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Daily Briefing – 287

Post: Apr. 19, 2021

Biden Pitches Infrastructure Bill to Legislators 

During his meeting with a bipartisan group with lawmakers today the president said: “I am prepared to compromise… It’s a big package but there are a lot of needs,” according to a White House pool report.  The president added, the group would discuss how the infrastructure plan would be paid for.

In another sign that negotiations are still open the President said “That’s what we’re going to try to figure out today…” 

Read more at CNBC

NYS Vaccine Update – Plenty of Appointments 

New Yorkers can schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site on the Am I Eligible App or by calling 1-833-NYS-4-VAX. People may also contact their local health department, pharmacy, doctor or hospital to schedule appointments where vaccines are available, or visit vaccinefinder.org to find information on vaccine appointments near you. 

As of 11 am Monday 8,326,462 (plus 68,687 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 5,659,417 are fully vaccinated (Plus 63,224).  In the Hudson Valley 873,755  (plus 8,302) have at least one dose and 560,242 (plus 6,937) are fully vaccinated. 

NYS COVID Update –Movie Theaters,  Museums, Aquariums,  Zoos and Botanical Garden Capacity Will Increase April 26

At a briefing yesterday afternoon Governor Cuomo announced that: “Museum and zoo capacity will be raised to 50 percent starting next Monday. The weather is nice. We have magnificent zoos in this state. You want to get outside, you want to take the family somewhere, museums and zoos will be at 50 percent. Movie theater capacity will go to 33 percent, that will also start next Monday, April 26. Indoor large arenas, basically sports arenas, will be raised to 25 percent. That begins May 19.Governor

The Governor  also updated COVID data through Sunday April 18th.  There were 44 COVID related deaths.

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


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 3,783
  • 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: 2.94%
  • Mid-Hudson Positivity Rate: 3.37%

Useful Websites:

US Vaccine Rollout – More Than a Quarter of Americans Are Now Fully Vaccinated

More than a quarter of the U.S. population has now been vaccinated against Covid-19, and nearly 40% of people have received at least one shot, but the average number of newly reported cases each day remains high. Some 25.4% of those in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, according to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 39.5% of the population has received one shot, the CDC data show.

States including Connecticut, Maine, New Mexico, Vermont and South Dakota have more than 30% of their populations vaccinated, the data show, while 24 states have reported more than 40% of their populations have received at least one dose. 

Read more at the WSJ

J&J Vaccine Manufacturing Halted at U.S. Plant That Had Contamination Issue

Production of Johnson & Johnson’s  COVID-19 vaccine at a U.S. manufacturing plant was halted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration while the agency investigates an error that led to millions of doses being ruined last month. Johnson & Johnson said it would work with Emergent and the FDA to address any findings at the end of the inspection.

Emergent BioSolutions Inc, the company that owns and runs the Baltimore plant that had been making the J&J vaccine, said in a regulatory filing that the FDA requested a pause on April 16 in production of new drug substance for the shot pending completion of the inspection. “At this time, it is premature to speculate on any potential impact this could have on the timing of our vaccine deliveries,” J&J said

Read more at Reuters

Moderna Sees Shortfall in Britain COVID Vaccine Shipments

Last week the billionth dose of a covid-19 vaccine was produced. Thanks to the massive expansion of manufacturing capacity, the next billion could be produced by May 27th. But that ambition is at risk from American export controls on raw materials and equipment. Production lines in India, home to the world’s largest vaccine-maker, the Serum Institute of India, will come to a halt in the coming weeks unless the United States supplies 37 critical items.

The problem stems from the Biden administration’s use of legislation that grants the president broad industrial-mobilization powers to bolster domestic vaccine manufacturing. That has hindered the export of essential components. European companies have also complained of difficulties in getting supplies from America. In theory, the world could produce 14bn vaccine doses this year. But for that, raw materials must arrive when and where needed. 

Read more at The Economist

CDC Tightens Its N95 Guidance

The CDC has updated its guidance documents aimed primarily at healthcare industry employers in regard to N95 masks, ending changes it had made during the period when the masks were in short supply last year. Last year, the CDC worked with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to allow usage of some kinds of masks exceeding the manufacturer-designated shelf life in times of increased demand and decreased supply, so long as appropriate storage practices were followed.

In addition, the CDC released a strategic document that deals with appropriate use of respirators when they are available at various types of “surge” capacities (that is, conventional capacity, contingency capacity and crisis capacity).

Manufacturing Economic Report 

Fueled by stimulus payments and pent-up demand, consumer spending at retailers jumped 9.8% in March, the largest monthly gain in 10 months. Excluding gasoline and motor vehicle sales, retail spending rose 8.2% in March. More than anything, the data speak to the increased willingness of Americans to leave their homes — thanks to increased vaccination rates–and to spend much of the additional dollars in their pockets from stimulus checks. That growth should be largely sustained in the coming months, with the U.S. economy expected to continue rebounding very strongly.

Read more at NAM

Ingenuity Takes Flight

NASA successfully launched Ingenuity, a miniature helicopter, on the surface of Mars today. The 1.8kg whirligig will climbed three meters above the Martian surface for 39 seconds—more than twice the duration of the first controlled flight on Earth, which was achieved by the Wright brothers in 1903.

There are significant challenges to flying on Mars and Ingenuity has to contend with a planet that particularly enjoys killing spacecraft. Should it succeed in getting off the ground, it will pave the way for future missions, deeper in the cosmos.

Read why Ingenuity is so ingenious at CNET

NASA Chooses SpaceX to Take Humans Back to Moon

NASA has selected SpaceX to land the first astronauts on the surface of the Moon since 1972, the agency said Friday, in a huge victory for Elon Musk’s company. The contract, worth $2.9 billion, involves the prototype Starship spacecraft that is being tested at SpaceX’s south Texas facility. NASA wants to use the Space Launch System rocket to launch four astronauts on board an Orion crew capsule, which will then dock with a lunar space station called Gateway.

For its Moon lander bid, SpaceX put forward its reusable Starship spacecraft, which is designed to carry large crews and cargo for deep space voyages, and land upright both on Earth and other celestial bodies.  Prototypes of the vessel are currently being put through their paces at the company’s south Texas facility, though all four versions that have so far attempted test flights have exploded.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Should You Make Your Office Pet Friendly

The proliferation of pets during the pandemic was one way workers eased the stress and loneliness of work from home. But what will happen to those animals when people return to the office?

Petco CEO Ron Coughlin has one answer: people should take their pets with them. His company, which saw double-digit growth during the pandemic, announced yesterday that it is developing a new playbook and tool kit for pet-friendly offices, including pet runs, gates for maintaining pet-free areas, clean up stations, insurance and more.

Read more and get the toolkit from Petco

In Trials, China’s Sinovac Underperforms

Results for China’s CoronaVac vaccine, developed by Sinovac Biotech, a Beijing-based pharmaceutical company, were disappointing for the aspiring scientific and technological powerhouse. Phase-three trials, which were conducted on health-care workers in Brazil, yielded an efficacy rate of just 50.7% (with a 95% confidence interval of 35.7% to 62.2%), just barely above the 50% threshold set by the World Health Organization for covid-19 vaccines (see chart). The results of a real-world trial released a week earlier were even worse: the vaccine was estimated to be just 49.6% effective (11.3% to 71.4%) against symptomatic covid-19 cases; when asymptomatic infections were included, this figure dropped to a dismal 35.1%.

Read more at The Economist

Walk-in Site for Vaccinations is Up and Running in Kingston

Ulster County today (Thursday, April 15, 2021) is operating its first-ever walk-in clinic for COVID-19 shots. No appointment is necessary to receive the Moderna vaccine at the Andy Murphy III Midtown Neighborhood Center, 467 Broadway, Kingston. The site is operating from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Anyone who wants to be vaccinated will need to bring identification, but County Executive Pat Ryan said earlier this week that the ID does not have to be “official,” such as a driver’s license, and that immigration status will not be checked.

Read more at the Kingston Daily Freeman