7:02 PM - July 30, 2020
7:02 PM - July 30, 2020

Philly Housing Authority won’t evict for rent non-payment until March 2021

The Philadelphia Housing Authority announced Thursday that it would not evict residents for non-payment of rent or fees until Mar. 15, 2021, because of the pandemic.

The authority said in a news release that it wanted to assure its 80,000 low-income residents that they would have continued housing stability.

“The federal eviction moratorium expires this week. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has extended it to the end of August, while the Congress and the Trump Administration debate another extension. I wanted to take bold action in this regard, to maintain housing stability for our residents,” said PHA President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah.

The moratorium does not apply to eviction actions related to health and safety, the authority said.

Unpaid rent and fees are not being forgiven.

Residents who can pay their rents are “strongly encouraged” to do so.

Residents who are unable to pay or face financial hardship should immediately apply for a PHA “hardship waiver” or request to enter into a payment plan.

— Robert Moran

6:58 PM - July 30, 2020
6:58 PM - July 30, 2020

Philly school board votes to start fall as online-only

When classes begin for 125,000 Philadelphia School District students on Sept. 2, they will do so virtually.

The school board Thursday night formally blessed Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.‘s back-to-school plan, meaning children will be out of classrooms until at least November because of fears of coronavirus spread.

Hite initially wanted most students back in school for face-to-face instruction two days a week, but that plan got knocked down after intense public pushback from principals, teachers, parents and others.

The board voted 7-1 to sign off on the fully virtual plan, with Maria McColgan expressing deep reservations about vulnerable children being out of classrooms for so long.

— Kristen A. Graham

4:40 PM - July 30, 2020
4:40 PM - July 30, 2020

Video analysis shows about 75% in Philly wearing masks, city says

Pedestrians on the 1300 block of Walnut Street wear masks, in Philadelphia, April 6, 2020.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Pedestrians on the 1300 block of Walnut Street wear masks, in Philadelphia, April 6, 2020.

About 75% of people in Philadelphia are now wearing masks, according to a city analysis of video footage as people exit retail stores and walk through SEPTA stations.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Thursday that the number of people wearing masks has increased since the end of June, when that figure was about 60%.

”Most residents are doing the right thing, but not quite enough,” he said. “We’d love to have that at least 80%. I would love it to be 90%.”

Farley said the city will continue tracking mask use over time, along with a campaign to encourage widespread mask use as a way to limit the spread of COVID-19.

— Laura McCrystal

4:18 PM - July 30, 2020
4:18 PM - July 30, 2020

Philly to continue pre-K program with coronavirus safeguards

Philadelphia is continuing with its pre-K program funded by the city’s tax on soda and sweetened beverages despite the coronavirus pandemic, and city officials are encouraging parents to enroll their kids.

The city opened enrollment last month and has filled half of its slots, said Shante Brown, director of operations for PHLpreK. The city had planned to expand to 4,300 slots in the upcoming school year for pre-K, Kenney’s signature program, but due to the impact of the coronavirus is offering 3,300 seats, the same as last school year.

We just can’t allow the pandemic to take safe, quality learning experiences away from our children, especially at the most critical stage in their development,” Kenney said. “I’m proud that we are continuing to offer this opportunity. Philadelphia’s youngest learners and for their families.”

Mask use and other safety and cleaning protocols will be required of pre-K programs, Kenney said. Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the city believes it is safe to open pre-K because very young children are not at great risk for getting or spreading the coronavirus. Child care providers were permitted to reopen in Philadelphia in June.

PHL pre-K or other childcare centers have a relatively small number of children in one place,” Farley said. “They’re not like a school that has 500 and it’s going to have small classes of children.”

Brown said officials do anticipate that parents may have concerns about health this year, and said city officials are also thinking about offering virtual learning opportunities.

— Laura McCrystal

4:11 PM - July 30, 2020
4:11 PM - July 30, 2020

Norristown superintendent cancels fall sports for 2020

File photo of Robert Schmalbach, High School Librarian and 95' Alumni, showing off Norristown banner in the Library at Norristown Area High School in Norristown, PA on Friday, April 5, 2019.
ANTHONY PEZZOTTI / Staff Photographer
File photo of Robert Schmalbach, High School Librarian and 95' Alumni, showing off Norristown banner in the Library at Norristown Area High School in Norristown, PA on Friday, April 5, 2019.

The superintendent of the Norristown Area School District announced Thursday that all fall sports are canceled for 2020.

The decision follows the district saying on Tuesday that it would have online-only classes.

“If we cannot guarantee a safe return to the classroom, we cannot guarantee a safe return to the playing field, course, sidelines, courts or locker room,” the district said in its announcement Thursday afternoon.

Superintendent Christopher Dormer will recommend that the district’s board of directors officially cancel the fall sports season at its next meeting in August.

— Robert Moran

3:10 PM - July 30, 2020
3:10 PM - July 30, 2020

Temple University faculty union says members don’t feel safe returning to in-person instruction this fall

File photo of Bell Tower on the Temple University campus in Philadelphia, Pa. on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
File photo of Bell Tower on the Temple University campus in Philadelphia, Pa. on Thursday, May 7, 2020.

Nearly 500 Temple University faculty do not feel safe returning to in-person instruction this fall under the plan laid out by the university, the faculty union said Thursday.

”We just believe that the safe course of action would be to have everyone teach online and that’s why we’re demanding this,” Steve Newman, president of the Temple Association of University Professionals said during a Zoom press conference Thursday.

Ninety-two percent of union members who voted signed on in favor of a statement and recommendations laid out by union leaders, Newman said. About half of the union’s members who were eligible to vote participated, he said.

Union members cited a myriad of concerns, including a lack of clear shields for classrooms and no guarantee that all students would have access to and use quality face masks: They also questioned what will happen if students refuse to wear masks in the classroom. And they expressed concern about the surrounding community if an outbreak were to occur.

Members said they are prepared to take steps if the administration does not listen to the concerns, but declined to outline those steps.The university administration defended its plan.

”Our plans, which have involved more than 150 people including faculty and other experts and which were approved by the city Department of Health just this week, are comprehensive and caring,” said spokesman Ray Betzner.

The nearly 40,000-student university is planning to offer a mix of online and in-person classes; it has not yet released its plans for testing.

— Susan Snyder

2:45 PM - July 30, 2020
2:45 PM - July 30, 2020

Six more Marlins members ‘relocated’ from Rittenhouse Hotel after testing positive

The exterior of the Rittenhouse Hotel where it is believed that the Miami Marlins are staying after news broke of a COVID-19 outbreak on Philadelphia, Pa. on Monday, July 27, 2020.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
The exterior of the Rittenhouse Hotel where it is believed that the Miami Marlins are staying after news broke of a COVID-19 outbreak on Philadelphia, Pa. on Monday, July 27, 2020.

Six more members of the Miami Marlins quarantining at the Rittenhouse Hotel following a team-wide coronavirus outbreak tested positive for the virus and were “immediately relocated,” according to an email from the Rittenhouse Condominium Owners Association obtained by the Inquirer.

The entire group staying at the Rittenhouse “will be departing the Hotel before the weekend and there are no other groups scheduled to arrive,” the email to residents continued.

The Center City hotel has not confirmed it is where some Marlins players are isolated, but emails to residents from the condo association refer to the guests as “part of a professional sports team” who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The condominiums and the hotel are physically separated at the Rittenhouse.

In total, 17 players and two coaches from the Florida team have tested positive for COVID-19 since Friday. One member of the Phillies coaching staff and one member of the home clubhouse staff have also tested positive following the team’s three-game series with the Marlins.

Since the outbreak, the condominium owners association has urged the hotel “to strongly consider the safety of all building residents, guests, and staff when considering its plans for hosting any sports teams in the near future.”

— Oona Goodin-Smith

2:40 PM - July 30, 2020
2:40 PM - July 30, 2020

Pa. officials: Wear a mask to thank first responders

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf adjust his mask while in Philadelphia in June.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf adjust his mask while in Philadelphia in June.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday thanked Pennsylvania’s first responders for their work throughout the pandemic and touted recent legislation that will make $50 million in grants available to EMS squads and fire departments that have been negatively affected by the pandemic.

“We can thank them with words and I’m happy to do that,” he said outside a Lancaster EMS facility in Millersville. “But I think we need to back that up.”

As departments struggle financially after this spring’s decrease in non-coronavirus-related calls, and first responders grapple with the trauma of working on the front lines, residents can show gratitude, too, said Health Secretary Rachel Levine.

“There is an important way all of us can thank our EMS providers and that is to wear a mask,” she said. “When you wear a mask, whether you’re walking on the street or inside a grocery store or shopping at a retail store or even outside in a park, it is a sign to the whole community and to our commonwealth that we’re all in this together.”

The governor acknowledged that some people may never listen to the mask mandate, he said, and he feels for residents and business owners who are frustrated that others can flout the rules and jeopardize public health.

“I have a statewide mandate to wear a mask,” he said, “and I recognize that there are not enough enforcement officers around to cite everybody, and that’s not going to do anything anyway.”

He said even if an official stopped someone who wasn’t wearing a mask, that person could just take the mask back off a few minutes later. But he hoped more people would “open their minds,” he said, and listen to science.

— Erin McCarthy

2:30 PM - July 30, 2020
2:30 PM - July 30, 2020

Wolf defends statewide mitigation efforts to curb virus’ spread

Pennsylvania on Thursday reported 860 additional confirmed cases of the virus and 14 additional deaths. Since the pandemic began, a total of 111,078 Pennsylvanians have been sickened and 7,176 have died.

Gov. Tom Wolf said statewide mitigation efforts, including reduced capacity at restaurants, remains crucial to stop the spread. More localized efforts, he said, would not be as effective since people can easily travel from one place to another and bring the virus with them, as has been seen across the country and in Philadelphia.

“We’re paying the price for things that didn’t happen in other states. So we’re seeing this virus come East from the West and Southwest. We’re seeing this virus come North,” he said. “You saw the Phillies-Marlins [outbreak]. How many of the Marlins players and coaches tested positive?”

— Erin McCarthy

2:02 PM - July 30, 2020
2:02 PM - July 30, 2020

Levine: GOP lawmaker’s mask comments ‘another example of harassment against LGBTQ individuals’

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, meets with the media in May.
Joe Hermitt / AP
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, meets with the media in May.

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine responded publicly Thursday to a Republican lawmaker who mocked her recent comments about acceptance of people who are transgender and compared harassment of people in the LGBTQ community to harassment of people who don’t wear face masks to protect against the coronavirus.

The disparaging statements came from Rep. Russ Diamond of Lebanon County, who throughout the pandemic has been against mask-wearing and repeatedly questioned the credibility of Levine, a doctor and the first transgender person to lead a Pennsylvania state agency.

“My reaction is this is really another example of harassment against LGBTQ individuals,” Levine said Thursday at a news conference in Millersville. “By taking my words and making that substitution, I think that that’s another example of disrespect.”

“In terms of masks, he’s wrong,” she added, noting they have been scientifically proven to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

At the same time, she said, he is sending a dangerous message to Pennsylvanians and endangering the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning individuals. Her initial comments, the ones he mocked, drew attention to transphobic attacks she and others regularly experience.

“What I worry about is the other LGBTQ individuals in the commonwealth who regularly face intolerance, harassment, and sometimes overt violence,” she said.

Gov. Tom Wolf, meanwhile, backed up his earlier written statement condemning Rep. Diamond’s words and calling for his immediate censure.

“I don’t get what the issue is with the face masks at all, and I certainly don’t get why you’d conflate that with discrimination against people for their identity,” he said. “It just don’t make any sense to me at all. I thought it was factually incorrect and it was nasty.”

He then publicly thanked Levine for her service to Pennsylvanians and alluded to the possibility that she could be tapped for a position at the federal level after the November presidential election.

For now, he said, “we are lucky to have her in Pennsylvania.”

— Erin McCarthy

1:37 PM - July 30, 2020
1:37 PM - July 30, 2020

Philly officials apologize to restaurants for short notice on indoor dining ban extension

People eat outdoors at Dim Sum House by Jane G's in Rittenhouse on Thursday, July 23, 2020. Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said on Thursday that Philadelphia is unlikely to allow indoor dining to begin Aug. 1 as new cases of the coronavirus rise in the city.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
People eat outdoors at Dim Sum House by Jane G's in Rittenhouse on Thursday, July 23, 2020. Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said on Thursday that Philadelphia is unlikely to allow indoor dining to begin Aug. 1 as new cases of the coronavirus rise in the city.

Philadelphia officials apologized to restaurants Thursday for offering short notice in extending the ban on indoor dining, and vowed to announce by Aug. 21 whether to allow indoor dining in September.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced Tuesday that the city would not allow indoor dining to begin Aug. 1, a move that he acknowledged did not provide sufficient time for restaurant managers to adjust their plans.

We don’t guarantee that restaurants will be allowed to have indoor dining Sept. 1,” Farley said. “But we want to give people a better sense of the timeline this time around.”

Farley said that the rate of new daily cases in the city would have to be falling substantially in order for city officials to feel comfortable allowing indoor dining.

Indoor restaurant dining is available elsewhere in Pennsylvania. Farley said Thursday that at this point he would not recommend that the state close all indoor dining as cases rise, even though he is not comfortable allowing it in Philadelphia.

“If things get much worse, then that may be something they should do,” he said.

— Laura McCrystal

1:25 PM - July 30, 2020
1:25 PM - July 30, 2020

Philly still experiencing increase in new cases in young people, officials warn

Philadelphia reported 136 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, as Health Commissioner Thomas Farley warned that the city is still experiencing an increase in new cases.

"There is clearly more virus circulating in Philadelphia right now than is safe," Farley said, urging residents over age 65 or with medical conditions to stay home and wear a mask around others.

New cases of coronavirus are also increasing in counties surrounding Philadelphia, Farley said, but noted that he is encouraged to see new cases of the virus slowing in other parts of the country.

Hospitalizations in the Philadelphia region have also increased in recent days, Farley said. New cases of the coronavirus have been concentrated in young people, with 57% of them under age 40.

— Laura McCrystal

12:50 PM - July 30, 2020
12:50 PM - July 30, 2020

Phillies close Citizens Bank Park following two positive coronavirus tests; Blue Jays manager says weekend series is postponed

The Phillies canceled all activity at Citizens Bank Park until further notice on Thursday after two employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The team announced that one member of the coaching staff and one member of the home clubhouse staff tested positive. A member of the visiting clubhouse staff also tested positive in recent days as the Phillies continue to monitor the fallout from their three-game series with the Marlins, who have had 17 players and two coaches test positive since Friday.

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters via Zoom that his team’s scheduled games in Philadelphia this weekend have been postponed. Major League Baseball has not yet made an announcement.

The Blue Jays were supposed to be the home team at Citizens Bank Park for a doubleheader Saturday and a single game Sunday.

— Matt Breen, Scott Lauber

12:22 PM - July 30, 2020
12:22 PM - July 30, 2020

One person in the U.S. died from coronavirus every minute Wednesday

One person in the United States died about every minute Wednesday from the coronavirus as the country’s death toll surpassed 150,000 — just under a quarter of all deaths due to COVID-19 worldwide.

After momentarily slowing, the number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. continues to climb at its fastest rate in the last two months, Reuters reported.

In Pennsylvania, the seven-day average for new daily coronavirus cases also continues to increase, climbing closer to 1,000. In New Jersey, too, new daily case numbers are climbing, hitting their highest peak in a month Wednesday.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

11:44 AM - July 30, 2020
11:44 AM - July 30, 2020

Another 1.4 million sought unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus keeps forcing layoffs

More than 1.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, further evidence of the devastation the coronavirus outbreak has unleashed on the U.S. economy.

The continuing wave of job cuts is occurring against the backdrop of a spike in virus cases that has led many states to halt plans to reopen businesses and has caused millions of consumers to delay any return to traveling, shopping and other normal economic activity. Those trends have forced many businesses to cut jobs or at least delay hiring.

The Labor Department’s report Thursday marked the 19th straight week that more than 1 million people have applied for unemployment benefits. Before the coronavirus hit hard in March, the number of Americans seeking unemployment checks had never exceeded 700,000 in any one week, even during the Great Recession.

— Associated Press

11:16 AM - July 30, 2020
11:16 AM - July 30, 2020

Herman Cain, former GOP presidential candidate, dies of coronavirus at 74

Radio Journalist honoree: Herman Cain, host of The Herman Cain Show, speaks at the Third Annual Multicultural Media Correspondents Dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, May 24, 2018. (Photo by Cheriss May/Sipa USA/TNS)
Cheriss May / MCT
Radio Journalist honoree: Herman Cain, host of The Herman Cain Show, speaks at the Third Annual Multicultural Media Correspondents Dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, May 24, 2018. (Photo by Cheriss May/Sipa USA/TNS)

Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain has died after battling the coronavirus. He was 74.

A post on Cain’s Twitter account on Thursday announced the death. Cain had been ill with the virus for several weeks. It’s not clear when or where he was infected, but he was hospitalized less than two weeks after attending President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June.

The former pizza company executive has been an outspoken backer of the president and was named by the campaign as a co-chair of Black Voices for Trump.

— Associated Press

10:35 AM - July 30, 2020
10:35 AM - July 30, 2020

Gov. Wolf condemns GOP lawmaker who mocked Pa. health secretary with ‘unmasked community'

Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaking during her visit to Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Commonwealth Media Services
Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaking during her visit to Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Gov. Tom Wolf Thursday condemned a Pennsylvania lawmaker’s comments about the “unmasked community,” calling the statements “abhorrent, disrespectful, dangerous,” and “nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the LGBTQ community and the commonwealth’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman.”

Wolf also urged Republican House leadership to introduce a resolution to censure Rep. Russ Diamond “immediately.”

The governor’s denunciation comes a day after Diamond released a statement on the “hateful comments directed towards the unmasked community,” which closely mirrored — and, at times, appeared to directly mock — a speech from Levine decrying a series of transphobic attacks against her.

On Tuesday, in an uncharacteristic move, Levine addressed the increasingly public transphobic harassment toward her during a state briefing on COVID-19, telling LGBTQ youth, “It is OK to be you.”

“While these individuals may think that they are only expressing their displeasure with me, they are in fact hurting the thousands of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians who suffer directly from these current demonstrations of harassment,” Levine said. “I have no room in my heart for hatred.”

Research shows transgender and gender-nonconforming youth face high rates of bullying and are at greater risk for depression, attention deficit disorder, suicidal thoughts, and other mental and emotional problems than their peers.

This month, a Tioga County restaurant printed a transphobic menu item targeting the health secretary, and the Bloomsburg Fair apologized after calling a man who wore a dress and wig in a dunk tank for a fundraiser “Dr. Levine.”

A day after Levine made her comments, Diamond tweeted a statement repeating those words, nearly verbatim, swapping “LGBTQ” for “unmasked.”

“I want to emphasize that while these individuals may think they are only expressing their displeasure with me, they are in fact hurting the thousands of unmasked Pennsylvanians who suffer directly from these current demonstrations of harassment,” Diamond’s statement said. “To all unmasked young people, it is okay to be you. It is okay to stand up for your rights and freedoms.”

The lawmaker’s tweet also included a picture of an order from Levine, mandating Pennsylvanians wear face coverings in public.

“To equate any disrespect for those not wearing masks to the decades of disrespect, threats and violence against our LGBTQ community goes far beyond the hallmarks of a decent society,” Wolf said Thursday. “For these actions to come from a legislator elected to fairly represent all his constituents is simply unforgivable.”

Despite changing political debates and public messaging, scientific studies suggest that wearing masks help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

In May, Diamond called for Levine to step down from her post as Pennsylvania’s top health official, saying she lacked “responsibility and competence.” Diamond represents Lebanon County, which is suing the Wolf administration for withholding coronavirus funding after local leaders flouted the governor’s statewide shutdown.

Levine, confirmed to her position in March 2018, is one of only a handful of high-profile transgender public officials in the United States, and she is the first transgender person to lead a Pennsylvania state agency.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

9:17 AM - July 30, 2020
9:17 AM - July 30, 2020

Trump is floating an election ‘delay’ amid claims of voting fraud

President Donald Trump is for the first time floating a “delay” to November’s presidential election, as he makes unsubstantiated allegations that increased mail-in voting will result in fraud.

The dates of federal elections are set by Congress, and the Constitution makes no provisions for a delay to the Jan. 20, 2021 presidential inauguration.

Trump tweeted Thursday: “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud through mail-in voting, even in states with all-mail votes.

— Associated Press

8:16 AM - July 30, 2020
8:16 AM - July 30, 2020

N.J. officials alarmed as coronavirus cases increase, while Philly’s total infections pass 30,000

A SEPTA bus that reads, "Philly never backs down, mask up," passes the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia, Pa. on Monday, July 27, 2020.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
A SEPTA bus that reads, "Philly never backs down, mask up," passes the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia, Pa. on Monday, July 27, 2020.

Philadelphia surpassed 30,000 confirmed coronavirus infections since March and New Jersey’s average number of new daily cases hit its highest peak in a month Wednesday, while outbreaks traced to house parties led officials to again warn against indoor gatherings.

A “worrisome” pattern of community clusters has emerged in New Jersey, said Gov. Phil Murphy, many of them related to people getting together at parties or other events.

And Pennsylvania’s seven-day average for new daily cases was climbing closer to 1,000, continuing an increasing trend that has not dropped or even plateaued since late June. The state reported 834 new cases Wednesday. Philadelphia reported 132, and Delaware County, which has experienced the sharpest recent increase in cases of the suburban counties, reported 63.

The United States also reached another grim milestone: The death toll surpassed 150,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data. That represents just under a quarter of all deaths worldwide.

— Justine McDaniel, Allison Steele

7:51 AM - July 30, 2020
7:51 AM - July 30, 2020

With zero NBA players testing positive for COVID-19 in Florida bubble, seeding games begin today

The NBA's seeding games begin Thursday with the Jazz playing the Pelicans, and the Lakers facing the Clippers.
Tim Reynolds / AP
The NBA's seeding games begin Thursday with the Jazz playing the Pelicans, and the Lakers facing the Clippers.

The NBA’s 22-team bubble will tip off tonight when the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans open seeding play at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at HP Field House in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The 76ers will open seeding play Saturday night against the Indiana Pacers at the VISA Athletic Center.

So far, the bubble has been a success.

None of the 344 players who were tested for COVID-19 on the Walt Disney World campus since test results were last announced on July 20 have had confirmed positive tests, the league and National Basketball Players Association announced Wednesday. There were also zero positive tests on July 20. That came after the league and players association announced July 13 that two of the initial 322 players who had arrived since July 7 tested positive while in quarantine.

Unable to clear quarantine, the two left the campus to isolate.

— Keith Pompey

7:44 AM - July 30, 2020
7:44 AM - July 30, 2020

Yoga studios and martial arts gyms reopen in New Jersey with mixed confidence

Jeevith Yannam, 5, stays within his socially distanced taped square on the mat during class at Kaizen Martial Arts of NJ in Mount Laurel July 28, 2020. Owner Frank LoPinto has placed strong emphasis on doing virtual live streamed classes simultaneously with his in-person instruction.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Jeevith Yannam, 5, stays within his socially distanced taped square on the mat during class at Kaizen Martial Arts of NJ in Mount Laurel July 28, 2020. Owner Frank LoPinto has placed strong emphasis on doing virtual live streamed classes simultaneously with his in-person instruction.

Gina Ward marked the five-year anniversary of her yoga studio with a celebration class in March and hugs and high-fives from her students.

Last month, she gave up her rented space in Cherry Hill to teach all her classes online.

“I knew I’d maybe be able to have five people plus one teacher in my space, and that’s expensive to open up for just a few people,” said Ward, 43, who was diagnosed with leukemia last spring and then confronted this spring with the task of managing her small business, Heart and Grit Power Yoga, as the coronavirus pandemic walloped the global economy. She now rents a small space in a friend’s home that doubles as a business so she can teach yoga on Zoom several times a week.

A few weeks after Ward ended her studio lease for health and financial reasons, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said indoor recreational activities including archery, dance, yoga, and theater programs could reopen at 25% capacity, excluding employees.

The directive, formally called Order 157 and released July 21, carried additional stipulations. Students in a martial arts class, for instance, were prohibited from sparring or practicing close-contact drills, and clients were ordered to wear masks if they were not at least six feet from others.

— Katie Park

7:30 AM - July 30, 2020
7:30 AM - July 30, 2020

Pennsylvania voters think Trump is bungling the coronavirus pandemic, new poll says

President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus briefing at Bioprocess Innovation Center at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, Monday, July 27, 2020, in Morrisville, N.C.
Evan Vucci / AP
President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus briefing at Bioprocess Innovation Center at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, Monday, July 27, 2020, in Morrisville, N.C.

A predictable downturn in the mood of Pennsylvania voters amid the coronavirus pandemic and a slumping economy spells trouble for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, according to a new poll.

And former Vice President Joe Biden benefits: The Franklin & Marshall College poll released Thursday finds him leading Trump 50% to 41% among registered voters in the state.

Trump’s personal favorability and job-performance ratings haven’t shifted much since the last F&M poll in January: 42% have a strongly or somewhat favorable view of the president, while 56% have a somewhat or strongly unfavorable view. And 38% of voters think Trump is doing an excellent or good job overall, compared with 61% who say he is doing only a fair or poor job — the same split as in the January poll.

— Chris Brennan

7:00 AM - July 30, 2020
7:00 AM - July 30, 2020

Thursday morning round-up

  • Starting this morning, face masks will be required on the floor of the House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the directive Wednesday after learning that a Republican congressman — and vocal critic of face coverings — tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • A resurgence in coronavirus cases is making its way to Midwestern states, including Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned in an interview Wednesday.