May 19, 2022

Air Max 2015

Pride of the Travel

No more mask mandates for travelers: What you need to know, how to keep safe, and more COVID news

Here’s the COVID news for today, April 19.

Many are reacting to a federal judge’s reversal of Biden’s travel mask mandate

A pilot declared over the loudspeaker on a cross-country Delta Air Lines flight that passengers were no longer required to wear masks, eliciting cheers from the cabin and prompting some on board to immediately toss their face coverings onto their seats.

“Feel free to burn them at will,” a train conductor told New Jersey commuters Tuesday. Other passengers were confused, startled and angered by the abrupt change, however, especially those who booked trips in the belief that their unvaccinated children would be traveling in a masked environment. Read more here:

President Joe Biden on Tuesday said it was up to individual travelers about whether to wear face masks on planes in the wake of a judge’s ruling striking down a federal mandate, which the Biden administration is considering appealing.

The evolving situation was on display Tuesday as passengers on Biden’s trip aboard Air Force One to New Hampshire were required to wear masks while, at the same time, commercial airline passengers across the United States were stepping into plane cabins with the option to forgo a mask. The President boarded the aircraft Tuesday afternoon sporting a black mask. Read on:

What does it mean?

Once TSA said it would no longer enforce the rule, airlines, airports, transit systems and ride-share services were free to decide for themselves whether to require masks. United, Delta, American, Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue and other airlines all made masks voluntary.

On the ground, however, requirements could vary from place to place. New York City’s public transit system planned to keep its mask requirement in effect. In San Francisco, the regional commuter rail system known as BART made masks voluntary, but the city transit authority did not. Read more:

How to keep safe

How can people continue to keep safe on planes now that masks are no longer required? What about vulnerable individuals like immunocompromised people and young children who aren’t yet vaccinated? Do you need to quarantine if you’re visiting vulnerable people and you were just on a flight? Should people consider canceling their travel plans? Get the answers here:

Uber and Lyft also drop their mandates

Face masks are now optional for Uber and Lyft riders and drivers in the United States, the ride-hailing companies said Tuesday, shortly after several major airlines announced a similar change in policy.

“The CDC order requiring masks while using rideshare platforms such as Uber is no longer in effect, and we’ve revised our COVID-19 mask and front-seat policies accordingly,” Uber wrote in emails to users on Tuesday. Check out more here:

Moderna looks to update shots for fall

Moderna hopes to offer updated COVID-19 boosters in the fall that combine its original vaccine with protection against the omicron variant. On Tuesday, it reported a preliminary hint that such an approach might work.

Today’s COVID-19 vaccines all are based on the original version of the coronavirus. But the virus continues to mutate, with the super-contagious omicron variant — and its siblings — the latest threat. Read on:

Small businesses may face cut in COVID funding

Congress is considering taking back some of the money it authorized last year for a small business aid program in order to pay for new Covid-19 vaccines, testing and therapeutics.

The Biden administration asked Congress to provide more money weeks ago, warning that funds are needed to continue fighting Covid-19. But lawmakers have disagreed on how to pay for the request. Senate Republicans have insisted any new funding be fully offset by repurposing money from Covid-19 relief legislation that Congress previously passed. Find out more here: