Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorius, other Phillies could wear masks on the field this season
The score was not counted, both teams wore the same uniforms, and the game lasted just three innings. But the Phillies intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park was the team’s first “game” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
And as Rhys Hoskins stood at first base, he wondered if that meant he should be wearing a mask.
“Initially, I thought that anytime I was on the field, I would not be wearing a mask,” Hoskins said while wearing a mask on a Zoom call with reporters. “But maybe it’s something I keep in my back pocket in a Ziploc baggie or something. When somebody gets on first, I throw it on.”
Major League Baseball is not requiring players to wear masks this season during games or practices, but coaches and staff must wear face coverings. The players wear their masks around the ballpark, but most players remove them when they take the field. Didi Gregorious, Jean Segura, and Ronald Torreyes played the infield on Wednesday with masks on.
Philly adds Delaware to list of states to avoid because of rise in COVID-19 cases
Philadelphia residents should avoid traveling to Delaware and should self-quarantine at home if they are returning from a trip there, city officials recommended on Wednesday.
Philadelphia now urges against visiting 18 states because of reported increases in COVID-19 cases.
If a 14-day self-quarantine “is not practical,” the city recommends that returning travelers “wear masks at all times at the workplace or near other non-household members” and monitor closely for symptoms of illness that might be COVID-19, such as a cough or fever.
“If these symptoms occur, stay at home and away from others until 10 days after symptoms resolve or a COVID-19 test is negative,” the city said on its website.
New Jersey added Delaware on Tuesday to its list of states to avoid. Pennsylvania has not as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the state’s website.
Census takers hit Philly streets next month in protective gear
Census takers will go door-to-door in protective equipment next month for the 2020 Census.
In about a month, the Census Bureau plans to equip employees with masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to knock on the doors of Philadelphia area households that have not responded to the 2020 Census, officials announced Wednesday.
The federal government is attempting to conduct the nation’s largest peacetime mobilization, the once-a-decade count of every person living in the country, with the added complication of the coronavirus pandemic, which has sickened millions of Americans and killed more than 130,000.
Following up in person with households that do not respond to the census online, by mail, or by phone is the Census Bureau’s largest field operation. The bureau is beginning a soft launch of the in-person count next week in some areas with comparatively low numbers of coronavirus cases, but in most of the country, including the Philadelphia region, workers will begin knocking on doors Aug. 11.
The bureau has collected millions of items of personal protective equipment, including washable cloth masks that census takers will be required to wear, and is directing workers to stay at least six feet apart from interview subjects and to stay outside of people’s homes. The bureau will not be testing census takers but any who test positive for the coronavirus cannot work for at least 14 days.
In-person interviews take roughly five to seven minutes, according to the Census Bureau.The 2020 Census will determine how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed to state and local governments for the next 10 years for medical centers, housing, schools, transportation, and other essentials.
As of July 7, 61.9% of U.S. households have responded to the census. Pennsylvania’s self-response rate is slightly higher at 65.1% and New Jersey’s is 63.9%. Philadelphia’s self-response rate trails at 51%.
Ravens plan to allow up to 14,000 fans into M&T Bank Stadium for games
The Baltimore Raves will defer season tickets for the 2020 season to 2021 and are planning to allow a limited amount of fans into the stadium to watch games, the team announced on Wednesday.
Capacity at M&T Bank stadium will be capped at 14,000 fans, well below the stadium’s 71,000 capacity, with the team said was based on social distancing guidelines and fan safety protocols developed by health experts, governmental officials and the NFL.
Baltimore lifted restrictions on large gatherings last month, but stadium events and other large gatherings that require city permits are still prohibited, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Ravens are the first NFL team to announce specific plans involving fans attending games in the fall. The Eagles announced earlier this week season ticket holders can choose to opt-out in 2020 and obtain a refund.
Pennsylvania limits large gathering to up to 250 people in counties that have entered the state’s “green” phase.
South Jersey coronavirus patient leaves hospital after 44 days on a ventilator
Camden resident Darnell Lewis, 41, was released from Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Wednesday after having spent the past 44 days on a ventilator. Lewis, who was admitted to the hospital on May 1 and spent 60 days in the hospital, was wheeled out to the sound of applause by Virtua staff.
‘I just probably won’t’: Little enthusiasm for new mask mandate on Ventnor boardwalk
There was little enthusiasm for the new mask directive on the Ventnor boardwalk Wednesday (and few if any masks).
"I just probably won't," said Josh Bjorkman of Mays Landing, an unemployed casino entertainment employee. "I just would avoid it when it's crowded. People can judge their own situations."
His wife, Caitlin, who lost her job when a local gym closed its doors permanently, worried that the requirement to wear masks on a crowded boardwalk would hurt businesses already struggling under coronavirus restrictions.
“I think it’s a little ridiculous if it’s outside,” she said. “The Wildwood Boardwalk can get crowded so I could see that. I just would avoid it. The businesses will be hurt by it. It’s a hard time.”
Sue, who was also on the boardwalk and would only give her first name, said, “If it keeps me safe, I’ll do it.”
Gov. Murphy changes policy following long lines at motor vehicle offices
Reversing a previous policy, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the state Motor Vehicle Commission offices will now be open on Mondays in an attempt to ease the long lines and crowding that many experienced when they opened this week for the first time since March. Murphy also said no MVC employees will be furloughed.
Philadelphia reported 168 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a slight increase over the rolling average the city has experienced in recent weeks as numbers appeared to stabilize.
The city has been adding about 110 new cases per day for about the past two weeks, Public Health Commissioner Thomas Farley told reporters on Tuesday.
Philadelphia also confirmed eight new deaths, but the Department of Public Health said that most of the cases a week ago or more, and have only now been identified through database matching. Overall, at least 1,625 residents have died after contracting the virus, about half coming in long-term care facilities.
U.S. surpasses 3 million coronavirus cases as infections continue to surge
The United States surpassed 3 million coronavirus cases on Wednesday, yet another grim marker as the country continues to experience a surge in positive tests.
According to Johns Hopkins University, 3,009,611 Americans have now contracted COVID-19, easily the most of any country and nearly double the number of cases in Brazil, which has the second-highest total of more than 1.6 million cases.
On Tuesday, the United States reported a record 60,021 coronavirus cases, nearly half of which came from three states — California, Florida, and Texas. It took just 27 days for the United States to add a million new cases, after having surpassed 2 million cases June 10.
The rate of coronavirus deaths has continued to decline nationally, even as new cases have surged. But health experts warn death counts are generally a lagging indicator, and that the virus has the potential to do a great deal of harm to people who ultimately survive.
“It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said Tuesday. “There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus, don’t get yourself into false complacency.”
The order applies to all people in school buildings two years of age or older. It also applies to athletes and sports activities unless they are outdoors and a distance of at least six feet can be maintained.
Schools are permitted to let students remove their masks while eating, drinking, and while they’re seated at their desks, as long as children remain 6 feet apart.
The locations include:
Public K-12 schools
Brick and mortar and cyber charter schools
Private and parochial schools
Career and technical centers
Educational programming for students in non-educational placements such as boarding schools, residential facilities, detention centers, and hospital settings
PA Pre-K Counts, Head Start Programs and Preschool Early Intervention programs
Private Academic Nursery Schools and locally funded prekindergarten activities.
Airborne coronavirus transmission raises new questions and worries
Half a year into the pandemic, it’s well-accepted that coronavirus can be spread when an infected person expels respiratory droplets by coughing or sneezing.
But can the virus be transmitted in microscopically small droplets that are released into the air by talking or just breathing? And if so, could you contract the virus from across a room, or after the infected person leaves the room?
Charles Haas, a professor of environmental engineering at Drexel University, endorsed a letter sent to the World Health Organization by more than 200 scientists urging action. What needs to happen? “Universal masking. Avoid crowds. Avoid confined spaces. Keep a physical distance. And for indoor spaces, improve ventilation,” he said.
In other words, we should do all the difficult, sometimes impractical things we are doing now — and more.
New Jersey will take a small step toward indoor dining, Gov. Murphy announced
New Jersey will take a small step toward allowing indoor dining by letting a limited number of restaurants reopen, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Morning Joe Wednesday.
“If you’ve got a restaurant that can open up two sides of your restaurant, and you can have 50% of your wall space open, we’re going to allow you to have that under that roof,” Murphy said.
According to the governor’s office, the executive order will allow restaurants to reopen in two scenarios:
If they have no roof or cover
If they have a fixed roof or temporary cover, but can open at least two sides to allow fresh air to enter the restaurant from 50% of the total wall space
The order appears to specifically apply to restaurants at the Shore that have the ability to open up their walls or doors to the outside, but the exact details weren’t released. Murphy is expected to offer more details during his Wednesday coronavirus briefing.
New Jersey was scheduled to allow indoor dining to resume in July, but Murphy hit the pause button just days before restaurants planned to reopen, frustrating owners who ordered supplies and hired workers.
“I have nothing but complete sympathy for those restaurant owners. The fact of the matter is, the rates of transmission started to creep up,” Murphy said. “We saw explosions around the country, and in almost every case that was from indoors.”
Gov. Murphy said he will sign executive order requiring masks outdoors in New Jersey
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he will sign an executive order Wednesday that mandates masks be worn outdoors in settings where social distancing isn’t possible, mirroring policies in place in Pennsylvania and Delaware.
The state already required that masks be worn indoors, but Murphy said he has been forced to “turn it up a notch” due to a spike in new cases across the country.
“If you’re congregating with a lot of other folks, and there’s no social distancing, you’ll at least get a warning, if not something stronger,” Murphy said of those caught not wearing a mask on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Wednesday.
The details of the executive order were not immediately available. The new order comes as New Jersey’s rate of transmission — the rate at which the virus spreads from one person to another — surpassed 1.0 for the first time in 10 weeks.
Wildwood postpones weekly fireworks over lack of masks and social distancing
Wildwood is postponing its weekly fireworks display on Friday nights due to crowds of people not wearing marks or adhering to social distancing guidelines, Mayor Pete Byron announced Tuesday night.
“Unfortunately, many feel that social distancing and masks are arbitrary rather than lifesaving,” Bryon said in a statement. “If we are going to do this, we have to do it right — do it in a way that we can protect the most valuable part of Wildwood which is people.”
“We simply cannot produce the fireworks in a way that can guarantee public safety, and until we can, it is our duty to examine further possibilities as well as the facts,” Commissioner of Public Safety Steve Mikulski.
Wildwood was one of a handful of Shore towns Cape May County singled out in a rare warning to beachgoers about an uptick in positive coronavirus cases in the area, along with Ocean City, Sea Isle City, and Avalon.
East Passyunk Avenue reverses course, won’t close for outdoor dining
The East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District is reversing course on a decision to temporarily close five blocks of East Passyunk Avenue and offer expanded outdoor dining this weekend.
In a statement to Eater, the organization said it is postponing the event due to “a number of outside circumstances.”
“Just as the City has been constantly evaluating reopening guidance on a daily basis, East Passyunk Avenue has been doing the same,” the entity said in a statement. “We hope to be able to share a new date with you very soon.”
The Northern Liberties Business Improvement District appears to be moving forward with its plan to shut down a section of 2nd Street from Germantown Avenue to Spring Garden on Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. to allow outdoor dining.
Where coronavirus cases are surging and falling in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is now seeing more cases in younger age groups than in the groups older than 50, the Department of Health said Tuesday. Southwestern Pennsylvania has had the highest increase, with young people representing 5% of cases in April to nearly 30% so far this month.
Chester County’s rate has dropped from 37 per 100,000 people to 29. Bucks County has increased from 20 to 32; Montgomery County from 25 to 28, and Delaware County from 23 to 32. According to city data, Philadelphia’s rate has increased slightly from 47 to 48.5.
In Southeastern Pennsylvania, about 15% of cases so far in July have occurred among young people between the ages of 19 to 24, up from just 5% in April, according to the Department of Health. Meanwhile, the rate of new cases among Philadelphians over 50 has decreased, Farley said Tuesday.
— Justine McDaniel, Rob Tornoe and Sean Collins Walsh
Allegheny County’s infection rate now twice as high as Philadelphia’s
The rate of coronavirus infections has remained steady in Philadelphia but increased slightly in areas of the suburbs, data indicated Tuesday.
Pennsylvania reported its highest daily case total in nearly two months on Tuesday, but the one-day spike could be the result of a backlog caused by the holiday weekend, and was partly inflated due to a lag time in reporting from Philadelphia, according to the Department of Health.
The 995 new cases Pennsylvania reported Tuesday included 204 in Allegheny County, which has experienced a surge that has been linked to young people who went to bars and restaurants. Allegheny County’s infection rate is now twice as high as Philadelphia’s.
The state is now seeing more cases in younger age groups than in the groups older than 50, the Department of Health said. Southwestern Pennsylvania has had the highest increase, with young people representing 5% of cases in April to nearly 30% so far this month.
In two weeks, Allegheny County’s rate of infection per 100,000 people has gone from 10 to 100 people, according to data analyzed by The Inquirer. Beaver and Washington Counties have also experienced large increases as the southwestern part of the state continues to see the worst current outbreak.
On June 30, county officials ordered restaurants and bars to stop serving alcohol indefinitely. Indoor dining was also put on hold on July 3 for one week due to the spike in new cases. That order is scheduled to expire tomorrow, but it seems unlikely officials will allow indoor dining to resume given the county’s steady increase of cases.