Virus Outbreak Pennsylvania

A woman and children walk away from the John H. Webster Elementary School carrying donated food and educational materials, in Philadelphia, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration reported more coronavirus-related deaths in Pennsylvania on Wednesday. Residents are ordered to stay home, with few exceptions. — AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Two more Philadelphia residents died from COVID-19 as city officials counted confirmed coronavirus cases in every ZIP code in the city.

City officials reported the first case of an inmate testing positive for the novel coronavirus. Additional inmates were in quarantine. Officials declined to provide further information.

City officials also announced that they have struck a deal with Temple University to rent out a stadium and other facilities to handle potential strains on the city’s healthcare system.

The new coronavirus victims were both women in their 70s with underlying medical conditions, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.

One of the women was a resident of a nursing home where Philadelphia officials previously reported an outbreak. Farley declined to provide additional information about the deaths.

Three Philadelphia residents have died from COVID-19, which is caused by the novel coronavirus, since the pandemic began.

Newly confirmed cases of coronavirus were 154 on Friday, bringing the city’s total total to 637. Fifty were known to be hospitalized and 54 were healthcare workers.

An employee in the city’s Department of Prisons tested positive for the virus. City officials declined to reveal how many city employees have tested positive for coronavirus.

Daily visits to coronavirus testing sites continue to increase, but testing remains limited, Farley said.

The city has 700 ventilators, Farley said. If the virus continues to spread unchecked, he said, the need for ventilators will “greatly exceed” what is available.

Devices not traditionally used as ventilators could be employed if there is a shortage of ventilators, Farley said.

The city’s healthcare providers were not reporting any strains, Farley said.

“Our healthcare system is open and available for anyone who needs it,” Farley said.

City officials preparing medical facilities

The city will use Temple University’s Liacouras Center on the school’s North Philadelphia campus as space to treat coronavirus patients if there are too many for the local hospitals.

The Liacouras Center, a stadium with more than 10,000 seats that is home to the university’s basketball teams, was expected to be operational in the coming days.

“I sincerely hope that we never have to use the supplies or the space, but we will be ready if we do,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.

Liacouras Center initially will house 250 beds, but City Managing Director Brian Abernathy said, “We expect the need to be far greater than that.”

“As we are looking at the strains on the healthcare system as a whole, every hospital is going to have some staffing challenges going forward,” Aberanthy said.

The city will use the stadium, located at Broad Street and West Montgomery Avenue, as well as the nearby Pavilion and a parking garage at Temple, for free. The city will pay for operational, maintenance and cleaning costs.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide medical equipment for the site.

Abernathy said he was “cautiously optimistic” that FEMA would provide staffing for the site at Temple University. But Aberanthy added that, “we also recognize that may not happen,” so city officials were considering other staffing options.

Kenney said Temple President Richard Englert and the school’s leadership stepped up to help the city respond to the crisis.

“They did not hesitate when called, and I am very grateful for their assistance and leadership as we fight this epidemic,” Kenney said.

Philadelphia officials will also rent out the Holiday Inn Express in Center City for quarantine space for those who are unable to self-isolate.

The hotel has yet to be fully staffed, Abernathy said, but it was expected to be operational this weekend.

City officials continue to rent out additional facilities for emergency medical space.

Donations

The city has set up a new website for individuals and businesses to make donations: phila.gov/ppedonation.

Sign up to volunteer

Philadelphia Medical Reserve Corps is seeking volunteers during the crisis.

To sign up and get more information, visit phila.gov/mrc.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.