CDC rolls out new guidance urging masks for passengers, workers on public transit

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines on Monday calling for all passengers and workers on trains, buses and other public transportation, as well as planes, to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The CDC explained in the guidance that travel on public transportation increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, especially in cases in which passengers or employees cannot practice social distancing. 

“Given how interconnected most transportation systems are across the nation and the world, local transmission can grow quickly into interstate and international transmission when infected persons travel on public conveyances without wearing a mask and with others who are not wearing masks,” the CDC’s guidance reads.

The recommendations follow pressure from airline industry leaders, as well as widespread agreement on the effectiveness of masks and face coverings in blocking the spread of COVID-19, The Washington Post noted.

The Monday recommendation came after a request from Vice President Pence to CDC Director Robert Redfield, according to the newspaper. The new language gives the airline industry greater leeway in pressing passengers to wear masks.

The move also comes after the White House blocked the CDC from implementing a rule mandating that all passengers and employees wear face coverings on transit, The New York Times first reported. That order would have been the administration’s strictest measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The new CDC guidance states: “Face masks help prevent people who have COVID-19, including those who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, from spreading the virus to others. Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.”

The guidelines provide exemptions for some travelers including children under the age of two and others with written instructions from a medical provider not to wear masks. 

President Trump, who initially downplayed the efficacy of masks, was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month. He has since recovered. 

Health officials agree that wearing a face mask or covering and social distancing are the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Tags Airlines Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Public transportation Travel Industry
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