COVID-19 Roundup from Pioneer: COVID & Air Conditioning; NEW: PPP Loan Tracker; COVID Nursing Home Task Force; Hubwonk: Fixing Foster Care; UMass’ Unique Re-opening Plans & 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, Life Sciences: Here’s an update on the race for a vaccine. Also, is air conditioning spreading the virus in the South?

Jim Stergios, Executive Director: Kudos to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority – this is so smart and, ahem, flush-full of ideas!

Michael Walker, Senior Fellow on Government Data Transparency: Everything you need to know about PPP Loans received in Massachusetts! In addition to Pioneer’s COVID MapCOVID Testing Tracker, and Long Term Care Facility Tracker, we are pleased to introduce our new PPP Loan Tracker. Now you can view Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loans by recipient, lender, location, industry, and loan range. According to data from the Small Business Administration, 18,177 Massachusetts small businesses received PPP loans, which the companies claim retained 738,613 jobs. This latest tool is part of Pioneer’s initiative to advance transparency regarding public funds.

Barbara Anthony, Senior Fellow in Healthcare, Mary Z. Connaughton, Director of Government Transparency, and Andrew Mikula, Research Assistant, recently co-authored an Open Letter offering detailed, specific recommendations on infection control and preparedness in eldercare facilities, to Massachusetts’ future COVID-19 health equity task force. Read coverage (and an editorial) in The Boston Globe.  Watch: Barbara talked to Chris Lovett of BNN News about Pioneer’s recommendations.

Nina Weiss, Roger Perry Transprency Intern, is encouraged by the UMass system’s approach to reopening in the fall, and why it makes sense for its very different campuses to chart their own distinct paths. Margaret Smith, another Roger Perry Transparency Intern, shared ideas on safely bringing back youth soccer.

Pioneer recently lauched a new hotline where the public can log violations of Open Meeting Laws, especially those that may be a result of relaxed standards due to COVID.

 

Questions for Our Public & Private Sector Leaders:

Joe Selvaggi, Host, Hubwonk: This week, I talked with Josh Archambault, Pioneer Senior Fellow in Healthcare, about how to reform our foster care system, especially as cases are expected to surge after COVID. The Massachusetts legislature is taking up a bill to improve accountability measures at the Department of Children and Families. Also, read Josh’s commentary in USA Today, co-authored with Naomi Schaefer Riley, on how online services, training and data can strengthen the system.

Jamie Gass, Pioneer’s Education Policy Director: On the latest episode of “The Learning Curve” podcast, co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talked with Pulitzer Prize winning history professor emeritus Gordon Wood, who puts the American founding in perspective as we celebrate the nation’s birthday during a time of social unrest.

Also: COVID did not stop the Supreme Court from issuing a favorable decision last week in the landmark school choice case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, and Pioneer Institute, which filed amici briefs (cited in Justice Alito’s concurring opinion) in the case, could not be more pleased. Read our Public Statement, and listen to our podcast interview with the lead plaintiff, Kendra Espinoza, and her attorney Erica Smith, from the Institute for Justice.

 

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!

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.

Study rates every state’s telehealth laws for patient access and ease of providing services

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.

COVID Tracker for Long-Term Care Facilities

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