Everyone Can Help with Contact Tracing

Everyone Can Help with Contact Tracing. YaleGlobal. Susan Froetschel and Douglas P. Olsen. May 13, 2020

Individuals and communities have some control over the spread of Covid-19. “As many communities in Europe, Asia and the Americas take steps to restart economies, public health departments rely on contact tracing to identify and isolate cases and prevent new waves of infections,” reports YaleGlobal. “To contain the virus quickly, WHO urges member states to recruit and train contact tracing team early when there is no or low transmissions.” Early on, many health providers recognized the benefit of recording their experiences. By mid-April, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged New Zealanders to keep a daily diary of all activities and encounters, and Washington State considers requiring restaurants to gather names and contact details from diners. Slowing the pandemic requires social-distancing, masks, testing, contact tracing and tremendous self-discipline. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The Effect Of COVID-19 and Disease Suppression Policies on Labor Markets: A Preliminary Analysis Of The Data

The Effect Of COVID-19 and Disease Suppression Policies on Labor Markets: A Preliminary Analysis Of The Data. Brookings Institution. Jonathan Rothwell and Hannah Van Drie. April 27, 2020

World leaders are deliberating when and how to re-open business operations amidst considerable uncertainty as to the economic consequences of the coronavirus. One pressing question is whether or not countries that have remained relatively open have managed to escape at least some of the economic harm, and whether that harm is related to the spread of the disease. A related issue is what forms of relief are most effective at preserving the employer-employee relationship and securing the foundations for a robust recovery once the economy re-opens. Some countries have leaned heavily on their unemployment insurance system, whereas others have prioritized business relief, which mandates the preservation of employee relationships.
To shed some light on these issues, we compiled data on unemployment and related benefit claims from 20 wealthy countries. Given the unusual circumstances of the pandemic and the variation across countries in novel policy responses—including the introduction of business relief programs designed to prevent unemployment, these measures should not be regarded as fully capturing the scale of economic disruption in a comparable way. Nonetheless, these data offer a useful preliminary look at what is happening across countries as we wait for more complete data from statistical offices. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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How Americans See Digital Privacy Issues Amid The COVID-19 Outbreak

How Americans See Digital Privacy Issues Amid The COVID-19 Outbreak. Pew Research Center. Brooke Auxier. May 4, 2020.

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has brought privacy and surveillance concerns to the forefront – from hacked video conferencing sessions to proposed government tracking of people’s cellphones as a measure to limit and prevent the spread of the virus. Over the past year, Pew Research Center has surveyed Americans on their views related to privacy, personal data and digital surveillance. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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A Mechanism to Reduce Medical Supply Shortfalls During Pandemics

A Mechanism to Reduce Medical Supply Shortfalls During Pandemics. RAND Corporation. Elizabeth Hastings Roer, Isla Globus-Harris. April 16, 2020.

During a pandemic, there is a high risk of medical supply shortfalls and inefficient distribution of medical supplies. If different regions face pandemic peaks at different points in time, supply shortfalls in regions suffering high infection caseloads (hot spots) can potentially be reduced by minimizing idle inventory and acquisitions of new supplies in regions with contemporaneously low infection caseloads (cool spots). This Perspective discusses a potential backstopping mechanism for addressing this inefficient distribution by assuring cool spots that, if they release inventoried supplies to hot spots and delay acquiring new supplies, they will receive priority access to a corresponding quantity of newly produced supplies in the future. If new supplies are not produced as quickly as expected or if the cool spot suffers an outbreak earlier than expected, the promise will be fulfilled by drawing from a centralized, dedicated pool of supplies. This backstopping mechanism thus multiplies the value of resources in a centralized pool by leveraging that pool to increase the share of resources going to hot spots. For this mechanism to work, the pool must draw in more resources over critical periods than it could otherwise provide by simply acting as a direct source of supplies. This paper also offers observations on how to evaluate whether the proposed mechanism could provide benefits over alternative responses in the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 16 pages].

Critical Care Surge Response Strategies for the 2020 COVID-19 Outbreak in the United States

Critical Care Surge Response Strategies for the 2020 COVID-19 Outbreak in the United States. RAND Corporation. Mahshid Abir et al. April 3, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating unprecedented stresses on hospital and health care systems. In this report, the authors present a list of strategies for creating critical care surge capacity and estimate the number of patients accommodated, given the number of available critical care doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists, ventilators, and hospital beds. They also document the development of a user-friendly, Microsoft Excel–based tool that allows decisionmakers at all levels — hospitals, health care systems, states, regions — to estimate current critical care capacity and rapidly explore strategies for increasing it. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 49 pages].

COVID-19 and School Closures: What Can Countries Learn from Past Emergencies?

COVID-19 and School Closures: What Can Countries Learn from Past Emergencies? Brookings Institution. Rebecca Winthrop. Tuesday, March 31, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads around the world, and across every state in the U.S., school systems are shutting their doors. To date, the education community has largely focused on the different strategies to continue schooling, including lively discussions on the role of education technology versus distribution of printed paper packets. But there has been relatively little discussion about how to take advantage of the know-how and good practice developed from years of work in the humanitarian and global development sectors. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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School Closures, Government Responses, and Learning Inequality around the World during COVID-19

School Closures, Government Responses, and Learning Inequality around the World during COVID-19. Brookings Institution. Emiliana Vegas. April 14, 2020

According to UNESCO, as of April 14, 188 countries around the world have closed schools nationwide, affecting over 1.5 billion learners and representing more than 91 percent of total enrolled learners. The world has never experienced such a dramatic impact on human capital investment, and the consequences of COVID-19 on economic, social, and political indicators are unknown but certainly will be dramatic.
Although a majority of governments are making substantial efforts to ensure continuing education opportunities, their capacity for quality learning—especially for the most disadvantaged populations—varies enormously. In this brief, the author uses data recently collected by the Center for Global Development and combine it with the World Bank’s classification method for countries’ income levels and regions of the world to take stock of the official education system responses to COVID-19 around the world and to analyze how these responses may affect gaps in student learning across regions, countries of various income levels, and countries with different student performance levels as measured by international assessments. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Early Learnings from the Hospital Community Cooperative of the American Hospital Association

Early Learnings from the Hospital Community Cooperative of the American Hospital Association. RAND Corporation. Malcolm V. Williams, Laurie T. Martin, Jessica Sousa. February 26, 2020.

Health is increasingly understood to be shaped by more than individual genetics, clinical care, and health behavior. Structural factors that shape the distribution of power and wealth in society are also responsible for health inequities, and social determinants of health (SDOH) have overlapping impacts on health outcomes and well-being that account for approximately 70 percent of the variance in health status.

Hospitals and health systems are also facing challenges related to (1) regular use of the emergency department for nonemergency care and social service needs and (2) new payment and care delivery models that shift financial incentives for providers toward achieving and maintaining the health of their patient populations. Collectively, these trends point to an opportunity to think differently about the role of hospitals and health systems in the improvement of population health. Recognizing the value of partnered approaches, the Hospital Community Cooperative (HCC) aims to bring hospitals and community organizations together to collectively address key social determinants of health in their communities and promote health equity.

This report includes key findings and lessons learned that should be of interest to various audiences seeking to expand the capacity of hospital-community partnerships to address SDOH, including other hospitals, other health systems, and community partners seeking to leverage the support and resources of their local health care institutions (whether these approaches are occurring within a formal HCC or not). In addition, this report should be of use to foundations or other funding agencies that might support similar partnered approaches to improve health inequity in their communities. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 12 pages].

What to Do About Health-Care Markets? Policies to Make Health-Care Markets Work

What to Do About Health-Care Markets? Policies to Make Health-Care Markets Work. Brookings Institution. Martin Gaynor. March 10, 2020

The Problem

Health-care markets have become much more consolidated over time. That consolidation has generally resulted in higher prices without gains in quality or other improvements. There are many health-care markets where competition can be effective, but the right policies are needed to support that competition. In other markets, robust competition would be more difficult to achieve, necessitating a different policy approach.

The Proposal

Gaynor proposes three types of policy reforms that would increase competition in health care and improve market functioning.
• Reduce or eliminate policies that encourage consolidation or that impede entry and competition.
• Strengthen antitrust enforcement so that federal and state antitrust enforcement agencies can act effectively to prevent and remove harms to competition.
• Create an agency responsible for monitoring and overseeing health-care markets, and give that agency the authority to flexibly intervene when markets are not working. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 40 pages].

Reducing Administrative Costs in US Health Care

Reducing Administrative Costs in US Health Care. Brookings Institution. David M. Cutler. March 10, 2020

The Problem

Administrative costs account for one-quarter to one-third of total health-care spending in the United States—far greater than the amount necessary to deliver effective health care. Excessive administrative burden results in higher costs for physicians, insurers, and patients alike.

The Proposal

Cutler proposes several reforms to the U.S. health-care system aimed at reducing administrative costs. Specifically, his proposal would establish a clearinghouse for bill submission, simplify prior authorization, harmonize quality reporting, and enhance data interoperability in the health-care system. Cutler’s proposal to lower administrative costs could save $50 billion annually. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 28 pages].