Philadelphia recommends masks in indoor public spaces as COVID-19 cases rise.
Philadelphians may soon have to wear masks inside public spaces again as the pandemic resurfaces in the city, where COVID-19 infections have skyrocketed recently.
Philadelphia and other parts of the country, primarily in the Northeast, are seeing an increase in coronavirus cases as the Omicron BA subvariant.2 becomes the dominant strain. Overseas, the UK hit a record of almost 5 million new cases last week.
“Based on what we’ve seen in Europe, we could see another wave of COVID-19 sooner rather than later,” Cheryl Bettigole, the city’s health commissioner, said in a statement Monday.
“It’s not yet required, but Philadelphians should seriously consider wearing a mask in indoor public spaces,” the doctor added.
The recommendation comes just a month after Philly dispensed with COVID precautions.
“We don’t want to keep masks on any longer than necessary,” Bettigole said on March 2, when the city lifted the mandate to wear masks indoors.
Philadelphia is now averaging 94 new cases a day, a positivity rate of about 3% in the past two weeks. COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 50% in the last 10 days, according to city health officials.
Citywide, 48 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, five of them on ventilators, according to health officials. Approximately 5,000 people in Philadelphia have died from the disease.
Philadelphia still requires masks in health care facilities, nursing homes and on public transportation, but face coverings are optional, including in schools, except for Head Start programs.
Other parts of the US are also telling residents to consider wearing face coverings as the BA.2 variant spreads.
New York public health officials on Friday recommended Masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces in five counties in the central part of the state, which ended indoor mask mandates for public places and schools on February 10 and March 2, respectively.
More than 980,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, which is killing 600-700 people in the US every day.