11:59 AM - May 11, 2020
11:59 AM - May 11, 2020

Read the latest Philadelphia-area coronavirus coverage here

While some counties have threatened to reopen Pennsylvania before they are officially placed in the “yellow" zone, Gov. Tom Wolf is fighting back. Wolf on Monday threatened to pull state funding from those counties “operating illegally” and said politicians pushing for a reopening before the orders are lifted are “jeopardizing the lives of citizens of those counties.”

Wolf said during a news conference that businesses reopening “prematurely” are “engaging in behavior that is both selfish and unsafe.

Plus, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has pledged $10 million to Meek Mill’s campaign to give PPE to prisoners as the coronavirus ravages jails.

11:15 PM - May 10, 2020
11:15 PM - May 10, 2020

Pence self-isolating after aide tests positive, but plans to return to White House Monday

Vice President Mike Pence was self-isolating Sunday after an aide tested positive for the coronavirus last week, but his office said Pence planned to return to the White House on Monday.

Pence has repeatedly tested negative for COVID-19 since his exposure but was following the advice of medical officials, an administration official said.

Vice President Mike Pence tours the General Motors/Ventec ventilator production facility last month in Indiana.
Michael Conroy / AP
Vice President Mike Pence tours the General Motors/Ventec ventilator production facility last month in Indiana.

His action came after three of the nation’s top scientists took their own protective steps following possible exposure to a White House staffer infected by the coronavirus.

Pence has led the White House coronavirus task force for more than two months. Top officials who have gone into quarantine because of exposure to a person at the White House who tested positive for the virus are Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control; and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn.

Pence has been at home since returning to Washington from a day trip to Iowa on Friday and did not appear at President Donald Trump's meeting with military leaders Saturday at the White House.

An official initially said Pence planned to continue working from home, before Pence’s office clarified that he planned to work from the White House on Monday.

— Associated Press

8:46 PM - May 10, 2020
8:46 PM - May 10, 2020

Lancaster County lawmakers say they will begin reopening May 15. At least one local official disagrees

A group of elected officials in Lancaster County said during the weekend that they plan to move the county into the “yellow phase” of reopening on May 15, with or without the approval of Gov. Tom Wolf.

In a letter to the governor, posted on Facebook by State Sen. Ryan Aument, the Republican lawmakers said they believed local hospitals “have the capacity to handle the needs of our communities." They also proposed several steps to try to manage the crisis inside nursing homes and longtime care facilities, where it has hit hardest.

Pa. Sen. Ryan Aument ( R., Lancaster), 36th Senatorial District.
Pennsylvania Senate
Pa. Sen. Ryan Aument ( R., Lancaster), 36th Senatorial District.

“The time is now to begin restoring and rebuilding a strong Lancaster County,” they wrote, joining officials in at least two other counties — Dauphin and Lebanon — who have said they plan to move into the “yellow phase” of reopening starting May 15 even if they have to defy Wolf’s order to do so.

At least one local official in Lancaster said the county wasn’t ready to reopen.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the mayor of Lancaster, Danene Sorace, a Democrat, said she did not feel the county had enough testing, contact tracing, or personal protective equipment to begin inching back toward normal life.

Sorace also said that local lawmakers encouraging businesses to reopen before Wolf formally eases restrictions could put those businesses at risk of breaking the law.

In addition to saying that more planning was needed before beginning to reopen, Sorace said: “For months to come, we will be living with this virus in our midst. Our actions now will either set us up for success or failure against a foe that cares nothing about politics.”

Chris Palmer

7:14 PM - May 10, 2020
7:14 PM - May 10, 2020

Six more deaths in Burlington County, three in Gloucester County

Six more people have died of the coronavirus in Burlington County, officials said Sunday, bringing the county’s death toll to 204.

Meanwhile, in Gloucester County, officials said Sunday that three people in their 80s had died from the virus, raising the total number of fatalities there to 83.

Officials did not identify any of those who died.

In Burlington County, 3,523 people have tested positive for the virus, while the total number of positive tests in Gloucester County was 1,662.

Chris Palmer

5:40 PM - May 10, 2020
5:40 PM - May 10, 2020

Under 1% of Major League Baseball employees test positive for coronavirus antibodies

Just 0.7% of Major League Baseball employees tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Results were based on about 5,600 completed records from employees of 26 clubs. Samples were obtained on April 14 and 15.

Fans walking past Citizens Bank Park on March 26, which was supposed to be the opening day of the baseball season.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
Fans walking past Citizens Bank Park on March 26, which was supposed to be the opening day of the baseball season.

“It allows us to get a peek of the nationwide prevalence,” said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya at Stanford, one the study’s leaders, said Sunday.

The start of the baseball season has been delayed because of the virus outbreak. There’s no timetable for when the season might begin.

— Associated Press

3:34 PM - May 10, 2020
3:34 PM - May 10, 2020

Philadelphia death toll approaches 900; positive cases climb to over 18,200

Philadelphia reported on Sunday another 330 people tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the citywide total to 18,211. Another three people have died, increasing Philadelphia’s death toll to 894.

Over 820 people are hospitalized in Philadelphia for the coronavirus, with 1,562 admitted in the region.

— Pranshu Verma

3:08 PM - May 10, 2020
3:08 PM - May 10, 2020

Half of the detained immigrants tested by ICE in United States have the coronavirus

Half of the detained immigrants tested by ICE have the coronavirus, even though the enforcement agency checks but a small percentage of those in its custody, according to the latest figures.

Today 788 migrants are positive for the virus, among 1,593 who were tested. That means ICE tested 5% of the 29,675 immigrants held in jails and prisons across the country. One man has died.

Those 788 cases are up from 61 a month ago.

Twenty migrants at the Pike County Correctional Facility in northeastern Pennsylvania have the virus. So do 42 Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees who work in detention centers.

Those in ICE custody generally are awaiting deportation or court hearings. In Pennsylvania, ICE holds migrants in Clinton, York, Berks and Pike Counties. Immigration attorneys and advocates have warned for weeks that detainees are at particular risk of catching and spreading the virus because of the tight quarters in which they’re held. They argue that it’s likely far more detainees have the coronavirus than is known, because such a small percentage of the population has been tested.

ICE says it follows all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in testing and treating migrant detainees for COVID-19.

— Jeff Gammage

2:30 PM - May 10, 2020
2:30 PM - May 10, 2020

WWII Vet honored with socially distanced 95th birthday parade

World War II veteran Sal Castro was treated to a surprise 95th birthday drive-by parade outside his house in Levittown on Sunday.

The festivities, organized by Castro’s fellow honor guardsmen from the Washington Crossing National Cemetery, were tailored for the pandemic and attended by over 70 people who wanted to honor the Army veteran who served in the South Pacific.

“It was fantastic. Big surprise,” Castro said in a phone interview. "But it’s a terrible thing, this coronavirus, to come around my birthday. It’s not very convenient. It should come around in the winter time when no one’s out, not in the spring.”

Eleanor Castro stands with her husband Sal Castro, after a drive-by parade for his 95th birthday celebration in Levittown on Sunday. The Guardians of the National Cemetery, of which Castro is a member, put on the celebration.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
Eleanor Castro stands with her husband Sal Castro, after a drive-by parade for his 95th birthday celebration in Levittown on Sunday. The Guardians of the National Cemetery, of which Castro is a member, put on the celebration.

The event’s organizer, Bob Craven, president of the Guardians of the National Cemetery, said the idea came to him a few days ago. No celebration would have happened were it not for the pandemic, he said.

“I don’t know that he would have let us,” Craven said. “[Sal’s] a humble man. He’s very bright, very well-spoken family man. ... The guy we all wish our grandfather was.”

But even though the coronavirus changed how Castro celebrated his 95th birthday and the way he spends his days, he still had words of wisdom for those feeling stressed out.

“Hang in there," he said. "Good days are coming ahead. Most of us will survive this.”

— Pranshu Verma

1:22 PM - May 10, 2020
1:22 PM - May 10, 2020

N.J. coronavirus death toll ticks over 9,200; positive cases top 138,000

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reported an additional 1,503 people have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Sunday, bringing the statewide caseload to 138,532. Another 140 people have died from the disease, increasing the state’s death toll to 9,255.

Slightly over 4,300 residents are hospitalized for the disease, with 1,338 of them in critical care and 994 on ventilators.

— Pranshu Verma

12:47 PM - May 10, 2020
12:47 PM - May 10, 2020

Pennsylvania’s positive coronavirus cases top 56,600; death toll surpasses 3,700

Pennsylvania reported an additional 1,295 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 56,611. Another 19 people have died from the disease, increasing the state’s death toll to 3,707.

“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,” Health Secretary Rachel Levine said, referring to the state’s color-coded reopening phases. “We must continue to protect our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, which includes our seniors, those with underlying health issues, our health-care workers and our first responders.”

Nearly 540 long-term-care facilities in Pennsylvania have an outbreak of the coronavirus. They account for 13,290 of the state’s positive cases and 2,529 of its deaths.

— Pranshu Verma

11:39 AM - May 10, 2020
11:39 AM - May 10, 2020

N.J. is one of seven states to receive shipment of remdesivir from feds

New Jersey is one of seven states to receive a shipment of remdesivir from the U.S. Department of Health, according to a department news release Saturday, a drug that may help patients recover faster from the coronavirus.

The state will receive 110 cases of the drug. It is unclear whether Pennsylvania is in line for any. It was not mentioned in the release.

Last week, a U.S. government study of the drug’s effectiveness showed promising results, but a second study in a respected British medical journal, put out contradictory findings.

New Jersey health officials will be responsible for distributing the drug to hospitals across the state, in accordance with community needs. Earlier this week New Jersey received 94 cases of the drug.

Remdesivir, manufactured by Gilead Sciences, received emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week. The manufacturer will distribute 607,000 vials of the drug across the country in the next six weeks to help tame the spread of the pandemic that has killed nearly 80,000 people in the United States.

— Pranshu Verma

11:03 AM - May 10, 2020
11:03 AM - May 10, 2020

Philly’s essential workers are risking their lives for low pay: ‘I can’t not go to work'

The danger starts when the 56 bus picks her up in Northeast Philadelphia.

She avoids touching the grimy handrails as she steps aboard, and once she takes her seat for the ride to work, another fear sets in: Will this be the day she catches the coronavirus at work?

“On the way there, I start thinking: ‘What am I about to walk into?’ There are some OK days and some really bad days,” said the 46-year-old grocery cashier, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she fears losing her job at the Fresh Grocer. “I pray a lot. Not just for the employees. I pray for the whole world.”

All over Philadelphia, “essential” workers are hustling to keep the city going.

They bag our groceries, answer our calls, drive our buses, care for our vulnerable, guard our prisons, clean our floors, deliver our packages, and secure our buildings. And they’ve been doing so for weeks now even as the death toll from the pandemic rises. Many of them are women and people of color earning low and working-class wages. They’re told they’re essential. But many say they don’t feel protected or appreciated.

— Jessica Calefati, Juliana Feliciano Reyes, Barbara Laker

9:47 AM - May 10, 2020
9:47 AM - May 10, 2020

Two Pa. counties will defy Gov. Tom Wolf’s orders and move to reopen May 15

Officials from two central Pennsylvania counties notified Gov. Tom Wolf that they will defy his guidance and move into the “yellow phase” of reopening starting May 15.

“Enough is enough,” Jeff Haste, chairman of the Dauphin County Board of Commissioners, wrote in a statement Friday. “It is time to reopen the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and return our state to the people (as prescribed by our Constitution) and not run it as a dictatorship.”

Lebanon County officials also issued a letter Friday notifying Wolf the county’s curve of infections had flattened sufficiently and pressure on its health system was alleviated enough to begin focusing on reopening businesses.

“Lebanon County has met the requirement of your original Stay-at-Home Order,” officials wrote. “We, as the local elected officials, have a vested interest in keeping our community safe and free from disease, and not over-burdening the health care facilities in the county. We have heard the pleas of our residents who desire the ability to safely reopen their businesses and safely return to work.”

Wolf’s plan requires counties to see fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 people over two weeks before moving into the “yellow phase" which allows some retail businesses to reopen again. Lebanon County is averaging 170, while Dauphin is at 104, according to an Inquirer analysis of data — both significantly over Wolf’s threshold.

— Pranshu Verma

8:46 AM - May 10, 2020
8:46 AM - May 10, 2020

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

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

8:17 AM - May 10, 2020
8:17 AM - May 10, 2020

Three White House task force members place themselves in quarantine

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

8:13 AM - May 10, 2020
8:13 AM - May 10, 2020

More of everything: frustration, protests and hope as pandemic continues to sicken and kill

The word of the day on Saturday? More.

More masks. More protests. More frustration.

More signs for hope amid the pandemic, and more plans to return to normal or some semblance of it. And, sadly and as always these days, more sickness and more death.

“We’re making a lot of progress,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, but “364 people went into a hospital in the past 24 hours with COVID-19. We are not out of the woods, folks. Let’s not forget that.”

Across the Philadelphia region, winterish temperatures and harsh winds proved a strong enforcer of government stay-at-home dictates. Snow fell from the sky in parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as people prepared for a Mother’s Day riven by the coronavirus. Many will not be able to see their moms, because of the danger of transmitting the virus — or because so many elderly already have been taken.

“We never imagined that on this Mother’s Day we wouldn’t be gathered at a favorite restaurant or a family barbecue surrounded by our children and grandchildren,” Mayor Jim Kenney’s office said in a statement. “We acknowledge your grief.”

— Jeff Gammage, Laura McCrystal

5:00 AM - May 10, 2020
5:00 AM - May 10, 2020

Today’s Front Page

Front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer on May 10
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer on May 10