COVID-19 in Philadelphia: How many people are sick, what services are affected, and testing info

By: - March 18, 2020 9:49 am

By Michael D’Onofrio

PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration will provide updates at its daily briefing at 1 p.m. about the city’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases jumped on Tuesday to 18, up from nine the day before.

Hospital beds

Philadelphia has about 7,000 “inpatient acute care licensed and staffed beds,” said Jim Garrow, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Public Health, in an email.

It remained unclear whether that figure was the total number of beds available or the number of beds dedicated to patients who need intensive care. Garrow did not immediately respond to a request seeking clarification.

How many beds are currently filled also remained unclear.

Garrow said the Hospital and Healthcare Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) manages daily open bed counts.

HAP did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The city’s Department of Public Health does not provide oversight of hospitals in Philadelphia. Rather, hospitals are regulated by the state and coordinated by HAP.

“We maintain regular contact with individual facilities and systems and HAP and in the case that we need information about bed capacity, we request it and it is provided to us,” Garrow said.

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Rapid-testing sites for COVID-19

The Kenney administration revealed on Tuesday a number of organizations have set up rapid-testing sites in the city and region.

The city’s health department is not overseeing or managing any of the sites and they are not open to the public, said Kenney spokeswoman Kelly Cofrancisco in an email.

The administration declined to provide where those locations were, saying, “we don’t feel comfortable about providing locations for sites that aren’t open to the public or under our control.”

City officials continue to work with state officials to provide “stand up testing sites” for COVID-19, Kenney administration spokesman Mike Dunn said in an email.

“Details about these sites are still being finalized to ensure the safety of anyone tested and the staff that will work at them,” Dunn said.

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The University of Pennsylvania has one rapid testing site in West Philadelphia and another in Radnor Township in Delaware County; Temple University has one; Jefferson Hospital has a site in Center City and another in Abington Township in Montgomery County; and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has a site in West Philadelphia.

Raymond Betzner, a spokesman for Temple University, said the rapid-testing site will be established on the school’s campus in Ambler Township in Montgomery County. No sites are scheduled for Temple’s main campus in North Philadelphia.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Montgomery County health officials are managing the site in Ambler, which is not up and running yet, Betzner said.

Temple has several large playing fields and parking lots on its Ambler campus, which was the reason health officials chose the site, Betzner said. He was not certain how the rapid-testing site would operate, including whether it would be a drive-thru service similar to one provided in Delaware.

“They [health officials] liked that site because, again, they could use the playing fields, the set up and the parking lots are already there, so people could literally drive-thru, get tested and keep right on moving,” Betzner said.

Free meals for students

The city and School District are providing two free meals to children 18 years old and younger between 9 a.m. and noon at 30 locations throughout the city today.

A full list of where students and parents can get the meals can be found by visiting

Safe spaces for children

Fifty recreation centers will remain open between 2 and 6 p.m. to provide a safe space for children while school are out.

Meals will be provided for children 18 years old and younger at 3 p.m.

For a full listing of the open recreation centers, visit

Michael D’Onofrio is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared

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