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The trip is ‘unique’ as it may pose a ‘higher risk’ due to crowds and people who have to travel

During an interview with CBS’s “Red and Blue” on Wednesday, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy defended the transit mask mandate even though masks are not needed in other indoor settings by arguing that travel is different because “you bring a lot of people together in a closed environment for an extended period of time”, and “a lot of people don’t have the option not to travel”.

Murthy said, “So the CDC’s decision is based in part on the fact that, look, we have cases going on right now and what the CDC wants to be able to understand is the trajectory of those cases. … We are also seeing relatively stable hospitalizations, which is good. We hope they don’t go up, and certainly nothing like we saw in January. But the CDC wants to be aware of this and wants to keep an eye on it before removing these types of federal requirements for masks on planes.

He concluded: “Let me finally say this, because sometimes people wonder, well, why do we have them on planes, trains and buses, but not in some other indoor environments? There’s something unique about traveling is that, first, you’re bringing a lot of people together in a closed environment for an extended period of time, which might inherently be more risky. But many people do not have the option not to travel. Imagine your mother is sick and you have to travel across the country to see her or you have to travel for your job and not traveling could mean you lose your job, so because that’s not an option for people, you have to be careful in these environments, make sure people get the protection they need, especially as cases increase.

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