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:  pioneer@pioneerinstitute.org.

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!

Amar Sawhney on Sikhs, STEM & COVID

On this week's episode of JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks to Dr. Amar Sawhney about his journey from India to Boston, and how he is using his chemical engineering background to save lives through remarkable local therapy innovations. To date, he has founded eight companies accounting for 4,000 jobs and more than $2 billion in revenue.

Heritage Foundation’s Jonathan Butcher on Edu Federalism, School Choice, Learning Pods

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Jonathan Butcher, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Heritage Foundation. They discuss the growing popularity of learning pods, an education innovation propelled by K-12 public education’s failure to meet the COVID-19 moment. With as many as three million children enrolled in learning pods, 35 percent of parents participating in them, and another 18 percent interested in joining one, Butcher shares findings from his report on the role of pods in expanding parent-driven educational choice options.

Study Says Interstate Tax Competition, Relocation Subsidies Exacerbate Telecommuting Trends

A spate of new incentive and subsidy programs seeking to lure talented workers and innovative businesses away from their home states could constitute an additional challenge to Massachusetts’ economic and fiscal recovery from COVID-19, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

“The Business of America is Business” – 25 Resources for High School Students

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Celebrating American Free-Market Capitalism.

Georgetown’s Dr. Marguerite Roza on K-12 School Finance, Spending, & Results

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Dr. Marguerite Roza, Research Professor and Director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. Professor Roza describes the three distinct phases of how American K-12 education has been funded over the last 40 years, and implications for equity and overall student achievement.

Massachusetts Should Disclose More Information about Its Recent Reduction in the Official Count of Long-term Care Deaths

The public -- particularly in Massachusetts, where COVID-19’s toll on elders has been so great -- has a right to know how many deaths occurred in state-regulated eldercare facilities, and how that compares to the total number of deaths. But the state's new counting standard clouds this information, and should be corrected or at least disclosed.

Preparing For Disaster: Health Readiness Expert’s Performance Review

Hubwonk Host Joe Selvaggi talks with Emergency Preparedness expert Dr. Paul Biddinger about how experts plan for disasters, and what went right and wrong in this pandemic.

Study Warns Massachusetts Tax Proposal Would Deter Investment, Stifling the “Innovation Economy”

A state constitutional amendment promoted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Service Employees International Union adding a 4 percent surtax to all annual income above $1 million could devastate innovative startups dependent on Boston’s financial services industry for funding, ultimately hampering the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 economic recession, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

“Be Strong, Saith My Heart” – National Poetry Month – 40 Resources for K-12 Students

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Celebrating National Poetry Month.

Stanford’s National Humanities Medal Winner Prof. Arnold Rampersad on Langston Hughes & Ralph Ellison

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Professor Arnold Rampersad, the Sara Hart Kimball Professor Emeritus in Humanities at Stanford University and recipient of the National Humanities Medal for his books including The Life of Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison: A Biography.

Study Shows the Adverse Effects of Graduated Income Tax Proposal on Small Businesses

The state constitutional amendment promoted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Service Employees International Union to add a 4 percent surtax to all annual income above $1 million will adversely impact a significant number of pass-through businesses, ultimately slowing the Commonwealth’s economic recovery from COVID-19, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

Pioneer is proud to present a new vaccine tracker, the newest tool in our COVID-19 tracking project. Pioneer distilled the vaccination data down to those who are either fully vaccinated or partially vaccinated, by all the demographic categories published by the DPH. Use the new tool below to compare rates among groups, by municipality and by county. We will update the data every week.