Coronavirus update: Archdiocese projects June 6 as date for resuming public Mass

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput (left) embraces Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez (right) during his installation at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia on February 18, 2020. (Pool photo/ by David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput (left) embraces Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez (right) during his installation at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia on February 18, 2020. (Pool photo/ by David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Updated 3:15 p.m.

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As of Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has reported 71,009 COVID-19 cases (including confirmed and probable cases). There are 153,104 cases in New Jersey and 8,690 cases in Delaware. Philadelphia has 21,234 cases.

Pennsylvania’s death toll stands at 5,112, New Jersey’s is at 11,081, and Delaware’s is at 324. Philadelphia’s death toll is 1,233.

Note: Pa. no longer includes probable COVID-19 deaths in its official count, only deaths that have been confirmed through testing.

Archdiocese of Philadelphia ‘projected’ to resume public Mass

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is planning to resume daily and Sunday Masses on June 6.

Archbishop Nelson Perez made the announcement on the Archdiocese’s Facebook page late Friday night, saying the “projected” reopening was based on Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to move Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs into the “yellow” phase of the state’s color-coded reopening plan by June 5.

“The administration of the Archdiocese has been working in consultation with public health officials to ensure that such a resumption takes place within the context of state approved guidelines and is actively working to provide appropriate guidance to its clergy so that all will be as prepared as possible when the public celebration of Mass begins again,” wrote Perez. “All of us are eager to open the doors of Church wide for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.”

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, the Archdiocese put a freeze on public Masses in mid-March, a decision criticized — and publicly protested — by some parishioners.

Farley: Mitigation efforts in Philly have saved thousands of lives

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Saturday that the coronavirus pandemic didn’t hit the city “as hard as we feared.”

“Recent models have shown that, through the actions of everyday Philadelphians, we have saved thousands of lives,” Farley said in a statement.

On Saturday, the city’s Department of Public Health reported 225 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing Philadelphia’s total to 21,234 since the start of the pandemic.

The department has also confirmed 12 additional fatalities, bringing the city’s death toll to 1,233 to date. More than half the deaths were residents at long-term care facilities.

It’s been exactly two months since the city’s stay-at-home order took effect, Farley noted. The city is slated to move into the “yellow” phase of the state’s color-coded reopening plan by June 5.

“As counties move from red to yellow, we need all Pennsylvanians to continue to follow the social distancing and mitigation efforts in place,” Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said in a statement.

To date, Pennsylvania has reported more than 71,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 5,000 deaths.

Delaware offers free COVID-19 testing this weekend

The State of Delaware is hosting a free COVID-19 testing event on Sunday at the Dover DMV.

Residents are encouraged to pre-register for the drive-through event, which will provide people with do-it-yourself, saliva-based tests. The Division of Public Health has released videos in English and Spanish that detail how to perform the test.

The testing event comes as Delaware prepares to ease some of its pandemic protocols on June 1.

On Saturday, the Delaware Division of Public Health reported 161 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 8,690 since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Two more Delawareans have died from the virus, bringing the First State’s death toll to 324.

More than 80% of Delaware’s positive cases and coronavirus-related deaths are now from Sussex or New Castle counties, which continue to be the hardest-hit areas of the state.

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Pa. distributes third shipment of coronavirus drug to treat patients across the state

The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Friday distributed 8,928 more doses of remdesivir to 81 hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.

Hospitals in the Philadelphia area, including Temple University Hospital and Abington Memorial Hospital, received more than one-third of the shipment, the third batch of the antiviral drug sent to the Health Department by the federal government.

The department distributed 1,200 doses to 51 hospitals on May 12. A second shipment of 7,938 doses was sent to 79 hospitals on May 15 and May 18.

A clinical trial of remdesivir, administered through an IV once a day, showed that it can shorten the recovery period for some COVID-19 patients.

Virtual Memorial Day program honors fallen soldiers

Camden County residents searching for ways to honor fallen soldiers this Memorial Day weekend can tune into a prerecorded program created by the Camden County Freeholder Board.

The 12-minute program, available online starting Saturday, includes a rendition of the national anthem, a gun salute, and a keynote address from Camden County Freeholder Melinda Kane.

“We may not be able to gather in person, but there is no crisis, emergency, or circumstances which should prevent our fallen heroes from receiving the honor and memorialization that they deserve,” Kane said in a statement.

Atilis Gym owner plans to fight court-ordered shutdown

Days after its owner defied the state’s shutdown mandate, a New Jersey judge has ordered Atilis Gym in Camden County to close its doors until nonessential businesses are permitted to reopen, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The ruling is a response to a request from the New Jersey Department of Health to place temporary restraints on the Bellmawr gym. The department attempted to close Atilis indefinitely on Thursday.

A hearing is scheduled for June 8, according to the Inquirer.

In response, Ian Smith, the gym’s outspoken owner, said his legal team will file an emergency injunction in federal court on Tuesday.

“We have been robbed of due process and violated of our constitutional rights,” Smith said during a nearly three-minute video posted on Instagram.

In the same video, Smith calls Gov. Phil Murphy a “slimeball” and the Health Department’s efforts to shut down his gym “flimsy and bogus.”

Atilis Gym will be closed through Tuesday, but Smith said he hopes to reopen Wednesday.

“We are in this for the long haul. It’s not about the battle, it’s about the war. And we are definitely winning,” he said.

Pa. offering to reimburse meat processors for PPE purchases

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is launching a program to reimburse meat-processing companies that purchased personal protective equipment for their employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of $280,000 is available to poultry, swine, lamb, goat and sheep processors, as well as any related support services used by those companies. Applicants can receive up to $16,000.

Under the program, created through a partnership with the PennAg Industries Association, a farm and agribusiness group, companies can be reimbursed for PPE purchased between Feb. 19 and May 18. Receipts are required.

“Pennsylvania agriculture has rolled up their sleeves and worked overtime to ensure food reaches your table. Those in the industry need personal protective equipment, just like the rest of Pennsylvania’s frontline workers,” PennAg executive vice president Chris Herr said in a statement. “This PPE reimbursement program is our ‘thank you.’”

The program has the following reimbursements rates:

  • Up to $1,000 for bilingual training materials and signage;
  • Up to $5,000 for prevention and surveillance tools (such as thermometers);
  • Up to $10,000 for PPE and sanitation/cleaning materials (including masks, coveralls, gloves, face shields, hand sanitizer, cleaning products).

Companies interested in participating in the program must send applications, along with copies of relevant receipts, to the Center for Poultry and Livestock Excellence at pennag@pennag.com.

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