Philadelphia Revives COVID-19 Mask Mandate

PAfter a 50 percent increase in Covid-19-related cases over the last 10 days, hiladelphia will be bringing its indoor mask mandate back to life starting April 18.

It is the first major U.S. city to reinstate it, just over one month after its official lifting. Some colleges have also reinstated indoor masking, such as Columbia University and Barnard Colleges in New York City and George Washington University.

This comes as the number of cases in America has increased due to highly infectious subvariant BA. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the national average for new cases over seven days was 28169 as of April 8. This marks the highest number since March 16th. Yet, infections are well below the January high of 800,000, when omicron was raging.

Philadelphia reports an average of 142 cases per day. This is up from the 94 reported on April 4. New York City has an average daily number of cases, 1,861, compared to 1,572 the beginning of April.

According to the CDC, which provides county-level data through April 7, Philadelphia County is considered “low risk,” with a case rate of 55.9 per 100,000 people. By comparison, New York County, which encompasses the island of Manhattan in New York City, is at “medium risk” with 238 cases per 100,000.

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The CDC doesn’t recommend a mask mandate for either level of risk, though it does say people at high risk for severe illness from Covid should consider wearing masks indoors in medium risk locations. Although the agency changed its recommendations to emphasise hospitalizations rather than case counts earlier in the year, some experts warn that positive cases could be a sign that there will increase hospitalizations.

Local governments have struggled to monitor the progress of Covid due to a lack of funds and new policy decisions. In some cities, testing centers have shut, while others have started charging for tests with the end of government-subsidized programs. The results of rapid testing to confirm positive cases are rarely reported by those who test, which leaves public health professionals with little information on the extent of the epidemic.

Philadelphia opened the possibility of reintroducing masking, as it did not do so in other large cities. It stated then that masking was required again in cases of more than 50 percent increase within a period of 10 days. In Philadelphia, the average number per day for new cases and hospitalizations was under 225.

Next level would need to be vaccine-proof at restaurants when the number of cases per year rises between 225 to 500 and hospitalizations reach between 100 and 500.

Experts in public health have applauded governments that communicated the requirements for masking, saying that they realize that the virus will ebb.

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