2:18 PM - March 31, 2020
2:18 PM - March 31, 2020

Read the latest Philadelphia-area coronavirus updates here

The White House approved Pennsylvania’s request for a major-disaster declaration on Monday. But what does that mean? Let us explain it to you. Plus, DJ Jazzy Jeff thinks he has a coronavirus, and police in South Philly are seeing a spike in thefts of things like hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

3:42 AM - March 31, 2020
3:42 AM - March 31, 2020

These Philly doctors have COVID-19, but they’re still treating patients — virtually

It started with a cough, mild but dry. The body aches and chills came two days later, when Aditi Joshi’s fever spiked north of 102 degrees. Soon, the emergency medicine physician lost her senses of smell and taste, piling kimchi and Indian spices onto rice to see if she could detect any heat.

She had contracted the coronavirus, and for nearly two weeks she has been quarantined alone inside her Philadelphia home. But rather than sitting out the greatest fight of her medical career, Joshi has been using telemedicine to continue treating patients with the same COVID-19 symptoms she’s feeling.

“When you get something yourself, you can actually understand what people mean," said Joshi, who works for Jefferson Health. “And for me, there’s something helpful about feeling like I don’t have to sit back and do nothing about it.”

— Lisa Gartner

2:42 AM - March 31, 2020
2:42 AM - March 31, 2020

From Pa. science fairs to coronavirus response coordinator: Deborah Birx’s path to the White House

Deborah Birx, second from left, was the grand champion of the 1973 Carlisle Area Science Fair at 16 years old.
Intelligencer Journal
Deborah Birx, second from left, was the grand champion of the 1973 Carlisle Area Science Fair at 16 years old.

When Deborah Birx told classmates at Carlisle High School that she planned to compete in the local science fair, some laughed.

It was the early 1970s, and Birx was a pretty girl with a bubbly personality. She waitressed after school at a Carlisle drive-in restaurant and went to school football games on weekends. Back then, few people in the Cumberland County town about 23 miles from Harrisburg were expecting her to be good at science.

But Birx’s project on paleobotany in the Carboniferous period won a 1973 science fair, then won an international science competition in California. She was 16. Birx excelled in school generally, graduating after her junior year, and putting herself on an accelerated path to medical school.

Fast-forward 35 years and now she makes daily appearances next to President Donald Trump during the White House coronavirus news briefings. Birx is the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force and has been the calm in what can often be combative news conferences.

— Ellie Rushing and Claudia Vargas

1:03 AM - March 31, 2020
1:03 AM - March 31, 2020

Should you wear a mask in public? The narrative is shifting

One month ago, when just 57 people in the United States had tested positive for the coronavirus, the surgeon general tweeted in all caps: “STOP BUYING MASKS!”

Federal officials have stood by that guidance: Face masks are not effective in preventing the general public from getting the coronavirus, and there’s no reason for people who aren’t health-care workers or who don’t have the virus to wear them.

Now, more than 150,000 Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus. And while experts still say people shouldn’t try to purchase medical-grade masks, the narrative on whether everyone should wear a homemade mask or facial covering when they’re out in public is shifting.

— Anna Orso

11:33 PM - March 30, 2020
11:33 PM - March 30, 2020

3 more Bucks County police officers test positive for COVID-19

Three more police officers in Middletown Township, Bucks County, have tested positive for COVID-19 and several other officers have symptoms, Police Chief Joseph Bartorilla confirmed in an email late Monday night.

The news comes 10 days after Middletown Township Police Officer Ryan Morrison tested positive.

Bartorilla did not identify the three new officers but said they are at home recovering.

"We have a couple more officers who have symptoms who are quarantined and we are awaiting test results on, but we can’t say for sure until we get the results," Bartorilla said.

"We have several with no symptoms but who have had close contact with our positive officers, so as a precaution for our safety and the public’s safety we are also quarantining and testing them before allowing them back to work," Bartorilla said.

The chief said healthy officers have stepped up to fill needed shifts and the police department continues to be fully operational.

Officer Morrison has not returned to duty but he is recovering well, the chief said.

“We’re getting a little beat up and worn down but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we will work our way through this,” Bartorilla said.

9:47 PM - March 30, 2020
9:47 PM - March 30, 2020

President Trump declares disaster in Pennsylvania

President Trump has approved a major disaster declaration in Pennsylvania, opening up millions of dollars of federal assistance for the commonwealth’s response to the coronavirus, the White House announced Monday night.

“The President’s action makes Federal funding available to Commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19,” the White House said in its announcement.

Gov. Tom Wolf asked Trump for the declaration Sunday, saying that the coronavirus “outbreak has taxed our commonwealth and our communities in ways that are almost incomprehensible.”

Pennsylvania had already received an emergency declaration under the president’s nationwide emergency proclamation, but the major disaster declaration provides more financial support.

— Ellie Rushing

8:35 PM - March 30, 2020
8:35 PM - March 30, 2020

Two Camden County residents die from COVID-19

Two Camden County residents have died from the coronavirus, the county announced Monday night, bringing the county’s total death toll to three.

The deceased include a Gloucester Township man and a Pine Hill woman, both in their 60s.

Camden County also announced 41 new cases in people, including a male described as between 10 and 19 in age and a man in his 80s, bringing the county’s total cases to 202.

The hospitalization rate among Camden patients remains at approximately 16%, the county said in a news release.

“Our sole objective at this time should be to minimize the loss of life caused by coronavirus to the greatest extent possible,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. “Not a single death from this terrible disease can be considered acceptable. Everyone needs to follow the governor’s orders and stay home.”

— Ellie Rushing

7:57 PM - March 30, 2020
7:57 PM - March 30, 2020

N.J. National Guard member dies from coronavirus, the first U.S. service member to die from COVID-19

A New Jersey Army National Guardsman has died from the coronavirus, the Department of Defense announced Monday evening, marking the first American service member to die from the virus.

Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, as identified by Gov. Phil Murphy, had been hospitalized since March 21 and died Saturday, the Department of Defense said in a press release.

“I’m heartbroken by the loss of @NJNationalGuard Captain Douglas Linn Hickok to coronavirus,” Murphy tweeted Monday. “He was a drilling guardsman and physician’s assistant, originally from Jackson. Our thoughts are with his wife, children, and their family.”

Hickok’s age was not provided, and it was unclear if he was on active duty fighting the virus. As of Monday morning, more than 14,830 Air and Army National Guard professionals are responding to COVID-19 across 22 states and two U.S. territories.

“Today is a sad day for the Department of Defense as we have lost our first American service member – active, reserve or Guard – to Coronavirus,” said Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. “This is a stinging loss for our military community, and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community. The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

— Ellie Rushing

7:35 PM - March 30, 2020
7:35 PM - March 30, 2020

Photos: How coronavirus is impacting the Philadelphia region

— Inquirer Staff Photographers

7:29 PM - March 30, 2020
7:29 PM - March 30, 2020

NCAA to give spring sport athletes extra year of eligibility

The NCAA will permit spring sport athletes who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus outbreak to have an additional year of eligibility.

The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to give college athletes who compete in spring sports such as baseball, softball and lacrosse a way to get back the season they lost, but did not guarantee financial aid.

Winter sports were not included in the decision. Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed.

How much scholarship money will be made available to each athlete will be determined by the athlete’s school. The amount could range from nothing to as much the athlete received the year before.

— Associated Press

7:08 PM - March 30, 2020
7:08 PM - March 30, 2020

SEPTA reports ‘first confirmed customer-facing’ coronavirus cases

A SEPTA bus on Market Street, in Philadelphia, March 19, 2020.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
A SEPTA bus on Market Street, in Philadelphia, March 19, 2020.

SEPTA saw its “first confirmed customer-facing cases” of coronavirus over the weekend, spokesperson Andrew Busch confirmed Monday.

On Sunday, the transportation authority announced six additional cases in employees working at the Frankford Transportation Center, on the Market-Frankford Line, its Norristown High Speed Line shop as well as Allegheny, Elmwood, and Comly Depots.

At least two of the six work in customer-facing positions, Busch said. He could not elaborate on further details.

In the latest update to its website Monday, SEPTA said an employee in its legal department and employee who works on Regional Rail have tested positive.

SEPTA has a total of 13 confirmed employee cases, Busch said. It announced its first employee case in a staffer who works at its headquarters building in Center City last week.

— Patricia Madej

7:01 PM - March 30, 2020
7:01 PM - March 30, 2020

Syringe exchanges deemed ‘life-sustaining’ during Pa. coronavirus shutdown, raising hopes for eventual legalization

As food pantries close, homeless shelters stop taking new entrants, and hospitals prepare to meet overwhelming demand, sterile syringe exchanges are one of the last places where people in addiction can turn for vital care and public health information amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although technically illegal in Pennsylvania, about 20 syringe exchange programs operate across the state, according to the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition. They allow people to access free sterile syringes and dispose of used ones in an effort to stop the spread of disease.

The programs have been deemed a “life-sustaining” service by the state Department of Health, allowing them to stay open amid the shutdown of other businesses and nonprofits. Advocates hope this could be a sign that Pennsylvania is finally ready to legalize sterile syringe programs.

— Aneri Pattani

6:44 PM - March 30, 2020
6:44 PM - March 30, 2020

One Poconos county becomes a ‘hot zone’ for coronavirus cases

A truck motors passed a marker on the Delaware Water Gap Toll Bridge on August 2, 2019.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
A truck motors passed a marker on the Delaware Water Gap Toll Bridge on August 2, 2019.

Every morning, way before the sun rises, many Poconos residents wake up and head 75 miles east to New York City, on what’s been called America’s worst commute.

Then they come back home.

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads throughout the country, the Poconos’ long-standing connection to New York and its place as a vacation destination for people all over the Northeast is causing problems that locals say they can’t handle.

Monroe County is separated from New Jersey by the Delaware River, with Interstate 80 running straight through. While it’s considered one of Pennsylvania’s 48 rural counties, based on the 2010 U.S. Census, Monroe has far more coronavirus cases that other rural counties. As of Monday afternoon, Monroe reported 182 confirmed coronavirus cases and seven deaths. The three remaining counties that make up the Poconos region — Pike, Carbon, and Wayne — have 62 cases combined.

Hospital officials in Monroe County fear the number of cases there is actually underreported.

— Jason Nark

6:29 PM - March 30, 2020
6:29 PM - March 30, 2020

One million Americans tested for COVID-19, widespread stay-at-home orders not likely, Trump says

More than one million Americans have been tested for the coronavirus, President Trump said in a briefing Monday, adding this is “more than any other country, by far.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also said that the country is now testing nearly 100,000 samples a day.

During the briefing, Trump also said that a sweeping stay-at-home order for the country is not likely anytime soon.

— Ellie Rushing

6:01 PM - March 30, 2020
6:01 PM - March 30, 2020

Devon Horse Show canceled

Bokai rode by Catherine Tyree leaps over a fence during Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon jump off at the Devon Horse Show and County Fair in Devon, Pa on Thursday, May 30, 2019.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Bokai rode by Catherine Tyree leaps over a fence during Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon jump off at the Devon Horse Show and County Fair in Devon, Pa on Thursday, May 30, 2019.

The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair has been canceled as the coronavirus pandemic continues to tighten its grip on the Philadelphia region.

The 124th show and fair was scheduled to take place May 21 through May 31.

“This is only the second time that DHSCF has been cancelled — the first was for a three-year period during WWII,” organizers said in a statement. “The health and well-being of the entire DHSCF community is of utmost importance at this time,” the statement said.

In the coming weeks, organizers said they plan to contact all stakeholders with information regarding the cancellation process.

— Mensah M. Dean

5:47 PM - March 30, 2020
5:47 PM - March 30, 2020

New Jersey restricts sale of drugs touted by Trump as coronavirus treatment

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal is restricting the sale of two prescription drugs that have seen a surge in demand after being marketed as possible treatments for the coronavirus.

The measure is meant to safeguard supplies of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for individuals that need the drug, such as those with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. No limitations will apply to those with these diagnoses.

On Sunday, the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency approval for hospitals to use the anti-malarial drugs for seriously ill patients, despite few studies proving the benefits of the coronavirus treatment.

“We are in the midst of a public health emergency, and we are all in it together,“ Grewal said. “The action we are taking today protects the drug supply so that medications are available when necessary for those who need them most.”

Doctors will no longer be able to prescribe hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to patients who want them as a precautionary measure against getting the disease. If an individual has tested positive for the coronavirus, they will be allowed a 14-day supply of the drug, with no refills, Grewal said.

Prescribers will also have to prove a patient needs the drug by issuing a diagnosis on the prescription order that can be supported in a person’s medical history.

— Pranshu Verma, Oona Goodin-Smith

5:14 PM - March 30, 2020
5:14 PM - March 30, 2020

Philadelphia, nonprofit partners pass out free food for residents amid pandemic

Philadelphia and its nonprofit partners launched a program Monday offering free food to residents at 20 sites across Philadelphia.

The packages will be limited to one per household and should have enough food to last five days. The sites, which are open 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday, are being supported by the city and Philabundance, which has received a major donations from 76ers managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer.

— Jose F. Moreno, Yong Kim, Sean Collins Walsh

4:53 PM - March 30, 2020
4:53 PM - March 30, 2020

Despite Oregon’s reversal, N.J. will still not allow self service at gas stations

A driver's view in the rear view mirror as a full-service gas attendant fills the tank at the pump in Pennsauken, N.J Mar. 30, 2020. Governor Phil Murphy tweeted earlier in the day, "PLEASE NOTE: We have no plans to turn our gas stations into self-serve at this time. Please DO NOT pump your own gas." Oregon recently temporarily suspended their prohibition on self-service gas pumping to reduce workers' exposure to the coronavirus.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
A driver's view in the rear view mirror as a full-service gas attendant fills the tank at the pump in Pennsauken, N.J Mar. 30, 2020. Governor Phil Murphy tweeted earlier in the day, "PLEASE NOTE: We have no plans to turn our gas stations into self-serve at this time. Please DO NOT pump your own gas." Oregon recently temporarily suspended their prohibition on self-service gas pumping to reduce workers' exposure to the coronavirus.

New Jersey’s gas stations will not become self-serve any time soon, Gov. Phil Murphy says.

“PLEASE NOTE: We have no plans to turn our gas stations into self-serve at this time,” Murphy wrote on Twitter Monday. “Please DO NOT pump your own gas.”

The assurance comes after Oregon reversed its prohibition Saturday in an attempt to reverse contact that could spread the coronavirus and ensure that essential, front line workers have access to fuel during potential staffing shortages, The Oregonian reported.

Critics of Oregon’s measure said the reversal could do more harm than good, as more customers will touch the handles and buttons at the stations, which could increase the virus’s spread. Many New Jersey residents responded to Murphy’s tweet, commending his decision.

“That would be a disaster,” responded one person. “The last thing we need is millions of hands touching the pumps.”

But the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association, which represents hundreds of independently owned motor fuel retailers across the state, strongly opposes it and is calling on Murphy to make the change.

“New Jersey is currently the only state in the United States that does not permit any motorists to pump their own gasoline,” NJGCAA wrote in a statement Monday. “An attendant wearing gloves and never touching their face may be able to protect himself from any contamination on a sick motorist’s credit/debit card, but the virus will presumably continue to live on the attendant’s gloves and perhaps attach itself to the card of every subsequent motorist who comes in afterward.”

The group said the solution could be as simple as providing sanitizing wipes for residents to wipe the gas nozzles and buttons before and after pumping their own gas. Other people responded with humor, saying residents don’t know how to pump their own gas, or that the Garden State’s residents “pump their fists” not their gas.

— Ellie Rushing

4:47 PM - March 30, 2020
4:47 PM - March 30, 2020

Philadelphia spent $3 million on N95 masks, but officials still don’t know when they’ll arrive

Philadelphia fire commissioner Adam Thiel speaks during a news conference inside the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University in Philadelphia, PA on March 30, 2020.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia fire commissioner Adam Thiel speaks during a news conference inside the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University in Philadelphia, PA on March 30, 2020.

The overwhelming demand for masks nationwide has left Philadelphia in a precarious position: It isn’t sure when orders it placed for the equipment will arrive.

The city confirmed last week spending $3 million on about 500,000 N95 masks, considered the best protection for health care workers and first responders.

“That $3 million was one purchase in the pipeline,” said Adam Thiel, the city’s fire commissioner and head of the Office of Emergency Management. “It is not done. It will be done when I actually see them on our loading dock.”

Efforts to get masks, though, are coming up against fluctuating prices and backlogs in orders. Philadelphia already should have received its 500,000 masks, Thiel said in an interview Friday.

The city is hopeful that its orders of masks, which are being continually made, would also allow it to provide masks to hospitals. Thiel said the city has established a dashboard built in cooperation with the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania that keeps track of hospitals’ inventory, demand, and the rate they go through supplies.

Meanwhile, emergency workers are looking for alternatives. For example, firefighters are exploring ways to use respiratory gear normally used to allow them to breathe in smoky conditions as protection against the virus, Thiel said.

“I don’t see any time in the near future where any of us are going to have enough N95s to meet the demand that everybody is projecting,” he said.

Jason Laughlin

4:20 PM - March 30, 2020
4:20 PM - March 30, 2020

Camden coronavirus testing site set up on the grounds of former Riverfront State Prison

Tents are set up on the Camden Waterfront, north of the Ben Franklin Bridge Mar. 30, 2020, in anticipation of a Camden County drive-thru coronavirus site opening on the site of the former Riverfront State Prison on Wednesday.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Tents are set up on the Camden Waterfront, north of the Ben Franklin Bridge Mar. 30, 2020, in anticipation of a Camden County drive-thru coronavirus site opening on the site of the former Riverfront State Prison on Wednesday.

A coronavirus testing site will open in Camden Wednesday, on the grounds of the old Riverfront State Prison, officials said at a press briefing. Individuals must be Camden County residents and have a doctor’s note requiring the test.

The Camden site will be operated by Cooper University Hospital and Virtua Health System, which will provide their own testing kits. Camden County officials note a testing site planned for Camden Community College has remained closed because the county has a shortage of testing kits.

Pranshu Verma, Tom Gralish

4:15 PM - March 30, 2020
4:15 PM - March 30, 2020

Philly’s day-care system is on the verge of a coronavirus collapse. Will emergency funding be enough?

Tiffaney Hobbs, owner of the Children of Destiny Learning Academy and the Learning Center, is still paying her staff and not expecting private-pay parents to pay while her site is shut, but she's not sure how much longer she can go on.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Tiffaney Hobbs, owner of the Children of Destiny Learning Academy and the Learning Center, is still paying her staff and not expecting private-pay parents to pay while her site is shut, but she's not sure how much longer she can go on.

Pennsylvania child-care facilities have been closed since March 16. New Jersey day care providers must close by Wednesday. In both states, officials have made exceptions for in-home daycares and centers that obtain waivers to care for the children of essential workers. Still, even those centers are in a tough position, with enrollment plunging.

Day-care centers typically operate on the narrowest of margins, unable to withstand major disruptions, employing workers who make between $10 and $20 per hour. In a recent national survey, 30% of providers said they could not survive a closure of more than two weeks without significant support.

Some help is on the way: The federal economic stimulus package included money for grants and loans to help prop up day-care providers. And locally, officials on Monday announced the Philadelphia Emergency Fund for Stabilization of Early Education, launched with $5 million from the William Penn Foundation and $2 million from Vanguard Group.

Still, the entire industry remains fragile, experts said.

— Barbara Laker, Kristen A. Graham

3:55 PM - March 30, 2020
3:55 PM - March 30, 2020

Montgomery County correctional officers test positive for coronavirus, county reduces jail population

Valerie Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County board of commissioners, said the county now has 506 confirmed cases. A sixth county resident died from COVID-19, an 82-year-old Springfield Township woman who had underlying health conditions, Arkoosh said. The other confirmed cases range in age from 11 to 89-years-old.

Three correctional officers have now tested positive, Arkoosh said, including one who was previously announced. None of those officers have had known contact with inmates, she said, though they did have contact with other correctional officers who have since been tested and some of whom remain quarantined while awaiting the results. No county inmates have tested positive, she said.

The jail has also reduced its population by 100 inmates through the use of electronic monitoring, early parole and deferred weekend sentences.

Arkoosh, a doctor who has a background in public health, implored residents to continue self isolating. The modeling data suggests the peak is still two weeks away, she said, meaning the next weeks will be crucial to making sure hospitals are not overwhelmed.

“You might feel fine, but that doesn’t mean you’re not contagious,” she said. “And if you go out into our community unnecessarily, it’s frankly reckless at this point.”

— Allison Steele

3:48 PM - March 30, 2020
3:48 PM - March 30, 2020

Penn to provide $4 million in emergency financial assistance to employees, contractors, small businesses

The University of Pennsylvania will provide $4 million in emergency financial assistance to eligible employees, third-party contract workers and independently owned small business owners in the University City area affected by the virus, President Amy Gutmann announced.

Some of the money also will go to the PHL COVID-19 fund, set up by the city and others to help local non-profit social service agencies, Gutmann said. The new effort comes in addition to a $1 million fund set up earlier this month to assist employees and an agreement to pay Bon Appetit dining workers through May 15.

“This is a crucial time for civic leadership,” Gutmann said.

Employees who earn at or below $70,000 are eligible for a tax-free grant up to $1,500, she said. Businesses in the University City area must have been in business for at least 12 months to be available for assistance.

The grants, between $1,000 and $5,000, are to help the businesses survive during the shutdown caused by the virus. The university also is planning on offering rent abatement for retailers.

— Susan Snyder

3:36 PM - March 30, 2020
3:36 PM - March 30, 2020

New Jersey to reopen gun stores, now considered ‘essential’ by feds

Part of the gun display in the retail store at Kahr Arms corporate headquarters in Greeley, Pa., on March 9, 2018. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
DAVID MAIALETTI
Part of the gun display in the retail store at Kahr Arms corporate headquarters in Greeley, Pa., on March 9, 2018. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

New Jersey will allow gun stores to reopen at 8 a.m. Tuesday, as they have been defined as an “essential” business by federal regulators, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

Sales will be conducted by appointment only.

“It wouldn’t have been my definition,” Murphy said, “but that is the definition on the federal level.

”It was one of a number of measures the state has made to allow some businesses to continue to operate.

Auto dealerships will be allowed to conduct online or remote car sales in the state, and realtors will be allowed to show houses on a one to one basis, while open houses still remain prohibited. Golf courses will be closed, Murphy said.

PNC Bank said customers who have a mortgage with them will now be able to get a 90-day exemption from loan payments, Murphy said.

Meanwhile, more than 3,600 retired health workers have responded to Murphy’s call Saturday, to volunteer in the fight against the coronavirus.

And New Jersey Police Col. Patrick Callahan said there are 288 law enforcement officers that have now tested positive for the coronavirus, with an additional 2,477 in quarantine at home.

— Pranshu Verma

3:31 PM - March 30, 2020
3:31 PM - March 30, 2020

New Jersey Gov. Murphy says state could need thousands of additional ventilators

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that the state’s top priority is to get thousands of additional ventilators so the state can be prepared for a surge of coronavirus patients expected to flood the state’s hospitals.

Murphy’s push for more ventilators came hours after he tweeted that New Jersey is set to receive 300 ventilators from the nation’s stockpile of emergency medical supplies. But, state health officials say they’ll need 2,000 more.

“We are grateful,” Murphy said, “but to be absolutely clear this is far, far from what we ultimately will need."

State health officials plan to train hospital staff later this week how to safely share ventilators between two patients, a method known as co-ventilating. They note this is a precautionary measure, and may not need to be implemented if the state can tame the spread of the virus.

Murphy said the state saw 3,347 new positive coronavirus cases overnight, with an additional 37 deaths. The state’s total caseload now tops 16,600, with a death toll of 198.

— Pranshu Verma

3:27 PM - March 30, 2020
3:27 PM - March 30, 2020

Protesters at Philly City Hall disrupt traffic and urge state to reduce jail populations amid COVID-19 spread

Monday afternoon, dozens of advocates staged a protest in Center City by driving their cars around City Hall, honking horns, and disrupting traffic to pressure city and state legislators to reduce the number of people in jails, which could become epicenters for the coronavirus spread. The congestion led to Philadelphia Police ticketing some drivers as some cars ground to a halt.

The protest was coordinated by #No215Jail Coalition, Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, and Philadelphia Bail Fund, and came on the same day that the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a petition urging the state Supreme Court to take emergency action to thin jail populations. The ACLU asked that the high court order Common Pleas courts in each county to come up with a plan to release nonviolent offenders most at risk from severe viral complications as well those incarcerated for minor probation violations and because they could not come up with the money to pay their bail.

“Once COVID-19 enters a correction facility, it is virtually certain to spread like wildfire through the prison population, correctional staff and into the nearby community,” wrote Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

— Jeremy Roebuck, Chris Palmer

3:19 PM - March 30, 2020
3:19 PM - March 30, 2020

Battleship New Jersey, the country’s most decorated naval ship, struggles amid pandemic

Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a naturalization ceremony on the Battleship New Jersey in Camden, N.J., on Thursday, July 4, 2019. Forty people from 23 countries were sworn in as U.S. citizens during the ceremony, one of more than a hundred held on the 4th of July holiday.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a naturalization ceremony on the Battleship New Jersey in Camden, N.J., on Thursday, July 4, 2019. Forty people from 23 countries were sworn in as U.S. citizens during the ceremony, one of more than a hundred held on the 4th of July holiday.

Unable to give tours and hold events due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Battleship New Jersey, the country’s most decorated naval ship, is struggling.

The nonprofit museum and memorial on the Camden waterfront is applying for a $2 million Small Business Association loan, asking for community donations on its website, and furloughing many of its employees, said CEO Phil Rowan. The ship typically brings in about $10,000 a day and receives state aid, which is currently frozen due to the crisis, he added.

“Are we concerned whether we can’t reopen? Yeah,” Rowan said. They’ve projected a best-case scenario, a July 1 reopening, but he said they know the closure could last additional months or even a year.

The battleship has furloughed about 60 of its employees, most of them tour guides, leaving 24 staff members (and possible layoffs in the future), Rowan said.

The museum hopes to reopen, he said, and hire back all of its employees.

— Erin McCarthy

2:41 PM - March 30, 2020
2:41 PM - March 30, 2020

How Temple’s Liacouras Center was transformed into a hospital site amid coronavirus pandemic

The arena floor of Temple University’s cavernous Liacouras Center is lined with hospital cots that sit below banners touting basketball championships. A cluster of wheelchairs sits by the loading dock, next to a concessions sign advertising Miller Lite specials. The electronic signs at the will-call box office are still blinking with reminders to “please show your ID,” but the only people regularly coming to the arena these days are the workers who helped transform Temple’s campus arena into a field hospital this weekend.

City officials say they hope the Liacouras Center never has to be used to treat patients.

But, if a surge of COVID-19 cases floods Philadelphia’s hospitals in the coming weeks, the arena has beds for more than 200 patients and potentially more, said Adam Thiel, the city’s fire commissioner and director of emergency operations.

— Aubrey Whelan

2:37 PM - March 30, 2020
2:37 PM - March 30, 2020

Philadelphia suspends jury duty through April 14

The Philadelphia court system on Monday said it would continued to suspend all jury duty until April 14, prolonging the shutdown of trials for another two weeks.

Jury service was first suspended on March 16, when the First Judicial District announced it was shutting down most of most of its core operations as the coronavirus case count in the city began rapidly growing. Essential services — including arraignments, bail hearings, and emergency requests for protection-from-abuse orders — have continued.

The court system said Monday that anyone summoned to jury duty during the ongoing suspension would receive a new summons for a future date in the mail.

— Chris Palmer

2:10 PM - March 30, 2020
2:10 PM - March 30, 2020

Chester County reports first coronavirus death

An 89-year-old man is the first person to have died of coronavirus-related complications in Chester County, officials said Monday.

The man, who lived in Willistown Township, died Sunday after being hospitalized. He had a number of underlying conditions.County health officials have reported 146 positive cases of the coronavirus.

Across Pennsylvania, at least 48 people who tested positive for the virus have died, according to the state Department of Health.

— Anna Orso

2:08 PM - March 30, 2020
2:08 PM - March 30, 2020

Pa. stay-at-home order extended until April 30, schools closed indefinitely

A pedestrian is seen through a closed shop at 5th and South Street on Saturday, March 28, 2020. A stay at home order has been issued in Philadelphia due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). All nonessential businesses are closed. Restaurants are now takeout or delivery only.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
A pedestrian is seen through a closed shop at 5th and South Street on Saturday, March 28, 2020. A stay at home order has been issued in Philadelphia due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). All nonessential businesses are closed. Restaurants are now takeout or delivery only.

Pennsylvania schools and nonessential businesses will be closed until further notice, Gov. Tom Wolf said on Monday, extending the closure due to the coronavirus pandemic indefinitely.

“We’re going to keep our schools and businesses closed as long as we need to keep them closed to keep Pennsylvania safe,” Wolf said. “I know this isn’t easy to hear... [but] if we want to save lives we must continue to distance ourselves from each other.”

His stay-at-home order will remain in place until at least April 30, for all 26 counties currently under the order. He expanded his stay-at-home order to Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin and Schuylkill Counties.

The state corrected an earlier Monday announcement on the death toll, saying there have been 48 deaths to date. As of Monday, there were coronavirus cases in 59 of the state’s 67 counties. About 10% of patients have needed hospitalization so far, officials said.

Wolf said officials were working on an alternative learning plan that they hoped to have in place by the start of next week.

“We are working on a plan to make sure that we have a way to provide an education for the kids who are not getting the education for the next 2 months, so we are looking at that,” Wolf said Monday. “The hope is that we have that in place in the next few days.”

Wolf said predicting the possible peak of the outbreak in Pennsylvania is “a moving target,” but said there is still a chance the hospitals will not be overcome by the virus if Pennsylvanians continue staying home and follow other preventive orders.

So far, he said the state has been able to keep up with hospital demand for ventilators but hopes to get more. The state is coordinating with the federal government to get more supplies and is working with state businesses to see if any can repurpose their assembly lines for manufacturing needed equipment, Wolf said.

— Justine McDaniel

1:56 PM - March 30, 2020
1:56 PM - March 30, 2020

Philly postal worker tests positive for coronavirus

A worker in Bustleton Station Post Office in Northeast Philadelphia has tested positive for COVID-19, the U.S. Postal Service confirmed on Monday.

It is unclear when the employee tested positive or what actions the Post Office is taking at the location.

Health experts say the risks are very low that COVID-19 will remain on envelopes or packages and infect anyone who handles them.

They say, however, to avoid touching your face and wash your hands after handling any deliveries.

Nationwide, there have been 178 postal workers who have tested positive for COVID-19. The post office employs over 630,000 workers.

— Rob Tornoe

1:43 PM - March 30, 2020
1:43 PM - March 30, 2020

Unable to get tested for coronavirus in Pa., he drove to Delaware: The risks and rewards of ‘test hopping’

Registered Nurses offering their help with ChristianaCare guide people to take the tests in a parking lot along Beech Street with symptoms of coronavirus in Wilmington, Del., on Friday, March 13, 2020.
TYGER WILLIAMS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Registered Nurses offering their help with ChristianaCare guide people to take the tests in a parking lot along Beech Street with symptoms of coronavirus in Wilmington, Del., on Friday, March 13, 2020.

Across the Philadelphia region, as the coronavirus pandemic spreads both illness and anxiety, potentially sick people may be hopping from site to site, desperate for an answer as cases surge and testing availability proves uneven.

Dr. Tina Tan, a professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, says test-hopping has the potential to actually spread the virus, putting more people at risk.

Someone who is driving some distance to be tested will likely stop at a rest stop, to use the bathroom, get gas, or buy food. Traveling could also strain limited resources for the health-care workers in another town.

— Ellie Silverman

1:06 PM - March 30, 2020
1:06 PM - March 30, 2020

Macy’s to furlough most of its 130,000 workers

A pedestrian is reflected in the Macy's window in Center City on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
A pedestrian is reflected in the Macy's window in Center City on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019.

Macy’s will stop paying tens of thousands of employees after shutting down all its stores due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company announced on Monday it will furlough most of its workforce beginning this week, keeping just an “absolute minimum workforce” to maintain digital sales and basic operations. Macy’s employs approximately 130,000 people, and furloughed workers will continue to receive health care benefits at least through May.

Macy’s said the move is temporary, and expects to bring employees back to work on a staggered basis once the coronavirus pandemic is under control and business resumes. All Macy’s stores have been closed since March 18.

There are 12 Macy’s stores in and around the Philadelphia area, including its Center City location on Market Street.

— Rob Tornoe

1:02 PM - March 30, 2020
1:02 PM - March 30, 2020

A Cherry Hill man’s painfully long wait for plasma after being diagnosed with COVID-19

Brett and Amy Breslow of Cherry Hill. Amy is fighting for plasma donation sites as Brett remains in critical condition with the coronavirus.
Courtesy of Amy Breslow
Brett and Amy Breslow of Cherry Hill. Amy is fighting for plasma donation sites as Brett remains in critical condition with the coronavirus.

After a long difficult weekend of emotional media appearances, emails, and calls that reached all the way to Gov. Murphy’s office, Amy Breslow of Cherry Hill said she had three pieces of good news Monday morning related to her husband, critically ill with COVID-19.

First, Brett Breslow, 50, a Cherry Hill East theater dad, Cherry Hill Knights football coach, and software engineer at Lockheed Martin, is “showing some small improvements” at Cooper University Hospital, Amy said.

The second, is that Amy and her daughter have tested negative for the coronavirus. And the third, she said, is that the Red Cross has said it will soon announce plasma donation sites in South Jersey for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 but have been symptom free for 14 days.

The plasma is believed to contain antibodies that can help sick people fight off the virus. Breslow has been in critical condition in Cooper University Medical Center since March 20 and is currently on a ventilator and undergoing dialysis for kidney failure.

— Amy Rosenberg, Tom Avril

12:38 PM - March 30, 2020
12:38 PM - March 30, 2020

Hahnemann owner’s home vandalized after city balks at $1M offer to use the hospital for coronavirus patients

Graffiti saying "Joel Kills" is shown outside the home of Joel Freedman, the owner of Hanhemann Hospital, which put a nearly $1 million price tag on renting the former hospital for overflow space.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Graffiti saying "Joel Kills" is shown outside the home of Joel Freedman, the owner of Hanhemann Hospital, which put a nearly $1 million price tag on renting the former hospital for overflow space.

A Rittenhouse home belonging to the owner of Hahnemann University Hospital was defaced just days after he and the city failed to come to an agreement on leasing the closed Center City hospital during the coronavirus outbreak and Mayor Jim Kenney said he was “trying to make a buck” off the pandemic.

On Monday morning, occasional passersby noticed the red spray-painted graffiti, spelling out “Joel Kills" in capital letters, on Joel Freedman’s property on the 2100 block of Locust Street. Flyers fastened on a door appeared to read “Joel Freedman has blood on his hands” and “Open Hahnemann Hospital.”

— Erin McCarthy

12:32 PM - March 30, 2020
12:32 PM - March 30, 2020

Bucks County Target employee tests positive for coronavirus

A Bucks County Target employee has tested positive for the coronavirus, the company said in a statement. The individual works at the Langhorne store on the 2300 block of East Lincoln Highway.

The company declined to disclose when he or she last worked or how much interaction the person had with customers.

The employee, who is in quarantine and following CDC guidelines, will be paid while on leave, Target said, and the store has been deep-cleaned and sanitized.

— Erin McCarthy

12:25 PM - March 30, 2020
12:25 PM - March 30, 2020

Coronavirus hospitalizations jump dramatically in Delaware

The number of people hospitalized for coronavirus in Delaware has jumped dramatically in just a few days, according to Dr. Karyl Rattay, the state’s director of public health.

There are 45 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Delaware, three times the 15 hospitalized Thursday. Nine are in critical condition.

Overall, the state has 264 cases of coronavirus, with 156 of them in New Castle County. Six have died, and Rattay urged all residents to heed stay-at-home restrictions and behave as though they have the virus while the state suffers through an “acceleration phase.”

“This situation has drastically changed all of our lives,” Rattay said during a Monday briefing. “But the reality is we may continue to need to put stricter courses of action in place, more restrictions in place, as we see more spread.”

Gov. John Carney said in a Facebook Live interview with the News Journal Monday morning he anticipates cases in Delaware will spike in the next two weeks, reaching more than 3,000 cases and at least 500 hospitalizations.

— Rob Tornoe

12:13 PM - March 30, 2020
12:13 PM - March 30, 2020

New Jersey to receive 300 more ventilators

A New Jersey Emergency Management System Task Force tent is set up outside the emergency room at the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City Mar. 26, 2020 as the state deals with the coronavirus.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
A New Jersey Emergency Management System Task Force tent is set up outside the emergency room at the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City Mar. 26, 2020 as the state deals with the coronavirus.

New Jersey will receive 300 additional ventilators from the national stockpile of emergency medical supplies, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Twitter Monday.

“Ventilators are our number one need right now,” Murphy said.

Murphy said last week that New Jersey has requested 2,500 ventilators from the stockpile. He implored the Garden State is in great need of the life-saving equipment.

In anticipation of shortages, health officials said last week they have started talking with medical ethicists about how doctors should prioritize which patient gets a ventilator in the event there is a significant lack of supply.

The state has not come to that point yet, officials noted, however they were making preparations in case guidance is needed.

— Pranshu Verma

12:11 PM - March 30, 2020
12:11 PM - March 30, 2020

Pennsylvania now has more than 4,000 confirmed coronavirus cases

Pennsylvania now has more than 4,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in 59 counties, with 693 new cases announced Monday.

Eleven more people in the state have died of the virus, the Department of Health said Monday, bringing the statewide death toll to 49.

“We need everyone to listen to the orders in place,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement. "We know that these prolonged mitigation effects have been difficult for everyone, but it is essential that everyone follows these orders and does not go out unless they absolutely must.”

— Justine McDaniel

11:45 AM - March 30, 2020
11:45 AM - March 30, 2020

Doylestown Hospital opens emergency response tent to screen possible coronavirus patients

Medical staff inside the new emergency response tent during a media tour of the facility at Doylestown hospital, the emergency response tent will centralize diagnosis and initial treatment for those with respiratory symptoms suggesting COVID-19, in Doylestown, PA, March 30, 2020. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Medical staff inside the new emergency response tent during a media tour of the facility at Doylestown hospital, the emergency response tent will centralize diagnosis and initial treatment for those with respiratory symptoms suggesting COVID-19, in Doylestown, PA, March 30, 2020. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

Officials at Doylestown Hospital have created an emergency response tent that they say will allow doctors to more efficiently and safely diagnose patients who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

The tent, which opened Monday after being assembled late last week near the hospital’s emergency department, has the capacity to hold 20 patients at a time. Primary care physicians working within the hospital’s health network can reserve a bed in the tent to see patients who are complaining of symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection.

“Our goal is to see patients, see them quickly, evaluate them quickly, and get them the care they need,” said Mary Whelan, the director of emergency services for Doylestown Hospital.

The new emergency response tent at Doylestown hospital, the emergency response tent will centralize diagnosis and initial treatment for those with respiratory symptoms suggesting COVID-19, in Doylestown, PA, March 30, 2020. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
The new emergency response tent at Doylestown hospital, the emergency response tent will centralize diagnosis and initial treatment for those with respiratory symptoms suggesting COVID-19, in Doylestown, PA, March 30, 2020. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

People who come to the hospital’s emergency room on their own accord will be evaluated at the door, and admitted to the tent for further study if they meet certain criteria. Patients who show severe symptoms will be admitted to the hospital, according to Whelan. Others who exhibit more minor symptoms and test positive for the virus will be sent home and told to self quarantine.

“We were seeing what was happening in Italy, how in a short time hospitals were overwhelmed there,” said Dr. Michael Goodyear, an emergency department physician at the hospital. “We wanted to increase the capacity we have here, and we don’t want to intermix the patients that we do see.”

— Vinny Vella

11:30 AM - March 30, 2020
11:30 AM - March 30, 2020

William Penn Foundation fast-tracks $6.6 million for the arts, adds $5 million for pre-k in response to coronavirus shutdowns

In what is expected to be only its initial response to financial pressures during the coronavirus crisis, the William Penn Foundation has approved sweeping new measures to reinforce the social safety net and help arts groups that are reeling from coronavirus closures, adding or fast-tracking more than $10 million in grants.

On Friday, the board of the foundation — regarded as Philadelphia’s largest solely focused on the region — voted in an emergency meeting to award $5 million to support early childhood education and care.

The board also approved about $6.6 million to 17 area arts and culture groups as small as Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture and as large as the Philadelphia Orchestra.

— Peter Dobrin

10:55 AM - March 30, 2020
10:55 AM - March 30, 2020

Philly surpasses 1,000 confirmed coronavirus cases

Tents are set up outside of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia on Saturday, March 28, 2020. The tents will be used to treat the coronavirus (COVID-19). The number of cases in Philly is continuing to grow.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
Tents are set up outside of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia on Saturday, March 28, 2020. The tents will be used to treat the coronavirus (COVID-19). The number of cases in Philly is continuing to grow.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia has topped 1,000 as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.

As of Monday morning, there were 1,072 coronavirus cases in Philadelphia, according to the city’s Department of Health. There have been 5,747 negative test results.

As of Monday, there were nine coronavirus-related deaths in the city, five of which have been nursing home residents, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.

There are 3,465 confirmed cases in Pennsylvania, according to Johns Hopkins University.

New York City, which currently has over 33,000 COVID-19 cases, surpassed the 1,000 mark on March 18. New Jersey passed 1,000 cases on March 23.

— Rob Tornoe, Sean Collins Walsh

9:55 AM - March 30, 2020
9:55 AM - March 30, 2020

Trump: White House looking into hazard pay for some health care workers

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania workers stand near tents outside the emergency entrance for possible COVID-19 testing on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Hospital workers prep for a possible surge of patients due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania workers stand near tents outside the emergency entrance for possible COVID-19 testing on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Hospital workers prep for a possible surge of patients due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

President Donald Trump said the White House is looking into ways to offer certain health care workers and first responders hazard pay for those on the front lines of the nation’s coronavirus response.

“We are looking at that and we’re looking at that as an amendment (to the stimulus package) or something,” Trump said during a lengthy interview on Fox and Friends Monday morning. “We are looking at different ways of doing it, primarily through the hospitals.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said the administration wants to help workers combating the coronavirus pandemic, noting that many don’t quality for the direct payments to individuals and families that were included in the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill the president signed on Friday.

"I think I agree with the president, I think that makes a lot of sense. When we get to the next bill in Congress that’s definitely something we will put in the next bill,” Mnuchin said on Fox Business.

— Rob Tornoe

9:50 AM - March 30, 2020
9:50 AM - March 30, 2020

Pentagon sending 2 army field hospitals to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to support coronavirus medical efforts

The military is deploying two army field hospitals with up to 300 beds to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey to support coronavirus response efforts in the New York City area, officials said.

Units from Kentucky and Texas will work in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make the hospitals operational by Thursday, the U.S. Northern Command said.

The hospital ship USNS Comfort in the meantime sailed into New York Harbor Monday. It has the ability to take 1,000 patients.

— Pranshu Verma

9:40 AM - March 30, 2020
9:40 AM - March 30, 2020

Stocks open up, extending last week’s rebound

Stocks opened up on Monday, continuing a rebound on Wall Street that began last week after the government took major steps to combat the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial average opened up about 200 points, about 1%. Last week, the Dow was up more than 12%, its largest weekly gain since 1938.

The Nasdaq opened up 110 points (about 1.4%), and the S&P 500 opened up about 35 points (about 1.4%). Both are coming off their best weekly gains since 2009.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill that will help businesses and individuals impacted by the continued spread of COVID-19. The Federal Reserve also made unprecedented moves to shore up markets and lending.

On Sunday, Trump extended national social distancing guidelines to contain the coronavirus outbreak to the end of April. According to CNBC, the measures “are seen by some investors as preventing long-term damage to the economy.”

— Rob Tornoe

9:05 AM - March 30, 2020
9:05 AM - March 30, 2020

Fauci: Experts ‘argued strongly’ with Trump to extend coronavirus social distancing guidelines

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said he and other members of the White House coronavirus task force “argued strongly” with President Trump to extend nationwide social distancing guidelines to the end of April.

“We felt that if we prematurely pulled back, we would only form an acceleration or a rebound of something which would have put you behind where you were before,” Fauci said on CNN Monday morning. “And that’s the reason why we argued strongly with the president, that he not withdraw those guidelines after 15 days, but that he extend them. And he did listen.”

Fauci said he and Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, showed Trump models that showed even if he extended the deadline, 100,000 more Americans could die from COVID-19.

“If you look at seasonal flu, we had a bad season in 2017-18. We lost over 60,000 ... This is clearly worse than that," Fauci said. “I don’t want to see it. I want to avoid it. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw 100,000 deaths.”

During Sunday’s coronavirus news briefing, Trump said if he had not extended the guidelines as Fauci and other experts suggested, as many as 2.2 million Americans might die. It was a stark reversal from last week, when Trump said he hoped the economy could be re-opened by Easter.

— Rob Tornoe

8:55 AM - March 30, 2020
8:55 AM - March 30, 2020

ACLU asks Pa. Supreme Court to reduce county jail populations to thwart a mass spread of coronavirus

Hours after officials ordered lockdowns at all state prisons, the ACLU of Pennsylvania has asked the state Supreme Court to take emergency action to reduce county jail populations to avert the mass spread of the coronavirus among their inmates.

In a petition filed Monday, the lawyers pleaded with the court to order all counties to limit new jail admissions and order the release of many non-violent offenders. The plaintiffs include two inmates at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, one at the George Hill Correctional Facility in Delaware County and two others incarcerated people in jails across the state.

Supreme Courts in several states, including New Jersey, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington, have taken similar steps in recent days to prevent county jails from becoming epicenters of the public health crisis.

Advocates have noted that following recommended social distancing guidelines is nearly impossible in cramped quarters where inmates are often forced the eat shoulder-to-shoulder in communal dining halls and sleep in small cells at night with two to three other individuals.

— Jeremy Roebuck

8:00 AM - March 30, 2020
8:00 AM - March 30, 2020

Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for summer 2021

Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Muto at a news conference.
ISSEI KATO / AP
Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Muto at a news conference.

The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in the same time slot scheduled for this year’s games.

Tokyo organizers said Monday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021 — almost exactly one year after the games were due to start this year.

Last week, the IOC and Japanese organizers postponed the Olympics until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s games were scheduled to open on July 24 and close on Aug. 9. But the near exact one-year delay will see the rescheduled closing ceremony on Aug. 8.

— Associated Press

7:25 AM - March 30, 2020
7:25 AM - March 30, 2020

Groups push for opening some Philly streets to just walking, biking during coronavirus pandemic

People make use of a wide open MLK drive on Saturday.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
People make use of a wide open MLK drive on Saturday.

When Randy LoBasso, policy manager at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, set out recently for a bike ride, he was stunned.

“I rode up to Schuylkill Banks, and it was like — mobbed," he said. " ... Nobody was getting six feet distance from each other.”

The Bike Coalition spearheaded a successful effort to close Martin Luther King Drive to vehicular traffic from East Falls Bridge to Eakins Oval so pedestrians and bikers have new space to get exercise or clear their heads during the coronavirus pandemic.

Now LoBasso and other advocacy groups want Philadelphia to close even more streets to cars, such as the roads through the 2,052-acre Fairmount Park.

“There’s not much space in the city to get exercise," he said, “and I think that especially now, physical and mental exercise is really important just because everyone I know is so stressed out.”

— Patricia Madej

5:10 AM - March 30, 2020
5:10 AM - March 30, 2020

Quarantine ordered for Pa state prisons after an inmate tests positive for COVID-19

All Pennsylvania state prisons have been ordered to be quarantined after an inmate at a Montgomery County correctional facility tested positive during the weekend.

According to an email sent to prison staffers, obtained by The Inquirer, Corrections Secretary John Wetzel directed the system-wide quarantine to begin at 10 p.m. Sunday. Wetzel said he planned to meet with senior facility leadership Monday morning.

Pennsylvania has 25 state correctional institutions housing about 45,000 inmates, according to department statistics.

Advocates and corrections officers have worried about the likelihood of the virus spreading rapidly in prisons and jails, where it can be virtually impossible to practice social distancing.

Three corrections employees have also self-reported positive tests, according to a department website, though officials did not say where the employees worked.

The department had said earlier Sunday that six facilities were already under some form of quarantine due to possible cases among inmates or staff.

— Mike Newall and Chris Palmer

5:00 AM - March 30, 2020
5:00 AM - March 30, 2020

MacGyvering the coronavirus: Designers rig makeshift ventilators, valves, and more

Tod Corlett, a Thomas Jefferson University professor of industrial design, made this prototype of a ventilator in four hours, and already has taken it apart to build a better one. He and colleagues are exploring several approaches that could eventually be tested on people.
Courtesy of Tod Corlett
Tod Corlett, a Thomas Jefferson University professor of industrial design, made this prototype of a ventilator in four hours, and already has taken it apart to build a better one. He and colleagues are exploring several approaches that could eventually be tested on people.

In his 25 years as an industrial designer, Tod Corlett has devised lighting systems and electronic signs, and guided student projects in such diverse realms as furniture and footwear. On March 18, the Jefferson University professor got an urgent call from his dean with a new kind of challenge: Can you make us a ventilator?

The university was on full coronavirus lockdown, so Corlett could not get into his lab due to the very problem he was being asked to solve. But he started the research from his home in Philadelphia, trading insights and questions with a growing online group of designers, engineers, and medical professionals.

How much air had to be pumped into a patient’s lungs? How should the exhaled breaths be filtered, to prevent the virus from spreading? Could a makeshift contraption really approximate a sophisticated medical device without years of testing?

Three days later, with special authorization to be on the East Falls campus, Corlett assembled a motorized prototype from pieces of metal, plastic, and wood. It took him six hours.

— Tom Avril

4:45 AM - March 30, 2020
4:45 AM - March 30, 2020

Morning roundup: Wolf asks for federal disaster designation for Pa.

Gov. Tom Wolf asked President Donald Trump to declare Pennsylvania a major disaster area on Sunday, key to unlocking millions of dollars in federal aid to help the state battle the sickness and economic devastation of the coronavirus.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has taxed our commonwealth and our communities in ways that are almost incomprehensible,” Wolf said, calling for assistance “that will make a tangible difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors, and the dedicated public servants who are working in overdrive to support them.”

Fifteen other states, including New Jersey and New York, already have the major-disaster designation.

Meanwhile, the financial pain of the pandemic reached Pennsylvania state workers, as the Wolf administration laid off about 2,500 part-time and seasonal employees and interns as the crisis strains cash flow, Spotlight PA reported.

— Jeff Gammage, Amy S. Rosenberg, Aubrey Whelan and Pranshu Verma

4:40 AM - March 30, 2020
4:40 AM - March 30, 2020

The Inquirer front page

The Philadelphia Inquirer front page for Monday, March 30, 2020.
Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Inquirer front page for Monday, March 30, 2020.