Paid time off to get vaccines?

This is from a White House Fact Sheet:

“Thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, a paid leave tax credit will offset the cost for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees for up to 80 hours (i.e. 10 work days) up to $511 per day of paid sick leave offered between April 1 and September 30, 2021. This tax credit will allow these employers to provide paid leave for employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination and for any time their employees may need to recover from that vaccination at no cost to the employer. ” Here’s the link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/21/fact-sheet-president-biden-to-call-on-all-employers-to-provide-paid-time-off-for-employees-to-get-vaccinated-after-meeting-goal-of-200-million-shots-in-the-first-100-days/

The tax credit can also be taken by self-employed people on their income tax return.

Wait, there is more in the Fact Sheet:

“Building on today’s IRS release and the American Rescue Plan’s provisions, the Administration is committed to expanding paid leave more generally. That’s why the tax credit in the American Rescue Plan will enable employers with fewer than 500 employees to claim up to $17,110 for 14 weeks of paid leave for each impacted employee not only to get vaccinated, but also to take time off if they have COVID-19 symptoms and are going to the doctor; are getting tested for COVID-19; are under quarantine or isolation order by the government or a doctor (or are caring for someone who is); or have to care for a child whose school or child care provider closed, due to COVID-19.”

If a company with less than 500 employees already provides paid family leave will they get the credit? How will they prevent fraud and abuse by small employers and self-employed individuals?

It is hard for be to believe that the President has this power. It just doesn’t seem right. It seems out of control.

FEMA – $9,000 Covid-19 Death Benefit!

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has announced a benefit of up to $9,000 to reimburse funeral expenses for those who died from Covid-19. There is no means test, so people qualify for the benefit regardless of the income or wealth of the deceased or family members. (This same benefit has been available in previous disasters.) FEMA will not reimburse any amounts paid for or reimbursed by pre-planned sources such as funeral insurance, veterans benefits, etc.

Everyone dies eventually. If a person died with no resources and there is no insurance or other benefit available, it can be difficult or impossible for relatives to pay funeral expenses regardless of when or why the person dies. Most states have provisions to pay for a burial if the person died with no resources and no one else volunteers to pay. And relatives cannot be forced to pay for a funeral or burial.

So why should we expect FEMA to pay such a benefit? And even if a benefit is available, why should there be no means testing?

Iowans are doing the right thing – voluntarily.

Below is a letter that I just sent to The Des Moines Register. Odds are they won’t print it. So far, they have been about 100% anti-Governor Reynolds in reporting of her handling the pandemic.

To the editor,

Your report on businesses that are voluntarily continuing to require face masks is reassuring.  (“Some bars, restaurants keeping mask rules”, 2/9/21)  Although your report was only anecdotal, (not a statistically representative sample), 100% of the business on which you reported are continuing to require face masks without a government mandate.  It appears that Governor Reynolds is correct to trust that most Iowans will do the right thing.

Link to Register report: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/entertainment/dining/2021/02/08/iowa-covid-requirements-masks-social-distancing-spacing-required-metro-des-moines-bars-restaurants/4434642001/

Register needs better reporting of COVID-19 Stats.

Here is the text of a Letter To The Editor that I just sent to The Des Moines Register:

On Friday, December 4th, you started your daily COVID-19 report with, “The state added another 70 deaths to the tally of people who died with COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the largest one-day increase since the pandemic arrived in the state.”   Later in the article, you clarified that of the 70 deaths “reported”, 61 actually died in November, eight died in October, and one died on August 26th.  Your introductory sentence was at best poorly written, and at worst intentionally misleading.  It does appear clear that we have recently been seeing significant increases in the spread of the virus and deaths from the virus, but you lose credibility when you make such misleading statements.

Here is a link to the article:

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2020/12/03/covid-19-iowa-70-deaths-record-increase-another-2926-coronavirus-cases-reported/3807381001/

Trump is wrong on his nationalist, anti-international trade policy

Below is the link to an excellent article by Eric Boehm from Reason magazine’s August/September issue.  It gives specific evidence that shows how international trade makes us safer in a world-wide pandemic rather than the opposite.  There is a knee-jerk reaction when we have shortages to assume that we would be better off if we did not depend on other countries for our various needed products.  This essay shows that the facts indicate otherwise.

link to Reason essay by Eric Boehm:  https://reason.com/2020/07/11/trumps-trade-war-made-the-pandemic-worse-and-nationalism-will-slow-the-recovery/

Good news for Iowans – COVID-19 on the decline.

Here’s some good news for Iowans:  Although more than 75,000 Iowans have tested positive for COVID-19, that represents less than 3 out of every 100 people – and two-thirds of those have recovered.  Although more than 1,200 Iowans have died from COVID-19, the highest peak was in May and the current trend is sharply down from the lower second peak in early September.  We have kept COVID-19 hospitalizations, intensive care bed use and ventilator use well below our capacity, and healthcare system availability continues to get even better..  The number of Iowans being tested for COVID-19 continues to increase and the percentage of people testing positive continues to decrease.  So, Iowans, keep up the social distancing and the wearing face masks when appropriate so that these positive trends continue until a vaccine becomes available.

 

Source: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/#CurrentStatus

Iowa does not have the highest coronavirus growth rates in the U.S.!

The statistics used in the recently published White House coronavirus report for Iowa, and published in The Des Moines Register do not prove that the coronavirus is growing faster in Iowa than the rest of the nation.  The two key statistics used are not valid indicators.  The statistic “average number of positive tests per day per 100,000 population” is not valid because the results vary depending on how many tests are reported each day, and because those getting tested are not representative of the entire population.  The statistic “percent of tests reported each day that are positive”, (the positivity rate), is not valid because, again, those getting tested are not representative of the entire population.  The only currently available valid statistic is the death rate, which is a lagging indicator, and which is going down.  We should not be locking down parts of our economy based on bad data.  We should continue to encourage mask-wearing and social distancing when appropriate.

LInk to Register article:  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/health/2020/08/31/white-house-coronavirus-taskforce-says-iowa-has-highest-rate-country/3449153001/

Science recommends, individuals or politics decide.

The editorial team at The Des Moines Register, (as well as many liberals), seem to think that anyone who does not follow the recommendations of our government’s scientists is a “science denier.”    That’s not true.  People can believe the science but disagree about how to respond politically.  Science can give us a pretty good idea of what will happen when we take certain actions, but science does not tell us what risks are acceptable or what trade-offs we are willing to make to achieve any specific level of safety.  Those are either individual or political decisions.  We could stop COVID-19 completely if everyone was required to stay in their home for the next 30 days.   But even then, some would die in their homes. There is no perfect answer.  It is a proper role of government to use its force to stop or slow the spread of a communicable disease.   But as we can clearly see there are wide differences of opinion regarding what trade-offs we are willing to make and what level of safety should be our goal.  To the extent that those who are not willing to take a risk can protect themselves, others should be free to take risks.

Vander Platts is wrong about

Bob Vander Platas’ essay in the Register supporting the State ordered prohibition of abortion was a poor attempt to rationalize his religious beliefs.  (See link below.)  Most would agree that if an abortion is to be done, it is best done at the earliest stage possible, ideally during the first trimester.  Iowa should not be prohibiting abortions or other “elective” surgeries that increase a person’s health risk if they are delayed. Currently, hospitals in Iowa are not that close to capacity, and surgical masks are different than the N95 masks.  This is one area where restrictions should be eased now.

Link to essay in The Register:   https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2020/04/09/opinion-planned-parenthood-medically-irresponsible-during-covid-19-crisis/2967513001/

“Stay-at-home” or “Shelter-in-place” not needed in Iowa

Stay-at-home and shelter-in place orders appear to be no different than what I see happening in Iowa, regardless of what you call it.   In all cases, people are still free to walk, shop for groceries, get medicine, access medical care, all while social distancing.  Iowans are doing their part to bend the curve to help not overload our healthcare system.  Those who want further protection can quarantine themselves as much as they want.  Those who criticize Governor Reynolds for not using different terminology are just playing politics.