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In this week’s Friday Five, Maximus is reading about the need for standardized COVID-19 data, additional oversight of government IT projects, how COVID-19 could catalyze changes in long-term care, and the impact of reduced unemployment benefits.

1. Bad data is bogging down the COVID-19 fight; US 'needs to change,' experts say

Experts say a lack of standardized data collection by states and localities is hampering the efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. As reported by USA Today, it’s not easy for states to provide standardized data due to budget constraints, outdated technology, and a lack connectivity between reporting systems. More detailed and accessible data could lead to more effective, targeted approaches.

2. VA legislation in Senate promises closer oversight of IT projects

The Department of Veterans Affairs Information Technology Reform Act, passed by the Senate last week, would implement several recommendations from recent reports. According to FedScoop, these include additional information requirements for IT projects costing more than $25 million, oversight mechanisms for cloud migration, additional IT plan reviews, and empower the VA to implement cost-saving measures. The House has not yet taken up similar legislation.

3. Building the long-term care system of the future: Will the COVID-19 nursing home tragedies lead to real reform? 

Nursing homes and individuals who receive long-term care have disproportionately suffered severe health effects during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the authors of a blog post published in Health Affairs, this has exposed underlying weaknesses in the system. The authors recommend both short-term changes to address COVID-19 and longer-term solutions such as expanding access to home and community-based care, strengthening the connection between long-term care and the rest of the health system, replacing outdated facilities, reforming the oversight process, and exploring sustainable funding models.

4. 6 states band together to secure rapid COVID testing 

Six states have entered into an agreement to jointly purchase rapid COVID-19 tests, according to The Hill. The states (Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia) will also coordinate on policies and protocols related to testing and are open to additional states and localities joining the group. The goal is to show private companies there is enough demand to increase production of these type of tests.

5. The $600 unemployment boost just expired. Families are already hurting

Democrats and Republicans have not yet successfully come to an agreement about extending boosted unemployment benefits. According to CNBC, more than 30 million Americans were receiving the additional funding, which expired last week. Experts state that people will be unable to survive on standard unemployment benefits, especially after the moratorium on evictions also expired, and anecdotal stories are backing up these concerns.