Philly death toll hits 1,000; mayor creates COVID-19 Recovery Office

Pat Loeb
May 14, 2020 - 3:24 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With the addition of 22 new fatalities Thursday, the coronavirus death toll in Philadelphia has now surpassed 1,000, health officials confirmed.

Still, city officials say the trend in deaths and new cases continues to head downward, and they are starting a recovery effort for the city. 

In light of the grim marker, Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley acknowledged that every death is tragic.

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“Every day I come in and talk about the numbers, but I recognize that these are not just numbers,” he said. “They’re people. Each death represents a person with a family, friends, people who experience that loss permanently, and I don’t want to minimize that. We do have to track the numbers, but we never forget that there are people behind those numbers.”

But he also cited a Drexel University study, which estimated that the stay-at-home order has saved more than 6,000 lives.

“Some people may think that because the number of cases we’re having is going down, this is behind us. The only reason that’s going down is because of the social distancing we’re doing,” he reiterated.

Farley said social distancing needs to continue for a bit longer, even as the mayor recognized the long-term economic damage it’s doing.

“It’s going to be difficult to recover,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “We may never fully recover.”

Still, his administration has started working toward that goal with the creation of the COVID-19 Recovery Office.

“This is the city’s coordinated effort to secure federal recovery dollars available to Philadelphia for a wide range of needs caused by this pandemic,” Kenney said. “A public health and economic crisis of this magnitude requires a thoughtful and coordinated approach.”

A team from finance and the managing director’s offices will be aided by outside consultants. The city is now taking bids for the work.

The mayor also announced that the Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund has distributed all $13.3 million that was available. It received 7,200 applications and was able to help more than 2,000 businesses.

According to self-reported demographics, 60% of awards went to minority business owners, and 32% went to women-owned businesses.

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