The coronavirus continues to have a major impact on pretty much every aspect of American life.
The state of Pennsylvania on Monday night instituted a stay-at-home order, prohibiting all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit.
Earlier in the day, the city announced a similar policy.
The orders do not apply to activities related to essential businesses and activities or essential personal activities.
All state residents must remain home or at their place of residence unless they are engaged in essential personal activities such as going out to purchase essential goods and food or seeking medical attention.
“The number of cases continues to grow and so we must take further steps to stop the spread of this contagious and dangerous novel virus to protect the public’s health and mitigate the risk to our hospital system,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, commissioner of the state Department of Health. “There is one way to make sure people don’t need to be hospitalized and we don’t strain our health care system: Stay calm. Stay home. Stay safe.”
Other permitted activities under the new orders include caring for family members, friends or a pet in another household, delivering essential goods or obtaining emergency services and attention and reporting to jobs that are related to essential business.
Outdoor activities such as walking, running, cycling and operating a wheelchair are permitted under the orders.
Food trucks and ice cream trucks are prohibited.
The city and state consider the following as life-sustaining businesses or services: Laundromats, veterinary hospitals, pet stores, retail banks, cell phone repair stores and bicycle or motorcycle repair shops.
Extermination services are permitted for rodents and pests.
Archdiocese of Philadelphia and School District of Philadelphia schools, along with those across the state, are closed through at least April 6.
“Protecting the health and safety of students, families, teachers and all employees who work in our schools is paramount during this national health crisis and we must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus,” said state Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera. “The number of positive cases increases daily and we’re seeing it spread to more counties. We must adhere to the social distancing guidelines.”
The city and School District of Philadelphia have created a list of schools and community sites that are distribution points for student meals.
All meal sites will continue to be open from 9 a.m. until noon.
School district sites (49 total) will be open Mondays and Thursdays only. Families can pick up three grab-and-go bags per student/child on these days. They will receive six meals per student — three breakfasts and three lunches.
School district sites will continue to make available the K-12 Learning Guides, optional resources to help reduce learning regression while students are out of school due to efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“We realize the important role the district plays in keeping the safety net intact for our students and we will continue to encourage families to visit these meal distribution sites,” said Superintendent William Hite. “We are also ensuring that our Learning Guides will be available at each school site because we remain committed to supporting our families during this difficult time and urge them to take advantage of any and all resources provided throughout the city.”
Dr. Thomas Farley, commissioner of the city Department of Public Health, on Tuesday announced that there have been 252 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Philadelphia. Twenty-five of those are healthcare workers. In all, 23 people are hospitalized.
Statewide, there are 644 confirmed cases in 34 counties, with three deaths.
“I remain deeply concerned about this public health crisis and we must continue to take careful but critical steps now to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said.
Food establishments may accommodate only online and phone orders for delivery and pick up, and cannot allow dine-in service.
Non-essential City of Philadelphia government operations are halted, and all city government buildings are closed to the public.
Essential operations will include public safety, health and human services, utilities, sanitation and payroll.
All recreation centers and their athletic fields are closed. Fox Chase Farm, Pennypack Environmental Center and Tarken ice rink are closed, too.
The Northeast Older Adult Center, 8101 Bustleton Ave., will remain open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for meal service.
Libraries are closed to the public, through Sunday, March 29.
The city recommends using common-sense practices to avoid infection — washing hands, using hand sanitizer, avoiding touching other people and maintaining a safe social distance from others.
Philadelphians looking for the latest local information on the coronavirus can visit phila.gov/COVID-19.
Residents with questions can call a 24-hour helpline at 800-722-7112. The helpline is staffed by trained healthcare providers.
Or, text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone. ••