Dr. Anthony Fauci has suggested the airline mask mandate isn’t going anywhere soon. “We want to make sure people keep their masks on. I think the idea of taking masks off, in my mind, is really not something we should even be considering,” Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, told ABC’s This Week. Fauci also noted that airplanes are “reasonably safe” because of the mask mandate and the filtration systems that scrub the constantly changing air on airliners. The comment was in response from host Jonathan Karl about statements made by airline executives in a Senate hearing that seemed to suggest they’d like an end to mask mandate sooner rather than later.
His comments came a few days after Dr. David Powell, the medical adviser for the International Air Transport Authority, told Bloomberg that despite the generally better conditions on an airliner, the omicron variant has skewed the equation and the chances of catching COVID on an airplane have doubled or tripled. “The relative risk has probably increased, just as the relative risk of going to the supermarket or catching a bus has increased,” he said. He also said it’s probably safer to fly business class than coach if that’s an option.