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Renewed Philadelphia mask mandate faces legal challenge

Conditions that qualify as mask exemptions have smaller scope than many realize
Posted at 11:02 AM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 11:03:42-04

Several businesses and residents have filed suit in state court in Pennsylvania seeking to overturn Philadelphia’s renewed indoor mask mandate scheduled to be enforced beginning Monday amid a surge in COVID-19 infections.

Philadelphia last week became the first major U.S. city to reinstate its indoor mask mandate after reporting a sharp increase in coronavirus infections. Cases there jumped by 50%, prompting the city to reinstitute its indoor mask mandate - the first major city to do so.

"If we wait to find out to put our masks back on, we'll have lost our chance to stop this wave,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole.

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 Monday, 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 94% of the country, based on CDC standards.

Masking is only urged in 14 counties throughout the U.S.

The Philadelphia mayor’s office declined to comment but said courts have ruled that the city “has both the legal authority and requisite flexibility" to take steps to control COVID-19 spread.