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'I know this sounds crazy': NBC medical expert says carry extra masks on planes, coerce your neighbors to wear them

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Physician Dr. Kavita Patel, an NBC News medical contributor, says that you should bring extra face masks with you when flying and essentially demand that the people sitting next to you on the plane wear them.

What did Patel say?

During a recent interview on MSNBC, Dr. Patel advised airplane passengers to self-enforce the travel mask mandate that a federal judge vacated this week.

Admittedly, Patel said her idea sounded "crazy."

"If people want to stay safe, the best thing they can do — high quality mask. And that when possible carry some extra masks," she said.

"I know this sounds crazy, but if you tell someone next to you on a plane — N95 mask or surgical mask and just say, ‘I’ve got an elderly mother at home. I’ve got a child with cancer at home, please do me a favor.' Having the people at least closest to you in that row protecting yourself and them can be the best safety," she continued.

"Carry some extra masks with you, carry some rapid tests with you if you're traveling," she advised.

Dr. Patel voiced sharp criticism against federal district Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle's decision to void the federal government's mask mandate for travel.

Patel claimed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the necessary statutory authority to issue and enforce such sweeping mandates and said that allowing Mizelle's ruling to stand establishes a "terrible precedent."

Patel also bemoaned the decision because "kids under 5 have no vaccine and [only have] poor fitting masks."

Anything else?

The Justice Department took action on Wednesday, appealing Judge Mizelle's ruling after the CDC asked the DOJ to do so.

The CDC claimed that a mask mandate for the "indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health" because "wearing masks is most beneficial in crowded or poorly ventilated locations, such as the transportation corridor."

Top airline CEOs, however, disagree that airplanes are poorly ventilated locations.

In fact, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told the Senate in December that masks should not be required on flights because commercial airplanes are outfitted with the best air filters available on the market.

"I think the case is very strong that masks don't add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment. It is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting," Kelly said.

"I concur. An aircraft is the safest place you can be. It's true of all of our aircraft — they all have the same HEPA filters and air flow," Parker agreed.

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