On Monday, a federal judge in Florida overturned the Biden administration’s mask mandate on planes and other public transit. Almost immediately, all the major airlines, as well as Amtrak, Uber and Lyft, began relaxing their mask requirements. And some cities, institutions, businesses and others have kept mask mandates in place.
US health officials still recommend wearing masks on public transportation. And there’s no evidence that this judge has any expertise in public health policy or virology. Hence the confusion.
Masks are one of the few pandemic protocols that had the dual advantage of being both easy to enforce and highly effective at stopping the spread of Covid-19. The timing: People are going back to the office even as the highly contagious Ba2 subvariant is coursing through communities. The summer travel season is just getting started, and we just lost a crucial barrier between ourselves and the virus that’s killed nearly 1 million people in the US alone.
The judge: Now let’s look at the bizarre reasoning given by US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Trump appointee whom the American Bar Association deemed unqualified for her role because she lacked experience.
- In her ruling, Mizelle said the CDC’s argument for imposing the mandate falls short because it doesn’t count as “sanitation” under the 1944 law the government relied on.
- “Wearing a mask cleans nothing. At most, it traps virus droplets. But it neither ‘sanitizes’ the person wearing the mask nor ‘sanitizes’ the conveyance,” Mizelle wrote.
- To which I have to say, respectfully: Your honor, no one has ever claimed masks sanitize your face. What are you talking about?
Legal experts were quick to criticize her ruling. “Her opinion is a shambles,” tweeted Laurence Tribe, a Harvard constitutional law professor, who also noted Mizelle made the call without hearing a word of oral arguments in the case.
But even putting politics and legalese to the side, none of it changes the fact that she went to law school, not medical school. She’s not an elected official, and yet she can upend an entire country’s pandemic protocol single-handedly. What !!!!
All this in the face of a 10% increase in subvarient cases across the country.
(summarized from a CNN article of 4/20/2022)
***** S&E *****
66% of the population are considered fully vaccinated. Experts estimated early on that we would need between 70% and 85% of people to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.