Liacouras Center receives first COVID-19 patients as area hospitals fill up

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The surge hospital space at Temple University’s Liacouras Center received its first patient on Monday, as local hospitals begin to reach capacities of COVID-19 patients. 

About one-third of hospital beds in the region are still available, said Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley, but some hospitals are at capacity or short-staffed. Over the weekend, those hospitals began transferring patients to balance the load. 

All of the patients transferred to the Liacouras Center are in the final stages of recovery from COVID-19. The center has space for about 200 patients.

“These are patients who don’t need ventilators but they need medical supervision and they may need oxygen,” added Farley. “They can stay there up to five days, and the facility is staffed by nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists — medical experts of all types for whatever needs they have.”

Farley announced  five new deaths on Monday and 339 new cases — lower than last week’s daily increase. 

“That’s a number we should be watching closely this week to see if there are consistent decreases in that. If that were the case, that would be good news,” he said.

However, hospital cases trail behind test results, and the news there is less positive.

“The hospital data says we’re not necessarily past the worst of this,” he added.

To date, Philadelphia has seen a total of 9,553 cases of coronavirus and 370 deaths, with 923 hospitalizations. More than half of the deaths have been in nursing homes.

As the stay-at-home measures continue, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the city’s small business fund has provided $9 million in support to 1,100 businesses. 

The City and @PIDCphila awarded $9.2 million in grants and loans to 1,145 small businesses for the first round of the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund.The funds will help them continue operations, maintain payroll, and preserve jobs.

— Jim #StayHomePHL Kenney (@PhillyMayor) April 20, 2020

The City Commissioners also asked the governor to extend the deadline to return mail-in ballots for the June 2 primary election.

For more resources regarding COVID-19, visit phila.gov/covid-19 or call the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline at 1-800-722-7112.