CDC Extends Travel Mask Mandate To May 3
The federal mask mandate for transportation will be prolonged for at least an extra two weeks, the CDC announced on Wednesday. Transportation includes planes, buses, trains and transit hubs.
The mandate was slated to expire on April 18, but the date will be moved back to May 3. This is the fifth extension since January 2021.
“In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC Order will remain in place at this time,” said a statement from the agency.
The latest subvariant of COVID-19, BA.2, has been the driving force in the spike in cases. BA.2 was responsible for 86% of positive tests last week, according to the CDC.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the CDC would reevaluate at the May 3 date, but that even after multiple extensions, they would not rule out another one based on where COVID cases are at.
Flight attendants have been clear that they want the mandate lifted. While they are at higher risk than most because they interact with many passengers daily, they said they no longer want to be responsible for reminding passengers to wear their masks since there has been a spike in unruly passengers since the mandate went into effect. Many have said they think it’s better just to let the people who want to wear a mask wear one.
The Transportation Security Administration will stand behind the CDC’s decision.
“CDC continues to monitor the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, especially the BA.2 subvariant that now makes up more than 85% of US cases,” the TSA said in a statement. “Since early April 2022, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of Covid-19 cases in the United States. … TSA will continue to coordinate closely with CDC and communicate any changes to this requirement with the public.”