Bracing for a second Covid spike

by Pete Mazzaccaro
Posted 10/16/20

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley has given weekly press conferences for eight months now, outlining the threats and damage that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the city. …

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Bracing for a second Covid spike

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Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley has given weekly press conferences for eight months now, outlining the threats and damage that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the city. Throughout that time he has been a steady and sober source of information and has consistently driven home the point that no matter how the outlook changes, the only way we can control Covid-19 is through vigorous prevention, particularly social distancing and wearing masks.

Last week, Farley weighed in on President Donald Trump’s opposing message of Covid being nothing to fear. Having contracted the virus and allegedly beaten it, with no small amount of help from the best medicine available at Walter Reed, Trump has emerged this week eager to downplay the pandemic, despite its well-documented dangers. Some of his supporters have even claimed it is less to worry about than the H1N1 swine flu, which resulted in fewer than 13,000 deaths overall in the United States. More than double that many died on average every month since March due to Covid-19.

“[Y]ou should be afraid of the coronavirus,” Farley said. “I strongly disagree with the president on this one. The coronavirus has killed more than 200,000 people across the United States of America and killed more than 1,800 people here in the city of Philadelphia. Covid put the President of the United States into the hospital.”

Farley is concerned about rising numbers of cases that, while not constituting an alarm that should send us all back into lockdown, bears watching. Over the last 14 days, Covid-rates in Philadelphia and Montgomery County were at lower levels than they were at the pandemic’s peak, according to data collected by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia counted 2,596 new cases in that time, as of Monday, Oct. 12, and 33 deaths. Montgomery County had 630 new cases and 9 deaths. Philadelphia’s numbers indicate a disease under control, given the often-cited CDC benchmark of 5% testing positivity. Philadelphia had a positivity rate of 3.9 %. Montgomery County had a 2.3% positivity rate between Oct. 2 and 8.

State-wide, the results are more alarming as daily new cases have climbed above 1,000 a day for the first time since May 7. There are more reasons to be vigilant as people have returned to dining indoors and attending sporting events. The city allows restaurants to serve indoors at 50% capacity. A small crowd of around 2,000 attended the last Philadelphia Union match on Sunday, Oct. 11. These activities can only continue if people observe best practices.

Again: Keep socially distanced and wear a mask.

The message for us: As much as we’re all tired of the constraints – the inability to gather with friends, loved ones and even complete strangers – we need to manage our risk as much as possible. Keep wearing those masks, keep staying away from large gatherings, particularly indoors, and don’t listen to those who’d have you believe that Covid is a hoax. It could not be more real.

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