Philadelphia is ditching its indoor mask mandate less than a week after bringing it back, according to local officials.
“Due to a recent leveling-off of case counts and a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the City, masks are strongly recommended, but are no longer required in public indoor settings, with the exception of healthcare and congregate settings,” Philadelphia Public Health announced on Friday.
“The Health Department strongly recommends residents & visitors wear a mask in indoor public settings, and get vaccinated and/or boosted if you’re eligible. Thank you, Philly for stepping up once again and responding to this pandemic with solidarity and care for each other,” it added:
The Health Department strongly recommends residents & visitors wear a mask in indoor public settings, and get vaccinated and/or boosted if you’re eligible. Thank you, Philly for stepping up once again and responding to this pandemic with solidarity and care for each other. (2/2)
— Philadelphia Public Health (@PHLPublicHealth) April 22, 2022
The news comes mere days after the city brought back the indoor mask mandate, moving to Level 2 of its four-tier coronavirus-risk system, which it is also ending.
“Given the recent rise in cases, we are moving to Level 2 in hopes of preventing higher case rates and stricter measures,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement at the time.
“Our city remains open; we can still go about our daily lives and visit the people and places we love while masking in indoor public spaces. I’m optimistic that this step will help us control the case rate,” he added.
Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole seemed to believe that the few days of mask mandates helped ward off a spike in cases in the city. It remains unclear what that assessment is based on, as studies show that cloth and surgical masks are not effective in blocking aerosols — a fact Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted as well.
“Response levels worked as intended and helped act as an early warning system to level off this current rise in cases,” Bettigole said in a statement. “People responded by being careful even prior to the mandate, and so we believe that a strong recommendation is adequate rather than a mandate at this stage of the pandemic.”
She reportedly told the Board of Health on Thursday that hospitalizations have decreased in the last few days also.
“We’re in a situation that we really had not anticipated being in this soon but it is good news,” she said, adding that they “no longer need to mandate masks in Philadelphia and that [they] can actually move to simply a strong recommendation.”
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