- Brady Sluder, the spring breaker who faced heavy criticism for saying he wouldn’t let the coronavirus stop him from partying, has apologized for his comments.
- He is urging others to follow community guidelines concerning the pandemic and wants the public to use his story as motivation to be better people.
- Other young adults also seem to be better understanding the importance of social distancing after five Florida college students traveling for spring break tested positive for the virus.
- Meanwhile, in Kentucky, one young adult tested positive after attending a “coronavirus party, ” intentionally defying calls against such gatherings.
Spring Breaker Apologizes
By now you’ve probably seen the infamous video of Florida spring breakers vowing to party on despite the coronavirus pandemic. Well, after a flood of intense criticism and mocking, one of those partiers has apologized.
That man is 22-year-old Brady Sluder, an Ohio native and self-described aspiring SoundCloud rapper who said, “If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying.”
“You know, I’ve been waiting, we’ve been waiting for Miami spring break for a while, about two months we’ve had this trip planned, two, three months, and we’re just out here having a good time,” he continued in the viral CBS interview. “Whatever happens, happens.”
This video blew up as Florida beachgoers were slammed for ignoring social distancing guidelines aimed at “flattening the curve.” But it also came at a time when many seemed to wrongly assume that young people are at low risk of contracting the virus or being hospitalized for it. So it’s safe to say that after the clip went viral, Sluder became the face of reckless young people not taking the virus seriously.
On Monday, he changed his tune, posting a public apology on his Instagram.
“I’d like to take this time to own up to the mistakes i’ve made and apologize to the people I’ve offended,” he wrote. Like many others, I have elderly people who I adore more than anything in the world and other family members who are at risk, and I understand how concerning this disease is for us all.”
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I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I’m not proud of. I’ve failed, I’ve let down, and I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I can’t apologize enough to the people i’ve offended and the lives I’ve insulted. I’m not asking for your forgiveness, or pity. I want to use this as motivation to become a better person, a better son, a better friend, and a better citizen. Listen to your communities and do as health officials say. Life is precious. Don’t be arrogant and think you’re invincible like myself. I’ve learned from these trying times and I’ve felt the repercussions to the fullest. Unfortunately, simply apologizing doesn’t justify my behavior. I’m simply owning up to my mistakes and taking full responsibility for my actions. Thank you for your time, and stay safe everyone. ❤️
In the post caption, he added that he “can’t apologize enough.” He said he is not asking for forgiveness or pity but wants the public to use this as motivation to become better people saying, “Life is precious.”
Other Rule Breakers Test Positive for COVID-19
It seems like Brady isn’t the only one suddenly realizing how dangerous it is to ignore social distancing recommendations. Over the weekend, the University of Tampa announced that five of its students traveling together during spring break tested positive for the virus.
And on Tuesday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said one person in the state became infected after taking part in a “coronavirus party” with other young adults.
The partygoers intentionally got together “thinking they were invincible” and purposely defied state guidance to practice social distancing, Beshear said. “This is one that makes me mad, and it should make you mad.”
“Anyone who goes to something like this may think they’re indestructible, but it’s someone else’s loved one that they are going to hurt,” he added. “Don’t be callous as to intentionally go to something and expose yourself to something that will hurt other people. We ought to be much better than that.”
“We all owe each other a duty to protect each other,” Beshear continued. “And we simply can’t have folks that are doing things like this.”
These stories, along with Sluder’s, serve as yet another reminder to practice social distancing. While research has shown that the virus poses a greater risk of death for people ages 65 and older, it can still infect healthy people of all ages.
In New York state, for example, 53% of coronavirus cases have been recorded among young people between the ages of 18 and 49, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday. There also have been “concerning reports from France and Italy” about young people becoming seriously ill, “and very seriously ill in the ICUs,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said last week.
Even if someone were to contract the virus with few to no symptoms, if they aren’t careful, they can end up unknowingly transmitting the virus to others.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CNN) (Fox News)
CDC Data Shows Booster Shots Provide Effective Protection Against Omicron
Public health experts have encouraged Americans to get boosted to protect themselves against the omicron variant, but less than 40% of fully vaccinated people who are eligible for their third shot have received it.
A First Glimpse of Official Data on Boosters and Omicron
COVID-19 booster shots are effective at preventing Americans from contracting omicron and protecting those who do become infected from severe illness, according to three reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published Friday.
The reports mark the first real-world data regarding the highly infectious variant and how it has impacted the U.S.
One of the CDC reports, which studied data from 25 state and local health departments, found that there were 149 cases per 100,000 people among those had been boosted on average each week.
In comparison, the figure was 255 cases per 100,000 people in Americans who had only received two shots.
Another study that looked at nearly 88,000 hospitalizations in 10 states found that the third doses were 90% effective at preventing hospitalization.
By contrast, those who received just two shots were only 57% protected against hospitalization by the time they were eligible for a booster six months after their second dose.
Additionally, the same report also found that the boosters were 82% effective at preventing visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers, a marked increase from the 38% efficacy for those who were six months out from their two-shot regime and had not yet received a third.
Low Booster Shot Vaccination Rates
Public health officials hope that the new data will urge more Americans to get their booster shots.
Since the emergence of omicron, experts and leading political figures have renewed their efforts to encourage people to get their third shots, arguing they are the best form of protection.
The CDC currently recommends that everyone 12 and older get a booster shot five months after their second shot of Pfizer and Moderna or two months after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Still, in the U.S., less than 40% of fully vaccinated individuals eligible for a third shot have gotten one.
While COVID cases in the country have begun to drop over the past several days from their peak of over 800,000 average daily infections, the figures are still nearly triple those seen in the largest previous surges.
Hospitalizations have also slowly begun to level out over the last week in places that were hit first, such as New York City and Boston, but medical resources still remain strained in many parts of the country that experienced later surges and have not yet seen cases slow.
Some experts predict that the U.S. will see a sharp decline in omicron cases, as experienced in South Africa and Britain. Still, they urge American’s to get boosted to ensure their continued protection from the variant, as well as other strains that will emerge.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNN) (The New York Times)
California Bill Would Allow Kids 12 and Up to Get Vaccinated Without Parental Consent
Nearly one million California teens and preteens between the ages of 12 and 17 are not vaccinated against COVID-19.
State Senator Proposes Legislation
Legislation proposed in California on Thursday would allow children age 12 and up to get vaccinated without parental consent.
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Bill 866 in the hope it could boost vaccination rates among teenagers. According to Wiener, nearly one million kids aged 12- to 17-years old remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 in the state of California.
“Unvaccinated teens are at risk, put others at risk & make schools less safe,” Wiener tweeted. “They often can’t work, participate in sports, or go to friends’ homes.”
“Many want to get vaccinated but parents won’t let them or aren’t making the time to take them. Teens shouldn’t have to rely on parents’ views & availability to protect themselves from a deadly virus.”
Currently, teens in California can receive vaccines for human papillomavirus and hepatitis B without parental consent. They can also make other reproductive or mental healthcare choices without a guardian signing off. Wiener argues that their medical autonomy should expand to all vaccines, especially during a pandemic that has already killed roughly 78,000 Californians.
Vaccine Consent Across the U.S.
“Teens shouldn’t have to plot, scheme or fight with their parents to get a vaccine,” he said. “They should simply be able to walk in & get vaccinated like anyone else.”
Bill 866 would allow any kids ages 12 and up to receive any vaccine approved or granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, Pfizer’s COVID vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA for those 16 and older. It has received emergency authorization for ages five through 15.
Across the United States, vaccine consent ages vary. While the vast majority of states require parental approval for minors to be vaccinated against COVID-19, kids as young as 11 can get the jab on their own in Washington, D.C. In Alabama, kids can receive it without parental consent at 14, in Oregon at 15, and in Rhode Island and South Carolina at 16. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, providers can waive consent in certain cases in Arkansas, Idaho, Washington, and Tennesee.
In October, California became the first state to announce plans to require that students receive the COVID-19 vaccine to attend class. The mandate has yet to take effect, but under the guidelines, students will be “required to be vaccinated for in person learning starting the term following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their grade span.”
In other words, once the FDA gives a vaccine full approval for those aged 12 and up, it will be required the following session for kids in grades 7-12. Once it does so for kids as young as five, the same process will happen for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. There will also be room for exemptions from the mandate.
The Fight to Vaccinate California
This week, a group of California state legislators formed a Vaccine Work Group in order to boost public health policies in the state. Wiener is among the several members who are “examining data, hearing from experts, and engaging stakeholders to determine the best approaches to promote vaccines that have been proven to reduce serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”
“Vaccines protect not only individuals but also whole communities when almost everyone is vaccinated at schools, workplaces and businesses, and safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have already prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans,” Sen. Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) said in a press release. “Public safety is a paramount duty of government, and I am proud to join a talented group of legislators in the pro-science Vaccine Work Group who want to end this disastrous pandemic and protect Californians from death and disability by preventable diseases.”
While vaccine policies have been a divisive subject nationwide, including in California, state politicians and leaders are hopeful public health initiatives will prevail.
“If we allow disinformation to drive our state policy making we will not only see more Americans needlessly suffer and die, but we will sacrifice the long term stability of our society having effectively abandoned the idea that we all must work together to protect each other in times of crisis.” Catherine Flores Martin, the Executive Director of the California Immunization Coalition, added.
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (NBC News) (Sacramento Bee)
Inmates Sue Jail for Giving Them Ivermectin to Treat COVID-19 Without Consent
Four detainees who filed the suit allege that the jail’s doctor gave them “incredibly high doses” of the anti-parasite in a “cocktail of drugs” that he said were “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”
Washington County Detention Center Lawsuit
Four inmates at an Arkansas jail have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that they were unknowingly given the anti-parasite drug ivermectin without their consent by the detention center’s doctor after contracting COVID-19.
The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and countless other medical experts have said that ivermectin — commonly used for livestock — can be dangerous and should not be used to treat the coronavirus.
According to the lawsuit, after testing positive for COVID in August, the four men at the Washington County Detention Center (WCDC) were given a “cocktail of drugs” twice a day by the facility’s doctor, Robert Karas.
The inmates claim that Dr. Karas did not tell them that he was giving them ivermectin, but instead said the drugs consisted of “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”
The complaint also alleges that the detainees were given “incredibly high doses” of the drug, causing some to experience “vision issues, diarrhea, bloody stools, and/or stomach cramps.”
Use on Other Inmates
The four plaintiffs were far from the only people to whom Karas gave ivermectin.
According to the lawsuit, the doctor began using the drug to treat COVID starting in November of 2020. In August, the Washington County sheriff confirmed at a local finance and budget committee meeting that the doctor had been prescribing the drug to inmates, prompting the Arkansas Medical Board to launch an investigation.
In response, Karas informed a Medical Board investigator in a letter from his attorney that 254 inmates at the facility had been treated with ivermectin.
In the letter, he confirmed that whether or not detainees were given information about ivermectin was dependent on who administered it, but paramedics were not required to discuss the drug with them.
He also admitted that after the practice got media coverage, he “adopted a more robust informed consent form to assuage any concern that any detainees were being misled or coerced into taking the medications, even though they weren’t.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which filed the suit on behalf of the inmates, also claimed in a statement that after questions were raised about the practice, the jail attempted to make detainees sign forms saying that they retroactively agreed to the treatments.
The WCDC has not issued a public response to the lawsuits, but Dr. Karas appeared to address the situation in a Facebook post where he defended his actions.
“Guess we made the news again this week; still with best record in the world at the jail with the same protocols,” he wrote. “Inmates aren’t dumb and I suspect in the future other inmates around the country will be suiing their facilities requesting same treatment we’re using at WCDC-including the Ivermectin.”