‘COVID is still out there’: Doctors weigh in on federal mask mandate at airports as expiration date nears

Federal mask mandate for public transportation to expire on March 18.
Federal mask mandate for public transportation to expire on March 18.(wmbf)
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 5:24 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Mask restrictions are easing up in Horry County and across the nation.

However, there is still a federal mask mandate in place for public transportation. In Myrtle Beach, people are required to wear their masks while riding Coast RTA buses and in the Myrtle Beach International Airport.

Back in January 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a federal mask requirement for transit systems to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.

TSA’s initial face mask requirement went into effect on February 1, 2021, with an initial expiration date of May 11, 2021. The mandate was later extended again to March 18, 2022.

With the mask mandate expiring soon, people will now have their personal choice to wear or not wear a mask while flying or riding on public transportation.

Doctors in the Grand Strand are encouraging people to get vaccinated and get booster shots before they travel as a way to stop COVID from spreading to those who are at risk. They also added that travelers should think about the people around them before they make the decision whether to wear a mask.

“Your under-vaccinated, underage children and those who have medical issues that can’t get fully vaccinated. All that comes to play when you make your individual decision about wearing a mask,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon, a leading physician at Tidelands Health and the president of the American Medical Association.

Paul Richardson, the chief medical officer at Conway Medical Center, advised people not to let their guard down.

“As a physician I want people to know that COVID is still out there and has not completely gone away,” said Richardson.

“We still have an under-vaccinated community and half of South Carolina under-vaccinated right now,” said Harmon.

At this point, the U.S. has not mentioned if it will let the mask mandate expire or if it will be extended past March 18.

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