COVID-19 Policy Update #499
NYT reports, "Some experts have suggested that because children 5 to 11 received a much lower initial dose than older children or adults, they are particularly in need of a booster shot. One study done by New York researchers found that for children 5 to 11, the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness against infection fell to 12 percent from 68 percent by four to five weeks after the second dose."
Plaxovid Use Up 315% Over The Last Four Weeks: According to HHS.
"In recent weeks we've gone from 20,000 sites with Paxlovid to approximately 35,000 and we'll keep working to increase availability," the official told reporters on a call, adding that 88% of the population lived within 5 miles of a site."
With Plunging Enrollment, a ‘Seismic Hit’ to Public Schools: Via the NYT.
“And since school funding is tied to enrollment, cities that have lost many students — including Denver, Albuquerque and Oakland — are now considering combining classrooms, laying off teachers or shutting down entire schools.”
“All together, America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020, according to a recently published national survey. [AEI’s Return to Learn Tracker]”
“This has been a seismic hit to public education,” said Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. “Student outcomes are low. Habits have been broken. School finances are really shaken. We shouldn’t think that this is going to be like a rubber band that bounces back to where it was before.”
“School funding is tied directly to enrollment numbers in most states, and while federal pandemic aid has buffered school budgets so far, the Biden administration has made it clear that the relief is finite. Some districts are already bracing for budget shortfalls.”
How Big is the Latest U.S. Coronavirus Wave? No One Really Knows: Via the Washington Post.
"Experts say Americans can assume infections in their communities are five to ten times higher than official counts."
“Any sort of look at the metrics on either a local, state or national level is a severe undercount,” said Jessica Malaty Rivera, an epidemiologist at the Pandemic Prevention Institute housed at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Everyone knows someone getting covid now.”
"Hospitalizations nationally have increased 50% since bottoming out six weeks ago. But the roughly 23,000 patients with covid in hospitals over the last week still represent near the lowest hospitalization levels of the entire pandemic. The recent increase is driven by the Northeast, where hospitalization rates are almost twice as high as any other region."
"More than two-thirds of Americans live in low-risk areas under these metrics. But 43% of residents in the Northeast live in areas considered high risk, compared to 9% of the Midwest and less than 1% each in the South and West."
After the U.S. Stops Paying for Covid Medicines, Then What?: Asks Stat.
"At some point, Covid-19 vaccines and treatments will be bought and sold just like other drugs and medical products. But big questions loom about how and when the transition will happen, about how bumpy it will be."
"The chief executives of both Pfizer and Moderna have also begun to face questions from investors about how they plan to sell their Covid-19 products through regular health care system channels. They say they’ve started the planning process to rely less on the federal government."
Made to Save: Is hosting a webinar to celebrate their collective impact and chart the path ahead on COVID-19 vaccine equity. In addition to hearing from MTS and partners, they'll be joined by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and share a message from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Wednesday, May 18 from 2-3pm ET.
New York: Masks are requested, but not mandated, in NYC schools as COVID cases surge again.
"Inflation stands out from other problems because it is so inescapable. Unlike unemployment, it affects everyone. And people encounter it every day — when they go to the grocery store, drive by a gas station or buy almost anything."
"Inflation also contributes to a sense of powerlessness. Rising prices feel like something done to people rather than a problem they brought on themselves. Short of cutting their spending, individuals cannot do much about inflation."
"When everything costs more, people make up for it by cutting back on spending — sometimes on essentials. “A lot of people are living close to the edge,” Loewenstein said. “So an uncontrollable increase in any aspect of your budget can be pretty disastrous.”
Baby Formula Shortage:
The FDA announced it had reached an agreement with Abbott Laboratories on the safety and regulatory steps the company must take to reopen its baby formula manufacturing facility in Michigan, which has been shut down since February due to a possible contamination.”
“The company said production could resume in about 2 weeks and store shelves would be restocked several weeks later.”
Emily Oster in The Atlantic, "Don’t Make Your Own Formula: How parents should, and should not, manage the shortage."
What’s Worrying Americans?: Via Pew.
Connection Over Content: A New Era for Education Technology: Via Julia Freeland Fisher.
"The acute challenge of building online connections during COVID could be construed as an aberration — a blip in an edtech market that has shown few signs of slowing down. But that view would be short-sighted. A desire for more social experiences is not just noise in the market. Rather, it is a long overdue wake-up call for the edtech market to refocus its purpose on providing connection, not just content."
"Research suggests that making online coursework more social can help curb attrition."
"Some edtech entrepreneurs are taking note. For example, Engageli is a tool built to address the shortcomings of enterprise video technologies like Zoom and Google Meet for teaching and learning. On the heels of campuses shutting down in spring of 2020, Engageli’s founders set their sights on creating technology that offers “small group collaborative experiences, even in a large-scale environment.”
"Along, a tool bankrolled by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), aims to help teachers get to know their students through a “digital reflection tool.” In Along, using video, audio, and text messaging, teachers can send students prompts and questions and students can reply directly to their teacher with a brief video or audio recording, or a text message. The tool also offers teachers tips on how they can build what researchers dub “developmental relationships,” which have been shown to drive everything from high attendance to better grades."
"Not only does edtech that connects offer an overdue remedy for low engagement rates in online learning, but it also offers the chance for schools to organize themselves around expanding opportunity by ensuring more equitable access to networks. In the long run, edtech tools that offer content and teach skills — often touted and led by investors and entrepreneurs who rely heavily on their own networks — will be mere stop-gap solutions in a quickly changing labor market where social capital remains a key predictor of who gets hired."
How Medicaid Can Help Schools Sustain Support for Students' Mental Health: Via FutureEd.
"Drawing on a database of more than 4,400 local spending plans compiled by the data-services firm Burbio and covering 70 percent of the nation's students, FutureEd found that more than a third of the local education agencies have earmarked a total of $1.2 billion in ESSER funding for psychologists, social workers and mental health counselors. If the trend continues, the investment could reach more than $2 billion."
"States and school districts can leverage Medicaid to support mental health care for students through a variety of mechanisms, including through school-based health centers and partnering with community providers. Georgia’s Apex program is an example. For school districts that have hired their own mental health professionals and plan to keep those positions after ESSER funds expire, school Medicaid programs could help fill the funding gap."
"In 2014, the federal government opened up a new avenue for support when it reversed what’s known as the “free care rule” and allowed schools to seek Medicaid reimbursement for some health services provided by school employees, including mental health counselors, for all students enrolled in Medicaid."
"Currently, 16 states—Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina—have expanded their programs to allow qualified school providers to bill for covered behavioral health services for Medicaid-enrolled students."
Some Districts Return to Mask Mandates as COVID Cases Spike: Via EdWeek.
Local Infrastructure Hub: A program by the National League of Cities, Results for America, and United States Conference of Mayors.
"Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Emerson Collective, the Ford Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation, the Hub will help government decision makers navigate the grants available to them and craft strong applications."
My College Students Are Not OK: Jonathan Malesic in the NYT.
"In my classes last fall, a third of the students were missing nearly every time, and usually not the same third. Students buried their faces in their laptop screens and let my questions hang in the air unanswered. My classes were small, with nowhere to hide, yet some students openly slept through them."
"By several measures — attendance, late assignments, quality of in-class discussion — they performed worse than any students I had encountered in two decades of teaching. They didn’t even seem to be trying. At the private school, I required individual meetings to discuss their research paper drafts; only six of 14 showed up. Usually, they all do."
"Anthony Nussmeier, who teaches Italian at the university, praised its response to the pandemic as exhibiting a holistic understanding of care for students, balancing “the immediate health imperative with other imperatives that are no less important: the importance of mental health, the importance of friendship, the importance of physical proximity to other human beings for most of us.”
Head Start, in Limbo Over Mask and Vaccine Mandates, Looks to Congress for Help: Via The 74.
"When the Biden administration issued a mask and COVID vaccine mandate for the federal Head Start program last fall, Olivia Coyne, past president of the Colorado Head Start Association, was relieved."
"Delta was causing cases to spike, and the schools where many Head Start programs are housed typically had mask mandates in place."
"But in February, the CDC revised its guidance to reflect lower transmission rates. Mask rules for young children, the CDC said, should be the same as those for the general population."
"Now Coyne, a Head Start director in the Boulder area, is confused. “Head Start feels like the lone place where masks are required,” she said. “For staff, it feels really out of context.”
Liam and Olivia: Once again dominate top baby names list.
"The Social Security Administration annually tracks the names given to girls and boys in each state, with names dating back to 1880."
On This Day: In 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, SCOTUS ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The case revolved around Linda Brown, a Black student who was denied access to her local elementary school.
Washington DC’s 500 Most Influential People: I’m honored (and surprised!) to be included in the Washingtonian Magazine's list of Most Influential People in DC.
It's great seeing so many friends and colleagues on the list including: Wade Henderson, Denise Forte, Rick Hess, Vic Klatt, Nina Rees, Andrew Rotherham, Marguerite Roza, Laura Slover, Ben Wallerstein, Joanne Weiss, Katherine Bradley, Michael Catanzaro, Sasha Mackler, Candi Wolff, Joshua Bolten, Ashley Davis, Lezlee Westine, Todd Schulte, Carrie Cordero, Meredith Attwell Baker, Catherine Bohigian, Joel Kaplan, Bruce Mehlman, Christopher Padilla, Holly Harris, Maria Teresa Kumar, and Carlos Gutierrez.
Quick piece of trivia. The “Top Three” format used in this newsletter is borrowed from the way we would prepare briefings for Commerce Secretary Gutierrez.
Resurfacing a Classic: John West Bear Ad.