Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley today announced four additional presumptive confirmed cases of COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Philadelphia. That brings the number of confirmed cases to eight. The City is awaiting test results on 45 other cases.
“These new cases appear to be spread from people who had not yet developed symptoms,” said Dr. Farley. “So we expect the number of cases to grow rapidly in this phase of the epidemic. Because of that, and because of increased testing availability, we are now encouraging physicians to test more widely. And that will help with containment.”
The City’s previously-announced prohibition on gatherings of 1,000 or more people, and recommendation against gatherings of between 250 and 1,000 people, remains in force. However, Managing Director Brian Abernathy made clear that evaluations of those standards are ongoing. “These are not easy decisions, and they are decisions that have a significant impact on the poorest big city in the United States. As we’re trying to manage this health care crisis, we are also trying to manage through deep poverty, and making sure we have appropriate services for our most vulnerable populations. We want to make sure they are protected as well.”
The City reminds students and families affected by the closure of all Philadelphia schools that the City and the School District will provide meal service and drop-in activity space for students over the next two weeks:
- Over the next two weeks, from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. through noon, any Philadelphia student (including students who attend district-run, charter, or private schools) can get up to two grab-and-go meals at any of the 30 schools included in the list linked below.
- Over the next two weeks, from Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. through 6 p.m., the City will open 50 City-owned facilities, including gyms and recreation centers. The sites will provide safe spaces for students, and staff will offer limited meals at 3:00 p.m. These sites will be staffed by Parks & Recreation team members, however, they should not be considered a substitute for childcare.
- The list of locations for meal pick-ups and drop-in facilities can be found here.
- Families can find an interactive map of both meal sites and activity spaces here.
The City also offered the following reminders:
Libraries: To comply with the Governor’s statewide closure of libraries, all branches of the Philadelphia Free Library are closed to the public. All staff members should report to work on their regular schedules.
Residents with questions can call the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline at 1-800-722-7112. The Helpline, free and available 24/7, is staffed by trained healthcare providers and is for anyone in the Greater Philadelphia area, including the public and healthcare providers, to help answer questions about COVID-19.
Residents can get COVID-19 updates sent to their phones. Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive free alerts with information and updates from the Health Department. Information is also being updated daily on the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s webpage www.phila.gov/covid-19.
Notes to media: City officials will continue to update the press every day, including weekends, at 1:00 p.m. These briefings will take place at the Emergency Operations Center, located at the Fire Administration Building lobby, 240 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123, and will be livestreamed via the Department of Public Health’s twitter account, @PHLPublicHealth.
Due to the volume of press requests related to COVID-19, members of the media are asked to hold all City-related questions for those daily briefings. Emailed press questions should go to email@example.com.