Background

Background

Philadelphia must approach reopening in a way that balances the risks of the virus with the public health risks caused by further social and economic damage from movement and business restrictions. The path forward must be solidly based on science, available evidence about how the virus behaves, and a cautious approach that acknowledges the many things we do not yet know about this virus.

Our strategy allows economic and social activity to resume in a way that continues to suppress the COVID-19 virus. It combines three actions: Containment, Social Distancing, and Protecting Vulnerable Populations.

Impact and progress

Philadelphia has used many sources of data to measure the impact of COVID-19 on residents, determine which residents were at greatest risk, evaluate the effectiveness of the response, and guide decision-making. See some of the data on our COVID-19 Testing & Data page.

As of late June, Philadelphia continues to make progress in the fight against COVID-19. Daily case counts are falling, residents are wearing masks, and the number of patients hospitalized with the infection is steadily dropping.

Risks

Despite our progress, COVID-19 still has the potential to spread widely, strain the hospital system, and cause spikes in death. An effective vaccine is likely at least 18 months away from widespread use.

Philadelphia is therefore just as vulnerable in June as it was in March. If residents and commuters resume pre-epidemic social activities and businesses operate using unsafe practices, this region will experience a new and potentially larger wave of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.

At the same time, the economic and social consequences of the stay-at-home order are significant. New unemployment claims in Philadelphia have risen dramatically. There are well-known adverse health consequences to unemployment and poverty; mortality rates are substantially higher and life expectancy shorter in people who are unemployed or have lower incomes.

Objectives

Philadelphia must approach reopening in a way that balances the risks of the virus with the public health risks caused by further social and economic damage from movement and business restrictions. The path forward must be solidly based on science, available evidence about how the virus behaves, and a cautious approach that acknowledges the many things we do not yet know about this virus.

South Korea has suppressed the virus with a combination of moderate social distancing steps, rapid case identification, contact tracing, and other case containment activities. This country’s successful approach serves as a good model for Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s careful reopening strategy allows economic and social activity to resume in a way that continues to suppress the COVID-19 virus. The strategy combines three actions: Containment, Social Distancing, and Protecting Vulnerable Populations.

Shared responsibility for recovery

As Philadelphia and the surrounding region carefully reopen, it is on all of us—residents, government officials and agencies, businesses, and health-care providers—to ensure our city is able to make a full recovery. The City is committed to emerging from this months-long shutdown as quickly as possible, but we need everyone to do what is right and continue following the guidance provided by the Department of Public Health.


Top