TL;DR: Pennsylvania’s fall coronavirus surge has now surpassed the state’s April peak in new cases, with more than 40,000 infected just this month. In Delaware County, officials reported that the increase in case numbers have been driven by social gatherings like weddings, funerals, parties, and large dinners. My colleague Grace Dickinson spoke to experts about how to evaluate the risk of gathering with family this Thanksgiving.

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

What you need to know:

📈 A CHOP doctor is worried that Pennsylvania is on the verge of an explosive COVID-19 surge.

⚕️ ‘I felt like trash’: How COVID-19 has affected body image in young people.

🦠 As COVID-19 cases rise in Philly, doctors help care homes and addiction rehabs navigate outbreaks.

💰 Center City Philadelphia’s jobs are rebounding, but still lag in the wake of the pandemic.

✈️ The COVID-19 risk on airplanes is low if these precautions are taken, a Harvard study says.

😷 Masks will be recommended — but not required — to vote in Pennsylvania. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, says the United States might not get back to normal until late 2021 and predicts masks will be “very commonplace” following the pandemic.

🏥 New Jersey reported more than 1,000 coronavirus hospitalizations for first time in months and expanded worker protections for COVID-19.

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.

Pennsylvania, including Philly region, is experiencing a sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases

Pennsylvania’s fall coronavirus surge has now surpassed the state’s April peak in new cases, with more than 40,000 infected just this month. The state’s positivity rate, or percent of tests coming back positive, is now at 5.4%, passing a benchmark that epidemiologists say indicates a troubling level of community spread. In Delaware County, officials reported Wednesday that the increase in case numbers have been driven by social gatherings like weddings, funerals, parties, and large dinners.

What Thanksgiving may look like this year

With cases rising in this region and across the country, experts are recommending a different kind of Thanksgiving this year. Thomas Farley, Philadelphia’s health commissioner, warned residents this week that the worst of the pandemic may be yet to come this winter. He urged people to stay home as much as possible and cancel holiday gatherings. If you decide to host a Thanksgiving anyway, my colleague Grace Dickinson wrote about how you should think about the risk, including talking about ground rules, assessing the size of the gathering, hosting a lunch instead of dinner, and masking up. Read the advice from experts here.

Helpful resources

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Many people are celebrating Halloween differently this year, sticking to decorations, virtual events, and socially distanced gatherings. Here are some kids' Halloween happenings that still have room for attendees.

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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.

What we’re paying attention to

  • The Washington Post reports how the White House could have traced and contained its COVID-19 outbreak, but it chose not to.

  • The U.S. Department of Justice launched a civil rights investigation into New Jersey’s state-run veterans homes, Politico reports.

  • WHYY reports: “Stuck-at-home moms: The pandemic’s devastating toll on women.”

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