Sunday, September 25, 2022

Philadelphia mask mandate to expire, days after it was reinstated

Philadelphia is ending its indoor mask mandate, city health officials said Thursday night, just days after people in the city began wearing masks again amid a sharp rise in infections.

The board of health voted on Thursday to rescind the mandate, according to the Philadelphia Department of Health, which issued a statement that cited “reducing hospitalization and case levels.”

This order came into effect from Monday. Philadelphia ended its earlier indoor mask mandate on March 2.

The Department of Health did not release data to support its reversal on masking, saying more information would be provided on Friday. Philadelphia became the first major US city to reinstate its indoor mask mandateBut evading the mandate has faced stiff blows as well as legal effort.

“The use of masks in public places inside the city will be strongly recommended,” the health department said in a statement. City officials said the mandate would be lifted on Friday morning.

When the city announced on 11 April that the mandate was returning, the health commissioner, Dr Cheryl Bettygole, said it was necessary to avert a potential new wave. Powered by an Omicron subvariant. She said Philadelphia has passed the threshold of rising cases, at which point the city’s guidelines call on people to wear masks indoors.

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Bettygole said at the time, “If we fail to act now, knowing that every previous wave of infections is followed by a wave of hospitalizations, and then a wave of deaths, then for many of our residents It’ll be too late.”

Cases and hospitalizations continued to rise until at least Monday, when the Department of Health reported 82 patients in hospital with COVID-19 — nearly 80% from a week earlier — of confirmed cases. With 58% up to 224 per day in the same period. Those numbers were still a fraction of what the city endured during the Omicron boom of winter.

The restaurant industry had pushed back against the city’s re-imposed mask mandate, saying employees would bear the brunt of customer anger over the new rules.

Several businesses and residents sued The renewed mandate sought to be reversed in state court in Pennsylvania.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Thomas W. King III, who was involved in last year’s successful legal challenge for a statewide mask mandate in schools, said, “We are very pleased to see Philadelphia making the right decision to revoke the mask mandate.”

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The issue came up during Thursday night’s debate, shortly before news of the mandate ended. among three leading Democratic candidates seeking the party’s nomination for the open US Senate seat of Pennsylvania. Notably, two of them, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and Philadelphia State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, came out against the mandate.

“We have to move past COVID,” Fetterman said, “we have to live with this virus, and I don’t believe it’s appropriate to go back with the mask mandate or with the closure.”

US Representative Conor Lamb of suburban Pittsburgh said he hated wearing a mask, but thought Philadelphia officials were “trying to do what’s best for everyone.”

Most states and cities dropped their masking requirements in February and early March following new guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that focused less on case count and more on hospital capacity, saying that Most Americans can safely take off their masks.

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Nation World News Desk
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