TL;DR: The United States now has the most coronavirus cases in the world, and the country’s death toll has surpassed 1,000. President Donald Trump declared New Jersey a major disaster area for its high number of cases. Local health officials are writing guidelines on which COVID-19 patients get priority if ventilators are scarce. In national news, you will soon receive money from the federal government once the House passes the $2.2 trillion stimulus package. Read more below to learn how much money you’ll get and when.

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— Ellie Silverman (@esilverman11,

What you need to know

🏥 The United States now has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world. The nation’s death toll has surpassed 1,000, the third-highest count globally, behind only China and Italy. The majority of people who have died in Pennsylvania were older than 65.

🚓 Five Philadelphia police officers have tested positive for coronavirus.

💰The Greater Philadelphia YMCA laid off most of its workforce, cutting 4,000 jobs in what appears to be the largest mass layoff in the state so far during the coronavirus pandemic.

🛑President Donald Trump declared New Jersey a major disaster area. The state remains second in the nation, behind New York, for the number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

👐The Trump administration is developing new social distancing guidelines.

Local coronavirus cases

📈 As of Thursday evening, there are more than 1,000 reported cases in the Philadelphia area. Track the spread here.

  • PHILADELPHIA: 475 confirmed cases (up from 133 on March 25)
  • SUBURBAN PA: 663 confirmed cases (up from 289 on March 25)
  • SOUTH JERSEY: 184 confirmed cases (up from 15 on March 25)

If coronavirus cases continue to rise as a rapid rate, the state could face a ventilator shortage, forcing doctors to make tough decisions: “which critically ill COVID-19 patients will get access to life-saving technology and which will not,” my colleagues Jason Laughlin and Wendy Ruderman report.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the state has about 1,900 ventilators and asked federal authorities for another 2,500. Through hospitals and Emergency Medical Services, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 3,600 ventilators available, which is less than what may be needed if illnesses peak, according to a Harvard study.

New Jersey’s triage policy is being crafted while Pennsylvania has an interim policy, which has not been made public, about what to do in this situation. The draft guidelines, according to Arvind Venkat, a Pennsylvania emergency physician who has seen them, include priorities based on the likelihood of a person’s recovery.

“It’s a combination of how critically ill a patient is and determining how long and whether they would benefit from ventilator treatment and prognosis over the short, medium, or long term,” Venkat said.

Many of you will soon receive money from the federal government once the House passes the $2.2 trillion stimulus package to help businesses, workers, and health care systems. The economic fallout from the pandemic has been far reaching, with businesses closing, workers being laid off, and a record 3.2 million Americans filing jobless claims.

So how much will you get paid? Do you need to apply? When will you get your money? These are some of the questions my colleague Christian Hetrick addresses.

The short answer, you don’t need to apply and the payments will come as early as April, but could also take as long as four months. As for the amount, if you are single with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less, you’ll get $1,200. Those filing as the head of a household and earning up to $112,500 would get that amount too. And if you’re married and together make up to $150,000, you would get $2,400.

For every $100 you make over those thresholds, you’ll get $5 less. The payments stop once you are making more than $99,000 as an individual, $146,500 as head-of-household, and $198,000 as a married couple.

Let’s take a quick break

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🎪Three Philadelphia-area teens are headed for the circus Big Top.

Social distancing tip of the day: Teach your older relatives to video chat

Easter and Passover are coming up, times when many of us would want to be with our families. But now we’re all practicing social distancing and staying apart.

That doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected, my colleague Nick Vadala writes. If your relative has an iPhone or iPad, introduce them to FaceTime. If your loved one doesn’t have an Apple product, try out Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, or WhatsApp. Stick with whichever app they find easiest.

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

If you’re feeling the quarantine blues and looking for some company, try fostering a dog or cat. There’s been an unprecedented number of people looking to foster and my colleague Grace Dickinson writes how you can do it.

While some rescue centers (Street Tails Animal Rescue and Morris Animal Refuge) are closed as a health precaution, Pennsylvania SPCA is accepting foster applications. And most shelters are open for adopting and fostering. At places like some PAWS locations, ACCT, and Main Line Animal Rescue, you can fill out an application online, have a conversation with staff to discuss your animal-loving history, and then you’ll be matched.

“Everyone’s home anyway, and a lot of people are grappling with boredom," ACCT Philly executive director Aurora Velazquez said. “We have pets in need and people with time and opportunity — it makes sense to put the two together.”

Helpful resources

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