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Pennsylvania To Lift Mandatory Mask Mandate Next Week

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- One week from Monday, Pennsylvania will lift its mandatory mask mandate.

That means everyone, including those without the COVID-19 vaccine, won't have to wear a face covering.

The director of the CDC said the delta variant could become the dominant strain in the U.S. This is one of the many reasons why health experts say people need to get vaccinated if they haven't already.

Despite this news, most people KDKA's Amy Wadas spoke to said they're ready to see the masks go.

Some people said they are ready to ditch the mask and live the life they knew before the global pandemic.

Andrea Mellinger has yet to get the shot.

"I think it's exaggerated. So I think it's right we lift it," said Mellinger. "I'm young. I'm 22 years old. I think it's a little less of a concern for me because of my age."

While health experts said the prevalence of the delta variant in Pennsylvania is very low, they said everyone should remain cautious.

"The risk of these new variants is they may be more contagious. They appear to be contagious and make more people sick," said Dr. Graham Snyder, UPMC's medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology.

Dr. Snyder said that's especially true for people who have a compromised immune system and those who are not vaccinated. That's why he said masking should still be considered after the mask mandate is lifted.

"From a public health perspective, people who are unvaccinated should be masking still because it will help to reduce the risk of transmission," said Dr. Snyder.

Steven Robinson agrees.

"Keep your mask on for your health and body and safety to be alive," said Robinson.

The goal of reducing transmission is why some local health organizations, like Allegheny Health Network, are continuing the push to get people vaccinated with an increased focus on outreach.

"We have rotating clinics. We are starting at visible sites in the city. One in the Hill District and downtown," said AHN Senior Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew.

UPMC health experts will be at Dreamz Salon and Barber Shop in Homestead on Sunday to answer any vaccine-related questions and administer the shot. Both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson will be offered. The clinic will be open from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

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