Delta Air Lines edited its statement announcing the end of the federal mask mandate to call COVID-19 a "more manageable respiratory virus" on Tuesday.
Delta's original statement had stated that COVID-19 "has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus." Delta and a slew of other airlines announced masking was now optional on flights after a federal judge in Florida struck down the Biden administration's national mask mandate covering airplanes, airports and public transportation.
"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," Delta's original statement read. "Thank you for your support in complying with the federal mask mandate and keeping each other, and our customers, safe during the pandemic."
The company later updated the statement, however.
"We are relieved to see the U.S. mask mandate lift to facilitate travel as COVID-19 transitions to a more manageable respiratory virus – with better treatments, vaccines and other scientific measures to prevent serious illness," Delta's new statement reads. "Thank you for your support in complying with the federal mask mandate and keeping each other, and our customers, safe during the pandemic."
Airlines had been calling on President Joe Biden's administration to end the mask mandate for months but to no avail. The TSA announced it would no longer be enforcing the mandate soon after the Florida ruling on Monday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the end of the mandate was a "disappointing decision" from the judge during a Monday briefing.
"The CDC recommended continuing the order for an additional two weeks to be able to assess the latest science in keeping with its responsibility to protect the American people, so, this is obviously a disappointing decision," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. "The CDC continues recommending wearing a mask in public transit."
The CDC had extended its original mask mandate to April 18 in March and then announced another 15-day extension beyond that on April 13. The mandate was originally supposed to end last month.