The United States is considering extending the requirement for airline passengers to wear masks when they are sick. The move comes after a measles outbreak in California and other states that has reached more than 100 cases.
The airline news is a story about the masks coming back for vaccinated people. The article also discusses the airline mask requirement may get extended.
For vaccinated people, masks are coming back, and airline mask requirements may be extended.
on July 27, 2021 by Gary Leff
Because of the emergence of the Delta strain, the CDC is advising fully vaccinated individuals to use masks again in indoor public settings. People aren’t going to go along with it. This move, however, increases the chances of the federal transportation mask requirement being extended.
Right now, there’s a lot of ambiguity.
- About the spread of the virus in the U.S. Cases are rising, but perhaps far more than reported, because centered around younger unvaccinated people symptoms may be milder leading to less testing (the same holds for many cases among vaccinated people, who also may just assume it’s not Covid because they’re vaccinated).
- Because of the Delta variant’s greater viral loads, it seems to infect quickly, making it more transmissible and possibly overriding the sterilizing effect of vaccination in certain instances (so whereas before an asymptomatic case might be highly unlikely to spread the virus we no longer know this to be the case).
This is mostly a source control issue.
If we’re talking about personal protection masks, it’s obvious that grouping them all together is a mistake. Masks made of pieces of paper tied together with a thread are often used to satisfy mask requirements, although they provide minimal protection.
The underlying reason for the CDC’s advice seems to be ambiguity regarding the degree to which vaccinated individuals may transmit the virus. We are aware that this did not occur often before, but we have no way of knowing whether this has changed. In many respects, this is a failure of genomic monitoring, breakthrough case tracking (with the CDC only paying notice when a vaccinated individual is hospitalized), and complete contact tracing breakdown.
Booster Shots Will Almost Certainly Be Required
Furthermore, vaccination protection seems to be waning, particularly among the elderly. Even if the instances are minor, lower antibody levels may lead to more breakthrough infections (since it takes time for B- and T-cells to address an infection).
The need for booster injections is virtually inevitable, and it necessitates preparation, but the government seems to be dragging its time on this — and the lack of further mRNA dosages is worrisome. Pressure on Pfizer and Moderna, both headquartered in the United States, is likely to save this nation from being pushed to the back of the line, but inaction may lead to further shortages.
People aren’t going to follow the CDC’s recommendations.
In most locations, mask requirements have been removed, and individuals have ceased wearing them unless they are compelled by their employment or the government.
While there are occasional outbreaks, serious infections and hospitalizations are uncommon. Even with decreasing antibodies, most vaccinated individuals (particularly those who aren’t old or have major comorbidities) do not seem to be at increased risk from the Delta variety. As a consequence, many individuals who have been vaccinated will no longer use masks. Unvaccinated individuals were unlikely to use masks in the first place.
Because CDC advise is just that: advice, and because so many people are weary of limitations, and because the CDC has lost so much trust during the epidemic, it seems doubtful that the majority of people would follow it.
What Does This Imply For Plane Masks?
The current deadline for the transportation mask requirement is September 13th. On this subject, there will be a lot of lobbying. Southwest’s CEO wants the mask requirement to be repealed. United’s does as well. The requirement, according to American’s CEO, will expire. However, certain unions may lobby for the need to be extended.
If the current wave of illness peaks in August, case numbers may not be low enough to prevent the outbreak from spreading. “Just one more to get us through this wave” becomes a possibility, particularly if the CDC hasn’t changed its mask advice, which seems to be the case.
In other words, the suggestion that vaccinated individuals wear masks inside makes it more likely that the federal masking mandate for transportation would be extended.