Just days after re-imposing the indoor mask mandate in Philadelphia, city officials confirmed Thursday night that they will end the requirement, citing improving numbers for COVID-19 hospitalizations and confirmed infections.
A city spokesperson said officials will release more details Friday morning.
“Due to decreasing hospitalizations and a leveling of case counts, the City will move to strongly recommending masks in indoor public spaces as opposed to a mask mandate. Given the latest data, the Board of Health voted tonight to rescind the mandate,” Kevin Lessard, spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney, said in an email Thursday night.
Earlier on Thursday, Kenney defended the controversial mandate that has made his city an outlier in the national COVID-19 response.
”I have committed through this whole dilemma, this whole pandemic, to follow the guidance of health professionals,” Kenney said Thursday in a video interview with the Washington Post, indicating, “and that’s what we’re doing here.”
Kenney expressed hope that slightly declining hospitalization rates could be a sign the requirement is already showing positive results.
The number of people with COVID in city hospitals dropped to 65 Thursday, the lowest figure reported in a week.
The recent peak of 82 was reached Sunday, the day before the mask mandate took effect.
The return of the Philadelphia mandate on Monday collided with a federal judge’s ruling that lifted the federal mask requirement on flights and mass transportation.
The conflicting rules led to confusion and frustration exacerbated when SEPTA said they would follow the judge’s order and end masking on trains, trolleys, and buses, as well as in stations and concourses. Philadelphia International Airport said masks would be required in terminals because of the city restriction, although coverings could be removed on planes, because airlines lifted their requirements.
On Wednesday, a group of Philadelphia business owners and residents filed a motion seeking an emergency injunction with Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court to immediately suspend the mandate, arguing that the restriction was causing them “irreparable harm.”
The federal government also filed a notice of appeal Wednesday for the ruling on masking on transportation.
Friday, April 22, 2022
After Donald Trump lost the presidential election, falsely claiming election fraud, Meadows became senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), which promotes “election integrity” efforts. The organization’s “citizen’s guide” urges activists to determine that the registrations of their neighbors are legal by checking on “whether voters have moved, or if the registrations are PO Boxes, commercial addresses or vacant lots” and then “obtaining evidence: photos of commercial buildings? Vacant lots?” and “securing affidavits from current residents that a registered voter has moved.”
Voter-list maintenance is one of the dividing lines in American politics. Republicans argue that if voter-registration records are not regularly purged and updated, election fraud can take place. Democrats push back that too many voter-list purges are conducted haphazardly, removing eligible voters who don’t learn they are no longer listed until they show up to vote.
Now it turns out that until last week, Meadows was simultaneously registered to vote in three different states — North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina — according to state records obtained by The Fact Checker.
The overlap lasted about three weeks, and it might have continued if revelations about Meadows’s voting record had not attracted scrutiny in North Carolina. Meadows is still registered in Virginia and South Carolina.
This is the latest in a series of revelations about election-related behavior by Meadows that appear to contradict his and his party’s rhetoric on election integrity.
Meadows, in fact, was the keynote speaker at a CPI Election Integrity Summit in Atlanta on Feb. 19. “What you’re doing is investing in the future of our country and making sure only legal votes count,” Meadows told attendees. He said he had just gotten off the phone with Trump, who he said had told him: “We cannot give up on election integrity.”
About three weeks after that speech, the New Yorker reported that Meadows had registered to vote at a home where he did not reside. Meadows and his wife, Debra, had submitted voter registration forms that listed as their residential address a 14-by-62-foot mobile home in Macon County, N.C., with a rusted metal roof that sold for $105,000 in 2021, even though they did not actually own it or live there. He then voted in the 2020 election via absentee ballot.
North Carolina officials announced last month that, as a result, Mark Meadows is under investigation for potential voter fraud. On April 11, his voter registration was removed by Macon County officials, the North Carolina State Board of Elections said last week.
The state cited the fact that Meadows had voted in Virginia during the 2021 gubernatorial election that elected a Republican, Glenn Youngkin. Meadows and his wife had registered to vote in the state in September, his and her voter registration applications show, even though they were still registered in North Carolina.
About two weeks after publication of the New Yorker article, Meadows registered to vote in South Carolina, state election records show. In July 2021, Meadows had purchased a three-story waterfront home of more than 6,000 square feet in South Carolina for nearly $1.6 million. But until this year, he also owned a townhouse in Alexandria that he had purchased in 2017.
It is not unusual for some overlap in voter rolls as people move across state lines, and many people do not bother to terminate their voting registration when they move. In contrast to Meadows, however, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo canceled his voter registration in Kansas just a few months after selling his home in Wichita and moving to McLean when he became CIA director.
South Carolina and Virginia are members of the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit that provides member states with reports on voters. If Meadows had listed his Virginia voter registration while registering in South Carolina, the state would have notified Virginia. Angie Maniglia Turner, Alexandria’s general registrar and director of elections, said Thursday that there has been no change in the voter registration status in Virginia of either Mark or Debra Meadows.
Ben Williamson, a spokesman for Mark Meadows, declined to comment.
Republicans cheered when Crystal Mason, a Black woman in Texas, was sentenced to five years in prison for unknowingly trying to vote while ineligible, but a white Republican Trumper registers to vote in three states knowingly in order to game the system on purpose will at most face a small fine if anything.
They can do whatever they want to. The rest of us are subject to actual laws that they impose upon us in the name of "integrity".