The gist: This week, we’ve got some perspective from local epidemiologists on Anthony Fauci’s assertion that the United States is past the “full-blown” phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Closer to home, there’s a former Philly prosecutor suing District Attorney Larry Krasner for not allowing religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate, and property assessments showing a massive jump in residential real estate values after a three-year, pandemic-related delay. And out in the ‘burbs, Delco’s new health department can’t do health inspections in eight townships, thanks to a lawsuit.

📥 Tell us: How is your life different at this point in the pandemic? Send us a note, and we’ll share some responses in next week’s newsletter. Please keep it to 35 words.

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— Nick Vadala (@njvadala, health@inquirer.com)

Anthony Fauci said the pandemic was over in U.S., then backpedaled. What do experts say?

Epidemiologists in Philadelphia and beyond cringed last month when Anthony Fauci said on national television that the United States was “out of the pandemic phase.” Fauci later backpedaled on that phrasing, saying that the United States was past the “full-blown” phase of COVID, and in a more predictable, controlled pattern of the pandemic. But is he right? We spoke with some local epidemiologists to find out.

What you need to know

⚖️ A former Philadelphia prosecutor is suing District Attorney Larry Krasner, claiming that Krasner violated her First Amendment rights by refusing to allow religious accommodations to the vaccine mandate.

💸 Philadelphia’s property assessments have been delayed since 2019 due in part to the pandemic, but now, residential values are jumping a staggering 31%.

🏥 Following a lawsuit, Delaware County’s new health department can’t do health inspections in eight townships.

💊 Black patients account for, on average, just 5% of clinical trial participants nationally, but during the pandemic some Philadelphia-area researchers and patients started figuring out how to change that.

📈 Philly’s Castor Avenue business owners say the pandemic knocked them down, but they’re climbing back.

🔒 Thanks to pandemic-induced problems in the auto industry and beyond, new car buyers are facing slim pickings and high prices amid inflation and supply shortages.

💰 Consumers are expected to spend almost $32 billion on Mother’s Day this year, and some Philly small businesses have plans to use the holiday to boost post-pandemic sales.

Local coronavirus numbers

📈 Coronavirus cases are increasing in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Track the latest data here.

Helpful resources

What you're saying

Last week, we asked if you will still be wearing a mask indoors despite the mandate being lifted. Here’s what you told us:

😷 “I am absolutely wearing masks for the limited time that I am out in public. Even though hospitalizations are occurring at a slower rate, cases across the U.S. are rising. That’s bad news for the very young who are ineligible to be vaccinated, the elderly and the immunocompromised segment of the population.”

🚫 “No, not wearing a mask, except where I must.”

🫡 “I am still wearing masks indoors because I don’t want to offend anyone who may be sick or uncomfortable being around others who don’t wear a mask.”

🤷 “Yes, in public places like restaurants, stores, music or film venues. Not at gatherings at friends where everyone to my knowledge is vaccinated and boosted.”

😷 “As an immunocompromised older person, l MUST wear a mask and stay far from those potentially infected with COVID. The mask restrictions helped me. Now, l am far more restricted.”

💉 “I still wear a mask indoors if vaccines are not required or it’s a public space where they are not checked. I’m concerned that there are still too many unvaccinated individuals that don’t wear masks in our area making it less safe for the rest of us.”

🤷 “I can’t make the rules, but I can protect myself, my family and those around me by masking - even though we are all vaccinated and boosted.”

😷 “Yes I’m still wearing mask inside and will probably forever.”

🧠 “I will continue wearing masks inside and outside until further I feel people know what they are talking about.”

✅ “Definitely wearing masks inside whenever possible. Why not? Too many folks are coming down with COVID-those who have been cautious throughout this pandemic-only to let their guards down and get really sick.”

A dose of diversion: Flower shop gives meaningful work to people with intellectual disabilities

On High Street in West Chester, you’ll find Kati Mac Floral designs — a nonprofit, full-service flower shop with a mission. There, co-owners Colleen Brennan and Elaine Scott work to provide a positive space for people with cognitive disabilities to learn, train, and grow. Six of the shop’s 10 staffers are people who have Down syndrome, including co-owner Scott’s daughter, Emily.

🇲🇽 It’s Mexican Restaurant Week, and Craig LaBan has the rundown on can’t-miss spots from Philly to Camden.

🏀 A runner dressed like beloved NBA great Allen Iverson ran the whole Broad Street Run while dribbling a basketball, and (rightfully) went viral for it.

🗣️ The hotly anticipated “OY/YO” sculpture by artist Deborah Kass has officially been installed at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall.

A good thing: Broad Street Run moves toward normalcy

Following a cancellation in 2020 and a postponement in 2021, the Blue Cross Broad Street Run made its way back to Philly on Sunday, bring 27,500 runners to the iconic race’s 10-mile course. And while the run this year showed a move back to normalcy, it wasn’t all business as usual — the course was a bit different, and spectators were asked to stay home. But, as one runner put it, there was plenty of “gratitude that we can do this altogether.”