New York City: Kids Under 5 Years Old No Longer Need to Wear Masks in School as of April 4
Children under five will no longer be required to wear masks in school starting April 4, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday.
City officials lifted the mask mandate for older children earlier in March, with mixed reception from the K-12 students who had been covered by the mandate since 2020.
In a news conference at City Hall Tuesday, Adams said the move to eliminate the mask rule for preschoolers was contingent on both the declining COVID-19 case counts in the city and the impact of unmasking older students.
New York City’s COVID Vaccine Rules May Change in Coming Weeks
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday that the city’s vaccine mandate for private-sector and government employees may change in the coming weeks, days after the city’s new health department commissioner called the mandates “indefinite.”
“If we have to pivot and shift and come back here in a week and say we’re going to do something different, we’re going to do that,” Adams said in the Tuesday announcement where he also said mask mandates for schools could be lifted if the city’s COVID rates remain low.
However, he said that the city would endure complaints from industries including sports, as the mandate has kept unvaccinated Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving out of home games this season. It has also been reported that the mandate could affect unvaccinated New York Yankees or Mets players if it is still in place when their home games start next month.
City Council Votes to Prohibit Employee Vaccine Mandates
Albuquerque leaders have never required city government workers to get COVID-19 vaccines and, on Monday, the City Council voted to keep it that way.
Despite some criticism that it was an unnecessary step or even a potentially problematic limitation, the Council passed legislation that bars the city from mandating that employees get the shot and from penalizing those who do not.
Dan Lewis, the bill’s sponsor, said the city could not control what the federal or state governments might ultimately require, but that the legislation would demonstrate that the local government itself would not impose a vaccine standard.
Feds Say It’s ‘Irresponsible’ to Set Date for Ending COVID Vaccine Mandates
Conservative and NDP members of the House of Commons health committee hammered the minister with questions about a timeline, a benchmark, or a set of conditions that would trigger an end to vaccine requirements for travelers and federal employees.
“(Canadians) want to know what it will take for the mandates to end,” said Conservative critic Michael Barrett told the committee Monday.
Duclos had no single answer, instead giving a long list of indicators the federal government is watching. The decision, he said, will be based on everything from the vaccination rate, hospital capacity, and domestic and international epidemiology to the impact of long-COVID, the economy, and other social impacts.
China Locks Down City of 9 Million and Reports 4,000 Cases as Omicron Tests Zero-COVID Strategy
Authorities have warned of the risk posed to growth by persistent lockdowns as the country strives to balance the health crisis with the needs of the world’s second-biggest economy.
Shenyang, an industrial base home to factories including carmaker BMW, reported 47 new cases Tuesday as authorities put all housing compounds under “closed management” and barred residents from leaving without a 48-hour negative test result.
‘Refuse Quarantine!’: Frustrations Mount as China Replays COVID Controls
In footage shared on social media last week, a crowd of people in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang bang against the windows of a clothing market as they shout in frustration at the announcement of yet another round of COVID-19 tests.
Though the local government quickly urged people not to “spread rumors” about the incident, the response from netizens was immediate. “Refuse quarantine!” said one. “Many people have awoken to the truth,” said another.
“It’s actually over,” said a netizen posting on WeChat under the username “Jasmine Tea”. “The common cold is more serious than this…The testing agencies want this to go on. The vaccine companies want to inoculate forever.”
Masks May Return in Schools but Won’t Be Forced as COVID Cases Spike
Queensland authorities will also not move to implement new public health measures as a result of rising cases.
Vaccination in children was “really lower than we’d like”, Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said. With the surge in cases in schools, some private schools have started asking students to wear masks. Dr. Gerrard said he supported their decision but would not mandate it.
Advocates Urge Congress to Pass Online Kids’ Safety Reforms
Tech and children’s health advocacy groups on Tuesday sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass legislation providing protections for kids and teens online.
The current unregulated business model for digital media is fundamentally at odds with children’s wellbeing. Digital platforms are designed to maximize revenue, and design choices that increase engagement and facilitate data collection, all of which put children at risk,” the advocates wrote, according to a copy of the letter shared with The Hill.
The letter is signed by 60 advocacy organizations, including Fairplay, the Center for Digital Democracy, Accountable Tech and the American Academy of Pediatrics. It was addressed to the top lawmakers of both parties in the House and Senate.
The Dark Side of Discord for Teens
In recent months, large social media companies have faced renewed scrutiny from lawmakers over the negative impacts their platforms can have on teens.
President Joe Biden used part of his State of the Union address to urge lawmakers to “hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit.”
Discord, however, has not been part of that conversation. Launched in 2015, Discord is less well-known among parents than big names like Instagram, even as it surged to 150 million monthly active users globally during the pandemic. The service, which is known for its video game communities, is also less intuitive for some parents, blending the feel of early AOL chat rooms or work chat app Slack with the chaotic, personalized world of MySpace.
While much of the focus from lawmakers with other platforms has been on scrutinizing more sophisticated technologies like algorithms, which can surface potentially harmful content to younger users, parents’ concerns about Discord recall an earlier era of the internet: anonymous chat rooms.
How to Think Smartly About TikTok
Never has the world seen a social media app spread more wildly — or an algorithm that anticipates your desires more precisely — than TikTok.
It’s hard to find a kid who’s not mindlessly scrolling this never-ending stream of short videos. Two-thirds of U.S. teenagers (63%) are on TikTok, according to the market research firm Forrester. TikTok hit 1 billion global users in five years — far more quickly than nearly every other global social media network in history. The app knows young kids are on: There’s an “Under 13” setting.
TikTok’s magic lies in its algorithm, which instantly spots what you like and feeds you more and more of it. There are consequences to letting the app in on your conscious and subconscious desires.
Microsoft and Okta Are Investigating Potential Attacks by the Lapsus$ Hacking Group
Microsoft and identity authentication company Okta are both investigating potential attacks that may have been carried out by the South American hacking group Lapsus$. The collective claims to have stolen source code for Bing, Cortana and internal Microsoft projects from a server.
Lapsus$ released a torrent on Monday that’s said to contain 37GB of source code for around 250 projects, according to BleepingComputer. The group claims the data includes 90 percent of Bing’s source code and 45 percent of Cortana and Bing Maps code. Other affected projects seem to include websites, mobile apps and web-based infrastructure.
The same group has also targeted Okta, though the company says it has not yet found evidence of a new breach following an incident in January. Lapsus$ posted screenshots of what it claimed was Okta’s internal systems. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the hackers claimed not to have accessed or obtained data on Okta itself and were focused on the company’s customers, which include Cloudflare, Grubhub, Peloton, Sonos, T-Mobile and Engadget parent Yahoo.
Justice Department Accuses Google of Hiding Business Communications
The Justice Department has asked the judge overseeing its antitrust case against Google to sanction the company for allegedly training employees to “camouflage” business documents from being revealed by legal disputes, per a brief filed Monday.
The government says Google has used this practice to withhold thousands of documents, many of which outside attorneys found should not have been attorney-client privileged.