Member Briefing February 28, 2022

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing ,

CDC Issues Long-Awaited New Guidance on When to Wear Masks – All Hudson Valley Counties “Green”

The guidance lays out a system that designates individual counties as being at either low, medium, or high risk from Covid-19. Roughly 62.6% of counties — home to 71.7% of Americans — fall into the low- and medium-risk categories. The designations will be based on key metrics at a county level, using data counties provide to the CDC on an ongoing basis. Those include the rate of Covid cases that require hospitalization and the percentage of beds in hospitals that are occupied by people who have Covid. If immunity from vaccination or prior infection holds and fewer people who contract Covid develop severe disease, more counties would move into the low-risk designation.

The new system moves beyond sheer numbers of new cases to look at how well the health care system in each county is holding up. The idea, the CDC said, is to focus on minimizing severe disease and ensuring that hospitals are able to cope with Covid cases while still delivering standard care.


US Bureau of Economic Analysis: Q4 GDP Estimate Raised to 7 Percent

The U.S. economy grew at a rate of 7.0% in Q4, up from the 2.3% gain in the third quarter and inching up from the previous estimate of 6.9% growth, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  The data also show negative impacts from ongoing supply chain disruptions and the spread of the omicron virus, with weaker-than-desired spending on consumer goods and business investment. In addition, reduced fiscal stimulus has led to a drag from government for three straight quarters.

“Overall, the U.S. economy rebounded very strongly in 2021, with real GDP soaring 5.7% following the 3.4% decline seen in 2020,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray. However, growth for the first quarter will be just 1.5% due to the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant, supply chain issues and pricing pressure challenges.  

Read more at the AP


Russian Cyberattacks on the West – Analysts Say ‘The Risk Right Now is High and Rising’

Russia is home to some of the world’s most infamous criminal hackers, some of them state-sponsored, so will wider cyberattacks follow the real-world invasion? And could they hit the West?  The Department of Homeland Security this week  launched a “shields up” drive to protect the U.S.’s critical infrastructure from Russian actions, warning companies they are at risk.

“I think the risk right now is high and rising,” said Derek Vadala, chief risk officer at the U.S. cyber risk ratings firm BitSight, who warned that Western companies should ensure their systems are patched against known vulnerabilities. “Everyone is on a heightened state of preparedness right now.”

Read more at Fortune


What Americans Should Do to Prepare for Russian Cyberattacks

Countries around the world are likely to feel some effects from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, via physical disruptions of agricultural and energy supplies, and digital disruptions caused by Russian cyberattacks. The latter, in particular, could easily end up reaching the United States. If and when such attacks might come is impossible to predict with certainty, says Michael Daniel, who served as a cybersecurity adviser to President Barack Obama and is now the president and CEO of the Cyber Threat Alliance, a nonprofit.

Americans should keep their devices updated, choose strong passwords, and use multifactor authentication. Daniel agreed, and emphasized that the current risk profile doesn’t call for much more action. “What we don’t want to do,” he said pointedly, is create “bank runs and shortages of gasoline by self-induced panic.”

Read more at The Atlantic


US COVID – Daily Incidence, Mortality Continue Sharp Decline

The US CDC is currently reporting 78.52 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 936,162 deaths. Daily incidence continues its sharp decline, down from a record high of 807,285 new cases per day on January 15 to 79,539 on February 22, a 90% decrease. Daily mortality appears to have peaked on February 2 at 2,597 deaths per day, down to 1,602 on February 22.

The US has administered 687.7 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Daily vaccinations continue to decline, down from the most recent peak of 1.78 million doses per day on December 7 to 337,874 on February 18. A total of 253.2 million individuals have received at least 1 vaccine dose, which corresponds to 76.3% of the entire US population. A total of 215.1 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 64.8% of the total population. 

Read more at The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of February 27:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 88.9% of all New Yorkers – 16,352,894 (plus 833 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,703,092 (plus 252).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 75.5% of all New Yorkers – 14,602,959 (plus 1,705).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,491,801 (plus 355). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 6,965,121
  • In the Hudson Valley – 840,206  

The Governor updated COVID data through February 27.  There were 20 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 69,057 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,911.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 342

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 1.94%    –   10.57 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 1.71%   –   8.95 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Hochul: NYS School Mask Mandate Will be Lifted on Wednesday

New York’s statewide school mask mandate will be lifted on Wednesday, March 2nd; this also includes children 2 years and older in childcare facilities. Local governments will still be able to determine whether or not they still want masks in school, but it is no longer a state mandate. Governor Hochul made the announcement Sunday. 

“Also this is up to parents, individual parents have their own knowledge of their children, they know their children’s health, they know their tolerance for the mask, they know whether or not for them if they have an underlying health condition, that they would want to keep the masks on,” Governor Hochul said.

Read more at CNY Central


Shipping Expert Warns of Global Fallout from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Because of Ukraine’s location it is one of the biggest – and likely one of the most overlooked – cogs in the global supply chain today. Ukraine serves as a key bridge between western and eastern Europe – to say nothing of the country’s importance in the inter-continental sea transit supply chain due to its numerous Black Sea ports, such as Odessa, Mykolaiv and others. Therefore, the ripples of this conflict will be felt throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East – particularly in countries such as Germany, Turkey, Poland and China, which have deep trade ties with Ukraine.

In addition, this crisis will also have far-reaching impacts that will touch the U.S. Hundreds of millions of dollars in direct trade passes between the U.S. and Ukraine – including U.S. exports of vehicles, aviation equipment and other types of heavy machinery. Thus, these disruptions will add additional “insult to injury” for many industries in the U.S. that have already been struggling as a result of the pandemic. 

Read more at Manufacturing.Net


U.S. Consumer Spending Rose 2.1% in January and Inflation Accelerated Amid Omicron Wave

Spending rose a seasonally adjusted 2.1% in January from the previous month, bouncing back from a revised 0.8% decline in December. Personal income was unchanged on the month, following the expiration of the federal government’s monthly child tax credit. The Commerce Department’s measure of inflation—the personal-consumption-expenditures price index—rose to 6.1% in January from a year earlier, the fastest pace in four decades. 

After adjusting for inflation, consumer spending was up 1.5% in January. Consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of the U.S. economy, so strong household expenditure data could point to faster economic growth in the first quarter.

Read more at the WSJ


CDC Recommends Waiting Longer Between Vaccine Doses

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that younger males should consider waiting longer between doses of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines to reduce a rare risk of heart inflammation.

The CDC said males ages 12- to 39-years-old should consider waiting eight weeks between the first and second doses of their primary Covid vaccination series. Public health authorities in Canada found the risk of myocarditis in men ages 18- to 24-years-old was lower when they waited eight weeks for the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer.

Read more at CNBC

Large, Late Merchandise Orders Are Raising Companies’ Inventory Costs

The combination of big merchandise orders and lengthy shipping delays is tying up cash in supply chains, straining the finances of a swath of companies as they seek to cover the cost of goods awaiting delivery. Billions of dollars of inventory is sitting on ships waiting at seaports and taking much longer to get to factories and stores as congestion at ports and in inland distribution networks slows the flow of goods. Logistics experts say that is pushing buyers and suppliers to extend their payment terms and obtain new financing that expands the cost of carrying inventory. Inventory levels for U.S. companies have been severely constrained since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, but the cost of holding inventory has increased sharply because goods have been stuck in bogged-down supply chains for longer periods.

“The cash needs of a lot of businesses are going through the roof because transit times have tripled, and that means that they need three times the amount of working capital,” said Sanne Manders, chief operating officer of the freight forwarder Flexport Inc. 

Read more at the WSJ


Core Capital Goods, Durable Goods Orders Rose in January

New orders for durable goods rose in January, paced by commercial aircraft, the U.S. Commerce Department reported today. Orders advanced by 1.6 percent to $277.5 billion last month, which followed an adjusted 1.2 percent increase for December. January marked the eighth increase in the past nine months.  Excluding transportation equipment, the January rise was 0.7 percent. Excluding defense, the increase was 1.6 percent.

The overall transportation category saw a 3.4 percent monthly rise to $87.6 billion, the third consecutive monthly boost. Within transportation, commercial aircraft soared 16 percent to $20.2 billion. The sector has been recovering from COVID-19, which slashed demand for air travel in 2020. Such demand has been rising and deliveries of aircraft have picked up.

Read more at  SME 


Jobless Claims – 232,000 Americans Filed New Claims Last Week

New weekly jobless claims dipped last week, returning to a downward trend following a brief spike higher.

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended Feb. 19: 232,000 vs. 235,000 expected and a revised 249,000 during prior week
  • Continuing claims, week ended Feb. 12: 1.476 million vs. 1.580 million expected and a revised 1.588 million during prior week

Jobless claims data belies the tightness of the labor market, which has been more evident in data on job openings. Vacancies have remained near record levels, underscoring employers’ widespread desire to bring on more workers to keep pace with elevated consumer demand.

Read more at YahooFinance


US Oil, Gas Lease Sales Caught in Legal Wrangling Over the Social Cost of Carbon

New US oil and natural gas leasing has again hit a stumbling block, as the Interior Department confirmed Feb. 22 that delays will ensue as the department assesses how to move forward after a key tool for calculating the climate risks of those sales was taken off the table by a federal district court. 

On his first day in office, Biden restored the climate cost estimate to roughly $51 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions, following the Trump administration decision to cut the number to roughly $7 or less per ton and account only for the impacts in the U.S. rather than across the world. The US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana Feb. 11 issued a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s estimates for the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions, directing federal agencies to revert to Trump-era cost estimates and prohibiting reliance on estimates based on global effects.

Read more at Hellenic Shipping News


Cyberattack Forces New York Ethics Agency’s Systems Offline

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics said late Friday that a forensic analysis confirmed the attack several days after the agency received an alert of suspicious activity. The attack involved a web server that houses, among other systems, the agency’s lobbying application and financial disclosure filing systems.  The systems were taken down earlier in the week after the alert was received. Officials said they would remain offline until further notice.

It was not immediately known who was behind the attack or whether user or other agency information was breached, the commission said. State law enforcement officials were investigating. JCOPE Executive Director Sanford Berland said in a statement. “We are working with our partners in information technology and law enforcement to identify the scope of the attack, to ensure that the incident response is comprehensive, and to bring each system back online as soon as safely possible.”

Read more at Spectrum News