PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise in Pennsylvania, the state announced plans for a new app to notify people they may have been infected. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, city officials criticized people for attending large parties, increasing the risk of spreading the virus even more.
Over the weekend, police were called to several large block parties around the city. While most people are following precautions, officials say those who aren’t put others in danger.
That could further delay the opening of indoor dining in Philadelphia — that announcement will come Friday.
“In a pandemic, all it takes is a few irresponsible people to mess things up for the rest of us,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Kenney scolded people attending big parties, crowding together, often without masks and inside, which is a primary way that COVID-19 is spread. This is also a violation of restrictions against large gatherings.
“Those who choose to take part in these parties are endangering themselves, families and their communities,” Kenney said. “They’re endangering Philadelphia’s ability to reopen safely and get back to normal.”
While testing has now increased to 3,000 a day in Philadelphia, there’s also been an uptick of positive cases.
“As we’ve seen in the past, the new cases are still predominately younger people — more than 50% are under the age of 40,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.
“These folks who are deciding to party and flout the rules also seem to forget that they can easily carry this virus back home,” said Kenney. “They can easily infect their family members, including parents and grandparents.”
Also on Tuesday, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine officially announced a new COVID notification app.
“The technology will let other app users know when they have come into close contact with someone who has later tested positive,” Dr. Levine said.
The app, which will be available in September, is voluntary, anonymous and protects privacy. It’s designed to help contact tracing. Phones turned on will monitor all other users who come within six feet.
“Sometimes it is difficult to recount every step in your day and who you may have spent more than 15 minutes with, in close contact and that’s where COVID Alert PA comes in,” said Dr. Levine.
Philadelphia has been selected, along with four states, to recommend coronavirus vaccine distribution plans to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Farley said Tuesday the city was probably selected because of its extensive immunization registry. He hopes a vaccine will be available early next year and would be given first to the most vulnerable, then caregivers.