Philadelphia on Monday became the first major U.S. city to renew its mandate for indoor masks after announcing a sharp increase in coronavirus infections, with a senior city health official saying it wanted to prevent a potential new wave caused by the Omicron option.

Confirmed cases of Covid-19 have risen more than 50% in 10 days, and this is the threshold at which city guidelines have urged people to wear masks indoors, said Dr. Cheryl Betigol, Philadelphia’s health commissioner.

Health officials believe the recent wave is driven by the high-transmission Omicron subvariant BA.2, which has quickly spread across Europe and Asia and has become dominant in the U.S. in recent weeks.

“If we don’t act now, knowing that every previous wave of infections was followed by a wave of hospitalizations and then a wave of deaths, it will be too late for many of our people,” Betigol said, noting that about 750 Philadelphians died during the Omicron winter outbreak. .

“This is our chance to anticipate the pandemic, to put on masks until we have more information about the severity of this new option.”

From April 18, sanitary inspectors will begin to fulfill the mandate of the mask at city enterprises.

Most states and cities waived their camouflage requirements in February and early March under new recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which pay less attention to the number of cases and more hospital capacity.

At the time, the CDC said that with the retreat of the virus, most Americans could safely remove their masks.

Philadelphia ended her tenure on the indoor mask on March 2, and Bettygol admitted that “it was wonderful to feel this sense of normalcy again.”

Confirmed cases have since risen to more than 140 a day – still a fraction of what Philadelphia has seen at the peak of the Omicron surge – while hospitalizations remain low – only 46 patients.

“I sincerely wish we didn’t have to do it again,” Betigol said. “But I am very worried about our vulnerable neighbors and loved ones.”

The restaurant industry has refused to impose camouflage, saying workers will bear the brunt of customers ’anger because of the new rules.

In New York, Mayor Eric Adams has suspended efforts to repeal many city virus regulations as there have also been more cases, deciding to keep the mandate in masks for children aged two to four in urban schools. and preschools.

But Adams, a Democrat who said New Yorkers should not allow a pandemic to rule their lives, has already repealed most other mandates and mask rules that require proof of vaccination to dine at restaurants, exercise in gyms or attend shows.

About 1,800 new cases a day are now officially registered in New York, which is about three times higher than in early March, when New York began to ease the rules. This does not include many home tests that are not reported to healthcare professionals.

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