With Only 9 Days Left For The Federal Mask Mandate, Disarray Over Whether It’s Extended

The fact that the transportation mask mandate is set to end in nine days and no decision about its future has been announced yet – or even leaked – tells me that the administration has had internal disagreement and uncertainty on what to do with it.

On the one hand they haven’t wanted to be ‘wrong’ being seen to declare victory over Covid-19 too early. They remember well a declaration of independence from Covid last 4th of July.

On the other hand, the facts on the ground really have changed with the seven day average of reported cases down 95% from their peak; hospitals not overwhelmed; a dominant strain that’s less virulent; boosters that are holding up well against hospitalization; and more widespread treatments like reformulated monoclonal antibodies and small molecule inhibitors (Paxlovid).

Even Hawaii is lifting its indoor mask mandate. No state will have one. Does it make airports, planes, trains and buses to the only places most people have to wear masks as a matter of law, where planes are relatively safer indoor environments and when cloth masks are ineffective yet satisfy the requirement?

I’ve argued from the start that the mask mandate would need to be lifted before the midterm elections, with control of the House and Senate in the balance. The political need to lift requirements may be even more imperative than that, with inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (and U.S. response) driving up gas prices. Democrats of President Biden’s age will want to avoid a malaise presidency asking for too much sacrifice across too many dimensions at the same time.

Sara Nelson’s Association of Flight Attendants has walked back stories about its lobbying to continue the mask requirement on planes. This may be the second biggest tell that it’s on the chopping block after the administration’s lack of an announcement about its future.

  • Many flight attendants don’t want the requirement, they’re the ones who have to wear masks the most since they fly more than passengers do.

  • The union may sense that the mask requirement will be lifted and doesn’t want to appear weak being on the losing side of the argument – better to appear neutral.

While I anticipated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine I didn’t anticipate that it could play into the decision over whether to extend the federal transportation mask mandate. But the decision is ultimately a political one, and current politics could move up when the mandate gets lifted – no longer having to wait until close to the midterms.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Some of the most paranoid private sector maskers in our neck of the wood are quietly dropping their requirements – one just did so this morning with no fanfare. Most local government mandates are gone. A lot of people are still wearing them out of habit, or virtue signal, and they’re welcome to do so, but I know of only one place left that I frequent that is still asking customers to wear a mask inside the shop. – and they’re still asking for hand-washing, which we have known is not a factor since Summer 2020. It’s a bit of a pain, but it’s a long-term relationship.

    I almost have a feeling they’re just going to let the airline mandate expire without comment. That way no one gets any blame or uncomfortable questions at any announcement.

  2. I wish pieces like this acknowledged that millions of Americans are immunocompromised and that mask policies that work for the median traveler might not work for folks who would love to travel but won’t if they can’t be assured of good masking. Yes, it’s not good that cloth masks currently count. That’s an argument for better masking, not none. Making travel better for elites is one way to approach this; I wish posts like this would entertain other paths forward.

  3. @Brooks – Sorry, we don’t run society on the basis of the most inconvenienced. That’s a good way to never do anything, including never leaving the house. (If you know 250 people on social media, three of them will eventually die in car accidents.) We all take risks every day – it’s time to start doing so again.

  4. Brooks — You realize that there are lots of deadly diseases out there other than Covid, right? So unless you have always, and will continue for the rest of your life to wear masks in every single public setting where an immunocompromised person might be, I’m afraid you are a hypocrite. Or at the very least disingenuous.

  5. I’m with C_M on this Mr. Brooks…you don’t manage a population of 350 Million people to exceptions. My question got you Brooks is, if you are vaxed, boosted and wear a mask yourself what exactly are you afraid of if nobody else wore a mask? What statistical data are you using to suggest you are still in any real danger? What are you basing your fear on? As C_M said, during a bad flu season were you wearing a mask? Did you ever wear a mask before COVID? If not, why didn’t you care about your health then? I could go on…bottom line is, if you know you’re in the risk category, take whatever precautions you deem necessary, but it’s quite unfair to say the rest of the population has to follow your guidelines for safety. It’s fine if you want to say we’re all being selfish, that’s your right to an opinion, but calling someone selfish doesn’t actually answer any of the questions and is still just an opinion, not a fact.

  6. @ Gary — It should and will be extended. Over 30,000 people are becoming newly infected and 1,500 people are dying from COVID each day. These numbers are much higher than when the mask mandate was introduced and the vaccines don’t work as expected, so it will be extended.

  7. The internal polling will be finished March 11th. Then the (political) science decision will be announced.

  8. Gene the vast majority of people getting Covid now are unvaccinated. That is the risk they took when they made that decision. It is not my duty as a fully vaccinated person to protect them forever.

    Still waiting for Brooks to respond?

  9. @RMF
    The problem is people are still dying and will continue to do so wearing masks or not. The mask mandate is over where I live, but myself included, still wear a mask. Very few people are not wearing masks. Maybe people like me don’t trust others. That’s my excuse. Soon, I will be flying to 6 countries and I will gladly wear a mask whether I’m mandated or not. Yes, I will have to take tests and I will do so willingly. NOW, where is James N to refute me?

  10. @ CMorgan — My aunt and uncle had 4 shots each AND THEN got COVID. So, please dont tell me the vaccines work as expected. I am 100% pro-vaccine, but the talk of most new cases being are among the unvaccinated is exaggerated.

  11. Gene – ok great, so you know some exceptions. It’s like talking in circles here, you DON’T manage a population to exceptions! Some people are unlucky and some people die in ways that are statistically outliers. People die in plane crashes, but millions still fly. People die in car crashes but we still drive. Yes, people will still die of covid. Did your aunt and uncle die? I’m guessing not. Were they in the ICU? I’m guessing not. Did they have pre-existing conditions or fit in a high risk demographic. I’m guessing yes, but you will say no, they were models of health.

    And RoG – ok, you don’t trust other, fine. But again I ask a question nobody seems to want to answer…

    If you are vaxed, boosted and wear a mask yourself what exactly are you afraid of if nobody else wore a mask? What statistical data are you using to suggest you are still in any danger? What are you basing your fear on?

    I don’t care if you want to wear a mask, I’m just wondering on what basis (other than opinion, anecdote or exception) you needed everyone else to wear one.

  12. Look at Britain, today. 90% of dead are vaccinated.
    Deaths going up.

    The vaccines don’t work gang.
    Just like masks.
    They failed to do anything.

    And now, with everyone vaccinated, you’ve ruined the immune systems ability to react.

    TLDR: If you got an mRNA vaccine, you’re hosed.
    You’ll be more susceptible to this virus, forever.

  13. The covid shot is similar to the flu shot – it doesn’t stop you from getting it but in most cases will reduce the impact of the virus on your body. Every person I know at work had two shots and everyone and their family members got covid. Same for my wife and I. Discounting the shot because it doesn’t “prevent covid” puts you in the same camp as those saying the covid shots prevents you from getting covid. Neither is true.

  14. Gary is absolutely right that masks on aircraft have been political since the day that Fauci’s email was released showing that he knew that cloth and non-surgical masks were ineffective against covid – but a mask requirement was put in place and has remained in place for over 2 years.

    In over 2 years of transportation mask requirements, there hasn’t been a single study that proves that masks as worn by the general public do any good. Absent science, it is all politics.

    And United did a scientific test early in the pandemic showing that aircraft ventilation systems eliminate nearly all covid sized particles. That study doesn’t get near the press it should.

    And the real reason why the airline mask mandate is likely to end is because US airlines all agree it should go and they have communicated that to the feds. There is no doubt that the increased rate of bad passengers is due in part because of mask mandates which also drive away a certain number of passengers including business passengers. With the astronomical rise in fuel prices, airlines need to do everything they can to get business passengers back on their aircraft.

    The majority of Americans no longer believe the Administration is even handling covid well. They have to come up with a few “wins” and removing the mask mandate as quickly as possible might make a difference in November.

  15. I am cautiously optimistic that it will be lifted but suspect that it will not be announced until the day before, as it will be totally unenforceable after it is announced. Alternatively, it will be prematurely ended concurrent to the announcement.

  16. I Agree with what Michael Ryan says:
    When will requirements for antigen test prior to entry into the US be lifted?

    Anyone who wants can still wear a mask. Flight attendants as well.

  17. They also need to drop the bs testing requirements. Most countries now lifted testing for vaxxed travelers. Why are we still requiring it? Come on Sleepy Joe step up and join the rest of the world.

  18. @ RMF — Aged 50s, pre-existing conditions (what does that have to do with vaccines working??), and they did NOT need to see a doctor due to their COVID infections. Nonetheless, Americans were told that vaccines work stop the spread, and they generally failed at doing that. Mask wearing generally doesn’t work at advertised either, but if each preventative measure contributes to reducing the spread, they should be continued.

  19. I am being hopeful this foolish exercise will soon be over. I think it will just quietly expire. Or at most the day of expiration or day after expiration it will be acknowledged with little fanfare.
    To announce it will expire in advance would only serve to cause mayhem cause people would say what difference does a few days make and refuse to mask up. Plus there are a lot of their supporters who want mask forever and they do not want to be flagrant about it. The fact nothing has been said and the fact Public Enemy #1 Fauci has been in time out for the last couple weeks is promising.

  20. @RMF
    Sure! It’s called the fear of dying. Latest stats. 6 million worldwide, 960,000 stateside. Is that enough for you or do you want more? Do you think there will be more? It’s your decision not mine. I’ve made my decision, so I’ll stay away from you, if you don’t mind?

  21. The entire “Science” about masks and their “efficacy” is totally messed up and contradictory — one side cites multiple studies indicating that even N95 masks do *not* work in filtering against SARS-CoV-2 because the coronavirus particles are way too small to get trapped, while the other side cites conflicting studies indicating that even surgical masks will be effective to help prevent unnecessary spreading by infected individuals (eg, by those masks slowing down the net velocity of out-flowing particulates spewed when coughing or sneezing). And then there are contentions about exactly *when* an infected individual is “most” infectious — one side says within the first 5 days after initial infection (whether symptomatic or not) while the other side says only once symptoms manifest. Who wouldn’t get totally confused?

    Asia has long exhibited cultural behaviors that basically push everyone to take total personal responsibility about such matters, going back even before the days of COVID-19 and covering prior influenza seasons — IFF one is (suspected to be) infected, then wear a mask when among others (whether at home or in public settings), in order to reduce potentials for spreading, with *No* mass wearing of masks by those who are *Not* manifestly sick!

    This cultural practice also dovetails into what *Should* have been done to handle this entire pandemic, in the first place — protect those who are most vulnerable (the aged and those with co-morbidities) while leaving the rest of the populace to go about “business-as-normal” in order to promote attainment of “Herd Immunity” ASAP!

    But now global mass injections with those cellular genetic therapies (eg, mRNA and Adenovirus-vectored jabs), which do *Not* even qualify as traditional vaccines, have seriously damaged the natural immunity systems of those who got jabbed, even into negative VE territory, such that they can now become *More* susceptible to getting infected and suffering dire consequences, than those who did *Not* get jabbed at all — those of you who are desperately pro-vaxx do *Not* need to try and “debunk” this statement, since Delta and Omicron upended “common beliefs” from before, and my contentions have always been backed up with verified clinical *Data* provided by more honest government agencies in such foreign countries as UK, Israel, etc!

    So such global pandemic *Disasters* with mask and “vaccine” mandates are considered to be “progress” in public health “management”? Really? Seriously?

  22. I don’t mind, but you still didn’t answer my question Rog that I’ve now asked twice….ok, 6M worldwide out of what, 7 billion…yes, let’s lock down the world for .001% of the population. Also, you people who quote a total death number as justification for all this ridiculousness never want to address the demographic breakdown of those deaths and just want to apply restrictions to everyone equally even thought he virus hard treats everyone equally. Do I think there will be more and it’s my decision to kill more people? Do you know anything about demographics or how to analyze statistics or do you only know how to run around like a fool yelling out one number with no context?

    I’m done with with conversation because they say there is no point in arguing with stupid. Rog – if you want to believe what you believe go right aged, lock yourself in a panic room or do whatever you need to do to feel ‘safe’, but know your well being is totally in your hands. I bet you eat red meat, have had alcohol, have been in direct sunlight, don’t exercise every day, etc…things that constantly put your health at risk. Take a statistics class or two, you’ll be able to walk down the street without getting scared about one number that you clearly don’t understand.

  23. Sorry, Gary. I’m confused. In this article you said, “While I anticipated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine …” but in the article you linked to you stated, “I don’t know what’s going to happen in Ukraine.” You also suggested that if one did travel to Ukraine, “… limiting yourself to Lyiv …”

  24. I have to agree with the commenters here who have stated that once they announce the mandate ends, it’s unenforceable – it ends then, not the scheduled date. Which is why I think we’re going to see an end to it – they would have announced an extension by now, but they can’t announced it’s not going to be renewed.

  25. “most people have to wear masks as a matter of law”. It is not law, it is an edict from both Biden (executive order), and his agencies. In order for it to be a law, it has to be passed by Congress, the Senate, and signed by the President. It drives me crazy when I’m at DFW and they say it’s a law. It’s not.

  26. @Razor g – a regulation has the force of law, I think what you mean to saw is that the masking requirement was not passed as legislation

  27. Cool, let’s end the testing requirement for reentry into the US as well. It makes zero sense and it easily defeated if one has Covid and flies to a border town, like TJ just outside San Diego. As far as masking, if you want to wear one go ahead, nobody should take issue with it. N95’s are fairly effective and will protect the most vulnerable so the rest of us can get back to normal.

  28. @Gary – I agree, but that that would require some degree of admitting it’s gone on longer necessary. Since when has anyone in the government, of either party, ever admitted they went too far? Their grandchildren might apologize, the current crew – never. The best we can hope for is they let it end with a whimper. Every day they don’t renew is a day closer to the whimper.

  29. For the intelligent rather than prejudiced reader, a recent article summarising studies on mask effectiveness:

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2776536

    @ Gene

    You are very confused. I can’t remember any vaccine manufacturer ever claiming that their vaccine would be 100% effective at stopping spread of infection. Data were published indicating an expected reduction in transmissions for the vaccinated. Efficacy data indicated strong protection in preventing hospitalisations, death, etc.

    @ Don

    Your statements and inferences are just plain wrong. Masks do aid in limiting transmissions of virus (see link above). Vaccines limit hospitalisations and deaths, especially if boosted.

    @ Tim Dunn

    You are factually incorrect. Studies cited above show benefits of wearing masks. Claiming that such studies don’t exist to accommodate your personal world view is puerile nonsense.

    @ StrictlyFacts

    Yes, it’s perfectly understandable that you are totally confused. You are never going to get a definitive answer to a scientific question – science is a process of never-ending enquiry Epidemiologists are presenting their models on the best data available at the time. That dataset is ever accruing. In the case of COVID, key parameters differ between viral strains, demographic and other groupings. That’s why the models that inform governments are run with many variations in their input parameters.

    You are never going to work out what’s going on if you look at the data superficially (which is you and just about everybody on this blog).

    You do realize that the viruses are riding on water droplets and potentially particulate matter (they have an electrical charge), right? The size of the virus in such cases isn’t the issue.

    Incidentally, studies cited above show that collective responsibility is beneficial.

    Your business as usual and herd immunity fantasies are just that – fantasies. That’s the sort of stupid thinking that has led to the deaths of around one million Americans.

    @ RMF

    The reason you continue to wear a mask is because there is a community benefit derived from doing so (see attached link). You are selfishly thinking of things entirely in relation to yourself. That’s sad, because it’s symptomatic of a society such as the USA which has an appalling record in handing COVID.

    Your analogies to cars and planes are fundamentally flawed. Governments place huge restrictions on driving and invest in road designs promoting safety. Drivers are excluded on the basis of age, medical conditions, risky behaviors, etc. Driving rules preclude intoxication and drugs. There are complex road rules to promote safety. We are expected to wear seat belts and develop out situational awareness and advance driving skills. Vehicle manufacturers constantly innovate safety features in vehicle design.

    Aviation is highly managed in terms of safety risks and geared to events of such infinitesimally small probabilities that the cost of such is huge compared with the probability of a mortality event. That’s not just the processed followed in the cockpit, but those in the cabin and airside at the airport, not to mention the functions of ATC.

    The point is that your examples represent highly managed scenarios.

    Furthermore, the statistical probabilities often quoted are based on probability of an event AFTER the mitigation has been put into place. Something about not arguing with the stupid, RMF? You argue that low death rates demonstrate that lock downs and other measures are overkill, yet don’t accept that the mortality rates you quote are those after such control measures have been applied.

    The COVID mortality rate in Australia was 40 times less during Alpha and Delta waves and now is still 15 times during the Omicron wave less than in the USA. That’s the difference between successfully managing g the pandemic as a community or not.

    To be fair, the whole debate has become somewhat moot with Omicron – compared with Delta, apparently much higher risk of transmission, but lessor risk of hospitalisation / death, especially in the vaccine boosted.

    Most of the Australians now lost to COVID are those who are elderly and haven’t had their booster shots (the later a national government failing). So, yes, we do need to manage to target groups faced with Omicron.

    FWIW I just cancelled by end March trip to the USA, because of the need to test within 24 hours of travel. That prove to be highly impractical and very costly.

    Incidentally, here in Queensland, there are no further mask mandates in most scenarios (expect for travel)

  30. Amazing that we’re actually debating whether or not to continue a known fraud. The evidence is overwhelming that they’ve lied about everything for the past two years, and still we have people saying, “Please sir, can I have some more”.

  31. Somehow I doubt that dropping or extending the mask requirement on planes will move the needle one bit in US elections. Those who hate masks, vaccines and testing already have their minds made up on who they will vote for in the Fall.

  32. Palmolive softens hands while you do dishes.
    You’re soaking in it.
    Even milder than before with that special proticare formula.
    Tough on grease, soft on hands.

  33. @Platy

    If you can’t afford an antigen test, then I am not sure you can afford to be travelling in the first place.

    Granted, it is impractical – but it’s not costly.

  34. @GetReal – Depends on what you mean by “not costly”. I’ve been in places that charge $150, unless you know where to go to pay $75. And even then, you spend 2 hours getting there, getting the results, and getting back. Not every country charges $20 and has a test center on every street corner. And all of that to tell me I hadn’t caught Covid in the last 5 days, and there were already plenty of cases in the US anyway.

  35. I have a crack in my right big toenail. I think that qualifies as an excuse to extend the federal mandate for six more years.

  36. @Platy — “Yes, it’s perfectly understandable that you are totally confused … You are never going to work out what’s going on if you look at the data superficially (which is you and just about everybody on this blog)..”

    ROFLMAO! Your condescending attitude does *Not* therefore make you an “expert” about anything — just exactly *What* do you know about how deeply I look at the *Real* data, anyway? Are you psychic, or just psycho, to make such totally unfounded allegations?

    What I posted about “being confused” was rhetorical in nature and does *Not* mean that I, therefore, am confused about anything! I merely point out the contradictions within the so-called “scientific” community on such matters! Do you understand what rhetorical means?
    ————————————————————————-
    — “You do realize that the viruses are riding on water droplets and potentially particulate matter (they have an electrical charge), right? The size of the virus in such cases isn’t the issue.”

    Do you understand the differences between water droplets and particulate matter vs. aerosols in the transport of viruses? Are you familiar with the MIT analyses on this issue, about masks and viral sizes? Or about aerosolized spreading of viruses from coughing and sneezing?
    ————————————————————————-
    — “Incidentally, studies cited above show that collective responsibility is beneficial.”

    I already made this point in my post, so there’s nothing “incidental” about this fact!
    ————————————————————————-
    — “Your business as usual and herd immunity fantasies are just that – fantasies. That’s the sort of stupid thinking that has led to the deaths of around one million Americans.”

    So you’re trying to disavow the way that epidemics (and pandemics) of yore have ultimately been overcome? Is Sweden doing just great, despite *Not* having followed the totally flawed, yet still mandated, policies of our government turncoats to *Real* Science? Do you think that the lockdowns and shutdowns, along with those jabs of experimental cellular genetic therapies (now even into our kids down to age 5), have been effective at accomplishing much, besides harming our Society and Economy, *at large*? Have *You* looked at the most recent *Real* data in detail from the UK and Israel? Or even from USA’s CDC of late (strange as that may seem)? If you believe that those mandated acts by our so-called “leaders” in government were “effective,” then “stupid” just morphed into “moronic”!

    What’s *Your* “brilliant” remedy to have *Properly* handled this pandemic, “Einstein”?
    ————————————————————————-
    I see that you hail from Queensland, Australia … my condolences to you on that! Talk about how to *Absolutely Not* handle a pandemic — your Aussie state governments apparently never actually understood that a ZERO-Covid policy was a totally losing proposition, to begin with! Look at what was done to Melbourne and WA (Perth)! And, with your case in Queensland, situations where the state border line with NSW separated neighborhoods, so that families could *Not* even be with each other, despite being within “sight” of one another! And what’s up with not being able to readily cross your border with NSW, in order to go to work and return back home every day? Those state premiers and their state health ministers need to be locked up and put away so they can *Not* do any further harm to your populace, at large! You should *Not* use Australia as a “model” on how to handle this pandemic, as global news reports have already totally exposed the travesties that beset Melbourne!

    What a total tragedy for all of the people in Australia, with all of the pain and suffering that they had to endure throughout this pandemic, at the hands of their power-grubby state government officials that just *Refused* to follow the *Real* science, down under, for so long!

  37. You have to wonder whether a few decision-makers at the airlines (say, CEO, COO, and General Counsel) have been notified, especially if the decision is to let the mandate without any fanfare. They certainly need to start planning a lot of things – do they drop it immediately or keep it for some time like they did before the mandate, drop it only for passengers of staff too, how about for international flights, how about other sanitation procedures, etc… really incompetent of the administration if they’ve made a decision already but are deliberately keeping the airlines in the dark about it.

    Or, of course, the airlines may just grow a pair and just decide to stop enforcing it.

  38. “I anticipated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ” in reality you said:

    “I don’t know what’s going to happen in Ukraine. I don’t see Putin invading the Western part of the country, crossing the Dnieper and taking the whole thing, but my point is simply that there’s more risk than we have seen of military conflict. Airlines are avoiding Ukraine airspace……..
    Seems like a great time to visit! My advice if the new campaign lures you in, learn not just where the country is, but places within it. Consider limiting yourself to Lyiv (which can be accessed directly by air from much of Europe) or Ivano-Frankivsk in the West. A trip to Kharkiv or even Odessa seems… inadvisable.'”

    Yea, you called it!! Spot on!

  39. Duh. He told us Putin would invade without telling us Putin would invade. And he said he didn’t know what would happen as he told us exactly what would happen as some sort of false modesty or deflection, probably so that idiot comments wouldn’t tell him to ‘stay in his lane’.

  40. platy,
    feel free to post a SINGLE study that shows that masks work as allowed under the regulations – cloth and non-surgical paper INCLUDING allowing them to be removed for eating and drinking.

    Doctors and nurses put surgical masks on and keep them on. The notion that mask wearing by the general public does a thing other than create more irate passengers is indeed a joke and anyone that can’t see that is naive behind hope.

    john,
    you are undoubtedly right about voter preference but pollsters do ask questions about all kinds of strategies and the results are combined into overall voter approval. Given how low the Biden Administration is polling right now, they need to get rid of every possible thing they can to eliminate any negative poll results. Other state governments have already figured it out.

  41. @ StrictlyFacts

    Oooh, yet another sensitive person on an American travel blog who is not averse to an hysterical and ignorant rant. You’re off to a bad start when you start mumbling about *real* science whilst demonstrating no capacity for independent critical thought or analysis.

    You display your abject ignorance about the management of COVID and the historical responses to epidemics (nothing new on this and other US-based blogs, by the way, they seem to attract the right leaning scientifically illiterate in spades, something about abusing the responsibility of freedom of speech to disseminate misinformation and selectively quote data without context or understanding, perhaps not surprising when nearly half off the population are reportedly creationists). What was that about stupidity morphing into moronic?

    You then spout the usual misinformation about Australia, typical nonsense repeatedly refuted by myself and other Australians on this and other travel blogs. Do the work, do the reading, self educate, try thinking for yourself.

    QLD suffered just a handful of COVID deaths during the Alpha and Delta outbreaks, whilst your idealised fantasy country of Sweden, despite government restrictions (which some choose to ignore were in place), recorded about 15,000 COVID dead, ballpark a 1500 times worse outcome. Whilst the USA was counting its dead in the 100,000s, Australia was enjoying a mortality rate 40 times lower. Where I live, we had been in lockdown for an initial period of about 6 weeks during the first wave and then just for five days thereafter over the last two years. Four of the 6 states of Australia were entirely successful at keeping even Delta at bay. Contrary to the dumb mythology of the American right wing commentariat, 100,000s of Australians continued to travel home, and cross the international border.

    You can save your sarcastic and fake concern for Australians. You mention WA, the economy is flourishing and the WA Premier enjoys stratospheric popularity. The state election held during the pandemic all but wiped out the opposition right wing. Similarly, the election held in QLD during the pandemic returned the incumbent state government with an increased majority. Oops, the people have spoken per democratic process in every state election held during the pandemic and resoundingly endorsed the political leadership of the states by voting them back into power.

    The political leadership has broadly done exactly what it said it would – relax control measures when vaccination rates attained set targets. You can do the research for yourself, a clue for the clueless, you can read the Doherty Report online, which summarises the models and targets used to guide national health policy. The Australian national borders are open.

    Whilst some Americans (usually the religious and right wing) bleated about deluded personal freedoms and refused to be vaccinated, Australians in the vast majority went ahead and got vaccinated (well over 90% of eligible have been vaccinated). Most of the COVID deaths in QLD when Omicron hit were in those elderly / vulnerable who were unvaccinated or didn’t have their booster.

    Now the mortality rate in the USA is still 20 times worse than Australia. There are around one million dead in the USA. To most Australians that would be utterly unacceptable. It is hard to fathom how a country can let that happen and then some therein enter the pathetic litany of excuses from whinging about personal freedoms and conspiracy theories about vaccines, and inventing a fake narrative about other countries, such as Australia, which irrefutably demonstrate the shameful failure of the USA in dealing with the pandemic. One million dead. But then you read some of the commentary on these blogs and it all makes sense. The misguided claims to some insights about *real* science to justify their stupidity. One million dead. That’s mental, or to use your words, moronic.

  42. @ Tim Dunn

    IMHO you are entirely correct to call out the limitations of masks, which are of poor efficacy or not used properly. It is common failure of various administrations (including those here in Australia) not to mandate appropriate usage.

  43. Why the hell is anyone that was injected even flying .. if you believe in the cooties nonsense. How can you possibly just hop on a plane and spread your germs willy nilly without care for everyone else. Just goes to show you what pieces of crap there are out there. Those people that believe in the cooties should stay at home to minimize the spread if they ctually give a crap about anyone other than their own pathetic self centered self.

  44. @ GetReal

    The cost for my wife and I to be tested at both the Australian and USA ends of our journey would cost roughly USD500-600. My understanding is that as non-residents we wouldn’t qualify for free testing stateside. (We were only going for less than one week to see family and attend Global Entry interview for my wife).

    And it’s not as easy as you might imagine. In Australia, we don’t have a CostCo or a Walmart on every street corner offering testing.

    So, there is nowhere for me to get a test in the required timeframe of one day before the flight in most of my home state (the exception being BNE). The same problem applies to northern regional NSW. That means I have to travel to SYD on the Saturday evening in readiness for the SYD-LAX flight, which requires an early Monday morning check in, so I can complete testing on the Sunday. The testing centre at SYD (Airport international car park) will not conduct the test before 24 hours before the flight departure time. Then I’m placed into a position of it being too late to cancel my flight and get my points and cash back in the event of a positive test result. I have also to isolate in SYD for 7 days according to NSW Health regulations stumping up the cost of hotel for my wife and I for that period.

    Compare that with the more usual 3 day lead time. I can then get tested in my regional city home, base before I go anywhere. I don’t have the cost and hassle of traveling to SYD a day early. If my wife or I test positive, I can cancel my flights and get refunded. I /we can isolate at home.

    Plan B – simply reschedule flights for later in the year to visit family in LA (done) in the hope that more visitor-friendly policy has prevails and in the meantime attend US Embassy in Singapore for Global Entry (interview already rescheduled) – I can fly directly between CNS and SIN. Testing in SIN is cheap at SGD15 and I do pre-departure test before I leave my home town in time to cancel flights etc.

  45. @Tim Dunn, I’d also be surprised if getting rid of the mask mandate on planes moves the needle on poll results. But you never know.

  46. Nothing’s ever going to move the needle on poll results. Republicans are done. The party was over shortly after Trump entered office and demonstrated that he was actually an idiot, that it wasn’t just some charade he played up on the campaign trail.

    Absolutely no respectable young person votes Republican. Not one. The tenets of the party are vile.

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