6:00 AM - May 26, 2020
6:00 AM - May 26, 2020

Read the latest Philadelphia-area coronavirus updates here

New Jersey reported 965 new coronavirus cases and 16 more deaths on Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced, noting that the low numbers may be due to a reporting delay during Memorial Day weekend.

At least 11,144 New Jerseyans now have died after contracting COVID-19, the nation’s second-highest state death toll, behind New York, according to coronavirus-tracking authorities at Johns Hopkins University.

New York had 29,141 deaths and Massachusetts placed third with 6,372. Pennsylvania ranked fifth with 5,139.

Memorial Day marked the 19th-straight day that New Jersey has reported fewer than 2,000 new cases during a 24-hour period, despite the increased availability of testing. The new cases reported Monday pushed the state total to 155,092.

10:27 PM - May 25, 2020
10:27 PM - May 25, 2020

WHO stops study of anti-malaria drug Trump touted as ‘game changer’

The World Health Organization announced Monday that it would temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine, the unproven drug that President Donald Trump promoted as a “game changer” in treating the coronavirus, from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that in light of a paper published last week in the Lancet medical journal, which showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems, there would be “a temporary pause” on the hydroxychloroquine arm of its global clinical trial.

Tedros said the executive group behind WHO’s global trial met on Saturday, and decided to conduct a comprehensive review of all available data on hydroxychloroquine.

Last week, Trump announced he was taking hydroxychloroquine although he has not tested positive for COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned health professionals last month that the drug should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of hospital or research settings due to numerous serious side effects, which can include death.

— Associated Press

3:45 PM - May 25, 2020
3:45 PM - May 25, 2020

In Ocean City, Memorial Day crowds smaller and a bit subdued

Under a cloudy sky, vacationers wheeled down Ocean City’s boardwalk on beach cruisers Monday afternoon, past the amusement rides locked behind security gates and signs warning patrons to “be kind,” don masks and wash their hands.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and continued fears of the virus’s spread, the crowds on the traditional first day of the summer season were smaller, and a bit subdued. But there was a determined line of patrons outside Manco and Manco’s pizza shop, a handful of souvenir stores selling t-shirts curbside, and families lining the beach mostly keeping at least six feet away from each other, though hardly anyone wore a mask.

Several beachgoers said they were taking more precautions than usual, adding masks and hand sanitizer to their beach bags.

“We have extra wipes, hand sanitizer, and face masks, and we’re definitely keeping our distance,” said Elizabeth Martinez, of Millville, N.J., posted up on the beach with a few friends.

Jessica and Steven Schaller, of Downingtown, traveled to their home in Ocean City this weekend but were concerned about avoiding crowds.

“We were worried we figured we would come down and see how crowded it was. If it was too crowded, we probably would have headed back home,” Jessica Schaller said.

But they’d been pleased to see that their neighbors at the shore had been making efforts to keep their distance from each other.

— Aubrey Whelan

2:50 PM - May 25, 2020
2:50 PM - May 25, 2020

Phillie Phanatic dons a mask for Memorial Day parade

With baseball on pause, the Phillie Phanatic donned a mask to take part in a socially distant Memorial Day parade in Montgomery Township Monday.

The Phanatic joined members of the township’s police, fire and public works departments, who escorted veterans through neighborhood streets in honor of Memorial Day.

Unfortunately, the beloved mascot — who underwent a few changes during the offseason — had some trouble getting out of the jeep.

Earlier this month, Gritty also appeared in public wearing a mask to take part in a parade of first responders through Delaware County.

“Look at this. It’s awesome! It brings back a sense of normalcy,” Sean McDade, a pharmacist who attended the parade, told the Inquirer. “When Gritty is your baseline for normalcy, you know we’re living in wild times.“

Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty rides through Delaware County May 7, 2020, atop a Rocky Run Fire Department firetruck, giving families a coronavirus quarantine surprise.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty rides through Delaware County May 7, 2020, atop a Rocky Run Fire Department firetruck, giving families a coronavirus quarantine surprise.

— Rob Tornoe

2:15 PM - May 25, 2020
2:15 PM - May 25, 2020

Reopen New Jersey protest held in Point Pleasant

A small group of Trump supporters protested Gov. Phil Murphy’s coronavirus restrictions at Point Pleasant Beach on Monday, chanting “All businesses are essential!” and “Open New Jersey now!”

State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, a North Jersey Republican, told the mostly maskless protestors their freedoms were being denied “under the guise of public health” and claimed there was very little science involved in the state’s restrictions.

“Since when do we curb our businesses? We curb our dogs, not our businesses,” Pennacchio said.

State Assemblyman Jamel Holley, a North Jersey Democrat, was also scheduled to speak, but announced Monday afternoon he would be skipping the event to avoid mixing politics with the message of Memorial Day.

“It’s a choice I personally made once the focal point of my attendance changed as I saw the issues I stand for: civil rights, freedom rights and justice begin to be distorted in a way that is not becoming of what I represent as a person,” Holley wrote on Facebook.

Murphy said during an interview on CNN Monday morning that he wants to open all businesses, but when it comes to indoor facilities like gyms and hair salons, “we’re not there yet.”

“I don’t begrudge their right to protest, but they don’t sway me,” Murphy said. “The only thing that sways me is the facts and the science and the data.”

— Rob Tornoe

1:19 PM - May 25, 2020
1:19 PM - May 25, 2020

New Jersey posts 19th straight day of less than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases

New Jersey reported 965 new coronavirus cases and 16 new deaths, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday, noting the low numbers may be due to a delay in reporting over Memorial Day weekend.

At least 11,144 New Jerseyans have now died after contracting COVID-19, the second-highest death toll in the country, behind New York. According to Johns Hopkins University, the states that have suffered the most COVID-19 deaths as of Monday afternoon are:

  • New York: 29,141 deaths
  • New Jersey: 11,144 deaths
  • Massachusetts: 6,372 deaths
  • Michigan: 5,228 deaths
  • Pennsylvania: 5,139 deaths

It’s the 19th straight day New Jersey has reported fewer than 2,000 new cases over a 24-hour period, despite increased testing. The 965 new confirmed COVID-19 cases pushed the state’s total to at least 155,092.

2,755 New Jerseyans were hospitalized, down over 65% from a peak of 8,084 patients on April 14. 719 New Jersey residents remained in critical or intensive care on Monday, and 540 were on ventilators.

— Rob Tornoe

1:19 PM - May 25, 2020
1:19 PM - May 25, 2020

Philadelphia reports two new coronavirus deaths as region nears ‘yellow’ reopening phase

The Philadelphia Nursing Home at 2100 W Girard Ave. on May 20, 2020.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
The Philadelphia Nursing Home at 2100 W Girard Ave. on May 20, 2020.

Two more Philadelphians have died after contracting coronavirus, the city announced on Monday.

At least 1,235 Philadelphia residents have succumbed to the virus, with a little more than half the deaths occurring among residents of long-term care facilities.

There have been a total of 21,641 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city, which announced 407 new cases on Monday. Today’s numbers reflect the new cases since Saturday, as the city has supped released updates on Sunday.

Philadelphia and its suburbs — the hardest hit areas in Pennsylvania — will move to the “yellow” phase of the state’s reopening plan by June 5, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday. That would allow most businesses to reopen, but gyms, salons, malls, and movie theaters would remain closed. There will also still be limitations on public gatherings, and restaurants and bars will remain closed to in-person business.

— Rob Tornoe

12:58 PM - May 25, 2020
12:58 PM - May 25, 2020

15 more Pennsylvanians have died of COVID-19, hospitalizations slightly up

As Pennsylvanians across the state celebrate a socially distant Memorial Day, the commonwealth reports 15 more residents have died of COVID-19.

At least 5,139 Pennsylvanians have died of coronavirus since the pandemic forced the state to shutdown in mid-March. 3,379 of the deaths have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.

68,186 have tested positive in the commonwealth with 473 new positive cases reported Monday. Despite increased testing, the number of new daily cases of COVID-19 has declined overall since reaching a peak of 1,965 on April 9.

The number of coronavirus patients hospitalized has dropped by nearly 1,000 since May 8 — from 2,618 to 1,628. But the number of Pennsylvanians hospitalized by coronavirus has increased by 68 patients since Friday, with a total of 334 patients currently on ventilators.

“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 in a statement. “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."

— Rob Tornoe

12:10 PM - May 25, 2020
12:10 PM - May 25, 2020

NHL moving to Phase 2 of its plan to return to play

Flyers' defender Shayne Gostisbehere watches teammates during a practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. back in January.
AKIRA SUWA / For the Inquirer
Flyers' defender Shayne Gostisbehere watches teammates during a practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. back in January.

The National Hockey League announced on Monday it is ready to move to Phase 2 of its plan to return players to the ice, which includes allowing players to train in small groups at team facilities.

The NHL said it is targeting early June for a return to practice in a memo released Monday, noting it will continue to “monitor developments in each of the club’s markets, and may adjust the overall timing if appropriate.” The NHL has been self-quarantining since March 12.

A maximum of six players will be allow to train together at team facilities. Coaches and other team personnel won’t be allowed on the ice, and players are required to wear facial coverings while not exercising. The NHL said the plan is voluntary, and teams can’t require players to return to their team’s home city.

The NHL players’ union approved a 24-team return-to-play format Friday. The top four teams in each conference would probably play each in a round robin setup to determine seedings. The Flyers are currently seeded fourth in the East, behind Boston, Tampa Bay, and Washington.

— Rob Tornoe

11:40 AM - May 25, 2020
11:40 AM - May 25, 2020

Biden wears a mask during Memorial Day visit to veterans memorial in Delaware

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden depart after placing a wreath at the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veterans Memorial Park, Monday, May 25, 2020, in New Castle, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky / AP
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden depart after placing a wreath at the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veterans Memorial Park, Monday, May 25, 2020, in New Castle, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, donned masks during a Memorial Day visit to lay a wreath at the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veterans Memorial Park on Monday morning.

It’s the first time Biden has left his house in Wilmington, Del. in two months, since the coronavirus pandemic forced him off the campaign trail in mid-March.

“It feels good to be out of my house,” Biden told reporters.

Biden’s son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, served in Iraq as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard and was awarded a Bronze Star

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrive to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, in honor of Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2020, in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon / AP
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrive to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, in honor of Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2020, in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Trump Vice President Mike Pence also honored fallen veterans during a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Monday morning. He also traveled to Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md. with First Lady Melania Trump to attend a Memorial Day Ceremony.

— Rob Tornoe

10:30 AM - May 25, 2020
10:30 AM - May 25, 2020

Cops: New Jersey man claims he has coronavirus during fight with police

A New Jersey man claimed to spread coronavirus to two officers during an arrest in Gloucester Township, according to police.

Officials said Randall Rivers, of Sicklerville, N.J., claimed he was infected with COVID-19 as he kicked, cursed, and fought with Gloucester Township police officers responding to a call involving a physical dispute between family members.

According to police, Rivers, 55, became “irate and uncooperative” and refused to be handcuffed before assaulting the two officers, yelling that he had exposed them to the virus.

Rivers was charged with harassment, making terroristic threats, resisting arrest, failure to submit to identification procedures, and two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

Police say Rivers was briefly hospitalized for evaluation before being taken to the Camden County jail. Both offers were treated for minor injuries.

— Rob Tornoe

9:40 AM - May 25, 2020
9:40 AM - May 25, 2020

Trump threatens to pull Republican convention out of North Carolina due to COVID-19 restrictions

President Trump is threatening to pull the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina, claiming Gov. Roy Cooper is “unable to guarantee” the capacity due to coroanvirus restrictions.

Starting his Memorial Day on Twitter Monday, Trump demanded a guarantee the convention will be allowed to go on as planned, with Cooper becoming the latest Democratic governor targeted by the president.

Vice President Mike Pence called Trump’s demands “reasonable” during an interview on Fox News Monday morning, saying the president is “intent” on gathering in August in “a safe and responsive venue.”

“We look forward to working with Gov. Cooper getting a swift response, and if needs be, moving the national convention to a state that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence we can gather there,” Pence said.

It’s unclear where Republicans could move their convention that would allow 50,000 people to gather at once. It’s also unclear how such an event could be planned under such short notice.

On Friday, restaurants, barber shops and salons are among the business that will be allowed to reopen in North Carolina with limitations, but gatherings remain limited to 10 people. The convention is scheduled to begin August 24, and both Cooper and Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles have said all decisions will be guided by data and science.

"We can’t go into this with just, ‘Well, we agreed to something in 2018 and we’re going to continue to do it,’ Lyles said on MSNBC last week. “That is not the world today.”

— Rob Tornoe

8:45 AM - May 25, 2020
8:45 AM - May 25, 2020

Murphy: South Jersey church that held Sunday service will face ‘repercussions'

Members of the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Berlin, New Jersey attend service on Sunday morning. The church defied New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's shutdown order and opened the church for in-person service.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Members of the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Berlin, New Jersey attend service on Sunday morning. The church defied New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's shutdown order and opened the church for in-person service.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said there will be “repercussions” after a South Jersey church held Sunday service in defiance to the state’s coronavirus closure orders.

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

“There will be repercussions in any case where someone willful violates out executives orders,” Murphy said. “But putting the specifics of that aside, I want to get churches going as well”

Murphy said the response to defying the state’s executive orders typically involve summons, either from the Department of Health or the attorney general’s office. He cited Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, which was issued summons for several days before a judge forced the facility to close.

“It’s a fairly straightforward process,” Murphy said. “We got to make sure we’re all in this together and do it the right way.”

In New Jersey, churches are currently barred from holding in-person services indoors, but can hold outdoor services limited to 25 people. Dozens of pastors throughout the state have threatened to sue.

— Rob Tornoe

6:00 AM - May 25, 2020
6:00 AM - May 25, 2020

At the Jersey Shore, sparse crowds and worry for what’s ahead

Walkers stroll the Wildwood Boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey on Sunday, May 24, 2020.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Walkers stroll the Wildwood Boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey on Sunday, May 24, 2020.

It felt like fall at the Jersey Shore on Sunday, but the clouds and cool weather did more than chase away beach-goers during the traditional start of the summer season.

They underscored the sudden fragility of a Shore economy that’s been pounded by pandemic-driven store closings, hotel-room cancellations, and dining limits. On Sunday, as some hardy ocean-lovers set out towels on beaches, and others on benches snuggled inside down coats, the boom of Memorial Day weekend turned quiet.

“Our business is down 70% over last year,” said Bill Bumbernick, owner of the Surfing Pig marina, bar and restaurant in North Wildwood. “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.”

— Jeff Gammage, Erin Arvedlund, and Pranshu Verma,

5:00 AM - May 25, 2020
5:00 AM - May 25, 2020

Today’s Front Page

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