TL;DR: In the early days of the pandemic, touchless payment options surged and cash withdrawals from ATMs plunged. Many customers have long preferred cards over cash, but financial experts say that thanks to fear of germs, avoiding paper money even more than ever is our new normal. And in Bethlehem, Pa., a technology company is racing to democratize testing for COVID-19.

— Allison Steele (@AESteele, health@inquirer.com)

What you need to know:

😷 New Jersey’s COVID-19 transmission rate is now higher than it’s been in months, and Gov. Phil Murphy urged all residents to be vigilant with masks.

🏫 Rutgers University will offer remote instruction and limited in-person classes this fall. Princeton, meanwhile, said students can return to campus for one semester and that all will have the option of remote learning instead.

⚾ The president of operations for the Washington Nationals baseball team said that without accurate, fast testing, the team’s 2020 season is at risk.

💰 Pennsylvania has paid out almost $24 billion in unemployment benefits since the pandemic began.

📰 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.

Even before the pandemic began, many retailers were adapting to customers who increasingly preferred using credit cards. But the advent of COVID-19 has hastened that trend toward a cashless society, financial experts say, buoyed by the growth of e-commerce and the fear of handling paper money contaminated with the deadly virus.

The electronics-transfer industry has hailed the growth of a cashless economy as a consumer-driven trend and expects it will continue for the foreseeable future, but not everyone is on board. Credit card fees can be onerous for small businesses, and advocates of paper money say that cashless stores exclude some low-income customers. Others argue that going cashless simply generates more profit for the banking sector.

A Bethlehem technology company hopes to have a rapid-results saliva test for COVID-19 on the market by this fall. Available over the counter and able to produce results within 20 minutes, it likely would sell for less than $50, though recent federal law mandates that all public and private insurance plans must cover the cost of testing.

Helpful resources

You got this: Cool off at a splash pad

Nikhil Bonney, 4, plays in the "sprayground" in Herron Park in Philadelphia on Monday.
Stephanie Aaronson / File Photograph
Nikhil Bonney, 4, plays in the "sprayground" in Herron Park in Philadelphia on Monday.

Philly’s public pools are closed, but almost 100 spraygrounds with sprinklers and fountains are now open to city residents. Also open as of this week: The Philadelphia Zoo, Franklin Institute and Franklin Square park.

🎨 Point Breeze artist RA Freedman started drawing portraits of the Philadelphians lost to COVID-19. Now he’s looking for other artists to help him.

😷 The Flyers will play this year in Toronto, according to a tentative deal reached with the National Hockey League that calls for teams to adhere to regular testing and strict quarantine measures.

☀️ Gyms in Philly are still closed, but there are ways to make exercising in the heat more bearable.

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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