Washington — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday it will extend its nationwide mask requirement for passengers on planes and public transportation through May 3, citing the need to assess the impact of a new coronavirus subvariant that is driving most COVID-19 infections in the U.S. The mask mandate was set to expire April 18, but the Biden administration will keep the requirement in place for another 15 days amid the rise in cases driven by the new BA.2 sublineage of the Omicron variant, which makes up more than 85% of U.S. infections. "In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC order will remain in place at this time," the CDC said in a statement. The decision to keep the mandate in place into early May comes as Republican lawmakers and executives at the nation's top airlines pushed the Biden administration to lift the masking requirements after there was a severe drop in cases beginning in mid-January. But the new subvariant of the Omicron strain has led to a slight uptick in reported infections since early April, driving outbreaks in the Northeast and parts of Florida. Still, . . . read the full article here.