Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack bets on reopening to the public amid the pandemic
Mark Dorrin, 66, hasn’t seen his gambling friends in over three months.
But at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, the Prospect Park resident stood in line for the reopening of Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack in Chester. Dorrin, a customer of Harrah’s since it opened in 2007, used to visit at least twice a week. And he came Friday in part “to see old friends —I’ve already seen four.”
The casino opened its doors at 9 a.m. to repeat customers belonging to its loyalty-card program, , but Dorrin and other early arrivals were let in half an hour early to prevent long lines forming outside. Going forward, the casino will once again be open 24/7.
COVID-19 cases are rising among young people. A South Philly survivor shares her experience.
The symptoms arrived, one after the next, for more than two weeks. Exhaustion, coughing, fever, body aches — as one passed, another took its place.
“I’m definitely someone who suffers from a little bit of extra anxiety to begin with,” said Lauren Tomaszewski, who tested positive for COVID-19 in April. “There was a lot of constant checking my vital signs to reassure myself I didn’t have to go to the hospital, that I would be OK.”
After the virus had cleared her system, it took weeks for the 29-year-old physical therapist and daily runner to regain her strength. “I’m young and healthy, and it knocked me on my butt. I don’t wish it on anyone,” she said. “The emotional toll it took getting healthy and rehabbing I also don’t wish on anyone.”
In recent weeks, COVID-19′s rise among younger people has become a national phenomenon, and is particularly dramatic in states where the virus is surging, including Texas, California and Florida.
Coronavirus could be the turning point for a vaccine technology 30 years in the making
David B. Weiner is known in scientific circles as “the father of DNA vaccines.” The tag pays homage to his pioneering work over 30 years, but it’s also a reminder that his baby is still aborning.
Not a single human DNA vaccine has made it to market anywhere in the world, and the technology is still rapidly evolving.
The pandemic may be the moment of truth. Genetic code vaccines — built with DNA or RNA — are strong front-runners in the global race to develop an immunization against the coronavirus that has claimed nearly half a million lives worldwide since it emerged in China seven months ago.
‘I do see people being a little more fearful of sitting inside'
Delaware County business owners welcomed the green phase of reopening with cautious optimism on Friday as gyms, hair salons, and indoor restaurants and bars reopened from the coronavirus shutdown.
In Havertown, a few people enjoyed the warm, sunny weather as they ate lunch outside at Kettle, a daytime cafe. Inside a propped-open door, owner Sarah Brautigan and manager Marie Stinger talked with servers, who had been called back now that indoor dining was permitted.
“We’re all so excited,” said Brautigan, smiling behind her blue surgical mask.
“We’ve been very successful with outdoor dining,” she added. But “today, I do see people being a little more fearful of sitting inside.”
Between 8 a.m. and noon Friday, Stinger said the cafe sat only five tables inside, with all others requesting outdoor seating.
Across the street, the staff at Dynamic Image Hair Salon had flipped the sign on the door to “Open” for the first time in months. Around it were signs about social distancing and the face mask requirement, as well as a message that read “We have missed you so much!” Inside, a couple people chatted with hairdressers as they got their hair cut.
A couple doors down, Havertown Health and Fitness owner Mark Rodney showed a sole gym-goer the new cleaning stations and spaced-out machines inside his facility. Business had been steady over the first few hours, Rodney said, not much slower than a typical, pre-pandemic weekday morning. Because he knows most of the members well, he said he doesn’t expect issues with compliance.
In Upper Darby, the famous Llanerch Diner had no customers inside just before lunchtime. Red white and blue balloons lined its entryway, ready to greet diners on its reopening day.
Outside Manoa Tavern a mile away, employees unloaded cases of beer from a truck. Inside the bar, flat-screen TVs were turned to sports reruns.
“Just the setup has been crazy,” said manager Joe Favazza, who said they’d only sat one table as of noon.
Farther west in Newtown Square, Corinthian Wellness Salon and Spa was doing steady business, even though the chair-less waiting area didn’t show it. They’re taking only two clients at a time for hair styling.
“I miss the salon environment,” employee Alyssa Boppell said from behind a clear barrier at the reception desk. “Usually this place is loud and bustling.”
American Airlines will book flights to full capacity, ending social distancing efforts
American Airlines, the most prominent carrier at Philadelphia International Airport, will start booking flights to full capacity next week, ending any effort to promote social distancing on its planes while the United States sets records for new reported cases of the coronavirus.
American’s move matches the policy of United Airlines but contrasts sharply with rivals that limit bookings to create space between passengers to minimize the risk of contagion.
Delta says it is capping seats at about 60% of capacity and Southwest at about 67%, both through Sept. 30. JetBlue says it will leave middle seats empty through July 31 unless the person is traveling with a passenger in an adjoining seat.
‘Today feels wonderful': Across Bucks Counties, open businesses and happy customers
Across Bucks County on Friday, businesses that were unable to open previously such as gyms, hair salons and restaurants, were hives of activity.
Crowds of people flocked to the outdoor pools at the Newtown Athletic Club in the borough of the same name while others filed into the nearby gym to work out on machines and treadmills.
Owner Jim Worthington said he was surprised at the high volume of regular customers that returned Friday. His staff at the sister location, the Horsham Athletic Club, spent Friday in a training session, learning how to properly sanitize workout machines ahead of their opening Monday.
“It’s been tremendous,” he said. “I’ve had people come up to me with tears in their eyes. This is a big part of people’s lives, not just fitness but the sense of community and mental health it provides.”
There was a palpable giddiness among people walking the streets in the county, from the small town business corridors in Lower Bucks, to Main Street in Doylestown, the county’s seat.
Lance and Alma Schneider beamed from behind their face masks on their way out of the Red Lion Diner in Horsham. The couple had been making weekly trips down from Point Pleasant, a tiny hamlet near New Hope, to see if the diner had opened its doors.
Their trip Friday finally was successful.
“We’re just so thrilled to be able to get back to our normal routine,” Alma Schneider said as diner manager Bill Patouhas lashed a large “Welcome back” sign to the diner’s outdoor railing.
“But we’re doing so with caution,” she added. “I’m happy people are being sensible, not like the states down south.”
A few miles up Route 611, at Moxie’s Salon in Doylestown, Carmen Tempesta was putting the finishing touches on a hair cut. He said the reopening measures created some obstacles—it’s not exactly easy to cut hair around the elastics of a face mask, and stylists have to take the time completely disinfect their stations between customers. But the entire day’s slot of appointments had been booked well in advance.
“Everyone likes to look good. That’s why you come to the salon, you feel better,” he said. “It’s a part of mental health.”
Marilyn Whitekettle agreed, as Tempesta dried her curls.
“Today feels wonderful, almost like Christmas,” she said. “This is a stressful time, and you need to look to find things to elevate your mood when there’s not much there to elevate it.”
Philly requires masks as city sees increase in new cases
Coronavirus cases are increasing in Philadelphia, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Friday as he implemented a requirement for all residents to wear masks and said he would reconsider whether the city can move into the “green” phase next week.
“Cases in the community are no longer decreasing,” Farley said, as he announced 143 new cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia residents Friday.
Masks are now mandatory in Philadelphia for people at all indoor public places or when outdoors near people who are not members of one’s own household, Farley said.
Philadelphia officials will reconsider allowing more businesses to reopen next week under the modified “green” phase.
“‘We are going to reconsider and determine what, if anything, of that next batch can reopen on Friday,” he said.
Farley said that some additional activities could reopen safely “if we are really vigilant about the mask use.” But others, such as indoor dining at restaurants, may not be able to resume.
City officials had set a target of reaching 80 cases per day in order to move into the “green” phase of reopening. In the past week the daily case count has averaged more than 100, Farley said.
“I don’t think [new cases] are rising fast, but they do appear to be increasing,” he said.
Farley said officials have noted spikes in teens ages 16 to 19, which appear to be linked to social gatherings.
And as cases rise at a faster rate in many other states, Farley said that “will inevitably hit Philadelphia to some degree.”
New Jersey public school students will receive in-person instruction at least part-time come fall, the state education department said in guidance issued to districts Friday.
School systems will 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 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
While educators did strong work shifting from in-person to remote instruction once Gov. Phil Murphy ordered New Jersey schools closed March 18 as the coronavirus bore down on the region, students need to return to classrooms in whatever way possible, Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet said.
Plans, which must be announced no less than four weeks prior to the start of the school year, will be developed locally, in collaboration with the community, officials said. That’s likely to mean that some districts might opt for students attending school on alternating days and others on alternating weeks. Others may use space creatively to bring some groups of students into buildings daily.
Students and adults who exhibit symptoms will be told to self-isolate. If they test positive, schools will notify local health officials, staff and families.
‘It’s nice to feel normal': King of Prussia Mall opens for the first time in more than three months
For the first time in more than three months, shoppers strolled through the King of Prussia Mall Friday, enjoying a change of scenery as Philadelphia and its surrounding counties officially entered the green phase of reopening.
Although nearly half of the mall’s 400 stores were still shuttered, shoppers clutched bags filled with clothes and shoes — finally enjoying the experience in person rather than online for the first time since the mall closed from the coronavirus on March 14. While parking lots appeared crowded, the groups inside were sparse, with more than enough space to spread out as they walked around.
Reminders of health precautions were posted all around the mall, which is the second-largest in the country. Masks are required for all employees and customers , and entrances have been limited to monitor who comes in. Employees must also have their temperatures taken daily.
The bathrooms only allow for every other sink to be used, and stickers on the floor remind people to move one way and stay six feet apart.
Stores that did reopen, like Madewell, Lululemon, and Footlocker, hoisted “We’re open!” signs in their windows. American Eagle Outfitters celebrated the big day with balloons and energetic staffers greeting customers with extra masks and hand sanitizer. Meanwhile, stores surrounding it remained dark and closed.
Stores assigned staffers to count customers to ensure capacity remains under 25%. For popular stores, waiting customers lined up outside.
Jennifer Michael and her son Jonathan, 11, of Aston, came to the mall to grab some new hiking shoes from L.L. Bean.
“It’s a lot less crowded than we thought,” Jonathan said. “We looked at the parking lot and thought there’d be more people inside.”
“If it were really crowded, we would have just got what we needed and left,” said Jennifer Michael, relieved. “But since nobody’s here, we’ll walk around. We want to be safe, but it’s nice to feel normal.”
Final Pa. county will move into ‘green’ phase of reopening
Lebanon County, the last of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties remaining in the “yellow” phase, will move into the “green” phase of reopening on July 3, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday.
“We will soon have all of our counties in green,” Wolf said in a statement. “A milestone worth a cautious celebration of the hard work and collaborative spirit of Pennsylvanians. But we must remember that the restrictions that remain in the green phase will help us continue to enjoy the freedoms this phase allows for.”
Trump cancels trip to New Jersey amid coronavirus surge
In an about-face, President Donald Trump will not travel to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Friday, according to pool reports.
The schedule change comes as coronavirus cases are surging in the country, returning to peak levels seen in April.
Earlier this week, a White House spokesperson said Trump was traveling to New Jersey despite the state’s quarantine, which requires anyone coming into to the Garden State from areas with a high level of community spread of the coronavirus to quarantine for 14 days.
Trump visited Arizona earlier this week, one of eight states listed under the new quarantine plan, which is also in effect in New York and Connecticut.
16 NBA players have tested positive for coronavirus
The NBA announced on Friday 16 players have tested positive for the coronavirus. On June 23, 302 NBA players were tested, the league said, but did not disclose which players have contracted the virus.
“Any player who tested positive will remain in self-isolation until he satisfies public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and has been cleared by a physician,” the league said in a statement.
Biden says he would require all Americans wear masks in public
Former Vice President Joe Biden said if he were president, he would make it a federal requirement that all Americans wear masks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I would insist that everybody in public be wearing that mask,” Biden, who visited Lancaster on Thursday, said during an interview on Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA. “Anyone to reopen, it would have to make sure that they walked into a business that had masks.”
Coronavirus cases appear to be rising in states with relaxed policies on wearing masks. In 16 states where masks are simply recommended — including Texas and Arizona — new coronavirus cases have risen by about 84% over the last two weeks, according to an Inquirer analysis.
Meanwhile, in 11 states that require people wear masks in public, new cases have fallen by about 25%.
Delaware requires masks be worn in all public settings. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey only require that employees and patrons of certain businesses wear masks.
“The one thing we do know, these masks make a gigantic difference,” Biden said.
Regular weekly recycling collection to resume in Philly
Regular weekly recycling collections in Philadelphia will resume Monday, July 6, the city announced Friday.
The Streets Department said residents should hold their recycling materials the week of June 29 through July 3. Residents should expect delays in collections to subside as the amount of trash placed curbside is expected to decrease.
The city shifted to every other week collections back on April 6 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. City workers will continue to practice social distancing, so residents are asked to not approach employees during collections.
Archdiocese of Philadelphia to loosen mask requirements
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is expanding capacity for its indoor services and loosening its requirements on masks now that the region has moved to the “green” reopening phase.
In a statement to congregants, Father Dennis Gill outlined the new guidelines, which include:
Indoor occupancy capacity can increase to 75%, up from 50%.
Masks, which had previously been required, are now just recommended for congregants age 3 and older.
Parishes are encouraged to restore their typical Mass schedule if adjustments were made for Sundays and weekdays.
While Pennsylvania requires people to wear masks while indoors in businesses, houses of worship are excluded from Gov. Tom Wolf’s order. Instead, the state says these institutions are “strongly encouraged to institute social distancing and other mitigation measures like masking at their gatherings.”
Parishes will continue to livestream services and maintain the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass in person. Singing “should be kept to a minimum,” and social distancing guidelines will remain in place. The full statement can be read here.
Two Philadelphia-area casinos will open Friday thanks to Southeastern Pennsylvania moving into the “green” phase.
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in Chester and Valley Forge Casino Resort are both scheduled to reopen at 11 a.m. Both will operate at 50% capacity with social-distancing rules making face masks required.
Wind Creek Bethlehem and Parx Casino in Bensalem are slated to reopen on Monday.
Rivers Casino Philadelphia in Fishtown has not yet set a reopening date due to Philadelphia’s modified “green” reopening, which keeps restrictions in place for some businesses and activities. According to the city, casinos will be allowed to reopen sometime after July 3.
Atlantic City’s nine casinos will be permitted to reopen July 2 at 25% capacity, Gov. Phil Murphy announced earlier this week. Patrons and employees will be required to wear masks.
What’s open in the suburbs today but not in Philly
Every county in Southeastern Pennsylvania moved into the state’s “green” phase of expanded reopening from coronavirus restrictions at midnight. But Philadelphia entered a more-restrictive “modified” green phase, where some additional restrictions will be maintained until at least July 3.
Under the green phase, masks will still be required when entering a business. Large gatherings of more than 250 people are prohibited. Working from home is still strongly encouraged.
These activities and businesses can reopen today in Philadelphia and the suburbs:
Residential swimming pools and private swim clubs
Zoos (outside only)
Personal services such as salons, barbers, and spas
Small indoor social and religious gatherings (up to 25 people)
These activities and businesses can reopen today in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties. But they won’t be allowed in Philadelphia until July 3 at the earliest:
Outdoor group recreational and sports activities for youth and adults
Gyms and indoor exercise classes
Schools and colleges
Libraries and museums
Indoor shopping malls
Outdoor performances and small outdoor events (up to 50 people)
Restaurants with indoor seating (with occupancy restrictions)
These activities and businesses can also reopen in the suburbs, but will remain closed indefinitely in Philadelphia:
Large outdoor events (up to 250 people)
Theaters and indoor events (with occupancy restrictions)
Large indoor social and religious gatherings (more than 25 people)
Senior services involving gatherings, such as adult daycare
All but one county in Pennsylvania have entered the ‘green’ phase of reopening
As of 12:01 a.m., every county in Southeastern Pennsylvania has entered the state’s green phase of expanded reopening from coronavirus restrictions, while Philadelphia will enter a “modified” green phase.
The only county in Pennsylvania that remain in Gov. Tom Wolf’s more restrictive yellow phase is Lebanon County because of an increase in COVID-19 cases there.
After uptick in coronavirus cases, Delaware delays next phase of reopening
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 noncompliance 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