Justice Department appeals Florida ruling ending masks on public transportation

At the CDC's request, the Justice Department on April 20 appealed a ruling from a federal judge in Florida that voided the nation's mask mandate for travelers taking public transportation, including airplanes and trains. 

After the April 18 ruling from Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, many of the nation's major airlines announced they were dropping their mask rules. 

"It is CDC's continuing assessment that at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health," the agency said April 20. "CDC believes this is a lawful order, well within CDC's legal authority to protect public health."

The CDC's statement added "wearing masks is most beneficial in crowded or poorly ventilated locations, such as the transportation corridor." 

The CDC's recommendation to appeal the ruling aims to both keep the mandate in place and protect the CDC's authority in future outbreaks. The appeal comes with risks for the agency: If Ms. Mizelle's ruling is ultimately upheld, it could permanently weaken the CDC's authority to impose such mandates in the future. 

The legal moves come as nationwide COVID-19 cases rise. The U.S. daily average for new cases on April 20 was 43,357, a 49 percent increase over the last 14 days, data from The New York Times shows. 


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