7:55 AM - March 25, 2020
7:55 AM - March 25, 2020

Read the latest Philadelphia-area coronavirus coverage here

A record 540,000 people filed for unemployment in Pa. due to shutdowns from the coronavirus, according to an exclusive report. After much debate, Congress has passed a $2 trillion dollar stimulus package, and Prince Charles has tested positive for the coronavirus.

1:54 AM - March 25, 2020
1:54 AM - March 25, 2020

White House and Senate have reached deal on massive coronavirus relief package, Senate leaders announce

Details of the plan were not immediately available.

“At last, we have a deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said from the Senate floor shortly after 1:30 a.m.

McConnell called it a “wartime-level” investment for the nation to “reclaim our future.”

He said the plan would be passed by the Senate later today.

“Help is on the way,” McConnell said in concluding his brief remarks.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also spoke on the Senate floor and called the deal “the largest rescue package in American history.”

Schumer said the deal contained “four major pillars” focusing on a “Marshall Plan” for hospitals and medical needs, direct assistance for laid off and furloughed workers, strict oversight of all corporate loans, and $150 billion for state and local governments.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that Trump was “very pleased with this legislation.”

Mnuchin said he did not know what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would do but hoped that she would take action to pass the plan.

12:52 AM - March 25, 2020
12:52 AM - March 25, 2020

Pennsylvania ‘particularly ill-prepared’ for financial blow caused by the coronavirus

Just last month, Pennsylvania’s finances were finally on an upswing again. Tax revenues were coming in higher than forecasted, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $36 billion budget with some ambitious new spending plans.

By one estimate, the chance of a recession was only around 20%.

Then the coronavirus began to spread.

The outbreak now poses an unprecedented fiscal challenge for the state for which there is no road map. Never before has such a large percentage of Pennsylvania’s economy been shut down for a prolonged period, and no one knows how quickly it will rebound.

The challenge will be particularly acute because, as revenues decline, demand for public assistance programs like unemployment compensation will increase. At the same time, experts say Pennsylvania’s rainy day fund is woefully short of the level it should be at.

— Charlotte Keith

11:40 PM - March 24, 2020
11:40 PM - March 24, 2020

New Jersey man airlifted to Penn for possible trial of drug to combat COVID-19, according to report

The headquarters of Gilead Sciences in Foster City, Calif.
Eric Risberg / AP
The headquarters of Gilead Sciences in Foster City, Calif.

A 25-year-old New Jersey man was airlifted Thursday from a hospital in Edison to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for possible participation in a clinical trial for a drug that could combat COVID-19, a New York TV station reported.

Jack Allard, an All-American lacrosse player in college who was working at Bank of America in Manhattan, has been in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator since falling ill with the coronavirus.

PIX11 in New York reported that Allard, of Metuchen, was on a waiting list with more than 500 people for a clinical trial of remdesivir, one of the drugs that President Donald Trump has been touting in recent days as a promising treatment for COVID-19.

However, the status of patients waiting for the drug has been thrown into uncertainty after its maker, Gilead, announced it was changing how it would make remdesivir available because of overwhelming demand, The New York Times reported.

11:00 PM - March 24, 2020
11:00 PM - March 24, 2020

Pennsylvania, especially Philly and suburbs, doing well with social distancing, according to analysis

The people of Philadelphia and it’s Pennsylvania surburban counties deserve high marks for social distancing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, according to a data tracking website.

Unacast, which released a virtual map that analyzed each state and their counties, showed Montgomery County best followed social distancing and self-quarantining practices.

Delaware, Chester, Bucks, and Philadelphia Counties also did well. Clearfield, Fulton, Bedford, Jefferson, and Clinton Counties in Pennsylvania were ranked as doing the worst, according to Unacast, which studied GPS data from phones to create a “Social Distancing Scoreboard.”

From the site’s grading system that ranged from A to F, Pennsylvania overall earned an A.

Washington D.C. was ranked first nationally, followed by Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Wyoming came in last, with an F.

— Katie Park

9:40 PM - March 24, 2020
9:40 PM - March 24, 2020

N.J. Gov. says phone stores, bike shops can now remain open

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday exempted five more businesses from his order directing closure of nonessential businesses, including mobile phone retailers and bike repair shops.

Other businesses now considered essential are plant nurseries and garden centers, livestock feed stores, and farming equipment stores. Murphy had issued the closure of all nonessential businesses last Saturday, as well as a stay-at-home order.

New Jersey businesses that were initially permitted to operate included grocery stores, food banks, marijuana dispensaries, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, and Laundromats.

A full list can be found at covid19.nj.gov.

— Ellie Rushing

9:40 PM - March 24, 2020
9:40 PM - March 24, 2020

Stotesbury Regatta, scheduled for mid-May, canceled

Rowers make their way up the Schuylkill River to compete on the first day of the Stotesbury Cup Regatta in Philadelphia on Friday, May 17, 2019.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
Rowers make their way up the Schuylkill River to compete on the first day of the Stotesbury Cup Regatta in Philadelphia on Friday, May 17, 2019.

The annual Stotesbury Cup Regatta, which typically draws thousands of student athletes and spectators to the banks of the Schuylkill, has been canceled, the Schuylkill Navy of Philadelphia announced Tuesday.

It had been scheduled for May 15-16. The decision came after discussions between the city and regatta officials, regatta organizers said, and took into account Mayor Jim Kenney’s stay-at-home order.

“The well-being of our athletes, coaches, families, fans, referee corps, and volunteers is at the forefront of this decision,” said Erika McCormick, regatta director.

“We deeply regret that this disappointing outcome is added to all the things with which they must cope,” said Paul Horvat, commodore of the Schuylkill Navy.

— Anthony R. Wood

8:50 PM - March 24, 2020
8:50 PM - March 24, 2020

SEPTA announces first employee coronavirus case

A SEPTA employee who works in its headquarters building in Center City has tested positive for the coronavirus.

It’s the first confirmed case at the transportation authority, SEPTA announced Tuesday.

The employee was tested and quarantined after feeling ill Thursday.

The staffer, who SEPTA said “does not work in a customer-facing job,” received the test results Tuesday. The transit agency has alerted the employee’s coworkers, and enhanced cleaning where the person works.

“SEPTA is working closely with its workforce and leaders of the unions that represent employees to make sure it is providing an environment that is as healthy and safe as possible during this unprecedented crisis,” SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch said in a statement. “The health and safety of employees and customers is SEPTA’s utmost concern.”

SEPTA is not commenting on the employee’s age, gender, or position at this time.

— Patricia Madej

8:26 PM - March 24, 2020
8:26 PM - March 24, 2020

Attorneys general coalition urges Trump to prioritize production of medical supplies

A coalition of 16 attorneys general, including Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, are urging President Donald Trump to prioritize the production of medical equipment and testing supplies.

“It’s time for the Administration to use their authority under the Defense Protection Act immediately in order to put the health and safety of Pennsylvanians and Americans first,” Shapiro said in a news release.

The DPA is a Cold War-era law that gives the president the power to control the distribution of necessary resources that are “essential to the national defense.”

The coalition, led by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, sent Trump a letter Tuesday, saying that the county is on “the brink of catastrophic consequences” due to the mass shortage of masks, respirators, gloves, and other protective equipment for health-care workers and first responders. Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings also signed the letter.

— Ellie Rushing

7:48 PM - March 24, 2020
7:48 PM - March 24, 2020

New Jersey cancels all statewide school spring assessments

Gov. Phil Murphy is canceling all statewide school assessments planned for this spring, Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet said in a statement Tuesday.

“With students unable to attend school, it’s not feasible to move forward with testing,” Murphy tweeted.

The move will not impact students slated to graduate this school year. Canceled tests include the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment, testing for English language learners, and the Dynamic Learning Maps assessment.

— Pranshu Verma, Kristen A. Graham

6:32 PM - March 24, 2020
6:32 PM - March 24, 2020

Birx: Anyone who has visited New York metro area should self-quarantine for two weeks

As the New York metropolitan area becomes the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, White House officials have now asked anyone who has recently visited the city to self-quarantine for two weeks.

In a press conference Tuesday, Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that if it has been four days since you left New York, you only have to self-quarantine for 10 more days.

“This will be very critical that those individuals do self-quarantine in their homes over these next 14 days to make sure they don’t pass the virus to others,” she said, emphasizing that about 60% of all the new cases in the country were coming out of the New York metro area.

“Everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure the virus doesn’t spread to others no matter where they have gone, whether it’s Florida, North Carolina or out to far reaches of Long Island,” said Birx. “We’re starting to see new cases across Long Island that suggest people have left the city.”

President Donald Trump said the city “is at a level that no place else is close. It’s very unfortunate.”

“To everyone who has left New York over the last few days, because of the rate of the number of cases, you may have been exposed before you left New York,” Birx said.

Birx’s statement comes a day after Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis similarly announced requirements that anyone coming into Florida from New York must self-quarantine for two weeks.

"We don’t want that to be another seeding point for the rest of the country wherever they go,” said Anthony Fauci, leader of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

— Ellie Rushing

6:27 PM - March 24, 2020
6:27 PM - March 24, 2020

Gov. Tom Wolf quietly allows Pa. gun shops to reopen on a limited basis

A line of people wait outside of the Philadelphia Gun and Archery Club, in South Philadelphia, March 18, 2020. This location appears to be a gun shop that sells firearms and ammunition and a training facility. As of Wednesday morning, nearly 6,500 cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the United States, and 114 people had died. Cities around the United States, including Philadelphia, are increasing social restrictions in an attempt to slow the virus’ spread.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
A line of people wait outside of the Philadelphia Gun and Archery Club, in South Philadelphia, March 18, 2020. This location appears to be a gun shop that sells firearms and ammunition and a training facility. As of Wednesday morning, nearly 6,500 cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the United States, and 114 people had died. Cities around the United States, including Philadelphia, are increasing social restrictions in an attempt to slow the virus’ spread.

Even as he ordered residents of another county to stay at home, Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday quietly allowed gun shops to reopen on a limited basis during the coronavirus pandemic after several justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court urged him to do so.

Firearms dealers may now sell their wares by individual appointment during limited hours as long as they comply with social distancing guidelines and take other measures to protect employees and customers from the coronavirus, the governor's office said.

Wolf’s office did not announce the policy change. It was included on an updated list of businesses that are subject to his order to close their physical locations because they have been deemed “non-life-sustaining.”

— The Associated Press

6:11 PM - March 24, 2020
6:11 PM - March 24, 2020

What can Philly police do about large parties? Only ask people to stay home.

Philadelphia Parks and Recreation has posted many signs along the paths of Fairmount Park on Kelly Drive, asking people to practice social distancing while enjoying the park, because of the coronavirus, on March 23, 2020.
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation has posted many signs along the paths of Fairmount Park on Kelly Drive, asking people to practice social distancing while enjoying the park, because of the coronavirus, on March 23, 2020.

Sarah Maiellano of Philadelphia has been practicing social distancing. But the guests at the Airbnb property next door on Monday night were not.

Despite Mayor Jim Kenney’s stay-at-home order that took effect Monday morning, Maiellano said a group checked into the Center City house next door yesterday. Between six and 10 people were making noise, walking in and out of the house, and sitting outside – including on her stoop – until 6 a.m., she said.

“We want to help flatten the curve and we want to help protect ourselves and our families and other people, so we were concerned that there was a group that wasn’t taking this seriously at all,” she said. “We went out in the morning and Lysol-ed and wiped down our steps, our railing and their property so it would be clean.”

Maiellano said she did not know who to call to report the problem in the middle of the night. She reached out to Councilmember Mark Squilla’s office Tuesday morning, however, and was told that it would be reported to the Kenney administration.

Asked about parties and Airbnbs at a news conference Tuesday, Managing Director Brian Abernathy said he had just learned about an Airbnb situation and would work to find a solution.

“Large parties are certainly prohibited under our order,” Abernathy said. “We will be addressing those as they come up.”

Philadelphia police have been instructed to “not stop and detain any individual for violating any stay at home order,” according to a memo distributed to police commanders.

Instead, police simply ask people to go home. But Kenney acknowledged that compliance will not be 100%.

“We will continue to engage with them and with our police … and try to get people to use their common sense and stay the hell home,” Kenney said.

— Laura McCrystal, Mike Newall

5:52 PM - March 24, 2020
5:52 PM - March 24, 2020

Gov. Tom Wolf extends ‘stay-at-home’ order to Erie County amid exponential rise in Pa. coronavirus cases

Market Street at City Hall is mostly empty at 9:36am, in Philadelphia, March 24, 2020. Non-essential businesses are closed and a stay-at-home order has been issued by the city, with exceptions to allow people to purchase essential goods and food or seek medical attention, the order was put in place try and reduce the spread of the Coronavirus in Philadelphia.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Market Street at City Hall is mostly empty at 9:36am, in Philadelphia, March 24, 2020. Non-essential businesses are closed and a stay-at-home order has been issued by the city, with exceptions to allow people to purchase essential goods and food or seek medical attention, the order was put in place try and reduce the spread of the Coronavirus in Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf extended his “stay-at-home” order to Erie County. The directive also applies to Philadelphia and its suburbs, as well as Monroe and Allegheny Counties.

Pennsylvania is continuing to see an exponential rise in new cases of COVID-19, with an additional 207 confirmed since Monday.

"As long as we are seeing that, the virus is spreading in many communities,” Health Secretary Rachel Levine said during a news conference Tuesday. "And it remains a public health crisis.”

Seven people have died, a number Levine expects to see rise.

Levine said the state is continuing to work with hospitals and health systems to prepare for a surge in patients. The Department of Health has stores of protective gear including masks and ventilators, according to Levine. “There’s a full-out effort … to make sure we have the supplies for our health care personnel,” she said.

When asked about possibly limiting the number of people from New York and New Jersey coming into the state, Levine said there are no plans to limit travel.

As of Tuesday, 8,643 people have tested negative for COVID-19. Levine said the state is not tracking how many people have recovered.

For Pennsylvanians who want to help, Levine said they can donate blood or make a donation to a local food bank.

— Sarah Anne Hughes

5:45 PM - March 24, 2020
5:45 PM - March 24, 2020

Governors: ‘Imaginary clock’ driving Trump’s optimism about recovery

Governors across the nation on Tuesday rejected President Donald Trump’s new accelerated timeline for reopening the U.S. economy, as they continued to impose more restrictions on travel and public life in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The dismissal of Trump’s mid-April timeframe for a national reopening came from Republicans and Democrats, from leaders struggling to manage hot spots of the outbreak and those still bracing for the worst.

In Maryland, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, the head of the National Governors Association, expressed bewilderment at the White House, calling the messaging confusing and running on a schedule made of some “imaginary clock.”

The governors’ reaction revealed a striking disconnect between Trump and the state leaders closer to the front lines of the crisis. State leaders — not the federal government — who are responsible for both imposing and lifting the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions intended to stop the contagion.

Trump’s optimism appears to reflect his desire to limit the economic damage from the outbreak. The president is eager to get the nation back to work as the crisis takes a political toll and the economy, which had been the cornerstone of his re-election.

— The Associated Press

5:26 PM - March 24, 2020
5:26 PM - March 24, 2020

Pennsylvania House approves proposal to delay the 2020 primary due to the coronavirus

JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

The Pennsylvania House on Tuesday approved a bipartisan proposal to postpone the state’s 2020 primary until June 2, and allow counties to consolidate polling places without court approval amid concerns about the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives unanimously approved the changes in an amendment to a preexisting Senate bill, clearing a major hurdle and increasing the prospects the legislation will pass and be on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf by the end of the week.

— Jonathan Lai, Chris Brennan

5:20 PM - March 24, 2020
5:20 PM - March 24, 2020

Delaware postpones presidential primary

Delaware Gov. John Carney has moved the state’s presidential primary to June 2, Carney’s office announced Tuesday.

“Delawareans have a basic, fundamental right to vote. Today’s order will preserve that right and allow Delawareans to vote by absentee ballot in the presidential primary on June 2,” Carney said in a press release.

The delay comes the same afternoon the First State confirmed more than 100 cases of coronavirus. Delaware joined Maryland, Rhode Island, and Connecticut in the delay. All four states were scheduled to hold their primaries April 28.

Carney inserted the delay into his State of Emergency order, the sixth provision since it was issued March 12. The provisions also included the suspension of all residential foreclosures and evictions during the outbreak of coronavirus. The order will go into effect starting Wednesday through May 15, or until the public health threat has been eliminated.

— Ellie Rushing

5:05 PM - March 24, 2020
5:05 PM - March 24, 2020

Mayor Kenney accuses Hahnemann owner of ‘trying to make a buck’ on coronavirus

A pedestrian in a mask walks by the closed Main Entrance of Hahnemann Hospital on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Mayor Jim Kenney accused the owner of the former Hahnemann University Hospital site on Tuesday of “trying to make a buck” out of the coronavirus pandemic by seeking a high rent for his building.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
A pedestrian in a mask walks by the closed Main Entrance of Hahnemann Hospital on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Mayor Jim Kenney accused the owner of the former Hahnemann University Hospital site on Tuesday of “trying to make a buck” out of the coronavirus pandemic by seeking a high rent for his building.

Mayor Jim Kenney accused the owner of the former Hahnemann University Hospital on Tuesday of “trying to make a buck” out of the coronavirus pandemic by seeking a high rent for his building.

But Joel Freedman, the California businessman who owns the Hahnemann property, believes his offer to rent the property at almost $1 million a month is “a very reasonable, heartfelt offer to the city of Philadelphia," his spokesperson said.

City officials said they are continuing to negotiate with Freedman and are also looking into other opportunities for additional hospital space to handle the expected surge of patients with the coronavirus.

— Laura McCrystal

4:39 PM - March 24, 2020
4:39 PM - March 24, 2020

Rep. Andy Kim tests negative for coronavirus

Rep. Andy Kim, of South Jersey has tested negative for the coronavirus, he announced in a statement Tuesday.

Kim has been under self-quarantine after contact with another House member who has tested positive and received a test after exhibiting some symptoms of the virus, his statement said.

“I’ve seen first-hand the stress of waiting for test results, and it shows how absolutely important it is that everyone who needs a test has access,” said Kim, a Democrat from Burlington County. “My number one priority is giving our frontline health care and emergency workers the tools they need to combat this virus. Our economy can’t recover and people can’t go back to work if we’re still fighting a pandemic.”

— Jonathan Tamari

4:36 PM - March 24, 2020
4:36 PM - March 24, 2020

Harvard president tests positive for coronavirus

The president of Harvard University, Lawrence S. Bacow, and his wife, Adele, have tested positive for the coronavirus, the couple announced on the university’s web site.

”We started experiencing symptoms on Sunday—first coughs then fevers, chills, and muscle aches—and contacted our doctors on Monday," they said Tuesday. "We were tested yesterday and just received the results a few minutes ago.”

They said they did not know how they contracted the virus. The university said 18 members of its community have been diagnosed with the virus.

— Susan Snyder

4:22 PM - March 24, 2020
4:22 PM - March 24, 2020

As COVID-19 crisis worsens, Pa. and N.J. have even fewer life-saving ventilators than anticipated

FILE - In this May 25, 2005, file photo, Lovely R. Suanino, a respiratory therapist at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, N.J., demonstrates setting up a ventilator in the intensive care unit of the hospital. U.S. hospitals bracing for a possible onslaught of coronavirus patients with pneumonia and other breathing difficulties could face a critical shortage of mechanical ventilators and health care workers to operate them. (AP Photo/Mike Derer, File)
MIKE DERER / AP
FILE - In this May 25, 2005, file photo, Lovely R. Suanino, a respiratory therapist at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, N.J., demonstrates setting up a ventilator in the intensive care unit of the hospital. U.S. hospitals bracing for a possible onslaught of coronavirus patients with pneumonia and other breathing difficulties could face a critical shortage of mechanical ventilators and health care workers to operate them. (AP Photo/Mike Derer, File)

Health officials have worried for weeks that Pennsylvania and New Jersey won’t have enough ventilators to save the most critically ill COVID-19 patients.

But now the situation is even worse than anticipated. Instead of at least 3,000 ventilators, Pennsylvania really only has 2,000, state health department officials said this week. The state could need three times as many at the apex of the virus’ spread, a study from the Harvard Global Health Institute found.

And in New Jersey, which already is seeing a crush of cases, there are just 1,700, less than half what could be needed, according to the same study.

— Jason Laughlin, Wendy Ruderman

4:05 PM - March 24, 2020
4:05 PM - March 24, 2020

A nursing home in New Jersey reports five cases of the new coronavirus. What should happen now?

Laurel Brook Rehabilitation and Healthcare is pictured in Mount Laurel, N.J., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Three residents and two employees of the nursing home have tested positive for the coronavirus.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Laurel Brook Rehabilitation and Healthcare is pictured in Mount Laurel, N.J., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Three residents and two employees of the nursing home have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Three residents and two staff members of a nursing home in Mount Laurel have tested positive for the new coronavirus over the past week, the facility’s medical director said.

In a news release, Andrew Blank said the residents of Laurel Brook Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center were being treated at a regional hospital and the employees were at home with mild symptoms.

The 220-bed nursing home also said it is working closely with New Jersey and U.S. public health officials to contain spread of the respiratory virus. It is monitoring all residents and employees for symptoms and has told employees to stay home if they have any respiratory symptoms.

— Stacey Burling, Pranshu Verma

3:35 PM - March 24, 2020
3:35 PM - March 24, 2020

Some officials trying to ban abortions as states suspend elective surgeries to preserve medical supplies

A week after the nation’s top doctor urged hospitals across the country to stop performing elective procedures to preserve medical supplies, some state officials are using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to temporarily ban abortions.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday temporarily banned abortions across the state unless the life of the mother is threatened, saying that abortions do not qualify as “essential care.” The order, which expires April 21, would fine any medical workers providing abortion care up to $1,000 or face up to 180 days in jail.

Paxton’s ban mirrors the actions of Ohio AG John Fulkerson, who also labeled abortions an elective procedure and sent letters to abortion clinics in the state accusing them of being in violation of the governor’s elective procedure order.

While New Jersey’s Gov. Phil Murphy also suspended all elective surgeries scheduled after March 27, the order explicitly exempts abortions and family planning services. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has urged hospitals to stop performing elective surgeries, but has not issued a formal order. Wolf is pro-choice, and has vowed in the past to strike down any anti-abortion legislation.

— Ellie Rushing

3:33 PM - March 24, 2020
3:33 PM - March 24, 2020

Ambler coronavirus testing site relaxes criteria for who can get tested

Medical workers perform a coronavirus test on drivers at the Temple University Ambler campus in Ambler, Pennsylvania on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Montgomery County opened its first county-run drive-thru coronavirus testings site.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Medical workers perform a coronavirus test on drivers at the Temple University Ambler campus in Ambler, Pennsylvania on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Montgomery County opened its first county-run drive-thru coronavirus testings site.

Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County board of Commissioners, said there have been 23 additional cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the county since Monday afternoon, meaning there are now 159 known cases. The patients, who all live in towns with previously confirmed cases, range in age from 22 to 86 years old.

Arkoosh, also a physician with a background in public health, said the drive-through testing site that opened on Temple University’s Ambler campus last weekend relaxed its criteria on Tuesday for who can be tested. From now on, anyone of any age with symptoms like fever, cough, or loss of smell and taste can come for testing.

Arkoosh and her fellow commissioners also reminded residents to look after their own mental and emotional health. She recommended that residents try to get regular sleep and eat healthy meals, and urged them to seek out conversations with friends through social media and video calls.

“The goal here is to maintain social distance, but not social isolation,” she said.

Arkoosh has said she expects a jump in cases once more results start to come back from the 1,000-plus tests that were given at the testing site. But on Tuesday she said that in the days to come, a picture may begin to emerge as to whether efforts are working to slow the spread of the infection. Residents who have spent more than a week in various states of quarantine or isolation should not be discouraged, she said.“Just the opposite,” she said.

Arkoosh said the county has received donations of masks for medical personnel, and has asked for supplies from the federal stockpile. Officials have spoken to every hospital in the county.

“The hospitals are feeling okay, they are taking it day by day,” she said. “They have the supplies that they need for the short term. We are all working to get more supplies in for the long term.”

Commissioner Joseph Gale also said officials were asking the county’s municipalities to consider extending the discount period for paying property taxes, as well as an extension of the full tax payment deadline.

— Allison Steele

3:28 PM - March 24, 2020
3:28 PM - March 24, 2020

N.J. coronavirus deaths, cases continue to mount

New Jersey reported 3,675 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, with 17 more deaths, bringing the state death toll to 44. It has the most cases of any state in the country except New York, which has more than 25,000 cases.

“If anyone is looking to me for a reason to justify the steps I have ordered,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday. “I can now give you 44 of those reasons.”

Burlington County reported 49 cases on Tuesday, and Camden County confirmed 59 cases.

The increase “says two things to me: first, that testing is more widespread in the county and second, that we need to continue to isolate and aggressively socially distance to break the back of this virus,” said Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr in a statement. “I cannot underscore enough the need for residents to stay home.”

Among the cases: three residents and two staff members of one nursing home in Mount Laurel have tested positive for the new coronavirus over the past week, the facility’s medical director said.

Murphy also announced he has applied for a federal waiver to cancel statewide standardized tests in April. He noted this is likely to be approved, and will not impact any students who are on track to graduate in May. He did not say how long schools will remain closed, but indicated it is still “until further notice.”

He also said four temporary hospitals from the Army Corps of Engineers are on their way to New Jersey. One will be at the Atlantic City Convention Center, another in the Meadowlands in North Jersey, another in Edison, and another location will be decided shortly.

Murphy continued to implore he will hold New Jersey residents accountable for their actions during the crisis.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the state’s first glimpse at more comprehensive testing data showed that 12,000 people have been tested for the coronavirus in New Jersey, and over 3,600 have tested positive, indicating a 27% positive rate.

New Jersey has also applied for a federal disaster declaration under the Stafford Act. Murphy said the Trump administration is looking into this request. The Garden State has also gotten 200,000 more masks and 84,000 respirators from the federal government to help plug its shortage of medical supplies.

— Pranshu Verma, Justine McDaniel

3:09 PM - March 24, 2020
3:09 PM - March 24, 2020

N.J. man charged with making terroristic threats, harassment after coughing on Wegmans employee

Updated, 5:49 p.m.:

A Monmouth County man has been charged with making terroristic threats and harassment after allegedly coughing on a female grocery store employee and telling her he had the coronavirus, New Jersey’s Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced Tuesday.

George Falcone, 50, of Freehold, N.J., got into an argument with a Wegmans employee in Manalapan Sunday evening after the “employee was concerned that Falcone was standing too close to her and an open display of prepared foods, so she requested that he step back as she covered the food,” Gurbir’s office said in a press release.

Instead, Falcone allegedly stepped within 3 feet of the female employee, leaned toward her, and purposely coughed. “He allegedly laughed and said he was infected with the coronavirus,” Gurbir’s office said. “Falcone subsequently told two other employees they are lucky to have jobs."

Gov. Phil Murphy addressed the incident in a press conference Tuesday, saying it shows “there are knuckleheads out there."

A Wegmans spokesperson confirmed the incident took place, but didn’t offer additional details other than to say the company is “continuously monitoring this situation and making adjustments as necessary.”

— Anna Orso, Ellie Rushing

3:01 PM - March 24, 2020
3:01 PM - March 24, 2020

Stockton University cancels commencement, will hold virtual ceremony

Stockton University in New Jersey has canceled its in-person commencement amid the coronavirus outbreak, the school announced Tuesday.

Instead, the university will hold a virtual ceremony on May 15 and hold a traditional commencement in the fall.

— Susan Snyder

2:51 PM - March 24, 2020
2:51 PM - March 24, 2020

Advocates push Pa. to require education for students during closures

Students run outside during dismissal at Masterman Public School in Philadelphia on Friday, March 13, 2020. Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Friday that all Pennsylvania schools will close for two weeks amid the outbreak of the coronavirus.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
Students run outside during dismissal at Masterman Public School in Philadelphia on Friday, March 13, 2020. Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Friday that all Pennsylvania schools will close for two weeks amid the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Advocates for impoverished students, English language learners and disabled students are pushing Pennsylvania education officials to require districts to continue to provide education during coronavirus closures.

While the Pennsylvania Department of Education on Tuesday said it “strongly encourages” districts to provide education during the shutdown, advocates called on the state to make that recommendation a requirement.

“We need more rigorous guidance to ensure all schools provide the level of educational services that support students to make progress and move forward,” Maura McInerney, executive director of the Education Law Center, said in an interview Tuesday. The nonprofit law center sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera Monday night, voicing concern that children with the greatest needs “will be irrevocably harmed if they do not receive services that address their educational needs.”

The letter cites disparities in educational resources between well-funded and underfunded districts. It asks the state to order districts to undertake efforts to minimize those disparities.

A number of school districts have been seeking clarity from state education officials on how to provide online learning to students while abiding by federal law ensuring that students with disabilities have equal access to educational services.

— Maddie Hanna

2:24 PM - March 24, 2020
2:24 PM - March 24, 2020

Sixers owner reverses decision to cut pay of at-will employees

Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns the 76ers and New Jersey Devils, reversed its decision Tuesday to cut the salaries of at-will employees making more than $50,000 a year to recoup lost revenue due to suspended NBA and NHL seasons in the wake of the coronavirus.

“After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision,” owner Josh Harris wrote in a statement.

The Sixers’ and Devils’ at-will employees, making more than $50,000, were informed Monday of temporary salary reductions of up to 20%. The reductions were set to start on April 15 and run through June 30.

— Keith Pompey

2:08 PM - March 24, 2020
2:08 PM - March 24, 2020

Trump wants ‘country opened’ by Easter

President Donald Trump talks with host Bill Hemmer during a Fox News virtual town hall with members of the coronavirus task force, in the Rose Garden at the White House, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci / AP
President Donald Trump talks with host Bill Hemmer during a Fox News virtual town hall with members of the coronavirus task force, in the Rose Garden at the White House, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he wants the country opened up “by Easter,” despite the continued increase of coronavirus cases in the United States.

"I’d love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” Trump said during a town hall event on Fox News, calling the two-week timeframe “absolutely” realistic and “not a controversial thing.”

"This cure is worse than the problem,” Trump added, referring to the economic impact of businesses shutting down to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Trump’s position puts him at odds with public health experts, who have warned that easing restrictions too soon could lead to more people contracting the virus, placing a strain on local health systems and leading to unnecessary deaths.

Earlier in the day, Mayor Jim Kenney took aim at Trump’s previous suggestion that restrictions due to the coronavirus should soon be lifted.

“Our stay-at-home order is still very much in place despite what you heard yesterday from the White House,” Kenney said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley added that he could not predict how long Philadelphians would need to stay home to slow the spread of the virus.

— Rob Tornoe

1:49 PM - March 24, 2020
1:49 PM - March 24, 2020

Here’s where you can get tested for coronavirus in and around Philadelphia

With nearly 550 coronavirus cases across the region as of Monday, more and more individuals are getting tested in the city and suburbs. Federal health officials recently advised that not everyone needs to be tested. But if you have common coronavirus symptoms, which can include a dry cough and fever, and are at a high-risk (65 and older, or are immunocompromised), you may be able to get a test near your home.

In most cases, you can’t just show up to the testing sites, and some hospitals may accept referrals only from doctors in their networks. If you have a primary care doctor, call them first. You many be able to schedule a virtual consultation. A medical professional can evaluate symptoms and determine whether to refer you for a test. Here are the locations of some local testing sites:

Philadelphia

  • West Philadelphia (Penn Medicine and CHOP)
  • West Oak Lane (Rite Aid store parking lot at 7401 Ogontz Ave, for emergency responders and healthcare workers, regardless of symptoms)
  • Center City (Jefferson Health)
  • Two sites in Northeast Philadelphia (Jefferson Health and Tower Health)
  • South Philadelphia, next to Citizens Bank Park (prioritizing people with symptoms who are 50 and older and healthcare workers with symptoms). The site is open Tuesday until 6 p.m., said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. But it will close Wednesday due to rain, Farley said, and it will reopen Thursday.

Pennsylvania suburbs

  • Two sites in Radnor (Penn Medicine and Main Line Health)
  • Newtown Square (Main Line Health)
  • Malvern (Tower Health)
  • Abington (Jefferson Health)
  • Ambler (Temple University campus)
  • Gilbertsville (Tower Health)
  • Plymouth Meeting (Tower Health)
  • Warminster (Tower Health)
  • Doylestown (Doylestown Hospital)

South Jersey

  • Jefferson Health
  • Cherry Hill (Cooper Health)
  • Camden County College in Blackwood (coming soon, awaiting supplies)

For more information, Penn Medicine patients can call 215-615-2222 or use the MyPennMedicine app. Jefferson Health patients can go to hospitals.jefferson.edu/jeffconnect. Main Line Heath patients can call 866-225-5654. More information on Cooper Health and Tower Health testing sites can be found on their websites.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said residents can call 2-1-1 for questions and concerns about the coronavirus. He said residents can still call the original COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-962-1253 or 1-800-222-1222. Residents can also text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive updates on their phones.

— Erin McCarthy, Laura McCrystal

1:39 PM - March 24, 2020
1:39 PM - March 24, 2020

Firefly Music Festival canceled

The Firefly Music Festival, scheduled to take place June 18-21 in Dover, Del., has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, organizers announced on Tuesday.

Ticket holders have their choice of receiving a full refund or transferring their ticket to next year’s Firefly festival. More information can be found on the festival’s website.

— Rob Tornoe

1:26 PM - March 24, 2020
1:26 PM - March 24, 2020

Two colleges will make standardized test scores optional for fall admission after coronavirus school disruption

Two local colleges have announced they will make standardized test scores optional for fall admission in the wake of the coronavirus.

Neumann University said it already was planning to make that move, but accelerated the pace, given the virus. Chestnut Hill College also announced the change.

“The college made the decision as SAT and ACT tests throughout the country have been canceled in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak and the newly imposed social distancing measures to decrease its spread,” Chestnut Hill said in a press release.

More than 1,000 universities around the country and many in the region, including Temple, Rosemont, Stockton, Bryn Mawr, Cabrini, Dickinson, Eastern, Franklin and Marshall, Gettysburg, Immaculata, La Salle, Muhlenberg, St. Joseph’s, Rowan, Susquehanna, Ursinus, and the University of Delaware, already have gone that route to varying degrees in recent years.

— Susan Snyder

1:25 PM - March 24, 2020
1:25 PM - March 24, 2020

Philly officials: Too early to predict when coronavirus stay-at-home order will be lifted

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney criticized President Donald Trump on Tuesday for suggesting that restrictions due to the coronavirus should soon be lifted.

“Our stay-at-home order is still very much in place despite what you heard yesterday from the White House,” Kenney said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said he could not predict how long Philadelphians would need to stay home to slow the spread of the virus.

“If we do this right then maybe, maybe, within two to four weeks we can see evidence of slowing the epidemic wave,” Farley said.

Farley said there were 77 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Tuesday, and a total of 252 confirmed cases in the city. Of those with the virus, 23 are hospitalized, and 25 are health care workers.

— Laura McCrystal

1:15 PM - March 24, 2020
1:15 PM - March 24, 2020

A Camden County coronavirus drive-through has been ready to open for days, but lacks testing kits

The tents, port-a-potties, and portable sinks remain set up in the parking lot at Camden County College in Blackwood Mar. 24, 2020 even as New Jersey has moved up to having the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in U.S. County officials have been saying for over a week that the testing facility has everything it needs to open except testing kits. Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli (a Democrat) said last Friday, “President Trump told us the kits would be available. He was not prepared for this.”
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
The tents, port-a-potties, and portable sinks remain set up in the parking lot at Camden County College in Blackwood Mar. 24, 2020 even as New Jersey has moved up to having the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in U.S. County officials have been saying for over a week that the testing facility has everything it needs to open except testing kits. Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli (a Democrat) said last Friday, “President Trump told us the kits would be available. He was not prepared for this.”

A Camden County drive-through coronavirus testing site has been ready to open for days, but it lacks something critical: testing kits.

Even as cases in New Jersey jumped from 1,914 to 2,844 in just one day, and at least 27 people have died of the virus, the site at Camden County College in Blackwood still awaits kits, as it has been doing for more than a week. Tents, port-a-potties, portable sinks, signs, traffic cones, and other items sat in the vacant parking lot on Tuesday.

The tents and portable sinks remain set up in the parking lot at Camden County College in Blackwood Mar. 24, 2020 even as New Jersey has moved up to having the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in U.S. County officials have been saying for over a week that the testing facility has everything it needs to open except testing kits. Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli (a Democrat) said last Friday, “President Trump told us the kits would be available. He was not prepared for this.”
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
The tents and portable sinks remain set up in the parking lot at Camden County College in Blackwood Mar. 24, 2020 even as New Jersey has moved up to having the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in U.S. County officials have been saying for over a week that the testing facility has everything it needs to open except testing kits. Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli (a Democrat) said last Friday, “President Trump told us the kits would be available. He was not prepared for this.”

“President Trump told us the kits would be available,” Democratic Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli said last Friday, according to NJ.com. “He was not prepared for this.”

— Erin McCarthy, Tom Gralish

1:09 PM - March 24, 2020
1:09 PM - March 24, 2020

Pennsylvania coronavirus cases continue to increase

There were 207 new positive coronavirus cases overnight in Pennsylvania, bringing the statewide total to at least 851, according to numbers provided by the Department of Health.

At least seven people have died in the state of the virus, while 8,634 patients have tested negative.

— Rob Tornoe

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

Philly schools to lend computers to students who lack them as coronavirus could force closure for the rest of the year

JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Tuesday that the Philadelphia School District is actively planning to distribute technology to children who lack computers, and aims to put a technology-focused distance learning plan in place by the second week of April.

School computers will be repurposed and loaned to children who lack them, Hite said during a news conference. The school district will also have to purchase a number of new Chromebooks, he said.

The cost is still unclear, Hite said, but would be tabulated to present to the Board of Education at its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday.

The superintendent said the district is also working with Comcast and others to work out details providing Internet access and mobile hot-spots.

Pennsylvania officials on Monday ordered all commonwealth schools closed at least through April 6. Kansas and Virginia have already canceled in-person instruction for the rest of the school year.

“I could envision something like that happening here in Pennsylvania if this goes much longer,” Hite said.

— Kristen A. Graham

12:44 PM - March 24, 2020
12:44 PM - March 24, 2020

Pennsylvania highway rest areas to reopen despite recommendation to stay home

The indoor facilities at 23 rest areas along Pennsylvania’s highways will reopen to motorists who must travel despite recommendations to stay home and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

A week ago, 30 PennDOT rest areas were closed for cleaning and sanitation as Gov. Tom Wolf issued instruction on how to best reduce the spread of the virus in the commonwealth.

“While unnecessary travel is discouraged as we all do our part to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we understand that some trips are necessary and that access to rest areas is important,” acting PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said in a statement. “We are constantly evaluating our actions and services in responding to this emergency and will make adjustments where we can safely do so.”

The reopened rest areas are along interstates 79, 80, 81, and 84. A complete list of open locations can be found at penndot.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx. Other rest areas may reopen in the future.

— Erin McCarthy

12:44 PM - March 24, 2020
12:44 PM - March 24, 2020

Reports: Joel Embiid to pledge $500,000 to coronavirus medical relief

Joel Embiid is pledging $500,000 to coronavirus medical relief, according to multiple reports.

The 76ers center will also reportedly help some at-will Sixers employees whose salaries were slashed by parent company Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment as a means to recoup lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the NBA and NHL’s suspended seasons.

— Keith Pompey

12:22 PM - March 24, 2020
12:22 PM - March 24, 2020

Pa. State Police issue warnings to businesses ordered to close to stop spread of coronavirus

A closed barber shop in Center City is photographed on Friday, March 20, 2020. Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Thursday evening that all Pennsylvania businesses that are not "life-sustaining" must close due to the spread of the coronavirus.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
A closed barber shop in Center City is photographed on Friday, March 20, 2020. Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Thursday evening that all Pennsylvania businesses that are not "life-sustaining" must close due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Pennsylvania State Police issued 27 warnings to non-life-sustaining businesses on Monday, the first day of enforcement of Gov. Tom Wolf’s order for such places to close to stop the spread of the coronavirus. He had originally ordered these businesses to close their physical locations by 8 p.m Thursday, but enforcement was pushed back until Monday as officials assessed many requests for exemptions.

Only five of those warnings were issued in a state police troop territory that comprises Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, Chester, Lancaster, York, Lehigh, and Northampton Counties.

Several state agencies, as well as state and local police, have the authority to enforce the governor’s business closure order with warnings, mandated closures, business license suspensions, forfeitures of disaster relief funds and other loans, and health code and criminal violations.

Meanwhile, by the end of the day Monday, the state Department of Community and Economic Development received 15,092 requests for exemptions from Pennsylvania’s businesses, and DCED staff are working to process them as quickly as possible. As of end of day March 23, 2,486 have been approved; 2,135 have been denied; and 1,279 were not required.

— Erin McCarthy, Christian Hetrick

12:19 PM - March 24, 2020
12:19 PM - March 24, 2020

Tokyo Olympics postponement deals blow to Comcast as it warns investors of ‘material adverse impact’

A man is seen through the Olympic rings in front of the New National Stadium in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. IOC President Thomas Bach has agreed "100%" to a proposal of postponing the Tokyo Olympics for about one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong / AP
A man is seen through the Olympic rings in front of the New National Stadium in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. IOC President Thomas Bach has agreed "100%" to a proposal of postponing the Tokyo Olympics for about one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The International Olympic Committee will postpone the Summer Games in Tokyo, dealing a blow to Comcast’s NBC Universal, which was set to make more than $1.25 billion in advertising this year by broadcasting the games.

The IOC has agreed to push back the games until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday. The virus has infected roughly 335,000 people worldwide and caused about 15,000 deaths.

The postponement is one of several disruptions the Philadelphia media giant faces due to the outbreak. The company warned investors Tuesday that it could face a “material adverse impact" as the pandemic shuts down theme parks, delays movie releases, and suspends content production, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the stock markets regulator.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal has a multi-billion-dollar deal to broadcast the Olympics. Earlier this month, NBCUniversal said it received more than $1.25 billion in national advertising commitments for the summer games which the company said is a new Olympic record.

“NBCUniversal is actively working with our advertising partners to navigate this postponement, and we’re exploring all options to best serve their brands and our consumers this year, and into 2021," an NBCUniversal spokesperson said.

In 2011, the company agreed to pay $4.38 billion to broadcast the summer and winter games from 2014 through 2020. That averages to about $1.1 billion per Olympics, though the summer games typically cost more than the winter ones.

— Christian Hetrick

12:14 PM - March 24, 2020
12:14 PM - March 24, 2020

Bucks County to limit contact tracing as coronavirus spread continues

Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department states there are eight new case of coronavirus in Bucks County from yesterday, at the Bucks County Commisioners press conference regarding coronavirus, held at the Bucks County Emergency Operations Center on Tuesday March 24, 2020
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department states there are eight new case of coronavirus in Bucks County from yesterday, at the Bucks County Commisioners press conference regarding coronavirus, held at the Bucks County Emergency Operations Center on Tuesday March 24, 2020

Bucks County public health officials are limiting their efforts to only trace the contacts of coronavirus patients who are health-care workers, first responders, or people who work in nursing homes or jails.

Other local health departments, including in Montgomery County, have made similar announcements that they’re moving to a “community spread” model. As the volume of cases increases, it becomes more cumbersome for local officials to track the interactions of every person who tests positive. Bucks County Health Director David Damsker said the county has about 50 people constantly staffing its call center, in addition to doing contact tracing.

Damsker said officials are seeing “more and more community spread,” meaning they can’t identify how a person was exposed to the virus.

About 70 people in the county have tested positive for the coronavirus, he said. Of those, three are currently hospitalized.

— Anna Orso

11:55 AM - March 24, 2020
11:55 AM - March 24, 2020

A medical supply shortage warning as surge of COVID-19 cases is expected to hit Pa. in April

When the surge of coronavirus patients hits Pennsylvania, the state’s hospitals will use up their supply of face masks and protective gear in about three weeks, according to Andy Carter, the president and CEO of Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP).

Some will run out in “hours or days,” Carter said during a teleconference. He said the surge will likely arrive next month.

Carter pointed to New York City as an “instructive” preview of what could happen. New York City hospitals last week reported a deluge of patients and dire shortages of ventilators, intensive care beds and protective equipment.

“They are a few weeks ahead of us on the disease curve,” Carter said.

With increasingly stringent stay-home orders in place in Pennsylvania, officials are hoping to blunt the anticipated surge of patients to reduce the strain on hospitals. Still, confirmed cases are doubling every two to three days in Pennsylvania, and the total as of Monday at noon was 644.

Carter has joined public health officials, including PA Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, in an appeal to companies and organizations to donate supplies such as hand sanitizer, laboratory equipment, and ventilators.

— Marie McCullough

11:40 AM - March 24, 2020
11:40 AM - March 24, 2020

Delaware sees 42% increase in confirmed coronavirus cases

Delaware has 91 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Tuesday morning, a 42 % jump from the day before, when the state announced 64 positive cases.

No COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Delaware.

Delaware’s closure of nonessential businesses went into effect Tuesday morning. Residents are permitted to leave their homes to go grocery shopping, pick up take-out food purchases, receive medical treatment or care for an immediate relative, and exercise. They can also leave to go to work, if their employer is listed as an essential business.

Gov. John Carney also ordered all K-12 schools throughout the state to remain closed though at least Friday, May 15.

— Rob Tornoe

11:20 AM - March 24, 2020
11:20 AM - March 24, 2020

N.J. freezes $900 million in state government spending as tax collections suffer in face of coronavirus pandemic

New Jersey has frozen $900 million in state government spending for the rest of its fiscal year ending in June, including property tax rebates, in response to a slowdown in state tax collections because of the coronavirus pandemic, state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio has announced.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the State, its economy, and budget and finances is unpredictable and rapidly changing,” Muoio said Monday night. “But the State believes that events surrounding COVID-19 will negatively impact the State’s economy and financial condition.”

Programs affected include a property tax rebate initiative for over 580,000 New Jersey seniors, and disabled and low-income residents. Millions in spending on economic development, college aid, and tuition support programs will also be suspended.

Gov. Phil Murphy has been pressing President Donald Trump for $100 billion in regional aid to share with Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut to help bolster state finances impacted by the crisis.

— Pranshu Verma

11:00 AM - March 24, 2020
11:00 AM - March 24, 2020

Police start taking action against stay-at-home violators in N.J.

Police in New Jersey have started breaking up gatherings and citing people who are not complying with Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order.

After Murphy signed the order on Saturday, he said he continued to receive reports of groups congregating throughout the state.

One of those groups was a gathering of more than 30 people in Penns Grove Borough, Salem County. “This is in direct violation of the Governor’s executive orders and will not be tolerated,” Penns Grove Police Chief Patrick Riley Sr. said in a statement posted to the department’s Facebook page. “The tenant was charged with a disorderly persons offense.”

From the Chief: The Penns Grove Police Department responded to Lanning Avenue for a Noise complaint. Upon arrival it...

Posted by Penns Grove Police Department on Monday, March 23, 2020

A department spokesperson could not immediately be reached Tuesday for further comment.

After learning of gatherings like this one, Murphy vowed Sunday to more strictly enforce his prohibition, saying: “We are really damned unhappy, and we’re going to take action."

The next day, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said those who are found in violation of the order could face a $1,000 fine or even jail time depending on the offense.

— Erin McCarthy

10:15 AM - March 24, 2020
10:15 AM - March 24, 2020

N.J. establishes coronavirus pandemic relief fund

New Jersey now has an official fund that will go toward helping the state’s vulnerable populations and people responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tammy Murphy, wife of Gov. Phil Murphy, unveiled the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund on Tuesday as the state saw its number of cases increase by more than 900 in a single day. At least 2,844 people had been sickened and 27 had died from the virus in the Garden State as of Tuesday morning.

Celebrities with New Jersey ties, including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, Danny DeVito, and Whoopi Goldberg, helped Tammy Murphy unveil the fund in a video shared on Facebook.

One hundred percent of online donations to the nonprofit will be used “to fight the medical, social, and economic impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s most vulnerable, supporting organizations that provide essential services and aiding those on the front line of the pandemic,” according to the announcement.

— Erin McCarthy

9:35 AM - March 24, 2020
9:35 AM - March 24, 2020

Stocks surge, Dow opens up over 1,000 points

Stocks surged at the open on Tuesday as investors appear optimistic lawmakers in Washington were near a deal on a massive economic stimulus package intended to help blunt part of the economic havoc created by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened up more than 1,100 points, or about 5.9%. The Nasdaq opened up about 5.2% (about 358 points), while the S&P 500 opened up 5.5% (about 124 points).

Lawmakers continue to inch forward on a nearly $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus deal that would help workers and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

"There’s still a few little differences. Neither of us think they’re in any way going to get in the way of a final agreement,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) told reporters late Monday night.

The rebound comes after stocks closed down once again on Monday, despite the Federal Reserve announcing unprecedented moves to bolster the economy and financial markets. The Dow dropped 3% to a new three-year-low on Monday, and is down 37% since its peak at 29,551.42 on Feb. 12.

Rob Tornoe

9:00 AM - March 24, 2020
9:00 AM - March 24, 2020

Tokyo Olympics are being postponed due to coronavirus pandemic

A visitor wearing a face mask stands near the Olympic rings at Tokyo's Odaiba district Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The Tokyo Olympics are probably going to happen, but almost surely in 2021 rather than in four months as planned. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Eugene Hoshiko / AP
A visitor wearing a face mask stands near the Olympic rings at Tokyo's Odaiba district Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The Tokyo Olympics are probably going to happen, but almost surely in 2021 rather than in four months as planned. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee announced Tuesday the postponement of the 2020 Olympics for about one year, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“The Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community," the IOC said in a statement.

On Sunday, the IOC announced it would make an official decision about postponing the Olympics within four weeks. Several countries have urged the IOC to postpone the event, including Canada, which announced it would not send its athletes to Tokyo this year.

It’s the first time in Olympics history the games won’t be held because of a pandemic. The 1916 Summer Olympics in Berlin were canceled due to World War I, and both the Summer and Winter Olympics were canceled in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II.

— Rob Tornoe

8:35 AM - March 24, 2020
8:35 AM - March 24, 2020

N.J. now has the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in U.S.

In just one day, the number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey has skyrocketed from 1,914 to 2,844. That pushes the Garden State past California and Washington as the second highest total of positive COVID-19 tests in the nation, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As least 27 people have died in New Jersey.

Since March 15, when the state had just 98 positive cases, the average daily rate of increase has been roughly 53 percent, with the number of cases doubling every one or two days. That’s far higher than the pace in Pennsylvania and the United States, where known cases are doubling every two or three days.

New Jersey is second behind New York, which has 23,230 cases — centered mostly in New York City and its suburbs. That’s just about half the country’s confirmed 46,450 cases, as of Tuesday morning.

New Jersey’s position is likely to change after California updates its numbers.

Pennsylvania has 698 confirmed cases, up from 479 on Monday.

Here are the top five states in terms of positive coronavirus tests as of 8:30 a.m.:

  • New York: 23,230 cases
  • New Jersey: 2,844 cases
  • Washington: 2,221 cases
  • California: 2,220 cases
  • Michigan: 1,329 cases

— Rob Tornoe

8:20 AM - March 24, 2020
8:20 AM - March 24, 2020

Delaware County ShopRite employee tests positive for coronavirus

An employee at a ShopRite in Glenolden, Delaware County, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the store’s owners say.

The supermarket on the 100 block of North Macdade Boulevard remains open, but any employees who came into close contact with the person for a prolonged period of time will be quarantined for 14 days. The store’s sanitation process has also been enhanced, the owners said.

“The containment of the Coronavirus is a shared responsibility,” the store owners said in a statement. “We are proud of the amazing dedication our associates are demonstrating and we thank them for their service to our customers. Please join us in wishing our associate well and a speedy recovery.”

The statement said the store would not provide additional identifying information about the worker, citing privacy concerns.

This is the second ShopRite employee in the region who has tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days. An employee of a ShopRite at Morrell Plaza in Northeast Philadelphia also has coronavirus. That store, too, remains open.

Supermarkets have been deemed essential, life-sustaining services, and are to stay open even as other businesses close due to stay-at-home orders.

Headquartered in Hudson County, N.J., ShopRite and its merchandising and distribution arm employ more than 50,000 people in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Connecticut.

— Erin McCarthy

5:10 AM - March 24, 2020
5:10 AM - March 24, 2020

Coronavirus math shows the importance of social distancing, and the horrible consequences of not doing it

Guests stand in line at a safe distance while they wait to enter Mariposa Market in West Philadelphia on Saturday, March 21, 2020. The coronavirus has been spreading across the globe since January, and now has been identified in the Philadelphia region. As a result, social distancing has become common practice.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
Guests stand in line at a safe distance while they wait to enter Mariposa Market in West Philadelphia on Saturday, March 21, 2020. The coronavirus has been spreading across the globe since January, and now has been identified in the Philadelphia region. As a result, social distancing has become common practice.

If you still doubt the crucial importance of avoiding other people, or if you think Philadelphia’s “stay at home” order is excessive, consider this:

Without the lockdown in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic started, there would have been 44,214 cases in other Chinese cities through February — instead of the actual number of 27,956, according to a new study led by University of Pennsylvania economist Hanming Fang.

“Flatten the curve” has become a rallying cry, but in New Jersey and New York, it appears to be too late.

In Pennsylvania, which so far has 644 reported cases, the tally is increasing at an average daily rate of 34% Though lower, that’s still a growth trajectory that will lead to an overwhelming surge in patients needing hospitalization.

— Marie McCullough

5:00 AM - March 24, 2020
5:00 AM - March 24, 2020

Coronavirus hasn’t hit rural Pennsylvania hard yet, but it’s already causing problems

The soon to be shuttered Sunbury Community Hospital is shown Friday Dec. 13, 2019 in Sunbury, Pa.
Bradley C Bower / File Photograph
The soon to be shuttered Sunbury Community Hospital is shown Friday Dec. 13, 2019 in Sunbury, Pa.

On the map, Forest County is nearly all green, and with about 18 people per square mile, residents were born into social distancing. As of Monday afternoon, there were no coronavirus cases there, or in 29 other, mostly rural counties in Pennsylvania.

On March 13, when Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all schools in the commonwealth to be closed, families and educators in Forest County and other rural areas were presented with unique problems. Internet service is often terrible there, or nonexistent, so the students are just off.

“We have areas where there’s no internet or even cell service,” Amanda Hetrick, superintendent of the Forest Area School District said last week.

— Jason Nark

4:30 AM - March 24, 2020
4:30 AM - March 24, 2020

Morning Roundup: ‘We must survive’: Wolf orders Philly and suburbs to stay at home to slow coronavirus; all of New Jersey and Delaware under same orders

Do not leave your house unless you are buying groceries, picking up pharmacy items, or helping sustain life, Gov. Tom Wolf told residents of Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, and Allegheny Counties on Monday, putting them under a stay-at-home order.

With exceptions for critical errands and work designated essential, keeping the 5.5 million people in those counties at home until at least April 6 offers officials the best chance to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania and keep from taxing the state’s health-care system, Wolf said.

— Justine McDaniel, Pranshu Verma and Sean Collins Walsh

4:00 AM - March 24, 2020
4:00 AM - March 24, 2020

Front Page: Wolf Expands Order To Stay Home

The front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer for Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
Philadelphia Inquirer
The front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer for Tuesday, March 24, 2020.