The CDC’s new mask guidelines fail to protect retail workers, a leading union says, as it calls for a national mask mandate in all stores

Grocery store worker, low-wage
“A national mask mandate is the only way we can finally take control of this virus,’ UFCW said.

  • A leading retail union in the US is calling for masks to be mandatory again as COVID-19 cases soar.
  • The UFCW represents 1.3 million retail workers.
  • New CDC recommendations for masks in high-risk areas don’t go far enough, the UFCW said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The CDC changed its guidance around wearing masks on Tuesday, recommending that everyone wears masks indoors – whether they have been vaccinated or not – in areas of the country where COVID-19 cases are soaring.

But one of the US’ leading retail unions says the new guidelines don’t do enough to protect store workers, and say masks should be mandatory again.

“A national mask mandate is the only way we can finally take control of this virus and every retail CEO in the country must recognize that now is the time for all of us to mask up so we can keep our economy open and communities safe,” UFCW international president Marc Perrone said in a statement shared with Insider.

Insider asked leading retailers in the US including Costco, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and Home Depot whether they were updating their mask policies, but did not immediately hear back.

The UFCW represents 1.3 million retail workers in the US. It said that 878 of its members had died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Mandatory masks would help prevent workers from playing “vaccination police,” enforcing different rules in different states, he said.

“Urgent action is needed from states and retailers to strengthen COVID safety enforcement so the burden doesn’t fall on the shoulders or essential workers already stretched thin,” he said.

While some workers are happy to be rid of masks, others fear that fewer masked customers puts them at greater risk of infection.

In May, a Starbucks worker told Insider’s Mary Meisenzahl that she was considering leaving her job after the CDC announced that mask mandates would be lifted.

Larry Barton, a professor of crisis management and public safety at the University of Central Florida, told Insider in

If you have a story to share please contact this reporter at mhanbury@businessinsider.com or via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-4716 using a non-work phone.

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TikTok video shows flight attendant threatening to turn plane around after he said staff were harassed by ‘disgusting’ passengers

American Airlines
  • A passenger on an American Airlines flight took video of passengers berating the flight crew.
  • The person who posted the video to TikTok said it stemmed from an argument over face masks.
  • He said a flight attendant was called a “fat gorilla” for asking a passenger to wear a face mask.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Video shows the moment a flight attendant threatened to turn a plane around after a heated confrontation with a man who hurled vulgarities when asked to put on his mask.

TikTok user Brent Underwood posted multiple videos of his American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Charlotte on June 7, that was diverted to Raleigh, North Carolina for three hours due to bad weather.

In the videos, Underwood explains that a 22-year-old male passenger sitting behind him on the flight called a female flight attendant a “fat gorilla” and told her to “suck my d—” when she asked him to put on his face mask, which is currently mandated under federal law.

Soon after, a male flight attendant spoke to the passengers on the personal address system, saying that if his coworkers continued to be disrespected, he would make the plane go back to the gate.

@brentunderwood

Part 1. @officialamericanairways on 6/7flight from LAX-NC was diverted to Raleigh because of bad weather. We refueled and we’re waiting to take off.

♬ original sound – Brent Underwood

“I understand the delays are frustrating, this is not something we can control,” he said. “But one of the things I will not tolerate is disrespect to any of my flight attendants. We will go back to the gate and you will get arrested if you disrespect any of my flight attendants on board.

“So when we tell you to put your mask on … which is a federal mask mandate, you need to comply,” he continued.

“Once again I will not tolerate any disrespect to my flight attendants. It’s a 30 minute flight down to Charlotte, but I will be happy to go back to the gate and leave you with the cops right here in Raleigh.”

Some time later, another passenger called the flight attendant who spoke a “drama queen,” at which point the flight attendant said that the plane was being turned around.

@brentunderwood

Part 2 @officialamericanairways on 6/7 LAX-NC diverted due to bad weather. 22 year old man calls attendant “Fat Gorilla” & Suck his 🍆 because of 😷

♬ original sound – Brent Underwood

But the flight attendant spoke again and said that they would continue on to Charlotte, but chastised the passengers for their misbehavior.

“We’ve been in this delay with you guys, just like you. We have not eaten also, we’ve been delayed here, we’ve catered to you the entire flight. We do it because we love this job. But the fact that we get insulted and mistreated by passengers over a thing we cannot control, it is disgusting.

“We’re just going to go to Charlotte because we don’t want to escalate this, but shame on the passengers who have made this flight a living hell for the flight attendants,” the flight attendant said.

The flight attendant’s speech was met with a round of applause.

The man who filmed the videos, Brent Underwood, praised the professionalism of the flight attendants in an interview with The Charlotte Observer on Thursday.

“The flight crew did absolutely nothing wrong,” Underwood said. “They were more professional than I would have been.”

American Airlines confirmed to the Charlotte Observer that the tension on the flight was in response to a mask compliance issue.

They issued a statement to the newspaper, saying: “We take the health and safety of our customers seriously, and our crew members work hard to uphold the federal mask mandate that remains in effect on aircraft and in airports.

“We value the trust our customers place in our team to care for them throughout their journey, and we expect those who choose to fly with us to treat each other – and our team members – with respect.”

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GOP Sen. Rand Paul says he refuses to take the COVID-19 vaccine, claims he already has ‘natural immunity’

Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

  • Sen. Rand Paul says that he doesn’t need to be vaccinated because he contracted COVID-19 last year.
  • “I’ve already had the disease and I have natural immunity,” Paul said on WABC 770 AM.
  • Paul has repeatedly clashed with Dr. Anthony Fauci over medical recommendations to fight COVID-19.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Sunday said that he won’t take a COVID-19 vaccination shot to protect against the highly infectious disease.

During a WABC 770 AM radio interview with New York businessman John Catsimatidis, Paul, a trained ophthalmologist, said that he made his decision based on the fact that he already contracted COVID-19 in March 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that individuals who previously had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated because there is no timetable for natural immunity.

Paul said that until he feels assured that immunity through vaccination is more effective than natural immunity, he will skip taking any shots.

“Until they show me evidence that people who have already had the infection are dying in large numbers, or being hospitalized or getting very sick, I just made my own personal decision that I’m not getting vaccinated because I’ve already had the disease and I have natural immunity,” Paul emphasized.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said earlier this month that new studies have shown that vaccines increase any natural protection against new COVID-19 variants that individuals may have had from a previous infection.

“Vaccines, actually, at least with regard to SARS-CoV-2 [the coronavirus] can do better than nature,” he said. “Vaccination in people previously infected significantly boosts the immune response.”

Paul has repeatedly clashed with Fauci over the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last November, Paul blasted Fauci, alleging that he “tends to gloss over the science” on COVID-19 immunity.

“Dr. Fauci is like ‘oh, woe is me,’ until the election occurs and now, maybe he’ll be changing his attitude,” he said.

Paul’s attitude has differed dramatically from that of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, his fellow Bluegrass State Republican, who has supported Fauci and publicly urged Americans to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the interview, Paul said that people who had contracted COVID-19 and recovered did not need to wear masks.

“We have 11 million people in our country who’ve already had COVID,” he said on Fox News at the time. “We should tell them to celebrate. We should tell them to throw away their masks, go to restaurants, live again, because these people are now immune.”

Paul told WABC 770 that taking the COVID-19 vaccine is a personal decision and should not be compulsory.

“In a free country you would think people would honor the idea that each individual would get to make the medical decision, that it wouldn’t be a big brother coming to tell me what I have to do,” he said. “Are they also going to tell me I can’t have a cheeseburger for lunch? Are they going to tell me that I have to eat carrots only and cut my calories?”

He added: “All that would probably be good for me, but I don’t think big brother ought to tell me to do it.”

Read more: Assassination threats, AOC potshots, and wolf teats: 2 wild weeks inside Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Georgia district as it flips a giant middle finger at DC

Paul’s comments come at the US looks to increase the numbers of individuals who are vaccinated after the initial vaccination demand has subsided in recent weeks.

According to the CDC, 61.1 percent of adults have received at least one vaccination shot and 49.2 percent of the adult population is now fully vaccinated.

Since the pandemic began in the US, over 589,000 people have died, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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Americans are returning to the skies in record numbers, with more than 1.8 million people passing through TSA checkpoints for the first time since the pandemic began

tsa
  • TSA screened more than 1.8 million people on Sunday.
  • It was the most travelers to pass through security checkpoints since the pandemic hit last spring.
  • TSA still requires all travelers to wear a face mask when traveling on public transportation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 1,850,531 people at airport security checkpoints on Sunday, marking a new record high number of air travelers since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The previous high was on March 12, when more than 1.3 million people were screened, a number not seen since a year earlier.

Although the number of people traveling has been rising and falling, according to TSA checkpoint data, there are many indicators that people are preparing to travel again as vaccine rollout continues and COVID-19 restrictions become less strict around the country.

Although CDC lifted mask mandates for fully vaccinated people last week, travelers are still required to wear masks on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. Lisa Farbstein, a spokesperson for TSA, said the agency also recommends that all passengers bring an extra mask with them when traveling, as well as hand sanitizer.

After the CDC updated mask guidelines, private businesses, including large retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, Target, and more, are dropping mask mandates for fully vaccinated customers unless local laws are still requiring the face coverings.

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Biden is set to loosen guidelines for wearing masks outside, report says

Biden
President Joe Biden

  • President Joe Biden is expected to announce updated mask-wearing guidance Tuesday, sources told CNN.
  • The update will likely address whether fully vaccinated people need to wear masks outside.
  • The risk of transmitting the coronavirus is much lower outdoors, and likely even lower for vaccinated folks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Americans can expect updates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on outdoor mask-wearing tomorrow.

President Joe Biden will address the nation Tuesday, three inside sources told CNN. Although the specifics of the announcement are unclear, the president’s words will include an update on whether vaccinated people still need to wear masks outdoors.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical officer, hinted Sunday that updated guidance was on the way. He told George Stephanopoulos that evidence shows “outdoor risk is really, really quite low,” and that allowing vaccinated people to go outdoors without masks would be a “common sense” move.

“I believe what the country is going to be hearing soon is updated guidelines from the CDC,” Fauci told ABC News Sunday. “The data backs it up,” he said.

The risk of transmitting the coronavirus outdoors is much lower than in indoor spaces, experts recently told Insider’s Hilary Brueck. And the latest CDC data suggests people who have been fully vaccinated almost never carry COVID-19, and would therefore be unlikely to transmit it.

Currently, the CDC guidance says everyone should wear a mask in “public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household.” Vaccinated folks can take off their masks when gathering with fully vaccinated groups indoors, but the agency has yet to address outdoor mask-wearing.

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Southwest Airlines passengers dance and cheer as couple accused of refusing to wear masks get thrown off flight

Southwest Airlines flight
Passengers on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 flight line up to exit the aircraft after arriving at Houston’s Hobby airport March 20, 2021.

  • A TikTok video shows a woman arguing with a flight attendant about not complying with a mask-wearing mandate.
  • Passengers on the Southwest Airlines flight can be heard heckling and jeering at the passenger.
  • As the woman and her partner are escorted off the flight, those on the plane cheer and dance.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A TikTok video shows an entire plane clapping and cheering after a couple is escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight, Newsweek reported.

In the video shared by user Brendan Edler, a woman is seen arguing with a crew member.

The footage, which is filmed discreetly from three rows back, starts mid-argument.

The dispute revolves around a passenger who refused to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols by not wearing a mask.

Read more: Inside Southwest Airlines’ legendary culture – and how to get hired there

It should be noted that the woman is wearing a mask at the start of the clip.

The reaction of those on the plane, however, suggests this was not the case earlier on.

The woman, whose identity is unknown, is insistent that she did not break the rules. “I did comply,” says the woman to the flight attendant. “You’re saying I didn’t comply and put my mask on when you ask asked me to?”

Shortly after, the woman accuses the flight attendant of not telling the truth. “You’re a liar and you have to live with that,” she is heard saying.

Those on the flight then begin to heckle the woman and start saying their farewells.

“Bye,” shouts one person.

“Get off the plane,” yells another.

“That’s what happens when you don’t say you’re sorry,” someone else can be heard saying.

The woman then stands up, shows her middle finger to those on the plane, and walks off with her traveling companion.

The remaining passengers appear jubilant, with one woman proceeding to dance.

Insider contacted Southwest for further context on the incident. The airline said that it does not have any further details on the situation but provided information on its mask-wearing policy.

“Federal law requires Southwest to ensure every person age two and over to wear a mask at all times throughout a flight, including during boarding and deplaning,” a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said. “We communicate the face-covering mandate to all Customers at multiple touchpoints throughout the travel journey.”

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Biden condemns Texas and Mississippi for ending mask mandates, calling it ‘a big mistake’ and ‘Neanderthal thinking’

biden face mask
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds up a face mask at The Queen theater on October 28, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.

  • President Biden said Texas and Mississippi lifting their mask mandates was “a big mistake” and a result of “Neanderthal thinking.” 
  • Federal health officials are urging Americans to continue wearing masks in public, social distancing, and washing their hands. 
  • The Republican governors of Iowa, Montana, and North Dakota all ended their states’ mask mandates earlier this year.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday called recent decisions in Texas and Mississippi to defy federal public health guidance and lift their face mask mandates “a big mistake” and a result of “Neanderthal thinking.” 

On Tuesday, Texas became the largest state to end its state-wide mask mandate and Mississippi lifted its county-specific mask mandates after ending its state order in September. 

“I hope everyone’s realized by now these masks make a difference,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office. “The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine, take off your mask — forget it. It still matters.” 

He added that it’s “critical, critical, critical that they follow the science: wash your hands — hot water, do it frequently — wear a mask, and stay socially distanced. I know you all know that, I wish to heck some of our elected officials knew it.”

Several states have loosened their COVID-19 mitigation policies in recent weeks and months. The Republican governors of Iowa, Montana, and North Dakota all ended their states’ mask mandates earlier this year. While North Carolina, Michigan, Louisiana, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Chicago, and San Francisco have begun easing restrictions on indoor dining and other activities, they’ve kept their state-wide mask orders in place. 

Federal health officials are urging Americans to continue wearing masks in public, social distancing, and washing their hands. 

“At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Rochelle Walensky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said this week. “Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

 

 

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Ted Cruz rants about comedians, late night TV, and mask-wearing before shouting at people to ‘just have fun’ in wild CPAC speech

ted cruz cpac speech
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex.

  • Ted Cruz’s CPAC speech began with a joke about the Cancun scandal and ended in a guttural scream about freedom.
  • Cruz railed against late night TV, mocked mask-wearing, and expressed his support for Trump.
  • “That is our party,” he yelled, “and these deplorables are here to stay.”
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s speech at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference went off the rails Friday as he shouted about late night comedians, mask-wearing, and President Joe Biden.

“Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice,” Cruz began, referring to the scandal he sparked when he left storm-ravaged Texas for Cancun with his family last week. The Republican senator returned to Houston a day later after drawing sharp criticism for leaving the state he represented for a vacation in the middle of a devastating winter storm.

Later in his speech, Cruz issued a rallying cry in support of former President Donald Trump.

“There are a whole lot of voices in Washington that want to just erase the last four years, want to go back to the world before where we had government of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyists,” he said.

“Where the Republicans’ compelling message was, ‘Republicans: we waste less,'” Cruz continued. “And they look at Donald J. Trump and they look at the millions and millions of people inspired who went to battle fighting alongside President Trump, and they’re terrified and they want him to go away.”

“Let me tell you this right now: Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” Cruz added even though the former president once suggested that the senator’s father helped assassinate John F. Kennedy and insinuated that his wife was ugly.

Here are some other highlights from Cruz’s speech:

  • Mask-wearing is virtue-signaling: “We’re gonna wear masks for the next 300 years,” Cruz said. “And by the way, not just one mask – two, three, four – you can’t have too many masks! How much virtue do you wanna signal?”
  • Railing against comedians and cancel culture before telling people to “just have fun”: “You know, Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t tell comedy anymore because then he jokes that funny is canceled,” Cruz said. “You know, ‘SNL’ is unwatchable. The late night comedy, they stand up and say ‘We hate Donald Trump.’ Yeah, no kidding. We didn’t get that the last 9,000 times you said that.”
  • Democrats are trying to turn skaters into socialists: “And let me tell you, right now, in Los Angeles, there’s some skater kid who’s 19, who’s told that it’s hip and chic and cool to be a leftist socialist, man,” Cruz said. “Who’s gonna hear a message, ‘Wait a second, these guys don’t want me to speak? Think? Have fun? Do what I wanna do?'”
  • There were no “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations in Houston last year because of the Second Amendment: “In Houston where I live, I have to tell you, there weren’t any rioters because let’s be very clear, if there had been, they would discover what the state of Texas thinks about the 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms,” Cruz said.

Cruz rounded out his speech by warning that the US is in a period of “dark days” and that “the country will come back to sanity.” He added: “And mark my words, 2022 is going to be a fantastic election year and so is 2024 as we stand together and defend liberty, defend the Constitution, defend the Bill of Rights of every American.”

In closing, Cruz quoted William Wallace and screamed, “FREEDOM!”

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