The gist: How things have changed: A few days before Thanksgiving, Philly reported 1,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day. That number exceeded the total logged in the first 15 days of June. But along with declining cases, the numbers of the newly vaccinated also have plummeted.

And while the region continues to pick up speed on the road to recovering from the social and economic ravages of the pandemic, it also has encountered its share of speed humps. Adjusting to the changing rules — for that matter, knowing what they are — has been more than a challenge in some instances, as was the case last week with restaurant owners.

While Philly’s recreation centers are finally reopening, 40% of the city’s pools, so essential during steamy summers, will remain closed — more coronavirus fallout. But after a punitive 15 months, perhaps it was unrealistic to think that that the path to normality would be linear.

— Anthony R. Wood (@woodt15, health@inquirer.com)

What you need to know:

💉 The COVID-19 vaccines don’t fully protect the immuno-compromised. Science is working on it.

🏥 Millions of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shots are set to expire soon. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states are struggling to use them.

🏈 After a year of spending more time indoors, high school athletes are getting injured, doctors say. Here’s how to safely return to play.

⚕️Deaths among Medicare patients in nursing homes soared by 32% last year, a watchdog group reports.

📰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.

COVID-19 cases have plummeted in Philly, but vaccinating the city is a massive undertaking

Philly has reached a milestone with 70% of adults having received at least one vaccine dose. But the flow of vaccine doses into arms has reduced to a trickle, and getting shots to those still unvaccinated will be an arduous process. It has become a decidedly retail operation that entails door-to-door interactions and relying on small clinics where success is measured in dozens of vaccines administered, not the thousands given at mass sites just a few months ago. Despite so many Philadelphians still unvaccinated, the impact of the vaccine on the city has been extraordinary, with some areas seeing only a handful of cases a month.

‘Did I make the right decision’: Students studying medicine grapple with career path in light of the pandemic

The pandemic has taken a toll on health care workers’ physical and mental health and has exposed serious gaps in the health care system. Some prospective doctors are having second thoughts about their career paths. Take Cody Ritz, a student at the Drexel University College of Medicine who recently completed his first year. “It just felt like every other day,” he said, “I was hearing some horror story or some burnout thing or some physicians taking their lives, because they couldn’t handle the pressure, and seeing those things prompted me to search myself again and go back to my baseline motivations as to why I wanted to do medicine in the first place.” A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in February found that about 30% of health care workers considered leaving their profession, while more than half felt “burned out” going to work.

Helpful resources

You got this: Getting to the meat of the matter

Our food writers advise that this is burger season — one of the four that occur annually. As they point out, a burger is just as good on a hot day by the pool as it is in a cozy pub on a winter night. The Philly region is burger-intensive, but they have some clear favorites, ranging from an off-menu, secret burger to patties from an old-school spot that has been serving burgers for nearly 100 years.

🏖️ Yes, you can find a hamburger in Ocean City, N.J., among other things. Here’s our guide to the popular Shore town.

🍗 In case you want a more-elaborate dining experience at the Shore, Craig Laban has some recommendations.

📚 And while you digest all this, check out these summer reading suggestions.

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

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