Apr 13, 2020

Mayor Jim Kenney Philadelphia COVID-19 Update April 13

Philadelphia Coronavirus Briefing April 13
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsMayor Jim Kenney Philadelphia COVID-19 Update April 13

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney held a livestream meeting and briefing with health officials. Read the full transcript of the updates.

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Dr. Farley: (00:00)
… nu 14 is lower than we’ve had in past few days. And we hope that that declining trend continues. Of the 190 deaths, 93 occurred in nursing home residents, 125, or about two thirds, occurred in people over the age of 70.

Dr. Farley: (00:16)
And I know there is a lot of interest in the racial breakdown of people with this infection and people who have die from this infection, there’s more information on that today on our website. Of those people who have died, African-Americans represent 49% of the deaths, and Whites represent 27% of the deaths. We have now calculate dour mortality rates bu race. The mortality rate among African-Americans is 1.3 per 10,000, and among Whites is 0.8 per 10,000.

Dr. Farley: (00:45)
For people concerned they may have this infection and want to be tested, testing is still available on a limited basis across the city. Just go to our website, Phila.gov/covid, and go under FAQ, getting tested. And you’ll see links and phone numbers for all different sites where you can get testing.

Dr. Farley: (01:02)
So to everyone now whether you want to have tested or not, we have good news here today. But despite the better news, it’s still very important for people to be serious about staying safe. The virus is still circulating throughout the city. And if we start behaving as we have before, the virus will unquestionably surge again. We don’t want that to happen. So stay home, just as before.

Dr. Farley: (01:23)
If you have to go outside, for work, for example, if you have to go to the grocery store, keep your distance from people and wear a mask. When we feel like it’s safe for you to come out of your home and interact with people, we’ll let you know. But for now, we’re not there yet. We’re just showing signs that we may be stabilizing, we’re not on the other side of the epidemic yet.

Dr. Farley: (01:40)
For more information about anything having to do with the epidemic, www.Phila.gov/covid. Or if you want medical questions answered, 1-800-722-7112. Thanks.

Armando: (02:00)
[Spanish 00:02:00].

Mike: (02:00)
Great, thank you Armando. We’re going to move now to the Q and A portion for members of the media. Again, I would ask our speakers to join us by activating their audio and unmuting themselves. Remember, of course, we only have limited…

Mike: (13:03)
… and unmuting themselves. Remember, of course we only have limited time for these briefings so only one representative from each media outlet is permitted and reporters are asked to limit their questions to three or fewer. We will do a second round of questions if time permits. For those logged in, use the raise your hand feature. It can be found under the participant’s list. We will unmute you one by one to answer your questions, and at that time, if possible, you could also activate your camera. First up today, Annie McCormick of 6abc.

Annie McCormick: (13:36)
Hi Mike. I have two questions. The first one is for the mayor and talking about the needs from the federal government. Just wondering, since you announced last week that you have to redo the 2020 budget, how much of potential cuts from the city budget could be dependent on what type of help you get from the federal government?

Jim Kenney: (13:58)
Without being specific, if we don’t get enough reimbursement, there will be things we’ll have to come back on, and then we have to determine the priorities and move forward with a new budget based on the information that we will know at the time. Right now, we’re still in the process of compiling the cost, the things we think are reimbursable, and also setting up a couple different scenario budgets that may have to be implemented if varying forms of reimbursement either happen or don’t happen.

Annie McCormick: (14:29)
Just as a follow up on that. Are you able to be specific on any of the areas that you think could be potentially cut at this point?

Jim Kenney: (14:38)
No, we don’t have enough information or enough compilation to determine that and that’ll be, I guess sometime in the near future.

Annie McCormick: (14:47)
Okay. Then last question, and this just as really for Dr. Farley, and it’s more of a clarification, Dr. Farley, you’re saying there’s good news, we’re at or near the peak of the epidemic, Mayor Kenny’s saying we’re still also at risk for surge and we need rapid testing, MPPs, I believe that’s how I understood it. So I’m just looking for clarification. Dr. Farley, do you feel that the peak could be the surge that the mayor described? And do you think that the FEMA assistance that we had at the Citizens Bank Park testing site is something that may need to be brought back in regards to rapid testing?

Dr. Farley: (15:21)
You know both of these can be true. If you look at our case counts, we may be near the top of that, but the surge and demand for healthcare services is going to lag behind that a little bit, and so we’re likely to see an increase in that in the future. Then, of course, we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen beyond that. If people stopped paying attention to the stay at home order, we may get renewed infections, and we have to be able to address that.

Dr. Farley: (15:44)
As far as testing goes, right now, the Citizens Bank Park site is just one of many sites across the city that has been available for testing. Our greatest limit is not really been the number of sites, it been the number of cross swabs we have for collecting the tests, and the turnaround time for the laboratory. It takes six, seven days, I think, a result. We’re not going to be able to contain this infection over the long term with that kind of turnaround. So if we get more rapid testing, then we’re going to want to have more sites across the city and no one’s site is going to be able to provide our need, and so I’m hoping we will get rapid testing, and then we’ll expand our availability through many other sites across the city.

Annie McCormick: (16:21)
Thank you, that’s all I have.

Mike: (16:22)
Great. Thank you. Annie. Next up is Shaira Arias of Telemundo.

Shaira Arias: (16:30)
[ Spanish 00:03:29]. My first question is basically … [Spanish 00:03:37].

Speaker 2: (17:00)
The first question is in regards to demographic information that has been provided, we’ve gotten statistics on African Americans and the white population in regards to COVID-19, but we’d like to know how many Hispanic people in the community have been infected by COVID-19 and how many have died as a result of it?

Dr. Farley: (17:22)
Yeah, that’s a great question. We want to know the answer as well. Our information is very limited, but we’re taking the data we have and matching with other databases and when we do, we hope to get information on ethnicity, in addition to race, and as soon as I have that information we’ll report it out, but we don’t know yet.

Shaira Arias: (17:39)
Okay. [Spanish 00:04:41].

Speaker 2: (17:50)
[Spanish 00:04:44].

Shaira Arias: (17:53)
Okay, pleasure for Dr. Farley on that answer. [Spanish 00:05:05].

Speaker 2: (18:18)
One of the reasons that this information may not be available is would it be that it’s not defined in the test taking because Hispanics are maybe taking the test, are not being asked or are not revealing their ethnicity, or they’re not getting tested enough and when would we have information on this?

Dr. Farley: (18:44)
It is possible that if it’s not recorded, what their ethnicity is that we would not know that if people get sick and go into the hospital, we generally get ethnicity data there. So we would have it at that point.

Speaker 2: (18:59)
[Spanish 00: 05:58].

Shaira Arias: (19:09)
The next question is [Spanish 00:06: 14].

Speaker 2: (19:33)
The next question has to deal with safety and what measures the police may be taking to deal with the increase in crime that has been reported in the last 24 hours and the shootouts and the violence in the city?

Brian: (19:45)
Yeah. The violence is not new in the city unfortunately. While our over arching crime rates are down, we recognize our violent crime rate is up, and our police department has made sure that every available officer, including officers who are not normally on street duty, are deployed to patrol our streets. We’re working very closely with the department to make sure this violent crime is addressed as aggressively and comprehensively as we can.

Jim Kenney: (20:23)
It’s been a challenge even before COVID. I mean, we have challenging issues, there is a lot of poverty, there’s too many guns in our society. People now are willing to shoot each other as opposed to either reasoning with each other or fighting with each other in some other way. But this is a struggle that’s before the COVID time and we’re continuing to do our best with it.

Speaker 2: (21:16)
[Spanish 00:07:46].

Shaira Arias: (21:23)
Thank you [Brian 00:21:24] and [crosstalk 00:08:34]. Thanks.

Mike: (21:37)
Thank you Shaira. Next up is Sean Walsh of the Inquirer.

Sean Walsh: (21:41)
Thanks. Mayor, I believe you mentioned the beginning of your comments, the beginning of planning for what opening up after social distancing is necessary would look like, what’s on the table for you? Like what are the options of what would that look like in Philadelphia? How would you slowly open the city back up?

Jim Kenney: (22:02)
Well, first of all, we would follow the medical advice of our public health commissioner, number one. We would look around the country to see what other cities or states are doing. We will coordinate with the governor’s office and our state health officials and try to figure out what makes sense and what … See the most important thing here is that we don’t have a resurgence to this, that sometime in July or August, we’re not back with the same numbers, setting up surge hospitals and getting hotel rooms space for people in quarantine.

Jim Kenney: (22:33)
What I worry about is when the numbers are starting to look better and we’re getting signals from the national government that they want to move quickly, people start believing that somehow they can stop the social distancing, go out and do what they used to do. If they do that, we’re going to be back in the same situation, potentially the same situation, that we’re in today. So having these kind of conversations I think are important and it’s important to try to kind of game plan what we might do, but if you’re looking for specifics before we get additional medical information and data, it’s not going to happen.

Brian: (23:05)
Got it. Thanks. Dr. Farley, you mentioned I believe the racial breakdown with the data available of those who have died, I’m sorry if I missed it, but is there an update on just of total cases for a racial breakdown?

Dr. Farley: (23:21)
As you know, most of our race data is missing on the cases that are reported to us because it comes from laboratory reports. We are trying to take that data and match it against other data sets to pick up that missing race information. We’re making progress on that, I hope sometime later in the week to be able to give you a much fuller picture of the racial breakdown and ethnicity breakdown for the cases.

Sean Walsh: (23:40)
Gotcha. Thank you. Leslie for Brian, on the issue, I know it’s not your favorite topic, but of the number of city employees who have tested positive for coronavirus, is the city’s position still the same on not releasing that information? And is there any specific department that is struggling with this more than others right now?

Brian: (24:05)
So Sean, I think I gave a pretty comprehensive answer to this question last week and so I would certainly refer you back to that answer, and if you need it in writing, I’m pretty sure the communication’s office can send you something in writing. So no, we haven’t changed our posture. As far as any specific departments who are struggling with this, we haven’t seen any deployment levels impacted because of infection rates or [inaudible 00:11:28].

Mike: (24:31)
All right. Thank you Sean. Next step is Mitch Blacher of NBC10.

Mitch Blacher: (24:38)
Good afternoon, Dr. Farley, can you tell us how are you using demographic information that you’re collecting in order to make decisions?

Dr. Farley: (24:47)
Well, we always look at demographic information with any epidemics just to try to understand what populations are at greater risk. African Americans we know are greater risks than whites at this point. Not a huge difference, but an important difference. So we want to make sure that we get our messages out as far as social distancing, particularly in African American populations. So we want to make sure that African American populations have plenty of access to health care. That’s where our focus is right now. As we get more demographic information and understand things better, we may find other areas that we need to emphasize.

Mitch Blacher: (25:16)
Why do you think that certain zip codes are harder hit by this than others?

Dr. Farley: (25:21)
I’m not totally convinced that there are big differences by zip codes. As I look at that map, I don’t see any clear pattern. It may certainly be just where the virus landed first. I think the main message in the map is that every zip code is affected.

Mitch Blacher: (25:35)
And the last question I have for you, sir, is how will what you are learning from this virus affect public health policy in Philadelphia going forward?

Dr. Farley: (25:44)
Jeez, that’s hard to say. Right now we’re focusing so much on this particular wave of the epidemic. When we get past that we’ll have a better sense of maybe of broader public health issues. I think our next focus, if we feel like we can get past this wave, is what I would call phase two. How do we get through this period before a vaccine is available, where the virus will …

Dr. Farley: (26:03)
… still be out there, and we need to prevent it from resurging, but, at the same time, we need to be able to make our economy able to work. So that’s going to be much of our focus for the next phase.

Mitch: (26:15)
Thank you, sir.

Mike Dunn: (26:16)
Thank you, Mitch. Next up is Chanteé Lans of CVS3. Chanteé?

Chanteé Lans: (26:24)
Hi there. Good afternoon. I have three questions. The first one is for the health commissioner. The other two are for the mayor. Dr. Tom Farley, this is about the Liacouras Core Center. How many healthcare workers will be at that site, and how are they being trained today?

Dr. Farley: (26:43)
I don’t know the answer to either one. I can give you approximate numbers. If there were approximately 50 healthcare workers that were going up today for training, not all of them will be deployed. The hospital is set up to where they can open up in modules, one module of 36 beds, and if 36 beds look like they’re going to be filled, then they’ll open up another group of 36 beds. So the number of workers who will be deployed will depend on how many of those subunits end up being opened up.

Chanteé Lans: (27:09)
Got it. Thank you. Mayor Kenney, on Friday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy mandated that New Jersey transit passengers have to wear face masks while riding. SEPTA, as you know, dropped their policy to mandate wearing face masks after Friday’s incident. Do you agree with SEPTA’s current position to drop that policy of no longer requiring people to wear the face mask, and are you concerned with the health of essential workers who have to use transit without everyone being protected by wearing face masks?

Jim Kenney: (27:47)
Well, I’m not sure of the governance scheme of the New Jersey transit, as it relates to the governor, but SEPTA is run by a board. We have two members that sit on it, and it’s a regional board. It’s a regional operation. Do I think everybody, personally, should be wearing a face mask, whether they’re walking on the street or whether they’re in a SEPTA vehicle? Yes. But I have not talked to them specifically about the reason for their change, and if Brian or Dr. Farley knows anything they can add, but I think everyone should wear a face mask when they’re out in public.

Mike Dunn: (28:17)
Chanteé? Did you have one more?

Chanteé Lans: (28:27)
Okay, and my last question … Yep, I do. There was a fatal fire, and this could go for either the mayor or Brian, I guess. There was a fatal fire this morning in North Philly. Two kids died. My question regarding that is, with emergency services, what are currently available for families who lose access to their shelter at this time amid the COVID-19 pandemic? How has the city adapted to providing that assistance during this time?

Brian: (28:53)
Yep. We work very closely with the Red Cross during good times, and we work very closely with the Red Cross during bad times. Certainly, if there are shelter needs, we would turn to our partners at the Red Cross and their house in order to be able to provide temporary shelter.

Brian: (29:14)
I don’t know if that was needed in this case. It’s certainly a tragedy to see the loss of life of little kids, despite valiant efforts by our firefighters. So we certainly give our prayers to that family, and we’ll certainly figure out ways that we can support, to the best of our ability. But, generally, on good days and bad days, it’s through our partners, like the Red Cross.

Chanteé Lans: (29:42)
Thank you.

Mike Dunn: (29:43)
All right, Thank you, Chanteé. Next up is Claudia Lauer of the Associated Press.

Claudia Lauer: (29:48)
Hey, how are you? My question is for Dr. Farley. I just wanted to double-check something. It’s my only question. When you said the percentages for the racial breakdown, it doesn’t match what’s currently on the website, and I wasn’t sure if it was in the process of updating before you had announced them or if the website is not correct yet.

Dr. Farley: (30:10)
Usually, the website is updated after we have these press conferences, so my guess is the website is a little bit behind the numbers I gave you.

Claudia Lauer: (30:16)
Okay. All right. Thank you.

Mike Dunn: (30:20)
You good, Claudia?

Claudia Lauer: (30:21)
Yes, sir.

Mike Dunn: (30:21)
Yep. Great. Next up is Pat Loeb of KYW.

Pat Loeb: (30:26)
Hi. For the mayor or Brian, I guess, what is the dollar figure for lost revenue in the third quarter?

Jim Kenney: (30:36)
I have to talk with Rob Deboe, but I don’t believe we have those numbers fully fleshed out yet. If we can find out, I can get back to you.

Pat Loeb: (30:44)
Okay, thanks. Then for Dr. Farley, has the CDC started to offer guidance, or is there any sort of public health consortium beginning to look at how you relax the stay-at-home order without causing a resurgence? I think in other countries, they take temperatures or you put tracking on your phone. Is the US looking at anything like that, to your knowledge?

Dr. Farley: (31:12)
The CDC has not circulated any guidance about that. We put those restrictions, social distancing restrictions in place mainly at a state level, through the governors. So it may be that the rollback, likewise, is that at the state level, through governors, rather than at the federal level.

Pat Loeb: (31:28)
Okay. So do you have any theories on how that could be done without causing the surge that you warned about?

Dr. Farley: (31:37)
Very carefully is the short answer about it. We’re trying to look at what makes sense to do this slowly, gradually, with those things that are least likely to cause a resurgence first and with many safeguards in place to prevent them from causing a resurgence.

Pat Loeb: (31:53)
Okay. So no large gatherings? That would be final step?

Dr. Farley: (31:55)
No large gatherings for a long time.

Pat Loeb: (32:00)
Okay. Thank you.

Jim Kenney: (32:01)

Tech: (32:17)
Mike Dunn, you need to unmute.

Mike Dunn: (32:18)
All right. We had a flawless show until then. Sorry about that. Michaela Winberg of Billy Penn, you’re up.

Michaela Winberg: (32:27)
Hey, everyone. I have a question for Dr. Farley. Dr. Farley, you said last week that you had 100 copies of a rapid test that looks for antibodies and your lab was working to determine their accuracy. I’m wondering if you’ve made any progress on that or if you’re looking at any other rapid tests.

Dr. Farley: (32:43)
So, to clarify, that was not looking for antibodies. That was a rapid test that would look for the virus itself, but we don’t have the results of that parallel testing yet, so I don’t know how well that test is performed in our laboratory yet.

Michaela Winberg: (32:56)
Got it. Are you looking for any other types of tests or waiting on that first?

Dr. Farley: (32:59)
We are happy to look at any sort of rapid tests that can become available to us. This is all we’ve gotten in our hand so far.

Michaela Winberg: (33:06)
Got it. Thank you.

Tech: (33:20)
Mike Dunn, you need to unmute again.

Mike Dunn: (33:21)
All right. I’ll get this straight one of these days. We are out of questions at the moment. Does anyone who is in the room have any further questions at this point? We’ll go to Annie McCormick of 6abc.

Annie McCormick: (33:37)
Mayor, I have one question for you. We just learned that, at two o’clock today, Governor Wolf is supposed to talk about discussions with governors from eastern states about reopening. Is that something that you’ve been privy to? I heard you earlier, in the answer to a question about reopening, saying that it’s going to depend on what other states and cities are doing. Is there any more information that you might have about Philadelphia that may be announced at two?

Jim Kenney: (34:07)
It’s not going to be when other states and cities say, but we’re going to inform ourselves about what other states and cities think. I have not been privy to this meeting of governors, because it’s probably with governors. So I’m a mayor. I want to hear what everyone has to say and, more importantly, what the medical people have to say.

Jim Kenney: (34:28)
That’s the most important thing. You can talk about economists. You can talk about the President or whoever. I want to know what Dr. Farley and Dr. Farley’s peers are saying about opening, not opening, rolling openings, mass gatherings, all those things. We need to be informed by medical and science people and not by anything else.

Annie McCormick: (34:48)
Okay. Thank you. That’s it for me.

Mike Dunn: (34:50)
Thanks, Annie. Sean Walsh or the Inquirer is back for a second round.

Sean Walsh: (34:56)
Thanks. Dr. Farley, could you talk about the possibility of antibody testing and the folks who become immune to it after they’ve recovered from the disease? Is that something that we can test for in Philadelphia?

Dr. Farley: (35:13)
Yeah. Over the long term, I’m hopeful that an antibody test will be useful as we get into more of the opening of society to understand who is immune to this infection. Right now, the antibody tests are just becoming available. They haven’t been used in enough people for us to really know how to interpret the results. There are many different antibodies tests, and some of them are probably better than others. So I think it’s going to be a while before we know, really, how to use those tests. Over the short term, the more important advance is the availability of rapid testing for the virus itself.

Sean Walsh: (35:43)
Lastly, also for Dr. Farley, if we begin to relax restrictions eventually, or whenever this new phase happens, the one that you were describing, where the economy comes back a little, but the virus is still around, in that phase, do we expect to go back to contact tracing and to identifying the exact people who have it, or will we still be operating on community spread?

Dr. Farley: (36:14)
I think there are a number of safeguards that we would need to have in place before we roll back any restrictions, and one of them would be rapid testing and contact tracing and isolation and quarantine. That whole aspect that I call containment needs to be done so that any case, we maximize their opportunities to prevent its spread to other people.

Dr. Farley: (36:31)
We also need to see how we can put in place preventions and protections for vulnerable populations. Our nursing homes have been hit very hard here. We don’t want to have them hit hard in the future. We’re looking at how can we try to prevent that? If the virus starts spreading in the community again, how can we at least prevent it from being introduced into nursing homes? So those are two of the many safeguards we need to put in place if we really get to talking seriously about rollbacks.

Sean Walsh: (36:54)
Sorry. I know I said it was the last one, but since you brought it up, on nursing homes in this phase, it’s pretty dire. What can the city do now? Is there anything the city can do now or that local governments can do now to make the situation better for nursing homes?

Dr. Farley: (37:10)
Well, we’re working closely with nursing homes and have tried to prevent its spread. We may have been able to prevent some spread, but there’s a lot that we were unable to prevent. I mean, the key, really, is personal protective equipment for the staff, personal protective procedures to protect the residents, and we’re trying to see, if that has broken down, why is it broken down? What can the nursing homes do? What can we do in their support to prevent that in the future?

Dr. Farley: (37:34)
It’s not an easy question to answer, but we’re continuing to ask that question, not just ourselves, but also with the state health department, the federal government, and the nursing homes themselves.

Sean Walsh: (37:43)
Thank you.

Mike Dunn: (37:44)
All right. Thank you, Sean, and thank you, everyone, for joining us today. That concludes our daily briefing. We will be back again at 1:00 PM tomorrow.

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