Social distancing

Social distancing

COVID-19 is still present in our communities and poses a real threat if we don’t take things seriously as the city reopens. To successfully navigate our recovery, we need Philadelphians to embrace the shared responsibility we all have at this critical moment in our city’s history.

As they restart, businesses and services will be asked, and in some instances required, to follow operational guidance to prevent spread of COVID-19. This will include a Safety Checklist of precautions tailored to the specific activity and setting.

Safety checklist

The City’s reopening guidance includes Safety Checklists of precautions tailored to the specific activity and setting. Each contains these common eight elements.

  • Masks – block the virus from spreading from infected persons by wearing masks and requiring others to wear them
  • Barriers – use sneeze guards or plexiglass screens to prevent respiratory droplets expelled by infected persons from reaching others
  • Isolate – keep people who might be carrying the virus safely away from others (ideally at home)
  • Distance – maintain space between people to reduce the chance that one infected individual will infect others
  • Reduce crowds – decrease the number of people that an infected person could pass the virus to if other steps are not successful
  • Handwashing – reduce the spread of virus from one person to another from touching contaminated surfaces
  • Clean – remove respiratory droplets that may contain virus from surfaces that people may touch
  • Communicate – ensure staff, customers, and others taking part in permitted activities understand this Safety Checklist

While some elements of the Safe Mode guidance will be strong recommendations, others will be required, as specified in a Mayoral Executive Order.

Metrics and targets for green

The Department of Public Health is using the metrics listed below to assess progress and will use these targets to determine when Philadelphia can safely enter the Green Phase of the response.


Factor measured Metric As of August 20 Target for green Goal
Presence of virus Confirmed case count ~120 per day (4.0% positive) <80 per day, or <4% of tests positive if > 2,000 tests per day <25 per day
Reproductive rate of virus Trend in case counts (7-day moving average) % positive decreasing for 4 weeks Continued decrease for 4 weeks after Yellow Continued decrease
Adherence to guidance Mask use in interior public settings 69% To be determined To be determined
Effectiveness of containment Number of test sites 57 55 75
Number of tests performed 3,000 per day 2,000 per day (3.8% per month) 5,000 per day (9.5% per month)
Percent of cases* interviewed 69% 70% 95%
Percent of contacts** reached and agreeing to quarantine 79% 40% 75%
Health care system capacity Number of COVID-19 hospital inpatients compared to peak 90% below peak 75% below peak (250 patients) >75% below peak (<250 patients)
Effectiveness of protections for vulnerable populations Cases in nursing home residents < 5 per week*** < 5 per week*** 0 per day

* Excluding cases in congregate settings

**Data for July 26 – July 31; excluding 62 cases investigated by partners; an additional 25% of cases were attempted and unreached, 14% did not have phone numbers, 6% had delayed test result turnaround times and were not attempted, 3% were reached and refused participation, and 1% were not attempted.

*** This target may be adjusted if many asymptomatic residents are identified through facility-wide testing, which is underway in June.

Early warning systems

In addition to monitoring the metrics above, the Department of Public Health will follow two early warning systems to identify surges in COVID-19 infections, which will be used to reinstitute activity restrictions if necessary:

  • Syndromic surveillance: Tracks the number of people seen in hospital emergency departments with symptoms similar to COVID infection. After a spike during the months of March through May, this measure has continued to decrease through June 15.
  • Internet-connected thermometers: The percent of internet-connected thermometer measurements showing fevers in Philadelphia-area residents. Likewise, this metric showed atypically high values in March and April, but since then (through June 15) has been at levels typical for this time of year.
Trends COVID-like syndrome in hospital emergency departments
A chart showing a large spike of COVID-like syndromes consistent with the COVID-19 epidemic, beginning in the first week of March and continuing through the first week of August 2020.
Percent of persons with fevers as measured by internet-connected thermometers
A chart showing an abnormal number of fevers in the Philadelphia region beginning in early March 2020.