PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — As several rural counties say they will defy Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home orders, Philadelphia officials say it’s not safe yet to put a date on when the city can reopen. Mayor Jim Kenney warns that opening too soon would put Philadelphia at risk.
“There’s nothing worse than jumping the gun and winding opening up too soon and falling back with the surge that will kill more people and take us longer to recover. We’re working together with Montgomery County, Delaware County, Bucks, Chester to have these discussions and we also have to take into account what happens in New Jersey,” Kenney said.
Eight Pennsylvania counties have advocated for or indicated their intentions to move forward with reopening dates ahead of Wolf’s plan. They include, Bucks, Berks, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Franklin, and Schuylkill Counties.
In fact, Lancaster, Dauphin, Franklin, Lebanon and Schuylkill Counties indicated they plan to lift pandemic restrictions without Wolf’s blessing beginning this week.
Wolf blasted counties and businesses threatening to reopen, calling them “cowardly” as they choose “to desert” the COVID-19 fight.
“To those politicians who decide to cave in to this coronavirus, they need to understand the consequences of their cowardly act,” said Wolf, threatening to withhold state and federal funding to counties “that put us all at risk by operating illegally.”
Kenney says the city will move to the yellow phase of the state’s reopening plan only when it’s safe.
“We’re getting better, the cases are going down, there’s less people dying but I don’t want to go back to a high level of death and sickness because we’ve moved too soon,” Kenney said. “It will never be over if we don’t do it the right way and the safe and healthy way.”
Stay-at-home orders for Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs were extended until June 4.
On Monday, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley announced 102 new cases, raising the citywide total to 18,313. Zero new deaths were reported as the death toll sits at 893. Farley says lower-than-normal lab results came back and those numbers will probably rise in the next few days.
“Overall, there are too many cases for us to say that we can safely restart our activities, but there’s clear signs we are making progress against this epidemic. Our actions are clearly slowing the spread,” Farley said.
Farley reiterated it’s still too soon to put a date on the city reopening.
“I can’t put a date on when our activities can safely restart but we can start to prepare for that date by thinking about the things we’re going to need to do once we do restart in order to keep ourselves safe,” the health commissioner said.
Farley says once the city does restart to open, people will still need to wear masks, keep their distance from others, and wash their hands.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)