Philadelphia is not ready to lift indoor mask mandate just yet

Philadelphia officials say the health department is working on metrics to determine when the indoor mask mandate can be dropped.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As the omicron variant winds down, mask mandates are being lifted around the Delaware Valley.

Delaware state officials addressed changes to the universal mask mandate on Tuesday.

"Effective Friday, February 11 at 8 a.m., masks will not be required by the state in these indoor places: convenient stores, grocery stores, gyms, restaurants," said Delaware Governor John Carney, citing dropping case rates and hospitalizations.

Delaware joins Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which haven't had statewide universal mask mandates since last year.

SEE ALSO: Gov. Murphy: Mask mandate in NJ schools will be lifted in March
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Gov. Phil Murphy made the announcement Monday that the mandate will end March 7. Individual school districts can continue to require masks.

Private businesses can continue to choose their own mask policies.

Action News found opinions on masking are mixed among local residents.

"I don't think it's really necessary at this point anymore. We have the vaccine; they came out with a vaccine for a reason, right?" said Avery Chance of Millville, NJ.

"I'm 61 and I have some health issues. So I've been vaccinated twice and got a booster shot, so, yes, I will continue to wear one," said Marc Allen of Williamstown, NJ.

Ann Felix of Washington Twp., NJ, says she wears a mask almost everywhere, but she doesn't think everyone should have to.

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It was a big day for mask mandates throughout the region. Bob Brooks reports for Action News at 11 p.m. on Feb. 7, 2022.

In Philadelphia, Department of Public Health officials say they are not ready to drop the indoor mask mandate yet. Officials issued a statement Tuesday, saying in part:

"While our case counts continue to rapidly drop, there are still hundreds of Philadelphians testing positive for COVID every day, and hundreds of people are still hospitalized. Given the outsized effect this virus has had on our Black and Brown communities, we are not comfortable stopping a mandate that has done so much to protect folks."

Philadelphia officials say the health department is working on metrics to determine when the indoor mask mandate can be dropped.

Donna Nickitas, Dean of Nursing at Rutgers University-Camden, says while she supports the lifting of mandates with other precautions in place, some people with health concerns may want to continue masking up.

SEE ALSO: Delaware lifting indoor mask mandate Friday; school mask requirement expires end of March
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Governor Carney will lift Delaware's indoor mask mandate at the end of the week while a mask requirement for schools will expire at the end of March.

"For those who are older adults or who have children or family members who are vulnerable, I don't know that those individuals will feel very comfortable going into a large area that's highly populated without a mask," said Nickitas.

She said adjusting policies as the pandemic changes is a good thing.

"If there's some vulnerability, it's not over until it's over. But we are able to change some policies because we have sufficient evidence that we can ensure that we can keep ourselves safe," Nickitas said, adding she's encouraging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated.
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