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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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On Thursday, March 25, Axios national technology correspondent Kim Hart and business reporter Erica Pandey hosted one-on-one conversations with Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to discuss the safe return to in-person learning.

Rep. Bobby Scott discussed ventilation as an integral part of school reopenings, as well as the sense of urgency around returning students to their classrooms.

  • On the widespread crisis of proper ventilation in schools: "40 percent of the school districts in this country need to repair or replace the heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems and more than half their schools. So those schools cannot open safely without ventilation."
  • On in-person learning being essential to educational development: "We know the students do better academically when they are in person. We know they have access to school meals and nutrition. We know that their social and emotional learning can take place when they're interacting with [other] students."

Tony Thurmond unpacked critical safety measures in school reopenings, and how the state is working to bridge learning gaps that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

  • What the COVID-19 relief package looks like on the ground in schools: "It gives access to COVID testing...We still need people to be wearing masks, social distancing, and having the supplies for disinfecting campuses. Those resources will also help to accelerate learning, to offset those learning gaps, more tutoring or summer programs, more afterschool programs."
  • On essential safety precautions in classrooms: "There has to be social distancing. There has to be the wearing of face masks and people have to wash their hands. I would say that those are certainly the three keys...And from my standpoint, rapid COVID testing is really just everything."

Axios Vice President Yolanda Brignoni hosted a View from the Top segment with Siemens Corporation President and CEO Barbara Humpton to discuss new safety protocols and technologies in schools to help keep students, teachers, and staff safe.

  • "How might our indoor environments be transformed actually into a front line of defense?... We found everything from improving the air quality purification to thermal imaging to UV lighting...a whole array of technologies that could help."

Thank you Siemens for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Mar 25, 2021 - Health

Rep. Bobby Scott: Latest stimulus package will help students catch up

Screenshot of Axios Event.

Funding in the latest coronavirus stimulus package will help students "make up for this year of lost learning" during the pandemic, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said at an Axios event on Thursday.

Why it matters: Scott said the $100 billion that was appropriated for schools can be used for a number of costly fixes including improving ventilation, renovating outdated infrastructure and expanding broadband access.

Updated Mar 24, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on COVID-19 testing post-vaccines

On Wednesday, March 24, Axios hosted a virtual event on what COVID-19 testing will look like in a post-vaccine world, featuring conversations with Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Dr. Michael Mina, Johns Hopkins senior scholar Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota Dr. Michael Osterholm.

Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo discussed the critical role of testing in monitoring COVID-19 trends even after the majority of people have been vaccinated.

  • On how testing helps establish an understanding of the virus: "It's how we figure out where in the country the virus is and where it isn't...It helps us keep track of trends. And crucially, it is the first step in trying to discover if perhaps there is something changing about the virus and perhaps acquiring traits that we don't want it to have."

Dr. Michael Mina unpacked the critical need for widely expanded at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests, and how this differs from the way we have approached testing in the past year.

  • On the regulatory hurdles to getting at-home COVID-19 tests: "We've so undervalued and underfunded public health for so long that we don't actually have a regulatory mechanism to authorize a test that is going to be evaluated as a public health tool, first and foremost and a diagnostic tool second."

Dr. Michael Osterholm discussed the transmission rates following the reopening of schools and businesses in different countries, and how testing remains essential to monitoring the virus.

  • On the delayed impact of the vaccine rollout: "There is reason to be optimistic about the vaccines coming. The problem is we're not going to have that much vaccine to materially impact in a major way transmission in this country till well into late spring and early summer. So what we've got to do is get through the next six to 12 weeks."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top Segment with Siemens Healthineers Laboratory Diagnostics president Dr. Deepak Nath to discuss a collaboration between the CDC, the Joint Research Council in Europe, and Siemens Healthineers to answer vital questions about the COVID-19 vaccine's impact of the virus.

  • "The question we're trying to answer is: How effective are these vaccines, both at an individual level and at a population level? And in order to answer that, a key tool is a test to measure the concentration of antibodies in the blood...We've tried to establish a threshold for immunity. In other words, at what concentration of antibodies does a person have immunity?"

Thank you Siemens Healthineers for sponsoring this event.

Mar 26, 2021 - Health

Study will track COVID transmission among vaccinated college students

UNLV Student Health Center senior pharmacist prepares vaccine. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Scientists launched a National Institutes of Health-backed study with thousands of college students to determine whether Moderna's COVID vaccine can prevent asymptomatic spread of the virus.

Why it matters: The results of the trial could provide vaccinated individuals insight on how careful they really need to be when in close contact with others.