Moving beyond masks: US toils to put pandemic behind

Washington DC: President Joe Biden’s administration has been working for months to prepare people to rethink their personal risk calculations as the nation gets used to the idea of living with an endemic COVID-19.

But that measured approach disappeared abruptly when a federal judge on Monday threw out the federal requirement to mask up when using mass transit. The ruling added to the urgency of the messaging challenge as the administration tries to move past the virus in the lead-up to midterm elections.

After the government last month eased indoor mask-wearing guidelines for the vast majority of Americans – even in schools — masking on planes was one of the last redoubts of the national Covid-19 restrictions. Now, as the policy falls, the administration turns to accelerate its efforts to provide the best advice for millions making their own personal safety decisions in the still-dangerous pandemic.

The Justice Department said Tuesday it will not appeal a federal district judge’s ruling that ended the nation’s federal mask mandate on public transit unless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the requirement is still necessary.

Major airlines and airports in places like Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City quickly switched to a mask-optional policy. Los Angeles County dropped its mandate for mass transit and a train conductor in New Jersey told commuters of their masks Tuesday: “Feel free to burn them at will.”

New York City, Chicago, and Connecticut, however, continued to require masks for travelers.

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: AP)

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