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Coronavirus update: Pa. death toll rises as Philly celebrates Easter ‘different than any other’

Archbishop Nelson Pérez, Philadelphia’s new Catholic archbishop, during Easter Mass. (Screenshot)

Archbishop Nelson Pérez, Philadelphia’s new Catholic archbishop, during Easter Mass. (Screenshot)

Updated 5:20 p.m.

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As of Sunday, there are 22,867 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania, 61,850 in New Jersey, and 1,625 cases in Delaware. Philadelphia has 6,152 cases.

Pennsylvania’s death toll stands at 555, New Jersey’s at 2,350, and Delaware’s at 35. Philadelphia’s death toll is 176.

Pa. death toll rises

Pennsylvania reported 1,178 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday afternoon, bringing the statewide total close to 23,000 cases. There are now a total of 539 fatalities in the state. The majority of COVID-19 deaths involve people older than 65.

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rises, the state has close to 39% of its adult ICU beds and 70% of its ventilators available for use.

Philadelphia reported an additional 234 cases on Sunday, though the lower increase of cases is likely due to the fact not all laboratories report results on weekends, city health officials said.

Nine additional COVID-19 cases were reported in Philadelphia’s correctional facilities, bringing the total to 69.

Philadelphia also reported 16 additional deaths. Half of the city’s deaths, out of a total of 176, were among seniors living in long-term care facilities.

Philly’s new archbishop says first Easter Mass amid a pandemic

Philadelphia’s new Catholic archbishop said his first Easter Mass to empty pews at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul Sunday.

Archbishop Nelson Pérez, who was installed in February, had to suspend all in-person masses one month later in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

This year’s Easter service, which was live-streamed online and broadcast on WHYY TV, focused on themes of healing, strength and faith during an unprecedented time.

Calling it “different than any other Easter Sunday that we have experienced” Pérez thanked health care and grocery store workers. He also encouraged the faithful watching from home to ground themselves in their faith during trying times.

“Our beliefs actually guide the way we live, how we speak to each other, how we treat each other, how we respond to crisis, like the one that globally we’re experiencing right now, how we respond to the storms, and the ups and downs of life,” he said.

For more Easter weekend activities, check out the latest edition of WHYY’s Things To Do.

More handwashing stations at City Hall and additional meal sites to come

Philadelphia City Hall is slated to get two additional handwashing stations in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among “unsheltered individuals,” city officials confirmed to WHYY’s Billy Penn.

The stations are part of a project between the city’s Department of Health and Human Services and local nonprofit Broad Street Ministries, which already brought a bathroom trailer and additional sinks to Love Park last week, and plans to add two food distribution sites.

Nonprofit Mural Arts plans to install “space pads” encouraging people to maintain social distancing guidelines while sitting on steps or ledges that lead to the sinks and restrooms.

Murphy warns against relaxing social distancing too early

New Jersey’s governor says some models suggest his state’s coronavirus crisis is reaching its peak, but others indicate the worst impact may still be weeks away.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Sunday he is concerned that reopening public places and relaxing social distancing too early could amount to pouring gasoline on a fire.

Murphy says health care recovery must occur before economic recovery takes place. He says his administration devoted significant attention this weekend to planning about how to keep people safe once restrictions begin to be lifted.

Murphy cuts NJ Transit capacity, issues new mask-wearing requirements

Gov. Phil Murphy’s latest executive order, taking effect at 8 p.m. Monday, directs NJ Transit and all private transportation carriers to cut capacity on all trains, buses, light rail vehicles and paratransit vehicles to 50% of their maximum.

The order also requires NJ Transit and private carriers to supply their workers with gloves and face coverings, and states that riders must wear face coverings while traveling unless they cannot for medical reasons.

“For many of our essential workers, public transit is how they get to work, and we need to protect them during that trip,” Murphy said.

Some discretion on this order will be left up to drivers on NJ Transit and the private carriers, Murphy said.

Part of the order includes expanding face-covering requirements to all customers heading into restaurants and bars that remain in operation for takeout orders. If a customer is getting curbside pick-up and not walking into a business, a face covering is not required.

Restaurants will also be required to give face coverings and gloves to their food service workers.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf has also asked residents to wear masks when going outdoors.

WHYY’s Emily Scott and The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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