As cases of the novel coronavirus continue to multiply in Philadelphia, officials have doubled the number of sites where food will be given out to people in need.
The city’s food distribution program kicked off Monday with 4,600 boxes doled out at 20 locations. On Thursday, 16,000 boxes will be available at 40 sites, Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Alliance HSP, a real estate company, is allowing the city and its partners, Philabundance and the Share Food Program, to use a warehouse rent-free, which Kenney credited with helping to expand the initiative.
Recently laid-off workers have also been hired to staff the warehouse, according to the Mayor’s Office.
“I want to tell you that I am simply awestruck by how quickly this came together, and I want to thank everyone who donated their time, energy and resources to make this happen,” Kenney said during his daily press briefing.
The distribution centers will be open from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Thursdays. Visit phila.gov/COVID-19 for a complete list of locations. There is no income cut-off or ID requirement.
Students can also access free breakfast and lunch meals on Mondays and Thursdays at 80 locations operated by the School District of Philadelphia and other organizations.
City leaders on Wednesday announced 360 new COVID-19 cases, raising Philadelphia’s total to 1,675. Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said part of the increase was 74 people whose infection was already reported to the state, but not the city.
Nearly 100 healthcare workers have tested positive, and there are 12 inmates in city jails with COVID-19.
For the first time, health officials disclosed details about the race of coronavirus patients. Of 528 people for whom the city has racial background information, 46 percent were African American, 37 percent were white, 10 percent were Hispanic and 3 percent were Asian.
People who live in every zip code in the city have come down with the virus, according to Health Department data.
Philadelphia’s COVID-19-related death toll is now 15, with one new death reported Thursday. Farley said 75 percent of those who have died are 70 and older.
The city has opened an additional coronavirus testing site, Farley said, though it is appointment-only. It’s in the Center City area, but officials wouldn’t give a specific location to prevent walk-ups.
Like the other government-run center, at Citizens Bank Park, it will be available to those with symptoms who are healthcare workers or 50 and older. People interested in making an appointment can call 267-491-5870.
Wednesday marked the start of April, meaning rent checks were due for many Philadelphians for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak began to seriously impact daily life in the city. Kenney reminded renters that evictions have been suspended by the courts, but only through Sunday.
“We hope and anticipate that the courts will extend the closure, but we have not heard any updates yet on that extension,” the mayor said.
Kenney said the city has received reports of lock-outs and other illegal evictions. He told renters who are kicked out of their properties to call 911 and asked landlords to “have some patience (and) understand this is an unprecedented crisis.”