Philly modifies summer programming as restrictions likely to continue, mayor says

Cases continue on a downward trend

Kristen Johanson
May 21, 2020 - 5:20 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia continues a downward trend of new COVID-19 cases, but city officials warn this is no time to soften restrictions. 

Thirteen more people died of the virus, city officials announced Thursday. More than half of the 1,165 total deaths came from nursing homes.

With a new batch of lab results, the city confirmed 341 new cases, but overall, Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley said the situation is looking better.

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“We are continuing to make progress on our clusters in congregate settings like prisons, where there were no new cases, but now they are testing everyone who is incarcerated,” he said. “And when we do that, we do expect that we will find more cases just from the screening.”

Farley said they still have to examine several factors before the city can start to reopen — like the number of hospital beds available and how fast the cases are declining.

But Mayor Jim Kenney said just because the numbers are better doesn’t mean they’ll loosen restrictions.

“If we have a major surge in September, October, November, we could be right back where we were in mid-late March, or worse,” he warned.

Since the start of the crisis in mid-March, Philadelphia has confirmed 20,700 cases of COVID-19.

Kenney added that the city is working on special summer programming for kids, as the city will likely continue major restrictions through the summer.

“It is not worth it to jump precipitously unless we know for sure, or at least to a great percentage, that we are not going to create another surge,” he added.

Parks and Recreation is still developing modified summer programs and will “correspond to regional reopening plans.”

The city is searching for volunteers for the Playstreets program, which provides free meals and offers recreational activities on blocked-off, one-way streets in the city.

“Volunteers must be available to close their street each weekday from June 15 to Aug. 25 and distribute grab-and-go meals to local kids from noon to 3 p.m.,” he said. 

Residents who live on one-way streets in the city and want to volunteer must apply to be a  supervisor by June 5.

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For more city resources regarding COVID-19, visit phila.gov/covid-19 or call the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline at 1-800-722-7112.