The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance for vaccinated people, giving them the green light to resume some pre-pandemic activities and relax precautions that have been in place.
REMEMBER THE TIME
The new guidance says that people who are fully vaccinated can visit indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks or social distancing. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they have gotten the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. As of now, approximately 18% of the US population has been vaccinated. Vaccinated people can also visit with people from another household, unmasked, who are not yet vaccinated as long as those people are at low risk of serious illness from the virus.
WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE
However, the guidance also states that vaccinated people should continue to wear masks in public and avoid crowds. Last week, Texas and Mississippi both announced plans to lift their state’s mask mandate and to allow businesses to reopen at full capacity. Wyoming followed suit this week and announced the state will lift its mask mandate and allows businesses to begin operating normally on March 16.
As states ease mask mandates, businesses will need to decide if they will continue with mask requirements for their customers and if they will open up at full capacity. Service industry workers are at an increased risk of contracting, and dying from, COVID-19. President Joe Biden signed an executive order in January that allows employees to file for unemployment benefits if they refuse unsafe work. Businesses who will continue with mask requirements will also need to decide how to manage customers who refuse to wear a mask. The different mask requirements from states, municipalities, and businesses have led to escalated conflicts between unmasked customers and staff. Meanwhile, states continue to pass COVID-19 business liability protections to shield certain businesses from liability from claims caused by exposure to COVID-19.
SIGN OF THE TIMES
In another legal win, a federal judge in Boston ruled in favor of the insurer on a COVID-19 business interruption lawsuit. The ruling states that the virus does not impact the structural integrity of a property and “cannot constitute ‘direct physical loss of or damage to’ property.” Throughout the ruling, the judge cited recent decisions in favor of insurers in similar COVID-19 coverage disputes. We’ll keep on reporting on any COVID-19 news and changes.
Virginia became the second state behind California to pass a significant consumer data privacy law. Residents will be able to “opt out” of having their online lives stored and sold. Companies will need to ask permission before collecting any sensitive information, like “genetic or biometric” or “precise geological data.” The new law goes into effect the first day of 2023, and its provisions can change between now and then.
COMPARE IT TO CCPA
Virginia’s privacy rules are less strict than California's, which went into effect last year. Still, it'll complicate some things for marketers. The more online users opt out, the harder it is for publishers to guarantee an audience, especially as cookies are set to expire. A dozen other states are trying to pass their own privacy laws. Expect a strong push for federal privacy legislation, as a tapestry of parties—from tech companies to privacy advocates—pushes back on this state-by-state, patchwork approach.
Making Our Way Around the Country
UNITED STATE SUPREME COURT
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the scope of a legal defense called qualified immunity that increasingly has been used to shield police accused of excessive force. The case involved an appeal by a Cleveland man who alleged injuries stemming from an altercation with police who were trying to enter his own home. Qualified immunity protects police officers and other types of government officials from civil litigation in certain circumstances, allowing lawsuits only when an individual’s “clearly established” statutory or constitutional rights have been violated.
The Arizona Supreme Court ruled this week in a case involving workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder following a life or death encounter with an armed assailant. Arizona law states that in order to get coverage for mental injuries, something "unexpected, unusual or extraordinary" has to happen. The interpretation of this law prior to this week's ruling often left first responders without help for mental injuries because judges considered work-related stress to be part of their jobs. The Supreme Court opinion now encourages judges hearing PTSD cases to focus on the specific incident itself that triggered the PTSD and whether it was unexpected, unusual or extraordinary.
Reminder to set your clocks forward on March 13 for daylight saving time. Fatal car accidents in the U.S. spike by 6% during the workweek following the “spring forward.” Pay attention to yourself too as this time transition can also lead to adverse cardiovascular events! Stay safe, stay well, and stay connected.