(Fwrd Axis) — The Biden administration has approved the extension of the mask mandate for all travelers on airplanes, trains, and other transit systems for 15 days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.
Currently, the requirement for travelers to wear face coverings had been set to expire next Monday but the Transportation Security Administration will now extend that for 15 days, expiring May 3.
“Since early April, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of cases in the U.S.,” the CDC said in a statement. “In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC Order will remain in place at this time.”
The news comes as cases begin to rise in parts of the country. This week, Philadelphia became the first city to reinstate an indoor mask mandate despite the CDC saying in February most people can go without masks indoors.
Cases are rising as a result of the BA.2 subvariant of omicron as cases have surged in Asia and Europe, raising concerns that another wave could follow in the United States.
Despite the rise in cases, hospitalizations are at their lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic, which in part, is due to the increase in Americans getting vaccinated. 21 states have sued the Biden administration for not letting the current requirements expire.
99 percent of the country falls into the category of medium to low levels of community spread, according to the guidelines from the CDC.
“CDC continues to monitor the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, especially the BA.2 subvariant that now makes up more than 85% of US cases,” the TSA said in a statement. “Since early April 2022, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of Covid-19 cases in the United States. … TSA will continue to coordinate closely with CDC and communicate any changes to this requirement with the public.”