Florida judge overturns CDC mask mandate for public transit, planes

Florida judge overturns CDC mask mandate for public transit, planes

Travelers make their way through the Miami International Airport before starting the Labor Day weekend on September 03, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

A federal judge in Florida on Monday vacated the Biden administration’s national mask mandate for planes and other forms of public transportation, arguing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had overstepped its authority.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said the CDC had failed to adequately explain its decisions and violated procedures for federal agencies to issue rules. Mizelle was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2020.

The court’s ruling comes less than a week after the CDC extended the mandate for 15 days, amid a rise in Covid infections nationwide due to the more contagious omicron BA.2 subvariant. The U.S. reported a seven-day average of nearly 35,000 new infections as of Friday, a 36% increase over the past two weeks, according to data from the CDC.

While state and local authorities across the country have lifted mask mandates, the CDC decided last week to keep the federal requirements for public transportation in place through May 3. The agency said it needed time to assess whether the rise of infections will have an impact on hospital capacity.

The CDC recently changed the metrics that underpin its public health recommendations, placing a greater emphasis on hospitalizations rather than relying mostly on infections. Under the CDC’s current guidance, most Americans live in areas where they no longer need to wear masks indoors.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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