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upworthy

covid 19

via wakaflockafloccar / TikTok

It's amazing to consider just how quickly the world has changed over the past 11 months. If you were to have told someone in February 2020 that the entire country would be on some form of lockdown, nearly everyone would be wearing a mask, and half a million people were going to die due to a virus, no one would have believed you.

Yet, here we are.

PPE masks were the last thing on Leah Holland of Georgetown, Kentucky's mind on March 4, 2020, when she got a tattoo inspired by the words of a close friend.



"We were just talking about things we admire about each other and he said, 'You courageously and radically refuse to wear a mask,' like meaning that I'm undeniably myself. I thought that was a really poetic way of saying that," Holland told Fox 13.

So, she had "courageously & radically refuse to wear a mask" tattooed on her left forearm. It's a beautiful sentiment about Leah's dedication to being her true self. It's also a reminder for Leah to remain true to herself throughout her life.

However, the tattoo would come to have a very different meaning just two days later when the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Kentucky.

"It basically looked like I'm totally, you know, anti-mask or whatever, which is not the case," said Holland.

Now, she was embarrassed to be seen with the tattoo for fear she'd be associated with the anti-maskers who either deny the existence of the virus or refuse to wear a mask to protect others. Either way, it's a bad look.

So Leah started wearing long-sleeve shirts and cardigan sweaters whenever in public to cover up the tattoo.

On Monday, TikTok users asked each other to share their "dumbest tattoo" and she was pretty sure she had the winner.

In her video, she talks about how her tattoo was about "not pretending to be something you're not," but then revealed it to show how — after a historical twist — it made her out to be someone she isn't.

"I just kind of wanted people to laugh with me because I think it's funny now, too," said Holland.

Plenty of people on TikTok laughed along with her with one user suggesting she update the tattoo with the phrase: "Hindsight is 2020."

"I was dying laughing. I'm like, I'm glad there are people that find this as funny as I think it is," said Holland.

"It will be a funny story to tell years from now," she said. "I don't think it will ever not be a funny story."

Unfortunately, even when the pandemic is over, Leah will still probably have to explain her tattoo. Because most won't soon forget the COVID-19 era in America and there's no doubt many will still feel passionate about those who refused to wear a mask.


This article originally appeared on 02.24.21

Health

No, the CDC did not mandate kids get the COVID-19 vaccine to go to school

Loads of misinformation keeps floating around about COVID-19 vaccines.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

States set immunization requirements for school entry, not the CDC.

It's hard to log onto social media these days without being hit with a firehose of misinformation, especially when it comes to COVID-19. Getting accurate information during a global pandemic with a novel virus that keeps mutating is a challenge, and people's (sometimes understandable) distrust of the government, the media and various institutions certainly doesn't help.

But that doesn't mean there's no such thing as accurate information. A lot of what's floating around out there about COVID-19 is simply and verifiably wrong. As Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman said, “It just isn’t enough for us to be in the business of putting out good information. We have to now also be in the business of countering misinformation and deliberate disinformation as well."

Unfortunately, studies of Facebook and Twitter have found that misinformation and disinformation spread faster and are more likely to be shared than true information. So, let's sort through some of the myths and facts about one of the biggest topics out there right now—COVID-19 vaccines and children.

Myth: The CDC is adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the mandated vaccine schedule for kids who attend school.


Fact: The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended updating the 2023 childhood and adult immunization schedules to include additional information for approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines. That is not the same as adding the vaccine to school vaccine requirements. The immunization schedule is a best practice recommendation, not a requirement.

In fact, the CDC can't require kids to get vaccines. State and local jurisdictions decide what vaccines are required for school entry, not the CDC. States do look to the CDC's recommendation for guidance in making decisions, but just because a vaccine is recommended by the CDC doesn't mean schools will automatically require it. (For example, flu shots aren't required for most schools even though they're recommended by the CDC for school-aged children. And the HPV vaccine has been on the CDC's recommended schedule since 2006, yet only four states require it for school.)

Myth: The CDC added the COVID-19 vaccine to the Vaccines for Children program, which means kids will have to get it.

Fact: The ACIP unanimously voted to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the Vaccines for Children program, but that doesn't mean it's required. Vaccines for Children is a program that provides free vaccines to kids from low-income and uninsured families. Adding the COVID-19 vaccine just means it's included in that free program so more parents who want their kids to get it will be able to.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine is dangerous and kids are dying from it.

Fact: No, they're not. Let's look at the specific claims on this front.

First, the myocarditis question. Let's go to the experts at the American Heart Association for that one. According to its website, the most recent studies have shown that the risk of myocarditis from the vaccine is low and the risk from myocarditis is very low (all cases were considered mild and all recovered). But most importantly, studies have shown that the risk of myocarditis from COVID-19 infection is higher than it is from the vaccine.

If parents are concerned about the risks of myocarditis from the vaccine, they hopefully have even more concern about the risks of it from COVID-19 itself, since we know that COVID-19 can damage the heart.

Second, the "young people are dying suddenly at an alarming rate" claim. There are multiple ways in which this rumor has spread multiple times, so it's hard to tackle all of them at once. But if you've heard that vaccines are causing SADS (Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome, which some have erroneously referred to as "Sudden Adult Death Syndrome"), read this fact check and the accompanying links. Also, note the fact that the SADS Foundation—an organization literally dedicated to this syndrome—recommends everyone with conditions linked to SADS get the COVID-19 vaccine.

People don't need to trust the government or the media to not fall for misinformation and disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines. The most telling thing to me is that every reputable medical organization and association in the U.S. that I've checked recommends the COVID-19 vaccine. Every single one.

In fact, in July, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians issued a joint letter urging families to get the vaccine for kids ages 6 months and up. These organizations are not the government or the media or the pharmaceutical companies. They are the nation's top experts on medical care for families. They're the ones we should be looking to for guidance on medical decisions, not politicians, social media influencers or cable news hosts.

via Pixabay

People are sharing the lessons of the pandemic.

Two-and-a-half years after the COVID-19 pandemic came to America, things are slowly returning to normal. Although people are still catching the virus, the seven-day average of deaths is around 15% of where we were at the pandemic’s peak. Lockdowns and mask mandates are over, kids are all back at school and there’s a definite feeling that the worst is behind us.

The last 30 months have been a time of anxiety, loneliness, fear, sickness, death, misinformation, and political and economic upheaval. Over that time, most of us were forced to change how we worked, socialized and learned. Even as the pandemic winds down, we live in a world that will never return to what it was like before the virus.

Now’s the time to try to make sense of what we’ve all been through so that if there’s a next time, we know how to do things better.

A Reddit user by the name Affectionate-Ad1060 asked the online forum, “What is the most important lesson learnt from Covid-19?” and they received more than 19,000 responses.


Some thought that the pandemic taught them the importance of being around people. Others realized that maintaining one’s mental health isn’t just about resilience.

A lot of people were discouraged by how incredibly selfish some acted during the pandemic. Many were surprised by the number of people who put their political beliefs ahead of the health of themselves and others.

A lot of our norms and assumptions about society have been significantly challenged over the past two and a half years. The only way that we can create a feeling of hope that things will be better the next time is to examine the lessons learned from COVID-19 so we can be better.

Here are 21 of the most important lessons that people learned from COVID-19.

1. 

"No matter how strong and resilient you think you are, your mental health can be penetrated without you realizing it." — Lentewiet

2. 

"You should take the time to spend with those you love." — idontworktomorrow

3. 

"That it wouldn’t take much for civilized people to turn on each other." — hindmaja

Strength-in-the-Loins added:

"A wise man once said something like 'Humanity is perpetually 9 meals away from utter barbarism."

JimmyHammer12 really put the nail on the head with their response:

"It could also be said based on the way people went FOMO for all that toilet paper that 'Humanity is perpetually 9 rolls away from utter barbarism.'"

4.

"People's mental health ain't no joke... people need people." — vg4030

5. 


"Pandemic was just the proverbial group project in school all over again. A couple of intelligent and hard-working people trying to keep everything from falling apart while the rest sit on their ass or choose to straight up sabotage everything. Yet somehow everyone gets the exact same grade." — NaughtyProwler

6. 

"Bold of you to assume we’ve learned anything." — Airsoft07

7. 

"Healthcare needs a overhaul." — Toxic_Politician

8. 

"The extent to which politicians will sell out public health for their political advantage is much higher than I thought. Usually, life or death situations are good for all politicians, just be a voice of stability and hope and you’re good. We all pull together and get through it. This time, dividing us intentionally to cause chaos? I still can’t believe real people did that." — Griswald

9. 

"Most schools weren't as ready to switch to digital methods as they bragged about." — SenpaisReisShop

10. 

"Most grown adults are nasty and have to be reminded to wash their hands." — shantyirish13

11. 

"The 'supply chain' is far leaner and vulnerable to the vagaries of pandemic conditions than most had thought." — Back2Bach

12. 

"You can have all the free time in the world and still manage to do nothing with it." — hogaway

13. 

"We need to teach statistics and critical thinking better." — hardsoft

14. 

"I work in childcare. We learned that children really need socialization. You would think with time off parents would work on things. Kids came back to daycare, not potty trained, still using a pacifier, speech behind, and refusing to share. It's better now but it was really interesting seeing a child pre-Covid who you potty trained…. Come back months later acting pretty helpless. don’t know if it’s parents, the lack of social pressure, or just some other thing. But it was an interesting experience." — Paceim

15. 

"People are willing to die over politics." — morinthos

16.

"That 50% of jobs can be done from home while the other 50% deserve more than they're being paid." — Kayin_Angel

17. 

"That being tied to the office, working insane hours, super long commutes are not necessary." — squashedfrog

18. 

"People make irrational decisions when afraid." — AaaON_

19. 


"During covid, I was laid off for months and spent that whole time keeping up to date on everything going on in the world. I mean everything I possibly could, every single day. I reached the point of obsession and the massive amount of negative crushed me. There was so much bad going on so much suffering that eventually, one day I just set it all down and said I'll check in in a month. Best decision I made that year, the only thing that kept my sanity. Just taking time away and not bathing in it every day." — Primerallen

20. 

"People will listen to politicians over their doctors." — GhostalMedia

21. 

"A decent amount of people I work with surprised me a lot during the pandemic. People I used to have some respect for revealed themselves as complete idiots. It was really sobering." — RiW-Kirby

via Wells Fargo

Julius Lofton, Rahel TafarI, Ellen Bryant-Brown and Wells Fargo volunteers, and Jose Beteta and Martín D. Vargas.

True

Ninety-nine percent of America’s businesses are small, and they account for 50% of the country’s jobs. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, they keep them vibrant and give them character. In early 2020, the economy was strong, and these businesses were thriving.

Nobody could have predicted their fortunes would change overnight when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived at America’s doorstep in March of 2020. Business owners had to scramble as they faced lockdowns, employees who were afraid to return to work, and customers who were cautious about leaving the house.

It finally feels like the pandemic is turning a corner, and so are four small businesses that endured nearly two years of uncertainty and came out even stronger. These comeback stories show the heart of small business owners nationwide.



via Wells Fargo

JC Lofton Tailors in Washington, D.C. is part of a family tradition that began in the late 1930s. It’s owned by Julius “Eddie” Lofton whose late grandfather was the first African American to own a tailoring shop and tailoring school in the District.

Lofton and his experienced team of tailors have a reputation for making everyone in D.C. look sharp, from politicians to celebrities to nearby Howard University students. But when COVID-19 hit, the need for tailoring vanished as people began working from home and in-person events were halted. Even though demand was down he still had to pay his rent and employees. He focused on making masks to keep people healthy during the crisis.

He also worked hard to maintain a positive attitude during the down times to keep the spirits of his employees up. The man with tailoring in his blood also embraced technology by developing a new social media strategy to bring in new customers.

A $10,000 grant from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund through Local Initiatives Support Corporation, gave Lofton breathing room to keep up with his bills. Today, he’s hired back nearly all of his staff and his customers increase by the day.

Six hundred twenty-six miles south of Lofton’s shop is the Grant Park Coffeehouse in downtown Atlanta. It’s a place where locals can pop in for an organic fair-trade certified cup of Joe or more adventurous fare such as the Nutella Mocha or S'mores Latte. At lunchtime the place is famous for its wonderful chicken salad.

Atlanta coffeehouse powers through the pandemic with the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fundwww.youtube.com

Rahel TafarI is the meticulous and hard-working owner of the coffee house who was inspired to open her business by her mother from Ethiopia. When the pandemic hit, the number of people in downtown Atlanta dwindled and the lack of foot traffic significantly hurt the coffeehouse’s finances. As the pandemic wore on, Tarfarl felt she ran out of options to keep her business alive, but never stopped coming back to work. “At the height of the COVID pandemic, I did everything I could, trying to figure out ways that we could sustain ourselves. By trying to find some loans, some grants, or anything. It was very hard,” she said.

One way she kept her business afloat was by becoming even more self-sufficient. “I started making some products on my own as the supply chain was creating challenges—chocolate sauce, lavender sauce, our own chai,” she said.

TafarI was able to get a $250,000 working capital loan through Wells Fargo's Open for Business Fund from grantee Access to Capital from Entrepreneurs, and it helped her keep the coffeehouse open. “It was a lifeline to help us weather the storm,” TafarI said.

Ellen Bryant-Brown and volunteers via Wells Fargovia Wells Fargo

Another female business owner who faced challenges during the pandemic is Ellen Bryant-Brown, the owner of the Hope Rising Child Learning Center in Philadelphia.

Hope Rising provides early learning and education programs for ages 3 months to 12 years old. When COVID-19 hit, nearly every student at Hope Rising’s 52nd Street location left as parents were out of work and schools closed. The enrollment at the center went from 131 children to just 3.

“Faith drives hope,” Bryant-Brown said. “It’s taken a lot of the former to get to the latter these last couple years."

Bryant-Brown got some support during the lean days through Wells Fargo and The Enterprise Center who donated a large collection of books as well as a grant for $15,000 to the center. She also received additional grants from both to support her business totaling $20,000.

As for the 52nd Street corridor, support arrived there, too. Launched by Wells Fargo, Hope, USA, a nationwide initiative to uplift small business districts in 16 cities across the country sent 50 tradespeople—all of whom were minority contractors—to the area to repair the damaged shops. They painted 12 storefronts, power-washed sidewalks, installed new exterior lighting, removed trash, improved the landscaping, and added new signage and awnings.

Hope Rising has seen a resurgence in recent months as enrollment is back up to approximately 82 children.

Martín D. Vargas, Jose Beteta, and Tamil Maldonado Vega of Raices Brewing Company

Much like Rahel TafarI and Julius “Eddie” Lofton, Jose Beteta also had to get creative to keep his business open during the pandemic.

Beteta opened the Raíces Brewing Co. a craft brewery in Denver, Colorado in 2019 with the help of a Small Business Administration (SBA) (7a) loan through Wells Fargo. “We did go to different financial institutions, where they just made that barrier a lot bigger and a lot higher. So, it was creating an impossible dream for us—until we came to Wells Fargo and they opened the doors for us.”

The brewery is a welcome addition to the world of craft brewing where people of color are underrepresented. “After researching it, I learned that less than 1% of the U.S.’s 8,000 craft breweries are owned by people of color—just 0.5% in fact. It represented this massive gap in the marketplace,” he said.

COVID-19 hit shortly after the brewery opened but Raíces was able to pull through by pivoting to an online ordering platform and curbside pickup.

Raíces means “roots” in Spanish and Beteta’s business was able to find new ways to operate during challenging times because it was firmly planted in the community.

“We are about community, culture, and cervezas,” he said.

There are many lessons to learn from the pandemic, but one of the most powerful was how resilient small business owners can be when facing strong headwinds. It also helps when they can get the support they need.

"Wells Fargo is striving to support as many small businesses as we can as they continue their journey towards recovery and a brighter future” said Derek Ellington, head of small business banking at Wells Fargo. “Beyond providing much-needed capital, the Open for Business Fund also empowers small businesses with technical assistance and long-term resiliency programs.”

The Fund has helped nearly 152,000 small business owners and protected over 250,000 jobs.

JC Lofton Tailors in Washington, D.C. via Wells Fargo

Now that the dog days of 2020 and 2021 are behind us, business is picking up at JC Lofton Tailors in Washington, D.C. “Now we are getting back to a somewhat normal time—people are going back to work, going on vacation,” he said. “I know...this pandemic caused challenges, but it gives me great pleasure to keep my grandfather’s shop open and thriving,” he told Upworthy.

The pandemic has taught Lofton to plan for the unexpected. “It is important to try to have a savings account for the future—to ensure that if something like this were to happen again, things would be manageable,” he said. But the future looks bright as Lofton eyes opening a second shop next year.

Rahel TafarI of Grant Park Coffeehousevia Wells Fargo

As business returns to downtown Atlanta, the number of customers is back to pre-pandemic levels at the Grant Park Coffeehouse and the business has expanded.

“We were able to open a second location during this pandemic because we never closed a day. We decided to stay open and continue to serve the community—the police officers, and medical staff. I just kept coming to work–sometimes by myself–spent the nights at work to make sure we could get through,” TafarI told Upworthy.

The pandemic was hard, but it taught TafarI valuable lessons like becoming more self-sufficient when the supply chain hit a snag. On a deeper level, she learned something about herself. “We are loved, needed, resilient and creative in so many ways,” she said.

Enrollment is back up at the Hope Rising Center and most of the employees have returned to work. The center was able to purchase two school buses and provide its employees with bonuses thanks to the support it received from Wells Fargo. Bryant-Brown has learned that she must be “prepared for a disaster at any time,” now that she’s made it through the pandemic.

Raices Brewing Company was able to survive the pandemic because of great timing and even better teamwork.

“Having started right before this pandemic happened —which nobody was obviously expecting—it was actually really good timing for us, as we were able to kind of get the feel for the market and adjust,” said Beteta. “We had hard times just like everyone else during COVID-19 closures and subsequent limitations on seating and spacing, but I think we were prepared to be able to handle those challenges."

“The importance of working together as a team and bringing our different talents to the table, along with financial and business education, is what has made Raíces a formula for success,” Beteta added.

Wells Fargo believes that small businesses are the backbone of America. It put those long-standing values to work even more so during the pandemic by lending a helping hand. The last two years have been a struggle, but it’s made our communities tighter and our businesses wiser by showing how much we need one another and how important it is to adapt to unexpected challenges.

Learn more about how Wells Fargo is helping communities across America by addressing societal challenges.