COVID masks aren’t something that will be going away anytime soon and in some places are only ramping up use as the pandemic drags on into the winter months. Across the country, there have been varying degrees of regulations and rules around mask-wearing, with the suggestions and best practices sometimes changing across state lines. Now in some places, it’s even being suggested that people wear masks inside their own homes.
This new order comes from Pennsylvania officials and likely stems from the increased likelihood that people will be gathering for the Thanksgiving holiday. In the state order, officials are suggesting COVID masks be worn inside your own home whenever someone outside your home is visiting. This is in addition to outlining guidelines reinforcing mask-wearing when leaving the home in situations where social distancing is not possible. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reinforced the order, among other places, on Twitter Tuesday saying masks were required for those in the state, including in one’s own home.
While these new COVID mask guidelines out of Pennsylvania are labeled as orders, there’s currently no penalty for those not acting in compliance with the suggestions. There had been discussion back in September about mask regulations that would make those not in compliance at risk of being charged with a misdemeanor crime. Currently, the proposed bill has failed to gain much traction in the legislature and the current guidelines are simply that from the state, suggestions about what the health department deems best practices.
With a resurgence in cases in Pennsylvania, the state has begun a second wave of public closings with gyms, casinos, and a number of other businesses deemed “non-life-sustaining” forced to close their doors. Cases in the state have risen steadily in recent weeks, though the death rate per capita has not peaked to the numbers seen back in March.
And outside of COVID mask regulations, with Thanksgiving around the corner, the CDC is suggesting people stay at home rather than gather in larger groups around the dinner table. This comes at the same time that certain data suggests Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated and weary of COVID-related lockdowns.
Increased COVID mask guidelines come as the US hits 11.6 million cases confirmed and 250,000 deaths since tracking began back in March. These numbers could mean increased COVID mask-related regulations and restrictions as the winter months drag on. Again, currently simply suggestions by individual states, it isn’t a stretch to think that the tone around them gains steam among certain lawmakers.
Whether advancements in the COVID vaccine reduces guidelines around COVID mask-wearing remains to be seen. We likely haven’t reached the peak of cases, but new information comes out almost daily about suggested best practices in the pandemic. The holidays will likely only ramp up the discussion, or the disagreements about how folks should carry themselves in these uncertain times. Pennsylvania has suggested wearing the mask inside your home. It stands to reason they won’t be the last state to put out such an order.