TL;DR: All employees and customers at essential business continuing in-person operations in Pennsylvania are now required to wear face masks or coverings. Coronavirus stimulus checks started rolling in for tens of millions of Americans. Here’s everything you need to know about the stimulus checks, and how to receive yours quickly. In world news, the number of known COVID-19 cases has surpassed 2 million.

Food distribution is continuing in Philadelphia, as the coronavirus shutdown presses on. See photos of how this is made possible. Make sure you check for the latest news, and please feel free to tell your family and friends to sign up.

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— Ellie Silverman (@esilverman11,

What you need to know

🛑The number of known COVID-19 cases worldwide surpassed 2 million Wednesday. In the United States, more than 632,000 people have tested positive and more than 27,000 have died.

🌡️ Gov. Phil Murphy predicted New Jersey could reopen in “June or July.” But when that happens, he said, people should expect a “new normal,” where restaurants open at 50% capacity, do temperature checks, and have employees masked and gloved.

🏥 There are confirmed COVID-19 cases in nearly 300 long-term care facilities across 33 Pennsylvania counties, and half the state’s coronavirus deaths were residents at these facilities.

🔓 Pennsylvania’s state House and Senate have passed a bill that would reopen more businesses, but it appears unlikely to become law.

😷 SEPTA gave away surgical masks to transit riders to protect against the spread of the virus.

🏈 Will MLB, NFL, and college football games return? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, offers a path forward.

Local coronavirus cases

📈As of Wednesday evening, there are more than 17,200 reported cases in the Philadelphia area. Track the spread here.

  • PHILADELPHIA: 7,441 confirmed cases
  • SUBURBAN PA: 6,385 confirmed cases
  • SOUTH JERSEY: 3,450 confirmed cases

All employees and customers at essential business continuing in-person operations will now be required to wear face masks or coverings. These businesses are also required to provide the masks for workers (but can approve masks employees bring in themselves), and must deny entry to anyone who isn’t wearing a mask.

This comes after state health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously recommended all Pennsylvanians wear a mask when leaving home. Starting Sunday at 8 p.m., businesses that don’t comply with the order are subject to citations and fines.

This new directive comes from an order signed Wednesday by Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine. It also outlines other regulations like:

  • There must be enough space for workers to take breaks and have meals while maintaining a social distance.
  • Businesses that provide medication, medical supplies or food, are required to provide an alternative method of pickup or delivery for people without a face covering.
  • If an employee has tested positive, the business must start doing temperature screenings before workers enter and must send home any employee with a temperature above 100.4 degrees.

Still don’t have a face mask? Use our simple template to make one at home.

The coronavirus stimulus checks started rolling in this week, as officials announced today that the federal government has made direct payments to tens of millions of Americans.

Many Americans received direct deposits of $1,200 (or smaller payments for people earning more than $75,000) as part of the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package to boost the economy during government-mandated shutdowns.

My colleagues Andrew Seidman and Christian Hetrick talk to Philadelphians about how they will spend their money. Kaley Maltz, 25, of Fishtown, who lost her job at a restaurant last month, told them she recently moved and will use the money to help cover her rent and security deposit.

“I had no idea when it was coming,” Maltz said. “I checked my bank account... and just felt super relieved to get it.”

Those who didn’t get their much-anticipated government check were instructed to check the Internal Revenue Service’s “Get My Payment” web portal, launched today. But it didn’t seem to work. Instead, some were greeted with the message: “Payment status not available.”

To get your financial relief quickly, the IRS needs your direct deposit account information. Otherwise, your check will be sent by mail. This won’t start until the week of May 4 and could take up to 20 weeks to finish.

Here’s everything you need to know about the stimulus checks, and how to get yours quickly. And, if you can afford it, here’s how to use that stimulus money to help Philly.

Helpful resources

Let’s take a quick break

🍷 Retailers with a wine license can can deliver bottles to your door. Here’s where to find them.

🥘 The dish on takeout and delivery: The Inquirer’s Craig LaBan and Michael Klein share tips on where to look for great food.

🦪 Get New Jersey oysters — and a board to hold them – delivered to your door. Here’s how.

Social distancing tip of the day: Order fresh bread from Philly bakeries

The Inquirer’s restaurant critic, Craig LaBan writes about how you can get fresh, delicious bread delivered to your home in the time of coronavirus. Here’s a list of Philly-area bakeries and their offers.

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: Caravan of teachers bring joy to quarantined students

Middle and elementary school teachers from at KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy recently drove through Camden neighborhoods, honking and waving at students quarantined at home.

“We call ourselves one team, una familia,” said Bridgit Cusato-Rosa, School Leader at KIPP Lanning Square Middle. “So we created a little parade.”

News about coronavirus is changing quickly. Go to to make sure you are seeing the newest information.