A sharp rise in COVID-19 cases has forced a return of the Philadelphia mask mandate. It is the first key US city to restore its mask rule after the Omicron variant threatened a new wave in the city.
There has been a 50% rise in just 10 days. Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said that it is the threshold where the Philadelphia mask mandate sets in and people are advised to put on masks even indoors.
Health officials say that the virulent BA.2 variant is behind this sudden spike in cases. This variant has spread swiftly throughout Asia and Europe and has come to be dominant in America in recent days.
Philadelphia Mask Mandate Necessary To Combat New Wave: City Health Commissioner
Dr. Bettigole noted that if we are reticent in not enforcing measures, it could lead to a wave of transmissions, infections, and deaths. She noted that around 750 residents of Philadelphia fell victims to the omicron outbreak in winter.
She said that the Philadelphia mask mandate could help us stay on top of the COVID-19 pandemic and take other necessary precautions before we get a clear idea of the harshness of this variant.
The Philadelphia mask mandate in indoor areas ended on March 2. Dr. Bettigole said that it felt wonderful to enjoy that feeling of normalcy once again.
Definite cases of the Omicron variant have risen to over 140 per day. This is a small part of what the city saw during the peak of the surge in COVID-19 cases. Hospitalization remains modest at just 46 patients. Dr. Bettigole said she wished that it did not happen again but then she is worried for the vulnerable neighborhood and the loved ones.
The restaurant industry has opposed the Philadelphia mask mandate. They say that workers will have to face the anger of customers at the reimposition of the mask mandate.
Ben Fileccia of the Pennsylvania restaurants said that this announcement could deal a telling blow to small l businesses just when the city was starting to recover.