Even after a federal judge struck down a nationwide mask mandate on public transportation, President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Americans should decide for themselves whether or not to wear masks, undermining his administration’s efforts to encourage Americans to keep wearing face coverings on planes, trains, and buses.
Biden told reporters during a trip to New Hampshire to encourage infrastructure spending that whether or not to wear a mask is “up to them.”
The Biden administration has not ruled out appealing the verdict, but the Department of Justice could need several days to decide whether or not to do so.
Less than 24 hours after the verdict, the hodgepodge of messaging contributed to uncertainty. Because the president was torn between politics and science, he left it up to the people of the United States to make their own decisions.
Because that is what the president would do, his press secretary urged Americans to follow existing health advice. Dr. Ashish Jha, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, expressed disappointment with the decision on Twitter, saying that he, for one, would continue to wear a mask on planes.
After a federal court appointed by former President Donald Trump nullified a mandate that had been in force since February 2021, a slew of government agencies, city transportation authorities, and private enterprises announced that they would no longer demand travellers wear masks.
The mandate to assess the state of the pandemic had been extended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just days before.
Officials inside the White House were taken aback by the decision, which irritated them, according to two senior officials.
Despite public health experts warning that the CDC’s authority to prevent the spread of a contagious virus was on the line, the Biden administration did not lay out a detailed plan to challenge the ruling on Tuesday, as passengers on planes were directed by pilots to unmask and riders on transit systems, including in Washington, went mask-free.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday that the CDC, not the courts, should have made the decision to remove the masking.
“Courts should not make public health choices.” On the trip to New Hampshire, Psaki told reporters onboard Air Force One that they should be made by public health professionals.
“We certainly have faith in our authorities here, as evidenced by the fact that we enacted the mask rule and requested an extra 15 days to analyze data based on public health information.”
However, the administration’s confidence in its capacity to enforce masking requirements clashed with the fact that many masking laws appeared to vanish within hours of the decision.
- Rising Healthcare Costs Are a Big Worry for Retirees in the United States
- The United States Has Extended the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration!
- Us District Court Reinstates the Biden Government Employee Covid Vaccination Mandate!
(Some, such as those in New York City, are staying put.) The CDC regulation will no longer be enforced, according to the Transportation Safety Authority. Several airlines, notably Delta and United, informed passengers that masks would not be necessary; several passengers learned of the news in the middle of their journey.
Some White House officials stated that they will work to correct the public’s perception of the virus’s threat. Following Delta’s announcement that the virus had “transitioned to a regular seasonal virus,” White House spokesman Kevin Munoz tweeted that the infection remained a threat.
Biden’s aides have been trying to triage the impact of the verdict, agency by agency, to figure out what the appropriate response should be, according to one official.
Dr. Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a member of Biden’s coronavirus advisory team during his presidential transition, expressed hope that the verdict would be overturned by the Biden administration.
“It undermines the CDC’s public health authority to impose regulations that help prevent disease transmission between states and worldwide,” Morita added. “The agency must have the authority to execute these preventive measures,” she said.