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Pandemic Update • Hurricane Fallout • Dark Money

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Pandemic Update • Hurricane Fallout • Dark Money

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You probably didn’t hear about it, but the New York Times reported nearly 14,000 U.S. COVID deaths last month. To put that number in context, that is roughly the high estimate for flu deaths for the 2021-2022 flu season, which ran from October to May. In August, the number was even higher at roughly 16,000. That puts COVID deaths in just two months two-thirds of the way to last year’s firearm death total.

Although the president has declared the pandemic over, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are rolling back public health recommendations, and Congress seems content to cut off funding from the fight against COVID, the virus is still killing and disabling Americans. Worse, we are beginning to learn of the long-term consequences of infection from cardiovascular problems to neurological issues. While cases are falling for now — the IOWA CAPITAL DISPATCH reported a 28 percent drop in that state in a week — the country remains wide open heading into fall and winter.

As a recent caller to MAJORITY REPORT said, COVID is “still a thing.” People are still getting sick, debilitated, and dying — and we at OptOut will keep covering it.

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For more on the pandemic

COUNTERPUNCH covered the People’s CDC, a group formed by medical experts to provide sound public health advice in the face of what they considered terrible recommendations by a politicized CDC. The group and its demands are worth reading about.

The People’s CDC
It’s been quite a while since I last wrote about the pandemic—which, contrary to the President’s latest gaffe, is most definitely not over. Largely

PRISM interviewed Rosario Dawson, executive producer of a new four-part anthology series about how the pandemic has strained working-class Americans.

‘Normal Ain’t Normal’ explores working-class pandemic realities
In this Q&A with Prism, executive producer Rosario Dawson shares how the four-part anthology series came together with authenticity

While pharmaceutical interventions have not been enough on their own to end the pandemic, vaccines and treatments remain essential tools to combat the virus. ALASKA BEACON published a helpful article this week about when to get your next COVID shot.

When should you get the new COVID-19 booster and the flu shot? Now is the right time for both - Alaska Beacon
Vaccination for both the flu and COVID-19 is your best protection against both.

As our readers know, the national pandemic discourse, particularly around schools, has been steered by right-wing dark money groups. UPRISE RI has a new report out about the political activities of a parents’ rights organization that opposed pandemic mitigation measures and promoted COVID disinformation and has ties to hate groups.

With ties to hate groups, #ParentsUnitedRI offers slate of conservative extremists for local office
#ParentsUnitedRI is a grievance-based hate group that stands against the transgender community, opposes the teaching of racism history, and fought hard against COVID-19 precautions and medical advice throughout the pandemic.

THE CITY announced this week that its COVID-19 memorial and journalism project Missing Them, which was created in 2020, was holding meetings to connect with New Yorkers in communities disproportionately affected by COVID to attempt to understand the impact.

Harlem: How Has COVID Impacted You and Your Community?
Join THE CITY’s memorial project, MISSING THEM, for conversation at a community fair on 123rd Street in Harlem this Sunday, Oct. 2.

Hurricane Ian

Another major story this week was Hurricane Ian, which hit Gov. Ron DeSantis’ state particularly hard. The FLORIDA PHOENIX noted the rising death toll.

Hurricane Ian’s death toll has nearly doubled in one day, with 44 fatalities - Florida Phoenix
Saturday morning, there were 23 confirmed fatalities in six counties from Hurricane Ian’s monstrous trajectory across Florida. But by Saturday evening, the figure had nearly doubled to 44 deaths, with 30 in Lee County, where Ian had battered the southwest coast of the peninsula. In all, there are no…

DeSantis, who has postured against the Biden administration, openly challenging the president over pandemic policy, found himself eating humble pie in the face of the storm. For his part, Biden promised aid as STATE NEWSROOM reported.

Biden to battered Florida: ‘We’re going to do everything we can for you’ - Kansas Reflector
President Joe Biden addressed the nation Friday afternoon, focusing on uniting the country as Florida begins to survey the damage left by a Category 4 hurricane, while states further up the coast prepare for the impact from Hurricane Ian.

Answering the call, Congress passed a stopgap spending bill that includes disaster relief. More from STATE NEWSROOM.

U.S. Senate approves stopgap spending bill with disaster relief, heating aid - Wisconsin Examiner
The package approved Thursday was part of a spending bill that must pass this week to keep the federal government open through Dec. 16.

DeSantis, who voted against aid for relief funding after Hurricane Sandy when he was in Congress, continued to posture as a strongman even after turning to the federal government for assistance amid a climate catastrophe he failed to prepare for. FLORIDA PHOENIX had the story.

‘Don’t even think about looting,’ DeSantis warns about Ian-hit areas. ‘We’re a 2nd Amendment state’ - Florida Phoenix
In news conferences throughout the week, Gov. Ron DeSantis has mostly suppressed political rhetoric in the fallout of Hurricane Ian’s devastating impact. But on Friday, his tone shifted, suddenly reaffirming that the state will be upholding “law and order” even as flooding occurs, bridges are down,…

More on that: GRIST reports that Florida’s anything-goes attitude toward business — particularly development — made the crisis worse.

Hurricane Ian was a powerful storm. Real estate developers made it a catastrophe.
‘Dredge-and-fill’ created thousands of homes vulnerable to storm surge.

THE LEVER also released an article about how Republican lawmakers in Florida, who have received money from the fossil fuel industry, helped kill a proposal by federal regulators to require disclosure from businesses about their climate risk.

Before Hurricane, Florida Republicans Helped Oil Donors Fight Climate Rules
They also voted against investments in climate resilience, weatherization, and flood mitigation.

THE NATION published a cartoon this week lampooning the right-wing governor.

Rain Desantis
Code red.

Did you read our latest climate-focused newsletter? OptOut Climate Editor Cristian Salazar rounds up the best independent reporting about climate change, energy, and the environment every other Wednesday.

To get next week's climate newsletter in your inbox, sign into your account and click "Manage" to subscribe to OptOut Climate!

A Coal Baron’s Dirty Pipeline Bill • Geoengineering As A Potential Climate Solution • Puerto Rico’s Plight
The best of independent climate news from the OptOut network.

As climate change worsens, the U.S. will see more storms like Hurricane Ian. THE AMERICAN PROSPECT’s Ryan Cooper wrote this week that the storm was a sign that climate hell had arrived:

The Climate Dystopia Is Already Here
Today on TAP: Greenhouse gas emissions are a clear and present danger to American society.

WHO WHAT WHY offered a similar warning that Ian’s rapid intensification portended disasters to come:

Hurricane Ian’s Rapid intensification Is a Sign of the World to Come - WhoWhatWhy
Listen To This Story FacebookTweetPinLinkedIn PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested…
We started OptOut Climate because we face an existential threat, and corporate and legacy media are beholden to fossil fuel advertisers. Please join us in our mission to elevate independent media and accurately inform the public about our planet by making a tax-deductible donation today!

Koch World

THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY published two critical stories this week about the political activities of right-wing dark money groups linked to billionaire industrialist Charles Koch. The first covered the Koch network’s efforts to elect Republicans in Wisconsin.

Koch’s Political Operation Bets Big On Direct Voter Contact in Wisconsin U.S. Senate Race - EXPOSEDbyCMD
As outside groups spend millions of dollars on TV ads in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race of incumbent Ron Johnson (R) against challenger Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes (D), a super PAC backed by Charles Koch and Koch Industries is relying instead on direct voter contact.

The second exposed fundraising of the State Policy Network.

State Policy Network and Affiliates Raises $152 Million Annually to Push Right-Wing Policies - EXPOSEDbyCMD
The $152 million represents a 27% increase over the $120 million CMD calculated the network brought in almost three years ago.

Law and Disorder

Finally, we turn to the criminal justice system. Two stories caught our eye this week.

The first was a report by STATE NEWSROOM about a Senate probe into mismanagement in federal prisons.

Federal prisons ‘riddled with mismanagement’ probed by U.S. Senate panel | Nebraska Examiner
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday grilled federal prisons leader on addressing staffing shortages and reports of inmate abuse.

The second is a story in HELLGATE NYC about the NYPD harassing street vendors.

NYC Promised Street Vendors More Permits. Instead, They’re Being Harassed by the NYPD - Hell Gate
“It feels like they pick on us because they have nothing better to do.”

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