March 19, 2020
Philadelphia officials have joined local business and non-profit leaders to launch the PHL COVID-19 Fund, a collaboration intended to provide frontline resources to organizations serving vulnerable communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
The fund, which will support communities throughout the greater Philadelphia area, has already pooled more than $6.4 million from nearly two dozen of the region's largest organizations and charities. A $3 million lead gift was provided by the William Penn Foundation.
“The pandemic is placing extraordinary stress on our city and region, particularly on already strained community organizations that help our most vulnerable residents, and we must work urgently to provide them with greater financial support,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “This is an unprecedented time demanding an unparalleled unified response."
Pedro Ramos, founder and CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation, said the first phase of funding will go to organizations working on the front line with those most in need.
"While our individual and collective well-being depends so critically on practicing social distancing, we can still come together, strengthen the community and build resilience by practicing social generosity," Ramos said during the city's daily coronavirus briefing.
Those seeking Information about the fund and its partners can learn more and make donations at PHLCOVID19fund.org.
City leaders also are encouraging residents to volunteer with non-profit organizations throughout the city.
Chief Services Officers Amanda Gamble is encouraging organizations in need of volunteers to email firstname.lastname@example.org to have their call for help posted on the city's online match portal.
Even as city residents are urged to practice social distancing, the call for volunteers is directed toward those who are healthy and able. Safety practices, such as no contact food delivery, will be incorporated into volunteer work as much as possible.
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley also urged residents who wish to volunteer to look into the Medical Reserve Corps, which will accept help from health care professionals and others who can be trained to provide clerical and data assistance in clinical settings.
Farly updated the city's COVID-19 count to 44, an increase of another 10 cases. Notably, Farley said 20 of the city's coronavirus cases are health care workers, though not all of them were exposed in work settings.
"This does drive home that the people at greatest risk for an infection like this are health care workers," Farley said.
Despite the relatively low number of confirmed in cases in Philadelphia, Farley looked to New York City as an example of what is likely follow as testing capabilities increase across the region. Between Monday and Wednesday, the city's case count rose from 196 to approximately 900 cases.
"This is about to get real," Farley said. "We expect that many people in Philadelphia will get this infection."
Philadelphia continues to expand its testing capabilities, with 14 sites now administering tests to those who have been referred for symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Another five testing sites are expected to be up and running by Monday.
The Department of Parks & Recreation also announced Thursday that all playgrounds and athletic courts will be closed through at least March 27. Parks will remain open with strong social distancing encouraged. Meal distribution may be shifted beginning next week, with details to follow.
As COVID-19 spreads, Farley reiterated that hospital capacity should be reserved whenever possible for those most in need.
“We want to preserve our healthcare system for the percentage of people who actually need it,” Farley said. “If you have symptoms but are young and healthy, and not having difficulty breathing, you don’t need a test right now. Stay home and rest, keep away from others and drink fluids. But don’t go to the emergency department. We want to save that capacity so that the people who need emergency care can receive it.”