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Daily Briefing – 374

Post: Sep. 14, 2021

Consumer Prices Rise at a Slower Pace in August; Has Inflation Peaked?

Underlying U.S. consumer prices increased at their slowest pace in six months in August as used motor vehicle prices tumbled, suggesting that inflation had probably peaked, though it could remain high for a while amid persistent supply constraints.

  • Consumer prices rise 0.3% in August.
  • CPI increases 5.3% on year-on-year basis.
  • Core CPI gains 0.1%; up 4.0% year-on-year

The so-called core CPI was held back by a 1.5% decline in prices for used cars and trucks, which ended five straight monthly increases. Robust increases in prices of used cars and trucks, as well as services in industries worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, were the key drivers behind a heating up of inflation at the start of the year.

Read more at Reuters

New York Law Phases Out Most Gas-Powered Vehicles by 2035

Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation on Wednesday that effectively bans the sale of new internal combustion engine cars, off-road vehicles, light-duty trucks and equipment by 2035. According to the DEC website the state defines zero-emission vehicles as: battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, or hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles.

The legislation, introduced by New York state senator Pete Harckham, also requires new heavy- and medium-duty trucks for sale in New York to be in the “zero-emissions” category by 2045.

Read more at CNBC

HERO Act FAQs Released By NYS DOL

The law covers all non-governmental industries across New York and work sites, with the exception of any employee or employer within the coverage of a temporary or permanent OSHA standard on COVID-19, or airborne infectious diseases, generally. As of this time, only health care is covered by such an OSHA standard including
employer-provided housing and transportation. It also protects special categories of workers at “non-traditional” workplaces, including private households and individuals
working for digital applications or platforms.

The NY HERO Act does not cover telework or any work site that the employer does not have the ability to control. The NYS Department of Labor published the HERO Act FAQs.  Employers are encouraged to read through this information to assist with their HERO Act airborne infectious disease plan.  As reported previously, the Commissioner of Health has designated COVID as a public health threat, triggering the implementation of your plan. 

Read the FAQs

Subway and Commuter Railroads Break Pandemic Ridership Records 

Governor Hochul announced yesterday that the New York City Subway, Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road broke pandemic-era ridership records within the last four days. Records were set on Monday, Sept. 13, with 2.77 Million Subway Riders and 122,504 on Metro-North.  The LIRR Set Record Friday Sept. 10, Carrying 150,895 Customers.  The LIRR and Metro-North Carried More Than 100,000 Customers Every Weekday after Labor Day.

“These record ridership numbers show that New Yorkers are returning to school, the workplace and bringing our economy back with them,” Governor Hochul said. “New York’s comeback is underway, and we will continue working to increase ridership across our bus, subway and rail systems, restore riders’ confidence in the MTA, and keep our recovery moving forward.”  The subway, including the Staten Island Railway, carried 2,767,385 customers on Monday, Sept. 13, the highest ridership since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. 

Read the press release

US COVID-19 Update – Deaths Remain Above 1,000 Per Day

The US CDC reports 41.0 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 658,410 deaths. Daily incidence appears to have passed a peak. The average daily mortality is still more than 1,000 deaths per day, and we expect the US to surpass 660,000 cumulative deaths in the next 1-2 days. This threshold corresponds to 1 death for every 500 people in the US.

The US has administered 381 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Daily vaccinations peaked at nearly 834,000 doses per day on August 29 and then decreased sharply over the Labor Day holiday weekend.  There are 209.7 million individuals who have received at least 1 dose.  Among adults, 75.7% have received at least 1 dose and approximately 65.0% of adults are fully vaccinated.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday September 14th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 69.2 of all New Yorkers – 13,403,886 (plus 24,357 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,415,702 (plus 2,426) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 61.8% of all New Yorkers – 12,015,677 are fully vaccinated (Plus 17,523)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,254,339 (plus 2,120) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday September 13th.  There were 28 COVID related deaths for a total of 56,097.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,476.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.16%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.56%

Useful Websites:

Covid-19 Study in England Shows Few Deaths Among Vaccinated People

An analysis of more than 50,000 Covid-19 deaths in England this year offers reassuring evidence on the effectiveness of vaccines, showing that mortality rates among people fully inoculated against coronavirus were a fraction of those without a shot. The study, by the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics, recorded 640 deaths among fully vaccinated individuals between or 1.2% of 51,281 Covid-19 deaths overall. Of those 640, some were of people infected before their second dose or before the protection from a second dose had kicked in, the ONS said. The agency identified 256 as breakthrough deaths, in which the person died after testing positive for the virus at least 14 days after their second dose, or 0.5% of all Covid-19 deaths.

The analysis is notable because it includes estimates of the mortality rate between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups that account for differences in age. It also provides considerable detail about the overall health of breakthrough-case victims who succumbed to Covid-19 after receiving two doses of vaccine.

Read more at the WSJ

Mercer Survey Shows Employees Want More Than the “Honor System”

Of 2,000 U.S. workers surveyed in August by Mercer, 65% said they want their employer to implement a vaccine mandate. Half the employees were hourly workers, and half were salaried, all working for companies with more than 500 people. A separate survey of 372 U.S. employers conducted in late July and early August by Mercer found that while more companies said they were considering a vaccine mandate, 71% weren’t currently requiring the shots.

Some employers relying on honor systems may be reluctant to mandate vaccines or masks because they are trying to respect a range of beliefs and feelings among employees. The honor system may be easier at small companies. “There are 10 of us. Five are family members, and the rest of us have worked there for many years, and we were all in agreement on getting vaccinated,”

Read more at the WSJ

U.S. Poverty Rate Rose From 60-Year Low, Incomes Fell Amid Virus

U.S. household income fell in 2020 while the national poverty rate rose from a 60-year low as the Covid-19 pandemic upended the U.S. economy and threw millions out of work. Median, inflation-adjusted household income decreased 2.9% last year to $67,521 according to annual data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The poverty rate rose one percentage point to 11.4% after having dropped for five straight years and reaching the lowest since 1959 in 2019. 

The data help flesh out the picture of American families’ economic health in 2020 amid a pandemic that caused the first annual economic contraction since 2009, put tens of millions out of work and exacerbated existing inequalities. Lower-wage service-industry workers and people of color bore the brunt of job losses. The government’s stimulus checks and extra $600 a week in jobless benefits helped soften the blow, supporting incomes and spending amid widespread unemployment. 

Read more at Bloomberg

Will Prolonged Disruptions Shift the Pattern of Trade?

The average cost of shipping a standard large container (a 40-foot-equivalent unit, or FEU) has surpassed $10,000, some four times higher than a year ago (see chart). The spot price for sending such a box from Shanghai to New York, which in 2019 would have been around $2,500, is now close to $15,000. Securing a late booking on the busiest route, from China to the west coast of America, could cost $20,000.

For years container shipping kept supply chains running and globalisation humming. With shops’ shelves fully stocked and products from the other side of the world turning up promptly on customers’ doorsteps, the industry drew barely any outside attention. Shipping was “so cheap that it was almost immaterial”, says David Kerstens of Jefferies, a bank. But now, as disruption heaps upon disruption, the metal boxes are losing their reputation for low prices and reliability. Few experts think things will get better before early next year. The prolonged dislocation could even hasten a reordering of global trade.

Read more at The Economist

Amazon Increases Hourly Starting Pay to $18

Amazon is boosting its hourly starting pay to $18 and plans to hire 125,000 new workers across the U.S., the company announced Tuesday.  The Seattle-based tech giant said in “select locations” sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000 are available.  

The roles are in fulfillment and transportation, and hiring is already underway, according to the announcement. News of the wage increase follows the company’s previous announcement of 40,000 new corporate and technology jobs. 

Read more at The Hill

CDC Studies Expanding the Use of  Wastewater Surveillance Data to Support the COVID-19 Response

In nearly 80% of U.S. households, fecal waste is transported from homes to wastewater treatment plants within hours (7). Wastewater represents a pooled community stool sample that can provide information on infection trends in the community.  Wastewater surveillance data provide information about symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections. The accuracy of this surveillance approach is not influenced by health care access or clinical testing capacity. Community-level wastewater surveillance data can be leveraged for rapid assessment of emerging threats and preparedness for future pandemics. 

To build sustainable national wastewater surveillance capacity, CDC focused NWSS development in four areas: 1) offering technical assistance to implementing jurisdictions; 2) creating a data portal for centralized data submission and standardized data analysis and visualization; 3) coordinating communities of practice* to share best practices among health departments, public health laboratories, and utilities; and 4) building epidemiology and laboratory capacity for wastewater surveillance at health departments. 

Read more a CDC

Space Tourism Takes Flight with SpaceX

SpaceX will tonight launch the first private space flight that takes only tourists—and no professional astronauts—up into the heavens. The two men and two women (led by 38-year-old payments billionaire Jared Isaacman) will fly 100 miles higher than the International Space Station.  That is way, way further out than fellow amateurs Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.

Read more at Fortune

A Four-Day Workweek Is No Holiday

For many parents, cramming five days of work into four will mean less time with their children. Three-day weekends can be great for bonding, but children need a consistent, daily presence, not occasional chunks of time. Shorter days, not fewer days, are preferable.

The needs of children are best met when they spend time with their primary caregivers every day. Four-day workweeks can provide parents with the illusion of presence because they are available in large blocks of time during the weekend. But if this comes at the cost of barely being around during the week—missing bed time or homework after school—the long weekend won’t yield much benefit.

Read more at the WSJ

Shortages Constrict U.S. Economy 

A shortage of basic goods across the manufacturing sector is snarling supply chains and causing headaches for companies nationwide. Supply chains have become clogged as many manufacturers try to build up their stock, even as traffic jams in ports in China and near Los Angeles slow transit and shipping prices have risen. Some suppliers in Asia have refused to build out additional capacity to address a rising demand for products and materials, out of concern that the increase may only be temporary.

The shortages are making it difficult for buyers to source materials that used to be easy to get. Manufacturers are stuck with mostly finished products as they wait for slow-to-arrive components, and the uncertainty and scarcity have caused prices to rise. Rising prices have led to fears that sustained inflation could last longer than previously anticipated.  

Read more at Reuters