Tampa Bay women file federal suit, hope to overturn public transit mask mandate
Image via AP.

airport travel
The women cite "adverse health affects," from wearing masks on long flights.

Two Tampa Bay women have teamed up with a Wyoming nonprofit on a lawsuit seeking to overturn public transport masking requirements.

Sarah Pope, a 57-year-old Lutz resident, and Ana Carolina Daza, a 49-year-old Safety Harbor resident, filed suit in Tampa federal court in response to mask requirements on flights, which the pair call dangerous. The duo filed suit with the Health Freedom Defense Fund, a nonprofit that seeks to “implement a strategy to remove the unethical and unlawful mask, testing, and vaccine mandates,” according to its website.

The suit lists defendants as President Joe Biden, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The pair are seeking to overturn the CDC’s mandate requiring masks in transportation hubs. In the suit, the two claim requiring masks on public transport is unconstitutional and wearing masks for long periods can have “potential adverse health effects.”

“The potential adverse health effects from this cannot be casually dismissed,” the suit reads. “Even healthcare workers who are trained in the use of masks have been susceptible to adverse effects from prolonged mask use during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The suit lists issues like headaches and neck strains, as well as symptoms associated with higher carbon dioxide intake.

However, the CDC advises that “most people with underlying medical conditions can and should wear masks,” including those with asthma. The CDC also dismisses the claim provided in the suit that masks increase CO2 intake.

“Wearing a mask does not raise the carbon dioxide (CO2) level in the air you breathe,” the CDC writes. “The CO2 completely escapes into the air through the cloth mask when you breathe out or talk. COmolecules are small enough to easily pass through any cloth mask material. In contrast, the respiratory droplets that carry the virus that causes COVID-19 are much larger than CO2, so they cannot pass as easily through a properly designed and properly worn cloth mask.

The suit also claims the mandate is unconstitutional, citing the Administrative Procedure Act, which was not used when issuing mask mandates. According to the CDC order, it “is not a rule within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) but rather is an emergency action taken under the existing authority.”

Pope and Daza both claim they have trouble wearing masks in the suit, specifically citing difficulties in air travel. Pope regularly flies to Virginia to see her elderly mother, according to the suit, and wears a mask when required to do so. But, she continues to avoid long flights because she “cannot tolerate wearing a mask for extended periods of time.”

Pope said she had to give up joining her family on a trip to Hawaii, because “the thought of wearing a mask for such a long flight gave her anxiety, and she is concerned about having panic attacks if she attempts to do so,” the suit reads. Pope is the author of books such as Traditional Remedies for Modern Families, and founder of The Healthy Home Economist — a health/nutrition blog and YouTube channel.

Daza, who plans to travel to Colombia in August 2021 to see family, also claims wearing a mask makes her feel anxious and causes her to suffer headaches and shortness of breath.

Florida Politics reached out to Pope and Daza, and in an email response, an attorney representing the duo issued a statement.

“The CDC had no statutory authority to issue the mandate, did not follow the Administrative Procedure Act when it issued the mandate, failed to articulate a basis for selecting the exemption age of under 2 years, and lacked any basis for calling it an ’emergency’ when we were already a year into the pandemic. The President, for his part, made no effort to cite to any statutory or constitutional authority when he ordered all departments to require the wearing of masks,” the statement read.

He also asked Florida Politics not to further contact his clients to respect their privacy.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].

One comment

  • Harold A. Maio

    August 4, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    I wonder what other health care caveats they oppose?

Comments are closed.


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