Expect to Wear Masks Through Most of 2021 in Pennsylvania, Officials Say
Vaccines may be coming soon for some, but mask-wearing won't be going away at any time. In fact, Pennsylvanians should expect to wear masks "well into" 2021, state officials say.
Pennsylvania's Health Secretary Rachel Levine said she expects that masks will be necessary "well into" 2021 at a news conference held on Thursday amid the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, Levine said masks could be required through the end of the year.
“We anticipate we’re going to be rolling this (vaccines) out through the winter and then into the spring and into the summer. It could take a significant amount of time to immunize everyone in Pennsylvania. I anticipate we’re going to be wearing masks well into 2021, maybe to the end,” she said.
The state has a three-phase plan for issuing vaccines when they're made available:
The first phase will make the vaccine available to health care workers, the elderly, first responders, and residents of group care facilities.
Ahead of a third phase, the second phase will make the vaccine available for high-risk residents.
The vaccine will not be mandatory, but no specific distribution dates have been available yet, in spite of two promising vaccine candidates from Pfizer and Moderna.
The comments come as the state of Pennsylvania reported a whopping 7,126 additional positive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.