What's the trade deadline for senators? Plus: Shatner's wisdom; covid reporting post-Trump

By Gary Abernathy

What’s the trading deadline for U.S. senators?

What’s the trading deadline for U.S. senators? Can the Republicans and Democrats do a straight-up swap of Republican Mitt Romney for Democrat Joe Manchin?

The question arises after Romney this week proposed “providing at least $3,000 per child to millions of American families, lending bipartisan support to President Biden’s push to dramatically expand child benefits,” as reported by the Washington Post.

Manchin really wants to be a Republican, and Romney clearly has an affinity for the Democrats, so let’s just make it happen.

Yes, sometimes I look to William Shatner for wisdom

William Shatner has always been a favorite of mine just because he can be so entertaining in such a uniquely low-key way. He tweets a lot, gets into arguments with others, and sometimes makes some very thought-provoking points. (He sometimes talks about the U.S. as someone from another country, because he is, in fact, Canadian.)

This Shatner tweet caught my eye Friday, on the topic of purging museums of exhibits honoring historic figures who were also slave owners.

“No. You certainly shouldn’t be OK with it at all but if you want to purge museums & history of any connection to slave owners to show how woke you are; then what do you do about the founding fathers & signers of your declaration? Erase them? Then what? Return the US to the UK?”

In post-Trump era, a new tone in covid-19 reporting

Here’s this week’s covid-19 news…

“New coronavirus cases in the U.S. have fallen to pre-Thanksgiving levels, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday, and infection rates are continuing to decline,” The Hill reported, just one of many such reports now emerging through various media outlets.

“The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 across the country has similarly fallen,” CNBC reported. “There were 93,500 people in hospitals with Covid-19 across the U.S. as of Monday, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, which was founded by journalists at The Atlantic. That’s about 29% lower than the peak of 132,400 people hospitalized with the disease in the U.S. on Jan. 6.”

Covid-19 can be a serious illness, sometimes fatal. By now, most of us know people who have either died from it or become very seriously ill. Fortunately, the vast majority of people who are infected have very mild symptoms and recover easily. But either way, if we’re really turning the corner, that’s good news.

Someday, far in the future, when the heat of Trump hatred – which causes some to blame the former president for covid-19 deaths – has diminished, we might get a more accurate picture on the topic of covid-19. There are growing questions about whether the number of deaths being attributed to covid-19 should, in fact, be attributed to that cause.

Case in point is this December article from The Hill, which noted, “The pandemic has wrought pain and suffering on a massive scale. But reports are coming to light that suggest state COVID-19 death counts may be inflated, which sows public doubt, confusion and less trust in government.” The story provided clear examples of deaths improperly attributed to covid, noting that in Colorado “a county coroner is disputing the state’s official COVID-19 death count, after the state counted two victims of a murder-suicide as fatalities of COVID-19.”

Another example: “Since the start of the pandemic, [the Washington State Department of Health (DOH)] has attributed to COVID-19 the death of any person who tested positive for COVID-19 before their death. In May, the Freedom Foundation reported how this method resulted in the inclusion of deaths clearly unrelated to COVID-19.”

Of course, someone dying while infected with covid-19 — and having that recorded as a covid-19 death regardless of other factors — is exactly how Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, admitted covid-19 deaths were being counted. Birx said back in April 2020 that the federal government was classifying the deaths of patients infected with the coronavirus as covid-19 deaths, regardless of any other underlying health issues, according to news reports.

Birx said, “There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition, and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the ICU [intensive care unit] and then have a heart or kidney problem. Some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. The intent is … if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that.”

It’s not necessary to insult people who hold different opinions about how we have approached the virus or reported on covid-19. It’s okay to study the reporting and the numbers, read various studies, think for yourself and reach your own conclusion. People should be able to do that without being lambasted for it. Whatever the actual numbers turn out to be, every death is tragic. But the tone of covid-19 reporting in the post-Trump era will hopefully be (and in many examples already is) driven more by straightforward journalism and less tainted by the kind of political considerations evident in this example, just one among countless others.

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