CDC estimated a one-year decline in life expectancy in 2020. Not so — try five days


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made headlines last week when it announced that Covid-19 had reduced the average life expectancy of Americans in 2020 by a full year. The news seemed to starkly illustrate the devastation wrought by our nation’s worst public health crisis in 100 years.

But there was a problem. The pandemic’s appalling toll could not have reduced life span by nearly that much. My own estimate is that when Covid-19’s ravages in 2020 are averaged across the country’s entire population, we each lost about five days of life.

The CDC’s mistake? It calculated life expectancy using an assumption that is assuredly wrong, which yielded a statistic that was certain to be misunderstood. That’s exactly the type of misstep the agency can’t afford to make. Not now, not after former President Trump’s relentless attacks on its credibility. Not after his advisers were caught altering and editing the agency’s monthly reports to downplay the pandemic.

Author(s): Peter B. Bach

Publication Date: 25 February 2021

Publication Site: Stat News

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation in New York City

Recent Trends and Impact of COVID-19




In 2019, New York City’s arts, entertainment and recreation sector employed 93,500 people in 6,250 establishments. These jobs had an average salary of $79,300 and generated $7.4 billion in total wages.

In 2019, 128,400 residents (including nearly 31,000 self-employed residents) drew their primary source of earnings from the arts, entertainment and recreation sector.

From 2009 to 2019, employment in the sector grew by 42 percent, faster than the 30 percent rate for total private sector employment. Establishments and total wages in the sector also grew faster than all establishments and wages citywide.

As of December 2020, arts, entertainment and recreation employment declined by 66 percent from one year earlier, the largest decline among the City’s economic sectors.

The Chelsea/Clinton/Midtown Manhattan Business District neighborhood, home to 1,921 venues, accounted for 46 percent of all jobs in the sector, far more than any other City neighborhood.

Publication Date: February 2021

Publication Site: Office of the New York State Comptroller

To Fight Climate Change, Should Green Investors Reconsider Big Oil?



Should eco-conscious investors support a company that’s developing innovative solutions to climate change—even if that company is also a major polluter?

The market’s answer to this question has been a resounding “no,” as evidenced by the investment policies that exclude traditional oil producers from most so-called sustainable funds. But this stance eliminates some of the most prolific and influential producers of green innovation, including Exxon Mobil, BP, and Chevron, according to recent research by Harvard Business School Professor Lauren Cohen.

Faced with mounting concerns about climate change, oil companies are diversifying their businesses, putting money toward renewable energy sources and green technology. While sustainable funds shun fossil fuel producers, which contribute half of the world’s greenhouse gases, Cohen’s study suggests that these companies could also play a key role in stemming the damage.

Author(s): Kristen Senz

Publication Date: 16 February 2021

Publication Site: Harvard Business School Working Knowledge

State’s Vaccine Plan Failed, Causing Disorder and Mistrust



In the months leading up to the first COVID-19 vaccine shipments, Washington state health officials agonized over which residents should be vaccinated before others. They surveyed 18,000 people and convened focus groups, debating race, age and essential occupations.

But unlike some other states, the state Department of Health (DOH) neglected to plan for basic logistics that would have allowed for quick vaccination of those most vulnerable to the disease.

They didn’t enlist the National Guard. They didn’t centralize vaccine appointments. Key scheduling and reporting software arrived late. Providers were given vials but no strategy to process patients.


Publication Date: 16 February 2021

Publication Site: Governing

Exclusive: Two variants have merged into heavily mutated coronavirus



Two variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes covid-19 have combined their genomes to form a heavily mutated hybrid version of the virus. The “recombination” event was discovered in a virus sample in California, provoking warnings that we may be poised to enter a new phase of the pandemic.

The hybrid virus is the result of recombination of the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant discovered in the UK and the B.1.429 variant that originated in California and which may be responsible for a recent wave of cases in Los Angeles because it carries a mutation making it resistant to some antibodies.

The recombinant was discovered by Bette Korber at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who told a meeting organised by the New York Academy of Sciences on 2 February that she had seen “pretty clear” evidence of it in her database of US viral genomes.

Author(s): Graham Lawton

Publication Date: 16 February 2021

Publication Site: New Scientist

Republican State Lawmakers Urge Pritzker To Preserve Tax Credits In Budget Plan



Last month, Pritzker announced he would delay the implementation of economic incentives outlined in the so-called Blue Collar Jobs Act passed in 2019, and this week he announced he’d be seeking the closure of “corporate tax loopholes” in order to shore up the state’s budget.

The program offers up to $20 million in tax credits to construction outfits working on projects related  to high impact businessesenterprise zones, or river edge redevelopment zones

Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) said delaying the agreed-upon tax credits in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession will end up hurting the state’s economy in the long-term.

Author(s): Derek Cantu

Publication Date: 12 February 2021

Publication Site: NPR Illinois

‘Just not equal at all’: Vaccine rollout in Chicago a microcosm of racial disparities nationwide




It’s possible some majority-white ZIP codes have higher rates of vaccination in part because they have higher concentrations of people in groups prioritized for the first round of vaccines.

Experts said the findings reflect festering systemic problems, including poor health care access and distrust of vaccines, colliding amid a chaotic rollout that failed to ensure equal access to communities of color.

Author(s): Nada Hassanein, Grace Hauck, Jayme Fraser, Aleszu Bajak, USA TODAY

Publication Date: 15 February 2021

Publication Site: USA Today

Illinois taxpayers paying former lawmakers $2.1 million a month from underfunded pension system



Illinois taxpayers pay more than $2.1 million a month to retired part-time state legislators or their surviving spouses from a fund that’s only 16% funded. The individual monthly payouts are as high as $18,000 per month. Some pensioners aren’t actually retired but still getting paid.

There are 425 people drawing off the General Assembly Retirement System, ranging from $122 a month to $18,000.

At 16% funded, state Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said GARS is the worst of the state’s five public sector pension funds.

Author(s): Greg Bishop

Publication Date: 14 February 2021

Publication Site: The Center Square

County-level data on U.S. opioid distributions, demographics, healthcare supply, and healthcare access




The dataset summarized in this article is a combination of several of U.S. federal data resources for the years 2006-2013, containing county-level variables for opioid pill volumes, demographics (e.g. age, race, ethnicity, income), insurance coverage, healthcare demand (e.g. inpatient and outpatient service utilization), healthcare infrastructure (e.g. number of hospital beds or hospices), and the supply of various types of healthcare providers (e.g. medical doctors, specialists, dentists, or nurse practitioners). We also include indicators for states which permitted opioid prescribing by nurse practitioners. This dataset was originally created to assist researchers in identifying which factors predict per capita opioid pill volume (PCPV) in a county, whether early state Medicaid expansions increased PCPV, and PCPV’s association with opioid-related mortality. Missing data were imputed using regression analysis and hot deck imputation. Non-imputed values are also reported.

Taken together, our data provide a new level of precision that may be leveraged by scholars, policymakers, or data journalists who are interested in studying the opioid epidemic. Researchers may use this dataset to identify patterns in opioid distribution over time and characteristics of counties or states which were disproportionately impacted by the epidemic. These data may also be joined with other sources to facilitate studies on the relationships between opioid pill volume and a wide variety of health, economic, and social outcomes.

Author(s): Kevin N. Griffith, Yevgeniy Feyman, Samantha G. Auty, Erika L. Crable, Timothy W. Levengood

Publication Date: April 2021

Publication Site: Data in Brief

‘Encouraging’ signs for Covid vaccine as over-80s deaths fall in England




Deaths from coronavirus have fallen by 62% among over-80s since 24 January, the point at which a third of that age group had some level of immunity against coronavirus, having received their first vaccine dose at least two weeks earlier, data analysis by the Guardian showed.

This drop was larger than among groups with a lower level of vaccination. Among people aged between 20 and 64 the drop in deaths was 47%, while the drop among those aged 65 to 79 was 51%.

Author(s): Anna Leach, Ashley Kirk, and Pamela Duncan

Publication Date: 16 February 2021

Publication Site: The Guardian