It didn’t say the word “mandate.” But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) new interim guidance does now provide a “strong recommendation” for everyone on airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares, and other types public transportation to wear face masks.
These days the words “mask mandate” are being used more and more. That’s “mandate,” which means “an order or command,” and not “man date,” which is date with a man or in some cases a “bro date.” Thus, a mask mandate is not dinner at the Olive Garden with a guy whom you met on Tinder and who happens to think he is Batman. Instead, it is an order to wear face masks that when not followed results in some type of penalty. An increasing number of municipalities, states, and other jurisdictions either have already implemented or are considering mask mandates. That’s because even though face masks can help reduce the transmission of the Covid-19 coronavirus, there are still many people refusing to wear such coverings.
For example, this ABC15 Arizona news segment shows a scuffle that arose when a man refused to wear a face covering on a flight:
Such refusals have prompted some calls for more sweeping federal mask mandates. Back on October 9, news broke that the White House had blocked the CDC’s drafting of a federal mandate for people to wear face masks while using public transportation. According to Sheila Kaplan reporting for the New York Times, this would have required both passengers and employees to wear face coverings on planes, trains, buses and subways and in airports, stations and depots. The CDC has “quarantine powers” to issue such a mandate, which was supported by Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services. But apparently just like how Vice President Mike Pence ignored the fly that landed on his head during the Vice-Presidential debate, Pence and the White House Coronavirus Task Force that he leads chose to ignore and not even discuss the possibility of such a mandate.
That left the CDC with the weaker option of issuing a “strong recommendation.” As you know, the effects of a “strong recommendation” can be highly variable. You can strongly recommend someone to take a shower but unless there are real consequences of not doing so or you have a fire hose handy, that person may choose to ignore you.
This doesn’t mean that the CDC’s new position isn’t a significant step. They now strongly recommend that both passengers and personnel wear “appropriate masks” while on or waiting to board all sorts of public transportation. This means during the time that you are in the vehicles as well as in airport, station, terminal, seaport, or whatever other departure and arrival areas that you may cross. So if you don’t wear a face covering in such a situation, you would be technically going against CDC recommendations.
The CDC also gives drivers, pilots, flight attendants, conductors, Gilligan, the Skipper, Ranjit in the TV show How I Met Your Mother, and all other operators of public transportation the backing to keep you from boarding or remove you if you don’t comply with a face covering. This includes giving you the heave-ho if you remove your face covering anytime during the trip.
Of course, there are times when removing your face covering temporarily is considered acceptable by the CDC. For example, it is not a great idea to try to drink some crab bisque or eat fettuccine alfredo while wearing a face mask. Typically, you will remain hungry after such as attempt. Also, you may not have a face mask on because you are unconscious. Note that sleeping is not the same as unconscious. The latter requires immediate medical attention. Of course, if you tell others that you don’t need to wear a face mask because you are unconscious, you are not really unconscious. You may also need to remove your face mask to verify your identity such as when going through Transportation Security Administration screening. This may be more likely if your identification bears the name McLovin or the name of a famous martial artist.
The CDC does provide a list of people who may be exempt from wearing face masks. For example, if you are a child under the age of two, you can be excused from wearing a face covering. Note that this doesn’t imply if you are an adult behaving like children under the age of two. Other exceptions are having a note from a real doctor or some other clear evidence indicating that you have a medical disability or condition that prevents you from wearing a mask. Also, if you must remove your face mask to safely operate a vehicle, the CDC says by all means do so.
This new CDC guidance is in place to protect not only the passengers from the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2), but also all the personnel who are maintaining our transportation system. If someone operating a car, train, airplane, ship, or other vehicle gets infected, he or she could easily spread the virus to many other people. That’s another reason why keeping them virus free is so important.
Again, wearing face coverings is not just about you. It’s to protect others from you. In turn, others wear face coverings to protect you. It’s all about a mutual agreement to help each other, sort of like wearing pants and underwear in a restaurant, not peeing in a swimming pool, and never playing the song “Who Let the Dogs Out?” Why not listen to the strong recommendation? Otherwise, local and state governments may e forced to issue a mandate, the kind that doesn’t involve dinner at the Olive Garden.
Source: Forbes – Business