Educational Institutions and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 Pandemic disrupted so many schedules, agendas, and events, including but not limited to schooling. This has certainly got to be the worst disruption to the education sector since time immemorial. Considering the previous academic year was filled with a lot of uncertainties, the 2021/2022 school calendar year promises to be better albeit starting up a bit roughly. This would majorly be due to better prevention practices, social distancing, and ultimately vaccination. The Ohio government has also requested that certain prevention practices and controls be set in place by schools.

On March 16, 2020, schools in Ohio closed, and they remained closed for the remainder of the school year. Early in June, it was announced that schools would reopen, but the state was working on guidelines to ensure this possibility. These guidelines tagged ‘Reset and Restart’ were released in July and modified in August 2020 to enable schools to develop their reopening plans. 

Many people and schools were against the closure for reasons such as that 

  • School-aged children are at low risk of COVID – 19;
  • Closing and opening and of schools would have effects on the economy;
  • Closing schools is not an effective practice in mitigating the spread of the virus;
  • A few also complained of the digital divide that would arise from distance learning.

Others who supported closing schools argued the below:

  • Evidence from previous pandemics support the closure of schools
  • Reopening universities will increase the spread of the virus

Governor Mike DeWine mentioned that it was necessary to reopen schools and he was worried about children who have not learned well online due to accessibility, disability, or other reasons.

In November 2020, the Lucas County Health Board insisted that middle schools and higher classes should resume remote learning between December 4 and January 11, while kids in classes six and below could continue to go to school. This resulted in a lawsuit being filed against them by 3 Christian schools in Northwest Ohio, as they claim the new ruling violated their rights to provide religious education in the classroom, and the new ruling prevents affected students’ from utilizing their first amendment rights. They were subsequently joined by Ohio’s largest Christian public policy organization – The schools and Citizens for community values, as they were in support and believed older students should not be kept from schools.

The suit sought that this order is overthrown, and students allowed for in-class teaching. The schools involved are the Monclova Christian Academy, St. John’s Jesuit High School, and Emmanuel Christian School. They believed that the ruling was unjust as students were prevented from getting SAT prep, but could get into clubs, gyms and casinos. They insisted that the limitation was placed on schools while other avenues that might promote the spread of the virus were not curtailed. Furthermore, they insisted that the decision was way more restrictive than what the governor had advised.

The district court denied the motion on the basis that it was a neutral general ruling. Following another denial, the schools decided to appeal for an injunction at the court of appeals for the sixth circuit and this was granted.

In a similar vein, it is also important to mention that a coalition of public universities is calling on Congress to allocate $97billion in the next coronavirus relief package. This is expected to provide critical support to students, protect jobs, financially stabilize institutions and also strengthen public universities’ response to the pandemic in general. They iterated that previous relief packages were ‘very helpful’ but fell woefully short in mitigating the effects resulting from the pandemic.

Hopefully, the government would pay particular attention to educational institutions especially as affected by the Coronavirus.

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Pandemic Eviction

Yes, that is and thing and it is happening during a time where every single health authority and official, advice is to stay home. A growing number of people are being forced out of where they live because they can’t pay the rent.

Because being stressed about catching Covid-19 and losing your job is not enough, you have to be stressed about getting evicted and since that’s not hard enough on its own, you could be getting evicted during a pandemic too.

There is a new eviction ban being enacted through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal is to stem the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, which the agency says in its order “presents a historic threat to public health.”

Housing advocates and landlord groups both have been warning that millions of people could soon be put out of their homes through eviction if Congress does not do more to help renters and landlords and reinstate expanded unemployment benefits

“While an eviction moratorium is an essential step, it is a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off of when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed.” says Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Landlords are worried about falling off a cliff too. Doug Bibby is the president of the National Multifamily Housing Council. He says, “An eviction moratorium will ultimately harm the very people it aims to help by making it impossible for housing providers, particularly small owners, to meet their financial obligations and continue to provide shelter to their residents”

Evictions for reasons other than nonpayment of rent will be allowed. The government says it will impose criminal penalties on landlords who violate the ban.

The bottom line here is, we need legislation with funding that helps both renters and landlords, because when Covid-19 is over (and I sincerely hope it will be over, and becomes a thing of the pass at some point) the rent will be due, and you will either be a renter with a huge amount due, or a landlord with an empty property and with very few people able to afford a roof above their heads

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Coronavirus USA

The daily confirmed Covid-19 (Coronavirus) cases, today Oct. 6th 2020, is of 40.705.
This is the current number of Covid-19 cases by state, starting with the highest:

#StateConfirmed Cases#StateConfirmed Cases
4New York500,41529Nevada82,437
8Nort Carolina219,75433Kansas63,580
9New Jersey212,56434Connecticut59,120
13Alabama160,47738New Mexico30,632
14Ohio160,03039Rhode Island25,596
15Virginia153,18240South Dakota24,598
16South Carolina152,15941North Dakota24,364
18Missouri138,43243West Virginia16,936
19Massachussetts135,46244District Of Columbia15,652
22Indiana125,97647New Hampshire8,680

These numbers give a grim perspective, I can tell you that in each the state the number of cases that made a full recovery is more than 50% and yes, the death toll is high, yet the percentage of deaths is very low; take California for example, the total number of deaths is 16,178 and that amounts for approximately around 1.9% of the confirmed cases.

I agree that number of deaths should be 0, but we can’t all be Vermont that up to this date has had less than 2000 confirmed cases: I’d love for Vermont to have a super neat trick or secret to keep that number so low but they just did the standards like frequent hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing

Yes, it is that simple!

Unless you ask President Donald Trump, who until now has given some pretty misleading information, such as:

  • On the Nature of the Outbreak: The outbreak would be temporary: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.” This is the one I wish were true, but sadly it isn’t. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned days later that he was concerned that “as the next week or two or three go by, we’re going to see a lot more community-related cases.” He was right—the virus has not disappeared.
  • Blaming the Obama Administration: The Trump White House “inherited” a “broken,” “bad,” and “obsolete” test for the coronavirus. The novel coronavirus did not exist in humans during the Obama administration. Public-health experts agree that, because of that fact, the CDC could not have produced a test, and thus a new test had to be developed this year.
  • On Coronavirus Testing: “Anybody that needs a test, gets a test. We—they’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful” and “If somebody wants to be tested right now, they’ll be able to be tested.” Trump made these two claims two months apart, but the truth was the same both times: The U.S. did not have enough testing.
  • On COVID-19 Treatments and Vaccines: Trump was being “sarcastic” when he suggested in a briefing on April 23 that his medical experts should research the use of powerful light and injected disinfectants to treat COVID-19. Trump’s tone did not seem sarcastic when he made the apparent suggestion to inject disinfectants. Turning to Birx and a Department of Homeland Security science-and-technology official, he mused: “I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? … It would be interesting to check that.” When he walked this statement back the next day, he added that he was only asking his experts “to look into whether or not sun and disinfectant on the hands [work].” [PLEASE DO NOT DRINK OR INJECT BLEACH OR DISINFECTANTS]

Also, North Dakota.
What’s going on there?
Covid-19 hospitalizations in North Dakota have hit a new high, the state Department of Health reported Monday.

We are not experts on the matter to be given out recommendations, but we can quote the experts:

In an interview with “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on MSNBC, Dr. Fauci addressed when people would most likely be able to do things again that they had done before the pandemic, such as going to an indoor movie theater “with impunity.”
While a vaccine may be available by the end of the year, he said, “by the time you mobilize the distribution of the vaccinations, and you get the majority or more of the population vaccinated and protected, that’s likely not going to happen till the mid or end of 2021.”
In a panel discussion at Harvard Medical School he said “we need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy.” Ms. Mitchell pointed out that this conflicted with what President Trump had said at the White House on the same day, that the country had “rounded the final turn” on the virus.
He said “what we don’t want to see is going into the fall season when people will be spending more time indoors — and that’s not good for a respiratory borne virus — you don’t want to start off already with a baseline that’s so high.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its website to warn that the coronavirus can spread through the air, something public health experts have been warning about for months but went unacknowledged by the agency until Monday.
“There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away,” the CDC says on its website.

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Legislative Impact of Coronavirus

California voters can enact their own laws outside of the state Legislature by putting initiatives up for a public vote. To qualify for the ballot, proposed laws must get signatures of at least 5% (623,212 signatures) of voters who cast ballots in the previous election for governor. Supporters say they collected 900,000 signatures.

Fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has delayed by two years what likely would have been one of the most expensive California ballot battles leading up to this November’s election, initiative supporters said Thursday.

The proposal would raise the limit for damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits from the $250,000 cap set in 1975, to now tie the cap to inflation, increasing it to about $1.2 million.

Proponents will delay the campaign until 2022 because of the uncertainty prompted by the pandemic, Jamie Court, president of the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, said in an emailed statement.

Two-thirds of voters in 2014 rejected a similar proposal after a coalition of medical groups raised nearly $60 million to defeat it. They argued that increasing lawsuit awards would have raised health care prices for everyone.

“Voters are overwhelmed with trying to keep their families safe and deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19” Consumer Watchdog board member Scott Olsen, said in a statement.

The cap is also being challenged as unconstitutional in an Alameda County Superior Court lawsuit.

Supporters say the cap disproportionately impacts people of color, citing a study from the Brookings Institute saying babies of well-educated Black mothers are more likely to die before their first birthday than babies of white mothers with less than a high school education.

“It’s unfortunate that while California’s health providers are courageously working on the front lines of this pandemic, a few opportunistic trial lawyers have remained focused on a ballot measure that would substantially increase the burden on California’s doctors and clinics while inflating health care costs for everyone,” said Lisa Maas, executive director of Californians Allied for Patient Protection, which opposes the measure.

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The Economy & The Election

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden laid out starkly divergent visions of how to dig the U.S. economy out of the deepest downturn since the Great Depression amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal of the next president will be to get back to full employment as fast as possible

  • Trump promised more cuts to taxes and regulations, and he dangled the prospect of additional tariffs against China; “We will go right after China,” Trump said. “We will not rely on them one bit. We’re taking our business out of China. We are bringing it home. We want our business to come home.” He added, “We will continue to reduce taxes and regulations at levels not seen before.”
  • Biden Biden vowed to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations and use the money to spend trillions to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and shift to a clean-energy future, make housing and child care more affordable and improve education, among other proposals.
  • Trump In his nomination speech, he suggested he’ll propose cutting individual taxes but didn’t say which. Trump’s campaign has generally provided vague economic proposals that could be fleshed out later. The president, for example, vowed to create 10 million jobs in 10 months but didn’t specify how.
    Economist Chris Edwards of the libertarian Cato Institute says: “Trump will be better from a free-market perspective.”
    The Tax Foundation says it’s difficult to analyze the ideas without more details.
    Critics question the legality of a payroll tax cut that’s not approved by Congress.
    “Tax cuts provide a small economic bang for the buck, adding significantly to the nation’s debt load and providing little economic lift.“ said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics
  • Biden His administration would raise taxes and eliminate loopholes for individuals earning more than $400,000.
    Economist Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics says she supports the plan because it targets wealthy individuals who likely would save, rather than spend, their tax windfall, doing relatively little harm to the economy.
  • Trump is trusted more than Democratic nominee Joe Biden to handle the economy, polls show, even with more than 40 million Americans filing jobless claims and growth stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Biden, who has held online events from home during the shutdown, should be out in communities across the country demonstrating how to reopen businesses while following public health guidance. He needs to show what life is going to be like and how we are going to do it.
  • Trump has staked his political future on the economy, pushing a return to normal. An improving economy could play to Trump’s strengths, said Ian Sams, an adviser at Navigator, a polling organization.
  • A Biden adviser said re-opening should be dictated by public health concerns and that phased approaches being done by most states make sense. “From an economic standpoint, the worst-case scenario would be opening up and having to shut down again,” the adviser said.
    Economists see a recovery beginning in the third quarter, with job gains expected at more than 2 million, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia survey. But those forecasters still see a double-digit unemployment rate by the November election. “The unemployment rate will probably be falling relatively quickly later this year and next year, but it’s still going to be at a very high level,” the Biden adviser said.
    “It’s not that we don’t want to reopen the economy,” prominent Michigan Democrat, Vaughn Derderian, the chair of the Oakland County Democratic Party said. “We don’t know what it means to reopen the economy safely.”

A badly flagging economy of course works more to Biden’s political favor than Trump’s. But it’s also possible that the economy will simply matter less in this election than in past presidential contests.

The economy has gone into recession, unemployment is at 11.1%, and record numbers of new COVID-19 cases could substantially boost unemployment yet again. Come November, the economy could be a strong headwind for the incumbent president.

The election is determined on the margins, in other words. Plenty of people know how they’ll vote, regardless of their income or even whether they have a job on Election Day. But for those people in swing states without strong party affiliations, the economy could nudge their voting decisions one way or the other.

Bottom line,  the economy will play a determining factor in the election.

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Flashback: American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act

July 20: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) officially proposed the next stimulus bill, the American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act, which includes a $1,200 stimulus check for individuals who earn up to $75,000.

Sounds familiar?

It’s because this is the same limit as the stimulus checks provided under the original CARES Act, passed in March that provided a $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit in addition to state unemployment benefits.

This new bill is broken into five titles that cover a wide range of emergency relief acts, including:

  • Expanded Federal Unemployment Benefits
  • Stimulus Checks & Job Creation
  • Healthcare Related Provisions
  • Additional Flexibility And Accountability For Coronavirus Relief Fund Payments And State Tax Certainty For Employees And Employers
  • and more

This new proposal will replace the federal unemployment benefit with a lower weekly rate.

  • Recipients would receive $600 per week ending on or before July 31, 2020
  • Then they would receive $200 per week through October 5th,
  • Starting in October, this payment would be replaced with a payment (up to $500) that, when combined with the state UI payment, would replace 70 percent of lost wages through December 31, 2020.

Some related bills:
S.3638 Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility Act
This bill allows Coronavirus Relief Fund payments to be used to replace state, tribal, or local government revenue shortfalls resulting from COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) during the period from March 1-December 31, 2020.

H.R.7615 To provide a payroll tax credit for certain expenses associated with protecting employees from COVID-19. This bill allows employers a payroll tax credit for 50% of the sum of qualified employee protection expenses, qualified workplace reconfiguration expenses, and qualified workplace technology expenses paid for each calendar quarter.

The Recession of The Rich… Is Over

“The recession is nearly over for high-wage workers, but low-wage workers are no more than half-recovered,” said John Friedman, an economics professor at Brown University and co-director of the Harvard-based research group Opportunity Insights.

In recent weeks, spending by the poor has nearly rebounded to pre-crisis levels, thanks to federal stimulus checks — low-income consumption shot up after April 15 the moment they were deposited — and to expanded unemployment benefits. But the jobless rate remains at its highest level since the Great Depression.

Much of the country’s economy depends on shopping by the top income bracket that the wealthiest 25% of Americans account for fully two-thirds of the total decline in spending since January.

The stock market is telling a different story. Thanks to a wave of optimism about a possible vaccine and an economic recovery, as well as continued support from the Fed, many investors are doing quite well. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is within a few points of hitting a record high.

Some of the largest companies, such as Nike and Best Buy, are enjoying their highest stock prices ever while many smaller businesses fight for survival.

New analysis by Opportunity Insights of Labor Department data found employment is still 20 percent below pre-pandemic levels for workers earning under $14 an hour, and 16 percent down for those making $14 to $20 an hour.

“This has been a very clear K-shaped recovery,” says Peter Atwater, an adjunct lecturer in economics at the College of William & Mary. “The biggest and wealthiest have been on a clear path toward recovery. Meanwhile, for most small businesses and those worst off, things have only become worse. The contrast is piercing: One group feels better than ever while the other borders on hopelessness.”

Congress has not passed another relief bill, and the bulk of the federal stimulus originally passed in March to sustain small businesses and more than 28 million people on unemployment benefits has largely expired.

The burden of supporting the economy has fallen on the Federal Reserve, which has pumped trillions of dollars into the financial system to prop up businesses and markets, fueling a 50 percent gain in the stock market since March and a surge in home and car buying.

Fed leaders have urged Congress to act swiftly before the damage to the economy becomes permanent. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren warned on Wednesday that “the recovery may be losing steam.” Former Fed chair Janet L. Yellen called for “urgent” fiscal action

“The stock market isn’t the economy. The economy is production and jobs, and there are shortfalls in virtually every sector of the economy,” Yellen said in an interview with The Washington Post.

“This pandemic is causing suffering and losses,” Yellen said. “Individuals and businesses are not going to make it through this unless they get grants, and only the federal government can do that.”

A Fed survey found that 63 percent of workers with college degrees could perform their jobs entirely from home, while only 20 percent of workers with high school diplomas or less could work from home.

Trump Didn’t Lie About Lying

HuffPost senior White House correspondent S.V. Dáte asked the president during Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing if, after 3½ years, “do you regret at all all the lying you’ve done to the American people? All the dishonesties?”

Trump paused and then moved on to the next question.

According to a running fact-check database by The Washington Post, Trump has made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims since taking office. Last month, as the tracker passed the shocking milestone, the project’s editor, Glenn Kessler, and fact-check reporters Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly wrote, “The notion that Trump would exceed 20,000 claims before he finished his term appeared ludicrous when The Fact Checker started this project during the president’s first 100 days in office.”

According to the database, he reached nearly a thousand false claims about coronavirus alone in just a matter of months.

What Trump Says

Monday afternoon President Trump gave one of his semi-regular updates on the fight against corona-virus.

Trump predicts: “…in 90 days or less, your numbers will be very good, I think, much better on the corona virus or the China virus.” When questioned about a possible development of a vaccine: “I think we’ll have a vaccine before the end of the year, very substantially and we may have a therapeutic resolvement very quickly, very, very quickly and frankly that’s the one I’d rather have faster, because you in, you give a transfusion or a shot to people that are very ill and they’d be able to come out of the hospital, the next day or a few days later”

He later added: “It should have never been allowed to happen. It should have never been allowed to escape China” China was not at all transparent in the scope and seriousness of Covid-19. The virus is highly contagious and it’s not at all clear that even if China had been transparent, the virus would have stayed only in that country.”We must stop politicizing the virus and instead be united in our condemnation of how this virus came to America, how this virus came to the world”

When it came to the subject if schools should reopen for in-person instruction in the fall “I think, for the most part, they don’t get very sick,” Trump said of children. “… It’s also a case where there’s a tiny fraction of death, tiny fraction, and they get better very quickly.”
Despite a study that found nearly 100,000 children were infected with the corona-virus in the final two weeks of July, President Trump on Monday reiterated the false claim that children are essentially immune to the virus, and that schools should reopen for in-person instruction in the fall.

Later on, in a pair of lengthy radio interviews Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump let loose. Many of the president’s remarks centered on the return of sports amid the pandemic. Although athletes and schools have expressed escalating corona-virus-related health concerns, Trump told conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt later Tuesday morning that “they should play football.” But in that half-hour interview, he stressed players should also “stand for our flag and respect our flag.”