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Justice Dept. Inexplicably Appeals Court Ruling on Masks

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On Wednesday, the US Justice Dept. filed an appeal to reverse a federal judge’s order junking the travel mask mandate.

Earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requested Justice appeal the decision, saying that masking “remains necessary for the public health.”

RELATED: New COVID Rules On International Travelers Will Start Monday

Justice Dept. Appeals Court Ruling

Department of Justice building sign with an American flag behind it | Justice Dept Appeals Court Ruling 

The Justice Dept. said last Tuesday that it will appeal the ruling made by US District judge Kathryn Kimball if the CDC requests it.

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She voided the federal order mandating masks on all public transportation. However, the CDC insists that Americans should still wear masks on all indoor public transportation.

The agency’s number one priority is “protecting the public health of our nation”. It reiterated that “wearing masks is most beneficial in crowded or poorly ventilated locations, such as the transportation corridor.”

Upon filing the appeal, Justice Dept. spokesman Anthony Coley issued a statement Wednesday. He said that upon receiving the CDC’s assessment that masking remains necessary, the DOJ will file a notice of appeal. 

Airlines Immediately Dropped Mask Mandates

Almost immediately after Judge Kimball issued her ruling, airlines began announcing that mask wearing is now optional during flights. The mask mandate on transportation was set to expire on April 18.

However, Kimball’s decision prevented the CDC from extending the order until mid-May. Reportedly, this extension will give time for researchers to learn more about current COVID developments. 

However, not all states or local areas responded positively to the court’s ruling. New York City and Philadelphia still maintain rules that require masks in airports and public transportation.

In contrast, hubs like Houston and Atlanta immediately relaxed the mask rule. Following major airlines’ decision to drop the mandate, Amtrak also made masks optional in trains and stations. 

Even President Joe Biden waded in on the issue. When asked if people should still wear masks inside airplanes, Biden said “That’s up to them.”

Is a Cautious Approach Necessary?

Some private health experts agreed with the Justice Dept’s appeal despite many Americans welcoming dropping the mask mandate.

Dr. Céline Gounder, Kaiser Health News infectious disease expert, said that the CDC’s extension is the “appropriate” and “cautious” approach.

“We know that this virus mutates. In fact, it’s mutating very rapidly. We will see more variants, and we will see other pandemics after COVID. So I do think the idea of stripping ourselves of an essential tool and toolbox is a really bad idea,” she said. 

However, concerns over coronavirus infections seem to be waning for most Americans. Worries over COVID-19 are among their lowest points of the past two years.

In a recent survey, only 20% of respondents say that they’re very or extremely worried over COVID infections.

In March, that percentage was 25%, and 36% last December. Another 33% say they are somewhat worried. Meanwhile, 48% say they’re not worried at all.

Watch the NBC News reporting that the Justice Dept. appealed after the travel mask mandate was overturned:

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