TL;DR: In an effort to curb the “fall resurgence” of coronavirus, Pennsylvania and New Jersey health officials said residents should be extra vigilant about mask wearing and social distancing, particularly at intimate gatherings where it’s easy for people to let their guards down. Though COVID-19 cases have been climbing for weeks in Pennsylvania, hospitalizations are "well below what we saw in the spring,” Health Secretary Rachel Levine said. Can hospitals avoid becoming overburdened?

— Kelly O’Shea (@kelloshea, health@inquirer.com)

What you need to know:

📈 Gov. Tom Wolf issued a “plea” to Pennsylvanians to work together to stop the spread of coronavirus after Monday marked two straight weeks of the commonwealth reporting more than 1,000 new cases per day.

🍸 New Jersey restaurants will be able to extend their outdoor liquor license permits from the end of November through March 2021 for a small fee, Gov. Phil Murphy announced.

🎃 Authorities have largely declined to either sanction or prohibit trick-or-treating this year. That’s causing conflict in some Pennsylvania neighborhoods — but also sparking creativity, as people are figuring out new ways to share joy and frights with others.

📺 In a Sunday interview on “60 Minutes,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was “absolutely not” surprised President Donald Trump contracted the coronavirus after the now-infamous Rose Garden ceremony.

☎️ Contact tracing woes continue in Pennsylvania: Only about a third of people who tested positive and were contacted by tracers during the week of Oct. 4 answered the question: Have you been to a business or mass gathering in the past 14 days?

💰 Some New Jersey workers will start to see $300 in federal unemployment benefits deposited in their bank accounts beginning this week.

📰 What’s going on in your county? We organized recent coverage of the coronavirus pandemic by local counties mentioned in the stories to make it easier for you to find the info you care about.

Local coronavirus cases

📈The coronavirus has swept across the Philadelphia region and cases continue to mount. The Inquirer and Spotlight PA are compiling geographic data on tests conducted, cases confirmed, and deaths caused by the virus. Track the spread here.

Officials warn about virus' spread at small gatherings

In an effort to curb the “fall resurgence” of coronavirus, Pennsylvanians should be extra vigilant about mask wearing and social distancing, particularly at intimate gatherings where it’s easy for people to let their guards down, officials said Monday. Health Secretary Rachel Levine said the commonwealth’s case increases can be partly attributed to “relatively small gatherings of families and friends, where people might not be as vigilant." New Jersey officials also pointed to small gatherings as a main reason case counts are climbing in the Garden State. “Now is not the time to let your guard down,” health commissioner Judy Persichilli said.

Why hospitals are not yet overburdened, even though cases are rising fast in Pa. and N.J.

COVID-19 cases have been climbing for weeks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Though Pennsylvania hospitalizations have doubled in about a month, from 422 to 841, Levine said Monday that “these numbers are well below what we saw in the spring.” That has many wondering: Can hospitals avoid becoming overburdened as the spread of the virus increases? The answer, experts say, is complicated. One reason hospitals are not burdened is due to the cautiousness of the elderly. “The population at greater risk of becoming ill is much more careful,” one expert said.

Helpful resources

You got this: Love in the time of corona

At the beginning of the pandemic, only four months into their relationship, a couple in their 70s wondered, “what happens to a relationship when almost all external influences are removed — without our careers, our friends, our families, our hobbies?” The Philadelphia area couple decided to quarantine together thinking it would last about six weeks, but seven months in and with no end in sight, they don’t have regrets and still have fun spending time with just each other.

⛳ Monday is ushering in another packed week of fall outings for Philly families, from scarecrow walks to “spooky” golf.

🥤 Here’s how grocers kept the fizz in this Philadelphia craft soda business during the COVID-19 lockdown.

🚗 If you’re wondering whether there’s a coronavirus grace period for expired car registrations in Pennsylvania, my colleague Elizabeth Wellington has the answer.

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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