TL;DR: Indoor dining was permitted to resume across most of Pennsylvania on Monday, but restaurants in Philadelphia will have to wait until Jan. 15 to reopen their doors to diners. Gyms across the commonwealth also were allowed to reopen. A South Jersey cardiologist thought he was over COVID-19, then he had a stroke. Doctors are studying how to prevent more cases like his.

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

What you need to know:

📉 Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine called the slowing surge in COVID-19 numbers an “encouraging” piece of “good news,” but said it was too soon to tell whether the commonwealth had evaded a “holiday bump” in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

💉 New Jersey will open two vaccination “mega sites” for health care workers Friday, including one in Gloucester County. Pennsylvania is also planning for mass vaccination sites.

📈 While Philadelphia announced a relatively low number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases, the test positivity rate remains “much higher than we want,” a Health Department spokesperson said Monday.

📆 Online vaccine appointments for some New Jersey residents — likely essential workers — could roll out in “a couple of weeks,” state health officials said, as soon as enough healthcare workers are vaccinated.

🏀 Villanova’s men’s basketball program announced Monday that two players tested positive for COVID-19. The Wildcats’ next three games were postponed by the Big East Conference.

📰 What’s going on in your county or neighborhood? We organized recent coverage of the coronavirus pandemic by local counties and Philly neighborhoods 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.

Restaurants in most of Pennsylvania were allowed to resume indoor dining starting Monday, according to Gov. Tom Wolf, who said that the restrictions reinstated Dec. 12 had successfully flattened the COVID-19 curve. However, Philadelphia officials have extended the ban indoor dining until Jan. 15, saying they anticipate a spike in coronavirus cases from Christmas and New Year’s Day. Outside of Philadelphia, indoor dining will be allowed at self-certified restaurants at 50% capacity, while restaurants that have not been self-certified are capped at 25% capacity. Gyms will be reopening at 50% capacity in Philadelphia and around the state on Monday, as well as museums and casinos.

Troy Randle’s COVID-19 symptoms were difficult yet bearable. But after recovering and returning to work as a cardiologist at Virtua in South Jersey, his head began to ache again. An MRI revealed that a blood clot had blocked an artery in Randle’s brain. He was suffering a stroke. Physicians worldwide were starting to report the same thing in some of the sickest COVID patients, as well as a mysterious increase in smaller blood clots elsewhere in the body. Many hospitals began treating COVID patients with high doses of blood thinners as a preventive measure. Three international studies of whether that was the right call, including one overseen by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, are starting to yield results.

Helpful resources

You got this: Get fit in 2021

Fitness columnist Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates a jumping lunge in her backyard in Voorhees.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
Fitness columnist Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates a jumping lunge in her backyard in Voorhees.

When our world went off the rails, so did a lot of our healthy habits. If you picked up unhealthy habits in 2020, such as becoming a serial snacker, neglecting exercise, or letting stress smother you, ditch these toxic tendencies in 2021 and start anew. Inquirer fitness columnist Ashley Greenblatt has created an easy-to-follow toolkit to provide the foundation for squashing stress and achieving your health goals this year.

🌿 Make a resolution to eat less meat? Start with these vegan and vegetarian recipes from Philly chefs.

🌎 Trying to produce less waste this year? This South Philly couple’s new eco-friendly store could help.

💻 4 virtual educational playdates to schedule with your kids this week.

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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