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Campus & Community

COVID-19 Response: Changes in and Around Philadelphia as of March 23

March 23, 2020

From a “shelter-in-place” order to options for upcoming relief efforts, here’s what Drexel University Dragons remaining local to Philadelphia should know about the city’s response measures to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Please visit the ‘Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus’ website for the latest information on campus preparations and responses regarding COVID-19.

As of last Friday, March 20, Drexel University’s campuses are closed to the public in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak locally, nationally and throughout the world. Most students, faculty and staff will experience spring break and the upcoming spring term working and learning from remote locations.

If that remote location happens to be in or near the city of Philadelphia, or you’d like to keep abreast of what’s happening in and around your campus home, here’s what you need to know about what’s changed in Philadelphia over the last week due to COVID-19.

“Shelter-in-place” is being enforced

As of 8 a.m. today, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has ordered all city residents to stay home unless engaging in life-sustaining activities. The order outlines such activities deemed appropriate for leaving the house as: shopping for groceries or picking up pre-ordered takeout food; getting medicine or seeking healthcare; caring for family, friends, loved ones or pets in a different household; reporting to essential job functions; or outdoor exercise in practice with social distancing guidelines (i.e. remaining six feet apart from those outside your household). Gatherings outside of one’s household are now strictly prohibited.

Several other U.S. cities, counties and states have issued stay-at-home orders like this, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

Only “life-sustaining” businesses remain open

On March 19, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all “non-life-sustaining” businesses to close, and that is being enforced as of 8 a.m. today. What counts as a life-sustaining business? Most notably, grocery stores, gas stations, laundromats, drugstores and hardware stores may remain open. For a full list of exempted businesses, click here.

Under the order, restaurants and bars can also continue to offer alternatives to dine-in services, such as carry-out, drive-thru and delivery food-and-drink options. Enforcement of the new order was supposed to begin over the weekend, but was delayed to today due to the high volume of waiver requests from businesses seeking exemption.

Outdoor activity is still allowed, at a distance

Mayor Kenney’s March 22 “stay at home” order still allows Philadelphia residents to head outside for “walking, running, cycling, operating a wheelchair, or engaging in outdoor activities with immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners," as long as social distancing is still practiced by remaining six feet away from strangers. Team sports involving physical contact are now strictly prohibited.

Dragons can responsibly enjoy the great outdoors in these open spaces near campus suggested last week. In recognition that “physical activity is important to well-being,” Mayor Kenney also closed down a stretch of Martin Luther King Drive to vehicular traffic over the weekend to promote use of the trail and of social distancing.

Local and national relief is in sight

As the COVID-19 response continues to evolve everywhere from in the White House to your own backyard, there are a few points Dragons may want to know about relief plans that have already been established or are currently being discussed: