Uber to Require Mask-Wearing Selfies From Some Riders
The ride-sharing giant Uber announced Tuesday that riders who have flouted the company's mask-wearing mandate will be required to take a selfie showing that they are wearing a mask before they can request a car. The rule also applies to all riders requesting a ride in New York City's five boroughs.
In announcing the policy, Uber referenced the CDC's statements on mask wearing and highlighted the bevy of peer-reviewed articles the CDC cites as evidence that wearing a mask helps stop the spread of communicable infectious diseases, according to CBS News.
Uber has required both riders and drivers to wear a mask since May. The company acknowledges that most customers and drivers have complied with the mandate, but a few break the rules.
"If we do have people who are still violating the policy, we want to be able to verify them with an extra step," Uber's senior director of product management, Sachin Kansal, told ABC News. "And if they're not wearing a mask, they will not be able to take a ride."
When the policy went into effect in May, Uber only required the verification from drivers or people making deliveries with Uber Eats.
"We firmly believe that accountability is a two-way street," said Uber in a statement. "That's why we're expanding the same technology to riders, too. If a driver reports to us that a rider wasn't wearing a mask, the rider will be required to take a selfie with their face covered before they're able to take another trip with Uber. With the addition of this new feature, one driver's feedback can help ensure the safety of Uber for the next driver."
The mask verification will start in the U.S. and Canada at the end of September. After that it will move to Latin America and then to the entire international market, according to the company, as CBS News reported.
When the May policy first went into effect, the company also invested $50 million in cleaning supplies. It also decked out its cars with a plastic sheet separating the passenger from the driver, according to Gothamist. The company claims it has provided more than 800,000 packages of disinfectant sprays, wipes and hand sanitizer to drivers for free and it will distribute millions more as efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus continue.
Uber's largest competitor Lyft also requires both drivers and riders to wear masks. It also requires riders to sit in the back and to have the window open, weather-permitting, to allow air to flow, according to CBS News.
Uber says the face detection software can even detect if a rider's mask is pulled up over their nose or not. The company also insists that it will not store your selfie, if you're concerned about your privacy.
"In about four days we delete the picture," Kansal said to ABC News. "The reason why we keep it for four days is in case there is any issue, there is any complaint."
Uber's existing policy already allows a driver or a rider to cancel a trip without penalty if they see the other one not wearing a mask, according to CBS News.
"If we find that riders or drivers have been in violation of the policy, we will first educate them," Kansal told ABC News. "We will send them emails. We want to make sure that they actually understand what the policy is. But if we see repeat violation, then we can take further action, including taking them off the platform."
Hundreds of endangered sea turtles were stranded on beaches after suffering "cold stunning" in the waters off Cape Cod, Mass. Local rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators stabilized the turtles at the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and National Marine Life Center and began treatment. Many of the sea turtles were transported by land or air to partner facilities around the Eastern Seaboard for longer-term care to make room for more incoming, cold-stunned animals.
Rehabilitators at The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys assess critically endangered, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles flown in after rescue in New England. The Turtle Hospital<p>NEAQ and local rescuers begin seeing turtles every fall when water temperatures drop to that 50 degrees F threshold, and typically expect to find them into early January. After that, <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/sea-turtle-cape-cod-weather-2621527394.html" target="_self">temperatures are so cold that any animals found are usually no longer alive</a>.</p><p>Merigo estimated that this year's cold season "looks very busy" and noted that local rescue efforts had already surpassed 400 turtles.</p><p>"It is a lot of animals. They're still coming in," she told EcoWatch as she surveyed 39 rescued turtles that day and 20 the day prior. "So far, this is a huge year."</p><p>At NEAQ, the turtles are gradually warmed up about five to 10 degrees F a day. More aggressive warming can cause serious damage and the turtle might not survive, Merigo said. Emergency treatments also include providing replacement fluids, balancing electrolytes and addressing pneumonia. Assessments take place for other serious problems too, such as shell or limb fractures, frostbite, emaciation and eye damage.<span></span></p><p>As local aquariums don't have the capacity to care for all the injured turtles, a group of private pilots called <a href="https://www.turtlesflytoo.org/" target="_blank">"Turtles Fly Too"</a> donated planes, fuel and time to transport some to various partner facilities around the country. Other turtles were driven to closer care facilities.</p><p>"We have a huge network of really great partners working with us, so if we can spread out the care, we can give better care to all the animals," Merigo said.</p><p>The 40 Kemp's ridley sea turtles recovering in The Turtle Hospital will continue to be treated and rehabilitated anywhere from 30 days to a year, depending on the severity of injuries, Zirkelbach said.</p><p>The turtle expert noted that while she's treated cold-stunned turtles from the north before, the newest arrivals were the most cold-stunned Kemp's ridleys ever received at one time.</p>
After rescue, cold-stunned sea turtles received immediate emergency care and assessments at the New England Aquarium. Caitlin Cunningham / New England Aquarium<p>In the past decade, the Gulf of Maine, which spans from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, has warmed 99 percent faster than the rest of the ocean, Zirkelbach said. The warm water encourages turtles that migrate north along the Gulf Stream in warmer months to stay in the bay longer.</p><p>"Turtles that fail to migrate south get stuck in the unique horseshoe-shaped topography of the Cape Cod peninsula, and when temperatures drop, the bay becomes a death trap," she added.</p><p>Before ocean temperatures warmed, the waters of Maine were too cold for many of these sea turtles, Merigo echoed. Now, with warming sea surface temperatures, Maine can reach the high 70s to low 80s, which is "perfect turtle temperature," she said. The potential for more turtles getting trapped in the bay and then cold-stunned is nerve-racking for Merigo.</p><p>In addition to shifting habitats as waters warm, warming global temperatures also disrupt natural gender balance in sea turtles, Merigo warned. Gender is determined by the temperature of eggs in nests, and as the planet warms, it will result in all females at some point, she said.</p><p>"The turtles we work with are all endangered and threatened," Merigo said. "For sea turtles in general, the future is a little grim. Climate change is real; it does impact them."</p>
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