Despite the low number of new corona virus cases, the city of Philadelphia announced on Monday that it was re-establishing itself after a month of raising an indoor mask order, becoming the first major U.S. city to do so.
“This is an opportunity for us to make progress beyond the epidemic,” city health commissioner Cheryl Pettigole told a news conference. He acknowledged that while the Omigron variant had raised the seven-day average to nearly 4,000, the average number of new cases per day, now 142, was nowhere near the beginning of the year.
But if the city does not need masks now, “it will be too late for many of our residents to realize that every previous epidemic is being hospitalized and then followed by waves of deaths,” he said. Last week, the city reported that the death toll from Govt-19 had exceeded 5,000.
The order will take effect next week. A spokesman for the city’s health department said it would end when case numbers and rates fell below a certain threshold.
This decision comes as cases of triggering a highly contagious Omicron subtype known as BA.2 are on the rise across the country. Although the national increase is relatively small – About 3 percent In the last two weeks – the growth of cases in New York City and northeastern cities such as Washington, DC, Is considerably steeper. Some colleges in the Northeast, including Columbia, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins The interior mask order has been restored in recent days.
Under Philadelphia’s Govt Response Program, mitigation measures are triggered when gasloads or gas tractors exceed certain limits. Since the beginning of March, Omicron’s rapid retreat has left the city in Level 1, or “everything is clear”, meaning that most mandatory measures – including indoor mask orders and certification requirements for vaccination in restaurants – have been eliminated. City schools no longer require masks, although those traveling to hospitals or on public transportation still need to wear them.
The indoor mask order is automatically re-established as the city rises to level 2, with an average number of new daily cases and hospitalizations still low, but “cases have increased by more than 50 percent in the previous 10 days.” A health department spokesman said an average of 70 percent of people had been affected in the past 10 days.
Mayor Jim Kenny said in a statement after the announcement that Philadelphia’s organization “allows us to be clear, unambiguous and predictable in our response to local Govt-19 conditions.” “I am confident that this move will help control the case rate,” he added.
The city’s decision is contrary to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on hospital admissions along with other criteria, the CDC considers Philadelphia to have a “low” social level and therefore does not prescribe the necessary mask.
When asked about the difference, Dr. Pettigole stressed that “local conditions are important” in making these decisions, and brought about imbalances in the impact of the virus. “We’ve all seen it here in Philadelphia, our redlining history, the history of inequalities, especially how much it has affected our black and brown communities in the city,” he said. “So it makes sense to be very careful in Philadelphia, you know, maybe in a cozy suburb.”
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