TL;DR: More than 1,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, and Philly and Delaware County have reported their first deaths. Without paid time off for coronavirus-related health concerns, nurses are using vacation days to be in isolation. And in national news, the White House and Senate leaders reached a deal on a $2 trillion stimulus bill for aid to businesses, workers, and the health care system, though last-minute snags have delayed votes on the package.

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— Ellie Silverman (@esilverman11,

What you need to know

🏠 There is no end date for Philadelphia’s stay-at-home order.

🎒Pennsylvania students won’t have to attend school past June 30, regardless of how long the shutdown lasts.

💰The shutdowns have led a record more than half a million Pennsylvanians to file new unemployment claims in the last week, showing a piece of the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

⛪ The Archdiocese of Philadelphia canceled all public celebrations of Holy Week and Easter Sunday Masses.

🤝The White House and Senate leaders reached an agreement on a $2 trillion stimulus bill for aid to businesses, workers and the health care system, but last-minute concerns are delaying votes on the package.

Local coronavirus cases

📈As of Wednesday evening, there are hundreds of reported cases in the Philadelphia area. Track the spread here.

  • PHILADELPHIA: 342 confirmed cases (up from 252 on March 24)
  • SUBURBAN PA: 460 confirmed cases (up from 333 on March 24)
  • SOUTH JERSEY: 132 confirmed cases (up from 120 on March 24)

The number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the commonwealth surpassed 1,000 today. Meanwhile, Philadelphia and Delaware County have reported their first deaths connected to the coronavirus pandemic. A second Montgomery County resident, an 84-year-old Abington man with underlying health conditions, has also died.

Mayor Jim Kenney extended his shutdown of nonessential city government operations in the city from Sunday to April 6. The stay-at-home order remains in effect without a set end date.

"The unfortunate reality is that there will likely be more deaths as the number of cases grow, which is why our stay-at-home order is essential,” Kenney said. “This virus is very real and very deadly.”

Without paid time off for coronavirus-related health concerns, nurses are using vacation days to be in isolation after contact with a COVID-19 patient, my colleague Jason Laughlin reported. A survey of 23 health systems around Pennsylvania revealed that more than half, including Einstein Medical Center and Temple University Hospital systems, required nurses and technicians to use their own time for quarantine.

“If I do come back now and I get sick, I have no time accrued,” an eight-year nursing veteran said.

Other workers are also demanding more protection. Several people have also tested positive for COVID-19 at one Philadelphia nursing home, while another nursing-home case was reported in Northampton County, leading leading long-term care workers to demand more protection.

These health workers who care for seniors and people with disabilities called on the state for more masks, hand sanitizer, and paid time off, my colleague at Spotlight PA Cynthia Fernandez reported.

“No group of people are at higher risk than older adults," representatives from two industry organizations said, “and no group of organizations will be asked to support them through both prevention and mitigation more than nursing homes and long-term care providers.”

Let’s take a quick break

🐶How much does that doggie in the window want a walk? This family knows.

🏈 The Eagles have added low-cost, experienced corner Nickell Robey-Coleman, who excels in the slot.

🚢 She portrays groundbreaking women on the world’s oldest floating steel warship.

Social distancing tip of the day: Take care of mental health

Social distancing can strain mental health, so my colleague Bethany Ao talked to experts about the best ways to cope. The experts recommend any kind of exercise, whether that is a quiet walk around the block or online workouts, meditation, or an art activity like coloring, painting, drawing, listening to music, or playing music. They also encourage people to create a routine, whether that’s an hourly list of plans for the day or picking up a project.

“If you know one of your friends is vulnerable to mental health stuff, reach out to them” one expert said. “Call them, set up FaceTimes, watch Netflix with them. Call a friend you’ve wanted to talk to but haven’t in a while, and share positive and encouraging tips, or what has worked for you."

Have a social distancing tip or question to share? Let us know at and your input might be featured in a future edition of this newsletter.

What we’re paying attention to

It’s not all horrible

Animal shelters are seeing people sign up to foster pets at “unprecedented” rates as humans seek companionship while isolating at home. At the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, known as PAWS, 123 animals were placed into foster homes between March 15 and March 24, compared to 38 during the same time period last year, my colleague Stephanie Farr writes.

“It is one tiny silver lining in all this," said PAWS executive director Melissa Levy. "That an animal gets to go home from a shelter.”

Helpful resources

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