TL;DR: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday lifted the state’s stay-at-home order. Murphy also relaxed restrictions on gatherings, allowing for indoor gatherings of 50 people and outdoor gatherings of 100 people. Your new SEPTA commute includes staggered work shifts, face masks, and blocked seats.

— Kelly O’Shea (@kelloshea,

What you need to know:

🧪 Mayor Jim Kenney and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley pledged Tuesday to fund efforts to provide free COVID-19 testing to African Americans in neighborhoods hit hardest by the pandemic.

🎓 13,000 Philadelphia high school students graduated in a virtual ceremony Tuesday featuring pre-recorded speeches, student performances, and cameos from Jill Scott and Black Thought.

😷 On Monday, a World Health Organization epidemiologist said “asymptomatic” spread of the coronavirus is “very rare.” The statement drew immediate pushback from other public-health experts, with some calling it “irresponsible.”

🏖️ Shore business owners voiced confusion and frustration about why Gov. Phil Murphy won’t also loosen restrictions on indoor dining and outdoor amusement parks.

🔬 Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has finally ordered nursing homes to test all staff and residents by July 24.

✈️ A growing number of area colleges have canceled study abroad programs for the fall, citing uncertainty about the virus and anticipated travel restrictions.

📰 Curious about the latest Inquirer reporting about the coronavirus 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.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday lifted the state’s stay-at-home order. Murphy also relaxed restrictions on indoor gatherings, allowing for gatherings of 50 people or 25% of a building’s capacity, whichever number is lower. Previously, indoor gatherings were limited to 10 people. Outdoor gatherings can now be held with as many as 100 people, an increase from the previous limit of 25. Read more about the loosening restrictions here.

The polite “Is this seat taken?” whispers aboard Regional Rail will be but a memory as SEPTA prepares for the slow return from rock-bottom ridership, my colleague Patricia Madej writes. The transit authority recently released a detailed reopening guide that includes rider limits, marked off seats, and face masks for all passengers. SEPTA General Manager Leslie S. Richards anticipates such steps being necessary until there’s a vaccine.

Helpful resources

You got this: Rethink your home workspace

Now that we may be in this for the long haul, it’s time to rethink our makeshift home workspace. Terri Akman spoke with a handful of local workers who shared tips to make the situation less stressful. One idea: A noise-canceling headset to drown out the distractions of teenagers at home. Read more here.

😟 Anxious about the prospect of socializing or shopping again? Here’s what you can do to ease those worries, according to psychologists.

💵 Organizers of the PHL COVID-19 Fund will re-open the window for new grant applications for three days, starting Wednesday.

🦅 The NFL issued reopening guidelines to teams. Here’s what that will look like for the Eagles.

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

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