Why airlines banned masks with exhalation valves

Major airlines—including JetBlue Airways, Alaskan Airlines, and Delta Air Lines—have banned masks with vents or exhalation valves in an effort to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 on passenger planes.

These types of masks allow individuals wearing them to exhale the virus, which essentially undermines the goal of wearing a face covering as recommended by the CDC, according to medical professionals.

"Those valves seem to not stop the virus from traveling as far," Dr. Teresa Murray Amato, the chair of emergency medicine at LIJ Forest Hills, told FOX 5 NY. "So while some people feel they're more comfortable, they start to kind of defeat the purpose of actually wearing the mask, which is to protect the people around you."

Experts agree that bandanas or surgical masks work perfectly fine as face coverings.

John O'Horo is an infectious disease consultant with the Mayo Clinic, which advised Delta on the airline's ramped-up protocols.

"The rule of thumb that I give for wearing an everyday mask is really anything that covers the nose and mouth," O'Horo said. "If you hold it up to the light and you don't see any light poking through, it's probably going to be adequate as a mask."

And no mask, no flying—with no exceptions—is currently the rule on every U.S. airline.

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