Facebook will require all US employees wear masks on its office campuses, even if they’re fully vaccinated

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Facebook’s US employees will have to wear masks in offices from Wednesday onwards.
  • The mask policy applied to all employees, including fully vaccinated people, Facebook told CNBC.
  • Facebook on Thursday told staff that they must be fully vaccinated before they return to the office.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook on Monday announced it would require all US employees to wear masks on the company’s office campuses, even if they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19, CNBC first reported.

The new policy will start on Wednesday and remain until further notice. “The health and safety of our employees and neighbors in the community remains our top priority,” a spokeswoman for the company said in a statement to CNBC.

“Given the rising numbers of COVID cases, the newest data on COVID variants, and an increasing number of local requirements, we are reinstating our mask requirement in all of Facebook’s U.S. offices, regardless of an employee’s vaccination status,” the spokeswoman said.

The mask policy comes the week after the social-media giant announced that staff coming into US offices must be fully vaccinated.

Read more: Media companies including Bloomberg, The Washington Post, and ViacomCBS detail their return-to-office plans as workers push for flexibility after the pandemic

It was prompted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated guidelines, which recommended vaccinated people wear masks indoors because they still transmit the virus. It comes as COVID-19 cases are spiking in the US, fueled by the more infectious Delta variant.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, followed suit, has also said all employees should wear masks in its office, regardless of their vaccination status, as they return to work.

Insider asked Facebook for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

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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.”

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Dr. Fauci warns ‘things are going to get worse’ due to Delta variant surges, but doesn’t foresee more lockdowns

Fauci
  • Dr. Fauci warned that “things will get worse” as cases of the Delta variant continues to spike.
  • “We’re looking not towards lockdown, but we’re looking towards some pain and suffering in the future,” Fauci told ABC.
  • Fauci reiterated the efficacy of vaccines and said “the solution to this is to get vaccinated.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical advisor, warned Sunday that “things will get worse” with “pain and suffering ahead” in the current surge in COVID-19 cases in the US, primarily driven by the Delta variant.

“Are we headed towards a period once again where we’re going to see lockdowns, businesses shut down, masks routine for everybody, or is this potentially just a temporary setback?,” ABC’s Jon Karl asked Fauci on Sunday morning.

“Jon, I don’t think we’re going to see lockdowns. I think we have enough of the percentage of people in the country, not enough to crush the outbreak, but I believe enough to allow us to not get into the situation we were in last winter,” Fauci said. “But things are going to get worse. If you look at the numbers, the seven-day average has gone up substantially.”

Fauci added that “we are seeing an outbreak of the unvaccinated,” highlighting the efficacy of vaccines against COVID-19 illness.

Vaccines have proven remarkably effective against both symptomatic infections and severe disease. Less than 0.8% of fully vaccinated Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, according to estimates, with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stating that 97% of those hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“We’re looking not towards lockdown, but we’re looking towards some pain and suffering in the future because we’re seeing the cases go up, which is why we’re saying over and over again that the solution to this is to get vaccinated, and this would not be happening,” Fauci said.

Nationwide, COVID-19 cases have risen by 148%, hospitalizations by 73%, and deaths by 13% over the past 14 days, according to a New York Times database, primarily driven by the contagious Delta variant.

The spike in cases caused the Centers for Disease Control to formally recommend that even fully vaccinated Americans wear face coverings indoors in communities with substantial or high COVID-19 spread, which now encompasses most of the country.

Currently, 44 US states and the District of Columbia have substantial or high COVID-19 spread, according to CDC data, are thus subject to the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors.

The Delta surge is hitting communities with the lowest vaccination rates the hardest, spurring new, urgent efforts to get reluctant Americans vaccinated.

In four of the five states with the highest rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, (Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama), less than 50% of residents have received even one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and less than 40% are fully vaccinated, according to The Times.

Expanded Coverage Module: coronavirus-module

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Capitol Hill staffers: tell us how your office is handling the Delta variant and new COVID-19 protocols

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi puts on her face mask on July 30, 2021.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi puts on her face mask on July 30, 2021.

  • The House of Representatives has a mask mandate again due to the rise of the Delta variant.
  • Capitol Hill staffers: tell us your office’s COVID-19 protocols, and if you feel safe at work.
  • Email us at congresstips@insider.com or message us on Signal at 1-202-567-7343.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

COVID-19 is back at the Capitol.

With the Delta variant of the coronavirus surging in the US, the Office of the Attending Physician announced this week that masks would once again be required when visiting the House of Representatives. The notice followed recent Centers for Disease Control guidance that even vaccinated people should resume wearing masks indoors in certain circumstances because they may transmit the Delta variant.

On Capitol Hill, the move prompted partisan debate, with Democrats and Republicans firing insults at each other over the reinstated mandates.

As lawmakers duke it out, Insider wants to hear from the thousands of staff who work for them about how their offices are handling the latest surge of COVID-19 – and whether they feel safe working in Congress or their district office. We’ll keep you anonymous.

What are your office’s COVID-19 policies and procedures? How have they changed due to the Delta variant? How are the protocols being communicated in your office? How do you feel about the changing policies?

If you have a copy, send a picture or screenshot. (If your office doesn’t have any rules, that’s worth telling us too.)

Email us at congresstips@insider.com or message us on Signal at 1-202-567-7343.

We’re also interested in hearing about the following if you have information:

  • Does your office require you to be vaccinated? If so, do they verify?
  • Is your office or committee complying with the newly-reinstated House mask mandate and CDC recommendations? Yes, or no?
  • Have there been COVID-19 outbreaks among staffers in the last two weeks? Have you or others had to quarantine because of potential exposure?
  • Is your office making it mandatory to work in person? Is your office mandating masks?
  • Do you agree with the new mask guidelines in the House? Why or why not?

Insider is committed to covering Capitol Hill as a workplace and telling the stories of the employees who work there, including on the burnout and low salaries staffers face. Here are some examples:

Read the original article on Business Insider

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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The CDC now recommends masks for vaccinated people – but at least 6 major cities had already told residents to mask up again

la mask requirement
Lilian Zhu, 17, works at her laptop inside Charlie’s Coffee House in South Pasadena, California, on July 18, 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Tuesday that vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings – a change from the previous guidelines, which suggested vaccinated people didn’t need masks. The new rules apply to areas of the country with high rates of coronavirus transmission, as well as K-12 schools, the CDC said.

Some vaccinated Americans, though, have already been told to mask up again.

Amid a rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Delta variant, at least six cities have issued new mask guidance in the last few weeks. Los Angeles and St. Louis have instated official mask mandates for all residents, while New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle have recommended masks.

Some cities have also reissued mask mandates for specific indoor settings. Clark County, Nevada – which includes Las Vegas – began requiring masks in court facilities last week. Public schools in Atlanta, Chicago, and New York City will require students and staff to wear masks this school year, regardless of their vaccination status. And in Hawaii, the government is waiting until more residents are vaccinated before lifting its indoor mask mandate.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Fox News that these local mask requirements are “quite understandable” given Delta’s prevalence in the US.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Tuesday that vaccinated people infected with Delta may be contagious and spread the virus to others. Data on previous variants indicated that vaccinated people were less likely to transmit the virus than unvaccinated people.

At least 6 cities have issued new mask guidance

New Orleans mask
An employee at Turtle Bay, a bar in the French Quarter, wears a mask as he takes the names and contact information of people walking in on May 16, 2020.

The San Francisco Bay Area was among the first places to buck the no-mask trend in July. Several Bay Area counties, including San Francisco County, began recommending masks for all people – vaccinated or not – in indoor spaces like theaters, grocery stores, and retail stores starting July 16. In nearby San Mateo County, masks are now required, even for fully vaccinated people, inside county offices, clinics, and public facilities.

Los Angeles County also reinstated its indoor mask mandate on July 18 following a sharp uptick in cases. Average daily cases more than doubled there in the first two weeks of July, then tripled by the third week.

In New Orleans, health officials issued a “mask advisory” instead of a mandate. The city’s “inadequate vaccination rate” was part of the reason for that rule, they said. New Orleans has the second-highest vaccination rate in Louisiana – around 57% of residents have received at least one dose – but cases have still increased 10-fold there since the start of July.

two students sitting at their desks, wearing masks
Students wearing masks listen to their teacher during third grade summer school in Los Angeles, June 23, 2021.

On Thursday, Philadelphia also “strongly recommended” that all residents wear masks inside public places. James Garrow, a spokesperson for the city’s health department, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that officials were concerned about an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations among the city’s unvaccinated children.

King County, Washington, which includes Seattle, followed suit with a similar recommendation on Friday. Health officials now advise that all residents ages 5 and up wear masks in indoor public settings – despite the fact that King County is one of the most vaccinated counties in the US. (Around 72% of residents have received at least one dose.)

“This extra layer of protection will help us all stay safer, including those who are unvaccinated, such as the 300,000 children in King County who aren’t able to get vaccinated yet, and the many thousands of people who have immune systems that are weakened or suppressed,” the county said in a statement.

St. Louis County, Missouri, took a firmer stance on Monday by requiring vaccinated people ages 5 and older wear masks on public transportation and in all indoor public spaces. The mandate doesn’t apply to people eating or drinking in restaurants or bars, though.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The CDC is expected to recommend masks for vaccinated people in some indoor settings as COVID-19 cases soar

covid masks
Sandra Martínez, owner of Raspadesardina, a Spanish brand that makes festival clothes, sews a face mask at her atelier on June 8, 2020 in Madrid.

As COVID-19 cases rise nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to issue a change in mask-wearing guidance.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky is expected to announce the new guidance on Tuesday afternoon.

It’s unclear whether the guidelines will be targeted towards areas of the country where COVID-19 transmission is high, as the New York Times reported, or if it will focus on people living with unvaccinated children and immunocompromised people, as PBS Newshour White House reporter Yamiche Alcindor tweeted.

The CDC said in May that fully vaccinated people could drop their masks indoors at all times.

That was before the Delta variant was so prevalent in the US.

The Delta variant spreads faster and far more easily than earlier versions of the virus. It can make vaccinated people sick, though they tend to be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Experts believe vaccinated people can also more easily transmit the Delta variant of the coronavirus than earlier versions of the disease.

By and large unvaccinated people are the ones who get severely ill COVID-19 and land in the hospital with a risk of death.

This is a developing story.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Arizona Gov. tells school districts they can’t force unvaccinated students to quarantine following COVID-19 exposure

Doug Ducey Arizona governor
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey

  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey targeted two school districts over quarantine policies for unvaccinated students.
  • The Republican said requiring certain kids to quarantine if they’ve been exposed goes against state law.
  • But lawyers for the districts argue the policies are based on state and federal public health guidelines.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey warned two school districts this week that requiring unvaccinated students to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 is against state law.

In a letter to two superintendents on Wednesday, Ducey said the districts’ policy to mandate a 10-day quarantine for unvaccinated students who come into contact with the virus goes against a state law that prohibits schools from requiring vaccines or face masks among students.

The Republican governor’s office tweeted a copy of the letter that was sent to the Catalina Foothills Unified School District No. 16 in Pima County and the Peoria Unified School District No. 11 in Maricopa County, after the districts released guidance for parents in preparation for the impending school year.

Ducey said the policy “must be rescinded immediately” in order for all students’ education to align with the law.

But lawyers for the two districts disagreed with the governor’s characterization and asked that his letter be rescinded.

In a written response obtained by KTAR News, the attorneys argue that both districts are in full compliance with the Arizona law that forbids mask and vaccine mandates, as neither district has a mask or vaccine requirement in place.

Instead, the 10-day quarantine rule for unvaccinated students comes directly from state health and federal CDC guidance.

Arizona’s health department previously issued guidance suggesting that a person who has close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days from their last exposure. The guidance notes that some individuals, including those who have been vaccinated, are eligible for shortened quarantine or no quarantine at all.

Nothing in the state’s law “restricts a school district from following guidance provided by federal, state, and local public health authorities with regard to students who have been exposed to COVID-19,” attorney John C. Richardson wrote in the response letter.

Both the Arizona Department of Education State Superintendent and the Arizona School Boards Association slammed Ducey’s letter.

“I am tired of Arizona’s public schools being a leverage point for the Governor’s political conversation on COVID-19 that growingly has nothing to do with science or public health,” State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman tweeted.

A representative for Ducey did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Students attending schools in both districts head back to the classroom in less than a month.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Read the memo Goldman Sachs sent telling employees masks would be mandatory at its Europe HQ

Masks will be mandatory within Goldman Sachs Plumtree Court
Richard Gnodde, Goldman Sachs’ International CEO shows His Royal Highness Prince Charles around the bank’s London HQ.

  • Face masks will be mandatory in Goldman Sachs’ London office, despite UK mask restrictions lifting.
  • Staff were notified in an internal memo sent by the bank’s International CEO.
  • Read the memo in full.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In the UK, July 19 is being hailed as “freedom day.”

The country has maintained pandemic restrictions over the last few months such as social distancing, wearing face masks on transport, eateries, and shops, and working from home.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to lift these measures on Monday, meaning pubs and clubs will reopen, and the wearing of face masks will no longer be compulsory.

But with coronavirus infections high and rising in the UK, companies are issuing their own mandates on coronavirus safety as white-collar workers return to the office.

Goldman Sachs told London staff on Thursday that the wearing of masks will be mandatory “at all times” at its European headquarters, except for when staff are sitting at their desks.

Social distancing measures will also remain, as will the bank’s on-site testing program.

The bank has not specified for how long.

Insider obtained a copy of the internal memo sent to all staff by Richard Gnodde, the CEO of Goldman Sachs international on July 15.

The memo was sent the day after an official visit by Prince Charles to the bank’s London office. The royal met summer interns, banking analysts, and executives.

Gnodde later told the BBC that the bank expects 70% of staff to have returned to the physical office over the next few months. But the bank will not insist on staff being fully vaccinated, or force them back if they feel uncomfortable.

Goldman Sachs invested £1 billion ($1.4 billion) when it opened its European headquarters on Plumtree Court in 2019. The 10-story offices come equipped with a creche and lactation pumps for breastfeeding mothers. At its peak capacity, it housed 6,000 staff.

Read the memo in full:

15 July 2021

UK Reopening: What This Means For Return to Office

As you will be aware, from Monday, 19 July, the UK government will be lifting all restrictions on social contact, including removing the guidance to work from home. This follows the positive progression of the vaccination rollout amongst the broader population.

However, the government has advised caution and a gradual return over the coming weeks. Therefore, in light of this guidance and the current levels of external community infection, the existing in-office health and safety measures will remain unchanged for now.

These include the wearing of masks at all times, apart from when seated at your desk, social distancing, and participation in the on-site testing programme, which has proved a critical safety measure in identifying non-presenting cases of COVID-19. Encouragingly, through our contact tracing process, we have not seen any cases of COVID-19 spreading within our office so far.

On a related note, thank you to all who participated in our second London vaccination survey; nearly three-quarters of you responded which has been helpful for us in understanding the vaccination uptake of our UK population. Of those that responded, the vast majority have received one dose and nearly half are fully vaccinated, showing a significant upward trajectory since our first survey in June and positive outlook for overall vaccination levels in the weeks ahead.

This has been a long and tough journey, but the resilience you have shown throughout has been outstanding. We will continue to monitor local case rates and public health safety guidance, and will update our in-office protocols as and when appropriate.

In the meantime, I hope you all manage to take some time this summer for some much-deserved rest.

Richard

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A man who sued Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and 4 other airlines over the face mask mandate has taken his case to the Supreme Court

Supreme Court building
The US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, is seen at sunset.

  • A frequent flier has asked the Supreme Court for an emergency injunction against the mask mandate.
  • Lucas Wall, of Washington, DC, last month filed lawsuits against the CDC and seven airlines.
  • Legal experts said his SCOTUS application was part of a growing “shadow docket” at the high court.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A man who’s suing seven airlines and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over mandatory mask-wearing on flights has taken his case directly to the Supreme Court.

Lucas Wall has asked the Supreme Court to issue a preliminary injunction against the CDC to put an end to the federal mask mandate, which has been extended through September 13.

Wall, of Washington, DC, last month filed a pair of lawsuits against the CDC and seven airlines over the mandate, arguing that it discriminated against people who couldn’t wear masks because of medical conditions. Wall said he’s been grounded because he can’t wear a mask due to an anxiety disorder.

Wall said in his 99-page Supreme Court application: “I respectfully ask for relief no later than Friday, July 16, because I have a flight booked to Germany on Saturday, July 17, to visit my brother and his wife.”

Wall hasn’t yet exhausted his appeals in the lower courts. With his emergency application to the Supreme Court, he is attempting side-step the formal process, legal scholars said.

Elliot E. Slotnick, professor emeritus at The Ohio State University, said: “Such applications are both rare and rarely accepted, likely only in a case where irreparable harm could occur through not acting immediately.”

It was unclear if Wall – who has been stuck in his mother’s retirement community in The Villages, Florida, and listed $769.89 in flight-related costs – would meet the threshold for “irreparable harm.”

Legal experts who reviewed Wall’s Supreme Court application this week said his airline costs likely wouldn’t meet that standard.

Joseph F. Kobylka, chair of political science at Southern Methodist University, said the court would be more likely to take up Wall’s emergency application if a broad group of Americans were in situations similar to Wall’s. Otherwise, he doubted it would get traction, he said.

However, he added: “I also said that the court would never take Bush v. Gore.

The blue-and-white CDC sign in front of the agency's Atlanta headquarters at sunset
CDC headquarters.

Wall’s earlier lawsuits were filed in US District Court in Orlando, in the 11th Circuit, so his application would be sent directly to Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the anchors of the court’s conservative wing. Thomas would then decide whether to bring the application to the full court.

Nicole Huberfeld, professor of law, policy, and management at Boston University, said: “It is doubtful he would have a sympathetic ear in Justice Thomas, even though Thomas has long wanted to limit congressional authority over commerce.”

Wall, meanwhile, said in a phone interview that he felt his arguments were strong.

“No one is a wise enough to predict what the Supreme Court will do on any given issue,” he said.

However, he added: “If the Supreme Court denies preliminary injunction, then that’s the end of the road for that avenue.”

Emergency requests to the Supreme Court like Wall’s have become more frequent during the pandemic, creating what some scholars have called a “shadow docket,” Huberfeld said.

She said legal scholars have been studying the shift, which included pandemic-era requests over whether churches and businesses should have been closed during the spread of COVID-19.

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