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Daily Briefing – 312

Post: May. 24, 2021

U.S. Covid Cases Hit Lowest Level Since June

In the U.S., COVID-19 cases have hit their lowest level in almost a year, according to data from Johns Hopkins, with about 39% of the population fully vaccinated, and with 49% of the population having received at least one shot—just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Of course, there’s a very different picture in other parts of the world

The decline of cases is a hopeful sign, especially as many Americans plan to travel, spend days at the beach and gather with friends and family over the summer. It is the latest in a series of milestones that signal a reopening economy and a gradual return to a more typical way of life.

Read more at CNBC

Why Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Is Facing Roadblocks

The infrastructure talks stalled after Republicans said the Biden administration’s Friday counteroffer to Senate Republicans didn’t go far enough toward the GOP position. If that stalemate continues, Democrats may attempt to move on their own, using budget reconciliation rules to pass a package without needing any Republican votes.

A partisan strategy wouldn’t guarantee that the entire White House plan could become law; Democrats have slim majorities in the House and Senate, and they would need to figure out just how much taxing and spending those lawmakers can accept.

Read more at the WSJ

Bosses Still Aren’t Sure Remote Workers Have ‘Hustle’

Recent remarks of numerous chief executives suggest the culture of workplace face time remains alive and well. At The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit this month, JP Morgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon said remote work doesn’t work well “for those who want to hustle.” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has called it “an aberration that we are going to correct as soon as possible.”

As homebound employees juggled caregiving, online schooling and other issues alongside their regular workloads in the past year, many companies reported that their workforces were productive and engaged. 

Read more at the WSJ

Report on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Covid-19 Origin Debate

Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory.

The details of the reporting go beyond a State Department fact sheet, issued during the final days of the Trump administration, which said that several researchers at the lab, a center for the study of coronaviruses and other pathogens, became sick in autumn 2019 “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”  

Read more at the WSJ

US Vaccine Rollout – 130 Million Fully Vaccinated

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday about 163.3 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 130 million people who have been fully vaccinated by Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine or the two-dose series made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

More than 61 percent of adults have received at least one shot. President Biden set a goal on May 4 of reaching 70 percent of adults by July 4.  Providers are administering about 1.83 million doses per day on average, about a 46 percent decrease from the peak of 3.38 million reported on April 13.

Read more at the New York Times Vaccine Tracker

NYS Vaccine Update – Free Park Passes New Yorkers Vaccinated This Week 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday announced that every person who gets vaccinated with either a first dose, or single dose of Johnson & Johnson, anywhere in New York State between May 24 and 31 is eligible to receive a free two-day pass to any New York State Park, valid through September 30, 2021. Passes can be picked up at any New York State Park. 

As of Monday morning 10,389,445 (plus 32,861 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,788,874 are fully vaccinated (Plus 34,514).  In the Hudson Valley 1,104,452 (plus 3,320) have at least one dose and 921,286 (plus 2,634) are fully vaccinated. 


The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday May 22nd.   There were 14 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,608. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,305
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 104

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,740
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 352

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.90%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.78%

Useful Websites:

Fauci: ‘Not Convinced’ COVID-19 Developed Naturally Outside Wuhan lab

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Biden’s chief medical adviser, is supporting an open investigation of the coronavirus origins, saying earlier this month he is “not convinced” it developed naturally. When asked about whether the virus originated naturally, Fauci said that he wants to look closer into the matter, according to Fox News.

“I am not convinced about that, I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened,” Fauci said, speaking to PolitiFact’s Katie Sanders at an event. “Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus,” he continued.

Read more at The Hill

Survey: Vaccine Policy Not a Big Priority for HR Leaders

With COVID-19 vaccines now widely available and viewed as essential to ending the pandemic, one survey reveals some startling information about company plans regarding inoculations: Most HR leaders say they aren’t prioritizing vaccination.

That’s according to a survey of 412 managers and HR leaders from software firm TinyPulse, which finds that 53% of HR leaders report that COVID-19 vaccine policy is not a priority or is a low priority. Twenty-seven percent say it’s a medium priority, and just 20% say it’s a high priority. The finding is “shocking,” says TinyPulse CEO and founder David Niu, adding that an equally stunning number from the survey is that 14% of HR leaders surveyed said they are more likely to get a vaccine to go on vacation than to keep their job.

Read more at HR Executive

Call for Engineering Senior Design Projects from SUNY New Paltz

The Division of Engineering Programs is conducting a call for Senior Design Capstone project proposals for the 2021-2022 academic year. These senior design projects span two semesters and typically have a multidisciplinary team of 4 to 6 computer, mechanical and electrical engineering students.   The primary goal of the project proposal should be for  students to gain valuable practical experience while fulfilling your design needs.

They are looking for projects that will challenge students and provide them an opportunity to apply their technical knowledge to actual engineering problems. The final project will be presented at the Annual Engineering Design EXPO in May 2022. 

Read more at SUNY New Paltz School of Science and Engineering

Global Steel Output Growing Slowly

Global steel production rose to 169.5 million metric tons during April, slightly more than the reported total for March but +6.4% higher than the global tonnage for April 2020 – a period during which most of the world’s major steel-producing countries were observing industrial closures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. The exception has been China, where steel production has continued without the shutdowns or reduced capacities implemented in North America, Europe, and elsewhere during 2020.

Last month the World Steel Assn. forecast that total 2021 steel demand will rise 5.8% over 2020, to 1.87 billion metric tons.

Read more at American Machinist

Baby Bust

Demographers predict that around the mid point of this century, deaths will officially outweigh births, sending the global population into longterm decline—for the first time ever. Falling fertility rates will make first-birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, the New York Times writes, and require huge adjustments in how our economies work. 

Read more at the New York Times

Sanders Slams Schumer Plan to Boost Semiconductor Industry

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday slammed a provision in Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) legislation to boost American competitiveness that would provide more than $52 billion to boost the semiconductor chip industry.

“No. As part of the Endless Frontiers bill we should not be handing out $53 billion in corporate welfare to some of the largest and most profitable corporations in the country with no strings attached,” Sanders, the Senate Budget Committee chairman, tweeted on Monday, referring to a centerpiece provision in the substitute amendment Schumer unveiled on the floor last week. Schumer said the funding would “boost domestic production and shore up critical supply chains.”

Read more at The Hill

Pallet Prices Up 400% Amid Shortage

Demand for pallets stems from retailers and grocers restocking their distribution and fulfillment centers, as consumers continue to spend on goods rather than services. Many firms have also built up buffer inventory, as a hedge against the stockouts that plagued CPG and retail supply chains last year.

Pallet suppliers and manufacturers — including Brambles, the parent company of CHEP — noted elevated demand from customers as they raised inventory levels.  “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the wood pallet industry has played an essential role in enabling our supply chain partners to meet the increased demand for products,” Brent J. McClendon, president and CEO of the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association, said in an email.

Read more at Supply Chain Drive