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Daily Briefing – 367

Post: Aug. 31, 2021

Hochul Announces New Measures to Combat COVID-19 Delta Variant

Governor Hochul yesterday announced new measures to combat the COVID-19 Delta variant and updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress combating the virus.

Getting children back to school where they can learn most effectively and protecting the students, teachers and staff are top priorities. Building on the state department of health’s directive requiring universal masking for anyone entering schools, the governor will be working with localities, the department of health and the Public Health and Health Planning Council in the days ahead to implement a mandatory weekly COVID testing for school staff who are not vaccinated.

Read the press release

Long COVID Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation by Employers is Laid Out by DOJ and HHS

The civil rights offices of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have issued a joint guidance for employers regarding workers with Long COVID—defined as COVID-19 symptoms that persist for months, and perhaps longer. In addition to the guidance, the document provides resources for additional information and best practices. This document focuses solely on Long COVID, and does not address when COVID-19 may meet the legal definition of disability, DOJ and HHS said.

The guidance points out that Long COVID can be a physical or mental impairment. Generally, any of the symptoms patients suffer from during a short-term bout of the disease have been found to persist over longer periods in some patients.  

CDC Panel Says More Evidence Needed for Booster Recommendation

Members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) said the evidence on boosters is not clear and indicated it would likely consider a risk-based approach that would prioritize residents of long-term care facilities and health workers rather than all eligible Americans at once. This is a substantially different approach than the one proposed by the Biden administration.

COVID-19 vaccines continue to maintain high protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death. While some studies have found some waning of effectiveness against infection, members of the panel said the evidence is not clear enough to justify a booster recommendation.

Read more at The Hill

COVID-19 Tests Again in Short Supply as Infections Soar, Schools Reopen

U.S. companies are scrambling to boost production of coronavirus tests increasingly in short supply as COVID-19 cases soar and schools and employers revive surveillance programs that will require tens of millions of tests, according to industry executives and state health officials. Test manufacturers including Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N), Becton Dickinson and Co (BDX.N), and Quidel Corp (QDEL.O) in recent months scaled back production of rapid COVID-19 tests, which can produce results on-site in minutes, as well as test kits that are sent to laboratories for analysis. The move followed a nearly 90% decline in testing and a similarly large drop in COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Now, with the Delta variant pushing U.S. COVID-19 cases well above 100,000 per day, test makers are working to quickly reverse course, industry executives and state officials told Reuters.

Read more at Reuters

US COVID Update – Cases, Mortality Climb, But More Slowly

The CDC reported 38.9 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 636,015 deaths. Daily incidence continues to increase, but the trend is tapering off toward a peak or plateau. The current average of 149,334 new cases per day is the highest since January 29. Daily mortality also continues to increase, and the mortality trend may be starting to taper off as well. The current average of 970 deaths per day is the highest since March 13.

Meanwhile the US has administered 369.6 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, and daily vaccinations appear to have peaked over the past several days.  Notably, we have not observed a marked increase in daily vaccinations since the US FDA issued full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  A total of 173.8 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 52.4% of the total population. 

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday August 31th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 67.3 of all New Yorkers – 12,994,249 (plus 24,935 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,379,288 (plus 3,000) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 60.0% of all New Yorkers – 11,681,613 are fully vaccinated (Plus 22,625)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,224,032 (plus 2,661) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday August 30th.  There were 22 COVID related deaths for a total of 55,602.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,234.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.35%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.70%

Useful Websites:

Delta Variant Fears are Deterring Americans from Seeking Work

Some employers are struggling to hire workers, forcing restaurants to shutter dining rooms or cut hours. Potential causes of the worker shortage have sparked no end of debate. Some blame generous unemployment benefits, while others point to a lack of child care and early retirements.

Now there’s another twist that could deter Americans from seeking work: Renewed fear over contracting or spreading COVID-19 as the Delta variant sparks outbreaks, including breakthrough cases, across the nation. About 3.2 million Americans told the Census Bureau that they weren’t employed from between August 2 and August 16 because of concerns about the virus, up 30% from the previous polling period over the last two weeks of July.

Read more at CBS News

EU’s New Travel Recommendation for Americans: What You Need to Know

The European Union’s new recommendation to halt nonessential travel from the U.S. due to the rise of Covid-19 cases stateside could create fresh virus-related travel uncertainty.  Monday’s announcement suggested that vaccinated travelers will still be permitted into EU member countries, though it is up to each nation to set their own restrictions.

The EU travel list is reviewed every two weeks and isn’t binding for member states, though it has generally set the pattern for who can visit the 27-country bloc. The EU had previously decided in June to add the U.S. to its “safe list.”  The European recommendation could thwart some Americans’ fall and winter trip plans, adding more challenges to an already complex year for international travel. 

Read more at Reuters

Japan Suspends Use Of Additional 1 Million Moderna Vaccine Doses

Japan suspended another 1m Moderna vaccine-shots after they were found to be contaminated. In total, 2.6m doses have been affected and two people have died after being injected with spoiled Moderna jabs. Japan is battling its biggest surge in covid-19 infections amid a slow vaccine rollout. Support for the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, reached a new low in two polls.

The Japanese health ministry on Monday noted that some of the incidents reported may have been caused by needles being incorrectly inserted into vials which may have broken off bits of the rubber stopper.

Read more at Forbes

Not There Yet: The Euro Area’s Economy Grows

Late summer in Europe usually means sun-soaked holidays and out-of-office emails. Recently it has brought cheery economic news, too. Survey data measuring economic sentiment, released today by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, recorded a slight dip from an all-time high of 118 last month to 116.5 on the agency’s confidence index. The euro zone’s GDP began to expand again in the second quarter of the year. The wave of infections caused by the Delta variant of covid-19 is subsiding. Vaccination rates have gained pace. 

Yet not all the news is good. Output is still 3% below pre-covid levels. (America and China, by contrast, have regained all the ground they lost during the pandemic.) Supply-chain bottlenecks have crimped growth and sent prices higher, although the European Central Bank thinks the resulting inflation surge is transitory. Europe’s economic recovery is heartening. But it is incomplete.

Read more at Eurostat

China’s Economy Under Pressure as Factory Activity Slows 

China’s businesses and the broader economy came under increasing pressure in August as factory activity expanded at a slower pace while the services sector slumped into contraction, raising the likelihood of more near-term policy support to boost growth.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) fell to 50.1 in August from 50.4 in July, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Tuesday, holding just above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected it to slip to 50.2.

Read more at Reuters

Sanders blasts lobbyists plans targeting Democrats’ spending bill

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took aim at business lobbyists targeting a $3.5 trillion spending package being drafted by Democrats that would raise taxes on the wealthy to help cover costs for funding boosts in areas related to climate change, education, and other party-backed priorities. “This is what oligarchy and a corrupt political system are all about. The rich and large corporations get richer, and their lobbyists do everything possible to protect their wealth and greed. Not this time,” Sanders tweeted. 

To offset the spending, Democrats say they plan to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations. The spending plan has garnered significant backing from Sanders and other progressives, though the price tag and proposed tax hikes have raised concerns among moderates.

Read more at The Hill

India is Set to Post Record Fiscal First-Quarter GDP 

India’s economy is expected to have grown at a record pace in the three months that ended in June — but analysts point out that the data is unlikely to paint a full picture of the country’s growth trajectory.

More than 40 economists polled by Reuters this month predicted that gross domestic product rose 20% on-year for the April to June period — India’s fiscal first quarter. Official data is due Tuesday around noon GMT. India’s fiscal year begins in April and ends in March the next year. If the 20% forecast is realized, it would be India’s fastest pace of growth since the country began measuring quarterly GDP in 1996. But, Tuesday’s data comes after India faced a sharp contraction in the comparable year-ago period, when most of the country was under a strict national lockdown. India’s economy contracted 24.4% during those three months.

Read more at CNBC

Newburgh Schools Delays Opening by One Week

If you have a child attending classes in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, you may have to make new arrangements as the school board has pushed the start date from Thursday, September 1 to Thursday, September 9.

“The additional time will allow the district to receive supplies to add more indoor and outdoor seating to maintain additional physical distancing during meal times,” Acting Superintendent Ed Forgit. “The time will also allow our grounds crew and custodial staff an opportunity to best prepare all of our facilities during those days for this adjustment, which will continue through Friday, September 3, 2021.” Forgit said the decision to delay the opening of school was “as a result of the initial guidance issued by the New York State Department of Health on this past Friday evening.”

Read more at Mid Hudson News

Louisiana Plastics & Chemical Companies Could See ‘Weeks’ Without Power

According to local CBS news source WAFB, Entergy, the utilities company that supplies all of Orleans Parish’s power, said August 29 that the destruction of a transmission tower brought down all eight electrical transmission lines sourcing New Orleans. Entergy said the loss of outside power led to a load imbalance in the city, which brought down local power generation as well.

The Southeastern coast of Louisiana is the home to much of the state’s oil and gas production and is also the region hit hardest by the hurricane. The greater New Orleans region is home to 7 petroleum refineries and about 10% of U.S. refining capacity. While oil refiners like Dow and chemical companies like Westlake Chemical shut down their Louisiana manufacturing operations to weather the storm, a persistent loss of power would prevent them from starting up again before power is restored to their factories. 

Read more at IndustryWeek