TL;DR: In many of the sickest COVID-19 patients, their immune systems overreact, leading to dangerous inflammation. Researchers are starting to learn how they can calm down the inflammatory response in hospitalized patients without hampering their ability to fight off the virus itself. People outside at New Jersey beaches aren’t driving up cases, but indoor parties in beach towns are, Gov. Phil Murphy says.

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

What you need to know:

🚌 New Jersey is lifting its 50% capacity requirement on NJ Transit and private-carrier buses, trains, light rail, and Access Link vehicles. The change goes into effect 8 p.m. Wednesday.

👵🏼 Nursing homes have accounted for 68% of COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania and 49% in New Jersey. Here’s how Philly-area nursing homes are preparing for the next round of coronavirus.

🚸 Philadelphia is expanding its PlayStreets program, which brings a “day camp-like experience” to neighborhood streets, to 310 locations. Starting Monday there will be 50 designated “Super Streets” with additional arts and recreation.

📉 New Jersey is averaging 218 tests per day per 100,000 residents, well above the target recommended by the COVID Tracking Project to safely reopen. Pennsylvania is averaging 100 tests per 100,000 residents, slightly under its target.

📰 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.

There is no evidence that people outdoors at the beach or on the boardwalk are driving up coronavirus cases, New Jersey Gov. Murphy said during a press conference Monday. But Murphy did single out indoor graduation parties as driving some new cases in the state. In Pennsylvania, the number of cases among people under 50 has risen again, now making up 45% of the state’s cases. Health Secretary Rachel Levine asked Pennsylvania residents to “make the right choices,” including wearing masks and social distancing.

In many of the sickest COVID-19 patients, their immune systems overreact, leading to dangerous inflammation. That’s what happened to Cherry Hill resident Brett Breslow, who was at Cooper University Hospital for more than a month, my colleague Tom Avril reports. But inflammation can also be helpful, as it is one way that the immune system fights off illness. Researchers are starting to learn how they can calm down the inflammatory response in hospitalized patients without hampering their ability to fight off the virus itself. Read more here.

Helpful resources

You got this: Plant a home garden

Like the emergence of colorful wildflowers in a vast field of drab weeds, home gardening has blossomed as a wildly popular and therapeutic pastime amid the colorless anxieties of the COVID-19 pandemic, my colleague Frank Fitzpatrick writes. Vegetables and salad greens were the hottest sellers for new gardeners, according to a Bucks County seed supplier.

🤰🏽 These Philadelphia midwives and doulas are raising money to help low-income women of color give birth at home.

✋ How a Philly dishwasher manufacturer survived the pandemic by switching to hand sanitizer dispensers.

⚽ Two more college leagues — the Patriot League and Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference — canceled fall sports seasons.

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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