PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s heat plan is more important than ever this summer as the city helps the most vulnerable escape not only the conditions but also the coronavirus. The plan is looking different this year because of the pandemic.
As Philadelphia settles into what looks to be another hot summer, this year’s response to setting up cooling stations and cooling resources is tempered by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“Philadelphia traditionally has an extensive heat response system that has been nationally recognized,” Philadelphia Managing Director Brian Abernathy said.
Public pools around the city are still closed and public libraries may not be an option for cooling stations in light of the pandemic, but the city is providing relief in other ways.
“We are offering, however as one alternative, spraygrounds. Ninety-one spraygrounds and spray features will open on Monday, July 6, operating under safety guidelines,” Abernathy said. “The city is also offering its Playstreets program. One hundred playstreets in areas most impacted by the heat island effect will have cooling kits, which include umbrellas and tents, misting fans, super soakers and neck-cooling rags.”
City officials are also advising residents to have a plan in place in the event of a heatwave or heat emergency.
“More people die from heat as a risk than from all other natural disasters combined,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.
City officials say they will continue to monitor the weather, keeping plans fluid in order to keep residents safe.
“We are gonna have to take some consideration for what’s happening with the virus at the time of the heatwave as well. If we have a huge spike in the virus, we may not be able to open a library but we may be able to do something else, whether that brings in a SEPTA bus or multiple SEPTA buses. All those things are on the table,” Abernathy said.
Franklin Square Park will reopen to the public on Monday, as well as some spraygrounds and playstreets.