Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of March 1, 2021.
$15 minimum wage flops. The Senate parliamentarian, a nonpartisan advisor to the Senate, ruled on Thursday that a gradual increase to a minimum wage of $15 per hour could not be included in the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that is currently being hammered out in Congress. The proposal would have increased the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025. Outside of the stimulus package, Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced a stand-alone bill to increase the minimum wage, which has been co-sponsored by 37 Senators.
- The takeaway: This ruling is a significant blow to the campaign to increase the minimum wage for workers on a federal level. Recently, however, some companies such as Amazon and Target have shown support for increased wages. Walmart announced in February that it would issue raises to 425,000 works, bringing its average wage up to $15.
Boeing grounded, again. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded 24 Boeing 777 planes after broken fan blades fell from one of the planes during a United Airlines flight from Denver, Colorado on February 20, 2021, forcing an emergency landing. Fifty-two of United’s Boeing 777 planes with engines from Pratt & Whitney engines will require inspection before they can fly again. Boeing said that there are 69 active planes with that engine globally. As part of the grounding, the engines will be reviewed with thermal acoustic imaging (TAI) to search for cracks. This investigation follows a 2018 inspection of the same engine, after engine pieces fell from a flight to Honolulu.
- The takeaway: This news comes months after the FAA approved Boeing’s 737 Max for passenger flights in the U.S. The plane had been grounded since March, 2019, because of two separate crashes that killed 346 people. In addition to those deaths, the crashes, which were reportedly caused by flaws in software meant to prevent planes from stalling mid-flight, cost Boeing more than $20 billion to address.
Johnson & Johnson makes three. On February 27, 2021 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. The vaccine reportedly demonstrated 72% overall efficacy in the U.S., and 64% efficacy in South Africa, where a more contagious strain originated. The vaccine also showed 86% efficacy against severe forms of Covid-19. Still, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has proven less effective than those from Moderna and Pfizer. A “real world” study out of vaccinations in Israel found that Pfizer’s vaccine showed 92% efficacy against severe Covid-19 infection after two shots, and 62% after just one shot.
- The takeaway: Mass vaccination is largely considered the pathway for reopening businesses and the economy and a return to normalcy. The approval of a third vaccine is likely to speed up the vaccination process. Twenty million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses are expected to be available by the end of March, 2020. While Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is less effective than Moderna’s and Pfizer’s, it only requires one dose and can also be stored at higher temperatures. Moderna’s vaccine needs to be stored at -4℉ while Pfizer’s must be kept at -94℉. And they both require two doses.
Find out what we covered in last week’s Scan.