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A level-2 COVID-19 response level would mandate mask-wearing in all indoor public spaces in Philadelphia.

Credit: Maya Pratt

Philadelphia may reinstate a mask mandate for all indoor public spaces as COVID-19 cases in the city increase. 

According to 6abc, officials from the Philadelphia Department of Health have said that the city's COVID-19 response level could move from Level 1 to 2 if cases continue to rise. Moving to Level 2 would again mandate mask-wearing in all indoor public spaces, but would not require proof of either vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in places that serve food and drink.

In order to move to Level 2, two of three criteria must be in place: more than 50 but less than 100 hospitalizations, a 50% increase or higher in positive cases over the last 10 days, and an average of less than 225 but more than 100 new cases per day. 

Philadelphia has an average of 134 average new cases per day, and over a 50% increase in cases for the past 10 days, as of April 4. However, there are 48 hospitalizations — two short of the second condition for moving up to Level 2.

Penn recently dropped its indoor mask mandate for all non-classroom indoor spaces on March 15 and previously planned to lift the classroom mandate on March 28. However, the school paused its plan on March 24 and announced that masks will continue to be required inside classrooms.

Penn has also seen a recent rise in COVID-19 positivity, with cases almost doubling to 273 during the week of March 27 to April 2.

On April 8th, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia policy lab tweeted that it still advises against a mask mandate.

“It is important for those living in the north to anticipate some increased transmission over the next couple of weeks,” CHOP wrote, “but our team advises against required masking given that hospital capacity is good.”

Penn COVID-19 response remains subject to change depending on the number of COVID-19 cases.

"Once masks come off, they might have to come back on again," Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé told the DP on March 3.