Philadelphia

Officials to Issue New Mandates for Philly Health Care, Higher Ed

'We need to reach 80-90% vaccination rate to get out of this pandemic'

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What to Know

  • City leaders will announce new mandates for health care workers and college students in Philadelphia. 
  • Under the new guidelines, health care workers, college students and staff will either have to be fully vaccinated or wear double masks indoors, maintain social distancing and undergo COVID testing at least once a week. 
  • Officials said everyone in health care and higher education institutions will either need to be vaccinated or designated as exempt by October 15.

A day after implementing new COVID guidelines for businesses, city leaders will announce new mandates for health care workers and college students in Philadelphia. 

Members of the Philadelphia Board of Health spoke about the mandates for health care and higher education institutions in the city during a virtual meeting on Thursday. Under those guidelines, health care workers, college students and staff will either have to be fully vaccinated or wear double masks indoors, maintain social distancing and undergo COVID testing at least once a week. 

Officials said everyone in health care and higher education institutions will either need to be vaccinated or designated as exempt by October 15. Those who are exempt must abide by the mask and testing mandates.

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They also said the guidelines are in reaction to an increase of positive COVID cases among college students. 

“It affects everyone beyond the college and we have to take a bold move,” Philadelphia Department of Health Board Member Amid Ismail said. “We need to reach 80-90% vaccination rate to get out of this pandemic.”

The officials said they will reveal more details on the new guidelines on Friday. 

The guidelines are the latest efforts from the city to control the spread of COVID-19 as infections rise again across the country, driven largely by the more transmissible delta variant and a struggle to get people vaccinated.

On Thursday a new mandate was enforced in which Philadelphia businesses must now require masks or proof of vaccination from employees and customers, while large outdoor events with no seating will also need to implement masks.

Businesses that require all staff and customers be fully vaccinated will not be subject to the masking rule, Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole announced.

The health secretary noted that while Philadelphia is in better shape than many other cities – especially those in the South, where some lawmakers have railed against measures like vaccine and masking mandates – the number of coronavirus infections has nonetheless continued to rise.

The average number of new infections per day has doubled three times in the last month, and the city is now averaging nearly 200 new daily cases, Bettigole said. Additionally, she noted, for the first time since early June, more than 100 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.Data from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health shows that a little more than 63% of adult residents have been fully vaccinated, with just over 77% having received at least one dose.

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