9:00 AM - March 7, 2020
9:00 AM - March 7, 2020

Read the latest Philadelphia-area coronavirus updates here

The University of Pennsylvania is cancelling all large, on-campus events into at least next month, including Quaker Days, a gathering of thousands of admitted and current students. Meanwhile, the Central Bucks School District is shutting down all its facilities through the weekend to deep clean schools and disinfect buses amid concern over exposure to coronavirus.

7:01 PM - March 6, 2020
7:01 PM - March 6, 2020

A fourth presumed case reported in New Jersey

The fourth positive case of coronavirus has been reported in New Jersey, state officials said Friday evening.

They said that a man in his 50s has been hospitalized since March 5 at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, in Bergen County. No further identification was provided.

The test results from the state laboratory are being sent to the Centers for Disease Control for confirmation.

Two other cases have been reported in northern New Jersey, and one in Camden County.

— Anthony R. Wood

7:01 PM - March 6, 2020
7:01 PM - March 6, 2020

Test results negative for Central Bucks students and staff

Test results from the state’s Exton lab came back negative Friday evening for Central Bucks School District students and staff who were at the recent gathering attended by someone from out of state who had tested positive.

“Very few” had any possible symptoms," said county spokesman Larry King, and the virus’ 14-day incubation period will be over by Monday.

The district will shut down all its facilities through the weekend to deep clean schools and disinfect buses amid concern over exposure to coronavirus.

The district closed five of its schools “out of an abundance of caution" after Central Bucks community members were exposed to a confirmed case of the virus that originated in another state.

—Justine McDaniel

6:14 PM - March 6, 2020
6:14 PM - March 6, 2020

Transit agencies step up cleaning efforts

John Mathis, a SEPTA employee, disinfects the turnstiles at the 15th Street Station on the Broad Street Line.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
John Mathis, a SEPTA employee, disinfects the turnstiles at the 15th Street Station on the Broad Street Line.

SEPTA, PATCO, and NJ Transit all are taking preventive steps by boosting cleaning efforts, sharing common sense tips, and keeping an eye on updates from officials.

“SEPTA’s open for business," said Jim Fox, SEPTA’s assistant general manager for system safety, during a Friday press conference at City Hall. “It is safe to continue to take our service, and we will continue to run our regular service as we see how this thing evolves.”

PATCO officials are enhancing daily cleaning and sanitation of highly touched surfaces as a precautionary measure. It’s stocking up on cleaning products, protective equipment, and parts for repairs “in the event of a supply chain disruption,” said Mike Williams, spokesperson for the Delaware River Port Authority, the agency that oversees the High-Speed Line.

NJ Transit is disinfecting vehicles every 24 hours and enhancing cleaning efforts on surfaces riders come in contact with most, like ticket vending machines, handrails, and door handles, according to a Friday update from spokesperson Kate Thompson.

— Patricia Madej

5:36 PM - March 6, 2020
5:36 PM - March 6, 2020

Annual SXSW festival canceled

Coronavirus fears have prompted officials to cancel the iconic South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, just seven days before the 2020 event was scheduled to start.
JAY JANNER / MCT
Coronavirus fears have prompted officials to cancel the iconic South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, just seven days before the 2020 event was scheduled to start.

The 34th annual South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, scheduled to start March 16, has been canceled because of concerns over coronavirus, the city announced Friday.

“We are devastated to share this news with you,” the SXSW organizers said in a tweet.

The organizers say the festival annually draws 2,000 performers from more than 60 countries.

— Anthony R. Wood

5:14 PM - March 6, 2020
5:14 PM - March 6, 2020

Pa., N.J. attorneys general issue warnings on price-gouging

The attorneys general of Pennsylvania and New Jersey on Friday reminded retailers that price-gouging was illegal and warned them not to attempt to profit from the coronavirus scare.

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs sent warning letters to 10 retailers suspected of significantly inflating prices of items related to coronavirus concerns.

“We have a simple message to businesses seeking to profit from public health fears: Don’t do it,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “If you do, we will hold you accountable.”

Josh Shapiro, his counterpart in Pennsylvania, issued a similar warning. He also announced that the state had created had set up an email account (pricegouging@attorneygeneral.gov) for consumers who want to file price-gouging complaints.

New Jersey resident can file a complaint online at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov or call 973-504-6240.

— Anthony R. Wood

3:57 PM - March 6, 2020
3:57 PM - March 6, 2020

Delaware County woman treated for coronavirus symptoms had traveled to Boston

The Delaware County woman who tested positive for the coronavirus had recently returned from a trip to Boston, according to state Rep. Greg Vitali (D., Delaware-Montgomery).

A handful of coronavirus cases have been linked to a conference in Boston held last week. Vitali said emergency services officials relayed that the patient had been treated at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, in Upland, and that the patient’s physician is under quarantine.

The woman, who has not been identified, is in isolation inside her home.

Vitali said he learned details of the patient’s treatment during a Friday afternoon conference call among county officials. His account was confirmed by another participant in the call.

Anna Orso

3:57 PM - March 6, 2020
3:57 PM - March 6, 2020

Number of U.S. coronavirus cases passes 250

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 250 Friday afternoon as medical experts anxiously wait for more test kits to become available.

So far 14 U.S. deaths have been attributed to the disease, 13 of those in Washington State, where at least seven had ties to a long-term nursing facility in the Seattle suburbs.

In Pennsylvania, where two presumed cases of coronavirus have been identified, the state can conduct just 20 to 25 tests a day, according to Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. The state expects to ramp that up to 125 to 150 daily by the weekend. Levine said Pennsylvania does not have a testing backlog.

Vice President Mike Pence admitted to reporters Thursday that nationally there are not enough test kits “to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.” Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said Thursday he believes there will be a nationwide capacity to test 475,000 people by the end of the week, and 1.5 million by the end of next week, according to CNN.

— Rob Tornoe

3:48 PM - March 6, 2020
3:48 PM - March 6, 2020

I made homemade hand sanitizer, and you can too — if you can find the ingredients

As Pennsylvania and New Jersey identify their first coronavirus cases, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

The first thing to go was Purell. Now, many shelves have been emptied of rubbing alcohol and aloe, although you can still find aloe vera gel laced with lidocaine in the sunburn section.

At Wegman’s in Cherry Hill Friday morning, largely empty shelves greeted a shopper in search of sanitary wipes. (This morning, the brand Seventh Generation was still available, however.) The liquid soap aisle also looked well picked-over.

But with a little alcohol and aloe, you can make your own hand sanitizer at home, reporter Gary Thompson explains.

— Gary Thompson, Ellen Gray

3:13 PM - March 6, 2020
3:13 PM - March 6, 2020

First presumed case in Camden County; the third in the state

A Camden County man in his 60s has tested positive for the coronavirus and has been hospitalized at in stable condition at Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital, hospital and county health department officials said Friday.

“Given recent developments in surrounding areas, this does not come as a surprise to our personnel, and we have already put plans in place so that our response can begin immediately,” said Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital, shown here on Friday afternoon, where a man with coronavirus is in stable condition.
Frank Kummer/Staff
Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital, shown here on Friday afternoon, where a man with coronavirus is in stable condition.

She added that “the general health risk to the public remains low.”

The “presumptive positive” result, which came from the state’s Public Health Environmental Laboratories, is being sent to the Centers for Disease Control for confirmation.

At a press conference, officials were unable to answer questions about the details of this case, such as where in the county the man is from, who he had been in contact, or if he has underlying health conditions.

“Whenever we get more information we will share it,” said Paschal Nwako, the Camden County health officer. “What I shared is what we know.”

— Anthony R. Wood

2:41 PM - March 6, 2020
2:41 PM - March 6, 2020

‘We believe that the risk to Philadelphians is low:’ City prepares for coronavirus

Health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley speaks during a press conference on Philadelphia’s preparations to respond to COVID-19 at City Hall on Friday, March 06, 2020. Behind Farley is Brian Abernathy, Managing Director of the city.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
Health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley speaks during a press conference on Philadelphia’s preparations to respond to COVID-19 at City Hall on Friday, March 06, 2020. Behind Farley is Brian Abernathy, Managing Director of the city.

After Pennsylvania public health officials on Friday confirmed the state’s first two cases of patients who tested positive for coronavirus, Philadelphia authorities said though there are no confirmed cases in the city, they expect to “likely have cases at some point.”

“We believe that the risk to Philadelphians is low,” Mayor Jim Kenney said, even with the announcement Friday of the first cases in Pennsylvania. At the time of the press conference, officials were awaiting test results from two potential cases of coronavirus in the city.

We are fortunate that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus here in Philadelphia as of right now. But we...

Posted by Mayor Jim Kenney on Friday, March 6, 2020

“If this infection were to spread widely,” city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said during a news conference Friday afternoon, “there is a risk of people to become sick and there is a risk of social disruption from the disease itself and from our response.”

Farley laid out a point-by-point plan that he said the city is developing to work with state and federal public health officials to identify cases swiftly and isolate those individuals, as well as quarantine anyone who came into contact with those patients. If medical professionals want to get a test done on a patient, Farley said, they can contact the department of public health.

He said the city is prepared to limit public gatherings if need be, but officials aren’t recommending that at this time.

In addition, SEPTA assistant general manager James Fox said the transit authority is increasing cleaning by directing employees to more frequently clean “high-touch” areas to minimize the spread of germs.

Chellie Cameron, CEO of the Philadelphia International Airport, said airport employees are operating on similar directives, using EnvirOx Critical Care, a “potent” chemical cleaning agent, to sanitize surfaces including hand-rails, restrooms and other handles. Farley added that “there will be bumps in this in the first few days,” but the city’s response “will get better each day.”

– Anna Orso, Laura McCrystal

2:29 PM - March 6, 2020
2:29 PM - March 6, 2020

Central Bucks School District cancels after-school activities to clean all schools, disinfect buses amid coronavirus concern

The Central Bucks School District will shut down all of its facilities through the weekend to deep clean schools and disinfect buses amid concern over exposure to coronavirus.

The district closed five of its schools “out of an abundance of caution" after Central Bucks community members were exposed to a confirmed case of the virus that originated in another state.

The district’s aftercare programming will close at 4:30 p.m., and all in-district after-school and evening activities are canceled, Superintendent John J. Kopicki said in a statement. Planned off-site band and athletic activities will continue as scheduled.

At this time, no decisions about reopening its schools have been made, Kopicki’s message said.

The third-largest school district in Pennsylvania, CBSD serves more than 18,000 students in 15 elementary, five middle, and three high schools.

Separately, the Cheltenham School District notified families Friday that it will also begin disinfecting its buses before and after morning and afternoon runs.

– Oona Goodin-Smith

2:00 PM - March 6, 2020
2:00 PM - March 6, 2020

Delaware County woman who tested positive for coronavirus is in isolation, officials say

Officials in Delaware County said a woman who has tested positive for coronavirus is in isolation inside her home, but authorities are declining to provide specifics on where she’s located within the county.

Monica Taylor, vice chair of the Delaware County Council, said state health department officials are “conducting aggressive contact tracing” and working to contact any individuals who might have come into contact with the woman.

Taylor said the county is following recommendations from the state and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and she said officials expect to at some point “have more details on” how many people the woman came into contact with. The woman recently traveled to an area of the United States where confirmed cases of the new coronavirus are present and sought medical treatment Thursday.

Officials said they learned of the case at the same time the public did: 9:30 a.m. Friday, when Gov. Tom Wolf announced two people had tested positive for coronavirus in Pennsylvania, including in Delaware County and in Wayne County, which is near Scranton.

The cases are considered “presumptive” because they have not yet been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Delaware County does not have a health department, but officials said it’s not an issue for the county’s level of preparedness, as the county has protocols already in place for dealing with public health emergencies.

– Anna Orso

1:30 PM - March 6, 2020
1:30 PM - March 6, 2020

Vatican reports first coronavirus case as Pope Francis recovers from cold

The Vatican confirmed its first positive case of coronavirus Friday as Pope Francis recovers from what turned out to just be a common cold.

A second Vatican official has been placed in quarantine after a priest from France’s Catholic church in Rome tested positive for the virus, a spokesperson told the Associated Press.

The 83-year-old pontiff was forced to cancel several official audiences after coming down with the cold, including his participation at a week-long spiritual retreat in the Roman countryside. He submitted to a swab test earlier this week and tested negative for coronavirus.

– Rob Tornoe

12:41 PM - March 6, 2020
12:41 PM - March 6, 2020

‘It’s best to take as many precautions as possible:’ Central Bucks parents, students react to school closings over coronavirus

Titus Elementary School.
Vinny Vella / Staff
Titus Elementary School.

The scene was relatively calm Friday in the Central Bucks School District, where five schools closed for deep cleaning over coronavirus concerns.

Outside of Titus Elementary school in Warrington, a group of students from the shuttered schools enjoyed the beginning of a three-day weekend. About 10 of them milled around the Titus’ playground or rode their bikes through the vacant parking lot, told to get fresh air by their parents.

Nathan Kazmiroski, 10, said that he was “a bit nervous” about the potential of the virus coming to Bucks County, and said he was glad that the district was taking action.

“This is deadly, so anything they do is a good idea,” he said.

At Tamamend Middle School in Warminster, the doors were locked and the parking lots empty. A mother with a young child, who lives across the street from Tamamend but declined to provide her name, said she was glad the district acted so quickly and felt the virus spread was inevitable.

But Shannon Miller, 32, shopping near the school, believed people were overreacting. “More people die from the flu,” she said.

Ashley Hong, a sophomore at Central Bucks South High School said that she didn’t think the virus would arrive so quickly.

“I was happy that I had no school, but honestly I would be happier going to school knowing there is no virus going around,” she said. “I just felt very scared that the district felt the need to cancel school due to this virus.”

– Vinny Vella, Bethany Ao, Maddie Hanna, Bob Fernandez

12:08 PM - March 6, 2020
12:08 PM - March 6, 2020

Trump cancels, then re-schedules trip to the CDC

President Donald Trump will visit the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta Friday afternoon after abruptly canceling a trip that was previously scheduled for Friday morning.

Trump told reporters the initial trip was canceled over a suspected coronavirus infection at the CDC itself, but said the person ultimately tested negative.

“They thought there was a problem at CDC with somebody that had the virus,” Trump told reporters. “It turned out negative so we are seeing if we can do it. They’ve tested the person fully and it was a negative test. So I may be going. We’re going to see if they can turn it around with Secret Service. We may be going.”

Three people had tested positive coronavirus in Georgia as of early Friday afternoon.

– Rob Tornoe

11:52 AM - March 6, 2020
11:52 AM - March 6, 2020

New Jersey prepares to close schools in event coronavirus worsens

New Jersey has advised public schools to plan for the possibility that buildings could be closed if the spread of coronavirus worsens within the state.

According to guidance issued by the New Jersey Department of Education on Thursday, districts must plan for the possibility of educating students remotely, which “may include direct services, online instruction, services provided through contract with another district board of education, or any other means developed by the district to meet the needs of its students.”

The state will count “home instruction” days towards the required 180-day school year in the event of any public health-related school closures. Two people had tested positive for coronavirus in New Jersey as of Friday morning.

– Rob Tornoe

11:36 AM - March 6, 2020
11:36 AM - March 6, 2020

Gov. Tom Wolf signs coronavirus disaster declaration in Pennsylvania

Following a press conference announcing the first two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an emergency disaster declaration on Friday, March 6, 2020, to provide increased support to state agencies involved in the response to the virus.
Courtesy the Office of Gov. Tom Wolf
Following a press conference announcing the first two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an emergency disaster declaration on Friday, March 6, 2020, to provide increased support to state agencies involved in the response to the virus.

After announcing two presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an emergency disaster declaration Friday, approving the use of up to $25,000,000 in unused appropriated funds to combat the virus.

“It’s imperative that we continue to respond quickly and accurately to the coronavirus and its introduction into Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said in a statement. “First and foremost, we want all Pennsylvanians to be safe and remain healthy and follow the practical advice of the Department of Health on ways to protect yourself from any virus and that’s by washing hands, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough and staying home if you are sick.”

The disaster declaration, Wolf said in a statement, is an additional way for the state to prepare and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 throughout the commonwealth.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director or his designee will control all statewide emergency operations, Wolf’s statement said.

One individual with a presumptive positive coronavirus case is an adult from Delaware County. The other is an adult from Wayne County.

California, Washington, and Florida have declared statewide emergencies due to coronavirus.

“As this situation evolves, we will continually update Pennsylvanians through our website, health.pa.gov, our Facebook page and our Twitter account,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It’s important to remember that the most accurate and timely information regarding this outbreak is available through the Department of Health.”

– Oona Goodin-Smith, Anna Orso

11:16 AM - March 6, 2020
11:16 AM - March 6, 2020

Even without a health department, officials say Delaware County has protocol to handle coronavirus

Delaware County, where officials say an individual has tested “presumed positive” for coronavirus, has no health department.

The newly elected Democratic County Council’s plans to change that will take about two years. Still, the county has long-established protocols for county officials to deal with something like coronavirus, officials say.

“They have been working so long without a health department, they’ve been filling that gap,” Delaware Council Vice Chair Monica Taylor said. “They knew all the stakeholders they needed to contact.”

The Department of Intercommunity Health, Department of Emergency Services, county council, and medical countermeasure team are collaborating in planning sessions. Officials have been also working with the county’s 49 municipalities directly to ensure that they’re updated and ready, particularly if government offices need to close.

“We have a very strong plan in place, we already have a plan to respond,” Lori Devlin, director of Intercommunity Health Coordination said on Wednesday, who said the lack of a health department was not an issue for the county’s preparedness.

Delaware County started meeting about coronavirus in early January, Taylor said. “We all wanted to make sure we were prepared because we don’t have our own personal county health department, so we wanted to make sure we brought all the stakeholders in the county to the table,” she said. “Really the thing with the health department is they would be one central location to go to for the community to understand information about prevention, resources, so we’re kind of acting as that.”

Establishing a county health department is “something we’re working towards and excited about,” Devlin said, “but as far as responding [to coronavirus], Delaware County is prepared and ready to respond.”

– Justine McDaniel

10:56 AM - March 6, 2020
10:56 AM - March 6, 2020

Fans banned from NCAA Division III tournament games at Johns Hopkins University

Due to concerns about a potential outbreak of the coronavirus, Johns Hopkins University officials have decided to ban fans from attending NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament games at Goldfarb Gymnasium in Baltimore on Friday and Saturday.

John Hopkins will face Penn State Harrisburg in a first-round game today at 6 p.m. WIP and Yeshiva will meet in a first-round game today at 1 p.m.. The two winners will square off on Saturday at either 5 p.m. or 8:45 p.m.

The games will broadcast live on HopTV.

Three people had tested positive for coronavirus in Maryland as of Friday morning. On Thursday night, Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency due to the virus.

– Mike Jensen

10:19 AM - March 6, 2020
10:19 AM - March 6, 2020

Central Bucks South cancels practices, CB West basketball game still on

Central Bucks South has canceled all practices today after the district closed five school over coronavirus concerns.

Central Bucks South athletic director Chas Cathers said no games were scheduled, as winter teams’ seasons are over and spring games have not yet begun. The school has no wrestlers still competing in the state tournament, but does have swimmers participating in next week’s tournament. Swim practice for today has been canceled.

Central Bucks West’s PIAA Class 6A boys basketball playoff game against Hempfield at Council Rock South tonight is still on, according to athletic director Henry Hunt.

The five schools closed on Friday after individuals within the district were exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus were Butler, CB South, Titus, Tohickon, and Tamanend.

– Phil Anastasia

9:37 AM - March 6, 2020
9:37 AM - March 6, 2020

Two presumed cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania, Gov. Wolf confirms

Pa. Gov Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine host a press conference about Pennsylvania's first coronavirus case.
Courtesy of Gov. Tom Wolf on Twitter
Pa. Gov Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine host a press conference about Pennsylvania's first coronavirus case.

Gov. Tom Wolf has confirmed two presumptive positive coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania, including one in Delaware County and Wayne County, near where President Trump held a rally Thursday night.

“In the last few hours we received confirmation of two presumed positive... cases of COVID-19 or coronavirus in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said during a Friday morning news conference.

The results have yet to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control. Rachel Levine, Health Secretary for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, said the two patients are quarantined at home and "in good physical condition.”

The cases are separate from the temporary closing of five schools in the Central Bucks School District, Levine said.

The patients were tested today, and the positive tests have been sent to the CDC for confirmation.

“Right now the emphasis of the plan is mitigation — tactics to keep the virus from spreading widely,” Wolf said. "I want to emphasize we all should remain calm here.”

The two patients contracted coronavirus “through some travel,” not through community spread, Levine said. “We’re not discussing specifically how they were exposed and we don’t want to say who they are... because according to our regulations that’s confidential information.”

“We expect more cases to be confirmed in the upcoming days and weeks, and we want everyone to take action to help prevent the spread of this novel coronavirus,” Levine said.

The state is having multiple daily briefings with federal officials, working with every level of government in Pennsylvania, and is running a command center in Harrisburg.

Wolf and Levine urged Pennsylvanians to wash their hands, cover their coughs, and stay home if sick. “Sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice,” Wolf said, urging 20-second hand-washing. Wolf told employers to provide sick time and telecommuting opportunities for workers. The state is continually updating its website.

Delaware County has no health department. The newly elected Democratic County Council’s plans to change that will take about two years. Still, the county has long-established protocols for county officials to deal with something like coronavirus, officials say.

“They have been working so long without a health department, they’ve been filling that gap,” said Delaware Council Vice Chair Monica Taylor. “They knew all the stakeholders they needed to contact.”

The county’s Department of Intercommunity Health, Department of Emergency Services, county council, and medical countermeasure team have collaborated on its coronavirus response.

As of late Monday morning, Delaware County officials were set to meet shortly about the presumed case, said someone with knowledge of the situation.

— Justine McDaniel, Rob Tornoe

9:24 AM - March 6, 2020
9:24 AM - March 6, 2020

Bucks County still attempting to identify everyone at gathering with person diagnosed with coronavirus

The county has not yet identified everybody who was at the gathering and is attempting to reach them all Friday, said Bucks County spokesperson Larry King, about the gathering attended by someone who lives outside of Pennsylvania that may have exposed staff and students at five Central Bucks schools to coronavirus. So far, no one identified from the gathering has presented any coronavirus symptoms.

If anyone does, the county will get them tested.

“They’ve been in contact with some... but they have not been in touch with everybody at this point, and that’s really going to be their focus [today],” King told The Inquirer.

The health department has not said what date the gathering occurred, but it was within the last 14 days, King said. The person did not know they had coronavirus until later.

King said he did not know what state the patient was from or how many people had been identified at the gathering so far.

When to reopen schools — and whether it will be on Monday — will be a school district decision. The district is consulting with the county health department and the state, but “ultimately, they have the final word,” King said.

— Justine McDaniel

9:13 AM - March 6, 2020
9:13 AM - March 6, 2020

Trump signs $8.3 billion coronavirus spending bill

President Donald Trump signed a $8.3 billion emergency spending bill Friday morning, which is aimed at helping authorities across the country deal with the spreading coronavirus.

The bill sets aside over $3 billion for vaccine research and $2.2 bullion for prevention efforts. It’s more than triple the $2.5 billion the White House had originally sought.

Trump had planned to sign the bill at the CDC in Atlanta, but the White House said it changed its plans because the president didn’t want “to interfere with the CDC’s mission to protect the health and welfare of their people and the agency.”

— Rob Tornoe

9:03 AM - March 6, 2020
9:03 AM - March 6, 2020

Some parents at unaffected schools opt to keep kids home

Some Central Bucks parents opted to keep their kids home for the day, even if their children do not attend one of the five schools that were closed.

Jennifer Fager has two school-age children and opted to keep her son, a third grader at Pine Run Elementary School, home for the day even though his school wasn’t among the five closed. Her daughter is a seventh grader at Tohickon Middle School, which was closed for the day.

Fager said while she’s grateful the district took precautions quickly, she and other parents wish administrators would have closed schools across the district given how frequently students from different schools come into contact with one another on the bus, at sporting events and during extracurricular activities. In addition, she said, hundreds of people from across the Central Bucks community attended a school play Thursday night at Tohickon.

"A lot of parents are upset with how it was handled, and it should be the whole district as a precautionary move,” said Fager, 32, of Chalfont. “If they’re taking this step, obviously it’s something serious, so what about the rest of the kids?”

— Anna Orso

8:55 AM - March 6, 2020
8:55 AM - March 6, 2020

York County couple in quarantine after negative Coronavirus test

A York County couple has been placed in quarantine after disembarking from a cruise ship in Sacramento, Calif., where at least one passenger has died from coronavirus.

Frank Tallarico told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he and his husband, Kyle Cunningham, tested negative for the virus, but have been placed in quarantine at their home in Manchester, Pa. Tallarico did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A second set of samples from the couple must be processed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta before they can be released.

“Princess has not called us back today with any information,” Tallarico told the Associated Press, despite calling and tweeting to the company. “We haven’t heard anything.”

Tallarico and Cunningham were passengers on the Grand Princess, a ship operated by Princess Cruises that remains off the coast of California as its 3,500 passengers await coronavirus testing. According to the Post-Gazette, the two men disembarked in Mexico before the ship’s subsequent trip to Hawaii.

— Rob Tornoe

8:45 AM - March 6, 2020
8:45 AM - March 6, 2020

Bucks County children, school staff were at private gathering with person diagnosed with coronavirus

Central Bucks School District Superintendent John J. Kopicki made the decision to close five district schools late last night after learning that a person from out of state who has since been diagnosed with coronavirus recently attended a private gathering at a Central Bucks home.

Multiple children and staff from all five of the schools that were closed were at the gathering, said Bucks County spokesperson Larry King in a statement Friday morning.

The county health department is working to contact everyone who attended the gathering and check them for symptoms of coronavirus. The schools are closed Friday for deep-cleaning, Kopicki said in an email.

At the time the school closings were announced, there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania.

“We want people in Bucks County to be aware of the situation but not panicked,” said county health department director David Damsker.

The county said the schools would be closed for “at least one day.”

— Justine McDaniel

7:47 AM - March 6, 2020
7:47 AM - March 6, 2020

How the Philadelphia region is preparing for coronavirus — without causing panic

A sign with coronavirus information at the prescription counter of a CVS in Montgomery County, Pa., in suburban Philadelphia, Feb. 29, 2020.
MARIA PANARITIS / Staff
A sign with coronavirus information at the prescription counter of a CVS in Montgomery County, Pa., in suburban Philadelphia, Feb. 29, 2020.

No one in Pennsylvania has tested positive for coronavirus; as of Thursday there were two likely cases in New Jersey. But most officials around the region are preparing as if there were little doubt the virus was headed their way.

“We want to take it real seriously, but we also don’t want to incite panic,” said Bucks County Health Department Director David Damsker, told reporters Justine McDaniel and Allison Steele. “It’s up to us to keep getting the message out [and] make decisions that are practical.”

Preparing for the virus’ spread, local communities are already preparing emergency communication plans, prepping their employees to work from home, briefing hospitals, hosting workshops, and preparing for "contact tracing” — learning as much as possible about whom an infected person interacted with, then evaluating the risk to the broader public.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

6:47 AM - March 6, 2020
6:47 AM - March 6, 2020

Central Bucks School District closes five schools, citing coronavirus exposure

Central Bucks School District closed five schools Friday morning after “individuals within the district were exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus” from a person in another state, according to an email from school officials.

At the time of the closure, there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania.

After consulting with local and state health authorities, and out of an abundance of caution, CBSD has decided to close 5 schools today, March 6, 2020. Butler, CB South, Titus, Tohickon and Tamanend will be closed today for students, teachers and staff. Additional information will be posted on CBSD.org.

The third-largest school district in Pennsylvania, CBSD serves more than 18,000 students in 15 elementary, five middle, and three high schools.

The affected schools are in Warrington, Chalfont, and Doylestown, and will be deep-cleaned during the closure, Superintendent John J. Kopicki wrote in a separate email sent to parents.

Kopicki’s email stressed the move is “out of an abundance of caution" after local and state health officials informed him last night that Central Bucks community members were exposed to a confirmed case of the virus that originated in another state.

The Bucks County Health Department is currently evaluating these individuals to determine when they may return to school, the email said.

A district spokesperson did not immediately return request for comment.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

5:01 AM - March 6, 2020
5:01 AM - March 6, 2020

Philly teachers say schools aren’t prepared to fight coronavirus

HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

The Philadelphia School District is preparing for a possible outbreak of coronavirus and issuing guidelines to its families: wash your hands well with soap and warm water. Sneeze or cough into an elbow. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.

But some teachers are worried about the practicality of carrying out that advice, given the realities of a large, cash-strapped district that struggles to provide supplies for 130,000 students in 200-plus schools.

Bathrooms in some schools don’t reliably have hot water, and at this point in the year, school-provided supplies are in short stock, teachers say, and they’re relying on their personal funds and parents for cleaning supplies.

— Kristen A. Graham