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Post: Aug. 23, 2021

FDA Grants Full Approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine full approval in a highly anticipated move that’s expected to boost vaccinations and spark more mandates nationwide.  The federal agency reached the milestone of issuing the first complete authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine after an approximately three-month review of Pfizer’s and its German partner BioNTech’s application to the FDA for full approval.  Experts and Biden administration officials are hopeful the agency’s full approval will serve as a catalyst for vaccinations in the country.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, like the other two available in the U.S., had been given emergency use authorization allowing it to be administered only during the public health emergency. But under the full authorization, the FDA is giving permission for patients to get the shots once the public health emergency is declared over. 

Read more at The Hill

Hubris – Cuomo’s Drive to Dominate Led to Success, and His Downfall

Back in 2018, when there was talk he might run for president, Andrew Cuomo insisted there was only one reason he would leave office early. And it wasn’t the White House. “The only caveat,” he said, “is if God strikes me dead.”  Another possibility was realized yesterday, when the Democrat resigned in disgrace, his allies gone, his legacy stained by allegations of sexual harassment. 

For those who watched Cuomo’s daily COVID-19 briefings and saw a beacon of strength and competence, Cuomo’s departure from the governor’s mansion may seem a stunning reversal. For New Yorkers, and especially those who butted heads with Cuomo, it is a story about how his drive to dominate made him the master of New York politics and brought about his downfall.

Moderate House Democrats: Let’s ‘take the Win,’ Pass Infrastructure

A group of moderate House Democrats is calling on Congress in a new op-ed to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill without coupling it to what they call the “largely undefined” reconciliation package.

“The challenge we face right now is that there is a standoff with some of our colleagues who have decided to hold the infrastructure bill hostage for months, or kill it altogether, if they don’t get what they want in the next bill — a largely undefined $3.5 trillion reconciliation package,” the so-called “Moderate Nine” wrote in The Washington Post. “While we have concerns about the level of spending and potential revenue raisers, we are open to immediate consideration of that package. But we are firmly opposed to holding the president’s infrastructure legislation hostage to reconciliation, risking its passage and the bipartisan support behind it,” the group said.

Read more at The Hill

Hudson Valley Schools Eager for Hochul to act on Masks, Vaccines, Quarantine and More

Incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to soon mandate masks for school classrooms this fall — tackling one of the most contentious issues in the country — but school districts still face major health decisions before the new school year begins.

Many districts have posted preliminary reopening plans, with all in the Hudson Valley requiring masks to this point. Others hope the state may still step in and resolve thorny issues such as quarantine rules, social distancing rules, COVID testing, and the possible requiring of vaccinations for staff.

Read more at Lohud.com

US COVID Update -Five U.S. States Set New Records as Hospitalizations Rise

Five states broke records for the average number of daily new COVID cases over the weekend as the delta variant strains hospital systems across the U.S. and forces many states to reinstate public health restrictions.  Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, Oregon and Mississippi all reached new peaks in their seven-day average of new cases per day as of Sunday. States with higher vaccination rates are seeing fewer COVID patients take up hospital beds.

Nationwide, less than 11% of all hospital beds are being used by Covid patients. In Oregon, it’s 11.4%, Hawaii is at 12.1%, followed by Louisiana at 20.4%, Mississippi at 18.7% and Florida at 28.2%.

Read more at CNBC

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Monday August 23rd:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 66.2 of all New Yorkers – 12,762,082 (plus 17,608 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,351,471 (plus 1,4281) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 59.1% of all New Yorkers – 11,497,228 are fully vaccinated (Plus 13,125)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,203,995 (plus 1,004) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday August 22nd.  There were 28 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,404.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,017.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.16%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.49%

Useful Websites:

Vaccine Mandates Move Ahead After F.D.A. Approval of Pfizer-BioNTech

Full federal approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for those 16 and older is opening the way for institutions like the military, corporate employers, hospitals and school districts to announce vaccine mandates for their employees.

One of the first and largest to move ahead was the Pentagon, which announced on Monday that it was moving ahead with plans to require all active-duty troops to be vaccinated. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III will soon send specific vaccination guidelines to the country’s 1.4 million active-duty service members, the Pentagon said.

Read more at the New York Times

PMI: Euro Zone Business Boom Roared on in August

Euro zone business activity remained strong this month, only dipping from July’s two-decade high pace, as a rapid vaccination drive against the coronavirus allowed more businesses to reopen and customers to venture out, a survey showed on Monday.

Without ongoing supply chain disruptions activity could have expanded faster but fears new coronavirus strains may lead to renewed restrictions continued to put a dent in optimism. IHS Markit’s Flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, seen as a good guide to economic health, fell to 59.5 in August from 60.2 last month. It was ahead of the 50-mark separating growth from contraction but just shy of a Reuters poll estimate for 59.7.

Read more at Reuters

Copper and Iron Ore Prices are Collapsing on Growth Worries 

Copper and iron ore prices have been slammed this month by demand worries as the coronavirus crisis wears on, while iron ore faces industry-specific pressure as China demands curbs on steel production, prompting questions about whether prices for the industrial metals can return to highs for the year.

Benchmark iron ore prices with 62% iron content in August have tumbled roughly 26% to trade above $156 per metric ton, driving to levels not seen since February. Copper has dropped more than 8% to fetch about $4.111 per pound, the lowest in about four months.  The downward slope comes after prices for the metals had been climbing since March 2020 when they dropped alongside a crash in US stocks as the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to push economies worldwide into recession.

Read more at Markets Insider

Mexican GM Workers Leave Union After USMCA-Spurred Vote

Workers at General Motors’ vehicle assembly plant in Silao, Mexico have voted to terminate their contract with a chapter of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM). According to the Associated Press, GM employees at the plant, which assembles Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks and GMC Sierra SUVs, will continue to work with benefits provided by their old contract for the time being.

In a vote Monday, 3,214 workers voted to terminate their CTM contract while 2,623 voted to maintain it.  The vote was prompted by the first labor dispute settled using the USMCA’s rapid response mechanism, said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, which the United States invoked in May after Mexican authorities stopped a vote in April to keep the union after reporting irregularities like destroyed ballots and alleged intimidation tactics.

Read more at IndustryWeek

GM Expands Chevrolet Bolt EV Recall, Adding $1 Billion In Costs

General Motors expanded a recall of its Chevrolet Bolt on Friday, announcing plans to repair thousands more of the electric autos in a move that will add $1 billion in costs. The recall will address two manufacturing defects that can be present in electric battery cells, leading to fires in “rare circumstances,” GM said in a news release.

The latest moves adds to the $812 million in costs connected to the earlier recall of Bolt vehicles.  GM said it was pursuing reimbursement from the supplier, LG. 

Read more at IndustryWeek

Senate and Assembly Republicans Hold Listening Session with Stakeholders on Proposed 55 Cent per Gallon Gas Tax

Members of the Senate and Assembly Republican Conferences today held a listening session with stakeholders across various industries to discuss the potential impacts of the Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA), a proposal being advanced by Albany Democrats that could increase the cost of gas by as much as 55 cents per gallon and increase home heating costs by more than 25 percent. Another listening session was held earlier this month in Albany.

The legislation would impose a carbon tax of $55 per ton of fossil fuel emissions in order to reach renewable energy mandates under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCP), passed by the Legislature in 2019.

Read more at NYS Assembly Minority Conference

Meet the Workers Gaming Remote Work with Multiple Jobs

A small, dedicated group of white-collar workers, in industries from tech to banking to insurance, say they have found a way to double their pay: Work two full-time remote jobs.  Of course they don’t tell anyone and, for the most part, don’t do too much work, either.

Alone in their home offices, they toggle between two laptops. They play “Tetris” with their calendars, trying to dodge endless meetings. Sometimes they log on to two meetings at once. They use paid time off—in some cases, unlimited—to juggle the occasional big project or ramp up at a new gig. Many say they don’t work more than 40 hours a week for both jobs combined. They don’t apologize for taking advantage of a system they feel has taken advantage of them.

Read more at the WSJ

The US Is Lagging in R&D Investment, But We Can Turn It Around

Our economy depends on the U.S. manufacturing sector being best-in-class globally. Yet it is no secret that U.S. manufacturing has been lagging China for the last decade—and the gap is growing, which creates an urgency to act. 

For example, in the research and development space, the Chinese government’s R&D investment grew by 13% in 2019—and, through its “Made in China 2025” initiative, China plans to increase its investment by 7% each year through 2025. Here at home, our investment grew by just 8% in 2019, despite competing in the same global race. We are not investing to win, and that is hugely problematic for our nation.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Jackson Hole Meeting Goes Virtual Amid Delta Variant Worries

Health officials in Teton County, Wyoming, announced last Thursday what was in part an administrative change, swapping a local five-point index for assessing COVID-19 risk for a four-point scale used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that change promptly pushed the county into the CDC’s highest risk category, and shifted the Federal Reserve’s plans to hold its Jackson Hole central banking conference as an in-person event into non-compliance with local health guidance. Within a day, the U.S. central bank had cancelled the in-person portion of the conference at the local mountain resort.

The annual symposium, organized by the Kansas City Fed, will still take place online and the substance will be the same. Academic research papers will be presented and Fed Chair Jerome Powell will give a speech via webcast on Friday.

Read more at Reuters