Videos of people celebrating the end of mask mandates on airplanes have gone viral ever since an “unqualified” Trump-appointed federal judge voided travel-related CDC mask regulations on Monday—despite the fact that COVID cases are on the rise again.
In one video, viewed more than 900,000 times, a flight attendant walks down an airplane aisle with a plastic bag, singing, “Throw away your masks.”
In another, viewed 2 million times, a crowd of passengers can be seen removing their masks mid-flight on an Alaska Air route after the pilot says, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking. This is the most important announcement I’ve ever made. The federal mask mandate is over. Take off your mask if you choose!”
Many others are understandably furious.
“Here we are, trapped in the sky with our 8-month-old unmasked baby (you can’t actually mask a baby that young) under the supposition that everyone who can be masked would be masked, and the flight 325 crew has taken our choices away from us,” one Twitter user said. “Very very angry about this.”
Masks have been proven to limit the spread of COVID. So, understandably, other reactions to the removal of the mandate were less joyous, including among passengers stuck in the air as crowds started removing their masks en masse when the decision was announced.
“We’re still taking off our shoes because of one dude 21 years ago but can’t be bothered to wear masks after 1,000,000 dead from a virus that’s still killing over 500 a day. What a world,” one person said.
On Monday, 35-year-old U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle—deemed “unqualified” for her job by the American Bar Association at the time of her appointment—struck down the federal mask mandate related to transportation in a 59-page decision. Several airlines, including Delta, American, Alaskan, and United, have lifted their mandates since, with some shockingly doing away with mandates mid-flight.
The mandate, recently extended until May, was a crucial part of President Joe Biden’s administration’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. has logged the highest number of COVID infections and deaths in the world, despite being one of the first nations to have COVID vaccine access, and cases are on the rise again right now.
It’s unclear what Biden will do next. But White House spokesperson Jen Psaki called the decision "disappointing."
“We recommend you wear masks on the airplane,” Psaki said. “As soon as we can provide an update from here, hopefully soon, we'll provide that to all of you.”
The Justice Department will decide any forthcoming legal responses, she said.
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