March 09, 2020
The Philadelphia region has been battling the coronavirus since early March, when the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the area.
Here's a list of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey case totals and a timeline of response efforts, last updated at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27.
Though most COVID-19 cases are mild, the virus has proven deadly, killing more than 2.1 million people throughout the world. More than 425,000 Americans have died. The elderly and people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.
Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. They also include fatigue, muscle aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, runny nose, nausea and diarrhea. The incubation period is 2-14 days.
Pennsylvania announced its first two coronavirus cases, including one in Delaware County, on Friday, March 6.
Philadelphia followed four days later. The news prompted the cancellation of the St. Patrick's Day parade. City and state officials steadily increased mitigation efforts and restrictions until all non-life-sustaining businesses were closed and the entire state was under a stay-at-home order.
Pennsylvania began easing restrictions in 24 counties in the northwest and north-central portions of the state on Friday, May 8. By mid-summer, all 67 counties have advanced to the green phases of the state's reopening plan, with Philadelphia in a modified version.
In mid-November, Philly and state officials began reimplementing restrictions in response to coronavirus cases reaching record highs before the holiday season. They then began relaxing them in January.
Here's a timeline of events, from the initial cases to the present day:
Bucks County announced its first cases on Tuesday, March 10.
On Wednesday, March 11, The University of Pennsylvania and West Chester University became the first colleges in the area to shift to online classes for the duration of the semester.
The mitigation efforts began in Montgomery County on Thursday, March 12, when Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all schools to close for two weeks and called on gyms, community centers and entertainment venues to close. The county had reported its first cases on Saturday, March 7 – and they quickly escalated.
Philadelphia reluctantly closed its schools on Friday, March 13 – shortly before Wolf announced that schools would close throughout the state. Philly officials had sought to keep their schools open, arguing that closing them would disrupt much of the city and that students were safer there. But closures in Montgomery and Delaware counties created staffing shortages within the School District of Philadelphia, forcing their hand.
Wolf also directed all Delaware County retailers to close. Chester County announced its first case on Friday, March 13.
Wolf called on all bars and restaurants to close in the four suburban Philly counties on Sunday, March 15. The next day, Philly ordered its bars and restaurants to do likewise – an hour before Wolf enacted the restrictions across Pennsylvania. Additionally, the University of Pennsylvania called off The Penn Relays for the first time in the event's 125-year history.
Penn Medicine opened the first two coronavirus testing sites in the region on Monday, March 16. Patients needed a doctor's referral to get tested.
Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close indefinitely on Thursday, March 19. Those that failed to comply faced fines, citations or license suspensions – the first time Wolf had put teeth behind his mitigation efforts.
Philadelphia officials opened the city's first public, drive-thru testing site– outside Citizens Bank Park. It was restricted to people older than 50 or health care workers, but a doctor's referral was not required.
Mayor Jim Kenney ordered residents to stay at home except for essential trips– like those to the grocery store or pharmacy – or essential work.
Montgomery County reported the first coronavirus-related death in Southeastern Pennsylvania on Sunday, March 22.
Rite Aid opened a drive-thru testing site for emergency responders and health care personnel in Philadelphia's West Oak Lane neighborhood on Monday, March 23. The city postponed the Broad Street Run until October. Gov. Tom Wolf placed all residents in the four suburban Philly counties under a stay-in-place order.
Pennsylvania officials put aside $50 million to be used to purchase medical equipment and supplies, including beds, ventilators and respirators, on Thursday, March 26. They said they expected a surge of coronavirus cases.
The next day, Philly officials announced plans to use Temple University's Liacouras Center as a makeshift hospital if city hospitals became overwhelmed.
Bucks County announced its first COVID-19-related death on Saturday, March 28.
On Monday, March 30, Wolf announced schools and non-life-sustaining businesses would remain closed indefinitely. He also extended his stay-in-place order, which grew to include 26 counties, to April 30. President Donald Trump declared Pennsylvania a major disaster, paving the way for additional federal funds.
Wolf placed the entire state under his stay-in-place order on Wednesday, April 1.
State health officials advised all residents to wear cloth masks in public in anticipation of new federal guidelines, which were announced later on Friday, April 3. The Philadelphia prison system announced it was supplying all inmates with masks and mostly restricting them to their cells to prevent COVID-19 spread.
Chester County announced it would begin offering COVID-19 antibody tests to workers on the front lines, becoming the first in Pennsylvania to do so, on Monday, April 6. Additionally, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania began enrolling patients in clinical trial evaluating the drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential COVID-19 treatment.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House COVID-19 task force coordinator, identified Philadelphia as a potential hotspot on Wednesday, April 7, but city officials reported a modest dip in new cases, a hopeful sign. Vice President Mike Pence urged Philly residents to practice social distancing "now more than ever." Wolf signed an executive order allowing state officials to redistribute personal protective equipment to hospitals.
On Thursday, April 9, Wolf announced schools would remain closed through the academic year.
In anticipation of a potential surged of hospitalized patients, Montgomery County officials said on Friday, April 10, that they would establish a temporary, 40-bed facility at Suburban Community Hospital in East Norriton Township. They also said the county's COVID-19 testing site would shift from Temple's Ambler campus to Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell. Wolf announced the creation of a $450 million loan program for financially-strapped hospitals.
Pennsylvania joined six other states, including New Jersey, in forming a multi-state council to develop a plan to reboot the Northeast economy while mitigating spread of the virus, on Monday, April 13. Kenney sent a letter to Congress asking for personal protective equipment and rapid COVID-19 tests.
Philly officials reported the first inmate death in the city's correctional facilities, on Tuesday, April 14.
Some Philadelphia hospitals neared capacity in their intensive care units on Wednesday, April 15, though ICUs across Southeastern Pennsylvania still had 27% of their beds available. Wolf ordered all Pennsylvania residents to begin wearing masks while shopping at grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses still open. He also expanded business safeguards – like temperature screenings – designed to protect essential workers.
Wolf announced the framework of his plan to reopen Pennsylvania on Friday, April 17, saying state officials would take a regional approach based on scientific evidence. But he offered no specific timetable.
On Monday, April 20, Wolf extended the statewide stay-at-home order through May 8, reiterating that reopening would occur on a regional basis. Pennsylvania also began offering curbside pickup at 176 state liquor stores – a test to determine whether similar arrangements could be safely conducted at retail outlets closed by his executive order.
Wolf unveiled a detailed version of his reopening plan on Wednesday, April 22. The three-phase plan would gradually relax business and social restrictions in regions where new COVID-19 cases fall below a certain threshold. But it appeared the Philadelphia region would likely be among the last to emerge from the stay-at-home order.
On Monday, April 27, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the city appeared to be 'past the peak' of the COVID-19 crisis, but stressed the city was a long way from hitting the case thresholds needed to reopen according to Wolf's plan. State officials gave hospitals the go-ahead to resume elective procedures and announced golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately-owned campgrounds could reopen beginning May 1.
Philly officials said the makeshift hospital at the Liacouras Center would close once its current patients recovered because city hospitals had the capacity to handle COVID-19 cases.
On Friday, May 1, Wolf announced that coronavirus-related restrictions would be eased in 24 counties located in northwest and north-central Pennsylvania beginning May 8.
Philadelphia made COVID-19 testing available to anyone with symptoms, greatly expanding the criteria for testing at its public site, on Monday, May 4. Testing previously was restricted to older residents and health care providers.
On Friday, May 8, Wolf formally extended his stay-at-home order through June 4, excluding the 24 counties that had begun moving through his reopening plan. He also announced another 13 counties, all in western Pennsylvania, would advance to the next phase on May 15. SEPTA announced it would resume most regular transit schedules beginning May 17 and 18.
Health officials rolled out a plan to make COVID-19 testing widespread at longterm care facilities, which had been hard hit by the coronavirus, on Tuesday, May 12.
The next day, health officials announced 1,200 doses of remdesivir, which had shown some effectiveness in treating COVID-19 patients, was being distributed to 51 hospitals. Philly officials announced there would be a sharp reduction in polling places for the June 2 primary. And School District of Philadelphia officials revealed plans for a virtual commencement ceremony.
Philadelphia marked a grim milestone on Thursday, May 14 – more than 1,000 people had died of COVID-19. CVS Health announced it would open five testing sites in Southeastern Pennsylvania as part of a national effort to ramp up testing.
Philly surpassed 20,000 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, May 19. Gov. Wolf urged Pennsylvanians to avoid going to the beach, despite their openings. The next day, he relaxed restrictions to permit some limited real estate activity. And, on Thursday, May 21, Wolf signed a bill permitting restaurants and bars to serve takeout cocktails amid the pandemic.
On Friday, May 22, Wolf announced Philadelphia and its four suburban counties would enter the yellow phase of his reopening plan. At that point, all 67 Pennsylvania counties will have exited the red phase. Seventeen counties are set to enter the green phase on May 29.
Philly lifted restrictions on food trucks on Tuesday, May 26, and also began permitting restaurants to conduct walk-up services. On Wednesday, May 27, Wolf gave the green light for restaurants to begin outdoor dining in the counties that advance to the yellow phase of his reopening plan. Still, Philly officials said outdoor dining may be delayed when it reaches the yellow stage on June 5.
Temple University announced on June 2 that it would resume some in-person classes during the fall semester. Students and staff will be required to wear masks in buildings and large lectures will still be held online.
On June 3, Pennsylvania officials gave public schools the green light to begin reopening on July 1 – so long as they have a safe and health plan in effect.
Philadelphia and its collar counties entered the yellow phase of the state's reopening plan on June 5.
Pennsylvania health officials gave schools sports and youth athletics the green light to resume voluntary workouts on Wednesday, June 10. The next day, Philly officials detailed plans for outdoor eating, which began Friday, June 12. Restaurants must comply with one of four models designed to create safe spaces for diners.
On Thursday, June 18, Philly officials announced that they hoped the city would move to the green phase of the state's reopening plan on July 3. That was dependent on new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continuing to drop. But they cautioned the green phase initially would include more restrictions in Philly than it does elsewhere in the state. The city also was dispatching so-called "social distancing ambassadors" to several highly-used recreational areas.
On Friday, June 19, Philadelphia and its collar counties were approved to enter the green phase of the state's reopening plan on June 26, though Philly officials will only partially relax restrictions on that date. At that point, all but Lebanon County will have entered the green phase.
As Philly grew closer to entering the green phase, Farley acknowledged concerns that the city's COVID-19 cases were beginning to plateau rather than continue to descend. He voiced these concerns on Monday, June 21 as cases had begun to rise across much of the United States.
Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties formally entered the green phase of the state's reopening plan on Friday, June 26. Philly partially relaxed restrictions, but Farley warned that a "second wave" of COVID-19 infections threatened the city's ability to move more fully into the green phase.
On Tuesday, June 30, Philly officials announced they would delay the city's full entry into the green phase, pushing back the reopening of gyms, fitness centers and indoor dining until at least Aug. 1. But it would permit malls, casinos, museums and libraries to reopen on July 3.
Philadelphia advised residents against traveling to Delaware and 17 other states with high rates of COVID-19 on Wednesday, July 8.
The National Institutes of Health announced on Tuesday, July 14, that Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine candidate would soon begin a Phase 3 trial, the final step before being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Philly officials called off all large gatherings, including the Mummers Parade, through February 2021. Eagles fans would not be permitted to watch games at Lincoln Financial Field or tailgate outside the stadium.
On Wednesday, July 15, Wolf toughened restrictions on restaurants and bars, dropping their indoor capacity limits from 50% to 25% in hopes of halting a surge of COVID-19 cases. The increases were greatest in the Pittsburgh area. Wolf also ordered all music and nightclubs to close.
The School District of Philadelphia announced students would return to class two days a week in the fall. They would take part in virtual classes the other three days of the week. The staggered schedule was designed to limit exposure and allow staffers more time to clean schools.
The next day, Philly announced gyms could reopen on Monday, July 20 under strict social distancing guidelines and with a mask mandate in place. Gyms would be subjected to random compliance checks and would be shut down if they were not enforcing the rules.
On Tuesday, July 21, Farley said he foresaw "cycles of opening and closing" until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed and widely accessible.
The School District of Philadelphia announced students would start the school year at home, reversing course on its decision to have them split time between in-person and remote instruction, on Tuesday, July 28. However, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia rolled out plans to have students return to schools, with various social distancing measures in place.
A state official revealed plans to roll out a contact tracing app, COVID Green, that alerts users when they have come in contact with another user who tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, July 30. Philly officials said they would determine whether indoor dining could resume in September by Aug. 21.
The Philadelphia Housing Authority extended its eviction moratorium until March 2021, on Friday, July 31.
On Thursday, Aug. 6, Wolf recommended the PIAA suspended high school sports until Jan. 1, saying congregate settings make the virus easier to spread. The next day, the PIAA postponed fall sports by two weeks and urged further discussion about the season.
Upper Darby, Delaware County was forced to quarantine its entire sanitation division due to a COVID-19 outbreak among staffers.
The Philadelphia Public League suspended high school sports until 2021 on Monday, Aug. 10.
Pennsylvania officials rolled out new designations designed to help school districts decide between in-person, remote or hybrid instruction models during the 2020-21 school year on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
The University of Pennsylvania decided against bringing students back for the fall semester, instead announcing it would go virtual on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Philly officials announced the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths had significantly fallen compared to early April, when the pandemic had peaked. OraSure Technologies, in Bethlehem, announced it was expanding operations as it developed a rapid, in-home coronavirus test.
On Thursday, Aug. 13, Farley lamented the "fear and mistrust" around the city's COVID-19 contact tracing efforts, saying as many as one-third of Philly residents reached by contact tracers were not cooperating.
Villanova University threatened to send students home after hundreds of students ignored social distancing and face mask guidelines during an impromptu gathering on campus.
Chester County health officials advised all schools in Chester and Delaware Counties to begin the year virtually on Friday, Aug. 14.
Philadelphia was named to a pilot program designed to determine the best way to distribute an eventual COVID-19 vaccine, reports indicated on Sunday, Aug. 16.
On Monday, Aug. 17, Pennsylvania officials announced they would launch COVID Green, a contact tracing app, in September. State officials issued a memo stressing that the state's face coverings order applies to students, though they said schools could implement 10-minute mask breaks.
Philly health officials warned of an outbreak that affected at least nine people connected to services at a Tacony church, on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Temple University launched a COVID-19 dashboard to track cases as students returned to campus for the fall semester.
The PIAA voted on Friday, Aug. 21 to move ahead with the fall sports schedule, ignoring Wolf's recommendation to push sports back until January. Despite this, the Philadelphia Catholic League opted to cancel its fall sports season on Monday, Aug. 24.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved Pennsylvania to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance program, which provides an additional $300 per week to unemployed residents who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
On Tuesday, Aug. 25, Farley announced Philly had averaged 98 cases during the previous week, its lowest daily case counts since the pandemic peaked in mid-April.
The U.S. Department of Justice requested Pennsylvania provide coronavirus data as it considered an investigation to determine whether the state failed to protect nursing home residents, on Wednesday, Aug. 26.
Philly officials announced they would not follow the CDC's updated COVID-19 controversial testing guidelines, which said asymptomatic people did not need to be tested unless they were vulnerable to severe complications or otherwise advised by a local health official. The city would continue advising everyone exposed to the coronavirus be tested.
Temple University was battling a COVID-19 outbreak that prompted the university to halt in-person instruction for two weeks on Monday, Aug. 31. Farley said the outbreak threatened to spread elsewhere in the city and urged students to avoid leaving their apartments and dorms.
Temple decided to make the fall semester a virtual one on Thursday, Sept. 3. Residence halls remained open for students who either wanted or needed to stay on campus.
Farley said he believed the CDC acted appropriately in requesting states expedite permits for vaccine distribution facilities by Nov. 1, saying setting that process up early is a wise decision. Three vaccines were in Phase 3 clinical trials, but it remained to be seen whether any will be approved by that date.
On Tuesday, Sept. 8, state officials announced restaurants could expand indoor dining to 50% capacity on Sept. 21 if their owners signed a form pledging to adhere to health protocols. Temple's COVID-19 outbreak appeared to be slowing, but health officials were still worried about parties among students who decided to remain in the area.
A federal judge ruled Monday, Sept. 14 that Wolf's stay-at-home orders, limits on public gatherings and business closures were unconstitutional, siding with a group of plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit in April. The Wolf administration was expected to seek a stay while it appeals the decision.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, Philadelphia's average daily case total and positivity rate were the lowest since the onset of the pandemic, Farley said.
Pennsylvania launched its coronavirus contact tracing app, COVID Alert Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, Sept. 22.
On Tuesday, Sept. 29, Philadelphia officials announced they would allow restaurants to increase their indoor dining capacities to 50% on Oct. 2, noting the city's progress against COVID-19.
Philly officials said they would allow trick-or-treating and other Halloween festivities, but released a set of safety guidelines on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, telling people to 'be afraid' of the coronavirus. State officials changed public gathering limits to allow stadiums and entertainment venues to permit limited numbers of fans.
Philly officials altered their limits on public gatherings, allowing indoor venues to permit up to 10% of their maximum occupancies, with a 250-person cap, on Tuesday, Oct. 13. They allowed outdoor venues of less than 2,000 people to allow 20% of their maximum capacities and larger venues to allow 15% capacity, with a 7,500-person cap. The changes allowed the Eagles to welcome fans at their games.
The School District of Philadelphia unveiled a plan to allow a limited number of students to return to school on a part-time basis on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
Wolf and state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine warned Pennsylvania residents of a fall resurgence on Monday, Oct. 19, noting the state recently had recorded its second-highest single-day total since April 7. The next day, Farley warned Philadelphia residents that the city could be entering a 'dangerous period' of the pandemic.
Due to the state's rising rates of COVID-19, Pennsylvania qualified for New Jersey and New York's travel advisories on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The advisories directed travelers to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, but states' officials said Pennsylvania would not officially be added to their lists. Rather, travel to-and-from the states would be discouraged.
Narbeth passed became the first Pennsylvania municipality to pass an ordinance that would fine people who failed to wear face masks in public. People would be cited $15 if they refused to put on a mask after a verbal warning.
The annual Army-Navy Game was moved from Philadelphia to West Point due to the city's limits on public gatherings, the military institutions announced on Friday, Oct. 23.
On Tuesday, Oct. 27, Philly officials said the rising daily case counts were the highest since the first week of May. The test positivity rate was the highest it had been since the first week of June.
Pennsylvania surpassed 200,000 cases on Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Philadelphia reported a record 742 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, Nov. 6 as transmission continued a rapid ascent that began in October. Pennsylvania also reported a record high – 3,384 cases.
Ezekiel Emanuel, a vice provost at the University of Pennsylvania, was named to President-elect Joe Biden's Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board on Monday, Nov. 9. That same day, Pfizer announced that early data showed its COVID-19 vaccine was 90% effective.
On Tuesday, Nov. 10, the School District of Philadelphia postponed its plans to bring some students back in late November due increased spread of the coronavirus. The next day, experts from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia called for all Philly-area schools to revert to remote learning until 10 days after the Thanksgiving holiday.
After months of loosening restrictions, Philly officials announced sweeping new restrictions on Monday, Nov. 16 in response to escalating cases ahead of the holidays.
They ordered indoor dining, gyms, museums, libraries, casinos, movie theaters and performance venues to close through the end of the year. Youth sports were shut down, and people were advised to work from home, if possible. Outdoor gatherings, businesses and religious services were subjected to capacity limits. High schools and colleges were instructed to go all-remote.
Levine stiffened the state's mask mandate to require people to wear face masks indoors when they are around someone from outside their household on Tuesday, Nov. 17. She also ordered all travelers to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of entering the state and instructed colleges to develop testing strategies for the spring semester.
On Thursday, Nov. 19, Philly health officials reported noted severe COVID-19 cases and deaths were at significantly higher levels than when they bottomed out in late summer. Infections among nursing home residents also were on the rise.
A group of Philly restaurant owners sued Kenney on Friday, Nov. 20, claiming his ban on indoor dining was unconstitutional. The judge denied their request for an emergency injunction.
Independence National Historical Park announced it would close all indoor sites, including the Liberty Bell Center, until at least Jan. 1.
On Monday, Nov. 23, state officials announced all restaurants would be forbidden to sell alcohol on Thanksgiving Eve, an effort intended to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus on one of the busiest drinking nights of the year.
On Tuesday, Nov. 24, city officials announced that MLK Drive would remain closed to vehicular traffic through the spring. The roadway had become a popular – and safe – destination for cyclists, runners and walkers during the pandemic.
On Wednesday, Nov. 25, A Philadelphia City Council committee approved an amendment that would extend the mandates for the Eviction Diversion Program into 2021.
A state health official complained that too many Pennsylvania residents with COVID-19 were refusing to cooperate with contact tracers, saying they don't understand how severity of the disease and its ease of transmission.
Despite the city having canceled all large public events through February, the Mummers reportedly were planning to march on New Year's Day on a smaller and less organized scale.
A state order went into effect on Monday, Nov. 30, requiring hospitals to reduce elective surgeries if demand for beds reached critical levels amid the COVID-19 surge.
On Thursday, Dec. 3, Pennsylvania recorded 11,406 new COVID-19 cases – the highest daily increase yet. Philadelphia surpassed 2,000 deaths. Jefferson Health announced it was opening a COVID-19 testing center at Philadelphia International Airport, allowing travelers to get tested before they depart.
Philadelphia reported more than 1,800 daily cases for the first time on Friday, Dec. 4.
On Monday, Dec. 7, Wolf warned that new restrictions would be implemented in response to a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations. The Philadelphia Department of Corrections instructed inmates to shelter-in-place in response to growing asymptomatic COVID-19 cases.
Philadelphia's rising case counts appeared tied to social gatherings that occurred at Thanksgiving, Farley said on Tuesday, Dec. 8. That put the city in a vulnerable position as the holiday season continued.
Wolf announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, Dec. 9. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society announced the 2021 Philadelphia Flower Show would be held in June – three months later than usual – and outside.
On Thursday, Dec. 10, Wolf announced a slew of new restrictions would take effect over the following three weeks. They included a ban on indoor dining, extracurricular school activities and closures to gyms, entertainment venues and museums. In-person businesses would be limited to 50% capacity and indoor gatherings were limited to 10 people.
Wolf received his second consecutive negative COVID-19 test result on Thursday, Dec. 10., suggesting the virus had run its course when he first tested positive. Wolf remained asymptomatic.
Levine detailed the state's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan during testimony to the U.S. Senate, noting Pennsylvania would roll it out in three phases. Health care workers were among those eligible in the first stage.
Pennsylvania hospitals began administering the initial doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine on Monday, Dec. 14. The first vaccines were administered at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Philly was expected to begin its vaccines two days later.
Pennsylvania surpassed 500,000 total cases on Tuesday, Dec. 15. An impending snowstorm was not expected to delay COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Wolf said. Philly officials released the order that people would receive vaccines, beginning with health care workers exposed to COVID-19 and nursing home residents and staffers.
On Thursday, Dec. 17, Wolf exited his quarantine after 10 days. He remained asymptomatic the entire time and twice tested negative.
On Monday, Dec. 21, CVS Health and Walgreens said they were on track to begin vaccinations at Pennsylvania nursing homes on Monday, Dec. 28.
On Tuesday, Dec. 22, Philadelphia extended many of its stringent COVID-19 restrictions, including those affecting restaurants, colleges and indoor gatherings, until Jan. 15 – an additional two weeks. The Philadelphia Auto Show was considering postponing its annual show until June.
On Wednesday, Dec. 30, Wolf said the most recent round of COVID-19 restrictions – including a ban on indoor dining and gyms — would lift on Jan. 4 — as planned.
State officials rolled out a new dashboard to track the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in the state on Thursday, Dec. 31.
On Tuesday, Jan. 5, Farley said the city's vaccine rollout was being hampered by production shortages, saying it would take more than 12 months to immunize the entire city at the current rate.
State officials confirmed that a Dauphin County resident had the Pennsylvania's first known case of the more contagious COVID-19 variant, which originated in the United Kingdom, on Thursday, Jan. 7.
On Friday, Jan. 8, the city opened its first massive COVID-19 vaccination center at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in partnership with the group Philly Fighting COVID. It also launched a webpage where residents could pre-register for a vaccine.
State officials expanded Phase 1B of its vaccination plan to include people ages 75 and older, those with significant health issues and essential workers.
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Philly officials announced they would restore indoor dining and ease other restrictions on Jan. 16.
State officials said they were reviewing new federal guidance recommending seniors and people with medical conditions immediately become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, with the intention to adopt those changes.
Temple University began a $10 million COVID-19 testing plan that enabled the university to process up to 26,000 tests per week on Monday, Jan. 18.
Philly officials expanded vaccine eligibility to essential workers, seniors over age 75 and people with certain high-risk conditions on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Philly rolled out a new website for residents to pre-register for COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday, Jan. 21.
Philly officials abruptly removed Philly Fighting COVID from its vaccination rollout on Monday, Jan. 25, citing concerns about changes to the organization. The city assured people who were vaccinated by the group that they would receive their second doses elsewhere.
New Jersey spent the initial weeks of the pandemic as one of the biggest hotspots in the United States, prompting a months-long shutdown. State officials began gradually loosening coronavirus-related restrictions in late May.
But with cases rising ahead of the winter holidays, New Jersey reversed course. Gov. Phil Murphy rolled out several new restrictions aimed at halting the increase.
Here's a timeline of events:
New Jersey announced its first coronavirus case on Wednesday, March 4. Its total cases grew rapidly in the weeks afterward. During the height of the crisis, most of the state's cases were in North Jersey, which alongside New York City, was one of the hardest-hit areas in the United States.
The first South Jersey case, in Camden County, was announced Friday, March 6. Three days later, Princeton University became one of the first colleges in the United States to shift its classes exclusively online.
On Thursday, March 12, Murphy urged the cancellation of all gatherings greater than 250 people, including parades, concerts and sporting events. His decision came the day after the first NBA player tested positive for coronavirus, prompting the cancellation of the basketball season.
Murphy enacted an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on Monday, March 16, urging residents to avoid travel between those hours. He ordered any schools that were still open to close and directed all gyms, race tracks and casinos to close. Murphy also banned gatherings of more than 50 people. The state's cases nearly doubled, jumping from 98 to 178.
On Thursday, March 19, Murphy instructed all personal care businesses that could not implement social distancing recommendations to close. That included barber shops, spas, hair salons and tattoo parlors.
Two days later, Murphy enacted a stay-at-home order that banned gatherings of any size.
Camden County reported the first death caused by COVID-19 in South Jersey on Sunday, March 22.
On Monday, March 23, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal pledged "serious legal consequences" for businesses and individuals that do not abide by the state's social distancing guidelines. That includes people hosting house parties. The Diocese of Camden called off all in-person Holy Week services.
Burlington County reported its first three deaths – all elderly residents of Laurel Brook Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Mount Laurel – on Wednesday, March 25. Murphy announced the state was opening three makeshift hospitals, including one at the Atlantic City Convention Center, to increase bed capacity. Additionally, Ocean City was among several Jersey Shore towns that closed its beaches.
President Donald Trump declared New Jersey a major disaster on Thursday, March 26, clearing the way for additional federal assistance. Murphy announced all schools would remain closed through at least April 17. Gloucester County reported its first coronavirus-related death.
Murphy announced on Monday, March 30, that New Jersey would receive 300 ventilators from the federal government's stockpile but insisted the state needed more. The state received additional shipments of ventilators and personal protective equipment later in the week.
On Saturday, April 4, Murphy gave counties and towns the authority to ban short-term rentals, a move aimed at protecting the Jersey Shore towns from an influx of people.
New Jersey received approval to use beds on the USNS Comfort, which initially offered relief to New York City hospitals, on Monday, April 6. Murphy said he was hopeful New Jersey had begun to flatten its curve, noting the increase in daily cases had become less steep.
Murphy ordered all state and county parks to close on Tuesday, April 7, because too many groups were gathering there.
On Wednesday, April 8, Murphy mandated that all residents wear masks or face coverings when shopping in retail stores. Businesses were directed to limit capacity to 50%. The state also halted non-essential construction projects.
Murphy provided some hopeful news on Thursday, April 9, saying New Jersey may be flattening its curve of infections. The rate that COVID-19 cases had been doubling has considerably slowed, but he warned of a long road ahead.
On Friday, April 10, New Jersey officials said they would release some nonviolent inmates who have high-risk of COVID-19 from state correctional facilities, a move that followed a similar release of inmates from county jails.
New Jersey joined six other states, including Pennsylvania, in forming a multi-state council to develop a plan to reboot the Northeast economy while mitigating spread of the virus on Monday, April 13.
Murphy sign legislation expanding the state's paid family leave law to include care of those with COVID-19 on Tuesday, April 14. Two new testing sites were getting underway in South Jersey – one in Gloucester County, another in Camden County.
On Thursday, April 16, Murphy extended school closures another four weeks. At the earliest, students would return to class after May 15, though he was not optimistic about that timeline.
New Jersey became the first state to issue emergency medical licenses to foreign doctors willing to assist its coronavirus relief efforts on Friday, April 17.
New COVID-19 cases showed signs of stabilizing on Monday, April 20, offering hope that its infection rate was flattening, Murphy said.
On Wednesday, April 22, Murphy claimed New Jersey would be forced to make "draconian cuts" to critical state programs without additional funding from the federal government.
New Jersey announced it would expand the saliva-based testing system developed by Rutgers University to its five developmental centers for adults with intellectual disabilities on Thursday, April 23. The COVID-19 testing system already was being used by health systems and testing sites. Murphy said state officials intend to expand its capacity to additional state workers and vulnerable residents.
On Monday, April 27, Murphy unveiled a six-point plan to reopen New Jersey, but he gave no firm timetable for it to begin. The plan called for sustained reduction in COVID-19 cases, expanded testing, more robust contact tracing, safe isolation spaces, a responsible economic restart and appropriate levels of personal protective equipment and medical supplies.
Murphy met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday, April 30. Murphy told Trump that the state needed more than $20 billion in federal aid to stay afloat due to expenses stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Murphy later announced that all inmates and prison staffers would receive COVID-19 testing.
After keeping the possibility of reopening schools open for weeks, Murphy announced they would remain closed through the academic year, on Monday, May. 4. In South Jersey, COVID-19 hospitalizations had begun to level off.
On Tuesday, May 5, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal launched an investigation into the way longterm care facilities handled the coronavirus outbreak, with the possibility of holding some people or facilities responsible for the massive amount of fatalities that have occurred within nursing homes. The next day, Murphy deployed 120 National Guard members to assist at longterm care facilities.
Some Shore towns, including Wildwood and Ocean City, had begun reopening beaches and boardwalks to limited activities on Friday, May 8. Murphy announced that two North Jersey testing sites would begin testing asymptomatic people.
On Tuesday, May 12, Murphy unveiled plans to hire 1,000 people as part of its a contact tracing program necessary to reopen the economy and described efforts to boost COVID-19 testing to 25,000 tests per day by July. The next day, he loosened rules on non-essential businesses, permitting them to soon begin offering curbside pickup services.
With Jersey shore towns expecting beaches to open by Memorial Day, Murphy ordered social distancing rules be put in place on beaches and boardwalks. They included limiting beach capacity and keeping amusement parks and arcades closed. Restaurants and bars were restricted to pickup and delivery options.
Murphy rolled out a multi-step reopening plan to gradually open businesses and expand social activities on Monday, May 18. The plan was a more detailed approach than the broader outline he released in late April, incrementally loosening restrictions on restaurants, personal care services and entertainment activities.
Auto dealerships and bike shops got the go-ahead to begin resuming in-person sales on Wednesday, May 20. Murphy relaxed social distancing restrictions to permit groups of less than 25 people to gather in outdoor settings.
As the end of May approached, New Jersey hit its goal of doubling COVID-19 testing capacity to at least 20,000 tests per day.
On June 1, Murphy announced that New Jersey would move to the second phase of the state's reopening plan on June 15. At that point, outdoor dining can resume and retail stores can permit customers inside. Salons and barbershops can open June 22.
New Jersey officials released the results of a study examining the response of long-term care facilities to the COVID-19 crisis on June 3. The study found systemic issues plagued nursing homes.
New Jersey ended its stay-at-home order on Tuesday, June 9, and eased restrictions on outdoor and indoor gatherings. State officials began permitting outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people and indoor gatherings of up to 50 people or 25% of building capacity. Summer camps were given the go ahead to restart on July 6, with campers and staffers expected to wear cloth face coverings.
New Jersey officials hoped to have hired 4,000 contact tracers by the of July, Murphy said on Wednesday, June 10.
Nursing homes were able to begin permitting outdoor visitors on Sunday, June 21.
On Monday, June 22, officials announced indoor dining and casinos could reopen – with capacity limits – beginning July 2. The next day, they gave amusement parks the green light to resume operations in July too.
New Jersey joined New York and Connecticut in instituting a 14-day, self-quarantine for travelers coming from states with surging coronavirus case counts on Wednesday, June 24. New Jersey Transit announced it would resume full rail service on July 6. And state officials said face masks would be mandatory at indoor activities and businesses with some exceptions.
New Jersey began reporting probable COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, June 25. An examination of death certificates revealed another 1,854 people who likely died of COVID-19.
State officials rolled out guidelines for school districts to use as they reopen in the fall on Friday, June 26. They called for sweeping changes in virtually every aspect of schooling, from busing to recess.
On Monday, June 29, Murphy announced the state's first major delay in the reopening process: Indoor dining would not be permitted to resume on July 2, as previously planned. No new date was set for its return. The decision was based on the rising coronavirus cases being seen in other states that reopened indoor dining – and the failure of people to wear masks and social distance at the Jersey Shore.
The next day, New Jersey announced it would require travelers from another seven states, including California, to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
On Sunday, July 5, Murphy loosened restrictions on public gatherings, permitting up to 500 people to gather outdoors and up to 100 people inside – or 25% of building capacity.
State officials noted New Jersey's COVID-19 transmission rate had jumped to its highest level since April on Monday, July 6.
On Wednesday, July 8, Murphy ordered people wear masks outdoors anytime they could not maintain proper social distance from others. The state also modified its outdoor dining requirements to allow additional restaurants to resume dining service.
New Jersey lifted capacity limits on all NJ Transit modes and private carriers on Wednesday, July 15. The next day, state officials removed Delaware from the state's COVID-19 travel advisory, but added four others.
New Jersey allowed sports considered high risk for COVID-19 transmission to resume on Monday, July 20.
New Jersey expanded its travel advisory to include 31 states, including Delaware, which returned to the self-quarantine list following a one-week absence.
On Wednesday, July 22, New Jersey allowed yoga, pilates and martial arts studios to resume indoor operations, with some restrictions. Several recent COVID-19 outbreaks had been traced to house parties.
On Monday, July 27, Murphy stressed that in-person instruction was "critical." He urged school districts to prioritize to only use remote learning as a complimentary tool.
Murphy called on residents to quit throwing house parties, saying they were undermining the state's efforts to control the coronavirus.
New Jersey tightened its restrictions on indoor gatherings on Monday, Aug. 3 in response to the rising the state's COVID-19 transmission rate. Officials attributed the surge to house parties.
On Friday, Aug. 7, New Jersey rolled out a new grant program designed to help small property owners impacted by unpaid rent.
State officials laid out a four-phase reopening process for nursing homes on Tuesday, Aug. 11. Once the facilities no longer had active COVID-19 outbreaks and had implemented statewide protocols, they could begin advancing through the process, which allows visitors to return.
New Jersey gave school districts the option to begin the school year virtually if they could not abide by the state's COVID-19 safety protocols. The announcement, made Wednesday, Aug. 12, marked a major reversal in the state's plans for the 2020-21 school year.
State officials announced they would send mail-in ballots to all registered voters during the Nov. 3 general election.
On Tuesday, Aug. 18, Murphy gave high school sports the green light to resume if districts could follow health and safety guidelines. Two days later, the NJSIAA announced fall sports would be delayed by about a month and follow condensed schedules.
Most New Jersey school districts planned to begin the year with a hybrid instruction model, state officials acknowledged on Monday, Aug. 24. Only 59 intended to fully return to in-person classes.
On Wednesday, Aug. 26, Murphy announced gyms could reopen at 25% capacity – and with all patrons wearing masks – beginning Sept. 1. The U.S. Department of Justice requested New Jersey provide coronavirus data as it considered an investigation to determine whether the state failed to protect nursing home residents.
One day later, he noted the state would apply to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance program, which provides residents who lost their jobs due to the pandemic with an additional $300 per week.
On Monday, Aug. 31, Murphy announced that New Jersey restaurants could resume indoor dining on Sept. 4 for the first time since March.
New Jersey surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 cases on Monday, Sept. 21.
New Jersey launched its coronavirus exposure app, COVID Alert NJ, on Thursday, Oct. 1.
State officials released guidelines for Halloween celebrations, encouraging people to wear cloth or disposable masks and practice social distancing as they trick-or-treat, on Monday, Oct. 5.
In mid-October, the NJSIAA announced the winter sports schedule would go on as planned. Two Motor Vehicle Commission offices in South Jersey were forced to shut down after employees tested positive for the coronavirus.
Murphy announced he and his wife, Tammy, would self-quarantine on Wednesday, Oct. 21 after two of his staff members contracted COVID-19.
New Jersey officials announced on Friday, Oct. 23 that long-term care facilities would now be required to meet minimum staff ratios and develop policies that prevent residents from being socially-isolated during the pandemic.
On Monday, Oct. 26, state officials unveiled a vaccine distribution plan that aimed to inoculate 70% of New Jersey's adult population within six months of a vaccine becoming available. People at high-risk for infection, including health care workers, would be prioritized. Vulnerable populations, including seniors, would be next in line.
On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said he was self-isolating after being exposed to a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Murphy signed an executive order Thursday, Nov. 12 allowing local officials to regulate the operating hours of non-essential businesses after 8 p.m. – so long as those policies did not conflict with state mandates.
Murphy announced tighter rules on indoor and outdoor gatherings on Monday, Nov. 16. He restricted indoor gatherings to no more than 10 people, with some exceptions for weddings, funerals, religious services and political events. Those events were capped at 25% of a building's capacity or 150 people – whichever was lower. Outdoor gatherings were capped at 150.
On Tuesday, Nov. 17, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli advised long-term care facilities that any resident that attends a holiday gathering outside the facility must quarantine for 14 days upon returning.
On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Murphy urged colleges to test students for COVID-19 before they headed home for Thanksgiving break.
New Jersey postponed the start of its winter high school sports season until the beginning of 2021 on Thursday, Nov. 19.
On Monday, Nov. 23, Murphy announced the state was hoping to receive as many as 360,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of December. Pfizer had recently filed for an FDA emergency use authorization for its vaccine.
On Thanksgiving Eve, Murphy announced that out-of-state travelers should self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving. The state's immediate neighbors were exempt from the directive.
On Monday, Nov. 30, New Jersey announced tighter restrictions on outdoor gatherings, limiting them to 25 people beginning Monday, Dec. 7. The state also banned winter sports. New Jersey urged people to prioritize outdoor gatherings, but to avoid traveling outside of their homes as much as possible during the holiday season.
On Monday, Dec. 7, Murphy complained that very few people were cooperating with the state's contact tracing program, saying the rate of non-cooperation was up to 74%.
New forecasting models projected New Jersey would surpass COVID-19 hospitalization records in early 2021 unless people altered their behavior. On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Camden County opened three new walk-up testing sites. A fourth was expected to open shortly.
On Sunday, Dec. 13, Murphy announced the state's first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine – authorized by the FDA two days earlier – would be administered Tuesday at University Hospital in Newark. New Jersey was expected to receive an initial batch of 76,000 doses of the two-shot vaccine.
New Jersey was set to begin vaccinations on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Cooper University Hospital in Camden was among those administering the first inoculations.
Maritza Beniquez, an emergency room nurse at University Hospital in Newark, became the first New Jersey resident to receive a COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
On Thursday, Dec. 17, Former Gov. Chris Christie released a public service announcement urging Americans to wear masks. He said he was "wrong" to remove his during a White House celebration. Days later, he checked into a hospital with COVID-19.
On Friday, Dec. 18, New Jersey officials said they would open six vaccination mega-sites in January, including three in South Jersey. The sites initially would serve health care workers before expanding to include other groups.
On Monday, Dec. 21, CVS Health and Walgreens said they were on track to begin vaccinations at New Jersey nursing homes on Monday, Dec. 28.
On Wednesday, Dec. 30, state officials said indoors sports could resume on Jan. 2, ending a month-long pause.
State officials launched an online portal that allowed residents to register for COVID-19 vaccines before their priority group became eligible on Tuesday, Jan. 5. But high demand prompted some users to get error messages as they sought to register.
On Thursday, Jan. 7, police and firefighters became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
A massive vaccination center opened Monday, Jan. 11 at Rowan College in Gloucester County. It had the capacity to administer as many as 2,400 shots per day.
New Jersey officials said they would expand COVID-19 eligibility based on new federal guidance, making seniors and people with medical conditions eligible on Thursday, Jan. 14.
New Jersey officials announced the first cases of the U.K. coronavirus variant on Friday, Jan. 22.