CDC extends travel mask requirement to May 3 as COVID rises

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has announced it will extend through May 3rd the nationwide mask requirement for public transit as it monitors an uptick in COVID-19 cases. The order was set to expire April 18, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday extended it by two weeks.

There has been a slight increase in cases in recent weeks, driven by the BA.2 strain, with daily confirmed cases nationwide rising from about 25,000 per day to more than 30,000. Those figures are an undercount since many people now test positive on at-home tests that are not reported to public health agencies.

The administration had been hoping to roll out a more flexible masking strategy this week to replace the nationwide requirement. In a statement Wednesday, the CDC said it will take the time to "asses the impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity."