The City of Philadelphia announced Thursday afternoon that because of the growing risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus, it is prohibiting any event expecting 1,000 or more attendees.
Although there is only one confirmed case in the city, there are about 17 confirmed cases in surrounding counties and about 45 suspected cases that have been tested, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.
In addition, the City is urging that organizers of events of 250 or more people consider canceling or postponing their events. This includes sporting events, festivals and even church services, he said.
Organizations hosting events smaller than this size are recommended to consider canceling or postponing, or to practice social distancing like forgoing handshakes and sitting every other seat.
This guideline will be in effect for the next 30 days.
“More people will get sick, and we have to expect there will be deaths because of this,” Farely said. “We have to do more to contain community-wide spread.”
Although the City is recommending these precautions, it is not recommending closing workplaces, stores or restaurants. The City will also not be closing down public transit or the airport.
It will also not be closing the schools at this time. Children are far less likely to contract the virus or spread it around, Farley said. He and other officials said that a great number of families rely on the public schools for regular meals and that parents cannot afford to stay home from work. Parents may submit a note to schools if their child is going to be absent.
The City said it was also considering preparing a quarantine space for those who are “high risk” and preparing for surges in healthcare centers.
People who are healthy must also do their part to slow the spread of the virus, the commissioner said, by staying out of large social situations, and vigilantly washing their hands.
The City will conduct daily updates on the situation going forward.
“We understand that you may be fearful, there’s a fear of the unknown and we’re clearly in for a rough patch,” Farley said. “I can’t say how this will unfold, but we will get through it. I know the people of Philadelphia are tougher than any virus.”
We are tracking an ongoing list of events that are canceled, postponed or going virtual. This list will be updated as more information becomes available. To send in info about your event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.-30-