The Centers for Disease Control and prevention announced a new recommendation that masks be worn by all persons 2 and older “in indoor areas of public transportation (such as airplanes, trains, etc.) and transportation hubs (such as airports, stations, etc.).” The CDC also encouraged people to wear “in crowded or poorly ventilated locations, such as airport jetways.”
The announcement comes a little over two weeks after a U.S. District judge in Florida ruled the CDC’s mask mandate exceeded its authority. The Justice Department has said it plans to appeal the ruling, if the CDC indicates it’s needed.
The CDC had, the week before the court ruling, extended the mask requirement through today. The recent announcement comes as a recommendation and not a mandate, however, which means it does not carry the force of law. Local governments, for the time being, can decide whether or not they want to follow the it.
Cases and hospitalizations have begun to rise across the United States as new, more transmissible variants spread in waves. BA.2 began driving cases last month, quickly becoming dominant nationwide. Even more transmissible Omicron BA.2.12.1, first identified in the U.S. in February, is well on its way to pushing BA.2 out. Data released today show that BA.2.12.1 now makes up 36.5% of all newly-sequenced positive Covid tests having made a jump of close to 100% in the past two weeks.
The CDC’s authority may be tested again as cities such as New York have moved into what federal health officials have dubbed the medium, or yellow, risk category for virus transmission. (The current categories are much more lenient than those in place last year.)
CDC is updating #COVID19 community recommendations.
CDC’s new COVID-19 Community Level tool classifies every county in the US into low, medium, or high, with recommended prevention measures for each level.
Check your area’s level and learn more here: https://t.co/UZxX67a6M3.
— CDC (@CDCgov) February 25, 2022
New York City is now seeing close to 2,500 new cases per day, that’s a big rise from 600 daily cases in early March. If New York and other regions move into red or high level of transmission, it could trigger the return of public health restrictions, such as masking. In fact, many areas of the Northeast are already in the red. See the map below.
The Associated Press reports that, based on CDC data, “half of Vermont’s 14 counties have now been rated as having high community levels of COVID-19.” The state’s largest city, Burlington, ended its indoor mask mandate just last month. There seems to be little enthusiasm for the return of such mandates either on the part of the region’s residents or their elected officials.