Federal judge throws out CDC transportation mask mandate

Mask signs were up at Kahului Airport on Maui over the weekend. It is unclear how airports will respond to the ruling and if it will be challenged. File photo Kehaulani Cerizo

A federal judge in Florida has reportedly struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask mandate.

US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle declared unlawful and vacated the mask mandate in an order handed down today in Tampa, Florida, according to court documents published on CNN and other media platforms.

The plaintiffs in the case were the Health Freedom Defense Fund, Inc., Ana Carolina Daza, and Sarah Pope. The case was filed against President Joseph Biden Jr. in his capacity as President of the United States.

According to the ruling, the court concluded that “the mask mandate exceeds the CDC’ statutory authority and violates he procedures required for agency rule making under the Administrative Procedure Act.”

The court notes that the rule was implemented without allowing public participation and comment procedures.

It is unclear how airports and other transportation hubs will respond to the ruling. Over the weekend, signs like the one posted above were visible in walkways around the Kahului Airport.

The rule was implemented on Feb. 3, 2021, and required the wearing of masks in airports, train stations, and other transportation hubs, as well as on many public transportation options. It was extended last week to May 3 by the CDC.

Upon extending the mandate, the CDC said it was assessing the potential impact of the rise of cases on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity.

In a press release announcing the extension, the CDC said the agency continues to monitor the spread of the Omicron variant, “especially the BA.2 subvariant that now makes up more than 85% of U.S. cases.” The agency noted that since early April, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of cases in the US.

At the time, the TSA was tasked with extending the security directive.

The latest Hawaiʻi data for COVID-19 was released on Wednesday. In Maui County, the seven day average for new daily cases is now 14. The countyʻs test positivity rate is 3.4%, and the statewide positivity rate is now 4.9%.

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