7:55 PM - July 20, 2020
7:55 PM - July 20, 2020

Pa. Health Dept. disputes report that some counties are returning to the red phase

Image from website for Pennsylvania Breaking News, which describes itself as a conservative news source.
Screenshot
Image from website for Pennsylvania Breaking News, which describes itself as a conservative news source.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday dismissed as untrue a report from a self-described conservative news website that Gov. Tom Wolf was preparing to return certain counties to the “red phase” of the coronavirus lockdown.

The report by the Pennsylvania Breaking News website — with the headline of “RED PHASE: Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Lawrence counties on the ‘watch’” — had garnered, according to the wesbite, nearly 60,000 shares on Facebook and Twitter.

The article cites “multiple reports” and specifies one it says was published by the Tribune Review news outlet in western Pennsylvania about “new restrictions” taking effect Thursday and lasting two weeks. A search of the Tribune Review website on Monday night did not immediately show that such an article had been published.

The website has been criticized for misidentifying state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, who is transgender.

Health Department spokesperson Nate Wardle said in an emailed statement:

"It is important that people get information from reputable news sources. In addition, it is wholly inappropriate for organizations to misgender individuals.

"The department, at this time, has no plans to return counties to the red phase," Wardle said.

"Any mitigation efforts needed, beyond those in place since July 15, would be targeted and surgical to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania," Wardle said.

A representative for Pennsylvania Breaking News could not be reached for immediate comment.

In a Facebook post on Monday afternoon after criticism of the article was reported by at least one mid-state TV news outlet, Pennsylvania Breaking News wrote: “As soon as you make something against mainstream, everybody and their mother is out to find an excuse to discredit it. Thankfully, there’s more support here than there are critics. Red wave, fellas.”

— Robert Moran

5:25 PM - July 20, 2020
5:25 PM - July 20, 2020

High-risk organized sports can resume, N.J. Gov. Murphy says

Cherokee High's Jacob Bodine (right) loses the football past a leaping Lenape High's Cole Keyes during the second-quarter in New Jersey High School football at Cherokee High School in Marlton, New Jersey on Friday, October 16, 2015. Cherokee recovered the football.
( YONG KIM / Staff Photographer )
Cherokee High's Jacob Bodine (right) loses the football past a leaping Lenape High's Cole Keyes during the second-quarter in New Jersey High School football at Cherokee High School in Marlton, New Jersey on Friday, October 16, 2015. Cherokee recovered the football.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday signed an executive order allowing the resumption of competitions and contact practices in outdoor settings for high-risk organized sports such as football, boxing, and wrestling.

“Today, our data gives us confidence that in outdoor settings and with the proper public health and safety protocols in place, contact sports can resume while protecting players, coaches, and staff,” Murphy said in a statement.

Other sports and activities under the order include rugby, judo, karate, taekwondo, cheerleading, and group dance. The sports must abide by health and safety protocols, including screenings for athletes, coaches, and staff. Equipment sharing must be limited with strong requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing equipment.

The order takes effect immediately.

— Robert Moran

2:42 PM - July 20, 2020
2:42 PM - July 20, 2020

New York Giants and Jets to play home games without fans

An empty MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Ted Shaffrey / AP
An empty MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The New York Giants and Jets will play their home football games without fans, according to NJ.com, if the NFL season kicks off as scheduled in September amid a pandemic that shows no signs of letting up.

The decision was made by team executives and the office of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who has prohibited outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people due to the coronavirus, NJ.com reported Monday. Both teams play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., just west of New York City.

The news comes days after Philadelphia officials said it would be illegal for the Eagles to play in front of fans at Lincoln Financial Field, and then a day later clarified their stance to say fans could be allowed in a scenario where case numbers drop significantly and the city changes its coronavirus protocols. The city has announced a moratorium through February on large events that require a public permit.

Meanwhile, if a college football season is played, Rutgers University will limit the number of spectators at its home football games to below 500, NJ.com also reported Monday. According to the outlet, spectators will likely be limited to family members of players and coaches.

Rutgers, which plays in Piscataway, plays in the Big Ten Conference, which recently announced a conference-only schedule for the season. Penn State, also in the Big Ten, has yet to announce whether it will allow fans.

— Erin McCarthy

1:12 PM - July 20, 2020
1:12 PM - July 20, 2020

Philly officials keeping eye on positivity rate

Philadelphia officials reported 433 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, representing the total number of new confirmed cases since Friday.

”The large number of new cases is at least partially due to expanded testing, with many results coming in over the past three days,” officials said in a news release.

The city’s positivity rate for COVID-19 tests remains 5%. State officials have said that county positivity rates below 5% are a good sign, while officials will closely watch counties that have rates of 5% or higher.

Philadelphia now has a total of 28,592 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The city reported no additional deaths on Monday; at least 1,665 residents have died of the virus.

— Laura McCrystal

12:51 PM - July 20, 2020
12:51 PM - July 20, 2020

‘No end in sight’ to coronavirus, Fauci tells cancer doctors at Philly conference

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a Senate committee hearing.
Al Drago / AP
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a Senate committee hearing.

In a short, drama-free keynote address at a virtual meeting organized by a Philadelphia-based cancer organization, Anthony Fauci spoke dispassionately about the coronavirus, which continues to wreak personal, economic and political damage in the United States and has reportedly caused tension between him and President Trump, who promotes a more optimistic message.

“Here we are in mid-July with close to 14 million cases globally and 580-plus-thousand deaths so far with essentially no end in sight,” Fauci, who is head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told an audience gathered by the American Association for Cancer Research.

Speaking from an unadorned room without the shelves of weighty texts that serve as a backdrop for so many virtual talks, Fauci said that SARS-CoV, the first deadly coronavirus to spread in people in 2002, was tamed in a matter of months with public health measures. MERS, another vicious coronavirus that emerged in 2012, continues to smolder at low levels.

— Stacey Burling

12:24 PM - July 20, 2020
12:24 PM - July 20, 2020

New Jersey will release guidance this week on all-remote learning

Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said that the Department of Education will release guidance this week on how parents can choose all-remote learning for their children this fall.

Previously, Murphy has said schools would reopen for in-person learning for at least part of the week.

”This is about as complex a step as we will take or any American state will take,” Murphy said. “We want to do everything we can to recapture that magic of some semblance of in-person education.”

School systems have wide latitude in exactly what school looks like in the fall, but must meet minimum guidelines, including social distancing, temperature checks, contact tracing, mandatory face coverings for school staff and visitors, with masks strongly encouraged for students.

Last month, Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet said, “Too many parents feel that remote-only instruction isn’t working for their child, and too many children are falling behind. It is becoming abundantly clear that children need to return to a school environment in some capacity, and we need to do so safely. This is a matter of educational growth, and it’s a matter of equity.”

— Allison Steele

12:19 PM - July 20, 2020
12:19 PM - July 20, 2020

Cases among young people continuing to climb in Pa.

Pennsylvania reported 711 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Monday and three new deaths, the state Department of Health said. Of the newly reported cases, 172 are from Allegheny County, home to the city of Pittsburgh, where cases are surging.

Across the commonwealth, cases among young people continue to climb, outnumbering the amount of cases in the 50-and-older demographic. In the southeast region, which includes Philadelphia and its suburbs, 18% of cases are now among those between the ages of 19 and 24, compared to 5% in April. Most of the patients hospitalized and most of the patients who have died are 65 or older.

Health Secretary Rachel Levine urged residents to continue wearing masks, as is mandated in public, and practice social distancing, including at reopened restaurants.

”Pennsylvania has been a model for the country on how to reopen effectively using a careful, measured approach,” she said in a statement. “However, we know the virus has not gone away as we see cases rise, so we must work together to stop another surge.”

Monday’s report brings Pennsylvania’s total count to 101,738 confirmed cases and 7,018 deaths over the course of the pandemic.

— Erin McCarthy

11:36 AM - July 20, 2020
11:36 AM - July 20, 2020

Philly craft breweries look to PPP and innovation to keep going in the pandemic

Yards Brewing Company CEO Trevor Prichett with his current favorite Yards beer named “Philthy” in the Yards facility in Phila., Pa. on July 15, 2020.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Yards Brewing Company CEO Trevor Prichett with his current favorite Yards beer named “Philthy” in the Yards facility in Phila., Pa. on July 15, 2020.

Attic Brewery was open for eight weeks before the owners had to close their taproom.

Originally planning to prioritize on-premise sales and growler refills, owners Todd and Laura Lacy didn’t even have canning or packaging equipment for their beer. But when the pandemic hit and they could no longer rely on taproom sales, they changed their approach. “It really felt like we were starting a whole new company again,” said Laura Lacy.

Attic Brewery is one of several craft breweries in the region to receive a Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan, getting about $56,000 to help retain 11 employees. Some of Philadelphia’s larger craft breweries like Yards Brewing Company received over $1 million. The loans come as breweries are suffering from losses in on-premise sales at bars, restaurants and taprooms, which have been too great to recoup through distributors, grocery stores, and home deliveries.

— Sophie Burkholder

10:45 AM - July 20, 2020
10:45 AM - July 20, 2020

‘Every teacher I know is flipping out:’ As pandemic back-to-school plans form, educators are wary

Teacher Tammy Swearingen speaks to her students at the start of their full-day kindergarten class which was just added this school year Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at Walton Farm Elementary School in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Gov. Wolf wants to require that all school districts in Pennsylvania offer free, full-day kindergarten. While most school districts already have it, some still don't -- and say it would be difficult to add due to expense and lack of space. WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / For The Inquirer
Cain Images
Teacher Tammy Swearingen speaks to her students at the start of their full-day kindergarten class which was just added this school year Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at Walton Farm Elementary School in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Gov. Wolf wants to require that all school districts in Pennsylvania offer free, full-day kindergarten. While most school districts already have it, some still don't -- and say it would be difficult to add due to expense and lack of space. WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / For The Inquirer

Sharahn Santana dreams of a September return to her classroom at Parkway Northwest High School.

But after absorbing the Philadelphia School District’s newly released reopening plan — which would bring students back for in-person instruction two days a week — the English teacher is terrified at the thought of classrooms without adequate room for social distancing, windows that don’t open fully, a single mask provided to last the year.

“Under safe conditions, if we get the virus under control, I’d go back with confidence,” Santana said. “But this is crazy. I don’t want the measure of my dedication and commitment to be how willing I am to risk my and my students’ lives.”

School leaders are crafting ways to reopen their buildings after a nearly six-month hiatus and amid a pandemic with no end in sight. But around the region and across the country, educators are pushing back, voicing fears about their leaders’ ability to keep them safe if any in-person instruction happens, and in some cases, making contingency plans that include taking leaves of absence or even retiring. In one national poll, one in five teachers said they might not return to work this fall.

— Kristen A. Graham, Maddie Hanna

10:19 AM - July 20, 2020
10:19 AM - July 20, 2020

CDC updates guidelines for self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus

People who have tested positive for the coronavirus may stop home isolation after 10 days, as long as 24 hours have passed since their last fever and symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath have improved, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

Previous CDC guidelines instructed patients to wait 72 hours after their last fever before ending isolation, and specified that respiratory symptoms must improve.

The new guidelines, updated on Friday, were broadened to address an “expanding list of symptoms associated with COVID-19,” the CDC said.

Additionally, asymptomatic people who are isolating after testing positive for the coronavirus may discontinue isolation if the results of two tests taken more than 24 hours apart come back negative.

The decision to discontinue isolation should be made “in the context of local circumstances,” the CDC said.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

10:05 AM - July 20, 2020
10:05 AM - July 20, 2020

An Oxford University coronavirus vaccine has prompted an immune response in early testing

In this handout photo released by the University of Oxford a doctor takes blood samples for use in a coronavirus vaccine trial.
John Cairns / AP
In this handout photo released by the University of Oxford a doctor takes blood samples for use in a coronavirus vaccine trial.

Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot.

British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. Such early trials are usually designed only to evaluate safety, but in this case experts were also looking to see what kind of immune response was provoked.

In research published Monday in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55 that lasted at least two months after they were immunized.

— Associated Press

9:27 AM - July 20, 2020
9:27 AM - July 20, 2020

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor to reopen Thursday with reduced attendance, safety measures

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor's latest attraction is the Tornado, a funnel-shaped water ride at the Jackson, N.J., park.
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor's latest attraction is the Tornado, a funnel-shaped water ride at the Jackson, N.J., park.

Six Flags’ Hurricane Harbor in Jackson Township, N.J., will reopen Thursday in “preview mode” with new safety measures in place, the waterpark announced Monday.

Following state guidelines to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, the waterpark will operate with reduced attendance levels, gradually increasing attendance limits throughout the month.

The park will also reduce capacity in its indoor venues and some attractions, including the wave pool and lazy river, to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Like the Six Flags amusement park, which opened July 3, the waterpark will deploy an online reservation system to manage attendance, schedule guests for entry by day, and stagger arrival times to minimize proximity exposure. The park will also use thermal imaging for temperature checks, touchless bag checks, sanitize life jackets after every use, and offer mobile food ordering.

Face masks will be required for all guests age 2 and older, but not on water slides, water attractions, or in pools, according to a press release. The park will also offer “mask break zones” to provide socially distanced areas to people wishing to temporarily remove their masks.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

8:21 AM - July 20, 2020
8:21 AM - July 20, 2020

Manco & Manco Pizza reopens boardwalk location after employees test positive for coronavirus

People line up at Manco & Manco Pizza on the boardwalk in Ocean City while enjoying the weather and the view of the beach on Saturday May, 16, 2020. Ocean City is one of few beaches doing a “dry run” to test “capacity management” this weekend in preparation for Memorial Day.
Tyger Williams / File Photograph
People line up at Manco & Manco Pizza on the boardwalk in Ocean City while enjoying the weather and the view of the beach on Saturday May, 16, 2020. Ocean City is one of few beaches doing a “dry run” to test “capacity management” this weekend in preparation for Memorial Day.

Ocean City boardwalk culinary mainstay Manco & Manco Pizza has reopened its doors for delivery and pickup at another location after three employees tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

After delaying opening its three locations on the boardwalk for professional cleaning last week, Manco & Manco announced Sunday that it would reopen its 9th Street location for delivery and parking lot pickup.

Besides the three employees who tested positive last week, coronavirus test results from over 200 Manco & Manco employees yielded one additional positive case, the company said in a Facebook post. That person is asymptomatic and is self-quarantining for two weeks, Manco & Manco said.

PLEASE READ THIS SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE OWNERS OF MANCO & MANCO! 🍕

Posted by Manco & Manco Pizza on Sunday, July 19, 2020

Pickup at the 9th Street location is limited to whole pizzas, fried foods, and beverages, but will include single slices “in the near future,” the company said in a Facebook post. Masks must be worn when interacting with employees.

Manco & Manco’s 12th Street location is also expected to reopen “soon,” the post said.

Owners initially planned to reopen the boardwalk locations last Wednesday with new safety measures in place, including more frequent sanitizing of credit card terminals and touch screen tablets.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

7:30 AM - July 20, 2020
7:30 AM - July 20, 2020

Philly asks residents to put trash out a day later as it catches up on garbage pickup

Uncollected trash sits on the side of a street in Fishtown, Philadelphia along Frankford Avenue.
TYGER WILLIAMS / Staff Photographer
Uncollected trash sits on the side of a street in Fishtown, Philadelphia along Frankford Avenue.

Philadelphia residents should put their trash out a day later than usual this week as the city catches up on collecting garbage, the Streets Department said Sunday.

Garbage has piled up on sidewalks during the coronavirus pandemic as sanitation workers call out sick in large numbers. Highways Division workers and staff from other departments helped pick up trash over the weekend, cutting down the collection delays from three to four days to one to two days, Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams said Sunday.

Still, residents should expect delays this week as collection crews prioritize trash not picked up from last week. The department asked residents to put their garbage out at least a day later than their regular schedule, but said some waste may be picked up one to two days late in some parts of the city.

— Christian Hetrick

7:28 AM - July 20, 2020
7:28 AM - July 20, 2020

Coronavirus telework is creating opportunities to expand the workforce

Working from home — a privilege previously off-limits to millions of American workers, but now a necessity — has started to include clerical and administrative workers in traditional industries that once shied from telework.

The trend, workplace analysts said, could prove positive for those without jobs — in particular, women who might not be able to work in-person because of household responsibilities.

Among clerical and administrative jobs, the number of ads stating that a position was work-from-home nearly doubled since the coronavirus commanded widespread shutdowns, according to the Conference Board, a nonprofit group that studies business management.

— Katie Park

7:23 AM - July 20, 2020
7:23 AM - July 20, 2020

Philadelphia gyms can reopen today

The Retro Fitness health club at 16th and Spring Garden has reopened for business on Monday, July 20, 2020. Today is the first day gyms have been able to reopen since pandemic.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer
The Retro Fitness health club at 16th and Spring Garden has reopened for business on Monday, July 20, 2020. Today is the first day gyms have been able to reopen since pandemic.

Gyms in Philadelphia will be allowed to reopen Monday, Public Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Thursday.

Farley said gyms will have to follow strict social distancing rules if they open next week. Everyone in the gym must wear masks and be six feet away from each other, and classes must have fewer than 10 participants.

Gyms have been closed in Philadelphia since March under Mayor Jim Kenney’s executive orders to control the spread of the coronavirus. Elsewhere in the state, gyms are already allowed to operate.

Farley warned that, if case counts rise in the city, gyms may be ordered to close again, possibly within a few weeks.

— Sean Collins Walsh