TL;DR: The Trump administration is trying to accelerate vaccine distribution, but public health experts say it may not help millions of people get vaccinated any sooner. My colleague Marie McCullough spoke with Paul Offit, a Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia pediatrician and vaccine expert who serves on a federal vaccine advisory panel, about why this is a problem. This weekend, Philadelphia’s restaurants will be allowed to reopen for indoor dining at 25% occupancy and with stringent safety measures in place. But will that help a business sector that has been hard hit for the last 10 months? Read more here.

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

What you need to know

🦠 The city released its plans for the next stages of vaccine distribution, giving the first clear guidance to hundreds of thousands of Philadelphia residents, from teachers to seniors to grocery store workers, when they should expect to receive doses.

😷 Philadelphia residents can sign up to know when it’s their turn to receive the coronavirus vaccine. There’s no statewide sign-up system in Pennsylvania, but there is a portal for New Jersey residents to sign up. Here is a map of vaccine providers in and around Philly.

🏥 The Trump administration is asking states to speed delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to people older than 65 and others at high risk by no longer holding back the second dose of the two-dose shots.

🍽️ Philadelphia will allow indoor dining to resume on Saturday, Jan. 16. Theaters will also be allowed to reopen, and colleges can resume in-person classes.

🏒 Gritty returns to Flyers games starting Wednesday — his first since the virus hit the region in March — with a ‘dramatic’ entrance and his own ‘stage.’

🚇 SEPTA has lost its 10th employee to complications from COVID-19, General Manager Leslie Richards told workers in an email Wednesday.

📰 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 Trump administration is trying to accelerate vaccine distribution, but public health experts say it may not help millions of people get vaccinated any sooner. Though the government instructed states to use pharmacies, community health centers, and mass vaccination sites to get the vaccines into arms, the infrastructure to do that is only now being rolled out. My colleague Marie McCullough spoke with Paul Offit, a Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia pediatrician and vaccine expert who serves on a federal vaccine advisory panel, who said that infrastructure should have been put in place when the clinical trials were underway. “We should have had that ready,” he said, “and we didn’t.”

This weekend, Philadelphia’s restaurants will be allowed to reopen for indoor dining at 25% occupancy and with stringent safety measures in place. But will that help a business sector that has been hard hit for the last 10 months? My colleague Michael Klein spoke with restaurant owners about the tough months navigating the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns, and to what extent indoor dining can help. Read more here.

Helpful resources

You got this: Try a fried chicken sandwich

“If the pandemic can be credited for anything good, I’d have to point to fried chicken sandwiches,” says my colleague Michael Klein. He reviewed seven new fried chicken sandwiches. Check them out.

😷 These are the current Philadelphia coronavirus guidelines.

👟 Philly athletes’ and fitness pros’ favorite YouTube workouts

🎶 2021 Philadelphia MLK Day guide, with talks, concerts and volunteering opportunities

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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