11:52 AM / Sunday October 2, 2022

22 May 2020

Public health must come first before reopening the economy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
May 22, 2020 Category: Commentary Posted by:

By City Councilmembers Darrell L. Clarke, Cherelle Parker, Curtis Jones Jr. and Mark Squilla

Every day, we hear new numbers. One day, it is 314. The next day, it is 224. Every number is a real person – a Philadelphian – who has tested positive for COVID-19.

As of May 14, Philadelphia had over 19,000 recorded cases of COVID-19. More than 1,000 of our residents have succumbed to this virus. Everyone of them was someone’s mom or dad, grandmom or granddad, daughter or son. Our prayers are with everyone who has lost a loved one to this pandemic.

There is another set of troubling numbers — rising unemployment rates. The many businesses – entire industries – shut down by COVID-19. Over 1.7 million Pennsylvanians have lost their jobs. Many are Philadelphians.

We all want this pandemic to end. We all want our businesses to re-open, so our residents can get back to work; so they can eat in restaurants, shop in stores and congregate with their friends.

However, our ability to achieve those objectives is dependent on whether we flatten the curve of new COVID-19 cases. There are a series of strategies we must put in place before meaningful conversation takes place about re-opening our economy. If we are not careful, if we rush plans to re-open, we run the real risk of COVID-19 infections – and deaths – spiking again, and our city being in a worse situation than it was before.

There are five key elements that other countries are successfully deploying to fight the coronavirus. Philadelphia must do the same:  

Continue social distancing. What we are doing is showing signs of working – but now is not the time to ease up. As the weather warms up, people naturally want to go outside. Please think of the people next to you if you go outdoors. Wear a mask in public. Think of your family. Don’t bring COVID-19 home.

Testing. We need to do more testing. A recent study by experts at Harvard University estimates that the United States needs to be testing three times as many people for COVID-19 as are currently being tested. While it is true that more testing will result in more confirmed cases, we must know the true rate of infection as we work to contain the spread. Also, the growing racial disparity of COVID-19 cases highlights the urgent need to increase testing in underserved communities.

Contact tracing. We need to significantly ramp up contact tracing – identifying and alerting the people who’ve come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. This is critical to containing the viral spread.

Isolation. We need safe, humane locations to isolate people who’ve tested positive, particularly when they cannot safely isolate at home. The city has established quarantine locations. We must use them. 

Treatment. Our hospitals still have beds available to treat COVID-19 patients, and, thanks to Temple University, the Liacouras Center was converted into a field hospital to handle overflow. However, the system remains plagued by a scarcity of personal protective equipment. If our healthcare workers are not safe, patients could suffer more.

Other countries and regions are using these strategies; South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand and Hong Kong have gained control over the virus. But it is essential that all these steps be done in unison, over a sustained period of time. We cannot let our guard down.

Everybody wants to be outside with their friends — in the park, or on the basketball court. People want to worship together. We all want our economy to re-start. 

But unless our singular focus in the weeks and months ahead is on driving down the number of new COVID-19 cases, we will struggle to re-open our economy safely, fairly and equitably.   

We must flatten the curve. If we work together and follow these strategies, we will. We can do this, Philly.

Darrell L. Clarke is president of City Council. Cherelle Parker is Council’s Majority Leader. Curtis Jones Jr. is Majority Whip, and Mark Squilla is Deputy Whip.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News


Biden signs bill to avert government shutdown, aid Ukraine

October 1, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email By KEVIN FREKING WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed into law Friday...


A message from Superintendent Watlington regarding the shooting outside of Roxborough High School

September 30, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email Dear School District of Philadelphia staff and families, The School District of Philadelphia...


The Jacksons in concert on September 10

September 30, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email (Photos/Afea Tucker) The Jacksons — Jackie, Tito, and Marlon, along with a backup...


Puerto Ricans await aid, fret about post-hurricane recovery

September 30, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: A man points to a home that was collapsed by Hurricane...

Go With The-Flo

Lil Wayne is looking to make a big profit from the sale of his waterfront Miami Beach mansion

September 30, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Lil Wayne (Paul Smith / Featureflash / Shutterstock) By Flo Anthony...

Food And Beverage

What’s Cookin’? Vegan Shortbread Cookies

September 30, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email Tweet Share Pin Email Related Posts What’s Cookin’? Chewy Five Ginger Spice Molasses...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff