Pittsburgh: Masks necessities for absolutely vaccinated people have been lifted in most indoor and out of doors areas


PublicSource has been tracking the spread of COVID-19 on a daily basis since March 2020. More than a year later, we’ll be covering the Allegheny County’s Department of Health weekly briefing to direct our resources into corporate reporting on the pandemic and other major issues on Wednesdays and update the numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. We can adapt as the coronavirus prevalence subsides. If you have any questions or comments, please email the Managing Editor of PublicSource, halle@publicsource.org.

Key update: On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor spaces. The new masking guidelines were adopted by Pennsylvania and are in effect immediately.

“Today’s guidance from the CDC only affects people who are fully vaccinated,” said acting secretary Alison Beam. “This is another incentive to get the vaccine, which is now easily and conveniently available. Once 70 percent of Pennsylvanians over 18 are fully vaccinated, we can remove the masking order entirely.”

More information about the CDC guides can be found here.

Allegheny County Department of Health briefing May 12th

Amid more vaccine injections and fewer COVID-19 cases and a near-complete reopening of Pennsylvania, Allegheny County’s Department of Health director Dr. Debra Bogen that the district will soon enter a new phase of the pandemic.

“I wish I had a crystal ball to tell everyone exactly what will happen with the lifting of abatement orders from May 31st. Of course not,” said Bogen in a press conference on Wednesday. “But I have our common knowledge from the first 14 months of the pandemic and that knowledge tells us that we are best when we work together.”

By Bogen’s census, the county has mastered five distinct stages of the pandemic, starting with the uncertain, frightening start of the pandemic, then the small returns on trips and gatherings, then the news about the vaccines, followed by the terrible winter, and now the current stage by starting the vaccine rollout. The sixth phase, she said, will begin as soon as the state lifts almost all existing mitigation orders by the end of the month.

Governor Tom Wolf’s government announced Tuesday that it would raise the occupancy limits to 50% for indoor gatherings and 75% for outdoor gatherings. Then, on May 31, Wolf will lift all damage control orders except the mask mandate, which the state says it will remove once at least 70% of the state’s adults have been vaccinated.

Allegheny County’s daily case numbers have been falling steadily for weeks, now averaging around 170 per day. Bogen seemed to choose the word “encouraging” carefully to describe this.

“I use the word” encouraging “because we can certainly reduce our daily case numbers further and hope that we have not seen them consistently below 200 since October 2020,” said Bogen.

In order to bring the number of cases in the district under control, more residents need to be vaccinated. The district has “a lot to do”, especially among young people, said Bogen. The adoption of vaccines in Allegheny County differs widely between age groups:

Once approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Pfizer vaccine will soon be administered nationwide to children ages 12-15.

And some local institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University, will soon require vaccinations, requiring all of their students to be vaccinated so they can return in the fall. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said at the news conference on Wednesday that he strongly supports the CMU and any other college that needs vaccination as it benefits public health and is in line with the advice of medical experts.

While governments have largely avoided vaccination mandates, participation in society will soon become difficult for those who soon refuse to be vaccinated because of such decisions by private organizations, he said.

“It will just be very difficult for individuals to perform many, many functions in society if they refuse to follow science,” said Fitzgerald.


COVID Vaccine Resources in the Pittsburgh Area

Housing and Mental Health Assistance amid Allegheny County’s COVID

Allegheny County’s COVID-19 resource page with links to information on vaccines, test sites, and quarantine basics

Allegheny County Map of Vaccination Centers

(Residents can call for more information or help scheduling an appointment with the Allegheny County’s Area Agency on Aging 412-350-4234.)

Pennsylvania COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Page

This article was produced by PublicSource.org, a nonprofit news organization for the Pittsburgh area. PublicSource tells stories for a better Pittsburgh. Sign up for their free email newsletter at publicsource.org/newsletters.

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