Philadelphia COVID-19 cases rise as the city still struggles with gun violence

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Officials announced on Tuesday afternoon that there are 242 new coronavirus cases in Philadelphia, bringing the city total to 1,315. There have been five new deaths, bringing the city total to 14.

Mayor Jim Kenney kicked off Tuesday's press conference stating the City of Philadelphia is facing another public health crisis: gun violence.

He pointed to Monday night's shooting in North Philadelphia that injured five people including a 2-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl.

"I want to make it clear: police are still enforcing the law," said Kenney.

"If you are committing gun crimes you will be arrested. It's that simple," he added. "Put the guns down or face the consequences."

The mayor called on District Attorney Larry Krasner to "vigorously enforce firearm-related charges during this time of crisis," with officials admitting they are concerned about the level prosecution.

"The question is at what level he is charging. Whether those charges are maintained throughout the process, and whether people are confined as they await trial for gun crimes," said Managing Director Brian Abernathy.

In the past, Krasner has stated he is trying to reduce jail and prison populations in order to prevent the spread of COVID 19.

In response to the concerns issued, the District Attorney's office issued this statement:

"To repeat: the DAO has vigorously prosecuted and has not declined to charge a single individual arrested by police during the COVID-19 emergency for a shooting, homicide, or other violent crime.

The DAO has declined to charge 11 individuals for lesser offenses during this time period, mostly due to insufficient evidence to proceed.

District Attorney Krasner is grateful for Police Commissioner Outlaw's leadership during this crisis, and for her assurances that officers and detectives will take special precautions while protecting their own health to preserve and record evidence for prosecutions that proceed through the courts remotely now, as well as for prosecutions that proceed through the courts normally after the health emergency ends.

District Attorney Krasner continues to urge the Kenney Administration to provide appropriate resources to ensure street cameras, forensics, and other evidence testing and crime prevention functions continue uninterrupted throughout this health emergency."

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley spoke about the 15% of positive test results received, saying the health department is noticing a shift of majority positive cases among African Americans. However, he says they are missing too much information to draw any conclusions.

"Just based on the little information I'm seeing right now, I want to get a clear message to the African American community in Philadelphia that you are clearly at risk and you need to be very serious about the social distancing and our other recommendations," said Farley.

Brian Abernathy says the city needs 30,000 masks to protect hospital workers, first responders and other staff.

"We are actively pursuing any N-95 masks that we can possibly get our hands on."

Officials said the coronavirus is in every neighborhood in Philadelphia and residents must continue to follow social distancing guidelines.
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