A federal judge on Monday overturned a nationwide mask mandate involving airplanes and public transportation, meaning Center County Airport and the Center Area Transportation Authority (CATA) no longer require face masks.
This is the first time in more than a year that local passengers have not had to wear such masks on public transportation, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend mask-wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Both CATA and University Park Airport made it clear on Tuesday that masks are no longer required of their passengers.
a note at the top of the CATA website read: “Effective immediately, masking while using CATA’s services and in its customer service center is now optional. Runners wishing to continue wearing masks are encouraged to do so. »
Penn State spokesman Wyatt DuBois said, “In accordance with yesterday’s statement from the TSAmasking is now optional for all people inside University Park Airport.
American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines — whose regional branches work with the local airport — issued statements on Tuesday morning that clarified masks were no longer required on their domestic flights. Allegiant Air has also announced that such masks are optional.
The CDC had recently extended the mandate to May 3, to allow more time to study the new COVID subvariant. But U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, ruled in Florida on Monday that the CDC exceeded its authority and failed to follow proper regulatory procedures in its original order, immediately terminating the mandate.
Critics pointed out that the judge was rated “non qualifiedby the American Bar Association when it was confirmed in 2020. But the Department of Justice declined to comment to The Associated Press when asked if she would seek an emergency stay to block the judge’s order.
“It’s obviously a disappointing decision,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. “The CDC recommends wearing a mask on public transportation.”
CDC says Center County remains in ‘low’ transmission when it comes to COVID-19 Community Levels. There were 143 cases in the county between April 11 and 17, a marked contrast to the 317 cases between February 11 and 17 and the 1,890 cases between January 11 and 17.
The Associated Press contributed to this report