Corporate media outlets responded to Monday’s news that masks would no longer be required on public transit by hyping the risk of COVID-19 and sharing stories of Americans opposed to the change.
When a federal judge in Florida struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for public transportation Monday, on the grounds that it is beyond the scope of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) powers to impose such a mandate, travelers displayed divided reactions. Some joyfully removed their masks while others expressed fear that they would be at risk of catching the coronavirus.
A review of corporate media coverage of the aftermath reveals that many journalists focused exclusively on the latter group and amplified perceived risk even when it was minimal.
Axios published an article Tuesday which acknowledged that many travelers “joyfully embraced” the chance to take their masks off but went on to highlight parents concerned about the safety of their young children who aren’t eligible to get vaccinated. The article asserted that “many” parents fear for their children under age five and shared a tweet from an unverified Twitter user with less than 2,000 followers who said she was “trapped” in the sky with her 8-month-old baby surrounded by unmasked people, and that she was “very very angry.”
Here we are, trapped in the sky with our 8 month old unmasked baby (you can’t actually mask a baby that young) under the supposition that everyone who can be masked would be masked, and the flight 325 crew has taken our choices away from us. Very very angry about this.
— Brooke Tansley (@BrookeTansley) April 19, 2022
The Axios piece closed by telling Americans “Maybe don’t throw away those masks” because a new variant could come along and crush their hope and optimism. (RELATED: Liberals Hyperventilate After Trump-Appointed Judge Deals Blow To The Mask Cult)
COVID-19 has posed minimal risk to children throughout the pandemic. Data shows that unvaccinated children are less likely to suffer a severe COVID-19 outcome than vaccinated adults in their 50’s and older. 463 children under age five, the only group not eligible for vaccination, have died of COVID-19, according to the CDC. That accounts for about 0.05% of American COVID-19 deaths.
In Politico’s healthcare newsletter, Pulse, a healthcare academic is cited calling the legal ruling “dangerous” because “imagine the next variant that has a 50 percent mortality rate and the vaccines don’t work” and the CDC can’t impose mandates. Not only would airlines and local health authorities still have the power to impose mandates in that scenario, there is no evidence whatsoever COVID-19 could mutate into a virus with a 50% mortality rate which evades vaccines. A virus with a death rate that high would be comparable to Ebola or the plague in pre-antibiotic times, which killed one-third of Europe in the 14th century.
Politico also asserted that the decision will leave Americans “confused and more frustrated” about when they should wear masks.
The Washington Post published a guide helping travelers decide if they should continue to mask on airplanes or not. The guide endorses mask-wearing for kids aged two and up, a policy the World Health Organization soundly rejects. CNN shared a similar piece, exclusively citing experts who said to continue masking.
The New York Times headline about the end of the mandate read as follows: “Concerns Rise as Passenger Masks Fall.” (RELATED: The Biden Administration Is Ignoring The Science On Airplane Masking)
The judge’s decision does not prevent any airline from requiring masks on its flights. However, every major U.S. airline announced that mask-wearing will now be optional, including American, Delta, JetBlue, United and Southwest. The decision was also celebrated by many flight attendants who have been tasked with enforcing the mandate throughout the pandemic.