April 19, 2022
Hey Friends: Yesterday, April 18, 2022, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, Tampa, FL cancelled the CDC's (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's) requirement regarding air flights and other public transit. A bit of the backstory, the mask mandate was scheduled to end on April 18 originally, but the CDC had extended it through May 3 due to the uptick in cases. Mizelle ruled that this mandate extension should come from Congress, and that it exceeded the authority of United States health officials. Following this ruling:
Following the announcement multiple airlines allowed passengers to go maskless
Judge Mizelle's new rule takes precedence over the CDC's order; therefore it is no longer in effect. The TSA will not enforce mask requirements while the federal administration is reviewing the judge's decision, A White House official said. Masks on public transit are still encouraged by the CDC https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mask-mandate-public-transportation-federal-judge-florida/.
Overall, it appears the general public is sighing a collaborative sigh of relief with cheers of joy! But, stop! Don't cheer too quickly. It must be recognized that some forms of transit such as the New York City Subway and some airlines that still require masks for entry. So, there is still a great level of confusion and one must be prepared to wear a mask when required by private and public forms of transportation. There are others who are concerned about their safety and welfare with the new BA.2 sub-variant and its sub-lineage BA.2.12.1 that is on the rise along the Eastern Coast. The concern is how rapidly these variants are spreading; and especially the death total that has risen to 500 lost lives per day. As of April 16, these newest arrivals make up more than 90% of the coronavirus variants in the United States, according to the CDC. This increase in covid cases has been a concern, given the rise in cases over the last few weeks, and the overall rise of covid cases in parts of Asia and Europe reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/omicron-sub-variant-ba2-makes-up-nearly-75-covid-variants-us-cdc-2022-04-19/. These concerns mentioned by the CDC created the two-week extension ruled down by Judge Mizelle.
It is amazing that we live in a country where we honor one ruling at the time. But, this latest ruling along with many other previous decisions does beg the question about who is really in charge. The concern was the abruptness of the ruling and the immediate acceptance. Still the Justice Department announced today that it is seeking guidance from the CDC again, and is planning to challenge the ruling if the CDC believes the mask mandate is still necessary over the next two weeks. If this decision to challenge the ruling reigns, once again confusion will reign. Air transit personnel have struggled over the last two years with violence on planes regarding the mask mandate. Perhaps, it is the sheer exhaustion from the tedious regulations for both air travelers and air transit personnel, that makes this ruling a joyous celebration. However, if the ruling moves back to the mask mandate, there could easily be a rebellion on hand. CNN reports that 70% of all conflicts on flights in 2022 revolved around the mask mandate.
I believe that as American citizens we need to be most thankful for our freedoms, even if a mask is required. We are so blessed to live in a country where we can freely speak and participate in our government. I know it does not always feel that way when we have to be concerned with the overall public welfare. Yet, as we look at the reality of those who live in Shanghai, China, we have no reason to complain. In a city with the world's largest port of approx. 25 million people, there is a complete lockdown of it's citizen's who can only leave their homes to take covid tests and get the bare necessities of life. Some are not even that fortunate. Those who test positive are taken to covid hospitals that look more like concentration camps than a hospital with facilities where dozens share one restroom and experience filthy living quarters that are not adequate for hygienic needs.
I realize that I may not be the best spokesperson for air travel mandates as I have not flown in years and actually have no desire to do so. But, I do believe there is a fine line between our rights and privileges. If we view our freedom as a privilege rather than as a right, it may make future restrictions and requirements easier to swallow. I cannot understand how this pandemic continues to be a never ending revolving door of variants, now in year three? Still, Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles gave these instructions to his mentee, Titus, a young pastor to the church in Crete. "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone" (Titus 3;1). Christians in America can benefit much from this teaching as we have the tendency believe our rights are more important than of those around us. We have become an independent, self-serving people who look out most of all for themselves. Thankfully this has not traditionally been our history; and thank goodness for the example of those who follow the alternative narrative of servanthood to others.
The question of authority and "who's the boss" has been an issue throughout history. During Moses's time, the LORD revealed the answer to this question in the Shema, a passage of Scripture recorded in Deut. 6:5. The Pharisees challenged Jesus with this question of authority in Matthew 22:36-40 by asking:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Do we love our neighbors in the same way we love ourselves? I think this is a very difficult command to keep unless we abide by the the greatest command: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This can only happen if we have a relationship with the living God! And, of course, this is the reason His Son, Jesus Christ came to earth to connect us with the Father. Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets.
Ultimately, we know that the Lord our God has authority over Heaven and earth. He is truly our boss! If we hope to live in peace with God, our hearts and minds need to be set upon His plan and will for us. Love for others is truly the only way we can let the world know that we belong to our God. So, do we really want to demand our rights, when our rights could create pain and heartache for others! It is certainly something significant for us to consider! They will know us by our love!