Masks on, masks off, and the latest on COVID

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Mass transit riders wear masks as they commute on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in New York. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, Fla., on April 18, 2022, voided the national travel mask mandate as exceeding the authority of U.S. health officials. The mask mandate that covers travel on airplanes and other public transportation was recently extended by President Joe Biden's administration until May 3. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Mass transit riders wear masks as they commute on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in New York. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, Fla., on April 18, 2022, voided the national travel mask mandate as exceeding the authority of U.S. health officials. The mask mandate that covers travel on airplanes and other public transportation was recently extended by President Joe Biden's administration until May 3. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Are you confused about wearing a mask? On Monday, Philadelphia reinstituted an indoor mask mandate while on the same day a federal judge struck down the mask mandate on planes, trains, buses and public transportation. COVID-19 case counts have started to creep up again as the Omicron subvariant BA.2 makes its way through the country and people return from spring break travel and holidays with family.

Experts expect to see infection rates continue to rise in coming weeks, but so far we haven’t seen waves of severe illness and hospitalization with the latest variant. Still there are concerns about where we could be headed, and if we could end up with another virus wave. This hour, we’ll talk about the BA.2 subvariant, the vaccines and therapies, risk, unmasking on public transit and learning to live with COVID.

Guests

KATHERINE WU, science writer for The Atlantic. She also has PhD. in microbiology and immunobiology. @katherinejwu

JULIA RAIFMAN, assistant professor of health law, policy and management at Boston University. @juliaraifman

Read more

The Atlantic, Have We Already Ruined Our Next COVID Summer? – A lot has changed since last year’s pre-Delta lull, but America can still reclaim some coronavirus-free chill—if it decides to commit.

WHYY, Philadelphia reinstates indoor mask mandate – “I suspect that this wave will be smaller than the one we saw in January,” she said, referring to the original omicron wave. “But if we wait to find out and to put our masks back on, we’ll have lost our chance to stop the wave.”

New York Times, Nervous about flying? Here’s why a mask will still help protect you even if others aren’t wearing one. – In a modeling study, published in December 2021, researchers found that passengers sitting in the same row or one row away from someone with the virus still had a high risk of getting infected through direct respiratory droplets. Wearing a mask reduced the risk of infection by 54 percent.

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