coronavirus

Crossing the 5% Threshold, Region Braces for More COVID Mandates

Philadelphia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are all now above the 5% positivity threshold for COVID tests, creating a new urgency in the fight against the rising Delta variant.

NBC Universal, Inc.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that students must wear masks in schools for the start of the school year. NBC10’s Cydney Long has the details.

The entire Philadelphia region is now on red alert -- once again -- as COVID cases are rising, with public health officials pointing to rising positive test results as a sign of worsening case counts.

Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Philadelphia have all passed a threshold that has long been a signal that COVID is all around: public health officials for both states and the city say positive tests now make up more than 5% of results.

That's a level that the Centers for Disease Control say citizens should be wearing masks in all indoor public spaces and social distancing is necessary to protect against spread.

In addition to the high positive test results, every county in southeastern Pennsylvania along with every county in southern New Jersey and all of Delaware, are now in "substantial risk" for community spread of COVID, according to the CDC.

"Now is the time to start to scale back a little," Dr. Marci Drees, the chief infection prevention officer at ChristianaCare in Delaware, told NBC10 in an interview last week. "I worry we did open things up too quickly and Delta took advantage of it."

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy last week announced that all students and teachers must wear masks when they return to in-school learning this fall. He doubled down on his decision Monday while talking to reporters.

"We’re not going to not protect our kids, our teachers, our school community," he said. "We’re not going to let COVID shut down our schools, and not willing to surrender our children to this virus."

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf has not issued the same requirement for school districts, instead allowing local leaders to decide for themselves whether masks are mandatory.

Not everyone in New Jersey is happy with their governor's decision.

"I'm against it," parent Lauren Itro, of Washington Township, Gloucester County, said. "I want my kids not to have a mask to go to school."