Philly opening unclear, but one thing certain: ‘Get a mask’

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia officials continue to report progress against COVID-19, but they still won’t pinpoint a date to lift the stay-at-home order. 

Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley reported 309 new cases on Friday, which includes some older test results. 

The trend continues downward, but it is still far from the estimated amount of cases — 50 or 60 a day — at which officials say the city could safely reopen.

Farley also announced 56 more fatalities, but he said, as in previous days, the high number was a result of reconciling different records. The total number of cases in the city is now 21,009. The death toll stands at 1,221.

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Still, Farley is urging residents to prepare for a reopening now.

“Whenever we reopen — however we reopen — there will be a new normal,” he said. “That new normal will be different from how things were before the epidemic came. It will involve smaller numbers of people in any kind of interior space. It will involve physical barriers between people, like the Plexiglas shields you see around cash registers to block respiratory droplets from passing from one person to another. It will involve spacing of people, decals on the floor that show you should be 6 feet apart, and it will involve masks. 

“Masks is the one thing that you, individually, have an opportunity to really have control over, so wearing a mask is going to have to become the new normal. As I’ve said before and I’m going to repeat many times, get a mask and get used to wearing it.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday afternoon that Gov. Tom Wolf will announce plans to move all remaining counties currently in the “red” phase of his reopening plan, including the greater Philadelphia area, to “yellow” in June, easing some restrictions on businesses and social interactions.

Farley and Mayor Jim Kenney both declined to comment on the report. Philadelphia and its neighboring counties have been hit harder than the rest of the state and have been working on a regional reopening plan. 

Farley and Kenney said they did not know what the governor planned to announce on Friday. 

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

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