Amid rise in infections, CDC restates recommendation to mask up while traveling

Posted at 6:20 AM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 06:20:20-04

(WXYZ) — The CDC has restated its recommendation that people wear masks on public transportation and airlines amid rising COVID-19 infections.

It comes after a federal court struck down the mask mandate on public transit last month, meaning the TSA had to stop enforcing it.

Weekly COVID-19 numbers in Michigan come out on Wednesday, and cases have been steadily rising.

Masks have been optional on buses, trains and airlines since April 18, but masks are still on hand at Detroit Metro Airport for those who want them. The CDC is hoping more and more Americans will wear masks as they travel and head into the summer travel season.

"I think it should be up to the individual if they want to wear one or not," Sarah Schuldt, a passenger, said.

The CDC recommends any traveler ages 2 and older mask up inside all public transit areas and hubs – meaning airplanes, airports, buses, trains and stations.

The agency has asked the Department of Justice to appeal a Florida federal judge's ruling that struck down the extended mask mandate.

The April 18 move prompted widespread celebrations among travelers who were tired of wearing masks.

One woman we spoke to from South Carolina was down the middle.

"If I'm in a real crowded area I will have it on. But out here when you just checking in and if it's slow I won't have it on," Erica Byrd said.

Dr. Dennis Cunningham who works in infection prevention at Henry Ford Health said this step by the CDC is aimed at keeping transmission down as the BA.2 omicron subvariant spreads around the country and here in southeast Michigan.

He said especially in crowded airports, taking that extra step to mask up makes sense now.

"The plane itself is pretty well filtered but we're all lined up awfully close together as we're boarding and getting off of those planes," he said. "If I'm with my friends and I'm outside, I think it's a much lower risk."

In a statement, the CDC is basing its recommendation on circulating variants, current trends and COVID-19 projections in the coming months.

In metro Detroit, both Washtenaw and Oakland counties are in a medium level risk of community transmission, but the bulk of the state remains in low.

"The question is how big a surge are we going to have? Hopefully it will not be that much," Cunningham said.

As far as the DOJ appeal seeking to reinstate the mask mandate, CDC officials declined to comment on the status of that appeal.