Most Safer at Home restrictions in Philadelphia will be lifted on June 2, a week earlier than expected. PA will lift state restrictions on social gatherings on May 31.
The change is due to the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases being recorded in the city since September 2020.
Most Safer at Home restrictions in Philadelphia will be lifted on June 2, a week earlier than expected. The change is due to the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases being recorded in the city since September 2020.
“As more Philadelphians get vaccinated, COVID cases in Philadelphia have continued to drop, and positivity and hospitalizations remain low,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, in a May 28 press release which announced the schedule change. The original date for lifting the restrictions was June 11.
“These are encouraging signs that vaccination is truly turning the tide in Philadelphia. We still have work to do to reach all Philadelphians, but we also want people to celebrate the good parts of life that we get back by getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Bettigole.
The indoor mask mandate will remain in place, along with the 11 p.m. last call for dining. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health will review these restrictions in the coming week and make a decision to lift them on June 11.
The restrictions being lifted are density and capacity limits, and social distancing rules. Restaurants and other venues can now welcome visitors at full capacity.
On Friday, 118 new confirmed cases were announced, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Philadelphia since the beginning of the pandemic to 143,756. Eight fatalities were reported on Friday morning, increasing the number of residents who have died from the virus to 3,650.
At the May 25 COVID-19 update press briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Bettigole reported hospitalizations as “roughly stable.” By Friday, May 28, there were 193 patients being treated for the virus in city-area hospitals, down from 233 patients from around the same time the previous week.
On the vaccine front, data from the city’s website, which does not include city residents vaccinated outside of Philadelphia, shows that 36.5% of residents over the age of 10 are fully vaccinated and 47.5% have received at least one dose as of Thursday evening. The vaccine is still only approved for people 12 and older.
Vaccines provided so far by the city now total over 1.5 million doses, what Dr. Bettigole called, “a massive effort by an unbelievably committed number of city employees, community partners, [and] the Black Doctors Consortium.”
The Food and Drug Administration announced last week that the Pfizer vaccine can now be stored in refrigerators for up to 30 days, rather than requiring very low temperatures, which kept some providers from being able to administer the vaccine due to specific storage requirements.
Dr. Bettigole called this “a game changer,” especially in light of the next phase of the vaccine rollout, which includes getting the vaccine to primary care centers and ultimately pediatricians, when the vaccines are approved for children younger than 12 years old in the future.
The city also announced this week that it is scaling back its COVID-19 pandemic response updates and will hold press briefings only as needed, rather than on a weekly basis.
Additionally, the COVID-19 updates published daily by the city will only be provided twice a week for the press beginning on May 31. The health department will continue to tweet COVID-19 daily case counts and vaccination rates.
At the final regularly scheduled update on Tuesday, Dr. Cheryl Bettigole announced that the 14-day case count average is 141, down from the prior two-week average calculated last week at 200. The rate of positivity among those tested for COVID-19 has remained below 5% since May 2. These figures continue a downward trend of the pandemic in the city and mirrors what is happening in the region and the country.
In deciding to list its restrictions, Philadelphia joins the surrounding areas. New Jersey lifts its statewide mask mandate today and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania is set to lift all restrictions on social gatherings on May 31.