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White House approves disaster declaration for Pennsylvania; N.J. restricts sale of drug touted by Trump as coronavirus treatment; SEPTA reports first ‘customer-facing’ cases

Read the latest Philadelphia-area coronavirus updates here

The White House approved Pennsylvania’s request for a major-disaster declaration on Monday. But what does that mean? Let us explain it to you. Plus, DJ Jazzy Jeff thinks he has a coronavirus, and police in South Philly are seeing a spike in thefts of things like hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

These Philly doctors have COVID-19, but they’re still treating patients — virtually

It started with a cough, mild but dry. The body aches and chills came two days later, when Aditi Joshi’s fever spiked north of 102 degrees. Soon, the emergency medicine physician lost her senses of smell and taste, piling kimchi and Indian spices onto rice to see if she could detect any heat.
She had contracted the coronavirus, and for nearly two weeks she has been quarantined alone inside her Philadelphia home. But rather than sitting out the greatest fight of her medical career, Joshi has been using telemedicine to continue treating patients with the same COVID-19 symptoms she’s feeling.
“When you get something yourself, you can actually understand what people mean," said Joshi, who works for Jefferson Health. “And for me, there’s something helpful about feeling like I don’t have to sit back and do nothing about it.”

From Pa. science fairs to coronavirus response coordinator: Deborah Birx’s path to the White House

When Deborah Birx told classmates at Carlisle High School that she planned to compete in the local science fair, some laughed.
It was the early 1970s, and Birx was a pretty girl with a bubbly personality. She waitressed after school at a Carlisle drive-in restaurant and went to school football games on weekends. Back then, few people in the Cumberland County town about 23 miles from Harrisburg were expecting her to be good at science.
But Birx’s project on paleobotany in the Carboniferous period won a 1973 science fair, then won an international science competition in California. She was 16. Birx excelled in school generally, graduating after her junior year, and putting herself on an accelerated path to medical school.
Fast-forward 35 years and now she makes daily appearances next to President Donald Trump during the White House coronavirus news briefings. Birx is the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force and has been the calm in what can often be combative news conferences.


Should you wear a mask in public? The narrative is shifting

One month ago, when just 57 people in the United States had tested positive for the coronavirus, the surgeon general tweeted in all caps: “STOP BUYING MASKS!”
Federal officials have stood by that guidance: Face masks are not effective in preventing the general public from getting the coronavirus, and there’s no reason for people who aren’t health-care workers or who don’t have the virus to wear them.
Now, more than 150,000 Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus. And while experts still say people shouldn’t try to purchase medical-grade masks, the narrative on whether everyone should wear a homemade mask or facial covering when they’re out in public is shifting.

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