Health officials said the city is seeing "a small but disturbing increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 among children."
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Health officials in Philadelphia said Thursday they are now strongly recommending everyone to wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
Officials said as of Thursday, 60.8% of adults in Philadelphia are fully vaccinated, and 73.9% have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
"As of this week, over one million people have been vaccinated in Philadelphia," said Mayor Jim Kenney. "The numbers make it clear: vaccinations are the best way to combat COVID-19 by protecting ourselves and the people around us."
Despite those numbers, Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said the city is also seeing "a small but disturbing increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 among children."
"It's time for all of us to do what we need to do to protect our city's kids. That means getting fully vaccinated if you haven't yet, and it means all of us going back to wearing masks in public. Kids under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated. They need you to step up," she said.
Health officials also recommend:
- Choosing outdoor rather than indoor spaces
- Avoiding crowded indoor spaces
- Wearing a mask while indoors around people whom you don't know are vaccinated, and for unvaccinated people, consider double masking while in indoor public spaces.
McNally's Tavern had just taken down its mask optional sign when the city issued its newest guidelines.
"We thought that we were really moving forward, so it's a little surprising to hear we're taking a step back," said Maria Hughes, the assistant manager at the tavern.
While grocery shopping Thursday, Maureen Reynolds says she's noticed more people masking up.
"I think a lot of people are wearing masks, and I think more so over the past couple of days," she said.
Others remain on the fence.
"If the store asks me, I'll wear it. If they don't require it, I don't wear it," said Trine Smith of North Philadelphia.
The Department of Public Health reports 55 patients with COVID-19 are currently being treated in Philadelphia hospitals, with one on a ventilator.
In total, 146,142 Philadelphians have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and 3,763 have succumbed to the virus.
The City of Philadelphia originally reported five patients were currently hospitalized with COVID-19, but has since corrected the number to 55 patients.