8:35 AM - March 5, 2020
8:35 AM - March 5, 2020

Read the latest Philadelphia-area coronavirus updates here

A person in New Jersey has a “presumptive positive” case of coronavirus, while another person in Philadelphia is being tested for the virus. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump suggested that it’s OK to go to work with coronavirus.

9:58 PM - March 4, 2020
9:58 PM - March 4, 2020

New Jersey has ‘presumptive positive’ case of coronavirus

Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday night announced the “first presumptive positive case" of the coronavirus in the state, specifically a man hospitalized in North Jersey.

The case involves a “male in his 30s” who has been hospitalized in Bergen County since Tuesday, Murphy said in a statement with Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who is acting governor while Murphy recovers from surgery, and state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

“The presumptive positive result came from a sample tested by the New Jersey Department of Health at the New Jersey Public Health Environmental Laboratories (PHEL) and is now being submitted to the CDC for confirmatory testing,” according to the statement.

— Robert Moran

5:39 PM - March 4, 2020
5:39 PM - March 4, 2020

Philadelphia person tests negative for coronavirus, but there’s another suspected case

A Philadelphia person who was tested for the new coronavirus does not have the infection, according to laboratory results announced Wednesday. But another person is now being tested, the Philadelphia Health Department said.

Health officials have been directed to err on the side of caution in deciding who to test, now that cases with no known source of infection suggest the virus is spreading from person to person in California, Oregon, Washington and beyond. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now advises testing anyone with respiratory symptoms and a history of travel to an affected country — not just China, the original source — or anyone with severe respiratory illness that has no other explanation.

— Tom Avril

4:47 PM - March 4, 2020
4:47 PM - March 4, 2020

Philadelphia-area stores struggle to stock hand sanitizer, supplies amid coronavirus worries

Giant Food Stores on 116 Township Line Rd, in Havertown, Pa., has put up a sign letting customers know that they’re out of stock on hand sanitizer on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
TYGER WILLIAMS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Giant Food Stores on 116 Township Line Rd, in Havertown, Pa., has put up a sign letting customers know that they’re out of stock on hand sanitizer on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

As worries over the coronavirus reaches the Philadelphia area, local retailers are struggling to stock hand sanitizer and other precautionary products.

“All within downtown, they’re all sold out,” said Erin Branche, founder of Lash Bash Beauty Salon in Center City. “I went to Rittenhouse Square Rite Aid at 17th and Chestnut. We purchased the last can of Lysol wipes, they’re completely out of hand sanitizer. We called CVS, Target, Staples. I went on Amazon and Home Depot in South Philly and Walmart. They’re all out of masks.”

As a salon owner, Branche said proper sanitary supplies are crucial to doing good business.

“It’s important that my clients are reassured," she said. "It’s hard to do that when resources are limited.”

Many area stores have run out of hand sanitizer, while the price of Purell packs on Amazon are surging upwards of $100, reports the Inquirer’s Gary Thompson.

Experts say washing with regular soap and water is just as good, and maybe even better, than using hand sanitizer.

— Erin Arvedlund

3:39 PM - March 4, 2020
3:39 PM - March 4, 2020

California reports first coronavirus death; U.S. death toll climbs to 11

California officials reported the state’s first coronavirus-linked death Wednesday, bringing the number of U.S. fatalities tied to the outbreak to 11.

The death occurred in Placer County in Northern California, and is the first in the U.S. to occur outside of Washington state. County officials said the person who died in California was “an elderly adult with underlying health conditions.”

Of the 10 people in Washington State who died from coronavirus, five lived in a long-term nursing facility.

Los Angeles County has declared a local health emergency after officials confirmed six more cases of the disease.

No cases have been confirmed in Pennsylvania or New Jersey.

Most patients have mild symptoms, but the illness can have severe consequences for older people, smokers, and those with underlying health conditions.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

3:17 PM - March 4, 2020
3:17 PM - March 4, 2020

Delaware opens call center to field coronavirus concerns

Combating coronavirus concerns, the Delaware Department of Public Health announced Wednesday it has opened a call center to take questions from the public, schools, medical providers, state agencies, and the community.

Concerned residents can call 1-866-408-1899 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or email DPHCall@delaware.gov.

Those returning from a country such as China, Japan, Italy, South Korea, or Iran with a level 2 travel alert and experience a medical emergency should contact 9-1-1, officials said.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

2:26 PM - March 4, 2020
2:26 PM - March 4, 2020

Congress strikes deal on $8.3 billion coronavirus emergency funding package

Congress has struck a deal on a $8.3 billion bipartisan emergency funding package to fight the coronavirus outbreak, expected to pass by the end of this week.

The sweeping agreement allots $300 million “to help ensure that, when a vaccine is developed, Americans can receive it regardless of their ability to pay,” a House Democratic aide told Politico.

The deal would also provide:

  • $3 billion for research and development of vaccines
  • $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — $950 million of which will support state and local health agencies.
  • $836 million for the National Institutes of Health
  • $20 million to the Small Business Administration to increase loans for affected businesses

— Oona Goodin-Smith

2:06 PM - March 4, 2020
2:06 PM - March 4, 2020

Sixers, Atlantic 10 basketball teams call foul on high-fives

Sixers guard Furkan Korkmaz high-fives teammate center Joel Embiid after Kormaz dunked the basketball against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, February 9, 2020 in Philadelphia.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Sixers guard Furkan Korkmaz high-fives teammate center Joel Embiid after Kormaz dunked the basketball against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, February 9, 2020 in Philadelphia.

Along with prepping to take on the Los Angeles Lakers, the Sixers also drew up plays to combat coronavirus this week, the Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reports. The team’s head athletic trainer told players to constantly wash their hands, avoid using fans’ pens for autographs, and to fist bump in lieu of handshakes or high-fives.

In college basketball, the Atlantic 10 Conference suspended players’ pregame and postgame handshakes, encouraging “forearm bumps” instead.

1:06 PM - March 4, 2020
1:06 PM - March 4, 2020

Italian government closes schools as coronavirus deaths climb

As the coronavirus death toll rises in Italy, the nation’s government announced Wednesday it will temporarily close schools and universities due to the virus.

Italian media reported deaths related to the outbreak climbed from 52 on Monday to 79 on Tuesday.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

12:18 PM - March 4, 2020
12:18 PM - March 4, 2020

Coronavirus fears change life in Northeast Philly’s Chinese community

No.1 Asian Supermarket in the Northeast Philadelphia, is shown on Monday, March 2, 2020.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
No.1 Asian Supermarket in the Northeast Philadelphia, is shown on Monday, March 2, 2020.

In Northeast Philadelphia, home to more than 20% of the city’s Chinese residents, stories of the coronavirus outbreak at home have stoked fears of the happening here, reporter Jason Laughlin writes.

Through panels and social media, community members are working to dispel misinformation about the outbreak.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

10:33 AM - March 4, 2020
10:33 AM - March 4, 2020

A face mask probably won’t protect you from coronavirus. Here’s what can help.

An employee with face mask and gloves waits behind the door of the corona diagnostic center in Duesseldorf, Germany.
Martin Meissner / AP
An employee with face mask and gloves waits behind the door of the corona diagnostic center in Duesseldorf, Germany.

Face masks are recommended for people who are sick and for health-care workers, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says they’re not necessary for the general public.

Better ways to protect yourself from the spread of coronavirus, health reporter Sarah Gantz writes, include:

  • Frequent, thorough hand-washing
  • Changing your hand towels
  • Using hand sanitizer
  • Not touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoiding contact with individuals who may be ill
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing it out right away
  • Staying home if you’re unwell
  • Disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces, such as computer keyboards, with a household cleaner

— Oona Goodin-Smith

10:13 AM - March 4, 2020
10:13 AM - March 4, 2020

Arcadia University, Penn join list of local colleges canceling trips, study abroad programs due to coronavirus

On Wednesday, Arcadia University, which has routinely sent the majority of its students to study abroad during their four years at the school, shut down all of its global trips that had been scheduled for spring break later this month due to the coronavirus.

It joins the growing list of colleges — including Penn, Temple, Rowan, and Villanova — that have canceled or postponed travel amid the outbreak.

As a precautionary step to reduce the spread of the virus, schools across the region are also weighing the benefits of moving classes online.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

10:06 AM - March 4, 2020
10:06 AM - March 4, 2020

States, schools, hospitals are racing to make coronavirus test kits available

Earlier this week, the U.S. government loosened its rules to allow public health labs and academic medical institutions to design and use their own coronavirus testing kits.

A Pennsylvania lab now has the ability to process six tests a day. The lab can return results on the same day if a sample is received in the morning.

If a person in Pennsylvania believes they may have COVID-19, they should contact their healthcare provider, Health Secretary Rachel Levine said Tuesday.

Efforts are underway to develop a vaccine, including at Philadelphia’s Wistar Institute.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

8:58 AM - March 4, 2020
8:58 AM - March 4, 2020

Confirmed cases escalate in U.S.; most symptoms mild

The U.S. now has 117 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including newly reported infections in New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Florida, as well as 44 U.S. citizens who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan.

Most patients have mild symptoms, but the illness can have severe consequences for older people, smokers, and those with underlying health conditions.

Worldwide, coronavirus has spread west. In China, where the virus originated, cases are now on the decline, officials said Tuesday.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

8:24 AM - March 4, 2020
8:24 AM - March 4, 2020

A possible coronavirus case in Philly is under investigation

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is investigating a possible case of coronavirus in the city. If confirmed, it would be the first official case in Philadelphia.

Two prior possible cases in Philadelphia were tested weeks ago and came back negative. Those tests were conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

— Oona Goodin-Smith