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7 Facts That Parents & Teachers Should Know About The Risks Of Reopening Chicago Public Schools

7 Facts That Parents & Teachers Should Know About The Risks Of Reopening Chicago Public Schools

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7 Facts That Parents & Teachers Should Know About The Risks Of Reopening Chicago Public Schools Tyler Durden Fri, 07/24/2020 - 18:45

Authored by Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner via Wirepoints.org,

School reopenings have become the next major political football in America, and the opening of Chicago Public Schools is no exception. The Chicago Teachers Union says they don’t want in-school teaching and prefer to maintain online learning, while the school district officials are planning for a hybrid opening

But how risky is it really for CPS children to return to school? What are the chances of students catching and spreading the virus? What are the chances of them bringing it home? And how risky is a reopening for teachers?

Here are seven facts Chicago parents and teachers should know:

1. Only two Chicago children aged 17 and younger have died from COVID-19 since the virus first appeared, according to the city of Chicago’s latest coronavirus data. While every death is a tragedy, fortunately Chicago’s children haven’t fallen victim to COVID-19.

2. CPS children face more risk from suicide, accidents and gun deaths. Since March 1, the approximate “start” of the coronavirus, nearly 100 Chicago children under the age of 19 have died from causes other than COVID. Four from suicide. Twelve from car- or drug-related accidents. And an outrageous 46 have died from gun violence.

3. One nationwide estimate of the infection fatality rate for children is just 0.004 percent. The Women’s Institute for Independent Social Enquiry says nationwide there have been 317,711 reported cases of children with COVID-19, with 805 intensive care hospitalizations and 77 deaths. However, they estimate there are 1.9 million children infected when taking into account undetected cases. That results in a fatality rate of 0.004 percent.

The actual fatality rate could be even lower once antibody testing can capture just how many children have actually been infected by the virus. 

4. More than three-quarters of teachers in CPS are under the age of 50. And 60 percent are under the age of 40. That means as a group they’re at far less risk of suffering death from COVID-19. That’s particularly true when comorbidities are taken into account (next section).

In total, 231 Chicago adults under the age of 50 have died from COVID since March. There are over 34,000 known cases in that age group, but the real number of people infected is certainly far larger. The CDC’s best estimates assume there are 10 times more undetected cases of COVID-19 than detected. Based on their estimate, the group fatality rate for those adults younger than 50 is at 0.064 percent.

5. The risk for teachers is even lower: More than 92 percent of Chicago COVID-19 victims had pre-existing conditions. Age alone should not be the concern for teachers since pre-existing conditions are the determining factor in COVID-19 deaths. Chicago city data shows that over 92 percent of COVID-19 victims in Chicago suffered from one or more comorbidities, i.e., hypertension, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. We’ve provided a full list of Chicago’s COVID-19 deaths and their comorbidities here. The source is the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Taking comorbidities into account means even fewer teachers are targets of the virus.

For sure teachers with pre-existing conditions will need to consider the risk to themselves and others, but what we know of the virus so far can help mitigate those risks. Limiting activities that require close student/teacher contact, keeping students together in teaching groups, making use of schools’ most-open spaces like gyms – all are sensible ideas. Older students can practice better hygiene and social distancing while younger students, as shown below, catch and transmit the virus at very low rates.

For older teachers and/or those with pre-existing conditions, there is still the option of teaching online for those who need it or even early retirement, if necessary. 

6. Students, particularly young children, are low vectors for the virus

Though much more needs to be learned about the interaction of COVID-19 with children, and there is some conflicting evidence, most studies are demonstrating the virus has a limited impact.

For example, Science magazine recently reported “several studies have found that overall, people under age 18 are between one-third and one-half as likely as adults to contract the virus, and the risk appears lowest for the youngest children.”

More surprisingly, it appears parents should be more concerned about giving COVID to their children instead of worrying that children will bring the virus home with them.

The Netherland’s health ministry advises that “Data from the Netherlands also confirms the current understanding: that children play a minor role in the spread of the novel coronavirus. The virus is mainly spread between adults and from adult family members to children. The spread of COVID-19 among children or from children to adults is less common.”

And a recent rapid literature review of pediatric COVID studies concluded:

“Low case numbers in children suggest a more limited role than was initially feared. Contact tracing data from Asia, the USA, Europe and Israel have all demonstrated a significantly lower attack rate in children than adults, including testing of asymptomatic household contacts on both PCR and serology. Coupled with low case numbers would suggest that children are less likely to acquire the disease…Limited data on positive cases in schools have not demonstrated significant transmission, except within adolescent populations. Studies of younger children in schools have found low rates of transmission, but with very low case numbers.”

– Boast A, Munro A, Goldstein H. An evidence summary of Paediatric COVID-19 literature, Don’t Forget the Bubbles, 2020.

7. Chicago COVID-19 deaths have collapsed to an average of just 2 a day over the last week.

Once a hotspot nationally, Chicago deaths have collapsed from nearly 50 a day in early May to about 2 a day in the last week. The city is at a level consistent with many European countries when they began to successfully reopen schools.

In fact, Chicago and New York City are now the only two major cities in the country that have an average daily infection rate of less than 5 percent – epidemiologists’ generally-accepted public health threshold for keeping COVID-10 under control.

*  *  *

COVID-19 is scary, but until and only if the virus changes targets, kids are more at risk from violence, accidents and from not being in school. 

Keeping schools shut has had an increasingly negative impact on children’s lives. More and more evidence shows that children missing school is leading to isolation, anxiety, the loss of critical development time, and not to mention, lost instructional time – remote learning didn’t work. There’s also the increased risk of unreported child abuse and teen suicide.

Younger children in particular are ill-served by remote learning, according to a new report issued by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine that recommends students return to the classroom. That report echoes the opinion of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends that “all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

The science and data of COVID-19 in Chicago agree.

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International

Fighting the Surveillance State Begins with the Individual

It’s a well-known fact at this point that in the United States and most of the so-called free countries that there is a robust surveillance state in…

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It’s a well-known fact at this point that in the United States and most of the so-called free countries that there is a robust surveillance state in place, collecting data on the entire populace. This has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by people like Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower who exposed that the NSA was conducting mass surveillance on US citizens and the world as a whole. The NSA used applications like those from Prism Systems to piggyback on corporations and the data collection their users had agreed to in the terms of service. Google would scan all emails sent to a Gmail address to use for personalized advertising. The government then went to these companies and demanded the data, and this is what makes the surveillance state so interesting. Neo-Marxists like Shoshana Zuboff have dubbed this “surveillance capitalism.” In China, the mass surveillance is conducted at a loss. Setting up closed-circuit television cameras and hiring government workers to be a mandatory editorial staff for blogs and social media can get quite expensive. But if you parasitically leech off a profitable business practice it means that the surveillance state will turn a profit, which is a great asset and an even greater weakness for the system. You see, when that is what your surveillance state is predicated on you’ve effectively given your subjects an opt-out button. They stop using services that spy on them. There is software and online services that are called “open source,” which refers to software whose code is publicly available and can be viewed by anyone so that you can see exactly what that software does. The opposite of this, and what you’re likely already familiar with, is proprietary software. Open-source software generally markets itself as privacy respecting and doesn’t participate in data collection. Services like that can really undo the tricky situation we’ve found ourselves in. It’s a simple fact of life that when the government is given a power—whether that be to regulate, surveil, tax, or plunder—it is nigh impossible to wrestle it away from the state outside somehow disposing of the state entirely. This is why the issue of undoing mass surveillance is of the utmost importance. If the government has the power to spy on its populace, it will. There are people, like the creators of The Social Dilemma, who think that the solution to these privacy invasions isn’t less government but more government, arguing that data collection should be taxed to dissuade the practice or that regulation needs to be put into place to actively prevent abuses. This is silly to anyone who understands the effect regulations have and how the internet really works. You see, data collection is necessary. You can’t have email without some elements of data collection because it’s simply how the protocol functions. The issue is how that data is stored and used. A tax on data collection itself will simply become another cost of doing business. A large company like Google can afford to pay a tax. But a company like Proton Mail, a smaller, more privacy-respecting business, likely couldn’t. Proton Mail’s business model is based on paid subscriptions. If there were additional taxes imposed on them, it’s possible that they would not be able to afford the cost and would be forced out of the market. To reiterate, if one really cares about the destruction of the surveillance state, the first step is to personally make changes to how you interact with online services and to whom you choose to give your data.

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International

Stock Market Today: Stocks turn higher as Treasury yields retreat; big tech earnings up next

A pullback in Treasury yields has stocks moving higher Monday heading into a busy earnings week and a key 2-year bond auction later on Tuesday.

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Updated at 11:52 am EDT U.S. stocks turned higher Monday, heading into the busiest earnings week of the year on Wall Street, amid a pullback in Treasury bond yields that followed the first breach of 5% for 10-year notes since 2007. Investors, however, continue to track developments in Israel's war with Hamas, which launched its deadly attack from Gaza three weeks ago, as leaders around the region, and the wider world, work to contain the fighting and broker at least a form of cease-fire. Humanitarian aid is also making its way into Gaza, through the territory's border with Egypt, as officials continue to work for the release of more than 200 Israelis taken hostage by Hamas during the October 7 attack. Those diplomatic efforts eased some of the market's concern in overnight trading, but the lingering risk that regional adversaries such as Iran, or even Saudi Arabia, could be drawn into the conflict continues to blunt risk appetite. Still, the U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies and acts as the safe-haven benchmark in times of market turmoil, fell 0.37% in early New York trading 105.773, suggesting some modest moves into riskier assets. The Japanese yen, however, eased past the 150 mark in overnight dealing, a level that has some traders awaiting intervention from the Bank of Japan and which may have triggered small amounts of dollar sales and yen purchases. In the bond market, benchmark 10-year note yields breached the 5% mark in overnight trading, after briefly surpassing that level late last week for the first time since 2007, but were last seen trading at 4.867% ahead of $141 billion in 2-year, 5-year and 7-year note auctions later this week. Global oil prices were also lower, following two consecutive weekly gains that has take Brent crude, the global pricing benchmark, firmly past $90 a barrel amid supply disruption concerns tied to the middle east conflict. Brent contracts for December delivery were last seen $1.06 lower on the session at $91.07 per barrel while WTI futures contract for the same month fell $1.36 to $86.72 per barrel. Market volatility gauges were also active, with the CBOE Group's VIX index hitting a fresh seven-month high of $23.08 before easing to $20.18 later in the session. That level suggests traders are expecting ranges on the S&P 500 of around 1.26%, or 53 points, over the next month. A busy earnings week also indicates the likelihood of elevated trading volatility, with 158 S&P 500 companies reporting third quarter earnings over the next five days, including mega cap tech names such as Google parent Alphabet  (GOOGL) - Get Free Report, Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Free Report, retail and cloud computing giant Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Free Report and Facebook owner Meta Platforms  (META) - Get Free Report. "It’s shaping up to be a big week for the market and it comes as the S&P 500 is testing a key level—the four-month low it set earlier this month," said Chris Larkin, managing director for trading and investing at E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley. "How the market responds to that test may hinge on sentiment, which often plays a larger-than-average role around this time of year," he added. "And right now, concerns about rising interest rates and geopolitical turmoil have the potential to exacerbate the market’s swings." Heading into the middle of the trading day on Wall Street, the S&P 500, which is down 8% from its early July peak, the highest of the year, was up 10 points, or 0.25%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which slumped into negative territory for the year last week, was marked 10 points lower while the Nasdaq, which fell 4.31% last week, was up 66 points, or 0.51%. In overseas markets, Europe's Stoxx 600 was marked 0.11% lower by the close of Frankfurt trading, with markets largely tracking U.S. stocks as well as the broader conflict in Israel. In Asia, a  slump in China stocks took the benchmark CSI 300 to a fresh 2019 low and pulled the region-wide MSCI ex-Japan 0.72% lower into the close of trading.
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Government

Forget Ron DeSantis: Walt Disney has a much bigger problem

The company’s political woes are a sideshow to the one key issue Bob Iger has to solve.

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Walt Disney has a massive, but solvable, problem.

The company's current skirmishes with Florida Gov. DeSantis get a lot of headlines, but they're not having a major impact on the company's bottom line.

Related: What the Bud Light boycott means for Disney, Target, and Starbucks

DeSantis has made Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Free Report a target in what he calls his war on woke, an effort to win right-wing support as he tries to secure the Republican Party nomination for president. 

That effort has generated plenty of press and multiple lawsuits tied to the governor's takeover of the former Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney's legislated self-governance operation. But it has not hurt revenue at the company's massive Florida theme-park complex.  

Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger addressed the matter during the company's third-quarter-earnings call, without directly mentioning DeSantis.

"Walt Disney World is still performing well above precovid levels: 21% higher in revenue and 29% higher in operating income compared to fiscal 2019," he said. 

And "following a number of recent changes we've implemented, we continue to see positive guest-experience ratings in our theme parks, including Walt Disney World, and positive indicators for guests looking to book future visits."

The theme parks are not Disney's problem. The death of the movie business is, however, a hurdle that Iger has yet to show that the company has a plan to clear.

Boba Fett starred in a show on Disney+.

Image source: Walt Disney

Disney needs a plan to monetize content 

In 2019 Walt Disney drew in more $11 billion in global box office, or $13 billion when you add in the former Fox properties it also owns. In that year seven Mouse House films crossed the billion-dollar threshold in theaters, according to data from Box Office Mojo.

This year, the company will struggle to reach half that and it has no billion-dollar films, with "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" closing its theatrical run at $845 million globally. 

(That's actually good for third place this year, as only "Barbie" and "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" have broken the billion-dollar mark and they may be the only two films to do that this year.)

In the precovid world Disney could release two Pixar movies, three Marvel films, a live-action remake of an animated classic, and maybe one other film that each would be nearly guaranteed to earn $1 billion at the box office.

That's simply not how the movie business works anymore. While theaters may remain part of Disney's plan to monetize its content, the past isn't coming back. Theaters may remain a piece of the movie-release puzzle, but 2023 isn't an anomaly or a bad release schedule.

Consumers have big TVs at home and they're more than happy to watch most films on them.

Disney owns the IP but charges too little

People aren't less interested in Marvel and Star Wars; they're just getting their fix from Disney+ at an absurdly low price. 

Over the past couple of months through the next few weeks, I will have watched about seven hours of premium Star Wars content and five hours of top-tier Marvel content with "Ahsoka" and "Loki" respectively. 

Before the covid pandemic, I gladly would have paid theater prices for each movie in those respective universes. Now, I have consumed about six movies worth of premium content for less than the price of two movie tickets.

By making its premium content television shows available on a service that people can buy for $7.99 a month Disney has devalued its most valuable asset, its intellectual property. 

Consumers have shown that they will pay the $10 to $15 cost of a movie ticket to see what happens next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the Star Wars galaxy. But the company has offered top-tier content from those franchises at a lower price.

Iger needs to find a way to replace billions of dollars in lost box office, but charging less for the company's content makes no sense. 

Now, some fans likely won't pay triple the price for Disney+. But if it were to bundle a direct-to-consumer ESPN along with content that currently gets released to movie theaters, Disney might create a package that it can price in a way that reflects the value of its IP.

Consumers want Disney's content and they will likely pay more for it. Iger simply has to find a way to make that happen.

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