Philadelphia Officials Issue Mandatory Mask Order, Consider Delaying Green Phase As Coronavirus Cases Rise

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Philadelphia officials say they may delay the city entering the green phase of reopening after seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases compared to last week. City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Friday that cases in the last week have averaged more than 100 per day, which is an increase of what the city has been seeing.

“We’re doing more tests, but that increased testing does not explain the increased case count,” Farley said. “We have noticed a spike in cases among teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19. It appears to be from them attending social events.”

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Philadelphia set targets for reopening on July 3, however, Dr. Farley said those targets may not be met in time.

“We are not seeing a constant decrease in cases over four weeks which is one of our targets. So we are not ready to go to green,” he said.

The health commissioner also announced that as of today, officials are issuing a mandatory mask order for the city.

This will require the use of masks at all indoor places and outdoors if people are less than six feet away from people from different households.

“This order is a requirement but we will not be enforcing this with police. The purpose of this order is really to send a message to everyone and enable them to encourage others to wear masks,” Dr. Farley said. “In the end, it’s up to us as Philadelphia residents to self-enforce this order.”

As of Friday, there are 25,693 COVID-19 cases, along with a total of 1,579 deaths.

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Pennsylvania health officials are looking closely at areas where COVID-19 infection rates and deaths are ticking back up, threatening to turn back progress against the pandemic, the state’s health secretary said Friday.

“We are doing a deep dive into all of the counties that have had increases,” Dr. Rachel Levine said, warning that “community spread” is occurring in some parts of the state.

The rise may be attributable to the gradual reopening that has been taking place in Pennsylvania, as well as more extensive testing, Levine said.

Cases are on the rise in Allegheny County, which reported 61 new confirmed infections Friday, its second-highest total.

The Health Department also announced Friday there are 600 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, the highest total since June 13. Pennsylvania has now seen more than 84,000 confirmed cases.

There were also 22 additional deaths reported Friday, for a statewide total of 6,579 since March.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)