COVID-19 in Philly: ‘Signs of hope’ that the city is past the worst of the pandemic, health commish says

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley provides an update on the number of testing sites in the city during a news conference on Friday, March 20, 2020 (Photo via The Philadelphia Tribune)

By Kimberly C. Roberts

PHILADELPHIA — There are “signs of hope” that Philadelphia is past the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Monday.

“But this is no time to relax, because the virus can come storming back,” he added.

Farley reported that city officials counted 302 new cases of coronavirus infection in Philadelphia residents Monday, increasing the total number of confirmed cases in the city by 2.4% to 12,868.

City officials counted 12 new coronavirus-related deaths, increasing the total number of deaths by 2.5% to 484. Roughly 54% of the people who died were residents of long-term care facilities.

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“When we look back over the last couple of weeks, or look at the cases as they have occurred in the region, it’s looking like we’re past the peak of this epidemic — that we are now on the downslope,” Farley said. “Now, we’re not going that quickly. But the number of daily cases that we’re getting seems to be going down, on average.”

Farley attributed the downward trend in cases to social distancing — the business closures, and people wearing face coverings when they’re around others.

“The good news we have today is not a reason for people to go back to the old way of living. It’s just the opposite. It’s a reason for us to continue to do what we’re doing now,” Farley said. “To put it another way, in the competition against this virus, we’re showing that we can win. But the game isn’t over yet, not by a long shot. There’s still much more that we need to do in order to win.”

Farley said there are still many city residents who are infected with coronavirus.

“Many people have infection that don’t even have symptoms — that don’t even know it,” he said. “So you should assume that anyone you meet has the virus. You should assume that you have the virus and may not know it. So you don’t want to spread this infection on your family and your friends, or your neighbors, or anybody you meet on the street. So that means follow the recommendations as we’ve said before: stay home. If you have to get out of the home, keep your distance from people, wear a mask consistently.”

Kimberly C. Roberts is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.