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Poss. Philly Uptick, Mandatory Masks; School District Police Changes; Arch. Philly Green Phase
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 06/26/20 6:37 pm | updated: 06/26/20 6:37 pm
Philadelphia officials cautioned on Friday, 6/26, that next Friday's, 7/3, planned move to the 'green' phase might be delayed due to recent the trend of increasing new cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in the city. City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said they have seen an average of over 100 new cases/day over the past week, which is an increase of what they have seen earlier this month. "We are not seeing a constant decrease in cases over four weeks which is one of our targets. So we are not ready to go to green," he said. The new daily cases are up 5% from 10 days ago, with 143 reported on Friday. "We're doing more tests, but that increased testing does not explain the increased case count," Farley said. "We have noticed a spike in cases among teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19. It appears to be from them attending social events."

In response, the city issued a mandatory mask order. Persons must wear a mask at all indoor public places and outdoors where you are less than six feet from people outside your own household. Children under 8 and those with medical issues are exempt. "This order is a requirement but we will not be enforcing this with police. The purpose of this order is really to send a message to everyone and enable them to encourage others to wear masks," Dr. Farley said. "In the end, it’s up to us as Philadelphia residents to self-enforce this order."

Next week, Philadelphia planned to open outdoor group recreational and sports activities for youth and adults, gyms and indoor exercise classes, schools and colleges, libraries and museums, indoor shopping malls, outdoor performances and small outdoor events (up to 50 people), and indoor Restaurants with occupancy restrictions. That remains to be seen now.

The School District of Philadelphia will be making changes to it's "school police force" and their duties inside of city schools. The 350 unarmed officers will now be called "school safety officers" due to a change in Pennsylvania state code that says only sworn officers can be called "school police." They will also wear softer, less severe uniforms and their job description will change. Officers roles will move away from arresting students towards mentoring and providing social services support. They will be trained in adolescent development, trauma-informed policing, de-escalation strategies and mentoring skills. They will still act as security for the building and man metal detectors at entrances. The Philadelphia Student Union has started a petition calling for the removal of all police from Philadelphia schools.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has released new guidelines for Mass as counties in Southeast Pennsylvania moved into the 'green' phase of reopening on Friday, 6/26. The guidelines are similar to the previous 'yellow' phase guidelines. The faithful are still dispensed by Archbishop Perez from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Live streaming of services should continue at parishes that have been offering that option. Churches should be sanitized frequently and high touch areas routinely cleaned between services. Singing will still be kept at a minimum to avoid potential spreading of virus. Masks or face coverings must be worn by congregants, but clergy and ministers on the alter are not expected to wear a mask. It is still strongly recommended that you take communion by the hand, no gloves. You will not be denied it if you do take it by the tongue. The largest difference is that now, under Pennsylvania guidelines, the church can have 75% capacity being mindful of social distancing. All other sacraments can take place in the church also with 75% capacity.

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