WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and 29 of his colleagues in the House and Senate joined a letter led by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Representative Jason Smith (R-MO) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting information on how the agency determined its guidance for children aged two years and older to wear face masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The CDC first put this recommendation forward in March 2020 and has been the model for state and local guidelines, as well as President Biden’s Executive Order on travel.

“The implementation of these recommendations has had serious consequences for some Americans. Multiple parents of young children have been removed from flights, and in some instances, permanently banned, from future travel on the airline they were flying due to their toddler’s refusal to wear a mask,” wrote the members. “These unfortunate events have occurred despite the parents’ best attempts to have their child cooperate with the mask requirement, which is a struggle millions of parents have faced this past year. For parents of children with disabilities, compliance has proved almost impossible, resulting in increased social isolation and negative mental health consequences.”

Although children younger than age five in the United States account for approximately six percent of the population but only two percent of total coronavirus cases, the CDC’s guidance is among the most stringent face mask age requirements in the world. Switzerland does not require children under the age of 12 to wear a mask.  In the UK and France, children under the age of 11 are exempt from mask mandates, as are children under the age of six in Italy. The letter also includes opinions from the medical community, which has found transmission among young children to be exceedingly low.

The members conclude the letter requesting CDC respond to the following questions:

  • Why did the CDC set the minimum age requirement for COVID-19 mask guidelines at two-years-old?
  • What specific scientific studies did the CDC base its recommendations on?
  • What childhood developmental milestones did the CDC take into consideration when setting the minimum age requirement at two-years-old?
  • What steps is the CDC taking to track the latest scientific studies on the contraction and transmission of COVID-19 among children and the effectiveness of masks in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 by children?
  • What plans does the CDC have in place to update its recommendations on mask wearing as new information is gained from these scientific studies about the contraction and spread of COVID-19 by children, especially young children?
  • Are you continuing to monitor the science that informs your administration’s guidance on children wearing masks? Are you willing to modify and update your current guidance?

Read the full letter here.