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On the Day POTUS Tests Positive for COVID-19, U.S. DOT Rejects Mask Mandate for All Commercial, Public Transportation

Washington, DC – On Friday evening — the same day that President Trump, the First Lady, and at least three U.S. Senators all tested positive for the novel Coronavirus — the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rejected a petition by the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) and our 33 member unions, for an emergency order requiring masks on all forms of commercial public transportation. TTD president Larry Willis issues this statement in response:

“It is unfathomable that in the midst of a global pandemic which has killed more than 209,000 Americans, and left millions more sick and potentially facing lifelong side effects – including the president of the United States – that the U.S. Department of Transportation would outright reject such a simple, science-backed, lifesaving measure. The DOT’s decision is heartbreaking, and in light of yesterday’s news, frankly, shocking.

“Since COVID-19 first touched American shores, the president and his administration have shown callous disregard for human life in response to this virus. Failure by this DOT to issue a common-sense federal mask mandate for all modes of commercial passenger transportation is only a continuation of that failed response. Sadly, it is working people who will suffer because of this decision.

“Already, tens of thousands of frontline transportation workers — our members — have become ill or perished due to COVID-19 exposure. A federal commercial passenger and public transportation mask mandate would have offered an additional layer of protection not only for these workers, but the passengers they serve. In too many cases, those passengers are other essential workers just trying to get to their jobs on the frontlines of the pandemic, or working families on their way to get groceries, medical appointments, or check in with loved ones.

“It is beyond clear that COVID-19, and the public health crisis it has created, is not going away anytime soon. In the absence of real, federal leadership from the Trump Administration, transportation labor will continue fighting for the health and safety of our members. We call on Congress to do what the DOT refused to and pass life-saving legislation requiring masks on all forms of commercial public transportation. The people who have risked their lives to see us through this crisis by serving on the frontlines of our transportation system deserve no less.”

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