The former chief of the Food and Drug Administration predicted Wednesday that the federal masks mandate for airplanes and different public transportation will be lifted next month if the US isn’t battling a COVID-19 surge fueled by the extremely contagious Omicron subvariant BA.2.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who ran the Food and Drug Administration from 2017 to 2019, stated he anticipated President Biden’s masks mandate for federal public transportation to be lifted when it expires on April 18.
“If we’re not in thick of another wave of BA.2 infection in the middle of April, I think they will go ahead and lift that,” Gottlieb told CNBC. “I think the uncertainty around that is we are starting to see infections start to creep up. If it kind of levels off in the next couple of weeks, which it may, I think the administration will go ahead and lift that.”
The Biden administration seemingly “backed into” the April 18 deadline, Gottlieb stated, after extending it earlier this month on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The transfer means Americans will nonetheless want face coverings on planes, trains and buses, in addition to inside public transportation services till at the very least the center of next month.
Gottlieb stated he agreed with lifting the mandate if the BA.2 Omicron subvariant that’s been detected in dozens of nations isn’t raging within the US.
“My view was that they should lift that requirement on airlines,” Gottlieb told the outlet.
But if infections proceed to rise in early April, the mandate would probably be prolonged, Gottlieb reiterated.
“They’re going to be hard-pressed to lift that and they’ll probably kick it out another month,” Gottlieb stated of that attainable situation. “If we’re actually seeing a wave of infection — we’re unclear how large it’s going to be — I think it’s very hard to lift it in that kind of a backdrop, so you’ll probably extend it a month.”
While Gottlieb stated infections within the US are rising, it’s not a dramatic spike and so they’re beginning to drop in Western Europe — maybe signaling brighter days forward within the ongoing international pandemic battle.
“So it could be that this BA.2 wave that we’ve expected could be a brief wave — it won’t be a very big wave of infection — and against that backdrop, I think they can continue to lift it,” Gottlieb stated of the federal masks mandate.
The CEOs of main US airways, in the meantime, referred to as on President Biden to drop the “outdated” masks requirement on planes and at airports in an open letter final week, claiming they not “make sense” as hospitalization and loss of life charges steadily decline.
At least 974,277 COVID-19 deaths have been tallied within the US as of Sunday, according to CDC data. The every day case common stands at 27,594 — down from 806,345 in mid-January — as some 65.5 p.c of Americans are absolutely vaccinated, CDC figures present.