10:37 PM - June 25, 2020
10:37 PM - June 25, 2020

Philly region moves into green phase on Friday

Brendon Green, who works in facilities for STARR restaurants, installs clear acrylic dividers at Morimoto in Center City last week. The dividers are in place for when restaurants are allowed to re-open following the coronavirus shutdowns.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
Brendon Green, who works in facilities for STARR restaurants, installs clear acrylic dividers at Morimoto in Center City last week. The dividers are in place for when restaurants are allowed to re-open following the coronavirus shutdowns.

At 12:01 a.m. Friday, Philadelphia’s four suburban counties will move to the state’s green phase of expanded reopening from coronavirus restrictions while the city will enter a “modified” green phase.

All of Pennsylvania will then be out of Gov. Tom Wolf’s more restrictive yellow phase except for Lebanon County because of an increase in COVID-19 cases there.

Under the green phase, masks will still be required when entering a business. Large gatherings of more than 250 are prohibited. Working from home is still strongly encourage.

Some of the changes from yellow to green include:

  • Restaurants and bars can open at 50% occupancy.
  • Entertainment venues such as theaters, casinos, and shopping malls, can open at 50% occupancy.
  • All businesses operating at 50% occupancy in the yellow phase can increase to 75% occupancy.

— Robert Moran

7:57 PM - June 25, 2020
7:57 PM - June 25, 2020

A.C. Airshow canceled for 2020

A member of the Heavy Metal Jet Team flies over the ocean at the Atlantic City Airshow. (David M Warren / Staff Photographer)
A member of the Heavy Metal Jet Team flies over the ocean at the Atlantic City Airshow. (David M Warren / Staff Photographer)

Citing pandemic concerns, the Atlantic City Airshow has been canceled for 2020, organizers announced Thursday evening.

The annual event had been set for late August.

“The Airshow generates enormous economic impacts for the City and the region, but a mass gathering this summer creates too great a risk to our residents and those travelling in from other states,” Michael Chait, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber, said in a news release.

“The priority of our organization and of our many partners is public health and safety surrounding an event of this size. We are sorry to disappoint the thousands of participants who look forward to attending this family-friendly event each year and look forward to an even bigger and better event in 2021” Chait said.

The Atlantic City Airshow is the largest event in New Jersey and draws hundreds of thousands of spectators.

— Robert Moran

6:44 PM - June 25, 2020
6:44 PM - June 25, 2020

Colonial Theater in Phoenixville to reopen July 4th weekend

After being closed for nearly four months, the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville will reopen July 3 for the holiday weekend with screenings of three movies, including ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

State-mandated safety and cleaning protocols will be followed, the theater operators said. They include the requirement that patrons must wear masks except while eating during a film and masks must be put back on when leaving your seat.

Theater seating will be at 50% capacity.

“There has been an awakening…” After a four month closure, we're pleased to announce that the Colonial Theatre is...

Posted by The Colonial Theatre on Thursday, June 25, 2020

— Robert Moran

5:42 PM - June 25, 2020
5:42 PM - June 25, 2020

Delaware Gov. Carney delays next phase of reopening

Delaware Gov. John Carney meets with staffers during a tour of the State Health Operations Center. Carney announced some small businesses would be allowed to reopen on Friday, May 8.
Randall Chase / AP Photo
Delaware Gov. John Carney meets with staffers during a tour of the State Health Operations Center. Carney announced some small businesses would be allowed to reopen on Friday, May 8.

Delaware Gov. John Carney announced late Thursday afternoon that he was delaying the next phase in the state’s economic reopening out of concern that public non-compliance with safety requirements and guidelines could lead to a resurgence of COVID-19.

“Too many Delawareans and visitors are not following basic public health precautions,” Carney said in a statement.

“We’ve heard and seen concerns especially in our beach communities, in restaurants, in gyms, and at sporting events. Now’s not the time to let up. You’re required to wear a mask in public settings. Keep your distance from those outside your household. These are common sense steps that, frankly, are not that difficult to follow. And they’re a small price to pay for keeping our friends and relatives out of the hospital,” Carney said.

Delaware was set to expand reopening on Monday. Carney said he expects to make a decision next week on a new date.

“In Delaware, we are beating this disease. We have flattened the curve. But that’s because Delawareans stayed home and made significant sacrifices to keep others safe. Make no mistake: COVID-19 has not gone away. We’ve seen what has happened in other states when folks let their guard down. Let’s not be one of those states,” he said

— Robert Moran

5:01 PM - June 25, 2020
5:01 PM - June 25, 2020

Photos: Food drive held for Atlantic City residents and casino workers

— Yong Kim

3:43 PM - June 25, 2020
3:43 PM - June 25, 2020

Bucks County sees increase in COVID-19 cases after out-of-state travel

Bucks County officials said they have seen an increasing number of residents who contracted the coronavirus after traveling out of state.

Of 28 confirmed cases reported Wednesday, eight were from people who had recently visited Florida, Texas, Arizona, and New Jersey.

“Over the last week, we’ve started to see more and more people getting sick in other states and coming back to Bucks County,” Health Director David Damsker said.

Damsker said he “wasn’t sure” that he would recommend a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone who has traveled to areas with high case counts, a policy neighboring states, including New Jersey, have instituted. But he said he would recommend people self-monitor for symptoms, take their temperature regularly, avoid large gatherings, and stay away from older or immunocompromised relatives and friends after returning from an out-of-state trip.

”That way they wouldn’t have to quarantine for 14 days,” he said, “but maybe take it a little bit more carefully over the first several days they’re back.”

— Erin McCarthy

3:05 PM - June 25, 2020
3:05 PM - June 25, 2020

Bucks County officials will patrol bars, restaurants to check for masks and social distancing

A restaurant on State Street in downtown Doylestown in May.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
A restaurant on State Street in downtown Doylestown in May.

As the Philadelphia suburbs prepare to enter the green phase of reopening tomorrow, the Bucks County Health Department said it will regularly patrol bars and restaurants on nights and weekends to ensure patrons are wearing masks and social distancing.

“We know for a fact that these are high risk areas where things can happen if we’re not careful,” Health Director David Damsker said. “Bars and restaurants have been through a lot. … We want them to thrive and we want them to succeed. But they need to follow the rules just like the gyms do and the hair salons do.”

“Look, they want to remain open,” he added. “Long-term, this is in their best interest.”

More cases will occur as restrictions are relaxed, but Bucks County officials said they weren’t concerned about the area experiencing the kind of outbreaks seen in other parts of the country.

“I’m seeing a lot of people that are in those states mocking the idea of a mask,” said commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia. “Not a good thing to do. Not something I’m seeing here in Bucks County.”

The commissioners said they don’t foresee the county having to return to yellow or red unless new cases occur and can be traced to a specific business sector that reopened — bars, restaurants, hair salons, or other places.

Bucks County feels confident it will be able to keep up its robust contact tracing program, which has tracked 97% of cases so far.

— Erin McCarthy

1:40 PM - June 25, 2020
1:40 PM - June 25, 2020

New Jersey adds over 1,800 new coronavirus deaths after a review of death certificates

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a coronavirus briefing in Trenton, N.J. Monday, June 15, 2020.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a coronavirus briefing in Trenton, N.J. Monday, June 15, 2020.

New Jersey added 1,854 coronavirus deaths on Thursday after the state began counting probable deaths and reporting them alongside the other case numbers, Gov. Phil Murphy said during his daily briefing.

To compile those figures, he said officials sifted through thousands of death certificates to identify patients who were never tested but whose deaths could likely be attributed to COVID-19.

“We report this out of nothing else than a solemn sense of duty,” Murphy said. “For many families, we hope that these determinations will provide a sense of closure. For our state, I hope it steels our resolve to do all we can to save every single life we can.”

Medical Director Edward Lifshitz said many probable deaths will come from people who were part of known outbreaks in nursing homes or families and had symptoms, as well as those whose death certificates listed COVID-19 as a cause. The numbers will be reported weekly, he said.

Murphy also said the state’s rate of transmission continues to creep up, and has increased in 16 counties in recent days.

State health commissioner Judith Persichilli said the department was in the process of preparing public awareness materials to inform travelers about the state’s travel advisory to those coming to New Jersey from states with high levels of community spread. She said those coming to the Garden State from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas should take tests, quarantine until they have the results, and remain in quarantine if they test positive.

“New Jersey is relying on individuals to do the right thing,” she said.

— Allison Steele

1:00 PM - June 25, 2020
1:00 PM - June 25, 2020

Penn to test all students when they return to campus

The University of Pennsylvania will test all students for the coronavirus when they return to campus for the fall semester.
Michael Bryant / File Photograph
The University of Pennsylvania will test all students for the coronavirus when they return to campus for the fall semester.

The University of Pennsylvania will test all students for the coronavirus when they return to campus for fall semester, the school said Thursday.

The university announced the testing protocol as part of its plan for bringing many students back to campus for a mix of online, hybrid and in-person classes.

Penn’s plan features many of the same steps as other schools have announced, including canceling fall break and concluding in-person classes before Thanksgiving to limit travel and spread.

While other local schools, including Temple and Pennsylvania State University, have promised testing and contact tracing, they have not said they would test all students upon their return.

The university also will ask students to get tested before they come to campus and stay home if the test is positive. Additional testing for students, faculty and staff will be available throughout the school year, Penn said.

Under Penn’s plan, large lectures will be online, as well as some graduate and professional programs. Face coverings and social distancing will be required. Students will be housed in private bedrooms with no more than six students sharing a bathroom. Penn said it is leasing space off campus to make sure enough housing is available to accommodate those who apply.

“It will allow many students to return in a limited and careful way by incorporating online and virtual learning with on campus classroom instruction where it can be provided safely and when it is essential to the academic needs of the course curriculum,” Penn leaders said of the plan.

— Susan Snyder

12:40 PM - June 25, 2020
12:40 PM - June 25, 2020

Philly’s coronavirus numbers continue to plateau

Philadelphia officials announced 107 additional cases of COVID-19 Thursday.

That figure is in line with the average number of cases in the past week, which has been about 100 per day. Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said earlier this week that he is concerned the number of new cases in the city has reached a plateau rather than a continued decline.

As officials wait to determine trends in new cases of the coronavirus, hair salons, barbershops, and private pools will be permitted to open Friday and the city is planning to move into the “green” phase of reopening next week. But Farley has warned that moving into the “green” phase will depend on continued declines in new cases of the virus.

— Laura McCrystal

12:15 PM - June 25, 2020
12:15 PM - June 25, 2020

Philadelphia City Council passes bill protecting workers who complain about unsafe coronavirus conditions

Omar Salaam, Business Manager Local 427 (back center black shirt), and Leonard Brown, Business manager of local 403 (front right green shirt), rally together with a small group of sanitation workers gathered on the steps of the Municipal Services Building on June 17.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Omar Salaam, Business Manager Local 427 (back center black shirt), and Leonard Brown, Business manager of local 403 (front right green shirt), rally together with a small group of sanitation workers gathered on the steps of the Municipal Services Building on June 17.

Philadelphia employees are closer to being allowed to safely sound the alarm about unsafe working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to a new bill passed Thursday.

The Essential Workers Protection Act, which was passed unanimously by Philadelphia City Council, would make it illegal for employers to retaliate against staffers who refuse to work in conditions that expose them to the risks of the coronavirus and who speak out about their experiences.

“Today City Council once again made clear that this City has the back of those workers who are simply asking that their employers follow the law and provide safe, healthy, and dignified workplaces,” Councilmember Helen Gym, who introduced the bill, said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney has previously said the mayor supports the bill, though it is unclear when he will sign it into law.

— Rob Tornoe

11:07 AM - June 25, 2020
11:07 AM - June 25, 2020

Malcolm Jenkins calls football a ‘nonessential business,’ says he’s not comfortable yet returning

New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins called football a “nonessential business” during a CNN appearance Thursday, and suggested he wasn’t comfortable with returning to the field yet.

Jenkins, who played for the Eagles for the past six seasons before being released this offseason, said the NFL is different from the NBA, which plans to resume its season in a bubble in Florida next month with all its players in quarantine.

“We have over 2,000 players, even more coaching and staff. We can’t do that,” Jenkins said, pointing out NFL players will be on a trust system where the hope is all players and staff follow proper social distancing guidelines.

“I have parents that I don’t want to get sick,” Jenkins said. “Until we get to the point where we have protocols in place, and until we get to a place as a country where we feel safe doing it, we have to understand that football is a nonessential business, and so we don’t need to do it. And so the risk has to be really eliminated before I would feel comfortable with going back.”

Jenkins later in the day posted a video on Twitter to clarify his position.

“To be clear, I wanna play football. I think all my peers wanna play football. It’s how we make a living. But there’s so much we don’t know right now.” Jenkins said.

Lakers guard Avery Bradley told ESPN earlier this week he was opting out of playing during the NBA’s return in Orlando next month. Bradley cited concerns for this health of his oldest son, 6-year-old Liam, who has struggled with respiratory illnesses. ESPN reported it was unlikely Liam would have been medically cleared to join Bradley and the rest of the family in quarantine.

— Rob Tornoe

10:25 AM - June 25, 2020
10:25 AM - June 25, 2020

NFL’s Hall of Fame game canceled, push back enshrinement ceremony to next year

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Gene J. Puskar / AP
The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

The NFL’s annual Hall of Fame exhibition game is canceled and its Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony has been pushed back to 2021, an NFL source confirmed.

The Hall of Fame game was scheduled to take place on Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. It is the first major event the NFL has been forced to cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, scheduled to take place on Aug. 8, is expected to be delayed until 2021. Among those slated to enter the Hall of Fame this year is former Eagles wide receiver Harold Carmichael, who was one of 10 senior players voted in as part of the Hall’s expanded 20-person centennial class of 2020.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported the Pro Football Hall of Fame will announce the news today. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter was first to report the news.

Ohio is one of more than two dozen states that have seen an increase in new cases over the past two weeks, though officials have said they expected an uptick as more people get tested. The percentage of positive tests in Ohio remains around 5%, according to data provided by the state.

The NFL has said it plans to play its 2020 season as scheduled, but the preseason remains up in the air. The Eagles are scheduled to make their preseason debut in Indianapolis against the Colts on Aug. 13.

— Rob Tornoe

10:00 AM - June 25, 2020
10:00 AM - June 25, 2020

Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx and other members of the White House coronavirus task force continue to fade from public view

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks with reporters about the coronavirus at the White House.
Alex Brandon / AP
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks with reporters about the coronavirus at the White House.

As a new coronavirus surge washes over most of the country, members of the White House coronavirus task force continue to fade from public view.

According to a study by liberal media watchdog Media Matters, eight core members of the task force have gone from making a combined 61 media appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC in March down to just one combined appearance this month — Anthony Fauci’s appearance on CNN on June 12.

The task force once offered daily briefings to the public, but ended that practice in April. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, briefly spoke to reporters May 22. The task force has continued to meet in private three times a week, according to ABC News, and holds conference calls with governors on a weekly basis.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D., Calif.) called out two members of the task force — Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drugs Administration — for failing to keep the public informed during an ongoing pandemic.

“I know the agencies are talking to each other, I consider that a whisper because the American people are not hearing you speak out. They deserve to hear the truth,” Eshoo said during a congressional hearing involving some task force members Tuesday.

“The American people are divided on this issue of the virus. Imagine that? Eshoo added. “So I continue to urge you to speak out. You’re a doctor. Put your white jacket on and speak weekly to the American people.”

— Rob Tornoe

9:30 AM - June 25, 2020
9:30 AM - June 25, 2020

Disneyland delays reopening, Disney World under pressure to do the same

Visitors take photos at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. back in March, prior to the theme park's closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Amy Taxin / AP
Visitors take photos at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. back in March, prior to the theme park's closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Disneyland in California will push back its reopening as the state grapples with a new surge of coronavirus cases, the company announced late Wednesday night.

The popular resort and theme part was scheduled to open its doors again on July 17 after being closed for months due to coronavirus restrictions in the state. Disney did not announce a new reopening date.

Walt Disney World in Florida is scheduled to begin a phased reopening on July 11 for its Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks. EPCOT Center and Hollywood Studios are scheduled to open July 15.

With Florida also experiencing a surge in new cases, nearly 10,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org calling on Disney executives to keep Disney World closed, and for Florida officials to reconsider allowing theme parks to reopen.

If Disney World’s reopening is pushed back, it could impact plans to resume both the National Basketball Association season and the Major League Soccer season, both of which are scheduled to return at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex next month.

— Rob Tornoe

8:45 AM - June 25, 2020
8:45 AM - June 25, 2020

New unemployment claims drop, but remain stubbornly high

1.48 million people filed for unemployment insurance last week, a stubbornly-high number of new claims in the third month of the coronavirus pandemic.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
1.48 million people filed for unemployment insurance last week, a stubbornly-high number of new claims in the third month of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of laid-off workers who applied for unemployment benefits declined slightly to 1.48 million last week, the 12th straight drop and a sign that layoffs are slowing but are still at a painfully high level.

The steady decline in claims suggests that the job market has begun to slowly heal from the pandemic, which shuttered businesses and sent the unemployment rate up to 14.7% in April, its highest level since the Great Depression. The total number of people who are receiving jobless aid also fell last week, evidence that employers are rehiring some of the workers who had been laid off since mid-March.

Yet the latest figure also coincides with a sudden resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the United States, especially in the South and West, that’s threatening to derail a nascent economic rebound.

Real time data on small businesses suggests that the economy’s improvement slowed in June compared with May and then stalled in the past week in some states that had reopened their economies the earliest.

— Associated Press

8:05 AM - June 25, 2020
8:05 AM - June 25, 2020

Major cities face ‘apocalyptic’ surges due to coronavirus resurgence

Austin police officers on horseback in May pass signs hanging on a pub. The state began reopening in May, but a new surge threatens the state's economic recovery. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay / AP
Austin police officers on horseback in May pass signs hanging on a pub. The state began reopening in May, but a new surge threatens the state's economic recovery. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Hospitals in the South and West are warning about possible overruns as a coronavirus surge is sending new infections to near-record peaks.

As of Wednesday, several states have set single-day case records this week, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, and Oklahoma. Both North Carolina and South Carolina broke hospitalization records, and more than half of states have seen an increase in new cases.

If current trends continue, Houston could become a new epicenter of the virus. Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday the city’s intensive care units are nearly full, and two public hospitals in the country’s fourth-largest city are running at capacity. Some adult ICU patients are already being treated at Texas Children’s hospital in Houston, according to pediatrician Shubhada Hooli.

Numbers are also rising quickly in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, warned on CNN Wednesday night.

“The big metro areas seem to be rising very quickly and some of the models are on the verge of being apocalyptic,” Hotez said.

— Rob Tornoe

7:40 AM - June 25, 2020
7:40 AM - June 25, 2020

Phillie Phanatic will be allowed back at the ballpark

The Phillie Phanatic before the Phillies play the Pittsburgh Pirates in a spring training game at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida on Sunday, February 23, 2020.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
The Phillie Phanatic before the Phillies play the Pittsburgh Pirates in a spring training game at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida on Sunday, February 23, 2020.

With Major League Baseball set to return the end of July to empty stadiums, it might be safe to assume we won’t be seeing the Phillie Phanatic or any other mascots roaming the stands.

But according to the guidelines in the league’s 2020 Operations Manual, mascots will be permitted to return to ball parks this summer, albeit under a few restrictions.

“Home Clubs may have their mascot in the ballpark if they choose, however under no circumstances are mascots permitted on the field of play or in any other Restricted Area on game days,” the guideline reads.

— Rob Tornoe

7:30 AM - June 25, 2020
7:30 AM - June 25, 2020

Trump won’t follow New Jersey’s quarantine, will visit golf club this weekend

President Donald Trump listens during a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in the Rose Garden.
Evan Vucci / AP
President Donald Trump listens during a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in the Rose Garden.

One person who won’t be following New Jersey’s new quarantine order, which went into effect at midnight, is President Donald Trump.

Trump is expected to travel to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., this weekend despite having visited Arizona earlier this week, one of eight states listed under the new tri-state quarantine plan. A White House spokesperson said in a statement the president isn’t changing his plans.

“The president of the United States is not a civilian,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere said in a statement. “Anyone who is in close proximity to him, including staff, guests, and press are tested for COVID-19 and confirmed to be negative.”

“With regard to Arizona, the White House followed its COVID mitigation plan to ensure the President did not come into contact with anyone who was symptomatic or had not been tested,”Deere added. “Anyone traveling in support of the president this weekend will be closely monitored for symptoms and tested for COVID and therefore pose little to no risk to the local populations.”

During an appearance on CNN Wednesday night, Gov. Phil Murphy said the quarantine order doesn’t apply to the president.

“There is a carve out for essential workers and I think by any definition the president of the United States is an essential worker,” Murphy said. “And I know the folks get tested around him all the time. I’ve been tested a couple of times when I’ve been with him over the past couple of months.”

Trump has spent 94 days at his Bedminster club since his inauguration in 2017, second only among his own properties to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., where he has spent 133 days, according to data tracked by NBC News.

— Rob Tornoe

7:00 AM - June 25, 2020
7:00 AM - June 25, 2020

Fearing new spike, N.J. to quarantine visitors from states where coronavirus is surging

With the coronavirus cases spiking in parts of the South and West, the governors of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut on Wednesday all but asked residents of those areas to stay away from their states, where infection and fatality rates have declined after three frightening and economically debilitating months.

“We have taken our people through hell and back. And the last thing we need to do is subject our folks to another round,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

Visitors from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah — where increases have fueled the nation’s biggest case surge in two months — will be required to quarantine for 14 days, and violators might be subject to penalties. While not an outright ban, the edict was hardly a welcome mat.

In imposing the quarantine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said violators in New York state would be subject to fines of $2,000 for a first violation, and $5,000 for a second.

“It’s clearly not enforceable, it’s really an honor system,” Jeanne Marrazzo, the infectious disease director at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said on CNN Thursday morning. “I think the message is much more important as a symbolic gesture… What they’re saying is, ‘We lost people, we worked really hard, we were really devastated by this. We do not want to go through that again.’ "

— Anthony R. Wood, Allison and Rob Tornoe