Philadelphia schools will require masks as U.S. COVID cases spike

Dec 15 (Reuters) – Public school students in Philadelphia will have to wear face coverings to school for 10 days after winter break, officials said, as communities across the country grapple with another surge of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses.

The mandate, which will take place from Jan. 3-13, is aimed at reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses after a holiday season likely to be filled with larger social gatherings and increased exposure, the school district said in a statement on Thursday.

Philadelphia is among state and local agencies across the United States rolling out mask mandates or recommendations this month to combat a new surge in virus cases, which are expected to increase as Americans traveling and socializing around the winter holidays.

Health experts say the US health care system is under pressure because of a “tridemic” caused by COVID-19, the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said Thursday that the country has likely had its worst flu season in a decade.

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The White House announced Thursday that families could once again order free COVID-19 tests from the government’s website COVIDTests.gov because of the national surge in cases. Read more

But nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer districts are rushing to enforce strict mandates than in previous years. The effectiveness of the mandates has been debated, as months of strict public health rules early in the COVID pandemic increased public fatigue and fueled political controversy.

California’s public health department told Reuters on Thursday that it was urging people to wear masks, but not requiring them.

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Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, Berkeley, said the triad of respiratory diseases is already straining hospitals and, reminiscent of the earlier days of the pandemic, crowding out facilities to perform elective procedures. cancel.

While the political will to impose mask mandates may have waned, covering your face is the best way to avoid getting sick—and infecting others.

“If you don’t want to get sick and you don’t want to go to the hospital and you don’t want to die from COVID or flu, or a very young child, RSV, you should be mascara. indoors in a public place,” Swartzberg said.

Purchase College, part of the State University of New York, announced on Tuesday that indoor coverings were needed again, citing a “high level of transmission” of the virus locally.

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California’s Sacramento Unified School District said on Dec. 5 that if community transmission returned to high levels, masks would be required indoors.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county would impose an indoor mask mandate if community-level spread became “high” by the standards of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which looks at hospitalizations and new cases of COVID-19 in relation to. for the entire population.

New York City’s Health Commissioner last week “strongly” recommended that New Yorkers wear masks in public indoor and outdoor crowded places, even though community transmission is already “high” by CDC standards.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Sharon Bernstein; Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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