Philadelphia is restoring its indoor mask mandate as the number of COVID-19 cases rise across the region.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced the reinstatement of the mandate on Monday, giving residents and businesses a “one-week educational period” to prepare for the change.
COVID-19 rates are rising in Philadelphia, with an average of 142 cases per day within the last two weeks and a 4.5% increase in positive COVID tests, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
Since the pandemic started, over 275,000 city residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and over 5,000 have died because of the virus. Currently, 76.9% of Philadelphia adults are fully vaccinated, while nearly 94.7% have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Philadelphia has four COVID-19 response levels. The city is currently at a Level 2, which indicates that the average number of new cases per day are less than 225, hospitalization numbers are less than 100, and cases have increased by more than 50% in the previous ten days. At Level 2, masks must be worn indoors, but there are no vaccine or testing requirements for places that serve food and beverages.
In the press release, Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney said the city’s response levels “allow us to be clear, transparent and predictable in our response to local COVID-19 conditions.”
“Given the recent rise in cases, we are moving to Level 2 in hopes of preventing higher case rates and stricter measures,” Kenney stated. “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.”
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that COVID cases were back on the rise, urging individuals to weigh their own personal risk of infection.
“This is not going to be eradicated and it’s not going to be eliminated,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.” “What’s going to happen is that we’re going to see that each individual is going to have to make their calculation of the amount of risk that they want to take in.”
Fauci believes the rise in COVID cases occurred because of states relaxing mask and vaccination mandates and the arrival of a delta-omicron hybrid known as the BA.2 variant.
“I hope the Congress comes through and gives us the resources so that as we get into what might be another surge that we’re prepared with the ― all of the tools that we need to address it,” Fauci said.