Dear Administrator Pekoske:
We write today regarding the upcoming March 18, 2022 expiration of the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) mask mandate. Given strong declines in COVID-19 cases and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) latest guidance eliminating indoor mask requirements for much of the population, we believe TSA's mask mandate should be allowed to expire later this month.
In comparison to August 20, 2021, when your agency most recently extended its mask mandate, the rolling average of new COVID-19 cases has declined by nearly two-thirds. Further, on February 25, the CDC issued new guidance advising that more than 90% of Americans can stop wearing masks and social distancing or avoiding crowded indoor spaces. Coupled with the fact that all U.S. passenger aircraft are outfitted with high efficiency particulate air filters, it would seem the risk of COVID-19 exposure on planes is low, and that passengers should have the ability to determine for themselves whether to wear a mask.
Further, as of February 28, 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has made 474 unruly passenger reports related to facemasks, which represents 67% of all unruly passenger reports. No airline employee should have to deal with unruly passengers, and we support the FAA continuing to take a hard stance against these passengers. We believe that eliminating the mask mandate will provide a safer travel experience for everyone involved.
It is past time that we follow the science and allow Americans to return to normalcy. Therefore, we request you provide us with an update on TSA's review of its mask mandate, and whether you intend to extend it in the coming days.