COVID-19 Roundup from Pioneer: COVID vaccine update; Back to School?; Who’s really getting PPP Loans?; Hubwonk: COVID & public spaces; What about school sports?; & 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:

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, would daily testing be as effective as a vaccine?

Michael Walker, Senior Fellow on Government Data Transparency: Don’t forget to check in on Pioneer’s COVID MapCOVID Testing Tracker, Long Term Care Facility TrackerPPP Loan Tracker and HHS COVID Funding Tracker. These are updated regularly, and are an important part of Pioneer’s work to advance transparency regarding public funds.

  • Read analysis by Roger Perry Transprency Interns Nina Weiss and Thomas O’Rourke on the puzzling distribution of PPP loans to small businesses in Massachusetts.

Andrew Mikula, Research Assistant: In my recent blog post, I describe Pioneer’s disappointing attempt to find out how many people with dementia have died in Massachusetts nursing homes. (State government can’t even tell us how many people live in them.)

Mary Z. Connaughton, Director of Government Transparency: We recently applauded the MBTA for accelerating its modernization timetable during the COVID-related ridership lull. Read our Public Statement.

Are you experiencing violations of your civil liberties or being shut out of supposedly public meetings? Enter your complaint on Pioneer’s hotlines: Respect My Rights, and Open Meeting Law Violations!

  • Read our recent Public Statement on the Massachusetts Governor’s executive order on travel restrictions.

Resources for Our Public & Private Sector Leaders:

Andrew Mikula: Recognizing that we will likely face continued disruption in all aspects of our daily lives, Pioneer Institute partnered with Nichols College to sponsor a Sports Management Case Competition for policy-driven solutions that will allow youth sports organizations to continue contributing to kids’ physical and emotional development.

  • You can read the winning team’s full proposal here, related to basketball, and the runner-up entry focuses on adaptations to youth baseball in the wake of a rocky restart for the MLB.

Barbara Anthony, Senior Fellow in Healthcare: Now more than ever, we must ensure that consumers have the information they need to make informed decisions about the cost of their healthcare procedures. A new report I co-authored with Seher Chowdhury shows that consumers in just one Massachusetts county could have saved nearly $22 million in a single year and $116.6 million adjusted for inflation over four years, if they switched from using the most expensive providers for 16 shoppable healthcare services to providers whose prices were closer to average. Read the details.

  • Read op-eds by Jim Stergios and Charlie Chieppo highlighting the report findings herehere, and here.

Joe Selvaggi, Host, Hubwonk: On the latest episode, I talk with Michael Nichols, Executive Director of the Charles River Esplanade Association, about the importance of parks and public spaces for people’s mental health, and the challenge facing many non-profits of trying to meet a greater demand during a time of reduced philanthropic giving.

Jamie Gass, Pioneer’s Education Policy Director: On the latest episode of “The Learning Curve” podcast, co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Jack McCarthy, president of AppleTree Institute, an early education charter school network based in Washington, D.C., about the innovative partnership they have developed with Nickelodeon to continue serving children and families during COVID-19. Cara and Gerard also discuss schooling alternatives that are becoming popular as a result of the pandemic: “pods” and microshools.

Also: Many districts in Massachusetts have decided to shift to remote learning. Pioneer’s new video highlights two Boston schools that have successfully made this transition. Their leaders share their best practices for ensuring students and teachers have the tools they need to continue staying engaged in learning and extracurricular activities. Our own Mary Z. Connaughton makes an appearance. Watch!

Poll results! In a recent Facebook reader survey, we asked:

Less than a month away from the new academic year, do you feel confident that school systems are ready to educate our children?

Here are the results: No: 60%; Yes: 40%

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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