The federal government will extend its mask mandate on public transportation and air travel for another month until April 18.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will recommend to the Transportation Security Administration to continue its directive for face coverings in transit and inside stations, as it was set to expire on March 18, according to a spokesperson for the CDC.
“During that time, CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor,” said Jasmine Reed in a statement.
The new policies will be based on COVID-19 infections, risk of new variants, national data, and “the latest science,” the rep added.
“We will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change,” Reed said.
Mass transit remains one of the few public settings where masks are still required in New York, along with healthcare facilities and group homes, prisons and jails, and homeless shelters.
Mayor Eric Adams on Monday dropped the mask requirement in K-12 schools along with the city’s proof of vaccination program for indoor venues like restaurants and gyms known as Key to NYC.
Governor Kathy Hochul let the statewide mask mandate for schools expire on March 2, following revised CDC guidance, which grouped areas into low, medium, or high “community levels,” depending on their case rates, hospitalizations, and hospital bed capacity.
Hochul previously let the mandate for face coverings inside businesses sunset on Feb. 10, amid COVID numbers declining following the winter surge fueled by the Omicron variant in December and January.
Mask compliance on MTA subways and buses has started to decline, according to agency stats, however the latest data is from mid-February and early March before the city’s other COVID regulations were loosened.
The newest figures on buses from Feb. 21-March 4 show 77% of commuters wore masks correctly and 17% donned them incorrectly, with 7% having no mask.
On the subways, where the MTA’s counts are older from Feb. 7-Feb. 18, the figures were 78% who wore a mask correctly, 14% incorrectly, and 8% with no mask.
Those stats are down from peaks of 93% correct masking on buses and 90% on subways about a year ago when COVID-19 vaccines started becoming available to all adults in the state.
Ridership has since resumed to routinely topping 3 million straphangers a day on subway trains and almost 1.5 million on buses.
On Tuesday, there were 3,246,273 trips on subways and the Staten Island Railway, or 56.4% of pre-pandemic levels, while bus ridership was 1,259,114, or 54% of 2019 figures.
The latest statewide COVID figures show a seven-day average case motivity rate of 1.45% as of March 9, the lowest since July and the numbers have been below 2% for two weeks, according to the governor’s office.
Hospitalizations are at 1,279, down 115 from the day before and there were 13 new deaths due to the virus, down from 21 the day before.
New York City’s positivity averaged across the week was 1.02% for that time, with the numbers highest in Manhattan at 1.37%, followed by Staten Island at 1.21%, Brooklyn at 0.93%, Queens at 0.89%, and The Bronx at 0.75%.