PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — The number of coronavirus cases in Philadelphia has held relatively steady throughout the week. While remaining optimistic, leaders here are still waiting to see a larger trend.
A generous donation 5,000 surgical masks from Harbin, China, will help SEPTA employees and others represented by Transport Workers Union Local 234 in the fight against COVID-19.
The masks are not just for bus drivers but other essential workers, like those who clean subways.
“Homeless people have a place to go to a bathroom, so they are down there cleaning up what is left and this will go along way for them. These masks are actually better than the ones we have and this will be greatly appreciated… greatly appreciated,” said Willie Brown, President, TWU Local 234.
The donation was organized through the office of Councilman-at-Large David Oh.
“We have read recently about the transportation workers who are being exposed, unfortunately, or have passed away from COVID-19,” said Oh.
As the city works to flatten the coronavirus curve, leaders announced a $2.5 million grant to the PHLCovid19Fund. The money will help 72 nonprofit organizations serving on the frontlines in the hardest-hit neighborhoods.
At this point, Mayor Jim Kenney says it’s still not clear how deep this pandemic will impact the city’s budget.
“The longer the shutdown of businesses and the economy, the worse the situation is going to get, so we are going to apply for everything we can apply for under the sun from the federal government and state government,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.
Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says the 651 new cases reported Friday are about average. He says more testing needs to be done and there’s an effort to do more of that testing in underserved communities.
While he is seeing some progress, he says it’s no reason to celebrate.
“I was on the street yesterday and someone stopped me and asked me if we were past the peak of the epidemic. I have to say, I am not willing to say that we are past the peak yet. Things are looking a little bit better, but this virus may yet surprise us,” Farley said.
The city is also working with the school district to make sure all students have those Chromebooks to work from home and they announced a donation from Tito’s Vodka. The company donated more than 2,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and 1,500 masks and gloves to the Emergency Operation Center.