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Business News Roundup, Aug. 19, 2021

CDC studies warn of COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness, the Fed looks to scale back its easy money policies, key hires at the SBA, further declines in jobless claims, sustained startup formation, a vaccine mandate lawsuit in New York City, an increased need for miners, Amazon department stores, a UConn vaccine mandate, and a startup airline’s new routes from Connecticut to Florida are among the top business news items this morning.


Three studies from the Centers for Disease Control suggest that COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly effective in protecting against severe cases of the virus, but that the protection offered by the doses has waned slightly. Federal health officials are recommending that Americans receive booster shots eight months after receiving their last COVID-19 vaccine, though some specialists are questioning whether this will be necessary for people at lower risk of infection.

The Federal Reserve is signaling that it is looking to start scaling back its asset purchases later this year, a pullback from the easy money policies that were kept in place to assist the U.S. recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials said reducing the purchases will put the Fed in a better position to raise rates if the economy continues to strengthen in 2022.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced a senior leadership team and key Biden administration appointees who will be joining the agency. Thirty-six people have been brought on in a variety of roles across the different offices of the SBA.

Initial jobless claims have again fallen to a pandemic low, with 348,000 new claims filed last week. Continuing claims stood at 2.82 million at the end of the previous week, and 11.74 million people remain on some sort of unemployment benefit.

Business trends

The increased rate of startup formation in the U.S. is proving to be stronger and more enduring than originally expected, raising the possibility that the nation will see a reversal in a decades-long decline in entrepreneurship. Americans filed the paperwork to establish 4.3 million businesses in 2020, a year-over-year increase of 24 percent.

A group of New York City restaurants and gyms has filed a lawsuit against Mayor Bill de Blaisio and the city over an executive order requiring customers to present proof of receiving at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to attend certain indoor activities. New York was the first city to impose such a mandate as the COVID-19 Delta variant led to increasing cases of the virus.

Demand for critical minerals is expected to grow in the next decade to meet the demand for products like semiconductors and high-capacity batteries, but mining companies are encountering difficulties finding workers. As with many other professions, mining has seen many skilled workers retire or change careers during the pandemic.

Amazon is planning to break into brick-and-mortar retail, starting with stores in California and Ohio. The news comes shortly after the e-commerce giant surpassed Wal-Mart as the largest seller of clothing in the U.S.


The University of Connecticut has announced that it will require its campus employees as well as UConn Health workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. The university previously issued a vaccine mandate for UConn students.

The startup airline Avelo will begin operating between New Haven and four Florida cities starting Nov. 3 in a bid to provide routes that larger airlines have generally overlooked. However, new airlines are also encountering challenges as renewed COVID-19 concerns lead to an earlier than expected drop in seasonal travel.

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