Public health ‘not a judicial matter’: Is Fauci right about overrule of CDC travel mask mandate?


Fact Box

  • On CBS News’ “Red & Blue,” when questioned about the recent overrule of travel mask mandates, Dr. Fauci asserted, “This is a public health matter, this is not a judicial matter” in defending the CDC as scientifically reliable in comparison to the court. 
  • On April 18, 2022, US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled the CDC’s February 3, 2021 mask mandate for public transportation was “unlawful” overturning the federal directive. Major airlines including American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest and others lessened their restrictions immediately following the ruling. 
  • The CDC released a notice recommending “people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings” but will not enforce the previous order
  • On April 19, 2022, the DOJ announced they “disagree[d] with the district court’s decision and will appeal, subject to CDC’s conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health.” 
  • The current 7-day average of coronavirus cases in the US increased to 42,605 as of April 20, 2022, which is a 35.3% jump from the previous average (31,495). The total number of cases reached over 80 million in April 2022.

Siam (Yes)

Fauci is correct in saying the federal court judge in Florida should not have overruled the CDC's travel mask mandate. It was not appropriate for a judge to overturn a decision made by the top public health agency in the US, as this is a medical matter and not a judicial issue, as Fauci said. Such decisions must be made by a medical authority or a public health authority.

The CDC has been making recommendations for public health for decades; the agency has dozens of experts, including scientists, epidemiologists, and field workers, who have the experience to make projections and recommendations. They have far more experience in public health than a judge. The CDC works for the American public and is obligated to protect the lives of Americans. The agency's recommendations are always based on solid public health research before making any recommendation.

Likewise, America is currently seeing an increase in the BA.2 variant of the virus, rapidly spreading across local communities. There have been many reports of people being admitted to hospitals and intensive care units because of the severity of their symptoms. All this adds needlessly to the cost of healthcare. Plus, there are at least 15% of adult Americans and countless children under the age of 5 who are unvaccinated. And those who are immunocompromised or obese are at higher risk from COVID. Masking in these individuals should continue for the foreseeable future. 

Finally, with the airline industry beginning to relax mask requirements, the risk of spreading the virus across geographic borders, both domestically and internationally, is a potential problem. Masking does not harm people, but COVID-19 does.

Curtice (No)

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently ruminated on what he deemed the 'unfortunate' judicial decision to strike down the federal mask mandate on public transportation systems. He believes the courts have no business overruling the CDC, suggesting this contrived and non-constitutionally enacted government organization—that affects the lives and freedoms of millions of Americans—should be accountable to no one.

Fauci appears quite ignorant of the fact the United States has three co-equal branches of government or that the Constitution demands checks and balances. The judicial branch, through judicial review, exists to check overreach by either the executive or legislative branches. It can declare actions by the executive branch unconstitutional and did so in this decision. No clause invalidates the Constitution during a pandemic. Yet, using his logic, there is no need for courts because the executive branch should simply be able to do as it pleases. 

Additionally, given as much data as we have, it is undeniable that masks, especially regular cloth masks, do little to protect anyone. As shown repeatedly, neither Fauci nor the CDC has gotten everything right. In fact, they have not 'followed the science' when it suited them. Fauci once claimed masks did no good before taking the exact opposite position. In one of those positions, he was not following the science.

During the height of the pandemic, he further argued for churches to suspend their choirs yet gave a non-committal answer when asked about his public health measures being flouted by the 2020 summer protests and riots, stating, 'I'm not in a position to determine what the government can do in a forceful way.' Quite to the contrary, Fauci has been attempting to do that for over two years now.

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