• Seal with a Pen

The Upbeat: COVID, Insulin, Gasoline

Updated: May 3

As I've been doing for the past week, I'm back with more positive reporting from the past few days in politics. I've decided to name this column of sorts "The Upbeat," of course, since I am trying to stay upbeat with all of my reporting. I hope that you enjoy the content and stories I share. If you have suggestions for what I can do better to brighten your day, please let me know!


I do not wish for my writing to be seen as a shill for a particular administration or ideology; I seek to present the actions of governing institutions and politicians in a positive light, that's all. I intend to cover Republican leadership with the same optimism I cover Democratic leadership, and vice versa. I actively encourage my readers to read other sources and judge issues for themselves. Every generation thus far has imagined that the world is falling apart at one time or another. It is simply my goal to use my voice, one of many that people may choose to listen to, to promote positivity and civility instead of fear and general rudeness.


I hope that you feel uplifted and have a wonderful rest of your day!


-- Seal with a Pen


Government launches new COVID-19 website. The new web portal, COVID.gov, is intended to be a one-stop-shop for you to get information, masks, treatments, vaccines, and tests. It's quite nice to see the government implementing a truly functional website, especially one providing such important resources. If you're concerned that you might have COVID, the website makes it easy to order a free at-home test that will come through the mail, and if you test positive it makes it easier for you to find medications like Paxlovid that help treat COVID. Happily, the website says that my county is now at a "Low" community level of COVID-19 and that our local health system is able to handle ongoing cases of illness. Read more: https://www.npr.org/2022/03/30/1089608854/covid-gov-new-website-offers-a-single-stop-for-covid-info-tests-and-treatment (NPR), https://www.politico.com/video/2022/03/30/biden-announces-the-launch-of-covid-gov-532944 (Biden's announcement, POLITICO)


Congress is seeking to lower the cost of insulin. Today, the House of Representatives is set to vote on a new bill called the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which will, if passed, impose a price cap on insulin of $35 per month. I am not an expert on the public health crisis, but suffice it to say that insulin is absurdly overpriced in the United States. (Various references I found include articles from GoodRx, Fortune, WBUR, and The Hill. According to the last of these, "the U.S. paid [in 2020] $98.70 per standard unit of insulin, while other countries like Canada, Australia and the U.K. all spent less than $15 per unit." Further, the BBC in this article presents concerns about an insulin shortage arising from anti-competitive [monopoly] behavior on the part of the three companies that manufacture 96% of the world's insulin, and the resulting high prices.) So, a bipartisan group in Congress is now seeking to reduce insulin costs. We'll see if it passes today. Read more: https://thehill.com/homenews/house/600387-house-to-vote-thursday-on-bill-to-cap-cost-of-insulin/ (The Hill), https://www.politico.com/minutes/congress/03-31-2022/happening-today/ (POLITICO)


According To Wix, A Gas Pump (Credit: Wix)


Taking action to reduce "pain at the pump." The high price of gas, this month exceeding the previous highest month on record, is a problem for the vast majority of Americans who use gas-fueled cars to drive to work, drop the kids off at school, and bring groceries back from the supermarket. (Even though things are improving, electric vehicles still have a higher upfront cost, on average, than gas-fueled vehicles.) Thankfully, American leaders in Congress and the White House have noticed, and while there's still a lot of disagreement over what to do in response to the crisis, motion is happening. Just today, the White House announced that the government will begin releasing releasing one billion barrels of oil per day from our strategic reserves to increase supply and cut gas prices. This constitutes the largest release of oil reserves in history. Biden is also directing the government to ensure American "energy independence" in the production of materials needed to transition to clean energy, using the same powers that Trump used to increase mask and ventilator production in 2020. And with big oil preparing to testify before Congress next Wednesday, we could see further action in the near future. Read more: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/31/us-to-release-1-million-barrels-of-oil-per-day-from-reserves-to-help-cut-gas-prices.html (CNBC), https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-biden-business-europe-3e1808077371b88ae043c86584763afd (Associated Press)


Ukrainians already here preparing to accept and support further refugees. While I was researching this post, the Associated Press put out this wonderful article about how existing Ukrainian communities in the United States are preparing to support the new refugees we are taking in. As a reminder from my post three days ago about how humanitarian aid has been helping suffering Ukrainians, there were already over a million Ukrainians in the U.S. as of the 2020 Census even before the U.S. committed to take in another 100,000 refugees. Having been welcomed into the United States previously, these Ukrainian-American communities are now seeking to pay it forward by helping out Ukrainians fleeing from the ongoing war. I don't have too much more to say, but I recommend reading the article if you're looking for real coverage of the triumphs and difficulties of Americans' compassion. The article: https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-immigration-religion-california-united-states-545c8e79982a55e8beceb97729e08c05 (Associated Press)

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