Why reopening US schools is so complicated

Link: https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/05/1020304/reopening-us-schools-complicated/


The US can look to Europe for how this played out: European countries tried in-person learning last fall but began closing schools as B.1.1.7 swept through the continent. By December, countries including the Netherlands and Germany had shut down their schools in the face of rising case numbers. The CDC says it may need to update school reopening guidelines in light of new information about variants. 

This task is made more difficult because tracking the spread of variants in the US is tough right now. Compared with other countries, it has very few labs doing this work, and while more funding will help, Friedrich says there will still be a gap.

Author(s): Mia Sato

Publication Date: 5 March 2021

Publication Site: MIT Technology Review

Forecasters Predict COVID-19 Case Counts Will Keep Falling

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/03/04/forecasters-predict-covid-19-case-counts-will-keep-falling/


Forecasters are predicting that U.S. COVID-19 case counts and the U.S. COVID-19 death numbers will continue to improve over the next four weeks.

Most of the forecasters in the COVID-19 Forecast Hub system say weekly new case counts will be somewhere between 350,000 and 450,000 over the next four weeks, compared with an actual number of about 477,000 recorded during the week that ended March 1.

The forecasters are predicting the number of deaths per week will fall to about 6,000 to 8,000, from about 14,000 per week, over that same four-week period.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: Think Advisor

US life expectancy drops a year in pandemic, most since WWII

Link: https://apnews.com/article/us-life-expectancy-huge-decline-f4caaf4555563d09e927f1798136a869



Life expectancy in the United States dropped a staggering one year during the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic caused its first wave of deaths, health officials are reporting.

Minorities suffered the biggest impact, with Black Americans losing nearly three years and Hispanics, nearly two years, according to preliminary estimates Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is a huge decline,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees the numbers for the CDC. “You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this.”


Publication Date: 17 February 2021

Publication Site: Associated Press

Trends in Premature Deaths Among Adults in the United States and Latin America

Link: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2760668



Results  During 2001 to 2015, 22 million deaths (8 million women and 14 million men) occurred among individuals aged 20 to 64 years in the selected populations. Among women, US Latina individuals had the lowest premature mortality rates (ASMR for 2015, 144 deaths per 100 000 population) and US African American women had the highest premature mortality rate (ASMR for 2015, 340 deaths per 100 000 population) of the 16 populations studied. Rates among US white women shifted from the sixth lowest in 2001 (ASMR, 231 deaths per 100 000 population) to the 12th lowest in 2015 (ASMR, 235 deaths per 100 000 population). Among men, Peru had the lowest premature mortality rates (ASMR for 2015, 219 deaths per 100 000 population), and Belize had the highest premature mortality rates (ASMR for 2015, 702 deaths per 100 000 population). White men in the United States shifted from the fifth lowest rates in 2001 (ASMR, 396 deaths per 100 000 population) to the eighth lowest rates in 2015 (ASMR, 394 deaths per 100 000 population). Rates for both women and men decreased in all the populations studied from 2001 to 2015 (average annual percentage change range, 0.4% to 3.8% per year) except among US white populations, for which the rate plateaued (average annual percentage change, 0.02% per year [95% CI, −0.3% to 0.2% per year] for women; −0.2% per year [95% CI, −0.4% to 0.0% per year] for men) and among Nicaraguan men, for whom the rates increased (0.6% per year [95% CI, 0.2% to 1.0% per year]). The populations with the lowest mortality rates in 2015 had lower rates from all major causes, but rates were particularly lower for heart disease (21 deaths per 100 000 population) and cancer (50 deaths per 100 000 population).

Author(s): Yingxi Chen, MD, PhD; Neal D. Freedman, PhD; Erik J. Rodriquez, PhD; et al

Publication Date: 12 February 2021

Publication Site: JAMA

The Latino Health Paradox Goes Beyond U.S. Borders

Link: https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2020-02-12/hispanic-paradox-in-health-extends-beyond-us-borders



LATIN AMERICANS ARE less likely to die prematurely than non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. – whether they live in the country or not, a new study suggests.

Researchers have long theorized that a longer life expectancy among Latinos in the U.S. – despite often facing socioeconomic disadvantages – could be driven in part by a “healthy immigrant effect,” meaning healthier people may be more likely to immigrate to the U.S. than those in poorer health. But the new study, published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, suggests “there may be a broader Latin American paradox” that extends far beyond U.S. borders.

Author(s): Gaby Galvin

Publication Date: 12 February 2021

Publication Site: U.S. News & World Report

The march of the coronavirus across America

Link: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/tracking-coronavirus-across-america



However, herd immunity will take months to achieve, and the sheer scale of infections in America dictates that covid-19 will not be under control for some time. In order to see where the pandemic is currently most severe across the nation, we have created an interactive map of covid-19 cases and deaths. It divides America into 500 areas. For each of these it shows cases and deaths per 100,000 people, so that infection and death rates in, say, New York City and its surrounds (population 40m) can be compared with those in Ironwood, Michigan (population 27,000).

Publication Date: 23 February 2021

Publication Site: The Economist

Sources of Tax Revenue: U.S. vs. OECD



Compared to the OECD average, the United States relies significantly more on individual income taxes and property taxes. While OECD countries on average raised 24 percent of total tax revenue from individual income taxes, the share in the United States was 41.5 percent, a difference of 17.5 percentage points. This is partially because more than half of business income in the United States is reported on individual tax returns. OECD countries on average raised 5.6 percent of total tax revenue from property taxes, compared to 12.1 percent in the United States.

The United States relies much less on consumption taxes than other OECD countries. Taxes on goods and services accounted for only 17.6 percent of total tax revenue in the United States, compared to 32.3 percent in the OECD. This is because all OECD countries, except the United States, levy value-added taxes (VAT) at relatively high rates. State and local sales tax rates in the United States are relatively low by comparison.

Author(s): Cristina Enache

Publication Date: 17 February 2021

Publication Site: Tax Foundation

Despite Starkly Different COVID-19 Policies, the U.S. and the U.K. Saw Similar Drops in Cases Around the Same Time


Despite the stark difference in policy, both countries saw remarkably similar COVID-19 trends this winter. According to Worldometer’s numbers, the seven-day average of new cases peaked in the U.K. on January 9; it peaked in the U.S. two days later. That number then fell sharply in both countries. As of yesterday, it was down 81 percent in the U.K. and 73 percent in the U.S.

Daily deaths are also falling in both countries. As of yesterday, the seven-day average in the U.K. was down 61 percent from the peak on January 23. In the U.S., it was down 43 percent from the peak on January 26. Given the dramatic drop in daily new cases that began more than a month ago, daily deaths should continue to fall.


The same story of starkly different policies and similar outcomes emerges from a comparison of Texas and California, the two most populous states. While California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a new lockdown on December 3, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott did not impose new restrictions, and the state remained largely open. Yet since mid-January, the two states have seen almost the same drop in the seven-day average of newly reported cases, which has fallen by 85 percent in California and 81 percent in Texas.


Publication Date: 22 February 2021

Publication Site: Reason

Assessing mortality inequality in the US: What can be said about the future?

Link: https://robjhyndman.com/publications/us-longevity/



This paper investigates mortality inequality across U.S. states by modelling and forecasting mortality rates via a forecast reconciliation approach. Understanding the heterogeneity in state-level mortality experience is of fundamental importance, as it can assist decision-making for policy makers, health authorities, as well as local communities who are seeking to reduce inequalities and disparities in life expectancy. A key challenge of multi-population mortality modeling is high dimensionality, and the resulting complex dependence structures across sub-populations. Moreover, when projecting future mortality rates, it is important to ensure that the state-level forecasts are coherent with the national-level forecasts. We address these issues by first obtaining independent state-level forecasts based on classical stochastic mortality models, and then incorporating the dependence structure in the forecast reconciliation process. Both traditional bottom-up reconciliation and the cutting-edge trace minimization reconciliation methods are considered. Based on the U.S. total mortality data for the period 1969–2017, we project the 10-year-ahead mortality rates at both national-level and state-level up to 2027. We find that the geographical inequality in the longevity levels is likely to continue in the future, and the mortality improvement rates will tend to slow down in the coming decades.

Additional link: https://robjhyndman.com/papers/uslongevity.pdf

Author(s): Han Li, Rob J Hyndman

Publication Date: 14 February 2021

Publication Site: Rob J Hyndman’s personal site

US life expectancy drops 1 year in first half of 2020 amid coronavirus pandemic, CDC says

Link: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/us-life-expectancy-drops-year-half-2020-amid/story?id=75965992



The decline in life expectancy was seen across racial and ethnic groups but was most severe in minorities, with Black Americans losing 2.7 years (from 74.7 to 72.0) and Hispanic Americans losing 1.9 years (from 81.8 to 79.9) during the same period. Meanwhile, white Americans lost less than a year (from 78.8 to 78.0), according to the report.

Hispanic Americans traditionally have the most longevity compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., and provisional estimates show they still do. Hispanics saw their “advantage” in this regard compared to Black Americans increase from 7.1 years in 2019 to 7.9. years in the first six months of 2020, the report said.

Author(s): Morgan Winsor

Publication Date: 18 February 2021

Publication Site: ABC News

U.S. Life Expectancy Fell in First Half of 2020 as Covid-19 Deaths Surged

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-life-expectancy-fell-in-first-half-of-2020-as-covid-19-deaths-surged-11613624460



U.S. life expectancy declined by a year during the first half of 2020, according to federal figures released Thursday that show the deadly impact of the coronavirus pandemic’s early months.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics said life expectancy at birth was 77.8 years as of the end of June based on provisional estimates. The one-year decline from the previous year was the largest drop since World War II, when life expectancy fell 2.9 years between 1942 and 1943. It put life expectancy at its lowest level in the U.S. since 2006.

“It’s very concerning when we see mortality increase to such a degree,” said Elizabeth Arias, a health scientist at the center and a co-author of the report. “It gives you a clear picture of the magnitude of the effect of the Covid pandemic.”

Author(s): Janet Adamy

Publication Date: 18 February 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

MetLife Sees a Baby Bust

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/02/08/metlife-sees-a-baby-bust/?kw=MetLife%20Sees%20a%20Baby%20Bust



Analysts at the Brookings Institution have predicted, based on consumer surveys and demographic data for the period following the 1918 influenza pandemic, that the number of U.S. births could fall by about 300,000 to 500,000 this year, because of health concerns and the effects of the pandemic on the economy.

MetLife has an indication that the Brookings analysts are correct: Enrollees in the group short-term disability plans MetLife runs for employers are filing fewer pregnancy-related STD claims.

MetLife sells employers group STD coverage, and it also administers group STD plans for employers that choose to self-insure.

STD claims for pregnancy-related leave fell 20% between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Phil Bruen, a senior vice president for group life and disability product management at MetLife.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 8 February 2021

Publication Site: Think Advisor