8:50 AM - May 30, 2020
Breaking
8:50 AM - May 30, 2020

Latest Philadelphia Airport adopts new safety measures

American Airlines employee Chan Medley stands behind a safety shield to remind guests to practice physical distancing at Philadelphia International Airport.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
American Airlines employee Chan Medley stands behind a safety shield to remind guests to practice physical distancing at Philadelphia International Airport.

If coming to the airport was a stressor before the pandemic, “put that on steroids and now you have a typical travel experience,” said James Tyrrell.

Tyrrell should know. As Philadelphia International Airport’s chief revenue officer, he has to figure out how the airport will respond to the safety needs and expectations of the traveling public amid the global pandemic.

That means the airport needs to “re-establish trust” with passengers, he said: “We have to create a situation to enable them to avoid crowds and limit interactions. And we have to give people the power to control their own journey.”

The coronavirus crisis brought air travel to a near standstill this spring, taking a toll on PHL’s finances. The airport has deferred payments it normally collects from airlines, concessionaires, rental car companies, and hotels through June. There is “zero revenue coming in,” Tyrrell said. PHL is, for now, using the $116 million in funding it received under the CARES Act to pay for operating costs.

During this quieter period, airport leaders are "continuously discussing ways to address different requirements of this situation,” Tyrrell said.

Catherine Dunn

8:41 AM - May 30, 2020
8:41 AM - May 30, 2020

Another loss from coronavirus: The rituals of election day

That quintessential sound of an approaching election in Philadelphia — a sharp knock on your door — has fallen silent.

There are no volunteers on the steps with a stack of campaign literature — and, in the era of social distancing, packed rallies are out, too. Instead, hope your WiFi connection holds up while a politician asks for your vote in a Zoom meeting.

As they mourn the loss of the normal rituals of electioneering to the coronavirus pandemic, those who seek office or run campaigns in Pennsylvania say nobody has a clue how Tuesday’s primary election might go.

Even former Gov. Ed Rendell, always quick with political analysis or predictions, was at a loss.

“All I know is I already cast my vote via mail,” Rendell said.

— Chris Brennan

8:31 AM - May 30, 2020
8:31 AM - May 30, 2020

Can I drive to a county in the ‘green’ phase to get a haircut?

As of May 29, the 18 counties — most of which are concentrated in the northern part of the state — have shifted from “yellow” to “green.” In these green counties, restaurants, malls, movie theaters, nail salons and yes, hair salons, can operate at 50% capacity or less.

But if you live in a red or yellow county, can you drive to a green one to get your hair cut, colored and styled?

The short answer: Yes, technically.

“Businesses allowed to open in the green phase will not be restricted on who they can accept into their businesses,” Nate Wardle, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, wrote in an email.

But that doesn’t mean you should.

If you live in a yellow-phase county, you have a higher chance of being infected than if you live in a green-phase one, explained Theresa Sweet, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Drexel School of Public Health.

“If you yourself are at higher risk, then why would you go to a place where people are at a lower risk? That’s just common courtesy,” Sweet said.

Elizabeth Wellington

8:26 AM - May 30, 2020
8:26 AM - May 30, 2020

Fact check: Did the World Health Organization ‘miss’ the coronavirus pandemic?

From left, U.S. Reps. Fred Keller, Daniel Meuser, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Scott Perry greet President Donald Trump as he arrives at Lehigh Valley International Airport for a visit to the Owens & Minor medical equipment distribution center in Allentown on May 14.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
From left, U.S. Reps. Fred Keller, Daniel Meuser, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Scott Perry greet President Donald Trump as he arrives at Lehigh Valley International Airport for a visit to the Owens & Minor medical equipment distribution center in Allentown on May 14.

During a conservative talk-radio interview, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Bucks) accused the World Health Organization of missing the pandemic, citing a Jan. 14 tweet in which the organization reported Chinese assurances that there was no human-to-human transmission of the virus.

Experts argue that the WHO was slow to acknowledge human-to-human transmission, declare the coronavirus a “public health emergency of international concern,” and label it a pandemic.

But the agency was actively gathering and disseminating information about the virus in the weeks prior to the official pandemic declaration, and it’s possible to interpret public statements made during this time as cautious, not reckless. Saying the WHO missed the pandemic altogether goes too far.

We rate Fitzpatrick’s claim Mostly False.

Jessica Calefati

8:15 AM - May 30, 2020
8:15 AM - May 30, 2020

Philadelphia lays out guidelines for 'yellow’ phase as Pa. considers schools and N.J. sets opening dates for child care, day camps

When Philadelphia enters the “yellow” phase of reopening, customers walking through the doors of businesses will be offered hand sanitizer, employees will be wiping down surfaces every four hours, and business owners will limit capacity to five people per 1,000 square feet.

Those are some of the guidelines laid out in the city’s “Safer at Home” plan for moving to the first stage of reopening, in which parts of the economy, including office-based businesses, manufacturing, and retail can restart. Mayor Jim Kenney unveiled the city’s modified version of the state’s yellow phase on Friday.

As he announced the “mini-step forward,” Kenney said the incremental loosening of restrictions on business and social activities does not mean the city has beaten the coronavirus. Residents must continue social distancing and wearing masks in the yellow phase.

Gov. Tom Wolf said the state will release more guidelines for schools next week that could include reduced class sizes and a mix of in-person and online learning.

New Jersey also announced several new steps on Friday: Child-care centers can reopen June 15, non-contact organized sports can resume June 22, and youth day camps are cleared to start July 6. Competitive horse races, without fans, may begin as early as next weekend; the first qualifying races took place Friday, said Gov. Phil Murphy.

Justine McDaniel, Sean Collins Walsh, Erin McCarthy

8:00 AM - May 30, 2020
8:00 AM - May 30, 2020

Today’s Inquirer front page

The Inquirer front page for May 30, 2020.
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The Inquirer front page for May 30, 2020.