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“These recommendations for #OpenSafely were published in an op-ed in USA Today on May 20, 2020 by a group of bipartisan health policy experts and leaders from broad and diverse backgrounds including Andy Slavitt; Mark McClellan, MD, PhD; and others (the complete list is on the site). Americans want our country to open up safely.
- We have been at this for a number of difficult weeks since the global pandemic began and it has taken a toll.
- It has been a time of unprecedented challenge. To our health. To our jobs. To our social connections. To our health care communities.
- We have sacrificed with a great unity to #StayHome in order to reduce the infection rate and save lives.
- We want a sense of normalcy back— to go to work, to go to restaurants, to see sports again, to send our kids to school, to hug our families— but not at the expense of the lives of our friends, families and neighbors.
- We want a good economy and public safety, but we are afraid if we open too quickly, or don’t have plans to adjust if spread recurs, we will have neither.
- We don’t believe we need to wait until everything is completely perfect or there is zero risk before we open again. The reality is that many states are already taking the first steps towards opening and this must happen in the safest way possible.
- Americans should still #StayHome whenever possible and continue social distancing. Now we need to get on a path to #OpenSafely that gets it right…”
GAO Watch Blog – “Recent COVID-19 related deaths at nursing homes have raised concerns about the health and safety of the nation’s 1.4 million residents living in these facilities. In today’s WatchBlog, we look at the federal role in protecting nursing home residents and our recent report that identified ongoing gaps in this effort that pre-date the coronavirus pandemic. Nursing home infection control – There are about 15,500 nursing homes in the United States. Federal standards require that these facilities establish and maintain infection prevention and control programs. While the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is responsible for ensuring that these facilities have programs and safety measures in place, it relies on state agencies to conduct surveys and investigations of facilities to ensure nursing homes comply with federal standards. Deficiencies in meeting these standards can include situations where, for example, nursing home staff did not regularly use proper hand hygiene or failed to implement preventive measures during an infectious disease outbreak like isolating sick residents. Many of these practices can be critical to preventing the spread of infectious disease, including COVID-19…” [h/t Pete Weiss]
NBC News – “Over the nine months Andy Hunter courted investors for his online bookselling business, Bookshop.org, he was repeatedly told it was doomed to be crushed by Amazon. Three months since its launch with less than $1 million in funding, Hunter said the business has already far exceeded levels he’d hoped to achieve by Christmas. By early May, Bookshop has been selling more than 10,000 books a day to 175,000 customers before spending a dollar on advertising, according to Hunter. Bookshop’s timing was uncanny. The site, which provides an easy way for independent booksellers to set up online storefronts for delivery orders, launched in beta on Jan. 28. After a steady first five weeks, Hunter said, the business began to take off as stay-at-home orders proliferated across the U.S.
“My goal was to capture 1 percent of Amazon’s book market and we’re there now; we’re over 1 percent of their sales,” he said in a phone interview in late April. “I thought it was going to take three years to get there and instead it took 11 weeks.” While the pandemic threatens to cripple small businesses like book stores and restaurants that tend to rely on foot traffic, it’s also creating opportunities for some online businesses to expand. Bookshop’s early success shows that Amazon may not be the only e-commerce business to come out of the pandemic stronger than before. As the retail giant has been forced to loosen its speedy delivery times in the face of unprecedented demand and inventory shortages, smaller e-commerce services have also seen a boom as consumers scramble to find goods online…”
Oxford University Press Blog: “The virus lurks on car door handles, on doorknobs and the floor, on the breath of others or in a friend’s hug, on onions in the supermarket, and on the hands of the valet who parks your car. If you venture outside, everything and everyone is a threat. So, it is better to stay home, safely locked away with your previously disinfected computer which connects you to a world that is innocuous because it’s virtual and therefore harmless. What makes you sick lurks outside your door. The fear of what we know to be real, but which only materializes in suspicion, is enough to keep us locked away. This individual sensation of anguish in the face of a threat leads to voluntary confinement and that is the success of social control. Fear is used as a disciplinary device. The strategies used to make bodies docile for the purpose of social control is what the philosopher and historian Michel Foucault called discipline. In the context of COVID-19, there are those who do not initially choose self-discipline since there is an even higher level of discipline: mass deaths in foreign climes. But those who have yet to discipline themselves will do so once these deaths increase or occur closer to home. China and Korea didn’t wait for the second stage and went directly to surveillance through apps. In the end we have the shocking images of deserted New York and Venice which show that discipline has been successful: Nobody goes out anymore. We initially resist discipline – as Foucault pointed out in the case of schools and the army – but in the end we confine ourselves to the home as an institution of isolation for biopolitical purposes…”
Washington Post Daily 202: “Columbia University epidemiologists estimate in a new study that enacting social distancing measures a week earlier, on March 8 instead of March 15, could have saved up to 36,000 lives in the United States. That’s about 40 percent of the current reported fatalities from the novel coronavirus. The study found that imposing the social distancing measures on March 1 that would ultimately go into effect two weeks later could have saved about 54,000 American lives. At least 92,317 deaths from the virus have been reported in the United States since Feb. 29. The White House responded to Columbia’s research with a statement that attacked the Chinese government and the World Health Organization for not being more transparent while praising President Trump for showing “bold leadership.” The Columbia study is one of several fresh data points that illustrate the cascading fallout from the contagion and the continuing challenges for the response at home and abroad…”
LC CRS Reports – Considering the Source: Varieties of COVID-19 Information, May 19, 2020: “In common parlance, the terms propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation are often used interchangeably, often with connotations of deliberate untruths of nefarious origin.In a national security context, however, these terms refer to categories of information that are created and disseminated with different intent and serve different strategic purposes.This primer examines these categories to create a framework for understanding the national security implications of information related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic…”
Deloitte: “Five fundamental qualities of resilient leadership distinguish successful CEOs as they guide their enterprises through the COVID-19 crisis. Learn specific steps that can help blunt the crisis’s impact—and enable your organization to emerge stronger.
The rapid global spread of COVID-19 has quickly eclipsed other recent epidemics in both size and scope. In addition to the deadly human toll and the disruption to millions of people’s lives, the economic damage is already significant and far-reaching. In the face of certain challenges and a still-uncertain set of risks, business leaders are rightly concerned about how their companies will be affected and what they have to do next. In the heat of the moment, there are a number of lessons from history that can be applied now. We have pooled the insights of Deloitte leaders in affected areas around the world to provide practical insights for chief executives and their leadership teams in taking appropriate action. We recognize that companies are in different phases of dealing with the outbreak, and therefore the impacts vary by geography and sector. But regardless of the extent of the virus’s impact on an organization, we believe there are five fundamental qualities of resilient leadership that distinguish successful CEOs as they guide their enterprises through the COVID-19 crisis..”
The New York Times: “When you finally return to work after the lockdown, coronavirus might not be the only illness you need to worry about contracting at the office. Office buildings once filled with employees emptied out in many cities and states as shelter-in-place orders were issued. These structures, normally in constant use, have been closed off and shut down, and health risks might be accumulating in unseen ways. “The buildings aren’t designed to be left alone for months,” said Andrew Whelton, an associate professor of civil, environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue University. Dr. Whelton, other researchers and public health authorities have issued warnings about the plumbing in these buildings, where water may have gone stagnant in the pipes or even in individual taps and toilets. As lockdowns are lifted, bacteria that build up internally may cause health problems for returning workers if the problem is not properly addressed by facilities managers. Employees and guests at hotels, gyms and other kinds of buildings may also be at risk.
The biggest worry is Legionella pneumophila. The bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a respiratory condition. It leads to death in about one in 10 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine estimates that over 52,000 Americans suffer from the disease each year…”
DEMCO Ideas & Inspiration: “With all the uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no wonder you have questions about how to reopen your library and expand your services safely. To help you plan, we asked pediatrician and librarian Dr. Dipesh Navsaria to address your biggest concerns, including how to quarantine books, what protective measures are effective, how to serve vulnerable populations, and more. Read his responses to your questions below to learn what you need to think about to keep staff, students, and patrons safe, and watch his full presentation on-demand at “COVID-19: Safety Tips for Reopening Your Library.”…
“The COVID-19 Impact Analysis Platform provides data and insight on COVID-19’s impact on mobility, health, economy, and society for all states and counties with daily data updates. The platform was originally developed by Dr. Lei Zhang’s group at the Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI) in partnership with the Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory (CATT Lab). A multidisciplinary team of researchers are now making their COVID-19 data and research findings available to inform the general public and support decision making through this platform. Metrics are produced based on validated computational algorithms and privacy-protected data from mobile devices, government agencies, healthcare system, and other sources. The platform will evolve and expand over time as new metrics are computed and additional visualizations and decision support tools are developed…”
“#TestAndTrace is an organization working to popularize the concept with the public and help implement Test and Trace in the United States. Our team previously helped power and scale the #Masks4All movement which has popularized the use of homemade masks in public and has reached ~1+ billion people (via social media, news outlets, and governments) in the first three weeks of April…We compile data and resources to inform the public, health leaders, and government leaders on why Test & Trace is important and how they can implement it…Our volunteer team of 20+ people is sharing information to help States & Countries implement Test & Trace…”
Rolling Stone: “A few weeks before President Trump was impeached last December for attempting to blackmail Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden, Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan warned the House Judiciary Committee of a future in which the president used similar tactics on his own country: “Imagine living in a part of Louisiana or Texas that’s prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding. What would you think if you lived there and your governor asked for a meeting with the president to discuss getting disaster aid that Congress has provided for? What would you think if that president said, ‘I would like you to do us a favor? I’ll meet with you, and send the disaster relief, once you brand my opponent a criminal.’ Wouldn’t you know in your gut that such a president has abused his office? That he’d betrayed the national interest, and that he was trying to corrupt the electoral process? I believe the evidentiary record shows wrongful acts on those scale here.” It didn’t take long for Karlan’s hypothetical to sidle up next to reality. Trump has repeatedly criticized Democratic governors throughout the coronavirus crisis, the implication being that there could be repercussions if they fail to cooperate with the administration or show their gratitude to the president. In late March, Trump came pretty close to laying out a quid pro quo during an interview with Fox News. “It’s a two-way street,” the president said while discussing states in need of federal assistance. “They have to treat us well, also.”
On Wednesday, Trump’s demands grew more specific. As part of his morning Twitter movement, he posted that he will withhold funding from Michigan and Nevada, two key swing states, if they expand voter access ahead of the 2020 election…”
“Law enforcement agencies across the country have been referring fewer criminal cases to federal prosecutors since the coronavirus pandemic began. While weekly referrals for federal prosecution during February and the first half of March averaged around 4,500 per week, referrals fell to only 1,800 during the last week of March. Each weekday, U.S. Attorney offices from around the country typically receive hundreds of referrals. Most of these came from federal investigative agencies. Some originate from local and state law enforcement. Each referral is typically assigned to an assistant U.S. attorney who determines whether or not to charge the suspect with committing one or more federal crimes. According to comparisons of case-by-case Department of Justice records obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University after litigation under the Freedom of Information Act, five federal law enforcement agencies were the source of over four out of every five referrals (81%) to federal prosecutors thus far in FY 2020. These agencies, in descending order of referrals were: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Some differences were found in how specific law enforcement agencies adjusted their activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. FBI, CBP, ICE and DEA referrals to federal prosecutors all showed a drop off in March. ATF was the lone exception where little change was evident. In addition, the number of referrals from CBP and ICE declined more sharply than did others. In fact, actual declines in ICE’s referrals appear to have begun earlier – in early rather than mid-March…”
Facebook and Business Roundtable: Small and medium-sized businesses in the United States are being hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.As part of our ongoing data collection effort with the World Bank and the OECD on the Future of Business, Facebook conducted a survey, in partnership with Small Business Roundtable, of approximately 86,000 people who owned, managed or worked for a small and medium-sized business (“SMB”), including approximately 9,000 operators of “personal” businesses, i.e. people who reported that they were “self-employed providing goods or services” or that they “produce goods sold for personal income” but did not otherwise self-identify as an “owner” or “manager” of a business.The results provide a better understanding of which businesses are still operational and which are not, where they are located, and what their most pressing needs are. Here are the key results: (1) Small businesses are closing their doors and facing an uncertain future…”
McKinsey – Six digital and mobile technologies that helped guide governments and businesses in Asia could help other countries around the world. “The COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving, and at the time of writing the data do not allow us to draw firm conclusions about the most effective way to fight it. Although we focus on technology in this article, we acknowledge that it is not the only solution but one of a range of measures to combat this global humanitarian challenge. We also note that the use of technology in the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic does have risks such as data breaches and a deepening of the current digital divide. Further, countries differ markedly from each other economically and socially, so solutions that seem successful in some may not in others. Businesses and policy makers need to understand these risks and differences, and be proactive in managing them to ensure that technologies deliver positive impact across the community…”
Marker Medium: “…As shelter-in-place laws start to relax across the U.S., and businesses begin to reopen—or at least to start thinking about it—everyone from retailers, restaurants, hairdressers, fashion boutiques, and building managers are desperate to overhaul their spaces with new safety protocols so they can protect employees and customers —and start making money again. The problem? No one really knows what they are doing. Federal guidelines cover the basics of hand-washing, sanitizing, and mask-wearing, but they lack specificity for different scenarios. For example, if you install a plexiglass screen, how large should it be? What’s the best way to redesign an office floor plan to limit interactions? Should employee temperatures be taken every shift? What about customer temperatures? Amid this uncertainty, a new cottage industry comprised of opportunists and pivoters has sprung up to fill the void: the social distancing consultant. From architects and designers to maintenance and marketing companies, these firms have recast themselves virtually overnight as experts in the new, high-demand art of keeping people six feet apart. Social distancing services have become a boon to the struggling architecture industry, as other projects have been put on hold…”
ars technica: “People who recover from COVID-19 but test positive for the virus again days or weeks later are not shedding viral particles and are not infectious, according to data released Tuesday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The so-called “re-positive” cases have raised fears that an infection with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, could “reactivate” in recovered patients or that recovering from the infection may fail to produce even short-lived immunity, allowing patients to immediately become re-infected if they are exposed. The new data from Korea should ease those concerns. KCDC researchers examined 285 cases that had previously recovered from COVID-19 but then tested positive again. The patients tested positive again anywhere from one to 37 days after recovering from their first infection and being discharged from isolation. The average time to a second positive was about 14 days. Of those cases, researchers checked for symptoms in 284 of them. They found that 126 (about 48 percent) did indeed have symptoms related to COVID-19. But none of them seemed to have spread the infection. KCDC investigated 790 people who had close contact with the 285 cases and found that none of them had been infected by the “re-positive” cases. Crucially, additional testing of 108 “re-positive” cases found that none of them were shedding infectious virus…”
Vox – A former State Department watchdog on what they do — and why they matter. “Late Friday night [May 16, 2020], President Donald Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. It was the fourth abrupt dismissal of an inspector general in about as many weeks, and the latest case in which Trump claimed he’d lost confidence in the IG when it very much seemed like something else was going on. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed recommending that Trump fire Linick. That’s an important detail, because it seems Linick — who, as inspector general, was in charge of oversight at the State Department — might have been zeroing in on Pompeo himself, including the secretary’s alleged use of a political appointee to run his personal errands. Linick was also reportedly probing the administration’s $8 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which sidestepped Congress. Congressional Democrats are now investigating Linick’s firing. But Linick is not the first IG to go. In April, Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general, who had brought forward a credible whistleblower report about the president’s inappropriate phone call with the Ukrainian president that ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment. Trump had “lost confidence” in Atkinson, too. Earlier this month, Trump also moved to replace the acting inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, who had written a report highlighting shortages of personal protective equipment and coronavirus tests in US hospitals, which Trump called “wrong.” And Trump replaced the acting Defense Department inspector general, who’d been tasked with overseeing the $2 trillion in funds from the coronavirus stimulus package, making him ineligible to oversee pandemic spending. Trump’s purge of inspectors general is unprecedented. But his ire for these internal watchdogs is not…”
“ACUS is pleased to announce the publication of a new report, Administrative Recusal Rules: A Taxonomy and Study of Existing Recusal Standards for Agency Adjudicators. Many agencies have adopted adjudicator recusal standards to maintain the integrity of their adjudication programs. This report reviews recusal standards adopted by more than 60 agencies across the federal government. It surveys the substantive standards and procedural requirements agencies have adopted for recusal and explores how recusal standards might vary across agencies according to each agency’s institutional features. A series of tables classifies dozens of recusal policies according to the report’s taxonomy of recusal standards. ACUS adopted a recommendation in 2018 that encouraged agencies to adopt rules governing the recusal of certain agency adjudicators. This report will help agencies implement that recommendation. Louis J. Virelli, III, Professor of Law at Stetson University, authored this report. Professor Virelli previously served as a consultant to ACUS on the 2018 recommendation on recusal rules…”
Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report – “Here we are at another edition of the DBIR. This is an exciting time for us as our little bundle of data turns 13 this year. That means that the report is going through a lot of big changes right now, just as we all did at that age. While some may harbor deeply rooted concerns regarding the number 13 and its purported associations with mishap, misadventure and misfortune, we here on the team continue to do our best to shine the light of data science into the dark corners of security superstition and dispel unfounded beliefs. With that in mind, we are excited to ask you to join us for the report’s coming-of-age party. If you look closely you may notice that it has sprouted a few more industries here and there, and has started to grow a greater interest in other areas of the world. This year we analyzed a record total of 157,525 incidents. Of those, 32,002 met our quality standards and 3,950 were confirmed data breaches. The resultant findings are spread throughout this report. This year, we have added substantially more industry breakouts for a total of 16 verticals (the most to date) in which we examine the most common attacks, actors and actions for each. We are also proud to announce that, for the first time ever, we have been able to look at cybercrime from a regional viewpoint—thanks to a combination of improvements in our statistical processes and protocols, and, most of all, by data provided by new contributors—making this report arguably the most comprehensive analysis of global data breaches in existence…”