President Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory team said mask mandates would remain in place despite revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control loosening requirements and Biden’s own words Tuesday night in his SOTU address.
“Just a few days ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new mask guidelines,” he said. “Under the new guidelines, most Americans in most of the country can now go mask free.”
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients said during a briefing on Wednesday there would be “no change” to the mask mandate for airplanes and public travel, but that an “evaluation” of the mandate was taking place.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky agreed.
“So, just in terms of travel, we have to look not only at the science with regard to transmission in masks but also the epidemiology,” she said to reporters.
Mask mandates for air travel and other public transportation are currently in place until March 18.
Walensky cited the “frequency” of possibly encountering a coronavirus variant or other diseases while traveling as a reason to keep the masks on.
“So, all of those go into our equations, in terms of how much disease is out there, as well as the science, and as well as the control people have when they enter those travel quarters,” she said.
Walensky said people used public travel systems to get to work, which would require separate criteria for mandates.
“So, that’s among the reasons that we want to revisit this in a separate way,” she said, although Biden tried to signal to the country during his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening that masking requirements were mostly over.
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