Philadelphia moves into ‘all clear’ category, lifts mask mandate
Philadelphia officials announced Wednesday that the city will drop its indoor mask mandate, moving into an “all clear” phase in its tiered COVID-19 safety protocol system.
Under the city’s criteria for level 1, or “all clear,” new cases must drop below 100 a day, hospitalizations must fall below 50 percent, the percent positivity must be under 2 percent and cases must not have risen above 50 percent in the past 10 days.
Philadelphia announced the benchmark system about two weeks ago, with health officials reportedly estimating it could take some time before mask mandates could be lifted due to current case counts.
However, Philadelphia had only been counting the case counts of PCR tests previously, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. When the city included the results for rapid antigen tests, the percent rate decreased significantly, allowing the city to move into its “all clear” benchmark and lift its city-wide masking mandate, notes The Inquirer.
Philadelphia has been averaging 87 new cases a day and 156 people testing positive for the virus in hospitals, according to the Inquirer.
Health officials note that restrictions may have to be reintroduced at points in the future if cases rise again or if a new variant emerges.
High risk settings, which the city classifies as schools, health care settings and public transit systems, will still mandate that people wear masks until next week. Unvaccinated staff who work for the city will still be mandated to wear two masks when indoors, and the city will implement a mask mandate after spring break for schools, in order to control a potential surge after students and their families travel over the break.
The city’s health department notes that some people may choose to continue masking for personal precautions and that masking, alongside vaccination, is the best way to stay safe from COVID-19.
Philadelphia also noted that some businesses may require masks or proof of vaccination for entry, regardless of the city lifting the requirement.
According to data from the Philadelphia Health Department, at least 95 percent of Philadelphians over the age of 18 have been vaccinated with one dose, and 91 percent of those over the age of 12 have gotten at least one dose. About 77 percent of Philadelphians over 12 are fully vaccinated, and 85 percent of adults in the city are fully vaccinated, while only 32 percent have gotten their booster shot.
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