"But instead since then, they fell, and I don't know if that's a long-term trend or temporary, but any decrease is good news,” he said.
For the past week that ended Saturday July 29, Philadelphia averaged 123 coronavirus cases per day.
"The city was down from 166 cases per day the week before, 141 cases per day the week before that,” he added.
And he said the percent of people tested who had a positive outcome also decreased, averaging at 4.7%, which he said was the lowest weekly percent positivity the city has seen.
“We've been between 5% and 6% since the middle of June, so that's another good sign,” Farley said.
"To put that in perspective, at the peak of the epidemic in mid-April, we were averaging 250 cases per week. We're down about 97% as far as the number of deaths per week,” he explained.
Farley said numbers seem to be falling regionally and across the country as well, but case counts are still high, and there’s a chance this could all be temporary. Still, he said, “they're better than we were a week ago."
However, the reason for that decline is unclear at this point.
"I can only say that maybe people are finally coming around to accept the idea that they need to wear masks and mask use has gotten high enough that it's really making a difference,” he said.
He emphasized that this is no time to ditch the face masks, especially as case counts fall.
From documented observation of mask use on subways and in retail stores, he said mask use in Philadelphia seems to be at about 70%, but they’d like to get the percentage of people wearing masks in public up to about 90%.