Feud Over Masks on Public Transportation Revives Politicized Mandate Debate

Headline Roundup April 21st, 2022

The Biden administration's mask mandate for public transportation was reversed this week by a federal judge, but the administration will appeal to preserve it. What's the right move?

A district judge in Florida who was appointed by former President Donald Trump ruled this week that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exceeded its legal authority in maintaining the mandate. After several days of uncertainty and President Joe Biden's remark that whether people mask up on public transportation is "up to them," the Justice Department announced Wednesday that it would seek to overturn the judge's ruling and restore the mandate. Before the ruling, the mandate had recently been extended through May 3. All 50 states have lifted statewide mask mandates, but Philadelphia and other cities are reinstating them amid rising COVID-19 cases

Voices across the spectrum disagree about how necessary mask mandates are to keeping people safe from COVID-19. Many voices from left-rated media sources criticized the judge's understanding of public health law and framed the decision to lift mandates as premature and not based in science. One writer for CNN said the ruling is "particularly disastrous for older adults, the ill and the immunocompromised." Conversely, many voices from the right were critical of the mandate itself and framed the judge's decision to strike it down as a good thing. One Washington Examiner writer said the judge's decision was an example of the judiciary branch combatting "excessive government action."

From the Right
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OPINION

On Monday, a federal judge struck down the unpopular and ridiculous mask mandate for airplanes and other modes of public transportation .

Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida,  wrote that "the [mandate] exceeded the CDC’s statutory authority, improperly invoked the good cause exception to notice and comment rulemaking, and failed to adequately explain its decisions. Because 'our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends,' the Court declares unlawful and vacates the [mask mandate]."

Mizelle underscored the importance of the government following...

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From the Left
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OPINION

I absolutely hate wearing a mask on long flights. I'm also appalled that masks are no longer required for air travel and on other forms of public transit.

On Monday, a federal judge in Florida ruled that the Biden administration's public transportation mask mandate was unenforceable. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle held, overstepped its authority in issuing the directive requiring masks on airplanes and other forms of mass transit.

This decision is particularly disastrous for older adults, the ill and the immunocompromised, who still face...

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From the Center
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ANALYSIS

With the removal of the federal mask mandate on public transportation, whether and when to mask has become largely a personal choice. 

Changes in the trajectory and impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and shifts in messaging from authorities can make the decision harder.

Although much of the U.S. no longer requires people to wear masks in indoor public settings, there are still scenarios where wearing a mask could be beneficial, public-health and infectious-disease experts say. Factors that help determine whether you should consider masking include local Covid-19 levels, where you are going and your underlying health conditions, as well...

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