Some people are masking up again as respiratory illnesses like COVID, flu surge

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Thursday, January 4, 2024
Some people are masking up again as respiratory illnesses like COVID, flu surge
Some people are masking up again as respiratory illnesses like COVID, flu surge

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As cases of respiratory illnesses rise, some epidemiologists are encouraging people to take safety precautions.

Main Line Health reinstituted its mask mandate on Thursday, citing a surge in cases of flu, RSV, and COVID-19 as the reasons why.

While at this point it seems schools and businesses are not considering a similar mandate, some people are taking safety measures anyway.

"Rule number one, really, is if you're sick stay home," said Carolyn Cannuscio, an associate professor and epidemiologist with Perelman School of Medicine.

While Philadelphia officials say they're not considering a new mask mandate, some residents are still masking up.

"I have a kid at home. I'm trying to protect her - don't want her getting sick. This is crazy," said Ranier Holland from South Philadelphia.

Data from the CDC shows the percentage of ER visits due to respiratory illnesses has jumped significantly since the fall in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"We're seeing that people across the United States are still getting very sick with COVID," said Cannuscio.

Main Line Health has announced a temporary return to masking at all locations because of a significant increase in COVID-19, Flu and RSV cases.

Action News spoke with Philadelphia, Camden, and Upper Darby school districts, none of which are considering new mandates.

Still, while cases rise, experts are calling on community leaders in both schools and businesses to not only encourage protection but make it more accessible.

"Our building provides these rapid tests for us. What a great way to make the whole workplace safer," said Cannuscio.

Residents say they're making their own judgment calls on a situational basis.

"When I'm around people, on the train, the buses. Got people coughing and all so you just never know. I don't want to catch anything," said James Carter from Lansdowne.

"If you're sick, I think wear a mask. If not, I think if you're going to be in places where people are sick, I think you should wear a mask," said Sasha Boston from Havertown.

Experts also recommend staying up to date on vaccinations. It's not too late to get the newest flu and COVID shots to protect from recent variants.