Travel COVID mask mandate lifted

An infectious disease expert weighs in on the risk of getting COVID while traveling without a mask.

SAN DIEGO – Just one day after a federal judge ruled to end the nation’s travel mask mandate, the Justice Department is considering an appeal if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes a mandate is necessary for public health.

“It’s a little strange, I’ve been wearing a mask constantly for the last two years. This time I’d say maybe 90% were not wearing a mask on the plane,” said traveler Shak Presswala, who landed at the San Diego International Airport on Tuesday night.

Masks have become optional on many major airlines.

“The data over the last two years has shown, at least with physical science studies, that certain masks like N95’s will protect you but have not shown a blanket mask mandate have actually helped the population,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor.

She said cloth masks allow the virus to get in and out while N95’s, KN95’s and double masking will make a difference.

CBS 8 asked Dr. Gandhi what’s the risk of getting COVID if you’re traveling by plane without a mask?

“All major airlines in the US have what are called HEPA filters which circulate air. They have to have them, we’re up too high and we would not get the oxygen. They bring in fresh air from the outside and the circulation of air filters out 99.97% of viral particles, ”she said.

Some experts worry lifting the travel mask mandate will cause a surge in cases, but Dr. Gandhi does not think it will.

“Our level of immunity in the population is so high now from both our 82% vaccination rate in those five or older in the US Plus a lot of omicron immunity from the winter so we are seeing very low rates of disease.”

MTS is still enforcing a mask mandate on trolleys and buses. The North County Transit District announced today masks are optional for riders while on trains, buses and while waiting at stations.

WATCH RELATED: NCTD scraps mask mandate aboard transit vehicles and in stations (April 2022)

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