Philadelphia health officials say they're ending the city's indoor mask mandate, abruptly reversing course just days after people in the city had to start wearing masks again amid a sharp increase in infections.
The Board of Health voted Thursday to rescind the mandate. That's according to the Philadelphia health department, which released a statement that cited “decreasing hospitalizations and a leveling of case counts.”
The health department did not release data to back up its reversal on masking, saying more information would be provided Friday.
Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to reinstate its indoor mask mandate but faced fierce blowback as well as a legal effort to get the mandate thrown out.
"If we wait to find out to put our masks back on, we'll have lost our chance to stop this wave,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said last week.
Attorney Thomas W. King III said the city’s emergency order went against Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and “imposed a renegade standard."
As of Friday, the CDC lists the spread of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia as low. The CDC does not urge masking in most public spaces in areas with low or moderate spread.
COVID-19 levels are considered low in 91% of the country, down from 94% of the country three days ago, based on CDC standards.