This week we discuss how hospitals can prepare for a surge of critically ill patients; the need to reform America's unemployment system; schools' shift to online learning; why it's important to support food supply chain workers; what happens if the ACA is overturned during the pandemic; and addressing the threat posed by quantum computers.
How Hospitals Can Increase Critical Care Capacity
Hospitals can prepare for a surge of patients critically ill with COVID-19. But this will require them to adopt drastic and creative measures that challenge the standard way of providing care. A new RAND report can help hospital decisionmakers at all levels prepare for this challenge.
The report includes an easy-to-use online tool to help hospitals, health care systems, states, and regions estimate their current critical care capacity, and then explore ways to increase it. The study is RAND's first donor-supported research response to the pandemic—but not our last.
America's Unemployment System Is Broken
Nearly 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance in the last three weeks, with 6.6 million seeking benefits last week alone. Stay-at-home orders could soon idle 20 percent or more of the U.S. workforce. Unfortunately, the country's unemployment insurance system has been “neglected to the point of obsolescence” for decades, says RAND's Kathryn Edwards. The COVID-19 crisis highlights why it's crucial to strengthen the program, so it can help businesses and workers ride out economic shocks that are beyond their control.
RAND Experts Discuss Schools' Move to Online Learning
Nearly all U.S. schools have shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Districts are shifting to online classes—many for the first time—to help students stay on track. But what will be the effects of this unprecedented educational disruption? We asked four RAND education researchers to discuss whether the situation might exacerbate preexisting inequities, how teachers are innovating, what parents can do to help, and more.
Protecting Food Supply Chain Workers
Farmworkers are essential first responders in keeping America's food supply going during the pandemic. According to RAND's Susan Marquis, difficult working and living conditions make it nearly impossible to contain the spread of COVID-19 among these workers. But if we don't take action now to protect farmworkers, then “the human toll will be tragic, and the effect on our food supply will be critical failure,” she says. Federal agencies and state governments could help by including farmworkers and their communities in emergency response plans.
What If the ACA Is Overturned During the Pandemic?
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act this fall. If the law is struck down, then more than 20 million people could lose their health insurance. And as the country battles COVID-19, the stakes for this decision couldn't be higher, say RAND experts. Mass insurance loss could put additional strain on the health care system, increase community transmission of the coronavirus, and result in more avoidable deaths.
Quantum Computers Will Break the Internet—but Only If We Let Them
The quantum computers of the future are expected to be millions of times faster than whatever device you're using right now. This spike in speed has the potential to undo the security measures that currently protect every piece of data sent over the web. But there's good news: Quantum attacks can be stopped if we act now. A new RAND report outlines actions that policymakers can take today to minimize the risk tomorrow.
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