Prepare To Fly The COVID-Friendly Skies!
When rightwing hack Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for airplanes and public transportation, she also apparently ended COVID-19 forever and ever, amen. Hooray!
See, there was some question regarding how quickly Mizelle's wackadoodle ruling would go into effect and how long airlines would take to implement a major shift in public health policy. However, after serious consideration, some folks decided to go with “immediately,” like while planes were still in motion at 30,000 feet.
The press secretary for Senator Dan Sullivan from Alaska shared this video of an Alaska Air pilot’s mid-flight announcement:
\u201cLadies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking. This is the most important announcement I\u2019ve ever made. The federal mask mandate is over. Take off your mask if you choose!\u201d \n\nA wonderful moment mid flight on @alaskaair today!pic.twitter.com/nWSatDRB83— Ben Dietderich (@Ben Dietderich) 1650323253
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking. This is the most important announcement I’ve ever made. The federal mask mandate is over. Take off your mask if you choose! It’s over ... congratulations.
And everyone applauded and lit cigars in celebration ... OK, not the last part, you can’t smoke on airplanes. That’s crazy. Although, it wouldn’t surprise me if Judge Mizelle thinks the science behind second-hand smoke is also crap.
I feel bad for that pilot if he truly considers this his “most important announcement.” He’s apparently never successfully landed a plane after a bird got stuck in the engine. What a tedious career he’s had.
Delta Airlines released a statement Monday declaring that it was losing the mandate like my luggage whenever I fly Delta.
We are relieved to see the U.S. mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus.
Oh, that’s great. After a demanding two years killing millions across the globe, COVID-19 is scaling back its involvement in the pandemic industry. COVID-19 might consider some lighter health-related projects, like the sniffles, maybe a scratchy throat, but otherwise the virus is just gonna put its feet up.
A few spoilsports, also known as infectious disease experts, said that Delta’s statement was utter nonsense and not how anything works. Some people were so furious they swore off flying Delta again, which we all know won’t last. The only person who ever successfully held a grudge against an airline was my wife, who singlehandedly put Continental Airlines out of business.
United Airlines tweeted Monday:
Masks are no longer required on domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country's requirements) or at U.S. airports. More comfortable keeping yours on? Go right ahead... the choice is yours (you look dino-mite either way)!
No gonna lie: Some of y’all looked better with the masks.
In its banana-pants statement, Delta also warned: "You may experience inconsistent enforcement during the next 24 hours as this news is more broadly communicated — remember to show understanding and patience with others who may not be aware enforcement is no longer required."
Of course, pretty much everything’s inconsistent and generally half-assed at Delta, which is another compelling reason to have kept the mandates in place for a few more weeks. Airlines are private companies and can set their own policies. The wunderkind judge’s ruling specifically applied to the federal government’s ability to impose a mandate.
You can mock the COVID-cautious if you’d like, but these people booked flights with the reasonable assumption that a mask mandate was in place. This isn’t like a restaurant or even a theatre where you don’t have to sit next to someone who’s unmasked.
Airlines could’ve agreed to keep the mandate through May 3, when the Centers for Disease Control’s recent extension was set to expire. The CDC wanted more time to study the BA.2 Omicron subvariant of the coronavirus that’s now the dominant strain.
Despite Delta’s COVID-19 mandatory retirement notice, cases, as well as hospitalizations, are increasing, but way too many Americans just don’t care. It’s as if COVID-19 has transitioned into just another issue like climate change or homelessness. We could do something but why inconvenience ourselves. Besides, most of us are fine.
People can argue all day but the fact that every airline immediately went masks-optional the day of the ruling suggests that people with actual money on the line do not believe there is a large group of people with a significant preference for masked flying.— Matthew Yglesias (@Matthew Yglesias) 1650335651
Matt Yglesias, who's consistently wrong about most issues, claimed that Judge Mizelle did the White House a “favor” and now everyone can “vax and relax.” (Yes, those were words he was paid to write). He added:
People can argue all day but the fact that every airline immediately went masks-optional the day of the ruling suggests that people with actual money on the line do not believe there is a large group of people with a significant preference for masked flying.
If there’s anything I trust less than the airline industry’s grasp of public health, it’s their demonstrated ability to run a successful business.
It’s incredibly callous for Yglesias to dismiss the mask mandate as a question of profit. Maybe the overwhelming majority of customers are fine without masks and won’t suffer any health issues as a result, but as a society don’t we have some obligation to the vulnerable minority?
Also, unlike most other activities, flying is often a necessity. People must now choose between driving for days to their destination or exposing their compromised immune systems to COVID-19. All because a reasonably healthy person can’t wear a mask for a few hours in an enclosed space. And because Mitch McConnell rammed through a raft of insane 30-year-old Trump judges.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."