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Philadelphia brings back mask mandate as covid cases rise

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Public well being officers in Philadelphia announced on Monday that town’s indoor masks mandate would return starting April 18 as coronavirus instances there rise, making it the primary main U.S. metropolis to reinstate a masks mandate this spring.

“Our metropolis stays open,” Mayor Jim Kenney mentioned in a press release. “We are able to nonetheless go about our each day lives and go to the individuals and locations we love whereas masking in indoor public areas. I’m optimistic that this step will assist us management the case fee.”

The return to indoor masking comes simply over a month after Philadelphia dropped its masks mandate — a transfer undertaken by many other cities and counties that had comparable restrictions in place firstly of 2022. Most of these restrictions lifted after a major dip in instances after the omicron surge peaked in January.

Circumstances in some locations — including the District and Philadelphia — seem like modestly rising once more, pushed partially by the unfold of the BA. 2 variant, which has change into dominant in america. Though instances are ticking up, the numbers stay far decrease than they have been in the course of the omicron surge in January.

Tracking coronavirus cases

Philadelphia has a set of criteria that decide when covid restrictions will go into place. On Monday, officers introduced that town had moved from the “all clear” stage to “stage 2,” which requires residents to put on masks in indoor public areas.

The masks mandate shall be lifted once more when town meets the standards to return to the “all clear” stage, officers mentioned.

N95 masks at the moment are the popular face masking to guard your self and others from the coronavirus. Here’s what it’s good to know. (Video: Daron Taylor, John Farrell/The Washington Publish, Photograph: The Washington Publish)

Though an indoor masks mandate just isn’t beneficial in Philadelphia by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention’s standards, native officers defended reverting to the next stage of warning on Monday.

“The selections that we’re making right here in Philly need to do with native situations, and the CDC has been clear in messaging… that native situations do matter,” Well being Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole mentioned at a information convention on Monday.

She mentioned the extra cautious strategy is justified as a result of Philadelphia has a historical past of disparities resulting in worse public well being penalties for Black and Brown communities throughout the metropolis.

“It does make sense to be extra cautious in Philadelphia than maybe in an prosperous suburb,” she added.

The town has recorded a mean of 142 new instances every day over the past two weeks, with 4.5 p.c of coronavirus checks coming again constructive throughout that point. There are 46 hospitalized covid-19 sufferers within the metropolis, and 6 are on ventilators, public well being officers mentioned.

Philadelphia doesn’t have a vaccination requirement in place to enter eating places, bars or different companies. At the very least 76 p.c of residents 12 and older are absolutely vaccinated, officers mentioned on Monday. Simply 35.7 p.c of youngsters ages 5 to 11 have acquired at the least one dose of the vaccine after it was authorized for that age group in October.