TL;DR: All of Pennsylvania’s schools will stay closed for the rest of the academic year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced today. As coronavirus related shutdowns continue, more than 6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week. And can runners spew viruses farther than 6 feet? Read on to find out.

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— Ellie Silverman (@esilverman11,

What you need to know

🛑 Acme and Aldi are joining other grocery stores in limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside at one time.

👮A Cape May County woman is among the latest to be criminally charged in New Jersey with coughing or spitting on a police officer amid the pandemic. Authorities said she told them she was ‘happy’ to infect them.

💰More than 6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week.

🧽 There are about 16,000 domestic workers in Philadelphia, many of whom are undocumented immigrants. They are losing cleaning and nannying jobs, and even though they pay taxes, their immigration status bars them from qualifying for unemployment benefits.

👐 Pennsylvania health officials said they have started planning for the eventual relaxation of social distancing guidelines, but that time is not now.

Local coronavirus cases

📈As of Thursday evening, there are more than 11,500 reported cases in the Philadelphia area. Track the spread here.

  • PHILADELPHIA: 5,029 confirmed cases (up 252 since yesterday)

  • SUBURBAN PA: 4,271 confirmed cases (up 404 since yesterday)

  • SOUTH JERSEY: 2,286 confirmed cases (up 223 since yesterday)

Gov. Tom Wolf orders all Pennsylvania schools closed through rest of academic year

All of Pennsylvania’s schools will stay closed for the rest of the academic year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced today.

This applies to all public K-12 schools, brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers, and intermediate units.

“We must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus during this national crisis,” Wolf said in a statement. “This was not an easy decision but closing schools until the end of the academic year is in the best interest of our students, school employees and families.”

Wolf first ordered schools to shut down for two weeks on March 13. Ten days later, he said they would be closed at least April 6 or possibly longer “if necessary.”

Educators have scrambled to set up remote learning, and some have yet to launch formal online instruction. Families have rushed to figure out childcare and keep their kids learning.

“It’s going to be five months at home,” said Brooke Forry of Media, parent of a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old. “That’s unfathomable.”

Can runners spew viruses farther than 6 feet?

Health officials have been advocating for 6 feet as the accepted threshold for social distancing. But no one knows for sure what the correct distance is.

The Brits are using a a 2-meter rule, an extra 7 inches of protection against the coronavirus. The Australians, at 1.5 meters, are standing a bit closer.

“But," my colleague Tom Avril asks, "what if the droplet-spewer is on the move?”

A new simulation from engineers in Belgium and the Netherlands show people running side by side, behind each other, and in a staggered formation. As the simulation continues, it shows how runners leave a “slipstream” of particles from their mouth.

“It makes complete sense that if you are following someone who is exhaling the virus, you have more of a chance breathing it in,” said Jose-Luis Jimenez, a chemistry professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder who was not involved in the study.

So take extra precautions when near someone who is exercising, said study author Bert Blocken,

If running, stay 30 feet behind someone going in the same direction. For biking, aim for 60 feet or go to another lane.

Or as Avril writes: “For those huffing and puffing through their morning jog, Blocken said the solution is simple: stay in your own lane.”

Helpful resources

Let’s take a quick break

🥡 Not sure where to order a meal from? Here are some restaurant takeout highlights from our critic Craig LaBan.

🏀 Sixers podcast: We rank the top players in franchise history.

📺 What’s on this weekend: Coachella on YouTube, “Trolls World Tour” on-demand, more Krasinski “Good News,” and Andrea Bocelli sings on Easter from Milan.

Social distancing tip of the day: Think twice before driving to New Jersey for alcohol

With Pennsylvania’s state-run liquor stores closed, a reader asked the Inquirer if it was OK to drive to New Jersey to buy alcohol. My colleague Jenn Ladd searched for the answer.

Pennsylvania residents have been driving to neighboring Delaware to buy booze, but cars with the Keystone State tags have been pulled over and sent home in violation of essential-business travel restrictions.

Are Jersey State troopers doing the same? Maj. Brian Polite of the New Jersey State Police said police aren’t pulling over out-of-state drivers without reason.

You may have trouble with the Pennsylvania authorities, though. Not only is bringing back alcohol from New Jersey a violation of the stay-at-home order, but state police spokesperson Brent Miller, said it’s a violation of the liquor code as well. Read more about the violation penalties here.

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

Fuel the Fight and #SavePhillyEats, an online platform where restaurants sell experiences and gift cards, have teamed up to give at least 3,500 meals to frontline health-care workers in the Philly area Sunday.

They dubbed their joint effort #GivePhillyEats. My colleague Mike Klein writes more about them here.

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