Trending News for May 14

CDC: No Masks, No Social Distancing for Fully Vaccinated People; Jennifer Garner Joins Jill Biden in Vaccination Site; The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Award; Six Flags Giving Away 50,000 Free Tickets; Court Ruling Allows Chicago to Double the Amount for Parking Tickets and Fines

CDC: No Masks, No Social Distancing for Fully Vaccinated People

The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced on Thursday that people who have received the complete COVID-19 vaccination are no longer required to wear masks while indoors or outdoors or observe physical distancing when in either large or small gatherings. This sensational announcement was made during the White House briefing on COVID-19.

“We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” Walensky said. “Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines, and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated.”

However, wearing masks is still advised for fully vaccinated persons while in a crowded indoor setting such as public transportations, hospitals, homeless shelters, and prisons. 

Walensky added that immunocompromised individuals should seek the advice of a physician before ditching the mask. She warned that if the country’s COVID-19 infections go back up, the guidance will change. Also, if people develop possible COVID-19 symptoms, it is advised to go back to wearing masks and get tested right away.

“This virus can be unpredictable, so if things get worse, there is always a chance we need to make a change to these recommendations,” she said.

Walensky was asked whether public criticism had pressured the CDC to update the recommendations. She responded that the agency was following the science.

“I want to be clear that we followed the science here. While this may serve as an incentive for some people to get vaccinated, that is not the purpose, our purpose here is as a public health agency to follow the science and to follow where we are with regard to science and what is safe for individuals to do,” she said.

Following the CDC’s updated guidance allowing fully vaccinated Americans to discard masks when outdoors and in some situations indoors, at least eight states began to lift mask mandates. The Congressional offices and the White House lifted their mandate on Thursday for staff and visitors to wear masks after CDC updated its guidance. 

Jennifer Garner Joins Jill Biden in High School Vaccination Site Visit

Actress Jennifer Garner and First Lady Jill Biden teamed up to visit a vaccination site at a local high school in West Virginia on Thursday. Biden, 69, arrived in Charleston at around 2 p.m. and exited her plane without wearing a mask, following the new federal guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Garner, the “Alias” star, who grew up in West Virginia, was wearing a black mask matching her outfit. She took it off to greet the First Lady, who is wearing a white dress and pink blazer.

Garner and Biden had met while working with the non-profit organization Save the Children. For this visit, they were joined by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who traveled with the First Lady. A group of Reserve Officer Training Corps junior officers welcomed the group when they arrived at Capital High School in Charleston. The First Lady shared with them that President Biden’s late son, Beau, was also with the Army National Guard. 

“I know you just want to see Jennifer Garner,” the First Lady joked with them. 

“They’ve seen me their whole lives!” Garner exclaimed. “Thank you for your service, kids.” 

The two then went to see the children who were getting their COVID-19 shots in the school gymnasium. This event came a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to children aged 12 to 15.

Garner, who has three children with actor Ben Affleck, told moms to hang in there, when she was asked for any advice to fellow mothers. She also said she is excited to get her own kids vaccinated. 

Inside the gymnasium, Biden held the hand of a teenager getting a jab and then asked the girl if she knew the actress.

“Yes, I love all your movies,” the teen gushed, as Garner congratulated her on getting vaccinated.

Garner and the First Lady were scheduled to visit Alabama together the previous month to promote the newest expansion of child tax credits, but the actress was not able to due to inclement weather.

NBA’s New Annual Recognition: The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Award

The NBA announced on Thursday the creation of a socially relevant recognition, the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award. The league will grant this new award every year to an active NBA player for “pursuing social justice and upholding the league’s decades-long values of equality, respect, and inclusion.”

The award presents a donation by the NBA of $100,000 to an organization chosen by the winner, and the four finalists will have $25,000 donated to each of their selected organizations.

Abdul-Jabbar is considered one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. He said in a statement: “I’m honored and grateful to be associated with this award that will recognize the dedicated and selfless people fighting to promote social justice for all marginalized people. To me, it’s another giant step in the right direction for the country and all people who value equality.”

Adam Silver, an NBA Commissioner, commented on the award:

“In addition to being one of our greatest players, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has devoted much of his life to advocating for equality and social justice. With this new award, we are proud to recognize and celebrate NBA players who are using their influence to make an impact on their communities and our broader society.”

Following the same process in the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the nomination for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award will come from each of the NBA’s 30 teams. A panel of NBA executives, basketball legends, and social justice leaders will then determine the finalists and winner.

The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion is one who advocates and addresses social justice issues. Something that Abdul-Jabbar has pursued throughout his life. His athletic accomplishments made him an icon, having won six NBA MVP awards and six NBA championships. In addition, he has achieved 19 All-Star awards during his basketball career. With 38,387 points over 1,560 games with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar is also the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Six Flags Giving Away 50,000 Free Tickets to Vaccinated Illinois Residents

Governor JB Pritzker announced on Thursday that Six Flags Great America is giving away 50,000 free tickets to newly vaccinated residents for access to its parks in Gurnee and Rockford. Six Flags Entertainment Corporation joined the trend on incentivizing the COVID-19 vaccination on Thursday, by offering day tickets valued at around $4 million “to encourage Illinois residents to get vaccinated, especially in underserved communities.” 

A ticket is worth $200 and will admit a group of five people. It will be given at the local health departments and at the vaccine clinic at the amusement park. 

“It’s unique and the first time ever that we have donated $4 million worth of tickets,” said Hank Salemi, President of Six Flags Great American President.

The updated COVID-19 guidelines allow the amusement parks to operate from 25% to 60% capacity. The news pushed Six Flags to launch its exciting giveaway. The free tickets will also be distributed through local health departments and mobile vaccine units in underserved communities. The Illinois National Guard vaccination teams will be on-site at the park during the first week of June. 

“There are a lot of people that are on the fence a little bit, and this will push them in the right direction,” said Governor JB Pritzker.

Pushing vaccines with incentives has become common nationwide. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is offering free pizzas. New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio has partnered up with Shake Shack in giving out free fries.

And on Wednesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced if residents get the shot, they have a shot at winning $1 million and college scholarships.

While Gov. Pritzker has no lottery or scholarship incentive plans for Illinois, he hopes new vaccination sections at Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate Field will motivate baseball fans to get the vaccine.

“It not only allows stadiums to increase capacity, but it encourages people to get vaccinated because they’ll be more seats available to them,” Pritzker said.

All of these incentives are geared to move the gauge toward President Biden’s goal of vaccinating at least 70%of adult American adults with one dose by July 4.

Court Ruling Allows Chicago to Double the Amount for Parking Tickets and Fines

Getting a parking ticket in Chicago may require you to pay the amount which is more than the usual charge that you used to pay. The two-fold increase in parking tickets and fines happens because a judge says the City has the power to raise the penalties imposed on parking violations.

Attorney Jacie Zolna, a lawyer suing Chicago on behalf of a group of motorists, is crying foul. The lawyer argued in court that the cost of your parking ticket, or the cost of a fine for not putting a city sticker on your vehicle, could soon double in amount after the Cook County Circuit Court ruled on the matter the previous week.

Zolna is advocating that Illinois law is supposed to be protecting the vehicle owners from excessive and exorbitant fines and tickets for non-moving violations such as parking, standing, or whatever compliance infractions, which may include registration problems or absence of a city sticker. But according to Zolna, that is not what has been happening.

It is a complicated story. The attorney argued that state legislators were incorrect when it passed in 2010 an unrelated state law, referred to as The Railroad Safety Law, which amended the Illinois Vehicle Code, being questioned in the proceeding.

Zolna says the act of the legislators opened the door for municipalities to adjudicate certain kinds of violations in the administrative courts, which may give out an assessment of more than $250 in fines and penalties, particularly for those who are repeat offenders.

But in last week’s decision on the issue, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Anna Loftus, looked into the facts presented and heard the arguments brought out in the lawsuit brought by the motorist. According to Zolna, the judge declared her legal opinion that state legislators had erred when they passed the Railroad Safety Law, leading to consequences different than intended. The City hall and the Mayor’s Office refused to give any comment on the matter.