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Daily Briefing – 398

Post: Oct. 26, 2021

FDA Panel Recommends Authorizing Pfizer COVID Vaccine for Younger Kids

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted 17-0, with one abstention, to recommended the agency authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children between the ages of 5 and 11. Some members of the panel said they felt the recommendation was too broad. Not all children will need the vaccine, they argued, or some may only need a single dose because they’ve been previously infected with COVID-19.

FDA is not bound to follow the panel’s recommendation, though it often does. A decision by agency regulators is expected in the coming days, and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel is scheduled to meet Nov. 2 and 3 to recommend how the vaccines should be used. If the panel gives favorable recommendations and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky accepts them, the vaccination campaign would begin.

Read more at The Hill

Fed Likely to Begin Tapering Asset Purchases 

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and other top policymakers have indicated over the course of the past month that they are preparing to start reducing the $120 billion in monthly purchases, a policy known as “quantitative easing” that’s designed to keep credit cheap. Reducing bond purchases will be the first step the Fed takes in returning to a more normal policy setting. “I do think it’s time to taper, and I don’t think it’s time to raise rates,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said last week during a virtual discussion.

Though Powell has largely downplayed concerns about the surge in prices and rising inflation – which he’s mostly attributed to supply chain bottlenecks, pent-up consumer demand and a flush of stimulus cash – the Fed head hinted last week that he’s grown more concerned about the matter. 

Read more at Fox Business

What is the Basic Idea of Taxing Billionaires?

Some Democrats in Congress want to tax billionaires annually on their unrealized capital gains. Put another way, they would expand the definition of income to include increases in asset value, but they would apply that new rule only to people at the very top of the U.S. wealth distribution. The plan is expected to include Americans with a net worth of at least $1 billion or with income of at least $100 million for three consecutive years. That is likely fewer than 1,000 taxpayers, based on Forbes magazine’s estimate of the number of U.S. billionaires.

The tax would be calculated on the difference between an asset’s value at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year. There will be some years in which a given billionaire will lose money as assets decline in value. The plan is likely to allow affected taxpayers carry losses forward and perhaps backward to use as deductions against gains. 

Read more at the WSJ

Dems Negotiate, Debate, Plead, Entreat for Support of Reconciliation Megabill 

Speaker Pelosi on Tuesday beseeched progressive and moderate Democrats to compromise and “embrace” the emerging deal on President Biden’s mammoth social spending package, warning that time was running out for Democrats to notch a huge legislative victory. “Embrace it for what it is,” she said. “No bill is everything. We cannot miss this opportunity.”  But the Speaker said she would not bring the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor until her party had an agreement on the larger social benefits bill. 

Meanwhile, In the Senate, Senators Manchin and Sanders sparred over provisions in the reconciliation bill to expand Medicare with Sanders insisting they remain and Manchin calling them irresponsible given the program’s looming insolvency. 

Read more at The Hill

U.S. COVID Update – The Latest Numbers

  • 66.4% of the U.S. population have had at least one vaccine dose
  • 57.4%  of people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated
  • 102,898 new U.S. cases recorded Monday
  • 1,402 deaths in the U.S. recorded Monday
  • 737,371 total U.S. deaths
  • 4,958,308 total deaths world-wide

Visit The Wall Street Journal’s coronavirus tracker page

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday October 26th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 73.6 of all New Yorkers – 14,241,715 (plus 13,547 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,490,696 (plus 1,929) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 66.2% of all New Yorkers – 12,868,387 (plus 13,465).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,328,613 (plus 1,441). 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday October 25th.  There were 34 COVID related deaths for a total of 57,845.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,044.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.09%
  • Mid-Hudson: 1.90%

Useful Websites:

Moderna Data Shows Covid-19 Vaccine Produced Strong Immune Response in 6- to 11-Year-Olds

Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine was generally safe and induced the desired immune responses in children ages 6 to 11 in a clinical trial, according to the company. Moderna’s vaccine is currently authorized for use in adults 18 years and older in the U.S. he company’s efforts to expand use of its vaccine to include children are further behind Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, which could get FDA authorization in days or weeks for use of their vaccine in children 5 to 11.

The Cambridge, Mass., company said Monday that it would submit the results to health regulators in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere in seeking authorization to widen the use of its shots to include this younger age group.  The company announced the interim data in a press release, and results haven’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Read more at the WSJ

US Lifts Existing Restrictions, Imposes New International Travel Vaccine Rules,

President Joe Biden on Monday signed an order imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national air travelers and lifting severe travel restrictions on China, India and much of Europe effective Nov. 8, the White House said. “It is in the interests of the United States to move away from the country-by-country restrictions previously applied during the COVID-19 pandemic and to adopt an air travel policy that relies primarily on vaccination to advance the safe resumption of international air travel to the United States,” Biden’s proclamation says.

The White House confirmed that children under 18 are exempt from the new vaccine requirements as are people with some medical issues. Non-tourist travelers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10% will also be eligible for exemption from the rules. Those receiving an exemption will generally need to be vaccinated within 60 days after arriving in the United States.

Read more at Reuters

New York City Inches Toward Covid-19 Becoming Endemic

Life in the New York City area might be transitioning into a phase in which the virus is a present but diminished danger for most people, some epidemiologists and doctors say. “New York and New Jersey are going to be in the U.S. where I would look first for the transition to endemicity,” or the point when the virus is still circulating in the background but the disease is more manageable, said Andrew Noymer, an infectious-disease epidemiologist and demographer at the University of California, Irvine. “It’s also, quite frankly, the canary in the coal mine, conversely, if there is a significant winter wave.”

The state and most counties surrounding the city are still experiencing what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers high or substantial Covid-19 spread, but the number of confirmed cases at the peak of the Delta wave was about one-third of the peak reported cases last winter. In New York City, the case rate for unvaccinated residents was more than seven times higher than the rate among vaccinated residents in the week ended Oct. 9, and the hospitalization rate was 10 times higher.

Read more at the WSJ

Frontier Airlines Launches Florida Service from Stewart

Frontier Airlines brought its polar bear mascot with them to New York Stewart International Airport in Newburgh on Monday evening as the airline launched its new service to Orlando. It will add Miami and Tampa in early November. Port Authority Aviation Director Huntley Lawrence welcomed the new routes.

“Expanding air service at Stewart Airport, adding new airlines, going to more destinations is just critical for the growth and our long-term plan for Stewart Airport,” he said.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News

Ulster County to Begin Administering COVID-19 Boosters on Friday

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan announced Monday that the county will begin to administer Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster doses, in addition to Pfizer, starting Friday, October 29, at the county Department of Health’s POD (point of dispensing) at the former Best Buy at the Hudson Valley Mall. Appointments are available at VaccinateUlster.com, and walk-ins are welcome.

Pfizer and Moderna boosters are recommended for the following people who received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least six months prior:

  • Ages 65 years and older
  • Age 18 and older who live in a long-term care setting
  • Age 18 and older who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18 and older who work or live in high-risk settings

Read more at Mid-Hudson News

La Nina Returns – NOAA Winter Outlook Calls for Higher than Average Temps

Above-average temperatures are favored across the South and most of the eastern U.S. as La Nina climate conditions have emerged for the second winter in a row according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center — a division of the National Weather Service. In NOAA’s 2021 Winter Outlook — which extends from December 2021 through February 2022 — wetter-than-average conditions are anticipated across portions of the Northern U.S., primarily in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and western Alaska.

“Using the most up-to-date observing technologies and computer models, our dedicated forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center produce timely and accurate seasonal outlooks to help communities prepare for the months ahead,” said Michael Farrar, Ph.D., director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

Read more at NOAA

U.S. Companies Bet Shoppers Will Keep Paying Higher Prices

Some of the world’s biggest companies are betting consumers will keep paying more for products from coffee to toilet paper. Corporate giants including Procter & Gamble Co., Nestlé SA and Verizon Communications Inc. say they plan to continue raising prices or pushing customers to buy more expensive products into 2022 to offset fast-growing costs amid a global supply-chain crisis. Gillette razors, Nestlé coffee and Chipotle burritos are among the products that could get more expensive in coming months.

Price increases so far have paid off for makers of household staples as shoppers, particularly in the U.S. and Western Europe, have remained loyal to big-name brands.

Read more at the WSJ

Hudson Valley Region Unemployment Rate at 4.3 Percent

The September 2021 unemployment rate for the Hudson Valley Region is 4.3 percent.  That is down from 5.1 percent in August 2021 and down from 6.7 percent in September 2020.  In September 2021, there were 47,400 unemployed in the region, down from 57,400 in August 2021 and down from 74,700 in September 2020.  Year-over-year in September 2021, labor force decreased by 10,500 or 0.9 percent, to 1,105,800.

Local Area Unemployment Stats (September 2021) Hudson Valley Region