The morning encounter with Al Tompkins is a daily Poynter briefing of story ideas to consider and other timely context for journalists, written by Senior Professor Al Tompkins. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.
Once the midterm dust settles, we’ll know if America will flip-flop on COVID-19 policy. The Biden administration still wants covid relief funds, we’re still in a health emergency, and House Republicans are ruminating for a slew of investigations. That’s what a majority means, and more.
Such a change could mean the end to some Biden-era pandemic policies, including the end of the public health emergency and the national emergency declaration it goes with it. Together, the statements give President Biden sweeping powers to freeze student loan payments, set health care policies — such as government-paid vaccinations and COVID testing — and require federal employees, including soldiers, be vaccinated. The president wants $47 billion more in COVID funding it has no chance of passing if he can’t get it through before the end of this term in Congress.
Let’s look at what a change in congressional majority would mean for a series of congressional inquiries.
The Hill says you should get used to hearing a name in the coming months:
representing Cathy McMorrisRodgersR-Wash., is poised to take control of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over issues including Medicare, Medicaid, food and drug safety, and federal health agencies.
Rodgers and other GOP lawmakers have said they want to prioritize an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, as well as administration policies in response to the virus, such as school closings.
Republicans in both houses are also eager to launch investigations into Antoine Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is due to retire from government this year.
When Fauci announced his intention to retire in August, Republicans vowed to keep investigating.
Another round of investigations is likely to come out of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is the chamber’s chief investigative committee.
The Washington Post explains what this committeee could watch afirst of all :
In statements to The Health 202, the Republican who may soon lead the panel, Rep. James Comer (Ky.), laid out his covid and healthcare agenda. Here is what the committee intends to prioritize:
- The origins of the coronavirus and federal funds supporting research done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
- Waste, fraud and abuse in the billions of dollars Congress has approved coronavirus relief aid.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as data gaps and pandemic-era guidance, Comer, called “puzzling.”
- Prescription drug middlemen known as drug benefit managers, whom some Republicans accuse of contributing to high drug costs.
- Allegations that the pandemic policies of former Governor Andrew Cuomo (NY) and other Democratic governors forced nursing homes to admit patients infected with covid-19 (a spokesperson for Cuomo called this of “retread Trump” in which nothing came of a DOJ review of the matter).
Complete Axios some of the other most likely targets of the GOP COVID era.
You can probably cite companies allowing remote work as one of the contributing factors to the record 8,412 temporary resident visas issued to Americans in Mexico in the first nine months of the year. The Mexican government says this represents an 85% increase from the same period in 2019. Bloomberg says this is the highest since 2010, when government reporting began.
Naturally, Mexico City saw the largest increase in temporary resident visas. And the other Mexican state that sees significant American immigrants is Quintana Roo, home to the city of Cancún, the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, and the cities of Bacalar and Playa del Carmen.
When it comes to granting permanent residency, Americans got the third highest number of visas behind Honduras and Venezuela. Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Cubans and Haitians have also moved or fled permanently to Mexico. thousands this year.
The number of U.S. citizens granted permanent residency in Mexico increased by 48% from 2019, again indicating before the pandemic, when reporting work was less common.
Two new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports show us that deaths directly attributable to alcohol increased by nearly 30% in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reports focus on liver or pancreatic failure caused by alcoholalcohol intoxication, withdrawal and certain other diseases.
These specific causes of death have increased from 39,000 in 2019 to 52,000 in 2021.
And the CDC also broke down alcohol-related deaths by state.
Even before the pandemic, Alcohol consumption in the United States is on the rise especially among women, minorities and the elderly.
But during the pandemic, Americans’ alcohol consumption has skyrocketed. A study by Rand said “alcohol consumption among American adults increased 14% in the first year of the pandemic.”
The horrific crowd crush in South Korea that killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds more reminded me of a story I saw on Good Morning America after a deadly stampede in the crowd of a concert. It’s worth a look as it shows techniques on how to stay alive even if you fall. Here is a link to the video.
Here is a sobering interactive from The Columbia Journalism Review which attempts to expose a systemic bias called “Missing White Woman Syndrome”. CJR says, “This website calculates your press value based on current news stories in America, to expose that bias and make the case for change.” You will see how men are less likely to be reported in missing person cases; the older you are, the less likely you are to be covered by the press if you go missing; and urban dwellers are more likely to be reported than rural dwellers. And the CJR data found, “The data shows that white people have the greatest chance of being covered in the press,
with blacks and Hispanics having the lowest.
CJR explained its method of constructing the calculation used in the interactive:
Our analysis and model are based on a representative sample of 3,630 missing persons stories out of the 19,561 collected by melt water January-November 2021. Of this sample, 2,383 stories related to one or more specific missing persons, covering 735 unique missing persons who were identified and categorized by age, gender, race/ethnicity and geography. Missing persons were then cross-checked against the NAMUS database for the same period. Meltwater identified the story publisher, potential media reach, and social sharing for each story.
CJR explained why he produced the project:
The number of people who know of a missing person has a major impact on their chances of being found.
Unfortunately, the amount of coverage a missing person receives is often influenced by various demographic information such as race, age, gender, and even geographic location. In other words, who you are and what you look like can determine whether your case makes headlines for months or never makes an appearance.
Columbia Journalism Review thinks it’s time for a change. Who you are and what you look like shouldn’t determine your likelihood of being found.
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