Face mask issue remains hot COVID topic as poll finds most Americans support using them on public transportation and DoJ awaits CDC decision

A new survey found most Americans still support wearing face masks on planes and other shared public transportation, after a federal judge’s ruling overturned the mandate.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds that despite opposition to the requirement that included verbal abuse and physical violence against flight attendants, 56% of Americans support that people in planes, trains and public transportation wear masks, compared to with 24% opposed and 20% saying they neither support nor oppose, as reported by The Associated Press.

The poll was conducted Thursday through Monday, just before a Florida judge struck down the national mask mandate, leading airlines to immediately scrap their requirements — including in some cases mid-flight.

To learn more, see: Experts appalled at response to face mask mandate ruling as airlines immediately drop requirement – in some cases mid-flight

The Justice Department said it would not appeal the decision unless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines it is still necessary. The CDC has yet to make an announcement. President Joe Biden appeared to embrace flexibility on Tuesday when asked if Americans should mask up on planes. “It’s up to them,” Biden said during a visit to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The latest poll also shows about half of Americans support requiring masks for workers who interact with the public, compared to about 3 in 10 who oppose it. Support is similar to requiring people at crowded public events such as concerts, sporting events and movies to wear masks.

The poll shows the country remains politically divided, with conservatives less supportive of face masks.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said the mask mandate messaging would have been more effective if it required N95 or KN95 respirators, which are more effective at preventing transmission. of the virus.

“But you’ve actually created a real challenge with yourself with the public now being selective, if not outright angry at these mandates,” Osterholm told the AP. He added that he would continue to wear his N95 mask on planes.

The face mask problem is exploding as COVID cases rise again in the United States, driven by the BA.2 variant and two new subvariants that appear to be even more contagious, after their sharp decline at the start of the year .

According to a statement from the health department.

Both are sublines of BA.2, which has become dominant worldwide, and accounted for 99.2% of cases sequenced in the World Health Organization’s weekly update last week.

The United States is seeing an average of 41,989 cases per day, according to a New York Times tracker, up 47% from two weeks ago.

Cases are rising in 35 of 50 states, and with many people now testing from home, the official tally is likely underreported.

Coronavirus update: MarketWatch’s Daily Roundup organizes and reports all the latest developments each day of the week since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

On a more positive note, the country is recording an average of 14,790 hospitalizations per day, down 4% from two weeks ago, and still close to the lowest level since the first weeks of the pandemic. The daily death toll has fallen below 600 to 410 a day on average, a number still undesirably high and made up mostly of unvaccinated people.

See now: While some airlines and businesses are dropping their mask mandates, some schools and public transportation systems are still saying to wear your mask

Other COVID-19 news you should know:

• DIS by Walt Disney Co.,
-5.56%
Walt Disney World has lifted the last of its mask requirements, meaning face coverings will be optional for Guests at all locations on the Central Florida Disney property, the AP reported. The rule change was posted Tuesday on Disney’s website. Masks are still recommended, although not required, for customers who are not fully vaccinated in indoor venues and closed transport.

See also: Moderna is developing a COVID-19 booster that protects against omicron and the original virus

• Shanghai allowed 4 million more people to leave their homes on Wednesday as virus controls that shut down China’s biggest city eased, while the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for China’s economic growth and warned that the global flow of industrial goods could be disrupted, the AP reported separately. Shanghai has kept most of its 25 million people under strict lockdown for about three weeks as it battles a surge of COVID cases. About 12 million people are now allowed outside.

See also: How well does the COVID-19 test-to-treat program work?

Video shows some airline passengers cheered as carriers announced they would no longer require masks on domestic flights after a federal judge in Florida overturned the Biden administration’s Covid-19 warrant. Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters

• Japan’s health ministry on Tuesday formally approved Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine, a fourth overseas-developed tool to fight infections as the country sees signs of a resurgence led by a subvariant of the fast-spreading omicron, the AP reported. The ministry’s approval comes the day after its expert panel approved the use of Novavax’s NVAX,
-1.65%
protein vaccine, designed with technology similar to that used to fight diseases such as influenza and hepatitis B, for the first two injections and a booster.

• Abbott ABT Laboratories,
+2.22%
made more than $3 billion in sales of its COVID tests in the first quarter, helping to push the company to beat profits, as Jaimy Lee of MarketWatch reported. Abbott earned $2.4 billion, or $1.37 per share, in the first quarter of 2022, compared to $1.8 billion, or $1.00 per share, in the same quarter a year ago . Adjusted earnings per share were $1.73, versus a FactSet consensus of $1.47. Abbott’s revenue jumped to $11.9 billion in the first three months of the year from $10.4 billion in sales in the first quarter of 2021. The FactSet consensus was 10.9 billions of dollars. This was due to a 67% increase in revenue from its diagnostics business, which includes COVID-19 testing.

Here’s what the numbers say

The global tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 506.3 million on Wednesday, after crossing the half-billion mark last Tuesday. The death toll has topped 6.2 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The United States leads the world with 80.8 million cases and more than 989,573 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows that 219 million people living in the United States are fully vaccinated, or 66% of the total population. But only 99.6 million are boosted, or 45.5% of the vaccinated population.

Jessica C. Bell