White House adviser: Extending TSA mask mandate ‘absolutely’ still on the table

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A sign reading, ‘masks required in this area,’ is seen as travelers prepare to check-in for their Delta airlines flight at the Miami International Airport on February 01, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

A top White House COVID-19 adviser on Monday said that extending the federal mask mandate for all transportation networks, which is set to expire next week, is “absolutely” under consideration.

“This is a CDC decision and I think it is absolutely on the table,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said on NBC’s “Today.”

Jha said that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky will make the decision on extending the mask mandate for transportation networks based on a scientific framework that the agency is developing. He also said that framework will be available in the “next few days.”

The Transportation Security Administration’s mask mandate for travel on airplanes, in airports, on buses and on rail systems initially went into effect with an expiration date of May 2021 and has been extended several times. In March, it was extended by one month, through April 18.

Jha’s remarks come as several states have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases as a highly transmissible subvariant of omicron, BA.2, has spread. A string of high-profile cases in Washington last week included Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Attorney General Merrick Garland and several lawmakers.

Jha said on Monday that he’s “not overly concerned right now” about another surge due to the BA.2 variant. He stressed that there are still very low inflection numbers and low hospitalization numbers.

“I don’t think this is a moment where we have to be excessively concerned,” Jha said.

Tags Ashish Jha CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus COVID-19 Merrick Garland Nancy Pelosi Pandemic Rochelle Walensky transportation mask mandate Transportation Security Administration TSA
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