7:50 AM - April 28, 2020
7:50 AM - April 28, 2020

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.

12:02 AM - April 28, 2020
12:02 AM - April 28, 2020

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.

— Erin Arvedlund and Sam Wood

10:52 PM - April 27, 2020
10:52 PM - April 27, 2020

Gov. Murphy says concerts aren’t happening in New Jersey ‘anytime soon.’ What’s that mean for the summer season?

Page McConnell is on keyboards and vocals (left), and guitarist Trey Anastasio sings his heart out during the Phish Summer 2015 tour at the Mann Center in Philadelphia in August 2015.
Jessie Fox / Philly.com
Page McConnell is on keyboards and vocals (left), and guitarist Trey Anastasio sings his heart out during the Phish Summer 2015 tour at the Mann Center in Philadelphia in August 2015.

Outlining his plan to reopen New Jersey and ease the state out of its coronavirus lockdown, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that “concerts aren’t going to be anytime soon.”

That does not bode well for the summer concert season in the Garden State, where there’s a full slate of shows scheduled at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden and casinos in Atlantic City, not to mention a three-night Phish stand on the A.C. beach in August.

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.

— Dan DeLuca

9:50 PM - April 27, 2020
9:50 PM - April 27, 2020

Flyers icon Bernie Parent, Snider Hockey assist families in need during coronavirus pandemic

Legendary Flyers goaltender Bernie Parent next to a drawing by Jordan Spector at his home in Warrington, Bucks County, earlier this month.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Legendary Flyers goaltender Bernie Parent next to a drawing by Jordan Spector at his home in Warrington, Bucks County, earlier this month.

Bernie Parent, the Hall of Fame goalie who had shutouts in series-clinching wins in the 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cup Finals, is still delivering for Philadelphia.

Literally.

Parent, 75, joined members of the Ed Snider Youth Foundation in distributing free grab-and-go meals, bandannas serving as masks, and children’s books to those in need Monday in Northeast Philadelphia.

The bandannas, designed by Parent and his wife, Gini, with a picture of Parent’s goalie mask on them, were created to protect people from the coronavirus pandemic.

— Sam Carchidi

8:55 PM - April 27, 2020
8:55 PM - April 27, 2020

Here are some of the big coronavirus questions scientists are racing to answer

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

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.

— Jonathan Lai

8:19 PM - April 27, 2020
8:19 PM - April 27, 2020

Bucks County reports 18 new coronavirus-related deaths

Bucks County reported 18 more coronavirus-related deaths on Monday, raising the county’s total to 168.

The fatalities included 12 men who ranged in age from 57 to 94 and six women ages 79 to 93.

There were an additional 93 confirmed positive cases for a total of 2,675 so far.

The county reported that 210 people were being hospitalized with COVID-19, with 25 in critical condition and on ventilators.

— Robert Moran

8:00 PM - April 27, 2020
8:00 PM - April 27, 2020

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.

About 22 million passengers flew American out of Philadelphia International Airport last year, better than 10 times more than any other carrier.

— Anthony R. Wood

7:25 PM - April 27, 2020
7:25 PM - April 27, 2020

Trump offers guidance for states to increase testing

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk from the Oval Office to speak about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden on Monday.
Alex Brandon / AP
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk from the Oval Office to speak about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden on Monday.

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.

— Robert Moran

6:40 PM - April 27, 2020
6:40 PM - April 27, 2020

Contingency plans in the works for college sports to come back for next school year

La Salle guard Sherif Kenney tries to drive past St. Joseph’s guard Dennis Ashley during a basketball game on March 7.
LOU RABITO / Staff
La Salle guard Sherif Kenney tries to drive past St. Joseph’s guard Dennis Ashley during a basketball game on March 7.

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.

— Mike Jensen

6:15 PM - April 27, 2020
6:15 PM - April 27, 2020

SEPTA bus operator dies from coronavirus complications

Yolanda Woodberry, a SEPTA bus operator within its Frankford Depot, has died from coronavirus complications, General Manager Leslie Richards told employees in an email Monday.

Woodberry, who had worked at SEPTA since 2003 according to the letter, is the transportation authority’s fifth employee death related to the illness.

“This is a very difficult time for so many reasons — but especially when we lose one of our own,” Richards said in the letter. “Please know that I am thinking of you and appreciate all you are doing.”

Three maintenance employees have died from the coronavirus: Phillip Williams, Theodore Nixon, and Michael Holt. Michael Hill, a longtime SEPTA Regional Rail conductor, died of COVID-19 complications.

SEPTA has seen more than 200 confirmed employee cases of coronavirus. Transport Workers Union Local 234, representing thousands of employees, is calling for greater safeguards against the pandemic. Last week, TWU Local 234 President Willie Brown postponed a threat to take a “job action” that would have prompted “significant service disruptions."

— Patricia Madej

5:50 PM - April 27, 2020
5:50 PM - April 27, 2020

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.”

— Angela Couloumbis of Spotlight PA and Brad Bumsted of The Caucus

5:20 PM - April 27, 2020
5:20 PM - April 27, 2020

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.

These orders are to go into effect immediately.

— Pranshu Verma

5:10 PM - April 27, 2020
5:10 PM - April 27, 2020

Atlantic City to open two coronavirus testing sites, including one outside Showboat

One of the testing sites will be in the parking lot of the Showboat Hotel.
Wayne Parry / AP
One of the testing sites will be in the parking lot of the Showboat Hotel.

Atlantic City will open two coronavirus testing sites this week, a drive-up site at the former Surf Stadium and a walk-up site in the parking lot of Showboat Hotel.

The sites were funded by a Community Development Block Grant, said Mayor Marty Small. Both require a prescription, which can be obtained on site, proof of residency, and an appointment.

The drive-up site will open Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The walk-up Showboat site will open Tuesdays and Thursdays, with an entry point on Delaware Avenue.

— Amy Rosenberg

4:40 PM - April 27, 2020
4:40 PM - April 27, 2020

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.

— Anthony R. Wood

4:30 PM - April 27, 2020
4:30 PM - April 27, 2020

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.”

— Allison Steele

3:35 PM - April 27, 2020
3:35 PM - April 27, 2020

Virtua Hospital cheers on 63-year-old coronavirus patient’s discharge

— David Maialetti

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

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.

2020 Graduation Message

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.

Posted by Governor Tom Wolf on Friday, April 24, 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.”

— Ellie Rushing, Erin McCarthy

3:10 PM - April 27, 2020
3:10 PM - April 27, 2020

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.

— Erin McCarthy

3:05 PM - April 27, 2020
3:05 PM - April 27, 2020

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.”

While some parts of the state will enter that first stage as early as the end of next week, Levine reiterated the Philadelphia region “clearly” won’t be among them.

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.

As some relatives of nursing home residents struggle to get accurate information about virus outbreaks, Levine said officials are “considering” releasing names of affected long-term care facilities. So far, the state has only released the number of staff and resident cases and deaths by county.

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.

— Erin McCarthy

2:55 PM - April 27, 2020
2:55 PM - April 27, 2020

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.

The effort, led by the UPS workers’ union Teamsters Local 623 and worker group One Pennsylvania, is the first attempt at uniting the city’s labor movement during the pandemic.

“Workers were called upon to deliver us through this crisis,” the union leaders wrote in a letter to Kenney. “It’s time they are delivered the respect and protections they deserve.”

— Juliana Feliciano Reyes

2:20 PM - April 27, 2020
2:20 PM - April 27, 2020

Pa. hospitals may resume some elective procedures, Levine says

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaking at the virtual press conference.
Commonwealth Media Services
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaking at the virtual press conference.

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.

— Erin McCarthy

2:05 PM - April 27, 2020
2:05 PM - April 27, 2020

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.

— Sean Walsh

1:55 PM - April 27, 2020
1:55 PM - April 27, 2020

SEPTA running buses, trolleys on frequency schedule

There’s a new change to SEPTA’s “lifeline service” schedules intended to emphasize frequencies.

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.

Service frequency for each route can be found on SEPTA’s website, ranging from every 12 to 15 minutes to over an hour. The schedules first began Sunday.

— Patricia Madej

1:45 PM - April 27, 2020
1:45 PM - April 27, 2020

Murphy: No ‘crisp answer’ on Memorial Day Weekend or Shore season

The Sea Serpent roller coaster (opened in 1984) at Morey's Pier's Surfside Pier July 8, 2019. Its planned opening to kick off Morey's. Two major anniversaries are occurring in Wildwood this year: The 70th anniversary of the tram car and 50th anniversary of Morey's Piers amusement parks.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
The Sea Serpent roller coaster (opened in 1984) at Morey's Pier's Surfside Pier July 8, 2019. Its planned opening to kick off Morey's. Two major anniversaries are occurring in Wildwood this year: The 70th anniversary of the tram car and 50th anniversary of Morey's Piers amusement parks.

Gov. Murphy said he wants to see the Jersey Shore “humming throughout the summer,” but cautioned that any reopening this year will just be “some semblance of norm.”

“I don’t have a crisp answer on Memorial Day,” he said.

His projected timeline for sufficient testing to even consider reopening takes him past the holiday weekend.

“Four weeks from today. I can’t give you a full answer. I hope we have some semblance of norm on the shore this summer but it will be some semblance."

Jersey shore marketers and business owners have been trying to envision how to salvage a summer economically with ideas ranging from timed entry on the beach to revamped cleaning procedures to social distancing the beach patrol.

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.

— Amy Rosenberg

1:40 PM - April 27, 2020
1:40 PM - April 27, 2020

Philadelphia health commissioner: ‘It’s looking like we are past the peak of this epidemic’

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Monday that Philadelphia has passed the peak of cases.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Monday that Philadelphia has passed the peak of cases.

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.

— Sean Walsh

1:35 PM - April 27, 2020
1:35 PM - April 27, 2020

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.

“The White House has additional testing guidance and other announcements about safely opening up America again,” McEnany wrote on Twitter Monday afternoon.

There were no coronavirus briefings over the weekend, and Trump hasn’t taken part in a full press briefing since Thursday, when he suggested that scientists should look into whether toxic disinfectants or sunlight could be possible treatments for COVID-19 patients.

Trump cut short his briefing on Friday without taking questions following the intense blowback over the remarks, which he claimed were “sarcastic.”

— Rob Tornoe

1:25 PM - April 27, 2020
1:25 PM - April 27, 2020

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.

1:05 PM - April 27, 2020
1:05 PM - April 27, 2020

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.

— Pranshu Verma

12:45 PM - April 27, 2020
12:45 PM - April 27, 2020

New York cancels Democratic presidential primary

New York announced on Monday it has canceled its 2020 Democratic president primary in an attempt to minimize voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Senator Sanders has not only announced that he’s suspending his campaign but he’s also announced a public endorsement of Joe Biden,” Democratic election commissioner Doug Kellner told the Democrat & Chronicle. “That has effectively ended the real context for the primary election."

No other contest is on ballots in about 20 of the state’s 62 counties on June 23, meaning that voters in those counties will now have no need to go to the polls, the New York Times reported.

While 16 states have postponed their primaries in response to the spread of COVID-19, New York is the first state to outright cancel its primary. Pennsylvania moved back its primary elections to June 23, while New Jersey’s primary is scheduled for July 7.

— Rob Tornoe

12:40 PM - April 27, 2020
12:40 PM - April 27, 2020

A Fishtown grocer photographed hundreds of items to help customers during the coronavirus pandemic

Cecilia Chan made photo boards for D & C Grocery to make it easier for customers to purchase items without entering the store. All transactions are done through the window.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Cecilia Chan made photo boards for D & C Grocery to make it easier for customers to purchase items without entering the store. All transactions are done through the window.

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.”

— Erin McCarthy

12:15 PM - April 27, 2020
12:15 PM - April 27, 2020

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.

— Pranshu Verma

11:50 AM - April 27, 2020
11:50 AM - April 27, 2020

Pelosi: Guaranteed minimum income worthy of discussion

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said the idea of providing Americans with a guaranteed minimum income during the coronavirus pandemic was an idea “worthy of attention.”

“Others have suggested a minimum income … a guaranteed income for people. Is that worthy of attention now? Perhaps so,” Pelosi said during an interview on MSNBC on Monday.

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.

— Rob Tornoe

11:15 AM - April 27, 2020
11:15 AM - April 27, 2020

Military releases schedule, map for Philly Blue Angels/Thunderbirds flyover

The military released this map of the planned flyover Tuesday by the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels to salute health care workers.
@AFThunderbirds
The military released this map of the planned flyover Tuesday by the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels to salute health care workers.

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.

The 12-jet flyover Philadelphia will last about 20 minutes, but officials say times are subject to change and urge residents to watch the show from their home-quarantine and refrain from traveling.

— Rob Tornoe

10:55 AM - April 27, 2020
10:55 AM - April 27, 2020

White House press secretary: No coronavirus briefing on Monday

FILE - In this April 20, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump stands as Vice President Mike Pence speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.
Alex Brandon / AP
FILE - In this April 20, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump stands as Vice President Mike Pence speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.

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.”

Trump cut short his briefing on Friday after being confronted over questions he asked about whether injecting disinfectants could be possible treatments for COVID-19 patents. He has since claimed those comments were “sarcastic” and attacked the news media in a series of tweets.

— Rob Tornoe

9:55 AM - April 27, 2020
9:55 AM - April 27, 2020

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.

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.

— Pranshu Verma

9:45 AM - April 27, 2020
9:45 AM - April 27, 2020

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.

— Robert Tornoe

9:15 AM - April 27, 2020
9:15 AM - April 27, 2020

Food companies in the Philly area are getting a boost from your coronavirus snacking and quick meals

A shelf of Campbell's soup.
BAIDI WANG / Staff Photographer
A shelf of Campbell's soup.

At Campbell Soup in Camden, orders for cases of soup, sauces, and other items skyrocketed 366% one week last month compared with the same week last year.

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.

— Andrew Seidman

8:30 AM - April 27, 2020
8:30 AM - April 27, 2020

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.

— Christian Hetrick

7:55 AM - April 27, 2020
7:55 AM - April 27, 2020

‘The food supply chain is breaking’: Tyson warns of meat shortage

A Tyson Foods processing plant is seen, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Columbus Junction, Iowa.
Joseph Cress / AP
A Tyson Foods processing plant is seen, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Columbus Junction, Iowa.

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.

According to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, 13 meat processing plants have closed at some point in the past two months. That includes a large plant in Sioux Falls, S.D. owned by Smithfield Foods, which shut down when more than 500 workers contracted the virus.

Tyson Foods closed pork plants in Iowa and Indiana last week, and JBS pork processing shut down its plant in Worthington, Minnesota.

— Rob Tornoe

7:45 AM - April 27, 2020
7:45 AM - April 27, 2020

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.

— Susan Snyder

6:40 AM - April 27, 2020
6:40 AM - April 27, 2020

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.

— Maddie Hanna and Kristen A. Graham

5:30 AM - April 27, 2020
5:30 AM - April 27, 2020

Pa. liquor stores brace for expanded curbside pickup

The front window of Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection store on 2040 Market Street.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
The front window of Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection store on 2040 Market Street.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board faces a challenge today as it expands its curbside pickup program to nearly all its stores.

The LCB will open a total of 565 of its roughly 600 stores statewide, including 176 stores that already reopened a week ago.

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.

Jenn Ladd

5:00 AM - April 27, 2020
5:00 AM - April 27, 2020

Coronavirus could cost Philly up to $647 million — but layoffs are avoidable, city controller says

File: City Comptroller Rebecca Rhynhart speaking at a meeting in Feb. 2019.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
File: City Comptroller Rebecca Rhynhart speaking at a meeting in Feb. 2019.

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.

— Sean Collins Walsh

4:30 AM - April 27, 2020
4:30 AM - April 27, 2020

Covid-19 spreads fear, uncertainty among Philly police

A Philadelphia Police officer talks to a motorist on East Market Street in Center City Philadelphia on Thursday, April 23, 2020.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
A Philadelphia Police officer talks to a motorist on East Market Street in Center City Philadelphia on Thursday, April 23, 2020.

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.

— David Gambacorta

4:15 AM - April 27, 2020
4:15 AM - April 27, 2020

Morning Roundup: Nearly 1,000 coronavirus patients fill Philly hospitals; New Jersey’s reopening plans move tentatively forward

An ambulance and crew brings a patient to Cooper Hospital in Camden on April 25, 2020. The highly contagious nature of coronavirus (COVID-19) complicates medical transports.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
An ambulance and crew brings a patient to Cooper Hospital in Camden on April 25, 2020. The highly contagious nature of coronavirus (COVID-19) complicates medical transports.

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.

Jeff Gammage and Pranshu Verma

4:00 AM - April 27, 2020
4:00 AM - April 27, 2020

Today’s Inquirer Front Page

The Philadelphia Inquirer front page for Monday, April 27, 2020.
Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Inquirer front page for Monday, April 27, 2020.