Despite a small increase in COVID-19 infections, Philadelphia does not yet need to reinstate its indoor mask mandate for all people, the city’s top doctor said Friday.
Acting Health Commissioner, Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, told NBC10 that the city has seen some cases of the more infectious delta variant, but conditions are not as bad as in other parts of the country, including Los Angeles County, which on Thursday announced that it was reinstating indoor masking rules for everyone.
“We don’t want to do that, and we are really not at that stage,” Bettigole said.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
She noted that Philadelphia is currently averaging around 38 new infections a day, significantly less than the average last fall but still up from the 23-24 new cases that the city had been averaging over the last few weeks.
Right now, Bettigole said, there also has not been a rise in coronavirus-related hospitalizations, but that could change in the next few weeks.
However, she stressed that the situation in Philadelphia is “very, very different” than the one in LA County, where the rise in infections has been more pronounced.
New cases in Philadelphia are primarily being seen in adults between 20 and 34 years old who are not at all vaccinated or have skipped their second dose, Bettigole said.
“As people have been saying all over the country, this is largely a pandemic now of the unvaccinated. That doesn’t mean we won’t see any breakthrough cases, but they’re likely to be very mild,” she said.
Those who are unvaccinated should continue using masks indoors and in crowded settings, and they should look to get vaccinated as soon as possible, Bettigole stressed. She added that people who have skipped their second dose – about 8% of the city’s vaccinated population – do not have to get the second dose at the same location where they got their first shot.
“If you’re not fully vaccinated, you’re not safe, and this variant is very contagious. So, basically, vax up or mask up, but do something to protect yourself,” Bettigole said.