Philly Coronavirus News: Philly’s First Case, School Closings, Lots of Bar Soap

“The pandemic has now arrived to the City of Philadelphia,” Philly’s health commissioner said on Tuesday.

coronavirus soap

Washing your hands with, you know, soap is a good way to help defeat the coronavirus. (Photo by Victor Fiorillo)

A roundup of Philadelphia coronavirus news.

Philly’s First Case of Coronavirus

It was only a matter of time. The Philadelphia Department of Health has reported the first case of coronavirus in Philadelphia. “The pandemic has now arrived to the City of Philadelphia,” city health commissioner Thomas Farley said at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Due to privacy concerns, Farley did not release any details about the person who has tested positive for the coronavirus. Farley said that the person is being treated at home and that the health department will reach out to people who may have been exposed to the individual and put them under quarantine where warranted.

Farley also advised residents to avoid any public gatherings that would have more than 5,000 people in attendance, including large sporting events and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which is scheduled for this weekend. He pointed out that the city is not canceling these events but, instead, advising people to avoid them.

“We are fortunate that we did not have a case sooner, so we had more time to prepare,” Mayor Jim Kenney said at the press conference.

School Closings Due to Coronavirus

Parents are scrambling to figure out what the heck to do with their kids now that some schools in the area have announced closings.

Germantown Academy in Fort Washington closed after a family member of a student at the school tested positive for the coronavirus. And on Tuesday morning, we learned that the student has now tested positive as well.

The Lower Merion School District shut down for one day on Tuesday for sanitization. Same for Upper Merion. The Cheltenham School District is closed all week. There are school closings in Bucks County as well.

As of Tuesday morning, the Germantown Academy student was the only student in the area reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus, as far as we know. In the other cases, it’s more that a student here or a teacher there has some connection to somebody who may have coronavirus. School superintendents are throwing around the phrase “out of an abundance of caution” quite a bit.

It’s great that these schools are being sanitized. Schools should be clean places, right? On the other hand, you can sanitize surfaces all you want but when school reopens, one sick kid with bad hygiene is all it takes to move you back to square one. Tough situation.

Germantown Academy is set to begin online classes this Thursday. Friends’ Central School in Wynnewood will be closed to students on Wednesday and Thursday. No, not because there’s a case of coronavirus there. Friends’ Central School staff will spend the days getting up to speed with online teaching. On Friday, all Friends’ Central classes will be held online as a test to see how it goes in case the school has to shut down in the future due to the coronavirus.

But Germantown Academy and Friends’ Central School students all get laptops from the school. So online school is relatively easy. What will happen if/when Philly public schools (or other schools in the area that aren’t so fortunate to have a laptop for every child) are forced to close? Philadelphia School District officials are working on a contingency plan.

To Fear or Not to Fear the Coronavirus?

There are two types of people in Philly right now.

There are those who are very worried about the coronavirus. And there are those who think all of those other people are crazy.

There are those who are panic shopping, scooping up all of the toilet paper at every store that’s not sold out. And there are those who think that doing so is nuts. Of course, all of the former have shelves full of toilet paper. The other people may be, er, shit out of luck in a few days. So there’s that.

There are those who are canceling vacations overseas. And there are those who are taking advantage of empty planes and plummeting cruise prices.

Just do what makes you happy and let other people make their own choices. Oh, and wash your hands!

Bar Soap Abounds

Speaking of washing your hands…

We’ve all seen the photos of store shelves completely depleted of hand sanitizer like Purell, which is selling for huge markups on Amazon.

But you know what all of the stores have in plentiful quantities? Bar soap! Remember bar soap?

Philly Mag visited Acme, CVS, Rite Aid and Giant on Monday afternoon. Hand sanitizer sightings were few and far between. But there was bar soap — lots of bar soap! — everywhere. We see the following headline in the not too distant future: “Parents Forced to Teach Their Kids How to Wash Their Hands with Old-Fashioned Bar Soap.”

No More Meetings

If you hate in-office meetings as much as we hate in-office meetings, just tell your boss to do what SAP is doing. The huge Newtown Square-based software firm canceled all internal events and meetings that are not deemed “business critical.” And if SAP is like most companies, the vast majority of its meetings are probably not all that critical. To read more about what SAP and some of Philly’s other big employers are doing to cope with the coronavirus, go here.