CHICAGO (NewsNation) — Philadelphia is the only city in America with a government-enforced mask mandate. A lawyer representing businesses suing the city over the new rule is warning the city could be closing in on from another type of mandate.
“We’re actually days away from having the city of Philadelphia not only having a mask mandate, but, according to their unscientific metrics, they’re going to have to reimpose the vaccine mandate. So they really backed themselves into a corner here,” said Wally Zimolong during Monday’s edition of “On Balance with Leland Vittert”.
Zimolong is a trial lawyer veteran who has acted as lead counsel in over 500 cases in federal and state court, arbitrations, and before regulatory agencies.
And the “unscientific methods” he accuses the Philadelphia of practicing are their mandate triggers.
Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said confirmed coronavirus cases in Philadelphia increased by more than 50% in a 10-day span, the threshold at which the city’s guidelines call for people to wear masks indoors.
“We want to protect our most vulnerable residents. Wearing a mask around others is an easy way to do that. The sooner that we can stop this wave, the sooner we can get back to Level 1,” the health department tweeted.
Monday, the city released statistics showing an average number of newly reported cases was 224 a day. If it averages between 225 and 500 cases per day, the city’s rule call for bringing back its vaccine mandate for indoor dining and drinking. Philadelphia’s population is 1.6 million people.
Hospitalization and death counts, which can take weeks to follow the trajectory of case statistics, have not ticked up. Philadelphia County is currently averaging one death per day from COVID-19.
When asked what he thinks the city of brotherly love knows that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t, Zimolong chalked it up to politics.
“They’re progressive leftists who think they’re the smartest people in the room all the time,” Zimlong said. “There’s absolutely no science behind this. Their order contradicts the CDC guidelines, and even contradicts the guidelines of the great health experts in the hospital systems in Philadelphia.”
He’s right about one thing: by the CDC’s definition, Philadelphia was still solidly in the “low” category of community spread when the mask mandate was reinstated.
The issue, according to Zimolong, is where the orders are coming from.
“This order does not come from anyone that’s ever been elected office. It comes directly from an unelected bureaucrat, the city health commissioner, who’s accountable no one,” he said.
Zimolong is not the only attorney with clients challenging the rule. A group of about 10 businesses and individuals filed a lawsuit against the city on Saturday, arguing the health department is overreaching.
“We certainly think a state court judge in Pennsylvania, that our Commonwealth Court, is going to agree with our position that the regulatory regime that the city of Philadelphia health director is relying upon, does not provide her with the statutory underpinnings to, by fiat, impose a mass mandate on businesses and private residences and places where people congregate,” Zimolong said.
Tom Palmer and Nichole Berlie contributed to this report.