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Daily Briefing – 404

Post: Nov. 7, 2021

House Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill -Heads to President for Signature into Law, Rule to Advance Larger Social Spending Bill Also Passes House

The House late Friday passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill by a vote of 218-203. Lawmakers sent the legislation to Biden’s desk after a weeks-long standoff over Democrats’ larger $1.75 trillion social spending package, which progressives demanded be passed in tandem with the bipartisan bill.

The lower chamber on Friday night advanced a rule that establishes debate parameters for the bigger package, but the chamber is not expected to vote on it until later this month. The fate of the that bill remains unclear as moderate Democrats in the House and Senate balk at the cost and “gimmicks” they say are part of the package.

Read more at The Hill

Roads, Transit, Internet: What’s in the Infrastructure Bill

The $1 trillion infrastructure plan that now goes to President Joe Biden to sign into law has money for roads, bridges, ports, rail transit, safe water, the power grid, broadband internet and more.

The new law promises to reach almost every corner of the country.  The White House is projecting that the investments will add, on average, about 2 million jobs per year over the coming decade.

Read What’s in it at the AP

More on the OSHA Rules on Covid-19 Vaccination Mandates From Harris Beach

The ETS covers most private employers with 100 or more employees.  For states with safety agencies covering only government employees, such as New York, the safety agency’s standards will apply to local and state government workers.

Covered employers must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy.  Covered employers also must provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects.  Employers may elect to allow employees to undergo regular Covid-19 testing in lieu of being vaccinated as long as they also wear a face covering at work.  The ETS does not require employers to pay for the cost of testing, but other laws could. The ETS acknowledges that employees may be entitled to accommodations for disabilities and religious beliefs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII, but does not offer detailed guidance regarding accommodations.  The ETS notes that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, not OSHA, is responsible for enforcing the ADA or Title VII.

Federal Appeals Court Temporarily Blocks Biden Administration Vaccine Rules for Private Employers

A three-judge panel on the New Orleans-based Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay prohibiting enforcement of the rules for now, saying they raise “grave statutory and constitutional issues.” The Fifth Circuit said it would quickly consider whether to issue an injunction against the vaccine and testing requirements, ordering the Biden administration to file initial legal papers by late Monday afternoon.

Seema Nanda, the Labor Department’s top legal adviser, said the administration was confident in its authority to issue the standard and was fully prepared to defend it in court. “The Occupational Safety and Health Act explicitly gives OSHA the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them,” Ms. Nanda said in a statement.

Read more at the WSJ

U.S. COVID Update –  Vaccine Boost From Boosters

The US CDC reports 46.1 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 746,705 deaths. The current daily incidence average is approximately 68,151 new cases per day. The decline in daily incidence has tapered off, and the average has held relatively steady at approximately 71,000 new cases per day since October 26. While this is considerably lower than the January 2021 and September 2021 peaks, it is still higher than the peaks from all other surges. The decline in daily mortality appears to have passed an inflection point and is beginning to taper off as well. The US is currently averaging 1,190 deaths per day, more than the summer 2020 peak, despite the widespread availability of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

The US has administered 425 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. The daily vaccination trend has increased sharply since October 21, up from 684,000 doses per day to 1.2 million on October 29. Notably, this corresponds to the date on which CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed the recommendation by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to expand eligibility for booster doses. We expect to see some associated increase in daily vaccinations as a result of the recent decision to authorize use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children aged 5-11 years.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Sunday November 7th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 74.9 of all New Yorkers – 14,442,580 (plus 20,104 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,510,311 (plus 2,013).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 67.1% of all New Yorkers – 13,042,868 (plus 17,451).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,342,588 (plus 1,121). 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday November 6th.  There were 25 COVID related deaths for a total of 58,181.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,805.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.53%
  • Mid-Hudson: 1.85%

Useful Websites:

Hochul Announces New Guidance and Resources to Support Vaccinations of 5-11-Year-Olds

Governor Hochul Friday announced the launch of a new website, clinical guidance and additional information and resources in the effort to vaccinate 5-11-year-old children in New York against COVID-19.

New Yorkers looking to schedule vaccine appointments for 5-11-year-old children are encouraged to contact their child’s pediatrician, family physician, county health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers, rural health centers, or pharmacies that may be administering the vaccine for this age group. Parents and guardians can visit vaccines.gov, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations. Make sure that the provider offers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, as the other COVID-19 vaccines are not yet authorized for this age group. At this time, New York State’s mass vaccination sites are currently being utilized for people aged 12 and older, while our #VaxToSchool pop-ups are focused on 12- to 17-year-olds. Additional programming and events focused on 5 – 11-year-olds will be announced soon.

Antiviral Pills from Pfizer, Merck, Show Promise Against Worst COVID-19 Outcomes

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Friday announced that its experimental pill regimen, when taken shortly after symptoms develop, dramatically reduced the risk of hospitalization and death. A different pill developed by Merck and its partner, Ridgeback Therapeutics, is already under review by federal regulators.

If the pills are deemed safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration in coming weeks, they are expected to become available right away, although supply of the Pfizer drug could be limited initially. The companies have already begun manufacturing, with plans to ramp up production more next year.

Read more at YahooNews

Factory Orders Rise

New orders for manufactured goods rose in September, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  “New orders for manufactured goods rose 0.2% from $514.6 billion in August to a record $515.9 billion in September, increasing for the fifth straight month, albeit at a slower pace,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray.

“Orders for nondefense aircraft and parts, which can be highly volatile from month to month, fell 27.9% in September, with motor vehicle and parts sales also lower, down 1.9% due to the chip shortage and production challenges. Excluding transportation equipment, manufacturing orders increased 0.7% in September, with new durable goods orders excluding transportation up 0.5%. Overall, the manufacturing sector continues to expand strongly—despite lingering supply chain, workforce and pricing pressures—with new orders soaring 10.2% year to date. In addition, new orders for core capital goods (or nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft) rose 0.6%.  Core capital goods orders have risen 8.6% through the first nine months of 2021.” Moutray added.

Read more at The US Census Bureau

October Jobs Report: Strong Rebound as U.S Economy Adds 531,000 Jobs

The U.S. created 531,000 jobs in October while employers further boosted wages, a sign the economy is rebounding from the Delta variant wave but remains restrained by a depleted labor force.  With the pickup in hiring, the unemployment rate fell to 4.6% in October from 4.8% in September, the Labor Department said Friday. The rate has fallen by more than half a percentage point in just the past two months, a rapid decline that is in part due to weak labor-force participation as millions of workers remain on the sidelines.

Employers further boosted wages to compete over relatively few people in the market as they sought to meet surging demand from consumers. The average hourly wage for private-sector workers rose 0.4% in October from a month earlier. Compared with a year earlier, wages rose 4.9%—nearly double the average annual gain between 2007 and 2019.

Read more at the WSJ

Manufacturing Job Growth Doubles in October on Auto Hiring Surge

According to the latest employment report from the Department of Labor, manufacturing added 60,000 jobs last month. The nonfarm economy added 531,000 jobs overall and the national unemployment rate edged down to 4.6% from 4.8%. Motor vehicles and parts production added 27,700 jobs alone last month, making up almost half of all manufacturing jobs created in October and about 70% of the 41,000 new posts filled in durable goods production.

The gap between pre-pandemic and current manufacturing employment shrank last month to 270,000 from 353,000 in September.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Help Really Wanted: No Degree, Work Experience or Background Checks

In a labor market where job openings outnumber applicants, companies are brainstorming how to get more candidates in the door and to the floor. The hiring overhaul signals a potentially broad rethink of job qualifications, a change that could help millions of people enter jobs previously out of reach, according to economists and workforce experts.

A lot has changed since the aftermath of the 2008-09 recession, when high unemployment and a flood of applicants provided companies with their pick of candidates New data from labor-market analytics firm EMSI Burning Glass and the Conference Board, a private research group, suggest that 1.4 million jobs will open to people without college degrees in the next five years if employers continue to lower educational requirements at the current rate

Read more and watch the video at the WSJ

U.S. to Lift Travel Ban Nov. 8: What You Need to Know

Beginning November 8, 2021, international travelers subject to CDC country-specific travel restrictions will be able to resume travel to the U.S. without applying for an exemption. Travelers who meet certain requirements will be allowed to enter the U.S. beginning Nov. 8.

Gottlieb: ‘I Think that We’re Close to the End of the Pandemic Phase of this Virus’

Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday the U.S. is “close” to the final phase of the coronavirus pandemic. “I think that we’re close to the end of the pandemic phase of this virus, and we’re going to enter a more endemic phase and as things improve, cases may pick up,” Gottlieb said during “Face the Nation” on CBS.

The former FDA official said that while COVID-19 cases may start to trend upward again “that doesn’t mean that we’re entering into another wave of infection.”

Read more at The Hill

What is “Gain-of-Function” Research?

DISQUIET IS growing about “gain-of-function” (GOF) research, a form of genetic manipulation on micro-organisms. Some anxiety stems from the idea that such work was responsible for creating SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19. This remains unproven. Many have been alarmed to discover that, before 2019, Chinese and American researchers often genetically tinkered with SARS-like viruses. What exactly is gain-of-function research, and is it cause for alarm?

Researchers have been modifying viruses for decades—and not always in benign ways. Twenty years ago Australian scientists changed a mousepox virus during an attempt to create a mouse contraceptive. The idea was to stimulate the production of antibodies against mouse eggs. But the gene that was inserted switched off the mouse’s immune system, making the virus more lethal. Some virus-tinkering is useful and no cause for worry, for example to create a covid-19 adenoviral vaccine, or to deliver a novel gene as a drug. But biosecurity experts worry when a pathogen has its ability to infect, or cause disease, enhanced.

Read more at The Economist (COVID Coverage remains free)