To jump-start relief program, Wolf gives landlords more flexibility to collect unpaid rent
HARRISBURG — After Pennsylvania lawmakers failed for months to fix a troubled rent relief program, Gov. Tom Wolf intervened Tuesday, giving landlords flexibility to collect outstanding balances in the hope that more would agree to participate.
As a result of the change, landlords will no longer be required to forgive rent that is owed if they collect the state relief money. Landlords can receive a monthly maximum of $750 per tenant, but previously were forced to forgive any rent due in excess of that amount.
Landlords who take part in the program will now be able to enter into payment plans with tenants for the balance owed.
Murphy: No COVID-19 outbreak stemming from Trump fundraiser
New Jersey officials aren’t aware of any COVID-19 outbreak stemming from the campaign fundraiser President Donald Trump held recently at his Bedminster golf club, Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday.More than 200 donors and staff were at the Oct. 1 event.
The Democratic governor said state and county officials have been working to contact all attendees but have not heard of any cases that trace back to the event. The White House said last week that the president did not have any contact with anyone that would be considered close, based on CDC guidelines.
Murphy echoed his calls last week for the federal government to provide more help to local officials. “We’ve done everything we can do. Somerset county ... has done everything they can do as has Bedminster,” he said.
“We’re not aware of any outbreaks.” The president held the event at the club just hours before he announced he tested positive for the virus. The White House has since said the president is clear to resume campaign-style events, and Trump held one in Florida on Monday, with another set for Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
Temple University says it will decide plans for spring semester by the end of October
Temple University will decide on its plans for the spring semester by the end of October, president Richard M. Englert said at the board of trustees meeting Tuesday. The university started the semester with some in-person classes but then less than two weeks later, reverted to mostly remote instruction after more than 200 coronavirus cases were reported.
Temple’s faculty union has urged the university to keep remote instruction for the spring, given a projected rise in cases. Englert said at the board meeting that the university has no indication any of the cases were transmitted in the classroom during in-person teaching. The university and Philadelphia Department of Public Health have said the outbreak was traced to small off-campus social gatherings.
“We’re also not aware of any transmission that has taken place between students and local residents,” Englert said. Faculty, students and community members have been concerned about the possibility of the university’s outbreak causing more cases in the surrounding neighborhood. James Garrow, a spokesperson for the city’s health department, said the department isn’t able to track whether that transmission is occurring in a coordinated way.
“We get test results assigned to a person, and unless they tell us during a case investigation that they were exposed to someone associated with a school, we can’t make a determination if it’s spread off campus into the community,” Garrow said.
Temple has had 572 cases since August, 47 of which are currently active.
Such pauses are not uncommon, and the drug, made by Eli Lilly, could turn out to be perfectly safe. The bigger question is whether it — along with the one that Trump got, made by Regeneron — will make much difference in fighting the pandemic.
The answer is far from clear, infectious-disease experts say.
Both companies are seeking emergency approval to distribute their drugs more widely, citing promising outcomes in several hundred patients.
NJSIAA announces a 15-game season for high school winter sports teams
An abbreviated, two-week postseason that will end in the middle of February.
Those are the highlights of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s plan for winter sports, announced Tuesday by the organization that oversees high school sports in the state.
The NJSIAA said practice in sports such as basketball, wrestling, and swimming may begin Dec. 3, with the first regular-season competition on Dec. 21.
The regular season for winter sports will run until Feb. 3, with teams limited to 15 events. Teams will be able to compete in two events per week, with two three-game weeks permitted to allow for scheduling complications.
Philly School District plans to begin in-person learning Nov. 30 - for some students
The Philadelphia School District will begin returning children to classrooms Nov. 30, with children in grades PreK-2, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said in a letter sent to staff Tuesday.
The district plans a phased-in approach that “prioritizes the health and safety of our students and staff as well as the needs of our families while offering a mix of in-person and digital remote learning for students.”
Families can choose an all virtual option if they desire.
In the first phase of the plan, the district’s youngest learners will come back to their physical classrooms two days a week, learning remotely other days. Students will be in classrooms either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday. All children will be remote on Wednesdays.
Temple to sell tickets to final three home games at the Linc
With Philadelphia announcing on Tuesday that it was loosening restrictions on crowd limits, Temple will begin a phased approach to selling tickets to football games. This season the Owls are scheduled to have four home games at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Owls will play their home opener noon on Saturday against South Florida. For Saturday’s game, complimentary tickets will only be provided for families of Temple football players and coaches.
According to the university, this will provide Temple and its medical team time to monitor the event for health and safety before selling tickets to the general public.
If all goes well, Temple will then offer a prorated three-game season ticket plan for games on Nov. 5 (SMU), Nov. 21 (ECU), and Nov. 28 (Cincinnati).
Temple fans who renewed their season tickets for the 2020 Owls season will be given priority on the purchase of the limited number of seats available for the team’s three November games.
Gov. John Carney said the state is keeping a close eye on the rise of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Delaware.
The state is reporting 112 current hospitalizations, a 286% jump from a low of 29 on Aug. 10, but still well below a pandemic high of 337 hospitalizations at the end of April.
Karyl Rattay, the director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, a recent outbreak in a handful of nursing homes explains part of the increase. But she said based on early information, the rise in hospitalizations is most likely being driven by an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases since the middle of August.
“Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator,” Rattay said. “Just through community spread, that is why we now have higher numbers of individuals who are hospitalized.”
While hospitalizations are rising, the number of new reported cases has begun to level off. Delaware is averaging 132 new cases a day, down slightly compared to last week but up nearly 12% compared to this time last month.
“Nursing homes were hit hard enough that overall, we estimate that about half of the total nursing home residents in the city have had the infection already,” Farley said. “And they’re likely to be protected against the second wave. That’s good for them. Of course we do need to protect the others if we have a second wave.”
Farley said the city will also provide additional training, testing, and personal protective equipment to nursing homes.
While cases in the city overall have been increasing in recent weeks, Farley said case rate increases have been more limited in nursing homes.
The funding includes $70 million from the the state’s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, of which $35 million will be targeted to help the food-service industry and $15 million for micro-businesses.
The remaining funds are split with $10 million for the PPE Access Program, $15 million for rental assistance and $5 million for hunger relief.
“All of this will help us keep our economy moving ahead and our families working even as we continue our work to not only defeat the virus but to deliver even more critical aid to our families and our small businesses,” Murphy said at a news conference Tuesday. “Make no mistake. We are not out of the woods yet.”
Murphy also announced 993 new positive coronavirus cases and seven more confirmed deaths. This brings the states totals to 215,085 causes and 14,394 fatalities.
Philly health commissioner says no evidence COVID-19 is spreading within schools
While cases of the coronavirus have been found in students and staff members of schools that are holding in-person instruction in Philadelphia, officials have found no evidence of spread within schools.
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the city has worked with 24 school sites that have had cases of COVID-19 in students or staff members. Of those schools, he said, half have initiated “some form of quarantine."
”We can’t rule out that any spread occurred at schools but there’s no clear evidence that any spread occurred within the school building," Farley said.
While 7,500 people will be allowed inside Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, that will include players, coaches, and regular support staff. That means about 5,500 to 6,000 fans will be able to attend games.
Eagles season ticket holders were given a choice to opt in for this year or defer to 2021. All ticket holders who opted in will get an email telling them about a purchasing window online Wednesday, through their account portal. Tickets will be available for the next two games — Baltimore on Sunday and the Giants on Oct. 22.
Philly increases crowd size limits, allowing fans at Eagles games
Philadelphia will increase its coronavirus restrictions on crowd sizes of up to 7,500 people at the city’s largest outdoor venues, a step that could potentially put thousands of Eagles fans back in the stands at Lincoln Financial Field as soon as this Sunday.
The new limits, which also increase the indoor gathering limit to a maximum of 250 people, vary based on the size of a venue and will take effect Friday. The city rules are more restrictive than new state guidance that Gov. Tom Wolf issued last week — but the 7,500-person maximum outdoor crowd limit is the same for both the city and state.
Masks and social distancing will be required at all gatherings, and venues with seating must tape or block off seats to prevent attendees from sitting less than 6 feet away from anyone outside their own household.
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley warned that the city may tighten restrictions again if there is any evidence of COVID-19 spreading at events, or if cases continue to rise.
“Especially with the colder weather and the drier weather ... we may have to go to a much more restrictive mode,” Farley said.
Mayor Jim Kenney said he hopes that having fans at home games will help the Eagles win, but said he does not plan to attend a game.
“I’ll be very happy to sit at home and watch with a big screen with all my food and beverages,” he said. “I know if I went to a game, somebody would take my picture and it would become fodder for social media so I will stay home.”
Shore hospital reinstitutes visitor ban after coronavirus uptick
Shore Medical Center in Somers Point said it was reinstituting a ban on visitors after what the hospital called an “uptick” in COVID-19 cases experienced by “our hospital community and others throughout South Jersey."
The no-visitor policy will begin Wednesday at 6 a.m. “out of extreme caution,” and be in place until further notice. Exceptions include patients in hospital or end-of-life care, one visitor/support person for maternity and pediatrics patients. Brian Cahill, a spokesperson for Shore, said the hospital has eight patients admitted who are COVID-19 positive, up from three on Oct. 6.
“We are being extremely cautious for the safety of our patients and staff,” Cahill said.
Jennifer Tornetta, a spokesperson for Atlanticare, which has hospitals in Atlantic City and Pomona, reported an uptick as well. “We have seen an increase in the number of patients who are COVID-19 positive in our hospital campuses and through our urgent care and other care sites since two weeks after the Labor Day Weekend.”
She said the current count for Covid-19 patients in the two hospitals was 25.
In the Shore town of Margate, four restaurants had to close temporarily in recent weeks after reporting a COVID exposure among their staff.
The state of New Jersey was reporting 158 hospitalizations in South Jersey on its portal on Tuesday, increasing from a low of 86 on Sept. 18. There were 649 statewide hospitalizations reported on the state’s dashboard. Statewide, 160 were in intensive care and 58 were reported to be on ventilators.
Pennsylvania reports 1,342 new cases, 16 additional deaths
Pennsylvania reported 1,342 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. The commonwealth is now averaging 1,343 new cases a day over the past seven days, according to an Inquirer analysis, an increase of about 26% compared to last week and the highest rate since the end of April.
The Department of Health said 249,065 coronavirus tests were administered between Oct. 6 and Oct. 12, with 9,097 positive cases — a positive test rate of about 3.6%. Overall, 174,646 Pennsylvania residents have tested positive for coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
At least 8,384 Pennsylvania residents have now died after contracting the coronavirus, with 16 new deaths reported on Tuesday. Of the state’s deaths, 5,553 (about 66%) have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.
In France and other European countries, increases in cases, hospitalizations spark concern
Coronavirus cases are surging in France, where more than 1,500 people were in intensive care with the virus on Monday for the first time since May. The intensive care numbers are still lower than at earlier points in the pandemic, but the grim milestone is indicative of the seriousness of France’s ongoing outbreak.
Over the weekend, nearly 27,000 people were diagnosed with the virus in just 24 hours, setting a new national record for daily infections.
Like officials elsewhere in Europe, French authorities appear reluctant to return to the strict lockdowns that helped curb the spread of the virus in the spring but had a massive economic toll.
So far, authorities have ordered bars and gyms to close in some cities, including Paris and Marseille. Starting Tuesday, officials also placed the cities of Toulouse and Montpellier on the highest alert.
Elsewhere in Europe, recent numbers are also foreboding, as experts warn that cases could rise in the winter months when temperatures drop and people may opt to socialize indoors, increasing the likelihood the virus will spread.
The Netherlands reported nearly 7,400 new cases on Tuesday, its highest daily record. And officials in England announced Monday that more people were hospitalized with the virus than in March.
Officials in Philadelphia and Delaware will offer coronavirus updates on Tuesday. Here’s a schedule of how to watch and stream:
Philadelphia, 1 p.m.: Mayor Jim Kenney, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, acting Managing Director Tumar Alexander, live-streamed via the Department of Public Health’s Twitter (@PHLPublicHealth) and Facebook accounts, and broadcast on PHLGovTV (Comcast channels 64 and 1164, and Verizon channels 40 and 41).
Neumann Goretti, Council Rock halt in-person classes after positive cases
Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School is temporarily halting in-person instruction after three students tested positive for COVID-19.
The news came Monday after three students in two different grade levels contracted the virus. All were exposed to a positive family member with COVID. Students' first all-online day is Tuesday; students will learn virtually until Oct. 26.
Neumann-Goretti was not directed to stop in-person classes, but chose to do so “out of an abundance of caution and to allow the [Philadelphia Health Department] the time to coordinate contact tracing,” school President Joseph McColgan and Principal Hugh Quigley wrote in a letter to school families and staff.
Council Rock High School North in Newtown Township is also halting in-person classes for the rest of the week after five students tested positive for COVID-19, Superintendent Robert Fraser announced to parents in a letter.
“This four-day in-person closure will allow for contact tracing to occur, and to see if we experience any additional positive cases over the remainder of the week,” Fraser wrote. “We thank you for your patience as we work through this difficult situation.”
Penn State prohibits tailgating, bans large gatherings ahead of first home football game
As Pennsylvania State University prepares for its first home football game against Ohio State on Oct. 31, president Eric Barron made one thing clear in an email to faculty, staff and students: “This is not the time for visitors.”
With more than 3,100 cases of the coronavirus since August, the university is continuing to prohibit large gatherings, which can cause the virus to spread.
Only the coaching staff and family members of the players will be permitted inside Beaver Stadium for the game, Barron said in the email. And the university will close its parking lots and prohibit tailgating in or around the stadium or anywhere on campus, he said.
Instead the university is encouraging virtual watch parties. And to support the athletes, fans can purchase cardboard cutouts of themselves to be placed inside the stadium, with some of the proceeds benefiting THON, the university’s annual dance marathon that raises funds to fight pediatric cancer. Fans also are being asked to submit videos of themselves cheering on the team, which will be played in the stadium on game day, Barron said.
The university also is planning an outdoor, socially distanced watch party for some freshmen.
“This football season, as unusual and unfamiliar as it may be, promises to again be one in which our Nittany Lions show the nation the amazing talent, character and skills of our student-athletes and coaches,” Barron said. “It also will be a time to show the nation and the world that we value and uphold our responsibility for the health and safety of one another.”
Philadelphia, Delaware, Lancaster, Berks, and Schuylkill are among the Pennsylvania counties that have seen rises in recent days. Using 14-day totals of new cases per 100,000 people, Philadelphia went from 116 on Oct. 1 to 163 on Sunday; Delaware County went from 94 to 125; and Schuylkill went from 108 to 180.
Bucks and Montgomery Counties logged smaller increases but also appeared to be on a slight upward trend. The trend in Chester County was not clear.
‘The data speak for themselves’: Fauci warns about Trump’s rallies ahead of Pa. event
Ahead of President Donald Trump’s rally in Western Pennsylvania Tuesday night, Anthony Fauci warned that holding large gatherings with no social distancing or mask requirement was “asking for trouble.” at a time new cases are on the rise.
“We know that is asking for trouble when you do that,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN Monday. “We’ve seen that when you have situations of congregate settings where there are a lot of people without masks, the data speak for themselves. It happens. And now is even more so a worse time to do that, because when you look at what’s going on in the United States, it’s really very troublesome.”
Dr. Fauci says Pres. Trump resuming in-person rallies is “asking for trouble” and “now is... a worse time to do that because when you look at what’s going on in the United States it’s really very troublesome. A number of states, right now, are having increase in test positivity” pic.twitter.com/cXPSXIg4aS
Gov. Murphy loosens restrictions on indoor sports in N.J.
Students and young athletes can resume practicing and playing indoor sports in New Jersey.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Monday allowing organized sports defined as “medium risk” and “high risk” to resume competition, which includes hockey, basketball, cheerleading, group dance, rugby, boxing, judo, karate, tae kwon do, and wrestling.
All indoor practices and competitions are limited to 25% of the capacity of the location, not to exceed 25 people. If the combined number of players, coaches, and athletes exceeds 25 people, the event may proceed if the total number of people in attendance — including spectators — remains below 150 people or 25% of capacity.
Facilities must also follow the state’s health and safety protocols, which includes screenings, limitations on equipment sharing, and requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces and equipment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for our student-athletes, support staff, and school communities,” Murphy said in a statement. “After consulting stakeholders and medical experts, we have concluded that, with proper public health and safety protocols in place, indoor sports may now resume in a way that protects players, coaches, and staff.”
The United States reported 41,653 new cases and at least 317 deaths on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The country is averaging more than 49,000 cases a day over the past seven days, with cases increasing in 31 states — with spikes in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and New Mexico.
Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Arkansas reported record hospitalizations on Monday, according to a CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. Thirteen states are reporting a coronavirus test positivity rate above 10%, according to the COVID Tracking Project, with four states exceeding 20% — Wyoming, Idaho, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.