Justice Department seeks return of transportation mask mandate: 4 COVID-19 updates

The Justice Department on May 31 asked a federal appeals court to reverse a ruling from a federal judge in Florida that voided the nation's mask mandate on public transportation, including airplanes and airports, NPR reports. 

Many of the nation's major airlines dropped their mask requirements after the April 18 ruling by Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizell, which left it up to individual airlines and local transit agencies to decide whether to keep or drop mask requirements. The CDC continues to recommend masking up "in crowded or poorly ventilated locations, such as the transportation corridor." 

The Justice Department's request came hours before an appeals court filing deadline. The document filed in the 11th US. Circuit Court of Appeals argues that the mask order issued in January 2021 "falls easily within the CDC's statutory authority." 

The CDC did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter, according to NPR

Three more COVID-19 updates: 

1. CDC data shows COVID-19 cases on May 31 were nearly six times higher than last Memorial Day, ABC News reported. The daily average for new cases in the U.S. was 109,105 on May 30, according to federal data collected by The New York Times. Experts say case counts are likely higher than reported due to a number of factors, including the rise in at-home testing and a decline in testing overall.

2. A highly contagious sublineage of the BA.2 omicron variant — BA.2.12.1 — accounted for 59.1 percent of cases for the week ending May 28, according to the CDC's latest variant proportion estimates. Previous estimates indicate the strain became dominant the week ending May 21. The CDC estimates BA.2 now accounts for around 35 percent of cases. 

3. Cases in New York City are leveling off, indicating the latest surge is slowing, ABC News reported May 31. New York City reported a seven-day rolling average of 3,312 cases May 24, marking the lowest average in two weeks, according to an ABC News analysis of city data. The daily average for hospitalizations also dropped 15.4 percent, from 84 to 71, on May 24. 


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