Federal Judge Overturns Public Transportation Mask Mandate, which she Called “Unlawful”
By Yehudit Garmaise
A federal judge in Florida, on Monday, overturned the recently extended order by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that requires all passengers to mask on airplanes, trains, and in taxis, ride-share vehicles, and transit hubs.
Since February 2021, CDC has required all American passengers to mask as they travel from state-to-state. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in turn, enforces the CDC’s order.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, called the masking mandate “unlawful,” in response to a lawsuit filed by a group called the Health Freedom Defense Fund, which is based in Tampa, Florida.
Judge Mizelle said the CDC, which she said had not sought public comment and did not adequately explain its decisions, had exceeded its authority.
Last month, when the U.S. Senate voted 57-40 to overturn the CDC’s public health order that requires masks on public transportation, President Joe Biden threatened to veto.
Industry groups and Republican lawmakers cheered when the CDC said its 14-month-old masking mandate would expire on Monday, however, as Covid cases started to increase again, on April 13, CDC officials extended the mask mandate by 15 days, “out of an abundance of caution.”
In New York City, health officials are considering moving its assessment of the threat of COVID infection from “low” to “medium.”
Judge Mizelle sent her ruling back to the CDC, where it is unclear as whether her order will take effect.
Families who flew on American Airlines today, for instance, reported that they were still required to mask on flights and in airports.
Delta Air Lines representatives said they will continue to comply with the TSA directive on masks until they are informed otherwise.
United Airlines, however, tweeted a clear message that “masks are no longer required on domestic flights, select international flights, or at U.S. airports.”