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New Year’s gay parties planned to rage on during pandemic

Commenting is now turned off for the official @whitepartypalmsprings Instagram page

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PUERTO VALLARTA – It certainly isn’t unusual for LGBTQ people to head out to an exotic locale to celebrate a holiday vacation. Top tourist destination in the Mexican state of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta, sees a steady stream of sunbathers throughout the year, and it has for years been a bastion of a playground for gay men especially. With the pandemic closing off other travel options, the beachside resort city has been one of the few places available that allow visitors to cut loose.

As California experiences back to back surges that has seen the availability of ICU bed space drop to 0.0% in Southern California and healthcare workers overwhelmed by crushing number of coronavirus patients and rising death tally, the activities of some have divided social media to the point that public-shaming Instagram accounts have taken off, particularly one with the handle @gaysovercovid.

You needn’t look further than that Instagram feed to keep track of where the hottest available clubs and promoters are holding court. The comments are chock full of “COVIDIOTS!” and, “So many selfish people.” Other popular call outs include; “You are the reason I haven’t had a weekend off since March.” or “You are the reason thousands are dying a day.”

Sometimes, the users depicted in the posts will jump on to defend or mock their deriders, highlighting a community schism in how to appropriately handle a virus. For many, the dark cloud of small business closures means arguing for the reopening of establishments like LA stalwarts The Abbey, Micky’s and Akbar. For others, the tagline “stay home, stay safe” is the ultimate mantra. 

To even further boast about seems incomprehensible yet one group is leading the charge for a big send-off to 2020, using the recently locked-down Puerto Vallarta as a staging area. While various circuit parties and rages have persisted in recent months, none has matched the attention that was garnered by the White Party organization’s big New Years Eve bash.

The Eventbrite sponsor’s page reads, “Ring in the New Year at White Party Puerto Vallarta- UNITY where restaurants, gyms, bars and clubs are open and ready to welcome you to the ultimate New Years weekend getaway!!! What better way to be ringing in 2021 than dancing on the beach watching the magical sunset of Puerto Vallarta!!! Dance the night away under the beautiful starry skies with the most spectacular Fireworks show in PV at this years WPPV Main Event!!!!”

The only problem, of course, is that the “restaurants, gyms, bars and clubs” are not actually that open- at least not as a few days ago. According to the visitpuertovallarta.com website, the following mandates have been issued, effective until Jan. 10: “Suspension of activities of bars and clubs in Puerto Vallarta at 19:00 hours; The use of fireworks in the destination is prohibited as part of New Year’s celebrations; New Year’s parties and events will be suspended.” Other places are limited to a 50 percent capacity limit. 

Puerto Vallarta, however, has not had the restrictions enforced with the same levels of which cities like Los Angeles and New York have.

At least one event on the White Party listing starts at 9 p.m., past the 19:00 deadline, and all of the activities would seem to be in violation of the suspension on New Year parties.

Puerto Vallarta’s Industry club, owned by the founder of White Party Palm Springs, Jeffrey Stanker, initially issued a statement indicating that the events would be canceled and refunds would be available.

Less than two days later, however, he announced via the Instagram page, @industrynightclubpv, that the event was, “Still happening. Location change.” Stanker’s club has continued to host events throughout the year, drawing a litany of negative comments online, like “WTF? We’re in a pandemic” and “Damn, how many people did you guys give COVID to?”

Commenting is now turned off for the official @whitepartypalmsprings Instagram page.

The organization notes that they are taking precautions for their New Year’s festivities on their event page, “Event Health and Safety Guidelines: Limited Event Capacity; Temperature Checks; Mandatory Masks required for entry to all venues; ALL State Health Guidelines strictly enforced for ALL guests.” Masks, it should be noted, are not being used in the promotional photos.

DJ Ben Bakson, presumably performing at some of the weekend events, posted to his story that “The team is prepared for any circumstances and has high quality alternatives ready closely [Puerto Vallarta] in order to comply with the local laws. Spacious outdoor venues with fresh air to ensure the best possible protection. So stay calm and trust that the [organizers] are highly professional and work hard right now to make our new year unforgettable. You don’t need to worry about that. This carefree package is included in your ticket price. So stay calm. Get your asses to PV. And I can’t wait to see you all next week!”

@gaysovercovid has highlighted pushback from users over the public shaming, with some arguing that they have antibodies or are going with a quarantine pod, so they feel they are being as safe as possible. Regardless, little is known of what actual precautions will be enforced for events like this throughout the holidays.

The area surrounding Puerto Vallarta, meanwhile, just hit 100 percent capacity at their local hospitals with a startling COVID-19 positivity rate of 65 percent.

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Coronavirus

Battle lines drawn over proof of vax as Delta variant explodes

“A community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members”

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Graphic created by Max Huskins as adapted from Facebook Cover art by Akbar LA

SILVER LAKE- For the owners of the Akbar on the edge of Hollywood self-described as a neighborhood oasis cocktail bar and nightclub, the reality of the affect of the highly contagious and rapidly transmitted Delta variant of coronavirus forced them to require proof of vaccination against COVID.

Last week the bar notified its customers on social media and at the door that proof of vaccination and a mask are now required to gain entry into Akbar. The notification helpfully added the message that “CA.gov has launched a way of downloading your vaccination record so you have a digital copy of it on your phone – https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov/ -“

The bar also noted; “We will also accept your vaccination card (photo of it is acceptable) and valid ID together. We value our community health and feel we all must accept the responsibility to keep each other safe while socializing. Thank you for understanding.”

Thirty-nine miles and 43 odd minutes away in Huntington Beach in Orange County, the owner of Basilico’s Pasta e Vino posted flyers outside his business and on social media requiring proof that customers are not vaccinated.

The flyers read: “Notice: Proof of being unvaccinated required. We have zero tolerance for treasonous, anti-American stupidity. Thank you for pondering.”

KABC 7 reported, “Many people are bothered, according to reviews on Yelp. Dozens left low ratings for Basilico’s with comments like one that read: “What a slap in the face to all those who died from COVID-19.” The increased public attention led to Yelp temporarily disabling posting on the page.”

After the Los Angeles Times ran a piece on the restaurant, the owners responded on their Facebook page:

‘LOS ANGELES TIMES’ PRINTS AN ARTICLE ABOUT US, AND AGAIN HERE COME THE HATERS, AND WITH IT, THE HARASSING NON-STOP PHONE CALLS, THREATS AND HUNDREDS OF ONE STAR REVIEWS. AND GUESS WHAT? WE AT ‘BASILICO’S PASTA E VINO’ WEAR IT ALL AS A BADGE OF HONOR!ATTENTION: TINY TYRANTS, WANNABE LITTLE DICTATORS, PRO-LOCKDOWN / PRO-MASK / PRO-MANDATORY VACCINE MINI GESTAPO AMERICAN TRAITORS AND SNITCHES, AND YES ESPECIALLY ‘GAVIN PELOSI’ AND ‘STRONZO FAUCI’ … WE FEEL BLESSED TO GO INTO BATTLE AGAINST ALL OF YOU IN DEFENSE OF AMERICAN LIBERTY AND FREEDOM, SO BRING IT ON! SEE THE ARTICLE HERE:https://www.latimes.com/…/huntington-beach-restaurant…

In the past two weeks as the number of cases exploded, Los Angeles County issued a first in the nation indoor mask order for residents in an attempt to contain what one health official described as drinking from a fire house as the numbers of cases rose by nearly 2,000 per day at one point crossing over to nearly 3,000.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing increasing concern around the fast-spreading and highly contagious delta variant on Tuesday, reversed its earlier mask guidance to specifically target areas of the country with the highest levels of the coronavirus and recommended that everyone in those areas, vaccinated or not, wear a mask as the delta variant continues to spread rapidly across the U.S.

However, city and state officials realized that the co-mingling of vaccinated and non-vaccinated Californians was the primary driving factor especially the 20% of the state’s residents who have yet to take the vaccination or have refused.

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced California is implementing a first-in-the-nation standard to require all state workers and workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings to either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week.

“We are now dealing with a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s going to take renewed efforts to protect Californians from the dangerous Delta variant,” said Newsom. “As the state’s largest employer, we are leading by example and requiring all state and health care workers to show proof of vaccination or be tested regularly, and we are encouraging local governments and businesses to do the same.”

The new policy for state workers will take effect August 2 and testing will be phased in over the next few weeks. The new policy for health care workers and congregate facilities will take effect on August 9, and health care facilities will have until August 23 to come into full compliance.

Appearing on MSNBC and CNN, Newsom claimed that individuals who refused to take the vaccine posed a risk to the public similar to drunk driving.

“It’s like drunk drivers, you don’t have the right to go out and drink and drive and put everybody else at risk including your own life,” the governor said.

Newsom also denounced high-profile conservatives, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson. In a harsh exchange on Twitter, Newsom aggressively put down an attack by Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) a noted QAnon and conspiracy afficando:

One day after state officials announced that state and healthcare employees will soon be required to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated or must undergo regular testing for COVID-19, the City of Los Angeles will require city employees to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing for the virus.

As more bars, nightclubs, and restaurants are poised to require proof of vaccination for entry, the question has been posed as to whether that is in fact legal. According to Michele Goodwin, a professor of law at UC Irvine and director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy, in a May 25 2021 interview with CapRadio’s Sasha Hupka, also a contributor to PolitiFact California, a business has the right to refuse entry.

“If a person refuses to disclose their vaccination status, a business cannot search their pockets or vehicle for proof they are vaccinated. However, it can ask for the information to be voluntarily disclosed. If it isn’t, a business has the right to refuse entry,” Goodwin said adding; “Businesses can establish standards for entry that do not violate statutory or constitutional provisions in a state or federal law.”

“In fact, even government entities like schools and the Army have historically been able to require vaccinations based on legal precedent set by Jacobson v. Massachusetts in 1905. The case upheld the power of states and other government entities to enforce compulsory vaccinations in the interest of public health,” Hupka reported noting;

“A community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members,” Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote in the majority opinion in the case.

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CDC backtracks and releases new guidance on facial masks

CDC’s mask guidance recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors when in areas with “substantial” & “high” transmission of Covid-19

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Headquarters Building and Campus in Atlanta, GA (Blade file photo)

ATLANTA – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing increasing concern around the fast-spreading and highly contagious delta variant on Tuesday, reversed its earlier mask guidance to specifically target areas of the country with the highest levels of the coronavirus and recommended that everyone in those areas, vaccinated or not, wear a mask as the delta variant continues to spread rapidly across the U.S.

“CDC recommends localities encourage universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status,” the CDC announced. “Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies are in place.”

The White House issued a statement from President Joe Biden which read in part:

“Today’s announcement by the CDC—that new research and concerns about the Delta variant leads CDC to recommend a return to masking in parts of the country—is another step on our journey to defeating this virus. I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it; I certainly will when I travel to these areas.

Today, the CDC also reaffirmed that we can safely reopen schools this fall—full time. Masking students is inconvenient, I know, but will allow them to learn and be with their classmates with the best available protection.

Most importantly, today’s announcement also makes clear that the most important protection we have against the Delta variant is to get vaccinated. Although most U.S. adults are vaccinated, too many are not. While we have seen an increase in vaccinations in recent days, we still need to do better.”

The CDC’s mask guidance that recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors when in areas with “substantial” and “high” transmission of Covid-19 includes nearly two-thirds of U.S. counties.

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State employees & health care workers must show proof of vaccination

Newsom blasts ‘right-wing echo chamber’ for vaccine misinformation & claimed individuals refusing the vaccine are similar to drunk drivers.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom (Blade file photo)

SACRAMENTO – As the Delta variant continues to surge driving coronavirus case numbers higher, Governor Gavin Newsom in a press conference Monday announced California is implementing a first-in-the-nation standard to require all state workers and workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings to either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week.

“We are now dealing with a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s going to take renewed efforts to protect Californians from the dangerous Delta variant,” said Newsom. “As the state’s largest employer, we are leading by example and requiring all state and health care workers to show proof of vaccination or be tested regularly, and we are encouraging local governments and businesses to do the same. Vaccines are safe – they protect our family, those who truly can’t get vaccinated, our children and our economy. Vaccines are the way we end this pandemic.” 

The new policy for state workers will take effect August 2 and testing will be phased in over the next few weeks. The new policy for health care workers and congregate facilities will take effect on August 9, and health care facilities will have until August 23 to come into full compliance.

 

Despite California leading the nation in vaccinations, with more than 44 million doses administered and 75 percent of the eligible population having received at least one dose, . This increase is heavily due to the Delta variant, which is more contagious and kills people faster:

  • As of last week, California’s statewide case rate more than quadrupled from a low in May of 1.9 cases/100,000/day to at least 9.5 cases/100,000. 
  • The testing positivity was at a low of 0.7 percent in June, now it has risen to 5.2 percent. 
  • Hospitalizations were at a low in June of under 900, and the state numbers are now approaching 3,000. 
  • The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated, with 600 percent higher case rates among the unvaccinated than for those who are vaccinated.

“California has administered more vaccines than any other state, with 75 percent of those eligible having gotten at least one dose, and we were weeks ahead of meeting President Biden’s 70 percent goal. But we must do more to fight disinformation and encourage vaccine-hesitant communities and individuals,” said California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “The Delta variant is up to 60 percent more infectious than the Alpha strain but many times more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain. If you have been waiting to get vaccinated, now is the time.”  

Appearing on MSNBC, Newsom aggressively lashed out at some conservatives after being asked what the governor attributed to those 25% of Californians who remain unvaccinated. Newsom responded by saying he credited “[an] overwhelming majority of misinformation by right-wing pundits.

California to require vaccinations or frequent testing of state workers:

Appearing on MSNBC and CNN, Newsom claimed that individuals who refused to take the vaccine posed a risk to the public similar to drunk driving.

“It’s like drunk drivers, you don’t have the right to go out and drink and drive and put everybody else at risk including your own life,” the governor said.

Newsom also denounced high-profile conservatives, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson. In a harsh exchange on Twitter, Newsom aggressively put down an attack by Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) a noted QAnon and conspiracy afficando:

In addition to these new measures, the state continues its efforts to vaccinate Californians. Last week, California surpassed 2 million newly vaccinated individuals since launching its incentive program, Vax for the Win. The program increased HPI Q1 vaccinations, and increased doses administered to the Latinx population by 10 percent. It also successfully slowed the rate of decline that California was experiencing in vaccination rates.

The program’s peak showed a 33 percent increase in vaccinations, “outpacing the inoculation trends in much of the country,” including more recently a 4.4 percent increase for the week ending July 14 – a promising sign in California, as vaccination rates declined nationwide. 

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