Philadelphia restores indoor mask mandate, looking to reinstate vax cards for public entry

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(Video Credit: Fox News | MSNBC)

NBC News senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres effusively praised the city of Philadelphia on Monday for reimposing a mask mandate because of an increase in Omicron BA.2 cases, asserting that he is masking up because he knows “what’s coming.”

“I think they’re doing the right amount of caution here, trying to get it under control, getting masks back on these public places, seeing what direction it goes,” Torres claimed on MSNBC’s “Hallie Jackson Reports.”

He also noted that “some people” would criticize the move because it is “overly cautious.” He insisted that “making sure those cases stay in control” and “flattening the curve, as we used to say,” is paramount.

The CDC is not recommending wearing masks indoors at this point unless an individual is at risk. Philadelphia’s community level is low according to the CDC so many are wondering why this is occurring, especially since the BA.2 sub-variant is said to be extremely mild.

“I have started to put my mask back on only because I know what’s coming … and these things lag a few days, so I’m trying to protect myself and my family by doing that when I go out into public places,” Dr. Torres said. “That’s an option that we have and people can do that, but I think you’ll see more mandates happen as time goes on.”

“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,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said after announcing the reinstatement of the mask mandate.

The mask mandate is set to go back into force in Philadelphia on April 18. Cases are rising due to the strain but many who are contracting it report mild cold symptoms.

“Recently we’ve been watching COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise in several European countries and some places in the U.S., and now we’re starting to see cases here in Philadelphia rise,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole stated, according to Fox News.

“Starting today, I’m asking all businesses and institutions in Philadelphia to dig up those old masks-required signs and start hanging them in your windows,” Bettigole stated at a press conference.

“By wearing masks consistently, we can continue to go about our daily lives and continue to take part in the life of our city without contributing to increasing transmission of Covid-19,” she added. “I suspect that this wave will be smaller than the one we saw in January. But if we wait to find out and to put our masks back on, we’ll have lost our chance to stop the wave.”

“If we fail to act now, knowing that every previous wave of infections has been followed by a wave of hospitalizations, and then a wave of deaths, it will be too late for many of our residents,” Bettigole told the Associated Press. “This is our chance to get ahead of the pandemic, to put our masks on until we have more information about the severity of this new variant.”

Philadelphia is the first major US city to reinstate a mask mandate after COVID cases have plummeted.

(Video Credit: NBC10 Philadelphia)

According to Fox News, Philadelphia entered Tier 2 of its COVID response system, which means it has “hit two of three requirements between 100-225 new cases per day, a 50% increase in cases over the previous 10 days, and hospitalization between 50-100.”

If cases rise to the level of 225 to 500 per day, Philadelphia will also reinstate vaccine cards or negative COVID tests before people can enter a bar or restaurant, according to Fox News.

President Joe Biden crowed over the end of mask mandates during his State of the Union address in March.

“Most Americans in most of the country can now be mask free. And based on the projections, more of the country will reach that point across the next couple of weeks,” Biden proclaimed on March 1 during his speech. “Thanks to the progress we have made this past year, COVID-19 need no longer control our lives.”

If Philadelphia is an indicator, mandates could be returning to major cities across the country.


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