Friday Facts: September 25, 2020

It’s Friday!

Quotes of Note

“Justice is not often easy. It does not fit the mold of public opinion, and it does not conform to shifting standards. It answers only to the facts and to the law.” – Daniel Cameron, Attorney General of Kentucky

“Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, who died September 18, 2020

“Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.” – John Adams (1787)

U.S. flag at half-staff for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
At Sea Island, Ga., site of the G-8 summit in 2004, the U.S. flag was at half-staff this week to honor U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died September 18. (Photo: Benita Dodd)

Transportation

Hazards of autonomy: A major concern in autonomous transportation is the potential that hackers can take over vehicles and disrupt traffic. A Tesla network outage Wednesday highlighted these vehicles’ dependence on Internet connectivity for their apps: For about an hour, owners with digital keys in the app were locked out of their cars, and other app functions, including autopilot assistance, did not function. Worse, Tesla’s internal system was down, too, and the company could not process orders or appointments. Source: News Reports

Healthcare

COVID-19 status updates: The Georgia Department of Public Health’s Thursday report lists 6,822 COVID-19 deaths and more than 311,000 confirmed cases since the pandemic’s start. The department updates the information daily at 3 p.m. Visit the website here.

Healthcare reform: The Foundation is signatory to an open letter to the American people, signed by 68 leaders, proposing healthcare reforms giving Americans “an innovative patient-focused approach that gives you more control and better choices at lower costs.” Read it here.

Reporting: The Trump administration is planning to aggressively enforce new COVID-19 data reporting requirements for hospitals, NPR reports, citing draft guidance. Hospitals will have to include daily influenza case data in addition to COVID-19 data, such as number of patients and information on their inventory of remdesivir. Hospitals that fail to comply could lose Medicare funding.

Mutations: COVID-19 appears to be mutating as it spreads through the nation, The Washington Post reports, citing a new study released by scientists in Houston. The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, did not find that the mutations made the virus deadlier, but one of the mutations may have made it more contagious, the Post reports. 

Mapping: Google Maps unveiled a feature this week that displays COVID-19 cases in a user’s area. When activated, the embedded “COVID-19 info” tool shows a seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map being searched.

charging stations for electric vehicles
At a gas station in Metter, Ga., this week, a lone Tesla visits one of the 10 charging stations for electric vehicles. (Photo: Benita Dodd)

Energy and environment

Clean Energy Week: It’s National Clean Energy Week, and there is currently no cleaner, more reliable energy source than nuclear energy. In a recent op-ed in The Augusta Chronicle touting the Plant Vogtle nuclear plant expansion, Chairman Chuck Eaton of Georgia’s Public Service Commission and Mark Templeton, president of Georgia Building Trades, shared, “If you followed the blackout news from California of late, we suspect they wish they had had similar foresight.”

Nuclear fizzle: With many nuclear reactors reaching the end of their life expectancies (about 40 years) and new plants facing construction delays, there are now just 408 nuclear reactors in 31 countries. That’s down from 438 in 2002 and is a 30-year low, according to the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report. Source: Reuters

Here today, gone tomorrow: Michigan became the ninth state to commit to “carbon neutrality,” as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday laying out steps for the state to implement a plan for carbon neutrality within 30 years. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a directive on Wednesday to ban sales of traditional, internal combustion engine cars by 2035. It’s easy to be “visionary” when you won’t be around for the costly consequences of your executive orders.

Climate and calamity: While climate change is getting blamed for this year’s wildfires and forest fires in the Northwest, Merrill Matthews of the Institute for Policy Innovation reminds readers, “Environmentalists can’t change the weather, but they can embrace better forest management.” He notes the Forest Service warned back in December 2017, “the total number of trees that have died due to drought and bark beetles reached an historic 129 million on 8.9 million acres. The dead trees continue to pose a hazard to people and critical infrastructure.”

Economy

Best places to live: Money magazine’s No. 1 city to live is Evans, Ga. The city of 36,000 near Augusta, “had the lowest cost of living of any place with similarly high income levels.” Thanks to the military presence – Fort Gordon is the largest employer in the region – Evans ranked second on diversity of population in Money’s 50 best places to live 2020. The only other Georgia city in the top 50 was Woodstock, at No. 17.

Good place to be: Well-capitalized banks and FinTech (digital commerce) companies with the technology to support consumers and businesses in these remote-only pandemic times hold hope as “a clear path forward” during the economic recovery, according to Chip Harden, a member of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) FinTech board. That’s promising for Georgia’s recovery: 57.7 billion U.S. purchase transactions are processed by Georgia-based acquirers, two-thirds of the total volume.

Elections

Election miscellanea: Many of Georgia’s traditional poll workers are 65 and older and stayed home during the primary election because of COVID-19. That led to long lines at some precincts. The Secretary of State’s office needs 25,000 workers to staff the polls on November 3; find out more here. There’s also an online portal for Georgia voters to request an absentee ballot. Check the state’s My Voter Page for where to vote. Source: News reports

Media

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

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In September 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Buffer Taxpayers from Government Spendthrifts.” It noted, “By avoiding a rapid increase in government spending in years when a robust economy generates increasing tax revenue and by diverting some of the revenue to a rainy day fund, the state is able to offset reduced tax revenues.”

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Parents, the Pandemic and School Choice,” by Benita Dodd.

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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