Editors at National Review Online ponder the political implications of extended COVID-related mask mandates.

Hours after U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for airplanes and other public transport, saying that it exceeded the authority of the CDC and violated administrative law, the videos started coming out. Airplane passengers, informed they could take the masks off themselves and their two year olds, started spontaneously applauding. Flight attendants cried tears of joy; one was filmed collecting passenger masks as garbage, while breaking out into song.

The applause and the tears were part of a mutual liberation from an inanity. After two years, hardly anyone believes that putting on cloth masks, then taking them off to eat and drink in a confined space, is an effective or rational method for controlling the spread of a disease.

The vast majority of travelers in the United States either have been vaccinated or at least have had a previous Covid infection. Air is recirculated constantly on planes which is why flights have not become, like church-choir lofts, notorious as zones of Covid spread.

Airlines have been begging the administration to scrap the mask mandate. …

… Political reality seems to be dawning elsewhere. The White House signaled that it intends to contest the ruling — the CDC requested an appeal late Wednesday — but that it will not seek a stay. That means maskless flights can continue.

This move by the White House tells us that the administration believes it must retain the ability to impose these mask mandates in the future — a question of authority which it is free to contest. But by not asking for a stay, the administration betrayed that the White House believes the current situation is not so dire that the CDC mandate must be reimposed now. This is, in effect, a way for the White House to disown its own CDC.