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mask on, mask off

Americans are split after a federal judge struck down airplane mask mandate

For the first time in two years, Americans can fly maskless after a 33-year-old Trump-appointed federal judge in Florida struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's mask mandate for planes and public transportation on Monday, claiming the CDC overstepped its authority and failed to justify its decision.

Video showed an airline pilot announcing the court's decision mid-flight. Passengers cheered, and one man yelled, "Finally!"

But not everyone was cheering.

According to polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation and analysis by Washington Post correspondent Philip Bump, the country was divided almost evenly on whether the mask mandate for trains and planes should be extended or be allowed to expire.

The largest split was along partisan lines. Around 70 percent of Democrats supported keeping the mandate, while nearly 80 percent of Republicans said to let it expire. Americans were also divided by vaccination status. The jabbed favored extending the mandate, but only by a slim margin. The unvaccinated, on the other hand, overwhelmingly wanted to go mask-less, with over 70 percent opposing the mandate.

This is not surprising, since partisanship is a strong predictor of vaccination status, and vaccination status is a strong predictor of support for COVID restrictions. "[V]accination status has long been intertwined with how people view the virus. If you think it's a serious risk, you will get vaccinated and want to see more people wearing masks. If you don't think it's a serious risk, you won't. And those views overlap with party, as they have for most of the pandemic," Bump wrote.

Even the split between people with chronic health conditions and people without was less drastic than the partisan divide. Those with a chronic health condition backed the mandate by a 56-43 margin, while those with no such condition opposed the mandate 55-44.