Biden Administration Considers Extending Mask Mandate for Airplanes

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
April 11, 2022 Updated: April 11, 2022

An extension on the federal mask mandate on airplanes and in airports is being considered, White House COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha said on April 11, even as cases and hospitalizations around the United States have dropped significantly in recent months.

Jha, who was named to the position last month after Jeff Zients’s departure, told the NBC’s “Today” show that an extension of the months-long mask mandate is “absolutely on the table.” Mask mandates have been dropped nearly everywhere, including in Democrat-led cities earlier this year.

The decision on whether to keep the mask mandate intact will ultimately be made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Jha said, adding that the agency is “developing a scientific framework” in the near future.

When pressed about the decision, Jha said that CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will “make her decision based on the framework that the CDC scientists create.”

In March, the CDC said it would extend the mask mandate for airports and airplanes until April 18. The mandate was created in a January 2021 order that was issued by the federal health agency.

“During that time, CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor. This revised framework will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science. We will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change,” the agency said in a statement last month.

Recently, 20 states joined Florida in its lawsuit (pdf) against the federal government’s mask mandate.

“The CDC must consider the measures that States and their subdivisions have implemented and specifically consider their adequacy to control the interstate spread of COVID-19. The mere assertion that mask mandates are the only appropriate measure is inadequate,” a section of the 31-page lawsuit reads.

Just days before that, several major airline CEOs pleaded with the Biden administration to drop the mask order.

“We are encouraged by the current data and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions from coast to coast, which indicate it is past time to eliminate COVID-era transportation policies,” a group of CEOs wrote in a letter. American Airlines, United Airlines Holdings, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest Airlines were among those who signed on.

They added that “much has changed since these measures were imposed and they no longer make sense in the current public health context,” noting a “persistent and steady decline of hospitalization and death rates.”

Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.