Masking on planes is ‘good public health sense,’ says expert

April 21, 2022 – Although on April 18 a judge tossed out the federal requirement for masking on airplanes and other forms of transportation, many experts recommend continuing to mask up while flying to protect against the coronavirus.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Leonard Marcus and Edward Nardell were both quoted in various media outlets about the issue.

Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, told the Washington Post that the air on planes is “extraordinarily safe,” but he noted that, “on an airplane, we’re in very, very close proximity to one another.” Nardell, professor in the departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases, told NPR that, on planes, you share air with the people in the few rows around you. “If you’re immediately next to somebody who is highly infectious, your best protection is a mask—and a tight-fitting one at that—rather than depending on the ventilation,” he said.

In a Salon article, Marcus noted that, “right now, a third of the population is not vaccinated, and even more are vaccinated but not boosted—so if you look at that statistic it means in a row of three people, one of those people could very well not be vaccinated.” For that reason, he said, multiple layers of protection—like masking in addition to ventilation—is just “good public health sense.”

Marcus told Business Insider, “I’m flying next week. I will be wearing an N95 mask, and I’ll be wearing another mask over it, to keep it real tight.”

Read the Washington Post articles:
Do I still need to wear a mask? A guide to help you decide.
You don’t have to wear a mask on planes. Do it anyway, experts say.

Read the NPR article: The CDC’s mask mandate for public transportation has been reversed

Read the Salon article: Public health experts are split on whether we still need masks on airplanes