CDC Assessing Whether a Mask Mandate Is Still Needed After Ruling

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is trying to determine whether a mask mandate on airplanes and other modes of other transportation is still needed after a federal judge ruled the mandate violated federal law, the agency told The Epoch Times.

“CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in all indoor public transportation settings. We will continue to assess the need for a mask requirement in those settings, based on several factors, including the U.S. COVID-19 community levels, risk of circulating and novel variants, and trends in cases and disease severity,” a CDC spokeswoman said in an email on April 20.

Asked whether the agency has a timeline for making the assessment, the spokeswoman said she had no further information at this time.

“Expect to hear from the CDC soon,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters later Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Trump appointee, ruled on Monday that the CDC’s mandate was unlawful in part because the agency has not been conferred with the authority by Congress to issue such a mandate.

Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesman Anthony Coley said after the ruling that both the agency and the CDC “disagree with the district court’s decision and will appeal, subject to CDC’s conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health.”

President Joe Biden’s administration believes the mandate was “a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health,” Coley said, adding that if the CDC concludes the mandate remains necessary to protect public health after conducting its assessment, the DOJ will appeal Mizelle’s decision.

The Health Freedom Defense Fund, the lead plaintiff in the case brought against the mandate, said that if there were a public health emergency with clear science supporting the mandate, then it would warrant an immediate appeal.

The group “is left with no option but to conclude that the mask mandate is really a political matter and not at all about urgent public health issues or the demands of sound science,” it said in a statement, adding that it is confident the ruling will stand if appealed.

Mizelle said the CDC violated the Administrative Procedure Act because it didn’t give notice or allow public comment before imposing the mask mandate in February 2021 and that the Public Health Services Act of 1944 does not give the agency the ability to impose a mask mandate.

Prior to the ruling, the CDC had extended the mandate to May 3 ahead of its scheduled April 18 expiration, citing the rise of the BA.2 subvariant.

BA.2 is a subvariant of Omicron, a variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. Also known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus causes COVID-19.

“In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC order will remain in place at this time,” the agency said in a statement at the time.

Nick Ciolino contributed to this report.

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Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
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