Never mind: Philly abruptly retreats from mask mandate

AP Photo/John Raoux

The Biden administration may want to appeal the federal court ruling on the CDC’s mask mandate, but it doesn’t have much appeal anywhere else. Just four days after Philadelphia re-imposed its own city-wide indoor mask mandate, its Board of Health abruptly reversed course last night:


Philadelphia is ending its indoor mask mandate, city health officials said Thursday night, abruptly reversing course just days after city residents had to start wearing masks again amid a sharp increase in infections.

The Board of Health voted Thursday to rescind the mandate, according to the Philadelphia health department, which released a statement that cited “decreasing hospitalizations and a leveling of case counts.”

The data changed that much in just four days, eh? Not really, but the legal and political situation was changing around them:

The health department did not release data to back up its reversal on masking, saying more information would be provided Friday. Philadelphia had become the first major U.S. city to reinstate its indoor mask mandate, but faced fierce blowback as well as a legal effort to get the mandate thrown out.

The New York Times’ tracking tool doesn’t look at CDC data on hospital admissions except on a national basis, but don’t forget that admission data is still correlative, not causative. So too are the data on deaths. That matters because Omicron variants are so highly transmissible yet much less dangerous that admissions and deaths likely have nothing to do with a COVID-19 infection. The Philly metro area has indeed seen a slight uptick in both cases and deaths, but both are still below the national levels when measured per 100,000 people. Nationwide, it should also be noted, even correlative COVID-19 diagnoses in hospital admissions is down seven percent over the last 14 days, even while cases have increased by 39%.


The real reason Philly hit reverse on the mask mandate has little to do with any significant data change, in other words. Correlative deaths are up 20% and case counts are up 74% over the last fortnight in Philly, but of course from a rock-bottom basis. The only real change over the last four days is exponential increase in political danger to City Hall. It’s yet another reminder that mask mandates are highly unpopular except to power-hungry elites, and that an electorate that has been harangued into compliance for two years is now vaccinated, boosted, and ready to go back to normal life.

The Biden administration should take careful note.

This morning, I’ll be co-hosting with our pal Hugh Hewitt on his syndicated radio show, airing from 6-9 am ET, live from the home studio deep in the heart of Texas while he’s in France! We will have a great lineup of guests and regular contributors:

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  • Former EPA head Scott Pruitt
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  • Sonny Bunch
  • Tarzana Joe

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