Health

White House Blocked CDC Mask Mandate For Public Transportation: Report

The White House blocked a national mask mandate for public transportation drafted last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The New York Times reported Friday.

The CDC planned to issue an order requiring that face masks be worn by  passengers and employees on planes, trains, buses and subways — and at transit networks, including airports, train stations and bus depots — two federal health officials told the newspaper.

The order, reportedly drafted under the agency’s quarantine powers, was supported by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, according to the Times. But Mike Pence’s coronavirus task force, which would have needed to sign off on the mandate before it could go into effect, refused to discuss the issue, sources said. The administration’s position was reportedly to allow localities to set their own regulations. 

Masks are considered by scientists and medical experts to be one of the most effective ways to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.

“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in an editorial this summer in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus — particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.” 

The Trump administration, on the other hand, is proving to be ineffective in battling the coronavirus that has already killed more than 210,000 Americans. 

More than 35 cases are linked to a White House event at the end of September, when President Donald Trump announced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The gathering, where almost no one wore a mask or observed social distancing guidelines, has been called a superspreader event by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

Health officials in Minnesota, meanwhile, have reported that nine people who attended a Trump campaign rally last month in Bemidji have also tested positive. Again, few wore masks or observed social distancing guidelines that help stem the spread of COVID-19.

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