State to lift masking order Monday; COVID-19 infection rates drop

·4 min read

Jun. 25—Masks will no longer be required in many locations beginning Monday when the state's universal masking order is lifted.

Businesses, churches, schools and other facilities may continue to require masks and the Federal Transportation Administration continues to require masks for public transportation venues.

"We are continuing to make progress toward stopping the spread of COVID-19 throughout the commonwealth, as many Pennsylvanians have taken responsibility for their own health and the health of their communities by getting vaccinated," Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said.

"Even though the universal masking order will be lifted in a few days, businesses, organizations, health care providers and other entities maintain the option of requiring employees, guests or customers to wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status."

The change was first announced May 27 and could have come sooner if more Pennsylvanians received COVID-19 vaccines.

Announcing the lifting of the order last month, Beam said, "We have determined that the commonwealth's mask order can be lifted on June 28 or when 70% of adults get their second dose, whichever comes first."

At the time, 52.7% of all adults were fully vaccinated. On Friday, the Department of Health report showed 59.4% of adults are fully vaccinated.

The FTA order for transportation venues includes CamTran buses and all its facilities, Executive Director Rose Lucey-Noll said

"The face mask order has not been lifted for public conveyances: Public transit, airlines and rail," Lucey-Noll said.

"The order is in place until Sept. 13."

Masks will continue to be required inside Cambria County courthouse in Ebensburg, Central Park Complex in Johnstown and all district court offices under orders by President Judge Norman Krumenacker.

Although Krumenacker's original order will expire Wednesday, he announced earlier this month he will renew the mandate.

"I'm going to keep my order so we can continue to do business and not endanger anybody," Krumenacker said on June 9.

Krumenacker pointed to the vaccination rate among Cambria County Prison employees to illustrate his concern. At the time, fewer than 40 of the jail's 115 employees have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine.

Health department leaders say vaccination rates remain a crucial measure when easing mitigation.

"The COVID-19 vaccines are the best tools we have to defeat COVID-19," Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said.

"Pennsylvanians are aware of this and have been getting vaccinated. Getting as many Pennsylvanians vaccinated as possible will offer more protection against the virus for everyone and is the fastest and safest way for us to return to our normal activities."

Vaccine providers have administered 11,555,953 doses and 5,320,833 people are fully vaccinated. Another 1,351,484 are partially vaccinated, meaning they have received one dose of a two-dose vaccine.

Meanwhile, Friday's update by the health department shows continued improvements across the state.

The weekly Early Warning Monitoring System report showed just 1.2% of all COVID-19 test results came back as positive for the virus over the past seven days. That's down from 1.4% for the previous seven days and down from 7.6% at the end of April.

Positivity rates of less than 5% are considered to be low risk for the spread of disease.

Cambria County's positivity rate was 1.5%, down from 2.6% for the previous week.

Somerset County's rate was 1.2%, up from 1.1%.

Bedford County's rate 2%, down from 4%.

Blair County's rate was 0.7%, down from 1.2%.

There were just 16 COVID-19 new cases and two deaths across the entire eight-county region, among 159 additional cases and nine deaths statewide Friday in the health department update.

It brings the state totals to 1,211,299 cases and 27,636 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Cambria County added two cases and one death and now has had 14,820 cases and 440 deaths since the pandemic struck in March 2020.

Somerset County added three cases with no deaths to reach 8,069 cases and 218 deaths.

Bedford County had no new cases or deaths and remains at 4,713 cases and 141 deaths.

Blair County had three new cases with no deaths to reach 13,521 cases and 341 deaths.

Indiana County had no new cases or deaths and remains at 6,412 cases and 179 deaths.

Clearfield County had one new case with no deaths to reach 8,644 cases and 153 deaths.

Centre County had no new cases or deaths and remains at 16,910 cases and 226 deaths.

Westmoreland County had seven new cases and one death to reach 34,405 cases and 774 deaths.

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