- Videos went viral Wednesday showing Palm Beach, Florida residents voicing frustrations about a local mask mandate during a meeting with county commissioners.
- The same day, Florida recorded its highest single-day total of coronavirus cases with over 5,500 new reports, and the United States did the same, recording over 36,880 nationwide in a day.
- Along with Florida, states like Texas, California, and Arizona have also seen record spikes, but the governors of all four states have been reluctant to re-impose restrictions or scale back reopening efforts.
- President Trump, for his part, has continued to downplay the new cases, repeatedly claiming they are only the result of increased testing despite the fact that numerous health experts have said that is false.
County commissioners in Palm Beach, Florida passed a new mandate Wednesday requiring people to wear masks inside public buildings, prompting outrage from locals whose rants against the move went viral.
“You literally cannot mandate somebody to wear a mask knowing that that mask is killing people” one woman claimed in a viral clip. “We the people are waking up, and we know what citizen’s arrest is. Because citizen’s arrests are already happening.
“Every single one of you that are obeying the devil’s laws are going to be arrested,” she said, warning that God would punish the commissioners for their orders.
“Six feet, like I said before, is military protocol, you’re trying to get the people, to train them, so when the cameras, the 5G comes out, what?” the woman continued. “They’re going to scan everybody? We gotta get scanned? We gotta get temperatured?”
“What happened to Bill Gates? Why is he not in jail? ” she went on.
“Why is Hilary Clinton not in jail? Why are all of these pedophiles that are demanding you all to listen to their rules, why are they not in jail? Oh, is it because you are a part of them? Are you a part of the deep state? The deep state is going down and if any of you are in the deep state, you are going down with it.”
Still, the commissioners voted unanimously to impose the mandate Palm Beach after hearing three hours of arguments.
“They want to throw God’s wonderful breathing system out the door,” one woman said in another viral video.
“I don’t wear a mask for the same reason I don’t wear underwear: things gotta breathe,” argued another.
Cases Rise in Florida
The remarks were mocked online by people who pointed out that many the claims have been disproven by scientific evidence, and in some cases, have been debunked as conspiracy theories.
This recent example of the fierce opposition to wearing masks, which experts have said prevents the spread of the coronavirus, also comes as cases in Florida increased significantly in recent weeks.
On the same day the county commissioners meeting took place, Florida reported its single highest day of new cases with over 5,500. Over the last week or so, the state has repeatedly broken its previous record for new daily cases.
According to reports, before last Thursday, the state had never reported more than 3,000 new cases in a single day. Over the last week, more than 3,000 cases have been recorded every day but one.
Even compared to the week before, the growth has been significant. Data compiled by the state’s health department shows that there were 29,508 total new infections recorded from June 18 to June 24, which is nearly early double the 15,600 new cases confirmed in the week before.
For weeks, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed that the spikes were due to increased testing, an argument President Donald Trump has made repeatedly.
However, numerous experts have said that is not true. While more testing does mean more infections will be found, it is more important to look at the positivity rate— the percentage of tests that are coming back positive. Comparing how many tests are being done to the amount of those tests that are positive is a much more accurate indicator of where a given state is.
According to reports, the percentage of people testing positive in Florida has risen sharply— a fact DeSantis finally admitted after pushing false narratives about testing for weeks.
“Most of that is community transmission particularly amongst the 20- and 30-year-old group. They are testing more than they were, for sure, but they’re also testing positive at a higher rate than they were before,” he said in a press conference Tuesday. “So, that would tell you there’s been an escalation in transmission over the last seven to 10 days.”
However, DeSantis still said he is going ahead with his reopening plans, which have already been some of the earliest and most expansive in the country, and notably include reopening schools in August.
Separately, on Wednesday, when the state saw its highest number of cases ever, DeSantis refused to issue a statewide order requiring people to wear masks.
“Ultimately, you have to trust people to make good decisions,” he said.
Increases in Other States
Florida is not the only state seeing huge spikes. Also on Wednesday, the U.S. as a whole broke its previous record for the highest single day of confirmed cases with 36,880.
Cases are also now rising in more than half of the states, but some have been hit worse than others. Among other states, California and Texas also broke their previous daily case records on Wednesday, with California reporting over 7,100 new cases and Texas reporting over 5,500.
Arizona is another state that has seen large increases in the last few weeks. On Tuesday, the state reported its highest single day of new cases with 3,600. The same day, President Trump held a rally at a megachurch in Phoenix, where he again insisted that testing was the reason for the spikes.
“When you have all those tests, you have more cases,” he said. “We want to do testing. We want to do everything, but they use it to make us look bad.”
Arizona has also seen a huge jump in hospitalizations. As of Monday, around 84% of the state’s ICU beds were in use. But, like DeSantis, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has refused to change his reopening plans.
Leaders of other states with rising cases have taken some actions. California Gov. Gavin Newsom this week issued a state-wide order requiring people throughout the state to wear masks in “high-risk settings.”
However, on Wednesday, Newsom said that he does not plan to pause the state’s reopening, though he is ready to re-impose restrictions if needed.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott basically did the exact opposite, announcing Thursday that he would pause the state’s reopening, but stressing that he does not plan on reversing any of the broad reopening phases he’s already allowed for.
Some states have even taken it a step further. On Wendesday, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut issued a travel advisory requiring people arriving from states with high coronavirus cases to quarantine for 14 days.
Numerous experts and public health officials have said that the new spikes indicate that not only is the U.S. failing to contain the virus, but that it is getting worse.
President Trump, however, has ramped up his efforts to downplay the virus at all costs. In addition to pushing the false claim that the spikes are simply due to increased testing, he also said he directed his administration to slow down testing during a campaign rally over the weekend.
A White House official claimed the remark was a joke, but when asked by a reporter on Tuesday if he had been kidding, a straight-faced Trump responded, “I don’t kid.”
Hours later, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tried to walk back Trump’s remarks.
“He was making was a serious point, and that’s why he said ‘I don’t kid,’” she said. “He was making a serious point, but he was using sarcasm to do that at the rally.”
See what others are saying: (CNN) (USA Today) (The New York Times)
Florida School Says Students Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Must Stay Home for 30 Days
The school falsely claimed that people who have just been vaccinated risk “shedding” the coronavirus and could infect others.
Centner Academy Vaccination Policy
A private school in Florida is now requiring all students who get vaccinated against COVID-19 to quarantine for 30 days before returning to class.
According to the local Miami outlet WSVN, Centner Academy wrote a letter to parents last week describing COVID vaccines as “experimental” and citing anti-vaccine misinformation.
“If you are considering the vaccine for your Centner Academy student(s), we ask that you hold off until the Summer when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease,” the letter reportedly stated.
“Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has debunked the false claim that those newly vaccinated against COVID-19 can “shed” the virus.
According to the agency’s COVID myths page, vaccine shedding “can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus,” but “none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.”
In fact, early research has suggested that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus than unvaccinated people.
Beyond that, unvaccinated people are more likely to spread COVID in general because they are much more likely to get the virus than vaccinated people. According to recently published CDC data, as of August, unvaccinated people were six times more likely to get COVID than vaccinated people and 11 times more likely to die from the virus.
Centner Academy Continues Spread of Misinformation
In a statement to The Washington Post Monday, Centner Academy co-founder David Centner doubled down on the school’s new policy, which he described as a “precautionary measure” based on “numerous anecdotal cases that have been in circulation.”
“The school is not opining as to whether unexplained phenomena have a basis in fact, however we prefer to err on the side of caution when making decisions that impact the health of the school community,” he added.
The new rule echoes similar efforts Centner Academy has made that run counter to public health guidance and scientific knowledge.
In April, the school made headlines when its leadership told vaccinated school employees that they were not allowed to be in contact with any students “until more information is known” and encouraged employees to wait until summer to get the jab.
According to The New York Times, the following week, a math and science teacher allegedly told students not to hug their vaccinated parents for more than five seconds.
The outlet also reported that the school’s other co-founder, Leila Centner, discouraged masking, but when state health officials came for routine inspections, teachers said they were directed in a WhatsApp group to put masks on.
See what others are saying: (WSVN) (The Washington Post) (Business Insider)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (The Daily Mail) (Insider)
Biden Administration Orders ICE To Halt Workplace Raids
The Department of Homeland Security will now focus on targeting employers who exploit undocumented workers, instead of carrying out raids that dissuade those workers from reporting labor violations.
DHS Reverses Worksite Raid Policy
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop workplace raids.
The move marks a reversal from Trump administration policies that have been strongly criticized by immigration activists who argue the efforts created fear in immigrant communities and dissuaded them from reporting labor violations or exploitative employment practices.
In addition to stopping the raids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memo that the administration will refocus enforcement efforts to instead target “employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.”
Mayorkas added that the immigration agencies housed in DHS will have the next 60 days to identify harmful existing policies and come up with new ones that provide better deportation protections for workers who report their employers.
In the Tuesday memo, the secretary argued that shift of focus will “reduce the demand for illegal employment by delivering more severe consequences to exploitative employers” and “increase the willingness of workers to report violations of law by exploitative employers and cooperate in employment and labor standards investigation.”
Labor Market Implications
The new policy comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a critical labor shortage, including in many sectors that rely on immigrant labor.
Some companies that use undocumented workers pay them wages that are far below the market rate, which is not only exploitative but also undercuts competitors.
According to Mayorkas, the pivot to employer-based enforcement will help protect American businesses.
“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” he said in the memo. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”
It is currently unclear how effective the new efforts will be, but historical precedent does not paint an optimistic picture.
The Biden administration’s efforts closely mirror a similar move by the Obama administration, which attempted to reverse workplace raids authorized under President George W. Bush by targetting those who employ undocumented workers rather than the workers themselves.
That effort, however, still led to thousands of undocumented workers being fired.