Joe Biden and 100 days of masks

When Joe Biden likely is sworn in as the next president next year, he is expected to ask the public to go 100 days wearing a mask.

“The first day I’m inaugurated to say I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days.”

“And I think we’ll see a significant reduction if we occur that, if that occurs with vaccinations and masking to drive down the numbers considerably.” 

This is interesting for a few reasons.

First, a few weeks back, there were rumors that if Joe Biden were to become president he would require a mask mandate across the nation.

This understandably made a lot of people angry and there was a lot of instant opposition to the idea.

Shortly after that, the rumor was dispelled and Biden reportedly stated that he wanted to keep that as a local decision and not a federal mandate.

It’s worth noting that he does plan on making it a requirement to wear a mask inside of government buildings.

“I’m going to issue a standing order that in federal buildings you have to be masked,” he said.

So if you have any plans on visiting government buildings in the next few months, assuming they are open, you’ll likely be required to wear a mask when indoors.

This will also apply to transportation.

He added: “Transportation, interstate transportation, you must be masked, airplanes and buses, et cetera.”

I’ve seen a lot of conflicting reports on the effectiveness of masks.

I’m not a medical expert so I will withhold my opinion on what works and what doesn’t but as a non-expert it is difficult to know who to believe when you see so much conflicting information.

I think the reality is we still don’t definitively know a lot of things about this virus and that is why we have heard so much conflicting and contradictory guidance since March.

I also think that there are so many factors that go into stopping the spread of the virus that it is difficult to point specifically to one action such as wearing masks as the central reason for why numbers go down.

For example, if a city requires masks but also has other measures that prevent people from congregating and socializing, it could be those other measures that are more effective.

Personally, I do wear a mask and believe that it does help to prevent droplets from spreading from the mouth and nose, which in turn would help decrease things like the viral load and rate of spread.

But again I’m not the expert.

I do think that regardless of whether or not people follow this request to wear a mask for 100 days, we will likely see a very positive outcome during that time period.

But the most significant thing that will be happening during those 100 days will be folks getting vaccinated.

We know based on data of tens of thousands of subjects that the vaccines likely to get approved are highly effective at preventing the disease known as the coronavirus.

Masks may help to an extent but I would imagine that the vaccines will be what ultimately yields amazing results in terms of cases declining.


Mandatory vaccine passports might be coming

Last spring, there was a lot of talk about so-called “immunity passports.”

These were supposed to be passports that people would possess after they had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.

The idea was that these people would be less of a risk or perhaps at no risk of contracting the virus again and so it would be safe for them to enter back into society.

These passports never really gained traction.

Perhaps it was the mixed scientific opinions on immunity or just because it just wasn’t a very useful idea.

But now there is a new concept of a “vaccination passport” that is being seriously considered.

Certain countries around the world and places like Asia and the Pacific are considering the possibility of requiring vaccination passports for international travelers.

In Australia, Qantas is considering requiring all passengers to have a vaccination passport before they can travel abroad or even land in Australia.

Qantas has also reportedly been talking to other airlines around the world about enforcing such a requirement.

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travelers, that we will ask people to have the vaccination before they get on the aircraft,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce told Australia’s Network Nine television.

Asking about vaccinations is nothing new for immigration.

If you travel to certain locations such as the Maldives you’ve probably had to fill out a passport card that required you to tick off a box as proof of vaccination.

But they are actually talking about taking further steps by trying to figure out a way to electronically verify that people have received the vaccine.

Tracing vaccination records across countries seems like an extremely daunting task.

I understand some countries are very serious about wanting to avoid letting loose a highly contagious virus in their country if they have been successful so far in keeping their cases down.

However, the idea of tracing these records electronically just does not seem that promising.

Still, there is talk about from other airlines like Korean Air who are being vocal about the possibilities of requiring vaccinations.

If you can’t prove your prior vaccination, most likely you will have to quarantine when you arrive in the new country, so you still can probably arrive at some of these places.

I think the biggest issue that many people will have is that this type of regulation likely will only be enforced with airlines and foreign governments working in tandem.

Allowing governments to control which people with a valid passport can enter or exit the country based on vaccination status sounds like a bad plan to many people.

There’s a lot that could go wrong in that scenario whether it be abuse of the system or just negligent application.

If you’ve ever been held up in an immigration line for no apparent reason then you could forsee many more issues happening in the future because of this.

“Ultimately, it’s up to governments to determine when and how it is safe to reopen borders and we continue to work closely with authorities on this,” Air New Zealand said in a statement.

All of these countries like Australia and New Zealand have had pretty strict border restrictions ever since the breakout of the pandemic so it’s not a surprise that they would be leading this type of charge.

And while I think it is admirable for countries like that to want to take proactive measures to prevent the spread from breaking out in their countries, trying to enforce a mandatory vaccine requirement that is traceable electronically or via an app just doesn’t quite feel like the right move.


Are planes really safe from Covid 19?

When the pandemic first started to break out back in February of this year, many people wanted to stay as far away from airplanes as possible.

The idea was that a contagious virus could easily circulate through a metal tube and infect people throughout the entire cabin.

But we soon started to hear that the air quality inside of an airplane was actually pretty safe. This was allegedly due to the high air exchange rates and HEPA filters.

But is this actually true?

Well, a new study conducted for the Department of Defense ads support to the belief that you run a low risk of contracting the coronavirus when flying inside of an airplane.

This study found that the risk of aerosol dispersion which is basically the transmission of the virus through the air, was reduced 99.7% thanks to the “high air exchange rates, HEPA-filtered recirculation and downward ventilation found on modern jets.”

The study involves studying the cabins of Boeing 767 and 777, two types of aircraft that are often used on long-haul flights where you might expect the virus to spread easily over time.

Researchers released a fluorescent tracer and aerosols that represented the droplets that would be released by exhaling or coughing and then they looked to see what the impact was on multiple “breathing zones.”

The findings: “An average 99.99% reduction was measured for the 40+ breathing zones tested in each section of both

This has some airline executives feeling better about the claims regarding aircraft safety when it comes to the coronavirus.

“The reality is those tests are indicative of what happens on every airplane. An aircraft is just a remarkably safe environment,”  United CEO Scott Kirby said.

The study was conducted by an entire team which consisted of members from United Airlines, Boeing, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, National Strategic Research Institute and research firms.

The findings of the study are not necessarily groundbreaking or new as many others have been stating that air quality inside of a plane is about as good as it gets.

In fact, the study found that the contamination inside the aircraft was actually less than what is found in private residences.

“The 767 and 777 both removed particulate 15 times faster than a home … and five to six times faster than recommended design specifications for modern hospital operating or patient isolation rooms,” the study continued.

So if you are thinking about flying for the upcoming holidays and you are worried about your safety with respect to the virus, I don’t think that you have a lot to worry about in terms of your risk inside the cabin.

Obviously, there are other risks that you could face such as just standing near people in line for airport security or while spending time inside of a lounge.

But with all of the increased sanitation, individuals wearing masks, and the efficient air filtration and circulation systems, you should at least be able to be a little bit at ease when flying.


New Citi Prestige and Premier spending benefits live

Citibank is now offering better perks for two of its most popular credit cards. Some of the perks, such as those for the Citi Prestige are only temporary. But the benefits getting added to the Citi Premier are permanent and are actually just being expedited since these changes were already going to happen in August.

By the way, I’ve updated the database in WalletFlo so you don’t have to worry about keeping up with these changes and they should reflect in your profile.

Citi Prestige

  • Citi Prestige cardholders can now enjoy 5 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on all online purchases up to 7,500 points, through August 31, 2020. 
    • Retailer website orders
    • Online grocery orders
    • Online drugstore orders

This means that you can spend up to $1,500 on these categories which should be pretty easy for people to do over the summer and effectively turns the Prestige into a card like the Chase Freedom that allows 5X on up to $1,500 worth of spend. Not bad. 

And remember, you can use your $250 travel credit on expenses like dining until the end of the year. Again this is also notated in WalletFlo

Citi Premier

  • 3 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on supermarket purchases (instead of 1 point per $1 spent)
  • 3 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on restaurant purchases, including takeout and curbside pickup (instead of 2 points per $1 spent)

The new changes have already been in effect since June 2 so you should have been earning the increased rates over the past couple of days if you have this card.

Personally, I think these are great bonus categories for a card with an annual fee of $95. 3X on supermarkets and dining is very respectable. At a valuation of 1.7 cents per point, you’ll be earning just over 5% back on those categories which is very solid. 

I also think that it’s pretty cool that Citi is expediting this change. Technologically speaking, Citibank doesn’t always impress so it was nice to see them implement this change pretty quickly.