Deadline nears for Philly’s business relief fund

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Small business owners hoping to receive grants from the city’s COVID-19 relief fund have until Wednesday night to submit applications, officials said.

So far, more than 6,000 applications have been filed, totaling $82 million in aid, according to the city. The fund contains a fraction of that, but officials said up to 1,000 businesses are expected to benefit from the program.

When city leaders announced the relief program March 23, it had about $9.25 million in funding. The total has since topped $12 million, thanks to donations from Citizens Bank, PNC and the Knight Foundation, and repurposed funding from the city and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.

Businesses with revenues under $500,000 have until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to file for a $5,000 grant. The city stopped accepting applications for larger grants and zero-interest loans from bigger companies March 30 due to high demand and low resources.

Meanwhile, a separate fund has been set up to help artists and cultural organizations. It’s starting with $3.45 million in funding, the bulk of which came from the William Penn Foundation.

Individual artists and organizations with annual budgets of $15 million or less whose operations have been deeply affected by the virus will be eligible to receive aid, the city said.

The program is being run by the city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

On Sunday, the city reported 234 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 additional deaths related to the virus. Since the start of the outbreak, case counts have been lower on weekends because some labs do not report results on Saturdays and Sundays.

So far, 6,386 people in Philadelphia have been infected with the virus, including at least 131 SEPTA workers and 69 inmates in city jails. About half of the 176 people who have died lived in nursing homes.

Statewide, 22,833 people have tested positive for the virus and 507 have died as of Sunday.

Health officials said 693 people in Philadelphia were hospitalized with the virus, a decrease compared to Saturday (700) and Friday (717).

City leaders continue to urge residents to stay home, follow social distancing guidelines, wear face coverings outside and wash their hands frequently.

Food distribution sites operated by the city and the School District of Philadelphia’s student meal locations will be closed Monday due to thunderstorms and strong winds, in addition to a delay due to Good Friday.

All sites are expected to open Tuesday and Thursday. For a complete list of locations, visit www.phila.gov/COVID-19.

Recycling, which was not collected last week, will be picked up starting Monday. Officials advised residents to expect some delays due to staffing shortages.

The Streets Department will be operating an every-other-week schedule for recycling pick-up through at least May 15.

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