Washington: The US has made it mandatory for everyone to wear masks while using public transportation as part of a national strategy to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The mandate, which went into effect at 11.59 p.m. on Monday, makes refusal to wear a mask a violation of federal law, enforced by the Transportation Security Administration and other federal, state and local authorities, reports Xinhua news agency.
The rule, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), applies to passengers on airplanes, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares.
It also extends to waiting areas such as airports, train platforms and subway stations. The mandate builds on an order announced by President Joe Biden who on his first day in office unveiled a national strategy in order to change the course of the Covid-19 crisis in the country, currently the hardest-hit in the world.
A year into the pandemic, Americans have still not come to a uniform consensus on mask wearing, which public health experts say is among the most effective means of stemming the virus spread. As of January 29, about 10 states remained without a mask mandate.
The pandemic has so far infected a total of 26,307,963 people across the US and killed 443,186 others, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s latest update on Tuesday morning.
Health experts have attributed the country’s failure to control the virus to political polarization, a rejection of science and an absence of a national strategy under the former Donald Trump administration.
January 2021 has been by far the deadliest month of the pandemic in the country, with over 95,000 Covid-19 deaths, surpassing December’s total of over 77,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.