A federal judge in Florida denied Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s effort to dismiss a legal challenge to the International Traveler Testing Requirement, which demands airlines flying to the United States refuse to board to any passenger – regardless of vaccination status – who doesn’t present a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure.

HFDF & Two Tampa Bay Women Ask Court To Strike Down Federal Transportation Mask Mandate

TAMPA, FL. – The Health Freedom Defense Fund and two women from the Tampa Bay area moved for summary judgment Thursday to vacate the Federal Transportation Mask Mandate ordered by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, advancing the case into final proceedings after a legal battle that began in July.

The motion, filed in federal court in Tampa, came one day after a Washington, D.C., man who’s been stranded in Florida for more than eight months because he medically can’t wear a mask filed for summary judgment asking a U.S. district judge in Orlando to strike down the FTMM. And it came the day after Texas became the first state to sue the federal government to halt the mask requirement.

Just like Lucas Wall, the plaintiff in the Orlando case, HFDF argues CDC’s mask mandate is illegal and unconstitutional. The Idaho-based organization charges CDC and its parent agency, the Department of Health & Human Services, with four counts of violating the Constitution and federal law by imposing a requirement that all passengers and employees throughout the nation’s entire public-transportation system obstruct their oxygen intake.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control [& Prevention] was mainly known for providing advice and guidelines on matters of public health,” according to the motion submitted by HFDF to U.S. District Judge Kathryn Mizelle. “It had never claimed any authority to directly govern the lives and conduct of millions of people across the country. That ended in 2020, when the CDC began to take a series of extraordinary measures, the statutory and Constitutional authority for which could never be satisfactorily explained.”

This week has seen an unprecedented attack on the legality of the FTMM and airlines’ mask requirements. In addition to Wall and HFDF demanding final judgments striking down CDC’s mandate as well as Texas suing the agency to block forced masking in the nation’s entire transportation sector, a Sanford, Florida, father obtained a 30-day mask exemption from American Airlines and Southwest Airlines for his 4-year-old autistic son – believed to be the first court victory against an airline mask mandate during the entire pandemic.

The individual plaintiffs in the Tampa case are Ana Daza, who suffers from anxiety that makes it intolerable to cover her face, and Sarah Pope, who suffers from panic attacks while her breathing is constricted.

Daza of Pinellas County, Florida, usually flies annually to visit family and attend to her family property in Colombia. She made the trip in September 2021, during which she was forced to muzzle herself because of the FTMM.

“My physician has provided me with a doctor’s note excusing me from wearing masks, but the government does not recognize anxiety as a basis for an exemption,” she declared. “I experienced shortness of breath and the feeling of not being able to breathe comfortably while on the outbound flight. On the return flight from Colombia, the symptoms were worse and I began feeling panicked. But I was afraid to remove my mask because I did not wish to be accused of violating federal law.”

As a result of the health issues Daza experienced when she was compelled to wear a mask on her trip to Colombia, and because of my concerns about being accused of violating federal law, she wrote she can’t safely travel while the FTMM remains in place. Therefore she has been forced to forego any trips for the foreseeable future until the mandate is struck down or repealed.

Pope of Hillsborough County, Florida, notes she has taken short-haul flights during the pandemic to visit her mother in Virginia, during which she covered her face as required, but she can’t tolerate wearing a mask for longer periods of time.

“I have suffered from panic attacks in the past and I am anxious about the danger of suffering one while in flight due to constricted breathing from wearing a mask,” Pope declared. “In June and July 2021, because of these concerns, I had to forego a family trip to Hawaii because I couldn’t envision safely wearing a mask as required for the full duration of the flight from Florida to Hawaii. I am unable to plan other long-haul trips due to my health concerns, including a trip that I had hoped to take to Great Britain to celebrate a close friend’s birthday, this upcoming summer of 2022.”

Pope wrote that “I strongly object to the Mask Mandate and want to see it removed so that I can take trips and experience the travel that I’ve had to forego since it has been in effect.”

The plaintiffs argue that CDC relied on an administrative record that “(1) is devoid of any controlled study showing that masks have any effect on the spread of the SARS-Cov-2 virus; (2) fails to separate cause from correlation; (3) fails to account for numerous variables; and (4) fails to consider any countervailing harms.”

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