On April 18, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled that U.S. health agencies do not have the authority to uphold a national transportation mask mandate. In her ruling, she said that the CDC failed to properly justify its mask order and did not follow proper federal procedures in implementing it. For a little background, U.S. airlines had been requiring that passengers and crew wear a mask since mid-2020. In addition, the Biden administration and the CDC had issued orders in January 2021 requiring that masks be worn on and in virtually all forms of public transportation (including Uber and Lyft), as well as in airport terminals, train stations, ferry terminals, and the like. Following Judge Mizelle’s ruling, virtually all airlines and Amtrak, as well as Uber and Lyft, did away with their mask mandates.
Following the ruling, when a reporter asked President Biden whether Americans should continue to wear a mask on a plane, he responded, “That’s up to them.” However, both the Department of Justice and White House spokesperson Jen Psaki soon undermined what Biden had said. Psaki, for example, said, “Public health decisions shouldn’t be made by the courts. They should be made by public health experts.” She also said that the Biden administration is “abiding by the CDC recommendations . . . and we would advise all Americans to do that.”
To no one’s surprise, the response of many on the left has been nothing short of apoplectic. Here are a few examples. An ABC news commentator said that Judge Mizelle’s ruling was a legal ruling, not a scientific one. (More on the second part of that later.) Paul Krugman, a New York Times opinion columnist, predicted harassment of mask-wearers and even violence against them. In response to video of airline passengers cheering the announcement of the lifting of the mask mandate during a flight, foul-mouthed TV host Joy Reid said, “Did announcing the end of the mask mandate, literally in the the middle of the flight, kinda let those a-holes win?”
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m firmly against vaccination and mask mandates. Please note the word mandates. I simply believe that people should be free to choose whether they get vaccinated and/or wear a mask. Listening to some of the strident voices on the left, one might think that Judge Mizelle has made it illegal to wear masks on public transportation, which is simply not true.
I came across an interesting website which gives brief summaries of the findings of 167 studies regarding mask ineffectiveness, mandates, and harm(s); here is the link, if you’re interested: https://centerforneurologyandspine.com/do-masks-work-see-the-review-of-over-150-studies-below/ I haven’t read all 167 of them, but I did read several, especially some of the 61 summaries of studies regarding mask “harms.” You may recall that very early in the pandemic, it had become obvious that the elderly and those with certain comorbidities were most at risk from COVID. Some of the studies in the above link refer to physical harm, even death, from mask-wearing, particularly in children. For example, in China in April of 2020, there were “three cases of students suffering sudden cardiac death (SCD) while running during gym class. All three students were wearing masks at the time of their deaths, igniting a critical discussion over school rules on when students should wear masks.” Maybe you’ve seen the video of Maggie Williams, a high-school student in Oregon who collapsed while crossing the finish line at a track meet in April of 2021; she was wearing a state-required mask. Thankfully, the state of Oregon revised its previous foolish outdoor mask mandate as a result, “allow[ing] people to take off face coverings when competing in non-contact sports outdoors.”
There are other studies that refer to not only physical harm, but psychological and emotional harm as well. One example that essentially combines all three of these types of harm is language acquisition, which has been made more difficult for children because of muffled voices and the inability to see the faces of the people who are talking to them. I believe that only time will tell how much injury of various kinds we have unwittingly inflicted on our children because of foolish government (worldwide) policies made during the pandemic.
Since this blog is focused on Biblical answers to questions and issues, how are we as Christians to respond to the lifting of the mask mandate on public transportation? Here’s what Romans 12:18 tells us: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” If you desire to continue wearing a mask (in various contexts, not just on public transportation), then do so; while I would prefer to see your face, I’m not going to harass or become violent against you–note to Paul Krugman. In fact, I will gladly talk with you if you so desire. Regardless, I would also hope that you treat me with civility, even if you prefer not to see my face! I should also add that if Judge Mizelle’s ruling is overturned, I will continue to wear a mask where required. Let’s live at peace with one another, regardless of our differing opinions and preferences.