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Explaining the latest mask guidelines | Coronavirus Newsletter

Plus, more shots are being given in Pa. and N.J. as delta variant spreads

The indoor audience in the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center is socially distanced and wearing masks last week.
The indoor audience in the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center is socially distanced and wearing masks last week.Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

The gist: If you’ve relegated your mask collection to the back of your junk drawer, it’s time to break out them out again. Acceptance met frustration late last week as Philadelphians reacted to health officials’ urging that residents resume wearing masks indoors in public places even if they are fully vaccinated. City officials said the recommendation is meant to “normalize” mask wearing and protect children too young for vaccines.

By Tuesday, the CDC recommended that vaccinated Americans in hard-hit areas across the country wear masks in public indoor spaces, as cases surge in some less-vaccinated states.

Health officials in every corner of the nation are urging Americans to get vaccinated, with some cities requiring vaccination among government workers. But Philly isn’t mandating vaccination — for now.

— Kelly O’Shea (@kelloshea,

What you need to know:

💉 A vast coalition of professional medical groups are calling for mandatory vaccination of all health-care workers, yet most Pennsylvania and New Jersey hospitals are reluctant.

😥 Latinos in the United States have been hit hard by the pandemic, with half seeing a family member or close friend hospitalized or killed by the coronavirus, according to the Pew Research Center.

😷 The return of mask guidelines took some Philadelphia business owners by surprise. Others said it was worth it because wearing masks would prevent infections and save lives.

🥡 Some Philly-area restaurants are closing for vacation, as owners try to stave off burnout among workers after 16 months of pandemic restrictions and short staffing.

💰 As companies struggling to find workers, Wawa, day care centers, and other Philly-area firms are offering signing bonuses to lure new employees.

🏈 NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell unveiled strong vaccine incentives, telling teams that COVID-19 outbreaks among unvaccinated players could mean forfeits, and no players from either team would be paid for that week.

📰What’s going on in your county or neighborhood? We organize recent coverage of the pandemic by local counties and Philly neighborhoods to make it easier for you to find info you care about. Sign up here to get those local headlines sent directly to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Local coronavirus numbers

📈The Inquirer and Spotlight PA are compiling geographic data on confirmed coronavirus cases, deaths caused by the virus, and vaccinations to curb the spread. Track the latest data here.

Citing the predominance of the delta strain, an extremely transmissible, more harmful variant of the coronavirus, the CDC now recommends universal masking inside public spaces in communities with higher transmission rates. The agency also urged universal masking in schools, regardless of vaccination status. Pennsylvania health officials said the commonwealth is not considering instituting another statewide mask mandate. But state officials said people in counties with surging cases should follow CDC guidance. Philadelphia and most of its suburbs are experiencing moderate levels of virus transmission. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday went beyond the CDC guidance to extend the recommendation across the entire state. CDC director Rochelle Walensky said vaccinated patients who get infected with delta generally do not get sick enough to need hospital care. But research shows their viral loads — meaning the concentration of virus particles in their bodies — are just as high as in unvaccinated patients, suggesting both groups can readily spread the virus. Read more here.

After weeks of declining vaccination rates, Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents are showing up for their first coronavirus shots at a slightly increased pace. For the past two weeks, the daily number of shots administered in Pennsylvania is now roughly equal to the numbers seen a month ago in June. With the delta variant causing outbreaks in other states, the increase could be in response to fear of the variant. The modest rise in first-dose vaccinations also might be a sign that their steady blitz of efforts by volunteers, public health officials, and community advocates on person-by-person, neighborhood-by-neighborhood outreach are making a difference. Similar outreach efforts in Philadelphia have helped Latino vaccination rates rebound.

Helpful resources

  1. What vaccinated people need to know as COVID-19 variants spread.

  2. Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot?

  3. What is a variant and other things you need to know about delta.

  4. How to wear face masks in hot weather.

  5. An illustrated guide to how the COVID-19 vaccines work.

You got this: A Poconos escape

A 72-year-old drive-in theater in the Pocono Mountains was set to become a solar-panel farm. But hundreds of emails, Facebook posts, and phone calls from die-hard fans convinced a green-energy company to withdraw its plan. “This place is an escape for people, and it’s a celebration of a simpler time,” said operator Virgil Cardamone. Read more about the beloved Mahoning Drive-In here.

🍦 Stay cool this summer with these expert recommendations for the best sundaes, scoops, and soft serve.

🌳 Wissahickon Valley Park has been designated a “hot spot” because of overuse from the the high number of visitors it drew during the pandemic.

🍜 For the night owls: The best late-night dining spots, from Fishtown to West Philly.

Have a tip or question to share? Let us know at and your input might be featured in a future edition of this newsletter.

What we’re paying attention to

  1. Kaiser Health News unravels the mysterious mutations that make delta the most transmissible COVID-19 strain yet.

  2. “There is a real cost”: COVID-19 shows how barring bedside visitors deprives patients of the best care, Stat reports.

  3. Something strange is happening in Britain, The Washington Post reports. COVID-19 cases are plummeting instead of soaring.

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