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No New Mask Mandate Coming Yet, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald Says

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - While the CDC says even vaccinated people should go back to masking up indoors in areas with surging COVID-19 cases, Allegheny County leaders say another mask mandate isn't on the way yet, citing a lower spread of the virus compared to other counties in the country.

The CDC's guidance recommends everyone, even vaccinated people, wear masks in counties with "substantial" or "high" spread. At this time, that doesn't include Allegheny County, but Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen said cases are on the rise. In just three weeks, Bogen says the county's daily case average has gone from about 10-15 to 70-75.

She says her position on CDC guidance hasn't changed.

"My response today, as it has been throughout the pandemic, is to follow the CDC's guidance, including yesterday's update," she said at a briefing Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the only county in the Pittsburgh area with "substantial" or "high" COVID-19 transmission was Lawrence, according to the CDC's COVID-19 data tracker. All other counties were at a "moderate" level, below the CDC's recommended threshold for masking.

Before the CDC's guidance was released Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Tom Wolf said that he wasn't considering another mask mandate. Instead, he says the state's strategy for fighting the virus is to get more shots into arms.

When it comes to a mask mandate in Allegheny County, Executive Rich Fitzgerald says the county isn't there yet. He points to the county's moderate COVID-19 spread.

"We're going to closely monitor to see where those numbers go. The CDC has come out with their recommendations, and we certainly think people should follow those recommendations. But for a mandate, as of yet, I don't think we're there yet," he said, adding, "Stay tuned, you never know what's going to happen over the next coming weeks."

Health officials say the more contagious delta variant and unvaccinated Americans are fueling the nation's rise in COVID-19 cases.

Bogen says the county doesn't know how many cases of the delta variant are present because only a fraction of tests are sequenced. She says the CDC forecasted that the delta variant made up about 66% of cases in our region July 4-17.

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