Philadelphia approves emergency funding to contain coronavirus outbreak

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia City Council held a remote meeting on Thursday where it passed an emergency $85 million appropriation to help the city contain and mitigate the coronavirus outbreak.

The emergency appropriation measure, Bill 200258, was the only bill considered by on Thursday. Council says the money will fund a variety of operations and initiatives.

The vast majority of it is slated to maintain essential services, like paying frontline workers, funding testing sites and buying personal protective equipment. $2 million will go towards business relief and $500,000 for non profits.

"Everybody understood the nature of moving this as quickly as possible making sure that we got this in place," said Darrell Clarke, President of Philadelphia City Council.

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Back on March 13, the city issued a Declaration of Emergency relating to COVID-19 in Philadelphia. On March 16, Mayor Kenney ordered a halt to all nonessential city government operations and ordered City Hall closed to the public. These orders remain in effect as the outbreak continues to spread citywide.

City Council is exploring holding subsequent meetings and hearings remotely during the pandemic, particularly as they pertain to the city's proposed 2020-21 budget.

Council said further information about subsequent meetings will be released as soon as it becomes available.

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Philadelphia City Council passes emergency funding measure



FOOD DISTRIBUTION
Decked out in face masks and latex gloves, hundreds of people wrapped around the United Bank of Philadelphia in West Philadelphia Thursday morning to pick up a box of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Organizers with the People's Emergency Center (PEC) said food access is an ongoing problem in low-income communities, with COVID-19 creating a true crisis.

"We're down to one grocery store in this neighborhood full service. It's about a mile and a half, two miles away. The other grocery store that was about a half a mile away closed earlier this year," said James Wright, PEC's Director of Community Development. "I think access is the main thing and then you can only imagine the economic stress people are under."

Wright says each household received a box, no questions asked. He says volunteers handed out about 400 boxes.

"This is what we do in general, do outreach in the neighborhood to help provide needs and strengthen assets but now it's something totally different," Wright said. "And so being a part of this effort is just great."

Wright says the food relief program is a partnership between the City of Philadelphia, Philabundance, SHARE and other community partners.

Chopper 6 captured long lines at Keep the Faith Ministries in Frankfort, but those waiting say the location ran out of food.

"This is the first day that we have expanded to 40 sites so we certainly recognize theres bound to be some hiccups," said City of Philadelphia Managing Director Brian Abernathy. "We're going to be able to smooth that process out over time."

The boxes of food will be distributed from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Thursdays.
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