On Tuesday, Mayor Jim Kenney’s office announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the city of Philadelphia.
Specific details about the patient are not immediately known due to patient confidentiality laws. However, Dr. Thomas Farley, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health shared in a press conference that the patient has been quarantined within their home and individuals that they may have been in contact with have been contacted by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
Dr. Farley also recommends that Philadelphians avoid groups and gatherings of more than 5,000 people if they can.
Local school districts canceled classes for the day or the rest of the week due to student or teacher exposure to COVID-19. Others have closed down for sanitation. Universities locally and across the nation including Princeton, Ohio State University and West Chester University have started canceling in-person class meetings and moving them online.
Temple University alerted the student body on Monday that faculty and staff are preparing for the possibility of canceling in-person class meetings and moving online in the near future.
Philadelphia suburbs have been affected the most by COVID-19 so far. The first two cases were announced on Friday, March 6 by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Governor Tom Wolf. As of Tuesday, there are 12 cases of COVID-19 in the state of Pennsylvania. 9 of the 12 cases are in Montgomery and Delaware counties.
Many students who live off-campus are worried about catching the virus from within the Temple community or on public transit and bringing it home with them. College of Liberal Arts Sophomore Kailyn Schneider commutes on SEPTA and lives at home with her grandparents in Northeast Philadelphia. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) serious complications can arise in older adults and those with severe underlying health conditions that contract COVID-19.
“My grandfather already has a weakened immune system, so he has to depend on other people not to transfer the virus to him,” Schneider said.
SEPTA posted on its website that it has “beefed up” its sanitation efforts across the system by sterilizing high-touch surfaces in stations and on platforms and vehicles in response to the outbreak.
The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 according to the CDC is to wash your hands, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. The CDC also recommends avoiding close contact with others who are sick and using hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
The two most common symptoms of COVID-19 are a fever and a dry-cough. If you or someone you know has these symptoms, visit a physician immediately to be tested. Inform the physician before your visit that you are exhibiting these symptoms.
UPDATE: All Temple University classes will move online, starting Monday. See the full release here.