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Tag: mask wearing

Republican Politicians Still 'Resist' Masking As Thousands Of Americans Die

More and more Americans are dying as the number of new coronavirus cases in the country surges to all-new highs, but Republican politicians are still spouting dangerous rhetoric opposing the wearing of face masks.

According to the New York Times, the United States has surpassed 11 million cases nationally, with 247,000 deaths to date.

But in defiance of scientific data, Republican lawmakers remain more concerned about resisting mask mandates than they are about containing the spread of the deadly pandemic.

On Tuesday morning, Republican Rep.-elect Lauren Boebert (CO) slammed President-elect Joe Biden for his plan to implement mask mandates nationwide.

"Someone should let Joe Biden know that there is nothing patriotic about mandating what Americans wear to leave their homes," she tweeted.

Her fellow Republican representative-elect, QAnon propagandist Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), tweeted Monday encouraging her constituents to defy any government masking order.

"If Biden steals this election, tries to LOCK DOWN our country and implement mask mandates ... WE WILL NOT COMPLY!" Greene tweeted, linking to a Washington Examiner piece lauding new representatives who oppose the wearing of face masks.

And despite a massive spike in the number of coronavirus infections in South Dakota, the state's Republican governor, Kristi Noem, categorically refuses to issue a statewide masking order.

A statement from Noem's office Friday reads: "It's a good day for freedom. Joe Biden realizes that the president doesn't have the authority to institute a mask mandate. For that matter, neither does Governor Noem, which is why she has provided her citizens with the full scope of the science and trusted them to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones."

In an email to ABC, Noem spokeswoman Maggie Seidel falsely claimed that public health measures against the coronavirus don't work, saying: "The facts are simple: mask mandates, harsh lockdowns, massive testing and contact tracing haven't worked – in the United States or abroad."

Last week, Noem also falsely alleged that lockdowns don't stop the spread of coronavirus and noted her opposition to a national lockdown, tweeting: "Just like we said, Biden's team wants lockdowns. We already know that lockdowns DON'T stop the spread of the virus. However, they destroy small businesses and jobs, and they make it difficult for families to put food on the table."

Despite the soaring numbers of cases, Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt also refuses to issues a statewide masking order, only requiring masks in government buildings. And Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is being widely criticized after issuing a halfhearted masking order that only requires the use of masks after 15 minutes of exposure.

In fact, more than a dozen states still don't have a statewide order requiring masks in public places.

The Senate, too, remains starkly divided on the wearing of masks, with Republican members flouting masking rules.

On Monday, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) asked his colleague, Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan (AL), to wear a mask while speaking.

Sullivan fired back that Brown couldn't tell him what to do.

"I don't wear a mask when I'm speaking, like most senators," Sullivan said. "I don't need your instructions."

Brown noted, "There clearly isn't much interest in this body in public health," and condemned Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for calling senators to meet in person to push through Trump's unqualified judicial picks.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) then attacked Brown on Twitter for making the request. "This is idiotic," he tweeted. "@SherrodBrown is being a complete ass. He wears a mask to speak—when nobody is remotely near him—as an ostentatious sign of fake virtue."

Many Republican politicians are simply taking the lead from Donald Trump. Despite his own brush with the virus, Trump has mocked the use of face masks since the beginning of the pandemic — and his administration has followed suit.

Just two weeks ago at a rally held before the election, Trump publicly mocked Fox News host Laura Ingraham for wearing a mask to the event.

And a month ago, Twitter took down a tweet posted by Trump's top coronavirus adviser, Scott Atlas, for promoting disinformation about masks.

The tweet falsely claimed that masks were ineffective and did not reduce transmission of the virus.

But this dangerous rhetoric from high-profile Republicans is having real-life consequences as more people double down on opposition to face masks — and more Americans die.

A study from Pew Research Center on Americans' thoughts about the pandemic noted that a full 20% of respondents who mentioned masks claimed that they didn't work, said that they refused to wear them, or claimed that the coronavirus was a hoax perpetrated for partisan political purposes.

While only three percent of Democrats expressed those views, 27 percent of Republicans did.

And, though more than 80 percent of Democratic voters support mask mandates in some public places, only about half of Republican voters do.

According to the same study, 31 percent of Democratic voters mentioning masks did so to express concern about people not wearing them in public places, while only five percent of Republican voters did the same.

President-elect Biden continues to urge Americans to wear masks, and this week slammed Atlas' rhetoric encouraging opposition to statewide measures to contain the spread of the virus.

"What the hell is the matter with these guys?" Biden asked. "What is the matter with them? Resist? Every major individual of any consequence in the health field is saying we can save a hundred thousand lives just between now and Jan. 21 by wearing these masks."


Justice Alito Proclaims His Partisan Extremism In Federalist Society Speech

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

U.S. Supreme Court justices, in theory, are supposed to avoid being overtly partisan. Although they're nominated and confirmed by partisan politicians their general goal is appear above the fray, deciding cases on the basis of the facts and the law, rather than political ideology.

But Justice Samuel Alito, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, is drawing vehement criticism for a Federalist Society speech that, critics say, was full of flat-out partisanship and Fox News-like fear-mongering.

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How the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally May Have Led To COVID-19 Outbreaks

The perception that the COVID-19 pandemic was under control led to many Americans becoming more comfortable with the idea of the virus towards the end of the summer. Yet, as the pandemic rages into the autumn, it becomes increasingly clear that COVID-19 remains a significant problem within the country.

There are several ways to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, as the main reason why it remains such an issue is that it's highly contagious. Of course, Americans have been advised to wear face masks when out in public and these masks are mandatory in many states. Furthermore, sanitation, like hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, is highly beneficial. Not only does this prevent the spread of the virus, but it's also simply good practice, as the healthier an individual is when they contract the virus, the more likely they will be to withstand its symptoms. Bacteria is the main source of most infections, and as it can multiply up to 31 percent daily on surfaces that are not cleaned or disinfected, it's important that Americans attempt to control both its growth and the spread of COVID-19. Perhaps the most significant way in which COVID-19 is spread, however, is through close contact with others and most prevalently through large groups.

This is one reason why a motorcycle rally in South Dakota has come under recent scrutiny and may be connected to major COVID-19 outbreaks across the Midwest. It's speculated that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was one of the biggest public gatherings in the United States, and perhaps the world, since the pandemic began and ultimately could be connected to outbreaks across five different states.

Held in mid-August, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attracted roughly 460,000 people across a ten-day period, despite the fact that it is advised that people limit themselves to gatherings of ten people or fewer during the COVID-19 pandemic. While some states made restrictions on gatherings mandatory and enforceable by the authorities, South Dakota declined to enforce such restrictions. Therefore, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was able to proceed in South Dakota without issue. Unfortunately, the rally has been indirectly linked to 330 COVID-19 cases, including one fatal case.

Understanding The Spread Of The Virus

The size of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, as well as the lack of masks and other precautions utilized, made the spread of the virus somewhat inevitable. A further issue that made the COVID-19 virus spread further is that many of those attending the rally were from out of state. Therefore, even if their own home states were controlling the spread of the virus locally, it was easy for residents to attend the rally then return home, bringing the virus across state lines. The states most heavily affected by the rally aside from South Dakota were North Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Montana. Throughout September and October, North and South Dakota have seen an uptick in hospitalizations. This could contradict statements from South Dakota governor Kristi Noem indicating that the rise in cases is merely connected to an increase in testing.

South Dakota's particular issues are further compounded by the fact that the rally was not held in a single space, exactly. Those visiting from out of state stayed for a somewhat extended period of time in various hotels and homes, while also visiting bars and restaurants on a broad scale. All of these factors could have contributed to the virus spreading out of control.

Why Misunderstandings Could Have Led To More Infections

The transmission of the COVID-19 virus could have been exacerbated by several different factors. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally celebrates a culture (motorcycle culture) that is already regarded by some as dangerous, though not necessarily fairly; though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 5,127 fatal motorcycle accidents in 2017, this was a 3 percent drop from the previous year. As motorcyclists are passionate about defending their freedom to ride, they also may have felt passionate about celebrating their love of motorcycles regardless of concerns around the virus. Many, too, may have genuinely felt due to misinformation that the virus was no longer a concern.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally took place in mid-August, when South Dakota was experiencing high temperatures. Early misinformation regarding the virus indicated that it would be slowed by hot weather. However, this proved to be incorrect. New studies have confirmed that there is no link between the virus's transmission and weather patterns. Furthermore, many of those that visited the rally came from more rural states. Rural areas saw a slower infection rate during the pandemic's beginning, understandably. As the virus is more easily spread throughout tightly packed areas, it makes sense that the more rural a state is, the more slowly the virus would spread within it. Therefore, many that attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have theoretically had less experience with the spread of the virus on a personal level.

Combatting The Spike In COVID-19 Infections

It's important that those infected with the COVID-19 virus are quarantined for at least 14 days, regardless of their symptoms. Some may recover from the virus's symptoms but remain contagious for some time; others may never show symptoms, while still being capable of spreading the virus. Furthermore, those that have been exposed to the virus must be aware of the fact that they should be tested before they begin experiencing symptoms, due to that potential for becoming an asymptomatic carrier. Those that are caring for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member should be particularly vigilant; as 29 percent of the American population will spend an average of 20 hours per week doing so, this is a significant portion of people that could be infected and furthermore infect those that are most vulnerable.

Aside from quarantine, Americans should also be especially aware of resisting large gatherings or unnecessary outings in general. As health experts have projected that the fall and winter of 2020 may be particularly problematic in terms of the pandemic, it's important that Americans plan for the future and do what they can to prevent the spread of the virus.

Trump Echoes False Right-Wing Claims About Masks

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

At President Donald Trump's campaign rally Thursday in Greenville, North Carolina, he made the absurd claim that "85 percent of the people wearing the masks" get infected with the coronavirus, thus presenting the wearing of protective masks as a hazardous act by itself — with the claim carried on Fox News' live coverage of the rally, as well. At the root of his newest false claim, it turns out, are a number of incorrect posts across far-right news sites pushing public health misinformation — along with Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

And on top of that, Trump has further misunderstood the misleading claims those sources have made.

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Trump’s Reckless Conduct Endangers White House Workers

Despite the late nights and long hours that took my father away more than this daddy's girl would have liked, he never stopped being my hero. I knew that when he finished his day job, changed clothes and headed to his extra shifts tending bar or waiting tables for local caterers, he was doing it for a reason. Lots of them, actually —my mom, two sisters, two brothers and me.

For someone as proud as he was, it was a sacrifice because of what he had to put up with from people with a lot more money and a lot less character. They treated him like he was "invisible," or worse, and he put up with it, for us.

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America Has Lost 200,000 Lives — How Many More Must Die?

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

As an editor, I've long had mixed feelings about the journalistic tradition of marking particular chronological or numerical milestones. No one wanted to avoid the “Sept. 11: One Year Later" package — and I was eager to do it given the six previous years I'd spent directing global coverage of al-Qaida — but the annual stories seemed far more forced by Sept. 11, 2005.

More recently, we've seen stories like “World War I: A Century Later" or “The 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II." They're often illuminating, but they don't have deeper meaning than stories that might have been published on the 99th or 74th anniversary of those events.

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Facebook Permits Promotion Of Campaign To Ditch Face Masks En Masse

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

A campaign urging people to burn and get rid of face masks en masse on September 15 has been spreading on Facebook and Instagram, despite multiple state laws and health experts' guidance to wear them.

As the novel coronavirus pandemic has spread throughout the United States, both public officials and health experts have urged people to wear masks to decrease the spread of the coronavirus. Numerous states have also instituted mandates for people to wear masks when in public.

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At Wacky Press Conference Trump Bullies Reporter Wearing Mask

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump late Monday morning announced he would hold a press conference, but after a late start and minutes in it became clear it was yet another campaign-style stream-of-consciousness rally devoid of facts and filled with lies.

Both MSNBC and CNN were not airing the "press conference" minutes after it began.

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