4:20 PM - July 9, 2020
4:20 PM - July 9, 2020

Outdoor dining event in Northern Liberties postponed

The outdoor setup in front of Urban Village Brewing Co. in Northern Liberties.
Kory Aversa
The outdoor setup in front of Urban Village Brewing Co. in Northern Liberties.

Northern Liberties has postponed plans to close a half-mile of North Second Street on Saturday that would have allowed expanded outdoor dining.

The Northern Liberties Business Improvement District said the decision was made following a request to delay the event from from the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability, citing concerns over the weather and logistical issues needed to address concerns over public health and safety.

“Closing a street is a complex process with many considerations,” said Kristine Kennedy, the business district’s executive director. “The unique geography of N. 2nd St presents a great opportunity for social distancing and safe enjoyment of outdoor dining, but also logistical challenges.”

A new date has not been announced.

The delay comes after a similar event in East Passyunk was postponed out of concern for the well-being of all those in attendance, according to a representative for the East Passyunk Business Improvement District.

— Rob Tornoe

3:30 PM - July 9, 2020
3:30 PM - July 9, 2020

New Jersey announces new funding for local food banks

Registered Atlantic City residents or casino workers get their names checked while waiting during a food drive at Bader Field in Atlantic City on Thursday, June 25, 2020. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), together with the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, the City of Atlantic City, AFL-CIO, Local 54 and other private donors have provided funding to offer food services for residents and casino workers.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Registered Atlantic City residents or casino workers get their names checked while waiting during a food drive at Bader Field in Atlantic City on Thursday, June 25, 2020. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), together with the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, the City of Atlantic City, AFL-CIO, Local 54 and other private donors have provided funding to offer food services for residents and casino workers.

New Jersey announced $20 million in federal funding would go to local food banks that are helping people struggling with income loss and hunger as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

$10 million in CARES Act funding will be distributed to state food banks by August, and another $10 million between August and December, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.

"The number of families facing food insecurity has grown, unfortunately, because of the impacts of COVID-19," Murphy said, speaking at Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Union County. "Across the state, the demand placed upon our food bank has grown tremendously."

The Department of Human Services also began delivering Wednesday $208 million in special food assistance benefits to more than 500,000 schoolchildren who would have received free or reduced-price school meals, Murphy said.

That amounts to a one-time benefit of $416 per child.

The state is sending the aid directly to all eligible families; people do not have to apply for the assistance.

— Justine McDaniel

2:50 PM - July 9, 2020
2:50 PM - July 9, 2020

Delco plans to crack down on bars and restaurants not following coronavirus restrictions

People hang out outside of Teresa’s Cafe and Wine Bar in Wayne, Pa. last month.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
People hang out outside of Teresa’s Cafe and Wine Bar in Wayne, Pa. last month.

Delaware County said coronavirus safety protocols would be “strictly enforced” in bars and restaurants, warning that the county or region could slide back to the more-restrictive yellow phase if people do not follow social distancing and mask requirements in eateries.

Citing outbreaks among young people in other states and Allegheny County that have been traced to gatherings in bars and restaurants, the Delaware County Council asked residents to report bars and restaurants where people are crowding or not wearing masks to the state police. Local authorities will be helping state police inspect and investigate businesses reported for noncompliance, said Council Vice Chair Monica Taylor.

A small number of establishments that are not enforcing safety measures are “jeopardizing the health and safety of the community and the livelihood of the entire business community,” Taylor said.

Though many people wanted to return to normal activities when the region entered the green phase, especially young people who are used to socializing, “we are not there yet,” said councilmember Elaine Schaefer. “And a crowded bar... is one of the most dangerous places to be in the United States right now.”

The proportion of coronavirus cases among young people in the Philadelphia region has increased from 5% to 15%, according to state data. Cases in Delaware County have risen slightly in the last 14 days.

The state has handed out two citations for noncompliance in Delaware County so far, the council members said. Businesses can face warnings, fines, short-term closure, or loss of liquor license.

The council members said other businesses and universities were concerned about crowding and had asked the county to take action.

“If you show up in an establishment and you see that there’s no way you can go in there and social distance, and that there’s nobody wearing a mask, don’t go in. Just don’t do it,” Schaefer said. “Help protect your community and report any businesses you see that are jeopardizing our public health, our safety, and our staying in the green phase.”

— Justine McDaniel

2:50 PM - July 9, 2020
2:50 PM - July 9, 2020

Philly shut down 2 restaurants for not following COVID-19 safety protocols

Anyone who suspects a restaurant in Philadelphia is not following coronavirus safety protocols, such as enforcing proper distance between patrons, can call 311 to complain, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Thursday.

The city sends inspectors out to respond to complaints received on the 311 line, Farley said, and inspectors are also regularly visiting Philadelphia restaurants.

The city shut down two restaurants for noncompliance over the weekend, he said.

"We can't be in every restaurant every day, but we will certainly be out there enforcing that," Farley said. "I've tried to allow restaurants to gain an economic footing at the same time as we try to enforce safety."

— Justine McDaniel

2:40 PM - July 9, 2020
2:40 PM - July 9, 2020

WHO confirms there’s ‘emerging evidence’ of airborne transmission of coronavirus

The World Health Organization on Thursday revised its official information on how the coronavirus is spread to grudgingly acknowledge that airborne transmission of the virus “cannot be ruled out.”

Until now, WHO’s position has been that the coronavirus is transmitted primarily in respiratory droplets released by an infected person who coughs or sneezes. WHO said that transmission by microscopic droplets that can hang in the air and be inhaled had been confirmed only as a result of aerosol-generating medical procedures performed in health-care settings, such as intubation. Health professionals should wear protective gear during such procedures.

Airborne spread, while not proven, would add to the challenges of curbing the pandemic. It would mean the virus could linger in the air longer and float beyond 6 feet in poorly ventilated locations, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or office buildings.

The WHO’s updated scientific brief stressed that evidence of airborne transmission is inconclusive: In some outbreaks related to crowded indoor spaces, “short-range aerosol transmission … cannot be ruled out. However, the detailed investigations of these clusters suggest that droplet and fomite [object] transmission could also explain human-to-human transmission within these clusters. Further, the close contact environments of these clusters may have facilitated transmission from a small number of cases to many other people.”

In a letter to the agency this week, scientists urged precautionary measures including upgrading indoor ventilation systems and installing virus-killing ultraviolet light. But the WHO brief recommended only that people avoid crowded indoor gatherings, and “ensure good environmental ventilation in all closed settings.”

— Marie McCullough

2:20 PM - July 9, 2020
2:20 PM - July 9, 2020

Philly health official: Death toll rising in areas that have seen outbreaks among young people

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley reported 159 new coronavirus cases and two deaths on Thursday. The average for the past week is now about 115 per day, but the trend “does change a lot from day to day,” Farley said.

The percentage of people tested who were positive was about 5% to 6%, which has been stable over the last couple of weeks, Farley said, adding that the city recorded a large number of tests since Wednesday.

Farley noted that death tolls are now rising in areas that have seen recent outbreaks among relatively young people. At least 1,627 Philadelphians have died after contracting COVID-19.

"Most of those people are not going to die from this infection, and so they didn't see that many deaths. But what young people do is then they spread the infection to older people, and then when older people get infected, there may be a fair amount of time between when they first have symptoms and when they ultimately die from it," Farley said. "So the count of deaths always lags substantially behind the count of new cases."

Philadelphia amended its quarantine recommendations for travelers after adding Delaware to its list of high-risk states on Wednesday, Farley said, because “it became very impractical when Delaware became a high-risk area.”

The city previously asked anyone traveling to certain states to quarantine for 14 days, but now says that people can continue to work if they have to as long as they wear a mask at all times and stop working if they have any symptoms of illness.

— Justine McDaniel

2:14 PM - July 9, 2020
2:14 PM - July 9, 2020

New coronavirus cases in Pa. continue to trend upward

Pennsylvania reported 719 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and the state continues to experience an increase in new cases.

The seven-day average of new cases decreased slightly, but has remained above 500 new cases per day for 15 straight days.

Allegheny County, which experienced a jump in cases in recent weeks officials linked to bars and indoor dining, reported 158 new cases, the first time since Sunday that number dipped below 200.

An increasing amount of new cases continues to be among younger age groups. In southeastern Pennsylvania, 17% of all new cases reported in July have occurred among young people between the ages of 19 and 24, up from just 5% in April, according to the Department of Health.

— Rob Tornoe and John Duchneskie

2:02 PM - July 9, 2020
2:02 PM - July 9, 2020

Photos: Basketball hoops return to Philly

— Alejandro Alvarez

1:49 PM - July 9, 2020
1:49 PM - July 9, 2020

‘Love your neighbor, wear a mask’: Philly rolls out ads asking people to mask up

Three out of four Philadelphians surveyed said they believed everyone in the city should be wearing face masks, but one-quarter of residents is uncertain or opposed to wearing masks, Mayor Jim Kenney said Thursday as the city unveiled a public information campaign promoting mask-wearing.

"Mask use is critical to continuing to reopen and resume a sense of normalcy in our lives," Kenney said.

Masks are mandatory in public in the city. A high level of compliance with the city's order will prevent Philadelphia from seeing the increases in coronavirus cases and deaths that are now occurring in other states, said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley.

The city still plans not to issue fines to people who do not comply with the mask requirement, Kenney said.

“Enforcement’s difficult... We’re hoping this campaign will continue to drive home the efficacy of wearing masks,” Kenney said. “We’re not at the point of taking people into custody or fining people at this moment.”

In June, the city found that about 55% of people were using masks at SEPTA stations and 78% of Philadelphians exiting retail stores were wearing masks.

“It’s not 100%, and to avoid a second wave, we need to do better than that,” Farley said. “We need to make masks the new normal.”

The public awareness campaign uses the slogans Philly never backs down. Mask up and Love your neighbor. Wear a mask. The signs will appear in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, and Chinese. The ads will be on SEPTA buses, signs throughout the city, as floor decals, and in digital, social media, and radio and print ads.

"The decision on wearing a mask or not should not be a political decision. It's a medical decision," said Kenney.

The total cost of the ad campaign is $750,000, Farley said. It will continue until the end of September, and some of the ads could stay up later.

— Justine McDaniel

1:00 PM - July 9, 2020
1:00 PM - July 9, 2020

Eagles offensive lineman Malik Jackson calls NFL’s coronavirus plan ‘unacceptable and utterly disrespectful'

Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson walks off the field after Eagles training camp in Philadelphia, PA on August 13, 2019.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson walks off the field after Eagles training camp in Philadelphia, PA on August 13, 2019.

Eagles offensive lineman Malik Jackson voiced his displeasure with NFL owners over the league’s lack of clarity about certain specifics — such as coronavirus testing — as players prepare to return to training camp.

“Today is July 8 and we have no answers to simple questions we’ve been asking since this pandemic started,” Jackson wrote on Instagram Wednesday night, calling it “unacceptable and utterly disrespectful” to move forward with training camp on July 25 without players having their questions answered.

“I can not pass rush from 6 feet away, I cannot defeat a double team from 6 feet away nor can I tackle somebody from 6 feet away,” Jackson wrote. “This sport is not in any way able to be played 6 feet away, let alone stop the transfer of sweat and blood.”

The NFL issued reopening protocols earlier this month, including a checklist to be completed by each team. But certain protocols, such as coronavirus testing and the number of preseason games, remain unresolved, according to NFL Players Association President JC Tretter.

“Respectfully, every owner is over 40 and understandable will probably not be out there with us on the field nor in the building,” Jackson wrote. “I ask in this moment you see us as people not financial burdens or roster spots. Health is wealth for both parties.”

— Rob Tornoe

11:49 AM - July 9, 2020
11:49 AM - July 9, 2020

Pennsylvania extends eviction and foreclosure moratorium

Pennsylvania extended its moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Aug. 31. A moratorium had already been in place in Philadelphia until Aug. 31.
Steven Falk / File Photograph
Pennsylvania extended its moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Aug. 31. A moratorium had already been in place in Philadelphia until Aug. 31.

Pennsylvania has extended its eviction and foreclosure moratorium until Aug. 31, Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Thursday.

The new executive order applies to homeowners or tenants that have not received assistance from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency or are not already receiving relief through one of several federal foreclosure moratorium programs or judicial orders.

“I am taking this action to help families know they will have a roof over their heads and a place to live while all of us fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” Wolf said in a statement. “It takes one more burden off of people who are struggling and ensures that families can remain in their homes so they can protect their health and wellbeing.”

Philadelphia has already placed its own moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through at least Aug. 31. Landlords in Philadelphia are suing the city in an attempt to overturn new coronavirus pandemic renter protections.

— Rob Tornoe

10:50 AM - July 9, 2020
10:50 AM - July 9, 2020

The CDC says it won’t rewrite guidelines for reopening schools, despite Trump’s criticism

Despite President Donald Trump’s sharp criticism, federal guidelines for reopening schools are not being revised, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Robert Redfield said the agency would be issuing “additional reference documents” for parents and schools to facilitate the reopening and deal with safety concerns in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. But he said there would be no changing of the overall guidance.

“It’s really important, it’s not a revision of the guidelines, it’s just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance that we put forward,” Redfield said on Thursday during an interview on Good Morning America.

— The Associated Press

10:30 AM - July 9, 2020
10:30 AM - July 9, 2020

Gov. Wolf announces new funds for grocery stores, farmers markets and others impacted by pandemic

Pennsylvania announced a new fund on Thursday intended to support grocery stores, farmers markets and other food retailing businesses and non-profits hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

$10 million in funds, provided by the federal CARES Act, are available for a wide variety of businesses and non-profits impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, including:

  • Grocery stores, corner stores, and convenience stores
  • Neighborhood markets, bodegas, food hubs, and mobile markets
  • Farmers markets, on-farm markets, and urban farms
  • Food aggregation centers with a direct connection to direct-to-consumer retail outlets.

To be eligible, a business or non-profit must serve customers that live in a low-to-moderate income area, and over 50% of their sales must staple and perishable foods.

“This pandemic has revealed many things, one of the most prevalent has been about where our food comes from – how it gets from the farm to those who need it,” Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a statement. “We need to stimulate local economies, increase market opportunities for Pennsylvania farmers, create jobs, and contribute to better health by improving access to fresh, local foods.”

For more information, including more details on eligibility requirements, visit the Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Food Financing initiative website.

— Rob Tornoe

9:30 AM - July 9, 2020
9:30 AM - July 9, 2020

Arizona and other states are delaying the opening of the school year as coronavirus cases spike

Des Moines Public Schools custodian Joel Cruz cleans a desk in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School, Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall / AP
Des Moines Public Schools custodian Joel Cruz cleans a desk in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School, Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Arizona is delaying the start of the 2020-21 school year as the number of coronavirus cases is spiking in the state. West Virginia is doing the same thing even as President Donald Trump is encouraging all schools to fully open for all students as soon as possible.

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said this week that rather than open public schools in early August, as usual, the first day of the academic year will be, at the earliest, Aug. 17. He said officials would continue to evaluate the date as conditions unfold.

Trump this week began pressuring school districts to open five days a week for all children, and he threatened to withhold funding from those that didn’t (though he doesn’t have the legal authority to cut funding approved by Congress).

A growing number of state and education leaders are pushing back on Trump’s call, including West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice, a strong Trump ally who said he would delay until Sept. 8 the opening of public schools because of “an avalanche” of confirmed coronavirus cases in recent days.

— The Washington Post

9:15 AM - July 9, 2020
9:15 AM - July 9, 2020

Black, Hispanic women infected with coronavirus 5 times as often as whites in Philly, Penn study suggests

Dr. Ala Stanford, M.D., center left, founder of the Black Doctors COVID19 Consortium, administers a coronavirus test to Tatyana Kelly, right, at a testing site run by the Black Doctors COVID19 Consortium in June.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Dr. Ala Stanford, M.D., center left, founder of the Black Doctors COVID19 Consortium, administers a coronavirus test to Tatyana Kelly, right, at a testing site run by the Black Doctors COVID19 Consortium in June.

It is no secret that Black and Latino people are getting infected with the coronavirus more often than whites. They are more likely to live in crowded quarters, take public transportation, and have jobs that prevent them from working remotely.

But the true magnitude of this troubling health disparity may be far larger than anyone realized, a new Penn study suggests.

Researchers tested the blood of nearly 1,300 women who delivered babies at Penn Medicine hospitals in April and May, finding that Black and Latino patients were five times as likely as whites to have antibodies to the coronavirus.

Previously, test results from Philly-area health departments suggested that Black people were no more than two or three times as likely as whites to be infected.

Researchers say that both things — the higher rate of infection and the fact that it has been underestimated — are likely due to the same cause: deep-rooted racial inequality, decades in the making.

— Tom Avril

8:00 AM - July 9, 2020
8:00 AM - July 9, 2020

Coronavirus cases in Philly, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware as of Thursday morning

As of Thursday morning, more than 3 million Americans have tested positive for coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. At least 132,309 people have died, easily the largest death toll in the world and double the number of the next-highest country (at least 67,964 deaths in Brazil).

The United States reported more than 58,000 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, the fourth time in just seven days the country has exceeded 50,000 cases in a 24-hour period. At least five states — Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia — set new single-day records for cases on Wednesday, according to the New York Times, as COVID-19 continues to surge in the South and West.

The death rate has not tracked with the spike in new cases. Experts say that’s due in part to the fact that the new cases have largely been in younger victims.

Here’s where the region is in terms of coronavirus cases as of Thursday morning:

  • Pennsylvania: 92,148 cases, 6,812 deaths, 849 new cases reported Wednesday
  • New Jersey: 174,039 cases, 13,476 deaths, 335 new cases reported Wednesday
  • Delaware: 12,462 cases, 515 deaths, 48 new cases reported Wednesday
  • Philadelphia: 27,069 cases, 1,625 deaths, 168 new cases reported Wednesday

— Rob Tornoe

7:40 AM - July 9, 2020
7:40 AM - July 9, 2020

Wawa asking for customers’ help during national coin shortage

Cece Fortson holds up a Wawa Hoagie on the Wawa Welcome America Hoagie Day on July 1.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer
Cece Fortson holds up a Wawa Hoagie on the Wawa Welcome America Hoagie Day on July 1.

Wawa is asking customers to pay with plastic, their phones, or use exact change due to a nationwide coin shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Like many other businesses around the country, Wawa stores have been affected by the shortage of coins nationwide,” the company told 6ABC.

Wawa is far from the only business dealing with a coin shortage. The ongoing pandemic has “significantly” disrupted the supply and circulation of coins, according to the Federal Reserve, citing declines in coin deposits and a decrease in production at the U.S. Mint due to coronavirus safety measures.

During testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said due to the partial closure of the economy, the flow of coins have “kind of stopped.”

The Federal Reserve said it is “confident” the coin shortage will resolve itself as the economy continues to reopen, but the agency added that it recognizes “these measures alone will not be enough to resolve near‐term issues.”

— Rob Tornoe

7:30 AM - July 9, 2020
7:30 AM - July 9, 2020

Philadelphia Union play this morning, first Philly-area team to take the field since March

Philadelphia Union defender Mark McKenzie juggles a soccer ball during a practice session at Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida on July 3, 2020.
Major League Soccer
Philadelphia Union defender Mark McKenzie juggles a soccer ball during a practice session at Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida on July 3, 2020.

When the Union kick off against New York City FC in Orlando just after 9 a.m. Thursday on ESPN, it will be the first game played by any Philadelphia-area pro sports team since the Phillies beat the Rays in a spring-training game on March 12.

The last official contest for a local team was the day before that, when the 76ers’ beat the Pistons at the Wells Fargo Center.

It’s not true for just the Union. Sixteen of the 25 MLS teams in the tournament (including Nashville for now, but not FC Dallas) will be the first pro sports teams in their local markets to resume playing games after the coronavirus outbreak shut sports down four months ago. Thirteen of the 16, including the Union, will play before their local Major League Baseball team does.

Coronavirus cases continue to soar in Florida and nationwide, and MLS’s best attempts to build a secure bubble at Disney World haven’t stopped three teams from carrying cases in from afar. FC Dallas has already been kicked out, Nashville SC (the Union’s second opponent) might be next, and the Columbus Crew have one positive case.

Here’s when other Philly teams are scheduled to play their first games:

  • Phillies: Monday, July 24, 7:05 p.m. against the Miami Marlins
  • Sixers: Saturday, Aug. 1, 7 p.m. against the Indiana Pacers
  • Eagles: Sunday, Sept. 13, 1 p.m. against Washington
  • Flyers: To be determined; play expected to resume Aug. 1

— Jonathan Tannenwald

7:00 AM - July 9, 2020
7:00 AM - July 9, 2020

‘Life and death’: Face masks now required in N.J. in crowded outdoor areas

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wears an American flag face mask as he mingles with the crowd outdoors at the victory party for Democratic congressional candidate Amy Kennedy on primary election day in Northfield July 7, 2020. On Wednesday the governor mandated masks be worn outdoors in settings where social distancing isn’t possible.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wears an American flag face mask as he mingles with the crowd outdoors at the victory party for Democratic congressional candidate Amy Kennedy on primary election day in Northfield July 7, 2020. On Wednesday the governor mandated masks be worn outdoors in settings where social distancing isn’t possible.

Face masks will be required outdoors in New Jersey in all settings where social distancing isn’t possible, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered Wednesday, calling it a matter of “life and death” and following a trend picking up momentum across the country, where the number of coronavirus cases surpassed three million this week.

“Requiring masks outdoors is a step, frankly, that I had hoped we would not have to take,” Murphy said. “But unfortunately we have been seeing a backslide in compliance as the weather has gotten warmer.”

As a result, the state’s rate of transmission has crept past 1.0 for the first time in months, Murphy said, meaning each case of the virus is leading to at least another new case. The new mandate means masks would be required on crowded beach boardwalks.

Masks are already a must indoors in New Jersey, and they are required in all public places in Pennsylvania, but the states have done little to no enforcement of the mandates. New Jersey became the sixth state to make masks mandatory in the last two weeks. Twelve others required mask-wearing earlier.

On the boardwalk in Ventnor, there was little enthusiasm for the new directive — and few masks.

“I just probably won’t,” Josh Bjorkman of Mays Landing, an unemployed casino entertainment worker, said of wearing a mask on the boardwalk. “I just would avoid it when it’s crowded.”

— Justine McDaniel, Allison Steele and Rob Tornoe