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The bar for reimposing mask mandates is getting higher and higher

the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
the Big Cities Health Coalition
the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
Drexel University
Health Justice
Temple University
Philadelphia Health
Quinnipiac University
a Washington Post Live

Marcus Plescia
Chrissie Juliano
Barbara Ferrer
Ashwin Vasan
Usama Bilal
Oni Blackstock
Abby Rudolph
Cheryl Bettigole
Allison Arwady
Josh Shapiro
Jim Kenney
Byron Sigcho-Lopez


the East Coast

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New York City
New Jersey

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Positivity     39.00%   
   Negativity   61.00%
The New York Times
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In Philadelphia, officials reimposed a mask mandate last month after cases rose, only to scrap the rule four days after it took effect.The decisions by the Democratic-run cities illustrate how mask mandates are falling out of favor with American public health authorities in the third year of the pandemic and the bar to bring them back is getting higher, even in places where the requirements were long embraced as a proven way to reduce the spread of coronavirus.“They are responding to the public,” said Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “It puts the onus on people who are not in the best position to protect themselves to do so.”Others who praised Philadelphia for bringing back its mask mandate at the first signs of a potential surge worry the CDC’s emphasis on hospitalization data for masking is ill-timed.“Once you already get the hospitalizations peaking, you can’t go back in time a week and change what you did before,” said Abby Rudolph, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Temple University.When local journalists pressed Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole about her credibility to issue mask mandates, she argued the decision to lift the rule in light of declining hospitalizations would build trust.“By keeping those promises, if I do come back to Philadelphia and have to say this one looks bad, we really have to do something different, I feel like then people are more willing to trust that we’re only going to do what we have to do and not be more restrictive than we have to,” Bettigole said.Other public health leaders are making similar calculations as they try to nail down when, if ever, to bring mask mandates again.Allison Arwady, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Public Health, says the right time to impose mask mandates is when hospital capacity is threatened, as it was when the city faced record admissions during the omicron surge. It was the first time since pollsters started asking the question in August that a majority opposed the mandates.A Quinnipiac University survey released last month found a slim majority of Americans opposed a mask mandate for public transit, but would also continue wearing masks in planes, trains and buses.Some worry authorities are jeopardizing public health as a result and that politics are creeping into the decision-making as a midterm election where Democrats are at a disadvantage looms.Philadelphia’s mask mandate prompted criticisms from some Democrats running for statewide office, including gubernatorial contender Josh Shapiro, who called the measure “counterproductive.”In a Washington Post Live interview before the city scrapped its mandate, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney responded to Shapiro’s criticism by noting “he is running in a state that’s not necessarily always blue, coming from an area of the state that is blue.”Critics say Democrats who are shying away from mask mandates in the face of rising cases are acting like Republicans who turned on mitigation measures early in the pandemic by prioritizing residents fed up with mask rules.“Democrats in municipalities who are rolling back these mandates are caving in in fear of the political repercussions, but what we are failing to see is this is only turning off constituents,” said Byron Sigcho-Lopez, a Chicago alderman.He has pressed city officials to reimpose a mask mandate, worried rising cases will inflict a heavier burden on Black and Latino neighborhoods with lower vaccination and booster rates.

As said here by Fenit Nirappil