Some shoppers at the King of Prussia mall skip masks even as coronavirus cases rise in Pa.
At the King of Prussia Mall, one of the biggest in the country, a large sign outside an entrance asked customers to mask up before they stepped inside to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through the nose and mouth. Meters away, a security guard ambled about with his mask slung below his chin.
He wasn’t alone.
Droves of customers at the King of Prussia Mall on a busy day this week also donned their masks like chinstraps. Others kept their masks below their noses. Several wore no masks at all as they window-shopped, scrolled through their phones, or talked at the 2.7 million-square-foot mall on a sunny Tuesday, the same day Pennsylvania health officials reported 995 new cases of the coronavirus in the commonwealth — the highest number in one day since May 10. The number ticked slightly down the next day with 849 cases, and to 719 on Thursday.
New Jersey wants to start high school football in October
The New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association announced on Friday that it aims to have a shortened fall sports season, beginning Sept. 28 for girls’ tennis and Oct. 1 for all other sports, except football, which it plans to begin open Oct. 2.
The fall sports that the NJSIAA offers are football, boys’ and girls’ cross country, boys’ and girls’ soccer, field hockey, girls’ tennis and girls’ volleyball.
Fall sports practices may begin on Sept.. 14.
Football, which originally had some teams playing regular-season games the first week of September, plans to have a six-game regular season and then there are two weeks allowed for playoffs. The football regular season is scheduled to conclude Nov. 7. While all sports are slated to end by Nov. 22, there is one exception for football: If teams want to play a traditional Thanksgiving game (Nov. 26), they will be allowed. So conceivably, a football team could play as many as nine games.
Philadelphia reported 113 new coronavirus cases Friday, keeping consistent with numbers that have essentially plateaued since the beginning of June.
Officials said 27,341 Philadelphia residents have been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. 1,629 Philadelphians have died, 835 of whom were residents of long-term care facilities.
The rate of positive tests has averaged about 4.7% over the past seven days, though the city warns that some data may be delayed due to the way positive tests are reported.
N.J. reports 367 new COVID-19 cases as rate of transmission declines
New Jersey reported 367 new coronavirus cases Friday as the state’s rate of transmission — the rate at which the virus spreads from one person to another — dropped back below 1.0 for the first time in days.
In recent weeks, Gov. Phil Murphy sounded the alarm as the transmission rate slowly ticked up, eventually topping 1.0 on Monday for the first time in 10 weeks. A value above 1.0 indicates the virus is spreading easier and faster throughout the state, with every new case of COVID-19 spreading to at least one other person.
The percent of tests that came back positive was 2.23% on Monday, the most recent day data was available. The rate in southern New Jersey was 4.25%, more than double the rest of the state, according to Judith Persichilli, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Health.
“Daily positivity and the rate of transmission are the two most-meaningful measurements we have of the spread of this virus across our state,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during a coronavirus briefing on Friday. “The more testing, the more precise we can get these numbers.”
Overall, 174,628 people in New Jersey have tested positive for COVID-19. Thirty-one new deaths were also reported on Friday, but 18 of those were deaths that happened prior to July that were only recently reported. At least 15,479 New Jerseyans have died after contracting coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
Hospitalization rates continue to decline in New Jersey, according to data provided by the state’s Department of Health. Just 94 ventilators are currently in use, the first time that number has dipped under 100 in several months.
“In comparison to our peer states, we are starting to see some better news,” Murphy said.
In response to long lines, N.J. extends expiration dates on driver’s licenses, car registrations
Following long lines at Motor Vehicle Commission locations across New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced an extension of expiration dates for driver’s licenses, non-driver ID’s, vehicle restorations, inspections, and temporary tags.
All documents set to expire between March 13 and May 31 have been extended to Sept. 30. Documents expiring between June 1 and Aug. 31 have been extended to Dec. 31.
Murphy urged residents planning a trip to their local MVC office to check the agency’s website to see if the services they need can be completed online. He also said people shouldn’t camp overnight or wait in long lines if they’ve been told their local agency has reached capacity.
“We know there is enormous pent up demand for services,” Murphy said during a coronavirus press briefing on Friday. “We’re making more progress on the backlog every day, and we will not rest until we get back to the customer service that people deserve.”
Pennsylvania adds more than 1,000 new cases for the first time in 2 months
Pennsylvania reported 1,009 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the state’s largest single-day increase since May 10. The state is now averaging more than 700 new cases a day over the last seven days, up from about 400 cases a day last month.
The Department of Health said about 175 of the total cases reported Friday did not occur within the past 24 hours, and are the result of an influx of private lab results. Allegheny County, which has seen a spike in the number of cases in recent weeks, accounted for 180 of Friday’s new cases.
The state also said it administered 128,821 coronavirus tests between July 3 and July 9, with 4,793 positive test results — a positive test rate of about 3.7%.
At least 8,880 Pennsylvania residents have died after contracting COVID-19, with the state reporting 32 new deaths on Friday. 4,699 of the deaths have occurred among residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
West Chester University reverses course on bringing students back to campus
West Chester University will continue remote instruction this fall, reversing course on plans to bring students back to campus in light of the national increase in coronavirus cases.
“With the latest national data showing a disturbing spike and spread in coronavirus infections around the country, we cannot ignore the potential danger of bringing thousands of students back to campus for face-to-face instruction amidst the virus’ dramatic resurgence,” President Christopher Fiorentino said in a message to the university community Friday.
The university said it would take steps to help students, including starting a program to lend laptops, webcams, and mobile hotspots to students without access to broadband internet.
Classes will take place via Zoom, Skype, email, officials said. A few courses will be offered in a hybrid format with some in-person instruction to account for clinical placements and student teaching, among other areas.
Access to popular Shore dog park, former nude beach restricted due to N.J. furloughs
New Jersey has restricted access to a popular Shore spot for dog owners due to state-mandated employee furloughs.
Access to Malibu Beach, a dog beach at the base of the Ocean City-Longport Bridge, will remain off-limits through July 27, according to the state’s Division of Fish & Wildlife. All the beach’s parking lots are also closed, and police have reportedly been ticketing drivers for parking illegally on the shoulder of the road on the Egg Harbor Township side of the bridge.
At the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area in Cape May County, the boat ramp, archery range, and impoundments (shallow saltwater marshes) in both Tuckahoe and Corbin City are closed to the public.
About 40 outdoor venues at Wildlife Management Areas across the state are impacted by the closures, impacting kayaking, archery, and a host of other activities. For a complete list of closures, visit the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s website.
Disney World will reopen Saturday despite coronavirus surge in Florida
Walt Disney World Resort will reopen its doors for the first time since March on Saturday, even as Florida has emerged as the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, Florida recorded its highest death toll for a single day, reporting 120 new deaths. That’s on the heels of rising hospitalizations in the state and a positive test rate approaching a rolling average of 20%, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Regardless, Walt Disney World will welcome guest beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday with a phased-in approach that requires temperature screenings and masks for guests age 2 and up. Capacity will be limited, and Epcot and Hollywood Studios will remain closed until next week.
Disneyland, in Anaheim, Calif., remains closed.
The NBA plans to resume its basketball season later this month from Walt Disney World. The Sixers departed for Florida on Thursday, and center Joel Embiid has expressed his concerns about returning to the court as cases spike in the area.
“... I don’t like the idea, and I still don’t believe in it, and I don’t think it is going to be safe enough” Embiid said.
‘Let’s cut that crap out’: Murphy responds to critics of outdoor mask order
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has little patience for critics who call the state’s new outdoor mask mandate a political power grab.
“People claiming that power’s gone to my head, that I find some joy in making everyone put a face covering on is ludicrous,” Murphy said during an interview Thursday night on NJTV. “It’s also irresponsible.”
Murphy said he and his administration take “constructive criticism” seriously, but Republican leaders who have attempted to play politics with his executive orders are being “irresponsible” and putting people’s lives at risk.
“Let’s cut that crap out,” Murphy added. “Let’s stick to the basics and the facts, and we’ll be a lot better for it.”
Murphy expanded the state’s mask requirement on Wednesday, mandating that facial coverings be worn outdoors in all settings where social distancing isn’t possible — including on crowded boardwalks. The move came after the state’s rate of transmission crept past 1.0 for the first time in months, meaning each case of the virus is leading to at least another new case.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey have similar mask requirements, and health experts agree masks work to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Face masking is one of many pillars, including social distancing and proper hand hygiene, that we are using against the virus,” Jade Flinn, nurse educator for the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit, told the Inquirer. “Face masking is one of the more effective prevention measures because we contain viral particles that may be produced through simple activities like talking or breathing.”
The $600 federal unemployment extension expires at the end of July, and with the unemployment rate remaining historically high at 11.1%, millions of people could suddenly face an income shortfall. Mnuchin said the White House wants to change the benefit to prevent people from earning more on unemployment than they did while working.
Philly and Delaware County officials urge people to report bars and restaurants ignoring social distance rules
Recommending continued vigilance they said will help spare the region from a new surge in coronavirus cases, Philadelphia and Delaware County officials on Thursday urged residents to call authorities when they see restaurants or bars allowing patrons to enter without masks or congregate at unsafe distances.
Their appeals come as coronavirus cases rise among young people and people who visited crowded bars in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions, New Jersey, and other states. People 19 to 24 now account for 17% of the Philadelphia region’s coronavirus cases since the pandemic started, up from 5% in April and 15% in June, according to the state Department of Health.
“A crowded bar … is one of the most dangerous places to be in the United States right now,” Delaware County Council member Elaine Schaefer said at an afternoon news conference in Media. “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.”
All Pennsylvanians can report bars and restaurants that are not enforcing six-foot social distances or mask-wearing to the state police through the liquor code violation website or hotline. Anyone who suspects a restaurant in Philadelphia is not following safety protocols can call 311 to complain, and the city will send an inspector to investigate, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Thursday.