Today’s Coronavirus Tracker

Current updates on association response to the global COVID-19 crisis, along with a roundup of conference, travel, and business news and information.

Bridging the Broadband Gap

With teachers and students, doctors and patients, and employers and workers nationwide dependent on reliable internet connections amid the pandemic, Business Roundtable is pressing Congress to provide more funding to make broadband and connectivity services more affordable and accessible.

“COVID-19 has presented America’s broadband networks with numerous challenges,” Accenture CEO Julie Sweet, who serves as chair of the Business Roundtable Technology Committee, said in a statement earlier this month. “The pandemic has exposed and widened gaps in online access to schools, workplaces, and healthcare, just to name a few. That’s why we are urging Congress to provide funding to keep low-income households, students, teachers, and doctors connected during the pandemic.”

Business Roundtable urged the federal government to take five specific actions [PDF] to bridge the digital divide, including establishing an emergency connectivity benefit to support broadband for low-income households, funding the purchase of connected devices for e-learning, and accelerating broadband buildout in unserved areas.

(PinkBadger/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

“In both urban and rural communities, the lack of high-speed internet has long been a pain point, and COVID-19 has only worsened it,” said Brendan Bechtel, chairman and CEO of Bechtel Group, Inc., and chair of the Business Roundtable Infrastructure Committee. “As part of efforts to provide economic relief from the pandemic, Congress should fund the acceleration of broadband infrastructure in these areas, an investment that will have long-term returns in the form of increased productivity, health outcomes, and economic opportunities to low-income and underserved Americans.”

The recommendations follow from a set of policy principles released by Business Roundtable in September to support broadband accessibility, affordability, and usability, especially in rural and lower-income communities.

Recent Headlines

Even With Vaccine, COVID Tests Will Be the Passport to Travel in 2021 (Axios, 12/18/20) “Global travel could begin to see a comeback later in 2021 as people get vaccinated and international borders reopen. But the healthiest people—those most likely to travel—will be vaccinated last. In a partially vaccinated world, passengers will still need to wear masks and get tested before, during, and after their journey.”

The New Battles to Come Over Working From Home (Bloomberg, 12/17/20) “The extent of this permanent shift [to remote work] remains anybody’s guess. But views about it are becoming better informed as time passes, and two recent releases of survey data offer a fascinating compilation of them. They express a consensus that a lot more work will be done remotely in the future than was the case before the pandemic, but also reveal some potential conflicts over how exactly that will play out.”

Alaska Airlines Updates ‘80s Tune Safety Dance for Flying During COVID-19 (CNET, 12/17/20) “In the grand tradition of amazing airline safety videos, Alaska Airlines has found a way to combine a 1980s pop hit and some smooth dance moves with important information about flying during a pandemic.”

Current Incidence Statistics

Source: Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Data sources include the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, and National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China, as well as local authorities, medical sources, and news reports.