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Covid-19 Policy Update #656: End of the Federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Covid Public Health Emergency: Ends today.
HHS Fact Sheet: End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Access to COVID-19 vaccinations and certain treatments, such as Paxlovid and Lagevrio, will generally not be affected.
Major telehealth flexibilities will not be affected.
FDA’s Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for COVID-19 products (including tests, vaccines, and treatments) will not be affected.
“Several large insurance companies — including UnitedHealthcare, Cigna and Aetna — have said their coverage of at-home tests, which cost about $11 on average, will end on Thursday.”
13 Lessons From the Covid Pandemic: NYT OpEd by the members of Biden-Harris Transition Covid Advisory Board: Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Luciana Borio, Rick Bright, Michael Osterholm, Jill Jim and David Michaels:
Human tolerance for lifestyle changes is limited.
Incentives can change behavior. Social norms can enforce it.
Trust is crucial.
Reliable, real-time data is vital.
We know how to reduce the spread of airborne viruses like Covid.
Vaccines reduce serious disease, but are unlikely to prevent transmission. New therapeutics are needed.
Responses should be tailored to local circumstances.
School should not be interrupted or placed online except in rare circumstances.
Social isolation is harmful and can increase mortality.
We need vaccine access and paid sick leave.
Indifference can kill.
Covid will not be the last pandemic to strike the United States and the next one could be worse.
Parents Don’t Understand How Far Behind Their Kids Are in School: Via Tom Kane and Sean Reardon in the NYT.
"We’ve looked at test scores, the duration of school closures, broadband availability, Covid death rates, employment data, patterns of social activity, voting patterns, measures of how connected people are to others in their communities and Facebook survey data on both family activities and mental health during the pandemic."
"In 2019, the typical student in the poorest 10 percent of districts scored one and a half years behind the national average for his or her year – and almost four years behind students in the richest 10 percent of districts – in both math and reading."
"By 2022, the typical student in the poorest districts had lost three-quarters of a year in math, more than double the decline of students in the richest districts. The declines in reading scores were half as large as in math and were similarly much larger in poor districts than rich districts. The pandemic left students in low-income and predominantly minority communities even further behind their peers in richer, whiter districts than they were."
"But while the effects of the pandemic on learning were quite different across communities, they were, surprisingly, evenly distributed among different types of students within each community. You might expect that the more affluent children in a district would be better protected from the educational consequences of the pandemic than their lower-income classmates. But that’s not what we found."
ED: Press Release: "Biden-Harris Administration Calls on Colleges, Universities, and Schools to Partner in Addressing K-12 Learning Loss, Announces Initial Cohort of Committed Partners"
Title 42 Health Policy: Expires at midnight and a huge new surge of migrants are expected at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Politico: "Cities throughout the U.S. are preparing to receive busloads of people at potentially record numbers due to a pandemic-era immigration policy expiring on Thursday. U.S. officials have said they expect as many as 13,000 people a day to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, many seeking asylum. That’s more than double the current average."
WSJ: "That surge had overwhelmed the Border Patrol, leading agents to release large numbers of migrants into border cities to reduce overcrowding at detention centers, and has sent cities from El Paso, Texas, to New York struggling to prepare for new arrivals."
The U.S. Intelligence Community’s Annual Threat Assessment: Released this week. Well worth the read, and it includes a few Covid assessments:
"Now entering its fourth year, the COVID-19 pandemic remains one of the most significant threats to global public health, at a cost of more than 6.5 million lives lost and trillions of dollars in lost economic output to date."
"In addition to direct effects of the pandemic, resultant economic, human security, political, and national security implications of COVID-19 continue to strain recovery efforts, presenting both known and unforeseen challenges that probably will ripple through society and the global economy during the next year and for years to come."
"Countries globally remain vulnerable to the emergence or introduction of a novel pathogen that could cause a devastating new pandemic."
"The IC continues to investigate how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, first infected humans, maintaining a Community of Interest across agencies. All agencies assess that two hypotheses are plausible explanations for the origin of COVID-19: natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident."
As Emergency Ends, a Look at Covid’s U.S. Death Toll: Via the NYT.
Experts See Lessons for Next Pandemic as Covid Emergency Comes to an End: Via NYT.
"Think carefully about school closures. Both Dr. Fauci and Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said the pandemic had shown that officials should think carefully about school closures and keep them as limited as possible. Both said better indoor air circulation might be one way to safely keep schools open."
"As a model for responding to future pandemics, experts point to Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine development program. The initiative brought effective vaccines to Americans in record time — in part, Dr. Fauci said, because the federal government had spent years investing in basic scientific research."
Antibodies Spiked Then Waned After Pfizer, Moderna COVID Vaccines, But J&J Response Was Opposite: Via CIDRAP: "One month after COVID-19 vaccination, compared with J&J recipients, nAB levels were 51 times higher among Moderna recipients and 21 times higher among Pfizer recipients. At 6 months, however, J&J vaccines produced the same antibody response as that of Moderna and significantly higher concentrations than those of Pfizer."
Illinois: "The first round of funding under the state’s Energy Transition Community Grant program is helping communities add mental health care services, expand workforce training opportunities, and restore local budgets battered by the decline of fossil fuels. The grants were created by Illinois’s 2021 Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA)."
New York: "Mr. Banks announced major changes to reading instruction in an aim to tackle a persistent problem: About half of city children in grades three through eight are not proficient in reading. Black, Latino and low-income children fare even worse."
"Over the next two years, the city’s 32 local school districts will adopt one of three curriculums selected by their superintendents."
The three choices have some significant differences:
"Wit & Wisdom is known for its robust focus on knowledge building, which is important for helping students understand what they read. It does not cover foundational skills like phonics, and would therefore be paired with a phonics program like Foundations, which many schools already use."
"Expeditionary Learning has an explicit phonics program, and includes texts that draw from concepts in other subjects such as social studies and a more robust writing component. It also has significant amounts of extra teaching materials and guidance that schools may need additional help to absorb."
"Into Reading is the most traditional option, a “basal” program that uses texts written specifically to teach reading. It was selected by most districts in the rollout’s first phase, though some teachers and principals have worried over a recent New York University report that found its content “likely reinforces stereotypes and portrays people of color in inferior and destructive ways.”
Inflation: The headline index was up 4.9% compared to last April. The core index — stripping out food and energy prices in order to see an underlying trend — was up 5.5%. Axios:
Goldman Sachs: "Today’s report is supportive of our call for a pause at the June FOMC meeting."
ING: "There are some signs that service sector price pressures are moderating so a June Fed pause looks likely."
BNP Paribas: "We think the CPI data will bolster more moderate policymakers’ case to pause at the FOMC meeting on 14 June."
Allianz Investment Management: "The in-line report should provide a runway for the Fed’s conditional-pause in rate hikes as further progress on bringing down inflation is evident."
JPMorgan: "Today’s report probably also gives support to those on the FOMC who favor pausing at the June meeting (as we and consensus expect)."
Chinese Company Now Owns Tutoring Firm Contracted by Military and Schools in U.S.: Via WSJ.
"Princeton Review and Tutor.com say a Chinese private-equity firm has received regulatory approval to buy the test-prep company and online tutoring platform, more than 15 months after the acquisition closed."
"Primavera Capital Group, based in Hong Kong, quietly purchased the well-known brands from Korean education company ST Unitas in January 2022, at a time of increased scrutiny of Chinese investment in the U.S."
"Tutor.com collects data on users and tutors, including names, home addresses, IP addresses and recordings of their sessions. National security experts say the concern isn’t what China’s government would do with that information now, but rather how that information could be collected to create files on individuals or their families down the line, or whether information could eventually be disaggregated."
Parent Polling: Via EdChoice / MorningConsult.
The Need to Make Math More Relevant and Engaging for K-12 Students: Report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
As Post-Pandemic Enrollment Lags, Schools Compete for Fewer Students: Via The 74: Lost students, dwindling relief funds and a juggernaut of new choice options portend tough decisions ahead for the nation’s education system
"In California, which has seen a whopping 5% drop in its student population since 2020, the enrollment decline has slowed, according to statewide data. But the downward slope in birth rates and exodus of parents from high-priced areas has left district and charter leaders with limited options."
Youth Mental Health: Via NGA: Promoting Access And Affordability Of Quality Treatment And Care.
Bloomberg releases a paper on arXiv detailing their experience in training this 50B parameters. Useful for those thinking about education/workforce models.
Google's I/O event announced a number of new AI tools/services:
Duet AI for Google Workspace enhancements, including AI in Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
Google Search will become interactive, responding to questions in a conversational manner like ChatGPT.
PaLM 2, Google’s new LLM that will power over 25 new Google products. Comes in four sizes: Gecko (10 billion parameters) - Otter (100 billion parameters) - Bison (1 trillion parameters) - Unicorn (10 trillion parameters).
Partnership with Adobe Firefly, making text-to-image available directly in Bard.
Med-PaLM, a LLM from Google Research, designed for the medical sector. It recently reached “Expert Level” on U.S. Medical Licensing Exam.
MusicLM, describe a musical idea and it generates audio.
StudioBot, an AI coding bot for developers.
Easy to see how this could be deployed in education through Google Classroom. In fact, the demo was an education use case.
All I'm Askin’: Is for a little respect. Jump to the 1:19 mark.