Boston encouraged people to wear masks on Thursday. The Biden administration considered its next legal move in what is shaping to be a high stakes court battle over the abrupt ending of the national mandate for masks on mass transit.

The Boston Public Health Commission observed an increase in hospitalizations and a 65% rise in cases. However, it stressed that the guidance was not an order but a recommendation.

The nation is trying to figure out how to handle the next stage of the pandemic, and what the best way to implement health measures in an era when many Americans want to move on from two years of exhaustion.

This week, a federal judge in Florida tossed out a mandatory national mask on mass transportation. The Biden administration was left trying to navigate an appeal that could have wide-reaching ramifications about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ability to regulate future health emergencies.

Los Angeles County defied national trends, stating Thursday that it will still require masks for public transit, including subways and buses.

Philadelphia was the first major city to reintroduce a mask mandate last week. This was in response to an increase in infections and hospitalizations. But, the city abruptly reversed its course and ended the mandate.

The Map that the CDC changed to in February is less focused on positive results but more on what’s going on at hospitals. This will give community leaders clearer guidance on when to urge concealment.

National hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks, but they are still far below the peak at the height the omicron surge.

“COVID-19-related cases have been increasing rapidly in Boston, so it is important that people are vigilant and take precautions to prevent another surge.” Dr. Bisola Objikutu, executive director of the Boston commission, said. “Living together with COVID-19 involves collective responsibility and working together. 

She advised that people living in Boston should wear masks indoors, be up-to-date with their vaccines, and test for possible infections.

The Boston recommendation was made two days after the city’s transit system removed mask requirements as a response to the national transport ruling. This is a reflection of the confusion surrounding the appointee of former President Donald Trump.

While the Biden administration is attempting to make an appeal, Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University, a public-health law expert, stated that a “monumental struggle” was brewing, with the future survival of the CDC in jeopardy.

“The question that the courts and the public will have have to answer is: When the next health crisis will hit — and it will — will there be a strong public agency to protect the population?” He said, “Or will it be a simple matter of the courts having to decide and the public having to decide when the next health crisis hits — and it will — will we have a strong public health agency to protect the population?” 

The Supreme Court struck down the agency’s eviction moratorium on housing. However, this was only a small step in the agency’s authority. The CDC has the power to set rules for the wearing of masks on public transit.

“If somebody gets on a plane from New York to LA there is no state stopping them,” Gostin stated.

Temple University Law Professor Scott Burris shared that sentiment. He said that the U.S. government’s legal authority and ability to respond to emergencies such as epidemics is at risk.

Burris stated that the ability to handle future medical emergencies “must” have been a major factor in the Justice Department’s decision to appeal the ruling. However, “let’s not forget that we’re entering another surge” and there’s the possibility of new variants.

An appeal would be made to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. He said that a ruling could remove the CDC’s authority to issue mask orders, as well as any future orders, under a “legal cloud.”

Temple Law’s Craig Green stated that the federal government’s strategy was “really almost genius” because it could win two ways with its appeal. If the COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop, Justice Department attorneys might argue that the matter is moot and request to have the case dismissed.

He said that no one would have any reason to refer to it as a precedent in the future.

He said that if there are more cases, the federal government would have a better position to reimpose the mask mandate.

He said that the arguments regarding what a government can and cannot do in times of emergency were difficult and problematic. The Department of Justice and the United States government didn’t want to see any kind of limitation on their authority in future.

In the midst of the court battle American, United, and Delta all indicated that they would lift the bans that they imposed upon passengers refusing to wear masks, now that masks can be worn on flights.

“We have spoken to them individually,” United CEO Scott Kirby said to NBC. 

Passengers were ignoring the changes. Jon Schaudies will fly from Chicago to San Antonio next Wednesday wearing a mask.

Schaudies is a vice president at a small manufacturing firm and travels frequently. He feels that he has enough protection against the COVID-19 booster and vaccine to prevent him from becoming seriously ill.

Schaudies, 51, said that while people feel extremes, they are not like me. He plans to get another booster shot.

He can understand the concerns of parents who travel with young children, but he says they have to decide whether to fly. 

“The world must continue to exist at some point.