The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked the Justice Department to appeal a recent court ruling that struck down the federal mask mandate on public transportation like planes and buses, it said. Wednesday.
“It is the CDC’s continuing assessment that, at this time, an order requiring masking in the domestic transportation corridor remains necessary for public health,” the agency said in a statement.
A Florida federal court overturned the mask mandate on Monday, but the DOJ previously said it would challenge the decision if ordered to do so by the public health agency.
“When people wear a properly fitted mask or respirator over their nose and mouth while traveling indoors or on public transport, they are protecting themselves and those around them, including those who are immunocompromised. or who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, and help keep travel and public transportation safer for everyone,” the CDC added in its announcement.
For now, however, many of the nation’s major transportation providers have followed the Florida court’s lead and dropped their mask mandates.
All major airlines in the United States currently have a mask optional, and the Amtrak rail system has also dropped its mask requirement for passengers.
Monday’s decision by Trump-appointed Kathryn Kimball Mizelle argued that the CDC exceeded its regulatory authority by requiring masks on planes, trains, buses and other forms of public transportation. Interpreting the law otherwise would give “mind-boggling” power to the CDC, the judge wrote in her ruling.
The detention was the latest blow to a key part of the Biden administration’s approach to Covid.
A Texas federal court previously blocked the administration’s vaccination mandate for federal workers, though the decision was overturned on appeal.
And in January, the Supreme Court stopped another Biden policy that would have seen large employers requiring vaccination or regular Covid testing.
Public health experts argue that wearing a mask on planes is still a valuable way to stop the spread of the coronavirus, especially given the rise of the hypertransmissible variant BA.2 and the continued risks of complications from Covid for immunocompromised and unvaccinated people. people.
“You can quote me on this: I will continue to wear an N95 mask,” said David Freedman, professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The New York Times after the cancellation of the mandate. “No question. You have no idea who’s on a plane…I think everyone should.
New Covid cases in the United States have been rising steadily since early April to reach a daily average of nearly 42,000 new cases on Tuesday, even as many cities and employers dropped their Covid precautions this spring.
These numbers are also likely underestimated, given the rise of home Covid testing, the results of which are not often shared with public health officials.