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!

Award-Winning Writer Brenda Wineapple on the 170th Anniv. of The Scarlet Letter & Pres. Andrew Johnson’s Impeachment

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Brenda Wineapple, author of the award-winning Hawthorne: A Life and The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation. They discuss her definitive biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the 170th anniversary of the publication of his classic novel, The Scarlet Letter.

Study: Economic Recovery from COVID Will Require Short-Term Relief, Long-Term Reforms

As the initial economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed, a new study from Pioneer Institute finds that governments must continue to provide short-term relief to stabilize small businesses as they simultaneously consider longer-term reforms to hasten and bolster recovery – all while facing a need to shore up public sector revenues.

International Best-Seller Dr. Jung Chang On Wild Swans, Mao’s Tyranny, & Modern China

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Dr. Jung Chang, author of the best-selling books Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China; Mao: The Unknown Story; and Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China.

“Architecture is Frozen Music” Great Massachusetts Buildings – 25 Resources for K-12 Education

Understanding enduring public and private architecture is a key way to learn about art, ideas, and how they harmonize with our democracy. Yet, Massachusetts buildings are often never discussed in K-12 education. We’re offering a variety of links about outstanding houses and architecture across the Bay State for parents, teachers, and schoolchildren to enjoy, visit, and better appreciate, including:

COVID-19 Transparency – A Step Backwards

Massachusetts has unfortunately taken the backwards step of ending its longstanding daily reporting of something basic and important: the virus’s cumulative impact on various age groups.

Kelly Smith, Prenda CEO, on Microschooling & the Future of K-12 Learning

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Kelly Smith, founder and CEO of Prenda, a company that helps create flexible learning environments known as microschools. Often described as the “reinvention of the one-room school house,” microschools combine homeschooling, online education, smaller class sizes, mixed age-level groupings, flipped classrooms, and personalized learning.

Lockdowns - Lawless or Laudable? Grading Gov. Baker’s COVID-19 Emergency Orders 6 Months On

Join Joe Selvaggi and Pioneer Institute’s executive director Jim Stergios for a conversation with Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby about the lawsuit against the Massachusetts Governor’s executive orders. They will explore what can be learned from the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what must be considered when devising a new way forward.

“City Upon a Hill” Massachusetts Monuments & Memorials: 25 Resources for K-12 Education

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs here, here, here, and here on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Introducing K-12 schoolchildren to Massachusetts monuments & memorials.

U-Ark Prof. Jay Greene & EdChoice’s Jason Bedrick on Yeshivas vs. New York & Religious Liberty

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Jay Greene, the Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and Jason Bedrick, the Director of Policy for EdChoice. They discuss their timely new book, Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York, about the recent battle between Orthodox Jewish private schools and New York's state government over the content of instruction.

Drug Rebates: How Pharmacy Benefit Managers Manipulate Price & Limit Choice

Join host Joe Selvaggi and his guest Dr. Bill Smith as they discuss the complex incentive structure between drug manufacturers, health plans, and pharmacy benefit managers. In this episode, they focus on how drug rebates work and how a system intended to optimize value may actually deliver higher costs and fewer choices. Joe and Bill also use this framework to speculate on the price of a COVID-19 vaccine, and who will likely pay for it.

Michelle Rhee, Former Chancellor, D.C. Public Schools, on Leading Urban District Reform & the COVID-19 Moment

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and guest co-host Kerry McDonald are joined by Michelle Rhee, founder and former CEO of StudentsFirst and prior to that, former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). 

“Every Child is an Artist…” - 15 Resources for K-12 Art Education

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Introducing K-12 schoolchildren to great works of art.