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Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Florida federal judge who struck down the CDC‘s mask mandate for public transportation to stay in her own lane – adding that he thinks the CDC should make the decision rather than ‘a judge with no experience in public health.’
‘The CDC has the capability, through a large number of trained epidemiologists, scientists, to be able to make projects and make recommendations,’ the White House chief medical adviser said in a Thursday interview with CBS News.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, struck down the Biden administration policy on Monday.
New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin harshly criticized Fauci’s comments on The Ingraham Angle Sunday night, referring to the longtime White House COVID-19 adviser derisively as ‘Lord Fauci.’
‘Lord Fauci thinking that he has higher power than the legal system [is a] very slippery slope,’ he said.
‘In the name of a public health emergency, this type of an awesome power that he wants to claim going forward can end up going even further than what we witnessed for the last two years.’
In Judge Mizelle’s 59-page ruling, she suggested that the mandate – in which non-complying travelers are ‘forcibly removed from their airplane seats, denied board at the bus steps, and turned away at the train station doors’ – was akin to ‘detention and quarantine,’ CNN reported.
Mizelle said the only remedy was to vacate the rule entirely because it would be impossible to end it for the limited group of people who objected to it in the lawsuit.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci (left) said in a CBS interview that the Centers for Disease Control should have the final say in whether mask mandates are maintained on public transportation
Fauci also said that U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who struck down the federal mandate, had ‘no experience in public health’
New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin harshly criticized Fauci’s comments on The Ingraham Angle Sunday night, referring to the longtime White House COVID-19 adviser derisively as ‘Lord Fauci’
Judge Mizelle wrote in her decision that the mandate – in which non-complying travelers are ‘forcibly removed from their airplane seats’ — was akin to ‘detention and quarantine. Travelers are pictured at the Miami International Airport on Friday
The judge said ‘a limited remedy would be no remedy at all’ and that the courts have full authority to make a decision such as this — even if the goals of the CDC in fighting the virus are laudable.
‘Because our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends, the court declares unlawful and vacates the mask mandate,’ she wrote.
The Department of Justice filed a notice that it will appeal her ruling at the urging of the CDC.
‘The Department continues to believe that the order requiring masking in the transportation corridor is a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health,’ the DOJ wrote in a Tuesday statement.
‘That is an important authority the Department will continue to work to preserve.’
President Biden left for New Hampshire Tuesday wearing a mask as he boarded Air Force One. The White House has told officials and journalists to wear masks aboard the flight the day after a federal judge in Florida struck down the national mask mandate on planes
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the ruling a ‘disappointing decision’ during her briefing Monday afternoon and advised Americans to continue wearing masks on public transport
The announcement of a potential appeal comes after a string of U.S. airlines have already told passengers that masks are optional.
The mandate had been due to expire on Monday before the CDC said it was extending the rule until May 3 to allow for the study of the BA.2 omicron variant which is causing the majority of cases across the nation.
During his appearance, Fauci also told correspondent Robert Costa that the variant, which emerged in March, did not ‘appear to be associated with an increase in hospitalizations and severe disease.’
‘It’s obvious to everyone we’re seeing that infections are on the rise. Whether or not that will result in an increase in hospitalizations, we don’t know. We hope not,’ he told CBS News.
He said that he had urged Biden to follow CDC recommendations and mask up while traveling – anyone who traveled with the President to New Hampshire on Tuesday was also instructed to do so.
Fauci said that he, personally, will wear an N-95 mask in transit – but that Americans will have to assess the risk and ‘have to make their own individual choice.’
‘There are going to be plenty of people who are 25 years old, healthy and say, “No, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t like the discomfort of a mask,”‘ he said.
On Tuesday, Biden offered his own interpretation of the CDC recommendations when he was asked at the airport in New Hampshire whether passengers should continue to wear masks.
‘That’s up to them,’ he said.
Fauci said that he, personally, will wear an N-95 mask in transit – but that Americans will have to assess the risk and ‘have to make their own individual choice.’ Travellers are pictured in the Miami International Airport on Friday, some wearing masks and others opting out
But White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre contradicted the president’s statement, saying that ‘as the CDC recommends, the president thinks you should mask right now, especially as they learn more about BA.2.’
Although he said he still had a ‘very, very good relationship’ with Biden, one that existed ‘long before he was president of the United States,’ he hinted at an upcoming retirement.
‘I’ve always said we’ve got to get this thing under control. I’m obviously 81 years old, at the point in my career where I’m going to have to sit down at some time,’ he told Costa.
‘But I would want it to be when get get this under better control. And we may be coming to that point right now. We may be closer to that now.’
Fauci also recalled ‘uncomfortable’ moments and ‘tough times’ when he worked under former President Donald Trump when he had to publicly contradict the administration and its top officials on COVID matters.
‘I did not like that. I do not like having to do that,’ he said. ‘I am very respectful of the presidency. But I never said to myself, “I want to walk away from it.”‘
Following Judge Mizelle’s ruling, Ohio Republican Congressman tweeted that ‘Fauci Lost. Freedom Won.’ Ahead of upcoming midterm elections, North Carolina Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn renewed his criticism of Fauci ahead of midterm elections by repeatedly calling for the official to be fired or jailed.
Fauci lamented to Costa how political divisiveness has impeded the country’s response to the pandemic.
‘When you have a common enemy in the virus, you’ve got to all pull together, fight that common enemy. And the degree of profound divisiveness in the country has really hindered that,’ he said.
WHAT THE END OF THE MASK MANDATE ACTUALLY MEANS
Several air carriers welcomed the move to drop mask mandates on Monday.
The airlines have issued the following statements about their policies.
‘Face masks have been like boarding passes for nearly two years – you couldn’t fly without one. But, as of today, masks are optional in airports and onboard aircraft, effective immediately.
‘While we are glad this means many of us get to see your smiling faces, we understand some might have mixed feelings. Please remember to be kind to one another and that wearing a mask while traveling is still an option.’
‘Face masks will no longer be required for our customers and team members at U.S. airports and on domestic flights.
‘Please note face masks may still be required based on local ordinances, or when traveling to/from certain international locations based on country requirements.’
Delta Air Lines
‘Effective immediately, masks are optional for all airport employees, crew members and customers inside U.S. airports and onboard aircraft.’
‘We are relieved to see the U.S. mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus. Thank you for your support in complying with the federal mask mandate and keeping each other, and our customers, safe during the pandemic.’
‘Effective immediately, masks are no longer required at United on domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country’s mask requirements) or at U.S. airports.
‘While this means that our employees are no longer required to wear a mask – and no longer have to enforce a mask requirement for most of the flying public – they will be able to wear masks if they choose to do so, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transit.’
‘Mask wearing will now be optional on JetBlue. While no longer required, customers and crew members are welcome to continue wearing masks in our terminals and on board our aircraft.’
‘Masks are now optional on domestic flights, however, certain airports or countries may still require masks, so check the policy at your destination prior to departure and we’ll see you in the sky.’
‘Southwest employees and customers will be able to choose whether they would like to wear a mask, and we encourage individuals to make the best decision to support their personal wellbeing.’
TSA no longer requires face masks on public transportation and in transportation hubs.
Several major airports – including Denver, Seattle-Tacoma, Raleigh-Durham, Miami, Portland and all three DC area airports – have confirmed that they will no longer be enforcing mask requirements.
Most airports seem to be following the new ruling, however, San Francisco has said it ‘will continue to comply with the current TSA security directive on masks until we hear otherwise from TSA.’
Chicago’s O’Hare airport also said Tuesday it was keeping its mask mandates in place, citing an Illinois executive order requiring face coverings.
‘The safety and security of passengers and employees is the highest priority for the Chicago Department of Aviation. The CDA will continue to follow, observe and enforce all guidance by federal, state and local health and security authorities.’
It is unclear if NYC’s two airports are continuing to impose the rule, although travelers on social media have suggested that the rule is no longer in place.
Passengers should check the local requirements at their departure and arrival airports before traveling as requirements may vary.
The US has dropped mask mandates for all trains nationwide.
In wake of Monday’s ruling, national train line Amtrak relaxed mask restrictions effective immediately.
Amtrak said in a statement that ‘masks are welcome and remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19. Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so.’
Uber has made face masks optional for drivers and riders across the US.
The ride hailing app said in a statement Tuesday morning: ‘As of April 19, 2022, riders and drivers are not required to wear masks when using Uber.
‘However, the CDC still recommends wearing a mask if you have certain personal risk factors and/or high transmission levels in your area.
‘Remember: many people still feel safer wearing a mask because of personal or family health situations, so please be respectful of their preferences. And if you ever feel uncomfortable, you can always cancel the trip.’
Uber is the first ride share company to rescind its mask mandate.
Lyft also rescinded its mask policy, saying: ‘We know that everyone has different comfort levels, and anyone who wants to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so. As always, drivers or riders can decline to accept or cancel any ride they don’t wish to take.’
Megabus announced Tuesday that masks will no longer be required for drivers or passengers across the US.
‘The CDC still recommends wearing a mask while on public transit and we encourage customers to make the choice that makes sense for them.
‘Please be mindful that masks may still be required while traveling through the bus stations we serve. We are extremely thankful for everything our employees and customers did to keep each other safe over the course of the pandemic.
Nationwide bus carrier Greyhound has also rescinded its mask mandate, saying: ‘Face masks on all our buses and facilities is optional.
Greyhound will require masks on cross border trips until Canada and Mexico remove their requirements. They will also be required if mandated by local municipalities.
Local transit authorities in several major cities, including DC, have already lifted restrictions.
However, some cities, such as NYC, have opted to keep their mask mandates in place, following CDC guidance and local ordinances.
Travelers should check with their local bus system before boarding without a face covering.
Source: Daily Mail