President Joe Biden’s administration is poised to appeal a federal judge’s ruling striking down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) mask mandate for public transportation.
District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of Florida’s middle district issued the ruling on Monday afternoon. By Monday evening, an administration official conceded that masking for public transportation “is not in effect at this time.” The official, however, also noted that “agencies are reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps,” indicating an appeal was not off the table.
“The Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) disagree with the district court’s decision and will appeal, subject to CDC’s conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) subsequently announced Tuesday evening.
“If CDC concludes that a mandatory order remains necessary for the public’s health after that assessment, the Department of Justice will appeal the district court’s decision,” the DOJ statement added.
New Statement on Mask Mandate Ruling pic.twitter.com/SwYHIqTG2e
— Anthony Coley (@AnthonyColeyDOJ) April 19, 2022
While the DOJ noted a caveat to the pending appeal – it’s subject to the CDC’s recommendation “that the order remains necessary” – the CDC has so far kept its recommendation of masking on public transport.
The CDC also announced on April 13, days before the federal judge’s ruling, that its mask mandate for public transportation would remain in place while it assessed “the potential impact of the rise of cases on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity.”
The Biden administration’s public transportation masking order was one of the last restrictions remaining from the COVID-19 global pandemic. The directive recently sparked backlash from several major airlines. (RELATED: The Biden Administration Is Ignoring The Science On Airplane Masking)
As news of the federal judge’s ruling broke, multiple major airlines and public transportation services announced they would no longer require masks.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, asked about the news during a press briefing, said Tuesday that “the CDC continues to advise and recommends masks on airplanes.” Psaki made clear that the administration would be both “abiding by the CDC recommendations” and advising “all Americans” to do the same.
Just moments later, however, Biden offered up a slightly different view on the subject when he was asked whether people should still wear masks on planes in light of the ruling.
“That’s up to them,” Biden responded.