President Joe Biden on Wednesday has extended the nationwide mask requirement for public transit for 15 days.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was extending the order, which was set to expire on April 18, until May 3, in view of the rising COVID-19 cases in America.
“In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC order will remain in place at this time,” CDC said in a statement.
According to reports, the mask mandate is the most visible vestige of government restrictions to control the pandemic and possibly the most controversial.
Sources said the rise of abusive and sometimes violent incidents on airplanes had been mainly attributed to disputes over mask-wearing.
CDC data has shown that there has been a slight increase in cases in recent weeks, driven by the BA.2 strain, with daily confirmed cases nationwide rising from about 25,000 per day to more than 30,000.
CDC explained that those figures are an undercount since many people now test positive on-at-home tests that are not reported to public health agencies.
Moreover, the CDC noted that severe illnesses and deaths tend to lag infections by several weeks.
At the moment, the CDC is awaiting indications of whether the increase in cases correlates to a rise in adverse outcomes before announcing a less restrictive mask policy for travel.