5:44 AM - March 27, 2020
5:44 AM - March 27, 2020

Read the latest Philadelphia-area updates here

“I’m scared s—less, and that’s the honest truth." Sidney Greenberger runs a New Jersey-based company that operates eight nursing homes in Pennsylvania and six in New Jersey. His buildings are filled with those most likely to die if infected with the coronavirus — the elderly and those with lots of chronic health problems. He finds the prospect “terrifying” and says the virus could make nursing homes a “death trap” for his residents. Plus, local colleges are poised to lose millions and they’re not sure if future students will be able to enroll.

12:36 AM - March 27, 2020
12:36 AM - March 27, 2020

American Airlines flight attendant based in Philadelphia has died after testing positive for COVID-19

A 65-year-old American Airlines flight attendant based in Philadelphia died this week after testing positive for COVID-19.

Paul Frishkorn started as a flight attendant in 1997, the airline said in a statement late Thursday night.

“Over the years he built a reputation as a consummate professional who was honored as one of American’s Flight Service Champions twice for his excellent service to our customers,” the airline said.

“He was also a knowledgeable benefits consultant and servant leader for his colleagues through his work with the Association of Flight Attendants while at US Airways and later, with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants,” the airline said.

“Our hearts go out to Paul’s loved ones, many of whom work for American. We are working directly with them to ensure they are cared for during this extraordinarily difficult time. He will be missed by the customers he cared for and everyone at American who worked with him.”

Paul Frishkorn
Association of Professional Flight Attendants
Paul Frishkorn

Frishkorn reportedly had other health issues that made him susceptible to complications from COVID-19.

“Paul was 65 years old and the first American team member to lose his life after contracting the illness,” the Association of Flight Professional Attendants said in an online memoriam.

“Our industry, our airline and all of us have been affected by COVID-19 in different ways. But until now, we hadn’t lost one of our own. This loss hits home in a very different, personal way from the headlines,” the union said.

American Airlines, the dominant carrier at Philadelphia International Airport, has been economically devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, as has the airline industry globally.

— Robert Moran

10:07 PM - March 26, 2020
10:07 PM - March 26, 2020

N.J. Gov. Murphy announces website for reporting and donating needed medical equipment

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has announced a new website portal for businesses to report any personal protective equipment they have so the state can gather medical supplies for health workers amid a significant shortage.

Under an executive order signed by Murphy, any business, non-hospital health care facility, or institution of higher learning in possession of personal protective equipment, ventilators, respirators, or anesthesia machines, are required to report what they have to the state by 5 p.m. Friday. They can also donate equipment through the wesbite.

“We have a critical need in New Jersey for personal protective equipment,” said Murphy in a news release. “Our hospitals, health care workers, and first responders on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 can only be successful with access to these essential supplies."

— Ellie Rushing

8:10 PM - March 26, 2020
8:10 PM - March 26, 2020

Wawa suspends made-to-order food service at all Philadelphia stores

File photo of Wawa store in Center City.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
File photo of Wawa store in Center City.

Beginning tomorrow at 5 a.m., Wawa will no longer serve made-to-order food in its Philadelphia stores but will continue to serve those items through delivery services, the company announced Thursday.

“Following recent guidance from Philadelphia City officials, beginning March 27th, we are temporarily suspending built-to-order custom food service ordering in our Philadelphia stores,” a Wawa spokesperson said. “We are working around the clock in partnership with local officials to determine how to best navigate the current landscape in every community we serve.”

Wawa will expand its hot and cold ready-made express items amid the change.

The full made-to-order menu items will still be available through delivery services like DoorDash, Grub Hub, and UberEats, the company added.

“In addition, mobile orders placed through The Wawa App will be filled through four designated Wawa stores that will be converted to delivery and mobile order fulfillment sites,” a spokesperson said.

The company is also installing plastic shields at check-out counters to act as distancing aids to protect staff.

Yesterday, the company announced that an employee of a store in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond section had tested positive for the coronavirus.

— Ellie Rushing

7:53 PM - March 26, 2020
7:53 PM - March 26, 2020

Phillies fans visit Citizens Bank Park on what would have been Opening Day

Regan Lamb, from Northeast Philly, John Sosalski, 16 months, Rachel Sosalski, from Fishtown, and Ava Sosalski, 3, walk outside of Citizens Bank Park on what was supposed to be the Philadelphia Phillies Opening Day on Thursday. "We would be here as a family if it weren't for this situation," Sosalski said. On March 16, the Major League Baseball announced that the start of the season would be delayed following CDC guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
Regan Lamb, from Northeast Philly, John Sosalski, 16 months, Rachel Sosalski, from Fishtown, and Ava Sosalski, 3, walk outside of Citizens Bank Park on what was supposed to be the Philadelphia Phillies Opening Day on Thursday. "We would be here as a family if it weren't for this situation," Sosalski said. On March 16, the Major League Baseball announced that the start of the season would be delayed following CDC guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

— Monica Herndon

7:41 PM - March 26, 2020
7:41 PM - March 26, 2020

Coronavirus layoffs in the Philly region are hitting hotel, restaurant, and nonprofit workers hard: ‘It’s total annihilation’

A view of Philadelphia from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
A view of Philadelphia from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

Big employers in the Philadelphia region have announced more than 15 times as many layoffs so far this month than in all of March last year, a microcosm of the massive job losses that the coronavirus pandemic has visited upon the state and the nation.

At least 4,114 layoffs have been announced by major employers since March 1 in Philadelphia and its surrounding Southeastern Pennsylvania counties, according to notices published by the state Department of Labor and Industry.

In March 2019, there were 270 layoffs announced by such businesses with more than 100 full-time workers, which are required to disclose plans to let workers go under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN.

— Ed Barkowitz, Catherine Dunn, Jacob Adelman, Anna Orso

7:10 PM - March 26, 2020
7:10 PM - March 26, 2020

The scene at Ocean City’s now-closed boardwalk

Pedestrians on the Boardwalk in Ocean City on Thursday, even as the city closed its beaches and boardwalk to keep people from spreading the coronavirus.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Pedestrians on the Boardwalk in Ocean City on Thursday, even as the city closed its beaches and boardwalk to keep people from spreading the coronavirus.

— Tom Gralish

7:05 PM - March 26, 2020
7:05 PM - March 26, 2020

Glen Mills Schools will be turned into a medical treatment site to ease the coronavirus crush

The administration building at Glen Mills School, in Glen Mills, PA, September 25, 2019. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Jessica Griffin / File Photograph
The administration building at Glen Mills School, in Glen Mills, PA, September 25, 2019. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

The Glen Mills Schools, now notorious for abusing children, could soon be turned into a federal medical station to help doctors cope with a potential regional overflow of patients caused by the coronavirus.

Timothy Boyce, the head of Delaware County’s Department of Emergency Services said Thursday that state and federal authorities have approved the school’s conversion, and that equipment was expected to begin arriving at Glen Mills Friday.

— Jonathan Tamari, Vinny Vella

7:00 PM - March 26, 2020
7:00 PM - March 26, 2020

Delaware County jail population reaches ‘historic low’ after inmates released amid coronavirus pandemic

Following Philadelphia’s lead, Delaware County announced late Thursday that it has sharply reduced the inmate population at its jail amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornton has a capacity for nearly 1,900 inmates. But as of Thursday, the jail had reached a “historic low” of 1,387, according to County Councilman Kevin Madden, who chairs the county’s Jail Oversight Board.

County officials reduced that number, in part, through expedited plea bargains for nearly 100 inmates, who were sentenced to time served. Additionally, measures taken in conjunction with District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer included early parole for some, as well as expedited video hearings for inmates incarcerated for violating their probation or parole.

District judges in the county have also been instructed to release new arrestees on bail if they don’t present an immediate threat to the community.

George W. Hill is the only privately run county jail in the state and is overseen by The GEO Group, an international private-prisons corporation. The facility has hit hard by the coronavirus: After a maintenance supervisor tested positive, some inmates were placed in isolation and other staffers had to self-quarantine. Three inmates later tested positive, as did four other staff members, according to a spokesperson for GEO.

— Vinny Vella

6:19 PM - March 26, 2020
6:19 PM - March 26, 2020

The United States now has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world

President Donald Trump is pictured on a television screen inside the Home2 Suites in Center City as he speaks during a coronavirus press briefing on Thursday. The U.S. on Thursday became the country with the most confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
President Donald Trump is pictured on a television screen inside the Home2 Suites in Center City as he speaks during a coronavirus press briefing on Thursday. The U.S. on Thursday became the country with the most confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

The United States now has more confirmed cases of the coronavirus than any other country in the world.

As of Thursday evening, the U.S. confirmed 82,404 cases of the fast-spreading deadly virus, surpassing China and Italy’s caseloads, at 81,782 and 80,589, respectively, according to Johns Hopkins University’s real-time dashboard.

The death toll of the coronavirus in the United States surpassed 1,000 Thursday. New York City leads the nation in deaths caused by the virus, followed by Washington state, New Jersey, New York state, and Louisiana.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

5:55 PM - March 26, 2020
5:55 PM - March 26, 2020

New Jersey unemployment claims rise by 1,500%

Unemployment claims in New Jersey were up more than 1,500% last week, “stark evidence of how dramatically COVID-19 has begun to impact the state’s workforce and businesses,” according to a statement released Thursday by New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The Garden State received 155,815 new claims for unemployment insurance — “the highest total of single-week claims in memory” — for the week ending March 21.

The NJ Department of Labor has temporarily suspended the “work search requirement” for laid off workers and created a jobs portal.

— Sam Wood

5:48 PM - March 26, 2020
5:48 PM - March 26, 2020

How you may be able to get tested for the coronavirus in the Philadelphia area

A medical worker collects samples from individuals who signed up for "drive-through testing" for the coronavirus at a Penn Medicine site in West Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Penn, Jefferson and other area hospital systems have set up drive-through stations to swab for samples that can be tested for the coronavirus.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
A medical worker collects samples from individuals who signed up for "drive-through testing" for the coronavirus at a Penn Medicine site in West Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Penn, Jefferson and other area hospital systems have set up drive-through stations to swab for samples that can be tested for the coronavirus.

With coronavirus cases increasing and health officials warning that the worst is yet to come, more and more individuals are getting tested in the Philadelphia area. Here’s a list of testing sites around the region.

Officials recently advised that not everyone needs to be tested. But if you have coronavirus symptoms, which can include a dry cough and fever, and are at high risk (age 65 and older, or immunocompromised), you may be able to get a test near your home.

In most cases, however, you can’t just show up to a testing site, and some hospitals may accept referrals only from doctors in their networks.

If you think you need to be tested, call your primary care doctor first, if you have one. You may be able to schedule a virtual consultation. A medical professional can best evaluate symptoms and determine whether to refer you for a test.

— Erin McCarthy

4:59 PM - March 26, 2020
4:59 PM - March 26, 2020

What to know about the coronavirus stimulus checks — and how and when you get your money

A pedestrian walks past Market Street in Dilworth Plaza along 15th Street at around 5:30pm in Philadelphia, March 17, 2020, on the first day of the shutdown of non-essential businesses. The coronavirus has been spreading across the globe since January, and now has been identified in the Philadelphia region.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
A pedestrian walks past Market Street in Dilworth Plaza along 15th Street at around 5:30pm in Philadelphia, March 17, 2020, on the first day of the shutdown of non-essential businesses. The coronavirus has been spreading across the globe since January, and now has been identified in the Philadelphia region.

Many Americans will soon receive direct payments from the federal government after the Senate passed a $2.2 trillion rescue package late Wednesday to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The House is expected to pass the measure Friday. It would be the largest economic stimulus in modern American history.

The money could especially help Philadelphia, the nation’s poorest big city, where many people work in hotel, airline, and restaurant industries ravaged by the halt in economic activity.

Here are answers to some common questions about the coronavirus stimulus checks.

— Christian Hetrick

4:49 PM - March 26, 2020
4:49 PM - March 26, 2020

REAL ID deadline pushed back a year due to coronavirus pandemic

The deadline for getting a REAL ID driver’s license is being extended a year, from Oct. 1, 2020 to Oct. 1, 2021.

The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses. The Act established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards.

The licenses, which have star logos on the front, will be needed to access federal facilities, board federally regulated commercial aircraft and to enter nuclear power plants.

— Mensah M. Dean

4:46 PM - March 26, 2020
4:46 PM - March 26, 2020

Pa. woman who coughed on $35,000 worth of groceries is arrested, charged with threatening to use weapons of mass destruction

Tape on the floor reminds shoppers to stay six feet apart at the checkout counter.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Tape on the floor reminds shoppers to stay six feet apart at the checkout counter.

A woman who intentionally coughed on more than $35,000 worth of groceries at a Northeast Pennsylvania supermarket and claimed she had coronavirus has been arrested and charged with threatening to use weapons of mass destruction.

On Wednesday afternoon, the woman, identified by police as Margaret Chirko, went into Gerrity’s Supermarket in Hanover Township, near Wilkes-Barre, and coughed on the store’s entire selection of fresh produce as well as some bakery items, meat, and other food, co-owner Joe Fasula said in a statement.

She has been charged with threatening to use weapons of mass destruction and making terroristic threats, according to the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, and is being held on $50,000 bail.

“While there is little doubt this woman was doing it as a very twisted prank, we will not take any chances with the health and well-being of our customers,” Fasula said.

— Erin McCarthy

4:26 PM - March 26, 2020
4:26 PM - March 26, 2020

Two more SEPTA employees test positive for COVID-19

An off-duty SEPTA bus near City Hall, in Philadelphia, March 20, 2020. The coronavirus continues to spread in Pennsylvania and across the United States, in PA all businesses that aren’t ‘life-sustaining’ closed last night at 8pm.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
An off-duty SEPTA bus near City Hall, in Philadelphia, March 20, 2020. The coronavirus continues to spread in Pennsylvania and across the United States, in PA all businesses that aren’t ‘life-sustaining’ closed last night at 8pm.

Two additional SEPTA employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, the transportation authority said Thursday.

Both work in maintenance, though at different locations. SEPTA was not able to provide additional information on where they work or the severity of their illnesses.

SEPTA announced its first employee case Tuesday after a staffer who works in its headquarters building in Center City tested positive for the coronavirus.

— Patricia Madej

4:19 PM - March 26, 2020
4:19 PM - March 26, 2020

Three Montco men charged with trying to break in, rob businesses closed by coronavirus pandemic

Dylan Pontaski, Shawn Carter, and Hollie Kulp are charged with trying to break into businesses shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Montgomery County District Attorney's Office
Dylan Pontaski, Shawn Carter, and Hollie Kulp are charged with trying to break into businesses shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Three Montgomery County residents were arrested last week, prosecutors said Thursday, charged with trying to break into businesses shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Shawn Carter, 18, of Sanatoga; Holloe Culp, 20, of Milford Township; and Dylan Potanski, 18, of King of Prussia confessed to the burglaries. They all face burglary, theft, criminal trespass and related offenses after stealing about $40 from a pizzeria and bakery in Limerick, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.

“The investigation revealed that these defendants mistakenly believed that it would be easy to get away with burglarizing closed businesses given the coronavirus restrictions,” Steele said in a statement. “They were wrong.”

The three were unable to post their $50,000 cash bail and remain in custody at the county jail. Police were called to Bravo Pizza after 10 p.m. on Friday after a security alarm went off inside, according to affidavits of probable cause filed in the three suspects’ arrests. Surveillance from inside the restaurant—closed in compliance with Gov. Tom Wolf’s order to shutter non-essential businesses—showed a man throwing a rock through the glass front door and crawling inside.

The burglar was recorded stealing change from the pizzeria’s register. A similar break-in was reported that night at the nearby Corropolese Bakery, where a thief stole money from two donation jars on the counter. And a third break-in was attempted at a nail salon, but the door held when hit with a rock, official said.

Investigators found the three suspects loitering nearby at a closed car dealership and took them into custody.

— Vinny Vella

4:06 PM - March 26, 2020
4:06 PM - March 26, 2020

U.S. coronavirus death toll surpasses 1,000

The death toll in the United States due to the coronavirus stood at 1,124 Wednesday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the spread and impact of the COVID-19 virus in real-time on its interactive dashboard.

The United States has the third most victims in the world, 79,785, behind China with 81,782, and Italy with 80,589, according to the Baltimore university.

New York City leads the nation in deaths due to the virus, 281, followed by Washington state, where the virus was first detected in this country earlier this month, 100, New Jersey, 63, New York outside of NYC, 49, and Louisiana, 46.

Worldwide, the number of people who have been infected was just over 521,000, with more than 23,000 having died, the Hopkins dashboard reports.

— Mensah M. Dean

4:02 PM - March 26, 2020
4:02 PM - March 26, 2020

Pennsylvania MLB uniform plant stops making jerseys, starts making masks and hospital gowns

The Lehigh Valley plant that manufactures the uniforms worn by Major League Baseball players is halting the production of the jerseys in order to produce one million masks and gowns that are being donated to Pa. hospitals, Fanatics owner Michael Rubin said.

Rubin, who also owns part of the 76ers, said he was called over the weekend by Governor Wolf and attorney general Josh Shapiro, both of whom told Rubin that the state “desperately needed help getting masks and gowns to the frontline workers.” Under a new contract, MLB jerseys are branded by Nike but made by Fanatics in Palmer, Pa.

“Thanks to our incredible associates who raised their hands and wanted to be part of the effort to help the frontline heroes in this war stem the spread of the virus,” Rubin tweeted.

— Matt Breen

3:55 PM - March 26, 2020
3:55 PM - March 26, 2020

Tonight: Watch Philly’s low-wage workers lobby Mayor Kenney, City Council for a coronavirus relief fund

The Coalition to Respect Every Worker (CREW) rallied in February to fight for stronger labor law enforcement in Philadelphia. The worker coalition is spearheading a campaign to fight for a relief fund for low-wage workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
The Coalition to Respect Every Worker (CREW) rallied in February to fight for stronger labor law enforcement in Philadelphia. The worker coalition is spearheading a campaign to fight for a relief fund for low-wage workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, Philadelphia’s low-wage workers, who make up nearly half of the city’s workforce, need help. And they’re about to go straight to the top to ask for it.

On Thursday evening, worker groups are hosting a digital low-wage worker town hall to make two major asks of Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council, demanding elected officials prove their stated commitment to workers: They want an emergency fund for the tens of thousands of workers who are likely to be left out of state and federal relief efforts and an expansion of the city’s paid sick leave law.

The fund, they propose, would be between $5 million and $10 million to start.

The town hall, which members of City Council and the Kenney administration are slated to attend, will start at 6 p.m. and be hosted on digital conference app Zoom. RSVP to watch here.

— Juliana Feliciano Reyes

3:34 PM - March 26, 2020
3:34 PM - March 26, 2020

Montgomery County reports third coronavirus-related death as case count continues to rise

Montgomery County has announced a third COVID-19 related death as the number of cases in the suburban county continues to rise.

An additional 94 people tested positive for the virus Thursday, according to Valerie Arkoosh, chair person for the county commissioners. The new cases bring the total in Montgomery County to 313.

The patient who died, a 62-year-old man from Whitemarsh Township, was hospitalized at the time of his death, she said.

The people who tested positive ranged in age from 8 to 95-years-old. Six municipalities in the county saw their first cases in that cohort: Hatfield, Jenkintown, Norristown, Souderton, Upper Hanover and Upper Pottsgrove.

Arkoosh, who is a physician with a background in public health, stressed the importance of social distancing, especially for residents in their 20s and 30s.

“If you expose others, your parents, a co-worker or someone who’s immuno-compromised, the chances of them being hospitalized are much higher,” Arkoosh said. “This is why we have to pull together as a community and work together to stay home. That’s how we’ll beat this disease.”

“What I want more than anything is for this to end,” Arkoosh said. “And the way we beat this thing is by staying home. I do not support the loosening of any of these restrictions.”

— Vinny Vella

3:24 PM - March 26, 2020
3:24 PM - March 26, 2020

Five Philadelphia police officers test positive for coronavirus

Five Philadelphia police officers have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to high-ranking department sources and city officials.

Other officers who had recent close contact with those who tested positive have been quarantined, the sources said. Voluntary testing has been implemented for the units where the five officers work.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Wednesday that at least one officer had tested positive but did not offer additional details.

On Thursday, City Managing Director Brian Abernathy would not comment on, or confirm, the new cases. But he said that, “it’s a department of 6,500 people. Inevitability, people will test positive. But our firefighters, police officers and corrections officers are coming to work and do their core mission, which is to serve the public.”

Staff Inspector Sekou Kinebrew, a department spokesperson, declined to comment and said the health department is handling all coronavirus-related inquiries.

— Mike Newall, Chris Palmer

2:54 PM - March 26, 2020
2:54 PM - March 26, 2020

Since Wednesday, more than 2,400 people have tested positive for coronavirus in New Jersey

Hours after President Trump declared New Jersey a major disaster area due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy announced another 2,492 people have tested positive for the disease, while 19 more have died.

The death toll in New Jersey now stands at 81, and over 6,800 have tested positive. New Jersey remains second in the nation, behind New York, for the amount of positive cases.

As the crisis continues, Murphy said New Jersey has asked for 4.5 million N95 respirator masks, and another 2,500 ventilators from the federal government’s stockpile of emergency medical supplies. Officials have noted New Jersey has a shortage of at least 300 ventilators. They are starting to develop guidelines, with medical ethicists, to help doctors decide who gets life saving care if there are shortages in this equipment.

“That is, I’d have to say, one of the more difficult issues we will be discussing,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.

Murphy noted New Jersey faced a “real gut punch” this morning when the Department of Labor showed 155,000 people have filed for unemployment in the Garden State, a 16-fold increase from the week before. To aid in the state’s economic recovery, New Jersey’s Economic Development Agency on Thursday unveiled $75 million worth of programs aimed at helping nearly 5,000 small businesses weather the crisis that has forced non-essential businesses to close.

Murphy said he will not make a decision about whether schools will reopen until at least April 17.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted the crisis is nearing the point where hospitals will face a surge of patients in their emergency departments and critical care wings.

She has ordered three major hospitals across the state to help get field hospitals, planned in their region of the state, up and running in the coming weeks. Cooper University Hospital will be assisting the field hospital planned for the Atlantic City Convention Center. Persichilli also noted the crisis is continuing to impact the state’s elderly. There is at least one positive coronavirus patient in 43 of the state’s 375 long term care facilities.

— Pranshu Verma

2:32 PM - March 26, 2020
2:32 PM - March 26, 2020

Trump administration developing new social distancing guidelines

President Trump said his administration is developing new social distancing guidelines for state leaders to help make decisions about coronavirus mitigation efforts, including the possibility of increasing or relaxing social distancing rules.

In a letter to state governors sent Thursday, Trump said expanded testing will allow his administration to better track the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country. Using that data, Trump said his administration “will suggest guidelines categorizing counties as high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk.”

As of Thursday afternoon, over 75,000 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, nearly half coming from the New York City metropolitan area. Nationwide, 1,070 people have died.

— Rob Tornoe

2:26 PM - March 26, 2020
2:26 PM - March 26, 2020

Gov. Tom Wolf considers suspending bus service between Philly and NYC

Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday he is considering suspending bus service by companies such as Megabus between New York and Philadelphia but has not made a decision.

He said the issue was brought to him today by legislators and “we got to work on that immediately."

”Regularly scheduled bus services that are coming in from states where there’s a problem, that does pose an issue that we have to address," Wolf said. “We’re doing that. Right now, I don’t have an answer.”

Asked about the issue Thursday, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said he was not aware of New Yorkers coming to Philadelphia to seek medical treatment.

But anyone arriving from the New York metro area should quarantine for 14 days, he said.

“People have the freedom to move around," Farley said, “and we just want to be clear that when people come here from New York City they should stay quarantined.”

— Justine McDaniel, Laura McCrystal

2:22 PM - March 26, 2020
2:22 PM - March 26, 2020

The majority of people who have died from coronavirus in Pennsylvania are over age 65

The majority of people who have died from the coronavirus in Pennsylvania were over the age of 65, Health Secretary Rachel Levine said Thursday.

Levine said 11 of the 16 people who have died in the commonwealth were in that age bracket. New data shows that more than half of all confirmed coronavirus patients are under 50.

Though most cases are patients 50 or older, 39% of patients are between the ages of 25 and 49.

“It’s very important that younger adults not be complacent about their susceptibility to COVID-19,” Levine said.

Of people hospitalized, Levine said 56 patients have been treated in intensive care units. Thirty-two of those people have required ventilators, which experts expect will be in high demand and short supply as cases swell. Gov. Tom Wolf said the state needs more beds and more ventilators.

"We need it as soon as possible,” he said.

Levine said the state has handed out more than 678,000 N-95 masks to hospitals, healthcare systems, and emergency responders, along with thousands of gloves, gowns, and goggles.

The state is getting more hospital supplies from the federal government, “but we’re also really scouring the state and the country to purchase whatever is available,” she said.

On Wednesday, the legislature approved $50 million in funding for needed medical supplies. Wolf said the "funding is a step in the right direction,” but it won’t do enough if the state doesn’t slow the spread of the virus.

— Sarah Anne Hughes, Justine McDaniel

1:59 PM - March 26, 2020
1:59 PM - March 26, 2020

SEPTA begins ‘essential service schedule’ on Regional Rail after 94% drop in ridership

Rick Kane, of Devon, Pa., rides on the Regional Rail line towards Center City for work on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Kane has been traveling on train for almost 10 years and stated that he has never seen anything like this before. “I don’t feel anything, just ride it out and hope for the best,” Kane said. “Doing what the officials are asking me to do. I just miss everything and want to go back to normal.”
TYGER WILLIAMS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Rick Kane, of Devon, Pa., rides on the Regional Rail line towards Center City for work on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Kane has been traveling on train for almost 10 years and stated that he has never seen anything like this before. “I don’t feel anything, just ride it out and hope for the best,” Kane said. “Doing what the officials are asking me to do. I just miss everything and want to go back to normal.”

With hardly any customers riding Regional Rail, SEPTA will begin an “essential service schedule” on Sunday, the transportation authority announced Thursday.

The changes include service every two hours on most lines, while its Airport Line trains will run every hour. The Cynwyd Line will operate Monday through Friday.

A dramatic 94% ridership reduction along Regional Rail this week prompted SEPTA to further modify schedules. The new schedules can be found on SEPTA’s website.

Service on buses, trolleys, and subways will continue to run on a reduced Saturday schedule.

“We are pleading with our customers – if you don’t have to ride, please don’t,” said SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards in a statement. “We need to reserve space on our buses, trains and trolleys for those who need to get to essential jobs, or access life-sustaining services.”

PATCO announced Thursday that it’s temporarily closing stations and implementing additional schedule adjustments Saturday to “meet the demands of current ridership.”

— Patricia Madej

1:46 PM - March 26, 2020
1:46 PM - March 26, 2020

Two Philadelphia firefighters test positive for coronavirus

Two Philadelphia firefighters have tested positive for the coronavirus, said Local 22 President Mike Bresnan. Both cases were believed to be contracted off duty, he said.

Both firefighters have been quarantined.

The department is providing cleaning supplies for firefighters and has ordered protective equipment and has issued safety guidelines, among other protective measures against the spread of the virus, Bresnan said.

“We couldn’t be more reassured with the steps and actions Commissioner Thiel is taking,” Bresnan said of the fire commissioner.

— Mike Newall

1:42 PM - March 26, 2020
1:42 PM - March 26, 2020

Powerball jackpot cut in half

Even the lottery is being impacted by the coronavirus.

Powerball officials have announced the starting jackpot will be cut in half — down to $20 million from $40 million — after the next grand prize win. No one won Wednesday’s night jackpot, which is now up to an estimated $160 million.

“Powerball players in many U.S. lottery jurisdictions are under shelter-in-place orders or recommendations from their governors or mayors, which have affected normal consumer behaviors,” Gregory Mineo, Powerball Product Group Chairman, said in a statement. “Just like other enterprises around the world that are making adjustments, we are making proactive changes to continue to offer the world’s premier lottery product.”

Mega Millions is also considering potential changes to address its slowdown in sales, according to Gordon Medenica, who heads the Maryland lottery and is director of the national game.

The Pennsylvania Lottery has also seen sales “soften” due to the coronavirus pandemic, but remains open because several of the “life-sustaining” businesses designated by Gov. Tom Wolf are also lottery retailers. So far, the lottery has announced no changes in response to the current crisis.

One thing that won’t change are the long odds of winning. Powerball’s current odds are one in 292.2 million, while Mega Millions jackpot odds are one in 302.6 million.

— Rob Tornoe

1:29 PM - March 26, 2020
1:29 PM - March 26, 2020

Philadelphia coronavirus case count continues to climb, health care workers test positive

Philadelphia now has a total of 475 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 127 new cases reported since Wednesday afternoon, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.

Of those cases, Farley said 40 people are hospitalized and 44 are health care workers.

The city has started to receive test results from the site at Citizens Bank Park, Farley said. Of 59 initial tests, only one person tested positive for the virus. Results are delayed, he said, as it can take several days to receive results.

— Laura McCrystal

1:10 PM - March 26, 2020
1:10 PM - March 26, 2020

Philly ends negotiations over the use of Hahnemann hospital for coronavirus patients

Messages have appeared in some of the windows at Hahnemann University Hospital on July 25, 2019 after medical residents and staff of the hospital were informed, that their residencies would end soon and that they were now released from the hospital.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Messages have appeared in some of the windows at Hahnemann University Hospital on July 25, 2019 after medical residents and staff of the hospital were informed, that their residencies would end soon and that they were now released from the hospital.

Philadelphia has ended negotiations over the use of the former Hahnemann University Hospital facility, Mayor Jim Kenney said Thursday.

“We are done and we are moving on,” Kenney said, after the owner of the facility did not agree to the city’s counter offers and wanted about $1 million per month for the empty hospital building.

“It has been shuttered for months and has no beds. It would require extensive work to make it useful again,” Kenney said.

Kenney said the city considered the use of eminent domain, but “it is a lengthy and complicated process under state law and we also don’t have that sort of time,” he said.

Sam Singer, a spokesperson for hospital owner Joel Freedman, said he understands the city’s stance.

“We understand that the City doesn’t feel that the Hahnemann building currently fits their urgent needs as a quarantine site," he said. "Should the situation change we stand ready to reengage in discussions on how the City or the State can best use the facility.”

Managing Director Brian Abernathy said the city is in conversations with the owners of several hotels, “for a total of 800-plus rooms” for potential quarantine and isolation space.

The city is also in conversations with federal officials to set up additional hospital space for a potential surge in COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization, as well as space for hospitals to send patients who are nearly ready to be discharged.

— Laura McCrystal, Harold Brubaker

1:09 PM - March 26, 2020
1:09 PM - March 26, 2020

Delaware reports first death due to coronavirus

Delaware reported its first coronavirus death on Thursday.

A 66-year-old man from Sussex County died while hospitalized out of state, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health. The man’s identity was not publicly disclosed, and it’s unknown how he contracted the virus, which officials said indicates community spread of the virus is occurring within the state.

As of Thursday, there have been 130 confirmed cases in Delaware, 86 in New Castle County.

— Rob Tornoe

12:49 AM - March 26, 2020
12:49 AM - March 26, 2020

NBCUniversal CEO tests positive for COVID-19

New NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell informed employees he has tested positive for coronavirus, making him one of the highest-profile media executives to contract the virus.

“I recently have been feeling under the weather and just learned that I have tested positive for Covid-19,” Shell, 54, wrote in an memo to employees on Wednesday. “Although the virus has been tough to cope with, I have managed to work remotely in L.A. and am improving every day.”

A senior segment producer at MSNBC penned an open letter earlier this week, pleading for the Comcast-owned media company to close its iconic headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City following the death of longtime technician Larry Edgeworth, who had contracted coronavirus.

Most NBCUniversial employees have been directed to work from home, including anchors like Savannah Guthrie, who has been co-hosting the Today show from her basement. She has been joined by several of her colleagues, including Al Roker and Craig Melvin.

— Rob Tornoe

12:40 PM - March 26, 2020
12:40 PM - March 26, 2020

Greater Philadelphia YMCA cuts 4,000 workers in Pa.’s largest mass layoff yet of coronavirus pandemic

The YMCA building at 17th and Christian street in Philadelphia is photographed on Thursday, March 26, 2020. YMCA branches are closed due to the spread of COVID-19.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
The YMCA building at 17th and Christian street in Philadelphia is photographed on Thursday, March 26, 2020. YMCA branches are closed due to the spread of COVID-19.

The Greater Philadelphia YMCA laid off most of its workforce, cutting 4,000 jobs in what appears to be the largest mass layoff yet in Pennsylvania amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Of the 4,000 laid-off employees, about 700 were full-time.

Just 61 employees remain across the 16 branches and 12 early learning centers in the region, and all have taken pay cuts, said President and CEO Shaun Elliott. His pay was cut entirely, and other top executives took 50% pay cuts.

Elliott said the pandemic had a severe impact on the Greater Philadelphia YMCA’s operations. He said 90% of the nonprofit’s revenue comes from membership and childcare fees, so revenue dropped “precipitously” when gyms and daycare centers were required to close to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The rest of the organization’s revenue comes from grants and donations.

— Anna Orso

12:32 PM - March 26, 2020
12:32 PM - March 26, 2020

Pa. preps guide to decide which coronavirus patients will get access to life-saving ventilators

A ventilator is displayed during a news conference, Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Mark Lennihan / AP
A ventilator is displayed during a news conference, Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Pennsylvania’s health officials are preparing a guide for doctors who have to decide which critically ill COVID-19 patients will get access to life-saving technology and which will not.

The triage policy addresses the ventilator shortage the state could face if COVID-19 cases surge quickly. The policy is not being made public, said Nate Wardle, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health.

A Pennsylvania physician who has seen the draft guidelines said they do not set out hard rules on ventilator access based on age or preexisting conditions, but do establish priorities based on the likelihood of a patient’s recovery.

“It’s a combination of how critically ill a patient is and determining how long and whether they would benefit from ventilator treatment and prognosis over the short, medium, or long term,” said Arvind Venkat, an emergency physician at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh and president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

— Jason Laughlin

11:45 AM - March 26, 2020
11:45 AM - March 26, 2020

Man leaves New Jersey nurses in tears with heartwarming message

Nurses and doctors dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak at a North Jersey hospital were brought to tears by a mystery man who held up a sign thanking them for saving his wife’s life.

Allison Swendsen, a nurse at Morristown Medical Center, took a picture of the man as he held up a sign to a window outside of the emergency department that read: “Thank you all in emergency for saving my wife’s life I love you all.”

“I don’t know him. I don’t know his wife, but through out the last 13 years as a nurse, I realized, this is why we do it,” Swendsen wrote on Instagram. “Times are tough but we make a difference."

“We don’t know who the man is, we don’t know who his wife is. The nurses happened to be there and took his picture. What’s beautiful is that’s all we know,” Karen Zatorski, the hospital’s senior public relations manager, told the Daily Record. “There has been such strength, determination and grace. I’m so glad they snapped this picture.”

— Rob Tornoe

11:35 AM - March 26, 2020
11:35 AM - March 26, 2020

Pelosi says House will pass the $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic package on Friday

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Thursday the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill will pass in the House on Friday, but warned it likely will not get the unanimous consent needed for a quick vote.

"I think there are some people on the other side of the aisle who are coming here to object to that,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday afternoon. “One way or another the House will pass this bill tomorrow,” Pelosi added.

The coronavirus relief package received bipartisan support in the Senate, where it passed 96-0 early Thursday morning. But a handful of House Republicans have threatened to object to a voice vote on the legislation, which would slow down the bill’s passage and force all members to return to Washington to vote in person.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R., Ky.) said on Thursday he plans to reject the legislation due to concerns over its impact on the national debt, according to the Courier-Journal

— Rob Tornoe

10:55 AM - March 26, 2020
10:55 AM - March 26, 2020

President Trump declares New Jersey disaster area

The tents, port-a-potties, and portable sinks remain set up in the parking lot at Camden County College in Blackwood Mar. 26, 2020 awaiting the opening of the drive-thru test site even as President Trump has declared that a major disaster exists in the State of New Jersey and ordered Federal assistance for areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic beginning. Camden County officials have been saying for over two weeks that the drive-thru testing facility has everything it needs to open except testing kits.
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. 26, 2020 awaiting the opening of the drive-thru test site even as President Trump has declared that a major disaster exists in the State of New Jersey and ordered Federal assistance for areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic beginning. Camden County officials have been saying for over two weeks that the drive-thru testing facility has everything it needs to open except testing kits.

President Donald Trump has declared New Jersey a major disaster area due to the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging the state.

This declaration, made on Wednesday and announced Thursday, will allow New Jersey to get additional money and resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fight the spread of the disease, which has claimed at least 62 lives in New Jersey. The Garden State has the second highest number of positive cases in the nation.

Eight other states — including New York, California and Washington — are also declared major disaster areas because of the crisis.

“New Jersey will now have access to greater essential federal support to help our residents through this emergency,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. “This declaration will allow us to lift remaining bureaucratic barriers to assistance and enhance our statewide response to COVID-19.”

— Pranshu Verma

10:50 AM - March 26, 2020
10:50 AM - March 26, 2020

Philly City Council adds $400,000 to spend as it chooses in $85 million coronavirus response measure, source says

Market street is almost empty early on Friday morning around 7am in front of City Hall, in Philadelphia, March 20, 2020. The coronavirus continues to spread in Pennsylvania and across the United States, in PA all businesses that aren’t ‘life-sustaining’ closed.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Market street is almost empty early on Friday morning around 7am in front of City Hall, in Philadelphia, March 20, 2020. The coronavirus continues to spread in Pennsylvania and across the United States, in PA all businesses that aren’t ‘life-sustaining’ closed.

Philadelphia City Council members added a provision to an emergency coronavirus spending bill that would give them $400,000 to spend as they see fit, according to a Council source.

Tacked on as an amendment to the $85 million emergency funding bill requested by Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration, the provision was approved in a Thursday morning meeting of the Appropriations Committee, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The meeting, closed to the public, is the first time lawmakers have gathered since the pandemic shut down the city government.

It’s unclear why Council needs the extra money; the city’s coronavirus response has so far been handled by the executive branch.

The full Council will meet immediately after the committee meeting to advance the spending bill. Lawmakers plan to return to work next week to give it final approval.

Council has not found a legal way to approve legislation without meeting in person, but it has taken steps to enforce social distancing practices, including preventing members of the public or media from joining lawmakers in Council chambers. Public comment was collected online prior to Thursday’s meetings.

Sean Collins Walsh and Laura McCrystal

9:35 AM - March 26, 2020
9:35 AM - March 26, 2020

Stocks open up despite record number of unemployment claims

Shuttered businesses are seen along 11th street towards Chestnut street in Center City on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Non-essential businesses are closed and a stay-at-home order has been issued by the city, with the exception of those working for life-sustaining businesses, due to the spread of the coronavirus.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
Shuttered businesses are seen along 11th street towards Chestnut street in Center City on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Non-essential businesses are closed and a stay-at-home order has been issued by the city, with the exception of those working for life-sustaining businesses, due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Stocks opened higher Thursday despite a record-shattering number of unemployment claims due to coronavirus shutdowns.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose about 300 points, or 1.4%. That follows two straight days of gains amid optimism surrounding the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package that passed in the Senate early Thursday. The House is expected to approve the legislation on Friday.

The Nasdaq opened up about 120 points (about 1.7%), while the S&P 500 opened up about 40 points (1.6%).

The Labor Department announced Thursday morning that unemployment benefit claims soared to 3.28 million last week, dwarfing the 281,000 applications received the previous week and shattering a record of 695,000 set in 1982.

— Rob Tornoe

9:30 AM - March 26, 2020
9:30 AM - March 26, 2020

Treasury Secretary says Americans can expect to get coronavirus rescue package checks three weeks after final passage

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said individuals can expect to receive the first stimulus checks within three weeks after the House passes the $2.2 trillion legislation and it’s signed into law by President Trump.

“We are determined to get money in people’s pockets immediately,” Mnuchin said on CNBC Thursday morning.

Mnuchin also said the unemployment claims numbers released today “are not relevant” because the stimulus bill will protect and support workers and businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The newly approved Senate relief bill will expand unemployment for nearly every American out of work by creating a temporary “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” program through December 31, 2020. The program will provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits. That includes the self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency.

— Rob Tornoe and Erin Arvedlund

9:05 AM - March 26, 2020
9:05 AM - March 26, 2020

Philabundance ceasing operations for 3 days due to coronavirus exposure

A lunch provided by Philabundance at the Police Athletic League, in South Philadelphia.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
A lunch provided by Philabundance at the Police Athletic League, in South Philadelphia.

Philabundance, the anti-hunger agency that supplies 350 food pantries in the Philadelphia region, has announced it will close and discontinue food deliveries for three days after officials discovered one employee had come into contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.

A second employee shares a home with someone who is running a high fever but whose COVID-19 status has not yet been determined.

No Philabundance staff member has tested positive for the virus, said spokeswoman Stefanie Arck-Baynes.

“We are acting out of an abundance of caution,” she said, adding that the agency’s two main buildings in South Philadelphia and North Philadelphia, will be given “a deep hospital cleaning.”

— Alfred Lubrano

9:00 AM - March 26, 2020
9:00 AM - March 26, 2020

Pink eye a possible symptom of coronavirus, doctors say

The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports pink eye can be an early symptom of coronavirus.

The world’s largest association of eye doctors said the virus can cause a mild follicular conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye, in about 1% to 3% of people with COVID-19.

The three major symptoms — fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath — warrant a call to the doctor and a discussion about whether to be tested. But some people carry the virus while exhibiting no symptoms or only mild symptoms. Unlike the flu, which announces itself suddenly with fever and muscle aches, the early stages of COVID-19 can last a few days.

Daniel Mueller, an infectious diseases doctor at Temple University Hospital, said infected people might feel “just slightly under the weather for a few days … They might just feel a little tired or a little achy.” Some clinicians also have seen that sore throat and, sometimes, gastrointestinal symptoms, are signs of early disease. Changes in the sense of smell are another possible calling card.

— Stacey Burling

8:40 AM - March 26, 2020
8:40 AM - March 26, 2020

First-time jobless claims soar to a record 3.2 million as coronavirus shutdowns take hold

A closed sign hangs outside of a business in Philadelphia 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 sign hangs outside of a business in Philadelphia 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.

More than 3 million Americans are out of work and filed for unemployment benefits last week for the first time as businesses across the country were forced to shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Initial weekly claims for unemployment insurance jumped to 3.283 million during the week ending March 21, dwarfing the 281,000 applications received last week and shattering the previous record of 695,000 set in 1982.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 540,000 new unemployment claims had been filed in Pennsylvania since March 16, when Gov. Tom Wolf announced the closure of all non-essential businesses. That shattered the previous weekly record of 61,181 from the start of January 2010.

“You are going to have more and more people laid-off,” Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D., Philadelphia), the minority chair of the senate committee on labor and industry, said earlier this week. “There are going to be a lot more.”

— Rob Tornoe

8:20 AM - March 26, 2020
8:20 AM - March 26, 2020

Pentagon issues stop movement order for all military, civilian personnel due to coronavirus outbreak

Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued a 60-day stop movement order on Wednesday for all service members, civilian personnel and their sponsored family members overseas in an attempt to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Esper wrote in a statement that about 90,000 service members scheduled to deploy or redeploy over the next 60 days will likely be impacted. The order “is not expected to impact the continued drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan,” which is scheduled to be completed by next year.

On Tuesday, a Marine stationed at the Pentagon tested positive for COVID-19, the first service members assigned to Defense Department headquarters to contract the virus. About 29,000 troops, civilians, and contractors work in the Pentagon, according to the Military Times.

— Rob Tornoe

8:10 AM - March 26, 2020
8:10 AM - March 26, 2020

Coronavirus shutdown halts production of Peeps Easter candy

Peeps move through the manufacturing process at the Just Born factory Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Bethlehem, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Peeps move through the manufacturing process at the Just Born factory Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Bethlehem, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Two weeks before Easter, the production lines for Peeps have stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak. But don’t expect a shortage on store shelves if you’re looking to celebrate the holiday at home.

A hefty supply of the popular marshmallow candies has already shipped to retailers from their factories in Bethlehem and Philadelphia, according to Just Born, the family-owned confectionery company that makes Peeps, as well as Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales, Teenee Beanee jelly beans, and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews.

Just Born suspended production on Wednesday and will do so at least through April 7, the company said in a statement. They will continue to pay their employees, who are working remotely, they said.The company has made Peeps in Pennsylvania for 67 years.

— Erin McCarthy

6:10 AM - March 26, 2020
6:10 AM - March 26, 2020

Mariner East Pipeline project gets go ahead to resume some work after appealing Pa. coronavirus shutdown order

The Mariner East pipeline that runs through the residential area of Uwchlan, Pa.
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
The Mariner East pipeline that runs through the residential area of Uwchlan, Pa.

Energy Transfer LP will be permitted to complete pipeline construction work at 17 locations across Pennsylvania, most of them associated with its contentious Mariner East project, after appealing directly to Gov. Tom Wolf’s office for waivers from the emergency coronavirus shutdown.

The Texas company announced Wednesday night that the Department of Community and Economic Development had approved the requests, which it said it made “to ensure the continued safety, integrity and stabilization of these construction sites.”

The approvals include “a mix of partially completed horizontal directional drills (HDDs), road bores and open excavation sites across the commonwealth.” Several of the sites are in Chester and Delaware counties, where the company’s Sunoco Pipeline subsidiary is working on a trio of Mariner East pipelines that carry natural gas liquids like propane to a terminal in Marcus Hook.

— Andrew Maykuth

5:15 AM - March 26, 2020
5:15 AM - March 26, 2020

Urban Outfitters employees are being forced to work during coronavirus shutdowns: ‘There is nothing life-sustaining about it’

The Urban Outfitters store at 16th and Walnut in Center City. There is growing employee concern at Urban Outfitters, as workers are still required to report to work at the Navy Yard headquarters to produce e-commerce photo shoots during the coronavirus outbreak.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
The Urban Outfitters store at 16th and Walnut in Center City. There is growing employee concern at Urban Outfitters, as workers are still required to report to work at the Navy Yard headquarters to produce e-commerce photo shoots during the coronavirus outbreak.

The package appeared at the Urban Outfitters warehouse on March 17. It was the standard zip-up case for customers receiving and returning brand-name clothes rented by the month through the company’s Nuuly subscription service.

A note was attached. “I’d typically take to store, but we have come in contact with virus and are taking zero risks of spreading," said the note, a copy of which was seen by The Inquirer. “Thank you. Stay well.”

A young man who processes returns at the warehouse in Bristol Township was concerned about handling this one, employees said. He was instructed to process it anyway.

And even after the company announced a confirmed case of COVID-19 in an employee of the Navy Yard, dozens of employees have continued to work in person, producing photo shoots and running food and beverage service, even as other businesses have shuttered. Hundreds more have kept operations running at warehouses in Bristol Township and in Gap, Pa.

— Catherine Dunn

5:00 AM - March 26, 2020
5:00 AM - March 26, 2020

Many of Philly’s coronavirus cases are in young people. Experts explain why those numbers may be skewed

When the coronavirus outbreak took hold in Asia two months ago, Bobby Ku called his parents, who live in Taiwan, every week.

Despite the growing number of public health experts warning about the seriousness of COVID-19, Ku, a 33-year-old engineering consultant in Philadelphia, was unconcerned at first. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit the East Coast that he realized his life was about to change drastically.

Research on COVID-19 shows that older populations are hardest hit by the coronavirus, but the current number of confirmed cases around the United States shows that young people can fall seriously ill and need hospitalization as well.

On Wednesday, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said that 175 of Philadelphia’s 342 confirmed cases are in people under 40.

— Bethany Ao

4:45 AM - March 25, 2020
4:45 AM - March 25, 2020

Senate unanimously passes historic $2 trillion coronavirus rescue bill

The U.S. Senate late Wednesday approved a $2 trillion economic rescue package 96-0 to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The House was expected to vote on the package Friday morning.

The legislation would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits, and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home.

It would provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.

— Robert Moran

4:30 AM - March 26, 2020
4:30 AM - March 26, 2020

Morning Roundup: Seven new coronavirus deaths in Philly region; N.J. toll climbs past 60

As the region remained in a historic state of shutdown Wednesday, the coronavirus was blamed for seven new deaths in the Philadelphia area, including the first in the city. Meanwhile, the crisis intensified in New Jersey, and Pennsylvania smashed a record with over a half-million unemployment claims filed.

The numbers of positive cases and fatalities, and the prodigious list of cancellations, seemed to grow by the hour. But the toll extracted by the ubiquitous virus of anxiety has become immeasurable, as people around here and across the country engage in the surreal exercise of keeping their distance from neighbors, friends, even family members under government orders in an effort to halt the spread.

No one can say when this will end. President Donald Trump had said he hoped that some semblance of normality would return by April 12, Easter. If it does, it won’t be evident in the Catholic churches of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, which announced it had canceled all public Holy Week services and Easter Sunday masses.

— Anthony R. Wood and Pranshu Verma

4:00 AM - March 26, 2020
4:00 AM - March 26, 2020

Today’s Inquirer Front Page

The Philadelphia Inquirer's front page for Thursday, March 26, 2020.
Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Inquirer's front page for Thursday, March 26, 2020.