TL;DR: The demand for COVID-19 tests has increased as we get closer to Thanksgiving, with many Philadelphians trying to get tested before possibly taking a risk to see family for the holiday. (Philadelphia officials have banned all public and private indoor gatherings, citing the surge in cases. Here’s a guide to current restrictions). My colleague Tom Avril explains how it is possible that manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna were able to produce vaccines that seem to work better than expected.

— Ellie Silverman (@esilverman11, health@inquirer.com)

What you need to know:

🚫 New restrictions on indoor dining, gyms, and museums in Philadelphia are now in effect until at least Jan. 1. Not sure what the current Philly coronavirus guidelines are? Here’s a guide.

🍽️ Philly restaurant owners have sued Mayor Jim Kenney over the new indoor-dining ban. See photos of how restaurant owners and loyal patrons prepared for the new rules.

🦠 A Pennsylvania lawmaker claims the Capitol is unsafe, after a fifth member tested positive for COVID-19.

🏥 Pandemic fatigue and the holidays threaten to swamp Pennsylvania hospitals with COVID-19 cases. New Jersey hospitals have a new color-coded visitation system.

😷 Einstein Medical Center nurses scored a victory after threatening to strike during the coronavirus surge.

🏈 The Eagles are not required to wear face coverings during home games, despite Pennsylvania’s mask mandate for outdoor sports.

💰 President-elect Joe Biden wants Congress to pass emergency COVID-19 aid this year.

📰 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.

The demand for COVID-19 tests has increased as Thanksgiving approaches, with many Philadelphians trying to get tested before possibly taking a risk to see family for the holiday. (In Philadelphia, all public and private indoor gatherings are banned.) My colleague Bethany Ao talked to residents struggling to find an available testing site, or stuck waiting hours on site once scheduling an appointment. For example, appointments at Rite Aid and CVS Pharmacy, both of which have been offering free COVID-19 tests since the spring, are now often unavailable. Read more here.

U.S. government regulators originally called for COVID-19 vaccines to have an efficacy of at least 50%, meaning the drugs would reduce the risk of illness by half. Then manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna designed their vaccine trials aiming to prevent disease in 60% of those exposed to the coronavirus. Chief Anthony Fauci was even more optimistic over the summer, saying he hoped for 70% or 75% efficacy. But now, Pfizer and Moderna say their vaccines seem to prevent disease more than 90% of the time. My colleague Tom Avril answers how that is possible.

Helpful resources

You got this: A negative COVID-19 test doesn’t mean it’s safe to see family

A nurse holds a nasopharyngeal swab (left) and the sample tube (right) during a coronavirus test at CAMcare Health Corp. in Camden.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
A nurse holds a nasopharyngeal swab (left) and the sample tube (right) during a coronavirus test at CAMcare Health Corp. in Camden.

Thanksgiving is next week, and while experts are advising everyone to skip in-person celebrations, some people may still be trying to find a way to gather safely. You may wonder if it is safe to gather if everyone gets a test, but my colleague Grace Dickinson talks to experts about why testing isn’t foolproof. Read more here.

Stay safe, do stuff

Here is one highlight from our weekly events calendar:

🎄 Chestnut Hill’s Circle of Trees at Woodmere Art Museum (Holiday / virtual / free / kid-friendly) The holiday season starts in Chestnut Hill with an online celebration led by Santa who will read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to online guests and then turn on the holiday lights at Woodmere Art Museum. Registration is required. (Free, Nov. 21, 5 p.m., chestnuthillpa.com, add to calendar)

🔎 Find more of this week’s safe kid-friendly, outdoor and arts events.

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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