Philadelphia will end the mask mandate after it is reinstituted

Philadelphia has ended its indoor mask mandate. Officials from the city’s health department announced Thursday night that this abruptly reversed course after mask-wearing city residents had been forced to revert back to wearing them due to an increase in infection rates.

The Board of Health approved the repeal of the mandate on Thursday, according to Philadelphia’s health department. They released a statement citing “decreasing hospitalizations” and “a leveling of cases”. “

The mandate was in effect as of Monday. Philadelphia’s indoor mask mandate was lifted March 2.

The health department didn’t release any data supporting its decision to reverse the ban on masking but said that more information would come out Friday. Philadelphia had become the first major U.S. city to reinstate its indoor mask mandate, but faced fierce blowback as well as a legal effort to get the mandate thrown out. Few masks were worn at the Philadelphia 76ers’ home playoff game on Monday, even though they were required under city rules.

Officials from theCity said that Friday’s mandate will be removed.

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“The City will move to strongly recommending masks in indoor public spaces as opposed to a mask mandate,” the health department said in a statement.

When the city announced April 11 that the mandate was coming back, the health commissioner, Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, said it was necessary to forestall a potential new wave driven by an omicron subvariant. According to Bettigole, Philadelphia has passed the threshold for rising infections at which city guidelines require people wearing masks indoors.

” “If we don’t act quickly, understanding that each previous wave in infections was followed by hospitalizations and death, it will soon be too late,” Bettigole stated at the time.

Cases and hospitalizations continued to rise at least through Monday, when the health department reported 82 patients in the hospital with COVID-19 — up nearly 80% from a week earlier — with confirmed cases up 58% over that same span to 224 per day. These numbers are still far below the number of cases and hospitalizations that the city experienced during the wintertime micron surge.

The restaurant industry had protested against the city’s mask mandate. They claimed that workers would be the ones to bear the brunt customer anger.

Several residents and businesses filed suits in Pennsylvania to repeal the mandate.

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“We were very pleased to see Philadelphia make the correct decision to rescind the mask mandate,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Thomas W King III, who was among those involved in last year’s successful legal challenge to the statewide mask mandate in schools. The issue was brought up in the debate on Thursday night between three of the leading Democratic candidates for the open U.S. Senate slot. This occurred just a few minutes before the news that the mandate was being ended broke. Two of them were Lt. Governor. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, and Malcolm Kenyatta (state representative) of Philadelphia, voted against the mandate.

“We have to move past COVID,” said Fetterman, adding that “we have to live with this virus, and I don’t believe going backwards with a mask mandate or with closures is appropriate.”

U.S. Conor Lamb, a suburban Pittsburgh representative said that he disliked wearing masks but believed Philadelphia officials were doing what was best for everyone. “

Most states and cities have dropped masking regulations in February and March, according to new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. These guidelines put less emphasis on the number of cases and instead focussed on hospitals capacity and suggested that most Americans can remove their masks safely.

The Justice Department, meanwhile, said it is appealing a judge’s order that voided the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and in travel hubs. The CDC requested that the Justice Department appeal the Florida federal court’s decision earlier in the week.

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