PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia has lifted its mandate for indoor masks, but residents and visitors are strongly encouraged to still wear a mask in indoor public spaces, the city’s health department announced Friday. The National Board of Health voted to revoke the mandate.
Further details will be announced during a briefing at. 10:30, which will be streamed live on CBS News Philly.
Health authorities say the decision to revoke the order is due to declining hospital admissions and a smoothing of the number of cases, not criticism from businesses and residents.
From late March to mid-April, the Ministry of Health said cases rose sharply. Philadelphia averaged 50 to 60 cases a day during this period, rising to a high of 377 cases on April 14th.
Admissions have also dropped. On April 17, they topped with 82 and are now at 65 per. April 21st.
Health authorities say, based on the data, that hospital admissions have not continued to increase, the city will no longer use the COVID-19 response levels introduced earlier this year.
“What I’m trying to do is really follow the data, and I think that’s what we’ve done here,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole. “You know, I have said, and I said when we announced the mask mandate, that if we did not see hospital admissions increase alongside an increase in cases, we would have to change and reconsider our measurements. And that’s what we do. here.”
Businesses and other institutions are allowed to be stricter than the city’s COVID-19 policies, so some may require proof of vaccination or require masks. Schools can also create their own mask policies. Masks will still be required in health settings, nursing homes and shelters, according to a statement.
“So I think people are not just paying attention to masks, but to COVID in a way so they might have stopped paying attention a few weeks earlier, and that’s what we need to have happen,” he said. Bettigole.
Earlier this week, the news made national headlines when the mandate took effect.
The order was met with setbacks among some business owners.
Last weekend, lawyers representing a handful of companies filed suit against the city, taking a step to throw out the mandate, claiming it has no scientific basis.
“Philadelphia actually did away with the CDC guidelines by default, and they have invented their own guidelines,” attorney Thomas W. King III told Eyewitness News on Saturday. “They’re coming up with this. I want to see the state Commonwealth Court downplay this mandate as a violation of Pennsylvania law.”
That mandate contrary to recommendations from the CDC and health policy experts at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They say the hospital capacity is in good shape.
This now appears to be a recognition of a significant mistake made by the Kenney administration’s policy makers, who rejected the CDC guidelines and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s recommendations against mandate for masks.
But the city does not say that. (3 /) @CBSPhilly
– Joe Holden (@ JoeHoldenCBS3) April 22, 2022
The new mandate also came when federal masking orders were dropped by a Florida judge, allowing travelers on public transportation to go mask-free.
Philadelphia was the first major city in the country to reintroduce a mask mandate.
After days of confusion and criticism over bringing back the mask mandate, most people Eyewitness News spoke to are happy to hear that Philadelphia will be on the same page as other cities.
“I think Mayor Kenney expected other cities to follow Philadelphia in terms of re-implementing this policy,” Jay Larry said. “And I do not think the rest of the cities in this area and the country are ready to do that.”
“It’s up and down,” Brad Howell said, “you never know where you’re going. It’s saying yes here, it’s saying no here, we really do not know at this point.”
CBS3’s Ross DiMattei contributed to this report.