According to the White House, Monday’s federal court decision to void the Biden administration’s mask mandate for travelers on public transportation like trains and planes was “obviously a disappointed decision” given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommended that passengers wear face covers.
Monday’s ruling by a federal judge invalidated the CDC transportation mask mandate of the Biden administration. This mandate applies to children as young as two years old and was set to expire a few times. Before Monday’s ruling, the order was extended to May 3.
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, stated Monday that the CDC had recommended that the order be extended for an additional two weeks in order to evaluate the latest science and to ensure the protection of the American people. “The CDC recommends wearing a mask when taking public transit.”
Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, U.S. District Judge, ruled in a case brought against the administration by Health Freedom Defense Fund, Inc., frequent air traveler Ana Daza, and Sarah Pope.
Judge Mizelle ruled that the mandate violated Administrative Procedure Act because it was outside the scope of CDC’s authority. It was also “arbitrary” as well as “capricious”, and did not go through the comment period and notice required for federal rulemaking.
It remains to see if the administration will appeal this decision.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Psaki Monday during the press briefing, “Why is that we can sit here at the White House briefing Room with no masks but people cannot sit in an aircraft cabin with no masks?”
Psaki replied by citing the CDC’s yellow, green and red mask guidance to help determine what precautions to take based upon specific COVID-19 communities. She explained that Washington, D.C. is a “green area” so it is not recommended that masks are worn.
White House press secretary stated that Biden administration was “reviewing” the decision and that the Justice Department would “make any determinations regarding litigation.”
Psaki stated that the administration had granted a two-week extension for “look at the data” and to make recommendations, based on science and data, regarding whether the order should be continued.
Due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, the CDC extended the mandate by 15 days last week. In March, the Biden administration had extended the federal mask mandate from April 18 to April 18.
Kristen Nordlund, spokesperson for CDC, stated that the CDC is continuing to monitor the spread Omicron variant. She also mentioned that the BA.2 subvariant now accounts for more than 85% of U.S. Omicron cases. The 7-day moving mean of U.S. cases has increased since April. The CDC Order will continue to be in effect until further notice. This is done to evaluate the possible impact of the increase in cases on severe diseases, such as hospitalizations, deaths and capacity for health care systems. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has extended the emergency amendment and security directive for an additional 15 days, until May 3, 2022.
Even though all 50 states announced plans to eliminate mask mandates, the federal travel mask mandate has not been repealed.