After a federal judge in Florida struck down the federal mask mandate for public transportation on April 18, face masks are no longer required on airplanes, buses, subways, and trains.
However, two days later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked the Justice Department to appeal the court’s decision.
This will unlikely have an immediate effect because the Transportation Security Administration is not expected to enforce the CDC’s mask order while the ruling is reviewed.
This leaves people free to decide whether to wear a mask while on public transit, except in areas like Los Angeles County that still require them in indoor public spaces.
Healthline asked several experts what they think of the end of the CDC’s mask mandate and whether they will continue wearing a mask when they travel.
Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a clinical professor in the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, said his main concern with the end of the CDC mask order is the way it happened.
“[The federal court’s ruling] undermines the authority of the CDC, at absolutely the wrong time to be doing that,” he said.
“We need public health institutions to have the authority to use a variety of different interventions to protect public health,” he added, such as quarantining, isolation, vaccination, testing or treatment — and even requiring masks.
Before the court struck down the mask order, the CDC had extended it 15 days to May 3 to give the agency more time to study the BA.2 Omicron subvariant, responsible for over 74 percent of sequenced cases.
Kenneth Campbell, DBE, MPH, program director of Tulane University’s online Master of Health Administration program and an assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, said he agreed with the agency’s decision to extend the mandate.
“Policymakers are really trying to do the right thing for the safety of the public,” he said, “but we have to work together to ensure the message is consistent with the science.”