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Daily Briefing – 265

COVID Update 

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday afternoon providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Tuesday March 16th.  

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

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,624
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 494

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,185
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 375

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.28%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.67%

Useful Websites:


Budget Negotiations Start in Albany With Cuomo Under Scandal

Both the state Senate and Assembly have approved their own fiscal plans, each proposing to raise billions of dollars in revenue through new tax increases on the wealthy, including hikes on the personal income tax for high-income earners, a surcharge on capital gains, and an increase in the estate tax.

The governor has proposed his own surcharge on the state’s top earners, but he is targeting those who make above $5 million. The legislature is looking at taxing those that make $1 million or more. This week, even amid scandal, Cuomo raised a red flag on the legislature’s tax proposals, which are much broader than his own. “How you raise revenue can actually raise revenue or it can cost you revenue,” Cuomo said.

Read more at Spectrum News


NYS Vaccine Update – Appointments Now Available at Ten New State-run Mass Vaccination Sites

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced that appointments are now available at ten new state-run mass vaccination sites across the state. All ten sites will open on Friday, March 19 and will operate from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily.  Sites in the Hudson Valley are located at:

  • SUNY Orange, Diana Physical Education Center.
  • Ulster Fairgrounds, New Paltz

As of 11 am Wednesday 4,691,257 (plus 101,227 from yesterday) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 2,440,077 are fully vaccinated (Plus 56,256).  In the Hudson Valley 450,439 (plus 10,897) have at least one dose and 225,898 (plus 3,905) are fully vaccinated. 


US Vaccine Rollout – State Distributions Evening Out

The US CDC surpassed 100 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses administered on March 9. In total, the US has distributed 135.8 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and administered 109.1 million doses nationwide.  As the US SARS-CoV-2 vaccination program continues to scale up, vaccination administration and coverage are becoming more even between states. Currently, the median state-level doses delivered is 41,289 doses per 100,000 population, and most states are within approximately 5% of that total. In terms of doses administered, the median state-level total is 34,066 doses per 100,000 population. The variation is only slightly larger for administered doses, with most states falling within 7-8% of that total.

The US once again surpassed 2 million doses administered per day*, including 829,356 individuals fully vaccinated (i.e., second dose of a 2-dose vaccine or a single dose of a 1-dose vaccine). Broken down by manufacturer, both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines surpassed 50 million cumulative doses, and the J&J-Janssen vaccine is approaching 1.5 million doses.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


IRS Postpones April 15 U.S. Tax Deadline to May 17

The IRS and Treasury Department will postpone the April 15 tax-filing deadline to May 17, the agencies announced Wednesday. In addition, taxpayers can also delay payment of any money owed the IRS until May 17. If payers still need more time to submit their returns, they can request an extension (but not taxes owed) until Oct. 15 by filing Form 4868.

The extended deadline applies only to federal income returns and taxes, meaning that taxpayers will need to check to see if due dates for state taxes have been changed. Not all states follow the same filing deadline as the federal government.

Read more at CNBC


President  Biden is Under Increasing Pressure to Share the Nation’s SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Supply

U.S. President Joe Biden is under increasing pressure to share the nation’s SARS-CoV-2 vaccine supply with other countries. On Friday, President Biden met virtually with the leaders of Japan, India, and Australia—members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, an alliance to address mutual concerns about China—and agreed to work together to increase production of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in India to bolster the Indo-Pacific region’s supply.

The summit committed to supplying at least 1 billion vaccine doses to the region by the end of 2022. Though not the focus of the agreement, the leaders hope these efforts will challenge China’s growing influence in the region and other parts of the world, as China’s ability to produce millions of vaccine doses and ship them to low- and middle-income countries has offered it advantages in terms of strengthening diplomatic and economic relations.

Read More at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


DOL Inspector General Critical of OSHA – Calls for COVID ETS

The Department of Labor (DOL) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has criticized the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for inadequate COVID-19 enforcement and advocated for the adoption of Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), which OSHA is expected to issue very soon.

The OIG notes that restrictions on onsite inspection and travel led to a dramatic decrease in inspections, which dropped from more than 26,000 in an eight-month period in 2019 to approximately 13,000 inspections in the same timeframe in 2020. OSHA received 15% more complaints but performed 50% fewer inspections in a 10-month period in 2020. The report also found that states operating OSHA state plans did better than the federal agency.

Read more at EHS Today


Jackson Lewis Provides Details on NYS Time Off for Vaccine Law

Effective immediately, New York State employers must provide employees with up to four hours of paid time off per COVID-19 vaccination. The new law sunsets on December 31, 2022.

The new law provides that:

  • All New York employees must receive a paid leave of absence for “a sufficient period of time” not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection. In other words, employees may be entitled to up to eight hours of paid time off if receiving a two-injection COVID-19 vaccine;
  • This leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay; and
  • Employers cannot require employees to use other available leave (such as sick leave or vacation time) before providing this leave.

The new law applies to both public and private employers, with potential carveouts for employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement.

Read more from Council Associate Member Jackson Lewis


Fed Holds Steady on Interest Rates, Bond Purchases

The Federal Reserve kept its easy-money policies in place and vowed to maintain them until the U.S. economy recovers further from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, while also highlighting the brightening outlook for growth. They plan to continue buying at least $120 billion per month of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities until “substantial further progress” is made toward those objectives. 

The officials also expect stronger economic growth, higher inflation and lower unemployment this year than they did in December. Their median projection showed the U.S. gross domestic product rising 6.5% in 2021, up from their December expectation of 4.2%. They expect unemployment to fall to 4.5% by year’s end, from 6.2% in February.

Read more at the WSJ


Chip Shortage Continues to Negatively Impact Automakers

The global shortage of semiconductors is starting to have serious effects for automakers, with Honda Motor Co. saying it will suspend production at some U.S. plants while Toyota Motor Corp. has already scaled back production due to the lack of chips. Industry leaders told a Senate committee yesterday that more incentives are needed for domestic production to reduce the reliance on foreign supplies of semiconductors. Samsung Electronics Co. warned that the supply crunch may delay the launch of its latest phone while Volkswagen AG said it has lost production of 100,000 cars worldwide. There is little good news on the immediate horizon, with Renesas Electronics Corp.’s top executive warning the shortage may last into the second half of this year. 

Read more at WLNS (Michigan) 


Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins Predicts Recreational Marijuana Legalization This Spring

Senator Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D, Yonkers) said it is not a matter of if, but when. The governor would like it passed as part of the state budget, which would translate into millions in new revenue for the state. The budget deadline is April 1.

“We’re trying to figure a way forward so that there will be a way of some understanding of vehicle safety. I am pretty sure that we will be able to work through and that the Assembly will as well. I am optimistic that it will be resolved sooner than later,” she said.

Read more at Mid Hudson News


In Senate Testimony Timmons Defends Tax Reform, Advocates Investment Incentives

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons testified before the Senate Committee on Finance yesterday to push forward a post-partisan consensus on a number of key manufacturing priorities.  Timmons asked a series of questions about whether America would meet its moment—including by ensuring competitive tax rates, investing in infrastructure, developing trade agreements that protect American workers and enacting comprehensive immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“If the answer to those questions is ‘yes,’ if we tackle these fundamental issues, then I’m certain that this Next World that we are building in the aftermath of the pandemic will be built by American workers in American factories, restoring American leadership in the world.”

Read the testimony 


Coming ‘Vaccine Passports’ Aim for Simplicity

The first digital “vaccine passports” for post-pandemic travel have been designed as easy-to-use applications that will one day merge into other travel platforms, like airline apps, their developers say.  Though popularly known as vaccine passports, the apps also include information like Covid-19 test status, and are in trial runs in several places around the world.

Health pass apps aim to guide users through the data-entry process step-by-step and keep the amount of information they need to enter to a bare minimum, partly by investing in functions like passport-chip scanning.

Read more in the WSJ


 

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