Philadelphia Officials Say Pandemic Outlook Improving. Economy? Not So Much

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The bad news is that we are still, very much, in the midst of a pandemic.

But officials in Philadelphia say the good news is the trends are clearly moving in the right direction.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says while it may be due to a lag in the weekend reporting, there were no new COVID-19-related deaths in the city between Sunday and Monday.

The news out of regional hospitals is also good.

RELATED: Philadelphia International Airport requiring masks for all passengers, staff

"This morning (Monday), at Philadelphia hospitals, we've reported 822 coronavirus infections staying at the hospital, and in the southeast Pennsylvania region the number is 1,495. That number is about 20 percent below when we were at the peak of the epidemic," Farley said.

Unfortunately, city officials are less optimistic about the economic outlook.

As hundreds of businesses remain shuttered, Philadelphia business owners received the second-lowest number of waivers from the state to re-open in the five-county region.

With 237 requests granted in Philadelphia County, only Delaware County received fewer.

Meanwhile, Mayor Jim Kenney says he is working on getting monetary assistance from Washington.

Kenney says he sent a letter to Philadelphia's Congressional delegation with a wish list that includes a request for direct federal funding, with flexibility in the use of those funds.

"Our letter makes it clear that without those interventions, local governments will be forced to make drastic cuts which will deprive residents of needed services," Kenney said.

The mayor also announced the start of a new Emergency Cash Assistance Program out of Harrisburg.

It's for working families that suffered a loss of employment, or income, due to the pandemic.

It depends on your family size but, for example, a family of four making up to $39,300 would qualify.

Those approved will get a one-time grant between $400 and $1,200.

But Kenney says if you want to apply, don't waste time.

"The state program is limited both in size and duration, but I am certain that every bit of assistance can make a huge difference," Kenney said.

For more information about the program, visit the state website.

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