Vacant School

What are usuall bustling school playgrounds, like this one at IHM, stand mostly deserted. Gov. Tom Wolf announced state schools will remain shut down 'indefinitely.'

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Department of Public Health Tuesday announced 242 additional presumptive confirmed cases of COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Philadelphia. That brings the number of confirmed cases to 1,315. The death total in the city now stands at 14.

The Health Department confirmed one additional fatality in Philadelphia. This brings the number of residents who have succumbed to the virus in Philadelphia to nine.

In the meantime, Gov. Tom Wolf announced he was extending his order for residents to stay at home through April 30. the governor also extended the shutdown of all state schools "indefinitely."

In other coronavirus news, Mayor Jim Kenney that beginning Monday, March 30, 20 community food sites will provide free food to residents who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Residents can pick up a box of food (one box per household) on Mondays and Thursdays between 10 a.m. and noon at sites throughout the city. This effort is a partnership with the community-based sites, as well as Philabundance and Share Food Program. In addition, the City, School District, and partners will continue to operate student meal sites at over 80 locations citywide. A full list and interactive map of food sites and student meal sites are available on the City’s website. Additional food distribution sites will be announced.

The mayor also announced that the 76ers organization is making two significant donations to help Philadelphians. The first donation is to Philabundance, funding that will provide 20,000 boxes of food that will feed 160,000 people across the Philadelphia area. The team also committed the funds needed to purchase 10,000 Chromebooks for students in the Philadelphia School District.

“I’m told this is just the start of what the Sixers will be doing to help our city and its residents in this time of need,” Kenney said. “I thank Josh Harris, David Blitzer, and the entire Sixers organization for their tremendous commitment and for being leaders in our community.”

The mayor also announced a one-year contract extension has been signed with the FOP Lodge 5, and similar agreements with the other three municipal unions are in progress. The current contracts with all four municipal worker unions expire at the end of June.

The one-year extension with the FOP includes raises of 2.5 percent for the Police Department, 2.25 percent for the Sheriff’s Office and 2 percent for the Register of Wills –effective May 1, 2020. Under this extension, allegations of harassment or discrimination will be investigated by the Employee Relations Unit of the Office of Labor Relations, rather than the Philadelphia Police Department itself. The Administration also remains committed to seeking disciplinary and other operational reforms in the new long-term contract that would be negotiated next year.

“We did this now so our employees could focus on the health crisis at hand, rather than months of contract negotiations,” said the Mayor. “I thank John McNesby and the leadership of the FOP for their willingness to tackle this, and to do so in such a short period of time.”

Due to extraordinary demand and limited resources available, the city and PIDC have announced the following changes to the Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund. All Microenterprise Grant, Small Business Grant, and Small Business Zero Interest Loan applications received by March 30, at 5 p.m. will be reviewed for funding consideration. After 5 p.m. on Monday, March 30, applications will only be accepted and reviewed from businesses applying for Microenterprise Grants of $5,000. Applications for Small Business Grants and Zero-Interest Loans will no longer be accepted. Any Micro Enterprise Grant applications received after March 30 at 5 p.m. will be reviewed as new funds become available.

Local businesses are encouraged to review eligibility requirements and apply for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s new COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program, administered by Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA). Applications should be submitted to PIDC—the city’s Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO). The program offers zero interest loans of up to $100,000 to for-profit businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees. The City also recommends businesses apply for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Businesses should also review SBA’s pending Paycheck Protection loan program, recently approved in the federal CARES bill. Additional information regarding local and national resources for businesses can be found here.

The William Penn Foundation, Vanguard, and Reinvestment Fund announced a collaboration to support Philadelphia childcare providers who are struggling to sustain their businesses through closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A $5 million grant from William Penn Foundation and a $2 million grant from Vanguard’s Strong Start for Kids Program™ will launch the Philadelphia Emergency Fund for Stabilization of Early Education (PEFSEE), which will help Philadelphia continue its important progress in ensuring access to high quality early learning.

“We’re grateful for the support that William Penn and Vanguard have shown to support early learning in years past, and now during this time of crisis,” Kenney said. “Because many providers are not collecting tuition payments or co-pays while centers are closed, they’re losing revenue they rely on to stay open. The Philadelphia Emergency Fund for Stabilization of Early Education will help ensure that these programs are here for our families and children when this crisis is over. Foundations, corporations, and individuals are encouraged to provide additional support so these programs can help our youngest children learn again—soon.”

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