The Friendly Skies

I took two flights this past week and can report the skies are indeed looking friendlier these days with the return of unmasked faces. 

However, there are some reasons for furrowed brows. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the U.S. rose again this week as public health officials warn the current rates may not paint a complete picture due to underreporting of positive at-home tests. 

Despite the uptick, federal and local health officials are maintaining the latest shift towards laissez faire messaging on the virus that puts personal choice over mandates and restrictions. 

Government officials’ messaging shift was tested when a federal judge in Florida struck down the federal travel mask mandate, resulting in an immediate standdown by the TSA and airlines. On my flights, it seemed like more than half of passengers were still wearing masks by choice. 

  • After consulting with the CDC, the administration will appeal the decision amid concerns the ruling will set a precedent for courts to undermine the CDC’s authority in the future. 

President Biden has also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate a long COVID action plan and is taking steps to increase the availability of the antiviral Paxlovid.
The White House will host a second global COVID-19 summit in late May with Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal to engage world leaders, NGOs, philanthropists and the private sector and secure new funding commitments.