COVID-19 Cases In South Dakota Increase 456% Since Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

South Dakota has seen a sharp increase in daily COVID-19 cases following the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Meade County this month. Hundreds of thousands of bikers descended upon the area August 6-15, despite the Delta variant wreaking havoc on the U.S. 

On August 4, the date closest to the start of the rally for which data was available, the state reported 657 active cases. On August 25, the state reported 3,655 active cases. That’s a 456% increase of active cases from before the start of the rally to two weeks after, according to the state’s department of health.

As of August 24, about two weeks from the start of the event, South Dakota saw a weekly positivity rate of 38.8%. The week leading up to the rally — July 30 to August 6 — the state’s weekly positivity rate was much lower, at 10.38%, the department of health data shows. The week before that, July 23-30, the positivity rate was just 6.10%.

The rate of daily cases increased 486% from August 6, when 80 new cases were reported, to August 23, when 469 cases were reported. 

Meade County, where Sturgis is located, saw a 34.2% weekly positivity rate last week, according to the state department of health. 

About 61% of the state’s population over age 12 have been administered at least one dose of vaccine, and 55% are fully vaccinated, the department’s data shows. In Meade County, 7,984 people have been vaccinated. With a population of 28,332, that’s about 28% of the county vaccinated.

Vaccines are proven safe and effective. Despite this, the Delta variant is still rapidly spreading, and hospitals report the majority of their COVID-19 cases are in unvaccinated patients. 

Still, the national vaccination effort is once again showing signs of slowing. Just over half of the American population is fully vaccinated, far short of the elusive “herd immunity” some hoped the country would reach by the end of the summer.

At the Sturgis rally, vaccines were not required, Mola Lenghi reported for “CBS This Morning: Saturday.” “We’re not going to start checking papers. I mean, that’s not really an American way,” said Daniel Ainslie, city manager of Sturgis, which has a population of 7,000.

Last year, the motorcycle rally received scrutiny for welcoming half a million bikers from across the country to what was considered a “superspreader” event. About three weeks after the 2020 rally kicked off, more than 100 cases of COVID-19 connected to the rally were reported in at least eight states, The Associated Press reported, and the number of related cases kept growing in the weeks that followed.

At the time, COVID-19 vaccines were not yet available. Some safety measures, like sanitizing sidewalks, were put in place, but masks were not required, City of Sturgis Public Information Officer Christina Steele told CBS News via email ahead of the event. 

In an email to CBS News, Daniel Bucheli, spokesman for the South Dakota Department of Health, said, “COVID-19 case spikes are following a national trend being experienced in every state, not just South Dakota.”

“Regarding cases surrounding the Sturgis rally, our department has only been able to link 39 cases directly to this event,” Bucheli said. “It is important to mention that Meade County currently has a lower vaccination rate than other counties in the state. Fully vaccinated residents in this county is 45.1%, versus 55.94% for the state as a whole.”

CBS News has reached out to representatives of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and is awaiting response. 

Source: CBS News

Airlines And Flight Attendants Want Stiffer Penalties For Unruly Passengers: “It’s Out Of Control”

JetBlue Airways flight bound for New York returned to the Dominican Republic in early February after a passenger allegedly refused to wear a facemask, threw an empty alcohol bottle and food, struck the arm of one flight attendant, and grabbed the arm of another.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which detailed the incident in a report, slapped the passenger with a $32,750 fine.

Reports of verbal abuse, a failure to comply with the federal mask mandate and assault by airline passengers are on the rise. Airline industry groups, flight attendants and lawmakers want the government to do more to stop it.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday said it has received approximately 3,100 reports of unruly passenger behavior since the start of the year.

The agency said it has so far proposed fines totaling $563,800, though recent agency releases describe incidents that allegedly occurred in February, meaning there are likely more cases, and fines, yet to be disclosed.

The agency implemented a “zero tolerance” policy and threatened fines of up to $35,000 earlier this year, after a series of politically motivated incidents around the time of the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Passengers have 30 days to contest the fines.

Unruly passenger behavior or interfering with flight attendant duties is against federal law.

Flight attendant unions say their members have been insulted, shouted and demeaned by passengers, some of them intoxicated, and in some rare cases, violence.

A passenger allegedly punched a Southwest Airlines flight attendant last month. The flight attendant lost two teeth after she was struck, according to her labor union.

“It’s out of control,” said Paul Hartshorn, spokesman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines’ more than 20,000 cabin crew members. “It’s really coming to the point where we have to defend ourselves.”

Airline executives note that the cases are rare considering the number passengers they are carrying. Transportation Security Administration airport screenings recently topped 2 million a day, the highest since before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in mid-March 2020.

But the issue adds to flight attendants’ stress after a year of job insecurity and health concerns from working in a pandemic, said Sara Nelson, a prominent labor leader and international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the largest flight attendant union with some 50,000 members across more than a dozen airlines.

“Even if it doesn’t rise to the level of a physical altercation, just the constant bickering and name-calling and disrespect, that wears away at people,” she said.

Most of the cases are related to passengers’ refusal to wear masks on board, which the Biden administration mandated earlier this year, though airlines have required it since early in the pandemic. The administration extended it through mid-September.

A passenger on a Jan. 7 Alaska Airlines flight from Washington, D.C., to Seattle allegedly pushed a flight attendant when cabin crew walked down the aisle to check whether travelers were wearing face masks, said the FAA, which fined the traveler $15,000.

There isn’t one single reason behind the incidents, according to Ryan Martin, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, who has studied anger for about two decades. He said a sense of entitlement is a common thread in displays of anger, however.

“What we know is that entitlement is correlated with anger, meaning the more entitled you are the angrier you get,” said Martin, the author of “Why We Get Mad: How to Use Your Anger for Positive Change.”

Another factor behind disruptive behavior could be readily available examples, such as videos online, of others acting out.

“We’ve seen lots and lots of example of people losing their cool and having what I would call tantrums in the last year, very publicly,” Martin said. “Some of that may have modeled a way of dealing with problems for people that isn’t really a healthy, reasonable way to deal with problems.”

Increased anxiety returning to travel might also have heightened tensions, he added, though he noted that one of the better indicators for whether someone will turn violent is that they believe in violence to solve problems in the first place.

Source: CNBC

Serbian Volleyball Player Sanja Djurdjevic Suspended After Making Anti-Asian Racist Gesture During Match Against Thailand

A Serbian volleyball player has been suspended for two matches after she was caught on camera stretching her eyelids — a racist gesture used to mock people with Asian heritage — during an international competition between Serbia and Thailand.

Sanja Djurdjevic violated the sport’s disciplinary rules on June 1 while competing in the match in Italy, according to a statement given Tuesday from the FIVB Disciplinary Panel Sub-Committee.

In addition to the suspension, the independent body, which is responsible for imposing disciplinary sanctions within FIVB competitions, fined Serbia’s volleyball federation the equivalent of $22,000. According to the panel, the FIVB will donate the money to a cause dedicated to tackling discriminatory behavior and/or to fund educational programs on cultural sensitivity.

Greater accountability

Posting on her since deactivated account, Djurdjevic apologized for her actions. “I am aware of my mistake and I immediately after the match apologized to the whole Thailand team.”

“I only wanted to address my teammates with the message: ‘Now, we will start playing defense like them,’ I didn’t mean to disrespect anyone,” she added.

The Volleyball Federation of Serbia also posted a conciliatory message on Facebook saying they “apologize sincerely” to the Thailand team, but asked people, “don’t blow this out of proportion! Sanja is aware of her mistake and she immediately apologized to the whole Thailand team.”

“She didn’t mean any disrespect. Of course, it was unfortunate. It all ended up as a simple misunderstanding, in a friendly atmosphere between the players of the two teams,” continued the team statement.

Attached to the written apology was a video shared by one of the Thai players, and an image of teammates from both sides standing together.As screenshots of the incident were widely shared on social media, thousands signed a petition calling for greater accountability.

“An apology is the bare minimum as a human being. But Djurdjevic and the National Volleyball Team represent their country in an official sport with official FIVB rules and those rules need to be upheld to maintain credibility and set the standard for the world,” the petition said.

A global reckoning

Djurdjevic’s actions come as the world reckons with a global spike in anti-Asian racism. From the UK to Australia, reports of anti-East and anti-Southeast Asian hate crimes have increased in Western countries as the pandemic took hold over the last year.

Athletes continue to speak out about violence towards Asian people, highlighting the role that social media plays in illuminating these incidents. Earlier this year, former NBA star Jeremy Lin encouraged spectators to “watch these videos to see this is actually happening.”

The FIVB confirmed that Djurdjevic’s sanction is “final,” adding that they are “committed to fostering understanding, solidarity and unity against all forms of discriminatory behavior.”

“The FIVB will continue to work tirelessly with all of its National Federations to ensure that these values are reflected across the whole community,” they added.

Source: CNN

California To Pay $116 Million In Cash To Those Who Get COVID Vaccinations

In the latest and most extraordinary effort yet to boost California’s flagging COVID-19 vaccination rates, state officials on Thursday announced what appears to be the largest inoculation incentive in the nation: the chance for 10 residents to win $1.5 million apiece.

The goal of the multimillion-dollar giveaway is simple: Give residents every possible motivation to finally roll up their sleeves as the state’s vaccine rollout enters its crucial next phase.

Those prizes — along with 30 additional awards of $50,000 each — are open to Californians who have gotten at least one dose. Those who have previously received their shots will be entered into the drawings automatically, and there is no need to register, according to state officials.

“These are real incentives. These are an opportunity to say thank you to those not only seeking to get vaccinated as we move forward, but also those that have been vaccinated since we first availed those opportunities a number of months ago,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The grand prize recipients will be chosen June 15, the date the state is set to fully reopen its economy. The $50,000 winners will be selected in two batches, half on June 4 and the rest on June 11.

Should someone under 18 win, the prize will be put in a savings account until they come of age.

Additionally, starting Thursday, the next 2 million people who begin and finish their COVID-19 vaccine series will automatically be eligible for either a $50 prepaid gift card or a $50 grocery card that can be used at supermarkets such as Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions, Safeway and Andronico’s.

Prospective winners can decline the award, or they can accept and remain anonymous, though they are permitted to make their award public, Newsom said. All California residents are eligible, regardless of immigration status, with some exceptions, such as people who are incarcerated and some government employees, including workers for public health departments and the California State Lottery.

BG Knocc Out On Anti-Asian Violence, Defending 2 Small Asian Kids When He Was In Juvenile Hall

In the latest clip, BG Knocc Out offered his thoughts on the multiple incidents of anti-Asian violence occurring in the United States. He started by remembering the death of Latasha Harlins, whose death at the hands of a Korean store owner sparked the anger that eventually led to the Rodney King riots. BG Knocc Out spoke out against today’s anti-Asian violence and talked about a time where he defended two Asian kids in juvenile hall. To hear more, check out the above clip.

Are DoorDash, UberEats, Postmates, Grubhub, Good For Restaurants?

While indoor dining has dropped way down during the pandemic, food delivery has grown considerably. DoorDash and Uber Eats, the two largest delivery apps by market share both saw their sales double from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020.

But while it might be an easy decision for customers to use these third-party delivery apps, the decision for restaurants is not so easy. There is a lot to consider, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

To find out more, watch CNBC’s deep-dive into the pros and cons of third-party delivery apps for restaurants.