed a plan to cut the income caps for Americans to receive a direct payment as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package set to pass in the coming days, a Democratic source said Wednesday.  The phase-out levels for the $1,400 stimulus checks are:

  • $75,000 in income for single filers; the cap for receiving some payment is now $80,000
  • $112,500 for heads of households; the cap is now $120,000
  • $150,000 for joint filers; now capped at $160,000

The structure would slash the direct payment income caps approved by the House. Under the

Read more at CNBC

The Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefits Plans Continues

On Friday, February 26, 2021, the DOL released EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 (the “clarifying notice”).The notice provides guidance on the duration of the COVID-19 relief that was originally provided in the Notice of Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants and Beneficiaries (“the notice of extension”). Specifically, the DOL clarified that the extension of timeframes will continue until the earlier of a) one year from the date an individual or plan is first eligible for relief or b) 60 days after the announced end of the national emergency (the end of the “outbreak period”).

Many employers must continue to honor the extended timeframes for individuals who become eligible to make certain elections in 2020 or 2021. Only individuals who became eligible to make these elections at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic will have exhausted their timeframes under this relief. So employers will need to work with their vendors and plan administrators to ensure that timelines are being administered in accordance with the new understanding of the DOL’s guidance.

Read more at Associate Member Rose & Kiernan (an NFP Company)

Report: U.S. Infrastructure Gets ‘C-,’ $2.59 Trillion Over 10 Years Needed To Fix It

The United States faces a $2.59 trillion shortfall in infrastructure needs that requires a massive jump in government spending to address crumbling roads, bridges and other programs, according to an assessment by an engineers group issued on Wednesday.  

The report, published once every four years, gave the United States a “C-” overall — up from a D+ in 2017 — and marked the first time in two decades the country received a “C” range grade — but found the country is spending just over half of what is required, labeling overall U.S. infrastructure in “mediocre condition.”

Read more at Reuters

HOW Study: The Impact of Remote Work

Dov Seidman of the HOW Institute of Leadership surveyed 1000 U.S.-based professionals who moved to remote work during the pandemic. The study focused on their feelings of connection. “Humans are social animals,” Seidman says. “For human organizations to thrive, connections between and among individuals need to be meaningful and rooted in common purpose.” Among his findings:

  • Many workers reported their connection to their direct supervisors and to their organizations actually rose during the pandemic, a finding reinforced by studies like the Edelman trust survey which found trust in “my employer” went up. 
  • A significant plurality of respondents (44%) felt their connection to coworkers had gone down.
  • Feelings of disconnectedness were significantly higher among women and people under the age of 30.

Read more at the HOW Institute

WHO Official: Pandemic Unlikely to End in 2021

Global coronavirus case numbers increased last week after six consecutive weeks of decline as infections climbed in the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia and the eastern Mediterranean, the World Health Organization reports. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that countries should not rely solely on vaccinations to control the spread of the virus, while WHO Executive Director of emergency services Dr. Mike Ryan says it would be “premature” and “unrealistic” to think the pandemic will end in 2021.

Read more at The Guardian (free registration)