Alison Beam

Acting state Health Secretary Alison Beam speaks during a recent virtual briefing on COVID-19 masking.

Pennsylvania will lift the COVID-19 mask mandate by June 28 or when herd immunity against the disease is reached in the state.

State Health Secretary Alison Beam said 70% of Pennsylvania adults must be fully vaccinated against the virus before it’s safe to lift the masking order.

“That puts the future in the hands of all Pennsylvanians,” Beam said Thursday morning during a virtual briefing on the disease.

“Pennsylvanians are realizing that they have the power to stop COVID-19 and they are stepping up to get vaccinated,” she said.

The state reached a milestone Wednesday when more than 70% of adults had received at least one dose of the vaccines.

Meanwhile, 98% of residents 65 years old or older have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

As of Wednesday, 52.7% of adults in the state were fully vaccinated against the virus, Beam said. The fully vaccinated are free to not wear masks in many situations.

Businesses, schools and municipalities may still require people to wear masks, the Health Department said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also requires them on planes, trains, buses and public transportation hubs.

Beam said many of those who have recently either developed serious health problems from the virus or died from the disease were the unvaccinated.

With the pandemic in retreat, the state previously announced plans to lift nearly all mitigation orders on Memorial Day. New infections continue to fall rapidly, declining by more than 40% over the past two weeks to fewer than 1,300 per day, according to Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

The state reported 941 new virus cases Thursday, taking the cumulative total to 1,199,536.

There were 40 new statewide virus deaths reported, included two in Fayette County and one in Allegheny County.

Washington County reported 11 new virus cases, bringing its total to 17,733. Greene added seven new cases to its total of 3,278. Fayette’s total reached 13,152 after eight new cases were reported there.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff Writer

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley.

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