Read the latest Philadelphia-area coronavirus coverage here
New Jersey will reopen under a six-point plan unveiled by Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday, but he did not set a date for when that process will begin, saying the spread of the coronavirus must slow before the state takes further steps. Residents will be under the state’s stay-at-home order — previously set to expire May 7 — until further notice, he said.
Philadelphia has passed the peak of its epidemic, the city health commissioner said, though officials still couldn’t estimate when a reopening might start there. Pennsylvania officials were continuing preparations Monday to determine which other areas of the commonwealth may reopen starting May 8 based on a variety of factors.
Plus, the weather is slated to be nice out for the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds’ special flyover of the city.
Philly small businesses are chasing the next $310 billion in coronavirus PPP loans
Samantha Canestro first tried getting an emergency coronavirus loan for her Montgomery County business in early April, only to face weeks of technical difficulties. She tried again Monday, is still waiting, and she’s dreading having to lay off employees if money doesn’t come through.
“I never imagined we’d face anything like this," said Canestro, the president of Royersford Spring in Royersford, Pa., which manufactures seating for customers that include SEPTA and Amtrak. She’s seeking a $120,000 PPP loan through a small local bank — enough for two-and-a-half months of pay for 12 full-time employees.
Canestro was one of many small business owners in the Philadelphia area and across the country who rushed Monday to get a piece of the $310 billion that Congress added to the troubled Payroll Protection Program, a Small Business Administration program that was meant to help firms keep employees on payroll during the coronavirus pandemic. Many banks disbursing the loans were overwhelmed by initial demand earlier this month, the smallest businesses struggled to get cash, and PPP quickly burned through its first $350 billion.
Early data from banks suggest that roughly 80% of U.S. small businesses missed out on the first round of PPP loans, which are mostly forgivable if used to cover payroll and expenses like rent. Accountants cautioned Monday that businesses should not submit a second application if an initial one from earlier this month is still pending.
Concert promoter Live Nation, which books acts for the BB&T Pavilion and the Borgata Hotel & Casino, as well as Atlantic City beach concerts, declined to comment on the governor’s statement.
But already on the concert calendar, many shows in May and some in June have been postponed or canceled — including the three-day Barefoot Country Music Festival that had been scheduled for June 19 to 21 in Wildwood and has now been postponed until next year.
In May at the BB&T Pavilion, the Five Finger Death Punch show is now slated for Nov. 1. The WMMR BBQ has been moved from May 16 to Sept. 19. And the Radio 104.5 13th Birthday concert that had been slated for May 30 has been canceled.
Here are some of the big coronavirus questions scientists are racing to answer
What a year the past month has been. Every day brings a new batch of scientific studies, government orders and public health guidance.
The whole world is focused on this coronavirus pandemic, and there are clear priorities. There are some big questions that scientists everywhere are racing to answer.
We’ve broken down the big questions and what they mean. They’re in some ways the most basic questions — How does it work? How do we fight it? — answering them will be key to figuring out what the new normal looks like and how we get there.
And while the virus is so new that so much is unknown — there’s so much that needs to be discovered and better understood — the good news, a number of experts said, is that we learn more every day, moving step by step toward answers. Remember, they said: The whole world is on it.
American Airlines to require masks for attendants starting Friday
Flight attendants on American Airlines will be required to wear masks beginning on Friday as the company escalates its efforts to sanitize its aircrafts, officials said Monday.
During longer stops, the airline said it will use an EPA-approved disinfectant to clean tray tables, seat belts, armrests, window screens, and seat-back screens.
The company said that in “early May” it would start distributing sanitizing wipes or gels and face masks to customers.
American said that at airports it has been cleaning gate areas, ticket and passenger-service counters, and baggage-service areas more frequently. It also has closed off some computers and kiosks at ticket counters in an effort to create more space among customers.
Trump offers guidance for states to increase testing
President Donald Trump on Monday announced new guidance to inform states as they increase tests performed for COVID-19 in conjunction with the safe reopening of businesses.
Trump said the nation’s testing capacity was continuing to make progress and noted that there were 200,000 completed tests reported Saturday. Vice President Mike Pence said the nation in May could reach 2 million tests performed a week.
Earlier Monday, the White House said there would be no coronavirus briefing but reversed course in the afternoon. There was a firestorm of criticism after Trump made comments at the briefing on Thursday about injecting disinfectants to kill the virus. On Friday, he left the briefing without taking questions.
One reporter Monday asked Trump to respond to reports about a spike in disinfectant poisonings following his comments last week.
“I can’t imagine why” there would be an increase, Trump answered and then moved to the next question.
Contingency plans in the works for college sports to come back for next school year
Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said Monday that the league is working through a full series of contingencies for the fall season in case the impact from the coronavirus pandemic prevents business as usual.
McGlade mentioned how the league, which includes La Salle and St. Joseph’s locally, is studying a myriad of possibilities, including having fall sports compete in the spring.
“We are looking at a series of plans,’’ McGlade said on a conference call with reporters. “If we can’t start on time, if there is a delay on getting back to campuses — we’re looking at what that does to the first part of the calendar of the fall schedules, and how that would impact condensing the schedule.”
McGlade said conferences are communicating with each other about possibly having more regionalized schedules in Olympic sports over the next year. Also, individual schools and their medical and training staffs are studying what public health factors are in play in order to return to play.
The A-10 also is looking at contingencies that include campuses being open, but, she said, say, the schedule is condensed because of social distancing and the time available to train and practice.
Pa. senators threaten subpoena if Wolf administration refuses to turn over list of coronavirus business waivers
Two Republican state senators are threatening to issue a subpoena if the Wolf administration fails by Wednesday to produce all records related to its secretive process for awarding waivers to allow certain businesses to continue operating during the coronavirus shutdown.
In a letter to Wolf, Sens. Tom Killion (R., Delaware) and Mike Regan (R., York) asked for emails, letters, and other documents related to the process for awarding waivers, which was administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development. The senators are also seeking a list of the waivers that were granted or denied, as well as the administration’s justification for those decisions. The administration has so far refused requests to release the information.
“The next step is a subpoena,” Killion and Regan wrote.
The senators gave Wolf until the end of the day Wednesday to respond. They stopped short of promising to draw on the legislature’s rarely used option of issuing subpoenas, but did say that they are “prepared to take any appropriate additional steps to compel the delivery of these records.”
Pet groomers, stores selling items for religious ceremonies are essential businesses, latest N.J. order says
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and State Police superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan issued an administrative order Monday allowing pet grooming businesses and stores selling items necessary for religious ceremonies and worship to operate as essential businesses.
The order also allows car dealerships to allow customers who have purchased a vehicle online or by phone to test-drive their car at the time of pickup, as long as dealerships adhere to social-distancing standards.
It also prohibits owners of personal care facilities — like spas and salons — to serve customers in any private residence unless it is an immediate family member, romantic partner, or housemate.
Delco sets up temporary morgue at Emergency Training Center
With coronavirus deaths increasing in Delaware County and delays in families’ picking up bodies, a temporary morgue has been set up at the county’s Emergency Training Center, in Darby, a county official said Monday.
As of Monday, 142 people had died of coronavirus-related causes in the county, according to state figures, and over 3,300 confirmed cases have been reported.
The county noted that because of travel restrictions and unconventional funeral arrangements during the pandemic, some family members have been unable to retrieved the bodies of their relatives.
The training center is located on Calcon Hook Road.
All inmates and staff at Montgomery County’s correctional facility have been tested for COVID-19
All inmates and staff in the Montgomery County correctional facility were tested for COVID-19 last week, and county chair Val Arkoosh said the results offer a glimpse of how widely the virus may be spreading even among those who show no symptoms.
The county gave tests to 939 inmates and 388 staff members last Thursday and Friday, Arkoosh said. Of the 740 results that are back from inmates, 169 are positive; of the 249 tests back from staff members, 28 are positive.
All staff members are at home in isolation, she said, other than a correctional officer who is hospitalized. Arkoosh said that as a result of the testing, 683 inmates were quarantined, none of whom are experiencing symptoms.
"These numbers really highlight the importance of testing everyone in a facility,” she said, noting that inmates had been having their temperatures checked daily for weeks. “These are people that are without symptoms … It is the asymptomatic individuals who can really contribute to substantial spread.”
County officials have discharged more than 600 people from the jail since the outbreak began, she said, through early release programs and other channels.
A week ago, county officials only knew of a handful of positive cases inside the jail walls. Arkoosh said the results further demonstrate the importance of testing all who share living quarters, such as those who live and work in nursing homes and other buildings. As of Monday, she said, more than 70 percent of the county’s 220 fatal cases of COVID-19 were among residents of long term care facilities.
“This is a tricky virus, and I think particularly in these congregate care settings, you need to test everybody so that you can properly isolate people and quarantine people,” she said. “What we need are hundreds of thousands more rapid tests.”
Wolf to graduating seniors: ‘You’ve been dealt a bad hand’
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, in a Facebook video Monday, told the graduating class of 2020 to keep their heads up despite the fact that traditional graduations across high schools and universities have been canceled due to the coronavirus.
“A lot of you are probably feeling angry about this,” Wolf said. “And you have a right to feel that way because you’ve been dealt a bad hand.”
“But I know that your generation has the strength and mindset to make the best of this situation,” he said.
COVID-19 took special moments away from all of us. Join me in congratulating an incredible group of young people who got dealt a bad hand and are still keeping their heads up. Congratulations to the class of 2020.
During Monday’s press briefing, Health Secretary Rachel Levine said while she wasn’t familiar with Wolf’s social-media message, it was safe to assume traditional graduation ceremonies won’t take place as scheduled.
“We know that school has been canceled for the rest of the school year,” she said. “We’re not going to allow large gatherings, even in yellow zones, so I think that’s a fair assumption that graduations will have to be remote. Large groups will not be able to congregate for those ceremonies. It’s a real shame, but this is a global pandemic and we have to take precautions.”
Wolf allows golf courses, marinas, campgrounds to reopen May 1
Pennsylvanians will have more options for outdoor activities beginning Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced.
Golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds can reopen statewide starting Friday, though campgrounds in state parks must remain closed through May 14.
Like at other essential businesses, social distancing and masking guidelines will be required.
“As the weather warms and daylight lengthens, enjoying time outdoors is an important way to manage stress,” Wolf said Monday in a statement. “As we start to take measured, limited steps to reopen our commonwealth, reopening these industries will help to rebuild our economy and strengthen our mental health.”
On golf courses, no gatherings will be allowed and golfers must keep six feet from each other, according to the governor’s updated guidelines. Golf carts may be used by only one person at a time, and employees can’t be present “for the purposes of facilitating play.”
Landscapers and other groundskeepers can perform upkeep on the properties.
At marinas, people can take their boats out for personal use, and chartered fishing services can operate with no more than two clients who must remain six feet apart.
No estimate for when Philadelphia area can move into first phase of reopening, Levine says
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine said she has no estimate for when Philadelphia and its suburbs may move to the “yellow” stage of Gov. Tom Wolf’s phased economic reopening plan.
“I know it’ll be challenging in the southeast,” she said. “We don’t know when Philadelphia will be able to go to yellow. We don’t know when the collar counties will. But it’s very important to have hope for the future, and we’ll get there.”
The commonwealth will be looking at a variety of factors in determining which parts of the state can reopen first. She said the state has improved its testing capacity in recent days and increased its supply of needed chemicals.
“What we really want is a constant supply chain so we know that will continue,” she said.
On Monday, Pennsylvania reported 885 new coronavirus deaths for a total of 42,050 confirmed positive cases. 7,037 have been linked with 441 long-term care facilities. The state has reported a total of 1,597 deaths.
Philly unions are calling for a citywide essential worker bill of rights during the coronavirus pandemic
As workers grow increasingly desperate in the face of life-threatening conditions, Philadelphia labor leaders have come together to demand the city protect employees deemed essential during the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials representing more than 30 union locals and worker groups called Monday for Mayor Jim Kenney to make testing available for all essential workers and to prevent employers from firing employees who stay home if they feel sick.
Pa. hospitals may resume some elective procedures, Levine says
Pennsylvania health officials on Monday released guidance for hospitals that feel ready to resume some elective procedures that were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We know that many Pennsylvanians have had to delay important procedures and operations,” Health Secretary Rachel Levine said, “but it was necessary to ensure healthcare systems had enough capacity in case it became overwhelmed with patients with coronavirus.”
Levine said officials hope all people who undergo elective procedures will be able to get a coronavirus test beforehand, regardless of symptoms, as a way for the commonwealth to gather additional data.
The guidelines, which Levine said are in line with a number of national medical associations, allow facilities to resume these procedures as long as it wouldn’t put doctors and nurses at risk or deplete the hospital’s supply of personal protective equipment to a level that wouldn’t be able to handle a surge in coronavirus patients.
Philly Mayor Jim Kenney on flyovers: ‘We probably could use the money on something else’
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney suggested Monday that the fighter jet flyovers scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the request of President Donald Trump may not be the best use of taxpayer resources during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We probably could use the money on something else, rather the personnel and equipment utilized, but I’m not going to turn something which could be positive into a negative,” he said. “People enjoy the flyover. I love looking at those planes myself. It’ll be 20 minutes for one day, and then we’ll move on.”
America’s premier flight demonstration squads — the Navy’s Blue Angels, which fly F/A-18 Hornets, and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds, flying F-16C Fighting Falcons — will make several passes over the Philadelphia area during a 20-minute flyover at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Kenney urged residents to practice social distancing if they are going to a public place to watch the flyovers.
Buses, trolleys, and the Norristown High Speed Line won’t see changes to service levels, but the “headway-based schedules” ditches an exact timetable in favor of showing how often service will arrive.“
This change will allow SEPTA to more easily and quickly provide additional vehicles when overcrowding occurs, creating greater flexibility to better deploy service with our available Operators,” according to SEPTA’s website.
One motel, the Sandpiper in North Wildwood, announced it was closing until 2021. Murphy says he could only envision a shore season this summer with restrictions and social distancing protocols, even on the beach.
“I just don’t envision being in tight spaces without real restrictions and social distancing,” he said. “Even on the beach, I just don’t see it.”
He said he is worried about out of state travel into New Jersey and said he still is urging people to stay in their primary homes. “We want folks to be in their primary residences,” he said. “The shore community, particularly in the off season, does not have the infrastructure.”
”I want to see the shore humming throughout the summer," he said. “We will move as quickly as we can but as safely as we must.”
He also said concerts would be one of the last things to come back. The Barefoot Country Music Fest recently announced it had canceled its planned Wildwood beach concerts. Atlantic City also has beach concerts planned this summer.
Philadelphia health commissioner: ‘It’s looking like we are past the peak of this epidemic’
With the number of new confirmed cases falling, Philadelphia appears to be “past the worst” of the coronavirus pandemic, Public Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.
“It’s looking like we are past the peak of this epidemic. We are now on the downside,” Farley said. “There are signs of hope.”
The city received reports of 302 new confirmed cases since Sunday, Farley said, for a total of 12,868 since the virus reached Philadelphia. While still high, the daily tally is below recent weeks, when the city saw more than 500 new cases each day.
That means the virus’ reproductive rate — the number of people each coronavirus patient infects — appears to have fallen below one, a critical milestone for controlling the virus. Farley, however, cautioned that the good news does not mean that Philadelphians no longer need to observe social distancing rules.
“It’s a reason for us to continue to do what we’re doing now,” he said. “We’re showing that we can win, but the game isn’t over yet, not by a long shot.”
Farley also said that 12 new coronavirus related-deaths were reported to the city Monday, for a total of 484. Of those, 295 were nursing home residents.
Trump will hold a press briefing Monday evening, after canceling it earlier in the day
It turns out President Donald Trump will hold a coronavirus press briefing on Monday after all.
After saying Monday morning on Fox News that the administration was “not tracking a briefing,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that Trump will indeed hold a coronavirus press briefing later today.
Infections rise in South Jersey, while another 106 New Jerseyans die from the coronavirus
Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday 2,146 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in New Jersey, bringing the state’s positive case load to 111,188.
Another 106 people have died from the virus overnight, pushing the Garden State’s death toll to 6,044. There are 6,407 residents hospitalized for the coronavirus, including 1,801 patients in critical care. There are 1,313 people on ventilators.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted the rate of coronavirus infections are dropping in North Jersey, while remaining the same in central parts of the state and rising in South Jersey. This comes as Murphy unveiled a six-point plan for reopening the state that will require that officials see — among other factors — a 14 day trend of “appreciable and sustained drop in cases, hospitalizations, and other metrics,” and at least a doubling in the state’s coronavirus testing capacity.
Murphy says ‘concerts are not going to be anytime soon’ as he outlines plans to reopen New Jersey
Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday said “concerts are not going to be anytime soon” as he noted which activities may be the first to reopen. This comes as he unveiled a six point plan for how the state may resume normal life.
Murphy said businesses, like food chains, where “he has a high degree of confidence” can maintain social distancing and other coronavirus protection norms will come back online first.
Live Nation, which books acts for Camden’s BB&T Pavilion and Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel & Casino, as well as Atlantic City beach concerts, declined to comment on the governor’s statement.
The governor also noted he still hasn’t made a decision on when schools will reopen. They remained closed until May 15.
A Fishtown grocer photographed hundreds of items to help customers during the coronavirus pandemic
People kept passing by the Fishtown corner store, unaware the family-run grocer remained open for business during the coronavirus shutdown.
So earlier this month Dennis Chi and his wife Cecilia Chan photographed more than a hundred items inside their store, D & C Grocery, and placed the images outside to serve as a kind of visual menu.
Patrons can “browse” a wide variety of items — frozen pizzas, Oreo cookies, pasta sauces, canned soups, energy drinks, even cleaning supplies and toiletries — and order through a takeout window. They’re all pictured in color on large boards that are propped up on the sidewalk.
Now, “a lot of people notice we are still open,” Chi said. “Business doesn’t compare" to pre-pandemic levels, "but it helps.”
Murphy announces six-point plan for N.J.’s reopening; Stay-at-home order will remain in place until further notice
Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday unveiled a six-point plan for how he will reopen the state, as officials begin to tackle how New Jersey will recover from the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged the state.
The plan, which makes no commitment on when the state will reopen, requires New Jersey to see a 14-day trend showing “appreciable and sustained drop in cases, hospitalizations, and other metrics” and at least a doubling in the state’s coronavirus testing capacity.
Murphy’s blueprint also calls for recruiting an “army of personnel” for robust contact tracing efforts that will help manage the spike of infections officials predict will occur once the state reopens.
Murphy noted New Jersey will need to enlist 1,300 to 7,000 people in contact tracing efforts to ensure it adheres to national guidance that calls for 15 to 81 persons engaged in contact tracing for every 100,000 residents. The plan also requires state officials to have enough places to ensure patients who do test positive can quarantine and isolate to protect others from COVID-19.
“This roadmap is designed with one goal only,” Murphy said, “to restore the health, strength, and well-being of New Jersey, for the long term.”
Murphy noted New Jersey’s stay-at-home order, which has been in effect since March 21, will remain in place until further notice. It was set to expire on May 7.
“For us to move out from underneath this order, we will need to see, at the least, a sustained reduction in the number of new positive COVID-19 test results, new COVID-19 related hospitalizations, and other metrics,” Murphy said.
Murphy told residents to “expect to see the continuation of social distancing measures,” and noted residents may be required to wear face coverings in certain locations, and continued work-from-home directives for non-essential workers.
Pelosi also suggested extending the timeline for small businesses to have access to funds in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which was replenished with $310 billion last week after quickly burning through its first $350 billion.
Experts warn that due to the overwhelming demand from small businesses, the fund could again run out in days.
Military releases schedule, map for Philly Blue Angels/Thunderbirds flyover
The Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds will make several passes over Philadelphia on Tuesday as part of a multi-state flyover to honor health-care workers on the front-lines of the coronavirus battle.
According to a map released on Monday, the flight group will depart from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakenhurst at 1:45 p.m. and make several passes over Trenton before heading south to Philadelphia at 2 p.m.
White House press secretary: No coronavirus briefing on Monday
President Trump and members of the White House’s coronavirus task force will not offer a press briefing Monday afternoon, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
During an interview on Fox News Monday morning, McEnany said the administration was “not tracking a briefing” today, but noted there will be a media availability with retail CEOs President Trump is meeting with at the White House as 4 p.m.
“There will be briefings throughout other portions of the week,” McEnany added, saying this was “absolutely not an effort to cutback” the number of coronavirus briefings. The White House did not hold briefings on Saturday or Sunday.
“We’re looking at different ways to showcase this president leading. The briefings are a key component of that. We will have briefings this week,” McEnany said. “Make no mistake — the president will be briefing the American people this week.”
Preparing to outline a road map to reopen N. J., Gov. Phil Murphy says it will be guided by ‘data, science, and common sense’
Gov. Phil Murphy plans to announce his “roadmap for responsibly reopening New Jersey” Monday.
Murphy, appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday, cautioned that New Jersey must have testing, contact tracing and isolation measures in place to manage the inevitable spike of infections the state will see once it starts reopening.
Our #COVID19 response has been guided by the simple truth that public health creates economic health. The road back will be driven by data, science, and common sense.
On Sunday night, Murphy announced on Twitter his intention to release his much awaited reopening plan.
“Our #COVID19 response has been guided by the simple truth that public health creates economic health,” Murphy said on Twitter. “The road back will be driven by data, science, and common sense.”
The announcement, scheduled for noon, is expected to be a “broad blueprint,” which, Murphy has said, would not likely have any dates attached to it. Murphy said he expects the state to open as a whole, not by region, and must take into account the higher levels of dense populations in the north compared to the south. The state has been under lock down orders for over five weeks. In previous days, Murphy said his plan may be “broadly similar” to that of Pennsylvania’s color-coded plan announced by Gov. Tom Wolf last week.
Stocks open up amid signs of movement to slowly reopen the economy
The stock market opened up on Monday as the country begins to pivot from mandatory coronavirus shutdowns to slowly reopening segments of the economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened up about 133 points, about 0.56%, and is up nearly 29% since it closed at 18,591 points on March 23.
The Nasdaq opened up about 80 points (about 1.0%), and the S&P 500 opened up about 23 points (about 0.8%). Both are also up more than 20% since their March 23 lows.
Several states, including Alaska, George, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas allowed some businesses to reopen over the weekend, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released early reopening plans on Sunday. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy plans to release reopening information today at noon during his daily press briefing.
Kraft Heinz macaroni and cheese is a hot seller, too, giving at least a temporary boost to the struggling food manufacturer based in Pittsburgh and Chicago. And sales of Herr’s potato chips jumped 20% in March over the same period in 2019, according to the CEO of the Chester County company.
It’s not just you: Americans are eating more snacks and processed foods as they stock up and hunker down during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s welcome news for some Philadelphia-area and Pennsylvania food manufacturers that stands out as a bright spot in an otherwise bleak economy struggling with government-imposed shutdowns aimed at mitigating the spread of the virus.
Hundreds in Philly could lose coronavirus relief money because stimulus checks aren’t safe from debt collectors
Hundreds of Philadelphians may be locked out of their bank accounts and could lose their federal coronavirus stimulus checks to creditors and debt collectors, cutting them off from funds they may need to pay rent and buy groceries during the pandemic.
In the three months before the coronavirus crisis closed courthouses, the city’s Municipal Court judges issued more than 400 so-called garnishment orders, which allow people and businesses to collect their winnings after succeeding in civil cases, according to an estimate from Community Legal Services (CLS), a nonprofit law firm that represents low-income residents.
The bulk of the garnishment orders come from cases brought by debt collectors and creditors, who sue consumers when they fall behind on credit card payments and loans, said CLS attorney Laura Smith. Sheriffs often serve the orders on banks to freeze consumers’ accounts, preventing them from spending or withdrawing money.
That means hundreds of Philadelphians may have their funds frozen at a time when millions of Americans are out of work. And they could be blocked from getting federal stimulus checks that weren’t protected from debt collectors when Congress hastily put together the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package. The snatching of relief payments — up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples, plus $500 per child — has sparked widespread criticism, with lawmakers, consumer advocates, and banks calling on federal officials to resolve the issue.
‘The food supply chain is breaking’: Tyson warns of meat shortage
The head of Tyson Foods, one of the largest meat processors in the country, is warning that the “the food supply chain is breaking” as plants across the country are forced to close due to coronavirus breakouts.
John Tyson, chairman of the boards of Tyson Foods, wrote in a full-page ad that appeared in the New York Times and other newspapers on Sunday that “millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain" as a result of the plant closures, as companies grapple with how to keep employees safe from COVID-19.
Tyson also warned of a “serious food waste issue” caused by farmers not having a market for their livestock. “Millions of animals —chickens, pigs and cattle— will be depopulated because of the closure of our processing facilities,” Tyson wrote.
Temple University joins other schools in freezing tuition amid pandemic
Temple University plans to freeze undergraduate and graduate tuition for the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Monday.
The freeze, which is subject to approval by the board of trustees at its meeting May 12, would apply to both in-state and out-of-state students, the school said.
This would be the second consecutive year of no tuition increase for in-state students, who currently pay $16,080. Out-of-state students pay $28,994. Rutgers, Pennsylvania State University and Delaware Valley University also have announced plans for tuition freezes in the last week.
When coronavirus hit, schools moved online. Some students didn’t.
Philadelphia teacher Jenifer Felix has tried to reach her students and their families in myriad ways since the coronavirus closed schools: with calls and texts, through Facebook messages and Instagram stories.
Her school, Kensington Health Sciences Academy, prides itself on having close ties with pupils. Still, as many as 25% of Felix’s students aren’t logging on or completing work because they lack wireless internet, have to work, or care for family members.
As the pandemic has forced classes online, not all students have been able to follow. Weeks after the interruption of in-person learning, some pupils still haven’t logged in or communicated with teachers.
“Our number-one concern is making connections with students and families,” said Superintendent Richard Dunlap of the Coatesville Area School District, where 15% of its more than 5,700 students are unaccounted for.
But customers can only place orders by phone — which has led to a lot of busy signals. Have a credit card ready for payment.
Last week, LCB Chairman Tim Holden acknowledged customers’ frustration and said, "After learning from our experiences this past week, we’ve made improvements to process orders faster, expand the hours we take orders by phone, and be more flexible in scheduling pickups, even the same day if pickup appointments are available.”
Most reopened stores will take from 50 to 100 orders per day for pickup between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Coronavirus could cost Philly up to $647 million — but layoffs are avoidable, city controller says
The coronavirus pandemic could cost the city government $344 million to $647 million in lost tax revenue through June 2021, according to an analysis by the Philadelphia controller’s office.
Although such a hit to coffers would be significant — the current budget is about $5 billion — Controller Rebecca Rhynhart said she believes the city should be able to avoid laying off municipal workers or cutting core services by tapping reserves, reducing overtime spending, pausing newer initiatives championed by Mayor Jim Kenney, and taking advantage of a new federal loan program for local governments.
“I don’t think that you need to lay off city employees to manage through this,” said Rhynhart, an elected official who oversees city finances and who has sparred with Kenney. “There have to be things on the table that could be things that the mayor really wants."
Rhynhart declined to specify which of Kenney’s priorities could be cut. The mayor has previously championed investing in high-quality pre-kindergarten programs and revitalizing rec centers and parks. Earlier this year he proposed a new scholarship program for Community College of Philadelphia and an initiative to bring street sweeping to every neighborhood.
Covid-19 spreads fear, uncertainty among Philly police
When he finishes a regular shift of examining the contours of a murder scene — the shell casings and blood spatter, the mystery of who pulled the trigger — one Philadelphia police investigator begins a new ritual. He drives along a familiar route to his house at the edge of the city, but stops before entering. Inside, he has family members with compromised immune systems, which makes them especially vulnerable to the deadly coronavirus.
He stands, for a moment, in his garage. His clothes are immediately tossed into the washer. His shoes get pushed to the side. He sprints into the shower.
“I can’t take any chances,” explained the investigator, who requested anonymity because he didn’t have approval to speak publicly.
Countless Philadelphians have learned new routines that they hope will protect them from the virus: donning masks and gloves on neighborhood walks, scrubbing groceries with disinfectant wipes, interacting with relatives only through windowpanes.
But for first responders such as police, there’s no getting around the fact that their job puts them at a heightened risk for contracting COVID-19.
Morning Roundup: Nearly 1,000 coronavirus patients fill Philly hospitals; New Jersey’s reopening plans move tentatively forward
The pandemic proved as relentless as the rain on Sunday, as the death count from the coronavirus continued to rise in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and larger plans for a safe reopening remained in flux.
An additional 4,800 cases were diagnosed in both states, and nearly a thousand people were being treated in Philadelphia hospitals.
Nationally, the one certainty remained uncertainty.
Americans should expect social-distancing measures to continue through the summer, White House Coronavirus Taskforce Coordinator Deborah Birx said, adding the nation needs a “breakthrough” in testing to gauge the virus’ spread accurately. Top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said the United States must at least double its testing capacity before restarting the economy, up from the current 1.5 million to 2 million tests that are being conducted a week.