COVID-19 Roundup from Pioneer: 90-day prescription refills?; Who has the power to re-open the economy?; Grading the Bay State in Online Learning; The T & COVID prevention; & more!

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Pioneer staff share their top picks for COVID-19 stories highlighting useful resources, best practices, and questions we should be asking our public and private sector leaders. We hope you are staying safe, and we welcome your thoughts; you can always reach out to us via email:

Our Top Picks for COVID-19 Pandemic News:

Jim Stergios, Executive Director: Pioneer Legal Senior Fellow Jim McKenna and Mary Z. Connaughton have an excellent commentary on federal and state government power in the COVID crisis. Lots of good insights on the Commerce and Dormant Commerce Clause – and a reminder about the power of the people. AG William Barr makes many of the same points in this interview, though the AG is more focused on government power.

Coming soon! Pioneer has been covering some key pieces of the overall solution to addressing the challenges of COVID: things like telehealth, digital learning, standards of care in our hospitals, scope of practice regulations on nurses and other healthcare professionals, unemployment insurance funding, and hygienic standards at the MBTA, to name a few. This week, look for another super-timely COVID-related product:

  • What to do when you re-open your business? Business leaders need to plan now. Pioneer understands the complexities, care, and concerns that go into that decision and its implementation. We are pleased to announce that in collaboration with the law firm of Verrill, Pioneer will soon release a practical guide for employers and commercial real estate managers to get employees back to work safely, and a checklist for minimizing or eliminating legal risks.

Coming kind of soon! The week of May 4th, we will be issuing two more timely products:

  • For those interested in the future of transportation, we will be releasing the results from our “Telecommuting Tomorrow” survey (see below).
  • For those concerned about violations of civil liberties during the pandemic, we will be offering to the public a “Respect My Rights” civil liberties hotline.

William Smith, Visiting Fellow in Life Sciences: The challenge of asymptomatic patients is discussed in the New England Journal of Medicine. And, has Sweden found a better way to handle COVID-19 by eschewing lockdowns?

Also from Bill: Some COVID-19 innovations should be here to stay: Less time commuting, more telemedicine, & more efficient “drive-thru” shopping. Another one? Fewer trips to the pharmacy – 90-day prescription refills – are an obvious improvement.

SURVEY: How will you look at commuting in the future? We’re asking over 30,000 people how their attitudes & habits will shift after COVID. Please be part of our work to understand our changing world – share your feedback, it takes only 2 minutes!

Our Picks for Public & Private Sector Best Practices:

Barbara Anthony, Senior Fellow in Healthcare: You can help end the COVID crisis – read about the contact tracing initiative, which aims to increase testing and provide resources for coronavirus patients.

Mary Z. Connaughton: From Pioneer author and attorney David Clancy – tips for small business owners on the most recent stimulus bill from the Wall Street Journal. Also, don’t forget to check out our interactive map of COVID cases in Massachusetts, updated with newly released data every week.

Jamie Gass, Director of PioneerEducation, wants to call attention to a couple news items:

  • The Boston Globe profiles Massachusetts’ and Rhode Island’s differing approaches to virtual learning; however, it doesn’t mention that both states are over 20 years behind leading digital learning states, including Florida, Arizona, and Utah.
  • Hear engaging interviews with two nationally-recognized digital learning gurus, Michael Horn and Julie Young, featured on Pioneer’s weekly podcast, “The Learning Curve.”
  • One COVID-era casualty we are not lamenting is the closing of Achieve, Inc., announced this week. Achieve, Inc. has been a prime mover behind the inferior-quality Common Core ELA and math standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, and the now defunct PARCC testing consortium that have led to academic stagnation and decline for Massachusetts’ and America’s K-12 schoolchildren.

Questions for Our Public & Private Sector Leaders:

Andrew Mikula, Peters Fellow: How does the MBTA stack up against other transit agencies when it comes to COVID-19 prevention? Read our new report, and news coverage of it herehere, and here.

What’s the latest on unemployment? Greg Sullivan, Research Director, crunched the most recent numbers. Watch him on Fox 25 and read more coverage here.

Do YOU have interesting questions and/or articles to share with us? Please email us, or message us through our social media channels below!

Get Our COVID-19 News, Tips & Resources!

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As COVID-19 Emergencies Ease, Some Progress on Telehealth Rules

A new report from Reason Foundation, Cicero Institute and Pioneer Institute rates every state’s telehealth policy for patient access and ease of providing virtual care. The report highlights telehealth policy best practices for states.

Khan Academy’s Sal Khan & ASU Prep Digital’s Amy McGrath on the Khan World School @ ASU Prep

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, and Amy McGrath, the Chief Operating Officer of ASU Prep and Deputy Vice President of ASU Educational Outreach.

Pandemic Dead Reckoning: Unseen Casualties of Public Health Interventions

Hubwonk host Host Joe Selvaggi talks with Pioneer Institute’s Senior Fellow Dr. Bill Smith about new evidence that during the past two years of the pandemic, there were as many unseen excess deaths from non-Covid-related diseases as seen from Covid. They discuss the need for public health leaders to pivot their messaging to address this hidden mortality.

Why the jump in non-COVID deaths?

The Wall Street Journal echoes our warning about the rise of non-COVID-related deaths.

Mandate’s Constitutional Collision: Court Offers Civics Lesson with Vaccine Rulings

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Cato Institute Vice President Ilya Shapiro about the recent Supreme Court vaccine mandate rulings and what they tell us about the limits of executive branch power and the sitting justices’ views on the guidance of the U.S. Constitution.

How did COVID impact Massachusetts’ long-term care facilities?

Pioneer Institute has filed a Public Records Act request related to COVID's impact on Massachusetts’ long-term care facilities because the Institute believes this is a matter of obvious importance, both on principle (the public has a right to know the facts), and for purposes of evaluating – and where possible improving – public policy. 

Massachusetts Telehealth Report Card: Are We Embracing Disruption for Better Quality of Care?

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Pioneer Senior Fellow in Healthcare Josh Archambault about his newest research paper, produced with the Cicero Institute and the Reason Foundation, on states' success in implementing telehealth to improve healthcare outcomes. They discuss how Massachusetts has used remote medicine to better reach patients and serve their needs.

Am I Contagious? Divining Covid’s Community Conundrum

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Alva10 CEO and precision medicine expert Hannah Mamuszka about which tests are best for determining who is contagious and the implications for the CDC’s new isolation recommendations.

Virtual Learning Grows During COVID

Virtual learning in K-12 education continues to grow due to the health threat caused by coronavirus variants and the assistance this learning model can provide to at-risk students, according to two papers released today by Pioneer Institute.

COVID Tracker for Long-Term Care Facilities

Long Term Care Facilities With 2+ Known COVID Cases and Facility-Reported Deaths in Massachuetts

Face Masks Lifted: Scientists Weigh In With Comprehensive Efficacy Studies

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Harvard Medical School professor, Dr. Jonathan Darrow, about the observations of his recent paper, Evidence for Community Cloth Face Masking to Limit the Spread of SARS-CoV-2: A Critical Review, in which he examines the range, quality, and scientific observations of mask wearing efficacy studies.

Urban Institute’s Dr. Matthew Chingos on the Year of School Choice & the Student Loan Debt Crisis

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Matthew Chingos, who directs the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute. They discuss the “Year of School Choice,” the welcome 2021 trend of states across America expanding or establishing private school choice programs; as well as the student debt crisis in higher education.