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Philadelphia officials warn residents to "remain vigilant" as holidays approach

Philadelphia officials give COVID-19 update
Philadelphia officials offer COVID-19 update as cases keep rising 23:01

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley gave an a COVID-19 update Tuesday as Pennsylvania is seeing a spike in both reported coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Officials discussed efforts to stem the surge of infections in the city.

Farley said the city on Monday had recorded 52 deaths due to the coronavirus. While that data is delayed, he explained, it's still a big increase over the 10 deaths per week the city was seeing in September. The city also saw 1,408 coronavirus cases among residents per data from Monday, for a total of 75,458 since the start of the pandemic.

"Unfortunately, we are seeing a spike in case counts from the coronavirus infection here and across the United States to record highs, likely caused by social gatherings that happened over Thanksgiving on top of already high case counts," Farley said.

The city adopted more stringent measures to fight the disease than the state in November, closing schools and libraries, banning indoor dining and recreation and limiting the number of people allowed at indoor gatherings. The "Safer at Home" measures also restrict the number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings and ban indoor celebrations that include people from more than one household. 

Virus Outbreak Pennsylvania
A man rides a bicycle past Temple University Hospital on Friday, December 4, 2020, in Philadelphia. Matt Slocum / AP

But Farley said that while they were seeing a decrease in the number of cases reported each day before Thanksgiving, there was a sharp increase after the holiday, following the typical length of the incubation period. 

"We have more holidays coming up. The past holiday, I believe most people followed our recommendations to not have large family gatherings," he said. "But too many people didn't. We can't afford to have more case spikes like the Thanksgiving spike."

The mayor joined the briefing from his home where he has stayed after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

"I mention this not to focus on myself, but to remind everyone the virus is here and we must remain vigilant," said Kenney. "So if you find yourself in a similar situation, exposed to someone who tests positive, do the right thing and self-quarantine."

According to CBS Philly, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf urged residents in a Monday briefing to continue to take precautions to limit the spread of the virus and help alleviate the burden on hospitals, but stopped short of announcing new official restrictions. According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, a third of the commonwealth's hospitals anticipate staffing shortages within the next week, with 5,300 people in the hospital with COVID-19 and 1,107 of those in intensive care.

"If the worst happens, hospitals will not be able to treat all sick Pennsylvanians and will be forced to turn away people who need treatment," said Wolf. "That means more Pennsylvanians will die."

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