CDC: Keep TSA Mask Mandates on Public Transportation

CDC: Keep TSA Mask Mandates on Public Transportation

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Petition to
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Catherine Marsh and

Why this petition matters

We call on the CDC and TSA to extend the mask mandate for public transportation past the May 3rd deadline due to the continued spread of COVID-19 and the long term consequences of infection. Public transportation, including bus, train and air travel, amplifies the national and international spread of COVID-19 and promotes the development of new variants.

The Omicron sub-variant (BA.2) has caused a considerable increase in positive cases across Europe (as indicated by excess mortality data), the US, and Asia, with China imposing strict lockdowns in an effort to curb the transmission of the virus. Continued transmission has already given rise to emerging sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, which are rapidly rising in Denmark, Germany, Belgium, the UK, and parts of Africa. The known consequences of infection, causing harm to long-term health and disability even for healthy individuals (Long COVID), and the high rates of growth of these new variants imply they pose great risk to communities, and are especially life threatening to those vulnerable to severe disease. This risk to human health is exacerbated with repeated infections, with evidence from the CDC that reinfections are pervasive and may occur shortly one after another.

The high infectiousness of current variants is evident from the inability of airlines to maintain regular operations when mask regulations are removed. Recent reports demonstrate that a massive increase in SARS-CoV-2 transmission among airline personnel has led to numerous cancellations. This highlights the necessity to extend mandates for mitigation measures that limit transmission of COVID-19 on flights. Removing mask mandates when case numbers are high would eliminate one more barrier to transmission, would place the health of passengers, personnel, and their families at risk, could worsen the economic impact on airline businesses, and would further undermine trust in public health authorities.

Current and emerging variant’s extreme contagiousness requires managing air quality in all ways possible. This should remain the highest of priorities in closed, shared-air environments. Ventilation and filtration of the air in public transportation including buses, trains, as well as airports and on airplanes is variable. For example, ventilation during airplane boarding and disembarking is well known to be poor, and airport ventilation is generally limited. This creates an environment in which all passengers and staff are forced to breathe each other’s exhaled air, in the same way that secondhand cigarette smoke was doing before the regulation to restrict it. This lack of transmission risk mitigation is especially endangering the immunocompromised and those too young to vaccinate or mask.

In view of TSA’s statement—that guidelines about masking for public transportation will be informed by community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science—we submit that the manifest risks described in this document are imperative to such considerations. Therefore, we request that the TSA extend the mask mandate for public transportation after its current expiration date of May 3, 2022. 



Omicron May Double Risk of Getting Infected on Planes, IATA Says

How Safe Are You From Covid When You Fly? - The New York Times

What Is the Risk of Catching the Coronavirus on a Plane? | Kaiser Health News

Excess Mortality Data 

Philadelphia reinstates mask mandate amid rising infections 

China in lockdown 

1.7 Million Affected by Long COVID in the UK

Course of post-COVID symptoms 

Disease risk among the immunocompromised 

Reinfections can occur as soon as 23 days after the original infection, the CDC finds

Mass flight cancellations amidst rising infections

TSA mask mandate and considerations


758 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!