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COVID-19 Updates: Travel Ban, HSA Changes, Data Security, Digital Equity

By Net Assets posted 03-12-2020 10:16 AM


​(From NPR) President Trump announced a 30-day ban on travel from European countries to the U.S., effective as of March 12, in a bid to "keep new cases of coronavirus" from entering the country. Homeland Security officials said the travel restrictions would only apply to foreign nationals, not American citizens or legal permanent residents, and do not apply to travelers from the U.K. Global health experts expressed skepticism over the travel restrictions, saying the move is not likely to hasten the containment of the virus. Trump also announced economic measures to provide financial relief to people affected by COVID-19, though there were no details immediately available on that measure.

More from NPR

(from Lockton) While CDC-designated laboratories can perform COVID-19 testing can for free, physicians can now order the test for individuals who meet the CDC’s criteria for testing via Quest and LabCorp. The price is not yet stated, but most insurers are waiving cost-share responsibilities. Employers should contact their insurer to confirm if their plan now includes this practice.

The IRS announced on March 11 that a health savings account-compatible high-deductible health plan (HDHP) may pay not only for COVID-19 testing and (when they become available) vaccinations, but also for “all medical care service received and items purchased … for treatment of COVID-19,” before the plan’s high deductible is satisfied. That announcement quells concerns that such HDHPs might jeopardize their qualified status by paying for coronavirus testing or treatment below the deductible.

Schools that intend to rely upon cloud storage or VPNs as business continuity options should determine what data will be transmitted or stored and the security of the methods used. Some options will not be appropriate for sensitive data, including financial documents or employee-related files.

More from Lockton 

(From Inside Higher Ed and the Hechinger Report) U.S. colleges and universities' response to COVID-19 has been varied. Some have cancelled in-person classes but kept dorms and dining halls open, others closed all facilities and asked students to leave, and one institution, Berea College, has ceased instruction altogether for the year. The decision has often come down to resources, including IT and online learning expertise. Similar divisions are appearing at the K-12 level. State and federal agencies have advised schools to create online learning plans to minimize the disruption to student learning, yet experts warn that most schools are completely unprepared to address digital inequities.

Some have called this a "black swan" or low probability/high impact event for higher ed, after which the sector may be re-imagined, online offerings increase, and campus-based business models struggle. The experience could damage the reputation of online education, however, if the hasty transition goes poorly and negative stories circulate.

More from Inside Higher Ed and from The Hechinger Report

On March 11, the New York Times and EdSurge released guides for schools and students on continued teaching and learning during the spread of COVID-19. 

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