PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With COVID-19 cases increasing in Pennsylvania, especially in and around Philadelphia, city and state health officials are highlighting the mandate to wear face masks in public.
There was even an apology to restaurants from the Philadelphia health commissioner.
Philadelphia’s restaurants were caught off guard on Tuesday when the health commissioner announced that indoor dining restrictions would continue. He said Thursday that won’t happen again and also revealed the city is now keeping count on how many people are wearing masks.
The Philadelphia Health Department, using security cameras at retail stores and SEPTA stations, is monitoring whether people are wearing masks. The current assessment is 76% are using face coverings.
“Most residents are doing the right thing, but not quite enough,” Dr. Thomas Farley said. “This is something that should be standard equipment when you get out of the house.”
Farley says COVID-19 is still spreading, mainly among people under the age of 40 years old.
There are concerns they could spread the virus to vulnerable family members at home.
“Have them wear a mask when they’re around you, even inside the home if they’ve been out and about. And you should wear a mask when around them,” Farley said.
Farley apologized to restaurants for the short notice in extending the ban on indoor dining and said he’d have a decision by Aug. 21 on whether it would be allowed in September.
“Restaurants will have at least 10 days to plan whether they would be opening or not opening,” Farley said.
He says they’ll get the green light if COVID-19 cases are falling substantially.
“We’re trying to keep our city going through this epidemic. We have to last several more months,” Farley said.
Also in Lancaster on Thursday and with the virus continuing to spread across the state, Gov. Tom Wolf and the secretary of health visited the Millersville Branch of Lancaster EMS to thank frontline workers.
“Our EMS providers are vital integral parts of our communities,” Dr. Rachel Levine said. “I want to personally thank them for joining us once again in a fight to stop a disease from ravaging Pennsylvania.”
Levine and Wolf said the best way for everyone to support frontline workers is to wear a mask, but they acknowledged it’s a mandate that’s hard to enforce.