Pennsylvania is finally lifting its Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) mask mandate. This comes more than a year after officials first instituted it and said it would only take the state two weeks to flatten its coronavirus curve.
“Starting today, masks are no longer required in Pennsylvania. Thank you to each and every Pennsylvanian who did their part to get us here,” said Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
This marks the first time since April 15, 2020 that Pennsylvania does not have some kind of state order requiring the wearing of masks in businesses or public places. The mask order was in effect for one year and 73 days.
Wolf’s office said that while the state-ordered mask requirement is no longer in place, businesses municipalities and schools may still require masks within their premises as they see fit.
“Businesses, organizations, healthcare providers and other entities maintain the option of requiring employees, guests or customers to wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status,” said Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam on Friday.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health said healthcare workers are still required to wear masks while in healthcare facilities. Furthermore, patients, visitors and other staff at these facilities are also required to wear masks.
Officials from Penn State Health, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, WellSpan Health and the Lebanon VA Medical Center have announced that masks are still mandatory at all of their hospitals and outpatient facilities.
The federal government’s mask mandate is also still in place. This means face coverings are still required on planes, trains, buses and other forms of mass transit. Furthermore, passengers of Capital Area Transit, Rabbit Transit and Red Rose Transit in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley are still required to wear masks until Sept. 13.
Mask mandates all over the country are being lifted. Neighboring Delaware lifted its mask order on May 21. New Jersey’s mandate was rolled back on May 28.
Unvaccinated individuals in New York are still required to wear a mask. The state’s health department still recommends masks in certain situations, including when individuals cannot verify the vaccination status of other people.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland is slated to lift most of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, including its mask mandate, on July 1. West Virginia and Ohio lifted their own mask mandates in late June.
In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance stating that vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks in most situations, including most indoor settings other than public transportation. Pennsylvania responded to this by relaxing its mask mandate for fully vaccinated people. Later in May, on Memorial Day, the state removed most of its other coronavirus restrictions.
The Office of the Governor of Pennsylvania made it clear that the mask mandate was being relaxed because many Pennsylvanians aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Related: Pennsylvania woman left paralyzed after getting injected with Pfizer vaccine.)
According to the state health department, around 75 percent of all adult Pennsylvanians have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Nearly 60 percent of those 18 and over are fully vaccinated.
The governor’s office further claimed that new COVID-19-related cases and hospitalizations are plummeting in Pennsylvania. No counties in the state are demonstrating a high spread of the virus. Statewide, the percentage of coronavirus tests that turned out positive is at just over one percent.
Despite this, state health officials are still asking Pennsylvanians to keep their guard up.
“As we shift to wearing masks less often, it is important to remain resilient in the fight against COVID-19, just as we have done together over the last year and a half,” said Pennsylvania Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson.
Learn more about mask mandates in Pennsylvania and other states at Pandemic.news.
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