TL;DR: While Pennsylvania continues to see a spike in coronavirus cases, Health Secretary Rachel Levine said voters should feel safe going to the polls to vote in Tuesday’s presidential election if they have not already cast a ballot. Voters should wear a mask, pack their own blue or black pen and bring hand sanitizer. This fall, coronavirus cases have surged in both rural and urban Pennsylvania counties, in many suburbs, and in nearly every geographic region of the state.

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

What you need to know:

🏥 Hospitalizations in Pa. and N.J. have doubled over past month, though numbers remain far below pandemic highs set back in April and death rates have remained relatively stable over the last few months.

☎️ A new Pew study found 51% of Americans would be resistant to at least one core aspect of contact tracing. Among the factors that have hobbled efforts to contain the virus include fears information won’t be kept secure, partisanship, and people’s phone habits.

🤰Pregnant women infected with the coronavirus may be at slightly elevated risk of preterm birth, and of severe COVID-19 compared to women who are not pregnant, according to two new reports on Monday from the CDC.

🏟️ New Jersey has made tweaks to COVID-19 rules for stadiums, malls, and tutoring facilities, under a new executive order announced by Gov. Phil Murphy over the weekend.

🏫 Smaller, local colleges that opened for in-person classes and on-campus living are hoping they can make it to Thanksgiving, despite rising case counts of COVID-19 statewide. Here’s how they’ve fared so far.

💉 Just 56% of Pennsylvanians got a flu shot last year, according to a new analysis by Kaiser Family Foundation, which warned that vaccinating most Americans against COVID-19 “could be a daunting challenge” based on flu shot uptake.

📰 What’s going on in your county or neighborhood? We organized recent coverage of the coronavirus pandemic by local counties and Philly neighborhoods 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.

While Pennsylvania continues to see a spike in coronavirus cases, Health Secretary Rachel Levine said voters should feel safe going to the polls to vote in Tuesday’s presidential election if they have not already cast a ballot. “If you are voting in person, it is safe to vote,” Levine said. She said voters should wear a mask, pack their own blue or black pen and bring hand sanitizer. And “it’s really, really helpful to” download the state’s contact tracing app, COVID Alert PA, she said. Read more information on how to safely vote in person here.

The coronavirus first entered Pennsylvania with a vengeance in the Philadelphia region. Much of the rest of the state was spared as hospitalizations mounted here. Now, maps of infections show a new pattern. “It’s everywhere,” Rachel Levine said. Cases have surged in both rural and urban counties, in many suburbs, and in nearly every geographic region of the state. Public health officials said the numbers mean Pennsylvanians need to double down on behaviors known to reduce spread: wearing masks, distancing, and hand-washing.

Helpful resources

You got this: Distract your family from election stress

On Saturday, Nov. 7 at 10 a.m., CraftNow hosts a free Zoom session of DIY crafts, including making clothespin butterflies.
Courtesy CraftNOW
On Saturday, Nov. 7 at 10 a.m., CraftNow hosts a free Zoom session of DIY crafts, including making clothespin butterflies.

At this point, certain children have picked up on their parents' election angst, or proclaimed the person whose name is stuck into your yard or taped on your window to be “the good guy.” If you’re getting through the next couple of days without screaming, give yourself some credit, says Lauren McCutcheon. If not, count yourself among most of us. Here are some activities to keep kids feeling like kids this week.

🍸 My colleague Dan DeLuca asks: Will our pandemic-acquired vices hang around after COVID-19 wanes? Here’s what addiction counselors had to say.

🥘 City Tavern, the colonial-theme restaurant in Old City, has closed.

🦃 Will the pandemic shrink your Thanksgiving turkey? Don’t count on it.

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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