Vaccine mandates work, most people support them, and it's maddening that we even need them at all

As debates over vaccine mandates raged this summer, United Airlines took the decisive step to require all employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Employees who applied and were approved for a medical or religious exemption would be placed on medical leave and risk losing income. Those who refused the vaccine and did not receive an exemption would be terminated.

The not-messing-around approach worked smashingly. Prior to the deadline, only a fraction of a percent of United's staff—320 out of 67,000 employees—ended up choosing termination. That left United Airlines with an astounding 99.5% vaccination rate.

United took a risk and it paid off. Not only did the company retain the vast majority of its workforce, but applicants started clamoring to work for the airline. According to The New York Times, the airline received 20,000 applications for approximately 2,000 flight attendant positions after the vaccine mandate was announced.

United kicked off a trend. Other airlines followed suit, and we saw more and more companies requiring employees to be vaccinated.

Vaccine mandates have proven successful, but not without controversy. Within an already understaffed health care industry, the risk of losing employees who refuse to be vaccinated is real. So is the risk of unvaccinated health care workers treating patients.

In California, mandates for health care workers resulted in a huge uptick in vaccinations. The same thing happened in Texas. Despite predictions of a mass exodus of New York and New Jersey health care workers, only a small number chose to quit when mandates took effect. In fact, many of those who chose to stay on and take the alternative weekly testing option decided to get vaccinated after just a few weeks of being swabbed.

Mandates clearly work—but it's maddening that we have had to resort to them. Some success stories have proven that mandates aren't always necessary to reach a high vaccination rate. After being the only team in the NFL to have zero COVID-19 cases during last season, the Seattle Seahawks made a strong push to get their staff and players vaccinated. The NFL asked for teams to try for an 85% vaccination rate; with just one player declining, the Seahawks hit a whopping 99% vaccination rate weeks before the football season even began. By the time the season officially started, the NFL reported that 93% of players across the league had been vaccinated—a far higher percentage than the general population.

Perhaps that's due to the stringent protocols players who aren't vaccinated have to go through. Perhaps it's the sense of competition within the league and the knowledge that COVID-19 outbreaks can derail a team's chances of a winning season. Perhaps it's because NFL players are supportive of science and common sense than the average American. Whatever it is, the NFL has proven it's possible to create a culture that results in a high vaccination rate without mandates.

If only we could figure out how to create that culture in this country as a whole.

There are legitimate debates to be had about the government mandating vaccines (despite public schools having mandated vaccinations for more than a century), but it's harder to argue against private businesses and organizations requiring them as a condition of employment or participation. People sure do try, though. Anti-vaxxers and "freedom fighters" who disagree with all manner of mandates in the name of personal liberty are loud and proud in their stance. But that doesn't mean they're right.

According to Gallup, the majority of Americans support COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Other polls, including one from Fox News, have found the same thing. If mandates are going to help us stop losing tens of thousands of Americans every month, bring them on.

In a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 700,000 Americans in a year and a half, vaccines that lower the risk of infection and transmission and greatly lower the risk of hospitalization and death are a gift. Mandate or no mandate, getting vaccinated is objectively the right thing to do. It would be fabulous if we could get to a high vaccination rate without creating requirements, but with few exceptions (like the NFL), that ideal has proven to be unrealistic.

If it weren't for the massive misinformation machine derailing reality for millions, far fewer people would refuse the vaccine. We're battling a crisis of viral conspiracy theories in addition to the actual viral pandemic, and something has to give.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement


We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

Pop Culture

TikTok star's surprising method for finding good Chinese food is blowing people's minds

Yelp can be a helpful tool for scoping out food joints, but maybe not in the way you think.

Photo by Debbie Tea on Unsplash

Different cultures view service differently.

Content creator Freddy Wong has a brilliantly easy way to find authentic Chinese food.

As he reveals in a mega viral video that’s racked up 9.4 million views on TikTok and 7.7 million views on Twitter, the trick (assuming you live in a major metropolitan area) is to “go on Yelp and look for restaurants with 3.5 stars, and exactly 3.5 stars." Not 3. Not 4. 3.5.

He then backs up his argument with some pretty undeniable photo evidence.

First, he pulls up an image of a Yelp page from P.F. Chang’s. With only 2.5 stars, one can tell the food is “obviously bad.” Alternatively, Din Tai Fung—a globally recognized Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant—has four stars.

Sounds good right? Wrong. In this case, “too many stars” means that “too many white people like it,” indicating that the restaurant is being judged on service rather than food quality. According to Wong, if “the service is too good, the food is not as good as it could be.”

He then pulls up the Yelp page for a couple of local Chinese restaurants, both of which have 3.5 stars. The waiters at these establishments might “not pay attention to you,” he admits, adding that they might even be “rude.” But, Wong attests, “it’s going to taste better.”


Why I only go to Chinese restaurants with 3.5 star ratings

♬ original sound - RocketJump

"The dumplings here are better [than Din Tai Fung's]. I've been here," he says of the 3.5 star Shanghai Dumpling House. Considering his Twitter profile boasts a “James Beard Award winning KBBQ Gourmand'' title, it seems like he knows what he’s talking about.

So, why is this 3.5 rule the “sweet spot”? As Wong explains, it all comes down to different “cultural expectations.”

“In Asia, they’re not as proactive. They’re not going to come up to you, they’re not going to just proactively give you refills, you need to flag down the waiter,” he says, noting the different interpretations of service.

"People on Yelp are insufferable,” he continues, arguing that “they're dinging all these restaurants because the service is bad,” but the food is so good that it balances out the bad service. Hence, a 3.5-star rating. His reasoning is arguably sound—people do often give absurdly scathing reviews that in no way accurately reflect a restaurant’s food quality.

“A good Yelp review doesn’t mean it’s a good restaurant — it simply means the restaurant is good at doing things that won’t hurt their online rating,” Wong said in an interview with Today, adding that “highly rated Yelp restaurants are often those with counter service and limited menus, minimizing potential negative interaction with staff.”

He also added the caveat, “I don’t have anything against those places, but I think people who only eat at the ‘highest rated’ restaurants on online review sites are only eating at the most boring restaurants.”

A ton of people in the comments seem to back Wong’s theory.

best chinese food

100% accurate, some say


Plus, the theory seems to not be limited to just Chinese restaurants, further implying that maybe there’s more of a cultural misunderstanding, rather than any real lack of quality.

thai food near me

No drink refills but the food is fire.


yelp reviews, yelp

2.8 is the new 5


One of the gifts that our modern world provides is the opportunity to truly experience and appreciate other cultures. Since food is easily one of the most accessible (and enjoyable) ways to do that, perhaps we should prioritize seeking authenticity, rather than rely on a flawed and superficial rating system.

As Wong told Today, “I hope it encourages people to go out and eat more food from not only Chinese restaurants, but restaurants representing the whole world of cultural cuisines.”

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via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21

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