White House medical advisor Anthony Fauci said on Sunday ahead of holiday travel, mask-wearing on flights may be here indefinitely.
Fauci told Jonathan Karl on ABC’s “This Week” that despite filtration systems onboard airplanes, it would be “prudent” for passengers to take the “extra step” within the enclosed space and wear a mask.
“I think when you’re dealing with a closed space, even though the filtration is good, that you want to go that extra step when you have people — you know, you get a flight from Washington to San Francisco, it’s well over a five-hour flight,” Fauci said when asked he believed there would be a post-pandemic point when passengers will not have to wear masks on flights.
“Even though you have a good filtration system, I still believe that masks are a prudent thing to do, and we should be doing it,” he added.
Fauci’s comments follow an airline executive’s comments on Capitol Hill that masks “don’t add much” given that “99.97% of airborne pathogens are captured” by highly efficient filtration systems.
“Yeah, I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment,” Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said in response to whether maskless air travel could ever resume. “It’s very safe, and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.”
Meanwhile, Fauci said Sunday vaccinated individuals could comfortably travel amid fears of the omicron variant. But he warned travelers headed to gatherings with friends and family to be aware of the vaccination or COVID-19 test status of those around them.
“Do not do things like go to gatherings where there are people who you do not know what their vaccination status is,” Fauci said. “If you do that — and some people are even going the extra step or the extra mile or maybe even getting tested when you have people coming over the house.”