Last updated: 4/1 1:46 p.m.
As local organizations and institutions respond to the spread of COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, we will collect that information here and keep it updated. We will include here both important health information as we get it as well as current school closings, event cancellations and more. If you have information to share, let us know via email. — Pete Mazzaccaro
The City of Philadelphia has a new text alert system all about Covid-19. Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone.
The US Center for Disease Control has a page dedicate to the most up-to-date COVID-19 information on this page.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health also has a page of information here. The page includes daily updates and other important facts for state residents.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health also has an information page here. The landing page has FAQ for identifying the virus, seeking treatment and guidance for institutions and small businesses.
The Chestnut Hill Business District is keeping a page with the latest info on the business district, including measures area businesses and restaurants are taking and any changes in hours of operation.
Mayor Kenney reminded residents that today, April 1, is Census Day and encouraged everyone to complete the 2020 Census. Philadelphia relies on a complete and accurate census count for political representation in Congress and funding needed to support critical services such as health care, schools, transportation, public safety, and other essential programs. The results of the 2020 Census will impact how much federal funding Philadelphia gets for the next decade.
The Philly Counts team previously planned to spend much of Census Dayreminding all Philadelphians of the importance of participating in the census. Because planned face-to-face outreach cannot take place, the City is relying on email, social media, and word of mouth to get the word out. Philly Counts has created an online toolkit so that residents can help spread awareness about census completion. The online toolkit can be accessed at bit.ly/CensusAtHome(case sensitive).
All Philadelphia residents are encouraged to complete the census for their household online at 2020census.gov or by mail when forms are distributed.
The Mayor also reminded Philadelphians that Tuesday, June 2 is the new date for Pennsylvania’s Presidential Primary Election. May 18 is the last day to register to vote before the primary, and May 26 is the last day to apply for a mail-in or civilian absentee ballot. Mail-in ballots are now allowed for the Presidential Primary Election. For the latest information, visit PhiladelphiaVotes.com.
SEPTA Update: Starting today, April 1, SEPTA has implemented the following measures to fight the spread of COVID-19:
Rear-Door Boarding on Buses and Trolleys: SEPTA will implement rear-door boarding on all bus and trolley routes. All customers will be asked to board and exit from the rear doors. Front-door boarding will be reserved for riders with disabilities. Rear-door boarding is being implemented to further promote social distancing on-board vehicles. To maintain a safe distance between operators and passengers, SEPTA is suspending on-board fare payment.
Rider Limits: To ensure there is enough space on-board vehicles for customers to practice social distancing, SEPTA will limit the number of riders per-vehicle on buses, trolleys, and the Norristown High Speed Line:
- Bus: Maximum 20 riders
- Trolley: Maximum 25 riders
- Norristown High Speed Line: Maximum 30 riders
Operators will keep track of the number of people on-board each vehicle. If a vehicle reaches the maximum number of passengers, service will be limited to drop-offs until there is enough space to allow new riders to board.
Changes to Routes 101 and 102 Trolley Service: To maximize available resources, SEPTA will convert the Route 101 Trolley to bus service and suspend the Route 102 Trolley. Riders can find bus alternatives to the Route 102 on SEPTA’s website at https://www.septa.org.
COVID-19 cases by zip code.
From the City’s Parks & Recreation Department:
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation will reopen four bridges in Wissahickon Valley Park along the Wissahickon Bike Trail between Forbidden Drive and Hermit Trail, parallel to Lincoln Drive. The bridges have been closed since late February after a vehicular accident damaged one of the bridges. The City of Philadelphia has since repaired the bridge and determined it is safe to reopen.
This will return bike and pedestrian access for people to enjoy the outdoors during the current COVID-19 situation. Residents are reminded that a Stay at Home Order is in effect; however, outdoor activities such as walking, running, and cycling are permitted while following appropriate social distancing rules. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health defines social distancing as maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between you and others.
SCHOOLS CLOSED INDEFINITELY Gov. Tom Wolf today announced that the states charter and public schools were closed “until further notice.” School districts were instructed to transition all learning online. FOr more, see the state’s FAQ page here.
The City published an informational webpage with guidance for taxes here.P
Residents with questions can call the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline at 1-800-722-7112. The Helpline, free and available 24/7, is staffed by trained healthcare providers and is for anyone in the Greater Philadelphia area. Members of the public can call to get help answering all of their questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Residents can get COVID-19 updates sent to their phones. Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive free alerts with information and updates from the Health Department. Information is also being updated daily on the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s webpagewww.phila.gov/covid-19.
The City is extending filing and payment dates for Real Estate and some business taxes. The City will honor the federal extensions granted to businesses from the IRS for filing and payments until July 15, 2020 for the Business Income and Receipts Tax and the Net Profits Tax. This policy includes estimated payments.
For commercial and residential property owners who are unable to pay their Real Estate Tax by March 31, the Department of Revenue has extended the deadline to pay an additional 30 days. The due date for 2020 Real Estate Taxes is now April 30, 2020. The deadline to apply for an installment payment plan for 2020 Real Estate Tax has also been extended until April 30, 2020. These plans have always been available to all seniors and low-income homeowners. Taxpayers who can file and pay their taxes by April 15, 2020 are strongly encouraged to do so. This will help ensure continuity of City and School District operations.
Resources for Businesses: Applications for the Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund are now being accepted. The fund is a tiered program providing targeted support for small businesses impacted by the spread of COVID-19 and resulting business closures. It offers a mix of new grants and zero-interest loans for businesses that make under $5 million in annual revenue.
Additional resources for businesses can be found here. The City will also continue to explore additional relief options for businesses of all sizes that are made available through the state and federal government, as well as other sources.
Business owners or managers who have questions about the restrictionsin the City’s latest Business Activity and Stay at Home Order can email email@example.com. Restaurants may provide food through delivery or pickup, drive-through, and online or phone ordering only. Walk-in ordering and dine-in services are prohibited. Residents or employees who believe a business is in violation of current restrictions are urged to contact 311.
Resources for workers have been added to the phila.gov/covid-19 page. A blog post will be updated with additional resources as they become available. The post includes a survey for workers affected by COVID-19 to gain more information about the impact.
Parking Restrictions: The Philadelphia Parking Authority reminds drivers that while the Authority is not enforcing kiosk and meter parking violations, they are enforcing and ticketing for safety violations – like blocking fire hydrants or parking in handicapped spaces and loading zones. It is important that people not block any fire hydrants – and not block any loading zones or other restricted parking areas. It is vitally important that motorists park legally and not block access for emergency or other vehicles providing life-sustaining supplies. Unfortunately if they do – they will be towed from fire hydrants and loading zones.
The PHL COVID-19 Fund, which was launched last week, continues to solicit donations to aid nonprofits that are on the frontline of the pandemic. This fund will deliver grants to nonprofits that are providing urgent resources throughout the Philadelphia region. Individuals and organizations can donate at PHLCOVID19Fund.org.
PA Department of Health map tracks cases by county
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is keeping a county-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.
Statewide – The Wolf Administration has announced sweeping orders for business and state residents. The details of statewide COVID-19 mitigation can be found here.
Philadelphia health commissioner Thomas Farley told the news site yesterday that the city is testing about 200 residents a day and expects testing to ramp up in “the coming days and weeks.” It’s an imprecise timetable but as accurate as health officials can be as government agencies scramble to address testing needs.
Despite the increasing testing capacity, there are still guidlines for who can get tested. From Billy Penn:
- First, you should have experienced actual symptoms. Even though you can carry the disease without showing signs, if you get tested while you’re asymptomatic, it might be too early to detect and you could get a false negative, Farley explained.
- If you indeed have a fever, dry cough, or are experiencing shortness of breath, then you need to call your regular healthcare provider. They’ll be the ones who can recommend you get tested at one of the sites. Qualifications are different at each — for example, the Jefferson sites reportedly require a referral from a Jefferson doc.
- At that point, you can get a test at no cost, according to the health commissioner. No insurance is necessary, and no deductible or copay will be required.
Unemployment: Now that business closures are in effect, we’re receiving questions about who can apply for unemployment. The state has a special page at https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/covid19.aspx about COVID-19 related unemployment, and a useful FAQ at https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/Employer-COVID19-FAQs.aspx. In a nutshell, current rules state that a business’ employees are eligible for unemployment if temporarily laid off due to COVID-19 related closure; however, the business owner is not eligible, and is currently limited to seeking loans from available sources.
Loans and Other Assistance: For business owners themselves, who are ineligible for unemployment benefits, the state’s resource page (https://dced.pa.gov/resources/) is currently steering people toward PIDA loans and their local economic development organization, which for us is the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). As mentioned in the last update, PIDC is actively working with the City on development of a small business aid program, which is projected to include both grants and loan options. As of this morning, the program is not yet launched, but we will inform members once it is announced. KIVA (www.phila.gov/programs/kiva/) is a private crowdfunded loan platform which is an official City partner, that offers 0% interest loans to small business owners, and they have increased their maximum loan size to $15,000 as a result of the crisis. Because of the nature of the funding method, these loans can take some time to fully fund, but they are an affordable capital source that is worth considering alongside other options, especially if you have a strong social network who may support and share your lending request.