Philly urges indoor masking amid rise in COVID cases, child hospitalizations

In addition to urging residents to get vaccinated, Philly health officials strongly recommend that everyone — including those fully vaccinated — wear masks in public spaces.

People, some without masks, walk along Market Street

People, some without masks, walk along Market Street in Philadelphia, Friday, May 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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Philadelphia health officials on Thursday issued new coronavirus recommendations to mitigate the spread of the highly infectious delta variant.

Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said the city is seeing a “small but disturbing” increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 among children, along with more than a doubling of cases. Over the past two weeks, Philadelphia has averaged 64 new cases of COVID-19 per day.

“Kids under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated,” Bettigole said in a statement. “They need you to step up.”

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“The numbers make it clear,” Mayor Jim Kenney added. “Vaccinations are the best way to combat COVID-19 by protecting ourselves and the people around us.”

In addition to urging residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible, the health department strongly recommended that everyone — including fully vaccinated residents — wear masks in all public indoor spaces.

Health officials also recommended that people choose outdoor rather than indoor spaces to gather, avoid crowded outdoor spaces, mask while indoors around people whose vaccination status is unknown, and consider double-masking while indoors.

As of Thursday, at least 917,771 Philadelphians have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with at least 754,821 fully vaccinated, or just over 60% of all adults.


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