As the Biden administration contemplates its options in the wake of a judge’s ruling ending mask mandates for federally-regulated travel, a new poll shows that a majority of Americans would likely have supported keeping masking rules in place, at least through May.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently extended a mask mandate on travel — including on buses, trains and planes — until May 3. However, this week’s ruling by Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, Florida U.S. district judge, was made earlier. These rules were abruptly canceledThese were deemed invalid and inconsistent with the laws defining regulatory powers for the CDC.
In response to the ruling several major airlines have already relaxed their rules on maskingThis made it mandatory that passengers don’t have to wear masks. Many legal experts doubt the soundness of Mizelle’s arguments in her ruling. the judge took statutory terminology out of contextWhen she made her decision. The Department of Justice (DOJ), has stated that it will soon decide whether to appeal Mizelle’s rulingYou may appeal to a higher court.
That decision will rest on the CDC’s opinion on whether masking rules are needed, the Justice Department said. In other words, if the CDC thinks the mandate can be allowed to expire — if it believes, for example, that it’s close enough to the original May 3 deadline, and that there wasn’t a high likelihood it would have needed to issue another extension — the DOJ may not appeal the decision at all.
However, the decision not to appeal could set a dangerous precedent in how the U.S. will respond to future pandemics based on the unusual interpretation Mizelle gave in her ruling.
Recent polling has shown that the majority of Americans support travel mandates that are not mandatory for masks.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted just before Mizelle’s ruling was issued asked respondents to give their opinion on the CDC’s decision to extend the mask mandate for travel to May 3. Nearly 6 out 10 Americans (59%) said they supported the decision, while only 32% said they disagreed.
In a separate question on the subject, 49 percent of respondents said that it was “too early” to end any rules on masks for travel — outweighing the combined 43 percent of respondents who said it’s the right time to end the mandate, that the mandate should have already ended, or that it never should have been in place to begin with.
Many are clamoring for the Biden administration to appeal Mizelle’s ruling, particularly due to the way she was appointed to her position. A former President Donald Trump appointee Mizelle was deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association for her lack of experience, but was approved by the then-Republican-controlled Senate to her post. While Mizelle has worked for several judges, she has never been a judge herself. (Mizelle’s only trial experience, prior to becoming a judge, was as an intern.)
Her decision to end the mask mandate for travel comes as the coronavirus pandemic — particularly the BA.2 subvariant — continues to pose a threat to the U.S. and the world. More than 400 individuals in the country are dying each dayThis is an average number and the recorded COVID cases have increased by 47 percent in the past two weeks. This suggests that this number will continue to rise.
Since the pandemic began, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of nearly 990,000. More than 80,000,000 cases have been reported since March 2020.