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Daily Briefing – 400

Post: Oct. 31, 2021

GDP Rate of Growth Slows Significantly

The US economy grew at an annualized rate of only 2% in the third quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday. Aside from the monumental downturn in the first half of 2020, when the economy ground to a halt amid lockdowns, it was also the worst quarterly performance since the final quarter of 2019, when GDP grew at a pace of 1.9%.

The highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus, supply chain chaos, worker shortages, sluggish jobs numbers and higher prices weighed on economic activity. It was far lower than the 2.7% economists had predicted and the slowest pace of growth since the start of the recovery, as well as a massive step down from the 6.7% rate in the spring. (We look deeper at this with The Economist below) 

Read more at CNN

Democrats Will Try to Pass Infrastructure, Spending Bills by Tuesday

House Democrats are looking to pass both the social spending and bipartisan infrastructure bills as early as Tuesday, a leadership aide told The Hill.  Committees were notified by House leaders that they had to finish any changes on the spending bill by Sunday and that the House Rules Committee could meet as soon as Monday to mark it up. The projected deadline comes after progressives forced a delay on a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Democrats are seeking to overcome an impasse on their social spending bill. A new framework released by the Biden administration on Thursday cut the total cost of the bill back to $1.75 trillion, far below the proposed $3.5 trillion price tag.  Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of two key holdouts on the spending bill, said that he supported the $1.75 trillion figure, but it is unclear if he supports the framework of the deal itself.

FDA Paves Way for Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccinations in Young Kids

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday cleared kid-size doses — just a third of the amount given to teens and adults — for emergency use, and up to 28 million more American children could be eligible for vaccinations as early as this week. One more regulatory hurdle remains: On Tuesday, advisers to the CDC will make more detailed recommendations on which youngsters should get vaccinated, with a final decision by the agency’s director expected shortly afterwards.

Top White House officials are cautioning that parents shouldn’t expect to be able to get their kids vaccinated the very next day if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine, as it is expected to on Tuesday. Patience may be needed, as it could take several days before shots are readily available.

Read more at the AP

Court Rules Against Religious Exemption for New York Healthcare Workers’ Vaccine Mandate

New York State health care workers will no longer have a religious exemption to the state’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate after a federal appeals court vacated a temporary injunction Friday. The three-judge panel in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit also sent the two court cases back to the lower courts to continue.

Friday’s ruling means the cases will continue in lower courts, but the state’s policy will remain in place until they are resolved.  Cameron Atkinson, a lawyer representing three nurses that challenged the mandate, said he would petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case. 

Read more at CNN

U.S. COVID – Mortality Falls – Vaccines Rise

The US CDC reports 45.57 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 737,990 deaths. The current daily incidence average is approximately 68,151 new cases per day and appears to be increasing. Daily mortality appears to be falling again, with an average of 1,098 as of October 26.

On the Vaccination front the US has administered 416.2 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. The daily vaccination trend could be beginning to rise again after falling since October 1, with an average 638,768 vaccines administered as of October 22. We might expect to see increases in this number after the US government last week authorized booster doses for tens of millions more people. There are 220.9 million individuals who have received at least 1 vaccine dose, equivalent to 66.5% of the entire US population. Among adults, 79.7% have received at least 1 dose, as well as 14.9 million adolescents aged 12-17 years. A total of 191 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 57.5% of the total population. Approximately 69.1% of adults are fully vaccinated, as well as 12.45 million adolescents aged 12-17 years. Since August 13, 14.4 million fully vaccinated individuals have received a booster or additional dose of vaccine, including 19.2% of fully vaccinated adults aged 65 or older.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Sunday October 31th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 74.2 of all New Yorkers – 14,343,640 (plus 16,034 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,499,932 (plus 865) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 66.6% of all New Yorkers – 12,958,439 (plus 13,312).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,335,622 (plus 527). 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday October 30th.  There were 26 COVID related deaths for a total of 57,913.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,842.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.18%
  • Mid-Hudson: 1.76%

Useful Websites:

What Parents Need to Know About Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids Ages 5 to 11

The decision to endorse emergency use authorization of the vaccine followed an extensive discussion among experts on the FDA panel, who were tasked with determining if the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks. Many panelists, for instance, expressed concerns about myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle. For Amanda Cohn, chief medical officer for vaccine policy at the CDC, the answer is clear: the benefits outweigh the risks. “We don’t want children to be dying of COVID, even if it is far fewer children than adults,” she said. “And we don’t want them in the ICU.” 

And for children who have spent much of the last two years facing disrupted school and social lives, vaccination is a step toward normalcy. “It’s really to allow kids the freedom to be kids and do all the things comfortably that kids do,” Emmanuel Walter Jr., a pediatrician at Duke University School of Medicine and chief medical officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute said in an October 27 news briefing. 

Here’s what to know about kids, COVID-19 and the Pfizer vaccine from Science News

CDC OKs Fourth Vaccine Dose for Immunocompromised

Adults in the US with moderately or severely weakened immune systems who had vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna can now get a fourth dose six months after their third dose, the CDC said on Tuesday.  The fourth dose can be any COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a list comprising Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the CDC said. For Moderna, the fourth dose should be halved, it said.

Immunocompromised people that received Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine should get a second dose of an approved vaccine at least two weeks later, but not a third or fourth shot, per CDC guidance.

Read more at YahooNews

Global Chip Shortage ‘Is Far From Over’ as Wait Times Get Longer

The global semiconductor shortage is worsening, with wait times lengthening, buyers hoarding products and the potential end looking less likely to materialize by next year. Demand didn’t moderate as expected. Supply routes got clogged. Unpredictable production hiccups slammed factories already running at full capacity.

What’s left is widespread confusion for manufacturers and buyers alike. Some buyers trying to place new orders are getting delivery dates in 2024, said Ian Walker, operations director at electronic-components distributor Princeps Electronics Ltd., which helps companies find chips.

Read more at the WSJ

NAM Fights Reconciliation Framework Tax Increases

The NAM is rolling out a seven-figure national ad campaign to highlight the devastation to manufacturing that would result from passage of the reconciliation bill now under debate in Congress. 

Manufacturing growth followed the tax cuts of 2017 and NAM is highlighting these specific data points:

  • In 2018, manufacturers added 263,000 new jobs—the best showing in 21 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In 2018, manufacturing wages increased 3%; in 2019, they increased 2.8%; and in 2020, 3%.
  • Overall, manufacturing production grew 2.7% in 2018, with December of that year the best month for manufacturing since May 2008, according to the Federal Reserve Board.

Further a NAM-commissioned study showed that raising taxes on manufacturers (including increasing the business rate to 25%) would cost:

  • 1 million jobs and $107 billion in GDP within the first two years; and
  • 500,000 jobs lost, on average, each year over the next decade.

To learn more, visit nam.org/savejobs

Intel Launches New PC Chips, Says U.S. Supercomputer Will Double Expected Speeds

Intel Corp last week introduced a new, faster family of processor chips for personal computers and said that the supercomputer it is helping the U.S. government to build will reach double previously expected speeds. The company said the product line will eventually include 60 different chips destined for 500 models of PCs from various makers, from thin laptops to larger machines designed for gamers. The company said it is shipping 28 versions of the chip to PC makers, with “broad availability” starting on Nov. 4.

Intel also said that Aurora, a supercomputer that Intel is building with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory for artificial intelligence work in suburban Chicago, will be twice as fast as originally planned. Intel said the computer will exceed 2 exaflops, meaning the ability to perform 2 quintillion – or 2,000,000,000,000,000,000 – calculations per second.

Read more at Reuters

Jobless Claims Hit A New Pandemic Low As Fewer Americans Claim Unemployment Benefits

Jobless claims came in at 281,000 in the week ending October 23, down 10,000 from the previous week and are the lowest levels since mid-March last year when claims hit 256,000, according to the Labor Department data. Continuing claims, also known as insured unemployment, fell to a new pandemic-era low of around 2.2 million, recording a 237,000 drop from the previous week.

More than 17 million jobs that were erased when the pandemic hit were added back by last month, but that was still 5 million less than the number of jobs in February 2020, according to the Associated Press. 

Read more at Forbes

Purdue Study Finds Commonalities in Indiana Manufacturers with Low Turnover

Eighty-three percent of more than 100 companies surveyed by Purdue University researchers reported staff turnover as their leading concern. The most common figure for staff turnover is 40% per year, with most in shop-floor, hourly paid jobs. In great contrast to the many, about 5% of the companies have turnover rates at or below 15%, without paying more than other companies local to them (except for one company).

Managers often cite pay as the leading reason for employee-leaving. It is not. The reasons do include the relationship with immediate supervisors; the physical work environment, and: repetitive tasks.

Read more and see some best practices at IndustryWeek

The Economist: A Post-COVID GDP Setback – But Grounds for Optimism Remain

The turbo-charged phase of the American economy’s rebound from the covid-19 pandemic is over.   The fast expansion of the previous few quarters was on course to bring the economy back nearly in line with where it would have been by now, to judge by pre-covid trends. The latest quarter shows that a big gap still remains.

As disappointing as growth was in the third quarter, there are also some rays of optimism peeping from the data. The Delta wave spread quickly but has now receded. Strong orders for capital goods suggest that businesses could be preparing to ramp up their investment spending. A jump in consumer confidence in October bodes well for holiday spending over the next couple of months. And crucially, the balance of spending is beginning to swing in favour of services, as more people travel, go to concerts and eat in restaurants.

Read more at The Economist

CDC Study -People With COVID Jabs Have Been Less Likely to Die of Other Causes

Studies from around the world have confirmed that vaccines are safe and provide good protection against severe forms of the virus. Now a recent report from the CDControl has produced a novel, and even mysterious, reason to be glad for a COVID-19 vaccination. The CDC data show that people vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 jabs are one-third as likely to die of other causes too.

The report showed that, after removing any deaths associated with COVID-19, and controlling for demographic factors such as age and sex, people who had been jabbed were far likelier to have survived. Those who had been double-jabbed with either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines had an average non-covid-related mortality rate of roughly 0.35 per 100 person-years—meaning that between three and four people would be expected to die out of 1,000 monitored for a year. For the unvaccinated, the mortality rate was more than three times as high, at 1.11 per 100 person-years. The pattern held across all races and ethnicities, and in most of the age groups, even as overall mortality rates changed.

Read more at The Economist