Dr. Fauci Says This Is the One Place You Should Still Wear a Mask
He said this will only change if more people get vaccinated in the coming months.
Thanks to the recent decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change their COVID safety guidelines, fully vaccinated people can safely be indoors or outdoors without masks in public. But even though the recent revision has many people excited that they'll be able to ditch their PPE, there are still some areas where you'll be keeping your face covering on for a while. And according to Anthony Fauci, MD, chief White House COVID adviser, flying on an airplane is one place you should still wear a mask for now.
During an interview Axios on May 19, Fauci admitted that the act of boarding a plane and jetting off still represents a significant public health risk without the right precautions. He called the situation a "complicated issue" because determining who has actually been immunized remains difficult, and airlines "don't want to see spread" of COVID-19.
"It's complicated because the people who are vaccinated could easily be on airplanes without a mask because we know you're protected, whether you're indoor or outdoor," Fauci said, adding: "The trouble is that we don't have vaccine passports, so we don't know who is vaccinated or not."
However, Fauci believes that the CDC may change its guidelines again fairly soon. "I hope that we get enough people vaccinated that, at least on domestic flights, that it would be a matter of months," he said. But he clarified that "the issue globally is a different story" due to surges in COVID-19 infections around the world, meaning it might be a while before international flights go maskless.
While the CDC's latest recommendations dropped the requirement for masks in many public places, there are still a few areas where masks are required by an executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The rule covers federal buildings, public transportation, anyone above the age of two traveling on commercial vessels, and transit hubs such as airports and train stations. In late April, Biden signed an extension of the mask mandate set to expire on May 11, carrying it through Sept. 13.
"At this point, the federal mask mandate for transportation sectors remains in effect," Patricia Mancha, spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), told USA Today in an email.