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Opinions and News Surrounding the Vaccine Mandates this Week

The White House: President Joe Biden (2021). Path out of the Pandemic: President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan. White House.

There have been many people, groups, and organizations speaking up on the effects of the COVID Vaccine and Mask Mandate given by President Joe Biden in January of this year.

“All told, these efforts—and countless other Administration initiatives and policies—have resulted in over 175 million fully vaccinated Americans. But there are still nearly 80 million Americans eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet gotten their first shot.

The President’s plan will reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by using regulatory powers and other actions to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements—these requirements will become dominant in the workplace. In addition, the plan will provide paid time off for vaccination for most workers in the country.” (J. Biden 2021)

There were quite a few articles relating to the Covid Vaccine Mandate this week. Top news articles:

CNN: More than 100 part-timers at Indiana University Health left jobless for refusing Covid-19 vaccine

After two weeks paid time off to receive the required COVID-19 vaccine, “125 part -time employees at Indiana University Health system, the largest physician network in the state” (C. Dominguez September 2021). Although the “IU Health’s website says the system has more than 34,000 staff members” (C. Dominguez 2021) there have been many companies firing employees and losing them for non-compliance of the Covid-19 vaccine.

CNN: More than 50 University of Georgia faculty members announce plans to mandate masks in their classrooms

This article points out the Covid Vaccine and Mask Mandate stances of the educators of the University of Georgia (UGA), University System of Georgia (USG), and Governor Brian Kemp. The educators of the UGA wrote a letter to staff and students requiring masks on campus and urging for the vaccine. The USG is recommending masks and vaccinations but does not require such measures to attend class. The UGA is pushing for the mask requirement take affect in October. Governor Brian Kemp “issued an executive order barring local governments from enforcing mask mandates regarding businesses, but local school districts have been allowed to decide whether tor require masks.” (R. Riess, G. Lemos 2021)

Washington Post: Oregon school worker suspended for showing up in blackface in apparent protest of vaccine mandate

“Oregon’s governor announced last month that all teachers, staff and volunteers in the state’s public schools must be fully vaccinated by October 18th” (R. Pannett 2021), and one elementary teacher decided to dress in blackface as Rosa Parks in an attempt to protest this vaccine mandate. This teacher was put on leave, and the school stated its stance against any form of racism.

Washington Post: Biden’s vaccine mandates are not enough. He must also mandate vaccines for travel.

This article was the opinion of Ezekiel J. Emanuel and John P. Moore. “Ezekiel J. Emanuel is vice provost at the University of Pennsylvania and a former member of Joe Biden’s public health advisory committee. John P. Moore is a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine.” (2021). This article points out that the there is a “short window to boost coronavirus” before the holiday season; there is a need to protect people who cannot be safely be vaccinated against the remaining unvaccinated Americans; and that we should make traveling harder for “unvaccinated Americans” to help increase the vaccination rates.

The New York Times: A federal appeals court delays New York City’s vaccines mandate for teachers.

The mandate if passed will require all adults employed within the New York school system receive at least one dose of the Covid vaccine by Monday. The article points out that the Mayor Bill de Blasio is looking to enforce the vaccine mandate, the U.S. Court of Appeals granted the injunction in order for a panel to review the case, and that there should be a decision “in the next few days, possibly over the weekend, and anticipated that the mandate be upheld.” The unions against the mandate urge that they are not prepared to “deal with staffing crunches.”

The New York Times: What Students Are Saying About School Vaccine Mandates, Nostalgia and Beachside Bliss

The Learning Network provided a piece on what students think about the vaccine mandate in schools, what reminds them of their childhoods, and a “short story inspired by an image titled “In the Waves”. Some students feel that the vaccine mandates do not allow Americans to truly embrace freedom and freedom of choice, a lot of students believe that the vaccine mandate is fine because other vaccines are already mandated and if they are FDA approved. Most of the responses recorded from the students in this article agreed that the vaccine mandate should be upheld in some way. These opinions came from students in Loveland, CO, Hyattsville, MD, and Centerton, AR. The student’s childhood memories and short stories offered a good insight into the minds of these students.

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Extra Credit: Generation Z; “SIFT” Through Information Before Sharing, Please

There can be some negative effects when a person shares false or misleading information on social media. A lot of times people share from a person or an organization that has been previously trusted with news or information without proper research. We can all agree that humans make mistakes and strive to place themselves in an accepting role in society or community while sharing information.

With that said if you compare the information shared to a pitcher of lemonade at a table surrounded by family and friends. If a person passes the pitcher of lemonade to someone at the table, but contaminates it by sneezing in it; whether the person who received the pitcher of lemonade after this person saw the contaminated sneeze or not, those germs will be shared with the rest of the table until someone speaks up about the contamination. Or in our case pointing out the false or misleading information that was shared on social media.

False and misleading information, like germs, have the potential to contaminate and overwhelm facts and can manipulate society. Social media is a platform with the capability of spreading information at “lightning speeds”, and like the “telephone game” false or misleading information has the potential to change the narrative completely. I highly recommend using a system called the “SIFT Method” (M. Caufield 2019).

The “SIFT Method” (M. Caufield 2019) consists of four steps and aims to guide the reader through researching and verifying information and sources. This method urges the reader to “Stop, Investigate the Source, Find Better Coverage, and Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context.” (M. Caufield 2019)

When I first come across an article I stop and research what I am reading until I find a scientific peer reviewed journal or primary source. This means that I try my hardest to find the “original source” of the information to gain a better understanding of the context and facts surrounding it.

The second thing I do is investigate the source(s) to decide of its credibility. Research people, places, quotes, and anything scientific or innovative. I tend to trust government websites and college institutions because I find the information shared to be credible and often, they provide links to the primary or original source of the information.

Of the news stations, I find the most credible news organization to be CNN, and often find myself comparing other news stories to CNN regardless of who shared the information first. This is an example of “finding better coverage”, because CNN requires less “digging” to find the primary source as they will provide the links, or direct quotes to the primary source.

Even though the credible sites or organizations provide links to the original source, the last step in the SIFT Method is to “trace claims, quotes and media to the original context” (M. Caufield 2019). Once the research has brought the reader to the original source or context of the information, the reader is able to make a sound and justified decision whether to share the information on social media. The information shared then has a higher potential of being factual instead of false or misleading regardless of the person who shares opinion of the information. I also recommend that the primary/original source be shared along with the shared post on social media.

Source

M. Caulfield (June 19, 2019). “SIFT (The Four Moves)”. WordPress. https://hapgood.us/2019/06/19/sift-the-four-moves/

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No Trolls In My Family

It is difficult to find only one way to help a friend or loved one understand the importance of not sharing false or misleading information on social media. We each have various levels of comfort and/or closeness with everyone in our lives; I suggest we establish different levels of communication to better inform how the information is false or misleading. I also find it important to respond to your friends or loved ones in a private form rather than for everyone else to see.

No matter how small the disagreement about the information is, when pointed out in a social forum for others to see the exchange immediately changes the environment to somewhat like “a stage” or “boxing match” given the topic. This situation then could make it a free for all to debate back and forth, exchanging misinformation and facts, as others view the exchange and create an opinion of it.

Communication is key and if done properly can change the way we all perceive and exchange information with each other including online. I urge people to research the facts of the false or misinformation down to a primary source along with the other components of the SIFT Method. A primary source is one that recalls a topic firsthand and within the timeframe of that topic. Make note of the primary source and how it proves the shared information is false or a misrepresentation and pass on the information in a proper communication channel to the friend or loved one.

I recommend communicating with family and friends is best done over the phone. Over the phone meaning vie text, messenger, or phone call. Anyone that falls outside that bracket should be contacted via email or social media messenger and you should never out people on a public forum firsthand. I do however recommend that good credible information be distributed as much as possible if initial communication does not work,

I believe it is important to post credible facts with a primary source to combat trolls already “flooding comments”. Trolls are posting comments for an audience. The audience being the people logged into the forum reading and posting in the comments. If credible information proving the falsehood or inaccuracies are being made more readily available privately to the people sharing the information that is being commented on; I believe this would diffuse the exchange of false and inaccurate information. Unless the owner of the forum is a troll. In that case I would deem the forum non-credible and move on.

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Deeply Analyzing a News Article

The recent news article that I chose to “deeply analyze” was “Assessing the cost of the vaccine mandate, could be expensive for some Arizona businesses” by Mark Phillips of ABC15. The sources quoted or referenced in this article were President Biden, Arizona Chamber of Commerce Garrick Taylor, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Arizona Restaurant Association, and Governor Ducey. These sources are credible to this news article on Bidens vaccine mandate, and the effects it has on Arizona Businesses. Therefore, if the facts are accurate these sources absolutely increase the credibility of this article.

The article explains Garrick Taylor “is concerned President Biden’s vaccine mandate is a step too far.” (M. Phillips September 2021). According to the statement by Garrick Taylor “We all want this pandemic to end, to keep our health care systems from being overwhelmed, and to keep our economy open. This requires a partnership and collaboration between the private sector and all levels of government, not top-down mandates from Washington.” (G. Taylor September 2021). The article seems accurate on the stance by Garrick Taylor and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry after further research.

A concern pointed out in the article was the “cost of COVID-19 testing” (M. Phillips September 2021). Arizona is one of eleven states that are prohibiting the “COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates, as of September 8, 2021” (Kaiser Family Foundation September 2021). According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Arizona state and local governments are prohibited from requiring any person to be vaccinated for COVID-19…. [they] are also prohibited from establishing a vaccine passport” (Kaiser Family Foundation September 2021). President Biden’s vaccine mandate is also prohibited in schools when it comes to face mask requirement and vaccine mandate for school employees. Arizona offers “free cost vaccine when available” according to “state health policy actions during COVID-19 public health emergency” (Kaiser Family Foundation September 2021). Therefore, in Arizona the cost of the vaccine is hardly an issue as vaccine mandate is prohibited in Arizona and the vaccine is free when available. Arizona “state has prohibited proof of-vaccination requirements through executive order and legislation” according to the National Restaurant Association (September 2021). Some counties and cities recommend certain things like face coverings and social distancing, but they are not mandates.

Towards the end of the article, it lists the stance of President Biden and Governor Ducey. “The President wants 80-million more people vaccinated, whether they want the shot or not.” (M. Phillips September 2021). This statement is a little tricky because of the part “whether they want the shot or not” implies forced vaccinations. The statement from the White House is “The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work”. (The White House 2021). The White House also states that “this requirement will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses with 100+ employees” (The White House 2021). “Governor Ducey joined the chorus of republican lawmakers promising a legal challenge” (M. Phillips September 2021). Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order that does just that. 

Overall, this article seems credible given the sources and the transparency in the statements within the article. The reporter gave accurate depictions of the vaccine mandate and the stances by the sources provided. If I had to grade this story I would give it an “A” because the information was transparent, accurate, and supported by credible sources. The cost of the vaccine mandate “could” be expensive for some Arizona businesses, but Governor Doug Ducey “Promises a legal challenge” and issued an executive order to follow through.

Sources

Mark Phillips (September 9 2021. “Assessing the cost of the vaccine mandate, could be expensive for some Arizona businesses”. Abc15.com. https://www.abc15.com/news/vaccine-in-arizona/assessing-the-cost-of-the-vaccine-mandate-could-be-expensive-for-some-arizona-businesses

The White House. (n.d.). “Path Out of the Pandemic”. https://www.whitehouse.gov/covidplan/

Office of the Governor Doug Ducey. (August 16 2021). “Governor Ducey Takes Action to Further Protect Arizonans From Local Vaccine Mandates”. https://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/2021/08/governor-ducey-takes-action-further-protect-arizonans-local-vaccine-mandates

Governor Doug Ducey (August 16 2021). “Executive Order 2021-18: Returning to our Principles of Governance”. State of Arizona Executive Order. https://azgovernor.gov/sites/default/files/eo_2021-18.pdf

Garrick Taylor (September 10 2021). “Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry Statement on the New Vaccine Mandate”. Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. https://azchamber.com/news-and-resources/press-releases/2021/arizona-chamber-of-commerce-amp-industry-statement-on-new-vaccine-mandate/

Kaiser Family Foundation (September 9 2021). “State COVID-19 Data and Policy Actions”. https://www.kff.org/report-section/state-covid-19-data-and-policy-actions-policy-actions/

National Restaurant Association (September 10 2021). “State and Local Mask Mandates and COVID-19 Related Requirements (Provided by ServSafe Compliance)”. https://restaurant.org/downloads/pdfs/business/covid-19_city-county-face-coverings-health-screeen.pdf

 

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News versus Opinion

1. On any topic that you find interesting (and tend to follow closely) 

The role of Group IIA Secretory Phospholipase A2 (sPLA2-IIA) as a biomarker for COVID Mortality

2. Find four (4) items online about that topic. For each example, provide an explanation of why the coverage is news or opinion. You should also explain why the piece is credible or not. 

Two that are news items

“UArizona study found enzyme in COVID deaths similar to rattlesnake venom” (September 1 2021). Briana Whitney. AZFamily. https://www.azfamily.com/news/continuing_coverage/coronavirus_coverage/uarizona-covid-rattlesnake-venom-study/article_100e5f04-0b94-11ec-b0f2-5be29adf493d.html

This article referenced above would be classified as a news item in my opinion. The article explains that the study done by “A University of Arizona research team” (B. Whitney 2021) states in the opening line that this is not a cure, rather the correlation between the enzyme and COVID-19 may help prevent death from COVID-19. The article informs the reader that “this enzyme actually fights off infection, but the enzyme was doing a 180 in severely ill people and attacking the body instead.” (B. Whitney 2021) The intentions for what to do with this correlation was clearly stated “the goal would be to have inhibitors as a therapeutic target to reduce mortality and patients suffering from COVID-19 symptoms for months and months.” (B. Whitney 2021) This article is credible because it was informative, but did not include opinion or biases.

“Like Venom Coursing Through the Body: Researchers Identify Mechanism Driving COVID-19 Mortality” (August 24 2021). College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. University of Arizona News. https://news.arizona.edu/story/venom-coursing-through-body-researchers-identify-mechanism-driving-covid-19-mortality

In my opinion this article referenced above would be classified as a news item as well. The scientific correlation was studied by researchers from the University of Arizona and this article was published on the University of Arizona’s News page. The article listed the other collaborators in this research as Stony Brook University and Wake Forest School of Medicine. The article provided the name of the enzyme as “secreted phospholipase A2 Group IIA, or sPLA2-IIA” (R. Brandt 2021). The article clarifies that the enzyme is similar to that of rattlesnake venom, is found in healthy individuals, and has been know to fight off bacterial infections and destroying microbial cell membranes. (R. Brandt 2021). This article informed the reader that only at high circulating levels of this enzyme is when it is in danger of “contributing to organ failure and death” (R. Brandt 2021). This article focused on facts and did not include opinions or predictions. I believe this article is credible because the referenced a link to the actual study that was conducted.

Two that are opinion or analysis. 

“Study find link between COVID-19 deaths and snake venom” (September 2 2021). KNXV Staff. News Channel 5 Nashville. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/national/coronavirus/study-finds-link-between-covid-19-deaths-and-snake-venom

The first thing about this article that I noticed was the title. There was no scientific findings that suggest that “snake venom is linked to COVID-19 deaths” (KNXV 2021). The article also suggests that “snakes are starting to play a big role in COVID-19 research” (KNXV 2021). I feel these two opening statements are misleading as it is actually an enzyme that even healthy individuals have in small doses to fight off bacterial infections. The enzyme sPLA2-IIA is in correlation with COVID, not actual snake venom. The article does have quotes from Chilton who is a researcher in the study with University of Arizona that briefly clarifies the correlation, but the article ends with “Bryan Hughes, a Rattlesnake expert” and he said, “it seems fitting and interesting and ironic that the venom that they have in rattlesnakes might be the key in getting out of this situation” (KNXV 2021). I feel like this article is less credible because it contained misleading information and because of the quote from “Bryan Hughes” to end the article was confirmation of the bias and misleading information.

“The link between COVID-19, rattlesnake venom and a killer enzyme inspires treatment target” (August 24 2021). Ariene Weintraub. Fierce Biotech. https://www.fiercebiotech.com/research/link-between-covid-19-rattlesnake-venom-and-a-killer-enzyme-inspires-treatment-target

​Again, I found this article to have a misleading title, “The link between COVID-19, rattlesnake venom and a killer enzyme inspires treatment target” (A. Weintraub 2021). This title labels the enzyme as a “killer enzyme”, but the enzyme is found in healthy individuals at low levels and actual works to fight of bacterial infections. The article did go on to explain this and quote “Chilton” as the other articles did, but left the article on a question “if the enzyme is still relatively high and active, could it be responsible for part of the long COVID outcomes that we’re seeing?” (A. Weintraub 2021). I feel that this question steps over the fact that individuals with COVID and high levels of this enzyme are at risk of death, the focus is not necessarily the many people living with COVID-19 for months and months. I feel like this article is less credible because it leaves the reader with unanswered questions and the title instills a sense of fear using terms as “COVID-19, Rattlesnake venom, and a killer enzyme”.

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