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In this week’s Friday Five, Maximus is reading about government use of new technology, back to school for children with special needs, growing job loss, and if telehealth will remain popular post-pandemic.

1. Local governments have embraced new technology to weather the pandemic, survey finds

Nearly all local and state government leaders reported using software to maintain service levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey. NextGov reports 75% had introduced new technology to improve citizen engagement and communication. The new adoption of software and technology aims to help employees work from home; as well as provide virtual services for residents. The shift could prove crucial to maintaining revenue.

2. State strategies to safely transition children with special health care needs back to school

Children with complex or chronic healthcare concerns need additional supports. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted occupational or behavioral therapy in school-based settings. The National Academy for State Health Policy describes how states are creating strategies to help meet children’s needs safely. These strategies include risk assessment, increased staffing, enhanced collaboration between education and healthcare providers, and evaluation.

3. ‘What am I going to do at 55?’: More temporary layoffs could become permanent during COVID-19 recession 

Many individuals laid off at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic were expecting to return to work shortly. But as USA Today reports, the economy continues to struggle and many more ‘temporary layoffs’ are becoming permanent. More than 9 million of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April have been regained; however, experts expect minimal job gains for the remainder of the year. New waves of layoffs may occur as businesses use up their remaining federal loans or as areas see spikes in COVID-19 cases.

4. USCIS cancels furloughs

The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services has cancelled the planned furlough of 13,000 employees. FCW reports the agency, which is fee-funded, is facing financial shortfalls. However, by increasing fee collection through an emergency bill and decreasing spending, they were able to avoid furloughs. The agency cautions that this will increase backlogs, will not prevent future furloughs, and will require assistance for return to normal operating procedures.

5. Fad or future? Telehealth expansion eyed beyond pandemic 

Despite gradual reopening across the country, telehealth visits remain more commonplace than before COVID-19. According to the Associated Press, many people are interested in and comfortable with telehealth services. However, issues remain, including concerns about privacy and quality of care. Issues regarding payment and equal access, especially to vulnerable populations, also need to be addressed.