Apr 6, 2020
Mayor Jim Kenney Philadelphia COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 6
Mayor Jim Kenney announced first death of Philadelphia cop from COVID-19 in a coronavirus press briefing on April 6. Read the full transcript of his updates here.
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Jim Kenney: (00:00)
This is a heartbreaking reminder that the virus has affected people throughout our community, especially those on the front line. We’re unsure where and how Lieutenant Walker contracted the virus, but we will continue to do all we can to protect the other men and women serving on the front lines.
Jim Kenney: (00:15)
Our condolences go out to [inaudible 00:00:19]. As we learn more about people catching coronavirus and people dying from it, this should underscore how important it is that everyone who doesn’t need to be outside and around other people, stay at home.
Jim Kenney: (00:30)
I said it before and I will say it again, if you do not have to be out for something essential, please stay home. We also want to remind everyone that you could continue to donate PPE for our first responders and healthcare workers at Phila.gov/PPEdonations. That’s Phila.gov/PPEdonations.
Jim Kenney: (00:56)
This morning I had the opportunity to visit Liacouras Center, where as you know we are standing up a temporary hospital space. It is impressive how quickly this has gone from an empty arena to a ready-to-go medical facility.
Jim Kenney: (01:09)
I’d like to thank Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel who oversees our Office of Emergency Management, and all the folks at OEM and the Health Department who have worked tirelessly to get this location up and running.
Jim Kenney: (01:23)
Also a big thanks to our partners in this, the members of the Pennsylvania Task Force 1 made up of first responders from Philadelphia Fire Department and across the region.
Jim Kenney: (01:29)
We also want to thank our state and federal partners who help supply the basic patient support equipment such as [inaudible 00:00:01:40], walkers, [inaudible 00:01:41] equipment, monitoring equipment and more.
Jim Kenney: (01:45)
And of course our heartfelt appreciation, and I mean this from the bottom of my own heart, appreciation to Temple president Richard Englert, board chair, Mitch Morgan, and the leadership team at Temple University for stepping up during our time of need. As I said, when we first announced this plan, we hoped we’d never have to use this facility. We hoped every single bed at the Liacouras Center remains untouched. But if the hospitals of the city do end up reaching that critical point where more beds are needed, we will be ready.
Jim Kenney: (02:16)
And now I’m turning this over to our Health Commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, to further limit the number of people who are here at City Hall, going forward we’ll … we’re going to try going forward. Dr. Farley was going to join us from Zoom, but there were some technical difficulties, so he’s here today in person, and we hope to work out those technicalities to get us more separate from each other. So Dr. Farley…
Dr. Thomas Farley: (02:47)
Good afternoon. Just updates on health. We are continuing to see a growth in cases of the coronavirus infection and unfortunately in deaths. Our healthcare system is seeing more of these patients, but it is nonetheless available. We have some new CDC recommendations on wearing masks that I’ll talk about and have some information from a new survey that we’ve done on Philadelphia residents about our social distancing recommendations.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (03:10)
So more details, today I can announce we have 539 new cases of coronavirus infection reported in Philadelphia residents, bringing us to a total of 3,728. We’re posting more details on those cases, on our website, a breakdown by age group and by gender.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (03:31)
We are continuing to see clusters of these infections in congregate settings where people live together. That includes nursing homes and behavioral health units and the city’s jail. The city’s jail is reporting four new cases of infection in inmates, bringing us to a total of 54. And we continue to work closely with the city’s jail to try to stem the spread of that cluster in the jail.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (03:54)
Unfortunately, we do have two new deaths from the coronavirus infection reported today, bringing us to a total of 45. Of those 45, 18 were residents of nursing homes, more detail on their age and race will be put on the website. It’s not there now, but it should be put on there by the end of the day today.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (04:13)
In addition to those 45 cases, I have to report there are a number of deaths that are under investigation that may very well be a coronavirus infection, and so we are likely to be seeing an increase in the number of new deaths reported each day because deaths lag the increase in number of cases, we’ve had a sharp increase in the number of cases in the past two to three weeks, so we’re going to expect increases in deaths in the next couple of weeks as well.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (04:39)
With regards to testing for this infection, it still is available through most hospitals across the city by referral in general. The testing is for people who are healthcare workers with symptoms or people over the age of 50 with symptoms.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (04:53)
The drive-through testing site at Citizens Bank Park is open today and for the rest of this week from 1 PM to 6 PM. After this week though, they will discontinue the testing site at Citizens Bank Park. The last day will be Friday, April 10th. The remaining test kits, supplies and other materials will be distributed to these other test sites across the city, which can in turn increase their capacity for testing across the city.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (05:19)
As I’ve said before, there are more than 20 sites where people can be tested across the greater Philadelphia area. Just for example, Penn Medicine has a site in West Philadelphia. Temple University has two sites in North Philadelphia. I would suggest if you’re interested in getting tested, just go to the websites of those health systems and look for information about how to get tested and you can speak to someone who can give you a referral for testing at those sites.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (05:42)
In addition, the Health Department is operating a site in Center City, it’s open seven days a week. That also is by referral and if you’re interested in being tested there, called (267) 491-5870.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (05:55)
Now our hospitals continue to see an in cases of this infection, but there is still plenty of room at the hospitals for patient care. Today there were 495 patients with this infection in city hospitals and a total of 887 in hospitals throughout the Philadelphia region.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (06:13)
Nonetheless, 40% of the general medical beds in the region are still open and their emergency departments are seeing about half of their normal volume, so there’s plenty of availability for medical care for people who need it.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (06:25)
Now, in case in the future the hospitals need more staff to take care of these patients, we’re reminding people that we are seeking volunteers that have medical expertise who might work in those facilities or in the city’s facility. So if you are a doctor or a nurse or a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant and are interested in volunteering, go to www.Phila.gov/MRC, that’s /MRC for Medical Reserve Corps, and put in your information, and if you’re needed, we will contact you.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (06:56)
Let me just emphasize again what we all need to do to stay safe and protect the medical care system so that it’s available when we need it. If it’s not essential for work, stay home. If you do have to go out, for example, you have to go to the grocery store, keep your distance from people up to six feet and when you’re around people wear a mask.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (07:14)
Now, we’ve been delivering these messages every day here for a long time now, so we did a survey last week of how well Philadelphians were following those recommendations. We found that 68% said that they were following them very closely and 25% somewhat closely, or 93% who said very or somewhat closely. Overall, they reported 59% fewer close contact with other people than they did at times before this infection came on the scene.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (07:42)
That’s consistent with data that Google has now circulated from its Google Analytics unit on mobility, which shows that Philadelphians are down about 57% in how frequently they’re traveling for retail and recreation. That’s good, but in some cities and other places it’s down more than 60%. So I would say, if the question is how well are we following the recommendations in Philadelphia, I’d give the city a good B+. We’re doing pretty well but we could do better, and if we do better, that’ll help reduce the spread of this infection.
Dr. Thomas Farley: (08:14)
Related to that, there is new CDC guidance on using face masks, and I want to just read the wording so everybody has it exactly right. It says, “CDC recommends wearing cloth mask coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, for example, grocery stores and pharmacies, especially in areas of significant community transmission. And that certainly includes Philadelphia right now.”
Dr. Thomas Farley: (08:39)
Now, the primary benefit for these masks is protecting the people around you. My mask protects you, your mask protects me. So it’s an act of courtesy to be wearing a mask when you do have to go out of your home, for example, to the grocery store or the pharmacy, and you can’t avoid being around other people. For more information about the overall epidemic, www.Phila.gov/COVID or phone number +1 800-722-7112. Thanks.
[Spanish language 00:09: 15]
Speaker 1: (16:19)
Thank you Armando. And now we’re going to move to the Q&A portion for members of media. Remember that we have limited time for these briefings, so we are asking for only one representative per media outlet to ask questions, and please limit your questions to three or fewer. And if time permits, we will have a second round of questions. For those logged in, raise your hands. I see most of you already have, and we will unmute you one by one to answer your questions. First up is Jeff Cole of Fox 29.
Jeff Cole: (16:54)
Yeah, good afternoon. I have a question first for the Mayor. Mayor, in that you do not know how Lieutenant Walker contracted the coronavirus…
Jeff Cole: (17:03)
… that apparently has taken his life. Are you and Commissioner Outlaw planning any changes in how the department members are interacting with the public?
Jim Kenney: (17:16)
We’re going to continue to follow medical advice, CDC and health department’s advice on how we handle all of our employees. So at this point in time, we do not plan any major changes, but as we move forward and get additional advice from various medical sources, we will adjust.
Jeff Cole: (17:35)
Mayor, a second question. Today, restaurant inspectors for the city of Philadelphia were called into work, and at least according to union representation, they were told there would be masks of some kind for them. There were no masks when they got there, we are told, and their union representative has told them to go home. We understand the same issue has occurred for DHS workers. They too have not been given masks. Why wouldn’t there be some form of masks for city workers who are interacting with the public, in light of the CDCs recommendation, and in light of what Dr. Farley just said about the importance of that?
Jim Kenney: (18:14)
This is new information to me, and unless… I think Brian may have something else for you.
Brian Abernathy: (18:21)
Thanks Jeff. We’ve been rapidly purchasing additional personal protective equipment for our staff. Guidance is going out today for that staff, and we should have the masks available for our staff, certainly if not later today, tomorrow. But we also share those same concerns. I wasn’t aware that the union had told them to go home. I’m also not aware of the communications from the departments, so I won’t characterize that. But we certainly understand the concerns, and are working to address and resolve them.
Jeff Cole: (18:52)
You wouldn’t… Why weren’t there masks available today, considering the recommendation was Friday, Brian?
Brian Abernathy: (19:00)
Jeff, if you could find 10,000 mass for me over the weekend, I’d appreciate it.
Jeff Cole: (19:05)
Yeah, I’m just not in that business.
Brian Abernathy: (19:07)
But that’s my point, Jeff, is we are doing our best to provide all the personal protective equipment we possibly can. We’ve also asked our employees if they have their own masks at home to provide them. We’re certainly going to do everything we can to provide the equipment necessary for our staff, but as you know, there’s a PPE shortage across this country and across this region. And if I could wave a magic wand, I certainly would, but I can’t.
Jeff Cole: (19:31)
But you don’t expect him city employees to go out without masks, correct?
Brian Abernathy: (19:34)
No sir, I don’t. And that’s why we do expect to be able to provide those masks, certainly by tomorrow.
Jeff Cole: (19:41)
Speaker 2: (19:42)
Jeff, you’re at four already. Go ahead. One quick question.
Jeff Cole: (19:46)
Real quickly for Dr. Farley. Does he agree with the representation that this week is likely to represent America’s Pearl Harbor, or 9-11 incident, in terms of the number of deaths in the country? And does that equate to the city of Philadelphia and the region?
Dr. Farley: (20:01)
Well, I can still certainly say that the number of cases and the number of deaths are likely to rise this week, but I don’t think anybody can predict when it’s going to top out. So I don’t think we should be thinking, believing for certain that this is going to top out within a week and it’s going to get better after that. I hope that’s true, but there’s a lot of uncertainty around this. I would simply say it’s getting worse, we’re going to watch it closely. We’ve got a good plan in place, and when things start to get better, we’ll make sure everybody knows that.
Speaker 2: (20:28)
Great. Thank you. Jeff. Next. Annie McCormick of 6ABC. Annie, are you there? Let me try this one more time. Annie, are you there?
Annie McCormick: (20:40)
Hi, can you hear me?
Speaker 2: (20:40)
Annie McCormick: (20:41)
Yeah. Can you hear me? Okay. I have a question for you about the 13th and Walnut site. If someone’s infected, will they receive treatment there, and how and where is food being delivered, and also how much is the city paying for the use of the space? I consider this one question, by the way.
Brian Abernathy: (21:00)
I’ll let Mike decide if that’s one question or not, but on the site itself, the way this entire process will work, just for better explanation context. Should a hospital find someone that should be quarantined or isolated, that doesn’t have anywhere to do that, they will phone the Health Department to make sure that they concur, and then work with our Office of Emergency Management to transfer that individual from the hospital to the site itself. Likewise, any shelters who are working within sheltered population, should they have someone that is exhibiting symptoms or has been tested, they’ll work with a clinical diagnosis from one of our federally qualified health centers. They will call the same reference line for the Health Department, and then they will be referred to the site, and be transported as well. There will be food provided onsite, delivered to each individual’s room directly. And on cost, I’ll have to get back to you on that. We do have a cost, I just don’t have it off the top of my head. I think I covered all of those.
Annie McCormick: (22:12)
Okay. Yeah. Second question is about meals. We’ve been getting a lot of calls from viewers, saying that a number of the meal sites are running out rather quickly. I’m wondering if you’re trying to kind of gauge what the demand is as you go along. And also, today Catholic services began setting up sites also to help. So are you calling on other services like Catholic services to pitch in, or is that something that people are just doing on their own?
Brian Abernathy: (22:45)
And so we always expected that our food sites and our food distribution would supplement existing services, and that they’re going to be existing services or new services that were needed. I think we were successful in standing up 80 sites for youth, and then an additional 40 general food distribution sites very quickly. But we recognize that they’re not all perfect. We’re going to continue to make shifts and operations, and continue to try and make sure we find ways to meet the need, which is just tremendous at this point. So we’re going to continue to adjust our operations as we go forward.
Annie McCormick: (23:23)
And one last thing if I could, and this is more of a clarification, this is for Dr. Farley, when you’re saying you’re calling on volunteers, and you had mentioned the Medical Reserve Corps and people should reach out, are there… What is the level of need right now, and there’s so many different jobs within healthcare, is there a specific type of job that you’re finding that you have too many people calling out for, or not enough of? Like who are you really in need of?
Dr. Farley: (23:51)
So right now, there is adequate workforce, and adequate capacity to treat anybody in existing hospitals across the city. Right now we’re fine, but we’re thinking if this gets much worse we want to make sure we are fine. And so that’s why we have the call for the Medical Reserve Corps, which could work in existing hospitals, or could work at the temporary facility that we’re setting up in North Philadelphia. As far as specific specialties that are in particular need, it’s doctors, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants.
Speaker 2: (24:22)
All right, thank you, Annie. Next up is Mitch Blacher of NBC10.
Mitch Blacher: (24:29)
Thank you. Could you tell us how many police officers are currently in quarantine?
Brian Abernathy: (24:42)
Mitch, we’re not going to confirm how many officers or city staff have been either tested positive or are in quarantine, but I will say that our deployment levels remain consistent, and our sick leave usage remains approximately the same as it did in early March.
Mitch Blacher: (25:02)
Why aren’t all police officers wearing masks right now?
Brian Abernathy: (25:05)
Again, we’ve talked through a number of our concerns with personal protective equipment. The protocols that have been put forward by Commissioner Outlaw have matched what her colleagues have done across the country, which is trying to limit risk for officers and for the public alike. And certainly N-95 masks have been distributed to all officers, so that they can wear them in those situations that they feel that it’s appropriate, and have been asked to call in additional resources should they feel like their public health is threatened.
Mitch Blacher: (25:42)
I have one, one more question, Brian. What is the contingency plan if a significant number of police get this virus, or have to quarantine?
Jim Kenney: (25:50)
You know, we used to have a number of mutual aid agreements with our departments across the state. You know, I think right now we are planning for that contingency but we’re a very long, long way away. It’s one of the reasons you saw Commissioner Outlaw very early put officers that would normally be off street and put them back on the street and in patrol, to be able to elevate our levels of deployment and preparedness.
Speaker 2: (26:23)
All right. Thank you, Mitch. Next up we have Joe Holden of CBS3.
Joe Holden: (26:31)
Hi Brian. This is probably for you. If you could just explain the logic in not divulging the numbers of quarantined officers as well as firefighters. Just given what we see in New York as well, they detail their rates almost daily. What’s the city’s logic for not divulging those numbers?
Brian Abernathy: (26:51)
You know, I think we’ve seen a New York a certain level of elevating those numbers to raise concerns, and I think we are certainly feel comfortable with our deployment levels, and the number of officers and firefighters that are on the street and, and we’ll continue to comment on our sick leave usage, but we don’t see any real benefit to divulging exactly how many officers or firefighters are infected, or why, or how many are quarantined, until, unless it impacts our call levels, which it hasn’t at this point.
Joe Holden: (27:32)
Brian, still another question for you please. With the number of potential for quarantine, as Mitch mentioned, a contingency, we’re also hearing that the traffic division is particularly hard hit right now. Can you confirm that?
Brian Abernathy: (27:48)
It was certainly… Lieutenant Walker was from the traffic division. We’re not going to comment on any specific division within the department, but again, we are comfortable with our officer level at this point and feel like all the core services and our calls are being met.
Joe Holden: (28:07)
And finally, could you give a top down explanation of the operations at 13th and Walnut, how that works? Just give us an understanding of the agency on that facility.
Brian Abernathy: (28:18)
Sure. And as I just commented, I think to an earlier question, hospitals or shelters that find someone who has symptoms or has tested positive for the virus, they will, with a medical diagnosis, make a phone call to the Health Department. The Health Department will confirm that incident appropriate location for individuals to be located. That individual will be transported to the site. And then the site does have wraparound social services, and will provide food to the individual in their room. You know, I feel like it has taken us a little bit more time than we wanted to stand the site up, but I got to tell you, the amount of work that has gone into standing a site that can provide social services and physical health and food has been pretty impressive to watch stand up in a relatively short period of time.
Speaker 2: (29:22)
Thanks Joe. And next up is Pat Loeb with CYW.
Pat Loeb: (29:26)
Hi, Dr. Farley said the city is working with the jails on prevention. Could you explain some of what that entails?
Brian Abernathy: (29:36)
Certainly. So our jails have taken a number of steps to, to spread, I’m sorry, to stop the spread of the virus in the jails. Some of that has been including providing masks to all inmates and correctional officers, limiting movement so individuals have access to showers and phone calls, but no other additional mass movement. Food and medication are brought to the cells directly. And we’re also in consultation with other jurisdictions about what they have done to slow the spread of the disease.
Pat Loeb: (30:12)
And is testing in the jails the same criteria, so that we can assume that all 54 of those positive cases are inmates over 50?
Brian Abernathy: (30:21)
Any inmate that is showing symptoms as being tested.
Pat Loeb: (30:27)
Okay. And [inaudible 00:30:29] Why is the Citizens Bank testing site closing?
Dr. Farley: (30:41)
The Citizens Bank Park site was put together through a partnership between the local government, the state government and federal government. And the federal government has sites like this all over the region, and for all I know all over the country, and the federal government is ending its participation as of Friday. And so we could have continued that site, we felt that actually was better to use the assets we had and distribute them across the many other sites in the city of Philadelphia, so that access is distributed. We think we can continue to have good access and not have it to be concentrated in that one site.
Speaker 2: (31:13)
Thank you Pat. Next up is Sean Walsh for the Inquirer.
Sean Walsh: (31:17)
Thanks very much. Could you, Brian, could you talk about the 500,000 masks that were supposed to be delivered from Europe, and that the deal fell apart? How important to the city’s plan was that shipment?
Brian Abernathy: (31:32)
You know, it was one option that we were pursuing for personal protective equipment, and we’re now pursuing multiple other options. So it certainly would be nice to have it in hand. We don’t, and so we are aggressively looking at other sourcing options.
Sean Walsh: (31:51)
What country did it get stalled in, and is there any more information as to why it didn’t happen?
Brian Abernathy: (31:57)
Last I heard, it got… Actually, honestly, I don’t know where it got stalled. I was told it was somewhere in Europe. We had ordered them through an unknown retailer, and for whatever reason the masks just couldn’t come through, and I don’t know if that was an over promise by the retailer, or they got stuck in customs at some point. I just don’t have that information. And in the end it’s one option of many options that we have pursued that haven’t come to fruition. So we’re going to we’re going to continue to aggressively look.
Sean Walsh: (32:31)
Thanks. For Dr. Farley, how many ICU cases are there, people in ICU with coronavirus in this city, and how many available ICU beds are there in the city?
Dr. Farley: (32:44)
You know, we haven’t tracked that information, because I’m not entirely sure the data we have is complete and reliable. I’ll see if it is reliable enough so I’ll report it out.
Sean Walsh: (32:53)
Speaker 2: (32:55)
All right. Thank you Sean. Martin Pratt is next up with Philly YBN. Martin, are you there?
Speaker 2: (33:06)
Speaker 2: (33:09)
All right, let’s try… Next, Jack Tomczuk of Metro.
Jack Tomczuk: (33:19)
Brian, for the Mayor. The administration, how does the administration feel the court system is doing in facilitating the release of inmates? I know that the District Attorney and Public Defender’s Office have said it’s moving too slow.
Jim Kenney: (33:34)
Well, I mean, obviously this is an unprecedented situation. You know, mayors don’t have the ability to release prisoners at their will. There’s a process that’s been put in place. Their petitions are being reviewed, and people that are eligible for release will be released. This is not something we can do to just open the doors and let people out. We need a judge who put that person in there in the first place to remove that person, or allow that person to leave. We think it’s going in an adequate pace. I mean, I understand the district attorney…
Jim Kenney: (34:03)
… and public defender’s position, but we’re going as far, as fast as humanly possible. I believe there’s over 60 or so petitions have been filed in and they’ll going to get to them in good order. It’s all we can do. There’s just three branches of government and this is one of them.
Jack Tomczuk: (34:22)
And this is for Dr. Farley. As far as the inmates-
Brian Abernathy: (34:26)
Jack, I just want to provide a little bit of clarity around the mayor’s statement. We actually have had several hundred petitions filed for release. And to respond to that, the courts have opened up a number of additional courtrooms this week and are moving much more aggressively than they had previously. And certainly appreciate the court’s leadership on that. But just wanted to quickly clarify on that before turning it over to Dr. Farley.
Jack Tomczuk: (34:52)
And thank you, Brian. As far as the inmates at the jail, have any of them had to be hospitalized? And have any of them succumbed to the virus?
Brian Abernathy: (35:04)
I was actually just notified prior to this press conference that we’ve had one inmate that has been hospitalized, but no deaths.
Jack Tomczuk: (35:13)
Okay, thank you.
Speaker 3: (35:15)
All right. Thank you, Jack. Let’s try again with Martin Pratt of Philly YBN.
Martin Pratt: (35:21)
Yes, thank you. Just a update before my question. West Philly food site this morning, about 200 people showed up and everyone got served. And I believe they may have had one or two boxes left over. So thank you guys and the city seems to be doing pretty good in West Philly, thank you.
Jim Kenney: (35:41)
Thank you for accurate reporting, Martin. Appreciate it.
Martin Pratt: (35:43)
You’re welcome. And I wanted to stick to one question. The Detroit, city of Detroit, has done, it seems like, an interesting program where they’re offering to pick up residents and take them to a testing sit. If they are experiencing financial difficulty, they are not charged $2. But if they can afford $2, they pay $2 and they’re taken back. I’m wondering, are we thinking of opening up testing sites to all of the residents, whether you’re sick or have symptoms or not?
Dr. Farley: (36:16)
So testing sites are available all across the city and people can walk up for those testing sites. They are free of charge for everyone. You don’t need to pay at any of these sites. Our recommendations are not to test people who don’t have symptoms. If you don’t have symptoms, it’s likely going to be negative and it may be a false sense of security because you may have been exposed the day before. And we do have limited supplies and so we don’t want to be wasting tests on people who really don’t need it. But everyone who needs a test in the city of Philadelphia should be able to get it. We have some 20 odd sites across the city. And again, nobody has to pay and we have sites where people can just walk up.
Martin Pratt: (36:51)
Speaker 3: (36:53)
Thank you, Martin. And next step is Michaela Winberg of Billy Penn.
Michaela Winberg: (36:58)
Hey, everyone. Can you hear me?
Speaker 3: (36:59)
Michaela Winberg: (37:00)
Awesome. I have a couple questions mostly about testing sites. I know the South Philadelphia site, Dr. Farley, you said closed because the federal government pulled out. Do any other testing sites in the city require federal government participation like that to keep running? Could the Center City testing site close if they pull out from there?
Dr. Farley: (37:19)
No, the Center City’s testing site is being done entirely with city resources and the other sites are being done primarily with resources of the hospital systems, sometimes with some support from the city. So the federal government’s pulling out will not have any impact in any other site.
Michaela Winberg: (37:33)
Okay. Can you explain how you guys are going to make up for the South Philly testing site closing? I know that one prioritized healthcare workers and people 55 and older. Will that fall somewhere else now?
Dr. Farley: (37:46)
Again, I want to stress that site was one of more than 20 sites across the Philadelphia region, so there’s plenty of other testing. The site probably tested 10% or less of all the tests that are being done in the city of Philadelphia right now. So there’s lots of opportunity elsewhere. The criteria for who is to be tested is similar across the different sites, but it varies somewhat. In general, it’s healthcare workers first because those are the greatest risks and because you don’t want to be cared for by a healthcare worker who may be carrying the infection. And then it’s people who have the infection who are maybe more likely to have a severe infection. So that’s why we have the age over 50.
Michaela Winberg: (38:18)
Got it. And I know the South Philly testing site had to close a few times because of wind or rain, inclement weather. Are any other testing sites impacted by weather?
Dr. Farley: (38:29)
I don’t believe so. I think the other sites are either in a building or right next to a building so they’re not as vulnerable as that site was in the open parking lot. I should point out the South Philadelphia site tested the fewest number of people yesterday so it appears that the demand at that site is sort of going down over time, I think because availability exists elsewhere.
Michaela Winberg: (38:50)
Got it. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (38:51)
Thanks, Michaela. Next up is Michael D’Onofrio of The Tribune.
Michael D’Onofrio: (38:56)
Hello everybody. Can you tell me more about Lieutenant James Walker? I mean, how old was he? How long was he on the force? And when did he die? Was it Sunday, Monday, Saturday?
Brian Abernathy: (39:11)
So Lieutenant Walker was 59 and he had 33 years on the force. I was notified of his passing last night and I believe my notification was fairly soon after he passed.
Michael D’Onofrio: (39:27)
And just to be straight too, on that topic too, was he actively … He was on the traffic division, you said, but was he actively patrolling? Was he out in the public? Or was he on desk duty? Where was he during the last few weeks?
Brian Abernathy: (39:38)
I don’t have the information, all that information, or when the last time he was at work was. But we feel fairly confident with the measures that the commissioner put in place that those measures both protect our officers but also the general public.
Michael D’Onofrio: (39:57)
All right. And then, in terms of the number of residents being tested, do you have a breakdown of the race of those being tested? And are you seeing equal access to testing among different racial groups, high and low income residents, so on?
Dr. Farley: (40:12)
The data we have comes from the laboratory test report and race is missing on those reports more than 85% of the time. So I have very limited access to data quantitatively on race. I did report a week or so ago when we do a follow up case investigation, the racial breakdown of the people who were positive there. Well, you can get the data if you’re interested in that, but most of our race data is missing. I’m sorry. Let me just take the opportunity to again point out, though, the virus doesn’t discriminate. This affects every racial group and so everyone should consider themselves to be at risk and follow our recommendations.
Michael D’Onofrio: (40:51)
And then I might have missed this in the beginning, but the Liacouras Center, the temple, has the city decided exactly what type of patients will go there? Are these COVID-19 or coronavirus patients? Is it going to take hospital overflow, people with other medical issues?
Dr. Farley: (41:07)
Yeah, so the plan there is for it to treat patients who have the coronavirus infection who are not so severely ill that they need to be in a general acute care hospital. So typically, that would be somebody who has been hospitalized at a regular hospital but then is not quite ready to go home. This could be sort of a step down unit for them during the few days when they don’t need to be in acute hospital but they can’t go home.
Speaker 3: (41:31)
All right. Thank you, Michael. And next up is Brian Mendoza of Telemundo. Brian.
Speaker 3: (41:44)
Brian, we’re not able to understand you. I don’t know if you can get closer to your microphone. You want to try it one more time?
Brian Mendoza: (41:50)
Can you hear me now?
Speaker 3: (41:53)
Hello? Armando, are you able to understand Brian?
Speaker 3: (41:57)
Okay. All right. Brian, we’re going to have to try to come back to you.
I do have some of the questions that he has. So if you want to, I can repeat them. Brian. Given the death of Lieutenant Walker, is there any changes for the police department regarding the interaction between officers and the public?
Brian Abernathy: (42:17)
At this time, there’s no additional changes in protocols, but we will continue to monitor the situation and make changes if and when that’s appropriate.
[ Spanish 00:08:33]. Officers are not currently wearing masks. Why? [Spanish 00:08:47].
Brian Abernathy: (42:52)
As we’ve noted, there is a shortage of personal protective equipment. The protocols we have put in place is to make sure that officers, one, keep their distance where appropriate. Two, put on their PPE if and when it’s necessary. And three, to call in specialized units if necessary and they fear for the public safety.
[Spanish 00:09: 23]. The question is if there’s any plan if the numbers of infected people continue to rise, will they have to be hospitalized or will they have to spend their isolation time at home?
Dr. Farley: (44:13)
The decision about whether someone should be hospitalized really depends on their clinical condition. Most people with this illness have a mild or moderate infection and don’t need to be hospitalized. If people have a severe infection, then they would need to be hospitalized for their condition, not for quarantine. Now, if they are at home, we want them to adopt procedures so that they don’t pass the infection onto the people in their household. But again, the hospitalization is really not for infection control procedures, it’s for managing their condition if they need it.
[Spanish 00:10: 49].
Speaker 3: (45:16)
Armando, did you cover all of Brian’s questions? I believe you did.
I believe so.
Speaker 3: (45:21)
Okay, and next up is Perla Lara of Impacto. Perla, are you there? Perla? All right, let’s try coming back to her. We’ll go to a second round with Mitch Blacher of NBC10.
Mitch Blacher: (45:41)
Yes. Will Lieutenant Walker be treated as a line of duty death?
Brian Abernathy: (45:51)
We’re currently in the process of understanding the circumstances that led to Lieutenant Walker becoming ill. And we’ll certainly take appropriate measures if and when that becomes clear. And I think as we look at all of our employees and our city staff, how that infection takes place does matter and we are in the process of being able to understand those protocols in a more concrete way. I can certainly talk about it in a future instance.
Mitch Blacher: (46:25)
Thank you. I have one other question. Over the weekend, President Trump met with lead commissioners from across the sports world and there were reports that he believed the NFL could return in September and we could have fans in the stands by August. I’m curious, Mr. Mayor, will the Eagles, from what you know, will the Eagles fans be able to see Eagles games at the Linc in person as early as September?
Jim Kenney: (46:48)
I have no idea. And in the scope of things we’re dealing with, it’s not in the top 10. Hopefully. Hopefully this will get back to normal and life will get back to normal or what we used to remember normal being. And we want to make sure that fans are safe and that players are safe and the officials are safe, but I have no idea what’s going to happen going forward. Hopefully over the next two or three weeks, we’ll get a clearer picture of what’s going on.
Mitch Blacher: (47:16)
Thank you, sir. Thank you all.
Speaker 3: (47:18)
Next is Sean. We’ll go back to Sean Walsh of The Inquirer.
Sean Walsh: (47:22)
Thanks very much. On the Citizens Bank Park site closing, that’s news to me. Is that a new announcement that that’s closing? And what is the last day it will be open?
Dr. Farley: (47:32)
Yes. As we said earlier, it’s closing as of Friday. It’ll be open through Friday. That’ll be it’s last day. This is one of many federally supported sites around the country that is shutting down, but the availability of testing is still widespread across the city, more than 20 sites that’ll be available.
Sean Walsh: (47:49)
Thanks. And lastly, either Brian or the mayor, could you update us on the efforts by the administration to get the union, the other unions besides the FOP to agree to one year contract extensions?
Brian Abernathy: (48:05)
By all signals, things are progressing well and I think we are close to agreements. We’re not quite there yet, but hopefully in the next day or two we’ll have signed agreements with all the other … With the remainder of our workforce.
Sean Walsh: (48:23)
Okay, thank you.
Jim Kenney: (48:23)
And in that regard, I’d like to commend the deputy mayor, Rich Lazer, for his, and his staff, for all their hard work and putting this together in a relatively short fashion. And I think it’s in everyone’s best interests to have at least a stable year coming forward.
Sean Walsh: (48:38)
Thanks very much.
Speaker 3: (48:39)
You good, Sean?
Sean Walsh: (48:40)
Speaker 3: (48:40)
Okay. We’ll go back to Martin Pratt of YBN Philly.
Martin Pratt: (48:44)
Can you update us as to when, or when it happens, can you let us know when the cleanup starts at the schools that have the lead and the asbestos that you’re planning to start? And also, Brian, do you have the numbers yet of how many people have been reached through the texting service that you guys have been doing?
Brian Abernathy: (49:06)
So I did update that number last week. I don’t remember what it was now, but we can certainly make sure that you get that directly, Martin. And as far as the work on asbestos and lead in the schools, I believe that work has started but I will confirm that and make sure that Mike or Dina get back to you directly.
Martin Pratt: (49:25)
Okay, thank you.
Speaker 3: (49:29)
All right, Martin, thank you. And Brian Mendoza has his hand raised at Telemundo. We’re going to try it one more time and see if the sound is working. Brian, are you there?
Brian Mendoza: (49:39)
Yes, I’m here. Can you hear me?
Speaker 3: (49:42)
Barely. It’s probably not going to work.
Brian Mendoza: (49:45)
Armando has my questions, though.
Speaker 3: (49:48)
Armando, did you get new questions from Brian?
No, unfortunately not this one.
Speaker 3: (49:53)
Okay. Brian, he did answer the questions you had sent earlier. We are going to move on. Jack Tomczuk of Metro.
Jack Tomczuk: (50:01)
Hi. Just a quick clarification with Lieutenant Walker. Was he one of the two additional fatalities that was reported today? Or as has been reported, did he pass away in Montgomery County?
Brian Abernathy: (50:16)
Honestly, I’m not sure if that was one of the two that was reported in Philadelphia today. He did pass away in Montgomery County, but I believe he was a Philadelphia resident. If that was incorrect, then I will certainly re-clarify in the future. But I believe he was a Philadelphia resident.
Jack Tomczuk: (50:31)
Okay. Thank you.