HARRISBURG, Pa. — All of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 mitigation measures were lifted earlier this summer. As we approach the start of school, cases are continuing to rise each day with the delta variant mostly to blame.
What are the latest masking guidelines in Pennsylvania?
While fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks indoors or outdoors in most places -- which aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance -- individual stores, businesses and other entities still have the power to require you to wear one.
Some stores, restaurants and universities have already required people to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. Additionally, decisions about masks being worn in schools are being made on the individual level by school district officials.
What do we know so far about the delta variant?
The CDC reports the delta variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021. It was first identified in India in December 2020.
It is considered much more contagious than the original virus because mutations in the virus all it to more easily infect human cells. Additionally, people infected with the delta variant have a much higher viral load, which refers the quantity of a virus in a given sample. A person sneezing, coughing and breathing out who is infected with the delta variant is reportedly expressing more of the virus out of their body, allowing it to spread more easily.
The delta variant now makes up roughly two-thirds of all cases in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania’s second most-populated county.
What are breakthrough cases?
Health leaders in Allegheny County report nearly 20% of recent COVID-19 cases are in people who are fully vaccinated, which are considered breakthrough cases. Officials said they expect to see more of these cases as the number of people getting vaccinated continues to rise.
Breakthrough cases do not mean the COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective. In fact, study after study has found efficacy rates as high as 96% against COVID-19 and the different variants, including the delta variant. Similar to the flu vaccine, a COVID-19 vaccine will help lessen the symptoms and impact to a person who gets the virus. Doctors are reporting fully vaccinated patients who get COVID-19 are seeing the standard symptoms, but on a milder scale.
How many people in Pennsylvania are vaccinated?
As of Aug 5, 2021, Pennsylvania’s Department of Health said just under 58% of people in Pennsylvania had at least one dose, with the exception of Philadelphia. The city has its own health department and data there is reported separate from the state’s information.
When is a person considered fully vaccinated?
According to the CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.
How many people can be at restaurants, gatherings and events?
Dining capacity at restaurants and bars increased to 100%. Bar service is allowed to resume, and the purchase of food is no longer required.
Limitations for indoor and outdoor gatherings and events have been eliminated.
What if I want to travel? Is testing for COVID-19 required?
Travel restrictions in Pennsylvania were lifted on March 1. There are restrictions in various places around the country and nations overseas also have their own vaccine requirements.
President Joe Biden’s administration is taking the first steps toward requiring nearly all foreign visitors into the U.S. to be fully vaccinated for the coronavirus.