The gist: This week, we’re taking a look at Philadelphia’s effort to institute a digital vaccine card system. That news comes amid an order from a neutral arbitrator requiring Philadelphia firefighters to comply with the city’s vaccine mandate for municipal union workers. And, for Philadelphia-area private swim clubs, the pandemic has actually increased business — but Philadelphia city pools still need to fill dozens of lifeguard positions.

📥 Tell us: Is the pandemic changing how you’re celebrating summer holidays? Send us a note, and we’ll share some responses in next week’s newsletter. Please keep it to 35 words.

📰 Sign up for Must-Read Alerts: Get must-reads, our most fascinating, in-depth stories, along with timely news to stay informed by signing up for our alerts.

— Nick Vadala (@njvadala,

A digital COVID vaccination record is coming in Philly, but is there a need?

Philadelphia is moving forward with a system to issue digital vaccine cards, but some businesses and health experts say that the effort might not be relevant at this stage in the pandemic because the city rolled back its vaccine mandate for indoor dining months ago. But some places — like employers, schools, and various business — still require proof of vaccination. Here’s how the city’s digital vaccine card system would work.

What you need to know

🏥 Amid soaring labor costs, falling patient volume, and lower revenues, only two Philadelphia-area health systems made money during the first three months of 2022.

💉 A neutral arbitrator has ruled that Philadelphia firefighters must comply with Mayor Jim Kenney’s vaccine mandate, bringing an end to a months-long saga.

🏊 For many Philly-area private swim clubs, pandemic-induced lifestyle shifts have ultimately been good for business — and some are doing better than ever.

🛟 Memorial Day has come and gone, and Philadelphia is still looking to fill about 60 lifeguard positions in order to open all 65 city pools.

🏖️ Under the stress and restrictions of the pandemic, the Jersey Shore beckoned. In fact, last year, visitation increased by 24% from 2020, bringing some 48.2 million people in total.

🔫 During the pandemic, gun sales and firearm permit applications in Pennsylvania soared. So much so that last year in Philly, 600% more gun permits were issued than the year before.

Local coronavirus numbers

📉 Coronavirus cases are decreasing in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Track the latest data here.

Helpful resources

What you're saying

Last week, we asked if the recent rise in cases will change your summer plans. Here’s what you told us:

💉 “Because my husband and I just recently recovered from COVID we are not too concerned about going down the Jersey shore the end of June. My doctor said with having had the additional booster shot and having had Covid, our immunity will be higher than normal.”

🤒 “Not changing summer plans because I have COVID now.”

🥪 “We had a couple plans for car trips this summer — and just scrapped them because we don’t want to risk getting COVID from hotel stays and restaurant dining. So, we are making the best of things by planning day trips and taking picnic lunches.”

🏖️ “My wife and I are still going to our house down at the shore; just no eating out.”

🤷 “Nope! Still going on vacation in July! Vaccinated and boosted! Learning to live with a virus that’s not going away!”

A dose of diversion: Pride 2022 in the Philly region

It’s officially Pride Month, a celebration of the LGBTQ community commemorating the anniversary of the New York City Stonewall riots in 1969. Philly celebrated Pride for the first time 50 years ago, and now, it’s been reimagined to honor the many activists and community members who have fought and continue to fight to make the city an equitable place for the LGBTQ community. Here’s how to celebrate Pride Month in Philadelphia.

🎶 The music festival known as the Roots Picnic returns to the Mann Center this weekend after two years of virtual events, and it’s bigger than ever.

🧑‍🎨 A new sculpture of singer and civil rights leader Marian Anderson is slated to come to Philly, and one of these five artists will be commissioned to create it.

🍪 If all goes according to plan, we’ll be able to taste-test new flavors at Insomnia Cookies’ forthcoming Center City headquarters.

A good thing: Odunde Festival returns after two years of going virtual

After two years of virtual festivities during the pandemic, the Odunde Festival — which organizers call the largest African American street festival in the United States — is returning to Philadelphia in-person next weekend. Founded in 1975, Odunde is inspired by West African traditions honoring the Yoruban river goddess associated with love, attracts thousands of people, and has a $28 million economic impact on the city.