Coronavirus

Philly Coronavirus News: White House “Concerned” About Philly, SEPTA Gets More Extreme

Plus, why the cops showed up at my house last night.


a view of city hall and the benjamin franklin parkway during the philadelphia coronavirus crisis

A couple walk their dog across the sparsely traveled Benjamin Franklin Parkway during the coronavirus outbreak in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A roundup of Philly coronavirus news.

White House “Concerned” About Philly Coronavirus Numbers

White House coronavirus expert Deborah Birx showed up on Good Morning America on Wednesday morning and said that White House officials are “concerned” about Philadelphia.

Birx’s official mouthful of a title is “Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy.” She told GMA anchor George Stephanopoulos that the White House is specifically worried about Philly, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. due to the trends and positive test ratios.

“All of our previous areas seem to be steady at least,” Birx said of some of the country’s other coronavirus hotspots.

Here’s the full interview:

On Tuesday afternoon, Philly officials revealed that 544 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the city. That brings the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Philadelphia to 4,272. Of those cases, 65 people have died. Of those deaths, 66 percent of the patients were over the age of 70, with 26 of the deaths attributed to residents of long-term care facilities.

SEPTA? What SEPTA?

SEPTA is about to become as close to non-existent as it can get without completely vaporizing.

On Thursday, SEPTA will move from “essential” service to a pretty extreme “lifeline” schedule. And if you plan to ride SEPTA anytime soon, you better be prepared to tell SEPTA police why.

“SEPTA transit police will be in stations and on vehicles ensuring that those who are traveling have good reason to be on the system,” a SEPTA official said on Tuesday.

On the Market-Frankford Line, a.k.a. “The El,” service will move to a Saturday schedule. But there will be no service at all between 1 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. The following stations are closing altogether: Church, Tioga, Somerset, York-Dauphin, 2nd Street, 5th Street, 13th Street, 56th Street, 63rd Street and Millbourne.

The Broad Street Line also moves to a Saturday schedule. As with the El, there will be no service from 1 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. SEPTA is closing the following Broad Street Line stations: Tasker-Morris, Lombard-South, Spring Garden, Fairmount, Susquehanna-Dauphin, Wyoming, Logan and Chinatown.

SEPTA is temporarily doing away with some regional rail lines. Those lines are: Chestnut Hill East, Chestnut Hill West, Cynwyd, Manayunk/Norristown, West Trenton and Wilmington. The Paoli/Thorndale train will only stop in Malvern and Center City. The Lansdale/Doylestown train only offers stops in Lansdale and Center City.

For a complete rundown of what this new SEPTA “lifeline” service looks like, including its effects on buses and trolleys, go here.

Why The Cops Showed Up at My House Last Night

Tuesday night was a beautiful night in Philadelphia, so my wife and I decided to get some fresh air with our kids out in front of our West Philadelphia home. (If you want to read this as: My wife and I decided to conduct coronavirus happy hour on our front stoop, that’s okay too.)

Shortly after a neighbor stopped to talk to us (she was literally about 20 feet away), a Philadelphia police car rolled up.

“Y’all having a party here?” asked the cop, standing in the roadway. (My wife says the cop used the word “gathering” instead of “party,” just for the record, but I think my wife was wrong.)

I politely explained to the police officer that all of the people in my front yard live in my house and that my neighbor was far more than six feet away. And I thanked her for her service. She raised her two arms and displayed the peace symbol with each hand and was on her way.

I mention this only to say that it’s good to see that the cops are making an effort to keep people apart who are supposed to be apart. I just wish they could’ve seen the ridiculously packed line at the nearby water-ice stand earlier this week.

Oh, look, thanks to the 311 app, they can!

the line at a philadelphia water ice stand during the philly coronavirus crisis

The line outside of a local water ice-stand during the Philly coronavirus crisis. (Image via 311 app)

That line is nothing compared to what I witnessed.

Briefly Noted Coronavirus News

University City District Launches $250,000 Emergency Grant Program

The city ordered 500,000 N95 masks, but there’s one big problem.

Yes, you can buy perfectly legal booze in Philadelphia. You just have to know how.