I hope you don't think masking is ending anytime soon
The CDC finally changed its recommendation on masks. These changes have been happening rapidly all over the country, but they're frustratingly uneven in application.
On a recent visit to the Bay Area, I saw very few people willing to go mask-free, even alone in the wide-open spaces. California is struggling to define the nuances of new mask rules. Biden's Executive Order 13999(2)(b) mandated that OSHA rules get in place by March 14, 2021, but Cal/OSHA is still dithering about California workplaces:
The safety board's staff was not specific on what changes it will recommend next week, other than it will try to more closely conform the workplace rules with public health guidelines.
But Eric Berg, deputy chief of health for Cal/OSHA, said the public health guidelines generally allow anyone who is vaccinated to skip wearing a mask indoors. Under those rules, he said, "a vaccinated person would not have to wear a mask at work."
For now, Cal/OSHA has addressed only workplaces that are healthcare-related.
For federally regulated travel, the Department of Homeland Security is in charge. It has its own ideas, which include criminal penalties. On a recent flight, we were reminded several times that we should wear our masks properly or we could be arrested upon landing.
The federal government issued the mask order on February 1, 2021, that requires masks that cover both the mouth and nose for passengers, visitors and employees in airport terminals, on commercial flights and on airport buses.
TSA said the mask mandate, which was intended to expire on May 11, has been extended through September 13.
A penalty fine was placed for those who violate the face mask requirement which starts at $250 and rises to $1,500 for repeat offenders.
This rule has consequences. When I headed home, my plane was delayed at the gate in Denver. It was hot, and the air conditioning was mostly non-functional, but we had to keep our masks in place. As the delay lengthened, people began to be uncomfortable. I carry a finger clip blood oxygen monitor, so I did a quick check. I was at 93% and eventually dropped to 91%. They will put you on oxygen at the hospital if you drop to this level.
My governor here in Kentucky, Andy Beshear (D), also moved to eliminate many COVID protocols, effective June 11. Many local restaurants immediately opened to full capacity and are mask-free. The mandate is still there for schools:
Masks will no longer be required in most locations, although unvaccinated people are still encouraged to wear them.
Masks will still be required on public transportation, schools, long-term care facilities and other locations that serve the "most vulnerable," Gov. Andy Beshear said.
School-aged children have always been among the least vulnerable, not the most. Maybe it is to protect the teachers.
Across America, most businesses are being allowed to set their own rules. Without a heavy government hand to enforce them, it is unlikely that they will continue to make their employees and customers wear masks.
Most businesses open to the public are rapidly adopting the guideline in which the vaccinated are allowed to be maskless, while the unvaccinated must wear the mask. Of course, that's hard to enforce without a vaccine passport, and that remains highly controversial. Even the Biden administration remains both "sort of for" and "maybe against" the passports.
In a statement to Forbes, a Homeland Security spokesperson said Mayorkas was referring to a passport "ensuring that all U.S. travelers will be able to easily meet any anticipated foreign country entry requirements," and that the U.S. will not have any centralized vaccination database or credential.
"We've always said we're looking at how we can ensure Americans traveling abroad have a quick and easy way to enter other countries," a DHS spokesperson told Forbes in an email clarifying Mayorkas' interview. "There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential."
So Bidenites are saying vaccine passports may be required for foreign travel, but they would never be used domestically. Color me skeptical. If there is a vaccine passport, there will be those who will think they need to see it. High on that list will be sports venues, concerts, and cruises.
On a recent four-day trip involving two hotels, an airline, three airports, and a workplace, every time I walked through a new door, I had to stop and read the "local" rules.
The current situation is a mess. Some places are approaching pre-COVID non-hysteria, while places like California are far behind but moving in the same direction. It will all be over eventually. We need 50 state governors, federal agencies, and businesses reading from the same manual. Is that too much to ask?
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