The federal mask requirement for public transit has been extended through May 3, according to announcements Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
The federal mandate, which was set to expire April 18, requires travelers to wear masks on buses, subways, trains, ferries and other forms of public transit. The original order from the CDC has been in effect since Feb. 1, 2021, and has been extended multiple times.
Citing a rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the US from the BA.2 subvariant, the CDC said the mask order will remain in effect while the agency "assesses the potential impact of the rise of cases on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity."
Several states and other organizations have been pushing back on the mask mandate for transit. The Federal Aviation Administration has also seen a spike in unruly passengers cases on planes, with more than 4,290 mask-related incidents reported in 2021.
Earlier this week, the new White House COVID czar Ashish Jha suggested the government might extend the mandate.
"This is a CDC decision, and I think it is absolutely on the table," JHA told NBC's Today show on Monday. He added that CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, "is going to make her decision based on the framework that the CDC scientists create, and we'll make a decision collectively based on that."
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