Covid-19 Policy Update #637
COVID-19 Origin Debate
“The intelligence community and the rest of the government is still looking at this,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said. “There’s not been a definitive conclusion, so it’s difficult for me to say — nor should I feel like I should have to defend press reporting about a possible preliminary indication here. What the president wants is facts.”
China must be more honest about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. ambassador to China said on Monday.
"The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” Mr. Wray told Fox News. “Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.”
Katelyn Jetelina: "Underlying all of this is that there is the possibility of a lab leak, and a possibility of a natural spillover, and a possibility of intentional lab leaks. We need to address all of these to ensure a safer future. I’m afraid we’re losing sight of this."
Caitlin Rivers: "I do have one suggestion for a path out of the quicksand: What if we accepted that plausibility of a lab leak is enough to act? It is not a trial requiring a verdict. We do not need to confirm the virus’s origins beyond all doubt before implementing preventive measures. We can use lessons from the origins investigations to act with commitment and urgency to preventing future catastrophes."
"Even at low confidence, however, the Energy Department’s analysis carries weight. For its assessment, the department drew on the expertise of a team assembled from the U.S. national laboratory complex, which employs tens of thousands of scientists representing many technical specialties, from physics and data analysis to genomics and molecular biology."
A Morning Consult poll finds 44% of U.S. adults said that they believed Covid-19 came from a lab in Wuhan, China, compared to just 26% who said the virus occurred naturally.
Why Connecting Tutoring To Curriculum Could Make It More Effective: Via EdWeek.
"Experts say that purposefully aligning tutoring to curriculum content... helps kids get the support they need to be successful in class."
"Even so, accomplishing this kind of alignment is complex and time consuming. And it can fall low on the priority list for districts that are struggling with more basic challenges, like hiring staff or retooling the master schedule to support tutoring."
"The district is one of 87 in TN All Corps, a state tutoring model and funding program that offers school systems matching grants of up to $700 per seat offered for tutoring. Part of the Tennessee approach is a method that’s come to be known as acceleration."
"The goal is for all students to be learning grade-level content. If children have gaps in their knowledge from previous grades, those are addressed in the context of grade-level work—rather than going back to reteach entire past units."
"Long doesn’t have to develop the tutoring materials herself—those come through Zearn, the math platform with which the state has contracted."
"Sometimes the student he’s working with is struggling to grasp an idea, and he’s not exactly sure how to break it down step by step. The biggest challenge, they said, is “needing to simplify constantly and make sure that it’s at a level that’s accessible for the students.”
"The platform that houses tutoring materials for this Los Angeles school, a nonprofit called ASSISTments, has heard this kind of feedback from tutors. In response, the platform is planning on adding a new feature next year, said Britt Neuhaus, the group’s vice president of program and partnerships."
Mental Health Safety Net for Youth: NYC Mayor Eric Adams released a student mental health plan: Care, Community, Action: A Mental Health Plan for New York City.
"As announced in Mayor Adams’ State of the City address in January, the city will invest $12 million to launch an expansive telehealth program for New York City high school aged teens, connecting them with mental health care. The city will also launch suicide prevention pilot programming at NYC Health + Hospitals for youth entering emergency departments for suicide attempts and community-based suicide prevention programming to specifically serve Black and Brown youth."
DOL: President Biden nominated Julie Su to be the next labor secretary.
NSF: Is now accepting concept papers through the VITAL prize challenge portal through March 19, 2023.
Funded teams will have the opportunity to win over $70,000 in development and commercialization support and up to $250,000 in prizes.
Commerce: Launches First CHIPS for America Funding Opportunity.
Specific amounts for awards will vary by project. The Department of Commerce anticipates that awards will cover 5% to 15% (no more than 35%) of project capital costs. The CHIPS Act generally allocates up to $38.22 billion for CHIPS Direct Funding and up to $75 billion in direct loan or guaranteed principal for CHIPS Loans and CHIPS Loan Guarantees.
Workforce Development Fact Sheet
"Companies seeking CHIPS funding will be required to submit workforce development plans for the workers who will operate their facilities and the workers who will build them, including plans to meet the Department of Commerce’s and the Department of Labor’s Good Jobs Principles."
"Applicants requesting over $150 million in direct funding must also submit plans to provide both their facility and construction workers with access to affordable, accessible, reliable, and high-quality child care."
Via Axios: Biden's industrial policy tension.
"Whether it's the CHIPS Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021 or energy investments in last year's Inflation Reduction Act, there are inherent tensions between achieving the primary goals of the legislation and other economic and social goals."
"Why it matters: These laws have been sold as essential for America's national security and climate adaptation. But those imperatives would be undermined if government restrictions result in less bang for the buck."
"This balance will be struck in dozens of decisions on policy execution across government departments, each one small in itself, but collectively huge for determining how different imperatives are balanced."
Chipmakers must agree not to expand capacity in China for a decade.
Final State Emergencies Winding Down: Via The AP: "As California’s emergency winds down, such declarations continue in just five other states — including Texas and Illinois — signaling an end to the expanded legal powers of governors to suspend laws in response to the once mysterious disease. President Joe Biden announced last month the federal government will end its own version May 11."
Pfizer/BioNTech Seeks U.S. Approval for Updated COVID Vaccine as Booster in Kids Under 5: The companies have applied for emergency use authorization of their Omicron-adapted COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose for children aged six months through four years.
COVID-related Brain Changes May Lead to Long-Term Fatigue: CIDRAP on a new study.
"MRI revealed abnormal structural changes in the thalamus, the part of the brain responsible for relaying motor and sensory signals and regulating sleep and wakefulness. The changes have been correlated with physical fatigue severity, fatigue-related daily functional impairment, and daytime sleepiness, the authors noted."
A Bipartisan Approach to Pandemic Security? It’s Within Reach: Via Beth Cameron, Gary Edson and J. Stephen Morrison
"First, launch a new, national, bipartisan, community-focused forum that spans red, blue, and purple states to bridge differences in ideology and geography and identify what worked, what didn’t, and what could work."
"Second, create an initiative to tackle inequity head-on by developing a more inclusive menu of pandemic security options — with greater acceptance in communities — that will better protect essential workers, safely operate schools and businesses, scale necessary testing, and ensure access for all to vaccines and treatments."
"Third, establish a network of incident command structures that bring together operators in real time across federal, state, tribal, and local levels."
"Fourth, design and deploy more effective crisis-response training and curricula for pandemic decision-makers and next-generation leaders."
"Fifth, create a body of wise and respected women and men to advise America’s leaders during future public health crises. Such an independent team — bipartisan, non-governmental, and drawn from public health, business, education, philanthropy, media, former elected officials, and more — will fill a glaring void."
35 Years of US Investment in Research Led to Development of mRNA COVID Vaccines: In the three decades leading up to the pandemic, the US government invested $31.9 billion in research that supported the development of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in 2020, $337 million of which was invested before the pandemic, finds a Brigham and Women's–led study published in The BMJ.
Of the $337 million invested before the pandemic, NIH invested $116 million (35%) in basic and translational science related to mRNA vaccine technology, while the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) invested $148 million (44%), and the Department of Defense invested $72 million (21%).
California: "Gov. Gavin Newsom officially ended California’s COVID-19 state of emergency with a signed proclamation, nearly three years to the day he issued the nation's first statewide stay-at-home order on March 4, 2020. He declared “the conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property ... no longer exist.”
"The governor’s office said the state will now embrace its endemic SMARTER Plan to deal with the next phase of the pandemic. It added that COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatment continue to be available at sites within local communities, at least for now. Newsom’s COVID-19 state of emergency accounted for 74 executive orders that included nearly 600 rules."
Idaho, Utah Workers Led U.S. in Quitting Jobs, While New Yorkers Largely Stayed Put: Via the WSJ.
"The higher quit rates in those states indicates that their labor markets were very robust and that their workers felt like they had a lot of leverage and could easily get another job,” said Adam Kamins, director of regional economics at Moody’s Analytics."
America’s After-School Afterthought: Via Vox.
Why a Handful of School Districts Rejected COVID Relief Funds: Via EdWeek.
"But Education Week’s nationwide search did turn up that a tiny fraction of districts—roughly 15 traditional public school districts and 45 charter districts—chose not to receive federal relief funds. Some of the charters didn’t accept funds because they were in the process of closing as part of the regular churn of those types of schools."
"In New Hampshire, three districts returned allocations of less than $1,000 each because the funds wouldn’t have been worth the time and paperwork necessary to receive them, said Kimberly Houghton, a spokesperson for the state education department."
Poor Schools Juggle Academic Recovery and Infrastructure Needs for COVID-Relief Funds: Via The AP.
"The AP found that school districts with the highest percentage of children living in poverty — the poorest 20% of districts in each state — were more than three times as likely as the wealthiest school districts to dedicate money to the construction of new buildings or classrooms. School districts with high levels of poverty were also more than twice as likely to include money for facilities repairs."
Medicaid: Almost 7 million children and teens are at risk of losing their health coverage when the public health emergency ends, new estimates from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute show.
'Taking Stock of Tutoring: Via Hechinger.
"Think of it as the difference between outpatient visits and intensive care at a hospital. High-dosage tutoring is more like the latter. It’s expensive to hire and train tutors and this type of tutoring can cost schools $4,000 or more per student annually."
"Earlier this month I observed Saga’s virtual tutoring at a New York City high school, where the students sat in a classroom and connected to their algebra tutors through laptops. I noticed how much more engaged the students were with a tutor who was physically present. Many ninth graders weren’t keen to be seen on camera and angled their laptops away. It was harder to develop an easy, friendly rapport between student and tutor."
Addressing Health Disparities Through School-Based Health Services: Via ECS.
ESSER Strategy Guides for School Staffing, Spending, and Scheduling: ERS explores nine high-priority investment areas:
Treasury announces Capital Projects Fund broadband awards for Arizona ($99.4M), Tennessee ($185M) and Wyoming ($70.5M)
Arkansas awards $53M in broadband grants to ten providers.
Applications are now open for six communities to participate in 16-week community engagement and planning program for Tennessee communities looking to leverage historic broadband infrastructure funding for
The Accelerate program is led by Heartland Forward and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, providing 30 hours of no-cost expert counsel for community leaders to guide them in developing broadband plans to address their unique local barriers, ensuring state and federal funding is allocated to best fit their needs.
Each community will recruit a team of at least eight, and up to 15, participants to actively engage in the program. The team should include a combination of local stakeholders from the following entities: city or county governments, development districts, agriculture, educational institutions at all levels, information technology centers, chambers of commerce, healthcare providers, and other applicable entities.
The Affordable Connectivity Program’s inaugural year through interactive dashboards.
Teacher Pay, School Choice, Literacy: Top Priorities for 39 Governors in 2023: Via The 74.
Good Advice: From your National Park Service.
Baby Beaver Builds Makeshift Dam: To keep her nemesis out.