Sunday Reads – May 29, 2022
It’s the weekend that marks the beginning of summer, and usually your overly optimistic Reads editor is thrilled about that. But this week has been another one to make us all stop and consider what’s around us and what we want the world to be. So here’s a day of perspectives to help do that. And, please be safe this holiday.
Georgia’s average daily Covid positive test rate
Assess your vacation risks
No one wants to be alarmist, but the numbers are rising. Again. The spring weather is warming to summer hot, driving us all inside to the cooler air. Combined with that and proms and graduations and other seasonal gatherings, Covid cases quietly surround us. Again. According to Georgia Department of Public Health, there are more cases now than at this same time last year. While numbers are harder to compare day-to-day now that the DPH has stopped daily reporting, there is a consistent 7-day moving average number for total cases. So, on May 28, 2021, the average was 565.7 for Georgia. On May 25, 2022 — the weekly posting from DPH — it was 2163.4. That’s nearly four times the same case average at this time last year. In Chatham County, the average was 15.7 for the same time in May 2021, and 50 this week. So, consider your risk and the risks to others as you gather with others. Any level of Covid can develop into Long Covid, and many people remain at risk. If you want deeper Covid data and research, here’s a link to COVID-19 Daily Dispatch with expertise and clear info on all things Covid. In the meantime, consider masking up when you are in a group or in places with poor ventilation.
Finding a balance on firearms
This week’s school shooting in Texas that killed 19 4th graders and two teachers has burned through many of us while we’re still dealing with the 10 killings in a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. Both gunmen were 18 and acquired their guns legally. The Texas killer ordered his guns online from a manufacturer here in Coastal Georgia that employs around 200 of our neighbors. Daniel Defense sells its weapons online, and that’s how the Uvalde murderer purchased his guns legally two days after he turned 18. Under federal law, he was too young to buy handguns. (Daniel Defense has been in this situation before. The man who killed 60 people and wounded 411 when he opened fire on a crowded concert in Las Vegas in 2017 also had four of their products.) Closer to home, Savannah police continue to chase a spike in gun violence leaving at least 14 dead and incidents ranging from road rage to random shots. As of May 21, 358 gun assaults were listed, year to date, by Savannah Police. The problem is deep, wide and ever-expanding.
Here’s a collection of data and perspectives on balance from the week. It may seem random, but it circles various issues around guns, gunmakers and safety. You won’t find screaming advocates or people who want to rip away all your armaments, just discussions and data to consider toward citizen action and governmental policy to stop something we all know is wrong: mass killing of innocent people. So far, there have been 213 mass shootings and 27 school shootings in the U.S. this year. It’s only May.
- The Gun Violence Archive: A data dump of all shootings in the U.S. The independent group has been charting deaths by firearms since 2014. This puts the numbers up-front.
- Georgia ranks in top 10 of states for gun makers, support industries: This story from the Atlanta Journal Constitution outlines the economic impact in the state from gun manufacturers. In this story from researcher at Tufts University, you can see 6 charts that show key roles firearms makers play in American culture.
- Gun companies received millions in PPP loans: This link is from The Trace, a nonprofit journalism site that follows the policy, fallout and impact of gun violence on communities. The story outlines the pandemic’s effects on gunmakers and the business loans they received.
- Inside one Baltimore group’s effort to stop youth violence before it starts: Also from The Trace, a look at how one city addresses solutions and has accepted that results will be measured in years, not months. They also regularly look at solutions efforts across the nation.
- Why 18-year-olds in Texas can buy AR-15s but not handguns: A ProPublica look at the conflicts between state and federal legislation that sets up an age gap allowing 18-year-olds to buy long guns but not pistols in all but six states. In Texas, long guns were considered less dangerous and the laws didn’t take into account modern AR-15s capable of firing dozens of rounds per minute.
- Shootings leave collective despair at many societal levels: A trauma and societal researcher outlines the waves of anxiety, anger, fear and other damage in every community affected by gun violence.
And lastly, take some time to listen to Friday’s edition of GPB Radio’s Political Rewind for some insight into how this could be stopped while allowing guns for protection. Dr. Mark Rosenberg, former director of the Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control, says he believes that the violence can be stopped, gun safety is possible and he details how science can help if we approach the problem through a public health lens.
With all the havoc in the world, it’s up to you to make an informed decision about your government. The May 24, 2022, primary election is over and choices are made. Candidates running in non-partisan races are decided except for a few runoffs on June 21, so they’ll be waiting in the wings and learning the jobs until January when they can officially take office.
Our attention now turns to the General Midterm Election in November and what your choices there could mean. In the case of Trump-backed Republicans, GOP voters were clear that candidates need to bring more than the former president to succeed. They rewarded Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for standing against political force to enforce elections law while sending election-result doubter Burt Jones to run for lieutenant governor. Reporter Craig Nelson talked to Republicans in Chatham County to see how they appraised the results locally and statewide.
In the other races, there will be some sorting to do. The Public Service Commission seat for District 2 remains in limbo as Democratic winner Patti Durand is challenging a messy election-eve disqualification in court. The PSC determines how utility bills are regulated across the state, so it’s fair to say this office directly affects every household budget and business ledger in Georgia. It’s important to know how each vote you cast will empower policy. In our form of government, votes send messages and select your representatives for policy and lawmaking. Nothing changes if you don’t participate.
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Your second cup: Students as teachers
Michigan, like most places, is facing a teacher shortage and it’s using a new national program to recruit new instructors from high school students. Educators Rising is an elective for juniors and seniors considering careers as teachers with a goal to make the pool of teachers deeper and more representative of the communities they serve. Students learn from observing and from testing their own skills in the classroom. Chalkbeat Detroit/Bridge Michigan bring us the story from the students’ perspectives as they learn that teaching is more than a lesson.
Georgia COVID-19 daily statistics
Today’s cases, change, deaths, hospitalizations, testing, vaccination sites and tracker
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