Positive Covid-19 cases in Philadelphia continue to decline

Adolescents receive COVID-19 vaccine
A teenager receives a coronavirus vaccine at a clinic run by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health in partnership with the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium.
Reuters file

Philadelphia has officially lifted its indoor mask mandate for local schools, as the city’s positive Covid-19 cases continues to plummet.

According to the Department of Health, there are currently 128 patients with Covid-19 being treated in Philadelphia hospitals, and a total of 22 on ventilators. Philadelphia is averaging 62 new cases of Covid-19 per day over the last two weeks.

“The number of people who are testing positive for Covid in Philadelphia is rapidly approaching the lowest we’ve ever seen,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. “Because our case counts are so low, and dropping, we feel that it’s safe enough for people to go unmasked indoors, including in schools. We haven’t seen a rise in cases in Philadelphia since we stopped enforcing the broader indoor mask mandate, nor have we seen a rise in cases in other jurisdictions that have dropped their school mask mandate.”

Philadelphia schools can now enforce mask optional policies, which will apply to all classrooms, after-school programs and school camps. Head Start programs are not covered and are still required to enforce universal masking for all staff and children two and older under existing Federal Rule.

Mask mandates could possibly be reinstated if cases rise, in accordance with the city’s Covid Response Levels, a system that tracks the spread and severity of Covid in Philadelphia to ensure that the city’s response is the least restrictive necessary to reduce the spread of the virus. The Response Levels are not dependent on vaccinations, but instead focus on how many Philadelphians currently have Covid and how many people are hospitalized with the virus.

As of Wednesday, 1,533,520 people received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Philadelphia, and 1,240,757 people are fully vaccinated in the city. The Health Department announced an update to the COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, which now includes detailed information on 5-11 year old vaccination rates, boosters for Philadelphians 12 and older, and updates to some percentages due to data cleaning.

“We were excited to see a high percentage of Philadelphia youth vaccinated, but we have learned that there was an error in how that percentage was calculated,” said Bettigole. “No one is more disappointed than we are at this error, but we have corrected it and instituted new measures to ensure that any future problems are caught before they go live. I am happy to see that our pediatric vaccine rate is still higher than the nation’s but this shows us that we still have a great deal of work to do to vaccinate all of our children.”

Children ages 5 and older are now eligible to be vaccinated. For additional information or to find a vaccine clinic, visit phila.gov/covid

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