INDIANAPOLIS — As COVID cases begin to crawl up in some parts of the U.S., the federal transportation mask mandate has been extended for another two weeks.
Experts in Indy said the extension of the mandate should help to keep those rising cases contained to those cities.
”Nationally, what we’re seeing is rates are going up, particularly in the northeastern part of the U.S.,” said Brian Dixon, the Director of Infomatics at the Regenstrief Institute.
Dixon said these increases aren’t anything like the Omicron spread at the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022.
”They’re nowhere near the surges we saw back in December or January,” Dixon said.
Dixon said this isn’t a widespread issue, either.
”In fact, I think 96% of counties in the U.S. remain at a low level of transmission, only 4% are increasing,” he said.
Back here in Indiana, both Dixon and Dr. Graham Carlos, the Executive Medical Director at Eskenazi Health, agree the state is in a good spot.
”Thankfully, in Indiana, things seem quiet for the time being,” Carlos said.
Carlos said they just aren’t seeing many positive tests in their hospital.
”We’re not seeing any of this new BA.2 variant of COVID strike our EDs or hospitals just yet,” Carlos said.
Carlos said the BA.2 Omicron variant is the dominant strain in the U.S., it spreads quickly but isn’t as dangerous as past variants.
”We don’t see, thankfully, much of the deadly complications with this new variant,” Carlos said.
With this positive outlook on COVID cases, Dixon and Carlos said the federal transportation mask mandate was extended to keep it that way.
”The places where the major airports are located is where were seeing some increase in cases, so we really want to protect people as they travel through those hubs,” Dixon said.
As for future surges, both said they expect a rise in the fall, but we’ll be prepared as ever.
”We probably could expect to see later this year another recommendation of a booster in the fall to protect yourself,” Dixon said.
For now travelers on planes, buses or trains will need to continue wearing that mask through at least May 3.