This week we discuss the proposed use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19; long-term economic effects of the pandemic; why household workers need more support; U.S.–North Korea relations after Kim Jong Un; Americans' views about the news; and helping Egyptian women overcome barriers to employment.
Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are proven treatments for malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. While these drugs have recently been discussed as potential therapies for COVID-19, there is no definitive evidence that they would be effective. According to RAND experts, this discussion has limited the drugs' availability for proven treatments, fueled the counterfeit anti-malarial drug market in Africa, and worsened trade tensions. But there are opportunities to address these unintended consequences.
In the largest decline since 2008, the U.S. economy fell by 4.8 percent in the first quarter. And this isn't the only evidence to suggest that the United States will experience a prolonged recession as a result of COVID-19. According to RAND experts, negative consumer sentiment is another troubling sign. It could mean that Americans will take a long time to return to their former spending habits after the pandemic passes. If that happens, then the economic effects could take years to shake.
Many small businesses that can't meet their payroll due to COVID-19 are eligible for federal aid. But household employers are excluded. This affects hundreds of thousands of nannies, housekeepers, and others who are employed in private homes. How could the government help these workers? RAND experts say that policymakers could consider making direct payments to household employers who keep paying their employees. This could reduce the number of workers who join the unemployment rolls or feel compelled to work during the crisis.
Rumors are swirling that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seriously ill, leaving many to ask who might succeed him. But this isn't the most important question, says RAND's Soo Kim. What matters more is what the new regime does to establish legitimacy and how the United States and its allies respond. If there is new leadership in Pyongyang, then Washington may be tempted to reset relations on a path toward normalization. But there are hazards to even exchanging pleasantries with any successors.
Facts are on the decline in U.S. public life—a phenomenon that RAND researchers call Truth Decay. This problem, which has become even more apparent during the pandemic, poses a threat to democracy as we know it. A recent RAND study seeks to better understand the issue by analyzing where Americans get their news, whether they think it's reliable, and more. The findings provide some clues about what it might take to ensure that data and analysis remain at the heart of public discourse.
In Egypt, young women face persistent barriers to securing employment. It's likely that COVID-19 will only worsen these challenges, so what policies might help economically empower Egyptian women? A new RAND report outlines a number of recommendations, including subsidizing childcare; providing safe transportation for women; and reforming laws that address gender discrimination, mobility restrictions, and sexual harassment.
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