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Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Valley Park is seeing crowds the size it normally draws in peak summer season as people cooped up by coronavirus protective measures seek relief outdoors. But those who work to keep the park functioning say the crush is not just a strain on the park — it’s dangerous to visitors.
Also, all Starbucks employees will now wear masks and sources and city official say that as of Monday, 98 Philly police officers, firefighters and medics have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Former Pa. Congressman Charlie Dent tests positive for COVID-19, says he is recovering
Former Allentown Congressman Charlie Dent announced Monday night on Facebook that he has tested positive for the coronavirus but has only suffered “mercifully mild” symptoms.
Dent said he was tested last Tuesday after feeling unwell for several days. He got the test result back on Saturday.
"I experienced a mild cough along with an achy back that made for a few rough, sleepless nights. I also experienced chills and the sweats at various times, although I never felt feverish," Dent wrote in his post.
"That was the worst of it for me. Until two days ago, my appetite has been minimal and dehydration has been an issue. I have forced myself to eat English muffins or bagels with peanut butter; ice cream is less of an effort. It is true regarding losing your sense of taste if you have the virus. My sense of taste was really diminished. It is just now coming back."
The 59-year-old Dent, who was elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004 and retired in 2018, said he still feels fatigued but is improving and is working from home. He said his wife experienced some symptoms but was not tested and is doing better.
“Regrettably, I watched the depressing docuseries, Tiger King, about a disturbed gun-toting, polygamous, Joe Exotic, who abused his big cats. There are some seriously bizarre people in this world and Joe Exotic could provide lifetimes’ worth of work for many therapists,” Dent wrote.
Bucks County on Monday night announced that three additional residents had died from the coronavirus, bringing the county’s total COVID-19 fatalities to 20.
The three latest deaths were people in their 80s and 90s with underlying health conditions, the county said in a news release. Eighty new positive cases were reported Monday, bringing the county’s total to 713.
Bucks County is seeing a higher number of health-care workers test positive for the coronavirus, county Health Department Director David Damsker said in a statement. There also has been an increase in cases among people whose jobs require them to work in close proximity to colleagues and members of the public, but the county is not seeing a surge yet, he said.
“If we have a surge, it’s going to be in the healthcare providers, workers and residents in congregate settings, and the people who have to be out there working essential jobs that bring them into contact with a lot of people," Damsker said. "However, given the new masking recommendations, we hope that will help reduce the risk of these outbreaks over the next two weeks.”
Atlantic City bans its hotels, motels, guest houses and Airbnb’s from accepting any new rentals
In a Facebook livestream address Monday night, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. said the city would be prohibiting all hotels, motels, guest houses, and online market places from accepting new rentals from transient guests or seasonal tenants, effective immediately.
Earlier, Wildwood and North Wildwood also enacted a ban, through the end of the month.
The bans are subject to exemptions for health-care and other emergency workers requiring housing.
Atlantic City, which now has 24 positive cases of coronavirus, will be opening up a field hospital in its Convention Center April 14, the mayor said.
All casino hotels were shut down March 16, but non-casino hotels and the city’s many smaller motels, hotels, and guest houses remained open. Small said that, as in other Shore towns, people from New York and Pennsylvania were coming in to town looking to ride out the pandemic either in Airbnb’s or other temporary lodging. He said violators would lose their license and otherwise be prosecuted. His order does not have an end date.
Baseball said to discuss plan to start season in Arizona at empty parks
Under a plan discussed Monday, the Phillies and other Major League Baseball teams would open their seasons in Arizona playing in empty ballparks.
During a telephone conference, MLB and players’ association officials talked about options to salvage a season delayed indefinitely by the coronavirus outbreak.
They spoke on condition of anonymity, the Associated Press reported.
Arizona’s advantage would be that it has 10 spring-training ballparks, plus the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field, all within about 50 miles.
Spring-training parks in Florida are more widely scattered.
“It allows for immediacy of a schedule, where you might be able to begin it and televise it, provide Major League Baseball to America,” said Scott Boras, baseball’s most visible agent. “I think players are willing to do what’s necessary because I think they understand the importance of baseball for their own livelihoods and for the interest of our country and providing a necessary product that gives all the people that are isolated enjoyment."
Jon Daniels, the Texas Rangers president of baseball operations, said that MLB is examining different options and that he didn’t want to speculate.“But, obviously, we’d all love to find a way to play, provided we could do safely, and that would be the priority,” he said.
26 residents, staffers at Cape May Co. senior care facility test positive for coronavirus
More than two dozen residents and employees at a long-term care facility in Cape May County have tested positive for coronavirus, the county’s Health Department said Monday.
Fifteen residents and 11 staff members of Victoria Manor, a 120-bed facility in North Cape May, have tested positive for COVID-19, the department said.
No deaths had been reported as of Monday night.
Staff and residents who do not have serious symptoms are being monitored and medically isolated, but not hospitalized, the department said. It was unclear whether any of the residents with the virus had been hospitalized.
“The situation is very serious, and we are deeply concerned about residents of our senior care facilities in Cape May County,” Kevin Thomas, county health officer, said in a news release.
“That is why we need everyone to follow the stay-at-home order, social distancing guidance and other measures in recent health orders.”
There has been one death in Cape May County and more than 99 cases.
Camden County reports 8 more deaths, 121 new cases
The Camden County health department Monday reported eight additional deaths and 121 new coronavirus cases — more than 80 of whom are age 60 or under.
The deaths, which increased the county’s total to 18, included those of two Gloucester Township men, one in his 30s and the other in his 50s.
“As some patients now stretch into their second or third week battling this virus, we expect that more cherished lives will be lost,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. “Similarly, we continue to see an increase in new cases as the availability of testing becomes more widespread.”
White House official: Make sacrifices, visit grocery store every two weeks to prevent coronavirus spread
Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the leaders of the White House coronavirus task force, urged Americans to make sacrifices, like visiting the grocery store every two weeks, to prevent the “highly transmissible” coronavirus’ spread, and even touched on her personal sacrifices.
Dr. Birx said that her 10-month-old grandchild recently came down with a 105-degree fever, but she could not go help in person because it would risk spreading a potential illness to White House officials.
She drew on how painful it was, as a doctor, to explain to her daughter how to listen to the baby’s lungs over the phone.
“But you can’t take that kind of risk with the leaders of the country,” Birx said. “I want everyone to take this seriously."
She added: “We have to do everything right now because that will predict where we are three weeks from now.”
Wildwood, North Wildwood close Boardwalk, restrict use of beaches and bike paths; temporarily ban short term, hotel, motel rentals
Wildwood and North Wildwood are joining other Shore towns in closing their Boardwalk and restricting use of their beach, bike paths, and sea wall to discourage the spread of the coronavirus.
The towns declared their beaches closed from April 8 to May 1, with an exception granted for “walking, jogging, biking, fishing, surfing, and metal detecting."
”Sunbathing, sitting in chairs, lying on blankets, organized sports and groups of people on the beach is hereby prohibited while these restrictions are in place," the adjacent Jersey shore towns said in a joint release.
The Wildwood and North Wildwood Boardwalk will also be closed during that period, as will the North Wildwood bike path and seawall, though people are allowed to walk, run, or bike before 8 a.m.
In addition, the two towns have prohibited all short-term and transient rentals, “including all hotels, motels, guesthouses and private residences.”
“For the purpose of this order, a short term rental is defined as any rental of 30 days or less,” the release said.
Exceptions include rentals to employees of any municipal, state, county, or federal agency seeking housing in connection to their official duties, or other employees of essential businesses, and other exceptions listed by New Jersey’s office of Emergency Management.
Afternoon catch-up: New Jersey’s coronavirus infection pace may be slowing, while in Pennsylvania, officials say it’s too early to tell
As the nation braces for what Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams warned would be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives,” the coronavirus death toll in the United States Monday passed 10,000, including 1,003 deaths in New Jersey and 162 in Pennsylvania.
But the newest case projections, Gov. Phil Murphy said, may offer a glimmer of hope for the Garden State.
“The curve is flattening,” Murphy told reporters, noting the pace of new infections is slowing in the state. “But this is no time to spike any footballs or take our foot off the gas.”
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania — which also reported a number of deaths and new cases consistent with recent days — Health Secretary Rachel Levine said it’s “way too early to tell whether we’re seeing a true plateau in the number of new cases.”
In preparation for a coronavirus surge in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf called on the state’s manufacturers to help in making ventilators, while Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and four suburban leaders are asking Wolf to implement a policy which could allow hospitals in Southeastern Pennsylvania to send patients elsewhere if they become too overwhelmed by cases.
Philadelphia’s most vulnerable children suffer fallout from COVID-19 crisis
For children already on the fringes — living with poverty, health problems and special needs — the pandemic has swept them further to the edges. The upheaval has caused safety nets for the city’s most vulnerable children to fray and, in some cases, fall away. And parents are left to straddle those gaps with little money.
While children are less at risk from serious complications from the virus, they are just as able to spread it as anyone else. And they rely on adults whose own health conditions or jobs place them at considerable risk.
And experts worry that those in the city’s poorest neighborhoods are more vulnerable, pointing to the fact that far fewer coronavirus tests are being done in lower-income zip codes, according to city testing data. That means people with the virus are more likely to spread it.
Stocks make historic gains; Dow closes up 1,600 points
Stocks made historic gains on Monday even as Americans hunkered down for what is expected to be the most difficult period of the coronavirus crisis.
The Dow Jones industrial average, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Nasdaq composite all skyrocketed more than 7% Monday even as the number of U.S. coronavirus deaths passed 10,000.
New York City hospitals were stretched to their maximum and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson entered intensive care. Analysts latched onto some positive morsels of good news that may indicate the disease is peaking in the U.S.
After spate of shootings, Trenton implements 8 p.m. curfew
In response to eight people being shot, three fatally, in four incidents Sunday, the city of Trenton on Monday instituted a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. for most city residents.
Restaurants, corner stores, and gas stations also must shut down at 8 p.m., Mayor W. Reed Gusciora said.
“I realize that while the governor’s stay-at-home order and social distancing protocol is being followed by most Trentonians, too many took to the parks and streets without regard to the public’s health and well-being. Moreover, much of the violence can be attributed to unlawful ATV riders, who in at least one incident utilized them in the shootings,” Gusciora said.
Mom’s Organic staffers protest in Philly, joining grocery workers’ call for hazard pay, safety
Workers at Mom’s Organic Market in Center City are calling for greater safety precautions, including limiting the number of customers in the store, as well as hazard pay and two weeks paid time off to immunocompromised workers.
Masked workers delivered a petition signed by nearly 20 employees to their manager Monday, as a line of honking cars circled the store — a protest in the age of social distancing. On the heels of a nationwide day of action focused on Instacart delivery workers, theirs was the first grocery worker protest the region has seen during the pandemic.
As recently as last weekend, customers were still coming in to the Center City store to buy a Clif bar, as if everything was normal — something, workers said, would change if the store limited the number of customers who could come in at a time.
Mobile hospital to handle coronavirus surge ‘on its way’ to Montgomery County
Montgomery County chair Valerie Arkoosh Monday announced 145 new COVID-19 cases since Sunday, bringing the county to a total of 1,134. Five additional residents have died, for a total of 27 deaths in the county.
Arkoosh said officials know of 250 people who were hospitalized with the coronavirus, but that the hospitals in the county still have open beds, including ICU beds.
“We actually feel like we are doing okay right now,” she said, noting that she and others expect the county to hit its peak of cases within the next 10 days. “But this is crunch time.”
The county drive-through testing site will close after Friday, she said, following the same timeline as the site in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the county is in the final stages of arranging a mobile hospital that can handle surge capacity. Arkoosh said she hoped to announce the location Tuesday.
“It’s on its way, and we will be grateful to have it here,” she said.
Over the weekend, Arkoosh said people sent her photographs from grocery stores that were mobbed with people shopping during the designated “senior hours,” prompting her to issue a stern warning.
“If there’s too many people in there, please do not go in,” Arkoosh, who is a physician with a background in public health, said. “If you see that something is crowded, go home and come back later.”
She also cautioned that face coverings, while helpful, are ineffectual unless the wearers take care to disinfect them, wash hands after removing them, and handle them as though they have been exposed.
“These masks offer modest protection. They are not magical,” she said.
Chester County to begin testing essential workers, inmates for coronavirus antibodies
Chester County said Monday it would begin antibody testing for essential workers, saying the county had received 10,000 test kits from a local company. It would be the first county in the commonwealth to do antibody testing.
The first tests will be given to emergency responders, healthcare workers, and long-term care staff in Chester County to determine who has antibodies for the coronavirus. Officials expect a second shipment of 10,000 kits next week, the county commissioners said in a statement.
Antibody tests do not replace tests for people with symptoms who need to find out whether they have the virus.
“Knowledge of who has developed antibodies to the virus can help us tremendously in our strategy to respond to emergencies, treat patients and care for the elderly,” said Jeanne Casner, Chester County Health Department Director.
The tests were purchased by the county from Advaite, a Chester County-based company. It takes 15 minutes to get results after taking the test, the county said.
Kenney, Southeast PA leaders call on Wolf to implement ‘load balancing’
Mayor Jim Kenney and the leaders of Philadelphia’s four suburban counties are calling on Gov. Tom Wolf to implement a “patient and ventilator load balancing” policy that could allow Southeastern Pennsylvania hospitals to send some patients elsewhere in the commonwealth if they become overwhelmed by coronavirus cases.
Kenney and the chairpersons of the Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware county commissioners asked Wolf to adopt a load balancing policy similar to ones in New York and Michigan in a letter obtained by The Inquirer.
“To be best prepared for the projected surge in patients, the citizens and healthcare institutions of this Commonwealth require a system which will equalize patient loads between individual facilities (according to respective capacities), smooth the variability in patient loads at a facility over time (i.e., surge mitigation), and ensure no facility is unable to treat patients due to a shortage of necessary supplies, specifically ventilators,” the letter said.
Philadelphia and its suburbs have so far been the part of Pennsylvania hit hardest by the coronavirus, and caseloads here are expected to continue to grow rapidly in the coming weeks as the virus spreads from its epicenter in New York City and North Jersey.
“ICU bed needs are likely to exceed availability by approximately 11% from April 10-20, possibly exceeding availability by 2 to 1 in the worst case scenario,” the letter said. “These estimates are probably underestimated when accounting for patients coming into the region, in particular into Philadelphia, Berks and Lehigh, from the over-burdened New York and New Jersey hospital systems in order to access care.”
'Emergency remote learning’: How schools are adjusting during the coronavirus shutdown
Since Pennsylvania closed schools March 13 — and New Jersey followed days later — educators, students and families have been learning on the fly as schools across the nation have scrambled to shift instruction from classrooms to homes.
The pivot has presented the challenge of rapidly moving lessons online, training staffs, supplying computers to students, and also raised questions: How do you track attendance? What lessons do you prioritize? And how much work is too much, for children being supervised by older siblings or by parents juggling jobs — or dealing with job losses?
"We’re trying to conduct school as we know it, but we’re attempting to do it in an environment that’s unknown. We don’t know how life is unfolding day-by-day in the households within our community,” said Maureen Reusche, superintendent of the Haverford Township School District.
“I wouldn’t call this online learning. I would call this emergency remote learning,” said Jim Scanlon, superintendent of the West Chester Area School District.
Murphy: New Jersey’s coronavirus ‘curve is flattening’
As New Jersey deaths from the coronavirus topped 1,000 Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled a host of data projecting the potential scale of the Garden State’s pandemic, and noted the pace of new infections is slowing in the state.
“The curve is flattening,” Murphy said. “But this is no time to spike any footballs or take our foot off the gas.”
Murphy noted the daily growth rate of new cases in New Jersey has dropped from 24% in late-March to 12% Monday. He also showed models which project New Jersey could see anywhere between 86,000 to 509,000 positive coronavirus cases once the pandemic is over, and suggested the peak of the crisis could be anywhere between April 19 and May 11.
The governor also projected somewhere between 9,000 to 36,000 people could ultimately be hospitalized because of the virus. Hospitals should face their toughest challenge between April 10 to April 28.
In preparation for this upcoming surge, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted 26,000 beds for less sick patients will become available soon as the state prepares for the peak of coronavirus cases.
Officials will make these beds available by adding four temporary field hospitals throughout the state, reopening hospitals and empty long term care facilities, and getting space in hotel rooms and formerly shuttered hospital wings.
Murphy also said President Donald Trump has agreed to send beds to New Jersey from the USNS Comfort, which is stationed in New York. Murphy did not say how many of these beds would arrive. In recent days, there are reports that the 1,000 bed floating hospital has gone relatively unused.
Murphy has also signed an executive order allowing retired public sector workers like police officers, nurses and state employees to return to service and help do things like staff overburdened unemployment offices, along with helping law enforcement and health facilities across the state. Another 3,663 people have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Monday, bringing the statewide total to 41,090. Another 86 people have died, bringing the statewide toll to 1,003.
Officials noted the racial breakdown of New Jersey’s positive coronavirus cases is 36% White, 12% Black, 2% Asian and 45% still undetermined.
Atlantic, Cape May Counties announce availability of sites for limited coronavirus testing
Atlantic and Cape May counties have announced the availability of sites for limited testing for COVID-19, at least for certain symptomatic people. In Atlantic County, the site will be located in the parking lot of the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing and will provide testing by appointment only for county residents who are symptomatic for COVID-19 and who have a doctor’s prescription, officials said.
In Cape May County officials said a drive-thru testing site has been set up for county residents by appointment only, once a week.
The site is not being publicly disclosed “to protect the confidentiality and safety of our residents,” the county said. It will be provided only to individuals approved for testing.
“At this time, testing will only be for CompleteCare patients, as well as Cape May County residents, who are sick with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath and that meet a certain criteria,” the county said. “Symptomatic first responders who are residents of the county will also be given priority testing.”
Atlantic County said it had obtained 600 test kits and would begin testing symptomatic healthcare workers and first responders April 9 by appointment through the Office of Emergency Preparedness. Public testing for symptomatic county residents with a doctor’s script will begin next week.
“We recognize that there are many people who would like to be tested to help allay their fears and concerns, but unfortunately we only have so many test kits available and the state has restricted testing to symptomatic residents only,” stated Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson.
Pa. officials call on manufacturers for help making ventilators
As Pennsylvania officials begin to see signs that social distancing may be working, they stressed Monday that these efforts must continue in the coming weeks, including during Passover and Easter.
“If you’d usually have your extended family over for a Seder, please don’t,” said Health Secretary Rachel Levine. “Maybe do it virtually.”
The reiterated warnings came on a day the state recorded 12 coronavirus-related deaths and 1,470 new cases, a number that is consistent with recent daily increases and could indicate a flattening curve.
Gov. Tom Wolf, however, cautioned against reading too much into the numbers at this point.
“It’s way too early to tell whether we’re seeing a true plateau in the number of new cases,” said Levine, noting state health officials need to assess at least seven days’ worth of data to identify possible trends.
To prepare for a surge and the possible need for additional ventilators, Wolf called on Pennsylvania’s manufacturers and distributors to report their supply chain capabilities through a state portal.
He doesn’t expect all manufacturers to be able to make ventilators, he said, but many can make parts of the machines, including plastic tubing.
As of Monday, Pennsylvania reported at least 12,980 coronavirus cases in all but two counties, and 162 deaths. Nearly 71,000 people have tested negative. Of the confirmed positive cases, only about 20% were age 65 or older, yet that age group made up most of the hospitalizations and most of the deaths from the virus.
During the coronavirus crisis, these banks are offering Pennsylvanians a break on mortgage, auto loans, and more
Need a break on your mortgage or auto loan?
Five banks are offering relief to consumers affected by the coronavirus crisis under a new initiative by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.
PNC, Citizens Bank, Dollar Bank, First Commonwealth Bank, and OceanFirst Bank are participating in the program, which gives consumers grace periods on loans, fees, and foreclosures, among other relief.
Wisconsin pushes back presidential primary due to pandemic
Wisconsin has moved back its primary from Tuesday to June 9 amid concerns in-person voting wouldn’t be safe for residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
“As municipalities are consolidating polling locations, and absent legislative or court action, I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement after issuing an executive order on Monday suspending all in-person voting for Tuesday’s primary and moved the date back to June.
Update, 6:20 p.m.: Wisconsin’s presidential primary election will proceed Tuesday under an order from the state Supreme Court that came just hours after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers tried to postpone voting as part of a last-ditch effort amid growing fears over the coronavirus.
Philly carjackers wore medical masks during robbery, police say
The carjackers wore medical masks.
That detail from a police report Monday could serve as telling indication as any of just where we are in Philadelphia’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The only-in-the-time-of-coronavirus carjacking took place in Olney late Sunday when the two medically masked bandits approached a man driving a gray Honda Pilot on the 200 block of Clarkson Avenue, police said. During the robbery, one of the assailants struck the driver once in the head with the gun, but he was not badly injured, police said.
Both of the suspected carjackers – who police believe were in their late teens or early 20′s – wore dark clothing and brandished handguns. And they both donned protective medical masks and gloves, as recommended this weekend by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to prevent the spread of the virus and protect from getting it.
In their guidelines, the CDC recommended wearing cloth face coverings in any public settings where social distancing measures could prove difficult, like shopping or pharmacy visits.
The CDC stressed that people wear homemade cloth masks, instead of N95 or surgical masks, like the carjackers wore, that doctors and frontline workers desperately need.
No arrests have been made, police said. Police are asking anyone with information contact Northwest Detectives at 215-686-3353.
The masked men are considered to be armed and dangerous.
Citizens Bank Park coronavirus testing site to close
The drive-through coronavirus testing site at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia will close on Friday, city officials said Monday. The site at the Phillies stadium was opened with assistance from the federal government, but the feds are pulling out of the arrangement after this week, city Public Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.
“It’s one of many federally supported sites around the country that are shutting down,” Farley said.
The city considered keeping the site open with its own resources, but decided instead to redirect staff and supplies to other sites. Farley said that the site accounted for 10% or less of tests performed in the city.
“It appears that the demand at that site is going down over time,” Farley said.
In anticipation of a surge in coronavirus patients, Salem Medical Center is retrofitting its hospital facility to add 58 beds for infected patients by mid-April, the hospital network announced Monday.
“We understood the gravity of the situation,” the medical center’s CEO, Tammy Torres, said. “The timing of this work is critical, as southern New Jersey is expected to see a spike in demand for hospital beds over the next 15 days. This additional capacity will provide extra beds, supplies and staff to Salem County residents and to the southern region."
Gov. Phil Murphy has shared projections that New Jersey could run out of intensive care beds by April 11, and reach maximum capacity for the state’s entire hospital system by May 8.
The state is one of the most impacted by the nationwide pandemic, with over 37,500 individuals testing positive and 917 having died. The Garden State is second only to New York in impact.
Former Hahnemann owner’s home defaced for third time amid coronavirus crisis
A vandal painted the phrase “blood on yr hands” on the Rittenhouse Square home of Joel Freedman, the owner of the former Hahnemann University Hospital, in what is at least the third incidence of the house being defaced amid the coronavirus crisis.
Prior to the most recent graffiti, phrases including “Joel Kills” and “Free Hahnemann” were painted on the building, which was also egged at some point last week.
Freedman has been the target of criticism since the city ended negotiations with him over the use of the former hospital on North Broad Street. While Hahnemann has been shuttered since September, the city expressed interest in potentially leasing the property to use as quarantine space as cases of COVID-19 increase.
Mayor Jim Kenney accused Freedman of “trying to make a buck” off the coronavirus pandemic by asking the city to pay nearly $1 million a month to rent the space. Freedman’s team has defended the offer, saying it was below market rate.
The Arden and People’s Light theater companies have canceled the rest of their seasons in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to Arden patrons dated Monday, Amy L. Murphy and Terrence J. Nolen, co-founders of the 33-year-old theater in Old City, wrote that “these are clearly unprecedented times and, right now, we need to take a pause.”
Arden productions of A Streetcar Named Desire, No Child... and Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat will be rescheduled for the 2020-21 season, they said, “with the goal to produce Once on This Island sometime in the future.”
People’s Light in Malvern, where Shakespeare in Love already closed early, is losing more than half of its 45th anniversary season. Canceled productions include Hold These Truths, Bayard Rustin: Inside Ashland, Mary Jane, and Songs for Nobodies.
SummerBLAST, the theater’s summer education program, is also canceled. The Walnut Street Theater, meanwhile, has canceled The Best Man, Popcorn Falls, and Junie B. Jones, and notes on its website that it has temporarily suspended ticket sales for The Bodyguard, The Musical, which had been scheduled to run from May 12-July 12
Two-thirds of Philadelphians following social distancing rules ‘very closely,’ according to survey
More than two-thirds of Philadelphians say they are taking social distancing guidelines seriously, according to a city survey.
Sixty-eight percent of residents said they are taking social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic “very closely,” and another 25% percent said they are “somewhat” following the guidelines, which include only leaving the home for life-sustaining activities like buying food or seeking medical care.
City Public Health Commissioner Tom Farley said he would give Philadelphians a grade of B+ for their social distancing practices to date. “We’re doing pretty well, but we could do better,” he said.
Farley on Monday reported 539 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the city, for a total of 3,738 confirmed so far. Two more Philadelphians have died of the disease, Farley said, bringing total coronavirus fatalities in the city to 45. Eighteen of those who have died were nursing home residents.
One in six Pennsylvania workers has filed for unemployment since the coronavirus shutdowns started
Nearly 284,000 Pennsylvanians filed initial unemployment claims last week, bringing the state’s total to nearly 1.1 million through three weeks, or 16.3% of the state’s workforce, according to preliminary statistics posted by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
The three-week tally, totaled through Saturday April 4, represents an unprecedented slowdown in the state’s economy since workers began filing jobless claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week’s number, though huge by pre-coronavirus standards when about 15,000 workers a week might file claims, represents a 30% decline from the previous week’s record of 406,000.
But it’s too early to say that the early rush of Pennsylvanians to file jobless claims may be subsiding. Pennsylvania on Monday said that 65,560 new claims were filed on Sunday, the first day of the week for unemployment statisticians, bringing total unemployment claims to 1,134,053.
Philadelphia Police lieutenant dies from coronavirus
A Philadelphia Police lieutenant has died from the coronavirus, the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said Monday, the city’s first active duty officer to die as a result of the pandemic.
Lt. James Walker, 59, was pronounced dead Sunday at Abington Hospital, the coroner’s office said. A three-decade veteran of the department, Walker had been assigned to the traffic division.
Another devastating blow to the Police Department and Walker family with the tragic loss of Lieutenant James Walker from the Traffic District to an illness. Please keep the family in prayer and our agency during these difficult times! @PhillyPolicepic.twitter.com/Il94vEPFif
Tributes to Walker began pouring in on social media late Sunday night, with friends describing his death as heartbreaking and surreal. Inspector Verdell Johnson wrote on Twitter Monday that Walker’s death was “another devastating blow to the Police Department.”
California sends 500 ventilators to help New York, other states
California is sending 500 ventilators to the national stockpile to help combat supply shortages in states hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, including New York and New Jersey, the state announced Monday morning.
“We still have a long road ahead of us in the Golden State — and we’re aggressively preparing for a surge — but we can’t turn our back on Americans whose lives depend on having a ventilator now,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
Pennsylvania needs at least 1,400 more ventilators. The state procured 400, which are on their way, and requested 1,000 from the Strategic National Stockpile but has not been told when or if it will get them. New Jersey has 2,500; it has received a few hundred from the federal government but is waiting for more.
Flyers donate $250,000 to help Philabundance feed people during coronavirus pandemic
Flyers Charities is donating $250,000 to fight hunger across the Delaware Valley, Philabundance announced Monday
The donation will allow Philabundance, one of the area’s largest hunger relief organizations, to feed 160,000 people struggling with food needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the 76ers and the Sixers Youth Foundation contributed $250,000 to Philabundance.
With the Flyers’ gift, the sports teams of the Wells Fargo Center have donated $500,000 to help provide food to 320,000 people in the region.
Mouths and noses have gotten the most attention as potential entry points for coronavirus, but germs can just as easily enter your body through your eyes — and wearing contacts requires touching your eyes at least twice a day to insert and remove them.
“It’s pretty logical that if people can decrease their amount of contact lens use or stop contact use — that’s what we’re recommending,” said Christopher J. Rapuano, chief of cornea service at Wills Eye Hospital. Consider sticking with glasses for now if you typically opt for contacts out of convenience or appearance, but can see just as well with glasses.
One added bonus for glasses, especially if you have one of the popular oversized styles: they can act somewhat as a shield, blocking things from getting in your eyes.
British Open canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
The British Open, the oldest golf tournament in the world and one of four major golf tournaments, announced on Monday its 2020 event will be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 149th Open, which had been scheduled to begin on July 12, will now be played at the Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Kent, England, beginning on July 11, 2021. It’s the first time the British Open has been canceled since World War II.
“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible,” Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said in a statement.
The British Open is the first of golf’s four major tournaments to be canceled. The Masters, the PGA Championship, and the U.S. Open have all been postponed and pushed back to later dates.
Delaware governor expecting hundreds more coronavirus cases in coming weeks
The number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Delaware has passed 100, nearly doubling since Thursday, as Gov. John Carney expects a surge in new cases over the next few weeks.
During a press briefing on Monday, Carney said current modeling shows Delaware could pass 3,000 or more coronavirus cases within the next week or two. That in turn would pressure local hospitals, where over 101 Delawareans are currently receiving care.
As of Sunday afternoon, Delaware had 673 positive COVID-19 cases, and 14 deaths.
Carney also said residents of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey continue to travel to Delaware for non-essential activities, despite travel restrictions that bar out-of-state residents unless they work for an essential business, are caring for a family member, or have health-care reasons.
“We’ve had to set up roadblocks on our borders to question those folks coming from outer states as to the business they’re about here in our state,” Carney said.
Philly volunteers take part in coronavirus vaccine test
A select group of healthy Philadelphia-area volunteers will receive an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus, with the first dose scheduled to be administered Monday, Inovio Pharmaceuticals of Plymouth Meeting said.
Inovio, which began work on its vaccine in January soon after Chinese authorities published the microbe’s genetic code, said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had given the go-ahead to test it in humans.
The study will enroll up to 40 volunteers, split between two sites: the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and the Center for Pharmaceutical Research in Kansas City, Mo.
Human tests have begun on at least one other vaccine candidate, made by Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna Inc., but most of the several dozen vaccines in development have not reached that stage.
The first dose of the Inovio vaccine is being given to a participant at Penn on Monday, company officials said. Screening of potential participants at the Kansas City site is underway. Each volunteer will receive two doses of the vaccine, spaced four weeks apart.
A primary goal is to make sure the vaccine, for now called INO-4800, does not cause any adverse effects. Researchers also will analyze blood samples from participants to make sure their immune systems are generating an appropriate response.
The vaccine volunteers are not being exposed to the virus, at least not on purpose. But separately, scientists are doing that in animal studies. Several dozen labs and companies are at work on vaccines worldwide; none is expected to be ready before next year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened up about 800 points, about 3.7%, despite warnings the United States might have its toughest week yet in coronavirus hot spots like New York and New Jersey. Investors are also likely pleased with the news that Russia and Saudi Arabia are close to a deal on oil cuts.
The Nasdaq opened up about 270 points (about 3.6%), while the S&P 500 opened up about 95 points (about 3.8%).
Monday morning’s surge is welcome news, as the Dow slid 2.7% last week, while the S&P 500 lost 2.1%.
Beginning today, recycling collection in Philadelphia will take place every other week, as the city grapples with the continued spread of COVID-19.
There will be no recycling pick-up this week, according to the city’s Streets Department. Recycling collection will resume on Monday, April 13 with every other week collections through at least May 15.
Regular trash collection will continue on its normal schedule, but the department warns there could be some delays as the coronavirus pandemic continues to have an impact on employee attendance. There will be no trash pick-up on Friday due to the Good Friday day off.
The schedule below reflects the new changes in recycling operations:
Week of April 6-11: Trash collection only.
Week of April 13-17: Trash and recycling collection.
Week of April 20-24: Trash collection only.
Week of April 27 - May 1: Trash and recycling collection.
Coronavirus-related applications pouring into U.S. trademark office
The coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than one million people around the globe hasn’t put a damper on America’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Quite the contrary.
With cases of COVID-19 soaring across the country, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has seen a flood of applications — dozens from the tri-state area alone — for trademarks associated with the pandemic.
Coronababy. Covid Kid. Shelter in Paradise. Be Covidgilant. Quarantini. Corona-Geddon. Social Distance Fitness. Covid Pro Quo. Quarantine Madness. The Corona You Want. Heineken Virus.
Social Distancing crop tops. Social Distancing beer. Social Distancing CBD oil.
NBCUniversal has filed one for Together Starts Here, a variation on its Comedy Starts Here slogan. Bank of America wants It’s Great to Be Home. Vice Media wants Shelter in Place. Miley Cyrus has filed one for Bright Minded, her Instagram TV show created in response to the pandemic.
And, in the off chance you want to commemorate this nightmare with a lousy T-shirt, no fewer than five people have sought the trademark for “I Survived the Coronavirus.”
The store at 2121 Market St. will close Monday and reopen Tuesday, while the store at 1324 Arch St. will close Tuesday and reopen Wednesday.
The two stores are among six nationwide the company said would be closed for cleaning.
“We have made sure all crew members at the respective locations have been informed and understand the steps to take to best safeguard the health of their communities,” company said in a statement. “While a store is closed, Trader Joe’s pays all crew members for their scheduled shifts.”
As courts close for the coronavirus, officials and advocates adjust to protect domestic violence victims
State and federal leaders have not minced words during the coronavirus pandemic: The best, and safest, place to be is home. Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday extended his stay-at-home order statewide.
But domestic-violence advocates across the Philadelphia region say that homes aren’t safe for hundreds of families. Court officials have seen applications for protection-from-abuse orders either stay consistent or drop slightly. They quietly fear that people in dangerous situations aren’t aware that otherwise shuttered county courthouses remain open for these emergency functions, and are actively working to remind people that there is always a place to turn to, even during a pandemic.
Laurel House, a domestic-abuse nonprofit serving Montgomery County, has tailored its services during the shutdown to keep petitioners seeking the protection orders safe. One of the largest adjustments, made in concert with the county solicitor, has been to provide hotel rooms for applicants whose orders prevent them from living with an abuser, according to Tara Willis, the nonprofit’s domestic abuse response team manager.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the state procured an additional 500 ventilators from the national emergency stockpile, but still needed at least 1,350 more.
“We’re going to have not just a tough week ahead but a tough several weeks ahead,” Murphy told CNN on Sunday night. "Whether it’s ventilators, personal protective equipment, beds, health-care workers, those will all be constraints. We’re going to do everything we can to stay out ahead of this.”
Pennsylvania officials say the existing supply of about 4,000 ventilators is enough to handle the current load of COVID-19 cases, Spotlight PA reported last week, although Gov. Tom Wolf said the state is trying to acquire about 1,000 to 1,400 more.