Philadelphia officials say growth slowing as coronavirus cases rise to 5,271; feds say city could be next hot spot

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia Department of Public Health said the number of positive coronavirus cases in the city has reached 5,271, but officials say the growth is continuing to slow.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said he is hopeful the number of positive cases will continue to plateau.

"The good news is the growth is slowing, but we cannot assume that will continue that way," he said.

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Dr. Farley provides an update on COVID-19 in the City of Philadelphia.



Thursday's increase includes 494 new cases and 26 deaths.

In total, the number of residents who have succumbed to the virus in Philadelphia is 104.

Farley said they continue to see cases among clusters or congregate settings including nursing homes and jails.

Forty-four of the deaths reported in the city were at nursing homes, Farley said.

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Dr. Farley provides an update on COVID-19 in Philadelphia.



Despite the slow growth in terms of cases, Farley urged the importance of social distancing.

"We all need to do a better job of the social distancing," he said.

RELATED: Vice President Pence says Philadelphia is area of 'particular concern' amid COVID-19 outbreak

REDUCED SEPTA SERVICE

SEPTA is moving to a reduced "Lifeline Service Schedule" starting Thursday.

The new schedules that go into effect on Thursday are focused on providing access to hospitals, grocery stores and other life-sustaining services.

Buses, subways and trolleys that are in service will continue to follow Saturday schedules, and available Regional Rail service will run every two hours.

All riders are asked to wear masks or other facial coverings, consistent with new CDC guidelines, to protect both riders and operators. SEPTA has started issuing masks to all frontline employees.

TESTING SITES

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Two COVID-19 testing sites will be closing Friday in the Delaware Valley.



The Department of Public Health announced the Citizens Bank Park testing site will be discontinued after 6 p.m. on Friday, April 10.

This determination was made by FEMA, which the City supports.

On Thursday, Farley said the Citizens Bank Park site only provided 7% of all testing done in Philadelphia.

The closure allows for remaining testing kits to be redistributed to indoor sites to expand their testing capacity, and any remaining personal protective equipment (PPE) will be redistributed to support hospitals and long-term care facilities.

The City-run location in Center City, announced last week, will continue to serve those who are over the age of 50 and are displaying symptoms consistent with COVID-19 coronavirus, as well as health care workers who are displaying symptoms consistent with COVID-19 coronavirus. The site is available by appointment only and a referral is required. Those who meet the criteria and want a test can call (267) 491-5870 to obtain a referral.

The Health Department has expanded the definition of health care workers who are eligible to be tested for COVID-19 coronavirus at City-run testing sites.

"Health care worker" now refers to the following:

Clinicians
EMS providers
Nursing home workers
Home care workers

Non-clinical staff who have direct patient contact
Behavioral health workers
Persons who work in congregate settings, including homeless shelters and prisons

TRASH PICKUP

On Wednesday, Mayor Jim Kenney announced changes to city services due to the observance of Good Friday.

"There will be no trash pickup on Friday," he said.

Instead, residents who typically have their trashed picked up on Friday should put out their trash after 5 p.m. for collection on Saturday.

Kenney also said the 49 school sites that are providing meals for children will be closed on Monday. This is a one-time change, he said.

The 49 sites will be open on Tuesday, April 14 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

In addition, all health centers will be closed on Friday, this does not include the COVID-19 testing site in South Philadelphia, Kenney said.

RECYCLING SCHEDULE

Because of staffing concerns, the Streets Department revised its collection schedule.

Recycling materials will be collected on an every-other-week schedule starting next week.

Residents should hold their recycling materials for the week of Monday, April 6 through Saturday, April 11.

Recycling collections will resume on Monday, April 13 with every-other-week collections through at least May 15.

Regular trash collections will continue on or as close to their normal schedule as possible.

Residents should expect some delays as the health crisis continues to have an impact on employee attendance.
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