- Uber plans to implement a new policy by the end of the month that will require some customers to verify they are wearing a mask before they can request a ride.
- Passengers will be prompted to take a selfie while wearing a mask only if their most-previous driver reported them for not wearing a mask on that ride.
- Some drivers have applauded Uber for listening to their requests and taking their safety into account, but others online have said the new policy doesn’t go far enough because passengers are only held accountable after the fact.
- Both passengers and drivers can cancel rides without penalty if they report that the other person is not wearing a mask, and Uber has said that if a customer repeatedly violates the mask policy, their account could be deactivated.
Uber’s New Mask Selfie Policy
Uber is preparing to roll out a new feature by the end of the month aimed at protecting drivers by preventing passengers from getting into their vehicle without a mask.
To enforce Uber’s “no mask, no ride” policy that it implemented on May 18, some users will be required to take a selfie while wearing a mask before being able to use the app.
The rule won’t apply to everyone, though. Customers will only be asked to take such photos if a driver reports that they are not wearing a mask. From there, they’ll need to take the picture before being able to request a new ride. Both riders and drivers are currently allowed to cancel a trip without penalty if they report that the other person is not wearing a mask.
The new feature was originally designed to ensure that Uber’s drivers, as well as its delivery people for Uber Eats, were complying with company policy. Reportedly, the feature can even verify whether people’s mouths and noses are still exposed even if they are wearing a mask. It can also detect whether users are simply trying to skirt the rules by putting their hand over their face.
On Tuesday, the company said it had used this feature on more than 3.5 million drivers and delivery people who have completed more than 100 million mask verifications.
Still, customers were not originally required to take mask selfies, and this move likely came following complaints from drivers who found themselves sharing their vehicles with unmasked passengers.
“We firmly believe that accountability is a two-way street,” Sachin Kansal, Uber’s global head of safety, said in a blog post. “That’s why we’re expanding the same technology to riders, too.”
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, ensuring that everyone in an Uber vehicle is wearing a mask could be critically important, as proper social distancing would be highly unlikely. Even if social distancing is possible in some vehicles, both passengers and drivers would still be in a relatively small enclosed space.
The new policy will first roll out in the United States and Canada near the end of September. After that, Uber plans to begin implementing the policy in Latin American countries.
Drivers Cheer New Policy
On social media, many lauded the new policy, including some drivers who believe it will help keep them safer while working.
“Finally!!!!” one driver said on Twitter. “I’ve been asking for that with the passengers since us drivers are required to take a selfie with a mask on before we can get online.”
Finally!!!! As an Uber driver, I’ve been asking for that with the passengers since us drivers are required to take a selfie with a mask on before we can get online.— 🌈🦄🧜🏻♀️CARRI⚾️🏀🏈 (@chitownfan26) September 1, 2020
Others, however, noted what they believe to be blind spots in the new policy that could still lead to coronavirus spread.
“Problem is it only applies to riders who previously were reported by another driver as not complying. SMH,” one Twitter user said.
The policy also would not be able to address instances where people remove their masks after taking the selfie, though a ride could still be canceled.
According to CNN Business, multiple violations of this policy could lead to an account deactivation, but the company did not indicate how many violations a customer would need to accrue for that to happen.
Uber’s Recent Safety Changes
In May, Uber made a number of changes to its operations. In addition to its mask requirement, the company has also reduced the number of people allowed to ride in an Uber X from four to three.
The company has also promised to spend $50 million on its drivers for safety measures. As of September, Uber said it’s distributed more than 50 million face masks and over 800,000 packets of disinfectant sprays, wipes, and hand sanitizer to drivers.
In July, Uber’s coronavirus safety policies were made indefinite.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (USA Today) (San Francisco Gate)
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.