” In a new report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that states (including Washington, D.C.) had spent just 45 percent of the funding they had received through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program, a $350 billion line item within the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which passed in March 2021. Local governments had reported spending just 38 percent of their funds received through the same program.”
“”The new GAO study confirms that the ARPA spending was not needed,” Chris Edwards, chair of fiscal studies at the Cato Institute, tells Reason. “By the fall of 2020, it was clear that the states were in good fiscal shape and not facing Armageddon as many policymakers were claiming. They did not need federal handouts.””
“Before the American Rescue Plan passed, there was widespread skepticism about the proposed bailout, in part because three other pandemic-era spending bills had already sent about $360 billion in aid to states and localities.”
“In a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper published in June 2022, a trio of researchers found that pandemic-era aid distributed to state and local governments had cost taxpayers about $855,000 per job saved. The stimulus spending had only “a modest impact on government employment and has not translated into detectable gains for private businesses or for states’ overall economic recoveries,” concluded University of California, San Diego economists Jeffrey Clemens and Philip Hoxie and American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Stan Veuger, the paper’s three authors.”
“Iowa spent $12.5 million of its $4.5 billion cut of the federal bailout on a new baseball stadium near the Field of Dreams movie set. Because that’s an essential public health issue, of course.”
“Michigan “reported spending $25.6 million on a travel marketing and
promotional campaign,” allegedly to “respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism.” Louisiana, meanwhile, reported spending $115 million to construct roads and bridges.
Tourism is nice and roads are in some ways an essential government function, but the emergency COVID spending was meant to help states address an immediate public health crisis—or to offset the costs of it. It’s not at all clear how highway construction was a victim of the pandemic ”
“With so much money stolen, it is likely that many EIDL loans will never be repaid. That doesn’t mean the SBA should just throw up its hands and stop trying.”
“Updated Covid-19 boosters are needed for two fundamental reasons: first, that the virus is continually evolving, and second, that our immunity wanes over time.”
“The updated Covid-19 shots are formulated to prevent severe disease and hospitalization by the XBB1.5 strain, as well as other XBB subvariants, which make up more than 90 percent of the subvariants circulating as of Sept. 2, according to the CDC. This includes EG.5 and FL.1.5.1, which make up more than 30 percent of current cases.
CDC officials said in today’s meeting that lab data also suggest that the updated vaccine will generate neutralizing antibodies against BA.2.86, which has garnered attention due to its high number of mutations. It has only been found in 10 countries worldwide, and seven states within the U.S, but it is not clear that it will gain additional traction.”
“President Joe Biden’s White House pushed Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to censor contrarian COVID-19 content, including speculation about the virus having escaped from a lab, vaccine skepticism, and even jokes.
“Can someone quickly remind me why we were removing—rather than demoting/labeling—claims that Covid is man made,” asked Nick Clegg, president for global affairs at the company, in a July 2021 email to his coworkers.
A content moderator replied, “We were under pressure from the administration and others to do more. We shouldn’t have done it.””
“”According to a trove of confidential documents obtained by Reason, health advisers at the CDC had significant input on pandemic-era social media policies at Facebook as well. They were consulted frequently, at times daily. They were actively involved in the affairs of content moderators, providing constant and ever-evolving guidance. They requested frequent updates about which topics were trending on the platforms, and they recommended what kinds of content should be deemed false or misleading. “Here are two issues we are seeing a great deal of misinfo on that we wanted to flag for you all,” reads one note from a CDC official. Another email with sample Facebook posts attached begins: “BOLO for a small but growing area of misinfo.”
” These Facebook Files show that the platform responded with incredible deference. Facebook routinely asked the government to vet specific claims, including whether the virus was “man-made” rather than zoonotic in origin. (The CDC responded that a man-made origin was “technically possible” but “extremely unlikely.”) In other emails, Facebook asked: “For each of the following claims, which we’ve recently identified on the platform, can you please tell us if: the claim is false; and, if believed, could this claim contribute to vaccine refusals?””
“on the single factor that those experts say mattered most in fighting COVID — widespread vaccinations — DeSantis’ approach proved deeply flawed. While the governor personally crusaded for Floridians 65 and older to get shots, he laid off once younger age groups became eligible.
Tapping into suspicion of public health authorities, which the Republican right was fanning, he effectively stopped preaching the virtues of COVID vaccines. Instead, he emphasized his opposition to requiring anyone to get shots, from hospital workers to cruise ship guests.
While Florida was an early leader in the share of residents older than 65 who were vaccinated, it had fallen to the middle of the pack by the end of July 2021. When it came to younger residents, Florida lagged behind the national average in every age group.
That left the state particularly vulnerable when the delta variant hit that month. Floridians died at a higher rate, adjusted for age, than residents of almost any other state during the delta wave, according to the Times analysis. With less than 7% of the nation’s population, Florida accounted for 14% of deaths between the start of July and the end of October.
Of the 23,000 Floridians who died, 9,000 were younger than 65. Despite the governor’s insistence at the time that “our entire vulnerable population has basically been vaccinated,” a vast majority of the 23,000 were either unvaccinated or had not yet completed the two-dose regimen.
A high vaccination rate was especially important in Florida, which trails only Maine in the share of residents age 65 and older. By the end of July, Florida had vaccinated about 60% of adults, just shy of the national average. Had it reached a vaccination rate of 74% — the average for five New England states at the time — it could have prevented more than 16,000 deaths and more than 61,000 hospitalizations that summer, according to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet.
Florida’s spike in deaths subsided that autumn, as it did elsewhere. Overall, the state’s death rate during the pandemic, adjusted for age, ended up better than the national average. Some public health experts credit the state’s robust health system and strong performance in the pandemic’s first year or so.
But in Florida, unlike the nation as a whole — and states like New York and California that DeSantis likes to single out — most people who died from COVID died after vaccines became available to all adults, not before. As the governor’s political positions began to shift, so did his state’s death rate, for the worse.
DeSantis and his aides have said that his opposition was to mandates, not to the vaccinations themselves. They say the governor only questioned the efficacy of the shots once it became evident that they did not necessarily prevent infection — which prompted him to criticize experts and the federal government.”
“for some with a close-up view of COVID in Florida, the delta wave’s toll was evidence of the insular leadership style that DeSantis has also displayed in his struggling presidential campaign. He boasted of standing up to health experts but carefully tended to his base of political supporters. Tapping into the Republican revolt against scientific authority made him a political star. But that revolt came with costs.
“These were preventable deaths,” Rivkees, who resigned as Florida’s surgeon general in September 2021, said in a recent interview. “It breaks my heart thinking that things could have turned out differently if people embraced vaccines instead of this anti-vax stuff.””
“As of this summer, more than 345,000 Americans younger than 70 have died of the virus, and more than 3.5 million have been hospitalized with COVID. The disease has killed nearly 2,300 children and adolescents, and nearly 200,000 have been hospitalized.”
“DeSantis accused the media in early August of “lying” about COVID patients flooding hospitals. Two weeks later, Mary Mayhew, head of the Florida Hospital Association, said, “There can be no question that many Florida hospitals are stretched to their absolute limits.”
Mickey Smith was then the CEO of Oak Hill, the biggest hospital in Hernando County. As the delta variant raged through the county that month, he documented the impact on the 346-bed hospital in almost daily staff memos.
The morgue was filled to capacity. Oxygen was in such demand that the supplier would only partly fill Oak Hill’s tank. Ambulances were lined up outside to unload new patients, some of whom had to be shunted to a hastily erected outdoor tent.
“Our patients are younger and sicker,” Smith wrote. Of 17 patients on ventilators in intensive care Aug. 13, 2021, more than half were younger than 55. Only one was vaccinated.
“People say that the decision about vaccination is a personal one and it doesn’t affect anyone else,” Smith wrote. “Tell that to the kids who lost their mom.””