PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) – The city of Philadelphia has reinstated a city-wide face mask mandate, public health officials announced, in an apparent attempt to quell the spread of COVID-19.
The city will become the first major U.S. city to turn back on dropping mask requirements, enacting a city-wide mandate from April 18 enforcing the wearing of face coverings in all indoor public spaces, “including schools and childcare settings, businesses, restaurants, and government buildings,” an announcement from Philadelphia Public Health stated Monday.
Masks were still required in healthcare settings, including in nursing homes, and on public transport in Philadelphia before the mandate was expanded.
“Starting today, we’re asking businesses to dig up those ‘masks required’ signs and start hanging them in your windows,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said at a Monday press conference.
The government requested that private citizens snitch on business owners who fail to implement the resurrected mandate by calling the local emergency services to lodge a complaint.
A related press release on the municipal website advised that “[b]usinesses and institutions can go mask-free if they require everyone on-site to be fully vaccinated and check vaccine status upon entry.”
Earlier in the year, however, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky admitted that the COVID jabs “can’t … prevent transmission,” updating guidance at the time to include mask wearing among those who had taken the shots, as well as those who hadn’t.
Bettigole said that the mandate follows an increase in the rate of coronavirus infections discovered in the city, apparently owing to the introduction of the BA.2 subvariant of the largely benign omicron strain of COVID.
Despite a markedly lower association of hospitalizations and deaths with omicron, Bettigole said that infections have “reached the threshold” set by public health officials at which point reinforcing the face mask policy was considered necessary.
The city operates a COVID-response strategy broken up into four tiers, the second of which enforces “mask precautions” when two of either the average virus cases per day surpasses 100 but stays under 225, hospitalizations are between 50 and 100 individuals, or supposed cases have increased by at least 50 percent from the last ten days.
As soon as two of either daily cases rising beyond 225, hospitalizations surpassing 100 persons, or cases increasing by a further 50 percent over the last ten days occurs, the city will be thrown into tier 3, known as “caution.” The third level of the strategy enforces proof of COVID inoculation to enter premises serving food and drink, with an option to present a negative COVID test taken within the last 24 hours instead.
Announcing level 2 restrictions, Bettigole said “[w]e’re putting this into place on the early side. If we were to wait for hospitalizations and deaths to rise, it’s already too late.”
“I sincerely wish we didn’t have to do this again … I wish this pandemic was over just as much as any of you,” she added.
The government suggested that the level 2 mask measure will “protect our most vulnerable residents,” arguing that “[w]earing a mask around others is an easy way to do that.”
Josh Shapiro, the attorney general for Pennsylvania and Democratic gubernatorial candidate for the state’s upcoming election, opposed the decision to reinstate masking in the state’s most populous city.
“I’m not a supporter of these mandates. What I’m a supporter of is educating and empowering the public so that they can make responsible decisions. But I think those kinds of mandates are counterproductive, particularly at this time,” Shapiro said in an interview with CNN.
Myriad data from as far back as December 2020, and which has been consistently confirmed throughout the coronavirus crisis, show that face masks provide “no statically significant” protection from the virus and, indeed, that their extensive use may lead to other health-related problems.
A Turkish study found that the use of face masks reduces the oxygen levels found in the blood, even after just one hour, according to their research among surgeons using surgical masks.
The results of wearing an N95 mask for extended periods of time can be even worse than that of surgical masks on blood oxygen levels, a 2015 study found, with the researchers discovering a drop in blood oxygenation of “as much as 20 percent, which can lead to a loss of consciousness.”
The study concluded that “[b]reathing through N95 mask materials have been shown to impede gaseous exchange and impose an additional workload on the metabolic system of pregnant healthcare workers, and this needs to be taken into consideration in guidelines for respirator use.”