The Air Travel Mask Mandate Ended In the Stupidest Way Possible
Nothing says 'freedom' like sucking in a stranger's air at 20,000 feet during a pandemic.
On Monday, federal judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle abruptly ended CDC’s mask mandate on airplanes and other modes of public transportation. Mizelle, a Trump appointee, justified her decision by saying that facemasks don’t meet Public Health Services Act of 1944’s definition of “sanitizing” (“Wearing a mask cleans nothing” she mused at one point her 59 page ruling), which ignored the fact that masks are an extremely effective, relatively unobtrusive way to mitigate a deadly respiratory plague. And there it is! From here on out, it is once again extremely fine and legal to suck in a stranger’s unfiltered CO2 while you’re trapped in a metal tube some 20,000 feet above the Earth. Nice work, everyone.
Even under the best of circumstances, air travel is one of the worst, most undignified, most demoralizing experiences in the world today. And by any measure, these are extremely not the best of circumstances, as the COVID pandemic that’s already killed nearly a million Americans seems to be on the cusp of yet another highly infectious variant surge. Since airlines have a vested interest in keeping their customer base alive, and clearly have a sociopathic disregard for that same customer base’s physical comfort, you would think that keeping passengers masked so as to not render their planes as giant disease vectors would be an incredibly easy choice to make.
Nope! Instead, in video after video posted online— often triumphantly, by some of the worst, most opportunistic ghouls of the right wing fever swamp — giddy flight crews can be seen urging their passengers, mid-flight, to unmask and breath in their seatmate’s stale exhalations.
Delta airlines even justified their decision to drop the mask requirement on their flights by initially claiming that “COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus” before hastily rewriting their press release with the only marginally less fucked up reasoning that COVID is simply transitioning into a “more manageable respiratory virus.”
Now take a moment to imagine the following — depending on your personal situation, it might not be so hard, really: You, someone you’re traveling with, or someone you’re traveling to see, are severely immunocompromised. You’ve agonized about whether or not to take a plane trip at all, before finally deciding that it’s worth the considerable risk of exposure, since everyone on the flight is required by law to remain masked from the moment they step into the airport. And then, suddenly, mid-flight, the cabin crew not only announces, but cheers on the repeal of mandatory masking, as half the flight erupts in cheers. You bought your ticket on the promise of a crucial, precautionary health measure, and now it’s been yanked out from under you while you’re stuck in the air with absolutely no immediate remedy for relief.
I would be furious. I would be incandescent with rage. I would be out of my fucking mind worried about whether or not the “let’s go Brandon” meathead cheering in the seat behind me, or the giddy flight attendant laughing in the galley ahead of me are blowing an extremely communicable virus into our shared metal tube.
There’s no good way this ends. People will get sick. People will die. Airlines will continue to make a fortune, and the most baby-soft, diaper filling grifters will cheer a decision that that sacrifices an infinitesimally small personal inconvenience on the alter of a uniquely American death cult.
Eventually, if we’re lucky, the government will get its shit together enough to mitigate the next inevitable deluge of Covid cases — ones being fueled, at least in part, by shit like this. And then, when that’s subsided enough, we’ll do it all again.