US health officials cite new COVID strain in mask mandate extension on planes, public transit

Mask requirements set to expire May 3

U.S. health officials have cited a new COVID-19 strain as a factor in the decision to extend a mask mandate on planes and public transit.

U.S. health officials have cited a new COVID-19 strain as a factor in the decision to extend a mask mandate on planes and public transit.

Ira Longini, professor of biology statistics, said he was not surprised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the mask mandate another two weeks. He said it’s believed the omicron BA.2 strain is up to 50% more contagious than the original strain.

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“The fact that masks have been mandated for airplanes have kept them safe,” Longini said. “There are vulnerable people out there and there will continue to be and so it would be good to protect them as much as possible.”

Top airline leaders sent a letter to the Biden administration last month, calling the mask mandate unnecessary.

A day before the announcement, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said despite any health directives from the federal government, he has no intentions of imposing similar requirements.

“I just want to be clear, as long as I sit in the chair in which I sit, no Floridian will be restricted, mandated or locked down in any possible way,” DeSantis said.

Longini said despite the mask mandate onboard planes, facial coverings may not be required for other settings.

“In general it’s probably not necessary, but it can have, mask wearing has some public health utility in some situations,” Longini said.

The TSA has reported fines up to $3,000 for violators of the rule.

The current mask requirements are now set to expire May 3, 2022.


About the Author:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.