Daily Briefing – 440

Federal Vaccine/Testing Mandates Take Effect While Supreme Court Stays Silent

Monday, January 10, 2022, the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on COVID-19 for employers with 100 or more employees took effect as the Supreme Court continued its deliberations. Although many had anticipated that the U.S. Supreme Court might rule on the legality of the OSHA ETS prior to Monday, the Court’s failure to do so means that covered employers should be prepared to comply. 

On Friday, January 7, 2022 the Supreme Court heard expedited oral arguments regarding judicial stays facing two federal vaccine mandates concerning COVID-19: OSHA’s ETS on COVID-19 for employers with 100 or more employees and the Healthcare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Interim Final Rule (the “CMS Rule”) covering certain health care providers.  While many had anticipated some sort of preliminary ruling or even a stay of one or both mandates by today, as of the time this advisory was published there had been no ruling on either issue from the Supreme Court.

Read more at National Law Review


Omicron, Supply-Chain Troubles to Slow Growth, World Bank Says

 The World Bank on Tuesday cut its forecasts for economic growth in the United States, the Euro area and China and warned that high debt levels, rising income inequality and new coronavirus variants threatened the recovery in developing economies.

It said global growth is expected to decelerate “markedly” to 4.1% in 2022 from 5.5% last year, and drop further to 3.2% in 2023 as pent-up demand dissipates and governments unwind massive fiscal and monetary support provided early in the pandemic.

Read more at Reuters


Goldman Predicts the Fed Will Hike Rates Four Times this Year

As Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified at his re-confirmation hearing yesterday, Goldman Sachs is predicting that persistently high inflation combined with a labor market near full employment will push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more than expected this year.

The Wall Street firm’s chief economist, Jan Hatzius, said in a note Sunday that he now figures the Fed to enact four quarter-percentage point rate hikes in 2022, representing an even more aggressive path than the central bank’s indications of just a month ago. The Fed’s benchmark overnight borrowing rate is currently anchored in a range between 0%-0.25%, most recently around 0.08%.

Read more at CNBC


Powell Testimony: ‘If We Have to Raise Interest Rates More Over Time, We Will’

Facing the Senate for his renomination, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress Tuesday that if the pace of price increases do not come down, the central bank will get more aggressive with raising short-term borrowing costs.  “If we see inflation persisting at high levels, longer than expected, if we have to raise interest rates more over time, then we will,” Powell said in a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

The stakes are high for the Fed this year, with inflationary prints showing prices rising at a clip of almost 7% on a year-over-year basis.  The Fed has spent the last year or so trying to figure out how much of those price increases are due to rising demand (which allows producers to raise prices) or constrained supply (in which COVID-disruptions increase the costs of production inputs).

Read more at YahooFinance


US COVID – Cases Set to Triple Pre-Omicron Record

The seven-day average of newly reported Covid-19 infections in the U.S. is on track to triple the pre-Omicron record set a year ago, when America saw a quarter million daily cases, as concerns grow over access to and reliability of testing both in the U.S. and Europe, where the highly transmissible Omicron variant has also taken root. The seven-day average for newly reported cases in the U.S. topped 700,000 for the first time Saturday. The numbers reported by state health departments and collected by Johns Hopkins also likely reflect a fraction of the true number, due in part to Omicron’s rapid spread and the difficulty many Americans have had getting tested.

Growing demand for tests has led some laboratories to ration access, giving priority to people exhibiting symptoms or who have other underlying health concerns, though health experts worry that asymptomatic people might continue to spread the virus if they are unable to access testing.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update  

Vaccine Stats as of January 11:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 85.5% of all New Yorkers – 15,908,443 (plus 16,372 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,652,139 (plus 2,455).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 72.6% of all New Yorkers – 14,096,989 (plus 12,685).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,439,603 (plus 1,978). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 5,143,012
  • In the Hudson Valley – 610,248

The Governor updated COVID data through January 10.  There were 160 COVID related deaths for a total of 62,458. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 12,540.

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 20.91%    –    381.66 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 21.96%   –  359.58 positive  cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


White House Says Private Insurers to Cover Rapid Covid-19 Tests

Private insurers will have to cover the cost of over-the-counter Covid-19 tests starting Saturday under a Biden administration plan that aims to make it more affordable for people to screen for infections and limit the spread of the Omicron variant. The policy outlined Monday by the administration means that millions of people with private health insurance can expect insurers to reimburse them for up to eight tests a month per covered individual, or that they will be able to purchase them at no cost through their insurance.

Consumers with private insurance will be able to obtain the tests without any cost sharing such as deductibles, coinsurance or copayments, according to the new policy. A family of four, all on the same health plan, would be able to be reimbursed by their insurance for 32 tests a month, for example.

Read more at the WSJ


Pushback Grows Against 4th COVID Vaccine Doses, With Experts Urging Caution Over Expanding Booster Campaigns

In Israel, which has already started rolling out second boosters to over-60s, health workers and the immunocompromised, infectious disease specialist Eyal Leshem reckons most people will be sufficiently protected against severe COVID with two or three doses.  “We may need to update those boosters every several years, possibly every year, to adjust them to the prevalent variant, but we may well not need any boosters if future variants prove to be less virulent as we see with omicron,” the Sheba Medical Center expert told CNBC. 

Leshem also pointed out that Israel’s move into fourth-dose territory was based on “expert opinion” rather than “robust data as we would ideally like to have in clinical medicine.” Indeed, when the country announced the move, Pfizer and BioNTech—whose vaccine is by far the most widely used in Israel—suggested the deployment would provide useful data to indicate safety and efficacy.

Read more at Fortune


Study: “Common Cold” Cells Provide Protection from COVID-19

High levels of T-cells from common cold coronaviruses can provide protection against COVID-19, an Imperial College London study published on Monday has found, which could inform approaches for second-generation vaccines. Immunity against COVID-19 is a complex picture, and while there is evidence of waning antibody levels six months after vaccination, T-cells are also believed to play a vital role in providing protection.

Read more at Reuters


7 Ways to Improve the Effectiveness of Your Vaccine Surcharges

A number of employers have implemented vaccine mandates, which have been shown to lead to high rates of vaccination with relatively few employees requesting exemptions or being terminated. But some states have taken steps to limit or prohibit vaccine mandates, and many employers are wary of moving forward with a mandate while federal regulations that preempt such state laws continue to make their way through the courts.

Given the uncertainty, employers are looking for other approaches to encourage employee vaccination, and many are evaluating the potential to implement a health insurance premium surcharge for those who are not vaccinated. Employers are well-advised to weigh operational considerations and likely effectiveness before deciding to move forward.

Read more at HR Executive


New Machine Tool Orders Topped $650 Million

U.S. orders for new machine tools rose 13.8% from October to $650.05 million in November 2021, more than double (+111.3%) the November 2020 total, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report released by AMT – the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology. AMT reported it to be the second-highest monthly total in the long-running USMTO series. The rise in activity continues a steady recovery in machine-tool demand throughout 2021, not only rebounding from the break in activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic but also supply-chain delays and skilled-labor shortages.

Through 11 months of new orders for 2021, the USMTO total stands at $5.315 billion, a $57.8% increase over comparable 2020 results.

Read more at American Machinist


‘Out of Touch Companies Should Focus First on Customers and Staff’, UK Survey Finds

More than half of Britons think businesses are out of touch and should focus on their staff rather than on wider social issues, a new survey has found. In a poll to be released today, about 56 per cent believe that businesses do not understand and reflect their priorities.

Around two-thirds of Brits would rather see CEOs talking about employee conditions and customer service than about social issues, according to new research from Stack Data Strategy and Hanbury Strategy. Nearly a third see ESG issues as a “distraction” for business. However, the research shows that climate change has become a “bread and butter” issue for much of the public, with many seeing it as a needed business focus.

Read more at The Times of London (subscription) 


Workers at Second Starbucks in New York Unionize as NLRB Certifies Vote

A second Starbucks location in the Buffalo, N.Y., area unionized on Monday, though the results of the vote may be disputed by the coffee giant. The unionization of a second Starbucks location in the U.S. comes almost exactly one month after the first — also in Buffalo — successfully voted to unionize.

The Starbucks union argued to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that some ballots should be tossed out. The NLRB ultimately agreed with the union, resulting in a final vote of 15-9 in favor of unionization.  A spokesperson for Starbucks told Reuters that it is reviewing its options and believes the votes that were tossed out should be counted. Starbucks has 10 days to challenge the NLRB’s decision.

Read more at The Hill


Many Americans Gained Financial Ground During the Pandemic

Contrary to fears that COVID-19 would cause a complete meltdown of American finances, many households have emerged stronger than before. Americans of all income levels socked away more money during the pandemic, according to Moody’s Analytics estimates based in part on government data. The personal saving rate—a measure of how much money people have left over after spending and taxes—hit a record 33.8% in April 2020, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The rate averaged just under 8% for the two years before the pandemic began.

The surprising financial stability came from a range of factors. Three rounds of federal stimulus payments helped provide additional funds to most Americans, while shutdowns and quarantines caused them to redirect spending. Unemployment benefits, child tax credits and pauses in student loan payments also helped Americans build a cushion in their checking and savings accounts.

Read more at the WSJ


Boeing Deliveries Rose in 2021 but Still Lag Airbus

Boeing delivered more than twice as many commercial planes in 2021 as the year earlier but still lagged its archrival Airbus in the closely watched industry benchmark, according to figures released Tuesday.

The U.S. aviation giant, benefitting from the return of its 737 MAX jet in most leading markets, delivered 340 planes last year, up from 157 in 2020. But that level is still below Airbus’ 611 deliveries in 2021. Deliveries are tied to company revenues and closely monitored by investors.

Read more at IndustryWeek


CES Tech For Manufacturing – 2022 Edition

While the “c” in CES stands for “consumer,” there is sometimes at the annual gadget circus a silent “m” for “manufacturing.” This list from IndustryWeek is not intended to be all-inclusive, but here are some technologies from CES 2022 that grabbed their attention.

Check out these Cool New Technologies at IndustryWeek 


9 Big Questions


 

 

 

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