For the latest information from the Department of Public Health, visit Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Every day, the news and the internet tell us about more cases of COVID-19, the disease that used to be called novel coronavirus. We hear about tens of thousands of people who are sick and thousands who have died in China. It seems like every news broadcast reports that there are more countries with cases, and now even the United States has seen people die from the disease.

COVID-19 and Philadelphia

Public health experts from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are telling people that it’s just a matter of time before they start to see cases.

We believe that Philadelphians will get sick from COVID-19.

What the City is doing

Since we first heard about COVID-19 illnesses in China, the Health Department has been convening regular meetings with healthcare organizations and hospitals, regional and state health departments, emergency response agencies, and other City departments to plan for COVID-19 in Philadelphia.

The City has been reviewing pandemic and emergency plans and keeping up with CDC recommendations. City agencies plan to continue critical functions even if many employees are out sick or can’t get into work.

The Health Department has been working with the Philadelphia International Airport and healthcare providers to identify possible cases of COVID-19 and has sent samples to the CDC for testing.

What you can do

There are easy, common sense things you can do to help keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19.

Practice good health habits

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or hand sanitizer if none is available.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow to keep from spreading germs.
  • Try to not touch your face; that’s how the germs get into your body.
  • Don’t share drinks or utensils like forks or spoons.

Stay home when you’re sick and avoid sick people

  • If you’re sick, you can keep from spreading it to other people by staying away from them.
  • If you see someone who is sick, stay at least six feet away from them to avoid catching it.
  • Ask if your healthcare provider has a telehealth option. If not, be sure to call the office before going in.

Additional precautions

  • Avoid shaking hands and hugging.
  • Clean commonly touched things, like handrails and doorknobs often.
  • Avoid touching things that lots of other people touch, like handrails and doorknobs.
  • Try to avoid crowds and busy places.

Get prepared

Given that we expect to see people sick with COVID-19 in Philadelphia, it makes sense to get ready for if there are lots of people who get sick. This means getting prepared. Here are good tips for preparing for a disease outbreak like this.

  • If you take medications regularly, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about having extra on hand. Do the same for over-the-counter medicines.
  • Think about storing extra water or non-perishable food at home, so you’ll have some if you can’t go grocery shopping.
  • It’s a good idea to have enough essential household items, like cleaning products, detergent, pet care items, and diapers, if you have young children.
  • Talk to your employer to find out about working remotely and about sick leave.
  • Check with your child’s school or daycare to find out about plans for early dismissals and how urgent information will be communicated.
  • Make arrangements for back-up care for children or elderly relatives in case their regular caregiver is sick or their school is closed.

Get good information

There is so much confusing information about COVID-19 out there; it’s important to find a trusted source and listen to them. The Health Department is committed to keep Philadelphians informed about what’s going on with COVID-19 and will release confirmed information regardless of political ramifications or pressure.

The Health Department’s COVID-19 website is continuously updated with the latest recommendations.

The Health Department’s Twitter account will provide recommendations and links to articles on COVID-19 and other good health tips.

The Health Department’s Facebook page breaks down what is known about COVID-19 and other issues of public health importance.

Other good sources of information include the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management and the CDC.