DOH: Pa. mask mandate likely to end June 28

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

Vector color chalk drawn illustration of medical mask on black chalkboard background.

One more month.

Pennsylvania’s mask mandates will end no later than June 28, the state Department of Health (DOH) announced Thursday.

Already, folks who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks in many situations — stores, businesses and such are still allowed to mandate masks — but many have moved away from the requirement. Previously, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the mask mandate would end when 70% of the state’s adult population was fully vaccinated — already 70% of the population has had at least one shot, making it very likely that benchmark will be met at the end of June.

“After reviewing the vaccination data for people 18 and over and discussing it with the COVID-19 Vaccine Legislative Task Force, we have determined that the commonwealth’s mask order can be lifted on June 28 or when 70 percent of adults get their second dose, whichever comes first,” DOH Acting Secretary Alison Beam said in a statement. “Pennsylvanians are realizing that they have the power to stop COVID-19 and they are stepping up to get vaccinated.”

The end of the mask mandate won’t — yet — mean the total end of masks.

Even when the masking order is lifted, Pennsylvania will have to continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control guidance for wearing a mask where required by law, rule, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

The CDC requires individuals to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs, such as airports and stations. In addition, all individuals should still follow guidance at workplaces, local businesses, long-term care facilities, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.

However, as the national rate of vaccination increases — and COVID infections continue to drop nationally — the CDC is expected to continue to make changes in the mask guidance as conditions improve.

Still, Beam and other officials are pushing to keep up the pace of vaccinations. To date, 52.7 percent of the 18 and older population are fully vaccinated. According to the CDC, 97.7 percent of Pennsylvanians over 65 have received at least one dose of vaccine. Pennsylvania is among the top 10 in states in getting the vaccine out to the population.

“The Department of Health will continue to make getting a vaccine as convenient as possible by making it widely available and supporting equitable and effective efforts to reach every Pennsylvanian who wants it.”

All Pennsylvanians age 12 and older are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine. People can find vaccination locations near them using, also known as Vaccine Finder.

Individuals also can text their zip code to GETVAX (438829) for English, or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish and receive three possible vaccination sites in their area.

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