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Orange County Woman Accuses Gelson’s of Discrimination Over Mask Policy

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  • A viral video shows a California woman refusing to wear a mask inside a Gelson’s grocery store, claiming to have a medical condition that prevents her from wearing one.
  • When a manager offers to shop for her, she says she doesn’t want others to know what she’s purchasing and doesn’t want to give out her credit card information.
  • The woman identified herself as Shelley Lewis and threatened to sue for discrimination, but internet sleuths claim she is a flat earther who has been frequently posting about her frustrations with COVID-19 regulations. 
  • While some health departments say those with difficulty breathing should not wear masks, doctors have advised that these people try to find a way to make wearing a mask work for them right now. 

Video Goes Viral

A woman in Orange County, California went viral over the weekend after posting a video of herself refusing to wear a mask inside a Gelson’s supermarket.

I have a medical condition that I can’t wear a mask and I’m not required by HIPAA rules and regulations to disclose that,” the woman, who later identifies herself as Shelley Lewis, says to the store manager.

The video was taken outside the entrance to the store and follows a manager and another employee trying to explain their mask requirement. Lewis never turns the camera on herself during the exchange.

The manager offers to have workers in the store shop for her but stressed that Lewis cannot be allowed in without a mask. Lewis refuses this service because she claims she wants to purchase“private” items that she does not want others to see. 

“You’re discriminating against me now, do you know that?” Lewis asks. “You’re discriminating against me.”

The store’s manager says she can call the corporate office, but he still will not allow her inside. Lewis then threatened him with a lawsuit. He once again offers to have her shopping done for her, and this time she refuses because she doesn’t want to give out her credit card information. 

As the manager goes to get a card with contact information for corporate, Lewis continues recording and states she is at the Gelson’s in Dana Point, California. As she continues talking, an employee can be seen cleaning grocery carts while dancing along to Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You,” which is playing in the background. 

When Lewis comments that he is pretty “chipper,” he explains that he is happy to be working at Gelson’s because he’s usually a bartender and would not have a job during the pandemic otherwise.

Well good,” Lewis responds. “I’m glad you guys think it’s okay to like, infringe on people’s rights here. You’re infringing on people’s rights here. 

The video ends with the manager handing her a business card. The dancing employee thanks her for her patience before she heads off.

Responses

This video gained a lot of traction on Reddit and went viral on Twitter as well. One of the most shared versions of it comes from a tweet posted by Khary Penebaker, a member of the Democratic National Committee. In it, he calls Lewis’ behavior “pure arrogance.” 

Others were also critical of Lewis and her reasons for not cooperating with the Gelson’s manager. Some noted that under no circumstances would her transaction be private, as security camera footage would catch her selecting her items, and she would have to show them at checkout.

Others also said that the store would also obtain her credit card information regardless of who swiped the card in the reader. 

Who is Shelley Lewis?

Others began to dig to see if they could find out who Lewis is, and several tweets claimed she is a flat-earther. While Rogue Rocket cannot independently verify that this is her, the Flat Earth Conference does have a bio for a Shelley Lewis. That bio links to a YouTube channel and Facebook page, both of which are either empty or unavailable. 

Heavy has identified her as this Shelley Lewis. The Daily Mail also used details from Flat Earth Conference’s bio of Lewis when identifying her, as well as the same photo used on the site. Twitter users have shared screenshots allegedly taken from her Facebook page where she makes remarks about her frustrations with COVID-19 regulations. She also speaks out against contact tracing. 

Issues With Wearing Masks

This video has also sparked questions about whether or not there are medical conditions that do present a person from wearing a mask. According to both the University of Maryland Medical System and the New York Health Department, people with difficulty breathing should not wear masks. This, however, has been met with some backlash from doctors who believe that these people should still try. 

9 News, a local NBC affiliate in Colorado did an interview with Dr. Payal Kohli who said that people who find it difficult to breathe in masks should wear cotton masks that are more breathable. He said they should also stay inside or in isolated areas as much as possible so that they do not have to wear masks frequently. He also told people who struggle with wearing them because of seasonal allergies that it is especially important that they wear them because their sneezing or coughing could cause them to spread droplets.

WDRB in Kentucky has also found that some people with certain kinds of post-traumatic stress disorder struggle with wearing masks. They spoke to someone who was once abused while a cloth was tied around their mouth. Now, putting a mask on triggers panic attacks for that individual. 

Since mask regulations began, stores and businesses have struggled with enforcing these rules. In some cases, businesses are implementing mask policies themselves. In others, states or counties around the country have ordered people to wear masks when in public. 

“It gets pretty confrontational,” one Kroger employee in Illinois told Fox News. “People are getting in our faces and are really angry with our managers and employees when it’s not our rule.”

Tensions over masks have escalated so high in some cases, that a security guard in Michigan was killed after telling a customer to wear a mask. 

See what others are saying: (The Daily Mail) (Complex) (The Daily Dot)

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Couple Slammed Over Slavery-Themed Pre-Wedding Photoshoot

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Many have expressed outrage at the duo for trying to romanticize slavery while others were left completely dumbfounded by the entire ordeal.


Photoshoot Goes Viral

A couple has come under fire after sharing images on Instagram from their slavery-themed pre-wedding photoshoot.


The photos show a Black man in shackles looking deeply into his white fiancé’s eyes before she works to releases him.


1842. Days passed and everything changed, our love got stronger and stronger, he was no longer a slave, he was part of the family,” the post’s caption reads.


To indicate his transition from “slave” to family, a fourth image shows him wearing a long coat and top hat with well-shined shoes, as opposed to the white shirt, trousers, and straw hat he wore in the previous images.

Social Media Users React

It’s not immediately clear who these people are since the social media handle is redacted in the images circulating online.

Still, many have expressed outrage at the duo for trying to romanticize slavery while others were left just completely dumbfounded by this entire ordeal. Some also directed criticism at the photographer who agreed to the shoot, along with the hundreds of Instagram users who liked the original posts.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Dot) (Black Enterprise) (BET)

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Couple Whose Gender Reveal Sparked CA Wildfire Hit With 30 Charges, Including Involuntary Manslaughter

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The fire, which caused massive damage and took months to extinguish, also killed the head of an elite firefighting team.


Gender Reveal Sparks Deadly Wildfire

A couple whose gender reveal party sparked the El Dorado wildfire in Southern California earlier this year has pleaded not guilty after they were hit with 30 charges, authorities said Tuesday.

Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez triggered the fire in Yucaipa on Sept. 5 with a smoke bomb that exploded in especially dry and hot conditions.

By the time the fire was extinguished in November, it had burned over 22,000 acres of land, injured more than a dozen people, forced hundreds of evacuations, and destroyed at least 10 structures.

The blaze also took the life of 39-year-old Charlie Morton, the leader of an elite firefighting team who worked as a firefighter for 18 years.

“He’s fighting a fire that was started because of a smoke bomb. That’s the only reason he’s there,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said at a news conference.

Charges Include Involuntary Manslaughter

Authorities have charged the couple responsible for the wildfire with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to the property of another.

The charges were filed after a grand jury heard 34 witness interviews over four days. A total of 434 exhibits were ultimately presented to the grand jury, leading to the indictment that was unsealed Tuesday.

After entering their not guilty pleas, the duo was released on their own recognizance until their next scheduled court date. CBS Los Angeles reported that they could face up to 20 years each if convicted as charged.

“You’re obviously dealing with lost lives, you’re dealing with injured lives, and you’re dealing with people’s residences that were burned and their land that was burned. That encompasses a lot of, not only emotion, but damage, both financially and psychologically,” Anderson explained at the press conference.

He also stressed that part of the reason the investigation and ultimate prosecution took so long was because authorities wanted to make sure justice was fully served.

“Given the scope and the impact of the El Dorado Fire on the land and lives of so many, particularly Charles Morton and his family, it was imperative that every investigation be completed within both federal and state agencies to provide a full, fair presentation to the members of our community,” he said.

See what others are saying: (CNN)(CBS)(NBC)

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Los Angeles County Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate Amid Rising Cases

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The renewed restrictions for the nation’s largest county come as coronavirus infections have been spiking across America, with new cases doubling in the last two weeks.


L.A. County Masks Up, Again

Starting Saturday, Los Angeles County will require people to wear face masks indoors again regardless of vaccination status as the nation’s most populous county grapples with a surge of COVID-19 cases.

In a press conference Thursday, L.A. County health officials pointed to low vaccination rates, a steady climb in new infections, and the rapid spread of the highly transmissible delta variant as driving factors behind the decision.

“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late given what we’re seeing now,” county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment.”

Without providing full details, Davis said there would be some exceptions to the restrictions, including people being allowed to take off their masks while eating and drinking at restaurants.

The move comes as community transmission in the county has skyrocketed since June 15, when California reopened its economy and ended capacity limits, along with social distancing guidelines.

For the week-long period ending on that date, L.A. County had averaged 173 new coronavirus cases a day. Exactly one month later, those numbers have increased by nearly 580%, with the county reporting an average of 1,176 infections a day for the seven-day period ending July 15.

On Thursday, officials logged over 1,537 more cases — the highest figure since early March. Around 70% of COVID samples in the county from June 27 to July 3 were identified as delta variants.

Notably, the vast majority of those impacted have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus. According to reports, between Dec. 7 and June 7, unvaccinated people made up 99.6% of L.A. County’s COVID cases, 98.7% of hospitalizations, and 99.8% of deaths.

Only five million of the more than 10 million residents in the county have been inoculated against the virus.

Cases Surge Across U.S.

L.A. County is not the only locality that has seen a spike in COVID cases, though it is one of the few that has taken firm action.

New cases largely driven by the delta variant, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says now accounts for nearly 60% of all infections in the U.S., have more than doubled in the last two weeks, according to The New York Times tracker.

The 14-day average has risen dramatically from 12,799 on July 1 to 28,315 on July 15.

According to The Times, 49 states have seen at least a 15% increase over the past 14 days, and 19 of those states are reporting double or more the number of new infections. Full outbreaks, largely concentrated in the South, have emerged in a number of states with low vaccination rates.

In the last two weeks, Arkansas, which is currently reporting the highest per capita COVID cases in America, has seen increases of 120% for new cases and 77% for hospitalizations. Florida and Tennesee have seen the most significant 14-day spikes in terms of population percentage, reporting surges of 232% and 373% respectively.

Some states and counties have begun to make additional safety recommendations. Officials in Mississippi, where cases have risen over 70% since July 1, have urged both vaccinated and unvaccinated senior residents to avoid large indoor gatherings.

Health officials in California’s Sacramento and Yolo counties also issued voluntary warnings this week for all residents to wear masks while indoors.

However, it remains to be seen whether more localities will reimpose mandatory requirements or restrictions as cases continue to swell and the delta variant proliferates. 

Rising cases in the U.S. and abroad also pose a more long-term threat to global efforts to fight the pandemic. On Thursday, the World Health Organization warned that the influx of new cases in many parts of the world will enhance the likelihood of more severe variants emerging that will be difficult to control with vaccinations.

The WHO also urged wealthier countries like the U.S. — where just over 50% of people are vaccinated despite the existence of supplies for all those eligible  — to send more jabs overseas.

See what others are saying: (The Los Angeles Times) (The New York Times) (The Associated Press)

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