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The Philadelphia Board of Health rescinded its face mask mandate on Thursday, only 3 days after the mandate went into effect and hours after the city’s mayor defended the rule.
The city is now recommending but not requiring face masks be worn in indoor public spaces “due to decreasing hospitalizations and a leveling of case counts,” city spokesman Kevin Lessard said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The mask rule was announced April 11, when case counts were on the upswing, and went into effect last Monday, April 18. Business groups complained and filed a lawsuit against the city government.
On Thursday, hours before the Board of Health acted, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney spoke to The Washington Post and defended the mask mandate, saying the city was following the guidance of health professionals.
“And we’re hoping that taking these measures now – and we see our case counts and our hospitalizations going down – that in fact this has worked and we can get out of the mask mandates sooner than later,” he said.
Most American cities have dropped indoor mask rules in the last month. This week, a federal judge struck down the federal rule requiring face masks on mass transit, including airplanes. The Biden administration says it will appeal.
Los Angeles County will continue to require travelers to wear face masks on board public transit, in taxis and ride shares, and at airports and other transit hubs, according to a Thursday news release.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, PhD, said she decided to continue the mask rule for Los Angeles County transit after reading a CDC statement issued Wednesday. The CDC said face masks were still needed on mass transit, despite the judge’s decision.
“That resonates with us,” Ferrer said at a news briefing, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“We think and agree that public transit settings … and public transportation hubs that are indoors are places where, A) There’s a lot of mingling; B) They’re often crowded; and C) In some of those settings, it’s really hard to have adequate ventilation.
“As soon as CDC determined that it was important to keep this masking requirement in place, we went ahead and aligned with the CDC.”
Ferrer said the mask rule for transit doesn’t mean the county plans to bring back broad face mask mandates for schools, businesses, and indoor settings.
The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Philly lifts mask mandate, hours after Mayor Jim Kenney defended it.”
The Washington Post: “Transcript: Leadership During Crisis with Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.”
CDC: “CDC Statement on Masks in Public Transportation Settings.”
Los Angeles Times: “L.A. County keeps mask mandate at airports, on public transit, despite federal changes.”