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Unlike Philly, Allegheny County has no current plans for a mask mandate

Virus Outbreak Masks coronavirus philadelphia masking covid-19 shopping food grocery produce
Matt Rourke
A shopper waring a proactive mask as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus selects fruit at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. The city is reinstating its mask mandate on Monday, April 18, 2022.

Unlike the City of Philadelphia, Allegheny County’s health department has no current plans to reinstate an indoor mask mandate.

Philadelphia is taking this step due to a rise in COVID-19 cases, a trend that’s going on in many parts of the country. Numbers are also increasing in the Pittsburgh area, though not as much as the other side of Pennsylvania.

Start your morning with today's news on Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania.

State data from Friday shows Philadelphia’s COVID-19 incidence rate is 50 cases per 100,000 people. Allegheny County’s is just 32 per 100,000; however, that could go up quickly.

The county also looks at wastewater when assessing the level of local COVID-19 transmission. A health department spokesman says recent data shows there has not yet been an increase in concentration of the virus. Still, there’s usually a week or two lag between when samples are collected and the analysis is complete.

“Data from late March indicate that as much as 90% of omicron is the BA.2 subvariant. More recent sampling continues to be analyzed,” said department spokesman Chris Togneri.

Experts say the subvariant is contributing to the surge in case numbers in the northeastern U.S.

The hospitalization rate in Allegheny County continues to trend downward, while Philadelphia’s has increased slightly. Usually, a rise in hospitalizations takes place several weeks after an increase in case numbers as it takes some time for people to become ill enough to seek medical care.