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Rep. Chris Stewart believes in ending mask mandate for traveling kids

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 file photo, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, leaves a meeting with national intelligence inspector general Michael Atkinson about a whistleblower complaint, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Chris Stewart believes in ending the mask mandate for traveling kids and allow parents to make that decision.

On Jan. 20, President Joe Biden signed an executive order mandating wearing a face mask for interstate travelers in the United States. The travel order applies to airports and planes, trains, ferries, intercity buses and public transportation, according to CNN.

Stewart R-Utah has introduced a bill ending Biden’s mask mandate for traveling kids.

The “No Mask Mandate for Kids Act” would allows families, not the federal government, to decide if children need to wear masks while traveling in the US.

Mask mandate

Stewart joins KSL NewsRadio’s Jeff Caplan to discuss his legislation.

“Congressman, why? Medical authorities say it’s a good idea to mask up. The CDC, Intermountain Healthcare, U. of U. Health and all the rest [recommend masking]. So why this now?” Jeff asked. 

“Well, it is a good idea to mask up. I’ve never argued that. As adults, of course, we should,” Stewart said. ” I guess the answer to your question is this: There’s very solid evidence that shows that the risk that children pose, either to themselves or to anyone else, is incredibly minimal. The second thing is you have to consider that the children, emotionally, mentally in their capabilities, are just quite a bit different.”

Barred from plane

Stewart said the genesis behind his bill involved a Utah family with a 4-year-old son with autism being denied a return flight to Utah because the child wouldn’t keep his mask on.

“The threat that that young child posed to the other passengers, as I said, was incredibly minimal. Let’s recognize they’re [kids] different and try to be a little more accommodating, especially now that we understand the disease far better than we did a year ago.”

“There is a body of medical evidence that says, planes and trains are a bit different,” Jeff replied. “We’re talking about a confined space where your individual decision about a mask could affect my health, two seats over. So what do we really sacrifice if our kids have to wear a mask for a few hours –with a few exceptions?”

“Well, again, I think you’re recognizing the same thing that I’ve said — that that child posed a minimal risk to anyone else on, whether it’s a plane or train, children just don’t transmit this disease like adults can, and we need to recognize that,” Stewart said.

Stewart said his bill would allow for exceptions, such as children, to Biden’s sweeping executive order on mandating masks while traveling.

“We would just ask that this overreach by the federal government to say treat everyone, including this 4-year-old autistic child, the same is unreasonable. It doesn’t, as people have said many times, follow the science. The science on this would allow for that child to be treated differently,” Stewart said.

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The CDC offers this information about children and COVID-19:

While fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19, and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Children, like adults, who have COVID-19 but have no symptoms (“asymptomatic”) can still spread the virus to others.

Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all. However, some children can get severely ill from COVID-19. They might require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe. In rare cases, they might die.

Related:

Spirit Airlines kicks boy with autism off flight for not wearing mask