The Philadelphia Department of Prisons announced on Tuesday that they will begin testing all incarcerated individuals for COVID-19. Testing will begin on May 20 and is expected to be completed in two weeks.
Previously, testing was only available to inmates showing symptoms of COVID-19. The expansion of testing will include all asymptomatic people currently incarcerated, and people who are newly admitted to PDP’s facilities. Incarcerated individuals being transferred between facilities will also be tested. The Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center will also begin testing all youth at the center on May 20.
The Department of Prisons has been following CDC guidelines regarding testing and containing the virus, and they say they’ve had success. In the beginning of April there were 10 or more prisoners testing positive for the virus daily. However, in the past 10 days only two inmates have tested positive.
As of Tuesday, the total cases in Philadelphia has reached 20,132, with a daily increase of 179. Mayor Jim Kenney and Dr. Thomas Farley both recognized the progress made in decreasing the number of daily cases.
The Department of Public Health confirmed 9 new fatalities in Philadelphia, bringing the city’s total fatalities to 1,049. Out of the total deaths, 54% were long-term care facility residents.
Testing is now being recommended by the Department of Public Health for anyone, regardless of age, who has a new cough, is experiencing new shortness of breath, or has two of the following symptoms: fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache, or new loss of taste or smell. This recommendation comes as there has been an increased availability of coronavirus tests. People can find a testing site near them on Philadelphia’s new testing site finder.