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Daily Briefing – 364

Post: Aug. 24, 2021

Hochul Sworn In: ‘I Want People to Believe in Their Government Again’

Kathy Hochul became the 57th governor of New York on Tuesday and in her first hours on the job sought to bring a new sense of urgency to tackling issues that went unaddressed during Andrew Cuomo’s distracted final months in office. In an afternoon address, she:

  • Said she was immediately making masks mandatory for anyone entering schools and would work to implement a requirement that all school staff either be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
  • She said the state would launch a back-to-school testing program to make testing for students and staff more convenient.
  • She also pledged quick action to unstick an application bottleneck that has kept federal aid money from flowing to renters who suffered financially because of the pandemic.
  • She promised to get the state ready to distribute vaccine booster shots, when they become widely available, including reopening mass inoculation sites that had previously closed.
  • And she also said New Yorkers “can expect new vaccine requirements,” though she didn’t specify what those might be.

Hochul promised more transparency and ethical conduct in government going forward.

SUNY Mandates Vaccinations for All Students Within 35 Days

Monday’s FDA announcement that the Pfizer vaccine would be fully approved triggered a vaccine mandate for students within the SUNY system. The blanket policy has been in place for months in anticipation of the announcement. The mandate includes a 35-day period for students to compete their vaccine series.

If students don’t complete the vaccine series within the 35 day period, they will be de-registered from their courses.

Read more at WBNG

Malaysian COVID Surge May Worsen the Car Chip Shortage

The number of COVID-19 infections is surging in Malaysia, threatening to aggravate shortages of semiconductors and other components that have hammered automakers for months. Ford Motor Co. said last week it would temporarily suspend production of its popular F-150 pickup truck at one U.S. plant because of “a semiconductor-related part shortage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia.”

The Southeast Asian country hasn’t historically had the kind of importance to technology supply chains that Taiwan, South Korea or Japan do. But in recent years, Malaysia emerged as a major center for chip testing and packaging, with Infineon Technologies AG, NXP Semiconductors NV and STMicroelectronics NV among the key suppliers operating plants there.

Read more at Fortune

House Democrats Break Internal Impasse to Adopt $3.5T Budget Plan

House Democrats on Tuesday rallied behind a new strategy to advance President Biden’s economic agenda shortly after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) struck a deal with a small group of moderates that was threatening to blow up leadership’s carefully laid plans to pass trillions of dollars in federal spending.

The House voted 220-212, strictly along party lines, to adopt a rule that allows Democrats to immediately begin work on a massive $3.5 trillion social benefits package. The rule also requires the lower chamber to take up the Senate-passed bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by Sept. 27.

Read more at The Hill

US COVID Update – 140,000 New Cases Per Day

The US CDC reported 37.8 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 626,833 deaths. Daily incidence continues to increase, surpassing 140,000 new cases per day, the highest average since January 30. After reaching a low of 11,653 new cases per day on June 18, the current surge is more than 50% of the way back to the United States’ highest peak—254,111 on January 10.

Daily incidence, however, continues to taper off and if the trend continues on this trajectory, we expect the surge to peak in the next several weeks. Daily mortality continues to increase as well, up to 745 deaths per day, the highest average since March 22. The current average is now higher than it was during the lull between the summer 2020 and winter 2020 surges.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday August 24th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 66.3 of all New Yorkers – 12,782,739 (plus 20,657 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,355,002 (plus 3,531) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 59.12% of all New Yorkers – 11,513,727 are fully vaccinated (Plus 16,499)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,206,505 (plus 2,510) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday August 23rd.  There were 11 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,415.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,103.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.13%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.41%

Useful Websites:

Two New CDC Studies Point to Waning Immunity from Vaccines

One study, which focused on frontline health care workers, found that vaccine effectiveness declined by nearly thirty percentage points since the Delta variant became the dominant strain in the U.S. The analysis also concluded that the Covid-19 vaccines were 80 percent effective in preventing infection among the frontline health care workers.

The CDC cautioned in its report that the vaccine effectiveness “might also be declining as time since vaccination increases and because of poor precision in estimates due to limited number of weeks of observation.”

Read more at Politico

CDC Study: Disparities in Excess Mortality Associated with COVID-19

This study assessed excess mortality incidence rates (e.g., the number of excess deaths per 100,000 person-years) in the United States during December 29, 2019–January 2, 2021, by race/ethnicity and age group using data from the National Vital Statistics System. In 2020 excess mortality incidence rates were higher for persons aged over 65 years, with notable racial/ethnic disparities across all age groups. Among Black and Hispanic persons over age 65  there were more than 1,000 excess deaths per 100,000 person-years occurred compared with the number of deaths expected to occur. 

These findings could help guide targeted public health messaging and mitigation efforts to reduce disparities in COVID-19–associated mortality in the United States, by identifying the racial/ethnic and age groups with the highest excess mortality rates.

Read more at the CDC

CDC Stands Up New Disease Forecasting Center

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is announcing a new center designed to advance the use of forecasting and outbreak analytics in public health decision making. Once established, the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics will bring together next-generation public health data, expert disease modelers, public health emergency responders, and high-quality communications, to meet the needs of decision makers.

The new center will accelerate access to and use of data for public health decision-makers who need information to mitigate the effects of disease threats, such as social and economic disruption. The center will prioritize equity and accessibility, while serving as a hub for innovation and research on disease modeling.

Read more at the CDC

Samsung Announces $205 Billion Investment, Will Build New Plants

Samsung Group unveiled a $205 billion investment blueprint on August 24 aimed at making the company a leader in a range of technologies from semiconductors to robotics and creating 40,000 new jobs. The plan will “help Samsung strengthen its global standing in key industries while spearheading innovation in new fields,” the company said in a statement, adding that it will also pursue corporate acquisitions.

On the semiconductor front, the firm said it will seek to enhance cutting-edge technologies to meet “long-term demand rather than short-term changes. It is also looking to expand its biopharmaceutical business run by Samsung Biologics and Samsung Bioepisit.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Amazon Sets Ambitious Safety Plans

Amazon, known for its Prime two-day delivery, is now focused on delivering health and wellness interventions to its employees. Amazon now boasts a global workforce of 1.3 million, and a U.S. workforce of about 950,000. Those figures don’t account for the hundreds of thousands of seasonal or temporary workers or third-party contractors. 

Amazon will invest more than $300 million into safety projects, including an initial $66 million to create technology that will help prevent collisions of forklifts and other types of industrial vehicles.

Read more at EHS Today

COVID -19 and Pregnancy

A new study suggest pregnant women with COVID-19 are 15 times more likely to die, and 22 times more likely to have a premature delivery, than those who are not infected. This is particularly worrisome because so many pregnant women have been avoiding vaccination due to concerns about insufficient safety data (health officials and experts say there’s plenty of data now, and pregnant women should definitely get vaccinated.)

Read more at JAMA

FAA to Review Boeing Employee Reports of Pressure Over Safety Issues

The Federal Aviation Administration is launching a broad review of how Boeing Co.  employees handle safety matters on the agency’s behalf after some company engineers said they face undue pressure, according to an agency letter and people familiar with the matter.

U.S. aviation regulators have long relied on aerospace-company employees to act on their behalf for performing certain tasks, such as signing off on certain safety assessments or approving aircraft for delivery. The problems cited by Boeing employees in the survey “indicate the environment does not support independence” of those who are empowered to act on the agency’s behalf, according to the letter, which was signed by Ian Won, acting manager of the FAA’s Boeing oversight office in the Seattle area.

Read more at the WSJ

Rising Machine-Tool Orders

The German machine-tool industry reported a 103% year-over-year increase in second-quarter orders, and a 57% increase in first-half 2021 orders. Like the first-half orders recently posted for the U.S. manufacturing sector, the German Machine Tool Builders’ Assn. (VDW) report strengthens the forecast for a sustained recovery in industrial demand.

German machine-tool builders comprise one of the largest national groups in the global manufacturing technology sector, and one of the top-five specialty groups in that country’s mechanical engineering sector. In 2020, VDW member companies produced machines and services worth around €11.8 billion ($14.4 billion.)

Read more at American Machinist