TL;DR: The Inquirer has a step-by-step description of how the COVID-19 vaccines actually work, written with guidance from a University of Pennsylvania scientist whose work helped make the vaccines possible. As more people are seeking help for mental health, the treatment centers hoping to help them are struggling with outbreaks of the coronavirus, my colleagues Bethany Ao and Aubrey Whelan report. Read more here.

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

What you need to know:

😷 Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf will nominate his deputy chief of staff, Alison Beam, to serve as the commonwealth’s new health secretary, replacing Rachel Levine.

💉 No phone hotlines, multiple websites, and long lines: Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is confusing in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has launched its own website for residents interested in getting vaccinated.

🏥 President Joe Biden has directed FEMA to establish federally supported vaccination centers, with the goal of setting up 100 sites in the next month.

🦠 Flu and other infections are down, likely due to COVID-19 social distancing.

🤒 Blood-thinners help hospitalized COVID-19 patients avoid ventilators, studies suggest.

🏀 Seth Curry, after a bout with COVID-19, is focused on helping the Sixers and getting his conditioning and rhythm back.

📹 Watch this video of Camden senior citizens getting their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

📰 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 science behind how the COVID-19 vaccines actually work

The Inquirer has a step-by-step description of how the COVID-19 vaccines actually work, written with guidance from University of Pennsylvania scientist Drew Weissman, whose work with former colleague Katalin Karikó, now at BioNTech, helped make the vaccines possible. Click here for the guide, along with illustrations to explain each part of the process.

More people are seeking help for addiction and mental health, but treatment centers struggle with outbreaks.

The coronavirus pandemic, and all of the related anxieties and stressors of this time, have led to increased substance use, mental health issues, and disordered eating behaviors. But even while more people are seeking help for mental health, the treatment centers hoping to help them are struggling with outbreaks of the coronavirus, my colleagues Bethany Ao and Aubrey Whelan report. Read more here.

Helpful resources

You got this: Get Girl Scout cookies in a pandemic

Girl Scout troops nationwide are selling cookies online, allowing you to order a box of Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, or other Scout-sponsored cookies from your home. Here’s where to order them.

📺 The fearless “Soldier Songs” is a standout achievement among COVID-19-era shows.

😷 Read about one New Jersey couple’s zig-zag journey to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

🎶 The best things to do in Philly this weekend and next 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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