Pennsylvania lifts mask mandate as COVID-19 cases continue to decline

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FILE – In this May 13, 2021, file photo, May 13, 2021, visitors walk without masks on the pier in Santa Monica, Calif. A number of states immediately embraced new guidelines from the CDC that say fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or out in most situations. But other states – and some businesses _ are taking a wait-and-see attitude. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WETM/AP) — Pennsylvania lifted its mask mandate on Monday, more than 14 months after Gov. Wolf’s administration required people to wear face coverings whenever they left home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In Bradford County, officials say COVID-19 cases there have been decreasing for the last few months after spiking around the holiday season. Even after the mask mandate was lifted for vaccinated Pennsylvanians, they still saw many wearing masks and taking healthcare precautions.

“As a whole, cases in Bradford County have been really tapering down over the last three to four weeks. The last update I got from the Department of Health this morning says that we only have 24 active cases during the last 14 days,” Matthew Williams, director of planning and public safety for Bradford County, said. “I think as long as folks adhere to some common sense guidelines, like washing your hands, we should be okay.”

The Department of Health will no longer require unvaccinated people to wear masks in public, though it said businesses, health care facilities, prisons, and other places may still require them.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also requires masks on planes, trains, buses, and public transportation hubs.

Fully vaccinated people were allowed to shed their masks in most public places in Pennsylvania last month.

“All of the restrictions had been removed, aside from the mask mandate for those who had not been vaccinated. To our knowledge, that restriction has been lifted in its entirety today. Most of the other emergency restrictions in Pennsylvania were lifted, either by the Governor or with the joint resolution passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature, a couple of weeks ago,” Williams continued.

According to federal data, 75 percent of Pennsylvania residents aged 18 and over have already received at least one vaccine dose, with nearly 60 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. People are considered fully vaccinated once they are two weeks beyond their last required dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As more Pennsylvanians have gotten vaccinated, new infections have plummeted. The state has averaged about 177 new confirmed cases per day over the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Deaths attributed to COVID-19 have also dropped off, averaging about 12 per day over the past seven days.

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