Health

Biden’s COVID-19 Czar Says Transportation Mask Mandate Could Continue Even Longer

(Screenshot/NBC)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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President Joe Biden’s recently-appointed COVID-19 czar, Dr. Ashish Jha, said Monday that the administration’s mask mandate on public transportation could continue even longer than expected.

The federal mask mandate imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is set to expire next week. However, Jha told the Today show that it could be extended due to rising COVID-19 cases and the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.

“This is a decision that the CDC director, Dr. Walensky, is going to make,” Jha told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. “This is a CDC decision and I think it is absolutely on the table (to extend the mandate).” (RELATED: Federal Court Reinstates Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate For Federal Workers)

Airplanes and other forms of transportation are one of the last remaining places in America where masks are required by law, after all 50 states and most localities dropped their mandates in recent months. Despite the fact that airplanes have higher air quality than most indoor settings and are scientifically one of the safest places to be during an airborne viral pandemic, the Biden CDC has advised the TSA to continue to keep the mask mandate in place.

Jha was a longstanding proponent of harsh lockdown measures before becoming Biden’s COVID-19 response head. Some other public health officials have also hinted that restrictions may need to stay in place or be reinstated, and Monday Philadelphia became the first major city in America to reimpose its mask mandate.