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WHO gives new names to COVID variants to avoid ‘stigmatizing’ countries

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The World Health Organization announced Tuesday that it has replaced COVID variant names with Greek letters. This is their attempt to transition to “easy-to-pronounce and non-stigmatizing labels” rather than naming them after the countries from which the variants originated.

First, a variant of the virus began in the United Kingdom. Therefore, that virus will now be referred to as “Alpha” rather than the UK virus. Next, South Africa saw a new variant, now known as “Beta,” then Brazil, which is now called “Gamma.” Then, in October of 2020, India found the variant “Delta.” All of these are labeled “of concern” by the WHO.

Now, there are six variants, two of which originated in the United States, that are “of interest” to the WHO. They are named, in the order that they were discovered, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota and Kappa. The most recent variant is Theta, found in the Philippines in January of 2021.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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American and Southwest stand by vaccine mandate, despite Abbott’s ban

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American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are still planning to comply with President Biden’s executive order regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. The order requires all their employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8t. As a result, they will be ignoring Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on vaccine mandates.

Abbott announced his own executive order, effectively banning mandates even from private employers, on Tuesday. “In another instance of federal overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’ continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster,” Abbott said. “The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced.”

Yet both airlines are requiring their employees to be vaccinated by Nov. 24. This comes despite Southwest’s impromptu cancellation of over 2,000 flights over the weekend. At the time, the airline blamed the cancellations on air traffic control and weather conditions. However, SaraACarter.com was unable to verify that any other airline had to cancel near as many flights for the same reasons. This has left many to speculate that Southwest actually cancelled flights due to their employees walking out as a direct result of the mandate.

Reporter Jack Posobiec tweeted out a flyer circulating among the anti-vaxx Southwest employees. Currently, they are planning a protest outside of Southwest headquarters next Monday. The protest will be called “Freedom Not Force.”

Southwest told Reuters it “would be expected to comply with the President’s Order to remain compliant as a federal contractor.” In addition, American similarly said Abbott’s order does not change anything.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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