High Anxiety – The Biden Spending Plan Conflict
Democrats are facing growing headaches over their sweeping social spending bill as they struggle to show momentum ahead of an end-of-the-month deadline. President Biden met with groups of moderates and progressives on Tuesday, as he is facing pressure from some in his party to take a tighter rein on the talks.
Echoing skepticism from some of his colleagues, Manchin indicated that Democrats weren’t likely to hit an end-of-month deadline to send both the spending bill and infrastructure legislation to Biden’s desk by Halloween. “There’s 52 senators who don’t agree, OK, and there’s two that want to work something out if possible in the most rational, reasonable way,” Manchin told reporters.
CDC Holiday Guidance
The US CDC on October 15 released new public health guidance for 2021 winter holiday celebrations, with a focus on urging those who are unvaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 to get their shots before traveling or gathering with family and friends. To protect those too young to be eligible for vaccination, the agency recommends all those around them to be vaccinated. According to new data released the same day, the CDC noted that in August, unvaccinated individuals had an 11 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated.
Like 2020, the CDC also recommended masking when in crowded indoor settings and trying to be outside as much as possible in group settings. The new guidance was released following some confusion earlier this month, when the CDC mistakenly posted old information to its website. Some public health experts warned that as long as there are gaps in vaccination coverage throughout the country, a winter surge in COVID-19 cases remains a possibility, especially if people do not follow the guidance.
Energy Crunch Hits Global Recovery as Winter Approaches
The world is gripped by an energy crunch — a fierce squeeze on some of the key markets for natural gas, oil and other fuels that keep the global economy running and the lights and heat on in homes. Heading into winter, that has meant higher utility bills, more expensive products and growing concern about how energy-consuming Europe and China will recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The biggest squeeze is on natural gas in Europe, which imports 90% of its supply — largely from Russia — and where prices have risen to five times what they were at the start of the year, to 95 euros from about 19 euros per megawatt hour.
Supply-Chain Bottlenecks, Elevated Inflation to Last Well Into Next Year, Survey Finds
High inflation will continue well into 2022, owing to supply chain pressures, according to a survey of economists by The Wall Street Journal. “Economists on average see inflation at 5.25% in December, just slightly less than the rate that has prevailed since June. Assuming a similar level in October and November, that would mark the longest inflation has been above 5% since early 1991.” Just 8.2% of economists surveyed cited the pandemic as the foremost threat to growth.
Respondents predicted that consumer-price inflation will decrease to 3.4% by June 2022, then to 2.6% by the end of that year, but that is still above the average seen in the decade before the pandemic.
About half of those surveyed said supply chain constraints, predicted to remain through most of 2022, were the biggest hurdle to economic growth in the next 12 to 18 months.
US COVID – Workers Want Covid-19 Recovery Accepted as Evidence of Immunity
Some workers opposed to vaccine mandates on the job are increasingly pointing to the same reason for their objection: They already had Covid-19. Nurses, factory workers and professional athletes are among employees asking that immunity from prior Covid-19 infection be recognized alongside vaccination as sufficient protection against the virus.
Research comparing immune responses in people who have recovered from Covid-19 to those who have been vaccinated has been mixed. Many studies have found that mRNA vaccines produce a higher level of neutralizing antibodies immediately after inoculation than Covid-19 infections. Antibody levels in vaccinated people and those who have recovered from infections drop over time, several studies have shown, reducing some of the immunity that both groups of patients have developed.
NYS Vaccine and COVID Update
Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday October 19th:
One Vaccine Dose
- 73.0 of all New Yorkers – 14,149,009 (plus 16,677 from a day earlier)
- In the Hudson Valley 1,481,637 (plus 1,650)
- 65.5% of all New Yorkers – 12,756,062 (plus 22,206).
- In the Hudson Valley – 1,319,436 (plus 1,536).
The Governor updated COVID data through Monday October 18th. There were 29 COVID related deaths for a total of 57,355.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,193.
Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:
- Statewide 2.41%
- Mid-Hudson: 2.18%
- Read the press release
- Visit the vaccine tracker site
- See the School Districts Dashboard
- See the SUNY Dashboard
- State Vaccine Information Site
Governor Hochul Announces New COVID-19 Data Hub
Governor Hochul yesterday announced the launch of a new centralized website for New York State COVID-19 data. This website includes new data as well as a reorganization of previously released data to make it easier for the public to access, read and understand. In addition, more COVID-19 data is now being made available on Health Data NY. “Providing new data about COVID-19 to the public and making existing data easier to access and understand is yet another step we are taking towards more transparency,” Governor Hochul said. ”
The new website marks the creation of a single landing page for COVID-19 dashboards that is easy to access, rather than having to navigate different dashboards on different platforms. The new data homepage links to 16 key data pages organized into five major categories. In addition, the Department of Health retooled several dashboards that were created early in the pandemic to provide information in a manner that is easier to understand and more relevant to current needs.
CDC Data Finds Pfizer Vaccine 93 Percent Effective Against Hospitalization for Youth
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been found to be 93 percent effective against hospitalization for 12- to 18-year-olds, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research from when the delta variant was predominant. Researchers calculated the vaccine efficacy using data from 464 hospitalized patients, including 179 with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and 285 controls without the virus, across 19 pediatric hospitals between June and September.
The CDC study sought to add to the “limited” real-world data on vaccine effectiveness among 12- to 18-year-olds. It concluded the effectiveness aligned with the results of Pfizer’s previous clinical trial that found a 100 percent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 among 12- to 15-year-olds.
What’s Behind the Job Market’s “Great Mismatch”
Even as employers posted job openings, monthly hiring declined 6.5% in August. Workers also are quitting their jobs, breaking records in August and April for the percentage of employed who voluntarily left jobs. In August nearly 4.3 million workers, 2.9% of employed people, quit jobs, surpassing the 4 million in July and April as part of what some call the Great Resignation.
Employers’ struggles to find workers can be exacerbated by applicant-tracking systems that are filtering too aggressively, as well as candidates being dissatisfied with the work or pay. Recruitment and talent experts discuss what’s being termed the “Great Mismatch,” which also includes companies not taking advantage of “hidden” workers such as veterans, people with disabilities and the formerly incarcerated.
Deloitte, Wichita State Team to Create Technology Showcase
Deloitte and Wichita State University are joining forces to build “a groundbreaking and immersive experiential learning environment” on the school’s Innovation Campus. A smart factory is a highly digitized and connected production facility that uses technologies including artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and robotics to autonomously optimize manufacturing operations. The Smart Factory @ Wichita will demonstrate how existing technologies can be merged with new innovations, sparking a dialogue about how companies can accelerate their transition to smart manufacturing.
The Smart Factory @ Wichita will demonstrate a wide range of technologies to optimize a factory floor, using IoT (Internet of Things), AR (augmented reality) and sensor-enabled monitoring that can predict equipment issues before they happen to reduce unplanned downtime and identify underutilized capacity, according to Deloitte and WSU.
Toyota to Build $1.2 Billion Battery Plant in US, Expand Electric Offerings
Hybrid vehicle pioneer Toyota Motors announced Monday it would spend $3.4 billion on vehicle batteries in the United States through 2030, with at least $1.2 billion towards a new battery factory in the United States. Toyota Motor North America anticipates the factory will create about 1,750 new U.S. jobs. The factory will be run by a new company formed in combination with Toyota Tsusho, a parts supplier and Toyota subsidiary. In addition to running the factory, Toyota will task the new company with developing Toyota’s local supply chain for lithium batteries for cars and trucks.
The company also said it expects to expand its lineup of “electrified” vehicles from 55 models to 70 models by 2025. Notably for Toyota, 15 of the models will be fully battery-electric vehicles.
China Faces Slower Growth Path as It Pursues Longer-Term Reforms
China’s economy recorded a steeper-than-expected economic slowdown in the third quarter of the year, expanding 4.9% from a year earlier. The growth rate reflected a host of headwinds: Tighter rules on the property market that have chilled activity in the sector, widespread power shortages and continued concerns about Covid-19 that have weighed on consumer spending.
With a critical meeting of China’s Communist Party leadership slated to take place next year and leader Xi Jinping likely to seek a third term, shorter-term economic growth concerns will likely come back to the fore. That could mean Beijing will be forced to ease fiscal and monetary policy earlier or more forcefully than it had intended, to ensure that this year’s second-half slowdown doesn’t spiral out of control and spill over into next year, economists say.