After a judge overturned a CDC mandate that U.S. airlines require passengers to wear masks on airplanes, the TSA immediately stopped enforcing masking in airports. One viral video even showed a flight attendant walking down an airplane aisle asking people to throw their masks away. But with COVID cases on the rise again, what does mask-abandonment mean for public health? Even if you don’t have to wear a mask on a plane, should you?
These questions are still frustratingly hard to answer. While science has brought us great advances in pharmaceutical interventions such as vaccines and COVID treatments, it’s provided little new information about the value of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as masks.