9:34 PM - October 9, 2020
9:34 PM - October 9, 2020

Trump says he was tested again for coronavirus, offers only vague summary of result

President Donald Trump said in a television interview broadcast Friday night that he had been retested for the coronavirus but offered only a vague summary of the result.

“I have been retested, and I haven’t even found out numbers or anything yet, but I’ve been retested, and I know I’m at either the bottom of the scale or free,” he said during an appearance on Fox News.

Trump said he would “probably” be tested again Saturday.

“Probably tomorrow. They test every couple of days, I guess,” he told Marc Siegel, a physician and Fox News medical contributor whose interview aired on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

While Trump’s doctor said he expected the president to be able to resume his public engagements as early as Saturday, the White House did not provide evidence Friday that Trump had received a negative test for the coronavirus.

The Fox News exchange was billed as Trump’s first on-camera interview since he was diagnosed last week with the coronavirus. Taped earlier Friday, Trump appeared outside the White House while Siegel was in a New York studio.

During the interview, Trump confirmed that he had received lung CT scans during his hospital stay, claiming the results were “amazing.”

He said he had recovered quickly because his illness was detected early, and he gave great credit to doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Asked what he was feeling after he contracted the virus, Trump said, “I didn’t feel very strong. I didn’t feel very vital. I didn’t feel like the president of the U.S should feel.”

— Washington Post

6:55 PM - October 9, 2020
6:55 PM - October 9, 2020

Second presidential debate officially cancelled

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.
OLIVIER DOULIERY / AP
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.

The second presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden is officially off.

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates confirmed Friday that the Oct. 15 face-off would be scrapped. The decision was made a day after the commission announced the debate would take place “virtually” because Trump had contracted the coronavirus.

Trump balked at holding the debate in that format, and Biden scheduled a town hall with ABC News for that night once Trump said he would not participate.

Trump’s team later countered with a call to hold the debates as scheduled once the president’s doctor said he would be cleared to hold public events beginning on Saturday.

But the commission said it would not reverse its decision not to have the candidates on stage together, citing an abundance of caution with health concerns — particularly for the town-hall-style debate that was set to feature questions from average voters.

The third debate, scheduled for Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tenn., is still on.

— Associated Press

4:00 PM - October 9, 2020
4:00 PM - October 9, 2020

WHO reports new record for daily worldwide cases

The World Health Organization on Friday reported its highest daily tally of new coronavirus cases to date, as infections accelerate even while death rates decline in viral hot spots.

Around the globe, 350,766 new infections were reported, surpassing Thursday’s record by more than 12,000, according to the WHO’s dashboard. Worldwide deaths related to the virus have passed 1 million, according to the WHO, but are no longer breaking daily records.

The agency recorded 6,339 new coronavirus fatalities Friday, about half the peak of nearly 12,500 reported one day in April.

Michael Ryan, head of the WHO’s Emergencies program, said some governments may have to turn back to stricter measures aimed at slowing the virus’s spread.

“But we shouldn’t accept that in every country, the return of cases should be seen with an immediate return of the need for lockdown restrictions,” he said.

— Washington Post

3:00 PM - October 9, 2020
3:00 PM - October 9, 2020

COVID has temporarily locked down a state prison, causing a backup of inmates at Philly-area jails

The State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill is the intake center for all male inmates entering the state prison system.
Carolyn Kaster / AP File
The State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill is the intake center for all male inmates entering the state prison system.

A spike in coronavirus cases at a state correctional facility outside of Harrisburg has created a ripple effect across Pennsylvania, leaving county jails temporarily unable to transfer inmates bound for cells in larger state prisons.

In the southeastern corner of the commonwealth, that change in policy at SCI Camp Hill has caused some overcrowding in county jails that have worked to reduce their inmate populations in this time of social distancing. Officials at most say the impact is minor, but Bucks County officials say the pile-up in their jail is limiting space that would otherwise be used to keep county inmates safe.

Bucks County Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia said inmates at the county jail awaiting transfer to state prison are regularly tested for the coronavirus, and put into quarantine if they show signs of COVID-19.

“They wont be bringing anything into the state system,” she said. “But they’re taking up space that doesn’t allow us to put, say, one person in a cell to prevent COVID from coming into our jail.”

SCI Camp Hill has been in a COVID-19-related lockdown since Sept. 15, according to Maria Finn, a spokesperson for the state Department of Correction. Currently, 29 inmates have tested positive for the virus, as have 11 staff members there, according to data from the department.

— Vinny Vella

1:45 PM - October 9, 2020
1:45 PM - October 9, 2020

Philadelphia reports 243 new cases, 13 deaths, as virus numbers continue to rise

A mask reminder sign on Gay Street in West Chester.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
A mask reminder sign on Gay Street in West Chester.

Philadelphia announced 243 new cases of the coronavirus Friday, continuing the days-long trend of increasing cases and bringing the city’s total number of confirmed cases to more than 38,400 since the start of the pandemic.

Additionally, the city reported 13 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the city’s overall death toll to 1,830, 49% of which were residents of long-term care facilities.

Last week, the city averaged 110 new confirmed cases per day, compared to 86 per day in the prior week. Those averages are based on the day the test was taken.

The city also reported 10 new probable cases, from rapid antigen tests. Confirmed cases of the virus in city residents now total 38,451 since March.

— Ellie Rushing, Laura McCrystal

12:45 PM - October 9, 2020
12:45 PM - October 9, 2020

Berks County to open new testing site amid rise in cases

A March photo of a coronavirus testing site in Doylestown, PA.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
A March photo of a coronavirus testing site in Doylestown, PA.

Amid a rapid rise in coronavirus cases in Berks County, the state will open an outdoor testing site at the FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Friday.

The testing site, located in the Front Street parking lot, comes as Berks County sees the 12th-highest percent-positivity rate in the state at 4.7%, up from a 3.9% positive rate the previous week, the state said.

“Since the beginning of September, we have seen an increase of 1,469 cases in Berks County, which gives us significant cause for concern,” Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said in a statement. “These testing sites will be open to anyone who feels they need a test. It is important that even people with no symptoms who test positive isolate and quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The testing site will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday next week. On Friday and Saturday, it will be open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tests are on a first-come, first-serve basis, and anyone can get tested, regardless of exposure or symptoms.

— Ellie Rushing

12:30 PM - October 9, 2020
12:30 PM - October 9, 2020

Pennsylvania reports 1,380 new coronavirus cases, as increasing case trend continues

Pennsylvania reported 1,380 additional coronavirus cases Friday, the highest single-day total since early May and the third-day in a row the commonwealth has reported more than 1,300 new cases.

Friday’s numbers continue the ongoing trend of increasing cases across the state and region, in what some health officials warn could become a potential surge.

Nine additional deaths were reported, bringing the state-wide death toll to 8,308 — about two-thirds of which were residents of long-term care facilities. Pennsylvania’s case total sits at 169,308 since March.

About 50% of cases are in people between the ages of 19 and 49, while 42% of cases are among people 50 or older. Most people hospitalized are 65 or older.

— Ellie Rushing

11:20 AM - October 9, 2020
11:20 AM - October 9, 2020

White House and Congress are again negotiating about another round of stimulus checks

In this April 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump's name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
AP
In this April 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump's name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Just hours after President Donald Trump abruptly shut down talks over a new economic relief bill on Tuesday, he quickly reversed course and said he would sign a stand-alone bill consisting only of $1,200 stimulus checks. Now, White House officials and congressional leaders are in the midst of heated negotiations about whether to approve another round of these payments for millions of Americans in the next few weeks.

The first round of checks pumped $290 billion into the economy at a time when many Americans were facing layoffs and businesses suffered, but the efficacy of those payments has so far been hard to precisely track. There are some clues, however.

Some academic research suggests that the $1,200 checks were a blunt mechanism with decidedly mixed results, and one not as effective as it could have been in propping up the economy. That could foretell the impact of another round if the White House and lawmakers push ahead as they try to shore up struggling Americans in the midst of a severe economic downturn.

A working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in August, which used survey data, found that only 15% of people who received the stimulus checks said they had spent or planned to spend most of the payment. Mostly, people said they saved the cash or used it to pay down debt.

— Yeganeh Torbati, The Washington Post

11:10 AM - October 9, 2020
11:10 AM - October 9, 2020

Bridging the digital divide for the ‘have’ and ‘have nots’: How schools are meeting the need during remote learning

(Left to Right) Dymere, seated with headphones, receives help from lead teacher Rhakiya Hall, as Ocean pulls up a chair to do her schoolwork and Laila, front right, engages in a zoom session with her music class at the Paulsboro Boys & Girls Club in Paulsboro, NJ.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
(Left to Right) Dymere, seated with headphones, receives help from lead teacher Rhakiya Hall, as Ocean pulls up a chair to do her schoolwork and Laila, front right, engages in a zoom session with her music class at the Paulsboro Boys & Girls Club in Paulsboro, NJ.

The two bright-eyed second graders huddled together looking at a laptop during music class in their makeshift remote classroom at the Boys and Girls Club in Paulsboro.

The girls, Ocean and Laila, 7, happily shared the device for hours during the school day because the district cannot provide enough computers for every student, a scenario playing out across the country as families struggle to educate their children without access to online programs and technology for remote learning.

“This is a huge challenge,” said Patti Withington, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Gloucester County, which operates locations in Paulsboro and Glassboro. “They’re doing the best they can under the constraints.”

The educational digital divide grew during the pandemic after schools suddenly closed and households could not easily shift to online. Experts say the inequities widen the achievement gap between low-income school districts and their more affluent counterparts. Some wealthier districts have been able to easily provide a device for each child who needs one, while economically disadvantaged districts like Paulsboro are struggling to meet the need. At least 100 students in the Gloucester County school lack devices to connect with their classrooms.

— Melanie Burney, Kristen Graham

10:15 AM - October 9, 2020
10:15 AM - October 9, 2020

Trump says he’s ready for rallies but details are slim on his health

President Donald Trump walks out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to return to the White House after receiving treatments for covid-19, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md.
Evan Vucci / AP
President Donald Trump walks out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to return to the White House after receiving treatments for covid-19, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md.

President Donald Trump insisted Thursday that he is ready to resume campaign rallies and feels “perfect” one week after his diagnosis with the coronavirus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans, as his doctor said the president had “completed his course of therapy” for the disease.

The president has not been seen in public — other than in White House-produced videos — since his Monday return from the military hospital where he received experimental treatments for the virus. On Thursday, his physician, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, said in a memo that Trump would be able to safely “return to public engagements” on Saturday, as the president tries to shift his focus to the election that’s less than four weeks away, with millions of Americans already casting ballots.

“I’m feeling good. Really good. I think perfect,” Trump said during a telephone interview with Fox Business, his first since he was released from a three-day hospital stay Monday. “I think I’m better to the point where I’d love to do a rally tonight,” Trump said. He added, “I don’t think I’m contagious at all.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says individuals can discontinue isolation 10 days after the onset of symptoms, which for Trump was Oct. 1, according to his doctors. Conley said that meant Trump, who has been surrounded by minimal staffing as he works out of the White House residence and the Oval Office, could return to holding events on Saturday.

— The Associated Press

9:00 AM - October 9, 2020
9:00 AM - October 9, 2020

Pennsylvania loosens crowd restrictions, allows fans to gather back in stadiums

The Pittsburgh Steelers are introduced to an empty stadium on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
Peter Diana / MCT
The Pittsburgh Steelers are introduced to an empty stadium on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Starting Friday, Pennsylvania’s Department of Health will allow larger crowds to gather outdoors, clearing the way for some fans to return to stadiums.

The one-size-fits-all limits of 25 people for indoor gatherings and 250 for outdoor events have been replaced by capacity-based restrictions. Large stadiums with a capacity of more than 10,000 will be allowed 15% of their maximum occupancy, up to 7,500 people.

Under the state guidelines, venues must require attendees to wear masks, comply with social distancing requirements, and implement best practices such as timed entry, multiple entry and exit points, and multiple restrooms and hygiene stations.

Should the state determine that crowds are the sources of outbreaks, “we can and will dial back these new limits,” said Rachel Levine, the state health commissioner.

In Philadelphia, though, the guidance hasn’t yet changed, with city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley implying that Eagles fans may not be getting back together at Lincoln Financial Field anytime soon.

— Ellie Rushing

8:45 AM - October 9, 2020
8:45 AM - October 9, 2020

Utilities can soon cut off nonpaying customers, Pa. says, but the poorest customers are protected

Peco electric meters.
Reid Kanaley / Staff
Peco electric meters.

Pennsylvania utilities will be allowed to resume shutoffs of nonpaying customers on Nov. 9 after state regulators Thursday lifted a moratorium imposed at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic emergency.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday voted 3-1 to again permit service terminations, but put safeguards into place for families and small businesses that are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The PUC’s action resolves a dispute that had stalemated the commission for months over how to end the moratorium.

Utilities say the COVID-19 moratorium has made it difficult for them to collect payments or to get customers to sign up for low-income assistance. They say customers were late on a total of $479 million in June, a figure that is mounting. But consumer advocates say that a public health emergency is no time to shut off a vital service, the loss of which could mean homelessness for some.

The PUC’s order will still prohibit utilities from shutting off “protected customers” whose income is no more than triple the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which are set at $26,200 for a family of four, so the yearly limit for such a family would be $78,600. The protected customers must apply for available assistance programs and request a payment arrangement from the utility to pay down their debt.

— Andy Maykuth

8:30 AM - October 9, 2020
8:30 AM - October 9, 2020

Thursday’s new COVID-19 case numbers rise even higher, prompting warnings from Pa. and N.J. officials

Chrystal Handford, RMA, administers a COVID-19 test at the Community-Accessible Testing & Education truck in the parking lot at Concilio in Philadelphia, Pa. on September 27, 2020.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Chrystal Handford, RMA, administers a COVID-19 test at the Community-Accessible Testing & Education truck in the parking lot at Concilio in Philadelphia, Pa. on September 27, 2020.

Saying they fear the state is on the cusp of a second wave of coronavirus infections, New Jersey officials sounded their loudest alarms since spring’s end, while Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said he was “very concerned” about the virus' new trajectory in the commonwealth.

“This wave has the potential to become a surge,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, if residents do not keep taking preventive measures such as masking, social distancing, and washing hands.

The high number of people testing positive comes after several days of rising cases in the two states and as the United States averages about 5% more new cases this week than last. The increases here and elsewhere also come amid renewed focus on the coronavirus in the presidential campaign due to President Donald Trump’s infection.

Pennsylvania reported 1,376 new coronavirus cases Thursday, while New Jersey — which had been reporting lower daily numbers than Pennsylvania for months — reported 1,301, more than double its case reports in preceding days. It was the highest number of cases reported in one day since early May for Pennsylvania and late May for New Jersey, surpassing already high numbers from earlier in the week.

— Justine McDaniel, Allison Steele, Erin McCarthy, Rob Tornoe