PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia Acting Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole on Thursday said there is data to suggest that the city's wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is approaching its peak.
Nearly a month ago, Philadelphia implemented a mask mandate on all indoor public spaces that do not require proof of vaccination. The city also tightened masking rules on certain outdoor events with more than 1,000 people, including the recently held Made In America music festival.
The mandates came at a time when Philadelphia was seeing ‘substantial’ community spread of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention. Philadelphia's Department of Health said the city was seeing 200 new infections a day and an upswing in hospitalizations.
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Bettigole believes that the heightened restrictions and the rising number of people getting vaccinated in the weeks since have helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in Philadelphia. According to the latest data, the number of new cases has been shaved to 288 which is down from a high of 307 last week.
Over the last two weeks, Bettigole said the number of coronavirus tests returning positive has dropped from 7% to 5%.
"Obviously things can change, but the numbers we're seeing this week are heartening and we're hoping the trend continues," Bettigole said.
More than 1 million Philadelphians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than two-thirds of city adults are fully vaccinated, according to the health commissioner.
Healthcare workers and college students without a medical or religious exemption must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15, which means Philadelphia could see a continued increase in the vaccination rate.
"We're very excited about our vaccine numbers, which are among the highest in large cities, but we still have work to do," Bettigole said.