Florida Judge Overturns CDC Mask Mandate for Planes, Public Transit

A federal judge in Florida on April 18 struck down the national mask mandate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for planes and other forms of public transportation.

United States District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa ruled that the mask mandate was “unlawful” and that CDC had overstepped its authority by imposing it in February 2021.

The mask mandate “violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking,” Mizelle wrote in the 59-page ruling.

Mizelle, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, further said in the ruling that CDC had failed to adequately explain its reasons for the mandate, which was set to expire on May 3.

Following the ruling, the Transportation Security Administration will not enforce the mandate on public transportation, according to a Biden administration official.

The ruling came less than a week after CDC extended the mandate for 15 days amid a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the more contagious Omicron BA.2 subvariant, which now makes up majority of the cases in the U.S.

At a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the ruling was “disappointing.”

Psaki said that the administration will review the ruling and that the Justice Department will determine if they will file an appeal.

“The CDC continues recommending wearing a mask on public transit,” Psaki also said.

Two women and the Health Freedom Defense Fund, a group that has challenged COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates in some parts of the U.S., filed the lawsuit in July 2021.

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