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The 1944 Law That Gave The CDC Its Powers, Explained

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The 1944 Law That Gave The CDC Its Powers, Explained

28 April 2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's mask mandate on planes, trains and buses ended earlier this month, and it came down, in part, to a judge's interpretation of the word "sanitation." U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle voided the mask requirement, citing a 1944 law that gives the CDC power to stop the spread of communicable diseases through measures like inspection, fumigation, disinfection and sanitation. Lawrence Gostin is a professor of public health law at Georgetown University. He explains what the 1944 Public Health Service Act did and why he thinks the judge's interpretation could have an impact on the United States' ability to respond to future health crises. Additional reporting by NPR's Pien Huang also appeared in this episode. In participating regions, you'll also hear a local news segment to help you make sense of what's going on in your community. Email us at Learn more about sponsor message choices: NPR Privacy Policy


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