The Department of Justice is appealing a court decision that reinstated the Biden administration’s mask requirement on aircraft, trains, and other forms of public transportation, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the facial coverings were still required for interior travel.
On Wednesday, the CDC requested the Department of Justice to appeal the verdict in order to defend both Americans’ health and the CDC’s authority.
The decision came after two tense days in the White House, during which officials assessed the political dangers of keeping a popular but divisive travel mask mandate in the face of mounting Covid-19 cases, as well as the threat the verdict posed to the CDC’s ability to issue future mandates.
According to the CDC, despite more than 37,000 new cases per day, up 45 percent from earlier in the month, hospitalizations have stayed steady in that time.
A Florida district court judge issued an injunction against the demand on Monday, stating that the agency cannot require travelers to wear masks. The Trump-appointed judge objected to the agency’s categorization of masks as a form of sanitation, claiming that requiring individuals to wear them was beyond its power.
Despite polling showing that a majority of Americans support a mask mandate on public transportation, the verdict triggered a wave of statements by airlines, public transit networks, and other transportation firms that they would no longer require passengers to wear masks.
It also alarmed public health and legal experts, who fear that the agency’s authority over public health choices may be weakened.
The injunction is still in effect for the time being. According to a department official, the DOJ filed a notice of appeal with the Florida court on Wednesday, and could urge the court to stay the judge’s order while the matter is being heard.
Despite an increase in cases, the CDC’s current evaluation of Covid-19 community levels in 94 percent of the country is low.
The CDC said it will continue to evaluate public health circumstances to see if the mask rule is still necessary, adding that people should continue to wear masks on public transportation inside.