COVID-19 in Philly: More Blacks are testing positive, city officials say

By: - March 31, 2020 4:56 pm

By Michael D’Onofrio

PHILADELPHIA — African Americans continue to make up the majority of those testing positive for the novel coronavirus in Philadelphia.

For a second day in a row, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley noted that more Blacks were testing positive for the infection in the city, a shift from earlier when whites made up the majority of positive tests.

Racial demographic data on residents testing positive remained limited, representing only 15 percent of confirmed cases, Farley said.

“The majority of that right now is African American,” he said during the Kenney administration’s daily briefing on the virus.

“Just based on the limited information I’m seeing right now, I want to get a clear message to the African American community in Philadelphia: You are clearly at risk and you need to be very serious about the social distancing and our other recommendations.”

The health commissioner expected to have more information on the racial demographics of those testing positive for the virus on Wednesday.

New cases of the coronavirus in Philadelphia jumped by 242 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of positive cases to 1,315 since the start of the outbreak here.

Five new deaths were linked to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in Philadelphia on Tuesday, bringing the total 14.

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The city had demographic information on only 12 of the fatalities, Farley said. Of those deaths, one was between the ages of 40 and 49; one between 50 to 59 years old; six were in their 70s; and three were in their 80s; and one was over the age of 90.

Seven of the deaths were individuals living in nursing homes.

At least 87 individuals have been hospitalized with COVID-19.

Healthcare workers made up 88 (6 percent) of the city’s total positive cases.

Order for masks not yet arrived

The city’s order of 500,000 N95 face masks for medical workers and first responders has yet to arrive in Philadelphia.

City Managing Director Brian Abernathy had no timeline for when the personal protective equipment (PPE) shipment would arrive. The Kenney administration was investigating other PPE options in the meantime.

The city previously received 9,500 expired medical face masks from the national emergency stockpile, which were unusable due to dry rot, Abernathy said.

“No, we won’t be using any masks that have dry rot,” he said.

Abernathy said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was expected to provide usable PPEs to the city but he did not know when they would arrive or how many.

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

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