Discover more from COVID-19 Policy Update
Covid-19 Policy Update #660
Excess Deaths Decreased in Second Pandemic Year, Likely Tied to Vaccination: Via CIDRAP:
"A new analysis of US national data reveals that excess deaths declined from 655,735 during the first pandemic year to 586,505 in the second. The study is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology."
"The authors of the study then analyzed excess deaths in states with low, medium, and high COVID-19 vaccination rates, defined as those in which less than 60%, 60% to 70%, and 70% or more of the population had received two doses of an mRNA vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine by April 2022."
"Excess deaths were 22%, 22%, and 25% above baseline in low-, medium-, and high-vaccination states in the first year of the pandemic, but 23%, 22%, and 16%, respectively, in the second. There were 55,000 more excess deaths in high- than in low-vaccination states in year 1, but 35,000 fewer in year 2, wrote the author, economist Christopher Ruhm, PhD, of the University of Virginia."
Pfizer Vaccine Tracking Confirms Safety in Kids, With Myocarditis, Pericarditis Rare: Via CIDRAP.
"Monitoring of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine safety among more than 3 million US children aged 5 to 17 years flagged just 2 of 20 health outcomes among 12- to 17-year-olds—myocarditis and pericarditis, which were rare."
"Of 153 myocarditis or pericarditis cases in the 12- to 17-year group, medical records were reviewed for 37. A total of 73.0% were confirmed myocarditis or pericarditis, with 93% of cases in boys. Nineteen patients were hospitalized, with a 2.8-day average hospital stay. The average time from vaccination to medical attention for myocarditis or pericarditis was 6.8 days."
"Myocarditis or pericarditis is a rare event, with an average incidence of 39.4 cases per million doses administered in children aged 5 to 17 years within 7 days after BNT162b2 [Pfizer] COVID-19 vaccination," the authors wrote. Previous studies have noted that the incidence of the two conditions is much higher after COVID-19 infection."
COVID-19 Catch Up: Via Katelyn Jetelina:
"SARS-CoV-2 is nosediving across all metrics in all regions of the U.S.: hospitalizations, deaths, emergency room departments, and wastewater. Wastewater is still higher than in 2020 and 2021, though."
"We’ve been hitting new lows in death counts, too. In fact, excess deaths are hovering at only ~1% above pre-pandemic rates (at the height of the pandemic we were at 47%). In other words, things are looking good right now."
"Up until now, the CDC recommended that we “improve ventilation” to reduce transmission. But by how much? Well, for the first time, CDC set minimum ventilation targets for indoor spaces: 5 air changes per hour. This may sound like boring news, but it’s huge for public health. Not just for viruses but health overall. While this standard isn’t mandatory, you should follow up with your business, school, place of worship, etc. to ensure it’s being met now."
"The risk of household transmission is increasing as Omicron continues to mutate. In addition, expect to get infected ~1 day quicker than before (average 4 days). Infection risk continues to be higher among unvaccinated versus vaccinated people."
The guide clarifies, consolidates, and expands on CMS guidance on how schools can receive payment for providing care for Medicaid- and CHIP-enrolled students, and how states can ease the administrative burden on school-based health providers to promote their participation in Medicaid and CHIP while meeting federal statutory and regulatory requirements. This includes helping states and schools operationalize:
How payments can be made for school-based services under Medicaid and CHIP.
How states can simplify billing for school-based services, including in rural and small or under-resourced communities, where care may be particularly challenging.
Examples of approved methods that state agencies have used to pay for covered services.
How to enroll qualified health care providers to participate in Medicaid and furnish services within school settings.
ED: New OET and Digital Promise report: "U.S. Department of Education Shares Insights and Recommendations for Artificial Intelligence." The report recommends that the Department continue working with states, institutions of higher education, school districts and other partners to collaborate on the following steps:
Align AI Models to a Shared Vision for Education
Design AI Using Modern Learning Principles
Prioritize Strengthening Trust
Inform and Involve Educators
Focus R&D on Addressing Context and Enhancing Trust and Safety
Develop Education-specific Guidelines and Guardrails
FTC: Announced (Press Release / Blog Post) a $6 million settlement against Edmodo, for allegedly violating COPPA and “unlawfully using children’s personal information for advertising and outsourced compliance to school districts.” The settlement reaffirms that the onus for verifying parental consent for collecting personal data from children should be on providers and not schools.
Surgeon General: New Advisory: "Social Media and Youth Mental Health"
OSTP: Release an RFI seeking comments on National Priorities for AI, including several education specific questions. Several questions:
What are the opportunities for AI to enhance equity and how can these be fostered? For example, what are the potential benefits for AI in enabling broadened prosperity, expanding economic and educational opportunity, increasing access to services, and advancing civil rights?
How should the United States address the challenges that AI-generated content poses to the information ecosystem, education, electoral process, participatory policymaking, and other key aspects of democracy?
What will the principal benefits of AI be for the people of the United States? How can the United States best capture the benefits of AI across the economy, in domains such as education, health, and transportation?
Reminder: Responses to NTIA's RFI are due June 12.
Unraveling Attributes of COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance and Uptake in the U.S: Via Nature.
"In total, 30,618 (83%) were willing (“Likely” or “Very Likely”) to be vaccinated. After applying a census-based post-stratification weight, Vermont (92%) and Washington D.C. (88%) had the highest rates of vaccine reluctance while South Dakota (27%) and Louisiana (23%) had the highest rates of undecided users.
"Black respondents had the highest rates of COVID-19 vaccine reluctance and the lowest rates of vaccine uptake relative to other racial and ethnic groups."
"Vaccine acceptance in healthcare workers warrants particular attention. We found that reluctant healthcare workers were less likely than other reluctant workers to change their mind."
"Initial reluctance or indecision regarding COVID-19 vaccination was not fixed and did not necessarily reflect a respondent's eventual vaccination decision. This suggests the need for a multi-pronged approach that includes interventions directed at behavior change."
Brain Imaging and Neuropsychological Assessment of Individuals Recovered From a Mild to Moderate SARS-CoV-2 Infection: New study.
"In this case–control study, we demonstrate that non-vaccinated individuals recovered from a mild to moderate severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection show significant alterations of the cerebral white matter identified by diffusion-weighted imaging, such as global increases in extracellular free water and mean diffusivity."
"Despite the observed brain white matter alterations in this sample, a mild to moderate SARS-CoV-2 infection was not associated with worse cognitive functions within the first year after recovery."
"Supplementary analyses showed that these increases relate to approximately 7 “years of healthy aging” indicating a biologically relevant effect."
"Collectively, our findings indicate the presence of a prolonged neuroinflammatory response to the initial viral infection."
COVID-19 Infection Associated With Type 1 Diabetes in Kids: "A new study suggests that a diagnosis of COVID-19 in children is associated with an increased incidence of type 1 diabetes in 2020 and 2021 in Bavaria, Germany. The study was published in JAMA."
"The findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection contributed to the observed increase in type 1 diabetes incidence during the pandemic," the authors concluded. "Possible mechanisms include initiation of autoimmunity or acceleration of disease progression."
Youth Suicide Rates Increased During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Via NIH.
"The researchers identified 5,568 youth who died by suicide during the first 10 months of the pandemic, which was higher than the expected number of deaths had the pandemic not occurred."
"During the pandemic, there were higher than expected suicide deaths among males, preteens aged 5–12 years, young adults aged 18–24 years, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaskan Native youth, and non-Hispanic Black youth as compared to before the pandemic. Suicide deaths involving firearms were also higher than expected."
Youth—Especially Girls—Had More Psychiatric Diagnoses in First Two Years of COVID: "Among about 1.7 million US youths, both girls and boys experienced increases in some common mental illnesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, but girls were particularly affected, with more than a doubling of eating disorders among adolescent girls, according to a study published yesterday in JAMA Network Open."
The Impact of Pandemic Disruptions on Clinical Skills Learning for Pre-Clinical Medical Students: Study.
"Students reported experiencing benefits and disadvantages of the shift to online learning, including a decrease in confidence in their skills acquisition."
"End of year summative clinical assessments showed non-inferior outcomes when compared to previous cohorts for the majority of clinical skills."
"Our findings concur with prior studies that suggest COVID teaching disruptions impact medical student confidence in their clinical skills learning. Medical schools enacting rapid adaptations to skills learning in response to pandemic public health directives will need to be mindful to proactively address this psychological repercussion."
Governor Lamont and Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker announced that 110 organizations that are being awarded more than $13 million in grants to provide learning opportunities to children during the summers of 2023 and 2024 as part of the latest round of funding under the Connecticut Summer Enrichment Program.
Idaho: "The Idaho State University College of Education recently received a $1.1 million grant from the Idaho State Board of Education to help teachers and building administrators address the mathematical learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Eastern Idaho."
Tennessee: "40% of 3rd grade students scored proficient in English language arts (ELA) – a 4.3 percentage point increase from 2022."
"The largest increase in a single year of third graders whose ELA scores met or exceeded expectations since Tennessee updated its ELA academic standards in 2017."
"Former Fed chair, IMF chief economist say it wasn’t pandemic or stimulus; it was the pandemic, then the stimulus."
"Pandemic-related supply shocks explain why inflation shot up in 2021. An economy overheated by fiscal stimulus and low interest rates explain why it has stayed high ever since. The conclusion: For inflation to fade, the economy has to cool off, which means a weaker labor market."
"If stimulus had overheated the economy, it should have shown up in the labor market, i.e., an unusually high ratio of vacancies to unemployed. In fact, labor market conditions put downward pressure on inflation through the third quarter of 2021, the authors concluded. Instead, the inflation that year was driven almost entirely by shortages and energy prices. (To be sure, many shortages reflected restricted supply interacting with demand boosted by stimulus.)"
"If anything, the study might understate the effect of pandemic disruptions. The labor market didn’t just overheat because of excess demand, but reduced supply, as well. The rising ratio of vacancies to unemployed, which the model equates with a tighter labor market, reflects employers struggling to fill vacancies. The authors note much of that struggle was because of the pandemic: Firms that had laid off employees had to find new ones, while some workers left the labor force because of family obligations, illness or work-life balance priorities."
“Looking forward, with labor market slack still below sustainable levels and inflation expectations modestly higher, we conclude that the Fed is unlikely to be able to avoid slowing the economy to return inflation to target,” Bernanke and Blanchard wrote in the paper."
"The quantitatively larger sin was fiscal policy, especially for the year 2021. The less forgivable sin, though, was monetary policy,” said Jason Furman, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and now an economics professor at Harvard."
States Compete to Attract Remote Workers with Friendlier Tax Policy: Via MultiState: "This legislative session, 13 states considered 26 pieces of legislation that would amend the tax code to address mobile and remote worker issues. These generally fall into four categories: bills establishing a Mobile Workforce-esque 30-day safe harbor, bills providing new remote work tax credits, and bills dealing with apportionment or nexus issues."
Return of Working Moms Defies Pandemic Expectations:Via Axios:"The percentage of women with children who are working is back to a peak level last seen in 2019."
Pew Charitable Trusts: "How State Broadband Offices Are Using Initial Dollars from Capital Projects Fund."
Most Families Gave Up on Virtual School. What About Students Still Thriving Online?: Via USA Today.
School Systems’ Essential Quest for Coherence: Via Emily Freitag.
Run For Your Lives: This is terrifying.
Ed Sheeran Surprises: High School Music Students in Tampa.
Related: Ed Sheeran - Life Goes On featuring Luke Combs
To fallen soldiers let us sing
Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the mansions of the Lord