White House Says Extending Mask Mandate Beyond April 18 Is a Possibility

White House Says Extending Mask Mandate Beyond April 18 Is a Possibility

Sign for mandatory use of face mask in airport. (photo via No-Mad / getty images)

Anyone hoping that the month-long extension of the federal transportation mask mandate would end on its April 18 expiration date might be disappointed.

Ashish Jha, the Biden Administration’s new COVID-19 Response Coordinator, said Monday morning that extending the mandate is “absolutely” a possibility.

“This is a CDC decision and I think it is absolutely on the table,” Jha said on NBC’s “Today” show, according to the Washington D.C.-based publication The Hill.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will again make the call on whether to extend the mandate beyond April 18, much as it did last month when it added another month to the divisive decision.

That ruling came eight days before the March 18 expiration, meaning this new decision by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky could come as early as this week. But that extra month really was out of precaution, as COVID numbers had started dropping precipitously to the point where many cities and communities had dropped coronavirus protocols – including wearing masks in schools and at restaurants.

This time, however, Walensky could factor in the rise of the new – and more transmissible – BA.2 subvariant of the virus, although Jha remained optimistic.

“I don’t think this is a moment where we have to be excessively concerned,” he said.

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