Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a US District Judge in Florida, has struck down the CDC mask mandate for public transportation, including planes and trains.
The judge’s order said the mandate was unlawful because it exceeded the statutory authority of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and because its implementation violated administrative law.
The order comes less than a week after the CDC reaffirmed the mandate extending it until at least May 3.
CDC said at the time it 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. Since early April, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of cases in the U.S. The CDC Mask Order remains in effect while CDC assesses the potential impact of the rise of cases on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity.
On April 13, the CDC also said it would update its Travel Health Notice system for international destinations. To help the public understand when the highest level of concern is most urgent, this new system will reserve Level 4 travel health notices for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse. Levels 3, 2, and 1 will continue to be primarily determined by 28-day incidence or case counts. The judge’s order coincidentally comes the same day the CDC said its new travel notice system would go into effect.
Jen Psaki, White House spokesperson, said the decision was "disappointing."