TL;DR: The Wolf administration laid off about 2,500 part-time and seasonal employees and interns, some of whom were temporary clerical staff and other workers who help out during busy periods. It could be the first in a wave of job losses within state government, which is bracing for hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues as businesses shut down, unemployment claims spike to unparalleled levels, and people seek other public assistance benefits.

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— Allison Steele (@AESteele, health@inquirer.com)

What you need to know:

🏥 There are now 3,394 cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and 38 deaths. The death toll in New Jersey was 161 as of Sunday, and the known number of cases in the state surpassed 13,000.

🛑 Gov. Tom Wolf requested that President Donald Trump declare Pa. a major disaster area.

📈 Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health predicted 100,000 to 200,000 could die in the United States because of the coronavirus, with “millions of cases” expected.

🔒 SEPTA suspended overnight service on the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines for cleaning, starting Monday.

👐 After more than 60 people in Pennsylvania nursing homes tested positive for the virus, officials urged homes to ban visitors and screen regularly for symptoms.

Local coronavirus cases

📈As of Sunday afternoon, there are more than 2,300 reported cases in the Philadelphia area.

  • PHILADELPHIA: 890 confirmed cases (up from 806 on March 28)
  • SUBURBAN PA: 1,060 confirmed cases (up from 905 on March 28)
  • SOUTH JERSEY: 377 confirmed cases (up from 247 on March 28)

The Wolf administration’s decision to lay off about 2,500 part-time and seasonal employees is the latest sign of how the coronavirus pandemic is straining state budgets. Employees who work for the state health and labor departments were not impacted.

With declining revenues, the mandated shutdown of many businesses. and a sharp spike in demand for public assistance, the coronavirus response has already taxed resources. Pennsylvania residents have filed about 745,000 applications for unemployment compensation benefits in the past two weeks.

And experts have said that due to a rainy-day fund that was already low, Pennsylvania is particularly ill-prepared for the financial blow that is coming.

“It is going to be a difficult road," said David Fillman of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 13, which represents the majority of the state workers who were laid off.

As many are socially isolating in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Inquirer’s opinion staff talked to some of the people whose jobs and skills are too essential for them to be sequestered. Among those who shared their stories: an ER doctor, a PATCO supervisor, a food courier, a grocery store manager, a trash collector.

“A lot of people aren’t taking the actual precautions of staying inside, and social distancing, seriously enough,” said EMT Melissa Herrera. “Because of that we’re going to experience a lot of deaths.”

Let’s take a quick break

🏈 With the exodus of veteran players, a new day has begun for the Eagles’ Carson Wentz, Fletcher Cox, and Lane Johnson.

💗 Name that feeling: Experts say understanding our emotions takes some practice.

🏀 In 2013, Temple University almost landed four of Philly’s top high school players. What went wrong?

Social distancing tip of the day: Enjoy a meal from a favorite restaurant, but stay home

The Corned beef sandwich at the Famous 4th St. Deli in Philadelphia is available for takeout.
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
The Corned beef sandwich at the Famous 4th St. Deli in Philadelphia is available for takeout.

Just because you can’t dine at your favorite restaurant doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy gourmet food. Rather than shut down, a growing number of restaurateurs have pivoted to selling meals to go, including some posh establishments.

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

What we’re paying attention to

  • A handful of communities, including Bryn Mawr College, avoided the 1918 flu through aggressive cleaning and social distancing, writes Billy Penn’s Layla A. Jones.
  • Axios takes readers inside the start of the government-led airlift of supplies like masks, and the Trump administration’s frantic attempts to catch up with a medical equipment crisis.
  • From the Detroit Free Press: A visit with mom from behind glass turns into the ‘best’ moment in her life.

It’s not all horrible

Four-year-old Juniper Assis Finlayson colors in blank spots with chalk on a rainbow she and her Mom on Tuesday. Juniper also enjoys going for walks with her mom's and participating in the rainbow scavenger hunt around 26th and Poplar Streets.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Four-year-old Juniper Assis Finlayson colors in blank spots with chalk on a rainbow she and her Mom on Tuesday. Juniper also enjoys going for walks with her mom's and participating in the rainbow scavenger hunt around 26th and Poplar Streets.

Bright, cheerful DIY public art projects have sprouted from the gloom of Philadelphia’s pandemic response — turning boarded-up storefronts and silent sidewalks into one big exhibition with messages of solidarity and comfort.

Helpful resources

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