10:50 PM - October 12, 2020
10:50 PM - October 12, 2020

Party lands University of Delaware swimmers in hot water

The University of Delaware has cracked down on student swimmers and divers for attending a large off-campus party that violated rules in place to contain the coronavirus.

The Newark-based university suspended 19 swimming and diving student-athletes for attending the party on Sept. 26, officials announced.

All of those suspended were put on probation for the rest of the semester in addition to each receiving suspensions ranging from 6 weeks to the full semester.

The party took place at an off-campus home and violated not only university guidelines on crowd size, but also a city ordinance which limits indoor gatherings to 12 people and outdoor gatherings to 20.

— Mensah M. Dean

8:17 PM - October 12, 2020
8:17 PM - October 12, 2020

Camden charter school goes remote after two students get coronavirus

Camden, NJ - School buses line up along N 6th St near Camden LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden, NJ on Monday afternoon, Sep. 30, 2019
MIGUEL MARTINEZ / Staff Photographer
Camden, NJ - School buses line up along N 6th St near Camden LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden, NJ on Monday afternoon, Sep. 30, 2019

The LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden shifted its elementary school to remote learning Monday after two students tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokesperson said Monday.

The move came exactly a week after Camden’s oldest charter school began in-person classes at its six campuses on Cooper Street that enroll about 1,500 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The outbreak only impacted a building that houses 296 students in K-through-third grades, according to Adam Dvorin, a LEAP spokesperson.

The elementary students will attend virtual classes for 10 days, with in-person classes resuming Oct. 26, Dvorin said. All buildings on the campus were cleaned and sterilized over the weekend and again on Monday, he said.

After teachers raised health and safety concerns, LEAP delayed plans to reopen its classrooms in August to start the school year with half-day classes in-person five days a week. Instead, the charter school began with remote learning for all students until in-person instruction began Oct. 5.

“Now, as always, the safety of our students and staff remains our highest priority,” Dvorin said in a statement. LEAP, which opened in September 1997, was among the first 17 charter schools in New Jersey.

— Melanie Burney

8:05 PM - October 12, 2020
8:05 PM - October 12, 2020

Trump returns to campaign trail, a week after hospital release

Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally at the Orlando Sanford International Airport Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Sanford, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux / AP
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally at the Orlando Sanford International Airport Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Sanford, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Just a week after his release from the hospital, President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail Monday for the first time since contracting the coronanvirus. Trump, whose doctor said Monday for the first time that he had received a negative test for COVID-19, is confronting poll deficits in battleground states and nationally.

He will be headlining a rally in Sanford, Fla. — the first stop in a busy week that will include events in Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina and Wisconsin.The robust schedule underscores the work Trump needs to do as he tries to win over voters just three weeks before Election Day. And it comes amid still-unanswered questions about the impact so much travel so soon could have on the 74-year-old president’s health.

— Associated Press

7:35 PM - October 12, 2020
7:35 PM - October 12, 2020

With theaters closed, Disney escalates streaming business

FILE - June 8, 2018 file photo. Disney is making changes to its online entertainment service. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)
Francois Mori / AP
FILE - June 8, 2018 file photo. Disney is making changes to its online entertainment service. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

With the coronavirus closing many movie theaters, Disney said Monday that it is reorganizing its business units to focus even more on streaming.The company said in August that its Disney Plus service has more than 60 million subscribers, and subscribers to its main combination of streaming services — Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu — top 100 million.

It plans to launch another international streaming service called Star. Disney has released several major titles on streaming services that would traditionally have appeared at cinemas, like a live-action remake of “Mulan,” and the upcoming Pixar film “Soul,” that will hit Disney Plus at Christmas.

Americans continue to drop their cable subscriptions, affecting the company’s TV networks.

— Associated Press

5:25 PM - October 12, 2020
5:25 PM - October 12, 2020

Fauci says Trump’s campaign ad did him wrong

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a July photo.
Kevin Dietsch-Pool / MCT
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a July photo.

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Monday said a new television ad sponsored by the campaign of his boss, President Donald Trump, took his words out of context and he hopes it is taken off the air.

“I think it’s really unfortunate and really disappointing that they did that. It’s so clear that I’m not a political person, and I have never either directly and indirectly endorsed a political candidate,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

When Tapper told Fauci he heard the Trump campaign was preparing another ad featuring him, the doctor responded: “That would be terrible. That would be outrageous if they do that. In fact, that might actually come back to backfire on them. That would be kind of playing a game that we don’t want to play. So, I hope they reconsider that if, in fact, they are, indeed, consider doing that.”

In the ad, a video clip of Fauci saying, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more,” is shown. He was talking about the government’s response to fighting the virus, but the editing gives the impression that the doctor was talking about Trump’s response.

— Mensah M. Dean

4:15 PM - October 12, 2020
4:15 PM - October 12, 2020

Is President Trump immune from the coronavirus?

President Donald Trump removes his face mask to speak from the Blue Room Balcony of the White House to a crowd of supporters, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Washington.
Alex Brandon / AP
President Donald Trump removes his face mask to speak from the Blue Room Balcony of the White House to a crowd of supporters, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Washington.

Twitter on Sunday slapped a warning on President Donald Trump’s tweet that he can’t get or give the coronavirus, saying the post violated rules “about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19."

Is there any evidence that the president is immune? And even if he is, could he still be infectious? Let’s look at what is known — and unknowable.

What is the scientific definition of ‘immunity?’

It means your immune system produces proteins, called antibodies, against a specific disease. Natural immunity can be acquired either by getting the disease or through vaccination, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 vaccines are still in development.

However, antibodies are only one part of the body’s defense system, and many diseases do not confer complete, permanent immunity. Seasonal influenza viruses, for example, continually mutate, so antibodies against one strain may not work against another strain. That’s why you should get the annual flu shot, which is tailored to circulating strains.

Because the coronavirus is so new, experts cannot yet say what level of antibodies are protective, or for how long. Extrapolating from other cold-causing coronaviruses, infection with the new SARS-CoV-2 is believed to confer protection from reinfection for at least three months.

— Marie McCullough

2:20 PM - October 12, 2020
2:20 PM - October 12, 2020

Thomas Jefferson to eliminate 500 positions as losses mount from COVID-19

An exterior view of the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Center City Philadelphia.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
An exterior view of the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Center City Philadelphia.

Thomas Jefferson University plans to cut 500 positions through attrition, freeze pay of top executives and stop retirement plan contributions for a year as the medical system, one of Philadelphia’s largest employers, struggles to stem losses.

Jefferson Health, which expanded from three to 14 hospitals from 2015 to 2018, has been hit extra hard by COVID-19 shutdowns that have delayed elective surgery.

“The reality is, unless addressed, the pandemic will dramatically affect our ability to fulfill our mission,” wrote Stephen K. Klasko, president of the university and chief executive at Jefferson Health, in an internal email to staff. Jefferson logged an operating loss of $298.71 million in the year ended June 30 even after it received $320 million in government grants to help it withstand the financial devastation of COVID-19.

Still, Klasko adds that he is determined to keep upgrading the facilities and remain competitive even if it means leaving hundreds of jobs unfilled. Jefferson employs more than 32,000 people and is the city’s second largest employer after the University of Pennsylvania.

— Joseph N. DiStefano

12:59 PM - October 12, 2020
12:59 PM - October 12, 2020

New Jersey reports 478 new cases, one additional death

New Jersey reported 478 new coronavirus cases on Monday. The state is now averaging 775 new cases a day over the past seven days, according to an Inquirer analysis, an increase of 14% compared to last week and up 110% compared to this time last month.

Eighty-nine new cases were reported in Ocean County, which has experienced a recent surge in new cases due to an outbreak in Lakewood, which is home to a large Orthodox Jewish community. Cases there have been traced to religious gatherings, weddings, and funerals.

Overall, 214,097 New Jersey residents have tested positive for coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. At least 14,387 residents have died, with one new death reported on Monday.

New Jersey is also reporting 662 current COVID-19 hospitalizations, the sixth-straight day above 600 and the highest level since August (though well below pandemic highs earlier this year).

As of Monday, 58 COVID-19 cases were linked to 16 schools across nine New Jersey counties, according to a Department of Health dashboard (the state doesn’t report the names of the schools or the districts). Twenty-six cases have been linked to nine school districts in South Jersey, including:

  • Cape May County: Two districts, 10 linked cases
  • Gloucester County: Two districts, 10 linked cases
  • Salem County: Two districts, eight linked cases
  • Burlington County: Two districts, six linked cases
  • Atlantic County: One district, two linked cases

— Rob Tornoe

12:34 PM - October 12, 2020
12:34 PM - October 12, 2020

In one Shore town, four restaurants have closed temporarily after reporting COVID-19 exposure

Dino's, the iconic Margate, N.J. sub shop on Ventnor Avenue, was forced to close until Oct. 15 due to a coronavirus exposure, owners announced on Facebook.
Amy S. Rosenberg / Staff
Dino's, the iconic Margate, N.J. sub shop on Ventnor Avenue, was forced to close until Oct. 15 due to a coronavirus exposure, owners announced on Facebook.

Four restaurants in Margate, N.J., have been forced to close temporarily due to positive coronavirus cases.

First, it was Roberts, the iconic day-into-night Margate bar which shut down for two weeks after reporting a positive COVID-19 case among its staff. Next came Dino’s, the equally-iconic Ventnor Avenue sub shop, is also shut down, until Wednesday “due to a covid exposure,” according to its Facebook post.

Four days ago, the baton was passed to Ventura’s Greenhouse, another staple of Margate life located next to Lucy the Elephant. The Greenhouse reported it was closing “for cleaning purposes” after an employee tested positive, and was opening for takeout Monday and would be fully open on Thursday.

Three days ago, Tomatoes, the popular restaurant on the bay, also reported an employee testing positive and a brief shut down for sanitizing and further testing. Owner Karen Sherman wrote on Facebook the employee had “very limited” contact with others, and that the restaurant had been deep cleaned.

Across the bridge in Northfield, Carluccio’s Pizza, reported over the weekend that it was closing temporarily due to a COVID-19 exposure.

Numbers in general in New Jersey have been rising in recent weeks, particularly in central and south Jersey, even as the summer crowds ease. Indoor dining, at 25%, was allowed beginning Sept. 4.

— Amy S. Rosenberg

12:15 PM - October 12, 2020
12:15 PM - October 12, 2020

Pennsylvania reports more than 1,000 new daily cases for seventh-straight day

Pennsylvania reported 1,088 new coronavirus cases on Monday. The commonwealth is now averaging 1,300 new cases a day over the past seven days, according to an Inquirer analysis, up over 23% compared to just last week.

The Department of Health said 239,484 coronavirus tests were administered between Oct. 5 and Oct. 11, with 9,117 positive cases — a positive test rate of about 3.8%. Overall, 173,304 Pennsylvania residents have tested positive for coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

At least 8,368 Pennsylvania residents have now died after contracting the coronavirus, with six new deaths reported on Monday. Of the state’s deaths, 5,552 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.

— Rob Tornoe

10:50 AM - October 12, 2020
10:50 AM - October 12, 2020

Don’t know any COVID-19 patients who’ve died or been in the hospital? That may explain a lot.

A medical worker administers an IV fluid to a patient in a COVID-19 intensive care unit at Temple University Hospital's Boyer Pavilion in North Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.
Tim Tai / File Photograph
A medical worker administers an IV fluid to a patient in a COVID-19 intensive care unit at Temple University Hospital's Boyer Pavilion in North Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

Seven months into the pandemic, it’s no secret that plenty of people still downplay the risks of COVID-19, scoffing at mask-wearing and social distancing.

Politics clearly feeds that mind-set, as suggested by a new Pew Research Center survey in which Republicans were more likely to say the crisis was overblown. Others may resist restrictions — capacity limits in restaurants, say — because their livelihoods are at stake. And psychologists have warned that COVID-19 fatigue can lead people to be careless about precautions.

But a more fundamental reason for the uneven support of COVID-19 prevention measures may lie in simple math: Despite more than 200,000 deaths and 400,000 hospitalizations in the United States, an Inquirer analysis suggests that in much of the country, the typical person knows no one in either of those categories.

“If you know a bunch of people who have gotten sick, or if you have a family member who died or got sick with COVID — especially if it’s somebody you know well enough that you were with them and helping them — you’re naturally going to think that it is more likely to happen in general,” said Carnegie Mellon University researcher Julie Downs, director of the Center for Risk Perception and Communication.

— Tom Avril

10:00 AM - October 12, 2020
10:00 AM - October 12, 2020

Cases on the rise in several counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Eight counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania have seen the number of new coronavirus cases fall since the pandemic’s peak earlier this year. But several counties, including Philadelphia, have started to experience an upswing in new cases.

Philadelphia reported 243 new coronavirus cases on Friday (the city doesn’t report new data over the weekend). The city has seen an increase in the average number of new confirmed cases per day in recent weeks, an increase Health Commission Thomas Farley said appeared to be tied to social gatherings.

Lancaster County recorded its largest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases on Saturday, while Berks and Schuylkill counties have also seen rises in new cases. Last week, Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage Jr. said one of the county’s nursing homes had recently seen an increase in cases, and he also believed people may be less vigilant about COVID-19 precautions.

“I would talk to people, and they would say, ‘Maybe I’ve gotten a little bit relaxed.’ Let’s make sure if we’re talking about being relaxed, let’s just be responsible,” Halcovage said.

— Rob Tornoe

9:50 AM - October 12, 2020
9:50 AM - October 12, 2020

Small Business Administration offers total forgiveness for loans of $50,000 or less

Small Business Administration administrator Jovita Carranza attends a White House news conference on April 2, 2020.
Alex Brandon / AP
Small Business Administration administrator Jovita Carranza attends a White House news conference on April 2, 2020.

Business owners who borrowed $50,000 or less through the Small Business Administration’s emergency loan program learned last week that their debts are forgiven entirely — provided they file the right paperwork.

The Paycheck Protection Program loans were included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which Congress passed earlier this year to provide emergency assistance for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Business owners who borrowed $50,000 or less can fill out a simplified one-page form and can ignore some of the calculations required of other borrowers. A link to the Form 3508S is available at sba.gov.

This new rule is welcome relief, said partner Jordan Kendall of Marcum’s Philadelphia office.

“The average loan size was about $101,000, so it’s not a large figure,” Kendall said.

— Erin Arvedlund

9:20 AM - October 12, 2020
9:20 AM - October 12, 2020

University of Delaware suspends 19 over gathering limits

The University of Delaware has suspended 19 members of its swimming and diving teams for allegedly violating gathering limits in Newark, Del., related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WDEL-FM reports that the athletes were traced to a gathering at an off-campus residence on Sept. 26. All involved were quarantined, and have tested negative for COVID-19.

Newark currently limits gatherings to 12 people indoors, and 20 people outdoors, unless a permit has been obtained.

The university says 27 students or employees have tested positive through Oct. 9. That’s on pace for the university’s lowest number this semester, after hitting a peak of 80 last week.

— Associated Press

8:30 AM - October 12, 2020
8:30 AM - October 12, 2020

New cases in Pennsylvania nearing pandemic highs

New cases continue to increase across the region, part of a trend across the northeast as temperatures cool and more people gather together indoors.

Pennsylvania reported 1,742 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday. That’s the highest one-day total since April 11 (1,931 new cases) and the third-highest one-day total dating back to the start of the pandemic.

On a positive note, hospitalizations remain low, as the increase in new cases is being driven largely by a spike in cases among people aged 18 to 22. But hospitalizations are rising in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Here’s where things stand through Monday, according to an Inquirer analysis of data from each local health department:

  • Pennsylvania: Averaging 1,240 new cases a day, a 17.5% increase over last week’s average (1,055 a day) and 69.3% higher than last month’s average (732 a day).
  • New Jersey: Averaging 775 new cases a day, a 16.7% increase over last week’s average (664 a day) and 110% higher than last month’s average (369 a day).
  • Delaware: Averaging 127 new cases a day, a 9.2% decrease compared to last week’s average (140 a day) and 10.4% higher than last month’s average (115 a day).

— Rob Tornoe

8:15 AM - October 12, 2020
8:15 AM - October 12, 2020

A mixed picture on COVID-19 in schools

Teacher Megan DiToro pumps hand sanitizer into the hands of Pre-K4 students as they move around the school. Nativity of Our Lord School in Warminster, PA in the age of COVID-19, on Wednesday, September 23, 2020.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer
Teacher Megan DiToro pumps hand sanitizer into the hands of Pre-K4 students as they move around the school. Nativity of Our Lord School in Warminster, PA in the age of COVID-19, on Wednesday, September 23, 2020.

About a month into the school year, some public health officials and experts say the coronavirus does not appear to be spreading inside local K-12 schools that have reopened in Pennsylvania.

But it’s unclear how many students or school staff have contracted the virus. Pennsylvania health officials aren’t specifying cases associated with schools — unlike New Jersey, where the state has a public dashboard announcing school outbreaks. County health departments, which are conducting contact tracing, haven’t identified which schools have cases.

Pennsylvania schools also aren’t required to inform families about cases, resulting in mixed levels of notification.

“Generally, this is a hodge-podgey mess,” said Emily Oster, an economist, Brown University professor, and cofounder of COVID Explained, a database of resources that includes a national COVID-19 School Response Dashboard.

Experts say early signs are good. According to Oster’s database, which covers about 167,000 students and 54,000 staff in school buildings nationwide, the infection rate for the two-week period ending Sept. 27 was 1.3 per 1,000 for children and 2.2 per 1,000 for adults.

“Schools do not, in fact, appear to be a major spreader of COVID-19,” she wrote in the Atlantic.

— Maddie Hanna

8:00 AM - October 12, 2020
8:00 AM - October 12, 2020

Monday morning round-up

  • The United States reported 44,614 new cases and at least 398 deaths on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nationally, new cases are up about 15% over the past two weeks and rising in 31 states, with spikes in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, and Utah.
  • Six states — Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, reported recorded high hospitalizations on Sunday, according to a CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
  • Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, told the New York Times he was “totally surprised” the Trump campaign included comments he made in March in a new television campaign ad that aired on Sunday. Fauci said "the actual words themselves were taken out of context, based on something that I said months ago regarding the entire effort of the task force.”
  • Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said the monoclonal antibody treatment President Donald Trump received was the “most promising” of all the therapeutics being developed, but warned that it’s not a “cure” for COVID-19. “The word cure is inappropriate, because it won’t work for everyone,” Gates said during an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.