Coronavirus Latest: Nurse At South Philly Testing Site Selflessly Giving Back Because ‘Bottom Line, I Love This Town’

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The coronavirus outbreak has reminded us to never take for granted health care professionals and the job they are trained to do. That includes one nurse who is selflessly giving back.

Thursday was a gorgeous spring day, but city officials say staying at home is still the safest place to be. The beauty of the afternoon was overshadowed by the seriousness of Philadelphia’s COVID-19 outbreak.

“The sun may be shining, but the threat of the pandemic is just as strong. If you do go out to get some air and exercise, do so alone and only for very short periods,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said.

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City officials say keeping coronavirus cases as low as possible is why the shelter at home order is still in place.

“Many of you have seen the terrifying videos of overloading hospitals in Spain and Italy. Now, New York is facing a similar reality. We don’t want Philly to be the next major city in that situation, so please don’t let the sunshine tempt you today. Stay at home,” Kenney said.

John Muchitelli is a volunteer and registered nurse with the Philadelphia Medical Reserve Corps. He’s stationed at the testing site at Citizens Bank Park in South Philly.

“I do testing. I collect nasal swab material,” Muchitelli said.

He says the dozens, if not hundreds of people who are tested daily, are grateful to have an answer which eases their anxiety.

“They’re concerned. They have some symptoms and they’re looking for reassurance one way or the other,” Muchitelli said.

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Like the mayor and health officials, Muchitelli expects there to be more and more cases as community spread continues throughout Philadelphia.

“Social distancing, wash your hands, stay away from people,” Muchitelli said.

But he plans to continue volunteering, one nasal swab at a time.

“Bottom line, I love this town. I love Philadelphia and this is my way to give back,” Muchitelli said.

In the midst of the current public health crisis, city officials had hoped to reopen Hahnemann Hospital to house COVID-19 patients, but the mayor says negotiations with the owner have broken down.

The city is now looking to other businesses for help.