PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia broke its one-day record for new COVID-19 cases on Friday, and the health commissioner says new restrictions will be announced on Monday but wouldn’t give specifics. The Philadelphia Health Department is reporting 1,158 new coronavirus cases, now with record numbers.
City officials are still working out exactly what the new restrictions will cover.
“We’re seeing a very rapid rise of cases now,” Dr. Thomas Farley said. “We reported over 1,100 cases today. If we thought we could minimize this without any disruption of business, we would do it that way, but everybody wants to make sure there is a hospital bed for them if they need it, and we’re at that point where we need to take action now so that is still the case.”
Farley would not give specifics of what new restrictions would be implemented, however.
“We’re going to be looking at setting where the virus is spreading and try to have the greatest impact on where the virus is spreading,” he said.
The Phila. Health Dept. is on the verge of finalizing restrictions set to be announced Monday.
Noted from today’s briefing: officials wouldn’t disclose specifics on new guidance, but are saying Phila. residents should model behaviors of early March or April. @CBSPhilly #COVID19
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) November 13, 2020
When asked to elaborate on where the virus is spreading, Farley said, “well you know, it’s spreading in households, we know it’s spreading in social gatherings and it’s also spreading in workplaces and spreading in restaurants.”
When pressed if the restrictions would be targeted in those environments, Farley said, “again, I’m not going to say what the restrictions will be.”
Farley says the city will not go into a total lockdown.
“I would not say it’s a citywide shutdown no,” he said, “but I will say, we will have to place serious restrictions that we hope will change the trajectory of the virus.”
During a virtual meeting with a council committee earlier Friday, Farley said the city has to take action to control spiking coronavirus cases.
“We’re already at the highest daily case counts we’ve seen in the entire epidemic,” he said, “so I’m very concerned about the epidemic’s effect on the city as a whole. … In small social gatherings, just a few people get together at somebody’s house, to parties, a large number of people at somebody’s house, people go out to restaurants,” Farley said, “it’s spreading in office workplaces. People get together over lunch and they don’t wear their masks.”
Because of COVID-19 levels, Philadelphia has been more restrictive than the state. A mask mandate is already in place in the city and there are limits on crowd sizes, but that hasn’t kept the virus from spreading and it’s taking the same course as seasonal flu, which is also on the rise.
The City will be holding a press briefing on Monday, November 16 at 1pm to announce new COVID restrictions in response to the recent rise in new cases. You can follow the briefing here on our Twitter or on our Facebook Page: https://t.co/TpFdts2Z4y pic.twitter.com/AC0UkyTeZg
— Philadelphia Public Health (@PHLPublicHealth) November 13, 2020
“There’s something about winter weather that makes it easier for these viruses to spread,” Farley said. “We don’t know if it’s because people are inside more because it’s colder, because the air is dryer, but for whatever reason, those viruses are worse. So behavior in situations that were safe a couple months are no longer safe.”
The virus is now spreading more among younger people who have milder cases and while hospitalizations are also increasing, there are fewer deaths because doctors have better treatments.
Farley said Philadelphia residents should be modeling their behavior from early March or April when the city was on a virtual lockdown.
The city will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. on Monday to announce the restrictions.
A spokesperson from the Pennsylvania Department of Health said in a statement that the state is “actively working to determine what best steps can be taken amidst the current rise in cases.”
“We are very concerned with the increase in cases. We currently have protections in place, like wearing a mask and limits on large gatherings. Pennsylvanians can stop the spread. It is all of our responsibility to do the right thing,” the spokesperson said.
CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl and Greg Argos contributed to this report.
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