Infrastructure Bill Clears Senate Hurdle – Final Vote Expected Early This Week
The roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill cleared another procedural hurdle in the Senate to bring the agreement one step closer to final passage in a rare weekend session. Lawmakers on Saturday were still seeking to reach an agreement on holding votes on a final set of amendments. Republicans and Democrats fell short of that agreement meaning the bill could ultimately proceed without any further amendment votes.
But the procedural vote once again demonstrated the agreement’s strong bipartisan support, putting the deal on track to easily pass the Senate. The bill will face a more complicated path in the House, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has said she wouldn’t bring it up until the Senate also passes a $3.5 trillion antipoverty and climate bill.
Impeachment Investigation Case Against Cuomo Wrapping Up
In a letter sent Thursday, lawyers working for the New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment probe informed Cuomo’s attorneys that the “Committee’s investigation is nearing completion and the Assembly will soon consider potential articles of impeachment against your client.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is said to be deeply concerned with getting impeachment exactly right given that Cuomo has resisted calls from all corners to resign, over sexual harassment allegations he vigorously denies. He badly wants the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee to create an airtight, legally bulletproof, and dispassionate case against Cuomo, so the governor can’t somehow escape on a technicality, or distract from the shocking sexual harassment charges against him by nitpicking holes in the legal proceedings.
“He who draws his sword against his prince must throw away the scabbard .”
Vaccine Mandates Split Corporate America
Business leaders broadly agree they need to get more workers vaccinated to keep the U.S. economy humming in the face of the fast-spreading Delta variant. But they’re split over how best to do that. Some are dangling bigger bonuses or other incentives to cajole employees into getting the Covid-19 vaccine. Others have started requiring workers get the shot.
Both strategies come with risks for employers, their workers and their customers, and both could shape the course of the pandemic. More than a third of American adults have not gotten vaccinated, according to the latest U.S. data. Firms using a lighter touch risk workplace outbreaks. Those mandating shots risk losing workers in a tight job market.
Manufacturing Adds 27,000 Jobs in July as Wages Grow
The industrial sector of the U.S. economy added 27,000 jobs in July compared to the Department of Labor’s final June figure of 39,000. The overall nonfarm economy added 943,000 jobs total as the national unemployment rate fell half a point to 5.4%. At the same time, the U.S. workweek for the average manufacturing employee rose by 24 minutes to 40 hours 30 minutes. Average overtime stayed at 3.2 hours.
Durable goods manufacturing made up 20,000 of July’s new jobs. The smaller nondurable goods sector added the 7,000 remaining new manufacturing jobs. The average hourly wage at a nonfarm job rose 11 cents to $30.54 in July while the average hourly manufacturing wage rose 15 cents to $29.77. Wages in durable goods production rose by 16 cents and in nondurable goods by 13 cents, likely reflecting the difficulty many in manufacturing now say they face in a time of labor shortages.
US COVID Update – New U.S. COVID Cases Soar 139%
The Delta COVID variant is fueling a massive pandemic resurgence as some governments and employers launch new measures to combat it. These measures, including big cities reinstating mask mandates and employers requiring vaccines, come as more Americans test positive for COVID-19, according to a Fortune analysis of New York Times data. As of Tuesday, Aug. 3, the average number of new daily cases over the past week was 92,005—levels not seen since February, before COVID vaccines were widely available in the U.S.—and up 139% from two weeks ago.
The surging infection is most dangerous where vaccination rates are lower, because the unvaccinated are more likely to become severely ill. The U.S. this week finally hit President Joe Biden’s goal of at least 70% of U.S. adults getting at least one COVID-19 shot—a month after his deadline.
NYS Vaccine and COVID Update
Vaccine Stats as of Wednesday August4th:
One Vaccine Dose
- 64.1% of all New Yorkers – 12,334,441 (plus 29,259 from a day earlier)
- In the Hudson Valley 1,309,080 (plus 2,471)
- 57.7% of all New Yorkers – 11,227,221 are fully vaccinated (Plus 15,601)
- In the Hudson Valley – 1,176,019 (plus 1,388) are fully vaccinated.
The Governor updated COVID data through Tuesday August 3rd. There were 11 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,139.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,162
Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:
- Statewide 2.91%
- Mid-Hudson: 2.88%
- Read the press release
- Visit the vaccine tracker site
- See the School Districts Dashboard
- See the SUNY Dashboard
- State Vaccine Information Site
Pfizer BioNTech Full FDA Approval Update
With the number of new COVID-19 cases surging in the US, the US FDA reportedly has taken an “all-hands-on-deck approach” to reviewing data on Pfizer-BioNTech’s SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, aiming to grant full approval by September 6 or possibly sooner. However, some agency and White House officials hope the timetable will be accelerated further, with approval coming as soon as August 15, several sources shared.
The pace of vaccination has largely stalled in the US. In an August 4 statement, an FDA spokesperson said the agency’s full approval of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines could engender additional confidence among some people and encourage them to get vaccinated. A June poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 3 in 10 unvaccinated adults said they would be more likely to get vaccinated if one of the vaccines currently being used under emergency use authorization received full approval.
U.S. Developing Plan to Require Foreign Visitors to be Vaccinated
The Biden administration is developing a plan to require nearly all foreign visitors to the United States to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of eventually lifting travel restrictions that bar much of the world from entering the United States. The extraordinary U.S. travel restrictions were first imposed on China in January 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19. Numerous other countries have been added, most recently India in May.
The White House wants to re-open travel, which would boost business for the airlines and tourism industry, but is not ready to immediately lift restrictions because of the rising COVID-19 case load and highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant, the official said.
Economy Adds Back 943,000 Job, Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.4%
U.S. employers added back more jobs than expected last month, with payroll gains moving in tandem with improving economic activity and consumer mobility during the recovery. The jobless rate also fell to the lowest level since March 2020, improving more than expected. The U.S. Labor Department released its July jobs report Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET.
- Change in non-farm payrolls: +943,000 vs. +865,000 expected and a revised +938,000 in June.
- Unemployment rate: 5.4% vs. 5.7% expected and 5.9% in June.
- Average hourly earnings, month-on-month: 0.4% vs. 0.3% expected and a revised 0.4% in June.
- Average hourly earnings, year-on-year: 4.0% vs. 3.9% expected and a revised 3.7% in June.
385,000 Americans Filed New Unemployment Claims Last Week
New weekly jobless claims dipped last week to come in near consensus estimates, trending down but still coming in well above pre-pandemic levels as the labor market’s recovery trudges forward. Here were the main metrics from the print, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:
- Initial unemployment claims, week ended July 31: 385,000 vs. 383,000 expected and a revised 399,000 during prior week.
- Continuing claims, week ended July 24: 2.930 million vs. 3.255 million expected and a revised 3.296 million during prior week.
Longtime AFL-CIO Labor Union President Richard Trumka dies at 72
Richard Trumka, the powerful president of the AFL-CIO labor union, has died at age 72, Democratic leaders said Thursday.
A longtime labor leader, Trumka was elected in 1982 at age 33 as the youngest president of the United Mine Workers of America. As AFL-CIO president, he ushered in a more aggressive style of leadership and vowed to revive unions’ sagging membership rolls and pledged to make the labor movement appeal to a new generation of workers who perceive unions as “only a grainy, faded picture from another time.”
Education Department Announces ‘Final Extension’ Of Student Loan Payment Freeze
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that federal student loan payments will remain on pause through the end of January. Before Friday’s announcement of the Jan. 31 extension, payments were set to resume in October. The Education Department called this latest extension the final one.
Loan payments, interest accruals and collections of defaulted federal student loans have all been on hold since the start of the pandemic — first thanks to the CARES Act, then due to extensions from former President Donald Trump, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Biden.
Just What is a COVID Passport?
IMMUNITY PASSPORTS are nothing new. The World Health Organization’s International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, commonly known as the Yellow Card, was first issued in 1951. Although the word “passport” implies that these documents will be required for international travel, most are for domestic use. Dozens of countries now require digital health certificates for access to certain services.
These commonly use a scannable file which can verify the holder’s identity and whether they have built up immunity to covid-19 through vaccination or recovery from infection. Some systems include negative test results or medical exemptions as alternatives. (Paper versions should also be available to those without smartphones.) These passes are intended to make congregating safer and in some cases also to spur people to get jabbed. Many people see their use as a short-term inconvenience that will allow them more freedom. But critics argue that they threaten civil liberties. Concerns include the leaking or misuse of data, and resentment about the pressure to get vaccinated or share medical information.
How Will the Pandemic End? The Science of Past Outbreaks Offers Clues
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. After 17 grueling and chaotic months, weary people are wondering: When will the pandemic finally end?
When the worldwide spread of a disease is brought under control in a localized area, it’s no longer a pandemic but an epidemic, according to the WHO. If COVID-19 persists globally at what the WHO judges to be “expected or normal levels,” the organization will then re-designate the disease “endemic.” At that stage, SARS-CoV-2 will become a circulating virus that’s “less consequential as we build immunity,” says Saad Omer, an epidemiologist and director of the Yale Institute for Global Health. Only two diseases in recorded history that affect humans or other animals have ever been eradicated: smallpox, a life-threatening disease for people that covers bodies in painful blisters, and rinderpest, a viral malady that infected and killed cattle.