PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It was a milestone in Philadelphia regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, with a record number of daily deaths. However, the trend of new cases continues to improve slightly and was recognized Friday by the White House Task Force.
It was a bit of a reversal from the feds. This comes as the region braces for a surge of patients expected over the next three days.
Philadelphia officials say new cases of COVID-19 might be leveling off, but the deaths are starting to catch up.
"We are continuing to see a slowing of growth of coronavirus cases in the city," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.
With 522 additional cases overnight, Farley says Philadelphia now has 5,793 people who've tested positive for COVID-19. And with 33 new deaths, it's the highest number of fatalities in a 24-hour period.
"Now, the number of deaths lags behind the number of cases that we get, so the increase we saw in cases in the last week or two, is following up now with an increase in deaths," Farley said. "So this increase is expected but it's very sad."
Temple University's Liacouras Center is being set up with 180 beds and medical equipment to be ready for overflow patients on April 16.
"These will be COVID positive patients above the age of 18 who have been improving in the hospital, but need another few days or weeks of care before they're ready to go home," said Sandra Gomberg, CEO of the COVID surge facility.
After calling the Philadelphia region a hot spot earlier in the week, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, says the numbers have improved. She credits mayors for strong social distancing measures.
"Working with their communities, they are starting to really change the curves in those areas," Dr. Birx said.
Modeling has shown the Philadelphia region will have a surge of patients over the holiday weekend.
"Easter Sunday is coming. Just keep everyone in your prayers and hopefully, as Jesus rose from the dead, we can rise from this pandemic and move forward," Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Officials caution we are far from the end of this outbreak, and that with the holiday weekend, this is no time for Easter get togethers.
It's critical that people stay home as much as possible.
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