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Pandemic

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On Point

On Point host Meghna Chakrabarti speaks with Prof. David Autor about his research investigating the success and failures of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). “If there's one thing I would change, is that I would rebuild our unemployment insurance program, so use modern data systems integrated nationally,” says Autor of how he would alter the PPP. 

The Tyee

The Tyee reporter Andrew Nikiforuk spotlights research conducted by Alex Siegenfeld SB ‘15, PhD ‘22, Yaneer Bar-Yam SB ’78, PhD ’84, and their colleagues to better understand the hesitancy behind accepting the efficacy of mask wearing. “There weren’t any studies that conclusively showed masks were not effective, yet common sense just got undervalued,” says Siegenfeld.

Bloomberg

Prof. David Rand and Prof. Gordon Pennycook of the University of Regina in Canada found that people improved the accuracy of their social media posts when asked to rate the accuracy of the headline first, reports Faye Flam for Bloomberg. “It’s not necessarily that [users] don’t care about accuracy. But instead, it’s that the social media context just distracts them, and they forget to think about whether it’s accurate or not before they decide to share it,” says Rand.

The Boston Globe Magazine

Boston Globe Magazine reporter Courtney Humphries spotlights MIT startup Biobot Analytics, co-founded by Mariana Matus ’18 and Newsha Ghaeli ’17, for using their wastewater and sewage tracking technology to identify Covid -19 in communities across the United States. “Because people shed the virus in their stool before they test positive, Biobot’s data are often a leading indicator of where the infection is heading, arriving ahead of case counts by a few days,” writes Humphries.

Boston Herald

MIT researchers have found a way to use wastewater testing surveillance as a public health tool to identify infectious diseases, reports Marie Szaniszlo for the Boston Herald. “Wastewater testing first started with a discovery by MIT researchers is being used nationwide as an early warning sign,” writes Szaniszlo.

New York Times

A new study by Prof. David Autor examining the effectiveness of the Paycheck Protection Program found that the program ended up subsidizing business owners and shareholders more than workers, reports Stacy Cowley for The New York Times.  “Jobs and businesses are two separate things,” says Autor. “We tried to figure out, ‘Where did the money go?’ — and it turns out it didn’t primarily go to workers who would have lost jobs. It went to business owners and their shareholders and their creditors.”

Fortune

Fortune reporter Tristan Bove spotlights a study led by economists from MIT, Stanford, the University of Chicago and Mexico’s ITAM on how workers are spending their time while working from home. “Pandemic habits give Americans around 70 minutes of extra free time a day,” writes Bove. “The lion’s share of this, around 60 minutes, comes from getting rid of commuting, but workers have also spent around nine minutes less on average doing daily activities such as grooming or picking out fresh clothes.”

Quartz

Economists from MIT, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and Mexico’s ITAM polled U.S. workers to see how the pandemic impacted American’s work from home setup, reports Nate DiCamillo for Quartz. “Overall, remote workers report that they’ve become more efficient at working from home than in office,” writes DiCamillo.

The Economist

The Economist spotlights a study by MIT researchers that found that less than a third of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding went to workers who would otherwise have been laid off. “Almost $366bn – 72% of funding in 2020 – went to households making more than 144,000 per year,” writes The Economist.

Bloomberg

Bloomberg reporter Chris Anstey spotlights a new study by MIT researchers that finds that during the Covid-19 pandemic people have been taking cues from their neighbors as to whether it is safe to resume social activities like dining in restaurants. “We felt that in [some] uncertain times, such information might be particularly valuable,” said Prof. Siqi Zheng. “If others think it’s safe to go out, then maybe I should feel safe. To be sure, we were also prepared for the opposite reaction, that people would hunker down and try to avoid crowds.”

The Washington Post

In an article for The Washington Post, Visiting Professor Susan Blumenthal and Emily Stark of New America make the case for creating a “government-backed program that would evaluate and label masks for consumers like the Food and Drug Administration does for sunscreens.”

The Wall Street Journal

A report by researchers from MIT’s Center for Transportation & Logistics and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals found that nearly half of supply chain professionals have remained committed to the same level of supply chain sustainability as before the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Laura Cooper for The Wall Street Journal. “The report, which surveyed some of 2,400 supply-chain industry professionals, also showed that 36% sought to increase their efforts to be more sustainable,” writes Cooper.

CNN

Researchers from MIT, Tripura University, and Vaisala Inc. concluded that the decline of aerosols in the atmosphere led to a reduction in lightning activity during the Covid-19 lockdown period, reports Alaa Elassar for CNN. “As countries around the world imposed quarantines, lockdown and curfews aimed at limiting the spread of Covid-19, air pollution levels fell drastically, thereby reducing the amount of aerosols released into the air,” writes Elassar.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Pranshu Verma spotlights MIT startup Biobot Analytics, co-founded by Mariana Matus ’18 and Newsha Ghaeli ’17, for their work studying sewage data to better predict the spread of Covid-19 in communities. “For health officials, it [the data] confirms whether Covid spikes in the community are real, and not due to increased testing or other factors,” writes Verma. “Moreover, Covid levels in waste water are a leading indicator for new clinical cases, giving health officials a few days’ notice if they’ll see more sick patients showing symptoms.”

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Clint Rainey writes that a new study co-authored by MIT economists finds that the bulk of the loan money handed out through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) helped business owners and shareholders. The researchers estimate that “somewhere between 23% and 34% of PPP dollars went to workers who would’ve otherwise lost their jobs,” writes Rainey. “The rest of the loan money—a full two-thirds to three-fourths—landed in the pockets of either the company’s owners or shareholders.”