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CDC Provides Guidance on Talking With Parents About COVID-19 Vaccination

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges everyone ages 5 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible. More than 543 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been given in the United States through February 7, 2022, according to CDC.

Despite the safety of the vaccines, misinformation remains a problem nationwide. CDC provides recommendations for providers on how to answer questions from parents and caregivers about COVID-19 vaccines. Providers remain the most trusted source of information about vaccines.

Small Business Pulse Survey Completes Phase 7

The U.S. Census Bureau has released the latest data collected through its Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS), a multi-phasal effort which measures how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted small businesses across the country. The most recent phase of this study concluded on January 16, 2022.

Beginning in April 2020, SBPS measures the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across a number of variables, including operating revenues and finances, employee retention and scheduling, changes in operations since March 2020, and measures implemented to slow or prevent the spread of COVID-19 among employees, such as vaccination and testing requirements. Past surveys have asked about the implementation of curbside services, remote work, and loans and other assistance, among others. Impact is measured through self-reported metrics; the Phase 7 questionnaire can be found at https://portal.census.gov/pulse/data/downloads/small-business-pulse-survey-questionnaire_11_15_2021.pdf.

The Census Bureau has made the data collected across all seven phases of the study available on its website at https://portal.census.gov/pulse/data/, allowing for comparisons of responses over time. As of January 16, an average of 23.3 percent of businesses reported a large negative effect on business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a marked decrease from the original average of 51.4 percent reported the first week of the study (covering April 26 to May 2, 2020). SBPS has further tracked difficulties and delays with suppliers both domestic and foreign since August 2020, shining a light on current trends for businesses and potential pain points in the coming months.

Phase 8 of the survey is tentatively planned to begin in February 2022. Further information on the SBPS may be found at https://www.census.gov/data/experimental-data-products/small-business-pulse-survey.html.

Government Launches Site to Order Free COVID Tests; Insurers Required to Cover At-Home Tests

Government Launches Site to Order Free COVID Tests; Insurers Required to Cover At-Home Tests

BETHESDA, MD – A new website from the Federal Government allows Americans to order free COVID-19 tests.

COVIDTests.gov opened January 18 in what White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called a “beta phase,” with the formal launch set for January 19. The site will allow every household to order up to four free at-home COVID-19 tests.

“We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two, but the best tech teams across the administration and the Postal Service are working hard to make this a success,” Psaki said.

The tests are part of the Biden administration’s purchase of 500 million tests last month to help tackle a record surge in infections. The site’s launch comes on the heals of changes to incentivize insurers and group health plans to allow people to easily obtain at-home tests.

Beginning January 15, insurance companies and group health plans are required to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests. The new coverage requirement means most consumers with private health coverage can but a test online or at pharmacy or store and either get it paid for upfront by their health plan or get reimbursed for the cost by submitting a claim to their plan.

This new requirement allows individuals to purchase up to eight tests per month.

“Under President Biden’s leadership, we are requiring insurers and group health plans to make tests free for millions of Americans. This is all part of our overall strategy to ramp-up access to easy-to-use, at-home tests at no cost,” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “Since we took office, we have more than tripled the number of sites where people can get COVID-19 tests for free, and we’re also purchasing half a billion at-home, rapid tests to send for free to Americans who need them. By requiring private health plans to cover people’s at-home tests, we are further expanding Americans’ ability to get tests for free when they need them.”

PCR tests and rapid tests ordered or administered by a health provider will continue to be fully covered by insurance with no limit. Tests purchased through COVIDTests.gov will begin shipping toward the end of January.

About Econometrica

Founded in 1998, Econometrica is a research and management organization in Bethesda, MD, established to provide public- and private-sector clients with customized program support services. Econometrica works with multiple agencies to provide high-quality, cost-effective analyses, modeling, and economic evaluations. The company consistently receives exceptional scores from its clients and believes in three principles: technical capabilities, happy customers, and business development.

The tests are part of the Biden administration’s purchase of 500 million tests last month to help tackle a record surge in infections.

Press Contact

Jonathan Fusfield

Econometrica Supports HUD Toolkit Responding to Education Challenges From COVID-19

COVID-19 has impacted the nation in many ways, including children’s education. As schools get set to reopen this fall, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released a toolkit aimed at strengthening families and students living in HUD-assisted housing during the pandemic.

From August 2020 to March 2021, Econometrica supported HUD in a series of COVID-19 education peer exchanges. A key outcome from this series is Supporting Our Kids’ Education: Tools to Strengthen Resident Families & Students During COVID-19 & Beyond, a toolkit for public housing agencies and their community partners that responds to the educational challenges experienced by families and children during the pandemic.

The toolkit was developed by HUD’s Office of Choice Neighborhoods in partnership with grantees and expert consultants from Econometrica to provide case studies, ready-to-use family flyers, and a wealth of evidence-based resource links. Topics include:

  • Addressing learning loss.
  • Strengthening families’ ability to support their children’s learning.
  • Developing high-quality out-of-school time programming and tutoring.
  • Establishing learning hubs.

The toolkit highlights open source, research-based tools and resources as well as promising practice case studies that equip housing authorities and their partners to provide targeted educational services and strengthen the ability of families to support their children’s learning.

HUD focused on education because “COVID-19 has exacerbated the stark disparities between low-income housing residents and their higher-income peers.”

“With remote and hybrid learning, children living in public housing and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-assisted housing often face a variety of hurdles, from increased food insecurity and spotty internet service to challenges with student engagement and disruptions in specialized education supports.”

“With remote and hybrid learning, children living in public housing and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-assisted housing often face a variety of hurdles, from increased food insecurity and spotty internet service to challenges with student engagement and disruptions in specialized education supports.”

Press Contact

Jonathan Fusfield

CMS Releases Updated Look at COVID-19’s Impact on the Medicare Population

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a snapshot of the impact COVID-19 has had on the Medicare population. The monthly update, released June 30, shows there were more than 4.3 million COVID-19 cases among the Medicare population and more than 1.2 million COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Data in the snapshot covers the period January 1, 2020, to April 24, 2021.

A factsheet and additional information can be fund at https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-systems/preliminary-medicare-covid-19-data-snapshot.