by Jeff Sovern
Because of the virus, people are experiencing more losses than usual and are not able to mark their passing with the rituals that help in times of death: in-person funerals, wakes, shiva calls, and the like. Consequently, death is becoming even harder for survivors than in normal times. Members of Congress could help by each choosing one or more members of their district or state to memorialize via an online hearing once a week or so.
Doing so might not only ease the pain of survivors by enabling national recognition of their losses; it also would acknowledge that this is a special time calling for special rituals to mark people's passing. It might also convey to people that our representatives in Congress empathize with their losses, especially as empathy is a quality insufficiently present in the president's new conferences. The president often speaks for the government and even the country, but members of Congress can also use their voices to help people and communicate that the country cares. The number of dead–said to be nearly 50,000–is staggering but every one of them was an individual with a life, and the numbers tend to obscure that.
Congressional hearings have dried up since the onset of the pandemic; for example, the House Financial Services, which had been holding frequent hearings, including field hearings, before the pandemic has not held one since March 11. I don't know if congressional rules permit holding hearings online, but Congress already streams hearings and if the rules don't permit online hearings, surely they can be changed.