Federal Judge Overturns CDC Mask Requirement
Industry

Federal Judge Overturns CDC Mask Requirement

DALLAS – A judge in Florida has struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mask mandate on airplanes and public transportation.

The mandate, which was set to expire today, was extended by two weeks to May 3 by the CDC. But US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizell, a Trump appointee, said in Tampa today that the mandate exceeds the authority of U.S. health officials and that the CDC failed in its efforts to justify its decision to extend the mandate. The judge also said that the CDC did not follow proper rulemaking in its attempt to extend the mandate.

“Because our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends, the court declares unlawful and vacates the mask mandate,” Mizell wrote in her 59-page ruling.

Flyers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) wearing facemasks on March 6th, 2020. Photo: ATL

The Extension


The CDC attempted to extend the mandate for an additional two weeks to slow and monitor the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus. Health officials wanted the extra time to better understand the variant, particularly its severity.

“Will those cases lead to a real substantial increase in hospitalizations and deaths? Or will they not?” asked Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator. “We honestly don’t know because this variant has only become the dominant variant in the U.S. in the past few weeks.”

The mask mandate required that “a person must wear a mask while boarding, disembarking, and traveling on any conveyance into or within the United States. The mandate’s reach extends to “aircraft, trains and road vehicles including ride-sharing services like Uber, vessels and other means of transport.”

Photo: United Airlines.

Airlines Against the Mandate


WTSP.com, a Tampa news agency, said that airlines have lobbied for months to kill the mandate, arguing that the air filtration systems in today’s planes make transmission of the virus unlikely. Critics of the mandate also note that the virus has subsided sharply since the Omicron variant’s peak in January even as restaurants, stores and other indoor settings have rolled back their mask mandates.

An article on CNN.com says that it unclear how quickly the ruling will be implemented at airports and train stations. It’s also possible that the Justice Department will attempt to block Mizell’s ruling and file an appeal.

The complete ruling is available at this link.


Featured image: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

author
John Huston is a marketer, writer, and videographer based in Atlanta. He's always loved planes, has 10 whole hours in a Cessna, and can spend hours wandering around ATL. Based in Atlanta, GA, United States.
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