Philadelphia extends its stay-at-home orders, while data shows promising trends for reopening

Philadelphia has extended its stay-at-home orders until June 4, as the county is still classified in the “red phase” of Governor Tom Wolf’s plan for reopening. 

In order to reopen, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley advised residents “we need to just keep doing what we’re doing [because] all the data says that, in general, we are moving in the right direction.”

“The trend in the number of cases is clearly downward, and, maybe, that it’s picking up speed in the way that it’s going down,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, “The number of daily deaths is also on a downward trend, which is also a good sign.”

470 new cases and 59 new deaths were reported in Philadelphia in the last 24 hours on Friday. The latest numbers show a total of 17,517 cases and 875 deaths. Approximately 53% or 460 of the deaths have been nursing home residents.

Dr. Farley also reported progress in infections in congregate settings where people live together: “We’re seeing a decline in cases in nursing homes and in our city’s jail.”

As of Friday morning, 879 people with Covid-19 were being treated in Philadelphia hospitals and 1,628 people were hospitalized across the region. This demonstrates an overall decrease of about 10% since the peak of the epidemic, which Dr. Farley said was either on April 24 or April 28.

Although the downward trends in cases, deaths and hospitalizations are promising, Mayor Jim Kenney announced that there is no definite time frame or date for reopening. 

Amid these positive trends in the pandemic, there has been an increase in residents disobeying city traffic laws with 3 deaths reported in April and 3 more in May, in just the first week.

Kenney said that a “dangerous side-effect of the stay-at-home orders” has been an increase in unsafe driving behaviors, which are showing up in Philadelphia’s traffic crash data.

“With fewer cars on the roads, some people thoughtlessly think it’s okay to speed, make illegal movements, or run red lights and stop signs,” Kenney said. “The stats are trending in the wrong direction and this unsafe behavior has to stop. We maintain that traffic deaths are preventable and unacceptable under our Vision Zero Action Plan.”

The city now has figures on April tax collections. These collections are approximately half of what was collected in 2019. This could be partially due to the extension to file the Business Income Receipts Tax, which was originally April 15 and is now July 15. 

“This is the first clear indicator of the local impact of COVID-19 on city revenues,” Kenney said. 

The city has talked to various universities, but they have not set up an actual plan regarding how and when schools will be able to reopen. 

“At this point I think we are still trying to figure out what exactly our reopening plan looks like, so we certainly have had conversations with the universities, but we’re not at the point yet where we are talking about reopening in the fall,” Kenney’s Managing Director Brian Abernathy said. “We are still trying to figure out exactly what the virus does and how we respond to it over time, but certainly we will have guidance for universities as we move forward.” 

The best thing that Philadelphia citizens can do to make sure a future reopening is possible is to wear a mask and continue to social distance, even if it is a challenge.

It is not just the public who is not a fan of mask. Dr. Farley said he “doesn’t like wearing a mask more than anyone else, but this really is the key.”

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