Philly Coronavirus News: Stay Away From the Shore, Penn Med Employees Test Positive, and … Snow?!

One Jersey Shore mayor says he wants to shut down the bridges.

Two Delco children and their dog enjoyed some time at the Jersey Shore last weekend. But now Jersey Shore mayors are asking non-residents to stay away during the coronavirus crisis.

A roundup of Philly coronavirus news.

Coronavirus Hits Penn Medicine Employees

One major concern surrounding the coronavirus is the danger of it spreading to the medical community. And now Penn Medicine has announced that several of its employees have tested positive for coronavirus.

Penn Medicine is not disclosing exactly how many employees or releasing any further details about them, including what positions they hold at the institution or the locations where they’ve recently worked.

“As the prevalence of the virus continues in our region, all hospitals will be forced to deal with these issues,” a Penn Medicine spokesperson said in a statement. “We are uniquely well-prepared to quickly take the steps necessary to ensure the safety and protection of patients and staff during this fast-moving and challenging time.”

Penn Medicine had already instituted strict new patient and visitation policies last week. The hospitals aren’t allowing visitors except under very specific circumstances. Exceptions include visiting a patient near death, a parent visiting a hospitalized child, and a coach or partner for a woman giving birth, for instance. Penn Medicine has also rescheduled many patient appointments and procedures.

The Coronavirus Illuminates the Digital Divide in Philadelphia

You’ve probably heard about Philadelphia’s digital divide, the phrase used to describe the technological disparity between residents of different socioeconomic levels.

Some people have multiple computers, tablets, and phones in the same house. Others have few or none. Some people can afford internet service. Others cannot. (Note that Comcast is now offering free high-speed Internet to low-income families and also making all Xfinity hotspots free and open to the public.)

Well, the coronavirus has really illustrated the problem in a new way.

All Philadelphia School District schools are closed through at least March 27th, and students are supposed to be learning at home. But citing inequity issues, the school district has now announced that students are no longer required to check in or do work online, and teachers won’t be grading students. The school district is also now prohibiting teachers from teaching students online (some goodhearted teachers were doing this voluntarily) though they are still allowed to communicate with students and answer questions.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of private schools in the region (and public schools in some more “well-off” school districts) that provide laptops to all students. And many of those schools are requiring/offering daily online learning.

If you didn’t understand the digital divide before, you should now.

Jersey Shore Says to Stay Away

Lots of people have been going to the Jersey Shore during the Philly coronavirus crisis. It makes sense, right? Folks have cabin fever. Lives have been miserably disrupted. And a walk on the beach can be hopeful and restorative.

But officials in various Jersey Shore towns are telling non-residents to stay away. The supermarkets and health system at the shore can’t handle an influx of tourists, they say. Five coronavirus deaths have been reported in the state. (Pennsylvania just saw its first.)

Wildwood Crest mayor Don Cabrera has gone so far as to suggest closing the bridges in the area to anybody who is not a resident.

“It is in the best interest of the Wildwoods, as well as the second homeowners of the Wildwoods and Cape May County, for everyone to stay home at their primary residences, rather than debilitating all supplies and infrastructure on our island during this state of emergency,” he said in the statement. “This is simply a matter of human compassion. I prefer access to Cape May County and the Wildwoods’ bridges temporarily closed unless living here year-round, employed on the island, or caring for a senior or person needing assistance.”

There has also been talk of closing the boardwalks in some Jersey Shore towns. So if you’re planning on heading to the Jersey Shore on Friday, when it’s supposed to be sunny and approaching 70 degrees, you might want to put off that trip for a few weeks. Or months. Ugh.

Snow? Yes, Snow. Well, Maybe.

We wouldn’t normally mention a small chance of snow in the forecast. But, hey, there’s little non-coronavirus related news that’s worth talking about. (Speaking of which: Is it just us, or is now not the right time for football teams and The Masked Singer to be sending out press releases about new team hires and what singer was just eliminated from the show?)

So here it goes. It might snow a bit on Monday. Yes, today is the first day of spring.

That is all.