At the city’s COVID-19 press conference on Tuesday, Dr. Farley reported that daily case count averages have fallen along with test positivity rates.
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley announced that the current “epidemic wave is starting to decline.”
At the city’s weekly COVID-19 press conference on Tuesday, the health commissioner reported that daily case count averages have fallen along with test positivity rates. In early to mid-April, daily cases counts were consistently over 500. This week, less than 500 new cases were reported for each day. On Thursday, 423 new cases were announced, bringing the total number in the city to 138,332.
“Around us, the news is even better,” said Dr. Farley, reporting that cases are falling in the country as a whole. The number of new cases have dropped in New Jersey since April 1 and, as of last week, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is seeing its cases fall. Delaware has also seen a decrease over the last few days.
“The fact that this is declining in the entire region is a hopeful sign for Philadelphia,” said Dr. Farley. Hospitalizations are also declining, going from over 500 patients in Philadelphia hospitals at the beginning of the week to 478 reported on Thursday, April 29.
The number of deaths per week has increased over the last month, with 56 being reported for the week of April 11, about double that of the last few weeks of March. The city expected the increase, as “the number of deaths that occur per week lag behind the increase in cases,” said Dr. Farley. On Thursday morning, four new deaths were announced, bringing the total number to 3,462 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34% of Philadelphia residents over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated and 55% over 65 are fully vaccinated.
The use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has resumed in Philadelphia, after the FDA and CDC lifted the pause on April 23. The vaccine will be offered at the FEMA vaccination clinic at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in addition to the Pfizer vaccine. Providers across the city have been given the go-ahead to use the vaccine, which now comes with a warning of a rare blood clot occurrence.
Vaccine appointment access and availability is better than ever at the city’s 270-plus provider sites, according to Dr. Farley, and residents can now schedule an appointment at city-run sites on the city’s website.
Changes which will relax Philadelphia’s Safer-at-Home restrictions were also announced this week, bringing the city “closer to alignment with the commonwealth as a whole,” said Dr. Farley.
Effective May 7, every restaurant can accommodate up to 50% capacity for indoor dining, up from 25%. Restaurants that meet enhanced ventilation criteria will now be allowed 75% capacity, up from 50% for indoor dining.
Table size maximum is also increased from 4 to 6 people for indoor dining. For outdoor dining areas, table size limits will increase to 10 people, which matches the commonwealth’s guidance. Six feet of distance must still be maintained between tables, from “chair back to chair back.”
Additionally, indoor catered events such as weddings and other social gatherings will be permitted in the city. These events, which have been prohibited in Philadelphia for months now and are considered to be the highest-risk events, will be able to accommodate up to 25% capacity of the venue with a cap of 75 people. If cases continue to fall, that cap may be increased to 150 people on May 21. Dr. Farley still encouraged people who are planning larger events to host them outdoors.