Universal mask mandate lifts in Pennsylvania

The statewide universal mask mandate lifted Monday in Pennsylvania. 

Businesses can still require face coverings, Gov. Tom Wolf said, but the public health order that required it expired this week after more than 16 months.

“Thank you to each and every Pennsylvanian who did their part to get us here,” Wolf tweeted Monday.

The mask policy was the last of the COVID-19 mandates left standing when lawmakers terminated the state’s emergency declaration earlier this month. In total, more than 1.2 million residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the first case were identified on March 6, 2020, and more than 27,000 have died from the virus, according to state data.

About 97% of those that tested positive have recovered, according to the Department of Health. As of Sunday, some 75% of the state’s adult population has also received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“We are continuing to make progress toward stopping the spread of COVID-19 throughout the commonwealth, as many Pennsylvanians have taken responsibility for their own health and the health of their communities by getting vaccinated,” acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said.

Health officials, including acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson, warned that residents must remain resilient, even with the mask order lifted.

“As we shift to wearing masks less often, it is important to remain resilient in the fight against COVID-19, just as we have done together over the last year and a half,” she said. “The COVID-19 vaccines are the best tools we have to defeat COVID-19 … Getting as many Pennsylvanians vaccinated as possible will offer more protection against the virus for everyone and is the fastest and safest way for us to return to our normal activities.”   

This article was originally posted on Universal mask mandate lifts in Pennsylvania

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