Philly showing ‘clear signs of progress’ in fight against coronavirus, health official 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 — City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Philadelpia is making progress in its fight against the novel coronavirus.

The number of new confirmed cases each day is getting smaller, as are the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths related to the virus.

Still, Farley said, “there are too many cases for us to say that we can safely restart our activities, but there’s clear signs we’re making progress against this epidemic. Our actions are clearly slowing the spread. I can’t put a date on when our activities can safely restart, but we can start to prepare for that day.”

Farley said it is important that people continue to wear masks, keep their distance from others and wash their hands.

City health officials counted 102 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Monday, increasing the number of confirmed cases in the city by 0.5% to 18,313. The small number is due to laboratories not submitting reports over the weekend, Farley said, and he expects the number of new cases to increase in the next few days as lab results come in.

“Still, the number of cases per day is clearly downward, and may be picking up speed in going downward, which is a very good thing,” Farley said.

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City health officials counted no new deaths on Monday.

Farley also reported that 1,495 people in the region have been hospitalized due to coronavirus infection — about 8% less than the number who were hospitalized on Friday.

Approximately 55% of those hospitalized are in Philadelphia (822).

Emergency cash assistance available

Philadelphians who are struggling financially due to the pandemic may be eligible for an emergency cash grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

The Emergency Assistance Program is for families with children who were working and experienced the loss of a job or income. Families whose income is below 150% of the federal poverty level — about $2,700 a month for a daily of three — are eligible.

“Too many Philadelphians struggle to keep afloat financially even in normal times,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “This virus simply cannot be allowed to become a terrible tipping point that leaves people hungry or without shelter. This emergency help is available now if you are someone who has trouble applying for unemployment — or you are waiting for unemployment to come through.This state program is limited — both in size and duration — but I am certain that every bit of assistance can make a huge difference.”

Officials encourage residents to vote by mail

City officials are encouraging residents to vote by mail in the primary election.

“The health of our democracy is very important to the health of our residents, so I want to encourage everyone to vote, but whenever they vote, I want them to vote safely,” Farley said. “We’re working with the city commissioners to have the polling sites be as safe as possible, but the safest way to vote is to vote by mail.”

Voters can apply for a mail-in ballot at www.votespa.com/MailBallot or at the City Commissioners Office.

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