• State Actions Played Lesser Role in COVID-19 Economic Damage

    Actions by state governments to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 played only a secondary role in the historic spike in U.S. unemployment in March, according to new research. Ohio State University says that while state actions to close schools were linked to an increase in unemployment, these effects were dwarfed by the larger national and international impact of the pandemic, according to researchers at the Ohio State University and Indiana University. Hispanics, young adults (aged 20-24), those without a college education and those with four or more children saw the steepest job losses. In two separate studies – here and here — the researchers took a broad look at the very early impact of the pandemic on jobs in the United States.

  • Take the Shutdown Skeptics Seriously

    Should states ease pandemic restrictions or extend lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders into the summer? That question confronts leaders across the United States. President Trump says that “we have to get our country open.” And many governors are moving quickly in that direction.Critics are dismayed. Citing forecasts that COVID-19 deaths could rise to 3,000 per day in June, they say that reopening without better defenses against infections is reckless. Conor Friedersdorf writes in The Atlantic that such denunciations cast the lockdown debate as a straightforward battle between a pro-human and a pro-economy camp. But the actual trade-offs are not straightforward. Set aside “flattening the curve,” which will continue to make sense. Are ongoing, onerous shutdowns warranted beyond what is necessary to avoid overwhelming ambulances, hospitals, and morgues? The answer depends in part on an unknown: how close the country is to containing the virus.

  • Enhancing Privacy Protections for Android Applications

    From navigation to remote banking, mobile device users rely on a variety of applications to streamline daily tasks, communicate, and dramatically increase productivity. While exceedingly useful, the ecosystem of third-party applications utilizes a number of sensors – microphones, GPS, pedometers, cameras – and user interactions to collect data used to enable functionality. Troves of sensitive personal data about users are accessible to these applications and as defense and commercial mobile device users become increasingly reliant on the technology, there are growing concerns around the challenge this creates for preserving user privacy.

  • Assessing Cyber Risk from External Information

    There is a vision for the future of assessing cybersecurity: The goal is a system of cyber metrics that are transparent, auditable, practical, scalable and widely agreed upon. To that end, it is useful—indeed, imperative—to evaluate various approaches to cyber risk quantification with the aim of informing the development of a public standard for measuring cybersecurity.

  • U.K. Government Has “Terrorized” Britons into Believing Coronavirus Will Kill Them, Says Adviser

    The Government’s coronavirus warnings have “effectively terrorised” Britons “into believing that this is a disease that is going to kill you” even though most those infected will not be hospitalized, one of its advisers has warned. Christopher Hope writes in The Telegraph that Professor Robert Dingwall also said that “Eighty per cent of the people who get this infection will never need to go near a hospital. The ones who do go to hospital because they are quite seriously ill, most of them will come out alive – even those who go into intensive care. We have completely lost sight of that in the obsession with deaths.”

  • Just 332 under-45s Have Died in U.K. from Corona. It's Madness to Keep Them from Work While Our Economy Burns

    Alex Brummer writes in the Daily Mail that as a financial writer, he has reported on Britain’s humiliating search for a bail-out from the International Monetary Fund in 1976, on the stock market crash of 1987, the U.K.’s ejection from the European Monetary System (precursor of the euro) in 1992 and the financial crisis of 2008-09. “I can honestly say we’ve never had it so bad,” he writes. We are not just condemning a generation of young people to long-term joblessness, we are also encumbering the country with levels of debt which it will take decades to pay off and could even linger into the 22nd century. (Remember, the debts incurred as a result of World War II were only finally paid off by Gordon Brown in 2006.) Each of their deaths is a tragedy. But the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, up until April 24, only 332 people under the age of 45 have died from Covid-19 out of 27,356 deaths in total. No one wants to see a second or third peak to this crisis. But the truth is we are living on borrowed time and money. If Britain wants to have the resources to run the NHS, provide decent social care, get our schools and universities up and running, and maintain the defence and safety of the realm then the economy has to be resuscitated — and fast.And there could be no better vanguard to bring us back from the economic precipice than a workforce of the under-45s. 

  • Past Pandemics Show How Coronavirus Budgets Can Drive Faster Economic Recovery

    There have been crises before the coronavirus crisis, but what is different is the scale of the current crisis. Ilan Noy writes that Economies everywhere are in freefall and unemployment is rising. Gross domestic product figures for the first quarter of 2020 show economic declines not seen since WWII. The challenge for governments is to manage both expectations and spending to drive recovery.

  • Essential U.S. Workers Often Lack Sick Leave and Health Care – Benefits Taken for Granted in Most Other Countries

    The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the degree to which we depend on the work of others. This is particularly true of essential workers like truck drivers, grocery store employees and hospital nurses who are ensuring the rest of us stay safe and are able to get the supplies, food and health care we need. Paul F. Clark writes in The Conversation that the pandemic has also drawn attention to the fact that these workers, like all Americans, do not receive many of the basic workplace benefits and protections – like paid sick leave and basic health care – that workers in almost every other developed country in the world receive as a matter of course. Once the pandemic ends, much of the American workforce will still be without basic benefits and protections taken for granted in virtually every other developed country.

  • Public Unaware of “Horrible” Economic Damage Waiting “Around the Corner,” Former Chancellor Warns

    The British public is unaware of the “horrible” economic damage that is “coming around the corner” due to the coronavirus outbreak, a former chancellor has said, warning that the government’s furlough scheme has lulled workers into a “false sense of security.” Harry Yorke writes in The Telegraph that amid growing expectations that some companies may not reopen before Christmas, Lord Lamont said on Tuesday that he feared some sectors of the economy “will disappear” after the lockdown has been lifted. Lord Lamont, who served as Chancellor to John Major between 1990 and 1993, added that people currently reliant on the job retention scheme “may not realize their jobs have disappeared or about to… or that their firm is in serious trouble.” His comments come after the current Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, acknowledged on Monday that the furlough scheme, which is covering 6.3 million workers at a cost of £8 billion, is not a “sustainable situation” in the long-term.

  • Sweden Escapes Economic Slump by Refusing to Impose Lockdown

    Sweden has reaped the benefits of keeping its economy out of lockdown after escaping the dramatic growth slumps suffered by European rivals. Russell Lynch writes in The Telegraph that the Scandinavian country has taken a far more relaxed approach to tackling the coronavirus than much of the West, keeping most schools, restaurants and businesses open and relying on a voluntary approach to social distancing. Official figures show the country’s economy shrank by just 0.3 percent in the first three months of 2020, a far smaller decline than most forecasters and its central bank expected. The Riksbank had penciled in a drop of between 0.8 percent and 1.8 percent. The smaller scale of the fall contrasts with record slumps seen elsewhere across the Eurozone over the quarter as governments imposed much more stringent measures. France’s economy tumbled 5.8 percent, Italy’s 4.7 percent and Spain’s by 5.2 percent, while the Eurozone’s output overall sank by 3.8 percent - the worst decline in its history. The figures are likely to be far worse in the second quarter as lockdowns grind on.

  • COVID-19 to Cost U.S. Hospitals $200 Billion Through June

    The American Hospital Association (AHA), in a new report, projected a loss of $202.6 billion from COVID-19 expenses and lost revenue for US hospitals and health systems from Mar 1 to Jun 30—about $50 billion in losses each month. Stephanie Soucheray writes in CIDRAP News that the report took into account the cost of COVID-19 treatments, as well as canceled services and increased personal protective equipment (PPE) costs. AHA did not include increases in drug or labor costs in their analysis.

  • Cities Will Endure, but Urban Design Must Adapt to Coronavirus Risks and Fears

    The long-term impacts of coronavirus on our cities are difficult to predict, but one thing is certain: cities won’t die. Diseases have been hugely influential in shaping our cities, history showsCities represent continuity regardless of crises – they endure, adapt and grow. Silvia Tavares and Nicholas Stevens write in The Conversation that urban designers and planners have a long-term role in ensuring urban life is healthy. To fight infectious diseases, cities need well-ventilated urban spaces with good access to sunlight. The design of these spaces, and public open spaces in particular, promotes different levels of sociability. Some spaces congregate community and are highly social. Others may act as urban retreats where people seek peace with their coffee and book. How urban spaces perform during disease outbreaks now also demands our close attention.

  • An Atomic Catch 22: Climate Change and the Decline of America's Nuclear Fleet

    Nuclear energy in the United States has become deeply unprofitable in the last decade, driven by a combination of aging infrastructure and other electricity sources like renewables and natural gas simply becoming cheaper to build and operate. While some in the environmental community may cheer nuclear’s decline, others are concerned. Love it or hate it, nuclear plays a unique role in the American electric sector, one for which we currently have no market-ready replacement, and its decline will likely make other environmental issues, particularly climate change, harder to solve.

  • Boris Johnson Must End the Absurd, Dystopian and Tyrannical Lockdown

    Only on 3 May did the stay-at-home restrictions promulgated by the British government on 23 and 26 March, rules enforcing the most draconian restrictions in British history, come before the Commons for retrospective endorsement with just two hours debate and no division. Steve Baker writes in The Telegraph that “We have lived under house arrest for weeks by ministerial decree – a statutory instrument that parliament had no foresight of and no opportunity to scrutinize or approve before it changed life in this country as we know it. The situation is appalling.” He argues that governments do have to take decisive action to protect public health, “But this suspension of freedom comes with a cost too. Millions of people in our country have been plunged into idleness at public expense and unemployment, facing financial and psychological hardship on a scale never seen before.” He emphasizes: “These extraordinary measures require not only legal authority but democratic consent. There is a real possibility that they have had neither,” adding: “The world just changed but British values have not.”

  • U.K. Coronavirus Lockdown May Be Eased Using “Traffic Light” System, Say Government Scientists

    A “traffic light” system advising the public about the risks of different activities could be used to ease lockdown, the Government’s scientific advisors have said. Laura Donnelly writes in The Telegraph that the proposals, drawn up last month, suggest lockdown restrictions should be eased “very gradually” and warn against relaxing the rules for workers without allowing social activities to resume. The paper was drawn up by the scientific pandemic influenza group on behavior (SPI-B), and considered by the scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) at its 2 April meeting. It warns that the abrupt lifting of restrictions and any subsequent increase in infections could undermine public trust in health policy, and mean people are less likely to comply with future demands. The documents are among 17 papers submitted to Sage in recent weeks, for consideration by the scientists who advise Government.