Friday Facts: April 24, 2020

It’s Friday!

This is the sixth Friday Facts edition to focus on the coronavirus pandemic gripping the nation and Georgia. (View previous editions here.) View the Foundation’s near-term proposals here. Share your ideas: Email us at info@georgiapolicy.org.

Quotes of Note

“Since the coronavirus pandemic began, this nation has hemorrhaged jobs, largely in the private sector. … [M]aybe it’s time to downsize government employment at every level, especially at the state and local levels where it increased from 6.4 million workers in 1960 to 19.5 million workers by 2017. Such numbers make a mockery of the idea that America is a nation of limited government as outlined in our Constitution.” – Arnold Alhert

“To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted.” – Alexander Hamilton (1791)

Events

April 30: Support for socialism was on the rise in the United States before the COVID-19 outbreak. What is its future in these uncertain times? Join the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and National Review Institute for “The End of Socialism?” a Policy Briefing event with Ramesh Ponnuru, Senior Fellow at NRI and Senior Editor at National Review magazine. This event is live streamed beginning at 12:10 p.m. via Zoom. There is no charge, but registration is required. Information here; registration here.

Education

Hysteria over home schooling: Just as COVID-19 inspires more parents taking charge of their children’s education, an article in Harvard Magazine  by Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard Law School professor and the director of its Child Advocacy Program, comes out strongly against home schooling. She views insufficient regulation as a threat to U.S. democracy. One critic points out in EducationNext: “[H]er notion that being a public school graduate makes one better able to participate in American democracy is undercut not only by how badly many of our public schools educate students but also by studies suggesting kids at Catholic schools for instance have greater knowledge of civics and levels of civic participation upon graduation.”

Survival: Foundation Senior Fellows Eric Wearne and Ben Scafidi, both professors at Kennesaw State University, published an 11-page open letter of advice to private school leaders to help them prepare for next school year. One advantage, they note: “Smaller institutions, such as independent schools, tend to be much more nimble than large institutions when crises such as sudden shutdowns occur. We have seen multiple breakdowns in our largest-scale institutions, and a lot of support for the most local ones. This is a potential advantage for many kinds of independent schools.”

Government 

Back to business I: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced this week he is allowing some businesses to reopen beginning today, with conditions. President Trump disagreed with the move; Foundation President Kyle Wingfield supported it: “Those of us able to work from home should be very reluctant to condemn to privation those who can’t.” Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd discussed Kemp’s move with Chris Denson, the Foundation’s Director of Policy and Research; view it here on the Foundation’s YouTube channel. Source: News reports 

Back to business II: Georgia lawmakers have one constitutional mandate each session: to pass a state budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The Legislature, which has been suspended since March 13 because of the novel coronavirus, is considering returning to the Capitol on June 11, just two days after the June 9 primaries, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Healthcare

Status report: For the state’s daily COVID-19 report, visit the Department of Public Health website link here. The report is updated daily at noon and 7 p.m.

An app for that: A new telehealth platform from Augusta University Health System offers Georgians free virtual screenings around the clock with no appointment required. Visit the AU Health COVID-19 Virtual Screening website or download the AU Health Express Care app for Apple or Android devices.

Digital surveillance: Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, one of two centers of excellence for research into influenza, unveiled COVIDcast, a combination of five maps of real-time symptoms reported nationwide by people feeling something that might be COVID-19. Data sources include surveys filled out by Facebook users, users of Google Opinion Rewards and Quidel Corp. (a maker of medical tests), which records when people order a COVID-19 test, a possible indicator that a person is feeling symptoms. Source: ZDNet.com

Donations: HealthConnectSouth, an online platform that engages Southern states in regional collaboration on healthcare issues, has established a facility- and provider-specific online directory of healthcare organizations and their needs. Needs vary and include cash, surgical masks, equipment and meals and snacks for facility staff. Donate or add your facility’s needs to the directory.

Economy

Scams: Scam text messages, emails and phone calls related to COVID-19 have proliferated in recent weeks. The Federal Trade Commission has reported more than 22,000 complaints from all 50 states; almost half of complainants say they lost money. One text message tells recipients they have been in contact with someone with symptoms of COVID-19 and provides a bogus website link; another offers an online test for the virus. Others offer loans from the Small Business Administration and solicit bank information. Source: Kiplinger.com

Jobs: The record weekly surge in Americans applying for unemployment benefits is starting to recede after about five weeks of COVID-19’s impact, decreasing 810,000 last week to 4.4 million, according to MarketWatch. The Georgia Department of Labor processed 247,003 initial claims. In the past month, Georgia has processed 1,090,536 claims, more than the combined total for the previous three years. With total claims nationwide above 26 million, MarketWatch reports the jobless rate is now estimated at 15-20%. 

Pensions: An Issue Analysis released this week by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and Reason Foundation examined proposed legislation for teacher pension reform in Georgia and found it fell short. The Issue Analysis, by Jen Sidorova and Len Gilroy, found that four bills debated by the House Retirement Committee “did not sufficiently address the scale of the problem that existed before the COVID-related crash [and] there is an opportunity for better reform in the future.”

Media                                         

YouTube: Click here to view the Foundation’s April 22 event – the first Zoom event, amid the COVID-19 pandemic – “A Second Chance Month Celebration,” with Tony Lowden, Executive Director of the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry.

Social media: Follow the Foundation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In April 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Global Trade Recovery Holds Promise for Georgia.” It noted, “Georgia receives high grades for the quality of its major highways, but the state has insufficient east-to-west and north-to-south major highways for freight purposes. Atlanta is congested to a great degree because freight has no option other than driving through the metro region. Trucks carry 85 percent of all Georgia land-based freight.” It’s still a work in progress.

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Medicaid Expansion’s No Cure for COVID’s Spread,” by Kyle Wingfield.

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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