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!

Announcing the Pioneer Institute & Nichols College Sports Management Policy College Case Competition

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In recognition of the cancellation of many student internships…

Pulitzer Winner Diane McWhorter on Civil Rights History & Race in America

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard mark the Juneteenth commemoration of the end of slavery with an episode devoted to Civil Rights history. They are joined by Diane McWhorter, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution.

Coronavirus Hits Back on Communities Who Slowed Their Spread

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“This couldn’t come at a worse time,” said rep. Bill Keating…

Combatting COVID-19: Life in the MGH Emergency Room

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Join host Joe Selvaggi and Pioneer Senior Fellow Josh Archambault as they talk with Dr. David King about the experience of being in emergent care during a pandemic and lockdown. They explore the challenges of coping with a poorly understood virus during a lockdown, all while continuing to serve the sick.

New Pioneer Institute Hotline Allows Public to Report Violations of Open Meeting Law

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With most public meetings taking place remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pioneer Institute has unveiled an online hotline that allows members of the public to report potential violations of the Commonwealth’s and other states' Open Meeting Law.

Pandemic, Lost Instructional Time Reveal Massachusetts’ Digital Learning Weaknesses

A report released today by Pioneer Institute says that the shutdown of Massachusetts schools due to the COVID-19 virus and the shift to online education have exposed the uneven nature of digital learning in the Commonwealth, and calls for state officials to develop programs to create more consistency.

Pioneer Institute Study Calls for Streamlining State Sales Tax Revenue Collection

At a time when state tax revenues are plummeting, a plan to modernize sales tax collection could get money into state coffers more quickly, according to a new policy brief published by Pioneer Institute.

COVID-19 Roundup from Pioneer: Hubwonk: Elections & COVID-19; Update: Mapping COVID Testing; School Reopening; Protecting Civil Liberties, & 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.

Hubwonk Ep. 9: Elections in Epidemics: Keeping Voters Safe & Elections Fair during COVID-19

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Join Joe Selvaggi and Pioneer’s Mary Connaughton as they talk with MIT Professor Charles Stewart on how states in general, and Massachusetts in particular, are adapting their voting process to keep elections safe, transparent, and fair during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Update: “Mapping COVID-19” Tool Now Shows Testing Data

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Now, in addition to maps and tables regarding the number of cases and case rates across the state, “Mapping COVID-19” also includes information regarding the testing efforts in the Commonwealth.