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Coronavirus update: Pa. expanding curbside pickup to more liquor store sites

Wine and Spirits store in Philadelphia

A pedestrian walks past a boarded up Wine and Spirits store in Philadelphia, Friday, March 20, 2020. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Updated at 5:15 p.m.

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As of Friday, the DOH is reporting 40,022 total COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania (including confirmed and probable cases). There are 102,196 in New Jersey, and 3,442 cases in Delaware. Philadelphia has 11,877 cases.

Pennsylvania’s death toll stands at 1,669, New Jersey’s at 5,617, and Delaware’s at 100. Philadelphia’s death toll is 449.

Note: The Pa. number of total deaths has gone down because the state is no longer including probable deaths in its count, only deaths that are confirmed to be coronavirus-related.

Governor offers mental health advice during pandemic

In his daily press briefing, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf addressed mental health issues people might be facing during the pandemic, exacerbated by unemployment and sheltering at home.

Wolf acknowledged that the unprecedented surge in unemployment compensation applications – about 1.6 million in a month – has jammed the system and created frustrations for those struggling to pay bills. He said the state has brought more than a thousand new employees into the Office of Unemployment Compensation, drawn from other state departments and retired former employees.

Wolf also pointed out that the state will help self-employed workers — typically not eligible for benefits — access a new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. 

There are also local resources to help people access food at FeedingPA.org and HungerFreePA.org.

“If you’re struggling with utility payments, like electric or water bills, the Pennsylvania Utility Commission offers a list of resources ranging from budget billing to hardship funds,” said Wolf.

Wolf also offered softer advice for people dealing with more generalized feelings of anxiety during this stressful time.

“Many of our typical ways of dealing with anxiety have been eliminated,” he said. “We might be getting less exercise because our gym is closed, or because we’re not running errands or walking around our workplace. We might not be getting enough sleep because we are off our regular schedules. We might not be eating healthy because we are at home all day.”

“We need to look for new ways to combat anxiety, like going for a mid-day walk or having a virtual happy hour with coworkers. Most of all, we need to reach out to one another about our negative feelings,” said Wolf.

Also during the press briefing, Wolf was asked several times about how flexible he might be about the plan to begin re-opening the state economy on May 8, phasing in individual regions when they each show they have control of the outbreak.

Despite calls from some parts of the state which are not hit as hard by the virus to open faster, Wolf reiterated that his May 8 date is firm.

Don’t take medical advice from the White House, Philly mayor says

After President Donald Trump seemed to encourage injecting disinfectants into the human body to fight the coronavirus, city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, a doctor, said the oval office is not the place to get medical advice.

“I strongly recommend people turn to doctors and not listen to the White House,” said Farley.

Farley also announced the addition of 10 new testing sites to increase testing for low-income populations. Locations can be found on the city’s website.

Farley reported 651 new cases since yesterday bringing the total for the city to 11,877. The recent number includes cases reported over different days. He also reported six new deaths. The total is 449.

Mayor Jim Kenney announced a partnership with Goldman Sachs and Lendistry for potentially forgivable SBA paycheck protection loans for small businesses in the area. Kenney did not provide a specific number, but said it would provide several million dollars.

Kenney also said the city is still in talks with local TWU 234 and SEPTA over the safety of transportation workers during the pandemic. The union that represents thousands of SEPTA workers postponed a job action that threatened bus service in the city yesterday after Kenney stepped in to defuse the situation. SEPTA has close to 200 confirmed cases and four deaths.

More booze is on the way… if you pick it up

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced Friday that it will expand its curbside pickup service to 389 more Fine Wine & Good Spirits locations in the state on Monday, April 27.

Board chairman Tim Holden said 565 Fine Wine stores will be accepting orders. Most stores will provide service for the first 50 to 100 orders Monday through Saturday on a first-call, first-serve basis. The pickups will be scheduled from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Customers will be limited to six bottles per order. Credit cards are the only accepted form of payment. Customers are limited to one order per caller, per store, per day, and all curbside sales are final.

The Liquor Control Board handled 38,145 orders in the first four days after it began curbside pickup last Monday.

“We hope that adding hundreds more locations for curbside pickup will help us get through this surge of demand for wine and spirits,” Holden said in a release. “Once again, we ask customers to remain patient, and we’re hopeful that the more e-commerce and curbside pickup orders we can process, over time, the better we’ll be able to serve more and more Pennsylvanians through this pandemic.”

Philly’s tech scene may be key to post-pandemic rebound

A new report from the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia says Philadelphia’s tech scene may play a role in the city’s effort to bounce back after the pandemic.

“With the sudden shift to remote or teleworking, this cross-cutting sector has become essential to maintaining the local economy,” the report says. “It may also provide new equitable growth opportunities as the pandemic ends.”

The sector accounted for about 115,000 jobs in 2019 — 4.4% of the metro region’s workforce, according to the report. Some of the region’s “fastest growing tech jobs do not require four-year degrees.” That may provide options for people who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Also, though job postings have declined, the need for remote work and social distancing may have reduced the number of layoffs and furloughs in the sector, the report says. Unemployment numbers are still being calculated, however.

Tech is also helping businesses in the region stay afloat as they transition their services from face-to-face to online operations, the report adds.

Nursing homes make up 73 percent of deaths in Montco

Chair of the Montgomery County board of commissioners Valerie Arkoosh reported 171 new cases and 10 new deaths. The total number of cases in the county is 3,383. Total deaths is 189 but that doesn’t include 96 possible coronavirus-related deaths, which would bring the total to 285.

Of long-term care facilities, Arkoosh also reported 1,204 cases between staff and residents. Not all are Montgomery County residents, but the facilities account for 73% of deaths in the county. Arkoosh also reported an additional 65 probable deaths.

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