President Biden announced Thursday his administration will, once again, extend the mask requirements for travel on aircraft, train, and other forms of public transportation.
Speaking at the National Institutes of Health (NIH ) about the “winter” strategy for combatting the virus, Biden announced the extension to the rule, forcing passengers on planes to wear masks.
“And we are extending the requirement, both internationally and domestically, to wear masks for travel on aircraft, train, public transportation, through the winter months,” Biden said during the speech.
The expected expiration of the extended mandate is March 18, according to reports. The mandate was slated to end January 18, 2022, but even that was an extension, as the deadline prior to that was September 13. However, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) extended the rule in August.
It was nearly one year ago that Biden vowed to require masking “wherever possible” as part of his plan for the first 100 days in office.
“Wear your mask for just 100 days. It’s the easiest thing you can do to reduce COIVD cases, hospitalizations, and death,” Biden said at the time.
“Whatever your politics or point of view — mask up for 100 days. Once we take office. 100 days to make a difference. It’s not a political statement, it’s a patriotic act,” he added.
It has been far past 100 days, and given the constant extensions, Biden’s plan did not appear to “make a difference,” as he predicted. Rather, states that had some of the most stringent coronavirus restrictions, including universal masking, are now experiencing some of the highest case rates of the coronavirus in the nation. Florida, which never had a statewide mask mandate in place, has continued to report the lowest case rate per capita in the nation for weeks.
The Biden administration, while continuing to promote masking, is simultaneously pushing vaccinations and booster shots, despite the fact that public health officials originally sold vaccination as the primary way to reach a state of pre-pandemic normalcy — namely, a time without masks and social distancing. Individuals were widely told that they would be able to return to pre-pandemic days, yet now, the administration is continuing to slap additional requirements on vaccinated individuals as well.
For instance, Biden announced stricter requirements for international travelers, forcing them to provide a negative coronavirus test within one day of departure, regardless of their vaccination status. He claimed the new timetable, a switch from three days, will provide additional protection as scientists study the omicron variant. The announcement came one day after it was revealed that the first case of the variant has been identified in the U.S., in a fully vaccinated individual.
Biden concluded his speech by asserting that the actions “come from a position of strength” and are those that “all Americans can rally behind.”