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.
PRISM interviewed Rosario Dawson, executive producer of a new four-part anthology series about how the pandemic has strained working-class Americans.
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.
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.
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.
Another major story this week was Hurricane Ian, which hit Gov. Ron DeSantis’ state particularly hard. The FLORIDA PHOENIX noted the rising death toll.
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.
Answering the call, Congress passed a stopgap spending bill that includes disaster relief. More from STATE NEWSROOM.
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.
More on that: GRIST reports that Florida’s anything-goes attitude toward business — particularly development — made the crisis worse.
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.
THE NATION published a cartoon this week lampooning the right-wing governor.
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!
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:
WHO WHAT WHY offered a similar warning that Ian’s rapid intensification portended disasters to come:
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.
The second exposed fundraising of the State Policy Network.
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.
The second is a story in HELLGATE NYC about the NYPD harassing street vendors.
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