The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended its order for masks to be worn during travel on public transportation until at least May 3.
The previous order was set to expire on April 18 and this order adds another 15 days for the CDC to continue assessing the effects of the BA.2 Omicron subvariant.
“As they’re continuing to monitor the spread of the BA.2 subvariant… what they’re looking at is that since early April, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average in the United State,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. “So what they’re trying to do is give a little bit more time to assess the potential impact the rise of of severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths and the healthcare system capacity and their assessment from a medical standpoint, from a data gathering standpoint is that two weeks would give them some additional time to do that.”
The BA.2 subvariant has made up more than 85% of sequenced COVID-19 cases and is believed to spread 50% faster than previous versions of Omicron.
“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 mask mandate for public transportation conveyance has been in effect since February 2021, as these areas typically have people sharing close spaces with one another, which increases the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The mask mandate applies to airplanes, trains, buses, ferries, subways and rideshare services. It also extends to airports, bus or ferry terminals, train or subway stations and ports of entry.