Florida and other states challenge CDC’s transit mask rule


22 states represented by Republican attorneys general filed Tuesday a lawsuit to stop the federal government from requiring people to wear masks on public transport in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida’s Governor announced the lawsuit. Ron DeSantis and Ashley Moody filed the lawsuit in Tampa federal court. They claim that the mask mandate is beyond the authority of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is possible that the mandate as it stands now will be in effect for only a few more weeks. It was extended by the CDC to April 18, but it also indicated that it was considering scaling back the rules in order to take a more targeted approach.

Florida and other states continue to sue, despite partisan divisions over the COVID-19 pandemic response and individual rights versus government control.

DeSantis, who is a Republican, said that it was time to end this unneeded mandate and return to normal life. He has repeatedly challenged federal mask mandates, including those affecting schools, cruise lines, and private businesses.

According to the agency’s website, the rule of the CDC, which became effective February 1, 2021, requires that people wear masks on public transport conveyances and on the premises at transportation hubs. Although the rule was relaxed to allow for some buses to be exempted, it was extended for domestic and international travel until at least April 18.

Moody, a Republican from Tampa, stated in a news release, that travel mask mandates were “frustrating travelers and causing chaos for public transportation.”

It was likely to refer to the flurry of publicized fights between passengers and flight attendants over the requirement for commercial aircraft to have a mask. It is not clear whether these incidents are widespread or if masks are the problem. Some of these incidents are alcohol-related, or have a mental health issue.

Perhaps underscoring the partisan division on masks, both DeSantis as well as Moody repeatedly mentioned Democratic President Joe Biden in their statements against travel mandate.

The Atlanta-based CDC did no immediate respond to a telephone call or email requesting comment.

The lawsuit seeks to stop the CDC travel mask rules and requests costs and attorney’s fees. Similar lawsuits were filed in other states before this one.

The new lawsuit against travel masks was filed by the following states as of Tuesday:

Alabama, Alaska. Arizona, Arkansas. Georgia. Idaho. Indiana. Kansas. Kentucky. Louisiana. Mississippi. Missouri. Montana. Nebraska. Ohio. Oklahoma. South Carolina. Utah. Virginia. West Virginia.