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Cases rising as holidays approach | Coronavirus Updates Newsletter

Plus, Pa. court says school mask order will expire next month

Philadelphia health commissioner Cheryl Bettigole speaks in October.
Philadelphia health commissioner Cheryl Bettigole speaks in October.Read moreTYGER WILLIAMS / Staff Photographer

The gist: Is history repeating itself? Just in time for the holidays Philadelphia health commissioner Cheryl Bettigole shared a grim warning Wednesday of a “sharp uptick” in COVID-19 cases in the city.

The city is reporting an average of 232 new cases per day in the past two weeks, compared to an average of 172 cases per day on Nov. 4. That’s still a far cry from this time last year, when the daily new case count averaged 654.

“This increase in cases coming at the beginning of cold weather and right before Thanksgiving could mean that we’re on the verge of another surge,” Bettigole said.

She cautioned that cases among residents ages 10 to 19 are driving the uptick, likely because many of them are not yet vaccinated.

— Kelly O’Shea (@kelloshea,

📥 Tell us: What virus precautions are you taking at holiday gatherings this year? Send us a note, and we’ll share some of the most interesting responses in a special section in next week’s newsletter. Please keep it to 35 words.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health on Wednesday released the first glimpse at how vaccinations among young children is progressing and it’s not great. Almost 6,400 Philadelphians ages 5 to 11 — or 4.8% — have received a first shot of COVID-19 vaccine since federal authorities approved doses for young children two weeks ago. “We’ve only really just started,” Bettigole said. More important vaccine news:

  1. CDC data says 95% of Pennsylvania adults have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, yet the true number is lower. “We have no confidence in their data,” health officials say.

  2. After a COVID-19 infection you still need to get vaccinated, a Pitt study finds. Young adults may be more vulnerable.

What you need to know:

😷 A Pennsylvania court says the commonwealth’s school mask order will expire Dec. 4, but Philly’s superintendent said district students and staff will likely to stay in masks after that.

📱A Penn study found that using automated text messages to monitor COVID-19 patients at home saved lives.

🤒 Rowan University is encouraging students and staff to get the flu vaccine after tracking 100 cases of the influenza virus at its Glassboro campus.

🎶 For indoor Philadelphia concert sites, will COVID-19 anxiety ever go away? Safety precautions are in place at all local venues, but they vary widely.

✈️ American Airlines will add flights from PHL to Europe in 2022 to meet pent-up demand.

🦌 Penn State researchers warn Pennsylvania hunters to take precautions after a study found increasing evidence that deer carry COVID-19.

Local coronavirus numbers:

📈 The positivity rate of coronavirus tests in Philadelphia has increased from 2% to 3% in just a few weeks. Track the latest data here.

Helpful resources:

  1. What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines for kids 5-11.

  2. What to expect if you get a breakthrough COVID-19 infection.

  3. Answering common questions about booster shots.

A dose of diversion: Your guide to holiday events

Light shows, ice skating, outdoor shopping markets, and holiday performances make up the events on offer this holiday season in the Philadelphia region. Fill your calendar with these festive events.

🍷 Eight sparkling wines that will make your holiday season merry and bright.

🎭 From Sesame Place to the Walnut Street Theater, here are the best things to do with kids in Philly this week.

🍪 Five must-have cookie baking tools, according to one of Philly’s most popular pastry chefs.

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