US District Court Judge Kathryn Kimble Mizelle, a Donald Trump appointee, has ruled that the CDC exceeded its authority in implementing the mask mandate in airports and on flights. It includes other transportation as well, but in NYC for example, Mayor Adams said that masks will still be required on trains and busses. What this did essentially, is eliminate the mask mandate, despite the ensuing confusion. Immediately following the ruling, the major airlines including American, Delta, and United, said they would no longer enforce the mandate on flights. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) followed but saying that the mandate would no longer be enforced in airport terminals.
The Biden administration must now decide whether to challenge the ruling. This is not an easy decision as there are many ways to look at the mask mandate. It’s an important political issue. The people who support it, are already devoted democrats. Those on the right, have never supported the mandate. But swing voters are where Democrats might win support if he doesn’t challenge the ruling. Biden now has an out. He can say that he’s for the mask mandate, but a judge has ruled, and his administration won’t challenge, what essentially is very unpopular, two plus years after the start of the pandemic. While a challenge may be forthcoming, with the CDC scheduled to revisit the policy in early May, his administration may leave well enough alone.
The mask mandate has been very contentious from the beginning but more so presently, than earlier in the pandemic. We now know that if a person is fully vaccinated and boosted, the odds are greatly in their favor that even if they test positive for Covid, they won’t be hospitalized, and certainly won’t die. That should have been the measure of when mandates end. It doesn’t mean that the elderly and those with compromised immunity are safe but there are a host of other illnesses that can hospitalize or kill as well. That’s the way life works. We will all eventually get sick and die if we live long enough. During the pandemic it was as if nothing else could kill. We will never know how many people got sick or died from illnesses other than Covid because they didn’t receive the test or treatment, they needed to save their lives.
Early on, when people feared for their safety, and prior to vaccines and boosters, it was easier and even made sense for most people to accept the mask mandate. This ruling doesn’t prevent those who feel more comfortable wearing a mask, from doing so. It’s now a personal choice, as it should be. No one is forced to walk through an airport or to fly on an airplane. The best N95 masks do a great job of preventing transmission even if another person isn’t masked. Let’s respect people’s spaces and personal choices. It’s time for healing and understanding to replace and anger and indignation.