Cuomo pushes private New York employers to bring workers back into the office by Labor Day even as he warns about the Delta variant

Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference in June.

  • NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he wanted private employers to bring workers back to offices by Labor Day.
  • “Everyone has to be back in the office,” he said on Wednesday.
  • His comments come amid a nationwide rise in COVID-19 cases, fueled by unvaccinated people and the more contagious Delta variant.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing private employers in the state of New York to bring employees back to work in-person by Labor Day.

“Everyone has to be back in the office,” Cuomo said at a conference with a group of business leaders on Wednesday. “We can do it safely, we can do it smartly.”

Moments before, Cuomo had warned about the spread of the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 across the US among unvaccinated people, including in the state of New York.

“The delta variant is real,” Cuomo said, noting that the state reported 2,203 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, compared to just 275 cases one month ago.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 57% of people in New York state are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while about 62% have received at least one vaccine dose.

While breakthrough cases – where fully-vaccinated people test positive for COVID-19 – can occur, the vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization.

Cuomo, a Democrat, also announced that all state workers will need to either get vaccinated or be tested on a weekly basis.

The spread of the Delta variant has created new concerns as cases of the disease rise after falling amid increased vaccinations earlier this year. The CDC on Tuesday introduced new guidance for masking, recommending that fully-vaccinated individuals resume wearing face masks indoors in areas with a high spread of the disease. It previously said vaccinated people could go unmasked in most settings.

Cuomo on Wednesday said state officials were considering the new CDC guidance and urged people to wear masks in public, although he did not announce a new masking requirement. He said local leaders should “seriously consider” the CDC guidance.

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Key Republican senators, Biden agree on ‘major issues’ to move forward with infrastructure deal

senator rob portman of ohio
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

  • A group of GOP senators announced they struck a bipartisan infrastructure deal on Wednesday.
  • It remains unclear whether enough GOP senators will back it in a key test vote that could happen in the evening.
  • It caps six weeks of tumultuous negotiations between the White House and Senators from both parties.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Sen. Rob Portman announced that a group of Republican senators and the White House have reached an agreement on “major issues” to move forward with an infrastructure plan.

“We’re prepared to move forward,” Portman said, according to Bloomberg reporter Erik Wasson.

Another GOP negotiator, Sen. Susan Collins, said she was “delighted” with the agreement.

Lengthy negotiations on the infrastructure deal between the senators, Democratic leadership, and the Biden administration have lasted roughly six weeks.

Over a month ago, in late June, President Joe Biden had said “we have a deal” on infrastructure with the same group of Republican senators. But just last week, Republicans voted against advancing the same framework in a sign of how tumultuous the talks were.

Many GOP senators have said they wanted time to review the full bill and a budget score from the Congressional Budget Office to ensure it didn’t grow the national debt. It remains unclear whether enough Senate Republicans will vote to advance in a second major test vote that may happen Wednesday evening.

At least 10 Republican senators must join every Senate Democrat if all 50 of them stick together.

Biden and a bipartisan group of senators struck a $579 billion infrastructure agreement last month largely focused on physical infrastructure like roads, bridges, and ports. But the bipartisan gang – evenly divided between five Republicans and five Democrats – clashed on sources of revenue as they drafted the bill.

One major source of financing was stepping up IRS tax enforcement. But conservative backlash caused the negotiators to drop it from the agreement earlier this month in an effort to keep GOP support.

It’s increasingly possible that the Senate infrastructure plan could undergo major changes in the Democratic-led House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN’s Manu Raju she would not commit to pass it untouched. She indicated there would be “some discussion” with the Senate.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom pulled his kids out of summer camp after a photo showed his son not wearing a mask inside

Gavin Newsom, his children, and wife.
Gavin Newsom with his children and wife in 2018.

  • California’s governor said he pulled his kids out of a summer camp over its mask policies.
  • Gov. Newsom’s office said it missed an email that said the camp wouldn’t enforce mask guidance.
  • He was criticized after his son was photographed not wearing a mask at the camp.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

California’s governor pulled his kids out of a summer camp after facing criticism over a photo of his son inside at the camp without a face mask on, at odds with the state’s coronavirus guidance.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s spokeswoman, Erin Mellon, said his team missed an email from the camp that two of his children – ages 10 and 11 – attended, saying the camp would not be enforcing guidance to wear masks, The Sacramento Bee reported.

A photo of his son not wearing a mask while indoors at the camp circulated online, and was met with outrage from people who oppose the state’s guidance.

California asks that people, even those who are fully vaccinated and children, to wear masks indoors in youth settings like summer camps.

The children attended the camp for one day, Mellon said.

Mellon said in the statement: “The Newsoms were concerned to see unvaccinated children unmasked indoors at a camp their children began attending yesterday.”

“The family reviewed communication from the camp and realized that an email was missed saying the camp would not enforce masking guidance. Their kids will no longer be attending this camp.”

This isn’t the first time that Newsom has faced backlash for perceived hypocrisy in his handling of the pandemic. In November, Newsom and his wife were photographed attending a large dinner at an upscale Napa Valley restaurant a week before the governor warned Californians to “limit interactions to their immediate household.”

Newson is currently facing a recall election in September, which has been described as a response to Newsom’s coronavirus leadership.

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Mayor Garcetti announces that Los Angeles will require city employees to show proof of vaccination or test weekly

eric garcetti
Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses a news conference held at the launch of mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 15, 2021.

  • Los Angeles is following New York in requiring proof of vaccination for city employees.
  • Mayor Garcetti said that in the last month in Los Angeles COVID-19 cases have soared 20-fold.
  • Workers who do not show proof of vaccination will be required to test negative for COVID-19 weekly.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez announced on Tuesday that city employees will soon need to either submit proof of vaccination or produce a negative COVID-19 test weekly.

The announcement follows in line with several federal, state, and city initiatives where officials have started to implement vaccine mandates for workers or have workers take regular tests.

“The fourth wave is here, and the choice for Angelenos couldn’t be clearer – get vaccinated or get COVID-19,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a press release.

“This urgent need means that if you’re a City employee, we’re now going to require you to either show that you’re vaccinated or take a weekly test, and we’re committed to pursuing a full vaccine mandate. I urge employers across Los Angeles to follow this example,” Garcetti added.

“Angelenos have stayed inside for over a year to protect themselves and others. I think it’s safe to say that we’re getting tired of putting our lives on hold to protect people who don’t want to protect themselves and get vaccinated,” Council President Martinez said in the release. “In order for us, as leaders, to ask Angelenos to get vaccinated, we must set an example as the largest employer in the City of Los Angeles. This is us doing our part.”

The release added that in the last month in Los Angeles COVID-19 cases have soared 20-fold.

With no official date set, city employees will soon be required to show their HR department their proof of vaccination, or test negative for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, in order to maintain their employment.

Once the vaccines receive full approval by the FDA, the release says, “the Mayor and City Council will aggressively pursue a vaccine mandate for all City workers.”

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Biden administration to announce a vaccine mandate for federal employees on Thursday: report

Biden
President Joe Biden

  • The Biden administration is expected to announce a vaccine mandate for federal employees on Thursday.
  • CNN first reported that the announcement was coming on Thursday.
  • The move would affect an estimated 2.1 million people.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

CNN reported that the Biden administration will announce a vaccine mandate or regular testing requirement for federal workers as early as Thursday.

President Joe Biden initially said on Tuesday that the federal government is weighing whether to implement a vaccine mandate for the entire federal workforce as the US grapples with a rise in COVID-19 cases.

“That’s under consideration right now,” Biden said in response to a reporter’s question.

An estimated 2.1 million people work for the federal government, according to the Office of Personnel Management. Only Walmart has more employees.

The move would follow recent decisions to require vaccines for state workers in California by Gov. Gavin Newsom and a similar plan for city workers announced by New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio.

Earlier this week, the US Department of Veterans Affairs mandated that 115,000 healthcare workers be vaccinated. Many private businesses around the US are following suit.

The White House did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Biden administration weighing a vaccine mandate for all federal employees

Biden
President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden revealed on Tuesday that the federal government is weighing whether to implement a vaccine mandate for the entire federal workforce as the US grapples with a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The move would follow recent decisions to require vaccines for state workers in California by Gov. Gavin Newsom, a similar plan for city workers announced by New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and on for the US Department of Veterans Affairs – with private businesses around the US following suit.

“That’s under consideration right now,” Biden said, answering a reporter’s question.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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US population could shrink for first time on record as immigration enforcement and COVID-19 deaths take their toll

empty times square nyc coronavirus
Cyclists ride through a nearly empty Times Square in Manhattan on March 31, 2020.

The population of the United States could shrink for the first time on record due to a combination of COVID-19 deaths, low birth rates, and immigration restrictions, experts told The Wall Street Journal.

Early estimates from demographers show that the US population grew by just 0.35% in the year that ended on July 1, 2021.

Demographers told The Wall Street Journal that they estimate grown could remain nearly flat for this upcoming year as well, or could even shrink for the first the first time.

The US population growth rate has been decreasing since the 2007-08 financial crisis, the Journal reported. Slowing population growth or even a decline could affect the US labor market and may cause the nation’s economy to suffer.

A ‘baby bust’

American women have put off having kids during the pandemic, leading to a “baby bust.” The US birth rate fell by 4% in 2020, the sharpest decline in nearly 50 years, per CDC data from May. It’s intensified a pre-pandemic trend of decreasing birth rates and fertility rates as women delayed childbearing until a later age.

The baby bust is due to a combination of factors, including a rise in individualism and autonomy for women, macroeconomic forces that millennials have had to contend with, and a recession, which typically have the strongest economic influence on birth and fertility rates.

While demographers are currently debating whether the current drop will prove to be a temporary or permanent phenomenon, a recent Brookings report forecasts that the birth rate is unlikely to bounce back.

It’s sparked worries that the US may be headed for what’s known as a “demographic time bomb,” in which an aging population isn’t replaced by enough young workers.

This could slow the economy in the long term by creating higher government costs and a smaller workforce, who will have to front the care costs for aging populations. It could also create a shortage of pension and social security-type funds and impact things like school enrollment and college demand.

Japan is a famous example of just such a time bomb, long ticking demographically. Experts in that country are now worried that a pandemic-fueled baby bust could worsen the country’s aging crisis that strains the working population. Like Japan, Italy is facing an aging population and dropping fertility rates, to the point where the government has begun issuing fertility ads.

High levels of immigration have so far kept the US from seeing the same economic impact that has hit these other countries, but current immigration restrictions could pose a threat to this.

But Christine Percheski, associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University, previously told Insider that a decline in births isn’t necessarily bad – it will just require structural adjustments, like creating new public policies that respond to changes in population size.

In some ways, fewer classmates for those born in 2021 could be good, she added. “If there are fewer people competing for jobs when they hit the job market, that’s not bad from their perspective, but it does require us to make adjustments.”

But although a declining birth rate will mark an economic shift, it doesn’t have to mean devastation for the economy if we respond to it with proper measures.

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Former GOP Sen. Mike Enzi has died at 77 after a biking accident

Michael Enzi
Mike Enzi.

  • Former GOP Sen. Mike Enzi has died at age 77.
  • He had been admitted to the hospital after a biking accident.
  • A statement said he “passed away peacefully … surrounded by his family.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Mike Enzi, a former Republican senator for Wyoming, had died aged 77 after being hospitalized for injuries from a biking accident.

A statement on his Twitter account, posted Tuesday, said: “Former Wyoming U.S. Senator Mike Enzi passed away peacefully today surrounded by his family.”

An earlier statement on the account said he was in hospital after a biking accident.

“He sustained serious injuries while riding a bicycle” near his home in Gillette, Wyoming, the statement said.

The extent of his injuries was not known.

Enzi was elected to the Senate in 1996, having previously served as the mayor of Gillette, and he decided not to run for a fifth term in the 2020 election, The Washington Post reported. His time in office ended January 3, 2021.

He had friends on both sides of the political aisle, The Post noted.

He led the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

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Hong Kong convicted a pro-democracy protester of terrorism in its first trial under China’s tough new security law

hong kong protest
A pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong in June 2019.

Hong Kong has convicted a pro-democracy protester in its first trial under the new security law imposed by China.

Tong Ying-kit was on Tuesday found guilty of terrorism and inciting secession, The New York Times reported.

He was arrested on July 1, 2020, and accused of driving his motorcycle bearing a protest flag, colliding into three police officers and injuring them, the South China Morning Post reported. The flag called for the city’s liberation from China, the Post reported.

Tong could get life in prison when he is sentenced, according to The Times.

China introduced the tough new law last June, and critics said at the time it would end Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status.

It allows China to set up new national-security agencies and a secret police presence in Hong Kong.

The law increases the risks for protesters and anyone else who speaks out against the Chinese government.

More than 60 people, including dozens of pro-democracy activists, have been arrested under the security law and are awaiting trial, The Times reported.

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The US could see daily COVID-19 cases quadruple next month as vaccinations hit a wall, former CDC director says

former CDC Director Tom Frieden
Former CDC director Tom Frieden.

  • Dr. Tom Frieden warned the US could see 200,000 new COVID-19 cases a day in four to six weeks.
  • That rate was last seen in January.
  • He said it was due to people not getting vaccinated, and there would be “preventable deaths.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Daily coronavirus cases in the US could quadruple next month as a large number of people aren’t getting vaccinated, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned.

Dr. Tom Frieden, who led the CDC between 2009 and 2017, warned that US case numbers could surge like they did in the UK, where the Delta variant was dominant before it was in the US, CNN reported.

“We’re heading into a rough time. It’s likely, if our trajectory is similar to that in the United Kingdom, that we could see as many as 200,000 cases a day,” he said.

He said this could happen in the next four to six weeks.

The US is currently recording between around 30,000 and around 60,000 new cases a day.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that the US last saw around 200,000 new cases a day in January, CNN noted.

Frieden said the US isn’t likely to see the same “horrific death tolls” that it did earlier in the pandemic as many vulnerable people have been vaccinated.

But he warned: “You will see a steady increase in deaths, and these are preventable deaths.”

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