9:54 AM - March 9, 2020
9:54 AM - March 9, 2020

Follow along here for the latest coronavirus updates

As coronavirus cases grow — and closures and cancellations prompted by fears of the virus spread — Philly companies are worried the panic might be more damaging than coronavirus itself. Follow along here for the latest updates on how the Philadelphia region is grappling with coronavirus.

6:54 PM - March 8, 2020
6:54 PM - March 8, 2020

Malvern Prep cancels all domestic travel in response to coronavirus outbreak

On the heels of canceling all international travel due to the coronavirus outbreak, Malvern Prep on Sunday decided to put a stop to all domestic travel, including academic and athletic school trips “traveling in any capacity (air, bus, train, etc.),” Father Donald Reilly, head of school, said in a notice sent to students, faculty and staff.

“This decision was not made lightly. We understand that this is not ideal, however, many states, including Pennsylvania have issued states of emergency. This indicates that they expect the outbreak of the Coronavirus to escalate with a need for resources from the Federal Government. Also, as a school, we cannot put our students in a situation where their health is at risk or where they may need to be quarantined either at home or away,” Reilly’s note said.

So far, the school has no plans to cancel classes. Reilly said a committee has met to plan for remote learning days in the event of a campus closure. “While we hope not to close school for any length of time, out of an abundance of caution, we feel it is important to train our faculty and staff for remote learning days,” Reilly said. Faculty and staff have been instructed to bring work materials/laptops home with them every night in the event of a closure.

“This information is not meant to cause undue panic. As a school community, we are remaining calm so as not to raise anxiety among our students. However, we feel it is best to be prepared as this situation is ever-evolving,” Reilly said.

Diane Mastrull

6:31 PM - March 8, 2020
6:31 PM - March 8, 2020

Central Bucks schools to reopen Monday after virus scare, deep cleaning

From left, Kaylyn Toerr and Gabby Long walk through the parking lot after their school was closed for the day because of a possible coronavirus threat Friday, March 06, 2020 at Titus Elementary School in Warrington. Five Central Bucks School District schools were closed for deep cleaning as a precaution and will reopen Monday March 9. WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / For The Inquirer
Cain Images
From left, Kaylyn Toerr and Gabby Long walk through the parking lot after their school was closed for the day because of a possible coronavirus threat Friday, March 06, 2020 at Titus Elementary School in Warrington. Five Central Bucks School District schools were closed for deep cleaning as a precaution and will reopen Monday March 9. WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / For The Inquirer

The Central Bucks School District announced on Sunday evening that five schools abruptly closed on Friday over coronavirus fears will reopen Monday morning after a “deep cleaning” and consultations with county, state and federal officials.

“We are aware of the heightened anxiety and concern that is present in and around our community. Many of us are parents ourselves, and we take our responsibility to care for the safety and well-being of more than 18,000 children very seriously,” Central Bucks Superintendent John J. Kopicki said on Sunday.

Experts “have all advised us that our best defense is to control personal transmission through good hygiene, proper handwashing, and staying home when sick,” the school said.

The district had closed Central Bucks South High School, Tohicken Middle School, Tamamend Middle School, Butler Elementary School and Titus Elementary School.

5:46 PM - March 8, 2020
5:46 PM - March 8, 2020

Germantown Academy closes campus for most of the rest of March

An exterior view of the main building at Germantown Academy where planners have incorporated ways to manage water and create a learning environment within nature. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)
An exterior view of the main building at Germantown Academy where planners have incorporated ways to manage water and create a learning environment within nature. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)

Reacting to a presumed coronavirus case in Montgomery County, Germantown Academy will close its campus through spring break, the school said on Sunday.

Rich Schellhas, the head of the school, informed parents of the more than 1,000 students of the decision, saying that one of two individuals from the county presumed to be infected with the virus “is a family member of a Germantown Academy student.”

Germantown Academy, one of the region’s top private schools, said it would close the campus in Fort Washington on Monday through Wednesday and remain closed and then operate online classes beginning Thursday and through March 17, when spring break begins.

Germantown Academy’s closing also will set off a scramble for SAT takers as it can’t host the College Board SAT tests as scheduled on March 14.

“Our goal is to keep students engaged in their learning in age-appropriate, meaningful ways even when they are not at [Germantown Academy] and to move the curriculum gently forward,” Schellhas wrote.

Bob Fernandez

5:15 PM - March 8, 2020
5:15 PM - March 8, 2020

Two more presumptive coronavirus cases in Montgomery County

Two more presumed positive cases of coronavirus were identified in Montgomery County Mar. 8, for a total of six cases in Pennsylvania.

The two individuals, both adults, have mild symptoms and are self-isolating at home, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said Sunday. Both tested positive after known international exposure, according to the health department.

As of Mar. 8, there were four cases in Montgomery County and one each in Wayne and Delaware counties.

— Sarah Gantz

5:06 PM - March 8, 2020
5:06 PM - March 8, 2020

Despite virus risk, 2020 hopefuls keep up campaigns for now

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves to supporters after a campaign rally in Chicago's Grant Park Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast / AP
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves to supporters after a campaign rally in Chicago's Grant Park Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Federal health authorities have been advising older people and those with medical conditions, in particular, to avoid crowded spaces, prompting the cancellation of music and arts festivals and other events around the country.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Mar. 8 his campaign is gauging when it may become necessary to cancel the large campaign rallies that public health experts say could be breeding grounds to spread the potentially deadly illness.

“Obviously what is most important to us is to protect the health of the American people,” Sanders said as he appeared in a series of TV interviews. “And what I will tell you, we are talking to public health officials all over this country.”

Trump on Mar. 7 said he wasn’t worried about the coronavirus getting closer to the White House after the first case in the nation’s capital was confirmed over the weekend. Officials also said an attendee of a recent political conference where Trump himself had spoken also tested positive for the virus.

“No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. We’ve done a great job," Trump said.

— Sarah Gantz

4:00 PM - March 8, 2020
4:00 PM - March 8, 2020

How to cope when coronavirus anxiety is all around

As the number of coronavirus cases increases, anxiety is on the rise, too.

Fewer people are patronizing Chinese-owned businesses, stores can’t keep hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes on the shelves, and face masks are so scarce, there could be shortages for the health-care workers who need them most.

The Inquirer’s Bethany Ao spoke with therapists and psychologists about how to handle stress and anxiety related to the outbreak.

“You want to stay informed, but you also want to minimize how much you are listening to, watching, or reading the news,” Holly Sawyer, a therapist who works with Temple students and in a private practice, told the Inquirer. “Don’t oversaturate yourself, because that is going to increase your anxiety.”

While everyone should be preparing for coronavirus, balancing anxiety and readiness can be tricky. One way to alleviate stress about “a situation you cannot control” can be to limit news consumption to information that is helpful to your life, Sawyer said.

Check out the rest of Bethany’s story for more on how to protect your mental health.

— Sarah Gantz

3:16 PM - March 8, 2020
3:16 PM - March 8, 2020

Sixers Youth Foundation Gala scheduled for Mar. 9 postponed

Tobias Harris at the 2019 Sixers Youth Foundation Gala at the Fillmore in Fishtown.
Sarah Todd / Staff
Tobias Harris at the 2019 Sixers Youth Foundation Gala at the Fillmore in Fishtown.

The 76ers’ annual Youth Foundation Gala scheduled for Mar. 9 has been postponed “out of an abundance of caution."

“During this period of increased focus on public health due to COVID-19, teams and players across professional sports have been advised by leagues and public health officials to exercise caution with high fives, handshakes, and other personal interactions to best protect the health and well-being of all,” the Sixers Youth Foundation said in a statement.

Postponing the event will ensure attendees are able to interact with athletes for photos, autographs and conversations.

The organization plans to reschedule the gala at a later date. The silent auction, which supports youth programming in the Philadelphia area, will proceed as planned through Wednesday.

— Sarah Gantz

2:40 PM - March 8, 2020
2:40 PM - March 8, 2020

New Jersey reports two new presumptive coronavirus cases, bringing total to six

Two more people have tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus in New Jersey, bringing the state total to six, state officials said during a telephone news conference Mar. 8.

Another 27 people are currently under investigation in nine counties, ranging from Sussex County in the north to Cumberland County in the south, according to state Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli.

“As you see, from the north to the south, the coronavirus seems to be spreading,” Persichilli said.

The most recent presumptive positive cases include a 70-year-old health care worker from Teaneck, Bergen County, who began showing symptoms Feb 28 and was admitted to St. Joseph’s Medical Center March 6, where he is in intensive care but listed in stable condition.

A 32-year-old man from West New York, Hudson County, started showing symptoms Feb. 28 and was admitted to Hackensack University Medical Center. His condition was not detailed.

Persichilli said the CDC has not yet confirmed any of the presumptive positive cases out of New Jersey.

Two of the six presumptive positive patients attended conferences recently, one that was undisclosed in New York, and the other attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, which President Trump attended and gave a speech at on Feb. 29. That person reported he first felt the onset of symptoms Feb. 27 and attended the CPAC conference from Feb. 27 to March 1, Persichilli said.

State officials were also notified of an Uber driver from New York who tested presumptive positive for coronavirus and had taken people to New Jersey, but said they had no additional details.

Of those under investigation, a third are in Bergen County, four in Monmouth, three in Union, three in Essex, two in Cumberland, two in Hunterdon, two in Middlesex, one in Sussex, and one in Camden.

— Stephanie Farr

2:02 PM - March 8, 2020
2:02 PM - March 8, 2020

How religious organizations are responding to coronavirus

Archbishop Nelson Pérez delivers the homily during his installation Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Archbishop Nelson Pérez delivers the homily during his installation Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.

Praying together, shaking hands and sharing food are all common parts of religious services, but Philadelphia area congregations are making modifications as the new coronavirus spreads.

The Inquirer’s Jacob Baumgart reports that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that parishioners will not drink wine during Communion, since the wine comes from a shared chalice.

Congregations may also decide to change their approach to the sign of peace. Typically, parishioner’s shake hands or even hug, while saying “peace be with you” at a designated time of the service. Some churches may replace the physical contact with a head bow or suspend the practice entirely.

Some synagogues have also modified their service in response to coronavirus by encouraging members to refrain from hugging or kissing, and restricting the number of people who touch the challah.

Meanwhile some Muslims worry travel restrictions related to coronavirus could affect the hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca in the last month of the Islamic calendar, which falls in July.

— Sarah Gantz

1:01 PM - March 8, 2020
1:01 PM - March 8, 2020

Montgomery County says two presumptive cases are in Worcester and Lower Gwynedd

An adult man in Worcester and an adult woman in Lower Gwynedd are the two presumed positive cases of coronavirus in Montgomery County, officials announced at a news conference Sunday.

Both people acquired the virus during travel to another part of the United States, said Valerie Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.

“At this point they are still very low risk for contracting coronavirus in Montgomery County because we have not seen any community transmission,” Arkoosh said. “We had two individuals that traveled to another location in the United States where coronavirus is active and they came home with the disease.”

Arkoosh said the county is working with the state Department of Health to contact people who’ve been in contact with the individuals, both of whom have mild symptoms that don’t require hospitalization.

Following the news conference, Arkoosh signed a declaration of disaster emergency for Montgomery County, “in an abundance of caution.”

The declaration will allow county officials to obtain supplies and aid quicker, she said.

Ken Lawrence, vice chair of the county commissioners, also urged employers who don’t normally offer paid sick leave to do so now so those who may be ill don’t come to work.

"For the public good if our employers could work with employees and temporarily offer paid sick leave, that would be a tremendous help as well,” Lawrence said.

— Stephanie Farr

12:24 PM - March 8, 2020
12:24 PM - March 8, 2020

Tips for moisturizing when extra hand-washing leaves you feeling dry

In this March 4, 2020, photo, Maria Casal Hernandez, RN., left, helps Maria Castro wash her hands at Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Centers of Dade County, Inc., in Miami. The new coronavirus is posing a special challenge for nursing homes and other facilities that provide care for the elderly. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson / AP
In this March 4, 2020, photo, Maria Casal Hernandez, RN., left, helps Maria Castro wash her hands at Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Centers of Dade County, Inc., in Miami. The new coronavirus is posing a special challenge for nursing homes and other facilities that provide care for the elderly. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Hands starting to feel a little dry from all that extra hand washing?

Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from getting sick with the new coronavirus — more effective than wearing a face mask, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s important to wash with soap for a full 20 seconds, making sure to get fronts and backs of hands, in between fingers and under your nails.

All that scrubbing on top of routine winter dryness may be taking its toll on your skin.

Earlier this winter, the Inquirer’s Stacey Burling spoke with dermatologists who offered some tips for treating dry skin:

  • Skip the scalding hot water, which drys out skin, in favor of a lukewarm stream.
  • Unscented soaps are less harsh than heavily fragrant ones.
  • Choose a thick cream with ceramides and hyaluronic acid instead of a thinner lotion. Thicker creams tend to come in jars instead of tubes.

Check out the rest of Stacey’s story for more tips, including dermatologists’ favorite brands.

— Sarah Gantz

11:47 AM - March 8, 2020
11:47 AM - March 8, 2020

Second presumptive coronavirus case in Virginia

Virginia has its second presumptive case of coronavirus, health officials announced Mar. 8, bringing the total number of cases in the Washington, D.C., area to seven.

The person is a resident of Fairfax County in their 80s who "traveled on a similar Nile cruise" as other patients who have tested positive, the Virginia Department of Health said. The resident showed signs of a respiratory illness on Feb. 28 and was hospitalized Mar. 5. The person is in stable condition.

This announcement comes less than a day after the state announced its first presumptive positive patient - a U.S. Marine assigned to Fort Belvoir. The Marine had returned recently from “official business” overseas, tweeted Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs.

— Rebecca Tan, The Washington Post

11:08 AM - March 8, 2020
11:08 AM - March 8, 2020

How will insurance cover coronavirus tests?

As the number of coronavirus cases in the United States grows and testing becomes more available, insurers and lawmakers are preparing for how to pay for testing without leaving patients with unexpected bills.

Tests done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state labs aren’t being billed to patients. But as private labs, such as Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, and academic medical centers begin offering tests developed by private partners, it’s less clear who will foot the bill.

Private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid have said they will cover testing when ordered by a doctor and performed at an approved hospital or laboratory.

Have you gotten a bill related to coronavirus testing or treatment? We want to hear from you. Email me at sgantz@inquirer.com

— Sarah Gantz

9:56 AM - March 8, 2020
9:56 AM - March 8, 2020

What is “social distancing” and why is it an effective strategy for containing coronavirus?

Trips are being canceled. A few schools have closed. Employees are being urged to work from home.

Shortly after midnight, Italy announced a quarantine of its northern region that will restrict travel for a quarter of its people until April 3.

The concept is called “social distancing” and as the Inquirer’s Tom Avril explains, there’s a scientific reason for it, including the possibility of reducing the number of people who become infected in the long run.

— Sarah Gantz

9:30 AM - March 8, 2020
9:30 AM - March 8, 2020

Italy quarantines northern regions, affecting 16 million residents

Italy announced a quarantine of its northern regions early Sunday that will restrict the movement of a quarter of its residents — some 16 million people — in an attempt to contain the new coronavirus from spreading, AP reports.

The quarantine, which affects the Lombardy region and at least 14 other provinces, will be in place until April 3, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced shortly after midnight Mar. 8.

“For Lombardy and for the other northern provinces that I have listed, there will be a ban for everybody to move in and out of these territories and also within the same territory," Conte said. "Exceptions will be allowed only for proven professional needs, exceptional cases and health issues.”

— Sarah Gantz

7:39 PM - March 7, 2020
7:39 PM - March 7, 2020

Montco reports 2 new presumptive positive cases, bringing Pa. state total to 4

Two new cases of coronavirus are presumed positive in Montgomery County, Gov. Tom Wolf said Saturday.

The individuals, a man and a woman, “have mild symptoms, are in isolation at home and were exposed to an area of the United States where COVID-19 is present.”

Montgomery County officials said one of the individuals lives in the western part of the county, the other in the east.

April Hutcheson, communications director for the state Department of Health, said the two Montgomery County residents are adults and in stable condition.

“We are in constant contact with them, and trying to reach out to people they have been in contact with,” she said. Hutcheson said privacy law barred her from disclosing their genders, occupations, their home communities, or the state they had visited when they contracted the virus. She said disclosing such facts might lead to their identification.

And she added that it was good news that the state had been able to trace their apparent sickness to the point of infection, as it has previously been able to do with the earlier reported cases in Wayne County and Delaware County.

“When we know where they contracted a virus, we can reach out to everyone they were in contact with and start to stem the spread,” Hutcheson said, interviewed by phone from a state command center.

She said community health nurses had begun tracking down those people whose paths had crossed that of the four ill Pennsylvanians to “see if they need to be tested and practice what we call ‘social distancing.’”

In contrast, some states have been confronted with so-called “community spread” cases, in which the source of an infection remains unknown — a situation that poses a greater challenge to health officials.

The new cases bring the total in Pennsylvania to four. The other cases are in Delaware and Wayne Counties.

— Harold Brubaker and Craig R. McCoy

4:49 PM - March 7, 2020
4:49 PM - March 7, 2020

NBA tells teams to prepare for games without fans

The NBA has sent a memo to all teams detailing various potential contingency plans in dealing with the coronavirus.

One of the plans could be playing in empty arenas, without fans and only with essential personnel. A person familiar with the situation confirmed the memo has been sent to all teams, but stressed that nothing has yet been implemented by the NBA.

Contents of the memo were first reported by the Athletic. The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, told teams to prepare in case it becomes necessary to play games without fans or media, as sports leagues in Europe have already done.

— Marc Narducci

3:43 PM - March 7, 2020
3:43 PM - March 7, 2020

Delco officials report no new cases of coronavirus

At a press conference Saturday, Delaware County officials said there are no new cases in the county.

Officials also said they understand the frustrations of residents and lawmakers that they cannot identify the location of the local woman who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Monica Taylor, vice chair of the Delaware County Council, said, “there has been some feedback from the community about the decision to not release” the location, but that it was not the council’s decision.

“We want to reiterate that decision came from the Pennsylvania Department of Health,” Taylor said, expressing clear frustration that the county does not have its own department of health.

Taylor explained that, legally, the state department of health “owns” the information and is the only agency authorized to release it.

County officials said the local woman is in self-quarantine, and state officials have alerted others she might have come in contact with. There was no information as to whether others were asked to self-quarantine.

Elaine Schaefer, also on council, said the council has issued an emergency declaration that will allow the county to receive financial assistance and provide increased support to agencies and local municipalities involved in response to the virus.

At this time, there are no plans to close schools but schools are performing extra cleaning, Schaefer said. But officials are not allowing visitors to Fair Acres, the county’s senior nursing facility.

— Frank Kummer

2:54 PM - March 7, 2020
2:54 PM - March 7, 2020

NJ officials say Camden County coronavirus patient is Cherry Hill resident

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

New Jersey officials announced Saturday that there are no new confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, and released new information regarding the state’s four presumed positive cases.

Officials said the Camden County patient is a 61-year-old male resident of Cherry Hill. He was admitted to Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital on Tuesday and remains hospitalized in stable condition. Health care workers who had contact with the man, including EMS transport workers, are being monitored.

Three other presumptive positive cases have been identified in Bergen County. State health commissioner Judith Persichilli said the cases include two residents of Englewood and one resident of Fort Lee.

Officials said that the most recent presumed positive case announced Friday is a 55-year-old male resident of Englewood who attended services at Young Israel of New Rochelle, a temple in Westchester County, N.Y. linked to confirmed coronavirus cases. The man remains hospitalized in stable condition.

Though Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York Saturday, N.J. Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said the state has created a coronavirus task force but a declaration of emergency at this stage “is not appropriate.”

Oliver said the risk of contracting coronavirus for New Jersey residents “remains low.”

Joseph N. DiStefano and Kelly O’Shea

2:05 PM - March 7, 2020
2:05 PM - March 7, 2020

LabCorp and Quest launch coronavirus tests

Two of the country’s biggest diagnostic testing firms have announced the launch of their coronavirus tests, but that doesn’t mean testing bottlenecks and delays will end.

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s permission, LabCorp and Quest are rolling out molecular tests much like the one developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and provided to public health labs.

The commercial versions will not be available to anyone who wants a test. Patients must have respiratory symptoms and likely exposure to the virus through travel or personal contact, or else a serious, unexplained respiratory illness. Patients’ samples will be collected by a hospital or doctor’s office — not at one of the thousands of LabCorp and Quest service centers — and then shipped to the companies’ specialized labs.

Results will not be rapid. LabCorp says its test, available as of last Thursday, will have turnaround time of three to four days – longer than the two to four hour turnaround at Pennsylvania’s public health lab. A Quest spokesperson said its turnaround time will not be revealed until Monday.

Prices and insurance coverage issues are still being worked out.

— Marie McCullough

12:19 PM - March 7, 2020
12:19 PM - March 7, 2020

Phillies take precautions at spring training

Rhys Hoskins signs autographs during Phillies spring training in Clearwater, Fla. on Feb. 14.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Rhys Hoskins signs autographs during Phillies spring training in Clearwater, Fla. on Feb. 14.

The Phillies were advised Saturday morning in a team meeting to not sign autographs for fans at spring training due to concerns about coronavirus.

The team had the players pre-sign baseballs and cards to distribute to fans at Spectrum Field, calling it a “temporary solution” based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It has everything to do with safety,” first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “The autographs and interactions, especially down here in spring training, are a little bit more intimate and more personal. We understand as players that this is a chance to connect with fans but at the same time this is something that’s turning into something that’s global. Unfortunately, until we have more information and knowledge of the subject, the league is asking us to be safe than sorry.”

— Matt Breen

12:01 PM - March 7, 2020
12:01 PM - March 7, 2020

NCAA announces March Madness contingency plans

A representative for the NCAA told the Wall Street Journal Saturday that the organization has no plans to postpone or cancel March Madness due to coronavirus fears.

The organization’s “worst-case scenario” plan involves “barring spectators from games, with players screened for illness before competing,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

But the NCAA’s Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline said that scenario is "very unlikely.” Screening spectators is another option the organization is considering.

Games are slated to start March 17.

— Kelly O’Shea

11:11 AM - March 7, 2020
11:11 AM - March 7, 2020

Pa. lawmakers ask state to disclose hometown of Delco coronavirus case

Two Pennsylvania state senators have sent a joint letter to the state Department of Health asking officials to release the hometown of a woman in Delaware County who has tested positive for coronavirus.

"Specifically, we are calling on the Pennsylvania Department of Health to release the municipality in which the affected individual resides,” the letter, by Sens. Tom Killion (R., Middletown Twp.) and Tim Kearney (D., Swarthmore), said.

"Because Delaware County lacks its own health department, this information is being withheld from our professional and effective County emergency services personnel,” the letter said. “This information serves the interest of public safety and transparency without substantially infringing on this individual’s right to privacy.”

The letter was addressed to Rachel Levine, state secretary of health.

— Frank Kummer

10:55 AM - March 7, 2020
10:55 AM - March 7, 2020

SXSW coronavirus cancellation upends Philly tech promo plans

Philadelphia’s technology community is hurting over the decision by officials in Austin, Texas, to cancel this year’s spring SXSW tech and cultural event.

“With a heavy heart” leaders of Amplify Philly spread the disappointing word Friday, the cancellation of the wildly popular event blocking city boosters, tech start-up hopefuls, and independent film producers from one of the year’s great display and networking assemblies.

“We are still understanding our next steps,” said David Silver, cofounder of the RecPhilly artists’ space and a leader of the Amplify Philly promotion effort, backed by dozens of area groups from Jefferson Health to South Philly robot maker Exyn Technologies. Amplify had pulled together a delegation of about 400 for its fifth yearly visit to SXSW, coordinating promotional events such as a party featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Philadelphia has been ramping up its presence at SXSW each year, using the exposure to market the city as a thriving hub for tech start-ups and creatives.

— Joseph N. DiStefano

10:05 AM - March 7, 2020
10:05 AM - March 7, 2020

Philly senior facility closes to visiting families; offers video conferencing

Cathedral Village in the Upper Roxborough section of Philadelphia.
Harold Brubaker/Staff
Cathedral Village in the Upper Roxborough section of Philadelphia.

A long-term senior care facility in Philadelphia is closing to all visitors — including family members — as part of its precautions against coronavirus, though none at the facility have tested positive for the virus.

The owners of the Bishop White Lodge at Cathedral Village nursing facility issued a statement Saturday, saying the closure is effective immediately. The facility is located on Cathedral Road in Roxborough.

“This closure will be in place until further notice,” Charles Gergits, executive director of Cathedral Village, said in a statement. “We are arranging phone and video conferencing calls for residents and family members as they request.”

Gergits said the step is a “strictly preventative measure.”

The website for Cathedral Village says it provides 24-hour care and other services, including for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. It also accommodates short-term rehabilitation stays.

The risk of death associated with COVID-19, the new coronavirus, increase with age. People in nursing homes, who are often old, weak, and sick, are at particularly high risk.

— Frank Kummer

9:12 AM - March 7, 2020
9:12 AM - March 7, 2020

Penn cancels big gathering for admitted students

The University of Pennsylvania is canceling all large, on-campus events through the end of April, including Quaker Days, a gathering of thousands of admitted and current students.

The school said the cancellations are a “proactive measure” against the coronavirus.

Quaker Days is a big event at Penn because prospective students use it to tour campus and get a feel for whether they want to accept admissions offers. Almost 45,000 students applied for the class of 2023, and 3,446 were accepted.

“We are disappointed that we are not able to welcome admitted students to our campus in our traditional fashion,” Eric Furda, Penn’s dean of admissions said in a statement. “However, social distancing and avoidance of unnecessary travel are both strong counters to the coronavirus (COVID-19).”

No other area colleges or universities have cancelled similar events.

Furda’s statement continued: “It is with great care and concern for the health and wellness of our current and admitted students that Penn Admissions has made the decision to cancel all large-scale, on-campus admitted student programming scheduled for April.”

Instead of a public gathering for Quaker Days, the university will use online tools to welcome the students, who will be able to virtually ask questions and connect with university officials. The school has recently launched a virtual campus tour for admitted students to explore the grounds and buildings.

In addition, The Daily Pennsylvanian, the school’s newspaper, is reporting that all university-affiliated travel to China, South Korea, Iran and Italy are suspended.

— Frank Kummer

9:10 AM - March 7, 2020
9:10 AM - March 7, 2020

Union postpone ‘Meet the Team’ event amid growing coronavirus concerns

Goalkeeper Andre Blake during the Philadelphia Union's soccer training camp in Wilmington, Del. in January.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Goalkeeper Andre Blake during the Philadelphia Union's soccer training camp in Wilmington, Del. in January.

Waiting to high-five or get an autograph from Philadelphia Union players? You’ll have to wait, thanks to coronavirus concerns. The “Meet the Team” event originally planned for March 11 at Dave and Buster’s on Columbus Boulevard has been postponed.

The team has made the decision on the recommendation of Major League Soccer and in consultation with the CDC.

“Our goal as a club is to create a memorable experience that fans and players look forward to every year," the Union said in a statement issued Friday. "Due to the interactive nature of the Meet the Team event, which consists of autograph signings and photos with players, the Union, in consultation with regional health authorities, Major League Soccer, and our internal medical experts, have decided to reschedule in order to deliver the experience that fans have come to expect.

"As soon as a new date and time have been set, the club will make an announcement.”

Coronavirus concerns have also sparked debate about how professional sports events in North America and across the world should proceed. Earlier this week, Italy, where the new coronavirus has been prevalent, has ordered all major sporting events throughout the country to be played in empty stadiums for the time being.

Nick Tricome

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

CVS encourages video visits for patients concerned about coronavirus

Kelly Moran, 31, of South Philadelphia, Nurse Practitioner at CVS, prepares a flu shot for a patient in January. The drug store is encouraging those worried about the novel coronavirus to schedule video visits.
Tyger Williams / Staff Photographer
Kelly Moran, 31, of South Philadelphia, Nurse Practitioner at CVS, prepares a flu shot for a patient in January. The drug store is encouraging those worried about the novel coronavirus to schedule video visits.

If you’re anxious about the new coronavirus and tempted to go to a CVS MinuteClinic, don’t. The urgent care center provider wants you to opt for a video visit instead of coming into the store if you think you’ve been exposed or have symptoms. There are links to the video visits on the MinuteClinic website. They are also available through the CVS mobile app.

If the video visit provider determines the patients may be at risk for the new coronavirus, the provider will connect the patients with their health department for testing and “appropriate next steps.”

Video visits are available 24 hours a day in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Brandon Lausch, a spokesman for Jefferson Health, said his system is asking patients who think they may have COVID-19 to call before going to an emergency department or urgent care center. Taylor Robertson, a spokesman for Patient First, another major provider of urgent care, said his company is referring all questions about coronavirus to the CDC or local health departments.

Stacey Burling

8:51 AM - March 7, 2020
8:51 AM - March 7, 2020

Amtrak cancels nonstop Acela service between D.C. and N.Y.

Amtrak is canceling its Acela nonstop service between Washington and New York amid the global coronavirus outbreak that has hurt travel demand.

"We are closely monitoring the coronavirus and are taking action based on guidance from public health experts," the company said.

The nonstop Acela service, which launched last fall, will be suspended starting Tuesday through May 26. The company cited reduced demand for train service as concerns rise about the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country. Amtrak anticipates other train schedule changes, including removing train cars or canceling trains when there are other alternatives for customers.

Amtrak has also suspended change fees on all existing and new reservations for tickets purchased before April 30 to accommodate concerned travelers, even though there are no coronavirus-related travel restrictions on the carrier.

— Luz Lazo, The Washington Post

8:32 AM - March 7, 2020
8:32 AM - March 7, 2020

Central Bucks is deep-cleaning schools over the weekend

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.

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.

County officials said “multiple” children and staff from the five closed schools — Butler Elementary, CB South, Titus Elementary, Tohickon Middle, and Tamanend Middle — had attended a private gathering with someone who had coronavirus.

Some of those students and staff showed symptoms of illness but tested negative for coronavirus in results returned from the state’s Exton lab Friday evening.

The virus’ 14-day incubation period will be over by Monday, said county spokesperson Larry King. The county identified everyone who had attended the gathering, but “very few” had any possible symptoms.

—Justine McDaniel