Caution: Coronavirus

All you need to know about the pandemic in NW Philly. 

Wow it’s been a wild ride… with no telling, yet, when it’ll all be over. For information on coronavirus and social distancing in our area, plus links and phone numbers for state and city resources, please scroll down all the (very many) updates here or check out our latest piece on COVID-19 fact and fiction, chock full of clickable tidbits.

Meanwhile, looks like we’ve got another month (at least) of sheltering in place with 2/3rds of the state while some of our northern counties tentatively begin to reopen…

Update, 10:30 pm May 7
Governor Tom Wolf announced the stay-at-home orders for PA counties in the “red phase” — which includes the Philadelphia region– will be extended through June 4th (previously set to expire May 8th).

Update 10:20pm April 20
Governor Tom Wolf announced he’s lengthening Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order through May 8th (previously set to expire April 30th).

Update 4;40pm April 18
Free COVID-19 testing! Wednesday April 22nd 10am – 4pm at Pinn Memorial Baptist Church 2241 N. 54th Street (map). Available for anyone who is suffering symptoms — cough, sneeze, sore throat, shortness of breath, fever, loss of smell, loss of taste, diarrhea or weakness — or has come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus in the past 14 days. Keep updated on future testing sites/opportunities.

Update 7:30am April 15

Face masks are now mandatory for workers and customers of essential businesses throughout Pennsylvania, by order of the state health secretary. Also, Gov. Tom Wolf vowed to veto a Republican-sponsored bill to reopen “some” businesses and construction immediately, while the state prison system releases inmates (to house arrest) in an effort to contain the virus.

Update 1:30pm March 22

As of 8am Monday March 23, it’s “Shelter In Place” for East Falls, Germantown and indeed the whole City of Philadelphia until further notice. All public & private gatherings are banned. We’re not even allowed to walk up to a restaurant and order takeout – phone or online orders for pickup only. And delivery, of course (probably the safest option but still a potential virus threat).

Update Monday March 16 (5pm)

Mayor Jim Kenney: “Be calm, but be sensible.” View the Mayor’s Press Conference here.

En Español

New restrictions on commercial activity, and a halt to all non-essential City government operations, now through March 27, at least. (An end date remains to be determined.) Only essential commercial establishments to remain open, including:

Supermarkets and grocery stores
Big box stores
Discount stores, mini-markets, and non-specialized food stores
Daycare centers
Hardware stores
Gas stations
Post Offices
Laundromats and dry cleaners
Veterinary clinics for domestic pets and pet stores

Also anywhere you can buy: frozen products; non-specialized stores of computers, telecommunications equipment, audio and video consumer electronics, household appliances; IT and telecommunication equipment; hardware, paint, flat glass; electrical, plumbing and heating material; automotive fuel; domestic fuel; sanitary equipment; personal hygiene products medication not requiring medical prescription; medical and orthopedic equipment; optics and photography equipment; and soaps and detergents.

Online & phone orders for delivery & pickup ONLY for restaurants. No dine-in service until restrictions lift.

Local Resources & Information:

Philadelphia Department of Public Health provides updates plus a section dedicated to businesses and non-profits:

Questions about COVID-19? Call the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus FREE Helpline at 1-800-722-7112, staffed 24/7 by trained healthcare providers.

For more info amid closures and restrictions for commerce and government process, contact The Department of Commerce’s Office of Business Services (215-683-2100).

Licenses & Inspections and Health Department representatives will be monitoring to ensure businesses are closing. Businesses operating contrary to the mandate can be reported to the Health Department at 215-685-7495.

If your business will be affected by this mandate, please let the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce know by filling out this survey.

Meme credit: Philly Abolish Covid facebook group

Update 5:30 pm March 13

As of 5:00 pm March 13, there are 35 presumed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and six confirmed cases for a total of 41 cases in the state. Three of these cases are in Philadelphia, Montgomery County has risen to 18.

The SDP announced that to shortage of staff, all schools in the district will be closed beginning March 16 and will continue to be closed until March 27.

Update 12:00 pm March 13

As of 11:30 am March 13 there are 22 presumed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and six confirmed cases for a total of 28 cases in Pennsylvania.

All 24 Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia have decided to close on March 13 “to prevent a chaotic and potentially unsafe situation tomorrow.” 

“Our expectation, absent any additional information, is that school will reopen on Monday. The situation is fluid, so we will be in touch and share any updates over the weekend,” their website states.

Schools in Northwest Philly include: Mastery Charter School Pickett, John Wister Elementary Charter School and Mastery Charter School Pastorius-Richardson Elementary.

Update 12:00 am March 13

As of 3:00 pm March 12, there are currently 20 presumptive positive cases and two confirmed in the state of Pennsylvania for a total of 22 cases. One of these cases is in the City of Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Department of Health. There is a total of 180 people under investigation in Pennsylvania.

Governor Tom Wolf spoke at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency with the Pennsylvania Health Department to order guidance to all Pennsylvanians, but more specifically Montgomery County who is facing a rapid growth.

Wolf ordered that all schools, day cares, community centers, gyms and entertainment venues be closed due to the growth in cases in Montgomery County. 

In Philadelphia specifically, William Hite, Jr., Ed.D., Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia sent a letter out on March 11 saying “At this time, the School District of Philadelphia does NOT have any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in its schools or offices.” 

However, around 10:30 pm on March 12, the School District of Philadelphia released a statement saying 63 schools in SDP will be closed March 13 due to 11 percent of their 18,000 employees living in Montgomery County. 

“Sixty-three School District of Philadelphia schools will be closed tomorrow, Friday March 13, 2020 as a result of Governor-Wolf’s announcement earlier today regarding measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Montgomery County, including: advising all residents of Montgomery County to avoid non-essential travel and not report to work until March 27, 2020. This decision is expected to have a significant impact on Philadelphia’s public schools,” the news release stated.

Schools in Northwest Philly that are closed March 12 include: AMY Northwest Middle School, Parkway-Northwest School, Lankenau High School, Anna L. Lingelbach School, Martin Luther King Jr. High School, Building 21 Philadelphia, Eleanor C. Emlen School, Charles W. Henry School, William Rowen School and General Louis Wagner Middle School.

Here is a full list of SDP schools closed due to staffing shortages.

Germantown Friends School has announced that it “will be closed on Thursday, March 12, and Friday, March 13. All afternoon and evening events through the weekend are canceled.”

William Penn Charter School remains open while it monitors the pandemic, according to their website.

The Governor is advising that there be no mass crowds larger than 250 people and asks that religious leaders in communities “use their discretion to prevent the spread of illness through their congregations and communities.”

This is a time to make sure we are taking care of ourselves not just by washing our hands and staying home if we are sick, but making sure our mental health is intact as this becomes a bigger problem in the following days. 

Original post March 11

There has been a lot of talk about Covid-19, the coronavirus that is spreading globally and rapidly. As more individuals get tested, reported cases will continue to rise. 

As the coronavirus begins to spread around Pennsylvania, more cautionary measures are being taken to make sure we are flattening the curve. True Story: social distancing works

Also — get outside! Fresh air & sunshine are partial disinfectants. Keep a distance of at least six feet away from others at all times. Remove your shoes before re-entering your home and wash your hands thoroughly before touching door knobs, light switches, etc. (Use your elbow or cover your hand with your sleeve in the meantime). 

It is a stressful time for all of us as we decide what to do in order to stay healthy while also making sure we are taking care of ourselves mentally. 

We’re here to keep you updated on what is remaining open and what is closed in the following days. If you have any information about closings of venues, restaurants, businesses or schools, feel free to reach out to us on our Facebook page, through our Instagram (@NWLocalNewspaper) or email with more information.

If you have any questions, the following websites are useful in providing more information on the pandemic as more information arises:

The School District of Philadelphia will provide updates on school closures and any events that may be canceled:

The CDC website has information on the virus and measures to take to stay healthy:

The Philadelphia Inquirer removed their firewall to keep people updated on what is happening in PA without an article limit. 

The PA Department of Health provides vetted info and  live updates here.  

The World Health Organization also has a page with facts and global updates.

About Charley Rekstis 1 Article
Charley is a senior at St. Joseph's University and the Senior Editor of The Hawk Newspaper.

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