Monthly Archives: June 2021

COVID-19 at For- and Non-Profit Nursing Homes

On 15 June 2021, the New York State Bar Association's Task Force on Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care published its report on COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents in the state.

The report's biggest finding was to confirm the Cuomo administration's 25 March 2020 directive that forced nursing homes to blindly admit COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals without testing to determine if they were still contagious directly contributed to the deaths of nursing home residents in New York.

The report's appendices contain facility-specific detail regarding the COVID deaths nursing homes reported during the coronavirus pandemic, including whether they died in or out of their facility. It also indicates whether the nursing homes were for-profit or non-profit.

We wondered what differences there might be based on the nursing home facility's for-or-non-profit status, so we did some back-of-the-envelope analysis. Here's what we found.

New York Nursing Home Beds and Number of COVID-19 Deaths, For-Profit vs Non-Profit Facilities

This first chart simply tallies up the number of beds and COVID deaths at both types of nursing home facilities that reported these deaths during the pandemic. In it, we see the share of beds and deaths by facility type are almost identical. That result indicates the type of facility in which nursing home residents died was not a significant factor for those that died from COVID-19.

But we did find a notable difference in the data, which is revealed in the next chart.

New York Nursing Home Beds and Number of COVID-19 Deaths, For-Profit vs Non-Profit Facilities

Here, we find that one-in-three for-profit nursing home residents were transferred out of their facility before they died. Meanwhile, one-in-four nursing home residents who lived in a non-profit facility were transferred out of the facility before they died from COVID-19.

The task force's report doesn't specifically identify that difference, but its data tables suggest the level of staffing at each type of facility is a factor. It's not well quantified, but the report uses "stars" to indicate staffing levels at individual facilties, with lower number of stars indicating lower relative staffing levels. Here, we find both for-profit nursing homes to make up the majority of low star ratings and corresponding higher levels of transferred patients, which generally accounts for the difference.


New York State Bar Association. Report and Recommendations of the Task Force on Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care. [PDF Document]. 15 June 2021.

23/6/21: Covid19 Deaths and Income Inequality


An interesting, although intuitively straight forward note on the determinants of Covid19 deaths:

As Youyang Gu @youyanggu states, "I believe income inequality is the single best predictor of total Covid deaths in the US. Not income, but income *inequality*. The R^2 is surprisingly high: 0.35."

There are some potentially important issues with this analysis (some are explored here:, but the conclusion seems to be qualitatively robust. 

Coronavirus Pandemic Sends Global Economy Into Triple Dip Recession

When we last covered the state of the global economy, we found it had just begun rebounding after having entered a double-dip recession. Deeply impacted regions like North America and the Eurozone were showing signs of recovery, boosted by the arrival of COVID vaccines.

Two months ago, that recovery could be measured by the increasing rate at which carbon dioxide was being added to the Earth's atmosphere. Two months later we find that sign of improvement has reversed, indicating the global economy is experiencing a triple dip recession.

Trailing Twelve Month Average of Year-Over-Year Change in Parts per Million of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, January 1960 - May 2021

What happened to reverse the global economic recovery?

From the end of March 2021 through May 2021, the coronavirus pandemic reared its ugly head in India and several nations in South America, including Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia.

Daily Confirmed New Cases (7-Day Moving Average) - Outbreak evlotuion for the current most affected countries, 1 January 2020 - 18 June 2021

Of these countries, India suffered the most extreme spread of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections in the period from March through May 2021, the severity of which hammered its economy. And by extension, the global economy because India has become the fifth largest national economy in the world.

Data for the changing concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere indicates that negative impact on India's economy was very large. It more than fully offset the rate at which CO2 is being added to the Earth's air resulting by the other regions of the world whose economic recoveries are well underway.


Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Daily Confirmed New Cases (7-Day Moving Average) Outbreak Evolution for the Current Most Affected Countries. [Online Database]. Accessed 19 June 2021.

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Earth System Research Laboratory. Mauna Loa Observatory CO2 Data. [Text File]. Updated 6 April 2020. Accessed 19 June 2021.

Previously on Political Calculations

Here is our series quantifying the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Earth's economy, presented in reverse chronological order.

Australian Politics 2021-06-22 19:53:00


Classism in Australia is 'real'. Meet the crusaders calling it out

This is just a Left-wing whine from the ABC. It makes its case entirely by argument from example. You can prove just about anything that way

Let me turn the tables by using a different example, my own. My father was a lumberjack, just about the humblest occupation known. And he was a punchy redhead, well within the sterotype. So my schooling was terminated after junior school and I received no support from my parents from that time on.

So was I thereby condemned to a humble life of no distinction? Hardly. I earned a doctorate, achieved academic distinction and became a millionaire

It's possible that I was from time to time a target of class prejudice but I was never aware of it. I was always aware of being treated as an individual, often with respect

So who is typical? Myself or the whiners rounded up by the ABC? There is no way of telling. The entire article is a castle built on sand with no hint of real scholarship. I would happily tell them about sample surveys and pychometrics if they cared to listen

When Amanda Rose stepped up on stage to speak at a business conference six years ago, she didn't get the introduction she was expecting.

The MC described her to the crowd as being "from Parramatta — but that's OK because ... she's gorgeous. She's smart and she is dating a politician".

She felt humiliated. And it wasn't the first time.

"I've dealt with the stigma my whole life and, as a businesswoman, it's still there," she tells ABC RN's This Working Life.

At the same event, she was instructed by organisers not to "admit" to her Western Sydney roots.

Her experience defies a belief held by many Australians.

About 57 per cent of Australians who participated in the Australia Talks National Survey 2021 believe the perseverance and diligence of hard work pays off regardless of the circumstances they've been born into.

However, the proportion of people who believe hard work makes all the difference has fallen since 2019, when it was 69 per cent.

Despite the shift, it seems the old adage about all Australians being given a "fair go" is still deeply entrenched in the Australian psyche.

So does going to the right school really matter, do employers really care what suburb you're from and, if there are different social classes, is it possible to move between them? We asked those that have experienced classism.

Hard work doesn't always pay off
"Here's a Blacktown boy turned good."

"Haven't you done well for yourself?"

Rose, founder of business and women's network Western Sydney Women, says phrases like these are just some of the ways people flag another's social class.

They reflect an attitude she has found to be rife in her work environments.

Rose says she was "blocked so much" in the business world because of her connection to Western Sydney that she decided: "Screw this, I'll start my own network".

She's cautious about overcoming the challenges. "[The] one thing I believe we can't change is classism. We can change everything else," she says.

Class plays a huge role at work

Diversity Council of Australia chief executive Lisa Annese agrees class barriers are "real" and argues they are missing from the national conversation about inclusion.

Too bogan, too privileged?

A stand alone run down house against a bush backdrop
Have you ever been judged for where you live? Postcode stigma is rife in Australia — and the people who live in affluent areas aren't immune.

"We know that if you went to a certain school, if you went to the right universities, you have the right networks, then you're much more likely to be successful in Australian business," she says.

She says social class is defined by a number of factors including a family's wealth, a person's education, personal and professional networks, job and income.

While Australians often "deny that class even exists", it has the greatest impact on opportunities and inclusion in workplaces, Annese says.

Fighting and working harder

Author and journalist Rick Morton knows what it's like to feel different from others because of class.

Morton grew up in poverty in country Queensland, and says it became apparent early in his career he'd "have to fight harder" and "work harder than everyone else just to be in the same position".

"We all want everyone to have a fair go to be treated equally but it's not the case in practice," says Morton, who has written about his experience in the memoir, One Hundred Years of Dirt.

When he moved to the Gold Coast at 18 on a university scholarship tied to a newspaper cadetship, he says he was "unequipped" for the change.

"I had no idea, not just no money but no idea about how money functioned," Morton says.

"I had no cultural capital. I didn't know how to have conversations with people who were from ... the 'right' schools. I didn't grow up with the 'right' books in my house."

He remembers struggling to pay for rent, food and bus fares while being unable to manage the workload of university and work.

Years later, while working for a major newspaper, he began writing about people living in poverty and realised most of his work colleagues looked at those issues from positions of privilege.

"What I was trying to do was knit together some kind of understanding for people who have never lived any of the things I tried to convince them of and so it was really difficult."

In editorial meetings while discussing the federal government's plans to charge patients a $7 GP co-payment, editors dismissed how much the charge would mean to some people.

"I remember thinking $7 is literally the difference between whether [my mum] can eat or not in any given week," Morton says.

Both Morton and Rose believe speaking up is a powerful tool for change.

Morton says in the past he's been "terrified" to voice concerns or ideas but he now realises the people around him wouldn't have minded a debate.

Rose suggests a different approach to shifting stigma around class.

"Do not expect people to accept you," she says.

"The most powerful thing you can do is not care about what people think but start to speak up about who you are, where you're from and be proud of it."


Senate deal signals path to deal on new nuclear waste site

Decades of wrangling over laws to store Australia’s nuclear waste have come to an end, clearing the way for a remote site to replace city facilities that are running out of capacity as nuclear medicine becomes more common.

The federal government backed down on a key feature of the bill to gain Labor’s support in the upper house on Monday, removing a provision that named Kimba in South Australia as the new storage location.

The outcome is crucial to the long federal dispute over a new storage facility to take waste that is currently sent to Lucas Heights in the southern suburbs of Sydney, the location of Australia’s only nuclear reactor.

The amended bill leaves it to the federal minister to choose the location in a compromise agreed to by Resources Minister Keith Pitt and Labor counterpart Madeleine King.

But the changes also set up a judicial review of the location if there is a dispute over the minister’s choice, setting up an avenue for opponents of the Kimba site to challenge the decision in the courts.

Mr Pitt has warned capacity will run out at Lucas Heights by 2030 as more Australians rely on nuclear medicine to treat cancer and other illnesses, creating a crisis if Parliament cannot agree on a new location.

The Labor caucus agreed last week to leave the negotiations on the bill to Ms King and the party’s federal leadership team, with social services spokeswoman Linda Burney among those who backed the move.

The Senate agreement ends four decades of disagreement on nuclear storage but does not lock-in Kimba as the new site, even though 62 per cent of the local community voted in favour of the proposal in a community ballot run by the Australian Electoral Commission last year.

Kimba mayor Dean Johnson has met Labor leader Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to convey the community’s support for the facility, which would be built at Napandee, a farm on the Eyre Peninsula.

The bill passed the Senate late on Monday by 43 to 13 votes with majority support from the Coalition and Labor.


Great Barrier Reef operators slam UN recommendation to list reef as 'in danger'

Reef tourism operators say they are bewildered by a draft recommendation to list the Great Barrier Reef as "in danger", saying the world's largest living organism is "healthy" and "beautiful".

The World Heritage Committee, which sits under UNESCO, has proposed moving the reef to the list because of the impact of climate change, and will consider the decision at a meeting in China, which is the chair, next month.

"Has anyone from UNESCO prior to COVID actually flown out here, gone to areas in the Great Barrier Reef and had a snorkel?

"Did they wake up, have a coffee and think: Here's a great idea, let's label the Great Barrier Reef as 'in danger'?

"Yes the reef has had its challenges with crown-of-thorns starfish and cyclones but the reef is healthy and rebuilds itself."

The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, a non-profit group that represents reef tourism operators, said it was also surprised about the recommendation to list the reef as "in danger".

"Yes, the reef has got its challenges and the tourism industry does not deny that and that's why we work so hard to operate at high environmental standards and play a role in monitoring the health of the reef and feeding that information back," Mr Phillips said.

"The reef is a big, beautiful diverse place and it is certainly not a lost cause.

"These sorts of listings are demoralising and it also has an impact on tourism, people don't want to go out and see something that they think is dead."

Mr Garden said any recommendation to list the reef as in danger would have a negative impact on tourism.

"It's not just Cairns or the Great Barrier Reef that it will have an impact on, it's Australian tourism as well," Mr Garden said.

"People will say, hang on, the reef is dying or dead so we won't worry about going to Australia."


Iron Mountain as a Successful Bet on the COVID-19 Economic Recovery

Back on 18 November 2020, we described the stock of document storage giant Iron Mountain (NYSE: IRM) as a "COVID-19 play, or rather, a bet on the future for the coronavirus pandemic's real world impact on business activities".

By that, we recognized that the future for IRM's stock price would very much depend on the extent to which the global economy recovered from the coronavirus pandemic and Europe's economy in particular, since Iron Mountain was actively expanding its business in that region. We're following up that observation today, comparing how the stock price of IRM compares with the benchmark of the S&P 500 (Index: SPX). The following chart shows that comparison over the seven months from 18 November 2020 to 18 June 2021:

IRM vs S&P 500, 18 November 2020 - 18 June 2021

Nice to see the bet played out well. As for our coverage, unless we find Iron Mountain back in the kind of circumstances that originally drew our attention to it, we're closing out our short series on future prospects of the company's stock price today.

Previously on Political Calculations

Here are the two previous posts where we've discussed the prospects for Iron Mountain's stock price, presented below in chronological order: