Face masks are now mandatory in all public spaces in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday.
The new order, signed by Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, mandates that masks must be worn in public whenever anyone leaves home and can’t maintain a proper social distance from others. Wolf said the expanded order is essential in combating a recent increase in new cases in the state.
“Those hot spots can be traced to situations where Pennsylvanians were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing — two practices that must be adhered to if we want to maintain the freedoms we have in place under our reopening,” Wolf said in a statement.
Children under the age of two are exempt from the mandate, as are people who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition.
The order came as Pennsylvania announced 636 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, the largest one-day increase since the beginning of June, according to data provided by the state’s Department of Health.
It is the fourth time in five days the number of new cases has topped 600 in a 24-hour period, an uptick officials have said could be linked to young people drinking and gathering at bars and restaurants that have recently been allowed to reopen.
The state also reported 38 more deaths, increasing the state’s confirmed death toll to at least 6,687. Of those, 4,583 people have died in nursing homes or personal care facilities, according to officials.