The White House on Sunday contradicted Dr. Anthony Fauci on mask mandate decisions and said that courts play an “important role,” coming after Fauci publicly complained that a Florida judge’s decision rescinding the mandate sets a “dangerous precedent.”
“Obviously, the judiciary has an important role to play,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “What you heard out of the administration, out of the Department of Justice [DOJ], is the assessment that this is an incorrect decision and the DOJ is now appealing this decision.”
Jha, who was named to the position several weeks ago, said that court decisions should “follow the science,” without elaborating. The DOJ said it would appeal U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s ruling last week on behalf of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which set the mask rule on public transportation and airplanes in early 2021.
Mizelle had argued that the CDC, in crafting its masking rule, violated federal administrative law by not allowing a period of public comment before enacting the mandate.
Late last week, Fauci, who has headed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, suggested that judges with “no experience in public health” shouldn’t make such decisions in an apparent reference to Mizelle’s order.
Fauci asserted in a CBS News interview on April 21 that the CDC “has the capability, through a large number of trained epidemiologists, scientists, to be able to make projections and make recommendations … far more than a judge with no experience in public health.”
Mizelle’s ruling also set a “dangerous precedent,” he said, without addressing the substance of Mizelle’s arguments in her order.
After his remarks during the interview, Republicans suggested that Fauci has a poor understanding of federal law.
“Paging Dr. Fauci—That’s not how America operates. The Constitution applies to you too, Doc!” wrote Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) on April 21.
Following the judge’s order, most major U.S. airlines, Amtrak, Uber, and Lyft announced they would remove their mask rules. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which enforced the rule, said it would stop enforcing the order.
Several Democratic-led cities, including New York, Boston, and San Francisco, will require passengers on public transportation to wear masks in the meantime. Philadelphia, however, ended its indoor mask mandate on April 23—just a few days after it was reinstated.
“We’re in a situation that we really had not anticipated being in this soon, but it is good news,” said Cheryl Bettigole, Philadelphia’s health commissioner. “It appears that we no longer need to mandate masks in Philadelphia and that we can actually move to simply a strong recommendation,” she said, according to local media reports.
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.