By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A mask recommendation has been issued in Philadelphia as COVID-19 Delta variant cases continue to rise. City health officials are strongly recommending that everyone, including fully vaccinated people, wear masks in all public indoor places to help stop the spread of the Delta variant.

They also recommend residents choose outdoor rather than indoor spaces, avoid crowded indoor spaces, and wear masks while indoors around people you don’t know are vaccinated.

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These new recommendations come in response to the rise of COVID cases and the hospitalization of a few children who are ineligible to be vaccinated.

“We are seeing a small but disturbing increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 among children in Philadelphia, along with more than a doubling of cases in the city,” Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said. “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. If you still have questions you need answered, call your doctor or our health department staff and get the information you need. And then get it done.”

Health officials say the city is averaging 64 new cases of COVID-19 per day over the last two weeks.

The increase is seen mainly in teenagers and young adults and there’s also been an increase in hospitalizations.

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“Firstly, I want to thank everybody for their efforts that they are making and to say yes this is frustrating, this is annoying, we want to be done with this,” Bettigole said. “But at the same time, when we’re watching more kids being admitted to the hospital, we have to do everything we can to protect our kids.”

As for the unvaccinated, health officials say you should consider double masking while indoors in public spaces, and most importantly, if you are eligible get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“This is about reaching that last group with vaccines, the young adults, who have been the least vaccinated and essentially asking them even though it’s annoying, even though it’s frustrating and even though you don’t want to, please do this for the kids in our city,” Bettigole said. “Get your vaccine and put your mask on.”

CBS3 reached out to Philadelphia’s surrounding counties and state leaders to see if any would be making the same recommendation. Pennsylvania’s health department says the state does not have plans to reinstate its mask mandate or update indoor mask guidance for vaccinated individuals at this time.

Delaware County said the same.

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New Jersey leaders also had no change in guidance for now.

Stephanie Stahl