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CDC’s Silly Stalling on Flight Masks

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Director at Public Health and American Well-Being Initiative
Joel M. Zinberg, M.D., J.D. is the Director of the Public Health and American Well-Being Initiative at Paragon Health Institute, and a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. A native New Yorker, he recently completed two years as General Counsel and Senior Economist at the Council of Economic Advisers in the Executive Office of the President.

The Transportation Security Administration, following the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionwill extend its mask mandate for airplanes through mid-April. Once again, the CDC is behind the curve. 

The TSA announcement comes as virtually all states and major cities have dropped their indoor mask mandates in response to plunging numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. It also comes a week after the CDC eased its mask guidance for communities which overnight reduced recommendations for indoor masking from roughly 95 percent to about 37 percent of US counties. The numbers have only improved since — CDC’s latest update shows that 98 percent of Americans who live in 94 percent of US counties need not mask. 

CDC’s guidelines moved from measuring community transmission to measuring community levels of disease — how much strain the virus is placing on a community’s health-care system as indicated by new COVID hospitalizations, the share of hospital beds occupied by patients admitted for COVID and new COVID cases. The new guidelines recognized that with the predominant, highly contagious but generally mild, Omicron variant, measuring transmission became much less important. 

Have virus, will travel 

When asked why airports and airlines should maintain mask mandates even if the cities in which they’re located have abandoned them, White House press secretary Jen Psaki answered that air travelers aren’t “static.” People traveling from a high COVID-19 zone could arrive at low-level COVID-19 areas, still posing a transmission risk. That sounds like an argument for banning travel rather than a justification for masks on planes. 

The full article can be found in the New York Post.

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