Mandatory masks at stores, food available for needy

Vince Schiavone, executive chairman of Caring for Friends, said the organization is delivering five or six times the amount of food they normally do. LOGAN KRUM/TIMES PHOTO

As of Sunday night, all Pennsylvanians must wear a mask when entering a store, according to an order signed by Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of the state Department of Health.

“This order provides critical protections for the workers needed to run and operate these life-sustaining establishments,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “Businesses across the state have already begun to implement many of these protocols on their own, and we applaud their efforts to protect employees and customers.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, folks in the Northeast have plenty of places to go to get free food.

The city and Philadelphia Corporation for Aging last week announced meal distribution sites for older adults. Family members can pick up for the seniors. Local sites are the Peter Bressi Northeast Senior Center, 4744-46 Frankford Ave.; KleinLife, 10100 Jamison Ave.; and the Northeast Older Adult Center, 8101 Bustleton Ave. They are distributing meals each Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. People will get two meals on Mondays and three meals on Wednesdays.

“PCA takes its responsibilities extremely seriously as an essential service for our consumers,” said Najja Orr, PCA president and CEO. “Since the initial stay-at-home order, our staff, volunteers and organizing partners have worked to keep our Meal Distribution Center open to provide vital meals to those in need. We will continue to do our absolute best so that seniors get the food they need during this crisis.”

Meanwhile, the city last week launched a youth meal distribution site at Tarken Playground, 6250 Frontenac St. The site will be open Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Families will receive eight meals per student: four breakfasts and four lunches. The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation and the Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are supporting the food distribution.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Nutritional Development Services is sponsoring a feeding site for children every Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon at Catholic Social Services’s Northeast Family Service Center, 7340 Jackson St. Families in need can receive up to three meals per child, funded by the federal Department of Agriculture.

The city continues to provide a box of free food to residents on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon at 20 sites. Local sites are Keep the Faith Ministries, 1906 Harrison St.; Pelbano Recreation Center, 8101 Bustleton Ave.; Salvation Army Citadel, 5830 Rising Sun Ave.; Feast of Justice, 3101 Tyson Ave.; Palmer Recreation Center, 3035 Comly Road; Mitzvah Food Program, KleinLife, 10100 Jamison Ave.; and Mizpah SDA, 4355 Paul St.

All Pennsylvania schools will be closed the rest of the 2019-20 academic year, Wolf announced last week, citing the coronavirus.

Schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and most local charter and private schools will continue the online learning since schools closed on March 13.

As for School District of Philadelphia students, their long vacation is over. On Monday, formal, teacher-led digital learning began for them.

There have been 10,028 confirmed coronavirus cases in Philadelphia as of Tuesday. Of that total, 2,377 cases, or 23.7 percent, are in the Northeast. An interactive map broken down by ZIP code can be found at phila.gov.

There have been a total of 394 deaths in the city. Two-hundred and eight of those deaths have been in nursing homes.

“We’ve seen a consistent increase in admissions to area hospitals because of the virus,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “We continue to work closely with hospitals in the Philadelphia area to ensure that all patients receive quality care. It’s become clear that treating some patients at the CSF-Liacouras Center will help these hospitals continue to do that. We again thank Temple University for providing the facility and for its tremendous support throughout this process.”

Statewide, there are 34,528 confirmed cases in all 67 counties, with 1,204 deaths.

“As we start to see the number of new COVID-19 cases decrease across the state, that does not mean we can stop practicing social distancing,” Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families and our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but others. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

Mayor Jim Kenney is planning a revised budget, to be submitted by May 1.

PECO Energy is extending its coronavirus support policies, which include suspending service disconnections, waiving new late fees and reconnecting customers who were previously disconnected, through at least June 1. Call 800-494-4000 if you are having trouble paying your PECO bill.

Federal guidelines stating all Americans should practice safe social distancing and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people have been extended to April 30.

The city Department of Streets introduced changes to its operations during the pandemic. Recycling materials will be collected on an every-other-week schedule through at least May 15. Residents are urged to use lids for recycling bins to prevent debris from blowing away. Lids for city-issued recycling bins can be picked up from the Sanitation Convenience Center at State Road and Ashburner Street. The center is open for residents to dispose of items from Tuesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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.

Or, text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone. ••