Update: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made its decision about a federal judge's ruling against mask mandates for public transit, including airplanes. "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 agency announced Wednesday. The Justice Department was waiting for the CDC decision, so an appeal of the ruling will now proceed, USA Today reports. Our story from Tuesday follows:
The Justice Department said Tuesday it will appeal a federal district judge’s ruling that ended the nation’s federal mask mandate on public transit if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the requirement is still necessary. In a statement released a day after a Florida judge ended the sweeping mandate, which required face coverings on planes and trains and in transit hubs, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said officials believe that the federal mask order was "a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health," the AP reports. He said it was "an important authority the Department will continue to work to preserve."
Coley said the CDC had said it would continue to assess public health conditions, and if the agency determined a mandate was necessary for public health, the Justice Department would file an appeal. As of Tuesday, the agency hadn’t made a determination, officials said. The federal judge's ruling did away with the last major vestige of federal pandemic rules and led to a mishmash of new locally created rules that reflected the nation’s ongoing divisions over how to battle the virus. Major airlines and airports in places like Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City quickly switched to a mask-optional policy
New York City, Chicago, and Connecticut, however, continued to require masks for travelers. The ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber announced on their websites Tuesday that masks will now be optional while riding or driving. President Biden went all-in on flexibility Tuesday when asked if Americans should mask up on planes. "That’s up to them," Biden declared during a visit to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. But the White House continues to require face coverings for those traveling with him on Air Force One, citing CDC guidance.
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