CDC Says to Wear a Mask on Plane, Train, Bus or Other Public Transit
On Monday, October 19, 2020 the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new set of guidelines aimed at better managing coronavirus spread.
And while the guidelines were comprehensive and wide sweeping, a number of them focused specifically on how passengers on public transportation to conduct themselves – particularly when it comes to wearing masks.
It’s important to remember that these guidelines are exactly that – guidelines, and not edicts or mandates – but state governments have certainly been leaning into all that the CDC recommends and disseminating those same rules about their state.
On Monday these guidelines involved recommending that all passengers and all workers across everything the public transportation – planes, trains, buses, and more – wear their masks at all times.
These recommendations were made following a number of reports released by the airline industry that coronavirus cases were beginning to surge across the board. The CDC has long contended that wearing masks has a significant impact on blunting the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID 19 and these recommendations aren’t outlined with what they’ve been recommending all along.
At the same time, the recommendations do continue to fall short of what those in the transportation world are seeking. The unions in the transportation industries (especially in the airline and bus communities) have been pushing for even more stringent rules.
These major transportation unions have gone on record a number of times that current federal and state level rules and regulations regarding mask wearing just aren’t up to par in their opinion.
Interestingly enough, the CDC had actually been trying to push forward even more stringent and more restrictive rules and regulations to impose on public transportation. The CDC had drafted an order that would use the quarantine power of the organization to compel all passengers and all employees to wear masks on every form of public transportation – with penalties included for those that disobeyed.
This order, however, was blocked by administrative agents working at the White House.
Instead, the CDC decided to forward with their current recommendation after a request made by Vice President Pence directly to the CDC Director Robert Redfield. The conversation was said to be quite brief, but the Vice President was said to be emphatic about making sure that the rules were updated to reflect the surges of coronavirus that have been sweeping across the nation.
The CDC had already been recommending masks as “general use” solutions up until this new edict was handed down. However, the new language in the CDC recommendation specifically aims at the transportation industry – with a lot of language heavily geared towards the airline industry.
Those in the know believe that this new recommendation from the CDC with airline specific language is meant to provide extra cover to the industry, allowing them to impose more stringent mask wearing rules and regulations without having to deal with a lot of public backlash.
Air travel has (understandably) suffered quite a bit since the breakout of the coronavirus, though it is certainly on the upswing. Most airlines have imposed their own rules and regulations regarding mask wearing, with many of them requiring (at least) all passengers to have masks or facial coverings on at all times.
Part of the statement released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention really emphasized how easy it is for the virus to be transmitted due to interstate travel.
The CDC wanted to be crystal clear about how easy it is for local transmission issues to quickly become a much bigger problem, spreading throughout the state and then throughout the region (across borders) when infected individuals – including those that do not know they are infected at the time – take advantage of public transportation without masks.
Numerous studies have shown that traveling in large groups (like on airplanes, ships, subways, buses, etc.) act as super spreader events. People are always brought into close contact with one another, usually for extended amount of time, and in the case of air travel they are all breathing the same recycled air as one another, too.
New CDC guidelines show that facial masks really can help prevent those that have COVID 19 already from spreading them to other individuals, regardless of whether or not they are presymptomatic, asymptomatic, or symptomatic.
Very important for reducing the spread of coronavirus, especially when taken advantage of by large amounts of the public that are going to be in close proximity to one another while traveling, mask wearing is a big piece of the puzzle for controlling this virus going forward.
Interestingly enough, there are also some in the medical field that feel masks are less than effective at controlling the virus – if not flat-out ineffective.
Dr. Scott Atlas, an advisor to the President, is one of those individuals.
Atlas recently went on Twitter to tell the American public that mask effectiveness was overblown, that they were not as important as the American public has been led to believe them to be, and that the public should be at least a little bit dubious about all that they have been cracked up to be recently.
This led to a large outpour of commentary from the mainstream medical community pushing back against Dr. Atlas, so much so that Twitter decided to put warnings on the account of the advisor before later deleting and disabling the tweet and locking Dr. Atlas out of his account entirely.
For now, at least, the CDC is recommending that all individuals traveling in public – particularly via air – are wearing masks to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus. They are also recommending that individuals take other steps to protect themselves, including social distancing and handwashing/hand sanitizer regularly.
With vaccines and treatments on the horizon (but not available now and with no concrete date for their availability forthcoming, either) hopefully we all are able to get back to normal life ASAP.
But the reality of our current coronavirus situation is stark and we need to do everything we can to keep ourselves and one another safe moving forward. The CDC edict goes a long way towards helping do exactly that.