Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Sunday that wearing a mask for public transportation is now more about respect than science.
“What science is there that says that a fully vaccinated person needs to wear a mask on a plane or a train or a bus?” Tapper asked.
Buttigieg answered “we have a set of rules in place to keep people safe, and I really hope that travelers will respect flight attendants, bus operators, workers. Anybody who is simply doing their job to keep people safe.”
The contrast highlights the tensions between science and politics in the pandemic. Masks were originally presented as a method to “stop the spread” of COVID-19.
As more Americans become vaccinated and the numbers of coronavirus cases decrease, the medical need for masks and other social distancing protocols has changed. However, requirements in areas such as airplanes have been slow to follow.
The new discussion with America’s transportation secretary on CNN shifted from science to manners. Wearing a mask was not even argued as a CDC requirement, but rather as a way to show respect and kindness.
The response may be true, but fails to address the need to update public transportation guidelines. Many Americans are ready to be done with masks, including on planes, trains and buses.