Philadelphia announces first case of coronavirus

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley explained that the two most common symptoms of coronavirus are fever and a dry cough and emphasized that anyone experiencing those symptoms should stay away from other people. PHOTO: MELISSA MITMAN

Philadelphia officially has a confirmed case of coronavirus.

The announcement was made this afternoon during a press conference at City Hall—a Philadelphia resident is considered a presumptive positive case of COVID-19, has been exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus and is currently being treated at home.

“I want to assure the public that Philadelphia is ready to manage the situation with the urgency that is warranted,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.

Although this is the first coronavirus case within Philadelphia, the state of Pennsylvania has 11 confirmed cases, including ones in Montgomery County, Monroe County, Delaware County and Wayne County.

Confidentiality rules limited details about the Philadelphia patient, however Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley confirmed that the Philadelphia Department of Health is currently reaching out to other people who may have been exposed. The patient was in contact with other people, and they will also be quarantined.

“That means that the virus is circulating in Philadelphia now,” said Farley. “The city is responding as quickly as they can to the situation. There are two areas I want to reemphasize that we’re focusing on. One is case containment, the other is reducing citywide spread.”

The city’s plan for case containment is divided into four actions: rapid case identification, case isolation, contact tracing (identifying people who may have been exposed) and contact quarantine.

The second plan of action is reducing citywide spread of COVID-19, which includes limiting large public gatherings. It was highly recommended that local residents do not attend any public gathering of 5,000 people or more. This includes sporting events, and yes, the annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade scheduled for this Sunday.

“We make this recommendation with a heavy heart because we know how beloved that parade is for so many Philadelphians,” said Brian Abernathy, Managing Director of the City of Philadelphia. “But we also do so with an element of caution. This also impacts our sports teams, professional, collegiate and even high school.”

The Philadelphia Health Commissioner explained that the two most common symptoms of coronavirus are fever and a dry cough. Farley emphasized that anyone experiencing those symptoms should self-quarantine and stay away from other people. If you experience those symptoms and have been exposed to someone with the virus, call your physician immediately and get tested.

“Clearly, we don’t want any panic, but we are asking people to be cautious and follow the signs,” said City Council President Darrell Clarke.

Residents can receive up-to-date information about COVID-19 through the city’s mass communication system. Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates and information.

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