Hochul: No Desire to Shut Down Schools Amid COVID-19 Case Rise
Despite a recent rise in pediatric hospital admissions across New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul said schools will stay open amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. Hochul, providing a post-Christmas update Monday morning, said the state is planning “for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario,” as the omicron variant has contributed to a case rise statewide.
Hochul’s goal, also repeated by acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, is to keep schools open despite these numbers and lower-than-expected vaccination statistics among children aged 5-11. “We want to make sure these schools stay open,” the governor said. “We want more vaccinated; we want them boosted at some point as soon as possible.”
NYC to Limit Classroom Closures, Prioritize Ramped-Up Testing for Schools
New York City will eliminate its current policy of quarantining entire classrooms exposed to the coronavirus and will instead prioritize a ramped-up testing program so that asymptomatic students testing negative for COVID-19 can remain in school, officials said on Tuesday.
The step shows health officials are increasing the focus on testing and trying to avoid long isolation periods. A day earlier, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened the recommended isolation time for Americans with asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 to five days from the previous guidance of 10 days.
What to Do if You Test Positive for Covid-19?
Here’s what doctors and public health officials say you should do after a positive test—from quarantining, to informing contacts and seeking medical care.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines are the same whether you are unvaccinated, vaccinated or boosted: Isolate for five days. If you have no symptoms after five days, you may leave isolation, but should wear a mask around other people for five more days. If you have a fever, you should continue to stay home.
NY Clarifies Employer Role in Cannabis Use
More than six months after New York legalized recreational use of marijuana, the state’s department of labor has published a guidance document intended to help employers navigate the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.
Enacted March 31, the act prohibits employer discrimination against employees based on their cannabis use outside of the workplace, outside of work hours, and without use of the employer’s equipment or property. However, it also amends section 201-D of the New York Labor Law by adding subsection 4-a, which permits employers to take action or prohibit employee conduct if:
US COVID – Hospitalizations, Deaths Lag Cases
Continued struggles with the Delta variant and the emergence of the highly infectious Omicron variant have pushed the country’s daily case totals to their highest levels since late summer. Caseloads are growing rapidly in the Northeast, where Omicron already has a foothold. Reports of new cases in New York shot up more than 80 percent over two weeks. In Washington, D.C., more than three times as many infections are being identified each day now than at the start of December.
The Times Tracker includes interactive maps monitoring cases, hospitalizations, deaths and more.
NYS Vaccine and COVID Update
Vaccine Stats as of December 28:
One Vaccine Dose
- 83.4% of all New Yorkers – 15,631,100 (plus 24,613 from a day earlier).
- In the Hudson Valley 1,626,252 (plus 3,407).
- 71.5% of all New Yorkers – 13,905,364 (plus 12,487).
- In the Hudson Valley – 1,420,707 (plus 1,580).
The Governor updated COVID data through December 27 . There were 77 COVID related deaths for a total of 61,084.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 6,173.
7 Day Average Positivity Rate – Cases per 100K population
- Statewide 13.36% – 194.36 positive cases per 100,00 population
- Mid-Hudson: 12.53% – 152.56 positive cases per 100,00 population
South African Study: Omicron Surge May Reduce Delta Infections
A small study from South Africa suggests that the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant may reduce infections from the delta variant, as the former strain builds up immunity against the latter. The study, which has yet to be peer reviewed, looked at 33 unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals who had contracted the omicron variant. It found that people who became infected with the highly transmissible new strain developed an enhanced immunity to the delta variant. This effect was reportedly stronger among those who were vaccinated.
Researchers found that neutralization against delta increased by 4.4-fold over a 14-day period following participants’ enrollment in the study soon after they began experiencing symptoms from omicron infections. A 14-fold increase in neutralization against the omicron variant itself was also observed.
Experts Say COVID-19 Cases Don’t Tell Whole Story
For nearly two years, Americans have looked carefully at coronavirus case numbers in the country and in their local states and towns to judge the risk of the disease. Surging case numbers signaled growing dangers, while falling case numbers were a relief and a signal to let one’s guard down in terms of gathering with friends and families and taking part in all kinds of events.
But with much of the nation’s population vaccinated and boosted and the country dealing with a new COVID-19 surge from omicron — hospitalizations and deaths are the markers that government officials need to monitor carefully to ensure the safety of communities as the nation learns to live with COVID-19.
Millions in U.K. Await Treatment, but Not for Covid-19
Covid-19 has slammed hospitals and stretched healthcare systems, in turn resulting in canceled doctors’ appointments and delayed procedures and tests for other illnesses. According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic has triggered a separate, global crisis among patients with conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease who were unable to get—or who put off—timely care because of healthcare systems overrun by Covid-19.
In most places, it is hard to quantify how many people delayed or forwent healthcare during the pandemic. But in the U.K., thanks to a centralized, government-funded healthcare system, officials have been able to keep track.
U.S. Home-Price Growth Slowed Again in October
U.S. home-price growth slowed for the second straight month in October, an indication that the hot housing market may be starting to cool. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation, rose 19.1% in the year that ended in October, down from a 19.7% annual rate the prior month.
Home-buying demand has surged in the past year due to low mortgage-interest rates, and existing-home sales are on track to hit their highest annual level since 2006. Fierce buyer competition for a limited number of homes for sale has pushed prices to record highs. .The median existing-home sale price in November rose 13.9% from a year earlier to $353,900, the National Association of Realtors said earlier this month.
Automation Will Drive Need for 1 Million Additional Warehouse Workers Through 2024
A study done by Interact Analysis of warehouses both in the U.S. and in Europe, found that that automation is driving sustained jobs growth, as automation creates a virtuous circle: robots aren’t being used to displace manual workers rather, robots are used alongside personnel to augment overall productivity. Warehouse operators and logistics companies face a critical struggle to meet the ever-increasing consumer demands that far outweigh anything that could be met with human manpower alone. The research, which involved speaking to almost every single significant warehouse automation provider globally, revealed:
- The U.S. had 1.6 million warehouse employees in 2019 which is forecast to grow to just under 2 million in 2024, while Europe had 2.5 million warehouse employees in 2019 which is forecast to grow to 3.1 million in 2024.
- Both Europe and the U.S. are forecast to grow with a similar CAGR of approximately 4% between 2019 and 2024, With demand forecast at this rate, the research found that one million additional warehouse employees will be required, or 25% growth in five years.
Japan’s Factory Output Soars as Car Production Returns
Japan’s factory output jumped at the fastest pace on record in November, as easing global supply chain bottlenecks helped car production leap out of its recent slump, lifting prospects for a strong fourth-quarter economic rebound.
Factory production gained 7.2% in November from the previous month, posting its largest jump since 2013 when comparable data first became available, thanks to rising output of motor vehicles and plastic products.
Fauci: ‘I Don’t Think People Should Expect’ a Domestic Flight Vaccine Mandate
Anthony Fauci on Monday said Americans shouldn’t expect a Covid vaccination requirement for domestic air travel in the near future unless “things change dramatically.”
The comments come after the president’s chief medical adviser said earlier in the day that such a requirement should “seriously” be considered for travelers in the United States. Fauci said Monday evening that this should be another policy tool under consideration, but that he wasn’t suggesting it was likely to happen.
2022 Tech Trends: Meatless Meat, Web 3.0, Big Tech Battles
After a year that made the terms WFH (work from home) and metaverse instantly recognizable for many people, there are a new set of technological trends headed this way for 2022.
Here’s a selection of how technology may change lives in the coming year: