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Philadelphia abruptly ends briefly revived indoor mask requirement amid falling COVID-19 hospitalizations

Philadelphia's new public indoor masking requirement, which took effect Monday, is ending Friday morning, city health officials said Thursday night. The city Board of Health said it voted to rescind the mandate Thursday in part because of "decreasing hospitalizations and a leveling of case counts." The health board's April 11 announcement that masks would be required again was also met with threats of legal challenges. 

"We're in a situation that we really had not anticipated being in this soon, but it is good news," acting Philadelphia health commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said at Thursday's meeting. "So I'm really very happy ... to say it appears that we no longer need to mandate masks in Philadelphia and that we can actually move to simply a strong recommendation."

When Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to re-institute a mask mandate amid rising COVID-19 infections, health officials cited rising infection and hospitalization numbers. And both numbers continued to rise at least through Monday, when 82 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19, Bettigole said Thursday, but they then unexpectedly dropped 25 percent in the next couple of days.