Fireworks sales have fallen back to Earth after years of explosive growth. Here’s why.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were stuck in their homes and social distancing was common, fireworks use shot up.

The $190B question: Did federal pandemic funds improve test scores?

Two new studies attempt to answer that question as education activists and politicians debate the impact of federal spending, and as states and school districts consider which pandemic-era programs to continue.

As COVID-19 emergency funding dries up, some rural schools may face a steep fiscal cliff in 2024

Lower-income districts are likely to face bigger budget reductions, along with districts who spent relief aid on teacher salaries and new faculty hires.

As pandemic aid winds down, states scramble to fill gaps

COVID-19 left a lasting mark on a few sectors, with schools, public transit and child care providers facing fiscal cliffs as federal funding dries up. State legislators, many already grappling with shortfalls, are looking for solutions.

The Senate wants states to recover the billions lost to unemployment fraud during the pandemic

A bipartisan proposal would let states keep a quarter of the funds they recoup. It is similar to a House proposal passed last year.

Connect with state & local government leaders

Can wastewater alert schools about Covid spread?

COMMENTARY | While wastewater surveillance doesn't prevent all viral transmission, its role in understanding the extent of transmission could help officials ensure schools stay open during a public health emergency.

Treasury struggled to help states and cities with COVID reporting

A GAO report found that questions about the $350 billion in COVID relief grants often went unanswered.

High taxes aren’t causing rich New Yorkers to flee, study says

The report points to data showing top earners from the Empire State decamp less often than lower-income residents, and when they do leave they move to high-tax states.

Letting low-income Americans buy groceries online in 2020 with SNAP benefits decreased the share of people without enough food

COMMENTARY | Few people with SNAP benefits could use them for online purchases before the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Tripledemic’ dashboards set health agencies up for flu season

COVID, influenza and RSV—oh my! Fall and winter bring an increase in respiratory illnesses, so state health departments are revamping their COVID dashboards for enhanced insights into their communities’ health.

COVID-19 vaccine mandates have come and mostly gone in the US: Here's why their messy rollout matters for trust in public health

COMMENTARY | Vaccine policies fall on a spectrum, from mandates to recommendations. Deciding what to use and when is not so much a science but a balancing act between personal autonomy and public good.

How states can avoid a COVID relief fiscal cliff

COMMENTARY | States that used COVID relief for one-time and short-term expenses and carefully managed the funding will be well positioned when federal funding expires.

How more than $600M in COVID relief funds awarded last year went unreported

The problem is even bigger this year, according to the Government Accountability Office. The lack of reporting makes it difficult to track fraud, waste and abuse.

Traditional downtowns are dead or dying in many US cities—what’s next for these zones?

COMMENTARY | Developers have overbuilt office and commercial space in US cities for decades. Now, in the wake of pandemic shutdowns, many downtowns face hard choices about the future.

The proof is in the poo: New data tool offers early detection of community COVID surges

Using wastewater monitoring data, an algorithm detects spikes in COVID-19 before outbreaks happen, giving public health officials a jumpstart in keeping the coronavirus under control.

San Jose and the reemergence of the donut city

COMMENTARY | Post-pandemic pressures are compounding stresses cities were already facing, leading to the hollowing out of some American cities.

Pandemic spending exposes weaknesses in how governments handle data

A federal report found huge differences in how states and localities collected and shared data. Better collaboration could help prevent money going unaccounted for.

Want to track pandemic relief spending? Data problems make that difficult, committee says

Tracking pandemic funds required the use of multiple federal, state and local data systems, a group appointed by Congress found. Ultimately, it had to contact state and local entities directly to gain a better understanding and fill data gaps.

Tech counties boomed in pandemic, new data shows

The pandemic rejuvenated the economy of tech-based areas such as California's Silicon Valley, but the unexpected spike is starting to flatten.

Getting ahead of the next pandemic

New York City’s Pandemic Response Institute will collect data and leverage computer models to develop locally tailored health solutions to prepare for, respond to and recover from future health crises.