(The Center Square) — The Biden administration on Thursday extended the federal mask mandate for public transportation, even as state and local governments across the country drop their mandates.
The Transportation Security Administration announced that the warrant would be in effect until April 18 of this year. It applies to federally regulated public transit such as planes, trains and airports.
“Upon the recommendation of the CDC, the TSA will extend the safety guideline for mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs by one month, through April 18,” the TSA said. “During this time, the CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework outlining when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor. This revised framework will be based on COVID-19 community levels, the risk of new variants, national data and the latest scientific findings. We will publicly communicate all updates if and/or when they change.
The decision has surprised many Americans since the CDC announced last month that the majority of Americans can now go without masks.
CDC officials said in February that masks are no longer necessary unless someone lives in an area where hospitals are struggling to keep up, which means about 70% of Americans can go without masks. .
“We want to give people a break from things like mask-wearing…” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.
The CDC does not create mandates of its own, only advice for other entities. The CDC’s website has a feature that lets users see if their county is considered “high risk” enough to require masks.
“Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area,” the CDC’s site says. “Take precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 based on the COVID-19 community level in your area.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the decision at Thursday’s press conference.
“When you get on a plane, you travel to different places. You’re not just static in one place, whether it’s a green zone, a yellow zone or a red zone.