Youth sports teams in Montco quarantined after players test positive for COVID-19
An unspecified number of youth sports teams in Montgomery County have been quarantined because players tested positive for COVID-19 after participating in games, Montgomery County Commissioner Dr. Val Arkoosh said in a briefing Wednesday.
“Because social distancing couldn’t be maintained, entire teams have now been quarantined for 14 days,” said Arkoosh, chair of the Board of Commissioners.
Arkoosh said the infected participants came from teams playing outdoor sports, including baseball, football, soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey, as well as indoor basketball.
The majority of positive cases did not exhibit symptoms while playing, but did so within one to three days afterward. She did not provide further information about the teams or players.
Arkoosh emphasized the importance of everyone practicing social distancing.
A member of the Phillies visiting clubhouse staff tested positive for the coronavirus this week, general manager Matt Klentak said Wednesday, but all tests for players and on-field staff came back negative on Monday and Tuesday.
The tests were conducted to determine if the virus spread during the Phillies’ three games with the Marlins, who remain isolated at their Center City hotel and have had 16 players and two coaches test positive in recent days for COVID-19.
N.J. proposed legislation would require all-remote learning
Three New Jersey Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday they plan to introduce legislation that would require public schools to reopen for the upcoming school year with remote instruction only and keep buildings closed.
Murphy, during a virtual briefing Wednesday, declined comment on the pending legislation. He has said that in-person learning is the best option for all students and that some parents in poor districts are unable to hire tutors, purchase devices for remote instruction, or designate space in their homes for remote learning.
“There’s a strong chorus on both sides of this,” Murphy said. “There’s no one size fits all here.”
Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt, (D., Camden) Mila Jasey, (D., Essex) and Joann Downey, (D Monmouth) citing health and safety concerns, said they plan to introduce the proposed bill Thursday.
”In-person learning, without a doubt, produces the best educational outcome for students and we are all eager to return to the classroom. However, until we can ensure the safety of our students and school staff, we must focus our efforts on how we can enhance remote and virtual learning to provide students with the highest quality education possible,” Lampitt, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee said in a statement.
The proposed bill calls for starting the school year with online learning only. Starting Oct. 31, state health and education officials would evaluate whether buildings should reopen.
The measure would give districts the option to delay the start of the school year by two weeks. It would also let schools hold outdoor events at the start of the year so students and teachers could get acquainted.
Eagles’ Lane Johnson tests positive for coronavirus
Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson tested positive for coronavirus and was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.
The Pro Bowl lineman issued a statement on Twitter with the news of his positive test, saying he feels “strong and ready to go.”
Johnson attended the OL Masterminds Summit, his annual clinic for NFL lineman in Dallas, earlier this month. According to media reports, roughly 50 players were scheduled to attend the clinic.
“Over the past few months, I have tested negative after all travels including before and after the OL Masterminds Summit — 18 days ago,” Johnson said on Twitter.
“I have been working hard in preparation for a long, grueling season and have tried to take all the necessary precautions to build a safe and healthy environment during the sessions. I have and will continue to this seriously and encourage everyone else to do so as well,” he said.
Fauci outlines five things people can do to prevent coronavirus surges
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said during an MSNBC interview Wednesday there are five things people can do to stop coronavirus surges in their states:
Wear a mask when leaving the house
Avoid crowds and large gatherings
Maintain social distancing of at least six feet
Wash hands as often as possible with soap
Fauci said it’s important for leaders and individuals in states where cases have begun to increase to get ahead of the curve to avoid large outbreaks, like those taking place in states like California, Florida, and Texas.
“What we’re seeing now is what actually took place a couple of weeks ago. And what we’re going to see a couple of weeks from now, is what we’re doing now,” Fauci said. “If we don’t start initiating rather strict adherence to the five principles I just mentioned, what inevitably is going to happen is that the states that are not yet in trouble will likely get into trouble.”
Philly promises public school students will have internet access as coronavirus keeps classes online
Every Philadelphia School District student will have the tools to access digital learning in September, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Wednesday, pledging to connect the thousands of families who lacked Internet access this spring when schools first went remote.
“Every student that needs it will have it,” Hite said.
He said the city, district officials, and internet service providers are now hammering out details, which he hopes to announce soon.
Fleshing out the district’s back-to-school plan, which will have students attend school fully virtually at least through November 17, Hite said that parts of school buildings, as well as city recreation centers and libraries, would likely be opened up to provide childcare for families who need it. Childcare details, including capacity at such locations, remain unclear.
The superintendent also said that while teachers will not be expected back in buildings, those who want to teach from schools will likely be given the green-light to do so.
15 Rutgers football players test positive, remain in quarantine
Fifteen football players from Rutgers University have now tested positive for COVID-19, New Jersey health commissioner Judy Persichilli said, one of several outbreaks officials cited in what Gov. Phil Murphy described as a “worrisome” pattern of community clusters.
Rutgers announced last week it was quarantining the team following six positive test results.
In addition to a Cape May County party in late June that led to 46 cases, Persichilli said that 55 cases have now been traced to a recent house party in the northern part of the state. On Sunday, a house party in Jackson, Ocean County, drew more than 700 people, state officials said. Another weekend party in Long Beach Island has sidelined about three dozen lifeguards from Harvey Cedars and Surf City.
For first 3 weeks of July, people who are 18 to 29 made up 24 to 33% of the state’s cases, Persichilli said, compared with 12% in April and 22% in June.
Growing number of New Jersey cases linked to house parties
Over the last four days, New Jersey added a total of about 2,000 new COVID-19 cases, which Gov. Phil Murphy said set the state back to where it was a month ago in terms of progress. The transmission rate remains just over one, meaning at least one person is being infected as a result of each new case.
Murphy said a growing number of cases are being traced to house parties, a “worrisome” trend that has led to dozens of infections in recent days.
“I get it. We get it. We’ve all had our routines turned upside down for the past four months and we want to blow off some steam with friends,” said Murphy, who also acknowledged that the heat was likely driving people into enclosed, air-conditioned spaces with less ventilation.
“Folks, we simply cannot continue to have crowded house parties. They are not safe, period,” he said. “They are how coronavirus gets passed around more efficiently. They put the hard work we’ve all undertaken together since March at risk of being undone.”
When many people crowd into an indoor, air-conditioned space, Murphy said, “you have also invited coronavirus to your party.”
“Yes, it’s hot. Yes, it’s summer. Yes, we all want to blow off some steam,” Murphy said. But this is no time for anyone to be vying for induction into the knucklehead hall of fame.”
And he suggested that as the state continues to lose ground in terms of new cases, it could further delay the return of indoor dining.
“I’m not gonna say that indoor dining is like a house party, because it isn’t,” he said. “But when one party in an air-conditioned house leads to dozens of new cases, it should give us all pause.”
More than 30,000 Philly residents have now tested positive for coronavirus
More than 30,000 Philadelphia residents have now tested positive for COVID-19 since March, when the virus began spreading in the city.
The city announced 132 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases of the virus to 30,077. City officials also announced two deaths; a total of 1,680 residents have now died of the coronavirus.
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley warned at a news conference Tuesday that the virus was "likely to be worse before it gets better," as he announced that new cases were increasing in the city. In the past week, he said, the city had an average of 164 new cases of COVID-19 per day.
All Phillies players test negative for coronavirus, Marlins remain in quarantine in Philly
For a second consecutive day, Phillies players and coaches didn’t test positive for COVID-19, two sources confirmed Wednesday, after an outbreak over the weekend in Philadelphia involving the visiting Miami Marlins.
More than half of the Marlins' 33-player traveling party has been infected with the virus since last Friday. The team remained under quarantine at a Center City hotel again Tuesday night and continued to await word on travel plans.
Major League Baseball officials believe the coronavirus contagion is limited to the Marlins. Just in case — and because the incubation period for the virus can last between two days and two weeks — the Phillies were tested on back-to-back days Monday and Tuesday. MLB teams have undergone alternate-day testing since training camp began four weeks ago.
It's not known whether the Phillies will continue to be tested daily throughout the week, as manager Joe Girardi speculated in an MLB Network Radio interview Tuesday.
MLB postponed four Phillies games this week against the New York Yankees “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a news release Tuesday. Friday’s Phillies game against the Toronto Blue Jays has also been postponed until Saturday, when the two teams will now play a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park.
After not having access to ballpark facilities for the last two days, the Phillies were hoping to resume a workout schedule Wednesday, with players reporting to the field at staggered times to limit their interactions.
The Athletic reported that another Marlins player tested positive Tuesday, bringing the total number to 16 players and two coaches who have been infected. It remains unclear why the Marlins were allowed to play Sunday’s game against the Phillies after several positive tests had already been reported.
Pennsylvania reported 834 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, and is averaging 975 cases a day over the past seven days, according to an Inquirer analysis.
Delaware County, which has experienced a sharp increase in cases since the end of June, reported 63 new cases Wednesday, according to state Department of Health. The seven-day average number of new daily cases in Delaware County climbed from about 16 near the end of June to about 75 in the last week, according to state data analyzed by The Inquirer.
The Department of Health said 161,894 coronavirus tests were administered between July 22 and July 28, with 6,619 positive cases — a positive test rate of about 4.1%.
At least 7,162 Pennsylvania residents have now died after contracting coronavirus, with 16 new deaths reported Monday Of the state’s deaths, 4,883 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.
Philadelphia suburbs: Some districts are delaying in-person instruction. Norristown Area School District students won’t attend in-person at least through January, while Downingtown Area School District students will learn remotely through at least Nov. 5. The superintendent of the Cheltenham School District is recommending a “full virtual mode” for all students during the fall semester.
New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy said any resident can opt for their children to learn remotely, but is pushing for schools to reopen to at least some students in the fall.
Delaware: Gov. John Carney said the state will likely recommend school districts begin the year with a mix of remote and in-person learning, with an emphasis on getting elementary students back in the classroom in September.
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Tuesday a “large majority” of Philadelphia residents are wearing masks in public and in stores. The city has a media campaign to encourage mask use, he said, but there are no plans to enforce the requirement.
“I do think we do pretty well with masks,” Farley said. “We need to do better still. But I don’t think we’re going to solve that problem by trying to arrest people for not wearing masks.”
Farley said recent cases of COVID-19 appear to be spread among friends and family at social gatherings, so Philadelphia residents also need to focus on wearing masks when around their loved ones.
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware all require that people wear masks in public — both indoors and outside — when it is difficult to maintain a proper social distance from others.
“What is going on is the same thing that happened with seatbelts,” Wolf said at a press conference last week. “People recognize they got to do it. It doesn’t matter what I say, it doesn’t matter what she says, it matters what the virus is going to do. And that virus really doesn’t like it when you wear a mask.”
In Delaware, Gov. John Carney warned Tuesday that a revision to the state’s executive order mandating masks might be required to allow the state hold people accountable when they refuse.
“Our objective is not to close down businesses — it’s to open them up and to allow them to stay open, and stay open safely,” Carney said. “We would encourage you to help by wearing a face mask and practice social distancing.”
Democrats and Republican don’t appear to be close to a deal for an economic stimulus package amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House Wednesday morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the two sides are “very far apart,” but said they are discussing extending the federal $600 unemployment benefit, which expires at the end of this week.
“We ought to work on the evictions, so that people don’t get evicted. You work on the [unemployment] payments to the people. And the rest of it we’re so far apart we don’t care. We really don’t care,” President Donald Trump told reporters.
Democrats and Republican agree on sending individuals another round of $1,200 stimulus checks. But Republicans propose cutting the federal aid to unemployment payments by $1,600 a month, down to $200 a week. Democrats passed a bill in May that kept the added unemployment benefit at $600 a week.
An unforeseen summer surge of coronavirus cases in countries that had seemingly quelled their outbreaks is helping to drive the unrelenting growth of the global pandemic, undercutting predictions that a “second wave” would not occur until the fall.
Japan, Israel, Lebanon and Hong Kong are among dozens of places reporting record numbers of new cases in recent days, many weeks after they had crushed the curve of infections, reopened their economies and moved on.
And in some countries that had brought numbers down, notably in Europe, the reopening of borders, bars and nightclubs is being blamed for a small but noticeable increase in cases.
In Belgium and Spain, the number of daily infections has surpassed levels not seen since early May, prompting authorities to reimpose some recently lifted restrictions. Since the beginning of July, the number of new cases in Japan has climbed by more than 60 percent, a growth rate equivalent to the United States', alarming a country that had trumpeted the “Japanese model” for containing the virus.
Cases continue to climb in the Philly and the suburbs
New daily case numbers and averages keep rising in Philadelphia and its four neighboring counties, in many cases making a fairly steady climb in July, state data shows. That means progress made in May and June in flattening the curve of infections appears to be eroding.
Two weeks ago, Philadelphia’s weekly average of new cases per day was 111; in the last week, the average reached 164 and will likely increase after delayed reports come in, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said. The positivity rate reported Tuesday was about 5.2%.
The city has not yet seen an increase in people admitted to hospitals with the virus, Farley said, but there has been an uptick in the number of people coming into city emergency rooms with fevers and coughs — a sign of increased spread of the virus.
Daily case reports were also rising in all four of the collar counties, particularly Delaware County, where the seven-day average number of new daily cases climbed from about 16 near the end of June to about 75 in the last week, according to state data analyzed by The Inquirer.
A report by the White House coronavirus task force dated July 26 found that 21 states had outbreaks serious enough to require new restrictions. The states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.