3:25 PM - August 4, 2020
3:25 PM - August 4, 2020

U.S. nears 5 million virus cases

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the U.S. has topped 4.7 million, with new cases running at over 60,000 a day. While that’s down from a peak of well over 70,000 in the second half of July, cases are rising in 26 states, many in the South and West, and deaths are climbing in 35 states.

On average, the number of COVID-19 deaths per day in the U.S. over the past two weeks has gone from about 780 to 1,056, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Many Americans have resisted wearing masks and social distancing, calling such precautions an over-the-top response or an infringement on their liberty. Public health experts say such behavior has been compounded by confusing and inconsistent guidance from politicians and a patchwork quilt of approaches to containing the scourge by county, state and federal governments.

“The thing that’s maddening is country after country and state after state have shown us how we can contain the virus,” said Dr. Jonathan Quick of the Duke Global Health Institute, who is leading a pandemic initiative for the Rockefeller Foundation. “It’s not like we don’t know what works. We do.”

— Associated Press

2:34 PM - August 4, 2020
2:34 PM - August 4, 2020

Delaware announces its school reopening plan

Delaware schools may reopen this fall with a hybrid model of remote and in-person learning, though individual districts will make their own decisions, Gov. John Carney said Tuesday.

Carney said at a news conference the decision was based on data tracking the coronavirus in Delaware. While Carney said hospitalizations are low based on a framework developed by the state, officials consider its community spread and rate of positive tests for the virus to be in a moderate range.

Officials said the next step is for school districts and charter schools to determine what approach will be best for their communities.

”There’s not one size that fits all. That’s because every school district is a little different,” in terms of number of students, size of buildings, and transportation requirements, among other variables, Carney said. “We don’t want anybody to come back if it’s not safe.”

State Medical Director Rick Hong said that if schools feel they cannot provide a safe environment, they can opt to open fully virtually, but “we would not recommend going the other direction” and providing fully in-person instruction.

He outlined health protocols for schools offering in-person instruction, including increasing ventilation and using outdoor spaces, and requiring face coverings for students in grades 4-12, and “strongly encouraging” them for younger children.

Officials said they would focus on testing teachers, staff and students for the virus. The state has purchased 20,000 saliva-based tests that can be mailed to homes and will supplement community-based testing, said Rick Pescatore, the state’s chief physician.

— Maddie Hanna

1:36 PM - August 4, 2020
1:36 PM - August 4, 2020

See where cases are rising and falling in Pennsylvania

— John Duchneskie

1:21 PM - August 4, 2020
1:21 PM - August 4, 2020

Philadelphia sees decrease in coronavirus cases

The number of new coronavirus cases in Philadelphia are decreasing, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Tuesday as the city reported 106 new cases.

Farley said he is not sure if the decrease is a long-term or temporary trend, but “any decrease is good news.”

In the week that ended Saturday, the city had an average of 123 new cases of COVID-19 per day, a decrease from an average of 166 daily cases in the previous week.

While the reason for the decreasing case counts is not clear, Farley said, “maybe people are finally coming around to accept the idea that they need to wear masks.”

The positivity rate of COVID-19 tests also decreased, Farley said, to 4.7% in the past week. The positivity rate had been between 5% and 6% since June.Farley said new cases of the virus are still concentrated in young people.

New cases of COVID-19 are also decreasing in the surrounding area and in the country as a whole, Farley said. But, he urged residents to continue social distancing and said vulnerable residents should still stay home.

”They’re not falling by much, and this could be temporary,” he said. “And the case counts are still high.”

Philadelphia also reported three new deaths due to COVID-19 Tuesday. A total of 1,695 Philadelphia residents have died of the virus.

— Laura McCrystal

12:40 PM - August 4, 2020
12:40 PM - August 4, 2020

People in their 20s are driving up coronavirus cases in Camden County

People in their 20s account for about one-third of Camden County’s new coronavirus cases, Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said at a Tuesday news conference.

Young adults driving the county’s increase in coronavirus cases, Cappelli said, because they are going down the Shore and to parties, not practicing social distancing at outdoor bars and restaurants, and not wearing masks.

”Now we have this new threat coming,” Cappelli said, “and that threat is in the form of young people.”

A couple months ago, the average age of people infected with the coronavirus in the county was in the 50s. Now, it’s down to 31. These young adults are then infecting others in their household. About 90% of new cases are people who are infecting someone at home, he said.

“You folks in your 20s right now you’re not invincible,” Cappelli said. “This is a serious virus, a serious disease and what you do can also put other people in danger. Not just your peers but your parents, your grandparents and loved ones. So we need you to step it up people in your 20s. Think of others not just yourself.”

Cappelli urged those who are infected to be honest when a contact tracer reaches out.

“Nobody is going to be punished for going to a house party or being too crowded at a bar,” he said. “What we really need is the information you have in order to make sure people who need to get tested, get tested and to make sure we can quarantine those who need to be quarantined, and stop the spread of the disease.”

Cappelli also said officials are seeing the coronavirus spread among young people involved in athletics. He advised parents and grandparents with a child in athletics to first consider if someone in their household is compromised.

“Sports aren’t worth it,” he said.

— Ellie Silverman

12:11 PM - August 4, 2020
12:11 PM - August 4, 2020

Pennsylvania has 854 confirmed coronavirus cases

Pennsylvania reported 854 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, along with 23 deaths.

The moving seven-day average for new daily cases is 804. The average has been decreasing since July 30. Tuesday’s new number of new cases returned to the 800s after two days of lower numbers for counting periods over the weekend.

Over the last seven days, results came back positive for 3.9% of people statewide who were tested for the virus, according to the Department of Health.

In total, the state has confirmed 115,009 infections and attributed 7,232 deaths to the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

Justine McDaniel

10:30 AM - August 4, 2020
10:30 AM - August 4, 2020

Atilis Gym faces hefty fines, revocation of business license after defying state orders

The owners of Atilis Gym are facing hefty fines, the revocation of their business license, and potential jail time after they defied state orders again Saturday by breaking down the barrier that the state had built to keep them from reopening their gym.

Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, co-owners of the South Jersey gym that has made headlines since May for reopening against New Jersey’s coronavirus orders, will go before the Bellmawr’s city council Tuesday evening to defend their actions, as the borough decides whether the gym’s business license should be revoked.

Additionally, the owners received a letter from the state’s Office of the Attorney General on Monday that the state would file ongoing contempt charges against them. The office recommended that the judge that ordered the business to close fine the business up to $10,000 every day it remains open, as well as consider other measures “as appropriate, including detainment” to keep them from opening their gym.

“You were just letting criminals ... out of jail because of COVID,” Smith said of Gov. Phil Murphy in an Instagram video, “but you want to lock up two small business owners who are just standing up for their constitutional rights and doing the right thing, and just want to go to work.”

— Ellie Rushing

10:25 AM - August 4, 2020
10:25 AM - August 4, 2020

New Jersey adds Rhode Island to its quarantine list

Rhode Island has been added to New Jersey’s travel quarantine, aimed at preventing people from traveling to and from states with a high level of community spread of the coronavirus. That means anyone traveling from Rhode into New Jersey is asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The quarantine applies to people arriving from states where the rolling seven-day average of new cases is at 10 or more people per 100,000, or 10% of those tested are positive. Other states on the list include Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

— Rob Tornoe

9:00 AM - August 4, 2020
9:00 AM - August 4, 2020

Coronavirus testing in Delco canceled due to Isaias

Drive-thru and walk-up coronavirus testing scheduled to take place in Upper Darby Tuesday has been canceled due to Isaias.

Delaware County residents who had pre-registered for the testing can register for testing next week at the Lansdowne Fire Company in Lansdowne.

Testing is still tentatively scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, according to county officials.

— Rob Tornoe

7:45 AM - August 4, 2020
7:45 AM - August 4, 2020

Massive coronavirus outbreak hits Rutgers football team

Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano speaks at a news conference in Piscataway in December.
Seth Wenig / AP
Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano speaks at a news conference in Piscataway in December.

A coronavirus outbreak among Rutgers students on the school’s football team has swelled to 28 players, according to NJ Advance Media. Multiple staff members have also reportedly been infected with the virus.

Rutgers officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning. Players will reportedly remain in isolation through Saturday.

Last week, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli confirmed that 15 Rutgers players had tested positive after attending a party. The team returned for voluntary workouts on June 15, but were halted on July 25 after multiple players tested positive.

Rutgers is one of at least six Big Ten schools to halt workouts due to coronavirus issues. On Monday, Northwestern paused its football workouts after at least one player tested positive. Other Big Ten schools that have been forced to pause workouts this summer due to positive cases include Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State, and Maryland.

The Big Ten is expected to release its revised conference-only football schedule today.

— Rob Tornoe

7:30 AM - August 4, 2020
7:30 AM - August 4, 2020

Where Philly-area cases are up and down

— Dominique DeMoe

7:15 AM - August 4, 2020
7:15 AM - August 4, 2020

With N.J. cases on the rise, Murphy tightens coronavirus restrictions

Pedestrians walk to the Strathmere, New Jersey beach past mask wearing and social distancing signs on Thursday, June 25, 2020.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Pedestrians walk to the Strathmere, New Jersey beach past mask wearing and social distancing signs on Thursday, June 25, 2020.

Indoor gatherings in New Jersey will be limited to 25 people, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday, with the tightened restrictions — which exempt weddings, funerals, religious services, and political events — a response to a rising rate of coronavirus infections and concern over virus transmission at parties.

“We know that there are many more of you who’ve been responsible in your actions, and who’ve taken your civic duties to help us defeat COVID-19 seriously,” Murphy said. “Unfortunately, the actions of a few knuckleheads leave us no other course. We have to go back and tighten these restrictions.”

The state’s transmission rate has risen in the last two weeks and is as high as it was in early April, after cases had begun to decrease, Murphy said; for every person who contracts the coronavirus, about 1.5 other people are infected. Murphy suggested he might impose additional restrictions if the transmission rate nears or reaches two, meaning for every person who contracts the virus, two more people are infected on average.

New Jersey’s case numbers looked promising for most of July, the seven-day average dropping to a low of 192 new daily cases on July 22. But since then, that average has inched up, reaching 420 on Sunday, causing officials to sound an alarm.

The state reported 264 additional cases and 10 deaths on Monday. Hospitalizations are continuing to trend down, Murphy said.

Wolf also announced on Monday that all New Jersey students will be required to wear face coverings whenever inside school buildings. The guidelines allow exceptions for students with certain disabilities or health issues, but do not allow “mask breaks” except when eating or drinking.

The limit on gatherings will remain in place until the number of new cases drops for a week straight, Murphy said. Under the new rules, weddings, memorials, religious services, and political activities will be permitted to operate at 25% of a venue’s capacity with a limit of 100 people, which was the cap for all indoor gatherings.

— Justine McDaniel, Allison Steele and Erin McCarthy

7:00 AM - August 4, 2020
7:00 AM - August 4, 2020

Tuesday morning roundup

  • The United States reported 45,368 new coronavirus cases on Monday and at least 540 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Overall, more than 4.7 million Americans have contracted COVID-19, and at least 155,478 have died.
  • President Donald Trump said the coronavirus pandemic is “under control as much as you can control it” during an interview on Axios on HBO that aired Monday night. Trump acknowledged the high death rate in the United States, saying, “It is what it is.”
  • Trump administration officials are scheduled to meet with congressional Democrats on Tuesday to continue negotiating a deal on a new coronavirus stimulus bill. Substantial differences between the two sides remain — House Democrats passed a $3 trillion plan in March that would extend $600 unemployment payments through January, while Republicans are proposing a $1 trillion rescue bill that reduces those payments by $1,600 a month.
  • Major League Baseball was forced to postpone four more games after seven St. Louis Cardinals players and six staff members tested positive for the coronavirus over the past week.