All Major U.S. Airlines Have Now Banned Face Masks With Vents & Valves

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U.S. Airlines have once again moved the goalpost when it comes to face masks and mouth coverings, banning the use of those masks that feature a vent/valve citing latest CDC recommendations.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently changed its guidelines to say vented masks do not help prevent the spread of COVID-19 causing airlines to ban this type of face covering.

American Airlines is the latest carrier that has banned the use of such masks after Alaska, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United have already done so .

The ever changing policies are confusing airline passengers and regular people who aren’t even traveling as coming out with such news more than half a year into the Covid-19 crisis doesn’t exactly instill confidence in authorities after people have been donning these masks for months without anyone voicing concern.

The Miami Herald reported that a change in the latest CDC recommendations caused airlines to do yet another 180 on their policies.

If you want to board a flight in the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic, any mask won’t cut it anymore.

American Airlines became the latest U.S. carrier to ban the use of masks with vents or valves on its flights, according to the company’s website. Alaska, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United have also banned masks with valves and vents from their flights. …

American updated its policy on Aug. 12, days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidelines to say vented masks do not help prevent the spread of COVID-19, McClatchy News reported.

“The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control,” according to the CDC. “However, masks with one-way valves or vents allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material, which can result in expelled respiratory droplets that can reach others. This type of mask does not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others. Therefore, CDC does not recommend using masks for source control if they have an exhalation valve or vent.”

American’s new policy goes into effect Aug. 19, according to a release on the company’s website. The airline started requiring passengers to wear masks on its flights in May, the company said. …

Mind you that airlines did nothing in regards to masks for several months, leaving it up to the passengers to wear face coverings on a voluntary basis including rudimentary bandanas. Then they suddenly required passengers to wear the masks while they sit next to each other for hours on end. By that time people have already gotten way too used to the whole “voluntary” policy and many became belligerent to the point of where carriers are now banning passengers following such incidents.

This whole situation could have likely been avoided if they would have been firm and clear from the beginning about requiring proper face masks to be worn. Here in Asia it was already the rule that passengers had to wear masks since February and there was never any change in policy.

You can access the CDC website with current recommendations here to get an overview of what they currently recommend (until someone has yet another change of heart, maybe next week).

  • CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
  • Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • Masks with exhalation valves or vents should NOT be worn to help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others (source control).

The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control.

However, masks with one-way valves or vents allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material, which can result in expelled respiratory droplets that can reach others.  This type of mask does not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others. Therefore, CDC does not recommend using masks for source control if they have an exhalation valve or vent.

A face shield is primarily used for eye protection for the person wearing it. At this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides to people nearby from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer. There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control. Therefore, CDC does not currently recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks. …

The CDC has also prepared this informational video published on YouTube for public consideration:

As far as airlines and their policies are concerned there is of course no hard guideline, they all make up their own rules and adjust them as time progresses.

I’d expect things such as the ban on certain type of face coverings to gain traction even beyond the U.S. once the dominoes start to tumble. This could affect airlines in Europe as well sometime soon. I doubt carriers or public policy over here in Asia will be impacted by it as people have been wearing vented masks for quite a long time.

What I really like about living in Asia at the moment is that stupid discussions and arguments about the wear and use of PPE aren’t even on the mind of the public. It doesn’t hurt anyone, you use it and don’t make your own life more complicated than it already is in these times. And when you’re outside in the nature such as parks you’re allowed to take it off. Following the discussions that are going on in some parts of Europe and North America… mind boggling to say the least.

Conclusion

The best is to familiarize yourself with what kind of masks the airline currently expects passengers to wear before going to the airport with anything other but a traditional mask without holes, vents or whatever might be available on the market nowadays.

One thing that fuels the discussion of pro/con mask wearing is the inconsistency in public health policy. They just suddenly realize that vented masks are bad? After months of people wearing them? I don’t think there is valid ground for any contra-mask argument, We’ve been wearing them for years while traveling over here as it’s common practice in Japan, Korea and Hong Kong before Covid was even in the imagination of anyone. I just wish airlines had been firm from the beginning and not constantly move the goalpost to make people even more paranoid.

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