Photo: Anton Petrus/Getty Images

The Department of Justice has filed an appeal of a judge’s order that overruled a Centers of Disease Control and Prevention requirement for mask wearing on airplanes and other public transit.

The Justice Department filed the notice of appeal Wednesday in Health Freedom Defense Fund v. President Joe Biden in the U.S. District Court in Florida. 

The government is appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals order and judgment issued April 18. Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled Monday that the CDC requirement exceeded the authority of U.S. health officials. 

As a result, the Transportation Security Administration stopped enforcing the mask wearing mandate. Airlines, Amtrak and ride-sharing services made mask wearing optional, while some airports and other transportation hubs, such as New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, required masking up. 

The DOJ said it would file an appeal based on CDC recommendations.

On Wednesday, the CDC asked the DOJ to proceed with an appeal. 

“It is CDC’s continuing assessment that at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health,” the CDC said. “CDC will continue to monitor public health conditions to determine whether such an order remains necessary. CDC believes this is a lawful order, well within CDC’s legal authority to protect public health.”

WHY THIS MATTERS

Rules over continued mask wearing were already confusing prior to the overturning of the transportation mandate.

In February, the CDC relaxed its mask guidance in communities considered low risk, where hospitals weren’t experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. The CDC continued to recommend mask wearing in hospitals.

Health officials have long contended that vaccines and mask wearing are the best defenses against the spread of COVID-19.

Hospitals continue to deal with the health and financial implications of an ongoing pandemic, and with labor shortages driven by clinician burnout.  

THE LARGER TREND

As new variants continue to spread infection and strain hospital resources, COVID-19 fatigue has set in and even the Department of Health and Human Services has given indications of the coming end of the public health emergency. It is currently extended for 90 days into July.

The new Omicron subvariant called BA.2.12.1 makes up about a fifth of COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC.

Booster doses, including a fourth shot for those over the age of 50, are helping to keep those who have been vaccinated out of hospitals.

ON THE RECORD

“CDC’s number one priority is protecting the public health of our nation,” the CDC said. “As we have said before, wearing masks is most beneficial in crowded or poorly ventilated locations, such as the transportation corridor. When people wear a well-fitting mask or respirator over their nose and mouth in indoor travel or public transportation settings, they protect themselves, and those around them, including those who are immunocompromised or not yet vaccine-eligible, and help keep travel and public transportation safer for everyone.”

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: [email protected]

 
 



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