10:07 PM - May 9, 2020
Latest
10:07 PM - May 9, 2020

Latest Demand up, and gas prices going up with it, AAA says

With more state reopening and demand increasing, the price of a gallon of regular gas increased an average of about 6 cents across the country in the last week, to $1.84, AAA reported Saturday.

The increase in Pennsylvania was less; up 2 cents, to $2.05; however, Pennsylvania’s average is among the 10 highest in the nation, the automobile club said.

A driver's view in the rear view mirror as a glove-wearing full-service gas attendant fills the tank at the pump at a Wawa in Pennsauken; gas prices in New Jersey were basically unchanged from last week's.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
A driver's view in the rear view mirror as a glove-wearing full-service gas attendant fills the tank at the pump at a Wawa in Pennsauken; gas prices in New Jersey were basically unchanged from last week's.

At $2, New Jersey’s price-per-gallon was virtually unchanged from last week.

With the government reporting that demand was up about 14 percent last week, AAA said price increases were likely to continue.

9:43 PM - May 9, 2020
9:43 PM - May 9, 2020

Three White House task force members place themselves in quarantine

President Donald Trump watches as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus last month.
Alex Brandon / AP
President Donald Trump watches as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus last month.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, and two other members of the White House coronavirus task force placed themselves in quarantine after having contact with someone who tested positive.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will be “teleworking for the next two weeks” after it was determined he had a “low risk exposure” to a person at the White House, the CDC said in a statement Saturday night.

The statement said he felt fine and has no symptoms. Just a few hours earlier, the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn had come in contact with someone who tested positive and was in self-quarantine for the next two weeks.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he will begin a “modified quarantine” after making “low-risk” contact with the White House staffer who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

He tested negative for the virus. Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive for the coronavirus Friday, making her the second person who works at the White House complex known to have tested positive for the virus this week. White House officials had confirmed Thursday that a member of the military serving as one of Trump’s valets tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

—Associated Press

6:50 PM - May 9, 2020
6:50 PM - May 9, 2020

New coronavirus cases in Camden County reflect increased testing, officials say

A medical worker prepares to administer a nasal swab to a patient at a new coronavirus testing site at the DMV office in Camden, N.J., on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Camden County is closing the testing site at Cooper's Poynt Park on Friday and opening two new sites: one at the DMV on Mount Ephraim Avenue and one at Dudley Grange Park in East Camden.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
A medical worker prepares to administer a nasal swab to a patient at a new coronavirus testing site at the DMV office in Camden, N.J., on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Camden County is closing the testing site at Cooper's Poynt Park on Friday and opening two new sites: one at the DMV on Mount Ephraim Avenue and one at Dudley Grange Park in East Camden.

A jump in confirmed coronavirus cases in Camden County on Saturday reflected increased testing and underscored the “importance of continued adherence to social distancing," officials said.

“COVID-19 has an incredible ability to spread very quickly," Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said in a statement. “Even if we get our daily number of new patients into the single digits, the virus could quickly infect hundreds of others if we adopt a false sense of security and begin acting irresponsibly.”

He urged residents to continue to stay home and follow Gov. Phil Murphy’s emergency orders.

The county Department of Health reported 195 new COVID-19 cases, increasing the total to 4,085. There have been 218 deaths linked to the disease in the county.

—Andrew Seidman

6:30 PM - May 9, 2020
6:30 PM - May 9, 2020

Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Upper Township open beaches for exercise, limited activities

Ocean City in March.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Ocean City in March.

The mayors of Ocean City, Sea Isle City, and Upper Township said Saturday they had opened beaches there for exercise and activities like surfing and fishing.

Officials said they were still prohibiting sunbathing, sitting in chairs, congregating in groups, playing group sports, and bathing.

“Local health professionals have advised that letting people exercise and enjoy outdoor spaces is safe and important for their physical and mental health, provided they avoid dense crowds and close contact with others,” an Ocean City spokesperson said in a news release.

“We will continue to take a measured approach and work with the governor’s office on a plan to safely reopen different parts of the city,” Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian wrote on the city’s website. “Please continue to take personal responsibility for following social distancing guidelines and other safe practices.”

—Andrew Seidman

5:15 PM - May 9, 2020
5:15 PM - May 9, 2020

Delaware reports 166 more coronavirus cases

Delaware officials said Saturday 166 more people tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 6,277 cases since the outset of the pandemic.

The state also disclosed eight more deaths linked to the virus, bringing the total number of fatalities there to 221.

The number of new daily cases and hospitalizations has been declining over the past two weeks, according to state data.

—Andrew Seidman

4:38 PM - May 9, 2020
4:38 PM - May 9, 2020

U.S. approves new coronavirus antigen test with fast results

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the spherical particles of the new coronavirus, colorized blue, from the first U.S. case of COVID-19.
Hannah A. Bullock, Azaibi Tamin / AP
This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the spherical particles of the new coronavirus, colorized blue, from the first U.S. case of COVID-19.

U.S. regulators have authorized a new type of coronavirus test that administration officials have promoted as a key to opening up the country.

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday announced emergency authorization for antigen tests developed by Quidel Corp. of San Diego. The test can rapidly detect fragments of virus proteins in samples collected from swabs swiped inside the nasal cavity, the FDA said in a statement.

The antigen test is the third type of test to be authorized by the FDA.

—Associated Press

3:54 PM - May 9, 2020
3:54 PM - May 9, 2020

Threat of COVID-19 ‘remains low’ in Gloucester County, officials say

The “overall threat” of the coronavirus to Gloucester County residents “remains low,” officials said Saturday, as the county reported 41 new positive cases and six more deaths.

The total number of confirmed cases in the county now stands at 1,635, officials said, and 80 deaths have been linked to COVID-19.

The county Department of Health is working with the state to identify people who have come in contact with residents who have tested positive for coronavirus, officials said.

—Andrew Seidman

3:17 PM - May 9, 2020
3:17 PM - May 9, 2020

Montco officials say new case count not yet decreasing enough

RESTRICTED - FOR PROJECT USE ONLY: Please contact a photo editor before using. Amanda Csanady, a paramedic, disinfects an ambulance at Narberth Ambulance, in Ardmore, PA, April 14, 2020.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
RESTRICTED - FOR PROJECT USE ONLY: Please contact a photo editor before using. Amanda Csanady, a paramedic, disinfects an ambulance at Narberth Ambulance, in Ardmore, PA, April 14, 2020.

Montgomery County reported 73 new cases of the coronavirus Saturday, and nine new deaths.

“Thanks to the many personal sacrifices made by Montgomery County residents, our new case number from the community have plateaued, but we need to get those numbers to start to trend downward before we begin to relax restrictions,” Valerie A. Arkoosh, Chair, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, said in a news release. “Please continue to stay home except for essential work or errands."

The county now has a total of 5,010 cases of COVID-19 and 414 deaths.

The county testing site at Montgomery County Community College will be closed Sunday “for a safety stand down,” officials announced. It will reopen Monday.

Laura McCrystal

2:56 PM - May 9, 2020
2:56 PM - May 9, 2020

Some Pa. counties push to exclude nursing home cases from reopening formula, but experts caution against it

Narberth Ambulance Paramedic AJ Schifferli (far right) talks with a staff member about a patient at a nursing home in Bryn Mawr after responding to a call on April 28.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Narberth Ambulance Paramedic AJ Schifferli (far right) talks with a staff member about a patient at a nursing home in Bryn Mawr after responding to a call on April 28.

As the coronavirus continues to tear through Pennsylvania’s nursing and personal-care homes, pressure is mounting on the Wolf administration to exclude those cases when deciding which counties can relax restrictions so people can begin resuming some of the normal patterns of daily life.

Officials in some counties with surging numbers of care-home deaths have suggested that the administration should adjust its criteria for reopening. This week, they were joined by several state lawmakers, who raised the prospect at legislative hearings and in letters to the governor.

But some public health officials caution that removing those numbers from the equation for reopening could have devastating implications for some of the state’s most vulnerable residents, who could be even more at risk of dying from the virus should an area open prematurely.

Care homes are highly contained clusters of people who are most susceptible to complications and death from the virus, making its presence there much easier to detect. That could skew the data to make it appear as though it’s out of step with the general population.

But since the state still knows very little about the spread of the virus throughout Pennsylvania as a whole — having tested just 2% of the population — a comparison is difficult to make.

Angela Couloumbis of Spotlight PA

2:34 PM - May 9, 2020
2:34 PM - May 9, 2020

A Delco barber changed her mind about reopening. Instead, she held a rally.

Nichole Missino (left), owner of Giovanni's Barber Shop, and Felicia Stella address the crowd during a rally outside of the shop in Media on Saturday.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
Nichole Missino (left), owner of Giovanni's Barber Shop, and Felicia Stella address the crowd during a rally outside of the shop in Media on Saturday.

For a week, Nichole Missino made her intentions clear.

She was going to open Giovanni’s, her barbershop in Media named after her son, on Saturday, in defiance of Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order. She posted the plan on social media, gave interviews to local newspapers, and made appearances on radio and television.

But when Saturday came, her plans were dashed by threats she said she received from the state board that licenses her and her business, and the local police, whom she said promised to take action to have her occupancy license revoked.

She didn’t waste the day, however. Missino held an impromptu rally on her salon’s front steps. Her message, she said, wasn’t just an endorsement of civil disobedience. It was intended to be a reality check for people who don’t understand what she and other small business owners are going through.

Vinny Vella

2:24 PM - May 9, 2020
2:24 PM - May 9, 2020

Pennsylvania now has more than 55,000 coronavirus cases

Pennsylvania officials reported 1,078 new cases of the coronavirus Saturday, bringing the statewide total to more than 55,000.

Officials reminded Pennsylvanians to continue social distancing — whether or not they live in a county that has started reopening its economy.

“As we prepare to move a number of counties from red to yellow, we need all Pennsylvanians to continue to follow the social distancing and mitigation efforts in place,” Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said in a news release. “We must continue to protect our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, which includes our seniors, those with underlying health issues, our healthcare workers and our first responders.”

Pennsylvania now has 55,316 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the state has reported 3,688 deaths due to the virus.

Laura McCrystal

1:50 PM - May 9, 2020
1:50 PM - May 9, 2020

N.J. ‘not out of the woods,’ Murphy says — especially in South Jersey

As the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations decrease in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said Saturday that the number of hospitalizations per capita in South Jersey remain higher than in other parts of the state.

“We are not out of the woods,” Murphy said, noting that 336 patients with COVID-19 were admitted to New Jersey hospitals in the last day.

Of those newly hospitalized patients, Murphy said 139 were in South Jersey, which he called “a big number” when compared to the region’s population.

“I just urge everyone to keep doing what you are doing” by practicing social distancing, Murphy said.

Statewide, New Jersey had 4,628 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus Saturday. Murphy announced 1,759 new positive tests, and 137,085 total cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. Although cases are growing, Murphy said officials see good news in a declining positivity rate of coronavirus tests; that rate is now 27%.

Murphy reported 166 deaths Saturday. A total of 9,116 New Jersey residents have now died of the coronavirus.

He also encouraged residents to continue social distancing despite the Mother’s Day holiday Sunday.

“Let’s make sure we are celebrating [mothers] responsibly tomorrow so we can celebrate them again next year and the year after and for many decades to come,” he said.

Laura McCrystal

1:22 PM - May 9, 2020
1:22 PM - May 9, 2020

Philadelphia numbers show slow decline continues

Philadelphia reported 364 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus Saturday, bringing the city’s total number of cases to 17,881.

Although the total continues to grow, the numbers show a continued decline in new cases and hospitalizations.

There were 836 patients with COVID-19 hospitalized Saturday in Philadelphia, and 1,575 patients hospitalized in Greater Philadelphia, including the city. Hospitalizations have declined in the past few weeks.

Philadelphia also reported 16 deaths from the coronavirus Saturday, bringing the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 891, 53% of whom were residents of long-term-care facilities.

City officials urged residents to stay home on Mother’s Day, and warned that even small group gatherings could contribute to the spread of the highly contagious virus. Officials suggested celebrating the holiday virtually, and sending cards or other gifts in lieu of in-person gatherings.

Laura McCrystal

12:48 PM - May 9, 2020
12:48 PM - May 9, 2020

New Jersey urges residents to social distance at parks

New Jersey state parks are now open, but state officials are urging residents to practice social distancing.

The state released a video Saturday, a week after state parks reopened, reminding visitors that restrooms are closed, setting up chairs and blankets is prohibited, and masks are encouraged when near others.

Social Distancing in New Jersey State Parks

Some parks will close early because of reduced capacity. Check our Facebook page New Jersey State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites for updates on closings and re-openings before you go out to a park. BEFORE YOU VISIT, remember four things: 1. Stay close to home, Check www.spstrailtracker.nj.gov to find a park near you. 2. "Go" before you go — bathrooms are closed. 3. Plan to stay less than two hours as parking has been limited to 50% capacity and a two-hour visit will free up space for others. 4. Bring a mask and hand sanitizer with you. And do not bring chairs and coolers as picnics are not permitted. WHILE AT THE PARK, keep in mind three things: 1. Park in designated areas ONLY. State Park Police will ticket those illegally parked on shoulders and roads. Do not move barricades to create a parking spot — barricades are there to limit the parking to 50% capacity. 2. Do not use parks to meet up with others. Visit with your immediate family only. 3. When you encounter other visitors, mask up. This helps protect yourself, and others. Thank you for doing your part to help curb the spread of COVID-19. UPDATES ON COVID-19 in NJ Learn more about COVID-19 in New Jersey: http://covid19.nj.gov NJ residents can call 211 with questions or concerns about COVID-19 and to learn resources available to them. Residents can also text NJCOVID to 898-211 to subscribe to text message updates on NJ COVID-19. #NJStateParks

Posted by New Jersey State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites on Friday, May 8, 2020

In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, marinas in state parks opened Friday. At least one restroom at day use areas and marinas also opened as of Friday, which the state noted is consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State park facilities in Pennsylvania counties that have moved into the first phase of reopening will be open effective May 15, the state said, while cabins in those counties will remain closed until June 12. Residents can access trails and forests statewide, but officials have asked residents of counties under stay-at-home orders to use parks close to home.

Laura McCrystal

12:10 PM - May 9, 2020
12:10 PM - May 9, 2020

Chester County antibody test site opens

Health-care and other front-line workers drove to the closed Longwood Gardens on Saturday for coronavirus antibody testing, as Chester County became the first in the state to offer the tests.

Health-care workers, first responders, and their immediate families are eligible to get the tests by appointment at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square and at Chester County Public Safety Training Campus in South Coatesville.

Jennifer Gelber, an OB-GYN at Paoli Hospital and resident of Berwyn, was among those tested at Longwood Gardens.

“I feel like for me, I have the responsibility to the patients to make sure we can be safe as possible as we start to reopen our practices to provide routine care,” Gelber said.

But as antibody tests become widely available, some health experts and officials have expressed doubt about their reliability.

In Philadelphia, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said this week that the city is not recommending the use of antibody tests.

“Even for those tests that are reliable we don’t know yet how to interpret the results,” Farley said. “I’m concerned that people will get a test and then believe that they are immune and not wear a mask."

Tyger Williams, Laura McCrystal

11:00 AM - May 9, 2020
11:00 AM - May 9, 2020

Cape May County officials say they’re working with Gov. Murphy to reopen

Bob Pacella of Cape May reels in a sand shark on the beach in Cape May. Beaches there reopened last weekend.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Bob Pacella of Cape May reels in a sand shark on the beach in Cape May. Beaches there reopened last weekend.

Cape May County has developed a 35-page plan for reopening towns and beaches by June 1. But on Saturday, officials acknowledged that Gov. Phil Murphy will have the final say.

“We want everyone to understand that our submission is a proposal, not yet the plan,” Freeholder Vice-Director Len Desiderio said in a news release. “We all would like to be able to simply handle things the way we always have, but we have to accept that things are going to be different."

The release, which said that county officials have started conversations with Murphy’s administration about the proposal, represented a clarification and slowing down of reopening plans for summer at the Jersey Shore.

The proposal includes opening beaches, boardwalks, indoor dining, and retail shopping by June 1 with social distancing and other safety measures. It also recommends allowing outdoor dining and bar service on May 26 — the day after Memorial Day — and curbside pickup for retail establishments as early as Monday. Implementing that plan would require changes to Murphy’s existing executive orders.

Rentals of more than 30 days will be permitted starting Monday, to accommodate seasonal workers. Shorter-term rentals will begin June 1 in most towns, officials said Saturday.

Cape May County officials also recommended that businesses immediately begin planning to implement safety measures.

Laura McCrystal

10:25 AM - May 9, 2020
10:25 AM - May 9, 2020

Masks required at Philadelphia airport starting Monday

Signage on the nearly empty arrivals/departures board at baggage claim in Terminal A-East at the Philadelphia International Airport on Wednesday.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
Signage on the nearly empty arrivals/departures board at baggage claim in Terminal A-East at the Philadelphia International Airport on Wednesday.

Passengers, employees, and personnel will be required to wear masks at Philadelphia International Airport under a new regulation that takes effect Monday.

The regulation, signed Friday by city and airport officials, requires face coverings over the nose and mouth. It makes exceptions for eating and drinking, and for employees who are alone in their offices.

“Failure to comply with this emergency regulation may lead to removal from airport premises,” the regulation states.

Masks are already required aboard major airlines, and at essential businesses in Pennsylvania. SEPTA had previously required face coverings for its riders, but reversed that policy last month amid backlash after police dragged a man who was not wearing a mask off a bus.

Laura McCrystal

9:40 AM - May 9, 2020
9:40 AM - May 9, 2020

As a rural Pennsylvania town reopens for business, shoppers turn out for socks, toasters, toys, and some catching up

Beth Scheiderman from Mansfield shopping at Dunhams Department Store in Wellsboro, Tioga County, on Friday.
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Beth Scheiderman from Mansfield shopping at Dunhams Department Store in Wellsboro, Tioga County, on Friday.

On Friday, just after 11 a.m., Ann Dunham Rawson unlocked the door of Dunham’s Department Store in Wellsboro and ushered in shoppers and a small semblance of normalcy for the first time in eight weeks. Dozens came during the first 30 minutes, all of them wearing masks and a few in gloves.

“You’re the first customers in!” she said.

Tioga County, population 40,763, is one of 24 north-central and northwestern Pennsylvania counties that entered the “yellow” phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s color-coded reopening plan Friday morning. At that point, Tioga had 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death. Neighboring Potter County, one of the state’s most rural counties, had four cases and no deaths. The yellow phase permits most businesses to resume in-person operations, though restaurants and bars remain limited to takeout and delivery. Stay-at-home orders become “aggressive mitigation.”

Counties in southwestern Pennsylvania will move from red to yellow next week. Meanwhile, stay-at-home orders in Philadelphia will continue until at least June 4.

Jason Nark

8:40 AM - May 9, 2020
8:40 AM - May 9, 2020

Ad agencies are taking a different approach amid the coronavirus pandemic

Inspira Health's "Blue Hearts for Heroes" advertisement, created by Brownstein Group.
Inspira Health
Inspira Health's "Blue Hearts for Heroes" advertisement, created by Brownstein Group.

While competitors hoping to revitalize pandemic-stricken businesses were offering traditional incentives such as restaurant coupons, a Delaware County heating and cooling firm sold itself with ads that resembled safety tutorials.

Stuck-at-home customers were told by the chief executive of Oliver Heating & Cooling that their well-being was his company’s primary concern. Workers who entered their residences, he vowed, would have their shoes sheathed, their hands gloved, and their faces masked before they touched an air-conditioning unit. All part of Oliver’s $69.95 spring tune-up special.

Oliver’s ad is just one example of how, almost overnight, the COVID-19 outbreak has transformed advertising. As the number of shuttered manufacturers and idled workers has skyrocketed, the demand for conventional ads, those that, as humorist Will Rogers once noted, “convince people to spend money they don’t have for things they don’t need,” has dissipated.

Frank Fitzpatrick

8:30 AM - May 9, 2020
8:30 AM - May 9, 2020

Pa. never fully implemented its plan to protect nursing home residents from COVID-19

Battalion Chief and Paramedic Drew Hallowell works with a patient with COVID-19 symptoms , at a nursing home in Bala Cynwydj on April 18.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Battalion Chief and Paramedic Drew Hallowell works with a patient with COVID-19 symptoms , at a nursing home in Bala Cynwydj on April 18.

Pennsylvania’s plan to protect its nursing homes was robust and aggressive.

In mid-March, before the coronavirus had widely taken hold across the state, emergency response officials drafted a three-page blueprint for quick strike teams of medical professionals that would respond to facilities as soon as a few positive cases were confirmed.

The teams — made of epidemiologists, nurses, emergency-management personnel, and medical experts — would show up at a facility within six hours of a call for help, according to internal documents obtained by Spotlight PA. Within two hours, they would complete an assessment of the facility’s needs and create a plan to address them.

The quick response plan was circulated within the Health Department, with emails showing staff nurses and others were asked to volunteer. In the third week of March, it was shared with providers, said Zachary Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, which represents more than 400 long-term-care facilities.

But the plan was never fully implemented, and a similar — though far more limited — effort wasn’t activated until mid-April, long after major outbreaks had already taken hold.

Aneri Pattani and Rebecca Moss of Spotlight PA

8:23 AM - May 9, 2020
8:23 AM - May 9, 2020

As Philly region’s stay-at-home order continues, death rate trends down in Philadelphia

Counterprotesters briefly block a rally Friday at Philadelphia City Hall calling for an end to the city's stay-at-home order and business shut down due to the coronavirus.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Counterprotesters briefly block a rally Friday at Philadelphia City Hall calling for an end to the city's stay-at-home order and business shut down due to the coronavirus.

New Jersey will begin testing asymptomatic people, Chester County is set to become the first county in Pennsylvania to begin antibody testing, and 13 counties in the Pittsburgh region can begin to reopen next week, officials around the region said Friday.

As 24 Northern Pennsylvania counties began the first phase of economic reopening Friday, and the additional counties were cleared by Gov. Tom Wolf to do so next Friday, state officials urged all residents to stay vigilant.

“This isn’t just for the yellow-phase counties,” Wolf said. “Residents of counties that are still in the red phase can also make choices that contribute to lowering the case count, and that will also push the county toward reopening more quickly.”

The Philadelphia region’s stay-at-home order continues until June 4. The number of daily new infections in the southeastern corner of the state supports the need to continue staying home, said Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh.

Justine McDaniel, Erin McCarthy, Ellie Silverman

8:00 AM - May 9, 2020
8:00 AM - May 9, 2020

Today’s front page

The Inquirer front page for May 9, 2020.
staff
The Inquirer front page for May 9, 2020.