8:30 AM - April 8, 2020
8:30 AM - April 8, 2020

Read the latest Philadelphia-area coronavirus coverage here

Philadelphia is among the coronavirus hot spots that the White House is currently watching, according to Deborah Birx, the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response director. During an appearance on Good Morning America on Wednesday, Birx said the White House Coronavirus Task Force has been looking for trends in daily case reporting and COVID-19 testing, and that Philadelphia is among the cities they are keeping an eye on. Birx didn’t offer any specifics about Philadelphia or the region. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also Philly will light up blue every Tuesday to honor healthcare workers, and the Easter Bunny has been deemed an essential worker in one Philly suburb.

2:16 AM - April 8, 2020
2:16 AM - April 8, 2020

Can you go into your backyard during the coronavirus pandemic? Yes. (Just do it safely.)

File photo.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
File photo.

Just because we’re being asked to stay at home doesn’t mean you can never go outside. Essential trips such as to the grocery store or pharmacy are still allowed, as is non-group exercise such as walking, running, and biking.

But what, some people have asked us, about places that are outdoors but at home: Can I hang out in the backyard? Can I tend to my garden? What about doing some exercise in the front yard?

Yes, experts said, it’s perfectly acceptable to go into your backyard or similar outdoor area. Just make sure you follow some basic precautions.

— Jonathan Lai

12:52 AM - April 8, 2020
12:52 AM - April 8, 2020

How to clean your face mask to help prevent getting and spreading the coronavirus

ChaCha N. Hudson, CEO of the SEWcial Café, makes fabric face masks at her fashion coworking space in Philadelphia's Harrowgate section on Friday, April 3, 2020. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Hudson began sewing cloth masks starting the last week of March and estimates she has made about 400 so far.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
ChaCha N. Hudson, CEO of the SEWcial Café, makes fabric face masks at her fashion coworking space in Philadelphia's Harrowgate section on Friday, April 3, 2020. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Hudson began sewing cloth masks starting the last week of March and estimates she has made about 400 so far.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health now recommend we all wear face masks when going about essential tasks in public, as part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Those types of masks have become a hot topic online during the pandemic, and are often constructed simply of cotton fabric, elastic, and some thread. According to the CDC, cloth masks can help prevent people who have the virus but may not be showing any symptoms from spreading it by containing the respiratory droplets that we all expel when we talk, cough, or sneeze.

Or, as the Pa. Health Department puts it, “my mask protects you, your mask protects me.”

But a lot of people still have questions. Chief among them: How do you take care of your new covering? How many do you need? How do you properly take it off and put it on? Here is what you need to know:

The Pa. Health Department recommends that you wash or discard a mask after every use. With that in mind, having more than one mask available per person would be ideal.

— Nick Vadala

10:05 PM - April 7, 2020
10:05 PM - April 7, 2020

Celebrated songwriter John Prine dies from coronavirus complications

File photo of singer-songwriter John Prine.
TNS
File photo of singer-songwriter John Prine.

John Prine, the ingenious singer-songwriter who explored the heartbreaks, indignities and absurdities of everyday life in “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Hello in There” and scores of other indelible tunes, died Tuesday at the age of 73.

His family announced his death from complications from the coronavirus.

Winner of a lifetime achievement Grammy earlier this year, Prine was a virtuoso of the soul, if not the body. He sang his conversational lyrics in a voice roughened by a hard-luck life, particularly after throat cancer left him with a disfigured jaw.

He joked that he fumbled so often on the guitar, taught to him as a teenager by his older brother, that people thought he was inventing a new style. But his open-heartedness, eye for detail and sharp and surreal humor brought him the highest admiration from critics, from such peers as Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, and from such younger stars as Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves, who even named a song after him.

In 2017, Rolling Stone proclaimed him “The Mark Twain of American songwriting.”

— Associated Press

9:54 PM - April 7, 2020
9:54 PM - April 7, 2020

Philly region coronavirus death toll reaches 200

The Philadelphia region surpassed 10,000 coronavirus cases Tuesday and the region’s death toll reached 200, two significant milestones that demonstrate the extent at which the coronavirus has impacted the area.

Forty-seven people died from the virus Tuesday across the region, which more than doubled Monday’s death toll of 20.

The region includes Philadelphia and its suburbs — Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties — as well as Burlington, Gloucester, and Camden Counties in South Jersey, and New Castle County, Del.

— Ellie Rushing

9:02 PM - April 7, 2020
9:02 PM - April 7, 2020

All Cape May County hotels and motels to close due to COVID-19

The Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders voted on Tuesday to prohibit all of the county’s hotels, motels, and seasonal or short-term rental spaces from lodging new guests until further notice to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We don’t need visitors at this time. We must do everything we can to flatten the curve,” Freeholder Director Gerald M. Thornton said in a news release. “The more we discourage people from traveling at this time it will help eliminate the spread of COVID-19.”

The resolution exempts people in shelters and emergency housing, as well as health-care workers taking temporary residence.

It also does not permit the eviction of any transient guests presently residing at spaces within the county.

Businesses are allowed to take reservations for the future, but the county cautioned the fluidity of the situation and said that there is no known end date for the virus or the resolution.

— Ellie Rushing

8:44 PM - April 7, 2020
8:44 PM - April 7, 2020
Tonight, buildings around the city light up blue to honor health-care workers.
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Tonight, buildings around the city light up blue to honor health-care workers.
7:32 PM - April 7, 2020
7:32 PM - April 7, 2020

Should I shave my beard to keep from getting the coronavirus?

As stay-at-home orders have popped up across the country during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a hairy new trend has emerged: the quarantine beard.

Many facial hair-endowed folks are socially distancing from their razors, allowing their beards to grow, and tracking their progress under Twitter hashtags like #coronabeard and #letsgrowtogether. Even some celebrities are getting involved, including funnyman Jim Carrey, who has vowed to grow his whiskers “until we all go back to work.”

But as COVID-19 infections continue to spread, some have wondered: Should we be shaving instead? Here is what you need to know.

— Nick Vadala

7:17 PM - April 7, 2020
7:17 PM - April 7, 2020

Wolf orders Pennsylvania flags to half-staff for coronavirus victims

Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday that he had ordered all commonwealth flags to fly at half-staff to honor the victims of the coronavirus pandemic — 240 as of Tuesday. The move, he said, would serve as a public tribute for the dead as friends and families of victims have been prohibited from gathering to hold funerals or wakes.

“This virus prevents us from honoring the dead at traditional gatherings," Wolf said in a statement. "We cannot have funerals, wakes, or sit shiva. I hope this flag lowering provides some solace to the grieving families and friends. And, I hope it serves as a reminder of the reason for the sacrifices Pennsylvanians are making to help their community survive this crisis.”

Gov. Phil Murphy ordered New Jersey’s flags to half-mast last week to honor victims of the pandemic.

— Katie Park

6:37 PM - April 7, 2020
6:37 PM - April 7, 2020

Evening catch-up: N.J. to get 100 ventilators tonight as death toll climbs, Pa. cases grow in nursing homes

A person rides their bike by the Tropicana Atlantic City Hotel has road blocks reading “Closed” to prevent drivers and people from entering.
TYGER WILLIAMS / Staff Photographer
A person rides their bike by the Tropicana Atlantic City Hotel has road blocks reading “Closed” to prevent drivers and people from entering.

As April ushers in warm spring days and Easter, Passover, and Ramadan celebrations, officials continue to urge the public to practice social distancing to mitigate the scourge of the deadly coronavirus.

On Tuesday, when New Jersey recorded its highest daily death toll yet during the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order closing all state and county parks — due to the crowds gathering despite directives to stay home and isolate from others.

“There’s going to be plenty of summer and sunshine to come,” Murphy said, “and the sooner we can flatten that curve and come down the other side of that curve, the faster we can all enjoy it.”

The Garden State will also get 100 more life-saving ventilators Tuesday night, flown in by the Department of Defense, officials said.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvanians are “getting the message” when it comes to social distancing, state police said. However, officials cautioned the public not to become complacent as warmer weather and an early trout season arrive. The state has seen “significant increases” in the number of Pennsylvania nursing homes and long-term care facilities cases of the virus, health officials said.

In Philadelphia, officials encouraged local faith leaders and religious followers to avoid gatherings, and hold their services virtually. Mayor Jim Kenney also warned that the virus is expected to contribute to “painful” cuts to Philadelphia’s budget and city service, while SEPTA is dramatically slashing its schedule after three workers died of the coronavirus.

— Oona Goodin-Smith, Erin McCarthy, Justine McDaniel

6:26 PM - April 7, 2020
6:26 PM - April 7, 2020

Pennsylvania plans to release racial data on coronavirus cases, but faces collection challenges

Medical staff at the coronavirus testing site at Doylestown hospital, in Doylestown, PA, March 30, 2020. Some testing sites are now open in Pennsylvania to diagnose the coronavirus.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Medical staff at the coronavirus testing site at Doylestown hospital, in Doylestown, PA, March 30, 2020. Some testing sites are now open in Pennsylvania to diagnose the coronavirus.

As cities begin to report alarming racial disparities in coronavirus cases, Pennsylvania’s top health official said the state is facing challenges collecting that information, but will release it at some point.

Health Secretary Rachel Levine said Tuesday “health care systems don’t tend to put in racial data” about COVID-19 cases, a “limitation” that has hampered collection efforts.

“But we are looking at different ways that we might get that information, and when we have that information we will release it,” she said at a news briefing.

Nate Wardle, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health, said the labs responsible for reporting cases receive limited information from physicians, which often might not include race or ethnicity.

Last week, health officials in Philadelphia released racial data for less than a third of the city’s cases. While most early cases were among white patients, new cases overwhelmingly affected black residents, raising fears the virus will compound existing inequities in employment, housing, and health.

While state officials have not released municipality-level data, Philadelphia health officials broke down cases by zip code. Nearly every zip code where at least 30% of patient tests were positive are majority-minority communities, the data showed.

— Anna Orso, Cynthia Fernandez

6:04 PM - April 7, 2020
6:04 PM - April 7, 2020

Camden, Burlington Counties see more deaths, cases as coronavirus spreads

WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER is the message in the windows of Cooper University Hospital in Camden.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER is the message in the windows of Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

Five more Camden County residents have died from the coronavirus, the county said Tuesday, bringing the county’s death toll to 23.

The individuals were four males and one female between the ages of 50 and 90. Camden County also announced 97 additional cases, bringing the case total to 780.

“Again, we are seeing another rise in cases today that I believe is directly related to the expansion of testing sites,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr.

Burlington County reported three additional coronavirus-related deaths Tuesday.

— Ellie Rushing

5:53 PM - April 7, 2020
5:53 PM - April 7, 2020

SEPTA is beginning a ‘lifeline’ schedule, closing stations and limiting service Thursday

SEPTA Police Lt. William Saunders examines an El train at the Frankford Transportation Center on Sunday.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
SEPTA Police Lt. William Saunders examines an El train at the Frankford Transportation Center on Sunday.

SEPTA is dramatically slashing service and urging an end to nonessential rides as it faces its third employee death from the coronavirus.

The “lifeline service schedule” goes into effect Thursday, closing subway stations, limiting bus and trolley service, and suspending some Regional Rail lines.

“If you don’t need to be out on the system, I’m begging you, please stay off the system,” said Fran Kelly, SEPTA assistant general manager for public and government affairs.

Ten stations on the Market Frankford Line — Church, Tioga, Somerset, York-Dauphin, 2nd Street, 5th Street, 13th Street, 56th Street, 63rd Street and Millbourne Stations — will close. On the The Broad Street Line and Broad-Ridge Spur, eight will temporarily shutter: Tasker-Morris, Lombard-South, Spring Garden, Fairmount, Susquehanna-Dauphin, Wyoming, Logan, and Chinatown stations.

The 13th Street, 19th Street, 33rd Street, and 36th Street trolley stations, too, will close.

“This is not optional,” Richards said in a statement. “The SEPTA Transit Police will be in stations and on vehicles ensuring that those who are traveling have good reason to be on the system."

— Patricia Madej

5:46 PM - April 7, 2020
5:46 PM - April 7, 2020

Coronavirus test site opening Wednesday at Rowan College of South Jersey

A medical worker at a drive-through corona testing site located at 10th and Sansom Streets, in Philadelphia, March 17, 2020.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
A medical worker at a drive-through corona testing site located at 10th and Sansom Streets, in Philadelphia, March 17, 2020.

In Gloucester County, a new coronavirus testing site will open Wednesday at Rowan College of South Jersey, at 1400 Tanyard Road in Sewell, for symptomatic county residents who make an appointment in advance by calling 856-218-4142.

— Erin McCarthy

5:40 PM - April 7, 2020
5:40 PM - April 7, 2020

N.J. lifts graduation testing requirements as students remain home indefinitely

New Jersey has lifted its graduation testing requirements for seniors as students remain home from school indefinitely during the coronavirus outbreak.

The waiver affects 13,000 seniors who have not yet satisfied the state requirement, and would have had to submit portfolio appeals in order to graduate, according to Gov. Phil Murphy. The governor signed an order Tuesday waiving the graduation requirements along with statewide assessments of eighth graders.

Murphy said he doesn’t believe schools will be able to hold graduation ceremonies this year, telling families he hopes he is wrong, but “I wouldn’t put any nonrefundable checks down on your celebrations right now."

”In my shoes, you wouldn’t be dealing with the facts if I were to say publicly right now you should feel okay about a late May, early June graduation celebration," Murphy said during a news conference. “Whether or not we can come back and figure out something creative, I hope we can."

— Maddie Hanna

5:35 PM - April 7, 2020
5:35 PM - April 7, 2020

Hal Willner, Philadelphia native and SNL music producer, dies of coronavirus

Hal Willner, the Philadelphia-born record producer known for putting together high concert all-star tribute albums who was also a long time music producer at Saturday Night Live, died Tuesday. He was 64.

The cause of Willner’s death was complications due to the coronavirus, Variety reported. On March 28, Willner had posted on Twitter a map of the United States that showed the concentration of COVID-19 in New York, where he lived, commenting: “I always wanted to have a number one — but not this,” and that he was “in bed on Upper West Side.”

Willner grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd, near where his father, a Holocaust survivor born in Poland, owned Hymie’s Deli in Merion.

“I was a music fan from the day I was born,” he told the Inquirer in 2006. He grew up listening to deejays like Hy-Lit and Gene Shay on WDAS-FM as a teenager and got his start in the music business in New York as an assistant to legendary jazz producer Joel Dorn, a Philadelphia and former DAS deejay.

Besides his job at SNL, where he was in charge of music cues and comedy sketches, Willner produced a long line of eclectic, left-of-center multi-artist projects, usually marked by combinations of artists that only he could have brought together.

— Dan DeLuca

5:07 PM - April 7, 2020
5:07 PM - April 7, 2020

Delaware County to begin antibody testing

Delaware County will begin administering antibody tests to first responders, healthcare workers, staff at long-term care facilities, and inmates at the county prison, officials said Tuesday.

The county has received a shipment of 10,000 tests and expects 10,000 more, said Jeanne Casner, director of Chester County’s health department. The announcement comes a day after Chester County announced it would also begin performing antibody tests.

“Having this information is critical in helping Delaware County address workforce prioritization, patient care, staff shortages, and preparing for crisis care management,” said Casner.

She said the tests will be administered to staff and inmates at George W. Hill Correctional Facility to help the 1,883-inmate prison identify additional strategies for grouping inmates and slow the spread within the facility.

Hospitals, first responder agencies, and long-term care facilities will be able to administer the tests, which operates as a finger prick and can detect the presence of coronavirus antibodies within 15 minutes, she said. Casner did not say when the tests will be administered.

“We look at this antibody test as another tool and strategy to help fight this virus,” she said. “It is not a replacement for confirming cases.”

Delaware County reported five new deaths due to the coronavirus Tuesday, bringing the county’s death toll to 20. The county also has 76 additional cases, bringing its total up to 898.

— Ellie Rushing

4:57 PM - April 7, 2020
4:57 PM - April 7, 2020

Philly ordered a half-million masks to protect first-responders from coronavirus. They never arrived.

A surgical N95 respirator is pictured in Philadelphia on Friday, April 3, 2020. The respirators are in short supply due to the coronavirus pandemic.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
A surgical N95 respirator is pictured in Philadelphia on Friday, April 3, 2020. The respirators are in short supply due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 25, Philadelphia closed a deal on an order of 500,000 highly coveted N95 masks to protect police, firefighters, and other first responders from the coronavirus. At $2.8-million, or $5.60 per mask, the price was inflated by about five times normal, but officials were glad to get them.

Adam Thiel, head of the city’s Office of Emergency Management, knew better than to celebrate.

“It is not done," Thiel, also the city’s fire commissioner, said in a March 30 interview. "It will be done when I actually see them on our loading dock.”

His skepticism proved to be prophetic. The next day BJ Wholesale Club, the supplier, reported the order had been canceled, for reasons unclear. The only bright spot was that the check had not been sent.

That kind of failure is a window into what has become a national scandal, the inability of governments and health-care systems to protect those on the front line of the pandemic. Hospitals were “reporting delays of 3-6 months in being able to replenish key supplies, including surgical and N95 masks,” according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General.

Disrupted supply chains, hyper-competitive purchasing, and novice suppliers seeking quick profits are all complicating life-or-death transactions.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia officials have ordered more masks, but can’t say when — or if — they might arrive.

— Jason Laughlin

4:21 PM - April 7, 2020
4:21 PM - April 7, 2020

Montgomery County virus ‘probably will get a little worse before it gets better,’ officials say

Montgomery County chair Valerie Arkoosh on Tuesday announced 160 new positive cases, and five deaths from COVID-19. The county now has 1,294 confirmed cases and has lost 32 people to the virus.

She also announced that there are almost 200 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 34 of the county’s long-term care facilities. Of those cases, 140 are residents, and 53 staff members.

But Arkoosh, a doctor who also has a background in public health, struck the cautiously optimistic tone she has used in recent days and said she hoped that things “wouldn’t get much worse than this” before cases begin to level off.

“It probably will get a little worse before it gets better,” she said, “but we hope that we’re on that rise of that curve, and hopefully that rise isn’t too far from where we’re at.”

There are still open hospital beds, she said, and details about plans to open a mobile hospital in the county are expected to be released in the coming days.

— Allison Steele

3:55 PM - April 7, 2020
3:55 PM - April 7, 2020

Pennsylvanians ‘getting the message’ on social distancing, police say

People observe social distancing at the bus stop on JFK Boulevard at the intersection of 15th Street, in Philadelphia, April 6, 2020.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
People observe social distancing at the bus stop on JFK Boulevard at the intersection of 15th Street, in Philadelphia, April 6, 2020.

Pennsylvanians are “getting the message” on social distancing and the measure appears to be having an impact, the Pennsylvania State Police said Tuesday.

“The mitigation strategies we believe are beginning to work,” Lt. Col. Scott Price told reporters on a phone call.

Traffic on the Pennsylvania Turnpike has declined by 76.5% since residents were asked to stay at home, he said, and commercial vehicle traffic has decreased by 27.5%.

The state police are not stopping cars to ask someone why they’re traveling or to halt out-of-state drivers, but they are handing out information and warnings during the course of regular enforcement, Price said. All troopers are now receiving cloth face masks and instructions to wear them.

He said there was “some concern ... that there may be a backslide in terms of compliance” as time goes on and as the weather improves.

As of Tuesday, the state police had opened 541 investigations into non-compliance with the order for nonessential businesses to close and had given out 178 warnings, Price said. Under the liquor code, the state has opened 14,000 investigations into businesses with liquor licenses, issued 56 warnings, and handed out 6 citations.

“Normally in the case of a business, those complaints are coming in to us from the community,” he said.

— Justine McDaniel

3:37 PM - April 7, 2020
3:37 PM - April 7, 2020

'Life-sustaining’ casino? South Philly construction continues despite Gov. Wolf’s coronavirus shutdown

Construction work continues at the future site Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA on April 6, 2020.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Construction work continues at the future site Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA on April 6, 2020.

As the coronavirus spread across the region last month and Gov. Wolf ordered a halt to all but life-sustaining businesses, construction workers on the site of the new Live! Hotel & Casino in South Philadelphia were growing increasingly concerned for their safety.

They reported to work each day, but many fretted that the general contractor, Gilbane Building Company, wasn’t doing enough to protect them from being infected.

While many businesses shut down, construction continued on the $700 million casino, one of the most expensive projects in the city. Hundreds of workers traveled to the site on Packer Avenue near Citizens Bank Park — some from as far away as New York and Maryland.

On March 26, a positive COVID-19 case surfaced. The worker had been on the project for two days, most recently on March 17.

Some workers responded by walking off the site, convinced that Gilbane was not taking the coronavirus seriously. Another wave of workers left on Monday after their union head said his workers were “in danger.”

On Tuesday morning, Gilbane project executive Dan Kelley disclosed in an internal email that he’d been informed Monday evening of another positive COVID-19 case — a subcontracted medic who had assisted with new-hire orientations. The medic has been symptom free. He was working on site between March 11 and March 25, according to the email. Kelley advised those who’ve had contact with him to self-quarantine for 14 days.

— William Bender, Angela Couloumbis

3:18 PM - April 7, 2020
3:18 PM - April 7, 2020

South Jersey basketball referee Marty Derer dies of coronavirus

Marty Derer loved to referee basketball games.

The only thing he loved more was to talk to people while he was referring basketball games – players, coaches, fans in the stands.

Marty Derer
Marty Derer

“He just loved being out there,” said Tim Attanasi, a fellow basketball official and one of Derer’s closest friends. “Sometimes the coaches would get mad and I would tell him, ‘Would you just shut up and ref the game?’

“He would say, ’Tim, I’m trying.’ ”

Derer, 56, a former standout basketball player at Camden Catholic High School and Rutgers Camden and a highly respected basketball official, died Monday of complications from the coronavirus, according to Attanasi.

— Phil Anastasia

3:03 PM - April 7, 2020
3:03 PM - April 7, 2020

New Jersey closes state and county parks due to crowds

As New Jersey continues to see possible signs of a flattening curve, Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday urged residents not to use spring weather as an excuse to ease their social distancing efforts and ordered all state and county parks closed.

Murphy said his decision to close the parks, as well as state forests, was because of crowds they were attracting as people sought to get out of homes.

“We are seeing far too many instances of people gathering in groups in our parks erroneously thinking that since they’re outside social distancing doesn’t matter,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Decisions on municipal parks will be made by individual municipalities.

State officials also said they had begun thinking about regional plans to slowly and safely reopen parts of the state in the coming weeks or months, though “we’re not there yet.”

“There’s going to be plenty of summer and sunshine to come,” Murphy said, “and the sooner we can flatten that curve and come down the other side of that curve, the faster we can all enjoy it.”

— Erin McCarthy

2:56 PM - April 7, 2020
2:56 PM - April 7, 2020

New Jersey records highest daily coronavirus death toll yet

On Tuesday, New Jersey recorded its highest daily death toll yet during the coronavirus crisis, reporting 232 virus-related deaths. It also recorded 3,361 new cases, bringing its statewide total to 44,416.

For the 1,232 New Jersey residents who have died of the coronavirus, “we cannot be happy with only reaching a plateau,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday. “We must not just flatten this curve. We must crush this curve.”

State officials said they are continuing to monitor cases in long-term care facilities, 188 of which now have at least one case of the coronavirus. They are working on a state-wide plan to assist these facilities, which may require some patients to be moved to better-equipped facilities, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.

The state is also beginning to gather racial data on confirmed coronavirus cases. Of the 729 cases for which they have this data, 24 percent are black or African-American, a demographic that accounts for only 15 percent of the state’s population.

“It is overwhelmingly the case that even in peace times … communities that are usually left behind are further left behind,” Murphy said. “That doesn’t correlate entirely to communities of color, but invariably that’s the reality of what we’re dealing with.”

On Wednesday, a new coronavirus testing site will open at Rowan College for symptomatic Gloucester County residents who make an appointment in advance by calling 856-218-4142.

— Erin McCarthy

2:46 PM - April 7, 2020
2:46 PM - April 7, 2020

Pennsylvania reports ‘significant increases’ in nursing home coronavirus cases

There have been “significant increases” in the number of Pennsylvania nursing homes and long-term care centers that have reported at least one positive case of the coronavirus, and those facilities remain of concern, state health officials said during a news conference Tuesday.

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine said while she didn’t have data on the number of nursing homes and long-term care facilities that have reported a positive case, the state has put out specific guidance for those facilities and has contracted with a third party to provide virtual consultative services to nursing homes to discuss infection control procedures.

In total, more than 14,500 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, and of those, 1,665 are currently hospitalized, and about 550 require a ventilator or breathing machine.

As of noon Tuesday, 240 people had died. The state Department of Health has not released demographic information about the people who have died. Levine said “most” of the deaths have been seniors age 65 and older.

Levine also said the state does not currently have data showing the race of those who have tested positive or those who have died. She said the state is struggling to compile the information and that “healthcare systems don’t tend to put in racial data.”

The state will release the data once it compiles it, she said.

— Anna Orso

2:41 PM - April 7, 2020
2:41 PM - April 7, 2020

Delaware bans short-term rentals, restricts essential business list as coronavirus spreads

Gov. John Carney is stepping up his push to keep people from other states from traveling to Delaware during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, Carney signed new emergency orders that ban short-term rentals — including vacation home rentals, hotels, motels, and condo rentals — through May 15, or until the public health threat is eliminated.

The state also further restricted its list of essential businesses, closing pawn shops, video game stores, and other electronics retailers.

The new restrictions go into effect at 8 p.m. tonight. The order exempts certain essential workers who live out-of-state.

Over the weekend, state police set up checkpoints near the state’s northern and southern borders to enforce travel restrictions that prohibit entry into Delaware unless motorists work for an essential business, are caring for a family member, or there are health-care reasons.

Over 500 drivers were instructed to either self-quarantine in Delaware for 14 days or return home, according to a police spokesperson.

Patrols will continue on local Delaware roadways that traditionally see a high volume of non-local travelers, and police are authorized to pull over any car with out-of-state license plates. There are currently no restrictions on Delaware residents traveling into Pennsylvania to visit supermarkets or hardware stores, then returning to the state.

“Certainly Gov. Wolf could create similar order on the other side of the line,” Carney said during a press conference on Monday.

— Rob Tornoe

2:29 PM - April 7, 2020
2:29 PM - April 7, 2020

Survey: Americans’ outlook on health, economy grim as coronavirus spreads

Americans’ outlook on health and the economy has gotten grim over the past month since the coronavirus began to spread in the U.S., according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Surveying 1,200 people at two different points in March, the poll found:

  • A sharp increase in the number of people who reported lost jobs and income as a result of the pandemic. Just under 40% of respondents reported losing work or income because of coronavirus at the end of March, compared to 10% who reported such losses at the beginning of the month.
  • A spike in the number of people who believe the pandemic will negatively affect their family’s financial stability. At the beginning of March, the biggest personal concern was that a family member would get sick. By late March, respondents remained concerned about a family member becoming ill, but were equally worried about negative long-term impact on their investments and savings (59%), and losing their job (52%).
  • Rising uncertainty about health care affordability. In late March, 53% of respondents said they were worried they wouldn’t be able to afford testing or treatment for coronavirus, up 17 percentage points from earlier.
  • Mounting mental health problems, amid a negative outlook for the future. About 45% said worry and stress related to the pandemic is affecting their mental health, compared to 32% with mental health strain at the beginning of the month. 79% of respondents believed the pandemic could trigger an economic recession, 85% feared businesses would close permanently, 82% worried the health care system would be overrun, and 74% believe the worst is yet to come.
  • A rare, encouraging finding. The poll found a sharp increase in the number of people who are taking recommended precautions to protect against contracting the virus. More than 90% of respondents said they are taking precautions to protect themselves, such as canceling travel plans, skipping group events, and staying home from work.

— Sarah Gantz

2:04 PM - April 7, 2020
2:04 PM - April 7, 2020

A Philly man is walking around the city as the Easter Bunny

justin Talasnik, 42, wears a bunny costume while walking his dog Charlie in Center City. Aaron said he has recently been walking his dog while dressed in his old Halloween costumes to brighten people’s days.

“If I can make somebody smile or make somebody laugh during the day I am helping, I think a lot of people right now are struggling, just trying to stay positive is not easy right now. I can’t afford to help financially, and I am not a doctor or nurse. I see this as a way to brighten people’s day. And I have to go on the walks anyway, it just kind of comes from that,” Talasnik, who has been dressing up every day since April 1, said.

Talasnik has a rotation of about four costumes at the moment: the hungry caterpillar, Buzz Lightyear, the Easter bunny (pictured), and opening day Phillies fan.

— Jessica Griffin

1:57 PM - April 7, 2020
1:57 PM - April 7, 2020

New Jersey to get 100 more ventilators

The Department of Defense will fly 100 ventilators from California to New Jersey on Tuesday night, New Jersey State Police Col. Patrick J. Callahan said, and New Jersey plans to send the breathing machines back to the Golden State when it experiences its peak in a few weeks.

— Erin McCarthy

1:52 PM - April 7, 2020
1:52 PM - April 7, 2020

How to make your own disinfecting wipes

It's nearly impossible to find Lysol wipes on store shelves during the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, you can make your own disinfecting solution at home with a basic household item: bleach.
GRACE DICKINSON / Staff
It's nearly impossible to find Lysol wipes on store shelves during the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, you can make your own disinfecting solution at home with a basic household item: bleach.

We’re all doing the best we can. And for many of us, that means regularly wiping down our high-touch surfaces, but probably without Lysol wipes. Good luck finding those anywhere across the region. And unless you enjoy being slapped across the face with one “out of stock” note after another, there’s no use looking online, either.

One glimmer of good news: you can make your own disinfecting solution. Rubbing alcohol is one useful ingredient to employ, but like Lysol, it too is virtually impossible to find.

Bleach, on the other hand, that’s (slightly) more available. Check your local hardware store. (We sourced ours from Fairmount Hardware.) You could also check your laundry room. Many of us have a jug hiding somewhere near our washing machine. And in that jug is a key, coronavirus-fighting ingredient: hypochlorous acid.

There are a handful of precautions you need to keep in mind before getting started. DIY bleach-based disinfecting wipes aren’t quite as convenient as the Lysol version. And they smell much worse. But whipping up the actual solution is quick, easy, and, most importantly, effective.

— Grace Dickinson

1:32 PM - April 7, 2020
1:32 PM - April 7, 2020

As Passover, Easter, and Ramadan approach, Philly officials warn against in-person gatherings

An Easter Bunny decoration is in the window of a store on the closed boardwalk in Ocean City Mar. 26, 2020.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
An Easter Bunny decoration is in the window of a store on the closed boardwalk in Ocean City Mar. 26, 2020.

With Passover, Easter, and Ramadan approaching, city officials urged faith leaders and religious followers to avoid gatherings of any kind and to hold their services virtually to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

“My heart aches this year,” Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Mayor Jim Kenney’s director of faith-based and interfaith affairs, said at a virtual press conference Tuesday. “These holy days must be observed within the context of a deeply challenging situation.”

Washington-Leapheart said the city is asking houses of worship to forego all in-person gatherings, even instances in which a handful of clergy members and musicians meet to record a service for a livestream.

“We need not worship less, but we must worship safely,” she said.

The warning came at the city’s first entirely virtual press conference since the pandemic reached the region. Kenney, Washington and Public Health Commissioner Thomas Farley participated from their homes through the video conferencing application Zoom.

Previously, city officials met in City Hall for the daily press briefings, while reporters asked their questions through Zoom. Farley on Tuesday reported that the city has seen 20 new coronavirus deaths since Monday, for a total of 65 so far during the pandemic.

There were also 544 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the city since Monday, bringing the total to 4,272.

— Sean Collins Walsh

1:28 PM - April 7, 2020
1:28 PM - April 7, 2020

Around 100 Philadelphia firefighting cadets sent home after instructor tests positive

A class of about 100 Philadelphia firefighting cadets have been sent home after a department member who had visited the academy tested positive Tuesday for COVID-19, according to department sources.

The cadets were dismissed from the Fire Training Academy in Northeast Philadelphia Tuesday morning so the facility could be cleaned, said a department spokeswoman.

The member did not have direct contact with any cadets, the spokeswoman said. The academy will reopen Thursday.

As of Monday, 46 firefighters and paramedics have tested positive for the virus, according to department sources. About 140 firefighters and paramedics are still awaiting test results.The Fire Department has 2,700 firefighters and medics.

— Mike Newall

1:11 PM - April 7, 2020
1:11 PM - April 7, 2020

Pa. court orders release of more detained migrants, saying ‘not nearly enough’ is being done to protect them

A federal judge in Harrisburg ordered the immediate release Tuesday of another 22 immigrants from detention centers in Pennsylvania, saying that a week after a similar release of detainees, U.S. immigration officials still had not implemented effective measures to protect those in their custody.

The migrants, from countries across the globe and all housed either at the Pike County Correctional Facility or the York County Prison, all have underlying health conditions that would make them more vulnerable should they become infected with the coronavirus.

In their suit, filed Friday by lawyers working with the American Civil Liberties Union, they alleged that while jail administrators had adopted some precautionary measures as the virus’s spread has escalated across the state, those steps were not nearly enough to keep them safe.

Officers and medical staff still do not reliably wear gloves and masks, the migrants said. In addition, they said temperature checks remain infrequent even among detainees who’ve had close contact with a prisoner or guard who has tested positive, and CDC recommended social distancing and hygiene requirements continue to be ignored.

As of Saturday, five immigrant detainees have tested positive for the coronavirus in the Pike County facility and one confirmed infection has been documented at the York County Prison.

“It now seems that our worst fears have been realized,” U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III wrote in his opinion Tuesday. “COVID-19 is spreading, and not nearly enough is being done to combat it. We cannot allow [the plaintiffs] before us … to bear the consequences of ICE’s inaction.”

Jones’ ruling comes a week after he ordered the release of 10 other inmates from Pennsylvania county jails that contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house immigrant detainees.

The released migrants must still report to all scheduled check-ins and hearings on their cases as ordered by the immigration courts.

— Jeremy Roebuck, Jeff Gammage

1:07 PM - April 7, 2020
1:07 PM - April 7, 2020

Philly Mayor Jim Kenney warns coronavirus could mean ‘painful’ cuts to city budget and services

Mayor of Philadelphia Jim Kenney talks with reporters at John H. Webster Elementary School while staff packed grab-and-go meals for distribution to students and families in Philadelphia, Pa. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
Mayor of Philadelphia Jim Kenney talks with reporters at John H. Webster Elementary School while staff packed grab-and-go meals for distribution to students and families in Philadelphia, Pa. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic will cost Philadelphia hundreds of millions of dollars, and force the city to cut its budget and reduce services and staffing, Mayor Jim Kenney said Tuesday.

Lost tax revenue and emergency spending required to respond to the virus will force the city to make decisions “the likes of which have never been needed," Kenney warned.

“To what degree, we don’t yet know,” Kenney said at a news conference Monday. “But it will affect things that people care about and expect from their city government. I know full well that any reductions in city services will be painful.”

Kenney will scrap the $5.2 billion spending plan that he proposed to City Council in March for the upcoming fiscal year, and will present a new budget plan to Council on May 1.

City officials have said they are still scrambling to project the potential financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The effect on March revenue collections will not be released until May.

An analysis by the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), found that the city could lose between $310 million and $400 million in revenue in the current quarter, representing April through June.

— Laura McCrystal

12:56 PM - April 7, 2020
12:56 PM - April 7, 2020

N.J. presidential primary election rescheduled to July 7

Cherry Hill residents drive to their polling place at the St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church to vote in the mid-term election November 6, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Cherry Hill residents drive to their polling place at the St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church to vote in the mid-term election November 6, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

New Jersey will postpone its presidential primary to July 7 due to the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the state, two people familiar with the matter told The Inquirer Tuesday.

The state’s primary was originally scheduled for June 2.

The governor’s office declined to comment, though sources say the administration is likely to make an announcement later this week regarding the decision.

In recent weeks, Gov. Phil Murphy made moves to protect voters from being exposed to the coronavirus while carrying out a civic duty. Local elections scheduled in April and May were all rescheduled to May 12, Murphy said in mid-March. He ordered them to be held exclusively through vote-by-mail.

In March, the Pennsylvania primary was moved from April 28 to June 2.

— Pranshu Verma

12:41 PM - April 7, 2020
12:41 PM - April 7, 2020

They said pets couldn’t get the coronavirus, so how did tigers test positive? Vets explain.

Nadia, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, has tested positive for COVID-19. Three other tigers and three lions at the zoo are presumed to have the virus as well; all are expected to recover.
JULIE LARSEN MAHER/WCS BRONX ZOO
Nadia, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, has tested positive for COVID-19. Three other tigers and three lions at the zoo are presumed to have the virus as well; all are expected to recover.

Nine lives ago (in February), when the world gawked at photos of Chinese cats wearing masks to ward off the coronavirus, veterinarians elsewhere were quick with reassurance that pets were unlikely to get sick.

The vets are still saying that. But with the news Sunday that a Bronx Zoo tiger had tested positive for the virus, the infected-pet scenario no longer seems quite so far-fetched.

In addition to Nadia, the 4-year-old Malayan tiger with a confirmed infection, six other big cats at the zoo in New York had dry coughs and were presumed infected — prompting the Philadelphia Zoo and others to reexamine their safety measures and scientists to reevaluate the available research. There isn’t much, though a recent Chinese study suggests that domestic cats can become infected if deliberately exposed to high doses of the coronavirus in a laboratory. (Dogs and birds, no).

In between fielding queries from researchers and other zoos, the Bronx Zoo also attempted to quell a social-media backlash from people who wondered why a tiger could get tested when some humans are left in the dark. Answer: tests of Nadia’s nasal swabs were performed at two veterinary laboratories, which would not be allowed to process human samples.

And before you imagine a lurid sequel to the Netflix series Tiger King, rest assured that the big gal was sedated before someone inserted what must have been a very large Q-tip.

— Tom Avril

11:45 AM - April 7, 2020
11:45 AM - April 7, 2020

Community College of Philadelphia donates six ventilators, safety equipment for coronavirus fight

The Community College of Philadelphia has donated six ventilators and personal protective gear to local hospitals to help in the fight against coronavirus, the school announced Tuesday.

The donations came from three health care programs at the college: respiratory care technology, biomedical equipment technology and nursing.

The respiratory care program gave hospitals four ventilators and another piece of equipment that is less invasive but also helps patients breathe. The biomedical equipment technology program also donated its ventilator.

The donations came about after a community college graduate working at Temple University Health System asked the college if it had equipment it could loan, the school said. The ventilators are currently on loan to Temple health.

The nursing program, meanwhile, provided masks, gowns and gloves to Jeanes Hospital and Fox Chase Cancer Center.

— Susan Snyder

11:15 AM - April 7, 2020
11:15 AM - April 7, 2020

Pa. prison inmates supply 185,000 cloth masks to deter spread of COVID-19 in detention centers across the state

A state prison inmate working for Pennsylvania Correctional Industries, a program that employs inmates to make a variety of goods, sewing a cloth mask.
Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
A state prison inmate working for Pennsylvania Correctional Industries, a program that employs inmates to make a variety of goods, sewing a cloth mask.

State prison inmates have supplied more than 185,000 cloth masks for prisoners, corrections officers and staff in detention centers across Pennsylvania in the last three weeks — and are now starting to ship prison-made soap, gowns and disinfectant to other essential state employees, officials said.

Pennsylvania Correctional Industries, a bureau within the state corrections system that employs prisoners to produce everything from clothing to cleaning supplies for sale to non-profit organizations and government entities, shifted its production schedules March 17 to focus on supplies that have run low during the coronavirus crisis.

To date, inmates have supplied three masks to every Department of Corrections employee and two for every prisoner, the agency’s secretary, John Wetzel, said in a statement.

“We didn’t want to take from the community supply, so we began making the masks in house at several of our state prisons,” he said. The bureau expanded its mask-making operation to supply essential workers in other state government offices over the weekend.

In addition to masks, inmates have made 36,000 bars of anti-bacterial soap, 255 gowns, and 27 cases of disinfectant, the department said. Inmates are working 12-hour shifts, six days a week. The program pays them 19 to 42 cents an hour with bonuses of up to 70 cents an hour for good work.

— Jeremy Roebuck

11:05 AM - April 7, 2020
11:05 AM - April 7, 2020

Surprise! Pennsylvania opens trout fishing season two weeks early

Trout are transferred into buckets at Pennypack Creek in Lorimer Park in Montgomery County, PA on March 28, 2019. The PA Fish and Boat Commission were stocking the creek with trout before the opening day of fishing season.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Trout are transferred into buckets at Pennypack Creek in Lorimer Park in Montgomery County, PA on March 28, 2019. The PA Fish and Boat Commission were stocking the creek with trout before the opening day of fishing season.

With little fanfare, the state announced Tuesday that Pennsylvania’s trout fishing season was now open, almost two weeks earlier than scheduled.

The state said the decision to move up the date was intended to discourage a concentration of people gathering on its traditional opening day, to minimize travel, and to reduce the threat of illegal poaching in waters that have already been stocked.

The season had been scheduled to open on April 18.

The measure allows all properly licensed anglers and youth to begin fishing for and harvesting trout. All regulations, sizes, and creel limits apply, but officials say all anglers and boaters should limit travel by fishing close to home and only to fish with family members living in the same household.

The state also suggests wearing a face mask, keeping at least six feet away from other anglers and not sharing fishing gear.

Out-of-state residents who have a Pennsylvania fishing license should comply with the CDC’s travel advisory, which urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel.

— Rob Tornoe

10:50 AM - April 7, 2020
10:50 AM - April 7, 2020

Third SEPTA employee dies from coronavirus

A third SEPTA employee has died of the coronavirus, transit agency and union officials said Tuesday.

All three men worked at SEPTA maintenance facilities.

Transport Workers Union Local 234 president Willie Brown identified the third employee as Michael Holt, a bus driver who transferred into maintenance at SEPTA’s Midvale Depot. Brown said he earned of the third death early Tuesday morning.

Brown on Monday identified the other employees who dies as Phillip Williams, out of SEPTA’s Southern Depot, and Ted Nixon, who worked in its Elmwood Depot.

Both were veteran SEPTA employees, said SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch, who did not identify the workers.

“Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones during this difficult time,” SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards said in a letter to employees. “We will plan a memorial to honor our colleagues in the coming months and we will share more information as plans are finalized.” SEPTA had 48 confirmed employee coronavirus cases Monday night.

SEPTA now has 76 total confirmed employee coronavirus cases.

— Patricia Madej

10:35 AM - April 7, 2020
10:35 AM - April 7, 2020

Philly adapts a ‘national model’ census program to educate about COVID-19

Philly Counts 2020, the city’s effort to ensure residents are counted in the 2020 Census, is adapting some of its strategies to help during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, the city launched the COVID-19 Community Response Captain Program, which will train community members to share updated information with peers, check on neighbors and help them find resources, encourage people to follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and support non-English speakers.

The structure of the program is adapted from the city’s Census Champion program, which has trained more than 8,000 people in the region to share accurate information about the 2020 Census and to encourage neighbors to participate. When the city launched the census program this September, the director of the U.S. Census Bureau called it a national model.

The city is using the community networks it has built through its census work and doubling down on the idea that the best way to convey information to the public is to use known and trusted community messengers. Virtual trainings for COVID-19 Community Response Captain Program participants will be held daily to share steps for community action, updated information, and a resource guide in English, Spanish, French, and Chinese. Those interested can find training sessions at phila.gov/census.

— Michaelle Bond

10:25 AM - April 7, 2020
10:25 AM - April 7, 2020

Fifth immigration detainee tests positive for the coronavirus at Pike County jail

A fifth immigration detainee, identified as a 29-year-old Bangladeshi national, has tested positive for COVID-19 at the Pike County Correctional Facility, according to ICE officials in Philadelphia.

The person has been quarantined and is receiving care. Others who had contact with the detainee have been segregated and are being monitored for symptoms, the agency said.

This is the sixth confirmed case at a Pennsylvania detention center since Sunday; the other ine was at the York County Prison.

Undocumented migrants awaiting hearings or deportation also are confined in Clinton County and Berks County. Most have no criminal history. Immigration attorneys and advocates have warned for weeks that migrant detention centers are fertile ground for coronavirus outbreaks because so many people are held in close quarters.

— Jeff Gammage

9:40 AM - April 7, 2020
9:40 AM - April 7, 2020

Stocks open up amid signs stay-at-home measures are helping to flatten curve in COVID-19 cases

Stocks opened up on Tuesday following several positive signs that social distancing and stay-at-home rules are beginning to flatten the curve of coronavirus infections.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 860 points, about 3.8%, building on Monday’s surge of 1,600 points, the third largest single-day gain in history.

The Nasdaq was up 215 points (about 2.7%), while the S&P 500 opened up 85 points (about 3.2%).

The Dow remains down 23% from its Feb. 12 peak of 29,551.42, but has rebounded nearly 22% from its 52-week low of 18,591.93 on March 23. The S&P 500 is about 21.5% off its record high.

— Rob Tornoe

8:50 AM - April 7, 2020
8:50 AM - April 7, 2020

Worker tests positive of coronavirus at South Philly ShopRite

The ShopRite at 24th Street and Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia. The store said an employee who last worked there on March 29 has tested positive for the coronavirus.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
The ShopRite at 24th Street and Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia. The store said an employee who last worked there on March 29 has tested positive for the coronavirus.

A South Philadelphia ShopRite is the latest store to report an employee has tested positive for the coronavirus. The associate last worked in the store at 24th and Oregon Avenue on Sunday March 29, ShopRite said on its Facebook page, and coworkers who came in close contact with him or her are being advised to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The store declined to disclose any additional information about the employee, citing privacy concerns.

While the ShopRite remains open, it said it has complied with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and undergoes daily deep cleaning and sanitizing. Two weeks ago, ShopRite announced employees had tested positive at its store at Morrell Plaza in Northeast Philadelphia and at the Glenolden, Delaware County location. In New Jersey, employees at at least 24 different ShopRite locations have tested positive for the virus.

In recent weeks, Wawa temporarily closed stores in Cherry Hill and Skippack, Montgomery County, due to confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases. An employee at a Langhorne Target has also tested positive.

Of course, these are only the reported cases.

ShopRite, for example, has vowed to disclose positive cases, while other companies have not been so forthcoming with information. ShopRite, in its statements, tells customers: “It’s important that you know we remain committed to transparency and we think sharing this information with you is the right thing to do.”

— Erin McCarthy

8:35 AM - April 7, 2020
8:35 AM - April 7, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reported in stable condition in London intensive care unit

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in stable condition after being moved to an intensive care unit on Monday due to worsening coronavirus symptoms, a spokesperson for No. 10 Downing Street said Tuesday.

Johnson is not on a ventilator and is breathing without assistance, but is receiving oxygen treatment while in the ICU of St. Thomas’s Hospital in London, the spokesperson added.

Johnson was diagnosed 12 days ago with COVID-19, and was hospitalized on Sunday night. Dominic Raab, British foreign secretary and the prime minister’s effective deputy, will take over for Johnson where necessary, according to the spokesperson.

— Rob Tornoe

8:25 AM - April 7, 2020
8:25 AM - April 7, 2020

Starbucks requires employees to wear masks to help prevent spread of COVID-19

Starting this morning, all Starbucks employees will be required to wear masks in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Starbucks said the move was in response to new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggest people wear cloth face coverings in public settings. The company said it provided employees with instructions how to make their own masks with materials available at its stores, and that it will send thermometers to all company-owned locations so employees can self-monitor their temperature.

During a briefing on Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf once again urged all Pennsylvanians to wear face coverings while in public, but stopped short of ordering all companies to make it mandatory for their workers.

“We shouldn’t be forced to do this because this is what we need to do to save lives,” Wolf said. “If we are working in an essential service, that the employer and the employees all work together to make sure they’re safe."

— Rob Tornoe

5:15 AM - April 7, 2020
5:15 AM - April 7, 2020

Wissahickon Valley Park sees surge of visitors during Pa. coronavirus stay-at-home-orders

People hike the trails at Wissahickon Valley Park during a sunny morning on Monday.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
People hike the trails at Wissahickon Valley Park during a sunny morning on Monday.

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.

“Ever since the social distancing order has gone into place, it’s been incredibly crowded in the park … even on the rainy days,” said Ruffian Tittmann, executive director of Friends of the Wissahickon, a nonprofit that works with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation to oversee the park.

Tittmann cautioned that visitors should practice safe distancing, consider cutting back trips to the park, and keep their dogs on leashes.

Gov. Tom Wolf issued stay-at-home orders for Philadelphia and six other counties on March 23, but extended the orders for all 67 Pennsylvania counties as of April 1. The orders state that “engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing” is allowed.

— Frank Kummer

5:00 AM - April 7, 2020
5:00 AM - April 7, 2020

98 Philly police officers, firefighters and medics test positive for the coronavirus

Sources and city official say that as of Monday, 98 Philly police officers, firefighters and medics have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The number includes 52 police officers and 46 firefighters and medics.

One police officer, Lt. James Walker, a 32-year-veteran assigned to the traffic division, died Sunday at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health after testing positive for the virus on March 27, his family said. He was 59 and the first city employee to die of the virus.

Sources say 140 firefighters and paramedics were awaiting test results while dozens of police officers — who are symptomatic for the virus and awaiting test results, or who have been exposed to others who have tested positive — are self-quarantining.

The Police Department has 6,300 officers; the Fire Department has 2,700 firefighters and medics.

— Mike Newall

4:30 AM - April 7, 2020
4:30 AM - April 7, 2020

Morning Roundup: Amid hopes of a coronavirus curve flattening, officials warn not to get complacent

High school classmates, all home from their freshman year in college because of the coronavirus, maintain social distancing at they hang out together in Haddonfield on Monday. Clockwise, from upper left, are: Sean Campiglia, 18, Lehigh University; Mo Jishi, 19, Princeton University; Alexia Chacon, 18, Rowan University; and Brooke Fiannaca, 19, University of Rochester
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
High school classmates, all home from their freshman year in college because of the coronavirus, maintain social distancing at they hang out together in Haddonfield on Monday. Clockwise, from upper left, are: Sean Campiglia, 18, Lehigh University; Mo Jishi, 19, Princeton University; Alexia Chacon, 18, Rowan University; and Brooke Fiannaca, 19, University of Rochester

The curve of coronavirus infections is starting to flatten in New Jersey and may be poised to do so in Pennsylvania, making this a “critical time” for social distancing efforts, officials said, as projections Monday showed the two states and New York getting closer to a peak surge.

Gov. Phil Murphy said it was no time to “take our foot off the gas,” and Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine warned residents not to get complacent, cautioning it was too early to know whether the rate was truly plateauing. Social distancing, one estimate showed, could make the difference between tens of thousands and a half-million cases in New Jersey.

“Now is the time,” Levine said at a Monday briefing, “to stay home.”

More than 10,000 people in the United States have died of the coronavirus, a grim milestone as experts say the country is heading into what will likely be its most difficult weeks during the pandemic. Nearly half of those deaths have been in New York state.

— Justine McDaniel, Pranshu Verma and Sean Collins Walsh

4:15 AM - April 7, 2020
4:15 AM - April 7, 2020

Today’s Inquirer Front Page

The Philadelphia Inquirer front page for Tuesday, April 7, 2020.
Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Inquirer front page for Tuesday, April 7, 2020.