COVID-19 Mask Updates: A Week of Whiplash as American Appellate Judge’s Decision
COVID-19 Mask Updates: A Week of Whiplash as American Appellate Judge’s Decision

COVID-19 Mask Updates: A Week of Whiplash as American Appellate Judge’s Decision

The Biden administration is appealing a court order annulling the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and in travel hubs. The announcement came minutes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked the Department of Justice to appeal the decision handed down by a federal judge in Florida earlier this week.

The CDC says it is its “continuing assessment that at present an order requiring masking in the indoor transport corridor is still necessary for public health.”

People in Philadelphia could be excused if they felt a sense of whiplash on Friday like the city gave up his indoor mask mandate a few days after he became the first U.S. metropolis to reintroduce mandatory masking in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases, and admissions. Town officials who previously had stressed the need to ward off a new wave of coronavirus infections by requiring people to disguise themselves indoors, it abruptly interrupted after what they said was an unexpected drop in the number of people in the hospital and a leveling of infections.

Meanwhile, Boston urged people to start wearing masks after the Boston Public Health Commission noted an increase in hospital admissions as well as a 65% increase in cases and an even greater increase in COVID-19 levels in local wastewater samples. It also stressed that the guide was only a recommendation, not an order.

Los Angeles County rejected national trends and said Thursday it would still requires masks on public transport including trains, subways, buses, taxis and rideshares. Cases have risen in the past week, and hospital admissions have fallen after a decline in the previous two months.

The country is struggling with how to deal with the next phase of the pandemic and finding the right balance in imposing health measures at a time when many Americans are ready to move on after two exhausting years.

A Florida federal judge this week dropped a national mask mandate on mass transportation, and airlines and airports responded quickly Monday by lifting their requirement for passengers to wear face masks. This enabled the Biden administration to try to navigate an appeal that could have far-reaching consequences over the power of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to regulate future health emergencies.

The Ministry of Justice files an appeal with a view to overturning the judge’s order.

The CDC said in a statement that it is its “continuing assessment that at present an order requiring masking in the indoor transport corridor is still necessary for public health.”

It remained unclear whether the Biden administration would ask the Court of Appeal to grant an emergency stay to immediately reintroduce the mask mandate on public transport. An emergency stay of the lower court decision would be a whiplash moment for travelers and transit workers. Most airlines and airports, many public transportation systems and even the carpooling company Uber lifted their requirement to wear masks in the hours following Monday’s decision.

After a winter surge driven by the omicron variant that led to record-high hospital admissions, the United States has seen a significant decline in virus spread in recent months, prompting most states and cities to drop mask mandates.

In Canada, unvaccinated children ages 5 to 11 traveling with a fully vaccinated adult will no longer need a COVID-19 test to enter Canada from Monday. Entrance tests will still be required for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travelers over the age of 12 who are eligible to travel to Canada. Children under the age of five do not currently require a COVID-19 test to enter Canada. Government officials announced several other small changes to ease restrictions for international travelers, which take effect on Monday. Fully vaccinated travelers and children under 12 accompanying them no longer need to disclose their quarantine plans when entering the country.

If you travel

What do you do if you are traveling? Dr. John Brooks, CDC’s chief physician for the COVID-19 response, has some practical advice:

– Arm yourself. Get vaccinated and if you are fully vaccinated, get boosted. If you have been given two or three shots of Pfizer’s Comirnaty or Modernas SpikeVax vaccine and it has been four months since your last shot, a second dose is recommended. Give yourself a week or so for another jab to refresh your immune system’s supply of antibodies.

If you have certain medical conditions, cannot be vaccinated, or are taking medications that weaken your immune system’s ability to fight infections, see if you can get a dose of Evusheld, a form of passive defense that can help protect you.

Patients undergoing active cancer treatment or individuals who have received a stem cell transplant for blood cancer within the last two years may not have reacted strongly to the vaccine. They need the extra boost of immunity that the monoclonal antibodies in Evusheld provide. Patients taking long courses of high-dose steroids or a variety of other drugs for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis may be in the same boat. And anyone who has had a solid organ transplant needs more protection to compensate for the powerful medication they are taking to prevent rejection.

Just over a million doses of the protective medicine have been distributed, mainly to hospitals and healthcare systems across the country. It does not cover everyone who probably needs it. If you think it could help you, the rheumatologist, oncologist or transplant team that treated you is best placed to help you get it.

– Wear your mask and make sure it is good. In a crowd, the more people mask, the less virus will be suspended in the air to be inhaled, so more masking is better. However, proper and consistent use of a mask that reproduces close to your face can protect you from breathing in the lingering viral particles or limiting how much you ingest. This in turn can mean the difference between warding off infection and getting sick.

You’ve heard this before, but it’s worth repeating: a fabric mask will not cut it, given how easily the omicron variant spreads. If you love your fabric mask, put a disposable surgical mask over it: They are designed to pull in and catch viruses on the surface. But your best bet is to wear an N95 respirator, which pinches around your nose and has ear straps or head straps that hold the mask close to your face.

“Before you get on a plane, practice at home to make sure you can wear it comfortably, correctly and consistently,” Brooks said. “They itch and scratch, and the air is hot for some people. But millions of healthcare providers have learned how to wear them, and so can you.”

– Beware of the transitions and take a direct flight if you can. The filtration systems in most commercial jets are fully engaged when traveling above 10,000 feet, Brooks said, and they are highly effective at purifying the air under these conditions. But when jet engines idle on the ground (and passengers board or fly), these systems do not do the job. And the efficiency of these air filtration systems also suffers when the plane rises or falls.

So be sure to wear your mask during these transitions. And taking direct flights where possible limits the amount of time you sit in a crowded metal tube with a filtration system that will let more viruses slip through than it will at cruise altitude.

Reserve a window seat, board at the end, and sit close to the front so you can get off the plane quickly. The principle here is to spend as little time as possible on a plane that is still on the ground, Brooks explained. You also want to sit where any viruses emitted by passengers and staff in the hallways are least likely to reach you.

Seeking special services from airlines is either expensive or difficult. However, most will let you choose your seat for an additional fee, and if you can do so, look for one that gives you some distance to passers-by but also allows you to get away quickly.

– Eat or drink with caution. You will probably be hungry and thirsty if you are going on a long trip. But if other travelers are largely exposed, your snack or soda is a possibility that their virus can enter your airways.

Brooks notes that a straw can be inserted just below a mask, limiting the damaged seal. He suggests that you eat at the airport instead of on the plane and munch your meal in an uninhabited corner of the gate area. Wash your hands before eating.

– Know the community transmission level where you are going and behave accordingly. Do you go to a hotspot of new cases, or do you pass through one on your way to your destination? Find out before you go so you know where masking and social distancing is still a good idea and where you can afford to loosen up. Visit the CDC’s community website and click on the counties you need to travel from, to and through.

—Remember quick tests and prepare to get started if you have a positive result. It makes sense to test yourself before you travel to make sure you are well on your way. But take another test and take it four days or so after you have been in a high-exposure situation like an airport, or if you develop COVID-19 symptoms.

Getting the earliest possible indication of infection is all the more important because antiviral drugs such as Paxlovid and molnupiravir are now available and may shorten the duration and / or reduce the severity of an infection. However, they should be taken as soon as symptoms begin, and no more than five days after symptom onset.

– The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times contributed to this report

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