Biden signs order requiring masks for travelers

Wearing a face mask will soon be federally mandated for interstate travelers in the United States, according to an executive order signed by President Joe Bi...

Posted: Jan 21, 2021 5:46 PM

Wearing a face mask will soon be federally mandated for interstate travelers in the United States, according to an executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Thursday.

The travel order applies to airports and planes, trains, ferries, intercity buses and public transportation.

The order is a directive to several agencies to take action to require masks be worn in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

At this point it is unclear exactly how the requirement will be carried out. The Transportation Department referred questions about how the order will be implemented to the White House.

Welcomed news for flight attendants union

The move to mandate masks was immediately celebrated by a flight attendants union.

"What a difference leadership makes! We welcome President Biden's nationwide approach to crushing the virus and lifting us out of this pandemic," said Sara Nelson, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International President, in a statement.

Nelson said the mandate would provide "much needed back up" for flight attendants and other aviation workers on the "front lines."

While major US airlines instituted their own mask requirements in May 2020 in the absence of a federal rule, enforcing mask policies has largely fallen on flight attendants, some of whom have reported aggressive confrontations with passengers refusing to wear masks.

Airlines say they have made good on their pledges to bar passengers who do not comply from future flights. Industry group Airlines for America says its members have banned thousands of passengers.

Delta Air Lines recently said it has restricted 880 passengers because of mask noncompliance.

FAA takes stricter approach

Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration announced a stricter approach to dealing with unruly passengers.

Passengers who assault, threaten, intimidate or interfere with airline crew members can face fines of as much as $35,000 and even imprisonment, according to the FAA.

In December, the FAA proposed fines of $15,000 and $7,500 for two passengers "for allegedly interfering with and assaulting flight attendants who instructed them to wear face coverings."

The flight attendants union AFA first called for a mask mandate on planes in April 2020 in a letter to then Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

The Trump administration resisted calls from the industry and workers to develop a mask requirement. Chao said that she believed the issue could be better handled by companies and their employee unions.

"When the federal government gets involved, we tend to be much more heavy handed, we tend to be inflexible, and once we put a rule in place, it takes a long time to remove that rule if conditions change," she said last summer.

Airlines for America, which represents major air carriers in the United States, wrote in a letter to Biden earlier this month that since airlines currently have policies requiring masks and ban noncompliant passengers, it believes a Biden action would be "a consequential enforcement backstop."

The group said it supports a temporary requirement applying to all passengers 2 years and older that lasts "only for the duration of the pandemic." It said crewmembers should be covered by a separate set of guidelines.

In addition to the mask mandate, Biden also ordered on Thursday that all travelers, including US citizens, will be required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test before entering the United States from abroad. The order underscores the CDC policy announced last week.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5060048

Reported Deaths: 74129
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152429427102
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581500
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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