PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The City of Philadelphia is rebounding from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a year that saw many challenges, from unemployment to riots to a drastic increase in gun violence. Tonight, CBS3 had a real and honest conversation with Mayor Jim Kenney about Philadelphia’s future.
In Philadelphia, more than 121,000 people have contracted the COVID-19 virus and more than 3,000 residents have died. Now, the challenge is getting vaccines into the arms of those most at risk.READ MORE: Dianna Brice Murder: Tylydiah Garnett Arrested In Connection To Murder Of 21-Year-Old Dianna Brice, Police Say
KARTALIJA: Over the past year, we have seen the city go through an incredible change. Is there anything that you would have done differently this past year?
KENNEY: Probably wouldn’t have contracted with Philly Fighting COVID. That is, in hindsight, was more of a procurement, contractual mistake that was made. If I had that to do over again, we would do that over differently.
KARTALIJA: Shutting down the city caused several businesses throughout the city to close for good. At what point do you say, ‘We have to get businesses running again,’ and at what point do we loosen restrictions here in the city?
KENNEY: We have people at sporting events now and I think Opening Day, we will have 8-to-10,000 people at Citizens Bank to see the Phillies. We have a 50% now with our restaurants. I think the masks will be with us for another year or so.
KARTALIJA: Amid the pandemic, riots, a surge in violence, the city is looking worn down. What do you plan to do to get the city back on its feet when it comes to crime, getting kids back in school, even making the city look better — there is graffiti everywhere and boarded-up buildings?READ MORE: Pennsylvania To Expand COVID-19 Eligibility To Everyone In Phase 1C Beginning Monday
KENNEY: What I’m hoping is, as we get back to normal, get things opened up, get kids back to school. The gun situation in the commonwealth is disgraceful. Our Philadelphia Police have bravely removed close to 1,000 guns out of people’s hands since January.
KARTALIJA: Crimes among the city’s youngest residents are at an all-time high. Juvenile homicides are trending 200% higher than this time last year.
KENNEY: It’s easier to get a gun in Pennsylvania than it is to get a driver’s license. There should be a definitive penalty for carrying an illegal gun. There should be legislation in Harrisburg to allow us to stop straw purchases.
Looking ahead, Kenney says he’s optimistic.
KARTALIJA: Mayor, after the riots, after everything this city has been through in the past year, will Philadelphia bounce back?MORE NEWS: Man Injured In North Philadelphia Shooting: Police
KENNEY: Absolutely bounce back.