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Federal Court Decision on Mask Mandates “Handcuff” U.S. Public Health Response to COVID-19

Following Monday’s ruling by a federal judge in Florida to strike down masking requirements on airplanes, trains, buses, and other public transportation, public health experts are concerned this decision sets a precedent in undermining the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) authority to guide and direct response to public health emergencies now and in the future.

The following statement is attributable to Michele Heisler, MD, MPA, medical director of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)

“The federal decision out of Florida is an exceedingly narrow interpretation of the CDC’s powers and sets a dangerous precedent challenging the U.S. government’s authority to effectively combat public health emergencies like COVID. The power to direct nationwide COVID-19 response guidelines resides with the CDC, and in this case, it is well within its constitutional authority to determine public health protocols on public transportation. 

“As COVID cases continue to rise, the ability of the CDC to deploy all available public health tools to mitigate spread is critical. The Biden administration should immediately appeal this decision. One judge should not handcuff the CDC and other government agencies from protecting the public’s health.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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