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White House to appeal Covid mask ruling

The White House will seek to reinstate a federal mask requirement on public transportation after the rule was tossed out by a judge earlier this week, with the Justice Department citing a recent assessment by US health officials. 

A notice of appeal was filed in a federal court in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday – soon after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked Justice officials to review the ruling which overturned Biden’s mask mandate on planes, trains and buses, arguing it was still needed to safeguard the public.

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The decision was made “in light of today’s assessment by the CDC that an order requiring masking in the transportation corridor remains necessary to protect the public health,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley told the Associated Press.

READ MORE: US judge cancels mask mandate on planes and trains

President Joe Biden called for compulsory mask-wearing in an executive order that he signed shortly after taking office in January 2021. The CDC published its transportation mask mandate soon after, but US District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said on Monday that the agency did not allow for public input as normally required and failed to adequately explain its reasoning.

“The court concludes that the mask mandate exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority and violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking,” the judge said in her decision. “Accordingly, the court vacates the mandate and remands it to the CDC.”

Though some administration officials have nonetheless urged citizens to continue following the mask rule, Biden himself has been less firm on the question, saying the decision is “up to them [Americans]” during an event on Tuesday. Press Secretary Jen Psaki echoed those remarks a day later, acknowledging that, at least for now, “people are not legally bound to wear masks.”

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