Federal officials extended the mask mandate for commercial airline flights and other modes of transportation until at least May 3, while health officials continue to monitor rising COVID case counts in the Northeast.
While major cities have largely rolled back local mask mandates, the Biden administration has faced growing pressure to lift the mask requirement for air travel and public transit. But the emergency of the BA.2 subvariant of omicron led to this week’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“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,” the agency said in a statement.
Before CDC’s statement was issued, Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas Calio urged the administration to end pre-departure testing requirements for international air travel as well as the federal mask mandate.
“The CDC has issued guidance that determined that over 99 percent of the U.S. population no longer needs to wear masks indoors,” Calio wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “Numerous studies and public health experts have demonstrated that planes are among the safest indoor environments due to the superior ventilation and hospital grade air filters on commercial aircraft. It makes no sense to require masks on a plane when masks are not recommended in places like restaurants, bars or crowded sports facilities.”