The chairman of the Senate committee that oversees airlines and U.S. transportation policy had his mask off for extended periods on a Delta flight to Mississippi on Thursday night, according to another passenger, and the company said he had to be reminded twice by a flight attendant to follow the airline’s mask requirement.

The next day, the Trump administration rejected a union petition calling for a federal mandate requiring masks be worn on planes, trains and buses, saying the Transportation Department “embraces the notion that there should be no more regulations than necessary.”

The developments bracketed President Trump’s own announcement early Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and undercut safety assurances from top Republican policymakers who say federal mandates should take a back seat to state, local and private actions in fighting the coronavirus, union officials and others said.

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