The Mayor’s press conference on May 11th announced 102 confirmed coronavirus cases in the city of Philadelphia with no new fatalities. The total number of cases now stands at 18,313 and deaths at 893. Long-term care facilities made up 473 of these fatalities. Of the 1,495 coronavirus patients hospitalized in the region, 822 are located in Philadelphia hospitals. This is 20-percent less than the number of hospitalized patients at the peak of the pandemic.
There are currently more than 40 testing sites in the city of Philadelphia and more than 60 in the region. The city distributes 1,500 coronavirus tests daily, which Dr. Thomas Farley stated is well below the target number of 5,000 tests.
There are six children who have been hospitalized with what is assumed to be the inflammatory disease linked to coronavirus in Philadelphia. There is no new information on how this syndrome may impact children’s returning to school in the fall.
Dr. Farley expressed that the data indicates the city is moving in the right direction. However, there are still too many cases to reopen the city safely. He encouraged citizens to continue safety measures put in place by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), stating “we need to do better”, in terms of wearing masks in public spaces.
Mayor Jim Kenney laid the foundation for future federal aid for the city. In a letter written to Philadelphia’s Congressional delegation, he expressed, “while I am grateful and appreciative of all that has been done so far, much more is needed to ensure that Philadelphians can safely survive the crisis and thrive beyond it.” The letter stresses the need of Congress to focus on the city’s need to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as housing resources for homeowners and renters. Kenney also implored for funding to support the most vulnerable members of the population.
Kenney announced that on Friday, May 15th, the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program will be implemented. The plan will make rent payments for those who are unable to due to unemployment. It is projected that 3,000 families will stay in their homes with this program.
The Mayor also encouraged those 150-percent below the federal poverty level, or about $2,700 a month for a family of three, to apply for the Emergency Assistance Program. The program will provide an emergency cash grant of $400 to $12,000 based on family size. Kenney explained this help is for those who experienced difficulties when filing for unemployment, as well as those who have successfully filed but are waiting for the checks to be mailed. “This state program is limited—both in size and duration—but I am certain that every bit of assistance can make a huge difference”.
To surrounding counties threatening to reopen without permission by Governor Tom Wolf, Kenney empathized, “I understand people’s desire to have this over with. No one wants this over more than us, but it will never be over if we don’t do it the right way and the safe and healthy way”.