Omicron subvariant BA.2 infections rise as the US nears one million deaths in the coronavirus pandemic.
The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is extending the nationwide mask requirement for public transportation and air travel by 15 days as it monitors a rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is extending the order, which was set to expire on April 18, by May 3 for more time to study the ba.2 omicron subvariant. To allow that which now accounts for most of the cases. America.
“The CDC order will remain in force for this time to assess the potential impact on serious illness, including hospitalizations and deaths, and the capacity of the health care system to assess,” the agency said in a statement.
The CDC was hoping to devise a more flexible masking strategy that would replace the nationwide transit requirement. Hopes for relief from COVID-19 restrictions have risen since the World Health Organization said in February the acute phase of the pandemic could pass by the middle of the year.
The mask mandate of government restrictions to control the pandemic is the most visible, and possibly the most controversial. The rise in abusive and sometimes violent incidents on airplanes has been attributed mainly to controversies over mask-wearing.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which enforces the rule for planes, buses, trains, and transit hubs, extended the requirement last month.
Critics have captured the fact that states have rolled back rules requiring masks in restaurants, stores and other indoor settings, and yet since the Omicron version peaked in mid-January, COVID-19 There has been a sharp decline in cases.
In a letter to the Airlines for America, a trade group, on Wednesday continued to urge Biden’s administration to “learn the science and research that explicitly supports lifting the mask mandate … it on a plane.” There is no point in requiring masks when masks are not recommended in places like restaurants, bars or crowded sports facilities.”
The group cited CDC’s guidance that nearly all Americans living in counties where they can avoid wearing masks indoors. In February the CDC relaxed its guidance for face coverings.
The US Senate voted 57-40 last month to reverse a public health order requiring masks on airplanes and other forms of public transportation, drawing a veto threat from Biden.
There has been a slight increase in cases in recent weeks, driven by the BA.2 strain, with the number of daily confirmed cases nationwide rising from about 25,000 per day to more than 30,000. Many people, because they are low figures now test positive for home tests that are not reported to public health agencies.
Infection lags behind for several weeks, leading to serious illnesses and deaths. CDC awaits indications of whether the increase in cases is related to an increase in adverse outcomes before announcing a less restrictive mask policy for travel.
The CDC first issued a public health order requiring masks in interstate transportation and transit hubs, including airplanes, mass transit, taxis, ride-share vehicles and trains effective February 2021.
The total number of deaths in the US has passed 980,000 and is now approaching the one million milestone as the pandemic enters its third year, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.