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masked travelers

Although a federal judge in Florida voided the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation, some travelers at Los Angeles International Airport were still wearing their face coverings on April 18, 2022. (Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images)

DOJ Files Appeal to Revive Travel Mask Mandate

The CDC, which requested the move, said that "at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health."

Jessica Corbett

The Biden administration on Wednesday appealed a federal judge's ruling that struck down a mask mandate for public transportation.

After a Florida-based judge appointed by former President Donald Trump killed the mask mandate on Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said Tuesday that it would appeal the decision if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined the policy was still necessary given the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the face of mounting pressure from public health experts and advocates, the CDC requested the appeal, saying in a statement that "at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health."

"CDC will continue to monitor public health conditions to determine whether such an order remains necessary," the statement continued, adding that the federal agency "believes this is a lawful order, well within CDC's legal authority to protect public health."

Citing the CDC's assessment, Anthony Coley, a DOJ spokesperson, confirmed on Twitter that the department filed a notice of appeal.

Scientist Lucky Tran said that he is "glad the CDC is at least doing the bare minimum and appealing the ridiculous court decision to overturn the transportation mask mandate!"

Groups including People's CDC—of which Tran is a member—and Marked by Covid had called on the Biden administration to fight the right-wing judge's ruling.

Marked by Covid noted that Wednesday's filing does not include a request for an emergency stay that would reimpose the mandate until a decision is made by a higher court.

In addition to announcing the request that DOJ appeal Monday's ruling, the CDC reiterated Wednesday that it "continues to recommend that people wear masks in all indoor public transportation settings."

"As we have said before, wearing masks is most beneficial in crowded or poorly ventilated locations, such as the transportation corridor," the agency added. "When people wear a well-fitting mask or respirator over their nose and mouth in indoor travel or public transportation settings, they protect themselves, and those around them, including those who are immunocompromised or not yet vaccine-eligible, and help keep travel and public transportation safer for everyone."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told CNN+'s Chris Wallace Wednesday night that the appeal is important "to ensure the CDC's authority and ability to put in mandates" for future crises.

"We know there's going to be ups and downs in this pandemic, we're all ready for it to be over," she added. "But we want to ensure that our public health experts are able to take steps, if needed, in the future."

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