blog

Medical Supply Shortfalls, Parenting Through the Pandemic, North Korea: RAND Weekly Recap

April 17, 2020

This week we discuss how to reduce medical supply shortages; who calls the shots on COVID-19 response; what can be done to help people experiencing homelessness; parenting through the pandemic; North Korea's nuclear blackmail; and how teachers use digital instructional materials.

An N95 respirator mask at a laboratory in Maplewood, Minnesota, March 4, 2020, photo by Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

Photo by Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

How to Reduce Medical Supply Shortfalls During Pandemics

As the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated, medical supply shortfalls may hit different regions at different times. “Hot spots” that have high levels of need may have insufficient supplies. Meanwhile, “cool spots” may hang on to their existing cache and even acquire new medical supplies because they fear becoming hot zones in the future.

A new RAND paper identifies a mechanism that could help ensure that resources end up where they're needed most. The authors suggest assuring cool spots that, if they release supplies to hot spots and delay acquiring new supplies, then they will have priority access to medical supplies in the future.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a COVID-19 news conference at the Javits Center, New York City, March 27, 2020, photo by Jeenah Moon/Reuters

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a COVID-19 news conference at the Javits Center, New York City, March 27, 2020

Photo by Jeenah Moon/Reuters

Who Calls the Shots on Pandemic Response?

The Trump administration made a case this week to shift toward reopening the U.S. economy. A number of governors pushed back, arguing that it's too soon to relax social distancing, which is helping slow the spread of COVID-19. This tension highlights a fundamental challenge of fighting the pandemic: Who's in charge? In a new Q&A, RAND experts provide some insights, discussing the implications of federal, state, and local authorities pursuing different agendas during this crisis.

Kevin Keeley, who has been experiencing homelessness for eight months and may have come into contact with someone with COVID-19, stands outside a quarantine tent in Boston, Massachusetts, April 2, 2020, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

Kevin Keeley, who has been experiencing homelessness and may have been exposed to COVID-19, outside a quarantine tent in Boston, April 2, 2020

Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

What Can Be Done to Help People Experiencing Homelessness?

The recently passed federal stimulus package was designed to provide much-needed support to households affected by COVID-19. But what protections are offered for those experiencing homelessness? After all, “sheltering in place” is not an effective option for this high-risk group. And stimulus checks may not help either. RAND experts Aaron Clark-Ginsberg and Sarah Hunter, and USC's Benjamin Henwood, have outlined what a relief package might look like that better addresses the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda checks in to a council meeting by phone due to the council's temporary work from home policy during the COVID-19 outbreak in Seattle, Washington, March 23, 2020, photo by Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda checks in to a council meeting from home, March 23, 2020

Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

Parenting Through the Pandemic

Parents are used to balancing acts. But the COVID-19 crisis has upended family routines like never before. To learn more about how the pandemic is affecting parents, a RAND team recently analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Labor. Their analysis provides insights into the number of parents working right now, the childcare options they might have access to, and the biggest challenges they face. Our team also assessed the coronavirus relief bill to better understand what kind of aid working parents might expect going forward.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a drill of long-range artillery sub-units of the Korean People's Army, North Korea, image released by Korean Central News Agency on March 2, 2020

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a drill of long-range artillery sub-units of the Korean People's Army

Photo released by Korean Central News Agency on March 2, 2020

North Korea's Nuclear Blackmail Will Continue

Last month, as the rest of the world battled COVID-19, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un conducted four missile tests. This suggests that—even during a pandemic—Pyongyang will continue to use nuclear and ballistic missile testing to retain some international relevance and maintain pressure on Washington and Seoul. That's according to RAND's Soo Kim. And while the pandemic will pass, North Korea's nuclear blackmail will likely remain “a perennial affliction for which the world has yet to find a cure,” she says.

A teacher at a desk with a tablet and a laptop, photo by FluxFactory/Getty Images

Photo by FluxFactory/Getty Images

How Do Teachers Use Digital Instructional Materials?

Before COVID-19 struck, RAND researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of educators about how they use digital instruction materials. Now that many districts have shifted to full-time online learning, the insights from this new study are arguably even more relevant. For instance, when asked what barriers they face in using digital materials, teachers most often cited the costs—both for schools and for students at home. This was particularly prevalent among teachers with more low-income students.

Listen to the Recap

Get Weekly Updates from RAND

If you enjoyed this weekly recap, consider subscribing to Policy Currents, our newsletter and podcast.