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CDC Lifts Mask Mandate for Fully Vaccinated People But These States and Stores Still Require Them

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  • The CDC relaxed mask guidelines Thursday for people fully vaccinated against COVID-19, announcing that they no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors in most settings.
  • Governors in Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington all responded by issuing varying degrees of relaxed restrictions.
  • Washington D.C. and several other states — such as California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia — have all kept current restrictions in place for now.
  • A number of retailers have also said they will still require customers to wear masks regardless of state restrictions, including Walmart, Kroger, Target, Starbucks, Macy’s, and Home Depot. 

CDC Lifts Mask Mandate for Fully Vaccinated People 

Despite recently relaxed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several states and companies are continuing to enforce mask requirements.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday while announcing that the agency is no longer recommending that fully vaccinated people need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, in most settings. 

The CDC’s recommendation does not apply to crowded indoor settings such as buses, planes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters. 

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final shot.

What States Are Still Requiring Masks?

A handful of states, all led by Democratic governors, quickly responded to the CDC’s announcement by lifting mask mandates. That’s largely unsurprising given that more than half of U.S. states, mostly led by Republican governors, had already done so.

Starting May 19, Connecticut will follow the CDC’s guidance by lifting the indoor mask mandate for those who are fully vaccinated. The state will also lift size limits and social distancing rules for businesses on that day.

In Illinois, the office of Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has said he will revise the state’s mask mandate so that it is in line with the CDC’s recommendations. Additionally, Pritzker loosened capacity restrictions on businesses Friday, and in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said fully vaccinated people will not count toward capacity limits starting this weekend. 

The governors for Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have all said their states will immediately follow the CDC’s guidance.

Pennsylvania made a similar announcement; however, Philadelphia has chosen to keep its mask requirements in place. 

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that the state would be ending its mask mandate for all starting Friday, but Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) said the city plans to keep its indoor mask requirements until officials have more time to access local data.

Meanwhile, the governors of Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia, as well as the mayor of Washington D.C., said they will review the updated guidance, but for now, mask mandates will remain in effect for everyone.

California also doesn’t seem to be revising its current end date for outdoor mask mandates: June 15. 

Businesses Still Requiring Masks

Many businesses, particularly some of the nation’s top big box chains, will still require customers to wear masks, even if their state does not automatically require people to wear masks indoors.

That includes Walmart, Kroger, Target, Starbucks, Macy’s, and Home Depot. 

Meanwhile, Walgreens, CVS, Publix, Gap, and Ulta have all indicated that they are reviewing the guidelines, but so far, none have revised their mask policies.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Business Insider) (USA Today)

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Philadelphia Will Pay $2M to Black Woman Beaten by Officers Whose Child Was Used in a Pro-Police Social Media Post

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The post from the National Fraternal Order of Police claimed officers found the toddler “lost” and “barefoot,” but the mother’s lawyers said police ripped the child from her vehicle during an unjust stop and caused him to lose his hearing aids. 


$2 Million Settlement

The city of Philadelphia has agreed to pay a $2 million settlement to 29-year-old Rickia Young, a Black woman who was pulled from her car and beaten by police officers last year while trying to navigate through protests spurred by the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. 

Along with the settlement, both an officer and a sergeant have been fired in connection to their treatment of Young that night. Another 14 members of the Philadelphia Police Department are awaiting disciplinary hearings that stem from an internal investigation into the incident. 

The terminations and investigations have not satisfied Kevin Mincey, one of Young’s attorneys. He’s currently calling on District Attorney Lawrence Krasner to file criminal charges against those officers, saying, “If any citizen did something like this, there would be no question they will be charged with aggravated assault as a felony.”

As of Thursday morning, Kranser has not said whether he plans to pursue such charges. 

Police Beating of Rickia Young 

On Oct. 27, 2020, Young said she drove into West Philly to pick up her 16-year-old nephew because he lived near the epicenter of the protests that were happening that night.

On her way back home, she reportedly came across a group of protesters blocking the street while engaging in a standoff with police. The police allegedly ordered her to turn her car around, and according to her attorneys, she complied but paused at one point to avoid hitting protesters running past her car.

From there, Young’s attorneys claimed police surrounded her vehicle. They then allegedly broke her windows with batons before pulling her and her nephew out of the vehicle. According to multiple outlets, the officers began beating her, leaving her with swelling on her face and body, as well as a swollen trachea. A video of this incident later went viral online.

For hours, Young was separated from her toddler, who was removed from the car by police and lost his hearing aids at some point during the night, according to her attorneys. Even after getting her son back, for days, she was without her car. 

Ultimately, neither young nor her nephew were cited. 

Pro-Police Post Involving Young’s Son

Two days after the incident, the National Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police labor union, posted an image to Facebook showing an officer holding a young, Black child.

“This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness,” The caption read. “The only thing this Philadelphia Police Officer cared about in that moment was protecting this child.”

“We are not your enemy. We are the Thin Blue Line. And WE ARE the only thing standing between Order and Anarchy.”

While claiming that she had been abused by police, Young would also go on to claim the “lost” child in the photo was that of her son.

“They’re attempting to erase what happened — police brutality — and turn it instead into police saviorism,” Riley Ross, one of Young’s attorneys said. “It’s another deep wound that they cut.”

After being informed of the background behind the photo, the National Fraternal Order of Police deleted the post with Young’s child.

Still, as Philly council member Isaiah Thomas asked in February, “Who knows how many people there are who’ve seen that original image, but never actually understood that parent was not involved in some type of looting situation as it was displayed unfortunately on social media?”

See what others are saying: (Philadelphia Inquirer) (USA Today) (ABC News)

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TikTok Works To Block “Devious Lick” Trend That Has Kids Stealing School Equipment

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Some schools have even threatened to pursue charges against those stealing or destroying school property.


What Is a Devious Lick?

TikTok is taking action against a new trend on the platform that involves users showing off what they consider impressive thefts they’ve pulled off, often at their own schools.

Users on the app refer to these thefts as “devious licks,” and some standout examples include kids stealing school projectors, street signs, microscopes, fire alarms, and pretty much anything you can imagine.

A lot of students also seem to particularly enjoy targeting school bathrooms, stealing paper towels or soap dispensers and even entire toilets or sinks, sometimes leaving bathrooms totally unusable.

Schools Respond

School officials across the country are obviously unhappy with this trend since it’s leaving their schools destroyed and low on equipment that is expensive to repair or replace.

In fact, many have issued warnings calling for the behavior to stop. Along with threats of suspension, some schools have said they will make families pay for the cost of the damage their child creates. Others even said they would get law enforcement involved.

For instance, Aubrey Chancellor, executive director of communications at North East Independent School District in San Antonio Texas, told Fox News, “It’s important for students to understand what they see on social media is not always a good idea in reality.”

“The students involved face disciplinary action and are expected to pay restitution as well. If possible, charges may be filed as well.”

With the trend generating widespread concerns, TikTok issued a statement Wednesday saying, “We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior.”

See what others are saying: (NBC News)(Desert News)(Gizmodo)

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Walgreens Is Openly Exposing the Data of Millions Who Registered for COVID Tests, Vox Claims

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Vox said the issues stem at least as far back as July 2020 but could potentially trace back to April 2020. Anyone signing up for a test with the pharmacy as of Wednesday will be similarly exposed.


Test Data Exposed

Vox’s Recode published an alarming report Monday that accuses Walgreens of exposing and failing to protect the personal data of millions who signed up for COVID-19 tests through its “sloppy” registration system.

That exposed data reportedly includes people’s name, birthday, gender identity, phone number, address, email information, and in some cases, even their test results. All of this “was left on the open web for potentially anyone to see and for the multiple ad trackers on Walgreens’ site to collect,” Recode reporter Sara Morrison said in the article, published Monday. 

According to Morrison, the exposed data potentially stretches as far back as April 2020, which is when Walgreens first began offering COVID-19 tests, but it definitively traces back at least to July 2020 given Recode’s findings.

The Issue Involves Test Confirmation Links

Security experts cited by Morrison said the vulnerabilities are basic issues that Walgreens, one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country, should have known how to prevent.

Essentially, anyone with a link to an appointment confirmation can view the full confirmation. There’s no need to log in or authenticate your identity any other way.

To make the situation even easier for bad actors, the links used to confirm appointments are exactly the same minus a unique patient ID contained in what’s called a “query string.” With millions of tests confirmed, it’s not hard for a hacker or a bot to start finding active pages, though a Morrison noted, it would be “close to impossible” to find a specific person through this method.

Still, it’s not totally impossible to find a specific person. If a patient views their confirmation link on a shared computer, such as one at work or a public library, anyone with the ability to check that computer’s browser history can click on the link and reap the person’s information. 

“Security by obscurity is an awful model for health records,” Sean O’Brien, founder of Yale’s Privacy Lab, told Recode. 

Walgreens Has Not Fixed the Issue

Even after one tech consultant discovered the issue in March and pointed it out to Walgreens multiple times, the company seemingly did nothing, according to Morrison.

From there, Recode said it informed Walgreens of the findings again and even gave it “time to fix the vulnerabilities before publishing” its piece, but once again, the company failed to do anything. 

As of right now, anyone scheduling a COVID test with Walgreens appears to be at the same level of risk as those who previously registered. Not only is that a concerning privacy issue, but it could also discourage many from getting tested. 

In statements to several outlets, Walgreens has not directly addressed the security concerns. For example, it only told Fox Business that it “routinely evaluate[s] our technology solutions in order to provide safe, secure, and accessible digital services to our customers and patients.”

For those seeking COVID tests and potentially discouraged by this news, it is important to remember that Walgreens isn’t the only pharmacy chain offering free tests. Cities and counties across the country are also continuing to offer free testing sites amid a spike in cases caused by the Delta variant.

See what others are saying: (Recode) (Fox Business) (Reuters)

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