Local organization fund, volunteering opportunities available as coronavirus spreads

With 44 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Philadelphia, the city has created a fund to help out local organizations on the front lines of fighting the epidemic.

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The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Philadelphia is 44, 10 more from yesterday. The growth is less than the Tuesday-to-Wednesday discovery of 16 new cases, but Health Commissioner Thomas Farley warned not to expect the number to continue declining.

“This is about to get real and we expect many more people in Philadelphia to get the infection,” he said.

Twenty of the cases are from healthcare workers, who are the most at risk of getting the virus out of everyone, Farley said. Of the cases, 23 individuals ages 20 to 39, 15 are ages 40 to 59 and six are older than 60.

Farley emphasized that though the numbers in Philadelphia may seem small, it can take 10 to 12 days from when someone is first exposed to the virus to getting tested positive. It takes four to six days for symptoms to show, and a few more days to get tested and receive the results.

“These numbers are likely looking back in time,” he said. “Things are probably far ahead from where we are now.”

Farley encourages individuals who are not showing any symptoms to not get tested to save resources for those in greater need.

About half of people with the virus don’t show symptoms. Of the people who do show symptoms, 80% of cases are only a mild or moderate degree of severity. About 15% of cases have severe symptoms, and 5% are critical. Severe and critical cases are more likely to happen to the elderly or people with chronic illnesses.

For young and healthy people, it will feel like having the flu. Farley advised drinking lots of fluids, getting plenty of rest and treating yourself at home until you are recovered like treating the flu so as to preserve healthcare resources for people in greater need.

There are currently 14 testing sites in the city, though the number is expected to grow to 19 as of next week.

Social distancing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus, said Daniel Hilferty of Independence Blue Cross.

A fund was created to help community organizations supporting neighbors during the spread of the virus. The PHL Covid-19 Fund provides grants to local organizations with a track record of serving at-risk populations, like seniors, those with disabilities, those who are economically disadvantaged and those experiencing homelessness.

The fund has already raised more than $6.5 million.

“We need to have the largest fund of its kind in any of our peer cities because our need is the greatest,” said Bill Golderer of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

To learn more about the fund, visit PHLCovid19Fund.org.

The need for volunteers throughout the city has never been greater. Visit Serve.VolunteerMatch.org to view all opportunities.

In updates around the city, Parks & Recreation will be closing all playgrounds and athletic courts effective today. SEPTA will be operating on its Saturday schedule, though Scott Sauer encouraged riders to stay home and leave the subways to essential workers.

Up to two meals for youths are available at these local schools Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to noon:

  • A.L. FitzPatrick, 11061 Knights Road
  • Benjamin Franklin, 5737 Rising Sun Ave.
  • William H. Loesche, 595 Tomlinson Road
  • Mayfair, 3001 Princeton Ave.
  • Solomon Solis-Cohen, 7001 Horrocks St.
  • Allen M. Stearne, 1655 Unity St.
  • James J. Sullivan, 5300 Ditman St.

More than 50,000 have signed up for text alerts by texting COVIDPHL TO 888777. Kenney urged residents who haven’t to do so to receive frequent updates.