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Daily Briefing – 411

Post: Nov. 21, 2021

Schumer-McConnell Work Toward Debt Ceiling Deal

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer  and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell are dialing down the drama as they try to find an escape hatch from another high-stakes fight over the debt ceiling. Congress has until roughly Dec. 15 to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who has warned that the mid-December date is when the government will no longer be able to fully pay its bills. 

On the surface, the deadline sets the stage for round two of a bruising fight between the Senate leaders. But instead, McConnell and Schumer, who their colleagues say rarely talk, are publicly pulling their punches for now, in what senators view as more a marriage of necessity — with the global economy hanging in the balance — than a love match between the two adversaries. 

Read more at The Hill

Supply-Chain Problems Show Signs of Easing

Global supply-chain woes are beginning to recede, but shipping, manufacturing and retail executives say that they don’t expect a return to more-normal operations until next year and that cargo will continue to be delayed if Covid-19 outbreaks disrupt key distribution hubs. 

In Asia, Covid-related factory closures, energy shortages and port-capacity limits have eased in recent weeks. In the U.S., major retailers say they have imported most of what they need for the holidays. Ocean freight rates have retreated from record levels. Still, executives and economists say strong consumer demand for goods in the West, ongoing port congestion in the U.S., shortages of truck drivers and elevated global freight rates continue to hang over any recovery. The risk of more extreme weather and flare-ups of Covid-19 cases can also threaten to clog up supply chains again.

Read more at the WSJ

Tens of Thousands March in Vienna Against COVID Measures Before Lockdown

Tens of thousands of people protested in Vienna on Saturday against coronavirus restrictions a day after Austria’s government announced a new lockdown and said vaccines would be made compulsory next year.  Crowds streamed into Heroes’ Square in front of the Hofburg, the former imperial palace in central Vienna, in the early afternoon, one of several protest locations.

With daily infections still setting records even after a lockdown was imposed on the unvaccinated this week, the government said on Friday it would reintroduce a lockdown on Monday and make it compulsory to get vaccinated as of Feb. 1.

Read more at Reuters

Unvaccinated Lockdowns: Which European Countries Have Unvaccinated Lockdowns? 

The unvaccinated are being targeted in several European countries as the continent faces a massive surge in Covid infections – but which nations exactly have implemented tougher rules for those who have not had the Covid vaccine?

Europe is at the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic once again after the relaxation of Covid restrictions and sluggish vaccine rollouts have brought the continent to a “critical point”, according to the World Health Organization. Express.co.uk has compiled a list of all the European nations which currently have restrictive lockdown rules for those who have not had the jab.

Read more at ExpressUK

US COVID Update – Deaths in 2021 Surpass Last Year’s Toll

The United States passed yet another sobering milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of 2021 coronavirus deaths surpassed the 2020 total. According to the latest available data from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has reached at least 770,691 COVID-19 deaths over the full course of the pandemic.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that the total number of deaths involving COVID-19 in 2020 was 385,343. That means that at least 385,348 COVID-19 deaths — 15 more than the 2020 total —have so far been recorded in 2021, and that number will only rise in the days and weeks to come. The grim  milestone comes despite the fact that three COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized in the country, most recently for children as young as 5 years old. 

Read more at The Hill

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Sunday November 21st:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 76.9 of all New Yorkers – 14,758,573 (plus 26,077 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,546,185 (plus 2,226).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 68.0% of all New Yorkers – 13,204,004 (plus 9,308).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,358,092 (plus 544). 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday November 20th.  There were 31 COVID related deaths for a total of 58,789.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,292.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.77%
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.87%

Useful Websites:

Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna Covid-19 Boosters for All Adults Backed by FDA, CDC

The signoff Friday by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will lead to a significant widening of the U.S. booster campaign that health officials hope will remove confusion and offer people more protection ahead of holiday gatherings and travel as new daily Covid-19 cases are beginning to rise again.

Her decision comes after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the extra Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna doses for all adults earlier in the day, and health experts advising the CDC then voted 11-0 to recommend them. The advisory panel said the vaccines should be available to all adults and voted unanimously that everyone over 50 years old should get them.

Read more at the WSJ

U.S. Buys 10 Million Treatment Courses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 Pill for $5.29 Billion

Pfizer Inc. said Thursday it agreed to a $5.29 billion deal with the U.S. to provide enough supplies of its promising Covid-19 pill to treat 10 million people, should health regulators give it the green light.  The company’s antiviral drug, Paxlovid, is under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and a decision could come before the end of the year.

Under the terms of the deal, the government will pay about $529 for each course of treatment consisting of 30 pills over five days. Twice a day, patients would take two pills of Paxlovid and one pill of another antiviral called ritonavir.  The price is below the approximate $700 per course of treatment the U.S. agreed to pay for molnupiravir, an oral antiviral from Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP that is also under review by the FDA. The U.S. has agreed to purchase 3.1 million courses of molnupiraivir for about $2.2 billion.

Read more at the WSJ

US COVID Infections Rising as Upper Midwest Sees Biggest Jump

America’s Covid-19 infections are climbing again, and could soon hit a weekly average of 100,000 cases a day as daily case reports increase more than 20% across the upper midwest. The fresh worsening of the coronavirus pandemic in the US comes as temperatures cool during the approach of winter, forcing people indoors and may presage another wave.

The rise in new US infections come as several European countries are reporting a brutal resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic. New infections are at record levels in some countries and Austria will reimpose a nationwide lockdown next week, while Germany is clamping down on unvaccinated people and has not ruled out imposing new restrictions on movement.

Read more at The Guardian (UK) 

McMahon: NY’s October’s Job Harvest Was Bountiful (But Labor Force is Still Shrinking)

New York just tallied its biggest year-to-year October private-sector job gain on record, according to the state’s latest monthly state Labor Department report. The state’s estimated year-to-year gain of 14,900 manufacturing jobs (up 3.7 percent) may point to stronger end-of-year performance in light of the New York Federal Reserve’s most recent Empire State Manufacturing Survey, conducted the first week in November, which reported a record pace of employment growth and an increase in the average work-week.

While 11,313 more New York residents reported they were employed, the state’s total labor force shrank by 12,238 people to a total of 9,303,737, which was nearly 200,000 below the pre-pandemic level. By contrast, the labor force nationally held its own, slightly above the previous month, roughly equal to mid-2018 levels.

Read more at the Empire Center

U.S. Jobless Claims Drop to 268,000

U.S. jobless claims dipped by 1,000 last week from the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

  • The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell for the seventh straight week to a pandemic low of 268,000.
  • The four-week average of claims, which smooths week-to-week volatility, also fell to a pandemic low just below 273,000.
  • Overall, 2.1 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment checks the week that ended Nov. 6, down by 129,000 from the week before.

Read more at the AP

ECB’s Lagarde Says a Rate Hike Unlikely for 2022

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde reiterated on Friday that the “conditions to raise rates are very unlikely to be satisfied next year.” Lagarde had already sought to cool expectations of an interest rate hike next year, following the ECB’s October policy meeting. 

In her speech Friday, Lagarde said that high inflation rates were likely to rise further until the end of the year. On Wednesday, it was confirmed that euro zone inflation had hit 4.1% year-on-year in October, which was more than double the ECB’s target.  Lagarde said that this inflationary pressure was “unwelcome and painful.”

Read more at CNBC

DiNapoli: Local Sales Tax Collections in October Up Nearly 13% From 2020

Local sales tax collections in New York grew by 12.9% in October compared to a year ago, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today. Collections for all localities totaled more than $1.5 billion, up $175 million from October 2020.  This growth continues the trend that began in April of monthly sales tax collections exceeding last year’s results. October’s increase also surpassed pre-pandemic levels and was up 7% (or nearly $101 million) over October of 2019.

DiNapoli Releases Interactive Map of Local Census Results

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today released a report tracking New York’s local demographic changes based on 2020 Census data and an interactive online map that breaks down population statistics by age, race and ethnicity, along with housing trends, in New York’s cities, counties, towns and villages. DiNapoli’s report provides a snapshot of New York state’s population, which totaled more than 20.2 million in 2020, up 4.1% since 2010.

The state’s overall population growth was largely driven by the New York City metropolitan area. The city experienced its fourth straight decade of population growth and had the sharpest increase at 7.7%. The population in the Mid-Hudson region grew 4.7% to nearly 2.4 million, the largest percentage increase of any region outside of New York City.

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U.S. Union EV Subsidy Criticized by Canada, Mexico

President Biden’s proposal to reward electric cars made at U.S. union shops has earned applause from organized labor, but the measure has drawn heckles from his closest trading partners. Biden was challenged Thursday at a summit with his counterparts Mexico and Canada, who accuse the US president of protectionism, adding to the already bitter commentary from leading non-union carmakers including Toyota and Tesla.

The proposal, included in Biden’s $1.75 trillion spending package passed Friday in the House and awaiting a vote in the Senate, gives a bigger tax credit for union-built electric vehicles (EV) and phases out for imported EVs after five years. Canada has warned of “severe economic harm” from the measure, while Mexico has said it contradicts the goal of quickly expanding EV use.

Read more at IndustryWeek

How to Have a COVID-Safe Thanksgiving Gathering

Data suggest that bringing people together in groups does indeed raise the chances of passing along the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In the United States last winter, Thanksgiving and Christmas coincided with a COVID-19 wave, says Joshua Weitz, the founding director of the Quantitative Biosciences Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Case rates varied by state, but the data show an accompanying nationwide peak in fatalities from about three weeks after Thanksgiving until February.

Still, experts say that people can mitigate their risk this year in a variety of ways while enjoying the holiday. Among the possible steps to take: vaccination, rapid testing, checking local caseloads, and strategic ventilation.

Read more at NAT GEO