Philly Coronavirus News: Criminal Filings Plummet, Coronavirus Cases Climb, SEPTA Execs Take Pay Cut

And we can't believe we feel the need to say this, but please, please, please, don't intentionally cough on people.

man riding septa during the coronavirus crisis in philadelphia

A SEPTA passenger covers his face while riding the K bus down Germantown Avenue during the Philadelphia coronavirus crisis. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A roundup of Philly coronavirus news.

Things That Shouldn’t Need to Be Said: Don’t Intentionally Cough On People

This is one of those stories that, when we heard it, we said to ourselves, Thank goodness this didn’t happen in Philadelphia.

Long story short, police have charged a man in Cumberland County (think a little east of the Breezewood Interchange on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and a little west of Hershey) with assault after he allegedly coughed on a man who was wearing a medical face mask and protective gloves inside a grocery store because he was recovering from pneumonia. And, well, because of the coronavirus.

Note that this was during the new “seniors only” shopping hours early in the morning and that the victim is a senior citizen and the defendant is not.

We realize that this case is not exactly in Philly Mag’s normal coverage area. But this is just such a good example of what not to do during the coronavirus crisis. But you knew that already, right? RIGHT?

Philly Criminal Filings Plummet Amid New Coronavirus Police Policy

Last week, Philly made national headlines when we learned that the Philadelphia Police Department had changed its arrest policy to protect cops and avoid gumming up the court system and overcrowding the jails.

It appears that the new policy is working, at least as it relates to not gumming up the court system. New criminal filings in the city have gone way down.

For instance, only 15 people were actually charged with crimes in Philly’s criminal court on Monday. Last Friday? 22. In a city of 1.5 million people, give or take, that’s really, really low.

As a reminder of what that new policy looks like, police are arresting people on the spot who have allegedly committed violent crimes. But in cases where defendants commit non-violent crimes like theft, vandalism, or prostitution, for instance, police can use their discretion and temporarily detain the person, verify their identity, and fill out some paperwork, with the idea that the person will be arrested down the road.

Local Coronavirus Stats Surge

Not that we didn’t expect it but Philly coronavirus cases have climbed once again. The latest number of confirmed cases is 342. Ten days ago, that number was just eight. On Wednesday afternoon, Philadelphia reported its first coronavirus-related death.

The jump statewide went from about 100 cases one week ago to more than 850 today. Prepare yourself for many more cases. Governor Wolf says he expects the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania to grow “exponentially,” which only makes sense.

If you haven’t yet taken the social distancing and stay-at-home orders seriously, now is a very good time to start. A week ago was, but we digress…

SEPTA Says Stay Away, Execs Take Pay Cut

SEPTA officials have asked riders to stay away from the public transportation service unless riding it is absolutely essential. And keep in mind that the city has already ordered you to stay at home unless you are participating in “life-sustaining” activities.

SEPTA describes the losses in ridership as “staggering,” with city ridership down 64 percent and Regional Rail down 88 percent. As a result, SEPTA general manager Leslie Richards and the rest of the executive team is taking a ten percent pay cut. (Probably not enough.)

For the remainder of this week, SEPTA is expected to remain on an “enhanced Saturday schedule.” For more details, click here.