A Federal Judge in Florida has struck down US President, Joe Biden’s mandatory mask mandate for airplanes and other forms of public transit, calling it unlawful.
US District Judge, Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, averred the National Public Health Agency exceeded its legal powers in issuing the mandate. The US Transit Authority disclosed that it would hence, no longer enforce the mandatory mask wearing for citizens. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just last week extended the mandate until May 3, 2022.
Judge Mizelle is based in Florida, but Federal Judges can issue rulings that block nationwide Government policies.
What her Order Means
Her order, which takes effect on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, removes the masking requirement in all airports, trains, taxis and transit hubs. According to White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, the decision is “disappointing” and noted that the CDC still recommends travellers cover their mouths and noses.
However, the CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment to the court’s ruling. Last week, US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, disclosed that the mandate was extended into May 3, 2022, because of the rising COVID-19 cases.
In her ruling, Judge Mizelle, who was appointed by Former President Donald Trump, found that the CDC improperly invoked what is known as the “good cause exception”, allowing the agency to skip public notice and comment on the mandate.
“Because our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends,” Judge Mizelle noted, adding that, “the Court declares unlawful and vacates the Mask Mandate”.
Shortly after the legal decision was issued, the Transportation Security Administration which runs US Airport Security, confirmed it would no longer enforce the mask mandate. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines also disclosed that face coverings would no longer be required on domestic flights and certain international flights.
The lawsuit was first brought in July 2021 by the Conservative group, Health Freedom Defense Fund (HFDF) and two Florida residents who said wearing masks increased their anxiety and panic attacks. The plaintiffs argued that the CDC’s mandate was “arbitrary and capricious” because it gave exemptions to certain groups such as children under two years, but not to others.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, since the CDC first issued a Public Health Order in February 2021, requiring masks for travellers, more than 7,000 unruly passenger incidents have been reported, 70% of them involving masking rules.
The Biden administration’s COVID-19 mandates have experienced mixed success in the court system. The Supreme Court in January 2021 blocked the White House from enforcing its sweeping vaccine-or-test rule for employees at large private companies. But the Biden administration’s requirement that all federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 was upheld on appeal earlier this month (April).
US COVID-19 Cases Management
According to Worldometer, as of Tuesday, April 19, 2022, reported that the US has recorded over 82,377,156 cases of COVID-19, with about 1,015,790 deaths, representing one percent of total cases recorded. It also showed that, of all the recorded cases, 80,244,093 people recovered from the virus, placing recovery at 99 percent of total cases.