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.
What you need to know:
🦠 A Pennsylvania lawmaker claims the Capitol is unsafe, after a fifth member tested positive for COVID-19.
😷 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.
These 8 principles of social distancing can help you figure out what you can and can’t do.
If you’ve hit a COVID-19 wall, here are ways to cope.
The coronavirus is mainly transmitted through the air. Here’s how to tell if your ventilation is OK.
How does the virus affect your entire body?
Here’s what to know about traveling safely during the pandemic.
You got this: A negative COVID-19 test doesn’t mean it’s safe to see family
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)
Have a social distancing tip or question to share? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and your input might be featured in a future edition of this newsletter.
What we’re paying attention to
The New York Times asked 635 epidemiologists what they’re doing for Thanksgiving.
“We are on an absolutely catastrophic path,” said a COVID-19 doctor at America’s best-prepared hospital, according to the Atlantic.
Hospitals are trying to solve logistical and ethical challenges as a new COVID-19 treatment arrives, STAT reports.
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