We discuss declining public trust in the CDC; educating students with disabilities in the COVID-19 era; changes in the U.S. justice system; Russian mercenaries; why Biden should take the lead in promoting Japan–South Korea cooperation; and improving access to military behavioral health care.
Public trust in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fell by about 10 percent from May to October 2020, a critical period of the COVID-19 pandemic. That's according to new RAND survey data.
The drop in trust was particularly significant among people who intended to vote for a candidate other than Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election or did not intend to vote at all. This suggests that views of the CDC are now strongly politicized, and the Biden administration may face an uphill battle in rebuilding trust in the CDC.
Key to winning this battle, RAND researchers say, is identifying who Americans view as trusted messengers regarding vaccines and public health policies. It's also important to help the public understand the scientific rationale for policy changes and guidance aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 has led to major disruptions in the way that teachers educate students with disabilities. To learn more about these challenges, RAND surveyed nearly 1,600 teachers across the United States. About two in five respondents said that their schools offered alternative instructional arrangements for students with disabilities. Such arrangements were less common in schools serving more students of color and more students experiencing poverty.
As COVID-19 swept through the United States last year, criminal justice entities—including law enforcement, court systems, and corrections facilities—had to adapt to slow the spread of disease. At the same time, national protests in response to the killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans created significant pressure for criminal justice reform. How has this unprecedented period affected the criminal justice system? And how might it shape the post-pandemic future? RAND convened a panel of experts to find out.
Russia relies heavily on private security contractors—mercenaries—to threaten its competitors' interests. But the Kremlin's “little green men” may actually be “little green vulnerabilities,” say RAND experts. For one thing, Russian mercenaries are often unreliable. In at least a few cases, their will to fight appeared to be poor, and they have repeatedly shown that they will choose self-interest over state interests. The United States could exploit such weaknesses to thwart Russian efforts to undermine Western democracy.
On April 16, President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide will meet in Washington. According to RAND's Scott Harold, this summit may be an opportunity for Biden to push for U.S.-Japan allied cooperation with South Korea. If the United States doesn't take the lead, then actors that don't support Washington's agenda could pursue their goals. This could lead to negative consequences for the United States, says Harold.
U.S. service members who live more than 40 miles from a military health facility may struggle to receive high-quality behavioral health care. That's according to a new RAND study. More specifically, remote service members diagnosed with PTSD, substance use disorder, or depression are often less likely to receive the recommended treatment. The authors recommend monitoring the care delivered to remote service members and further expanding access to telehealth.
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