PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia officials criticized President Donald Trump for downplaying COVID-19 after contracting the virus that has killed more than 200,000 nationwide. This comes as officials say the city will not necessarily go along with the new crowd size regulations issued by the state.
That decision will be announced next Tuesday and it could be inputted by a new increase in coronavirus cases in the city.
The city has been more restrictive than the state on a number of issues, including indoor dining. Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says the city has a number of unique risks. And there’s currently a spike in COVID-19 cases in the city, which could impact the decision next week on gatherings.
“We are unfortunately seeing a substantial increase in the daily case counts of the coronavirus infection here in Philadelphia, which is a concern,” Farley said.
The city is now averaging 110 COVID cases a day, up from 86 last week. The increase is not linked to the newly allowed indoor dining.
Health officials say there’s a hot spot in the far Northeast, but they attribute most of the uptick to clusters on college campuses.
“In those universities, it appears this is being spread at social gatherings, not being spread in the classrooms,” Farley said.
On the state allowing larger gatherings, Philadelphia officials say the city might not go along with that and could continue to limit group sizes.
“We’re also the largest, most densely populated city in Pennsylvania. We’re the city that’s been hardest hit with COVID,” Farley said. “We’ll continue to be more restrictive, if necessary, if we believe it is necessary to protect people in Philadelphia.”
Currently, no more than 150 people are allowed to congregate outside in the city and 25 inside.
The decision on gatherings, to be announced on Oct. 13, will impact everything from Eagles football and theaters to parades and concerts.
“We have different issues and different problems as compared to some place in a small town in the center of the state,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Both Kenney and Farley criticized Trump for downplaying the risk of the virus that’s killed 210,000 Americans.
“You should be afraid of the coronavirus,” Farley said. “I strongly disagree with the president on this one.”
They said Trump, who’s infected with COVID-19, sent a dangerous message when he made a show of taking off his mask.
“Another 20, 30, 40,000 Americans could die because of what he says and he don’t care,” Kenney said.
Also at the city’s weekly update, health officials said Halloween festivities could continue, but people should wear masks, be socially distant and celebrate outside.