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!

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

Face Masks Lifted: Scientists Weigh In With Comprehensive Efficacy Studies

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Harvard Medical School professor, Dr. Jonathan Darrow, about the observations of his recent paper, Evidence for Community Cloth Face Masking to Limit the Spread of SARS-CoV-2: A Critical Review, in which he examines the range, quality, and scientific observations of mask wearing efficacy studies.

Urban Institute’s Dr. Matthew Chingos on the Year of School Choice & the Student Loan Debt Crisis

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Matthew Chingos, who directs the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute. They discuss the “Year of School Choice,” the welcome 2021 trend of states across America expanding or establishing private school choice programs; as well as the student debt crisis in higher education.

COVID’s Unintended Victims: Traditional Diseases Overlooked at the Public’s Peril

This week on Hubwonk, host Joe Selvaggi talks with Pioneer Institute’s Visiting Fellow in Life Sciences, Dr. Bill Smith, about his newest research paper, “An “Impending Tsunami” in Mortality from Traditional Diseases,” which sounds the alarm that the public health community’s focus on COVID-19 has caused many to avoid seeking medical attention for other illnesses. As a result, more Americans are dying from fear of COVID than from the disease itself.

Vaccine Development Renaissance: Pandemic Brings Niche Industry into Mainstream

This week on Hubwonk, host Joe Selvaggi talks with virologist, Dr. Peter Kolchinsky, about the explosion of vaccine technologies and innovations brought into the spotlight by the massive investment to fight the pandemic, and dives deeply into the exciting promise of vaccines to combat an ever-widening range of disease.

Shifting COVID-19 Goalposts: Moving from Zero Infections to Zero Deaths

This week on Hubwonk, host Joe Selvaggi talks with surgeon and author Dr. Marty Makary about the power and durability of vaccines, natural immunity and clinical therapies, that are overshadowed by the public health community's continued target of zero COVID-19 infections.

Study: Decline in Cardiovascular Health Screenings During COVID-19 Pandemic Poses New Public Health Threat

Pioneer Institute today released a new analysis focused on cardiovascular disease, An “Impending Tsunami” in Mortality from Traditional Diseases?, that examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has created another unrelated public health crisis. The Pioneer analysis examines how a single-minded public health focus on COVID-19, social distancing, and lockdowns drove reductions in screenings, diagnoses, and early treatment for complex conditions such as heart disease.