CDC Recommends Travelers Mask Up After Court Strikes Down Mandate

Plane passengers wearing masks
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News & Politics

In late April, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the Biden administration's mask mandate for airplanes and transit.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) simply does not have the authority to detain and release travelers, the judge argued.

But the CDC is still urging travelers to mask up.

CDC Recommendations

In a post published this week on its official website, the CDC said that all travelers and workers aged two and older should wear a protective face mark or respirator in "indoor areas of public transportation."

Wearing a well-fitting face covering ensures that everyone in closed public places is protected from the novel coronavirus, the CDC continued.

This is especially the case in poorly-ventilated spaces, such as airport jetways, the CDC said.

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CDC website seen under a magnifier
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The CDC stressed that this recommendation is "based on the currently available data," noting that the number of COVID-19 cases is surging across the United States, and around the world.

New variants of the virus, the CDC said, could have an impact on vaccine effectiveness as well as disease severity.

"Along with staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, avoiding crowds, wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator is one of multiple prevention steps that people can take to protect themselves and others in travel and transportation settings," the public health agency added.

Walensky Issues Warning

CDC director Rochelle Walensky
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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky issued a statement of her own, stressing that the "CDC continues to recommend that all people—passengers and workers, alike—properly wear a well-fitting mask or respirator in indoor public transportation conveyances and transportation hub."

"Additionally, it is important for all of us to protect not only ourselves, but also to be considerate of others at increased risk for severe COVID-19 and those who are not yet able to be vaccinated. Wearing a mask in indoor public transportation settings will provide protection for the individual and the community."

Are Masks Required Or Not?

The CDC's announcement -- which was made as the U.S. surpassed one million coronavirus deaths -- created some confusion, being that it appears to directly contradict Judge Mizelle's ruling.

But as WJAC-TV reported, the CDC's recommendation is just that -- a recommendation.

Meaning, masks are not actually required and service providers can choose whether to ask passengers to mask up or not, and passengers can do as they please in most cases.

As Bob Johnson of CamTran put it, "whatever makes you feel safe is the best thing for you to do."