Nine flight attendants from six states said Monday they are suing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the federal mask mandate on public transportation, arguing the COVID-19 rule obstructs their normal breathing over many hours and threatens aviation security because passengers refuse to comply.
They want a judge to vacate the rule, which was recently extended to April 18, and prevent the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services from issuing such a mandate again. The attendants filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado because one plaintiff, Victoria Vasenden of Southwest Airlines, is based at Denver International Airport.
“We are in planes and airports up to 18 hours a day with zero chance of fresh air,” Ms. Vasenden said. “That’s assault on the brain, organs, and tissues of the human body. Yet we are expected to ensure all aspects of the flight remain safe when masks clearly diminish our capacities.”
The lawsuit says being forced to police the rules among passengers in the skies is disrupting flights. They pointed to a recent letter from major airlines to the Biden administration that made a similar point. Also, a group of 10 pilots filed a similar lawsuit against the rule on March 10 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Airline workers say it doesn’t make sense to impose the rules on planes, where the air is constantly filtered, even as the CDC does not recommend universal indoor masking for much of the U.S. population under its recently revised guidance.
The mask mandate on public transportation had been set to expire on March 18 but the Transportation Security Agency extended it a month on the advice of the CDC.
SEE ALSO: Leaders rush to lift COVID-19 rules while unvaccinated workers still out of jobs, sparking debate
“During that time, CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor,” the CDC said at the time. “This revised framework will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science. We will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change.”
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.