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Coronavirus Latest: Philadelphia Health Officials Say Growth Slowing As COVID-19 Cases Top 4,700; Statewide Total Climbs Over 16,000

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia health officials say the growth is slowing in the city as the number of coronavirus cases rose over 4,700 on Wednesday. Statewide, COVID-19 cases shot above 16,000 as the death toll now stands over 300.

In Philadelphia, officials announced 505 new cases, bringing the citywide total to 4,777 as the death toll rose to 78.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said it appears that the growth of cases is slowing.

"The growth is slowing but it's important to say we can't assume the slower growth will continue. This virus may find new populations. We may see rises and falls before we see a sustained fall," Farley said.

The health commissioner said it's still essential for people to stay indoors and continue social distancing.

"Despite the somewhat better news, it is still very important that people are very serious about staying safe. The virus is still circulating. If we start behaving as we have before, lots of social contact, it's no question the virus will surge again," Farley said.

Pennsylvania health officials reported 1,680 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 16,560. The health department also announced 70 additional deaths, raising the death toll to 310.


"Now more than ever, as we continue to see COVID-19 cases and deaths rise in Pennsylvania, we need Pennsylvanians to take action," Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. "Those actions should be to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. If you must go out, please limit it to as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and our healthcare workers and frontline responders."

Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday the commonwealth is no longer seeing exponential growth daily. Wolf also signed an executive order to provide critical aide to hospitals with targeted personal protective equipment and supplies distribution.

"Combatting a pandemic means we all have to work together and that means we need to make the best use of our medical assets to ensure the places that need them most have them," Wolf said. "Today, I am signing an order that will allow us to transfer supplies and information between medical facilities to both high-population, high-impact areas and lower population areas that might not have as many existing medical resources."

Over 82,000 patients have tested negative for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, short-term rental property owners in Pennsylvania continue to advertise lodging in defiance of Gov. Tom Wolf's coronavirus shutdown order, administration officials said Wednesday.

Wolf banned short-term residential rentals last week after state lawmakers in the Pocono Mountains complained that property owners had been trying to entice travelers from virus hotspots New Jersey and New York.

But owners are continuing to advertise availability using Airbnb, VRBO and other platforms, "unnecessarily putting the health of the public in even greater jeopardy than is already the case," wrote Dennis M. Davin, secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development.


Davin wrote to Airbnb Inc. and Expedia Group, which owns VRBO, asking them to tell hosts who are violating the shutdown order that they are not allowed to operate.

Davin said the administration is seeking voluntary compliance but warned of "significant consequences" for short-term rental owners if they don't stop advertising availability.

Airbnb has said its hosts may not reference "COVID-19," "coronavirus" or "quarantine" in listing titles, advertise themselves as virus-free or encourage guests to ignore travel advisories. Expedia has offered similar guidance. Both platforms say violators can have their listings removed.

The Associated Press emailed Airbnb and Expedia seeking comment on the Wolf administration's allegations.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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