Health Care — CDC’s mask mandate for travel shot down by judge – The Hill


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A federal judge in Florida has struck down the CDC’s travel mask mandate, which had recently been extended for an additional 15 days due to the recent rise in cases. We’ll look at the ruling and the White House’s response.
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A federal judge in Florida on Monday struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) mask mandate for travel on planes, trains and buses.  
Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an appointee of former President Trump, wrote that the CDC exceeded its statutory authority with the order.  
Mizelle’s ruling comes down in part to the definition of the word “sanitation” in the law. She wrote that while the government argued for a broader definition of the word, including preventing disease, she uses a narrower definition “limited to cleaning measures.” 
“Wearing a mask cleans nothing,” she wrote.   
Mizelle added that the CDC had also failed to follow the rulemaking processes laid out in law and provide a sufficient justification for its mandate. 
The ruling can be appealed, but the administration said the order would cease being enforced for now. 
The travel mask mandate was one of the few remaining mask orders, as states and localities across the country have largely lifted mask mandates for the general public. Philadelphia is a rare exception in reinstating a more general mask mandate in recent days due to the uptick in cases. 
Read more here.

A ‘DISAPPOINTING’ RULING FOR BIDEN
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the Biden administration still recommends that individuals wear masks on public transit after a judge struck down the federal mask mandate for travel on planes, trains and buses.
A Biden administration official said later Monday that the TSA is no longer enforcing the mandate for travel.

The White House on Monday announced it would co-host a global COVID-19 summit in May, in a bid to boost efforts to vaccinate the world.   
The announcement comes as efforts to fight the virus globally have hit roadblocks, including $5 billion for global COVID-19 aid being stripped out of a relief package in Congress amid a dispute over how to pay for it.   
The summit, scheduled to be held virtually on May 12, will be co-hosted by the United States; Belize, chair of the Caribbean Community; Germany, the G-7 president; Indonesia, the G-20 president; and Senegal, chair of the African Union.   
“In advance of the May 12 Summit, we are calling on world leaders, members of civil society, non-governmental organizations, philanthropists, and the private sector to make new commitments and bring solutions to vaccinate the world, save lives now, and build better health security — for everyone, everywhere,” the White House said in a statement.  
The stalled funding in Congress complicates the White House’s efforts to boost the global vaccine push.  
Read more here.

WEST VIRGINIA REACHES $99M OPIOID SETTLEMENT WITH JANSSEN
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) has announced a $99 million settlement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals in the ongoing opioid epidemic lawsuit his state is engaged in. 
“We’re pleased with the settlement because we think it represents a major step forward to start to get money in the door to help West Virginians who have been devastated by the opioid epidemic,” Morrisey said during a press briefing Monday.
“When we started this process back in 2013, and then through subsequent litigation, we’re going to make sure that we have accountability within the pharmaceutical supply channel against any individual or entity that had some role in the creation or the maintenance of this epidemic. I think today’s settlement accomplishes a lot of that,” he added. 
The agreement will have to be approved by all political subdivisions in West Virginia within the next 45 days. 
West Virginia’s share of the settlement would have amounted to roughly $48 million, which Morrisey said was “inadequate.” The state had earlier opted out of being included in the $26 billion national settlement. 
Read more here.

PHILLY SUED OVER MASK MANDATE
A group of Philadelphia businesses and residents is suing the city’s top officials over its resumed indoor mask mandate, which took effect on Monday. 
In a lawsuit filed Saturday, the plaintiffs argued Philadelphia does not have authority to enforce the indoor mask mandate. They also say the order breaches the state constitution and defies recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
The lawsuit, which was filed in commonwealth court, names Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney (D), Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole, acting Pennsylvania Health Department Secretary Keara Klinepeter and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health as defendants. 
The plaintiffs are pushing for the mandate to be overturned. 
“The previously mentioned actions of the Respondents have usurped the role of the Acting Secretary and State Health Advisory Board in the adoption of standards applicable to disease control in Pennsylvania,” an amended petition filed Monday reads. 
Read more here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday removed all the remaining countries from its highest coronavirus risk advisory category.  
The designation, now known as “Level 4: Special Circumstances/Do Not Travel,” warns travelers to avoid all non-essential travel to the areas and urges vaccinations in the event travel is required, the CDC’s website said
More than 100 locations, including Australia, Canada, France and the U.K., are still listed at the agency’s “Level 3: COVID-19 High” warning. 
“Make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before traveling to these destinations. If you are not up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, avoid travel to these destinations,” the advisory for that level said.  
Many of the “Level 3” locations were listed as level 4 as recently as Sunday. At that time, the level was known as “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High.” 
Read more here.

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That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.

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