3:56 AM / Wednesday September 27, 2023

3 Apr 2020

Apr. 3: City of Philadelphia COVID-19 briefing

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April 3, 2020 Category: Coronavirus, Local Posted by:

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Department of Public Health on Friday announced 330 additional presumptive confirmed cases of COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Philadelphia. That brings the number of confirmed cases to 2,430. The Health Department confirmed nine additional fatalities in Philadelphia. This brings the number of residents who have succumbed to the virus in Philadelphia to 26.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley noted that the Centers for Disease Control is expected to announce new recommendations that people wear non-medical, cloth masks when going into public for essential reasons like going to the grocery store, pharmacy, or to an essential job. Dr. Farley echoed that guidance, and cautioned people against using medical masks, which should be reserved for health care workers.

“Non-medical masks can protect the people around you,” he said. “But they are most assuredly not a reason to go outside more. Our guidance remains: stay at home, unless you need essential goods, like food, or need some brief exercise.”

The public is encouraged to donate new, unopened masks to health care workers using the online donation form at

Dr. Farley again noted clusters of positive cases in congregate settings, including nursing homes, behavioral health facilities and the Department of Prisons. The total number of inmates that tested positive is now 31. Managing Director Brian Abernathy said the Health Department is working with the Department of Prisons—and all operators of residential facilities—to mitigate the spread of the virus. “We know advocates for all of those housed in congregate settings are worried. But the fact is, we are going to great lengths to keep everyone safe—participants and staff alike.”

Abernathy said the Philadelphia Department of Prisons has instituted additional protocols, effective immediately:

  • All inmates will be housed “shelter in place” style consisting of limited movement out of cell.
  • All inmates will only be allowed out of their cells for showers and phone calls.
  • Food will be delivered cell to cell.
  • Medication will be delivered cell to cell.
  • There will be no movement of inmates from their respective units.
  • All inmates are being provided with masks.

The Managing Director also provided an update on the City’s services for people experiencing homelessness. As an essential service, the City’s shelter system is open and operating—safely caring for nearly 3,000 people each night. Density within shelters has been reduced to allow for six-foot distancing between beds, and meals will be grab-and-go instead of in a congregate setting. Staff continue to provide participants with information about COVID-19, watch for symptoms, and refer people to medical care and testing as needed. Beds are available and intake remains open. People are screened for COVID-19 during intake, and anyone with symptoms is transported to medical care—not admitted to shelters.

In addition, the City’s Homeless Outreach team remains out on the streets. They are providing information on COVID-19, doing basic screenings, and getting people to medical care if they are symptomatic. They are also providing hygiene kits to the extent supplies are available, directing people to handwashing stations, and distributing food.

Testing Sites: The Department of Public Health has opened a second testing site in addition to the drive-through site established earlier in the parking lot of Citizens Bank Park. The new site is open only for those who are over the age of 50 and are displaying symptoms consistent with COVID-19 coronavirus, as well as health care workers who are displaying symptoms consistent with COVID-19 coronavirus. The site is available by appointment only and a referral is required. Those who meet the criteria and want a test, can call (267) 491-5870 to obtain a referral.

The Health Department has expanded the definition of health care workers who are eligible to be tested for COVID-19 coronavirus at City-run testing sites. “Health care worker” now refers to the following:

  • Clinicians
  • EMS
  • Nursing home workers
  • Home care workers
  • Non-clinical staff who have direct patient contact
  • Behavioral health workers
  • Persons who work in congregate settings, including homeless shelters and prisons

Recycling Schedule: Because of staffing concerns, the Streets Department is revising its collection schedule. Recycling materials will be collected on an every other week schedule starting next week. Residents should hold their recycling materials for the week of Monday, April 6 through Saturday, April 11. Recycling collections will resume on Monday, April 13 with every other week collections through May 15 or further. Regular trash collections will continue on or as close to their normal schedule as possible. Residents should expect some delays as the health crisis continues to have an impact on employee attendance.

Many of Philadelphia’s iconic buildings and landmarks will shine blue next Tuesday (April 7) for World Health Day in honor of the health care workers and first responders who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with the City of Philadelphia, the Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA) of Philadelphia, the Parkway Council, and the Center City District, more than three dozen commercial, cultural, and residential buildings from Center City to South Philadelphia will change their illumination to blue starting Tuesday, April 7, and will continue each Tuesday for the rest of the month. Participants include the cultural institutions on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the boathouses along the Schuylkill River, LOVE Park, and Dilworth Park. Other sites that are interested in participating should contact BOMA at [email protected] or 215-567-1775.

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