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April 26, 2022 28 min

In January 2021, one of President Biden’s first big moves in office was to sign an executive order mandating masks in airports and on planes and other forms of public transit.

But an unexpected ruling from a judge in Florida has abruptly and unexpectedly overturned that mandate — and the implications of the decision could tie the government’s hands when it comes to future health emergencies.

Guest: Sheryl Gay Stolberg, a Washington correspondent covering health policy for The New York Times; and Heather Murphy, a reporter covering travel for The Times.

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Background reading: 

  • In the end, the mask mandate was brought down by a little-known nonprofit, a conservative judge, and chance.
  • While the C.D.C. wants to keep the mandate intact, appealing the ruling is risky: If the Florida decision is upheld, it could permanently weaken the agency’s authority.
  • For more information on today’s episode, visit Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday. 

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