Philly’s coronavirus response

Philly is testing about half as many people as needed to safely reopen, per one measure

That’s better than the statewide average.

An state health worker in Virginia adds chemicals in the second step of testing a sample for the coronavirus

An state health worker in Virginia adds chemicals in the second step of testing a sample for the coronavirus

Joe Mahoney / Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

Researchers at Harvard say we need to be testing 152 of every 100,000 people for the coronavirus every day to safely reopen the country, according to the New York Times.

While Pennsylvania is currently doing around 44 tests/100k/day, per the NYT, Philadelphia appears closer to the goal.

Using a rolling 7-day average, we calculated the rate for the city. This is newly possible because the Philly Health Department restarted publishing data about tests that come back negative, a metric it had previously removed from its otherwise extensive data site with COVID-19 info.

The number of daily coronavirus tests given in Philadelphia is hovering between 65 and 70 per 100k of the population, by Billy Penn’s count.

The Health Department doesn’t do all the testing itself; most of the info is reported from various hospitals across the city. But the rate has been relatively stable for the past two weeks. (We’ll be updating this post with a full data visualization of this rolling number soon.)

That’s better than the statewide average, but still less than half as many tests as needed for the city of 1.6 million people.

Why aren’t we doing more testing? Lack of materials. The city is lacking everything from swabs to take samples to “reagents” used in the tests, according to Health Commissioner Tom Farley, who said he’s working to get more amid the nationwide shortage.

It’s unclear when businesses and other regular operations will resume in Philadelphia, although it’s likely to happen on a gradual basis.

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf has extended the statewide shutdown through May 8. On that date, however, he said some construction projects will be allowed to restart, signaling the beginning of a slow ramp up — which will be rolled out regionally. Philly Mayor Jim Kenney said he’s been regularly communicating with other leaders in Southeastern Pa. to make sure the region’s reopening is coordinated.

Want some more? Explore other Philly’s coronavirus response stories.

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