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Keeping Track 

Walking the Virus Talk, Mine, Baby, Mine

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Keeping Track
We're not sure of the connection between sports reporting and virus tracking, but The Salt Lake Tribune picked the right person for the job. Andy Larsen, who covered the Utah Jazz before there was nothing to cover, has been digging deep on the COVID-19 issue since Utah began seeing infections rise. And if you don't read his reports, you should. He uses charts and graphs (created by Christopher Cherrington) but manages to put the confusing array of information in a context that fifth graders can understand. Larsen hasn't been particularly glowing about the state's role in virus protection, but he does give props to the state epidemiologist, Angela Dunn. "Her regular news conferences have been straightforward and informative," he says. This week, he ran through preexisting conditions among COVID-19 patients. While no one knows what the "other" category means, diabetes beat everything, with cardiovascular and chronic pulmonary diseases close behind. Strikingly, (current) smokers didn't make the cut, and Larsen wonders why obesity wasn't tracked. In the hard-copy newspaper, he refers to an online map where you can find your neighborhood rate, but these interactive maps are hard to control.

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Walking the Virus Talk
On the front page of the physical Deseret News, we learned that "legislators" are trying to raise awareness of virus testing in underserved communities. That's technically true, but substantially misleading. The legislators being hailed are all Democrats and mostly women of color. It's all about health disparities and the sad fact that the COVID-19 virus is affecting minority communities—and particularly Latinos—particularly hard. Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, and her five colleagues partnered with health organizations to organize "the first in a series of testings events" in these communities. Not to disparage the D-News, but that headline was a bit misleading until you visited the online edition, which specified "racial minority" legislators. And online, the story was anything but the lead article. According to American Public Media Research Lab, COVID-19 mortality rates for black Americans are currently 2.3 times higher than for Latinos and Asians, and 2.6 times higher than for whites.

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Mine, Baby, Mine
Danger! That was the message from U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop following a report by the International Energy Agency which the Congressional Western Caucus believes points to a need for more domestic mining and processing. "The global pandemic has demonstrated significant supply chain weaknesses across all sectors of our economy, including energy security and innovation," Bishop told the Deseret News. Cleverly, Bishop noted that clean energy often requires minerals that are becoming scarce, and gee, we need to open a lot of new mines. But think about it. Creating a country that goes it alone for minerals will take a long time, fraught with resource and political potholes. Perhaps this report really calls for a fresh diplomatic eye on global cooperation. Just sayin'.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses and Citizen Revolt columns. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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