COVID-19 Roundup from Pioneer: Antibodies & immunity; Talking about WHO; Telecommuting Survey Results; Mapping COVID – Update; & 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:

William Smith, Visiting Fellow in Life Sciences: Gilead drugs seems to work for moderately ill patients also. The CDC is still not certain about the level of immunity that antibodies provide. Details on the clinical trial for remdesivir.

Joe Selvaggi, Host, “Hubwonk“: Who is WHO? Pioneer’s Josh Archambault and I talk with Hoover Institution’s Dr. Lanhee Chen about the role that the World Health Organization plays, what dysfunction may have contributed to the scale of the current COVID-19 epidemic, and what steps can be taken to bring back transparency and trust. Listen now!

Michael Walker, Senior Fellow in Government Data Transparency: Don’t forget to check out our interactive map of COVID cases in Massachusetts, updated every week with newly released city and town data!

  • NEW: With so many deaths occurring at long-term care facilities, in Massachusetts and other states, Pioneer has added a new COVID-19 tracker, with data from the state’s weekly Public Health Report. This data includes any nursing home, rehabilitation center or other long-term care facility with 2+ known COVID-19 cases and facility-reported deaths. It includes the number of licensed beds, ranges of case numbers, deaths, and deaths per bed for 320 facilities.  Pioneer will update the tracker weekly.

Jim Stergios, Executive Director: We are pleased to share the results and analysis of our recent telecommuting poll, and we are grateful to those of you who were among the 700+ participants. The poll results were covered in the Boston HeraldNECNCBS LocalState House News Service and additional news outlets.

What’s the latest on unemployment? Greg Sullivan, Research Director, crunched the most recent numbers.

Our Picks for Public & Private Sector Best Practices:

Rebekah Paxton, Research Analyst: This week marks the start of possible reopening of Boston’s office spaces – are they prepared? Check out our new report on one major consideration – social distancing in elevators.

Jamie Gass, Pioneer’s Education Policy Director: This week on “The Learning Curve” podcast, a new poll finds that 1 in 5 teachers say they are unlikely to return to their classrooms if schools reopen this fall. Also on the show, Cara and Gerard talked with Dana Gioia, a poet, writer, and the former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, on why the arts are so pivotal to the intellectual and civic development of America’s K-12 schoolchildren. Last week’s episode featured homeschooling expert, Kerry McDonald.

  • Also, Pioneer released a new report and video promoting computer science education in K-12 schools, important now more than ever given our increasing reliance on online technology.

Questions for Our Public & Private Sector Leaders:

Barbara Anthony, Senior Fellow in Healthcare & Mary Z. Connaughton, Director of Government Transprency: “As of this writing, about 60 percent of Massachusetts’ 5,000-plus Covid-related deaths are nursing home residents. Some of those residents were receiving temporary rehabilitative services, others were in long-term care. Apart from overall number of deaths, we know little about the faces behind the numbers.” Read more in WGBH News.

 

Andrew Mikula, Peters Fellow, has been taking an in-depth look at COVID’s impact on regions across Massachusetts. Read his analysis here:

POLL Results: In the last COVID Roundup, we asked: Do the reopening guidelines in your state make sense to you? Here are the results: 56% Yes; 44% No

Reader Question:
“How many towns in Massachusetts operating under open town meeting are having town meeting before July 1st, and how are they ensuring the safety of those in wishing to attend, or how are they ensuring that those that are part of a vulnerable population are not disenfranchised? Conversely, how many towns in Massachusetts operating under town meeting are deciding to postpone open time meeting until after the start of fiscal 2021, and how are they approaching their financials if so?”

  • Pioneer is all over this. Be all the lookout for our new Open Meeting Law Violation Hotline!

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

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“Key of the Gulf” – Exploring Cuba – 35 Resources for Parents & Students

Castro’s despotism, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Embargo, remains the Cuban people – vibrant, creative, pious, and poor, who have continued to inspire and awe with their smiles, culture, music, dance, food, tobacco, resilience, and hopes. With the desire of passing along some of this magic to American families, students, teachers, and schools, we’re providing a variety of resources to educate our people about their neighbors, who live a mere 100 miles from our shores, in Cuba.

Human Rights Advocate Kristina Arriaga on Cuba, Religious Liberty, & Cancel Culture

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Kristina Arriaga, president of Intrinsic, a strategic communications firm, and former vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Kristina shares her family’s experiences fleeing Castro’s communist regime in Cuba and other hardships, and how her background has shaped her commitment to religious liberty.

Pandemic Pension Payout: Essential COVID-19 Public Workers Rewarded Whether Essential or Working

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Pioneer Institute’s Director of Research and former Massachusetts Inspector General and State Representative Greg Sullivan about HB 2808, COVID-19 Essential Employee Retirement Credit Bonus, discussing the merits of the recently proposed joint bill, its cost, and our current public debt burden in the Commonwealth.

MBTA Ridership Trends Compared to Public Transportation Agencies Nationwide

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The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on our economy,…

Public Statement on Implementation of the Charitable Giving Deduction

Despite being awash in cash, the state Legislature just overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of a provision to delay by yet another year a tax deduction for charitable donations. Rep. Mark Cusack, House chair of the Joint Committee on Revenue, said “it doesn’t mean no, just not now.” If not now, when?

The Globe’s Ornaments – Celebrating the Great Cities of the Ages – 35 Resources for Parents & Students

Celebrating the Great Cities of the Ages - This is part of Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, teachers, and students during COVID-19.

Jeeves & Wooster’s World The Comic Genius of P.G. Wodehouse – 30 Resources for Parents & Students

Life and writing can and should be playful, witty, light, fun, and make us smile. This is particularly important during the hard realities and sometimes loneliness of COVID, lockdowns, masks, and the increasingly stilted use of language today. To provide some much-needed comic relief and to help people of all age groups glory in the English language, take ourselves less seriously, and laugh more – please enjoy the world of P.G. Wodehouse!

Public Statement on the MA Legislature’s Blanket Pension Giveaway

Beacon Hill just put on full display what happens when it is awash in money. House Bill 2808 is entitled, “An Act relative to providing a COVID-19 retirement credit to essential public workers.”  It calls for adding three years of additional retirement credit to state “employees who have volunteered to work or have been required to work at their respective worksites or any other worksite outside of their personal residences during the COVID-19 state of emergency…” But upon reading the brief bill, it quickly becomes clear that this legislation is irresponsible in the extreme.

Employment trends in the Greater Boston Area and Touristy Massachusetts Counties during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Using MassEconomix, Pioneer Institute’s database on employment…

The COVID-19 Impact on Massachusetts Community College Enrollment & Success Trends

Enrollment at Massachusetts community colleges has dropped 32.61…

Elevating Liberal Democracy Above Fragmentation – 30 Resources for Citizens and Schools

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Elevating Liberal Democracy Above Fragmentation.

“Hellhound on My Trail” Celebrating American Blues Music – 35 Resources for Students

As music historian Ted Gioia tells us, the blues are disappearing from popular music, because of modern technology and it not being taught. American schoolchildren need to know more about the basics of blues music history and its many African-American geniuses, who reshaped the sounds and rhythms of all peoples across the globe. To remedy this, we’re offering a variety of resources to help parents, teachers, and high schoolers.