Tag Archives: Mask

Customer Fatally Shoots Cashier in Argument Over Mask at Georgia Supermarket

A customer who argued about wearing a face mask at a Georgia supermarket shot and killed a cashier on Monday and wounded a deputy sheriff working off duty at the store, law enforcement officials said.

The gunman was shot by the deputy, and both are expected to survive their injuries, according to law enforcement officials.

A suspect, identified as Victor Lee Tucker Jr., 30, of Palmetto, Ga., was arrested by DeKalb County Police Department officers “as he was attempting to crawl out the front door of the supermarket,” according to a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The gunfire occurred inside a Big Bear supermarket in Decatur, Ga., about 10 miles east of downtown Atlanta, just after 1 p.m., officials said. That is when Mr. Tucker was checking out of the supermarket and got into an argument with a cashier about his face mask, the bureau said in its statement. Mr. Tucker left the store without purchasing his items but immediately returned.

“Tucker walked directly back to the cashier, pulled out a handgun and shot her,” the bureau said. He then began shooting at the deputy, “who was attempting to intervene while working off-duty at the supermarket,” the bureau said.

The cashier, whose name was not released, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and pronounced dead, officials said. Mr. Tucker was taken there, too, and was in stable condition.

The deputy, whose name was not released, was taken to the Atlanta Medical Center and listed in stable condition, officials said.

The deputy was wearing a bulletproof vest and it likely saved his life, Sheriff Melody M. Maddox of DeKalb County said at a news conference.

A second cashier was “grazed by a bullet” and treated at the scene for her injury, according to the bureau.

A man who indicated he was Mr. Tucker’s father declined to comment Monday night when reached by telephone.

The shooting came more than a year into a pandemic that killed nearly 600,000 people in the United States and prompted health restrictions that crippled many businesses. For some, the public health rules prompted cries that personal freedoms were being violated.

Enforcing the wearing of masks in public places became, at times, dangerous.

An Iowa man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting and spitting on another man last year in a fight over how he was wearing his mask. An 80-year-old man died after he was pushed to the ground by a fellow bar customer whom he had asked to put on a mask.

And last June in Los Angeles, Hugo’s Tacos temporarily closed its two locations in the city because, it said, its staff was “exhausted by the constant conflicts over guests refusing to wear masks.”

Enforcing mask policies had become a new American pastime.

Even on commercial airliners — where passengers have long been accustomed to invasive security searches, rising baggage costs and overbooked flights — federal officials said there was a “disturbing increase” in unruly passengers after airline crews sought to enforce mask and other safety regulations.

But that began to change as more people were vaccinated and warmer weather allowed for safer gatherings outdoors, where transmissions were less likely to occur.

Soon, restrictions began to fade. In New York, for example, officials have announced plans to roll back restrictions and hold a parade for essential workers.

But not every part of the country was succeeding against the virus at the same pace. Just last month, the city of Decatur extended until at least June 21 its requirement for people to wear a face masks when entering any building in the city, except religious establishments, Decaturish.com reported.

Author: Azi Paybarah
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Face mask shambles EXPOSED: Less than 0.5% fined for breaking Covid rules on trains

Under UK coronavirus laws, face coverings on public transport have been mandatory in England since June 2020, unless exempt. Those who refuse to comply face a fine – £200 for a first offence and doubling with each repeat offence, up to a maximum value of £6,400. But while many of us have seen passengers breaching these restrictions, exclusive research has revealed that only a handful of fines have been dished out.

An FOI conducted by Express.co.uk has revealed that, up to May 5, 2021, British Transport Police (BTP) has recorded 96,146 “interventions with passengers not wearing face coverings”.

Of these interventions, BTP has issued 7,325 “directions to leave” the station or train.

And in total, 447 Fixed Penalty Notices “relating to face coverings” have been issued.

This calculates to less than 0.5 percent of all interventions leading to a fine.

READ MORE: When can we stop wearing masks? Government guidance update

A spokesperson for BTP told Express.co.uk that the number of fines handed out is so proportionately low as they are a “last resort”.

The spokesperson said: “Our approach is to always begin by engaging with the public and explain the reasons why the protections are necessary and a lawful requirement.

“The overwhelming majority of people have listened, complied, and continued to play an important role in protecting other passengers and rail staff – we have seen compliance levels of around 97 percent.

“In those cases where people have refused to comply with the requirement, and they don’t have a valid exemption or reasonable excuse, officers have taken action by refusing entry to trains, directing passengers to leave services, and as a last resort, issuing fixed penalty notices.”

The spokesperson added: “Fines are low because they’re a last resort, and asking people to leave is low because compliance has been high.”

Bruce Williamson, a spokesperson for rail campaign group Railfuture, told Express.co.uk the number of fines handed out “seem fairly low” but that the approach of the BTP is “working”.

He said: “I think it’s right that fines are seen as a sort of last resort.

“We don’t want the rail travel to be like an experience with the Gestapo.

“But on the other hand, it’s right the British Transport Police are making it compliant and making the railway safe for people, you know, so that we don’t run the risk of getting a deadly disease on the train.”

However, anecdotal evidence still shows a large number of passengers will obey the rules in front of law enforcement or train staff, and then flout the rules in front of other passengers.

A 27-year-old primary school teacher in London, who declined to be named, has taken the London Underground and a bus daily to get to work throughout the pandemic.

She told Express.co.uk: “Since the lockdown was eased, fewer and fewer people are wearing masks, or they are wearing masks but wearing them under their chins, or incorrectly.”

She said when walking through stations, staff aren’t seen asking people to comply with face-covering regulations.

Asked if she ever witnessed BTP interventions, she said: “Once I saw them on the bus telling people to put up their masks…and they did. I don’t know if they then put them back down, but they did when they told them to.”

She added: “The other day I was on the train on a really full day, and I counted around me – there were 16 people that weren’t wearing their masks in my carriage alone, or that were wearing them incorrectly like either under the chin or nose.

“It’s irritating. Even if they’ve had the vaccine, it’s putting people at risk, it’s ignorant and an ‘I don’t care’ attitude, when it’s such an easy thing to do, to wear a mask.”

And it’s not just the general public breaking the rules – politicians have been photographed without face coverings, too.

Conservative MP for Devizes, Danny Kruger, apologised for forgetting to put on his face covering for a train journey from Hungerford to Paddington.

DUP MP for East Antrim, Sammy Wilson, was also caught on camera by a fellow passenger on the London Underground without a mask.

Mr Wilson said he accepted he “should have been” wearing a face covering and he would “accept whatever consequences there are”.

But while most passengers leave the enforcement to the authorities, some confrontations have led to violence between transport users.

Early on in the pandemic, a train passenger was head-butted to the floor and repeatedly punched in the face for asking a fellow passenger to wear a face mask on a service between Slough and Langley in Berkshire.

And in Bournemouth, a bus driver was hit over the head and kicked on the floor for refusing to let a man board without a face covering.

What do you think about face masks on trains and public transport? Should people be fined? Have your say in the comments below and vote in our poll: 

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

House GOP leaders condemn Marjorie Taylor Greene

House GOP leaders condemn Marjorie Taylor Greene

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders forcefully condemned GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Tuesday, calling her comments comparing House COVID-19 safety rules like mask-wearing to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany “appalling.”

The freshman Georgia congresswoman’s comments belittled “the greatest atrocity committed in history,” said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling,” McCarthy said in a statement. “The fact that this needs to be stated today is deeply troubling.”

Greene, a conservative firebrand and ally of former President Donald Trump, has thrived on stirring controversy, pushing conspiracy theories and forcefully confronting her colleagues since taking her seat in the House in January. But, until now, Republican leaders have proven hesitant to criticize her and refused to join with Democrats earlier this year when they voted to strip her of committee assignments.

Their rebuke of her Tuesday came after Greene made an appearance on a conservative podcast, “The Water Cooler with David Brody,” released last Thursday. In her interview, Greene excoriated safety protocols adopted by House Democrats, including a requirement that masks be worn on the House floor. She also called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “mentally ill” while suggesting that the rules were comparable to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.

“You know, we can look back in a time and history where people were told to wear a gold star. And they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany,” Greene said on the podcast. “This is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”

After her remarks sparked a firestorm of online criticism, Greene leaned in to the comparison further.

On Tuesday, she tweeted out a news story about a grocery store chain that plans to allow vaccinated employees go maskless. Those who do would have a logo on their nametags indicating they had been vaccinated.

“Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s forced Jewish people to wear a gold star,” Greene tweeted.

Several members of the House Republican leadership also criticized her words.

“Equating mask wearing and vaccines to the Holocaust belittles the most significant human atrocities ever committed,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 GOP leader.

The video in the media player above was used in a previous report.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Author: AP

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

How The CDC's New Mask Guidelines Left Many Wondering Can They Trust One Another

CHICAGO — When Tori Saylor, 27, stepped out of her apartment in Kalamazoo, Mich., last week, she knew that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had already given fully vaccinated Americans the go-ahead to shed masks in most situations.

Ms. Saylor, who is vaccinated, wore one anyway. And when she summoned an elevator in her apartment building, she confronted her first real test of the new era: Twice, the doors opened to reveal people who were not wearing masks, and twice, she let the elevator go.

“Am I to trust these people, having never met them?” said Ms. Saylor, who has multiple sclerosis and gets an infusion therapy that compromises her immune system. Despite her vaccination status, it is unclear whether her body will be able to effectively produce antibodies to fight off Covid-19. “How can I judge whether someone is vaccinated by making momentary eye contact with them?”

For many Americans, trust is in short supply after a year of a long pandemic and the conflicts that have come with it.

Our capacity to trust other people’s honesty has already been tested, and fibs — or omissions — may have happened along the way. Did every person who drove across a state line follow 14-day quarantine rules? Did everyone who got an early vaccine fit the eligibility rules at the time?

So it is no surprise that the latest honor code — the federal government’s guidance encouraging vaccinated Americans to take off their masks — was greeted with skepticism in parts of the country that have not already done so. Fewer than half of Americans over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated.

“It’s a very complicated symphony right now,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan who is an expert on pandemics. “There’s been such an erosion of trust, distrust for government, distrust for the virus, distrust for this party or that party. So when you tell the public what to do, there are people who say, ‘How can I trust the guy without the mask?’”

Health experts say that vaccinated people should be protected from severe disease, even if people around them are not vaccinated and not masked. But the unusual sight of bare faces has arrived at a time when Americans’ trust in institutions and one another is particularly fragile.

After all, evidence of pandemic-era wrongdoing has been rampant: Prosecutors have charged dozens of people who are accused of fraudulently obtaining loans and other funds from the federal government related to the CARES Act. High schools and colleges, including the prestigious Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, have investigated students for cheating on remote exams while school buildings were closed because of the coronavirus.

Even before the pandemic, trust in the federal government was near record lows, and 7 in 10 people thought that Americans’ trust in one another had declined over the past 20 years, according to the Pew Research Center. Still, a majority of Americans had confidence that people could work together in a crisis. About 75 percent of Americans believed that people would cooperate with one another in a crisis, even if they did not trust one another.

Teamwork became a motif of the pandemic’s early days. Holed up inside their homes last spring, crafty Americans sewed homemade masks, neighbors planted yard signs supporting health care workers and essential workers, and politicians spoke in lofty language about working together to “flatten the curve.”

Then came a partisan division over masks, screaming crowds outside state capitols, death threats against local and state health officials. On the other side of the debate, some people who supported Covid-19 restrictions embraced the job of mask policing.

It quickly became apparent that, even in a crisis, Americans struggled to come together.

“We couldn’t even trust people to do the right thing and wear masks when it was rampant, when it was the highest it’s ever been,” said Deborah Burger, a president of National Nurses United, who described nurses rushing to the grocery store in their uniforms only to be berated by fellow shoppers. “People were accosting them, accusing them of lying about the pandemic.”

National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union of registered nurses, has come out publicly against the new C.D.C. guidelines on masks, which were announced last week and left state and local government officials, business owners and ordinary people scrambling. The guidelines allowing vaccinated people to go without masks do not apply to hospitals, but Ms. Burger said the changes create confusion and put the burden on health care workers to enforce face coverings.

“It feels like somebody has pulled the rug out from under us and taken away our protections,” she said.

Other frontline workers, including business owners, are also grappling with new pressures.

“We used to have a sign on our door that said you can’t come in unless you’re masked, and now I don’t know what my sign should say: ‘If you are not vaccinated, please wear a mask?’” said Louise Orlando, 55, who owns the Bakery on Mason in Cape Charles, Va.

Until recently, the business fell under a statewide mask mandate. Now, Ms. Orlando feels the onus falls to her. “I don’t know who is going to be honest anymore.”

Rebecca Johnson, of Winfield, Ill., is among those who will not be taking off her mask indoors in public any time soon.

She wants to protect her 11-year-old son, Mitchell, who is too young to qualify for a vaccine. And while she is thrilled to shed the mask when outside or around other vaccinated people indoors, there are plenty of situations where it feels like the old rules still apply.

“I still think when you walk indoors you have to look at every person that you’re around, thinking they could have it,” she said.

Not everyone is fretting over the new guidance or pondering trust.

“I’m not that troubled by the honor system,” said Tim Lovoy, 62, a retired accountant in the San Pedro neighborhood of Los Angeles who said he felt assured by the data.

Mr. Lovoy is fully vaccinated, he said, which offers him strong protection. In his home area of Los Angeles County, new virus cases have dropped to about 3 per 100,000, the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic last year.

These days, Mr. Lovoy has assessed his risk of getting Covid-19 to be lower than getting in an accident on the freeway. He is getting ready to return to normalcy, including practicing karate indoors again, and said he is wasting little time worrying about whether other maskless people he encounters are vaccinated.

“If people are vaccinated, their risk in taking off their mask is very, very low, and that’s their own decision to make,” he said. “And if people are not vaccinated and don’t wear a mask, they’re putting themselves at risk.”

Throughout the pandemic, views on the coronavirus have often split along partisan lines, and the new questions about masking — and about other people’s vaccination status — may be no different.

The changes by the C.D.C. are likely to be most jarring to Democrats, who have been more likely than Republicans to see the coronavirus as a major threat, more likely to overstate risks from the virus, and more likely to get vaccinated.

Many Republicans, by contrast, have emphasized their individual liberties on virus decisions from the beginning and may welcome the freedom that comes with the new guidance.

At the same time, people who identify as conservative are less likely to be vaccinated, whether because of skepticism about the safety of a fast-tracked vaccine, or a belief that the coronavirus itself is not very dangerous. In recent polls by Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University, almost half of Republicans surveyed said they did not plan to pursue vaccinations.

“We don’t even agree on what ground truth is,” said David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University in Boston, who said that the lack of shared information sources in partisan politics makes building trust particularly difficult. Without a common understanding of the risk of getting seriously sick from the virus, or any side effects from getting a vaccine, “we can’t agree on what is an acceptable sacrifice, or what is an acceptable trustworthy behavior.”

Eli Finkel, a psychology professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who has studied romantic relationships and American politics, said that trusting one another inherently involves a gamble — whether it is letting your guard down in a marriage, or trusting the behavior of fellow citizens during a pandemic. Still, he said, trust is often essential for society to move forward.

“It’s a willingness to allow yourself to be vulnerable with the hope that life will be better for having done so,” Dr. Finkel said.

In the case of the coronavirus, the benefit of trust — and widespread honesty — would be collective freedom from pandemic restrictions that have disrupted the country for more than a year.

It is a well-established principle in social psychology that a common enemy is supposed to bring people together, Dr. Finkel said. So when the pandemic first erupted last spring, he was intrigued.

As months passed, though, he saw the opposite.

“It’s almost like American society has crossed the Rubicon of distrust, where even things that should bring us together — like a big external threat that we need to come together to make better — even those things that should bring us together don’t, and even push us further apart,” he said.

Julie Bosman reported from Chicago, and Sarah Mervosh from New York.

Author: Julie Bosman and Sarah Mervosh
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

States Follow CDC Guidance, Drop Mask Mandates

It’s only been 5 days since the CDC made a long-awaited change to its mask guidance, and 23 states and Washington, DC, have already followed suit.

According to the new recommendations, fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, regardless of gathering size. The CDC still advises travelers to wear masks while on airplanes, buses, or trains, and the guidance still calls for masks in some indoor settings, including hospitals, homeless shelters, and prisons. Those who are not vaccinated should still wear masks and physically distance, the CDC says.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said last week. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

As a result, states and territories including Michigan, Washington, DC, and New York have given vaccinated residents the OK to ditch their masks.

The changes come as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to decline. President Joe Biden said in remarks Monday that 60% of Americans have received at least one vaccine shot. COVID-related deaths are down by more than 80%, and the administration aims to have 70% of the U.S. at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

At a White House media briefing last week, the COVID-19 Response Team reported that since everyone 16 and over became eligible for vaccination, cases have dropped by 45%.

Walensky reported a 7-day average last Thursday of about 36,800 cases per day, a 23% decrease from the week-before average. During a media briefing today, Walensky said fewer than 18,000 new cases were reported Monday, the lowest number since June. The 7-day average of new hospital admissions was 3,500, down from 4,100  a week before.

Twenty-seven states never enacted masks rules. But, these are the states that did and now have adopted the CDC mask guidelines, although certain counties, towns, and businesses may still be enforcing their own rules:

Sources:

White House COVID-19 Response Team media briefings, May 13, 2021, May 18, 2021.

Chicago Tribune: “Following CDC guidelines, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says those who are fully vaccinated can drop masks in most situations, but Chicago maintaining status quo for now.”

COVID19.CA.gov: “California will align its mask guidance with CDC’s on June 15, 2021.”

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: “Guidance for wearing masks.”

Michigan.gov: “May 15, 2021 Gatherings and Face Mask Order.”

Connecticut’s Official State Website: “Connecticut COVID-19 Response.”

Delaware.gov: “Governor Carney to Lift Delaware Mask Mandate Effective May 21.”

DCHealth: “Coronavirus Situational Update.”

Kentucky.gov: “Gov. Beshear: Economy Set for Liftoff as Final Capacity Limits End June 11.”

State of Maine: “Face Covering Executive Order FAQs.”

Office of Governor Larry Hogan: “Governor Hogan Announces End of Statewide Mask Mandate.”

NC Governor Roy Cooper: “Following New CDC Guidance on Face Coverings, Governor Cooper Lifts Many COVID-19 Restrictions.”

Minnesota COVID-19 Response: “Safely ending COVID-19 restrictions.”

Nevada Health Response: “Nevada Adopts Updated CDC Mask Guidance.”

Office of the Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham: “Updated public health order in effect; New Mexico adopts CDC mask guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.”

New York State: “Governor Cuomo Announces New York State to Adopt New CDC Guidance on Mask Use and Social Distancing for Fully Vaccinated Individuals.”

Ohio Department of Health: “Governor DeWine Statement on New CDC Mask Guidance.”

Oregon.gov: “Oregon Mask Requirements.”

Pennsylvania Department of Health: “Updated Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Requiring Universal Face Coverings.”

Rhode Island Department of Health: “Protect Your Household from COVID-19.”

Office of Governor Phil Scott: “Governor Phil Scott Lifts Mask Mandate For Vaccinated Individuals, Accelerates Vermont Forward Plan.”

Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam: “Governor Northam Lifts Mask Mandate to Align with CDC Guidance, Announces Virginia to End COVID-19 Mitigation Measures on May 28.”

King County: “Statewide requirement to wear face coverings.”

Office of the Governor Jim Justice: “COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice lifts face covering requirement for fully vaccinated West Virginians.”

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

New CDC mask guidance creating a caste system

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) announcement that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks in public has led to some stores dropping their mask requirements.

Boom Bust talks to Jeffrey Tucker, author of ‘Liberty or Lockdown’, about how businesses and consumers are reacting to the ruling.Tucker says it “has created a weird situation where the customers don’t have masks and employees all do, which is a way of broadcasting clean versus unclean, like a caste system.”

“That’s extremely dangerous, the CDC’s announcement was not for everyone, it was only for the vaccinated,” he says.  Children can’t get vaccines, so it means they will continue to be masked in schools, Tucker points out. “The science didn’t change with the CDC’s politics that suddenly shifted for, I would say, politically expedient reasons, and now the rest of the countries are scrambling to adapt.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

How should parents with unvaccinated kids handle the CDC’s new mask guidelines?

Click here to see all of PopSci’s COVID-19 coverage.

People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can now feel free to ditch their masks in most places, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week to the surprise of many.

On Thursday, the CDC released updated guidelines for the nearly 124 million Americans now fully immunized against COVID-19. They no longer need to wear masks or maintain social distance during regular activities, the CDC says, except where required by federal, state, local or tribal laws, and regulations.

The new recommendations rest on many months of scientific evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are not only extremely effective at preventing severe illness and death, but also reduce a person’s risk of catching the virus and spreading it to others. It’s also a reflection of the country’s growing ranks of immunized individuals (nearly half of U.S. adults are fully immunized).  

“The vaccine is remarkably effective,” says Buddy Creech, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University and director of its vaccine research program. “Once you’re vaccinated, CDC guidance has evolved to say you can go back to life as usual.”

Over the weekend, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky noted that despite the announcement, unvaccinated children, people with compromised immune systems, and those living in communities with high COVID-19 case numbers should keep masking and social distancing. 

“The recommendations for those settings have not changed,” Walensky told CNN. 

Throughout the pandemic, children have been at lower risk than adults of getting seriously ill or dying of COVID-19, but the new CDC guidelines have opened up questions from parents and guardians of children who are not vaccinated or not yet eligible for vaccines. 

“It makes it more complicated, quite frankly. It’s easier to say ‘Just wear a mask,’” Creech says. Instead, this is the beginning of a future in which we have to live alongside a “smoldering baseline amount of coronavirus circulating.” When vaccinated people should leave their masks at home—and when to mask up—is “going to look different for every person,” he says.

“Nothing in a pandemic is simple,” says Tony Moody, a professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at Duke University Medical Center, and director of the school’s vaccine center. Here are some key considerations for parents and guardians as they navigate this period of the pandemic.

Should vaccinated adults with unvaccinated kids keep wearing masks?

It depends, experts say.

“A vaccinated adult probably is okay going unmasked,” Moody says. “That being said, there is some utility to parents modeling behavior for their kids.”

Since the CDC recommends unvaccinated children continue masking, parents might have an easier time convincing their kids to keep masks on if it’s the standard for the whole family.

Under CDC guidance, unvaccinated children should still wear masks indoors when around people outside of their bubble, since they are still at risk of becoming infected with the virus and spreading it to others—even if they don’t develop symptoms. But vaccinated parents deciding whether they want to unmask at indoor gatherings should consider factors including how many other people will be there, vaccination status of other attendees, and the local rates of COVID-19 infections. 

After all, a packed music venue and a small dinner party pose very different levels of risk.

“There’s a whole lot of space in between there,” Moody says. “Just existing as a human is risky. I think situations where you have less control, be appropriately cautious.”

What about vaccinated grandparents with unvaccinated grandkids?

Throughout the pandemic, older adults have been at highest risk of severe disease or death from COVID-19. Now that almost three out of four Americans ages 65 or older are fully vaccinated, the risk of a grandchild getting their grandparents seriously sick has been significantly reduced.

“In an individual, extended family unit, what’s most critical is that those who are most vulnerable are vaccinated,” Creech says. After that point, it’s a matter of deciding how much risk is worth taking. 

For immunized grandparents, Moody says, exposure to an unmasked, unvaccinated grandchild poses about as much of a health risk as exposure to a sniffling grandchild would during the typical cold season. 

[Read more: Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks—but there’s a catch]

What precautions should vaccinated adults take while traveling with kids?

In its new guidance, the CDC relaxed some requirements for travel.

Vaccinated adults no longer need to be tested before or after domestic travel, for example. (International travelers are still required to do so before and after their trips.)

But regardless of age or vaccine status, mask mandates will remain in place on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation—as well as at transit hubs such as airports and bus stations. 

Experts have also advised that parents keep in mind local case rates when deciding whether and where to travel with children. Traveling to a community where infection rates are high and vaccine rates are low, for example, poses a higher health risk.   

What do the guidelines mean for schools?

On Saturday, the CDC clarified it still recommends the universal use of masks and physical distancing in K-12 schools through the end of the 2020-2021 school year despite its updated guidance for vaccinated Americans. 

It also still recommends the continued use of diagnostic testing for any students, teachers, or staff members with COVID-19 symptoms at school.

“Our school guidance to complete the school year will not change,” Walensky said on “Fox News Sunday.” Over the summer, she said, the agency will consider making guidance changes for the 2021-2022 school year.

One potential setback for schools: If any SARS-CoV-2 variants become clearly more dangerous for children, those protections could stay in place for longer, Creech says.

[Read more: Pfizer and Moderna are studying their COVID vaccines in kids as young as 6 months]

When will younger kids be eligible and what needs to happen first? 

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in kids as young as 12. 

Juvenile and adolescent trials are currently underway for other vaccines, too, Creech says, to make sure they are also safe and effective for the nation’s youngest residents, including infants and toddlers.

“Children are not merely little adults,” he says. “The studies have to be done and those data are going to take some time to come out.”

It could be winter 2021 or early 2022 before we have widespread vaccine eligibility, he says.

“It’s a little hard to say. The goal, ultimately, is to get this vaccination down to as young as 2 months,” Moody says. “They’re being appropriately cautious. They’re not rushing anything.”

Author: Claire Maldarelli
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

How The CDC Change on Mask Guidance Set Off Confusion in States and Cities

SAN ANTONIO — Minnesota’s statewide mask mandate is over. But in Minneapolis, the state’s largest city, face coverings are still required.

In Michigan, Kentucky and Oregon, governors cheerily told vaccinated people that they could go out maskless. But mask mandates remained in force for New Yorkers, New Jerseyans and Californians.

So unexpected was new federal guidance on masks that in Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas went from saying he would not change his mask order, to saying he would think about it, to announcing that he was getting rid of it altogether, all in the span of about seven hours.

Across the country, governors, store owners and people running errands were scrambling on Friday to make sense of the abrupt change in federal guidelines, which said fully vaccinated people could now safely go most places, indoors or outdoors, without a mask.

At least 20 states that still had mask mandates in place this week said by Friday evening that they would exempt fully vaccinated people or repeal the orders entirely, while at least five others with mask requirements had not announced any changes. The rapidly changing rules brought an end to more than a year of mandatory masking in much of the country, even as some said they were not yet ready to take off their face coverings.

“I’m going to wear a mask for a long time to come,” said Fanny Lopez, 28, who was grocery shopping in San Antonio on Friday morning while wearing a black cloth mask. “I trust the mask more than the vaccine. The government messages are confusing, telling us to wear a mask one day and the next day no.”

The sudden shift in public health advice resonated at every level of government, from City Hall in Hartsville, S.C., where a local mask mandate was allowed to expire, to Nevada’s Gaming Control Board, which said it was not practical “to attempt to enforce a mask mandate tethered to an individual’s vaccination status,” to the U.S. Capitol, where the attending physician said House members would still have to cover their faces on the floor of the chamber.

But the shift was perhaps most challenging for governors and big-city mayors, many of whom have expended significant political capital on mask orders in the face of protests and lawsuits, and who were not given a heads-up about the change in federal policy before it was announced on Thursday.

Mayor Lucas said he could not keep Kansas City’s order in place since there was no easy way to differentiate people who are fully vaccinated — now 36 percent of Americans — from the 64 percent who are not.

“While I understand the C.D.C.’s theory that they could just create a rule that says vaccinated folks go anywhere without a mask, and everybody else who’s unvaccinated will follow it, I don’t know if that’s the type of rule that was written in coordination with anyone who has been a governor or a mayor over the last 14 months,” said Mr. Lucas, a Democrat.

The new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which came amid a steep drop in new cases and an expansion of vaccine eligibility to everyone 12 and older, signaled a shift toward pre-pandemic social norms, when no one thought twice about buying groceries or sitting down in their cubicle with a bare mouth and nose. Walmart announced on Friday that fully vaccinated employees and customers would no longer need to wear masks, and Costco issued a similar announcement.

“At least 20 times today I kept grabbing my short pockets looking for my face mask,” said Erik Darmstetter, who is fully vaccinated and owns Office Furniture Liquidations in San Antonio. “It wasn’t there. I keep forgetting we don’t need it anymore.”

Others were moving more slowly. Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, a Democrat, said he would keep his state’s mask mandate in place, writing on Twitter that “we’re making incredible progress, but we’re not there yet.” And Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, a Republican, indicated he would revisit his state’s rules next week, but he did not announce any immediate changes.

That was fine with Kay McGowan, who owns a rug and furniture shop in Somerville, Mass. She said that she would not be taking off her mask, nor would she allow customers to do so.

“It feels too early to me,” Ms. McGowan said.

The C.D.C. announcement on Thursday caught mayors and governors off guard. Through the evening on Thursday, and into Friday afternoon, states and cities announced one at a time that they were revising or ending their mask orders.

Governors in New Mexico, Maine, Maryland and Colorado were among those who adjusted their rules Friday in light of the C.D.C. guidance. In Rhode Island, where officials learned about the new federal guidance in the middle of a news conference on Thursday, state leaders said on Friday that they would relax their mask rules.

But the new C.D.C. suggestions were not universally popular. Some public health experts questioned the wisdom of the relaxed guidelines, while local officials confronted the reality that, if they created separate rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, there was no real way of knowing who was who.

“The people that have been pushing the limits on not wearing a mask, as it is, are also the ones that tend to not be vaccinated,” said Mayor Kim Norton of Rochester, Minn. “To say vaccinated people can take their masks off will not give us any assurance that the person next to us has been vaccinated.”

Mayor Tishaura Jones of St. Louis, who announced Friday that mask rules would be loosened in her city, said she hoped business owners would ask about the vaccination status of maskless customers.

“But we don’t want this to turn into sort of like a show-me-your-papers moment,” said Ms. Jones, who said that she personally planned to continue wearing a mask. “We’ll just have to trust what people tell us.”

For more than a year, masking had been urged by public health experts, a key to stopping the airborne spread of the coronavirus. Some places allowed their mask requirements to expire months ago, but face coverings remained mandatory this week in more than 20 states, as well as many cities and counties. Just a few weeks ago, the C.D.C. said fully vaccinated Americans could usually forgo masks outdoors, but should continue wearing them in public spaces indoors.

The agency changed course on Thursday, saying people who were at least two weeks past their final dose of a vaccine could safely go most places, both indoors and outdoors, without a mask. The C.D.C. said everyone should still wear a mask in certain settings, including health care facilities, on public transportation and on flights.

In San Antonio, Sue Morgan, who said she is fully vaccinated and works at Mr. Darmstetter’s store, was happy to return to something approaching normal.

“I came in with a mask today and wasn’t sure how we were going to approach this,” said Ms. Morgan, who works in customer service at the store. “Then we all took them off. I must say, it’s nice to see faces again.”

But Rachael McKinnon, who said she left her teaching job in Massachusetts this year because of concerns about the safety of reopening schools, expressed doubts on Friday about the timing of the C.D.C.’s decision given how many people remain unvaccinated.

“At some point we need to move on with our lives, and we need to decide that there’s a point when things are safe,” Ms. McKinnon said, “but I just don’t know that it’s now.”

Edgar Sandoval reported from San Antonio, Kate Taylor from Cambridge, Mass., and Mitch Smith from Chicago. John Yoon, Benjamin Guggenheim Lauren Hirsch and Tracey Tully contributed to this story.

Author: Edgar Sandoval, Kate Taylor and Mitch Smith
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Disney World and other U.S. theme parks update mask rules

Disney World and other U.S. theme parks update mask rules© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Summer Selmon, her brother Levi, and their parents Dave and Brandi wear face masks while visiting the Disney Springs shopping and dining district during their vacation at Walt Disney World during a phased reopening from coronavirus disease (CO

(Reuters) -Disney World and other U.S. amusement parks updated their mask policy following the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week.

Masks have been made optional in outdoor areas and pool decks at Walt Disney (NYSE:) Inc’s Disney World in Orlando, Florida, effective May 15, but are still needed for entering rides and at indoor locations, according to the guidelines posted on its website.

Universal Orlando has also relaxed its mask policy for guests at outdoor locations. “Face coverings will remain required at all indoor locations, including restaurants, shops, and indoor hotel public areas,” the company said in a statement on Friday.

SeaWorld (NYSE:) Entertainment Inc said on Saturday masks will no longer be required for guests at SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Discovery (NASDAQ:) Cove, Aquatica Orlando, Aquatica San Antonio, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA for customers who are fully vaccinated.

“All park employees will be required to continue to wear face coverings,” a SeaWorld spokeswoman said on Saturday.

The CDC on Thursday advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places.

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Author: Reuters
This post originally appeared on Stock Market News

Some business owners require proof of vaccination before you can enter without a mask

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Business owners have a tough choice to make now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced vaccinated people can go mask-less in most situations.

Do you drop the mask mandate? And if you do, how can you be sure your customers are truly vaccinated?

The choice was easy for Deco Blue Salon stylist and owner Deklynd Channing. He will require all customers to show proof of their vaccination card before sitting in a salon chair without a mask.

“It’s the right thing to do. It’s just irresponsible for everyone we see every day if we don’t,” Channing said. “Let’s not undo everything we’ve just done for the past 14 months.”

Personal trainer Ashli Cooper feels the same way. She will not be leading indoor, mask-less workouts without verifying vaccination. She said it is the best way to protect her family.

“As a mom, my daughter is always top of mind, so thinking about risk to her and how it may impact her is always my number one concern,” Cooper said. “Until that pediatric vaccine is available to young kids, we are not really there yet.”

Retail and grocery giants Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Costco won’t be requiring a mask for those who have received their shots. But they aren’t requiring any actual proof, just respectful cooperation.

Here’s the latest on major U.S. stores, as verified by NewsNation.

Walmart/Sam’s Club

“Vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask, and we will continue to request that non-vaccinated customers and members wear face coverings in our stores and clubs. We will update the signage in our facilities to reflect this,” Walmart said in a letter to employees.

The company acknowledged that some city and state ordinances will still require masks. In addition, employees who are fully vaccinated will be able to stop wearing masks on Tuesday.

Employees of the stores will also get a $ 75 bonus for getting vaccinated.

Costco

Costco released a new mask policy on Friday:

In Costco locations where the state or local jurisdiction does not have a mask mandate, we will allow members and guests who are fully vaccinated to enter Costco without a face mask or face shield. We will not require proof of vaccination, but we ask for members’ responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy. Face coverings will still be required in healthcare settings, including Pharmacy, Optical, Hearing Aid. Costco continues to recommend that all members and guests, especially those who are at higher risk, wear a mask or shield.

As with Walmart and Sam’s Club, if there is a state or local mask requirement, the store will continue to require masks.

Home Depot

The home improvement giant told NewsNation it will keep mask mandates in place for now.

Walgreens

“As a destination for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, we have decided to keep our current face-covering policy in place for the time being,” Walgreens said In a statement to NewsNation. “The safety of our team members and customers is our top priority and will continue to guide our decision process.”

Target

In a statement to NewsNation, Target said it “will continue to require all of our coronavirus safety measures in all stores, including masks and social distancing, while we review guidance from the CDC and evaluate the guidance we offer our team and guests.”

Trader Joe’s

 “We encourage customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping,” the grocery chain said on its website.

JCPenny

The company told NewsNation in a statement that it will continue to require masks.

Author: Alex Caprariello
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin