Apr 6, 2022 - COVID

Philly revives indoor face mask recommendation

Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Philadelphia is urging people to wear face masks in indoor public places again as new COVID-19 cases rise and the Omicron subvariant BA.2 spreads across the U.S.

Driving the news: City health commissioner Cheryl Bettigole issued the face mask recommendation Monday, which she says is based in part on concerns monitoring a spike in cases in Europe driven by the strain.

  • "It's not required yet, but Philadelphians should strongly consider wearing a mask while in public indoor spaces," she said in a statement.

State of play: The BA.2 variant is now the dominant global strain and accounts for at least half of all new COVID cases in the U.S.

  • Infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci has said that the U.S. will likely experience an increase in cases from BA.2, but not necessarily a significant uptick in hospitalizations or deaths.

By the numbers: Despite a precipitous decline over the last several months, Philadelphia has seen a 50% uptick of new cases in the past 10 days, according to the city.

  • The city is averaging around 94 new cases per day, per data from the last two weeks.
  • "We could see another COVID-19 wave sooner rather than later," Bettigole warned.

Of note: Approximately 1.6 million Pennsylvanians could be eligible for a fourth vaccine dose after the FDA recently authorized the booster for those ages 50 and older and for immunocompromised people, according to officials.

  • In Philadelphia, a total of 224,000 people could be eligible for a fourth dose, of which 128,000 are 50 and older, said Matt Rankin, a spokesperson for the city's Department of Public Health.

Yes, but: That figure is likely incomplete. The city's database does not include Philadelphia residents who've received at least one dose outside the state, like in New Jersey or Maryland.

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