Allegheny County Stops Short of Mask Mandate – For Now

Instead, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is “strongly recommending” everyone, vaccinated or not, wear a mask when in indoor spaces away from home.

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COVID-19 is making an unfortunate comeback in Allegheny County.

According to data from the state department of health, the average number of people hospitalized with the virus in Allegheny County doubled in the past month. On July 3, the seven-day average of COVID-related hospitalizations was 30. On Aug. 4, that number was just over 60.

Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen said in a briefing Wednesday that the majority of those hospital patients had not been vaccinated.

“This late summer surge is due to the delta variant,” Bogen said. She says two-thirds of the cases in this region are caused by the delta variant, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Based on limited lab data, Bogen also said that 20% of the county’s cases were among vaccinated people, which is not surprising.

“We expect to see more of those as the number of people vaccinated increases,” Bogen said.

While encouraging everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear a mask indoors while away from home, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald stopped short of imposing a county-wide mask mandate, for now.

“There’s no way of knowing what next week or the week after or the month after that will entail. It’ll really be based on the data,” he said.

Fitzgerald announced Thursday that all of the county’s new hires will be required to be vaccinated and current employees who are not vaccinated will be required to wear masks and undergo regular COVID-19 tests.  The policy goes into effect Monday and will affect 6,000 employees.

According to data from the CDC, 63.6% of Allegheny County residents 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Fitzgerald says that’s good, but not good enough.

“We still have some work to do to get these last number of folks vaccinated and protect the vulnerable in our population,” he said.

Categories: The 412