PHOTOS: Check out this skyscraper office kitted out with pandemic tech like ultraviolet lasers and cleansing torpedoes

The Shard London
The Shard in London.

  • Some companies are going the extra mile to reassure workers that their offices are hygienic.
  • Mitie, a UK outsourcer, equipped its headquarters with ultraviolet light sprays, stickers, and flippable coasters.
  • Scroll on to take a tour.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The battle over the office return is not only about remote work. Living through a pandemic has fundamentally changed how many see health and safety in the workplace.

According to a Glassdoor-commissioned poll of 1,042 US workers in July 2021, 89% of respondents said they had concerns about returning to the office. Many of their worries centered on commuting and a lack of privacy, but 35% of these were directly concerned that they’d catch COVID-19 from their colleagues.

Some companies are mandating their workers are double-jabbed before returning. But others are adopting whizzy gadgets to reassure their staff.

Mitie is a UK facilities management company that provides outsourced services across multiple sectors including security, office management, healthcare, and logistics.

Since April 2021 it has spent £1 million ($1.4 million) fitting out its sites with COVID-19 safety measures after internal polling suggested workers wanted to feel safe before they returned to the office.

As the company manages serviced offices, it was also thought the the HQ could act as a test case for its wider network, Daniel Guest, chief operating officer of Mitie Technical Services, told Insider.

All the devices had their uses before the pandemic, but have been tailored for use during COVID-19 and beyond.

Insider was given a tour of Mitie’s HQ, located on the 12th floor of the UK’s tallest building, the Shard, to see what workers can expect.

Thermal scanners check your temperature upon arrival

Thermal scanners take guest's temperature upon arrival.
Thermal scanners take guest’s temperature upon arrival.

On entrance to the 12th floor, guests are thermally scanned to detect whether they have a high temperature — usually 37 degrees or above.  

If a person is too hot, they’re asked to wait 10 minutes before trying again.

Masks are not compulsory, but a strict one-way system is in place — and it is adhered to (mostly) and denoted by stickers on the floor. Employees pre-book their visits through the company’s workplace app, which also tracks capacity.  

“From a COVID-19 point of view, we have tried to make everything really visible,” said Mitie’s Guest.

 

Digital boards with information about all the new tech are dotted around

Signs provide Mitie workers and guests with information about the COVID-19 safety measures.
Workers can scan QR codes if they want to know more about the safety-tech.

Information leaflets, virtual boards, and posters are placed around the office enabling staff to scan a QR code to find out how the tech works. 

Flippable coasters signal if an area is clean

Red flippable coaster indicates that the table is not clean.
This coaster says: Don’t sit here.

Mitie’s open-plan canteen features a more simple safety innovation — red/green coasters.

Each table comes equipped with a small, red or green circle. If a table is clean and safe to sit at the coaster will be green side up, if it’s still dirty it will be red. It’s not a fool-proof measure, but it’s designed to give people a little extra confidence.

‘Torpedoes’ designed to cleanse the air

Tables below a 'torpedo' designed to cleanse the air at Mitie's Shard HQ. One of many covid measures introduced.
Torpedoes sit above the tables.

Hanging at regular intervals throughout the office are a series of metal cylinders. Embossed text on the side reads: “Hi, I’m here to disinfect the air so you can breathe easy.”

There are 80 ‘torpedoes’ throughout the building, each unit —  manufactured by the Belgian firm Luxebel —  typically covers a floor space of 25 square metres, but it differs depending on the exact floor plan.

Air is sucked in through the unit and treated using ultraviolet light before being pumped out back into the office. 

Here’s how they look up close

Torpedo 'cleanses' the air at Mitie's UK HQ, just one of many covid measures.
A torpedo mounted to the ceiling.

Stickers indicate ‘high-contact areas’

Stickers indicate 'high-contact areas'
These areas will be cleaned more frequently.

After inspecting the torpedoes, we’re led through a door into a meeting room. There’s a small round sticker stuck above the handle which reads: “Sparkle Area”. 

These are used to indicate frequently touched, potentially high transmission areas, so that they are cleaned more frequently. There’s also usually hand sanitizer located nearby. They’re on all door handles, and cupboards, the communal hot-tap and the tea and coffee in the staff kitchen. 

UVC disinfected meeting rooms

A meeting room at Mitie's London Shard HQ, UVC lights hang from the ceiling to clean the room.
The UVC sprayers look like they could be lights.

Another otherwise typical meeting room features two square ceiling tiles hanging in the centre of the room. These emit ultraviolet light onto surfaces to kill germs and any droplets following a meeting. 

It’s similar to the technology regularly used in operating theatres. It’s not as visually pleasing as it sounds — a blue light and humming indicates that the machine is on, but there is little in the way of physical beams. A cleaning cycle takes around 10 minutes or so. 

Ultraviolet radiation can be toxic for humans, so the system doesn’t work if anyone is in the room. The door is locked and then activated manually at the push of a button. A sticker chart left on the table changes colour to indicate how much ultraviolet has saturated the surface. 

The cleaning device up close

UVC disinfection device at Mitie's London Shard HQ.
UVC disinfection device.

How necessary are measures like this?

Establishing trust — and importantly trust that the employer cares — will be important in order to reassure people to return to the office said Claudia Crummenerl, vice president of the people and organization at Capgemini Invent. To establish that trust companies will have to take “extra precautions”.

It is a balance however, adds Crummenerl. Trust levels will depend on individuals as well firm culture and the attitude of managers. 

Guest says the measures have a wider purpose beyond simply protecting people from COVID-19. “If we think about the workplace of the past there’s always been sickness, there’s always been illness about, so we see it as a long-term thing.”

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1 in 3 new COVID-19 cases over the past week were in 2 states – Texas and Florida, White House official says

A Florida woman ireceives a coronavirus test in her car.
New cases of COVID-19 in Florida have grown by more than 400% since the start of July 2021.

  • A third of new US COVID-19 cases over the past week were in Texas and Florida, the White House said.
  • The highly infectious Delta variant accounts for more than 80% of new cases in both states.
  • Jeff Zients, a White House official, said getting vaccinated was the best way to stop the spread.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A third of all US cases in the past week were in two states – Texas and Florida.

That’s according to Jeff Zients, coronavirus response coordinator at the White House, who said Tuesday that “one in three cases nationwide occurred in Florida and Texas, this past week.”

The US recorded 598,214 new cases over the past seven days, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Texas recorded 68,525 new weekly cases on Tuesday. Florida recorded 110,724 new cases during the same period, according to Johns Hopkins University, for a combined total of about 180,000.

Florida’s weekly tally is just short of its record high for the entire pandemic, of 111,574 cases over a week in January.

Zients said in the briefing that the White House remained “concerned” about the rise in cases driven by the Delta variant. Delta is at least 50% more infectious than the formerly dominant Alpha variant, and has mutations that help it to avoid the immune response.

It now accounts for more than 80% of new cases in both Florida and Texas, according to Scripps’ University Outbreak.info, which uses Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.

Zients said that COVID-19 vaccines were the “the tool that is most important.” Cases were “concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates,” he said.

Read more: Experts explain why the mRNA tech that revolutionized COVID-19 vaccines could be the answer to incurable diseases, heart attacks, and even snake bites: ‘The possibilities are endless’

In Florida and Texas, 50.4% and 45.1% of the population are fully-vaccinated respectively, compared to the national average of 49.7%.

For comparison, about 68% of people in Vermont and Rhode Island are fully-vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Zients added that the seven states with the lowest vaccination rates – representing 8% of Americans – accounted for more than 17% of cases.

As of Tuesday, the states with the lowest vaccination rates were Alabama, Mississippi, Wyoming, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, and Idaho, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The seven states with the highest number of new daily cases per 100,000 people were Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas, Mississipi, Alabama, Missouri, and Oklahoma, according to Covid Act Now, which mostly uses CDC data.

Zients said that “there are still about 90 million eligible Americans who are unvaccinated, and we need them to do their part.”

They should “roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Obama is throwing his 60th birthday bash on Martha’s Vineyard with hundreds of guests amid Delta variant concerns

Obama and daughter Martha's Vineyard
Former President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia on Martha’s Vineyard.

  • Barack Obama is throwing his 60th birthday party outdoors on Martha’s Vineyard, Axios reported.
  • Sources said the party will have a “COVID-coordinator” and that guests are asked to be vaccinated.
  • The CDC updated mask guidelines for vaccinated people last week over Delta variant concerns.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Barack Obama is planning a massive outdoor party on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts next weekend to celebrate his 60th birthday as concerns over the Delta coronavirus variant rise.

Sources told Axios the hundreds of guests expected to be in attendance are asked to be vaccinated and that there will be a “COVID-coordinator” to make sure relevant protocols are followed. A source also said negative COVID-19 tests are required for every guest, but didn’t give details on how that would be monitored.

The party is likely to be a star-studded event, with Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney rounding out the guest list, one source told The Hill.

Read more: Fight the Delta variant, but don’t let it stop the reopening

Obama’s 55th birthday party, held at the White House, was attended by Paul McCartney, Nick Jonas, Ellen DeGeneres, Stevie Wonder, and Magic Johnson.

Sources told Axios and The Hill the party is being held at the Obama’s $12 million waterfront mansion. The seven-bedroom home sits on nearly 30 acres and has a swimming pool and private beachfront.

The party is being held amid renewed COVID-19 concerns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended this week that everyone, vaccinated or not, should wear masks indoors in areas of the country with substantial or high coronavirus transmission.

Dukes County, where Martha’s Vineyard is located, only has moderate community transmission, according to the CDC.

The updated guidance was prompted by new data on the Delta variant that showed vaccinated people can spread it as easily as the unvaccinated, Insider’s Hilary Brueck reported.

The study the CDC considered was on an outbreak in an unnamed town in Massachusetts, a state with a high vaccination rate, that held multiple large gatherings, indoor and outdoor, in early July. Local media reports made clear the town was Provincetown, located on Cape Cod, which is north of Martha’s Vineyard.

The study found 745 of the COVID-19 cases, or 346 infections, were among the fully vaccinated.

The CDC said the vaccines are still incredibly effective at preventing hospitalization or death, which is what they were intended to do, including with the Delta variant.

Read the original article on Business Insider

NIH director says school mask rules for kids under 12 is the ‘best thing’ to reduce spread of COVID-19

francis collins NIH director
Dr Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Washington, U.S., September 9, 2020.

Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, said on Sunday that “masks are the best thing we’ve got right now” to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools as students are gearing up to return to class.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended people wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, as some areas have recorded surging case counts in recent weeks.

Children younger than 12 years old aren’t currently approved to receive any of the COVID-19 vaccines. In its guidance for K-12 schools, the CDC emphasizes the importance of encouraging vaccinations among eligible student populations, in addition to “other prevention strategies” like social distancing and wearing masks indoors.

“When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet … it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking,” the agency said.

Collins on Sunday acknowledged the confusion over guidelines in workplaces, schools, and other public spaces as new case counts rise aross the US.

“I know people are frustrated, and it’s gotten very political, and people are looking for someone to blame. Just put all that aside and look at the facts,” Collins said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If Delta is as contagious as we now know it is, and we want to try to put an end to what is a very significant uptick right now, wearing masks, if you’re under 12 and can’t be vaccinated when you’re in school, is a really smart thing to do.”

Read more: Internal CDC document warns ‘the war has changed’ with the more infectious Delta variant

Collins also on Sunday emphasized the harrowing total of COVID deaths in the US. According to data from John Hopkins University, there have been nearly 620,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic as of August 1.

“If we are going to be able to continue, whether in business or in school, to do things that we really value, putting the mask on is the best way to ensure that things don’t get worse,” Collins said. “So it seems like a sacrifice worth making.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

UK: Uber and food-delivery app Deliveroo to offer discounts to vaccinated customers

A Deliveroo rider cycles through central London
A Deliveroo rider cycles through central London

  • The UK government has announced a partnership with businesses to encourage uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The scheme includes ride-sharing apps Uber and Bolt, and the food delivery app Deliveroo.
  • The aim is to get more young people, aged 18-29, vaccinated.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Several UK ride-sharing and food delivery apps are offering discounts to young people who get their COVID-19 vaccine.

Food delivery and taxi firms including Uber, Bolt, Deliveroo, and Pizza Pilgrims will offer discounts as a part of the Government drive to have more young people take their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Uber will be sending notifications to all users in August to urge them to get the vaccine and will offer discounted rides and meals on Uber Eats for young adults who get the jab.

Bolt – another popular taxi app – will be offering free ride credit to vaccination centers.

Deliveroo will be offering vouchers to young people who get their vaccine, with Pizza Pilgrims joining on a similar offer.

A Deliveroo spokesman said: “We want to do our small part to support the NHS during the pandemic, including delivering a million free meals to frontline NHS staff and vaccine centers. This is the next step in helping people get vaccinated and safely back to normal.”

Thom Elliot, Pizza Pilgrims Founder, said: “By making getting your jab as easy as grabbing a pizza, hopefully, we can help our teams and our customers get both their first and second doses as easily and quickly as possible. Watch this space for more details.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I’m delighted that more than two-thirds of young people in England have already had a first dose of a vaccine, helping to build a wall of defense around our country.

“Thank you to all the businesses who are stepping up to support this important vaccine drive. Once available, please go out and take advantage of the discounts.”

The UK has a high vaccination rate, with 88.4% of eligible people having received one dose, and 71.8% had received two.

This particular campaign is focusing on the 33% of people aged 18-29 who have not received a first dose of the vaccine.

This campaign comes as the UK sees a decline in the recent peak in COVID-19 cases, which at its peak saw almost 43,000 cases of COVID-19 be diagnosed in a single day.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Florida nightlife is going wild and college students refuse to stop the party even as the Delta variant of the coronavirus rips through the state

A crowd of people parties in a nightclub
In Florida, some students are vowing that, even as the Delta variant of the coronavirus surges, the party just won’t stop.

  • The state of Florida is saturated with the highly-transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.
  • Meanwhile, colleges across the state are preparing to open their doors for the fall semester.
  • Undergrads at schools statewide told Insider that their plans to keep partying aren’t slowing down.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On a recent Saturday night in July, the vibrations of EDM music pulsating from bars and nightclubs along Atlantic Avenue drifted into the palm fronds and sliced through the humid Florida air.

In the heart of Palm Beach County, a throng of 20-somethings snaked down the block outside The Office, a local nightlife venue in Delray Beach, poised to elbow their way toward the crowded bar and order rounds of shots.

Across the road at Taverna Opa, another late-night party scene, a DJ spun some tracks to a crowd of dozens as belly dancers stood on top of wooden tables and swerved through the air.

During the worst surges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida hotspots like these have counted on the loyalty of one oftentimes carefree constituency: local college students who, come Saturday night, are ready to get lit.

“I don’t think I can really name a whole lot of people that don’t go out,” Nicole Prescott, 23, a drama student at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, told Insider. She’s noticed that masks have been a rarity throughout the spring and summer on the few occasions she’s gone out with friends since receiving her Pfizer shots.

“Being so lax about protocols and just letting people go through life however they want with COVID is really dangerous,” she added.

Across Florida, the highly-transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus is surging. As of July 30, more than 38,000 new COVID cases were reported in the state, versus 2,319 one month before, according to a database maintained by the New York Times.

On a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map which designates counties as red zones if they’ve experienced high levels of community spread, all of Florida is illustrated in crimson. Less than half of the adult population has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Nevertheless, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed an executive order in May which ended all mask mandates local governments in the state had imposed on their residents. In September, he rolled back restrictions on restaurants’ operating capacity, months before vaccines were available.

On Friday, DeSantis issued another executive order, this one prohibiting schools from requiring mask-wearing in the classroom, even after the CDC recommended this week that K-12 students and staff do exactly the opposite.

‘They’re just going out and not caring at all’

Insider interviewed seven undergrads from five universities throughout the state: the University of Miami, the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida State University in Tallahassee, Palm Beach State College, and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

In spite of the virus’ growing threat, the consensus from these students was that the party is far from over.

For Brianna Pope, 20, a Palm Beach State College nursing major, the nightclubs in Fort Lauderdale’s cosmopolitan Las Olas district are the most tempting draw.

Weekend nights out typically begin around 10 P.M., she told Insider. On the dance floors of popular hotspots, masks aren’t part of the dress code.

“They’re just going out and not caring at all,” Pope said. “When you go down there, there’s really no one wearing masks or anyone taking precautions.”

Schools vary on requirements for masking or social distancing as the semester begins

The University of Florida, a state school in Gainesville, is known as much for its athletic culture as for its undergrads’ hard-charging party scene.

In an emailed statement on Saturday, a spokesperson for the university told Insider that classes will resume in-person this semester without physical distancing. Wearing masks will be optional, though vaccines are highly encouraged for students, faculty, and staff.

At Palm Beach State College, which operates multiple sites throughout the county, the school strongly recommends face coverings on campus, inside classrooms and offices, and outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible, according to an internal email sent in late July by administrators which reviewed by Insider.

Spokespersons for Palm Beach State College did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Saturday.

Fears are mounting over what the fall semester could bring

The very real prospect of coronavirus outbreaks in student residences has some housing administrators putting preemptive restrictions into place.

Insider reviewed an email sent by Shawn Woodin, president and CEO of the Southern Scholarship Foundation, which provides off-campus housing for 470 students in cities including Tallahassee and Gainesville.

The email, sent on July 29, informed students that face coverings would be required within any of its 26 housing sites where fewer than 80% of residents are fully vaccinated. Having guests will be forbidden in any of those houses.

When reached by phone on Saturday, Woodin told Insider that fewer than 50% of residents ages 18-23 reported that they had been fully inoculated against the virus, based on data he’d reviewed.

“Based on the spring semester, I know that, as college students, some of our residents were going to parties, gatherings, that should have not have happened,” Woodin said. “Will those behaviors continue? I hope not, but it’s likely some of our residents will.”

Nevertheless, some students are wary of what the autumn semester may have in store as school gets underway.

“Some students might ignore the CDC guidelines and prioritize having fun,” said Daniel Gallup, 20, a student at the University of Florida who received the Pfizer vaccine in March.

“But I’m going to follow the recommendations,” he added, “because going out isn’t worth getting sick and spreading it to anyone else, especially people I care about.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Royal Caribbean says 6 guests – 4 of whom were vaccinated – tested positive onboard a Bahamas cruise

Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas ship
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas ship.

  • Six guests tested positive onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise in the Bahamas, despite the cruise line’s safety precautions.
  • Four of those who tested positive were vaccinated, and two were unvaccinated children.
  • The cruise line requires all crew members and guests over 16 to be fully vaccinated.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Six guests tested positive for the coronavirus onboard the Adventure of the Seas, a cruise ship sailing from Nassau in the Bahamas, Royal Caribbean confirmed to Insider on Friday.

Of the four vaccinated adults and two unvaccinated children who tested positive for COVID-19, only one is experiencing mild symptoms, while the rest are asymptomatic, the company said.

According to Royal Caribbean, the infected guests were quarantined and the people they were in close contact with tested negative. They got off the ship in Freeport, Bahamas, and took private transportation home. Morgan Hines, a USA Today reporter sailing on the ship, originally broke the news on Twitter.

All crew members and passengers over the age of 16 have to be fully vaccinated and test negative before being allowed onboard the ship, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said. Royal Caribbean also requires unvaccinated guests to purchase travel insurance, making cruising more expensive for the unvaccinated.

On Royal Caribbean ships, passengers who don’t present a vaccination card showing that they’re fully vaccinated have to wear masks and pay out-of-pocket for extra COVID-19 tests. Vaccinated passengers are allowed to take off their masks in certain parts of the ship that are designated as “vaccinated-only venues.”

On June 26, a Royal Caribbean ship sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Mexico and the Bahamas was the first cruise to sail from the US since the start of the pandemic. Changes to the cruising experience included extra hand-sanitizing stations by elevators and restaurants and intensive care beds and ventilators. The ship sailed at around a third of its capacity, and over 95% of passengers were vaccinated, according to CDC guidelines.

The Adventure of the Seas isn’t the first cruise to see positive COVID-19 tests. On July 12, an American Cruise Line Alaska cruise saw two guests and one crew member test positive.

The Adventure of the Seas is currently off the coast of the Bahamas and was cruising to Nassau, according to CruiseMapper.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden calls on local governments to give out $100 to anyone getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Two vials labelled Coronavirus vaccine and a syringe seen displayed on one hundred US dollar banknotes.
Two vials labelled Coronavirus vaccine and a syringe seen displayed on one hundred US dollar banknotes.

  • Biden is calling for local governments to offer $100 to people getting the first shot of the vaccine.
  • The US Treasury Department said governments should use COVID relief funds to pay for the incentives.
  • The announcement comes amid increased concern over the spread of the Delta variant.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is calling on state, territorial, and local governments to offer $100 to anyone getting newly vaccinated, according to a statement from the US Treasury Department.

The push comes amid increased concern over the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 57.2% of all Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The CDC announced new recommendations on Tuesday, recommending people wear masks indoors in areas with “substantial or high” COVID transmission rates. Some cities are also starting to pay people to get a shot.

New York City announced on Wednesday that it would be providing a $100 vaccine incentive to anyone getting their first dose starting on Friday.

The announcement said Biden wants the new program to be funded with $350 billion in state and local relief funding from the stimulus law. It passed with only Democratic support in March.

It’s unclear how many state and local governments will take up the administration’s new proposed initiative. Lawmakers are already eyeing repurposing roughly $200 billion in unspent coronavirus relief funding to finance a bipartisan infrastructure deal. Many states have already parceled out their aid to cover the cost of providing healthcare or paying the salaries of essential workers. Some like California provided direct payments to their residents.

Earlier this year, 14 Democratic state treasurers sent a letter to lawmakers urging Congress against “clawing back” stimulus funds for infrastructure.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders attends Phish concert in Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders visits "The Story with Martha MacCallum" on September 17, 2019 in New York City.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders visits “The Story with Martha MacCallum” on September 17, 2019 in New York City.

  • The Trump press secretary turned gubernatorial candidate was spotted at a Phish concert in Fayetteville, AK on Wednesday
  • The concert was the band’s first since February 2020.
  • Arkansas is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in the midst of a campaign for Governor of Arkansas, was spotted at a Phish concert on Wednesday night at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

A photo published in POLITICO on Thursday showed the former White House press secretary wearing sunglasses at the event.

The Fayetteville concert was the band’s first since February 2020, and marks the beginning of a much-anticipated summer tour. But it also comes amid a surge of COVID cases and hospitalizations in the state.

Amid concerns over the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, Phish has encouraged fans to get the coronavirus vaccine before coming to their shows. “The best thing you can possibly do before coming to a show is to GET VACCINATED!” the band said on their website on Wednesday.

The band also encouraged fans to wear masks at concert venues.

“As social distancing is not possible inside the venues, we highly recommend wearing a mask at these outdoor shows when closer than 6 feet to others, regardless of whether or not you’re vaccinated,” said the band. “Being vaccinated AND wearing a mask at these shows is the best way you can show love and respect for our incredible community.”

On Sunday, Huckabee Sanders wrote an op-ed in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette encouraging Arkansas to take the “Trump vaccine.” Only 36% of Arkansans are fully vaccinated, according to the New York Times.

Huckabee Sanders did not appear to be wearing a mask at the concert.

Read the original article on Business Insider

1 in 5 flight attendants say they’ve had a passenger get physically aggressive with them: ‘This is not a ‘new normal’ we are willing to accept’

A woman throws a punch at a second woman, who blocks it, during a training.
An Air Tran Airlines flight attendant learns how to deal with a knife-wielding attacker in a self-defense course at the company headquarters in Atlanta, Ga.

  • Nearly 1 in 5 flight attendants said they experienced a physical altercation with unruly passengers.
  • The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA surveyed 5,000 workers regarding aggressive passengers.
  • The AFA has requested the federal government step in to prevent violent altercations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Nearly one in five flight attendants has been in a physical altercation with unruly passengers this year.

In a survey of 5,000 flight attendants by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union, 17% reported experiencing a physical incident in the first half of 2021.

More than 85% of respondents said they had dealt with unruly passengers this year, and 61% of flight attendants said they heard racist, sexist, or homophobic slurs during altercations.

“This survey confirms what we all know, the vitriol, verbal and physical abuse from a small group of passengers is completely out of control, and is putting other passengers and flight crew at risk,” said Sara Nelson, president of AFA-CWA. The union is asking for more support from federal agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Read more: Delivery’s richest CEO Tony Xu has been quietly funding 2 ghost kitchens built by Uber Eats and DoorDash alums – and his bets reveal the next big trend in the industry, experts say

“It is time to make the FAA ‘zero tolerance’ policy permanent, the Department of Justice to utilize existing statute to conduct criminal prosecution, and implement a series of actions proposed by our union to keep problems on the ground and respond effectively in the event of incidents,” Nelson said.

Aggressive, disruptive passengers have become commonplace in the air, flight attendants told Insider. As of early July, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed fines of nearly $700,000 for disruptive passengers this year.

The AFA survey found 71% of flight attendants who filed incident reports received no follow-up and a majority “did not observe efforts to address the rise in unruly passengers by their employers.”

About 75% of reports of aggressive passengers involved disputes over masks, the FAA said. President Joe Biden mandated Americans wear masks while flying soon after taking office.

But Nelson said “this is not just about masks as some have attempted to claim. There is a lot more going on here and the solutions require a series of actions in coordination across aviation.”

Several flight attendants said their mental health has deteriorated due to the increase in passenger aggression. A Harvard psychologist told Insider’s Avery Hartmans the aggression stems from the fear and anxiety COVID-19 placed on Americans the past year and a half.

“This is not a ‘new normal’ we are willing to accept,” said Nelson, the union president. “We will be sharing survey findings with FAA, DOT, TSA, and FBI to help more fully identify the problems and our union’s proposed actions to affect positive change.”

Read the original article on Business Insider