By Nathalie Voit

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has enlisted the Justice Department to help overturn a ruling from April 18 that deemed its federal mask mandate on public transit unlawful.

“CDC believes this is a lawful order, well within CDC’s legal authority to protect public health. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in all indoor public transportation settings,” the nation’s health protection agency said on April 20.

The CDC said it requested the Department of Justice (DOJ) to intervene and file an appeal on behalf of the agency.

The Department obliged, issuing a statement on April 19 stating it would appeal the court’s decision in Health Freedom Defense Fund, Inc., et al., v. Biden, et al.

“The Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) disagree with the district court’s decision,” DOJ spokesperson Anthony Coley wrote in the statement.

“The Department continues to believe that the order requiring masking in the transportation corridor is a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health. That is an important authority the Department will continue to work to preserve,” Coley said.

The Justice Department said the CDC is monitoring public health conditions. “If CDC concludes that a mandatory order remains necessary for the public’s health after that assessment, the Department of Justice will appeal the district court’s decision,” the statement read.

The DOJ filed a notice of appeal on April 20. However, the appeals process is expected to take months and is unlikely to impact the ruling.

In a statement on April 18, the Transportation Securities Administration (TSA) said that it would no longer enforce the mandate. The CDC also released a statement on Monday saying it would no longer require wearing face masks on public transportation.

“As a result of a court order, effective immediately and as of April 18, 2022, CDC’s January 29, 2021 Order requiring masks on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs is no longer in effect,” CDC said. However, “CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time,” the nation’s top healthcare agency added.

The CDC’s mask mandate was set to expire on May 3.