Pa. coronavirus recovery: New state guidelines allow larger crowds at events, but Philly officials not yet on board

A stadium worker walks though cutouts during warmups before an Eagles game

A stadium worker walks though cutouts during warmups before an NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Corey Perrine)

New state guidelines allow larger crowds at events, but Philly officials not yet on board

State officials announced today an increase in the number of people allowed at special events based on a venue’s maximum occupancy. But Health Commissioner Thomas Farley says the large size of Philly’s event spaces mean the city must be extra careful.

Previously, gatherings of more than 25 were prohibited as part of coronavirus mitigation, as well as outdoor gatherings with more than 250. Local officials will announce next week if the state change will apply to Philly.

Now, at the state level at least, the attendance cap for special temporary events such as concerts, conferences and screenings is lifted to a percentage of the maximum venue occupancy during those events as per state guidelines.

As an example a venue with a capacity of 0-2000 will now allow 20% of their max indoors, and 25% outdoors. The percentage changes based on the size of the venue and a full calculator can be found here.

“We will closely monitor cases and outbreaks. If our case investigation and contact-tracing efforts determine that events or gatherings are the source of an outbreak, we can and will dial back these new limits,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. “Public health and safety are our first concern and will always remain as such.”

Health Commissioner: ‘Substantial increase’ in daily COVID cases

Philly Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced a “substantial increase” in daily COVID-19 cases, with 250 in the past day.

The number represents an accounting for a significant backlog of old cases, said Farley, but he added the positivity rate has been steadily rising in recent weeks – to 3.9% most recently.

“We do know that we are seeing continued clusters and spread on college campuses in the city, at Temple, at Jefferson University … [At] Saint Joseph’s University and some cases at Drexel and at the University of Pennsylvania,” he said. “In those universities, it appears to be that this is spreading at social gatherings, not being spread in the classrooms.”

Farley also noted a significant share of cases were coming from the far Northeast, but was unsure what might be driving transmission there.

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