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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Get Our COVID-19 News, Tips & Resources!

Doctor Heal Thyself: Insider’s Prescription For Healthcare Reform

Host Joe Selvaggi talks with surgeon and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Marty Makary about the healthcare reform themes in The Price We Pay, the 2020 Business Book of the Year.  The discussion covers the value of price transparency, provider accountability, and performance information to drive better medical outcomes and improve doctor and patient satisfaction.

New Study Warns Graduated Income Tax Will Harm Many Massachusetts Retirees

If passed, a constitutional amendment to impose a graduated income tax would raid the retirement plans of Massachusetts residents by pushing their owners into higher tax brackets on the sales of homes and businesses, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute. The study, entitled “The Graduated Income Tax Trap: A retirement tax on small business owners,” aims to help the public fully understand the impact of the proposed new tax.

Dartmouth’s Prof. Susannah Heschel Discusses Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel & the Civil Rights Movement

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Dr. Susannah Heschel, the Eli M. Black Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, and the daughter of noted 20th-century Jewish theologian and Civil Rights-era leader, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. They discuss what teachers and students today should know about Rabbi Heschel’s life and legacy.

Study: Graduated Income Tax Proponents Rely on Analyses That Exclude the Vast Majority Of “Millionaires” to Argue Their Case

Advocates for a state constitutional amendment that would apply a 4 percent surtax to households with annual earnings of more than $1 million rely heavily on the assumption that these proposed taxes will have little impact on the mobility of high earners. They cite analyses by Cornell University Associate Professor Cristobal Young, which exclude the vast majority of millionaires, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Hoover Institution’s Dr. Eric Hanushek on COVID-19, K-12 Learning Loss, & Economic Impact

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This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Dr. Eric Hanushek, the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. They discuss his research, cited by The Wall Street Journal, on learning loss due to the pandemic, especially among poor, minority, and rural students, and its impact on skills and earnings.

UK Classics Scholar Kathryn Tempest on Cicero, Brutus, & the Death of Caesar

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Dr. Kathryn Tempest, a Reader in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Roehampton in London, UK, and author of Cicero: Politics and Persuasion in Ancient Rome and Brutus: The Noble Conspirator. They discuss the historical, civic, and moral lessons political leaders, educators, and schoolchildren today can learn by studying the Roman Republic and the lives of key figures from that era such as Cicero and Brutus.

Pioneer Institute’s 2021 Government Transparency Resolutions: Sunshine Week Edition

As it does each year, Pioneer shares the resolutions it hopes state leaders will adopt to bring government actions into better focus and invigorate our democracy with heightened public engagement. As the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis noted, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

Traffic Strikes Back: New Transportation Strategies for Post-Pandemic Prosperity

Host Joe Selvaggi talks with Chris Dempsey, Director of Transportation for Massachusetts, about road and mass transit innovations that could address traffic challenges in a high-growth, post-pandemic economy.

Report Contrasts State Government and Private Sector Employment Changes During Pandemic

Massachusetts state government employment has been virtually flat during COVID-19 even as employment in the state’s private sector workforce remains nearly 10 percent below pre-pandemic levels, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute. The study, “Public vs. Private Employment in Massachusetts: A Tale of Two Pandemics,” questions whether it makes sense to shield public agencies from last year’s recession at the expense of taxpayers.

Best-Selling, Netflix Author Loung Ung On Surviving Pol Pot’s Killing Fields

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This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Loung Ung, a human-rights activist; the author of the bestselling books First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Lucky Child, and Lulu in the Sky; and a co-screenwriter of the 2017 Netflix Original Movie, First They Killed My Father. Ms. Ung shares her experiences living through genocide under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979, which resulted in the deaths of nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population. 

Post-Pandemic Prospects: Tech Leaders’ Prescription for Preserving a Healthy Economy

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Host Joe Selvaggi talks with Chris Anderson, President of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, about the reasons why Massachusetts has a thriving tech sector, what challenges his members have faced in the pandemic, and what he sees as the most prudent path toward future prosperity in the commonwealth.

American Federation for Children’s Tommy Schultz on School Choice & Edu Federalism

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This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Tommy Schultz, CEO-elect of the American Federation for Children (AFC). They discuss how COVID-19 school closures have increased the interest in alternatives to public schools, and what AFC's polling shows on shifts in attitudes toward school choice options in both urban and rural communities.