Memphis congressman requests face coverings be mandatory on flights

Memphis congressman requests face coverings be mandatory on flights
© Greg Nash

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenDemocrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat Texas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilities Pelosi throws cold water on impeaching Barr MORE (D-Tenn.) called for face coverings to be made mandatory on flights in a letter sent to federal officials Monday

Cohen, who is a senior member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, said he noticed that most of the passengers and flight attendants that were working or traveling were not wearing masks on his flight leaving Washington, D.C., last week. 

“Because of this, each person’s health and safety was unnecessarily put at risk,” he said in the letter

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Cohen addressed the letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoWider impact of COVID: Some voids will be forever, some need not be OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration says proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska is not a threat to fisheries | Democrats push environmental policies in 9.5B budget package | Green groups threaten suit over push to transport liquefied natural gas by rail Environmentalists threaten suit over push to transport liquefied natural gas by rail MORE, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Stephen Dickson.

The congressman called on the FAA to work with the CDC and update its guidelines to require face coverings for air carriers, crew and passengers on airplanes. 

He said airplanes are environments for “incredible exposure and risk” as social distancing cannot easily be kept between all passengers.   

“As air travel continues to increase while the country slowly starts to reopen, it’s imperative that the flying public feel safe and comfortable in doing so,” he said. “This should include the requirement of masks, which will accomplish this goal and protect both crew members and passengers.”

The congressman’s letter comes as several states are making moves to reopen their economies, including his home state of Tennessee, which plans to ease restrictions with dine-in services Monday.

The number of cases in the state jumped by 478 on Sunday, the biggest one-day spike Tennessee has seen.