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This story was last updated at 9:56 p.m. on Sept. 24. Please check back for new updates.

New analysis shows Pennsylvania’s severe lag in reporting deaths

Updated at 9:56 p.m. on Sept. 24.

A new analysis shows that Pennsylvania had the most severe death reporting lags in the country in 2017, according to a report by Spotlight PA. While nearly every state was able to send most death certificates to federal health officials within three months, Pennsylvania — which was doing much of its death registration by hand — was only able to send two-thirds. 

In March 2020, Spotlight PA reported, state officials mandated the use of the electronic system for reporting COVID-19 deaths, which led to confusion and delays amid the pandemic. Pennsylvania’s official death count unexpectedly fluctuated during the pandemic’s deadliest months, and the state is still adding months-old deaths to its official COVID-19 death count. 

Phila. Health Commissioner says COVID-19 is spreading through small gatherings

Updated at 9:47 p.m. on Sept. 24.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said contact tracing done so far has proven the coronavirus is most often spreading through small gatherings of family and friends, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Sept. 24. 

The city announced 107 new COVID-19 cases and 2 additional deaths on Thursday. 

Gov. Tom Wolf announces launch of COVID-19 contact tracing app

Updated at 10:08 p.m. on Sept. 22.

Pennsylvania will use COVID Alert PA, a contract tracing app that uses Bluetooth technology to alert a person when they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine announced the launch in Philadelphia on Tuesday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported

The free app detects when two users are within at least six feet of each other for 15 minutes or more, measuring proximity not location. Both phones must have the app downloaded, the Inquirer reported.

Users who come into contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19 will receive an alert on their phone and have the option to talk to a public health representative, according to the Inquirer.

New COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia continue to decrease

Updated at 3:52 p.m. on Aug 6.

New cases of COVID-19 are continuing to decrease in Philadelphia, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley told The Philadelphia Inquirer. On Thursday, the city reported 109 new cases of the virus. 

Philadelphia has reported just above 100 new daily cases for the past few days, a lower number than last week's average of 124 new cases per day, the Inquirer reported.

Out of the over 3,000 test results the city received on Thursday, only 3.6% were positive, Farley told the Inquirer. In recent weeks, the positivity rate was around 5% or higher. 

New cases are also decreasing in the greater Philadelphia area, statewide, and across the country, Farley told the Inquirer.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf admits state testing is 'below average'

Updated at 11:47 a.m. on Aug. 6.

Pennsylvania is facing a shortage of supplies needed in state testing labs and hospitals, making it difficult to increase the number of available coronavirus tests, Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said during a press conference on Thursday. Governor Tom Wolf said the state's testing is "below average," and that "we need to do better."

The state is testing at least 4% of the population on a monthly basis, but Pennsylvania officials said the short-term goal would be to test at least 5% or more residents per month, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Pennsylvania has partnered with Walmart to provide coronavirus testing in at least 13 locations, however, Walmart regional health and wellness director Jamie Reilly said the results can take up to 14 days due to high demand. Levine said 14 days is too long.

“We’re trying to source reagents,” Levine said. “That’s really controlled primarily by those companies and the federal government, but we’re trying to source the reagents so we can increase testing within hospitals.”

Residential Services waives housing cancellation fee until move-in

Updated at 3:00 p.m. on July 31.

Residential Services will waive the housing cancellation fee for 2020 on-campus housing until students check in to their rooms. The previous policy stated that students who canceled their housing assignment between Aug. 1 and Aug. 20 would be charged $500, and students who canceled between Aug. 21 and Sept. 2 would be charged $1,000.

Students had previously expressed frustration over the 10 day window they had after receiving their assignment to decide to cancel or accept their housing on campus without being charged. 

New cases of COVID-19 concentrated in young Philadelphians

Updated at 3:02 p.m. on July 30.

The majority of Philadelphia's new cases of COVID-19 are young people, with 57% of them under age 40. Philadelphia officials reported 136 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The news comes just after a survey conducted by The New York Times that found Penn to have the eighth highest case count out of the approximately 270 U.S. colleges included in the study.

The number of hospitalizations in Philadelphia is also growing, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said. Farley urged Philadelphians over age 65 or with medical conditions to stay at home.

Philadelphia reaches 30,000 coronavirus cases since March

Updated at 12:10 p.m. on July 30.

Philadelphia's confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 30,000 today, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The city is currently experiencing a rise in cases.

Pennsylvania's daily case count has continued to climb since late June. Philadelphia reported 132 new cases yesterday, as cases are on a slight rise in the city since a dramatic decrease ending in mid-June.

City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the surge has been driven in part by young people, the Inquirer reported.

Phila. public schools to stay virtual at least until November, according to officials

Updated at 5:52 p.m. on July 28.

Philadelphia public school students will continue their education completely online until November, at the absolute earliest, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

Multiple officials with information about the situation have said that the decision was made following intense opposition to a proposed hybrid model of in-person and online classes. COVID-19 cases in the region have been surging and many districts have also made the decision to begin the school year online.

For the 125,000 students in the Philadelphia School District, virtual instruction is set to begin in September and continue at least through Nov. 17, according to the Inquirer. 

Pennsylvania ranks 12th lowest in U.S. for new cases in past month

Updated at 11:45 a.m. on July 26.

Since June 25, Pennsylvania has had 163 cases per new cases per 100,000 residents, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Florida, Arizona, and Louisiana claim the top three spots with more than 1,000 new cases per 100,000 residents. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf agreed with Health Secretary Rachel Levine's comments on Thursday that stricter restrictions should be placed on restaurants and bars to prevent surges that are happening in these other regions, The Inquirer reported.

”What we don’t want is what’s happening in places like Florida, which is basically: ‘Let it burn,’” Wolf said. “We don’t want to do that here in Pennsylvania. We know there’s a time between when you let it burn and when you face the consequences. We want to nip this in the bud and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Philadelphia unlikely to lift restrictions on indoor dining Aug. 1

Updated at 6:55 p.m. on July 23.

City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced today that Philadelphia is unlikely to allow restaurants to resume indoor dining by the beginning of August, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The decision comes as coronavirus cases in Philadelphia are on the rise again, particularly among young people.

City officials had previously said that indoor dining would be allowed beginning Aug. 1, the Inquirer reported. The city did not give a date when indoor dining can resume.

COVID-19 cases among young Pennsylvanians continue to increase

Updated at 5:32 p.m. on July 21.

Across Pennsylvania, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 among young people continues to surge. In the southeast region, which includes Philadelphia, 18% of cases are residents between the ages of 19 and 24 as opposed to 5% in April.

The state reported 711 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Monday, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The majority of patients hospitalized are 65 or older.

"We know the virus has not gone away as we see cases rise, so we must work together to stop another surge," Health Secretary Rachel Levine said in a statement to the Inquirer.

Philadelphia officials report 433 new cases of COVID-19

Updated at 11:51 a.m. on July 21.

On Monday, Philadelphia officials reported 433 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Friday. Officials said the increase in the number of new cases in the city can be attributed partly to expanded testing, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Philadelphia now has a total of 28,592 confirmed cases, and still maintains a 5% positivity rate for the virus. State officials said they will be closely observing counties that have rates of 5% or higher.

Officials reported no additional deaths on Monday, however, more than 1,665 residents have died of COVID-19.

Nationwide survey finds mask use is high in Philadelphia

Updated at 9:25 p.m. on July 20.

Philadelphians are wearing masks more often than residents in many other U.S. cities, according to a nationwide survey conducted by The New York Times.

The data — drawn from 250,000 Americans and their mask-wearing habits — depicts a range of face-covering frequencies across Philadelphia neighborhoods. In parts of Center City, 85 percent report they "always" wear a mask when outdoors. While health officials would like the number to be 100%, the map shows Philadelphia's population is more committed to wearing masks than many of its peer cities.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Phila. gyms can reopen on Monday

Updated at 6:17 p.m. on July 19.

Starting Monday, gyms in Philadelphia are permitted to open, Public Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced on Thursday. Gyms must comply with the commissioner's social distancing guidelines, including having everyone wear a mask and stay six feet apart from each other. Classes at gyms must have less than 10 participants. 

Since March, gyms across the city have been closed in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. Gyms in other parts of Pennsylvania had previously been permitted to reopen. 

If the city sees a significant spike in COVID-19 cases, Farley said that gyms may have to close again, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pennsylvania sees first day with over 1,000 coronavirus cases in months

Updated at 2:55 p.m. on July 17.

Pennsylvania reported 1,032 new coronavirus cases today amid a spike in the state's case counts, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

This the first time since May 10 that the state has reported greater than 1,000 cases in a single day. The state is now averaging 800 cases a day, up from 400 in June, the Inquirer reported.

The United States reported a record 77,725 new cases today as case counts continue to surge this month.

Gov. Wolf places new restrictions on bars, restaurants, businesses as COVID-19 cases surge in PA

Updated at 1:45 p.m. on July 16.

Following a surge of COVID-19 cases across the state, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has increased restrictions on businesses, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.  

The Pennsylvania Department of Health sent out an order on July 15 outlining new, tighter regulations throughout the state to prevent hospitals becoming overwhelmed with patients. 

Restaurants may continue outdoor seating, but places that permitted indoor service can only seat up to 25% occupancy. Previously, some restaurants were allowed to seat up to 50% capacity. 

All nightclubs have been ordered to close, and bars without meal service can only only serve alcoholic beverages to-go. 

Gyms and fitness centers are permitted to remain open with current restrictions of social distancing and mask-wearing in place. 

Businesses have been instructed to have their employees conduct their work remotely if possible. Indoor gatherings, such as concert halls and individual movie theaters, are limited to 25 people. Outdoor events and gatherings under 250 people are permitted. 

Wolf's announcement is in light of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases throughout the state. Cases hit over 1,000 in a single day last week and 994 on Wednesday, according to the Inquirer.

Phila. adds Delaware to list of states to avoid due to increasing COVID-19 cases

Updated at 6:43 p.m. on July 12

On Wednesday, the city recommended residents avoid traveling to Delaware, adding it to the growing list of states officials have designated with high case counts of the coronavirus, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

City officials urge residents to quarantine themselves for 14 days and monitor their symptoms if they are returning from Delaware and 17 other states with rising COVID-19 cases. If self-quarantine for that time is not practical, the city asks residents to wear a mask at all times while at the workplace or when around non-household members, according to the city website. 


Penn Museum will reopen to the public on July 28

Updated at 7:35 p.m. on July 8

The Penn Museum will reopen at reduced capacity on July 28. Timed tickets will be required for admission, and visitors will be required to wear face coverings and maintain a six-foot distance from others. Guests who are not feeling well are asked to postpone their visit, according to the museums website.

Visitors will follow a one-way route through the museum with capacity limits in every gallery and public space. Hand sanitizer and wipe dispenser stations will be available near entrances and interactive elements. The museum also installed plexiglass barriers in areas where transactions occur. 

The Museum Cafe will not be serving food or beverages until indoor dining is permitted in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia students returning to school will be required to wear masks

Updated at 12:47 p.m. on July 8.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education will require students returning to school in the fall to wear masks. Students over the age of two in school buildings and athletes who cannot maintain a distance of six feet will be required to wear masks, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Students may remove their masks to eat or drink as long as they remain six feet apart. The order applies to students in public K-12 schools, charter school, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers, boarding schools, nursery schools, and Pre-K programs. 

Phila. will not shut off water to residents who cannot pay water bill

Updated at 12:45 p.m. on July 7.

The Philadelphia Water Department and Water Revenue Bureau announced on Tuesday that it will suspend all water shutoffs through Aug. 31 for residents who cannot pay their bill due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

To further help residents, the city has established an assistance program that allows residents who have had difficulty paying their water bill due to job loss or other effects of COVID-19 to apply for customer assistance that would lower their monthly bills.

Zoo, park, and spraygrounds in Phila. open today

Updated at 1:42 p.m. on July 6

The Philadelphia Zoo, Franklin Square Park, and city spraygrounds reopened Monday, July 6, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The zoo reopened to members only today and will reopen to the public starting July 9. Visitors are required to place reservations beforehand and indoor animal exhibits remain closed. 

Franklin Square Park also reopened to the public today with a new fountain show and carousel. Philadelphia mini golf and the park's playground reopened as well. 

With city pools closed for the summer, 91 spraygrounds, where children can run through sprinklers and fountains, have been turned on today. Spraygrounds will operate from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Children are required to wear masks when they are not in the water.

Libraries, museums, and indoor malls allowed to reopen this weekend in Phila.

Updated at 12:35 p.m. on July 4

After a recent uptick in coronavirus cases in Philadelphia County, the city entered a modified green phase on Friday, with plans to enter the full green phase on Aug. 1, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. In the modified green phase, schools, libraries, museums, indoor malls, and casinos will be allowed to reopen. Outdoor sports and small outdoor performances can also resume. 

Businesses allowed to open will need to follow health and safety guidelines. Face masks are now mandatory in public throughout the state after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued an executive order on Wednesday.

Indoor restaurants, gyms, theaters, religious gatherings over 25 people, and large outdoor events will be allowed on Aug. 1 if the city meets its target of fewer than 80 new coronavirus cases per day.

Pennsylvania reports biggest spike in COVID-19 cases in six weeks

Updated at 8:58 p.m. on July 3

Pennsylvania reported 832 cases, its highest daily mark, on Thursday, while Philadelphia showed a slight increase with 143 new cases, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Thursday was the fifth time in six days the number of daily new cases in Pennsylvania topped 600, The Inquirer reported. Pennsylvania's seven-day average of new cases has been experiencing an upward trend since June 19.

Nearly 100 teenagers tested positive for COVID-19 the week of June 14, more than double the number of new cases for the previous two weeks, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.

Undergraduate calculus courses will be taught remotely this fall

Updated at 7:03 p.m. on June 30

Calculus courses Math 103, Math 104, Math 114, and Math 240 will all be taught remotely for fall 2020, Department of Mathematics Undergraduate Chair Dennis DeTurck wrote in a memo emailed to all undergraduates enrolled in fall calculus courses on June 30.

Students will meet virtually with an instructor once per week for an hour in groups of 60 for active learning or problem-solving. Before each week's live virtual class, students will be expected to watch about 80 minutes worth of short video lectures and complete related homework assignments that will be automatically graded through Canvas.

There will be no midterms for these courses this fall. Instead, three out of four Fridays per month will involve a less-than-hour-long remote quiz covering the week’s material. There will still be a final exam.

“These changes are not minor; they are significant and require a great deal of work on the part of the faculty,” DeTurck wrote.

Phila. to restrict indoor dining and gyms from reopening July 3

Updated at 2:21 p.m. on June 30

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced today that it will scale back the city’s transition into the ‘green’ phase of reopening that starts on Friday, July 3.

Due to increased cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia, the city will now have a modified, restricted 'green' phase. Indoor dining and gyms will be closed until at least August 1, according to a city press release.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley reported 142 new cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon, increasing the total confirmed cases to 26,133.

Low-risk activities are permitted to reopen on Friday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. These include libraries, museums, indoor shopping malls, and small indoor and outdoor gatherings. 

Phila. will continue to offer coronavirus rental assistance to city residents

Updated at 12:14 p.m. on June 30

The city of Philadelphia is offering a second round of rental assistance to residents impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Residents of the city may apply for aid starting Monday, July 6. Funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, and assistance is limited to $750 per month per household and $4,500 over six months, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

To qualify for rental assistance, applicants must be Philadelphia residents and must have lost at least 30% of household income due to the pandemic or become unemployed after March 1.

The Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation administers the program for rental assistance, which is funded by the money given to the state by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Over 13,000 residents applied for the initial round of rental assistance. Around 10,200 households met the requirements, but the city ran out of money after aiding only 4,000 residents. The funds are expected to aid about 6,300 more city households in this second round, The Inquirer reported.

The program is to continue until Sept. 30, or when they run out of funding.

All undergraduate Communication classes 'highly likely' to be held virtually this fall

Updated at 3:15 p.m. on June 29

It is “highly likely” that all undergraduate Communications classes will be held virtually for the Fall 2020 semester, the Annenberg School for Communication's Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Felicity Paxton wrote in an email to undergraduates majoring or considering majoring in Communications.

Although the email was sent to undergraduates on June 29, a final decision will not be announced for another week.

“Stay tuned for more details asap,” Paxton wrote in the email. “We appreciate your patience as we navigate these challenging times and strive to do so in ways that maximize the wellness and resilience of our community as a whole.”


Pennsylvania reports more than 1,100 new coronavirus cases over weekend

Updated at 12:09 p.m. on June 29

The number of coronavirus cases is on the rise in Pennsylvania as the state reported more than 1,100 new cases this past weekend, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The statewide total is now 85,496 cases, the eighth-highest number in the country.

On Saturday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed 621 new cases, which was the greatest single-day increase since June 12. On Sunday, Pennsylvania reported another 505 cases.

This upward trend in the number of coronavirus cases comes as all Pennsylvania counties, except for Lebanon County, have moved into the more liberal “green” phase of reopening. Lebanon County plans to move into the green phase on Friday.

“As nearly the entire state is now in the 'green' phase, we must remain committed to protecting against COVID-19,” Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said in a statement, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.


Philadelphia to enter modified 'green' phase of reopening on Friday 

Updated at 6:39 p.m. on June 27

Upon the city’s transition from its 'yellow' phase to 'green' phase, restaurants, bars, theaters, and malls will be able to open at half-capacity, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Businesses that operated at half-capacity throughout the city’s 'yellow' phase will now be allowed to operate at 75% capacity as well. 

However, not all restrictions will be lifted. Masks will still be required in public spaces, and large gatherings of 250 people or more will still be prohibited. 

The easing of further restrictions on Friday will mean that all counties of Pennsylvania have now entered the 'green' phase of restrictions, with the exception of Lebanon County, which is experiencing a delay due to an increase in coronavirus cases reported in the area. 

Philadelphia to require masks indoors and outdoors when near others

Updated at 1:46 p.m. on June 26

The City of Philadelphia will require people to wear masks indoors, and outdoors when fewer than six feet from others or talking to someone outside their household, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the order comes as new case counts of coronavirus in Philadelphia have stopped decreasing.

The city's cases have been increasing, at more than 100 new cases per day, The Inquirer reported. Cases have spiked in the 16-19 age range, and seem to be related to social gatherings resuming. 

Police will not enforce the order, The Inquirer reported.

As part of Penn's Student Campus Compact, students who choose to return to campus in the fall will be required wear a mask at all times in public spaces.

Penn will invite students back to campus for hybrid instruction in the fall

Updated at 12:00 p.m. on June 25

Penn will invite students back to campus for fall 2020 under a hybrid instruction model, with in-person instruction for “courses across those curricula that demand them.” For students who elect not to return to campus, all courses will be offered through remote formats, Penn President Amy Gutmann, Provost Wendell Pritchett, and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli wrote in an email to the Penn community on Thursday morning. 

The upcoming semester will begin as scheduled on Sept. 1, with an end to in-person operations on Nov. 20 before Thanksgiving break. Classes will be offered online on Monday, Nov. 23 and remain online through the remainder of the semester, including final exams. Fall break, which was scheduled to take place on Oct. 1-4, has been canceled. 

The University will only guarantee housing for first years, sophomores, and transfer students. Every student will live in a private bedroom with a maximum ratio of six students per shared bathroom. Housing will encompass University college houses as well as additional off-campus space for juniors and seniors who requested on-campus housing. 

Students will be required to agree to a Student Campus Compact, requiring all students to wear facial coverings in public, practice six-feet physical distancing measures in public and in classrooms, and avoid large gatherings of 25 or more people. Students participating in clubs, performances, and recreational activities must comply with physical distancing guidelines and safety protocols. 

Students will be tested as they arrive on campus in August, in addition to regular tests and daily symptom checking on a mobile app throughout the semester. If students test positive, they will be required to quarantine in Sansom Place West. 

Penn will have testing available for students, faculty, and staff in the Hall of Flags in Houston Hall throughout the year. 

Pennsylvania lags behind most of the country in coronavirus testing

Updated at 4:47 p.m. on June 24

Pennsylvania is performing fewer coronavirus tests per capita than all but six states and Puerto Rico. Philadelphia, however, continues to provide widespread testing, which is stopping the state's rate from falling even lower, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

An analysis by Johns Hopkins University found that Pennsylvania conducted 5,215 tests per 100,000 people through Wednesday. Without Philadelphia, the rate would be 4,800 tests per 100,000 people, which would leave Pennsylvania only ahead of only Idaho, Puerto Rico, and Wyoming, the Inquirer reported.

Lately, Pennsylvania's statewide positivity rate has hovered around 4%, which meets the World Health Organization recommendation for reopening, The Inquirer reported.

As Phila. surpasses 25,000 COVID-19 cases, the city announces plan to reopen July 3

Updated at 3:05 p.m. on June 22

While Philadelphia prepares to enter the final 'green' phase of reopening on July 3, the Department of Public Health reported 275 new coronavirus cases on Monday, increasing the city's total to 25,116 confirmed cases of COVID-19, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported

Officials say that the number is likely higher due to people choosing not to get tested. 

On June 26, Philadelphia suburbs including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties will move into the green stage of reopening, while the city will delay an additional week, according to the Inquirer. By June 26, salons, spas, barber shops, residential pools, private swim clubs, and outdoor areas of zoos are permitted to open in Philadelphia. Small indoor social and religious gatherings of up to 25 people will also be allowed.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced that if the city reaches its coronavirus targets, it will be able to reopen further on July 3, the Inquirer reported. Outdoor group recreational and sports activities, schools, colleges, libraries, museums, gyms, indoor exercise classes, and restaurants with indoor seating, with occupancy restrictions, are some of the activities permitted to open.


Princeton cancels 'Early Action' applications due to COVID-19

Updated at 7:31 p.m. on June 19

Princeton University announced on Thursday that they will only offer one application deadline for the 2020-21 cycle due to the coronavirus pandemic. Prospective students must apply by Jan. 1, 2021 to be considered. Princeton is the first school in the Ivy League to announce changes to their application deadlines.

In previous years, Princeton has had two deadlines: Single Choice Early Action, due by Nov. 1, and Regular Decision, due by Jan. 1. Princeton's Early Action program does not allow students to apply early to other private universities. 

Princeton also announced a test-optional admissions policy for the 2020-21 cycle. All of the Ivy League universities, including Penn, will be test-optional this year.


Philadelphia to enter green phase by early July

Updated at 4:55 p.m. on June 18

Philadelphia is on schedule to begin the ‘green’ phase of reopening by early July, CBS Philly reported. On Thursday, Mayor Jim Kenney said the city is on track to advance to the next phase of Pennsylvania’s reopening schedule if citizens continue to follow preventative measures such as social distancing.

“As you’ve seen in other areas of the country, that irresponsibility has set them back, so let’s not go there.” Kenney said, according to CBS Philly.

The green phase entails the opening of more businesses, including gyms, schools and colleges, libraries, and shopping malls. It also means a step toward normalcy for restaurants as indoor seating will be permitted with some occupancy restrictions. This next phase will also allow for small outdoor events up to 50 people.

Governor Wolf said mask wearing will continue to be considered essential throughout all phases of reopening.


Eight Pennsylvania counties plan to move to the green phase of reopening on June 19

Updated at 10:17 p.m. on June 14

Eight counties — Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Luzerne, Monroe, Perry, Pike, and Schuylkill — will be allowed to ease most coronavirus restrictions on June 19. These counties will join 46 others that have already been permitted to enter the ‘green’ phase, lifting most of the enforced restrictions on businesses and patrons. 

Despite this, Philadelphia and its suburbs will remain in the ‘yellow’ phase, for now, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. In the ‘yellow’ phase, public spaces such as gyms, salons, and restaurants remain closed. Thirteen Pennsylvania counties remain in the ‘yellow’ phase, with many of them being the most highly populated areas of the state. 

The easing of restrictions in these counties is a part of Governor Wolf’s plan to gradually loosen social distancing measures and other safety precautions that inflict economic problems, most notably for small businesses that needed to close for a period of time due to the pandemic. 


Governor Wolf asks Pa. Supreme Court to uphold shutdown

Updated at 5:57 p.m. on June 14

Governor Tom Wolf asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to intervene in his dispute with Republican lawmakers who are trying to terminate his coronavirus emergency declaration. Republican majorities in the state House and Senate — along with a few Democrats — voted to end the pandemic restrictions Wolf imposed in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus, NBC Philadelphia reported.

Wolf said in a press release that his gradual reopening plan is working, citing a downward trend in new coronavirus cases in the state.

Senate Republicans went to court this week asking Wolf to abide by a resolution that would end the shutdown, as they believe the emergency has passed and continuing pandemic restrictions is no longer necessary.

On Friday, the state attorney general's office accused Republicans of trying to circumvent the state constitution and upend Pennsylvania's reopening process. Wolf's lawyers asked the Supreme Court to declare the proposed resolution legally invalid.

By asking the Supreme Court to take the case, Wolf could get a final decision more quickly, although he would also pass over the Commonwealth Court, where Republicans hold the majority, to reach the Supreme Court, where Democrats outnumber Republicans five to two.


Philadelphia officials release options for outdoor dining

Updated at 5:30 p.m. on June 12

On June 12, restaurants with pre-existing outdoor seating reopened, and restaurants without outdoor seating are able to apply for four dining options based on their locations.

Restaurants can apply to use the sidewalk area in front of the business for restaurant seating, convert curbside parking into an outdoor dining or take-away area, convert parking lot spaces into restaurant seating, or temporarily close streets for shared restaurant dining. Applications will be reviewed starting June 15.

Restaurants that reopen for outdoor dining are required to follow existing health safety measures for restaurants and guidelines for outdoor dining. Hours of operation are limited, tables must be a minimum of six feet apart, and employees and customers must wear masks.


Pa. lawmakers approve resolution ending Governor Wolf's COVID-19 emergency declaration

Updated at 4:27 p.m. on June 11

Republican lawmakers, joined by a couple of Democrats, gave final approval to a resolution to terminate Governor Tom Wolf's coronavrius emergency declaration. With Democrats and Republicans divided on the issue, the governor said the only option was to take the issue to court, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Democrats said the state constitution gives Wolf the power to reject the resolution, which he considers "disastrous," according to the Inquirer. Republicans, however, said state law requires Wolf to end the declaration since a majority of lawmakers approve of the resolution.

The disaster emergency was declared in March, and has allowed Wolf to suspend regulations, command military forces, and order mass evacuations. Wolf told the Inquirer that ending the declaration would rescind protections put in place to fight the pandemic and its economic consequences, such as suspending licensing requirements for healthcare workers and putting a temporary moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.

"Ending the disaster declaration would not reopen anything. It just wouldn't," Wolf told the Inquirer. "And anybody who says differently is wrong."


Philadelphia businesses and churches partially reopen during the first weekend in ‘yellow’ phase 

Updated at 4:36 p.m. on June 7

Philadelphia began its ‘yellow’ phase of coronavirus reopening plan on Friday, June 5. This phase permits businesses to reopen, following legal restrictions on capacity, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

Roman Catholic Churches resumed in-person mass and religious services as well. Families of parishioners are required to wear masks, keep a distance of six feet from one another while seated in mass, and refrain from making physical contact with one another during the Sign of Peace. 

Philadelphia-area residents continued to join in on peaceful protests against police brutality on the Benjamin Franklin parkway throughout the weekend. Many wore masks and attempted to remain a safe distance from other protesters to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. 


Philadelphia officials share COVID-19 guidance for protesters

Updated at 11:14 a.m. on June 7

Philadelphia officials shared coronavirus guidelines with protesters on Sunday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Officials are concerned "there may be an increased likelihood that participants may have been exposed to COVID-19" due to the large numbers of protesters.

Those who attended protests, even if they wore a mask, must monitor their symptoms and try their best to stay away from other people for 14 days.

Seven days after having been in a crowd, individuals should get tested for COVID-19. They do not need to state that they were at a protest, but should instead say they were near someone who may have had the virus. 


Philadelphia and its suburbs enter 'yellow' phase of reopening

Updated at 5:11 p.m. on June 5

Philadelphia and its suburbs moved to the ‘yellow’ phase of reopening today, as the city has seen decreasing coronavirus cases, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. For the first time in over two months, retailers, day care centers, and offices are permitted to reopen on a limited basis in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties. 

Businesses must place barriers between cashiers and shoppers, who must wear masks in stores at all times.

Despite the new reopening status, many city offices will not be reopening until early next week. Although citywide protests may contribute to an increase in coronavirus cases, Chairman of Medicine for Main Line Health Lawrence Livornese told the Inquirer they shouldn't prevent the region from transitioning to the yellow reopening phase. 

Protests have, however, postponed plans to provide outdoor seating to restaurants that do not typically have it in order to reopen safely, the Inquirer reported. Authorization for outdoor dining in restaurants has also been delayed to next weekend.

Philadelphia’s shift to this phase is mostly in alignment with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s plan for reopening the state. While the state’s guidelines for reopening include permitting gatherings of up to 24 people, the city has not authorized this.


Mayor Kenney unsure if Philadelphia will enter 'yellow' phase on June 5

Updated at 3:20 p.m. on June 4

Mayor Jim Kenney expressed hesitation about Philadelphia’s plan to move to the “yellow” phase of partial reopening on Friday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health recorded an additional 126 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 23,160, which includes 1,324 deaths.

As protests continue in Philadelphia, large crowds have left little space for proper social distancing measures.

“I’m a little concerned, though, what might happen with 3-, 4-, 5,000 people close together without a mask for days on end," Kenney said, according to The Inquirer.

Partial reopening plans will depend on what happens today and tomorrow, Kenney said.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley has warned that a large increase in the number of cases could mean the city will not partially reopen as scheduled, the Inquirer reported.

Farley did not mandate how many cases it would take to delay the yellow phase.


Schools in Pennsylvania allowed to reopen for in-person instruction starting July 1

Updated at 3:10 p.m. on June 3

The State Education Department announced that Pennsylvania teachers and students in counties that have reached the "green" or "yellow" phases of reopening will be permitted to return to schools beginning in July, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Schools and colleges, however, are not required to resume in-person instruction.

Schools must adopt their own health and safety procedures if conducting in-person teaching, including maintaining six feet of separation between students.

“Schools can then personalize those expectations based on the needs of their classrooms,” Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said, according to the Inquirer.

Local districts must approve schools' plans to conduct in-person instruction, according to the Inquirer.


Penn cancels all fall 2020 study abroad programs

Updated at 2:33 p.m. on June 3

Penn Abroad has cancelled all study abroad programming for the upcoming fall semester due to global travel restrictions and health risks caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 2, students in study abroad programs received an email from Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager Jacob Gross announcing the suspension of fall study abroad. The email outlined four options for affected students to consider for the fall semester.

Students registered for fall 2020 abroad programming may withdraw their Penn Abroad application entirely, defer their study abroad program to the spring 2021 semester, study abroad in the spring 2021 semester with a different study abroad program, or defer to the fall 2021 semester. The deadline for students to make a decision is June 30.


Philadelphia will not set firm coronavirus reopening metrics

Updated at 4:58 p.m. on May 28

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said city officials will not set firm COVID-19 metrics the city must meet before moving into the first phase of reopening, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Farley added that he expects the city to be ready to begin reopening when Philadelphia moves into the "yellow" phase of reopening on June 5.

Farley told the Inquirer that city officials will release guidelines for residents and business on Friday. 

Governor Tom Wolf announced last week that all counties will move into the "yellow" phase on June 5, regardless of whether they meet a metric for the rate of new cases previously set by his office.

Farley told the Inquirer that a large number of cases could cause him not to move the city into the yellow phase, but did not comment on how many cases it would take.

 

Philadelphia lifts bans on food trucks and walk-up food ordering

Updated at 3:10 p.m. on May 26

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said on Tuesday that patrons may walk inside of restaurants to order food with lines no longer than 10 customers, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Food trucks, which Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney banned in late March, are also now allowed in the city.

Farley called these restriction lifts “the first step toward a new normal," according to The Inquirer.

Kenney issued a stay-at-home order on March 23 to limit the spread of coronavirus and plans to ease some pandemic restrictions beginning on June 5.


All Pennsylvania counties to move to "yellow" phase of reopening by June 5

Updated at 4:35 p.m. on May 22

Pennsylvania counties currently under coronavirus restrictions, including Philadelphia county and its surrounding suburbs, will enter the "yellow" phase of reopening by June 5, Pa. Governor Tom Wolf announced Friday morning. 

Forty-nine out of Pennsylvania's 67 counties have already moved into the yellow phase, The Inquirer reported. Eight Pa. counties will transition from the red to yellow reopening phase beginning May 29, while the remaining 10 Pa. counties, including Philadelphia County, will transition the following Friday. 

Counties must meet certain metrics for testing capacity and declining hospitalization rates, including reaching only 50 new cases per 100,000 residents over the course of 14 days, in order to move from the red to yellow phase. Southeastern Pa. counties, however, have not met these metrics as of yet, according to the Inquirer. 

While gatherings larger than 25 people are still prohibited in the yellow phase, most businesses will be able to reopen with restrictions in place, including allowing employees to work from home when possible. 

Restaurants will remain closed to in-person business and retail stores will be expected to continue their delivery and curbside pick-up options. Health and wellness facilities, entertainment venues, and indoor malls must also remain closed to the public under the yellow phase. 


University outlines four possible scenarios for fall 2020 

Updated at 8:22 p.m. on May 21

The University administration sent an email to the Penn community on May 21 outlining four possible scenarios for the fall semester in response to the pandemic, stating a specific decision would be finalized by the end of June. 

The scenarios under consideration are a combination of virtual and in-person classes, as previously suggested in an April 27 announcement, a shortened in-person semester, increased 2021 summer course offerings, and entirely online learning for the fall semester. 

The University also outlined various potential efforts to ensure campus safety, such as enforcing facial coverings in public, six-feet physical distancing measures, regular COVID-19 testing abilities, and traffic-reducing measures in dorms, dining halls

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