City urges caution as Covid rates remain controlled

by Kate Dolan
Posted 9/30/20

Daily case counts of Covid-19 remained stable for another week in Philadelphia, and city leaders balance optimism and caution while reminding residents that the pandemic is not over.

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City urges caution as Covid rates remain controlled

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Daily case counts of Covid-19 remained stable for another week in Philadelphia, and city leaders balance optimism and caution while reminding residents that the pandemic is not over.

"Our daily case counts have been steady in the past week, which is generally good news because we were at new lows last week,” said Health Commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley at Tuesday’s Covid-19 press conference.

On Tuesday, 76 cases were reported. Wednesday saw 103 cases and rose to 107 on Thursday. On Friday, the count dropped to 76, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the city to 36,187. The city announced two deaths on Friday bringing the total number of deaths among Philadelphia residents to 1,799.

The positivity rate of people tested is remaining comparatively low and stable, reported between 2.5% and 2.8 % over the last two weeks. Half of those positive cases reported in the last week have been in the 10-19 or 20-19 age range.

Philadelphia’s stability is not the case everywhere.

"Across the rest of the state of Pennsylvania, across the United States, unfortunately, case rates are now rising,” Farley said. “That’s due primarily to the college outbreak that occurred across the state and across the nation. At the same time, if you go to Europe, in some countries they are seeing a surge in cases which was worse than the wave that they had last spring.”

Farley said some restrictions that had been rescinded are being put back in place, in countries like France, Spain and Germany.

“The lesson here is that we shouldn’t be lulled into complacency about the falling case rate here,” said Dr. Farley. “This virus clearly has the potential to come back strong.”

Mayor Jim Kenney echoed the health commissioner’s message on Tuesday while speaking from home after being exposed to the virus. He has tested negative but told the city that he will be quarantining for the next two weeks.

“I mention this not to focus on myself but to remind everyone that the risks of Covid 19 are still very much with us,” said the mayor.

Restrictions are in place for Philadelphia in accordance with the modified green phase of reopening. On Wednesday, a supplemental issue was ordered by the city regarding large events, announcing that “the City will not be evaluating applications for special event or demonstration permits through October 22,” states the September 24 press release.

Events of 150 people or less to take place outdoors are now allowed. The city is strongly recommending event organizers against planning large events before February 28, 2021.

Contact tracing by the city has revealed that the most common source of transmission of infection occurs between household members. Small social gatherings and people visiting the households of friends or relatives are also significant factors to the spread of infection.

“Workplaces are not a common source of exposure,” Farley said. “People are for the most part being exposed by their relatives or their friends.”

The city post case studies from contact tracing interviews to demonstrate how Covid-19 can spread. The first study, which will be posted with all identifying information removed to ensure anonymity, tells the story of one person becoming infected at a religious service and how in the following two weeks, that infection spread through four households as people traveled back and forth. Nine of the 15 people who live in the four households became infected.

Case studies can be found on the city’s website:phila.gov/documents/covid-19-case-studies.

 

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