As mask mandate returns, Philly reports higher COVID case numbers

FILE - A person wearing a face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walks in Philadelphia, Feb. 16, 2022.

FILE - A person wearing a face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walks in Philadelphia, Feb. 16, 2022. (Matt Rourke/AP)

The city of Philadelphia’s renewed mask mandate went into effect today, as the city’s infection rate has nearly doubled over the past two weeks.

Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health weekly pandemic numbers show there are relatively low hospitalizations for COVID-19, but patient numbers are rising quickly: last week 46 people were hospitalized, this week there are 82 — an increase of 78%.

The number of infections have also nearly doubled since two weeks ago: now at an average of 224 per day.

“We have been watching this wave of the pandemic sweep over Europe and it looks like it’s coming to Philadelphia now,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. “This is a worrisome sign that this wave could be more dangerous than we had hoped.”

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More than 94% of Philadelphia residents have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and neary 77% are fully vaccinated.

Despite a lawsuit filed last week by several businesses and individuals in the state’s Commonwealth Court to overturn the renewed mask mandate, the city has reiterated its decision to enforce the use of masks in indoor spaces like schools, restaurants, stores, and public buildings.

“We know that most Philadelphians are vaccinated, but too many of us have not yet gotten our booster shots. And there are Philadelphians who are still at risk because of age, immunocompromising conditions, or other factors that put them at higher risk,” asid Bettigole. “We can protect them.”

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