Pa. coronavirus update: Large outdoor events on horizon in Philly

Taylor Corbin, 4, (center) helps block captain Roslyn Myers inflate a hopper ball

Taylor Corbin, 4, (center) helps block captain Roslyn Myers inflate a hopper ball for a Playstreets event in the 5800 block of Delancey Street. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Updated: 3:25 p.m.

___

Ask us about COVID-19: What questions do you have about the coronavirus and vaccines?

Pennsylvania officials announced 3,119 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 970,917. As of 11:59 p.m. Monday, the state recorded 65 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the number of total fatalities to 24,652.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Philadelphia reported 312 additional confirmed cases on Tuesday, for a total of 117,768 since the beginning of the pandemic. The city’s Department of Public Health confirmed an additional 39 fatalities Tuesday, which brings the total number of deaths attributable to the virus in Philadelphia to 3,217.

Could you have a block party this summer? In Philly, it’s possible

The Department of Parks and Recreation and the Office of Special Events are now accepting permit applications for large outdoor events, with the Streets Department set to accept applications April 15. That means Philadelphians could be back to having big barbecues and block parties as soon as this summer.

All permitted events will still need to follow the city’s health guidance in effect on the day of the event, including crowd size limits, city spokesperson Lauren Cox told WHYY Tuesday. And events where food is served are currently limited to 100 people, but that’s based on current guidance and “could change as public health guidance changes in the future.”

Pa. officials say they’ll fix demographic data, target equity

At a state press conference Tuesday morning, Pennsylvania officials promised to focus on health equity, pointing to an increase in community partnerships, additional resources available in Spanish, French, German, and Chinese, and a focus on plans for targeted media campaigns for Latino/Spanish-speaking communities.

Director of the Office of Health Equity David Saunders mentioned previous COVID-19 testing partnerships with Latino Connection and local faith-based communities partnerships. “Planning is underway to utilize these same avenues for community vaccination clinics when more vaccine supply is available,” he added.

Part of understanding vaccine equity involves knowing who’s getting the vaccine. But on the Pennsylvania vaccine data dashboard, the “unknown” display on both race and ethnicity charts remains high — which means there’s much missing information on which groups, exactly, are getting the jab. When questioned about this, Director of the Office of Operational Excellence Brian Lentes said the state is “working with providers on reporting efforts and making sure that they are reporting these demographics” but that “this continues to be a challenge.”

In certain cases, he added, the state may take stronger enforcement action — for example, requiring that providers start reporting adequate demographic information as a prerequisite for continuing to receive first-dose allocations.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The state hopes to schedule vaccination appointments for all eligible residents in Phase 1A by March 31. It remains unclear, though, how these residents — many of whom have struggled in the past few months due to language barriers, tech access, and confusing or complicated registration instructions — will be reached.

Walk-up vaccines at FEMA Convention Center site this week

Starting Wednesday, walk-up appointments will be available at the FEMA vaccination site in Center City. But officials say those walk-up appointments will only be available for people who a) meet the city’s Phase 1A or 1B criteria and b) and can prove that they live in one of 22 eligible zip codes using an ID, an addressed piece of mail, or a PHL City ID.

The zip codes are limited to 19104, 19131, 19139, 19142, 19143, 19151 or 19153 in West Philadelphia, 19122, 19132, 19133, 19134, or 19140 in North Philadelphia, and 19116, 19120, 19124, 19135, 19136, 19138, 19141, 19144, 19149 or 19152 in Northeast and Lower Northeast Philadelphia.

A National Guard member vaccinates someone against COVID-19 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center
Essential city workers are among the first to be served by FEMA’s mass vaccination site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Walk-up appointments are also often available at the city’s rotating community clinics, although priority will go to those invited via email, text, or phone from the city’s database.

“At some of our sites, the vaccination has been low … at these clinics we will continue to invite people from the database first, and to the extent that appointments are still available, we may allow people after that to come in without appointments,” Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Tuesday.

In other words, walk-up appointments for neighborhood residents are the “leftover” vaccinations, dependent on each site’s schedule and supply availability — if a site is already booked for the day, it will not have capacity to accept additional walk-up appointments.

Blue Cross, Vybe now offering vaccines at Independence LIVE

Independence LIVE is joining the more than 150 vaccine providers in the city of Philadelphia.

Independence Blue Cross and Vybe urgent care are partnering to provide the vaccine at the Center City multipurpose event space. Appointments are available to eligible city residents on a first-come, first-served basis, and walk-ins are not accepted.

“We are proud to help the City’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts by making Independence LIVE, our multipurpose customer and community center, available as a vaccination site,” said Independence president and CEO Gregory E. Deavens in a statement Tuesday. “We hope that the site helps make it possible for the City to inoculate more eligible people in an efficient and equitable way.”

Philadelphia residents currently eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine can make an appointment at Independence LIVE by visiting vybe.com or by calling 215-999-3715.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal