US: The Biden administration will no longer enforce a US mask mandate on public transportation, after a federal judge in Florida on Monday ruled that the 14-month-old directive was unlawful, overturning a key White House effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Soon after the announcement, United Airlines (UAL.O) and Alaska Airlines (ALK.N) relaxed the restrictions effective immediately on all domestic flights.
The ruling by US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an appointee of President Donald Trump, came in a lawsuit filed last year in Tampa, Florida, by a group called the Health Freedom Defence Fund.
Judge Mizelle said the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had exceeded its authority with the mandate, had not sought public comment and did not adequately explain its decisions.
A US administration official said while the agencies were assessing potential next steps, the court’s decision meant CDC’s public transportation masking order was no longer in effect. The administration could still opt to appeal the order or seek an emergency delay in the order’s enforcement.
Meanwhile, the White House announced Monday that it would co-host the second global COVID-19 summit next month, a gathering intended to build momentum for vaccine donations and for ending what the White House called the “acute phase” of the pandemic.
The meeting, which was originally expected to be held in March, is now scheduled to take place virtually May 12.
Efforts to subsidise more global vaccinations stalled in the United States after lawmakers stripped US$5 billion (US$6.81 billion) from a pandemic relief package that could come up for a Senate vote in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, Omicron is more likely than other coronavirus variants to cause Upper Airway Infection (UAI) among children, putting them at risk of heart attack and other severe complications, according to a study.
The researchers from the University of Colorado, Northwestern University, and Stony Brook University in the US analysed data from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative pertaining to 18,849 children under age 19 who were hospitalised with COVID-19. – THE HINDUSTAN TIMES,THE STRAITS TIMES, PTI