A federal judge on Monday struck down the Biden administration\u0026#039;s mask mandate for public transportation, which has required one to wear a protective face covering while waiting for and traveling on planes, trains, and buses.\r\n\r\n\u0022There should be a mandatory course in public health in our nation\u0026#039;s law schools.\u0022\r\n\r\nJudge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, appointed by former President Donald Trump to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, declared the public health order unlawful, writing that it exceeds the statutory authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and violates the procedures for agency rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act.\r\n\r\n\u0022There should be a mandatory course in public health in our nation\u0026#039;s law schools,\u0022 said Dr. Peter Hotez, part of the team behind a patent-free Covid-19 vaccine.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022Try explaining to your friends in other liberal democracies that a single unelected, life-tenured, 35-year-old judge just abolished the air travel mask mandate for the entire country,\u0022 tweeted journalist Mark Joseph Stern. \u0022No peer nation would tolerate such a power-drunk juristocracy. Our system is badly broken.\u0022\r\n\r\nIt remains unclear how quickly Mizelle\u0026#039;s ruling will take effect at airports, train stations, and bus depots nationwide or if the Department of Justice will attempt to appeal her decision, which stems from a lawsuit brought by the conservative group Health Freedom Defense Fund and a pair of Florida residents.\r\n\r\n\u0022A Trump-appointed judge is obstructing our pandemic response and putting the most vulnerable at risk,\u0022 Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) tweeted. \u0022Republicans already are blocking Covid relief, and now Trump\u0026#039;s failed legacy is risking the well-being of seniors, the immunocompromised, and people with disabilities.\u0022\r\n\r\nLaurie Garrett, author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance, wrote on social media that \u0022unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses this, virus prevention is in free fall.\u0022 The high court ruled 6-3 to void the Biden administration\u0026#039;s vaccine-or-test rule for large private employers at the height of the Omicron surge in January.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nJust last week, the CDC had extended\u0026nbsp;its now-vacated mask mandate for public transportation through May 3, pointing to the rising number of coronavirus infections driven by BA.2, an ultra-contagious Omicron subvariant.\r\n\r\nBefore the measure was invalidated by a lone right-wing judge, a progressive coalition called the People\u0026#039;s CDC urged the nation\u0026#039;s leading public health authority, the Transportation Security Administration, and the White House to \u0022prioritize the health of the people over the preferences of corporate executives, and extend the federal mask mandate for public transportation beyond May 3.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Although we welcome the CDC\u0026#039;s recent announcement to extend the mandate for two weeks, we strongly recommend that the mandate stays in place for longer, until there is a sustained period of low Covid transmission,\u0022 said the group, which includes scientists, healthcare workers, and public health practitioners. \u0022While the pandemic is ongoing and Covid continues to pose a threat, mask mandates are an essential policy that helps keep society open and accessible to everyone.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe coalition continued:\r\n\r\n\r\nMillions of Americans, including people of color, people with low incomes, and people with disabilities or who are immunocompromised, rely on public transportation as their only way to get to work, or access healthcare and other essential services. At a time when Covid rates are increasing or remain high in many places, dropping the mask mandate for public transportation will further shift the burden of risk to the communities who are already most impacted by Covid. People should not have to face the impossible choice between accessing the services they need to survive, or risk contracting a virus that can cause serious illness.\r\n\r\nHigh-quality masks such as N95, KN95, and KF94, when worn correctly, are very effective at preventing Covid transmission in enclosed environments such as buses, trains, and airplanes. While high-quality masks offer some protection to individual wearers, universal masking is the most effective way to protect everyone from infection, including those at higher-risk, transit workers, and children too young to be vaccinated.\r\n\r\nThe majority of Americans support masking, and as Covid rates rise around the country due to the BA.2 Omicron variant, it is critical that decision-makers renew or reinstate mask mandates, and ensure that high-quality masks are made free and accessible to all.\r\n\r\n\r\nCovid-19 killed more than 3,100 people in the U.S. last week. The nation\u0026#039;s official Covid-19 death toll is approaching one million—nearly one-sixth of the world\u0026#039;s 6.2 million deaths and counting from the disease. Epidemiologists estimate that the pandemic has contributed to upwards of 20 million excess deaths overall.\r\n\r\nThis piece has been updated with comment from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).