Daily Briefing – 286

GOP Open to Smaller Infrastructure Bill

Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) on Sunday said he and his colleagues could support an infrastructure bill of around $800 billion, underscoring GOP interest in a bipartisan fix for the nation’s aging roads and patchy broadband service. The comments signal that Senate Republicans are seeking a compromise on infrastructure, ahead of President Biden’s meeting with lawmakers on Monday to push his own $2.3 trillion plan.

Republicans generally have raised concerns that Mr. Biden’s package is too costly, and has too many what they see as non-infrastructure elements. Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), also on Fox News Sunday, said that Democrats should work to find a bipartisan agreement with Republicans on elements of the White House infrastructure plan before pivoting to a second, broader package that Democrats pass along party lines.

Read more at the WSJ

NYS Vaccine Update – Steady Progress

As of 11 am Sunday 8,257,745 (plus 90,952 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 5,596,193 are fully vaccinated (Plus 84,881).  In the Hudson Valley 865,453  (plus 9,945) have at least one dose and 553,305 (plus 7489) are fully vaccinated. 

NYS COVID Update – Positivity Rate Falls Below 3%

Governor Cuomo issues a press release yesterday afternoon with data through Tuesday April 14th.  There were 46 COVID related deaths for a total of 41,347.

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


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 3,754
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 397

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,191
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 385

Other Data

  • Statewide Positivity Rate: 2.92%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 3.37%

Useful Websites:

US Vaccine Rollout – 48% of US Adults have at Least 1 Dose

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center is reporting 31.5 million cumulative cases and 565,318 deaths as of 10:15am EDT on April 16. The US has distributed 255 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and administered 198 million doses. Daily doses administered* has leveled off at approximately 3 million, including 1.6 million people fully vaccinated.

A total of 126 million individuals have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, equivalent to 38% of the entire US population and 48% of all adults. Of those, 78 million (24% of the total population; 30% of adults) are fully vaccinated. Among adults aged 65 years and older, 80% have received at least 1 dose, and 64% are fully vaccinated. In terms of full vaccination, 38 million individuals have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 32 million have received the Moderna vaccine, and 7.7 million have received the J&J-Janssen vaccine.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

While Variants Fuel Surge, Scientists Voice Optimism for Vaccines

Covid-19 cases are surging across the world, fueled by highly contagious variants of the coronavirus that are popping up far from where they were first detected. The spread of these variants, scientists say, highlights how tiny, random changes in the virus’s genetic code threaten to undo progress in beating back a global pandemic that has killed at least three million people. Concerning variants are spreading in the U.S. and Canada, Europe and Latin America.

Scientists say variants can be brought under control with now-familiar public health measures such as mask wearing and social distancing. They are also hopeful that the current crop of vaccines will at least limit the numbers of people falling gravely ill and dying of Covid-19, even if the variants weaken the vaccines’ effectiveness at preventing infection. Vaccine makers are already testing new versions of their shots that are retuned to attack variants.

Read more at the WSJ

Fauci Says U.S. Will Likely Resume Use of J&J Vaccine With a Warning or Restriction

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday he believes the U.S. will likely resume use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine with a warning or restriction attached.  Fauci said he anticipates a decision on the J&J vaccine as soon as Friday, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory panel meets to discuss resumption. 

“I don’t think it’s just going to go back and say, ‘Okay, everything’s fine. Go right back.’ I think it’ll likely say, ‘Okay, we’re going to use it, but be careful under these certain circumstances,’” Fauci continued.

Read more at CNBC

Pfizer CEO Says Third Dose Likely Needed Within 12 Months

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will “likely” need a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. His comments were made public Thursday but were taped April 1.  Researchers still don’t know how long protection against the virus lasts once someone has been fully vaccinated.

Pfizer said earlier this month that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 91% effective at protecting against the coronavirus and more than 95% effective against severe disease up to six months after the second dose. Moderna’s vaccine, which uses technology similar to Pfizer’s, was also shown to be highly effective at six months.

Read more at CNBC

Economist Podcast: How to Persuade the Vaccine Sceptics

Around 30% of those polled in the country are hesitant to take the jab. A shortage of vaccines will soon become a shortage of arms. What is the best way to persuade reluctant citizens to get inoculated?

The Economist Speaks to Heidi Larson, anthropologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, about the similarities between vaccine hesitancy today and the 19th century. And also Crystal Son, director of healthcare analytics at Civis Analytics, on why vaccine safety messaging is ineffective.

Listen here (39 minutes) 

McMahon: NY Job Recovery Picks Up Steam, Still Lags Rest of U.S.

The Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon reports that New York’s private-sector job recovery accelerated in March—but remained far behind the national pace on a year-to-year basis, according to the latest monthly figures from the state Labor Department.

Compared to the same month in 2020, New York’s statewide private employment in March was down 823,100 jobs, or 10.1 percent. New York’s relative recovery rate looks stronger based on a seasonally adjusted basis, which reflects statistical adjustments reflecting assumed historical hiring patterns. On a seasonally adjusted basis, New York’s March statewide private employment total was up 61,000 jobs from the February level, an increase of 0.8 percent, while the nation gained jobs at only half the pace, or 0.4 percent, last month.

Read more at the Empire Center

OSHA’s COVID ETS Remain in Limbo

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a major COVID-19 enforcement program aimed at employers in high-risk industries, it has yet to publish the Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) regulations President Biden had ordered it to issue no later than mid-March.

It appears that the standards have been held up either by OSHA’s ultimate boss in the Department of Labor (DOL), Secretary Marty Walsh, or by White House staffers concerned about whether the content will stand up to legal scrutiny and political heat. Why this turned out to be the case has inspired growing speculation by agency observers.

Read more at EHS Today

U.S. Consumer Sentiment Rises to One-Year High in Early April

The University of Michigan said its preliminary consumer sentiment index rose to 86.5 in the first half of this month from a final reading of 84.9 in March. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index rising to 89.6.

The survey’s barometer of current economic conditions increased to a reading of 97.2 from 93.0 in March. Its measure of consumer expectations was unchanged at 79.7.

Read more at Reuters

Analysis of the Paycheck Protection Program in New York

SBA reporting for the first three rounds of funding through April 11, 2021, indicates $755 billion in loans have been approved for 9.6 million borrowers across the country. Detailed data are available for $679 billion in loans made through the end of February. Below are the key findings for New York, with the associated figures available as a printable PDF.

  • New York entities received 489,100 loans totaling $51.0 billion, or 7.5 percent of the total nationwide loan amount. Only California and Texas received more. 
  • Most of the loans were made to entities downstate: 47 percent of borrowers were located in New York City and an additional 24 percent were located in Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau counties, reflecting both population patterns and the early and severe impact of the pandemic in these regions. For a detailed analysis of PPP loans in New York City, read the Comptroller’s report.
  • The average loan was $104,200, ranging from a low of $50,300 on average in Greene County to a high of $153,600 on average in Manhattan (New York County). The median loan was about $86,800.

Read more at the Comptroller’s website