Coronavirus cases in the city of Philadelphia are beginning to escalate, with the number of confirmed cases almost doubling overnight, from 18 to 34, city health commissioner Thomas Farley reported Wednesday afternoon.

Five of the victims have been hospitalized and the rest are observing quarantines at home.

Farley said the city knew of 144 additional persons who had been in contact with the confirmed individuals. The city is advising them of their exposure and telling them to be alert for initial symptoms of the virus – most typically a fever, dry cough and/or serious fatigue.

The city has not identified the neighborhoods where coronavirus victims live,  but Farley indicated none should be considered outside the virus’s reach.  “This virus is everywhere,” he told reporters at a city briefing for reporters.  “…It’s not in one part of the city more than elsewhere.”

The number of confirmed cases is likely to keep growing as more individuals are tested after showing viral symptoms.  Farley said more than 700 were tested just yesterday at rapid testing sites established by local hospitals including Penn, Temple, Jefferson and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Of the 34 Philadelphia cases identified so far, 19 involve individuals between 20 and 39 years old, 10 are ages 40 to 59 and five over 60 years old, Farley reported.  He speculated that younger individuals were more active, exposing themselves to more potential sources of the disease. The virus is considered more serious for older victims, particularly those with underlying health issues that may compromise their immune systems.   

Farley’s address can be found in the video link below. Follow the department on Twitter at @PHLPublicHealth for updates