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Biden admin will reportedly extend transportation-related mask mandate through mid-March 2022

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The Biden administration will reportedly prolong transportation-related mask requirements through mid-March 2022, Reuters has reported, citing sources briefed on the issue.

The move means that most travelers will continue to be required to wear masks in various transit-related locations such as in airports and train stations, and aboard airplanes, trains, and buses.

An official announcement pushing the requirements through March 18 is expected to occur on Thursday, according to the sources, the outlet reported. The Transportation Security Administration had previously extended a mask mandate through Jan. 18.

Mask mandates have proven to be a bone of contention throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with some people strongly in favor of requiring mask wearing in public areas, while others believe that individuals should have the freedom to make their own decisions.

Concerns have sparked in the U.S. and elsewhere over a new COVID-19 variant known as the Omicron variant.

In the U.S., the first confirmed case of COVID-19 caused by this new variant was detected in a person in California who had recently been to South Africa.

The person "had mild symptoms that are improving" according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Genomic sequencing was conducted at the University of California, San Francisco and the sequence was confirmed at CDC as being consistent with the Omicron variant. This will be the first confirmed case of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant detected in the United States," the CDC noted.

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