The gist: The coronavirus vaccine is working, as cases plummet across the region and residents can start to get back to normal activities. “We have 50 people in the hospital right now with COVID-19 and 49 are not vaccinated. If that’s not indicative of the efficacy, I don’t know what is,” said Bucks County’s health director David Damsker. Upward of 100,000 children under 16 in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have already received their first coronavirus vaccine doses, but familiar challenges are still emerging. Read more here.

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

What you need to know:

💉 Philadelphia’s two FEMA-run mass vaccination sites at Esperanza and the Pennsylvania Convention Center will deliver their final vaccine shots on Tuesday.

😷 New Jersey is lifting its indoor mask mandate on Friday, in time for Memorial Day weekend and the Jersey Shore season. “Lifting the mask mandate is not a license to be a knucklehead,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

🏥 “It’s like these babies are in jail:” The pandemic has created a “crisis” in home care, keeping some kids from leaving the hospital.

🚘 Philadelphia needs to manage the return of the car as the pandemic subsides, architecture critic Inga Saffron argues.

🌮 A shot and a taco. That was the offer at Jefferson’s mobile vaccine unit over the weekend at South Philly Barbacoa.

🦠 In 1991, Philly vaccinated 6,000 kids against measles in a weekend. Let’s do it again, a former Philadelphia health commissioner writes.

📰 What’s going on in your county or neighborhood? We organize recent coverage of the pandemic by local counties and Philly neighborhoods to make it easier for you to find info you care about. Sign up here to get those local headlines sent directly to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Local coronavirus numbers

📈The Inquirer and Spotlight PA are compiling geographic data on confirmed coronavirus cases, deaths caused by the virus, and vaccinations to curb the spread. Track the latest data here.

As COVID-19 case counts plummet, life feels more normal. At least for now.

COVID-19 cases are falling, vaccinations are rising, and life is starting to feel a bit more normal. More than half the population in Philadelphia and 5.6 million people across Pennsylvania have received at least a shot. My colleagues Jason Laughlin and Oona Goodin-Smith talked with experts about how vaccines are working. “We have 50 people in the hospital right now with COVID-19 and 49 are not vaccinated. If that’s not indicative of the efficacy, I don’t know what is,” said Bucks County’s health director David Damsker. “I’m completely and utterly sold that this vaccine is doing what they said it would do.” Read more here.

Pa. and N.J. kids are lining up for COVID-19 shots

Tens of thousands of Pennsylvania and New Jersey children have received their first coronavirus shots — a key step toward reaching herd immunity levels. However, experts are still concerned about the same barriers of vaccine hesitancy, equity and access that have affected the rollout among adults. In wealthy Lower Merion, 900 children were recently vaccinated at a school clinic in three hours. But a Ridley clinic, which was also open to children in less affluent Interboro and Chester Upland, attracted only 400 people. Few parents of children enrolled in Camden public schools, whose student population is half Black and half Latino, were calling to ask about getting their kids vaccinated. Read more here.

Helpful resources

You got this: Done with unwanted handshakes and hugs?

For more than a year, the pandemic has allowed us to avoid a lot of unwanted touch. My colleague Elizabeth Wellington explains it like this: “The uninvited embrace from someone you barely knew or used to know — like an ex — assuming a familiarity that doesn’t exist. The unsolicited caress of a pregnant woman’s belly. The over-familiar pat of a Black woman’s natural hair. The kind of presumptuous petting that makes us feel icky because it disrespects our boundaries and invades our personal space.” Here’s how to keep a lot of this unwanted touch out of your life.

🏠 Mortgage payments on pause? What to know when it’s time to resume paying.

😋 Here are 15 cheesesteak facts that may surprise you.

🎉 Check out the best kids events in Philly 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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