9:55 PM - May 24, 2020
Breaking
9:55 PM - May 24, 2020

Latest Crowds gather at St. Peter’s Square for first time in months

For the first time in months, people gathered at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City for the traditional Sunday papal blessing.

Pope Francis has been delivering the blessing from inside the Apostolic library during the epidemic.

People gather at St. Peter's Square to wait for Pope Francis to deliver his blessing at the end of the Regina Coeli noon prayer on Sunday.
Andrew Medichini / AP
People gather at St. Peter's Square to wait for Pope Francis to deliver his blessing at the end of the Regina Coeli noon prayer on Sunday.

Those who gathered Sunday maintained their distances from each other and gazed at the window at the site where he ordinarily would be addressing the crowd.

At the end of the blessing he came to the window and waved to the crowd.

Associated Press

8:45 PM - May 24, 2020
8:45 PM - May 24, 2020

Delaware to let restaurants expand outdoor seating

Delaware restaurants will be allowed to expand outdoor seating under an order announced by Gov. John Carney during the weekend.

For permission, the state’s food and drink establishments can apply to town or county officials, the state said.

Delaware Gov. John Carney meets with staffers during a tour of the State Health Operations Center earlier this month.
Randall Chase / AP Photo
Delaware Gov. John Carney meets with staffers during a tour of the State Health Operations Center earlier this month.

Delaware bars and restaurants are scheduled to open their indoor areas on June 1, but they will be limited to 30% capacity.

“We want everyone to enjoy Delaware’s great restaurants, bars, and craft breweries,” Carney said in issuing the order Saturday, “but we’re asking that you do so safely.”

On Sunday, the state announced that two more people had died of causes related to the coronavirus, raising the state’s death toll to 326. In all, just over 8,800 cases have been reported. The figures were current as of 6 p.m. Saturday.

Anthony R. Wood

3:43 PM - May 24, 2020
3:43 PM - May 24, 2020

Jersey Shore business owners’ tempers flare over state’s outdoor dining ban

In North Wildwood, rules about reopening are shifting as quickly as the sands and tide along the seawall. And business owners’ tempers began to flare over confusion around the state’s ban on outdoor dining.

North Wildwood is one of the many Jersey Shore towns where food and alcohol can only be purchased for pickup and eaten curbside, amid a pandemic that’s raised many thorny issues — such as where was everyone going to sit once they pick up their drinks and food?

South Jersey residents Donna Spiegel (left) and Sharon Koch drink their Orange Crush cocktail outside the Surfing Pig in North Wildwood on Sunday, as The Wildwoods and the state of New Jersey allow cocktails to go during the holiday weekend.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
South Jersey residents Donna Spiegel (left) and Sharon Koch drink their Orange Crush cocktail outside the Surfing Pig in North Wildwood on Sunday, as The Wildwoods and the state of New Jersey allow cocktails to go during the holiday weekend.

North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello “was really trying to help us businesses by allowing outside seats and tables on public property,” said Joseph Lerro, owner of Joe Joe’s Tacos & Tequila on Old New Jersey Avenue just blocks from the ocean.

Lerro, who has owned the bar restaurant for 15 years, hired extra staff and ordered more food in anticipation of a healthy opening weekend on Memorial Day weekend, the official beginning of the summer season. But the mayor’s action to allow outdoor seating was blocked by the governor’s ban aimed at attempting to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"What’s the end game here, governor? Is this how you would run a business?” said a frustrated Lerro on Sunday.

The mood wasn’t much better at the Surfing Pig.

"Our business is down 70% over last year’s” Memorial Day weekend, said Bill Bumbernick, owner of the marina bar and restaurant.

“That’s partly due to the weather. But we’re very concerned. Our customers are great, they really get it. But 70% just doesn’t cut it.”

While business owners fumed, small groups of hardy patrons gathered outside Keenan’s and Exit 6 bars, some on benches with blankets, others in down coats and flip-flops, sipping beer and mixed drinks. Most establishments are requiring masks to enter for pickup orders.

Along the Jersey Shore on Sunday, a stiff breeze and overcast skies kept temperatures in the high 50s and crowds thinned.

— Erin Arvedlund

3:31 PM - May 24, 2020
3:31 PM - May 24, 2020

Hundreds of cars line up to celebrate Eid in Willow Grove

On Sunday morning hundreds of cars wound around the parking lots of the still closed Willow Grove Park Mall. Instead of shopping, families came together to celebrate Eid, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan.

Families prayed the takbeerat from their cars using a Zoom call, then made their way to 11 stations, where participants picked up treats and refreshments.

Some families even decorated their cars with balloons and ribbons.

“I think it was really nice to see everybody,” said Madiha Irfan, executive director of the Muslim Society of Delaware Valley. “Eid is such a special day for us, so it would have been really strange to just be at home.”

Irfan noted that normally Eid is celebrated with a morning of prayers at the mosque, followed with breakfast and activities for the kids. This year there were no hugs exchanged after the prayer, but plenty of horn honking and waving from the cars.

“It was nice to have a sense of togetherness even if we were all in our cars,” Irfan said.

— Monica Herndon

2:36 PM - May 24, 2020
2:36 PM - May 24, 2020

Social distancing can be dangerous for people in addiction. Can a knock on the door help?

In any direction he went, Jackie could find heroin.

He rents a room on East Tioga Street, half a block from the Kensington Pub. On the concrete steps, stained with rust from the railing, Jackie sat one morning last week and watched the users and the dealers; they’re on every corner, the handshakes and highs that used to be his life. He adjusted the cloth mask covering his gray beard, and let it go by.

When social distancing began in the middle of March, Jackie had been sober for one month. A patient with Pathways to Recovery, a treatment program in Port Richmond, he had spent those first weeks in intensive counseling, attending group sessions like “Living in Balance” and “Adjusting to Change.” He said he was learning to communicate better, to speak his feelings.

But as COVID-19 shut down Pennsylvania, so went the face-to-face programs that kept Jackie and so many others from using opioids, crack cocaine, and alcohol. Twenty of the 50 participants who were with Pathways two months ago have fallen off, its therapists said, and are presumed to have relapsed.

“There’s too much down here, it’s all in your face," said Jackie, who is 47 and has shared the room with his wife since November. “It’s kind of hard to stay clean when you see people using everywhere. It’s like, now, I remember that.”

— Lisa Gartner

1:33 PM - May 24, 2020
1:33 PM - May 24, 2020

New Jersey coronavirus positives top 154,000; Deaths climb to over 11,100

Gov. Phil Murphy reported Sunday another 1,065 New Jerseyeans have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total caseload to 154,154.

Another 54 people have died, Murphy said, increasing the state’s death toll to 11,133.

Murphy said 2,857 people are hospitalized for the disease, including 760 people in critical care and 639 who are on ventilators.

Over 530 long term care facilities are suffering an outbreak of the coronavirus, according to data self-reported by the state’s long term care facilities. Facilities also report they account for 30,043 of the state’s positives and 5,719 of its deaths.

— Pranshu Verma

1:04 PM - May 24, 2020
1:04 PM - May 24, 2020

Murphy: ‘It’s too early to tell’ whether coronavirus guidelines being followed at the Jersey Shore

Gov. Phil Murphy on Sunday said “it’s too early to tell” whether social distancing and crowd management protocols are being followed at the Jersey Shore, as vacationers head to the state’s beach towns to celebrate the unofficial start to the summer.

A sign warns people to maintain social distance and that masks are suggested while walking along Wildwood's boardwalk on Saturday.
TYGER WILLIAMS / Staff Photographer
A sign warns people to maintain social distance and that masks are suggested while walking along Wildwood's boardwalk on Saturday.

Murphy, appearing on CNN, said he expects rules are being followed, but will “see it with my own eyes” when he travels down the Shore in the coming hours.

The governor allowed state beaches to reopen ahead of the holiday weekend, normally an extremely busy weekend for the state’s beach towns, but crowds have reportedly been less than normal this year.

“The weather has not cooperated,” Murphy said. “It was miserable yesterday, it’s cold today.”

— Pranshu Verma

12:36 PM - May 24, 2020
12:36 PM - May 24, 2020

Pennsylvania coronavirus positives top 67,000, over 5,100 deaths

Pennsylvania health officials reported Sunday another 730 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the statewide caseload to 67,713.

Another 28 people have died from the virus, officials reported, increasing the state’s death toll to 5,124.

“As counties move 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.

Over 590 long-term-care facilities are suffering an outbreak of the coronavirus, accounting for 17,064 of the state’s positives and 3,357 of its deaths.

Currently, 49 counties in Pennsylvania are in the ‘yellow phase’ of reopening. Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday that all state counties will move to that stage by June 5.

— Pranshu Verma

11:30 AM - May 24, 2020
11:30 AM - May 24, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci surprises Swarthmore graduates with virtual commencement remarks

Swarthmore College’s more than 400 graduates heard from a surprise guest during their virtual commencement Sunday morning.

Many know him as one of the most prominent faces in the nation’s response to the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He is not a graduate of Swarthmore, but through a connection, the college reached out and Fauci, aware of Swarthmore’s reputation for social responsibility, gladly accepted, said college spokesperson Alisa Giardinelli.

Fauci told graduates he knew how difficult it was not to celebrate commencement in person with family, friends, and professors, but how important their talents, energy, and character would be in helping the nation continue to get through this difficult time.

“In the next phases of your lives, whether you ultimately help patients, conduct research on medical solutions, or more likely most of you simply contribute as caring and connected members of society, all of you will do your part together with the rest of us to come out from under the shadow of this pandemic,” Fauci said in a taped message from a conference room in Bethesda, Md., where he heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

“With Swarthmore’s legacy of social responsibility and community and your reputation for innovation, I have no doubt that you will be helping to lead the way,” Fauci said.

When he finished his remarks, Swarthmore president Valerie Smith joked: “Thankfully, that’s the closest thing to Zoom bombing that we’ve had to deal with at Swarthmore this semester.”

— Susan Synder

11:15 AM - May 24, 2020
11:15 AM - May 24, 2020

N.J. church holds Sunday service in defiance of Gov. Phil Murphy’s order

A South Jersey church held services on Sunday, defying government closure orders and concerns that such gatherings put participants in particular danger of coronavirus infection.

Parishioners of the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Berlin gathered for what its clergy said prior to the service would “meet or exceed” safety recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’re not looking for trouble, we’re not lawbreakers. We’re exercising our constitutional rights,” Pastor Charles Clark Jr. could be seen in a live internet broadcast exclaiming without a mask from the pulpit toward a crowded front pew. “By next week, there’s going to be churches opening all over the state, with permission or without permission.”

Members of the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Berlin attend service on Sunday morning, defying Gov. Phil Murphy's shutdown order prohibiting in-person church services.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Members of the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Berlin attend service on Sunday morning, defying Gov. Phil Murphy's shutdown order prohibiting in-person church services.

Gov. Phil Murphy has begun relaxing the state’s stay-at-home order, allowing the resumption of some recreational and business activities that had been banned, but keeping it mostly intact, including for religious gatherings.

Large church gatherings have been linked to major outbreaks of the coronavirus in France and South Korea, as have other events that have brought people together in close quarters.

President Donald Trump, however, pressed governors on Friday to allow churches to reopen immediately, declaring them “essential places that provide essential services” and threatening to “override the governors” without clarifying how he would do so.

— Jacob Adelman

10:00 AM - May 24, 2020
10:00 AM - May 24, 2020

N.Y. Times devotes entire front page to coronavirus death toll

Using a visually striking front-page design that looked like it wandered out of the 19th century, the New York Times in its Sunday issue pays tribute to those who have died from coronavirus-related causes as the U.S. death toll approaches 100,000.

In a note posted on its site, the Times said a team of writers and researchers had pored through newspaper obituaries around the nation to assemble summary information on the lives of nearly 1,000 of the victims.

“We knew we were approaching this milestone,” Simone Landon, assistant graphics editor, said in explaining the decision to opt for an all-type front page.

“We knew that there should be some way to try to reckon with that number.”

— Anthony R. Wood

10:00 AM - May 24, 2020
10:00 AM - May 24, 2020

Asked to wear mask, angry man throws hot sauce bottle at Acme employee in Bucks, police say

A mask-less man who was asked by an employee to wear a face covering while inside an Acme supermarket in Feasterville, Bucks County, “went on a rampage” Saturday that included throwing a bottle of hot sauce at the store employee, police said.

Southampton Township police said the man went on a “destructive spree” that involved “throwing items around,” climaxing with the hot sauce toss.

Police released an image of the man who they believed was the angered customer and asked that anyone with information about him call 215-357-1234.

— Anthony R. Wood

10:00 AM - May 24, 2020
10:00 AM - May 24, 2020

At the start of Shore’s summer season, rain and clouds enforce social distancing

Beneath the Ventnor fishing pier, ice cream salesman Joe Bisch pulled on a red neck-gaiter face mask that matched his sleeveless Good Humor T-shirt, then tried to figure out which gloves would work best for counting money.

“It’s a whole new world,” the 55-year-old said, aiming his cart down the South Cambridge Avenue beach. “It’s not going to be as lucrative as years passed, but I’m just thankful that we’re out here.”

At the Jersey Shore on the unofficial opening day of the summer season, a forecast for rain and clouds seemed to succeed where health authorities have struggled, holding down crowds and stopping people from encroaching on social distancing guidelines amid a pandemic that continues to sicken and kill.

Stormy morning weather gave way to a sunny and clear afternoon, though people had only about five hours to inhale the Atlantic’s salty musk before rain poured down.

— Jeff Gammage, Tommy Rowan, Rob Tornoe

10:00 AM - May 24, 2020
10:00 AM - May 24, 2020

Today’s Front Page

Front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer on May 24
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer on May 24