PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s health commissioner is telling residents to prepare for “a new normal” when the city finally reopens. There is still no date on when the city can reopen, though.
During Friday’s briefing, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the new normal will involve smaller numbers of people in interior spaces, barriers between people like plexiglass shields at stores, spacing and wearing masks in public.
“As these numbers continue to go down, we’re getting closer to reopening. Whenever we reopen, however we reopen, there will be a new normal,” Farley said. “That new normal will be different from how things were before the epidemic came.”
The city reported 309 new cases and 56 more deaths, raising the citywide case total to 21,009 and the death toll to 1,221.
As more Pennsylvania counties begin reopening today, stay-at-home orders remain in effect for Philadelphia through June 4. The commonwealth has said that counties can begin reopening after hitting a threshold of fewer than 50 new cases daily per 100,000 residents over 14 days.
“I can’t say that’s the threshold that’s going to happen here in Philadelphia, it’s certainly not close, our rates are a little higher than that,” Farley said. “We’re still focused on trying to get those case rates down before we have any specific dates in mind.”
Farley added that other indicators should also be followed for reopening, including how many hospital beds are available and how much testing is being done.
“We’re looking at a variety of metrics that says we would be safe to go to the next step of opening,” Farley explained.
Mayor Jim Kenney says science should determine when the city can reopen.
“I don’t really think we should be going by dates necessarily, but by data and numbers. Certainly people can argue about the numbers one way or the other, but I think the data approach, the science and medicine, is the best approach to keeping people safe at home,” Kenney said.
Kenney also said he has talked to Gov. Tom Wolf about stockpiling PPE in case of a second wave of COVID-19 later this year.
“I’m looking more forward to the fall, see if we can begin stockpiling in case we have a reoccurrence of COVID where we need additional PPE,” Kenney said. “I’d rather have some in stock than try to scramble for it in October, November, if we have something bad happen.”
The city is short on N95 masks and priority has been given to health care workers and the police department.