Our Blog

Daily Briefing – 347

Post: Jul. 26, 2021

Poll: Inflation Fears and Politics Shape Views of Biden Economy

many Americans are not feeling all that confident about the economy, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Republican lawmakers have attacked the Biden administration over inflation as the country reopened from the coronavirus pandemic, and feelings about the economy are settling along partisan lines.

Fewer than half, 45%, judge the economy to be in good shape, while 54% say it’s in poor shape. Views are similar to what they were in AP-NORC polls in June and in March, despite increases in vaccinations and the flow of aid from Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The results suggest that Americans not only filter their thoughts about the economy through their politics but also see uncertainty as the country is still 6.8 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels.

Read more at US News

Senate Infrastructure Talks on Shaky Grounds

The bipartisan Senate infrastructure group is struggling to break an entrenched stalemate over the final details of their $1.2 trillion proposal. The bipartisan group had hoped to return to Washington with a final agreement in order to quickly start debate on the Senate floor. Instead, the talks appear to be on shaky grounds, with each side accusing the other of moving the goalposts.

A Democratic source close to the talks said on Monday morning that Democratic negotiators and the White House had made a “global offer” to Republicans on Sunday night that would have addressed a number of unresolved issues. But Republicans appear to be rejecting that offer, arguing that it goes back on details that had already been agreed to by the bipartisan group during their weeks of closed-door negotiations.

Read more at The Hill

Many Have Yet To Receive Any of the $2.7 Billion for Rent Relief For NYS

When New York launched a sweeping rent relief program in June, the aim was to safeguard the state’s recovery from the pandemic by keeping tens of thousands of people who fell behind on rent out of financial ruin and in their homes. The state set aside about $2.7 billion, the vast majority from federal pandemic relief packages, with New York providing some funding.

But after nearly two months and despite the staggering need, New York has been among the slowest states in distributing help. In fact, federal figures showed that by the end of June, New York was one of only two states where no aid had been sent out, even though the state’s eviction moratorium is set to expire in just a few weeks. 

Read more at the New York Times

Mixed AstraZeneca-Pfizer Vaccine Boosts Antibody Levels

A new study found that antibody levels were boosted in people who got a shot of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine shot and then a shot of the Pfizer vaccine, Reuters reported on Monday.

The study was conducted by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA)in South Korea and involved 499 medical workers. In the study, 100 of the participants received one shot each of the two vaccines, with 200 others taking two doses of the Pfizer shot and the remaining workers getting two doses of the AstraZeneca shot.

Read more at The Hill

US COVID – Travel Restrictions to Remain In Place

The United States will keep current international travel restrictions in place for the time being due to the delta variant and rising coronavirus cases domestically, the White House said Monday. “We will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons. The more transmissible delta variant is spreading both here and around the world,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters\ Monday.

“The [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC just advised Americans against travel to the United Kingdom this past Monday given the surge in cases. They will evaluate and make recommendations based on health data,” Psaki added.  The Biden administration last month formed working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to weigh when to lift international travel restrictions.

Read more at The Hill

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Monday July 26th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 62.3% of all New Yorkers – 11,991,343 (plus 14,184 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,272,870 (plus 1,325) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 56.6% of all New Yorkers – 11,008,368 are fully vaccinated (Plus 9,864)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,153,903 (plus 697) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday July 25th.  There were 4 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,059.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 546

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 1.88%
  • Mid-Hudson: 1.58%

Useful Websites:

$15 Million to Promote Vaccination in Communities Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the allocation of $15 million from the New York State budget to promote vaccination in communities across the state that were hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be used to strengthen communication, expand public education and enhance ongoing outreach efforts throughout diverse communities.

The NYS Department of Health has identified 117 zip codes in New York State with new positive cases of COVID-19 above the statewide average and full vaccination rate below the statewide average.  The vaccine reduces the risk of hospitalization by 94% and only 0.15% of New Yorkers who have been vaccinated have experienced a breakthrough infection.

Read the press release

The Race for a COVID-19 Pill 

A Japanese company has started human trials of the first once-a-day pill for Covid-19 patients, joining Pfizer Inc. and Merck in the race to find treatments for the disease.

Osaka-based Shionogi, which helped develop the blockbuster cholesterol drug Crestor, said it designed its pill to attack the Covid-19 virus. It said the once-a-day dosing would be more convenient. Shionogi is months behind Pfizer and Merck, which have started later-stage tests of pills to treat Covid-19. Pfizer has said its twice-daily pill could be ready to hit the market as soon as this year. 

Read more at the WSJ

U.S. Population Growth is Close is Near Zero

America’s weak population growth, already held back by a decade long fertility slump, is dropping closer to zero because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  In half of all states last year, more people died than were born, up from five states in 2019. Early estimates show the total U.S. population grew 0.35% for the year ended July 1, 2020, the lowest ever documented, and growth is expected to remain near flat this year.

Some demographers cite an outside chance the population could shrink for the first time on record. Population growth is an important influence on the size of the labor market and a country’s fiscal and economic strength.

Read more at the WSJ

Mexico Disputes US Application of USMCA Rules on Autos

Mexico is at odds with the United States over how it is applying content rules for the regional auto trade, Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier said Friday.  The dispute centers on content requirements known as rules of origin that allow cars manufactured in North America to receive duty free treatment under the regional trade pact that took effect just over a year ago.

The US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USCMA) signed by former U.S. president Donald Trump raised the regional content requirement for vehicles to 75% from the 62.5% threshold under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which it replaced.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Why These Employers Said No to Hybrid

Some employers, such as Fifth Third Bank, CenterPoint Energy, Abbott Laboratories and United Wholesale Mortgage, are bucking the hybrid-working trend by demanding workers return full time to offices and workplaces. Company leaders explain their decision and talk about how they are managing the transition.

Read more at the WSJ

OSHA Refines 300A Enforcement Guidelines

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revised its enforcement guidelines for staff in regard to annual injury and illness reporting requirements to take into account difficulties some employers experienced in trying to use the agency’s online reporting portal to meet the March 2 filing deadline.

In a standard interpretation letter that was dated May 6, 2021, OSHA issued a new enforcement guidance for its staff stating that employers who could not file reports because of issues associated with the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) will not be cited, provided the data was submitted on a timely basis once the ITA became operational.  Employers are advised that they should keep written documentation if they experience any issues with using the ITA moving forward.

Read more at EHS Today

Empire Center: Health Department’s FOIL Responses Signal an Indefinite Wait for Pandemic Data

The quest for comprehensive data on New York’s coronavirus pandemic hit a bureaucratic roadblock this week as the Health Department postponed responding to most of the Empire Center’s records requests for two months or more.

The department said it needs the time to complete a “diligent search” for the records, which is implausible in many cases. Much of the information the Empire Center is seeking – such as detailed statistics on testing, hospitalizations and deaths – would come from the same databases the Cuomo administration uses for daily progress reports.

Of 62 requests filed under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), the department has fulfilled only three. It has also denied two requests and referred two to a second agency.

Read more at Empire Center

Global Steel Recovery Slowed in June

Global raw-steel production slipped to 167.9 million metric tons during June, down -3.87% from May – with corresponding month-over-month declines in most of the largest steelmaking nations. Even so, the latest data shows a 11.6% improvement over the year-ago (June 2020) total. More to the point, year-to-date steel output in the 64 countries tracked by the World Steel Assn. has passed 1 billion (1.004) metric tons and stands 14.4% higher than the six-month total for 2020.

Read more at American Machinist