Philly Coronavirus News: Grocery Store Workers Need Masks, Runners Need a New Place to Run

Plus, a Philadelphia police officer has become the first cop to die from the coronavirus, and more than 50 cops have reportedly tested positive.

a woman runs on the philadelphia art museum steps during the coronavirus crisis in philadelphia

A woman runs on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the coronavirus crisis in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A roundup of Philly coronavirus news.

Dear Grocery Stores: The Coronavirus Called, Please Get Your Employees Masked

If you visit “essential” or “life-sustaining” businesses in the Philadelphia region right now, you’ll start noticing something curious. Some employees wear masks. Some don’t.

As of Tuesday morning, Starbucks is requiring all of its employees to wear masks. The company is providing all of its employees — wait, aren’t they called team members? — with instructions for making their own masks.

“Our goal remains to continue exceeding all health expert recommendations in order to make sure partners feel supported with the best science and facts available to us,” said Starbucks in a statement.

And keep in mind that Starbucks is only open for drive-thru or delivery business. You can’t actually go into a Starbucks shop these days.

But it’s not hard to find “essential” businesses — and those where employees and the public intermingle, and often at unsafe distances — where employees do not wear masks.

Why, just yesterday, we visited an Acme in Delaware County and found three young employees unmasked, all standing within a foot or two of each other, chatting. Meanwhile, customers — some masked, some unmasked — walked directly next to them, because there was really no great way to get around them. Some Acme employees did wear masks, but not all of them.

Over at the Wegmans in Malvern, it’s hard to find an employee wearing a mask. We spoke with an employee who is frustrated with the message coming from management.

“Two weeks ago, we were told we’d be sent home if we wore a mask,” the employee told Philly Mag. (A Wegman’s rep did not return a call seeking comment.) “Then this week, they told us we could only wear N95 masks. But then another manager said he didn’t know anything about masks.”

Report: More Than 50 Philly Cops Test Positive for Coronavirus

On Monday, we learned that Philadelphia police lieutenant James Walker, 59, had become the first Philly cop to die from coronavirus. Walker had been with the force since 1987. He expected to retire in December.

“Losing Lieutenant James Walker to complications from Covid-19 is deeply painful,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement. “The loss of his life illustrates the commitment that he and members of the Philadelphia Police Department have to serve the communities of this city, even in times of unprecedented risk and challenge. Lt. Walker devoted nearly 33 years to serving the communities in Philadelphia. I appreciate his and other members’ commitment. With a Covid-19 surge anticipated in our area, PPD members are expected to follow protocols put in place to reduce the risk of exposure to themselves and others. With that said, we are constantly assessing our
protocols and will adjust them as necessary and/or as we receive additional PPE.”

Let’s hope that Walker is the first and only Philly cop to succumb to the coronavirus. But the Inquirer reports that more than 50 cops have tested positive for coronavirus, according to unnamed police sources.

Diversify Your Walking/Hiking/Biking Locations

It seems like everybody we know has been heading to the Wissahickon to get in their socially distanced outdoor exercise. And, sure enough, now we’re hearing that the park is overwhelmed with crowds.

There are lots and lots of public trails and parks that are still open for hiking and outdoor exercise. Maybe it’s a good day to try a new spot? Have you ever heard of the Art Museum steps? They were pretty empty the other day, as seen in the photo.

See a Business Open That Shouldn’t Be? Report Them to 311

Normally, we don’t like to encourage people to get all tattletale-y, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If you see a non-essential or non-life sustaining business that is operating during the Philly coronavirus crisis, the municipal hotline 311 is your friend. You can (anonymously) report the business to the city, and there are currently scores of such complaints awaiting or under review.