WASHINGTON – President Biden said on Tuesday that Americans should decide for themselves whether to wear masks, undermining his administration’s efforts to urge Americans to continue wearing face coverings on planes and trains. and bus even after. A federal judge has canceled the nationwide mask-wearing mandate for public transportation.
Mr. Biden told reporters on a trip to New Hampshire to boost infrastructure spending was “a decision to wear a mask”.
The Biden administration intends to appeal the ruling, if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decides that an expansion of the measure is necessary.
The patchwork of messaging contributed to the confusion less than 24 hours after the ruling was made. The president, caught somewhere between politics and science, has left Americans to choose. His press secretary urged Americans to follow existing health guidance, because that’s what the president is going to do. And Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, said on Twitter that he disappointed in the ruling and that he, for one, will still wear a mask on the plane.
A wave of federal agencies, city transit agencies and private companies say they will no longer require travelers to wear masks after a federal judge led by former President Donald J. . Just a few days earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the mission has been extended to May 3 to assess the status of the pandemic.
The ruling surprised officials inside the White House and disappointed them, two senior officials said. But on Tuesday, when plane travelers received directions from pilots to wear masks and passengers on transit systems, including in Washington, did not wear masks, the Biden administration failed to come up with a plan. details to challenge the ruling, even as public health experts warn. that CDC’s authority to prevent the spread of a contagious virus has been enacted.
On Tuesday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the decision to remove the masks should have been with the CDC, not the court.
“Public health decisions should not be made by the courts, they should be made by public health professionals,” Ms. Psaki told reporters aboard the Force One plane, en route. to New Hampshire. “We clearly feel confident in our authorities here because we’ve put the mask on duty and asked for an extra 15 days to evaluate the data based on public health information.”
But the administration’s confidence in its ability to enforce mask requirements contradicts the broader reality that many mask regulations appear to have dissipated within hours of the ruling. (Someeven in New York City, in place.) The Transportation Safety Board said on Monday that it would stop performing the CDC’s mandate. Some Airlines, including Delta and United, told travelers that masks would not be needed; Some travelers got the news mid-flight.
Several White House officials have said they will work to combat an inaccurate assessment of the threat the virus poses to the public. After Delta told passengers the virus had “turned to a regular seasonal virus,” Kevin Munoz, a spokesman for the White House, tweeted that the virus is still a threat.
In addition to the patchwork of responses, Biden’s advisers are trying to analyze the effects of the ruling, agency by agency, to figure out what the response should be, one official said.
Dr. Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who served on Mr Biden’s coronavirus advisory committee during his presidential transition, said she was hopeful that the Biden administration will appeal the ruling.
“It’s really undermining the CDC’s public health authority in making requirements that actually help prevent interstate and international transmission,” Dr. Morita said in an interview. The agency needs “the authority to implement these protective measures,” she said.