PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia health commissioner says residents need to get used to wearing face masks because “that’s what the future is going to look like” as the number of coronavirus cases in the city has topped 20,000. During Tuesday’s briefing, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley told Philadelphians they will have to change their behavior about wearing face coverings as the city approaches the next phase of reopening.
“It’s not hard to change our behavior to wearing a mask. In fact, it’s probably easier than figuring out how to stay inside all day, but that’s what we’re all going to have to do,” Farley said. “Get a mask, get used to wearing it, because that’s what the future is going to look like.”
Mayor Jim Kenney called it “selfish” of people who are not wearing masks in public and not adhering to social distancing guidelines. He says it’s the residents’ responsibility for when the city can reopen.
“Hopefully we’ll continue and see that wearing a mask and social distancing has got us to this point where we’re close to kind of reopening up again within the next couple, few weeks, if we continue to trend this way,” Kenney said. “If we don’t and we go back, we’re going to be back in lockdown again. It’s up to individuals to be mature.”
The mayor said it was an “unfortunate milestone” surpassing 20,000 COVID-19 cases in the city.
“Even though the number of cases per day is far better than one month ago, this new total is a grim reminder that many Philadelphians are still testing positive and all of us are still at risk,” Kenney said.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the city now stands at 20,132 after 179 new cases were reported. Nine more people died from the virus, raising the city’s death toll to 1,049.
Farley says the numbers are encouraging that the city is continuing its downward trend.
“About a month ago, we were reporting about 30 deaths per day. Now that we’re in the single digits, that’s clearly a mark of decline,” Farley said.
City officials also announced that the Philadelphia Department of Prisons will begin testing all incarcerated individuals.
“This effort includes testing all asymptomatic people currently incarcerated and newly admitted people entering the Philadelphia Department of Prison facilities,” Kenney said.
Officials say 179 prisoners total have tested positive for the virus.