"TSA will extend the directives through January 18, 2022," a TSA spokesperson said. "The purpose of TSA’s mask directive is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation."
Major airlines were informed of the mandate extension while on a call with the top transportation agency and officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), first reported Reuters.
The CDC issued an order in January that required all passengers on public transit systems to don a mask in an attempt to counter the coronavirus pandemic.
"The emerging evidence about the Delta variant demonstrates it is more formidable than the original virus. Delta spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another, compared with earlier strains," a CDC spokesperson told Fox News.
The spokesperson argued the CDC order issued earlier this year did not have an expiration date but said TSA was implementing an "additional security directive."
"In contrast to the Alpha strain, new data show that fully vaccinated people who are infected with the Delta variant might be infectious and might potentially spread the virus to others," the CDC spokesman added.
|DAL||DELTA AIR LINES, INC.||40.99||-0.21||-0.51%|
|AAL||AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP, INC.||19.98||+0.34||+1.73%|
|SAVE||SPIRIT AIRLINES, INC.||24.01||-0.48||-1.96%|
The federal mask mandate proved to be a controversial policy for some air travelers, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reported nearly 2,900 mask-related incidents this year.
Passengers can expect a hefty fine as part of the administration’s "zero-tolerance policy for unruly and dangerous behavior by passengers."
And the FAA issued fines ranging from $7,500 to $15,500 after passengers failed to comply with mask mandates in June.
The U.S. has seen a more than 18 percent increase in the number of cases reported over the last seven days. On average more than 96,000 new cases have been confirmed daily over the last week.
"Most transmission happening around the country is among unvaccinated people and in areas with low vaccination rates," the CDC spokesperson told Fox News. "We need more people to get vaccinated to stay ahead of changes in the virus."