U.S. President Joe Biden has extended COVID restrictions for Americans travelling across state lines on planes and public transport by an additional two weeks. The move comes as his administration moves to end restrictions for migrants travelling illegally into the United States.
“Since early April, there have been increases in the seven-day moving average of cases in the U.S. The CDC mask order remains in effect while CDC assesses the potential impact of the rise of cases on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health-care system capacity,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.
The agency announced that the Transportation Security Authority will extend the existing mask mandate by an additional 15 days, through May 3, 2022.
Speaking on Wednesday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House was not prepared to comment on whether the mandate would be further extended once the current guidelines lapse.
The White House’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, described the Biden administration’s decision to extend the mask mandate as a “moving target” in an interview on MSNBC.
In response to the extension of the mask mandate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the administration, stating that it “simply prolongs the misery that passengers and flight attendants are being forced to endure.”
“This is not evidence-based, but simply more COVID theatre,” DeSantis declared. “This is the Biden equivalent of continuing the beatings until morale improves. I’m glad Florida and other states are fighting this mandate in court.”
The move to extend the federal mask mandate comes as the Biden administration ends the Title 42 public health authority on May 23, which will effectively enable illegal immigrants who were previously deported to their home countries to make their way back into the United States without running afoul of the Trump-era order.