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Daily Briefing – 277

Post: Apr. 5, 2021

Budget Talks: Cuomo, Legislature Hash out Wealth Tax Hikes, Big Issues Still Remain

Legislators were briefed Saturday on the deal, which raises personal income taxes for those with more than a million dollars in annual income to 9.65 percent, a hike of 0.83 percentage points, the Journal reported and Buffalo News reported. The deal would also create two new tax brackets for those making more than $5 million and more than $25 million. Income from $5 million to $25 million would be taxed at 10.3 percent, and above $25 million would be taxed at 10.9 percent. These rate changes are expected to raise more than $4 billion in annual revenue for the state.

Discussions over a $2 billion fund for “excluded workers” continue and are mucking up negotiations according to sources.

Read more at the Times Union

NYS Vaccine Update – New Yorkers 16 and Older Eligible Today

New Yorkers 16 years of age and older can begin to schedule appointments and get vaccinated beginning today. The Governor announced a “Roll Up Your Sleeve” ad campaign to encourage New Yorkers to get vaccinated. The ads will be shown on television and online statewide beginning April 7. The ads were directed by Contagion screenplay writer Scott Burns, and shot at New York City’s Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

As of 11 am Monday 6,647,220 (plus 63,556 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 4,133,847 are fully vaccinated (Plus 62,048).  In the Hudson Valley 679,788 (plus 7,174) have at least one dose and 383,255 (plus 5,650) are fully vaccinated. 

COVID Update – 11 PM Curfew Lifted for Casinos, Movie Theaters, Bowling Alleys, Billiard Halls, Gyms and Fitness Centers

Governor Cuomo issued a press release yesterday morning providing an overview of New York’s COVID-19 tracking data from Sunday April 4th. The governor also announced that beginning yesterday (Monday) the 11 p.m. curfew currently in place for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiards halls, gyms and fitness centers will be lifted. The 11 p.m. curfew for food and beverage establishments and the 12 a.m. curfew for catered events remains in effect. Both curfews will be evaluated later this month.

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


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 4,434
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 512

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,010
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 370

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.57%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 4.63%

Useful Websites:

US Vaccine Rollout – 4 Million Doses Saturday

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the U.S. administered 4,081,959 vaccine doses since Friday, bringing the seven-day average of vaccinations to 3,072,527 per day.  

In total, over 161.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. thus far, according to the agency’s vaccine tracker. Over 104 million people have received at least one dose, and nearly 60 million have been fully vaccinated.

Read more at The Hill

J&J Takes Over Contractor’s Covid-19 Vaccine Manufacturing Plant

Johnson & Johnson said it will assume full control of the Baltimore factory where millions of covid-19 vaccine doses were ruined by mixing ingredients for its vaccine with those from AstraZeneca’s jab, made on the same site. The Emergent plant hadn’t yet been cleared by regulators when J&J discovered the quality problem during a routine inspection, and none of the batch had been shipped for use to make vaccines.

J&J and U.S. health authorities have looked forward to the plant coming online and producing the key ingredient to bolster the overall supply of vaccine doses. Under the changes, J&J is assuming full responsibility for operations and manufacturing of its vaccine’s key ingredient at the Emergent plant, including installing a new leadership team and boosting the number of technical, quality and other workers.

Read more at the WSJ

J&J has Begun Testing its Vaccine in Adolescents

Researchers have begun testing the drug maker’s vaccine in adolescents 12 to 17 years old, the company announced. Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Wednesday that their coronavirus vaccine is extremely effective in young adolescents, perhaps even more so than in adults. Results from a similar trial of Moderna’s vaccine are expected in the next few weeks.

Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are also testing their vaccines in children younger than 12. Johnson & Johnson has said it would wait for results from trials in older children before following suit.

Read more in The New York Times

Taiwan’s TSMC Plans $100 Billion Investment to Meet Demand

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company said Thursday it was planning to invest $100 billion over the next three years to meet soaring demand as a global shortage of chips hits the auto and other industries. TSMC, the world’s largest contract microchip maker, said its new investment plans will increase capacity to keep up with demand. It did not specify where the new foundries would be built.

Taiwanese high-tech chip foundries are some of the world’s biggest and most advanced, and European and US car manufacturers have been reaching out to Taipei for help plugging the shortages. 

Read more in IndustryWeek 

February Factory Orders Drop 0.8%

The Commerce Department said on Monday that factory orders dropped 0.8% after surging 2.7% in January. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders slipping 0.5% in February. Orders increased 1.0% on a year-on-year basis.

Severe weather blanketed large parts of the country, including winter storms in Texas and other parts of the densely populated South region, in the second half of February, disrupting consumer spending, production at factories, home building and sales.

Read more at Reuters

Tesla’s Quarterly Electric Vehicle Deliveries Top Expectations

The company said early Friday it delivered 184,800 vehicles to customers worldwide in January through March, more than double the year-earlier figure when the outbreak of Covid-19 briefly halted production at its plants in California and Shanghai. Still, the increase from 2020’s fourth quarter was just 2.2%. The company had been expected to report deliveries of about 172,000 units, due to factors including the global shortage of chips and electronic components that’s pounded the auto industry this year.

Read more at Forbes

From the Pessimist Camp: Five Reasons Why COVID Herd Immunity is Probably Impossible

The once-popular idea that enough people will eventually gain immunity to SARS-CoV-2 to block most transmission — a ‘herd-immunity threshold’ — is starting to look unlikely.

Most estimates had placed the threshold at 60–70% of the population gaining immunity, either through vaccinations or past exposure to the virus. But as the pandemic enters its second year, the thinking has begun to shift. In February, independent data scientist Youyang Gu changed the name of his popular COVID-19 forecasting model from ‘Path to Herd Immunity’ to ‘Path to Normality’. He said that reaching a herd-immunity threshold was looking unlikely because of factors such as vaccine hesitancy, the emergence of new variants and the delayed arrival of vaccinations for children.

Read more in Nature

We Need to Ensure that Employee Mental Health is a Top Priority

Studies have shown that more workdays are lost to mental-health-related absenteeism than any other illness or injury. Those studies, by the way, were conducted before the pandemic; as you can imagine, the incidences of anxiety and depression among workers isolated from friends, family and co-workers have only gotten worse since COVID-19 reared its ugly head. And while there are now vaccines for COVID-19, there’s no vaccine or PPE or any kind of off-the-shelf equipment that offers mental health protection.

Read more at EHS Today

Can You Steer a Ship Through the Suez Canal?

Navigating the Suez Canal is a high-stress, complicated feat that requires master piloting skills. To demonstrate, CNN worked with Master Mariner Andy Winbow and Captain Yash Gupta to produce this simulated passage.

Try your hand at traversing one of the most highly trafficked nautical thoroughfares in the world.

Try the simulation at CNN