COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Buttigieg defends mask mandates on public transportation as a matter of 'safety' and 'respect'
  • Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday described public transit mask mandates as a "matter of respect."
  • There has been an increase in the number of disturbances on airplanes in recent weeks.
  • Buttigieg asked for people to think about what transit workers "have been doing to keep you safe."
US Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday backed the mask mandates still in effect on airplanes and public transit as a "matter of respect," in the wake of recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggest that fully vaccinated travelers can forgo face coverings in many public spaces.

During an appearance on ABC's "This Week," host Martha Raddatz pressed Buttigieg about the continued need for mask regulations on public transit, despite many fully vaccinated Americans dining out and returning to their fitness routines at gyms without face coverings.

"Well, some of the differences have to do with the physical space, some of them have to do with it being a workplace where in some of these transit and travel situations, people don't have a choice," he said. "It's a matter of safety, but it's also a matter of respect."

... Buttigieg asked for the public to be courteous toward transportation workers, many of whom worked through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Remember what they have been through, what they have been doing to keep you safe and make sure to show some appreciation and respect to everybody from a bus driver, operator to a flight attendant to a captain," he said. "They have been on the frontlines of this pandemic. Their jobs have been in doubt. They are here for your safety."
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People are buying pins and t-shirts on Etsy that say 'Not a Republican, just vaccinated' now that mask mandates are going away
  • As more Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine, some cities and states are lifting mask mandates.
  • Now some people are looking for news ways to signal their support for COVID-19 precautions.
  • "Not a Republican, just vaccinated" merch is popping up on Etsy and one seller said they are her bestsellers.
An Etsy search for vaccine-related merchandise turns up countless results for t-shirts and wearable button pins, many with a simple "vaccinated" message. But look a little further and there are dozens of items with some version of the following message: "Not a Republican, just vaccinated."

Masks, and especially mask mandates, have been a divisive, politically charged topic almost since the pandemic began. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first began recommending them to curb the spread of COVID-19 in April of last year.

Since then, anti-mask rhetoric has largely come from citizens and politicians on the right side of the aisle. The states that never had mask mandates, or had them for a very brief time period, are almost exclusively red states. But since the CDC updated its recommendations, mask mandates are dropping in most places.

... Katie, an Etsy shopper who left one of the glowing reviews, told Insider she wanted the pin because "there was a fear of people misconstruing my intent when I do not have a mask on or pulled up."

Now that she is vaccinated, she does not always wear her mask when she is in spaces that are not very crowded or are outdoors, but she doesn't want people to think she is anti-mask or anti-vax, both of which have been associated with conservatives.

"It is very important to me that others know where I stand on politics, health issues, and racial injustice," she said. "I do not want others to assume that I am Republican because I would never want anyone to think I would do something so careless towards them like not wear a mask without being vaccinated."

Caroline said she believes many of her customers feel the same way, especially the ones who opt for the non-Republican pins over the far more neutral "vaccinated" ones that she offers. She pointed out the extremely mixed reactions to President Joe Biden's May 13 tweet: "The rule is now simple: get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do."

"It's easy to see how divided the nation is about this subject," she said. "People are definitely afraid of others' external assumptions."

"This pin helps them communicate their 'fully vaccinated status' in a cute yet humorous political way," she continued. "There is definitely a 'belonging' component.'"
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.

Source: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia