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COVID-19 mitigation orders except for mask wearing will be lifted in Pennsylvania starting Memorial Day, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration announced Tuesday.

The mask order will be removed when 70% of residents 18 and older are fully vaccinated.

“We continue to make significant progress in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and as more Pennsylvania adults get vaccinated and guidance from the CDC evolves, we can continue to move forward with our reopening efforts,” Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam said. “I encourage Pennsylvanians to take the critical steps needed to put this pandemic behind us by getting vaccinated, follow through with both doses if you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and continue to take steps like masking, frequent hand washing and sanitizing and social distancing.”

Hospitals will still be required to follow data reporting and social distancing requirements, according to beam, and schools can enact stricter mandates if they choose.

According to the DOH, nearly 3.6 million people, or 32.2% of the state’s population, had been fully vaccinated as of midnight Monday, while an additional 5.16 million had been partially vaccinated statewide. In Bradford County, 12,591 people, or 22.5% of the population, have been fully vaccinated while 3,801 people have at least received one shot.

Among those responding to the news Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.-12) said the announcement was long overdue.

“For over a year, Pennsylvanians have suffered under prolonged government mandates that restricted where they could go, who they could see, and how they could worship. The governor’s shutdown orders have crushed thousands of small businesses and destroyed livelihoods in communities across our state,’ he said. “While today’s announcement represents a step in the right direction of restoring many of the liberties the Wolf administration seized in the early days of the pandemic, it should have come much sooner. Pennsylvanians have demonstrated that they are smart, hardworking, and diligent people capable of doing the right thing and taking measures to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

Tuesday’s COVID-19 update from the DOH also showed that Bradford County has gained 33 confirmed cases since the start of May and 226 confirmed cases over the past two weeks.

Rite Aid partnership

Also on Tuesday, Wolf announced a partnership with Rite Aid Pharmacy to help those with intellectual and developmental disabilities access COVID-19 vaccinations.

“All Pennsylvanians are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines, but we know that there still may be people need additional help scheduling or getting to a vaccine appointment. This partnership will help us ease potential barriers and ensure that people with intellectual disabilities and autism as well as their caregivers are able to get this life-saving vaccine,” Wolf said.

Those with disabilities or their caregivers can call the Department of Human Services’ Office of Developmental Programs Vaccination Call Center at 1-800-424-4345 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The office will then forward the names and locations of those who need to be vaccinated to Rite Aid, whose staff will then reach out to callers to schedule appointments.

The vaccinations are for those who are at least 16 years old.

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